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Author Topic: Engine Building Help  (Read 350 times)

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connorbr011

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Engine Building Help
« on: November 07, 2018, 08:36:14 am »
+1

So, I recently got crushed in an engine game where both of us were pursuing the same strategy, but he started double provincing way before I did. After the game I realized I honestly have no idea how to actually build an engine. I have a few questions:

Is there a general formula for engine building? If so, what is it?

How should I practice building engines?


Thanks!
« Last Edit: November 07, 2018, 08:37:40 am by connorbr011 »
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Polk5440

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2018, 09:07:18 am »
+4

There is not a great general answer here because it's tough to see how you fell behind without looking at a specific game. There are a few areas I would think about, though:

1. Trashing. Were you slower because you did not trash fast enough? Get rid of Coppers, Estates, and other junk as fast as you can. It's possible to over trash, yes, but in my experience, people who struggle with getting a fast engine deck going don't trash fast enough.

2. Attacks. Were you slower because your opponent was attacking you (Curses, discarding) but you were not attacking him?

3. Multiple gains/buys. Were you taking advantage of opportunities for multiple buys/gains to build your deck faster?

4. Have a goal in mind. What is it you are trying to do? Which cards help you get there?

For more reading, here's a decent intro article from the blog, if you are curious.

https://dominionstrategy.com/2017/11/06/dominion-101-what-is-an-engine/

Suggestions to get better:

1. Play more and experiment. Think about where you can improve after every game. Were you really playing the same strategy as your opponent? Try playing the same kingdom again.

2. Watch some YouTube videos of high level players to see how they handle deck building.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2018, 09:12:25 am by Polk5440 »
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connorbr011

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2018, 09:48:19 am »
0

I don't have a log, but I do remember there being the following cards:
Old Witch
Plaza
Catacombs
Villain
Treasurer
Improve
Silk Merchant

The strategy both of us were using was something along the lines of Plaza/Catacombs engine with Old Witch and Treasurer as payload, and using Improve on Silk Merchants to get extra mileage out of the Silk Merchants.

During the last few turns of the game, my opponent's engine was sufficiently built so that he double provinced three times in a row, while mine didn't work at all due to all the Old Witch curses. I'm not really sure what I ended up doing wrong (besides losing the Plaza split 4/6).
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faust

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2018, 10:41:47 am »
+1

Well if the game had Old Witch then it may well have come done to luck. There does not seem to be a way of Curse trashing other than your opponent's Old Witches, so you need to get somewhat lucky there. Getting Old Witch is definitely first priority on this board, but do not underestimate the power of trashing Coppers with Treasurer; that probably needs to be your second $5. Losing the Plaza split is also quite bad here if it was the only way to get extra actions. There are a lot of strong terminals that you really want to play. Improve Silk Merchants into Catacombs and then Catacombs into Gold + Silk Merchant is a neat trick to do here, but I'm not sure if you would have time for that.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2018, 12:57:17 pm »
+1

What Polk said is good advice.

I think the question behind how to build your deck is how to read the kingdom and what your priorities are in order.

Usually, you first get control of your deck (trashing, draw, villages if necessary, etc).
Then you make your deck do good stuff (money and buys, attacking your opponent).
Then you win the game with your deck (scoring points and piling out).

When you're figuring out how to do that, first you should look at the attacks/defenses, then look for how much "control" you can get, then decide what your best turn looks like (buying one Province or doing more than that).

Adam Horton's tutorial series is another good place to start: 
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 10:14:43 am »
0

I usually distinguish six factors to help my engine building:

- Alt-VP
- Trashing
- Attacks
- Villages/Splitters
- Draw
- Buys/gains

If most or all of these factors are present, you can usually build an engine; sometimes you can do with fewer factors (there are plenty of engines without attacks or alt-VP, without trashing, with only cantrips instead of villages or with only 1 Buy - only engines without draw are rare). There are also exceptions where an insane rush/slog/combo deck is better than the engine, but those exceptions are also fairly uncommon.

If you decided that an engine is the way to go on a certain board, then:

- Always open with a trasher if possible, otherwise if the trasher is $5 or more get it on the second shuffle. Trash aggressively;
- Gainers are also very strong in the opening;
- From the second shuffle onward, balance terminals and splitters, and make sure your deck is not skewed too much in either direction;
- Add attacks as soon as you can play them somewhat reliably. Some attacks are so strong that you want to buy them ASAP, such as Mountebank;
- Figure out what your engine could conceivably do; many engines are happy just going double Province, but sometimes you can triple Province or megaturn, or double Colony, or alt-VP of some sort. Act accordingly. For example, a double Province engine needs to have at least $16 and +1 Buy; keep track of what cards you have to attain this goal.
- Green as late as you can get away with, but not too late so that you don't run the risk of your opponent getting points lockdown or ending the game on a win. Green worsens your deck, but it's usually inevitable. Also beware of three-pile endings.

Of course, exceptions apply to these rules, but it's good to be aware of these rules first.
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greybirdofprey

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2018, 10:44:32 am »
0

Also check whether building an engine is the right move. On some boards I've made the right call by playing a simple single-card big money strategy and just outspeeding the engines. Vault, Courtyard, and Gear are especially great at this (although they're good in engines as well, except Courtyard). Also check whether three-piling is possible (Stonemason, Lurker, for example). I know a player in real life who ALWAYS builds the engine if possible, and it doesn't always work (Throne Room + Guide as only village, really?).

What Aleimon Thimble said, check if those are present. How good are they at what they do? If you can't get more than one Province each turn an engine may not be the right move (it was here, there are +buys, attacks, plenty of draw and a good village).
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jonaskoelker

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Re: Engine Building Help
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2018, 11:29:51 am »
0

One thing that's very easy to do and which will probably help you improve at Dominion is to look at the final deck compositions. The obvious heuristic is that the different compositions of non-victory cards caused the different composition of victory cards (and thus scores). On top of this, in the paper version you can also track who trashed what by keeping separate piles. (Essentially this is a crude compressed form of the complete log.)

In your particular 7-plus-card-kingdom, I would pay special attention to the junker. Did you get your before your opponent got theirs or vice versa? Did you play yours first? How many curses did you have in your deck? How many starters and curses did each of you trash?

Another analysis that seems worth doing if you can look at your entire deck (either while in play or at the end of the game): count how many cards you have and how many "+n cards" effects you have (plus 5 for your starting hand size). Are you drawing your entire deck? Are you overdrawing? Overdrawing is typically done by having more rather than bigger Smithies, and having more helps reliability. Do you have enough +action to play all your draw cards?

A lot of the time some of the key cards cost $5 or more. Did your opponent hit $5 before you did or the other way around? Did they hit $5 more often?

I also second more or less what everyone else has said.
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