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Author Topic: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills  (Read 599 times)

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Simon Jester

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First off: Iím still merely a medium player but the results in the Dominion League recently has given me the confidence to say that Iím soon heading to actually be a ďgoodĒ player quite soon. Still,  I donít expect this article to be too meaningful for the expert crowd here on f.ds, instead Iím aiming at the 40-rank people, and to write an article I myself would have benefitted from say a year ago from now.


Introduction

Dominion is a difficult game. There is so much to do, so many cards to know, the options are endless. Still, you have managed to be a proper player. You know how to build what the pros are calling ďenginesĒ. You donít really know exactly how it works constructing them, but looking at your results you seem to manage to do it from time to time. But something is missing. Sometimes your opponent just outrace you without you knowing really why, sometimes they are doing something that seems just plain silly to you and then ending up crushing you - leaving you in the dust with a great ďHow in the earth did that happen?Ē on your face.

This is a modest attempt to guide you towards taking another step in viewing Dominion and how to play the game. As always, the best advice to advance as a player is simply ďplay moreĒ, but to be able to learn as much as possible from your games itís good to bring some guidelines into them.

Analyzing the Kingdom - Sideway cards

You know already how important it is to do a proper analyse of the kingdom before the opening. You need to spot your engine pieces, are there splitters, draws, trashing, strong attacks and everything like that but in Dominion of today there is also something else: The sideway cards; Events from Adventures and Empires, Landmarks from Empires and now Projects from Renaissance. These are important. Really important. Sure, it varies how impactful they are, nothing is certain and without edge cases in Dominion, but as a general rule itís good to recognise the sideway cards and try to follow what they encourage, or discourage, you to do.

Landmarks

For Landmarks, itís pretty straightforward how to play in line with them. Just merely follow what they reward: Go for treasures with Palace and Keep, collect all the cards with Museum and Orchard and so on. You will get a benefit towards your non-mirroring opponents and almost more importantly, you will learn to play in ways that you are not as used to. If you canít see the point with treasures, Keep will teach you how efficient they can be. If you on the other hand found engines too difficult to create on a higher level, Bandit Fort will force you to construct a treasure less deck. Let the Landmarks teach you, maybe you wonít win as much following this as heavily as I here suggest, but you will see different style of play emerge and stumble on insights you otherwise never would have found.

A small disclaimer though: Landmarks with added VP chips as a setup is not recommended to follow blindly in this way. Donít buy a $3 card with your opening 5/2 for Basilisk, donít deliberately skip playable turns for Baths and donít open Duchy/Estate for Battlefield (I have already done this, it was with Silk Road and there was no good five andÖ No, there is no excuses. That was not a good idea.). Consider them however and try to build something that can grab a few points quickly, but even if you lose the split you will recover quite easily if you have built your deck correctly and the other players have wasted time grabbing chips unnecessarily.   

Projects

Projects are good. Really good. Buy them, ASAP. Yes, even in the openings if you have the chance. You might think they donít seem too impressive and admittedly some of them will be obsolete in certain kingdoms (e.g Fair in a kingdom with lots of +buy) but as a learning exercise it doesnít matter too much. How can you utilise these virtually free resources that comes to you often every turn? How do they change your deck and your play and can you think of ways that standard kingdom cards give you the same kind of benefits? Projects gives the game an extra dimension and if you spend time exploring what they do for you, you will gain a lot of information of what kind of possibilities there truly are in the game. Focus your strategy on them when itís possible: Are there treasure gainers available with Guild Hall? Are there actions giving coins with Capitalism? Can you find ways to gain rather than buying cards when Exploration is around? Go out of your ways to utilise them, again, it's not certain the winning strategy to do so, but it very well might be. 

Events

Events is a little bit of a different beast. More than the two categories above, Events have more similarities with kingdom cards, that naturally also can act as guides in how to play the game but much more so in context with each other. There is two strong exceptions Iíd like to mention a bit more though and that is Conquest, Raid and Delve. These three encourages silver flooding and when that is viable itís really something to consider. The point with silver flooding is not very fancy, you will not spend much time building anything and when you are done your deck is a silvery mess which you canít have much control over. The upside is though that once you have drained yourself with silvers itís a piece of cake to buy provinces almost every turn. If your opponents arenít competent enough to build something monstrously good, an activated silver flood will most likely sweep away them before they can do anything about it. Silver flooding, even though an easy enough concept, is tricky to perform correctly and to utilise to a strong enough effect but these events gives you a chance to practice so the next time, say, Feodum comes up in a viable scenario you know what to do and how your deck will function with that amass of silvers in your deck.   

There is as said other Events that changes the gameplay a lot, but they vary so much in strength and impact that my advice have to be a general: Donít ignore them automatically, see if they have something to offer to the kingdom and donít be afraid to try new things even if it feels off, but this is indeed true for every card in Dominion.   

Alternative VP cards

This is not the right place to give detailed instructions in how to play with every specific VP-card in the game, but you may remember this: VP-cards are good. Really good. They will not always be viable and if you misjudge the kingdom they can definitely be a trap, but the times they are good You can rest assure they will be dominating. They are made to compete and beat Provinces on a regular basis so when you roll a kingdom with victory cards, do your best to spot if you can make use for them and what you need to do to make it happen. If you are not sure or if you struggle to see the point with Duke, Gardens or Silk Road there is plenty of strategy tips for you out there. They have been around for a long time and many of the strongest combo decks in the history of the game involves alt-VP strategies. Check them out and play them to get a feel for how they function, it will give you a better eye for the situations when they will be the winning path.

Regular Kingdom cards


This is likely where you already know what there is to be said. Some Kingdom cards are so powerful they will demand all your attention and if you fail to do so you will be punished heavily. There is too many of these kind of cards to discuss them specifically, so what I will say is when you spot such a card in the kingdom try to construct all your deck around it. Donít do too many things at the same time. Focus on winning the amb- war, the race to the Torturer-pin, the Wild Hunt frenzy at all cost. This will teach you how to optimise your deck and how to get to the key elements of your strategy as quickly as possible. With that ability you have a lot more options in your arsenal when approaching a kingdom.

Summary 

There are many ways and reasons to play Dominion. If you are playing more or less casually and your current play style is sufficient to you everything is good and well, but if you like to be competitive and struggle to understand how to play this game on a constantly higher level I warmly suggest to you to start experimenting more. Let the Kingdom tell you what it wants to be done and do it even if you are not sure how. You may stumble and fall many, many times but I bet youíll be surprised how often the seemingly unorthodox ways to play the game truly is the right move.

Good Luck, and may the shuffle luck always be in your fortune (as long as you are not playing against me..)

faust

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2018, 10:15:59 am »
+1

I think it is backwards to try to help medium players by talking extensively about sideways card-shaped things. The first thing they should master is the core game. Specifically giving advice on projects which are still super new and likely not very well understood is extremely premature. And how many of your target audience actually own all the relevant expansions? Half the article discusses stuff from 3 expansions.

Plus, it you want people to check something out (like articles on alt-VP stuff), it would be helpful to actually provide links.
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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.

Simon Jester

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2018, 10:26:29 am »
0

I think it is backwards to try to help medium players by talking extensively about sideways card-shaped things. The first thing they should master is the core game. Specifically giving advice on projects which are still super new and likely not very well understood is extremely premature. And how many of your target audience actually own all the relevant expansions? Half the article discusses stuff from 3 expansions.

Plus, it you want people to check something out (like articles on alt-VP stuff), it would be helpful to actually provide links.

Well, what "medium" players mean is a question of definitions I suppose but when I meet 40-ranks they are surprisingly good at building standard engines and when I beat them in mirrors it's a question of efficiency rather than knowledge. Practice will help them more than anything I could say on the matter.

But, as soon as something different comes up, as the things I'm talking about in the article, they often miss it if not completely then not far off. They are also not very good at countering my alternate strategy, suggesting that they actually don't see what I'm doing at all.   

Yeah, they might not own the expansions, but they will likely meet people who own them relatively often (No idea how likely that is honestly) and the newness of Projects and such is not very relevant since my main point is to dare to explore more, who knows, they might found something nobody knows about yet.   

Providing links were a good suggestion, I'll see what I can do, thanks. 

Beyond Awesome

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2018, 02:36:31 pm »
0

A lot of times, Landmark VPs can be traps such as Palace points or musuem points. The goal, usually, is still to build the best deck.  Though, alt. VP often means you can build longer which means you should try and green later.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 06:59:48 pm by Beyond Awesome »
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Simon Jester

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2018, 03:36:24 pm »
0

A lot of times, Landmark VPs can be traps such as Palace points or musuem points. The goal, usually, is still to build the best deck.  Though, slt. VP often means you can build longer which means you should try and green later.

Yup, but so can power cards and your usual way to approach the game. I just have got a bit fed up with players not even trying to do something different when the board practically scream at you to do it and tried to pinpoint my attitude in this.. Dominion- session.. I have been having this fall.    It has worked for me, trying to make these things work so many times have made me so much more aware of when they work and when they won't be. I don't know if you can get there without trying again and again. Or at least you are a more natural player than I if you get the eye for those things without it.

But hey, I'm not complaining, doing oddball things is easy the most enjoyable aspect of the game so..

Holunder9

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2018, 07:17:26 pm »
0

collect all the cards with Museum and Orchard and so on.
No. Keep in mind that a copy of a card which you do not have yet in your deck is worth 2VP is all you can generally say about Museum. It is rarely the case that you want a copy of all 17 cards in the Supply.

Quote
Buy them, ASAP.
No. Use your brain and buy them when they are good. You cannot ignore tradeoffs, there could always be something better and not every Project is good in every Kingdom.

I suggest to either post general advice like, keep in mind that Landmarks provide a potentially alternative way to Victory beyond Provinces, or specific advice that is actually correct (like comparing Projects with Kingdom cards, e.g. Fairs being an auto-Schemed Market Square or whatever).
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Simon Jester

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 07:34:12 pm »
+1

collect all the cards with Museum and Orchard and so on.
No. Keep in mind that a copy of a card which you do not have yet in your deck is worth 2VP is all you can generally say about Museum. It is rarely the case that you want a copy of all 17 cards in the Supply.

Quote
Buy them, ASAP.
No. Use your brain and buy them when they are good. You cannot ignore tradeoffs, there could always be something better and not every Project is good in every Kingdom.

I suggest to either post general advice like, keep in mind that Landmarks provide a potentially alternative way to Victory beyond Provinces, or specific advice that is actually correct (like comparing Projects with Kingdom cards, e.g. Fairs being an auto-Schemed Market Square or whatever).

This is not "A guide how to win at Dominion" nor is it a guide to "How to play like an expert". This is a suggestion, which I myself have used with good results on how to get familiar with the myriads of ways you can play Dominion on full random with all expansions. It can be overwhelming and to make it easier and perhaps more fun it can be useful to give onself some rules and see how it goes. If you would play blindly like this you had to see it as an experiment and count on losing a couple of times but winning is not the primarily goal while following this but to get a better feeling in what ways and what kind of decks that is actually possible. Playing to get the maximum Museum reward won't win you the game, no, but it will certainly give you a new and unique deck. You'd still have to try to win of course and I explicitly discourage people from trying obvious stupid things just to cash in a few points. But let your deck be biased towards these kind of cards and I can almost guarantee you will get yourself a few lessons that you wouldn't otherwise get. 

And honestly, how many times does one need to write things like "it depends on the kingdom" to be able to formulate a reasoning? Of course landmarks won't be the most impactful thing going on all the time, Of course buying Projects the first thing you do will be a mistake more or less often, but scarily often I see people ignore them altogether, not understanding how great even a marginal benefit as City Gate or Pageant can be. "Buy it ASAP" is probably an advice most players only have to follow one or two times before they'll get it, but when learning stuff it's better to do it a bit too often than avoid it and never truly understands how it plays. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 07:36:02 pm by Simon Jester »
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majiponi

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 07:42:05 pm »
+2

Learning from other players is more important. Let's read logs. For example,

Quote
Kingdom: Bridge, Caravan, Sentry, Swamp Hag, Treasure Trove (no Villages)

T1
I bought Bridge.
Alice bought Caravan.

Can you guess why she bought Caravan?

Quote
T3
I bought Sentry.
Alice bought Sentry.

T4
I bought Caravan.
Alice bought Caravan.

Seems correct?

Quote
T5
I bought Sentry.
Alice bought Treasure Trove.

Now you can see the reason. She wanted to cycle her deck to play Treasure Trove more often. She knew that she could not utilize +1 Buy and drawing more was much more important. She imagined this vision before her first buy.

You may think trashing Estates can kill her, as she didn't buy Bridge. Don't worry. She bought Bridge, too (after buying 3 Caravans), and she did earn $14, 2 Buys (cost -$1) !


Let's start another game!
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Holunder9

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2018, 07:45:54 pm »
0

[Of course buying Projects the first thing you do will be a mistake more or less often
This statement is nearly the opposite of your previous "Buy them, ASAP" statement. If you think that a Dominion article full of hyperbole that stands in stark contrast to what you actually think is any useful you are direly mistaken.

It is like writing an article about Gold which contains the statement "NEVER BUY GOLD" whereas the actual, intended advice is to not get too much stop cards into your deck. Well, I suggest to keep it simple and write what you actually mean unless you are certain that the target audience consists predominantly of people who can read your mind which would make writing an article kind of pointless in the first place.
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Simon Jester

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2018, 07:59:11 pm »
0

[Of course buying Projects the first thing you do will be a mistake more or less often
This statement is nearly the opposite of your previous "Buy them, ASAP" statement. If you think that a Dominion article full of hyperbole that stands in stark contrast to what you actually think is any useful you are direly mistaken.

It is like writing an article about Gold which contains the statement "NEVER BUY GOLD" whereas the actual, intended advice is to not get too much stop cards into your deck. Well, I suggest to keep it simple and write what you actually mean unless you are certain that the target audience consists predominantly of people who can read your mind which would make writing an article kind of pointless in the first place.

Full quote:
Quote
Projects are good. Really good. Buy them, ASAP. Yes, even in the openings if you have the chance. You might think they donít seem too impressive and admittedly some of them will be obsolete in certain kingdoms (e.g Fair in a kingdom with lots of +buy) but as a learning exercise it doesnít matter too much.

Holunder, with all due respect, please read what I'm writing. It's not much of a point to discuss this otherwise.

As Faust said many players don't have the expansions, so they stumble upon a Project for the first time. Are they good? My general answer is, yes, they are really good, most of them you'd want to buy as soon as you can even if they seem to only give a marginal effect to your deck. Even if it can be a mistake to do it ASAP that is mostly when you are meeting a high level player, on an even playing field 40-rank against 40-rank I would say that the early Project-buyer almost always will have made the best choice. I might be wrong, but that is truly my opinion.

There are always exceptions. Always. There is nothing certain in Dominion. But useful articles and advices needs to ignore this to be able to make a point. My point is: Use the whole kingdom, use the Sideway cards. You will benefit from it.

Am I wrong?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 08:01:01 pm by Simon Jester »
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Holunder9

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2018, 09:39:55 pm »
0

But useful articles and advices needs to ignore this to be able to make a point.
This is where we disagree. I prefer an article to be honest and respectful to the complexities and subtleties of the game instead of plain false out of fear that the audience is too stupid to understand something more intriciate than simple slogans.
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napking24

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2018, 12:45:10 pm »
+2

Well done Simon for taking the time to write an article. I've been meaning to do something as well and I wanted to give you some props for being confident enough to share your thoughts.

I think this article is very surface level. There's not much content of actual insight beyond "there are strong cards in dominion", "play with them", "go look up how to play with them elsewhere". You did list a few cards that you wanted to highlight, which is good. Perhaps you could directly link to some other articles or feedback that you found helpful at your level. Your opening section and replys have said that this style was your intention so I'm not going to critique this point further.

I think you could also add a section about "end-game play". It's one thing I have noticed on my climb through the 40s is that some players will practically give me the win with poor end-game play. If that's still something new to you, I would link to the Penultimate Province rule. It's a lesson that really helped boost my rating, despite being an old article before Landmarks were released.

I'd also add a section describing the different styles of decks; engine, slog, combo etc. (I know these definitions have been fluid within the community). For your target audience, I think these are key lessons to learn and feed into your other points regarding Alt VPs, Landmarks and Events. With these concepts, it helps encourage the thought process of analysing the kingdom for which kind of game it will be, which I think is your key message.

Good Luck and Have Fun
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Simon Jester

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Re: Let the Kingdom Guide You - A Way to Increase Your Dominion Skills
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2018, 11:56:13 am »
+2

Well done Simon for taking the time to write an article. I've been meaning to do something as well and I wanted to give you some props for being confident enough to share your thoughts.

I think this article is very surface level. There's not much content of actual insight beyond "there are strong cards in dominion", "play with them", "go look up how to play with them elsewhere". You did list a few cards that you wanted to highlight, which is good. Perhaps you could directly link to some other articles or feedback that you found helpful at your level. Your opening section and replys have said that this style was your intention so I'm not going to critique this point further.

I think you could also add a section about "end-game play". It's one thing I have noticed on my climb through the 40s is that some players will practically give me the win with poor end-game play. If that's still something new to you, I would link to the Penultimate Province rule. It's a lesson that really helped boost my rating, despite being an old article before Landmarks were released.

I'd also add a section describing the different styles of decks; engine, slog, combo etc. (I know these definitions have been fluid within the community). For your target audience, I think these are key lessons to learn and feed into your other points regarding Alt VPs, Landmarks and Events. With these concepts, it helps encourage the thought process of analysing the kingdom for which kind of game it will be, which I think is your key message.

Good Luck and Have Fun

Thanks! Yeah, it's almost intended to be surface- level as it is my very first attempt to write a Dominion article. I would think it would be too much for me to discuss detailed version on end game, decks and such - others, much better player than I have done it before, but I appreciate the suggestion and as you these kind of things essentially to pinpoint your own knowledge in a way that is presentable to others it doesn't matter much if it isn't as prestine as the works of WanderingWinder, Trivialknot and the others. I would indeed not target their audience as much as.. I don't know, probably mine doesn't really exist since those players rarely think of reading articles (I suppose).

By the way, I maybe should add or make it more clearer in future articles that I enjoy advice in the style of hot takes a la SCSN. You are not intended to take those advices as hard truths but to try them out and see how much water they hold ("Always trash the second Urchin" is such a statement he made on the frum that causedsome debates, but in my experience he was very much correct, as much as "always" can be used in Dominion anyway.) "Buy Projects as soon as you can" is in that regard, nobody can say how often that is actually correct but as a rule of thumb it has work good for me so I'm not afraid to state it. 

I hope to go a little bit deeper about how I see the game as of now, flesh out a little bit so I appear less confusing, but thanks for the construtive critisism. That is really encouring :)

Hope to see anything from you too, that would be fun!

 
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