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Author Topic: Dominion 101: The Village  (Read 18065 times)

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WanderingWinder

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Dominion 101: The Village
« on: July 14, 2011, 12:58:11 am »
+3

Most people know that 'being the Village Idiot" is something to avoid. You don't want to open with a village because no matter how many actions you need, there's little point in picking up a village on turn one when you don't even have two terminals to play it with. Pretty simple, right?

Well, the story goes a bit deeper. Consider how a lot of players look at smithy early on. Good card. I can draw a lot with it. But man, I draw stuff dead with it. Especially other smithies. I wish there were some way around that. Hey, village! And so they then proceed to build big smithy/village decks. Lots of villages, lots of smithies, drawing like your whole deck every turn. And then they lose! The tragedy is, for a good while, players will often then chalk these losses up to bad luck. But actually, in a kingdom where smithy, village, and 'the basics' are the only cards, you know what the optimum number of villages is? 0! (and that's not the mathematical zero factorial, which would be one, but just plain zero). Huh?

The thing is, village isn't a bad card. Like basically all other at-least-a-cantrips, in the vast majority of decks, if you gave me the choice of having a village or not, I'd have it. I almost always give the village to myself. So why then, is it better to not buy the villages here? The answer is opportunity cost. Basically every time you buy a village, you've wasted at least $3 and a buy; you could have bought, if nothing else, silver. And most decks need silver early on to ramp up to buying 5s and 6s and eventually provinces.
Let's take a closer look at the village/smithy deck. Of course one of the other biggest problems here is that you can draw the villages dead. To reliably be able to chain stuff up, you need to make sure you have a village in your original 5 card hand, so you need more villages than smithies. So to draw most all your deck, you'll need something like 5 villages and 3 smithies. Let's say you've thrown a couple silver in 'cause you realize you need them. Well shoot, now you need a couple more smithies, which means a couple more villages. So that's 7 villages, 4 smithies, 2 silvers... that took 13 turns to set up, and you can still start without the right combination sometimes. Big money baselines to 4 provinces in 17 turns. With smithies, cut that to 14. Our strategy, it seems, is just too slow then.

So the next logical progression is to ask about if you have good reasons to draw a big hand every turn with actions to spare. Good question! There are definitely some good terminals out there to help your village/smithy engine. How about Merchant ship? That's good. It speeds your deck up - maybe you can skip some of the money (it's pretty risky). But it doesn't really get you into the speed you need. Plus, why not just buy money and then ramp up to merchant ship? Do you really need to play it every turn? No. So what cards do you want to be able to play every turn? Most of them are attacks. The problem is, basically every attack does more damage to an engine like village/smithy than it does to money. Curse-givers especially fill your deck with muck and you'll only be able to get the key cards in the right order very rarely.

The same story goes for most other cards - you should just buy those cards without village support. Yes, they can have terminal collision. But you would need both those cards WITH the village to avoid that, and that's pretty unlikely. And if you correctly gauge how many of the terminal you buy, you won't get that collision too often anyway.

Okay, so village isn't the uber-card we all thought it was back when we got actions with every buy. But does it really suck so bad you should almost never get it? No, it can be good in a decent number of situations, like most other cards. What are those? First of, there are basically two cards, I think, that warrant heavy village strategies almost by themselves, if there's no other amazing thing in the kingdom: Torturer and Goons. Both of these cards share the property that they're really, really good if you can play multiple copies in a single turn, especially if you can do that reliably. Torturer chains can shut the opponent down cold. Goons stacks build up VP chips really quickly. There are two other cards that have this property, bridge and conspirator, and village works well with them too, but you really need to play a lot of bridges for htat to be super good, and with village as the only support for conspirator, it's going to be tough to hit the critical action mass to get them going very quickly and you won't be able to do all that much with it once you do. But with a little other support, village with these can be good too.
But the most common reason you want village is in the midgame. You already have a handful of silvers, and you've bought three or four good terminals and would like to buy more, but you're worried about terminal collision. Well, since village IS a cantrip plus, and since you've already got a pretty good amount of money, and these terminals are good enough that you'd really like to be able to play multiples sometimes (especially if they aren't card-draw), then village can be a very good fit in this deck.

Basically all of the above applies to many of the 'village plus' cards. I'm specifically thinking of worker's village and walled village. Shanty town is usually even worse if you want to use it as a village. But there are some caveats for some of the variants:

Bazaar is much better, as that $1 helps actually quite a lot. Of course, it also costs $5.
Mining village is much better since you can (and pretty aggressively should) trash it for a one-time silver
Native village shouldn't really be thought of in this class at all, as it doesn't draw the card in your hand directly. Thus it's much worse at being a prototypical village, but better for a lot of combo decks. But again, plays differently.

Finally, there's fishing village. Fishing Village is really another beast entirely, generally a much better card, and deserves its own article, which will come at some point.

Admin edit: added whitespace between paragraphs for readability

« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 12:31:54 pm by rrenaud »
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2011, 07:08:13 am »
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Very good article, WW.

I would like to add some other board-dependent scenarios where Village type cards shine:

The Scrying Pool deck.  Many times the non-terminal actions alone cannot provide the needed punch or economy to make a Pool deck viable.  The proper number of $2 attacks or other strong terminals with village support can make this deck an absolute monster.

The heavy Remake deck.  A mix of basic Village, $4 Villages and $5 Villages can grease a Remake deck, allowing it to cycle through the cards already upgraded, playing multiple Remakes every turn.  When the deck can cycle completely all the the cards in the deck can be remade into Golds or, even better, Grand Markets;   using this method a deck could alternatively be made up of a super tight mix of strong $5 and $6 terminals and economy cards.

The Minion deck.  This deck can be turbo-charged with a light mix of Villages and strong terminals.

The Menagerie deck.  While seemingly weak during the mid-game, this deck can get very strong very fast once your starting ten cards are weeded out.  Having villages mixed in helps play a multitude of unique terminals.  Different types of Villages on the board helps this deck reach a critical mass of unique cards faster, but it can also do okay using a few of the same Villages as they can be played out freely in order to make a hand of unique cards.

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Deadlock39

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2011, 09:44:18 am »
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Good article.

I would add a bit more space to your post as it is a bit hard to read.  (At least a full blank line between your sections instead of just a return.)

Also, I have seen Mining Village described as a one-shot Grand Market before (I think in one of Theory's articles), and that seems more accurate to me than Silver.  You don't get the buy, but the extra card can make a big difference.

WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2011, 10:04:23 am »
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A couple notes:
1. I did not intend this to be a fully exhaustive list of every way it's possible to use silver.
2. I did think about putting in scrying pool decks, but I think they tend to fall under the categories I already have and/or you really want the village because you want any action. Probably there's a little more to it than that.
3. I haven't really played a successful heavy remake deck, though I know they exist, so I really couldn't say.
4. That actually hasn't been my experience with most minion decks.
5. All of these decks are rather specialized strategies that require a board of several different cards to make them work (don't want villages in a minion deck if minions are the only action or if the right terminals aren't out, scrying pool decks obviously only work fairly rarely, menagerie decks need a lot of different, good, cheap terminals and a little trashing for this to be viable, etc.). I didn't really want to post specific decks beyond 2-card combos.
6. I've seen mining village described that way by theory too, but don't like the description it gives. Grand Market is one of the three most powerful cards in the game, and psychologically, putting the tag on is really powerful, at least for me. I like 'one-shot conspirator' better, but in any case I was using 'silver' not so much to literally mean the card Silver, but more 'any card that produces $2).

Love the comments though.

Superdad

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2011, 10:09:30 am »
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Also, you mention mining villiage and bridge rather closely together, and say that villiaging bridges together can be hard. Specifically Mining Villiage is a complete monster paired with bridge and some decent trashing.

The mining villiages help play multiple bridges in the midgame, and the bridges help buy multiple mining villiages (midgame). Then all of a sudden, you do your best kings-court impression, play 5-6 bridges, trash every single mining villiage you play (save it up for 1 big turn) and buy 5+ provinces/colonies in one turn. It is the only villiage (IMO) that makes this work, because the deck actually focuses like a super crazy combo deck for that one big turn.

Run a board like Chapel/Mining Villiage/Bridge. Open Bridge/Chapel, then maybe a silver or two once you've chapeled everyting else away. Then just load up on tons of MV/Bridges. The deck will usually explode for 5-8 provinces sometime around turn 13-14.
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Reyk

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2011, 11:22:57 am »
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It is the only villiage (IMO) that makes this work, because the deck actually focuses like a super crazy combo deck for that one big turn.

Worker's village can work very well with bridges too, but not so much to buy all colonies, but maybe all dutchies and estates instead. You don't need too much bridges to get them to 0$. In this case you won't need much money but many buys to threat a three pile ending.

Have a look at this game where I totally missed it and made weak early market and silver buys:
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110630-114115-8ab84e96.html

Plus Native village might work very well too due to the sheer number of bridges collected on the map earlier.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 11:44:39 am by Reyk »
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Reyk

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2011, 11:41:25 am »
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I would add a bit more space to your post as it is a bit hard to read.  (At least a full blank line between your sections instead of just a return.)

I second this. It would be more inviting which would be a good thing no doubt because the article gives many valuable hints.
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guided

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2011, 11:51:54 am »
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6. I've seen mining village described that way by theory too, but don't like the description it gives. Grand Market is one of the three most powerful cards in the game, and psychologically, putting the tag on is really powerful, at least for me. I like 'one-shot conspirator' better, but in any case I was using 'silver' not so much to literally mean the card Silver, but more 'any card that produces $2).
Mining Village's one-shot ability is much, much better than Silver. "One-shot Grand Market without the buy" is wholly appropriate.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2011, 12:04:41 pm »
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6. I've seen mining village described that way by theory too, but don't like the description it gives. Grand Market is one of the three most powerful cards in the game, and psychologically, putting the tag on is really powerful, at least for me. I like 'one-shot conspirator' better, but in any case I was using 'silver' not so much to literally mean the card Silver, but more 'any card that produces $2).
Mining Village's one-shot ability is much, much better than Silver. "One-shot Grand Market without the buy" is wholly appropriate.
Or in many fewer words, "one-shot conspirator". Again, I'm using silver loosely here. Just like fortune teller is a "terminal silver", I'm using silver as any card to produce $2. I agree it would probably be better to call it a one-shot conspirator though.

DG

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2011, 12:26:00 pm »
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I'll add a little more about when villages are effective. The first thing to consider the village as an opening buy. The village gives +1 card but when that card is a copper is an estate it doesn't amount to much, so if you want some spending then a silver is better. That's the general situation. Sometimes though you'd rather cycle through the deck quicker. Remodel/village might be such an opening where you'd rather play your remodel frequently and you don't want your deck clogged with silver. In the first example kingdom from the Dominion rulebook you can start remodel/village, remodel the estates into smithies, buy more villages, resulting almost immediately in a drawing deck. You can then draw enough copper to buy quality. If you start remodel/silver then you are always going to have a different type of deck that is slower and probably treasure based.

The second thing I'd suggest is that villages are best used with drawing cards. If you're wanting to use the +2 actions from the village then you need action cards in hand, which is more likely with a bigger hand, which is more likely if you've drawn lots of cards. If you are playing with mines, say, you're going to have a strange deck if you're likely to draw two mines in a 5 card hand, with a village, with treasure to mine. Usually you'd be best not buying the village, cutting down on your terminal cards, and risk having both mines in hand together.

The third point I'd make is that you usually want to commit to having a number of villages or avoid them altogether. If you have slightly more terminal cards than you'd like in your deck, plus a single village, then the most common draws would be to get one hand with 1 village and 1 terminal action, then another hand with 2 terminal actions. At any time you'd consider 3 terminal actions drawn together to be really unlikely, why wouldn't you say the same about a village getting drawn with 2 terminal actions? If you've got a tightly controlled deck, perhaps one where you can draw the whole deck each turn, then you can obviously identify exactly how many villages you need and needn't follow any rough guide.
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guided

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2011, 12:26:50 pm »
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It's also much better than a one-shot Conspirator, since you don't have to play 2 actions first to power it up.

Fortune Teller is a "terminal silver" because it doesn't draw any cards.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2011, 12:41:10 pm »
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I'll add a little more about when villages are effective. The first thing to consider the village as an opening buy. The village gives +1 card but when that card is a copper is an estate it doesn't amount to much, so if you want some spending then a silver is better. That's the general situation. Sometimes though you'd rather cycle through the deck quicker. Remodel/village might be such an opening where you'd rather play your remodel frequently and you don't want your deck clogged with silver. In the first example kingdom from the Dominion rulebook you can start remodel/village, remodel the estates into smithies, buy more villages, resulting almost immediately in a drawing deck. You can then draw enough copper to buy quality. If you start remodel/silver then you are always going to have a different type of deck that is slower and probably treasure based.

The second thing I'd suggest is that villages are best used with drawing cards. If you're wanting to use the +2 actions from the village then you need action cards in hand, which is more likely with a bigger hand, which is more likely if you've drawn lots of cards. If you are playing with mines, say, you're going to have a strange deck if you're likely to draw two mines in a 5 card hand, with a village, with treasure to mine. Usually you'd be best not buying the village, cutting down on your terminal cards, and risk having both mines in hand together.

The third point I'd make is that you usually want to commit to having a number of villages or avoid them altogether. If you have slightly more terminal cards than you'd like in your deck, plus a single village, then the most common draws would be to get one hand with 1 village and 1 terminal action, then another hand with 2 terminal actions. At any time you'd consider 3 terminal actions drawn together to be really unlikely, why wouldn't you say the same about a village getting drawn with 2 terminal actions? If you've got a tightly controlled deck, perhaps one where you can draw the whole deck each turn, then you can obviously identify exactly how many villages you need and needn't follow any rough guide.
I disagree with you on every point.

DG

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2011, 01:31:06 pm »
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That's a shame because I'm pretty sure of all that. I just logged onto iso and played a game with the cards I could remember from the basic example kingdom in the Dominion rulebook (remodel, village, militia, mine, market, cellar, smithy) http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201107/14/game-20110714-103700-f84c2143.html. The draws are admittedly very good but you can see the results and what I meant in the first paragraph.

In case anyone is wondering, this isn't a winning play for the example kingdom since the militia can attack it very effectively.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 01:42:12 pm by DG »
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tko

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2011, 01:42:37 pm »
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The usual explanation for why a card works one game but not others is largely because "it depends."  What other cards are out there?  What is your opponent doing?  Mostly, Silver > Village, but occasionally not.

I personally like the Remodel/Village opening on certain boards.  Do I favor this opening because I've been matched against players who opened Silver/Village?  Maybe.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2011, 01:55:47 pm »
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I should probably elaborate.
1. Village is virtually never the correct opening buy. I don't believe I've ever played that set, so that might be one of the .1% that's an exception, but I really don't think you should ever suggest this as something to often consider. I'd find it difficult to construct a set where opening village is the clear correct strategy.
2. I definitely think they aren't best used with drawing cards. With drawing cards, you can draw your villages dead. I explained all this in the article. Your mine example isn't so great, for two reasons: mine isn't good enough anyway, and you need that third card in your hand to make it work. A better thing would be a deck with cutpurses, monuments, jesters, merchant ships, etc. And you don't want to heavy village here, only go to them when you have enough silvers that just using village as a cantrip isn't such a bad thing (see beyond silver
3. How many villages you want is really dependent on what your deck is. If you're going for card draw like you suggest, then yes, you need lots of villages. If you're going for that sprinkling of them after you've built up your deck a bit, you don't. If you want to do a torturer chain or goons play, yeah, you want a lot of them. But in general, if you want 4 villages, that's for of your at most (basically always less than that) 17 turns to 4 provinces that you've wasted buying village. And that's not good.

WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2011, 01:56:41 pm »
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The usual explanation for why a card works one game but not others is largely because "it depends."  What other cards are out there?  What is your opponent doing?  Mostly, Silver > Village, but occasionally not.
True, but "it depends" is almost universally decried as not being very helpful advice. This article is trying to explain what it depends upon.

tko

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2011, 02:15:21 pm »
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The usual explanation for why a card works one game but not others is largely because "it depends."  What other cards are out there?  What is your opponent doing?  Mostly, Silver > Village, but occasionally not.

I personally like the Remodel/Village opening on certain boards.  Do I favor this opening because I've been matched against players who opened Silver/Village?  Maybe.
True, but "it depends" is almost universally decried as not being very helpful advice. This article is trying to explain what it depends upon.
I was backing up the Remodel/Village opening on certain boards.  The thought that wasting time buying Villages appears less wasteful when you open Remodel/Village, then Remodel Estate->Village + Buy Village.  You now have 3 Villages by Turn 3.  Terminals may be purchased or Remodelled into without regret from Turn 4 on.
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DG

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2011, 02:21:34 pm »
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Quote
But in general, if you want 4 villages, that's for of your at most (basically always less than that) 17 turns to 4 provinces that you've wasted buying village. And that's not good.

That's true but sometimes you can be creative and gain them in other ways, since they are cheap.

Quote
A better thing would be a deck with cutpurses, monuments, jesters, merchant ships, etc. And you don't want to heavy village here, only go to them when you have enough silvers that just using village as a cantrip isn't such a bad thing

Again true, but it's only in a case where the village is clearly better than nothing and the silver alternative has marginal value.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2011, 02:45:48 pm »
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Quote
A better thing would be a deck with cutpurses, monuments, jesters, merchant ships, etc. And you don't want to heavy village here, only go to them when you have enough silvers that just using village as a cantrip isn't such a bad thing

Again true, but it's only in a case where the village is clearly better than nothing and the silver alternative has marginal value.
This isn't very common of course, but I think it's the most common time you want village.

Again guys, there are of course exceptions to the advice in the article; there are almost no strategy tips you can give for dominion that don't have exceptions. This isn't supposed to be a be-all and end-all of village play, more like a primer on the general properties of the card.

Superdad

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2011, 02:54:48 pm »
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I think a good time to buy villiage is when the opportunity cost is actually almost nothing. For example, if you have a deck that actually doesn't want the silver and there is no other good 2 or 3 to buy (and you don't have a lot of terminal +cards .... i.e. smithies).

For example, imagine I'm making a minion engine and I have two "terminals" in my deck (the Steward I opened with to help me trash, and say a pawn). I draw for the turn and I get Steward, Silver, Province, Province, Province. In this case, I'd probably rather the Village, since my deck size stays the exact same size. I actually don't even want a silver in my deck. So the option is either to buy the villiage, or pass the turn with an unused buy. I'd say it's worth buying the villiage here, since the opportunity cost is zero.

Maybe in the above example, you'd rather go with estate... and maybe you do want a silver, if your deck is greening and you need slightly higher money density to reach the last duchy (say)... sigh... I'm arguing with myself haha..... but my point remains the same.... make sure you know when the "opportunity cost" argument doesn't exist, because you actually don't even want the silver in your deck.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 02:59:07 pm by Superdad »
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Superdad

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2011, 02:57:17 pm »
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This isn't very common of course, but I think it's the most common time you want village.

Again guys, there are of course exceptions to the advice in the article; there are almost no strategy tips you can give for dominion that don't have exceptions. This isn't supposed to be a be-all and end-all of village play, more like a primer on the general properties of the card.

Indeed, and keep in mind that most people here are just expanding on the discussion in your original post. The discussion shouldn't really be included in the main article, because the examples given are very "fringe". However, once someone reads your excellent article, they may further read the discussion afterwards and gain some insight on small fringe examples to keep an eye out for.

This is all added value, and shouldn't be taken as though they are trying to discount things you say in your article (at least that's how I read their comments as a 3rd party).
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tko

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2011, 03:08:28 pm »
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I think a good time to buy villiage is when the opportunity cost is actually almost nothing.
I like this concept and wonder how I can determine what my opportunity cost is.  Starting Turn 5 or 8... when do you have too much Silver?  Is 2 Silver too much?

I also wonder if Annotated Game 8 where Theory describes the benefits of opening Wishing Well to cycle the deck quickly... does a Village opening share some of these benefits?  I understand you can't wish for a card with Village - they're 2 different cards... just wondering.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2011, 03:23:25 pm »
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Yes, the opportunity cost is a good way to look at it. And I agree that the discussion is productive.
As for when you have too much silver... I think this is very rarely the case in non-colony games. Look at it this way. Silver primarily does one thing, and that's push the money density of your deck toward $2. Now for a province, with 5 cards, you need density of 1.6. For a colony, you need 2.1. So you basically always want the silver over not getting anything in a province game. On the other hand, if your money density is 1.8, you aren't losing nearly as much as if it were 1.2.
Of course, the other thing that silver does is add one more 'real card' to your deck. I mean this as opposed to the 'virtual card' that village is, since unless you draw village dead, it replaces itself, which means that you can leave it out of the total count in your deck when calculating money density. Adding 'real cards' to your deck is a bad thing if you have a very action-rich strategy, a la the scrying pool deck, but it isn't so bad otherwise. However, if you aren't going for such a strategy, having more cards means that each new buy has less fluctuation on the money density, which is a good thing for a money-based deck.

tlloyd

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2011, 03:27:35 pm »
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Another exception to the general principles your article outlines is a Pirate Ship game. If there are terminal actions that produce coin and villages available (and hopefully something to give you reliable and risk-free card draw like a tactician or a set of labs) then buying lots of villages to enable playing multiple terminal actions in place of buying golds can be a winning strategy.

As another example, I played a game once with villages (I don't remember what type), Mountebank and some moderate trashing available. Rather than buying treasure cards, after some initial trashing I focused on Mountebanks and Villages. I eventually was able to buy provinces using only the coin from Mountebank, and although this probably took longer than the Big-Money baseline of 14 turns, that was okay because my incessant Mountebank pummel bought me lots of time.
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guided

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Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2011, 03:29:59 pm »
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Village can be worth an opening buy on certain Torturer boards. I don't know of any other examples where I could say Village is a strong opening.
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