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nasmith99

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Canal
« on: February 20, 2019, 05:46:32 pm »
+8


Canal is a straightforward project which gives you a cost-reduction ability for the rest of the game. Cost-reduction is generally a very powerful ability, though its power often comes from the ability to stack multiple copies of your cost-reducer, making cards that are normally expensive (like Province) cheap or even free. Canal does not offer this, though it still finds use in the right environment. I will explain the three situations in which I believe Canal to be the strongest, then talk about when it might be better to skip Canal.

Cost-Restricted effects

With Canal, you can Summon a Wharf, Artisan an Artisan, draw your 5-costs with Seer and so on. I believe these interactions to be the most powerful uses of Canal, so I recommend that you check for them whenever you see Canal on the board.

Multiple-Buy Engines

If you are buying 3 cards every turn, Canal gives you as much payload as a Gold without adding a stop card to your deck. Put this way, Canal is a strong payload booster for any deck which buys multiple cards in a turn. It often is, though I would caution against thinking you 'have to' buy Canal in this type of game. The opportunity cost of Canal is often a Province, so you need to assess the game state before buying Canal. If it's still early enough that you want to add more payload to your deck, Canal can be a good way to do so, but if the game is close to over, it's ok to skip Canal and go for green instead.

Big Money and Slogs

If you are playing a deck that goes through shuffles slowly, then the fact that Canal gives you a benefit every turn makes it compare favorably to a card like Gold which only gives you a benefit once per shuffle. I would probably even buy Canal over the first Province in such a deck. Note that here the important characteristic of the deck is that we are taking many turns to go through a shuffle, so Gear Money benefits less from Canal than does Treasure Trove Money or a Mountebank slog (though Canal is probably still worth it in Gear Money).

When to skip Canal

The type of deck which benefits the least from Canal is the single-gain engine. If you have no relevant cost-restrictions, are only buying 1 card per turn, and are consistently drawing your deck Canal is just an overpriced Peddler.

Canal also anti-synergizes with trash-for-benefit cards since its cost reduction cannot be turned off. If Canal and the TfB card are both very strong on the board, it may be correct to go for both of them, but most of the time it is probably better to choose one or the other.

Edit: as crj points out, Canal actually makes remodel variants slightly better. The above should only be taken to apply to cards like Apprentice or Recruiter.

Canal is also weak on boards with other cost reducers. The problem with Canal on such boards is that, because of the other cost-reducers, you can often buy several important components for the $7 you spend on Canal. For this reason, it is usually better to build a deck which can play more copies of the other cost reducer than to buy Canal. This isn't to say that Canal is unplayable on such boards: if you happen to end up with $7 and only 1 buy, you often will buy Canal. That said, cost reduction tends to both increase the opportunity cost of Canal and compete with Canal's niche.

Edit: some of the comments take objection to the above paragraph. I think what I said mainly holds true for strong engine boards with other cost-reduction, but in other cases Canal can be more useful than I let on.

Hitting 7

Canal is expensive, so there is a question of whether it is important enough to build your deck differently in order to hit 7 earlier than you otherwise would. The short answer is that it rarely is. In an Engine, you really only want Canal once you are already drawing your deck, at which point hitting 7 shouldn't be too much of a hassle. In Money/Slog decks, Canal is important, but you're already building your deck to hit high price points quickly, so nothing really changes there. The only case where you would go out of your way to spike 7 is where there is a game-defining interaction with Canal, such as being able to summon powerful 5-costs.

This was my first article, so feedback (whether about content or presentation) would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 04:33:03 pm by nasmith99 »
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crj

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Re: Canal
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2019, 08:58:08 pm »
+2

Canal also anti-synergizes with trash-for-benefit cards since its cost reduction cannot be turned off.
This isn't always the case. Being able to Remodel Coppers into $3-cost stuff seems quite attractive, for example.

But so far I've only played with Canal once, so it's hard to get a feel for what proportion of the time it helps rather than hinders TfB.
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nasmith99

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Re: Canal
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2019, 09:06:56 pm »
+1

Canal also anti-synergizes with trash-for-benefit cards since its cost reduction cannot be turned off.
This isn't always the case. Being able to Remodel Coppers into $3-cost stuff seems quite attractive, for example.

But so far I've only played with Canal once, so it's hard to get a feel for what proportion of the time it helps rather than hinders TfB.

Good point. I was thinking of things like Apprentice, Bishop, Recruiter etc. when I mentioned TfB. Remodel variants are mostly unaffected, though as you say, being able to remodel 0-cost cards into 3-costs is nice. I will edit to clarify this.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Canal
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2019, 09:59:36 pm »
+1


All in all I think this is pretty solid. There are a couple of things I'd question though:


Edit: as crj points out, Canal actually makes remodel variants slightly better. The above should only be taken to apply to cards like Apprentice or Recruiter.



I don't understand how it makes Remodel variants better. The only time cost reduction and Remodel effects care about each other is at the $0 price point. Yes, you can turn coppers into other stuff, but that doesn't seem to come up very often, especially not with a restricted cost reducer like Canal. I recommend just cutting this.

Quote
Canal is also weak on boards with other cost reducers. The problem with Canal on such boards is that, because of the other cost-reducers, you can often buy several important components for the $7 you spend on Canal. For this reason, it is usually better to build a deck which can play more copies of the other cost reducer than to buy Canal. This isn't to say that Canal is unplayable on such boards: if you happen to end up with $7 and only 1 buy, you often will buy Canal. That said, cost reduction tends to both increase the opportunity cost of Canal and compete with Canal's niche.


This just hasn't been the case in my experience, and the reason is something you reference early in the article-- cost reduction effects love to stack so they can make expensive cards like province cheap or free. Don't get me wrong, the point you make about the opportunity cost is valid, but the effect of Canal is often good enough with the other cost reducers (especially because you don't have to draw it) that you take it anyway.
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nasmith99

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Re: Canal
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2019, 10:45:12 pm »
+3

I don't understand how it makes Remodel variants better. The only time cost reduction and Remodel effects care about each other is at the $0 price point. Yes, you can turn coppers into other stuff, but that doesn't seem to come up very often, especially not with a restricted cost reducer like Canal. I recommend just cutting this.

I said slightly better. Most of the time, it makes no difference at all, but I think the ability to trash 0's into 3's is at least worth mentioning.

This just hasn't been the case in my experience, and the reason is something you reference early in the article-- cost reduction effects love to stack so they can make expensive cards like province cheap or free. Don't get me wrong, the point you make about the opportunity cost is valid, but the effect of Canal is often good enough with the other cost reducers (especially because you don't have to draw it) that you take it anyway.

I see what you're saying. I think that when I wrote that I had in mind strong boards where you are drawing deck before you would ever hit 7. If we're talking about, say a board with Bridge Troll and a village but no draw or trashing, I could see Canal being very useful as the not having to draw it aspect becomes important.
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Chris is me

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Re: Canal
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2019, 11:04:15 pm »
+4


All in all I think this is pretty solid. There are a couple of things I'd question though:


Edit: as crj points out, Canal actually makes remodel variants slightly better. The above should only be taken to apply to cards like Apprentice or Recruiter.



I don't understand how it makes Remodel variants better. The only time cost reduction and Remodel effects care about each other is at the $0 price point. Yes, you can turn coppers into other stuff, but that doesn't seem to come up very often, especially not with a restricted cost reducer like Canal. I recommend just cutting this.

You can viably remodel 7 more stop cards on your deck and that's not a big deal? Definitely don't cut this. It's really important on a lot of boards, and a perfect illustration of how cost reduction helps Remodel cards even when it doesn't intuitively seem like it affects price differentials.

I basically like this article as it is. This article is really illustrating why reducing cost by even 1 can be super helpful, it's not just useful in the context of Canal, but it uses Canal to make those points.

Quote
Quote
Canal is also weak on boards with other cost reducers. The problem with Canal on such boards is that, because of the other cost-reducers, you can often buy several important components for the $7 you spend on Canal. For this reason, it is usually better to build a deck which can play more copies of the other cost reducer than to buy Canal. This isn't to say that Canal is unplayable on such boards: if you happen to end up with $7 and only 1 buy, you often will buy Canal. That said, cost reduction tends to both increase the opportunity cost of Canal and compete with Canal's niche.


This just hasn't been the case in my experience, and the reason is something you reference early in the article-- cost reduction effects love to stack so they can make expensive cards like province cheap or free. Don't get me wrong, the point you make about the opportunity cost is valid, but the effect of Canal is often good enough with the other cost reducers (especially because you don't have to draw it) that you take it anyway.

This I do agree with - if you hit $7 and it's not the last couple of turns, buying Canal ends up being worth it anyway. It's just that much easier to set up the last turn.
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Águia Branca

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Re: Canal
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2019, 05:09:23 am »
+4

It might also be worth pointing out that, while Remodel benefits from Canal, it's not so clear cut with Remake:

Trashing Copper into Estate < Trashing Copper into nothing < Trashing Copper into Border Guard
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Lemonspawn

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Re: Canal
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2019, 01:49:45 pm »
0

I like this article — it gets right to the point.  I think it’s probably worth pointing out that canal is very similar to highway in many regards (like an always-topdecked highway in many cases).  In draw-limited decks with other cost reducers like bridge troll, canal is quite strong.   (Consider, for example, a 3-card kingdom of wandering minstrel, troll, and canal.).  The big downside of course is that such decks have a very hard time hitting 7.
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