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Author Topic: When to delay cursing  (Read 3039 times)

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O

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When to delay cursing
« on: April 22, 2012, 06:08:39 pm »
+3

Early and often is the conventional dominion strategy for cursing attacks. And it's true most of the time: we figured out awhile ago that the real terror of a deck bloated with curses is not the negative VP, but rather that dead cards in your hand are incredibly damaging. It follows from this that we want to distribute curses, and thus kill your opponents deck, as quickly as possible.

Four cursegivers sometimes create exceptions to this rule, for various reasons:



1) Followers
This exception is the most obvious, and has two reasons; One, it's nearly impossible to get followers into your deck "quickly", and two: Followers junks up your deck as much as your opponents. Surprisingly, followers could be considered a card closer to Goons than say, Mountebank.




2) Young Witch with a mediocre or worse bane.
A case could be made that this is similar to any curser with Moat on the board, but 85% of the time the bane will be significantly better than moat (15%, i'm looking at you, secret chamber and moat); so much so that it's really a different case.

Your opponent might pick up one or even two banes in the opening, making young witch a relatively weak prospect. But in the midgame if they continue to spam the weakish bane, you're going to pretty easily cruise to a victory with your superior cards. If they ignore the bane outside the 1-2 from the opening, midgame their is often bloated enough that you can significantly slow them down if you start focusing on cursing then with a well timed buy*. Is the only reason this works psychological (meaning that with perfect play this case  wouldn't exist)? Probably. But you're opponents are human, so it works. This is especially true if you find that you actually will benefit from the effect of young witch in your deck.




3) Ill Gotten Gains with trashing

We have mastered IGG down to a science. The IGG rush is one of the most methodically crushing strategies, so much so that people find it boring. The IGG Rush works well without trashing, or even with some trash for benefits (Expand, Salvager, Apprentice, remake to an extent) but fails hard against other trashers (Lookout, Masquerade, sometimes Forge, Chapel). You should probably ignore IGG in any of those cases.

Except you shouldn't. Like young witch and her banes, people won't buy those trashers en mass (unless it's masquerade. I do not endorse trying IGG if your opponent has more than one masquerade on any circumstances, ever.)  So while an all out IGG rush against those cards is very likely to fail without support, a well timed buy* or two can be a major annoyance, though not a crushing blow, to your opponents deck.

So whats a well timed buy* anyways? When you elect to curse midgame with young witch or IGG, you really want to pay attention to the shuffles. The closer your opponent is to the shuffle, the better the time it is to start buying IGG. The closer you are to a reshuffle (or if your cycling your deck each turn), the better the the time it is for you to buy young witch. This is, once again, due to the somewhat subjective psychological aspect of dominion and limiting your opponents timing; if your opponent has one or two more hands in their shuffle, they might love to buy another masquerade to counter your curse, but they draw 6$ and now would have to severely overpay for a counter.




4) Familiar
Familiar is probably the most maligned curser. This is because of its immense cost due to the way we play dominion on isotropic (if whenever we played with a potion cost we played with 3-5 of them, people would have a much higher opinion of all potion cards, even transmute.) But the nay-sayers are right: Opening potion-silver is often a mistake with trashing on a board: Geronimoos unoptimized familiar bot beats the unoptimized remake bot only 52-45; a small margin for a curser. With other things aiding trashers, Remake is often a far better opener than familiar because familiar kills your economy in the short term (the potion is like a curse) while remake will jumpstart theirs too quickly for familiar to slow them down.

But as with the other cards, a potion doesn't necessarily need to be bought in the first round or not at all.

Look at the following game: http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20120421-140353-f310ab74.html
With spice merchant and remake on the board, both me and Michael Harris think that familiar is against too much trashing and open remake/silver. On the second reshuffle I hit
remake-C-C-C-C, while he hits Remake-E-E-C-C, essentially killing my chances at winning a mirror match. Shifting my strategy, I pick up a potion on turn 5 and proceed to fill him with 8 of the ten curses (I took two from his torturer when I could trash them). He successfully trashes them all, but the curses slow him down so much that I eek out a 4 point victory. Except for perhaps buying one too many nobles, Michael Harris played his strategy close to optimally, making me believe it was the decision to grab familiars that let me win.

Note also that if I opening potion-silver, remake-spice merchant would almost certainly have crushed me (guessing that the odds are roughly 75-25 there)
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timchen

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 01:50:01 am »
0

Long story short: even if cursers are not best to open, mostly due to trashing effects cards, they can be deadly if the opponent is not being careful.

I have a couple of games won this way too. It's a strange thing though: like if you completely ignore the cursers in the middle of the game you are more likely to lose; but somehow judging from the fact that it is not the best to open with, if you treat it properly midgame, I don't see intuitively how can it be suddenly dominant.
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jotheonah

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2012, 01:54:33 am »
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Very interesting article. Some good advanced play to think about.


2) Young Witch with a mediocre or worse bane.
A case could be made that this is similar to any curser with Moat on the board, but 85% of the time the bane will be significantly better than moat (15%, i'm looking at you, secret chamber and moat); so much so that it's really a different case.

Your opponent might pick up one or even two banes in the opening, making young witch a relatively weak prospect. But in the midgame if they continue to spam the weakish bane, you're going to pretty easily cruise to a victory with your superior cards. If they ignore the bane outside the 1-2 from the opening, midgame their is often bloated enough that you can significantly slow them down if you start focusing on cursing then with a well timed buy*. Is the only reason this works psychological (meaning that with perfect play this case  wouldn't exist)? Probably. But you're opponents are human, so it works. This is especially true if you find that you actually will benefit from the effect of young witch in your deck.


Even against a really good Bane, a similar principal applies.  Say my (paranoid?) opponent bought 5 Pearl Divers and managed to do it without falling too far behind in buying good cards. In the early game, my opponent will always have at least one PD in hand when I play my Young Witch. But the more money and VP and engine pieces they buy, the smaller the chance that a Pearl Diver will be in any given hand.  So it's the mid-to-late game when cursing even becomes feasible.
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jonts26

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2012, 01:56:54 am »
+1

Sometimes, with a good, not great bane, in the midgame I'll buy a young witch even if it's sub-optimal in hopes that my opponent makes the even poorer decision of loading up on the mediocre bane.
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DG

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2012, 07:59:03 am »
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There are some games where you can deal with cursing while you are contracting your deck however once you try to expand your deck, often with treasures, it becomes more difficult to clean it up. The ambassador shows this regularly buy it applies to other games too.


I can remember telling a guy once that he should only have bought one familiar and let that trickle curses slowly into my deck all game long. That would have been as effective as the three 3 familiars he did buy, since I'd trashed all the curses by midgame then build up a big gold deck that could safely power towards a finish.
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jomini

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2012, 01:13:36 pm »
+1

Another thing to watch out for is trashing the curse counter. For instance, let's say you open something like chapel/caravan in a mirror match. Getting a curse giver, like even mountebank or witch, is not so great. Causing your opponent to, perhaps, draw a card or two fewer and buy another caravan rather than a gold isn't as big as having the curse stick around for more than a turn or two. However, if your opponent gets rid of his chapel with an island, farmlands it into a caravan, or has otherwise gotten the chapel out of circulation, then it can be a good use of a hand to hit up the curse giver and start clogging things up.

People tend to view trashers as dead cards after the initial work of thinning the deck. If the opportunity presents itself to get rid of a dead card, they will, even if they face a high opportunity cost to bring it back. For instance, let's say you use a 4 coin hand to get an island and get rid of the chapel; I can likewise use a 5 coin hand to get a mountebank utterly trash your engine. In a game without +buys you may well have to either accept 8 cards of dross or sacrifice a province turn to buy a chapel. Many people can't bear to spend 6 or even 8 coins on a chapel - even when it would keep their engine alive for many more turns.

Good setups for this sort of thing include: governor (particularly if you used my governor to turn your forge into a province, chapel into a silver, etc.), farmland (terrible at killing curses, great at turning chapels into villages), island, NV (if they are tucking green away on the mat), apprentice (eating a chapel, steward, or remake for cards is common; nerfing the engine whilst they trash a curse for nothing is pretty priceless), remodel (though smart players may down-model a silver to deal with ), and expand. Terminal trashers tend to be much more susceptible to being lost than non-terminal ones.

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2012, 05:19:41 pm »
+1

Another thing to watch out for is trashing the curse counter. For instance, let's say you open something like chapel/caravan in a mirror match. Getting a curse giver, like even mountebank or witch, is not so great. Causing your opponent to, perhaps, draw a card or two fewer and buy another caravan rather than a gold isn't as big as having the curse stick around for more than a turn or two. However, if your opponent gets rid of his chapel with an island, farmlands it into a caravan, or has otherwise gotten the chapel out of circulation, then it can be a good use of a hand to hit up the curse giver and start clogging things up.

People tend to view trashers as dead cards after the initial work of thinning the deck. If the opportunity presents itself to get rid of a dead card, they will, even if they face a high opportunity cost to bring it back. For instance, let's say you use a 4 coin hand to get an island and get rid of the chapel; I can likewise use a 5 coin hand to get a mountebank utterly trash your engine. In a game without +buys you may well have to either accept 8 cards of dross or sacrifice a province turn to buy a chapel. Many people can't bear to spend 6 or even 8 coins on a chapel - even when it would keep their engine alive for many more turns.

Good setups for this sort of thing include: governor (particularly if you used my governor to turn your forge into a province, chapel into a silver, etc.), farmland (terrible at killing curses, great at turning chapels into villages), island, NV (if they are tucking green away on the mat), apprentice (eating a chapel, steward, or remake for cards is common; nerfing the engine whilst they trash a curse for nothing is pretty priceless), remodel (though smart players may down-model a silver to deal with ), and expand. Terminal trashers tend to be much more susceptible to being lost than non-terminal ones.

Chapel in Big Money games is a particularly terrible trasher of midgame curses. If you aren't drawing your deck with +actions the collision chance is very low.
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jomini

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2012, 07:19:14 pm »
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Another thing to watch out for is trashing the curse counter. For instance, let's say you open something like chapel/caravan in a mirror match. Getting a curse giver, like even mountebank or witch, is not so great. Causing your opponent to, perhaps, draw a card or two fewer and buy another caravan rather than a gold isn't as big as having the curse stick around for more than a turn or two. However, if your opponent gets rid of his chapel with an island, farmlands it into a caravan, or has otherwise gotten the chapel out of circulation, then it can be a good use of a hand to hit up the curse giver and start clogging things up.

People tend to view trashers as dead cards after the initial work of thinning the deck. If the opportunity presents itself to get rid of a dead card, they will, even if they face a high opportunity cost to bring it back. For instance, let's say you use a 4 coin hand to get an island and get rid of the chapel; I can likewise use a 5 coin hand to get a mountebank utterly trash your engine. In a game without +buys you may well have to either accept 8 cards of dross or sacrifice a province turn to buy a chapel. Many people can't bear to spend 6 or even 8 coins on a chapel - even when it would keep their engine alive for many more turns.

Good setups for this sort of thing include: governor (particularly if you used my governor to turn your forge into a province, chapel into a silver, etc.), farmland (terrible at killing curses, great at turning chapels into villages), island, NV (if they are tucking green away on the mat), apprentice (eating a chapel, steward, or remake for cards is common; nerfing the engine whilst they trash a curse for nothing is pretty priceless), remodel (though smart players may down-model a silver to deal with ), and expand. Terminal trashers tend to be much more susceptible to being lost than non-terminal ones.

Chapel in Big Money games is a particularly terrible trasher of midgame curses. If you aren't drawing your deck with +actions the collision chance is very low.

Precisely, this is mainly an engine (e.g. chapel/minion), action only (e.g. KC/Scheme, golem) or ultra-lean deck (e.g. gold, gold, silver, province, IW -> island) type thing. It normally isn't worth it in a BM game to get rid of "dead" cards like chapel via inefficient means (e.g. NV, island, farmland, etc.); the same problem that comes from lining up curses and trashers makes lining up chapel and the means to dispose of it less useful.

Further in a BM type game curse givers are far less useful to you in the mid-late game. An engine deck can often add a curse giver and play it every turn; a BM deck will be lucky to play it every four turns between deck size and dead actions.

Mid-late game BM decks are also more resistant to curses than a lot of engine decks - if you miss the province you buy a duchy, but there are going to be a lot of times where you will either already have your province (e.g. smithy hands where you'd otherwise hit 9 or 10) or where you already missed your price point (e.g. hands of 9 or 10 are identical for late colony games). You just don't draw curses often enough in many late BM decks to hate them more than once.

Engine decks typically can deal with mid-late curses better as they either create larger hands or they give you many more chances to line up trasher and curse. Without a trasher, however, engine can get stopped cold by curses as your odds of hitting draw combos plummet. 3-4 curses can easily double the chances of an engine firing completely dead (no +action in hand) or limit the payout (no double province turns).

So before dipping into mid-late game curse giving you need to have some idea of how many curses are actually going to go out with the card and how much you give up by buying it (e.g. any curse giver could have been a silver instead - so figure on losing 3ish points at minimum for having to buy a province instead of duchy or just forgoing the immediate duchy purchase). Opponent engines without a curse trasher (or the option to cheaply get one) are easy targets; if you have your own engine you can load them up with a fairly low opportunity cost.
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ehunt

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2012, 03:27:36 pm »
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I disagree with the decision to delay followers - in about 90% of tournament games, you want to grab followers as soon as you win the first tournament.
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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2012, 04:43:04 pm »
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I disagree with the decision to delay followers - in about 90% of tournament games, you want to grab followers as soon as you win the first tournament.

I wasn't disputing this. It was more of a joke, as you have to wait a long time to gain followers into your deck.

I disagree with 90%, though. Its more like 60%.
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ehunt

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Re: When to delay cursing
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2012, 06:54:24 pm »
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Ah, got it.
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