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Titandrake

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Draw-to-X engines
« on: October 10, 2018, 04:44:23 am »
+8

I started this a while ago, then ran out of steam when I realized it was a lot harder to write than expected. This draft is very rough but I'm putting it up now just to be done with it.

Draw-to-X engines are a special subcategory of engine, formed by two pieces.

  • An action that says "Draw until you have X cards in hand".
  • Disappearing money - a way to get money during your Action phase that decrases your hand size. This doesn't have to be fancy, a terminal Silver will do.

When they work, draw-to-X engines are one of my favorite engines to play. The core idea with these decks is that the fewer cards you have in hand, the more cards the draw-to-X action gives you, so if you can consistently turn cards-in-hand into money, you get to draw a lot more cards than you normally would. For $5, the going rate is +3 Cards and a bonus, with +4 Cards costing $6. Meanwhile, Library can draw up to 7 cards if the conditions line up.

The big question is whether the conditions line up. Draw-to-X engines differ quite a bit from more traditional Village-Smithy engines.

1. Treasures and Victories Super Super Suck For You

A Village-Smithy engine can get away with only using Gold for payload. This does not fly for draw-to-X engines. Like, it completely fails.

Let's suppose you play a Library and draw a Gold. If you don't have a way to get the Gold out of your hand, it effectively says "every future Library you play this turn draws 1 less card". This is really, really bad! It adds up to 3-4 missed card draws, depending on how many Libraries you have. (Cards like Scholar don't have this problem, since they discard your entire hand.) This has greening consequence as well. Eventually, you need points. Each Province hurts your deck a lot more than it would hurt a normal engine.

It's really hard to start a draw-to-X engine if there isn't trashing, just because of how many stop cards you start with. Trashing on its own is sometimes but not always enough for the draw-to-X engine. Eventually, you need to pick up points, usually through Provinces. You can't trash Provinces without losing the VP...

This leads to the other important piece: a discarder, like Warehouse, Artificer, or Storeroom, that lets you get unwanted Treasures and Victory cards out of your hand. That way you can dig for Actions instead. An effect like Villa or Black Market (to play Treasures midturn) can also play the role of a card discarder.

If either trashing or card discarding were missing, I would need an exceptional circumstance to consider the draw-to-X engine. The classic Base set combo is Festival/Library, but in my experience with Base-only games, the combo is really more like Festival/Library with Cellar and some kind of trasher.

2. +Buy is Great

Engines like +Buy since it lets them buy lots of engine pieces in one turn, then green later. The "green later" part is what makes them extra nice for draw-to-X engines. In draw-to-X games it's usually correct to build longer, then end the game fast, since your engine isn't designed to handle greening over several turns.

3. Your Deck Can Be Less Consistent

Often, Draw-to-X engines use a disappearing village to get +Actions, because it turns the drawback (not getting to draw a card) into a benefit (will draw the card for free off the draw-to-X card anyway). Buying Fishing Village instead of Village gives you an extra +$1 over the next 2 turns while not hurting your draw - it improves your payload.

Except, it kind of does. If you're playing a Village-Smithy engine and your starting hand is

4 Villages, 1 Copper

you're a little unhappy, but not that unhappy. You get 4 chances to draw into the Smithy.

By contrast, in a Festival-Library deck, if your starting hand is

4 Festival, 1 Copper

you're *really* upset. You're unable to "go-off" with a Library this turn, and your later Libraries are all likely to be dead because your Festivals collided. I've had this happen a few time and it sucks every time.

Because of this, it helps to have reliability increasing effects, like Scheme, Travelling Fair, Tracker, or Overlord. If a disappearing village and regular village are in the Kingdom, I personally like buying 1-2 copies of the regular village when my draw-to-X deck starts working, since I value the reliability more than the payload.

4. Hand Size Tactics are Sweet

The point of draw-to-X engines is to play lots of disappearing money, but there are other ways to get value while decreasing hand size. Trashers are one of them.

Consider this turn.
  • Play Festival, Festival, Library.
  • The Library draws a Steward and a Library.
  • Steward, trashing 2 cards.
  • Play Library
By trashing with Steward before playing the draw-to-X card, you get to draw 2 extra cards, which is a pretty great deal. You can't really plan for this, but it's an important tactical play. Ambassador 2 Coppers (handsize -3), then play Library. Remodel Silver into Festival (handsize -2), then play Library.

From a strategy perspective, plays like this don't tend to change what you buy - odds are you're buying trashing anyways. They're just important parts of optimizing draw-to-X builds.

5. Key Draw-to-X cards

An incomplete list of cards that are especially nice in draw-to-X games: Villa, Count, Storeroom, Steward, Inn, Warehouse, Cellar, Fishing Village, Squire, Junk Dealer. As an exercise it might be worth thinking through why some of these cards are so nice.
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crj

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2018, 09:21:05 am »
+2

Just to check my understanding, when your heading says "Your Deck Can Be Less Consistent", you mean "there is a risk your deck will be less consistent", not "it's OK if your deck is less consistent", yes?

That could probably be worded more clearly. (-8
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faust

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2018, 09:33:35 am »
0

Using Fishing Village as an example in part 3 is misleading. I mean the great thing about Fishing Village is the consistency it provides. If you're going to talk about how draw-to-X reduces consistency, this is quite a bad example to use.

I think discard-for-benefit could use a mention. Artificer makes a short appearance in the article, but only as an example for sifting (which it is really not). Other great cards are Mill, Storeroom, Horse Traders.

And one thing that isn't clearly mentioned is that you want more +actions in draw-to-X than you would "need" by terminal count, as you need to be able to play your terminals as soon as possible.
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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2018, 09:34:35 am »
+2

I think it would be worth it to include a list of draw-to-x cards, since really only 4 cards say "draw until you have x cards in your hand" (and Jack isn't that great of an engine card). I mean, at this point we all probably know, but for newer players it's good to mention that Minion, Menagerie, and Scholar are lumped in with the other cards.

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2018, 10:39:15 am »
0

I think it would be worth it to include a list of draw-to-x cards, since really only 4 cards say "draw until you have x cards in your hand" (and Jack isn't that great of an engine card). I mean, at this point we all probably know, but for newer players it's good to mention that Minion, Menagerie, and Scholar are lumped in with the other cards.

Menagerie, Minion, Tactician, Library, Watchtower, Jack of all Trades, Guide, Cursed Village, Scholar. Did I miss any?

Tactician doesn't work more than once each turn and double Tactician is its own strategy altogether.
Jack of all Trades is hard to make work because it only gives you five cards and it gives you a Silver on each play.
Guide doesn't work, as you can only play it at the start of your turn, before any actions. Although it synergizes well with start-of-turn trashers (but how many of those are there? Amulet... Ratcatcher... Transmogrify not so much... Prince...)
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Cuzz

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2018, 10:44:46 am »
0

I think it would be worth it to include a list of draw-to-x cards, since really only 4 cards say "draw until you have x cards in your hand" (and Jack isn't that great of an engine card). I mean, at this point we all probably know, but for newer players it's good to mention that Minion, Menagerie, and Scholar are lumped in with the other cards.

Menagerie, Minion, Tactician, Library, Watchtower, Jack of all Trades, Guide, Cursed Village, Scholar. Did I miss any?

Tactician doesn't work more than once each turn and double Tactician is its own strategy altogether.
Jack of all Trades is hard to make work because it only gives you five cards and it gives you a Silver on each play.
Guide doesn't work, as you can only play it at the start of your turn, before any actions. Although it synergizes well with start-of-turn trashers (but how many of those are there? Amulet... Ratcatcher... Transmogrify not so much... Prince...)

I think based on the way the article is written, we're effectively really only talking about Library, Watchtower, and Cursed Village. You mentioned the issues with Tac, Jack and Guide, but Menagerie is not at all Draw to X (although some of the same principles apply), and the discarding with Scholar and Minion are large enough wrinkles that they'd need their own subsection.
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greybirdofprey

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2018, 11:39:46 am »
0

I think it would be worth it to include a list of draw-to-x cards, since really only 4 cards say "draw until you have x cards in your hand" (and Jack isn't that great of an engine card). I mean, at this point we all probably know, but for newer players it's good to mention that Minion, Menagerie, and Scholar are lumped in with the other cards.

Menagerie, Minion, Tactician, Library, Watchtower, Jack of all Trades, Guide, Cursed Village, Scholar. Did I miss any?

Tactician doesn't work more than once each turn and double Tactician is its own strategy altogether.
Jack of all Trades is hard to make work because it only gives you five cards and it gives you a Silver on each play.
Guide doesn't work, as you can only play it at the start of your turn, before any actions. Although it synergizes well with start-of-turn trashers (but how many of those are there? Amulet... Ratcatcher... Transmogrify not so much... Prince...)

I think based on the way the article is written, we're effectively really only talking about Library, Watchtower, and Cursed Village. You mentioned the issues with Tac, Jack and Guide, but Menagerie is not at all Draw to X (although some of the same principles apply), and the discarding with Scholar and Minion are large enough wrinkles that they'd need their own subsection.

I think they're used in the same 'type' of engines we're talking about though: get as many buys, virtual coin, and actions as possible while decreasing your handsize as much as possible, then use your draw card, repeat.

Menagerie is a bit different, yes. You usually need more specific enablers, especially good trashing or consistent discarding as it suffers much more from Coppers/Estate. Plus 'decrease your handsize' becomes 'remove doubles from your hand'.

Minion and Scholar on the other hand - I think they might in general be better for this type of engine as they suffer less from stop cards. Intuitively Festival-Scholar sounds like a better engine than Festival-Library. With Library, you only get one new card for every Festival/Library you had, but with Scholar you always get 7. The main drawback is that you don't want more than one Scholar in your hand at a time.
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DG

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2018, 12:19:39 pm »
0

For some reason you've not mentioned vp tokens as part of payload (or megaturn, or accumulating coin tokens) when all the principles apply. Technically, Ritual and Bishop can trash provinces for vp.

Haven and gear might be worth mentioning for their cardplay interaction, as might the throne family.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2018, 12:36:34 pm »
+2

For some reason you've not mentioned vp tokens as part of payload (or megaturn, or accumulating coin tokens) when all the principles apply. Technically, Ritual and Bishop can trash provinces for vp.


Not only vp tokens; but just payload in general. The article mentions needing disappearing money, but that's not the case. It just need disappearing payload. Workshops, attacks, TFB, etc... basically any of the things you would want to play a bunch of in any other type of engine.
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faust

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2018, 02:27:51 pm »
+2

I think it would be worth it to include a list of draw-to-x cards, since really only 4 cards say "draw until you have x cards in your hand" (and Jack isn't that great of an engine card). I mean, at this point we all probably know, but for newer players it's good to mention that Minion, Menagerie, and Scholar are lumped in with the other cards.

Menagerie, Minion, Tactician, Library, Watchtower, Jack of all Trades, Guide, Cursed Village, Scholar. Did I miss any?
If you put Menagerie there (which is a not-really-draw-to-X), then you also need to include Diplomat. Or neither.
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Holunder9

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2018, 02:46:10 pm »
0

3. Your Deck Can Be Less Consistent

Often, Draw-to-X engines use a disappearing village to get +Actions, because it turns the drawback (not getting to draw a card) into a benefit (will draw the card for free off the draw-to-X card anyway). Buying Fishing Village instead of Village gives you an extra +$1 over the next 2 turns while not hurting your draw - it improves your payload.

Except, it kind of does. If you're playing a Village-Smithy engine and your starting hand is

4 Villages, 1 Copper

you're a little unhappy, but not that unhappy. You get 4 chances to draw into the Smithy.

By contrast, in a Festival-Library deck, if your starting hand is

4 Festival, 1 Copper

you're *really* upset. You're unable to "go-off" with a Library this turn, and your later Libraries are all likely to be dead because your Festivals collided. I've had this happen a few time and it sucks every time.

Because of this, it helps to have reliability increasing effects, like Scheme, Travelling Fair, Tracker, or Overlord. If a disappearing village and regular village are in the Kingdom, I personally like buying 1-2 copies of the regular village when my draw-to-X deck starts working, since I value the reliability more than the payload.
While this is related to draw-to-X it is a general feature of disappearing villages. You run into the same problem when you go for Festival-Smithy.
I also think that the title is confusing. Something like "If you couple draw-to-X with disappearing villages your deck is less consistent so you need some tricks to increase consistency." would be more precise
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Titandrake

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2018, 04:56:51 pm »
0

For some reason you've not mentioned vp tokens as part of payload (or megaturn, or accumulating coin tokens) when all the principles apply. Technically, Ritual and Bishop can trash provinces for vp.


Not only vp tokens; but just payload in general. The article mentions needing disappearing money, but that's not the case. It just need disappearing payload. Workshops, attacks, TFB, etc... basically any of the things you would want to play a bunch of in any other type of engine.

This was something that was in an earlier draft, but it ended up disappearing at some point, not sure why.

I do think there should be another section for effects like Scholar but I don't have a good handle on how it plays.

I hadn't thought of the "you need more +Actions" point but I agree it makes sense.
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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2018, 05:21:27 pm »
0

I feel like a draw to X deck article should include Minion, Scholar, and Tragic Hero. These play somewhat similarly.
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Holunder9

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2018, 05:27:43 pm »
0

draw to X [...] Tragic Hero
Care to elaborate? I guess you imagine situations with reduced handsizes (only very remotely related with draw-to-X) in which Tragic Hero doesn't die yet in my limited experience killing off that dude and getting another often works unexpectedly well.
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Titandrake

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2018, 05:52:01 pm »
+2

draw to X [...] Tragic Hero
Care to elaborate? I guess you imagine situations with reduced handsizes (only very remotely related with draw-to-X) in which Tragic Hero doesn't die yet in my limited experience killing off that dude and getting another often works unexpectedly well.

Tragic Hero is edge-casey enough that I feel it should basically have an article of its own (i.e. a Tragic Hero article that refers to a draw-to-X article, rather than a draw-to-X article that talks about Tragic Hero.)

Letting Tragic Hero die is okay, but if you can consistently save your Tragic Heroes it can be very strong. On your final turn, you deliberately cash-in all the Tragic Heros, get a ton of money, and end the game.
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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2018, 09:22:54 pm »
+3

I think the article doesn't adequately address why Draw-to-X engines are less consistent than standard draw engines.  As we know, the point where an engine is most likely to dud is at the beginning of your turn.  After you play a few villages and smithies, you've drawn enough of your deck that it's very likely you have more villages and smithies in hand.  On the other hand, with (say) Hamlet/Watchtower, you have 6 cards in hand at most, so there continues to be a significant risk of stopping throughout your turn.

The specifics of how this plays out differs depending on the kind of draw-to-X.  If you're drawing with Scholar, you have to throw away extra scholars whenever they collide.  If you're drawing with Library, you don't have to throw away extra libraries, but they don't help you draw very much unless they also collide with your disappearing payoff.

This was one of the things that came out of my extremely theoretical analysis of engines.  Conventional draw decks can in principle draw through an infinitely large deck.  Draw-to-X decks always eventually halt.  This may seem like a small distinction, given that real decks are finite in size.  But the implication is that there isn't a clear transition point between a "good-stuff" deck and an "engine" deck.  Draw-to-X decks, more than other kinds of decks, lend themselves to "hybrid" strategies that are somehow in between "engine" and "good stuff". 

I mean, I'm not saying your article needs to include the whole dominion physics analysis, there's probably a simpler way to put it.

If you put Menagerie there (which is a not-really-draw-to-X), then you also need to include Diplomat. Or neither.
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Holunder9

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2018, 02:08:29 pm »
+1

Letting Tragic Hero die is okay, but if you can consistently save your Tragic Heroes it can be very strong. On your final turn, you deliberately cash-in all the Tragic Heros, get a ton of money, and end the game.
If I get this correctly you need discard-for-benefit like Storeroom or Oasis to make consistently surviving Tragic Heroes worthwhile. This could be a thing but I am somehow still too stupid to see how this is related to draw-to-X. Seems more like "discard-for-benefit, then draw to reload, in the very end cash in for a megaturn".
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Titandrake

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2018, 11:06:33 pm »
+2

Letting Tragic Hero die is okay, but if you can consistently save your Tragic Heroes it can be very strong. On your final turn, you deliberately cash-in all the Tragic Heros, get a ton of money, and end the game.
If I get this correctly you need discard-for-benefit like Storeroom or Oasis to make consistently surviving Tragic Heroes worthwhile. This could be a thing but I am somehow still too stupid to see how this is related to draw-to-X. Seems more like "discard-for-benefit, then draw to reload, in the very end cash in for a megaturn".

It's related to draw-to-X in that both work well with discard-for-benefit. The difference is that the value isn't from drawing more cards from a draw-to-X card, it's from getting to keep your Tragic Hero.

This is why I feel it should be part of a Tragic Hero article and not a draw-to-X article.
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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 12:50:33 am »
0

A couple of terribly important things for this sort of engine not already covered:

1. Village count is utterly crucial. Yeah it is nice when your village is on your cash source, but a lot of strong DtX boards lack this. If your +coin is something like Count or Giant going in the hole on villages is really bad. 6 Villages means that you can use 3/7 actions on draw and 4/7 on coin generation $9 vs $12 is enough to buy some enabler (e.g. Cellar, Poacher) to drastically improve your reliability; $9 is not. Even if you are making coin from something like Oasis, a shortage of villages drastically increases your chances of busting a whole shuffle. This in turn means that you may want to play a little closer to the village idiot than for a comparable engine with standard draw; if you lose the village split 7/3 you can get completely hosed by all the actions the opponent can easily stack with the efficient draw. Killing villages is extremely brutal and it is completely worth it to hunt for them (e.g. Kc/Swindler).

2. Your deck will support more terminals. Even with non-terminal DtX, you are typically looking at extremely space efficient draw. You only need a few draw cards to get to every terminal in the deck. You often can and may want to stack a massive amount of terminals into your deck (e.g. A few Mountebanks, a Militia, and a Remodel).  Cost per draw with Lib is potentially 1.2 cards/$; with Smithy it is .5/$ and even Hgrounds are .5/$ (and Lib is one of the low efficiency options).  With draw being cheap you afford to draw a lot more cards than normal. Menage, Minion, etc. are even more crazy efficient as they do not need you to spring for a village. In general, terminals are much more powerful than non-terminals and with draw this cheap, non-draw terminals are much more powerful than draw. You manage a lot more terminals in DtX than other engines.
 
3. Milling green is insanely powerful. Remodel Prov -> Prov depletes VP points so you win before the green knocks down the engine; it also clears out a draw slot. Salvager or anything that preserves points is crazy good and can allow you to green sooner. It also opens up the late game chance of trashing a DtX card if you manage to draw enough to not need to play it.

4. DtX is extremely susceptible to Pillage. To a lesser degree they get destroyed by top deck control (e.g. Rabble, Fteller, and B-crat). Gumming up the first draw of a hand has extremely strong additive effects.

5. Alt-VP can make your life easier or harder. If you have anything that can clear out dross, you can build crazy strong engines and then cash out for mass Alt-VP even against a lot of fast money options. Because your deck is full of actions (e.g. sifting/villages/draws/payloads/VPs), you can easily get 4 or 5 VP Gardens. Playing Duchy/Island is a fine alternative to Provs with your draw.

Conversely if you cannot get past the green, eating 8 Provs is much harder than 4 + change. You can still play DtX, but you need to build for longer and play for the long game with an eye on piles as to when to green out. It is actually pretty rare for a true slog or alt-VP rush to beat a decent DtX, but do watch out for stuff that scales up quick (e.g. Beggar/Gardens) or can manage very quick 3-piles (e.g. Iw/Island/Sroad).

6. Time your reshuffles with extreme care. Lib is terrible for accidentally drawing into discarded dross, Jack can be worse. Do you need to draw another card (e.g. to hit a 2nd Prov)? Is it worth losing your entire next hand? Be aware of weird things that can force a reshuffle at odd moments (e.g. Herald).

7. Similarly you really want to time your village buys well. Terminal DtX is terrible with dead draw, you can burn the buying power of a shuffle without a village and as your deck gets better and treasure means less to you. Taking a $5 Xroads is going to be much better than "using" a $5 on a 2nd/3rd Scholar to "not waste" a $5. A deck with little or no treasures has absolutely terrible dead draw potential.

8. And on that note - buy the bloody silvers. Most DtX is going to need to hit $5 for the draws, the villages, or the payload. Sometimes you can get away with something like Wt/Trasher and hope to hit $5 off coppers. You will destroy your game though if you have to trash coppers early and cannot hit $5 forever. If you can never trash silvers, sure be much more careful. But the obnoxious majority of DtX games will have viable trashing. Buy them early, get the engine running, and then (if warranted) trash them back out. If you think game is not going to end "soon" you may as well keep the silvers when they one of very few stop card, just don't be afraid to trash the silvers the turn after you used it to buy 2 Provs.
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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2018, 02:37:36 am »
0

A couple of terribly important things for this sort of engine not already covered:
1. This is covered; see section 3.

2. So you want more Villages, but also more terminals? That does not make sense. What is true is that you need somewhat fewer draw cards total. But, since you still want to make sure to draw at least one, that's not a "terribly important" thing.

3. Is at least implicit in pointing out that this is less reliable than a standard engine, but probably doesn't hurt making explicit.

4. An interaction with a single card does not qualify as important enough to be mentioned.

5. Getting Gardens or Duchy/Island seems like terrible advice for draw-to-X. You want to be adding high-value VP, i.e. Provinces. Duchy/Island clog your deck until you line them up, which is significantly harder to do in draw-to-X than a normal engine.

6. Is as much true for standard engines as it is for draw-to-X.

7. is also pretty much the same as an engine, other than the fact that you want more villages, which is already covered.

8. That really depends. Sometimes of course you need Silver, but frequently you don't, and you want to avoid it more than in a regular engine, so putting this advice in is misleading.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

Holunder9

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2018, 03:17:32 am »
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7. Similarly you really want to time your village buys well. Terminal DtX is terrible with dead draw, you can burn the buying power of a shuffle without a village and as your deck gets better and treasure means less to you. Taking a $5 Xroads is going to be much better than "using" a $5 on a 2nd/3rd Scholar to "not waste" a $5. A deck with little or no treasures has absolutely terrible dead draw potential.

8. And on that note - buy the bloody silvers. Most DtX is going to need to hit $5 for the draws, the villages, or the payload. Sometimes you can get away with something like Wt/Trasher and hope to hit $5 off coppers. You will destroy your game though if you have to trash coppers early and cannot hit $5 forever. If you can never trash silvers, sure be much more careful. But the obnoxious majority of DtX games will have viable trashing. Buy them early, get the engine running, and then (if warranted) trash them back out. If you think game is not going to end "soon" you may as well keep the silvers when they one of very few stop card, just don't be afraid to trash the silvers the turn after you used it to buy 2 Provs.
Minion and Festival-Library disagree with this Treasure adoration.
Jack of Trades also does because he makes the Silvers himself.
Cursed Village wants Actions to play in between so this fellow also says no-no to the Treasure bonanza.
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jomini

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2018, 10:48:09 am »
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A couple of terribly important things for this sort of engine not already covered:
1. This is covered; see section 3.

2. So you want more Villages, but also more terminals? That does not make sense. What is true is that you need somewhat fewer draw cards total. But, since you still want to make sure to draw at least one, that's not a "terribly important" thing.

3. Is at least implicit in pointing out that this is less reliable than a standard engine, but probably doesn't hurt making explicit.

4. An interaction with a single card does not qualify as important enough to be mentioned.

5. Getting Gardens or Duchy/Island seems like terrible advice for draw-to-X. You want to be adding high-value VP, i.e. Provinces. Duchy/Island clog your deck until you line them up, which is significantly harder to do in draw-to-X than a normal engine.

6. Is as much true for standard engines as it is for draw-to-X.

7. is also pretty much the same as an engine, other than the fact that you want more villages, which is already covered.

8. That really depends. Sometimes of course you need Silver, but frequently you don't, and you want to avoid it more than in a regular engine, so putting this advice in is misleading.
Ugg, can we please avoid the ever popular "let's pretend everyone reading these articles are idiots".

1. Nope. Section 3 is about increasing reliability. My point is that DtX is extremely draw efficient if you are using action cash and because of that you can support far more terminals than in most engines. Worse if you lose the village split you cannot replace action-cash with treasures. You can have a perfectly reliable engine (e.g. two Schemes) and I would still recommend winning the village split, I would also recommend increasing your buy priority for villages because being able to manage more terminals is that much more powerful.

2. In regular engines, terminals compete with treasures. Golds are good because they pack a big effect into only needing to draw them. In DtX, this does not happen. When building an engine you have three basic inputs: draw slots, actions, and gains. You need to generate cash (or value). In DtX draw slots are cheap for actions and high for treasures. This lowers the opportunity costs for actions and gains; gains are normally extremely low opportunity costs so you should expect the ideal number of terminals to increase in DtX ceteris parabis.

4. Please read more fully. Pillage is a specific case of a general class of attacks that work by decreasing the odds of allowing chained draw. Very few attacks do a lot to DtX. All the discards can actively help DtX. Trashers are normal, yeah they might hit the lynchpin cards, but they also might hit dross. Even most junkers are often worthless by the mid game - if you can overdraw you can often just burn junk faster than it comes in. Cards that make it hard to chain draw are much stronger against DtX; Pillage, Rabble, Fteller, Sea Hag, B-crat (depending on village type and discarder types), Oracle, and Hexes can all have a similar effect.

5. Alt-VP extends the timeline of the game. DtX can be, and on most board is, a slow build out (e.g. singleton trasher, payload at $5) and you may not win the Prov race getting there ... however in a non-mirror you can easily build DtX out to a point where you can add 4 or 5 $6 cards per turn. This can either be a glass cannon option (totally possible to grab 8 Gardens in one turn) or building out green tolerance that can let you play the long game for several turns. You don't care what your deck looks like the turn after you win. Do not be afraid to plan on grabbing a bunch of junk on your final (few) turns or talking the long road to building up points.

After all a fully loaded Village/Smithy deck can draw through 35 cards if they pile both. Village/Wt can manage 65. Assuming you get equal utility for either deck with sifting, DtX at final build out can support far more cards than normal engines. This doesn't matter so much without Alt-VP as game ends before you build out to a DtX that can support 10 or 20 green, but with a long game the maximum card count supported actually does matter. With the more cost efficient draw from DtX you get compounding returns on boards where carrying large card tallies is important (e.g. Gardens, Sroads, Vineyards, Fairgrounds, Tower, and even Conquest splurges)

6. Standard engines have treasures and the opportunity cost for discard-for-benefit is almost always much higher. The odds that you have a discard full of dross is vastly higher for DtX, the gain from gambling on a mistimed shuffle is typically lower, and with larger draw volumes it is harder to be clear if the draw is safe (particularly when playing with physical cards). More importantly, DtX cannot do a number of the normal tricks to avoid reshuffle triggers. Top decking does not prevent the reshuffle (e.g. Count, Mandarin), dropping a card or three with finer draw control (e.g. Lab, Moat) can be very counter productive/high opportunity cost, and even gaining to deck top (e.g. Armory, Tracker) rarely saves you.

7. If you are timing your buys strictly the same as for normal engines and DtX, you are playing inefficiently. In a normal engine you want to err more on the side of drawing as your payload likely has treasures boosting the gains from a dead draw. Further your draw cards often come with effects that either mitigate dead draw problems (e.g. Catacombs) or have powerful effects (e.g. Margrave, Oracle). Virtually all of the power in DtX draw comes as draw, but drawing cards dead when your draw has an above average village density is a losing move often. Ceteris parabis, you want to build fewer decks with excess draw cards in DtX than in regular engines during build out.

8. Sure, just like you have to be more careful about reshuffles and want to buy more villages & more terminals with DtX in the main, you want less treasure. That said, I win a LOT of games against 50+ players who appear scared of buying Silver in DtX. I see virtually no 60+ players who fall into this trap. It is pretty rare to support both DtX in general and not being able to burn a Silver later. Think of it as a variable term Mining village. Use it to bootstrap and then get rid of it (time permitting).

These articles should be about how the card changes your play, not just stuff that is blindingly obvious after watching one opponent play it well once. Once you get through the basics, the difference between winning and losing is not often who recognizes that you can build an engine, but who recognizes how to build and play it most efficiently. This is where when to buy Silvers (early if ever), how many (1-3), and when to trash them (the turn before or after getting your first greens).

Likewise, DtX is not less reliable when the engine is running well. You basically need ~20% of your deck to be draw for DtX and ~20% to be villages to hit the vast majority of turns. With something like Smithy you need it to be closer to 25%/25%. Sure it is less reliable on boards where you need villages, terminal payload, and draw during build up, but fundamentally the number of draw cards needed to be reliable goes down with DtX as does the number of villages for drawing. We should be analyzing cards in articles that help people make a decisions informed by a 10% difference in deck composition. That is the non-intuitive part.
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faust

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2018, 11:22:18 am »
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I disagree with a lot of this, but let me just point to the most blatantly wrong advice:

5. Alt-VP extends the timeline of the game.
While true for some alt-VP, I don't think this applies to Gardens or Island in a significant manner.

DtX can be, and on most board is, a slow build out (e.g. singleton trasher, payload at $5)
I see no reason why draw-to-X would be slower than a regular engine to build in general.

and you may not win the Prov race getting there ... however in a non-mirror you can easily build DtX out to a point where you can add 4 or 5 $6 cards per turn. This can either be a glass cannon option (totally possible to grab 8 Gardens in one turn)
So this is just bad advice. Okay, I am losing the Province race, so my plan is to build even more and then get 8 Gardens and have my deck crumble. All the while my opponent will get 8 Provinces, which are still worth more than my Gardens, and I lose.

or building out green tolerance that can let you play the long game for several turns. You don't care what your deck looks like the turn after you win. Do not be afraid to plan on grabbing a bunch of junk on your final (few) turns or talking the long road to building up points.
This is also way less viable in draw-to-X than it is in a regular engine since handling green is much harder.

After all a fully loaded Village/Smithy deck can draw through 35 cards if they pile both. Village/Wt can manage 65.
And this, is just obnoxiously misleading. The very important point to remember is what trivialknot pointed out:

Conventional draw decks can in principle draw through an infinitely large deck.  Draw-to-X decks always eventually halt.
You can inflate your deck to 65, but if you do, you will never actually draw through it. Thus overbuilding is actually worse for draw-to-X. This is just terrible advice.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

Commodore Chuckles

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2018, 06:06:05 pm »
+2

Jack of Trades also does because he makes the Silvers himself.

Doesn't the Silver-gaining make JoaT a pretty terrible Draw-to-X enabler anyway?
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crj

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Re: Draw-to-X engines
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2018, 07:14:54 pm »
+1

Oh, but wouldn't the combination of JoaT and Changeling be lovely for a Draw-to-X engine? A man can dream...
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