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ehunt

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Vineyard
« on: July 17, 2011, 05:38:33 pm »
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Vineyards are fun and underrated. It's easy to compare them to Gardens, which are often a consolation prize and rarely the dominant strategy, and they are similar to Gardens in that, when you employ a Vineyard strategy, you build a vastly different deck from the type that helps in a traditional strategy. But this comparison is not accurate, for two reasons:

1. Gardens is only the dominant strategy on the board in very specific circumstances; e.g., there's ironworks or workshop, you have some means of slowing your opponent down, etc. They essentially can't beat colonies, even in favorable circumstances. None of this is true for Vineyards.

2. A "gardens deck" becomes terrible quickly. Theoretically, there are two ways to win with gardens: one, to rush  the game on piles and hope your gardens are worth 3 or 4, or two, the way we all used to win when it was just the base set and nobody knew any strategy: play till you have 60 cards in your deck, and hey, they're better than provinces. But we all know that method two does not work: against even reasonably skilled players, you can't gain cards fast enough to beat the pace of the emptying province pile. This is false for vineyards: you really do have two opportunities to win, either by rushing the game on piles as for gardens or by dilly-dallying until your vineyards are worth way too much for your opponent to catch up.

I think the best comparison is actually to goons: a vineyards strategy is viable if any of a variety of helpers is on board, and becomes dominant if all are on board.

Essential ingredients in a vineyards deck (in descending order of importance):


1. Extra buys: If you average one action purchase per turn, except for the eight turns on which you buy vineyards and the, say, two on which you buy potions, then the game has to last 26 turns for vineyards to be worth as much as provinces, and this isn't quite viable. (You have no hope of ending the game on piles ). Workshop, ironworks, and university are fantastic; the presence of either of the latter two, in my opinion, promotes the Vineyards strategy to "must buy."

2. Cheap actions: there's virtually no reason to buy money, which just slows your deck down when you need to be getting to your potions. So you'll want to fill your deck up with pearl divers, cellars, etc. Pawn and hamlet are fantastic. Embargo doesn't work except in desperation at the end-game, since you have to trash it to get any use out of it. Herbalist has the disadvantage of not giving an action, but it gives you a critical extra buy and allows you to use your potion two turns in a row. Peddler is great. If the only cheap actions are 3s, it can be more difficult to win with vineyards, and if the cheapest actions are 4s, I would consider a different strategy (absent ironworks/university).

3. Villages and non-terminals: as your deck is going to be filled with actions, you're going to want to play them.

4. Trashing: This is a mixed bag, since you can't win with vineyards in a chapel game (see below). But you really have no need for your coppers or estates after a certain point. Trade route is great, steward is always a pleasure, salvager and remodel can help you get potions and also are great in the end-game when you don't need the potion anymore.

5. Miscellaneous others : you can transmute coppers and potions to more transmutes toward the endgame, but this makes your deck terrible. Horn of Plenty can grab you a cheap two or a potion, and is nice if you split 5/2 and there's nothing like market. Talisman is good, especially for picking up potions. Island cleans your deck and is an action card. Cursing attacks are good for you, since they slow the game down, but you may need to modify your opening buys to be sure you can attain one. You won't be able to afford a possession, and need to spend your money on a vineyard whenever you draw a potion. On the flip side, your deck won't be very helpful to your opponent if he isn't also going for vineyards, and if he is going for vineyards but spent a potion turn buying a possession, you're in good shape.

Setups that make vineyard decks bad:

1. Tournament: This goes without saying.
2. Minion, Laboratory, Hunting Party: You will not be able to afford a stack of good spammable fives, and your opponent will.
3. Chapel: You won't have time to make your vineyards dominant over provinces in a chapel game. I think that remake is another story, especially if there are cantrip threes you can remake your estates into, or cursing attacks to slow the game. down.
4. Colony : Vineyard absolutely can beat colony, and these are some of my favorite wins. But the favorables need to be higher. I'd still do it with ironworks and hamlet out, but maybe not if the only cheap buys were cellar, great hall, and woodcutter.

Gameplay:

In the early game, start buying cheap actions, especially the ones that give you extra buys. Try to average more than 1 action buy per turn. It's ideal if you know how many actions are in your deck. Knowing the approximate number isn't good enough, because in the endgame, you will need to know the number of actions in your deck mod 3. There isn't much reason to buy traditional money at all. You should anticipate a median buying power of 4 or 5 before you start buying potions and vineyards and 2 or 3 afterwards.

At some point in the middle of the game, you are going to need potions. Your deck will move slowly, especially if the actions in it aren't cantrips, so you'll want more than one potion. One rule of thumb is to start buying potions around the time your opponent starts buying the second gold or first province (unless you already bought one for familiar or university). If you have too few potions, you won't win, even if you have a ton of actions. I've posted a link below to myself getting my clock cleaned for failing to get potions on time. My vineyards are worth 8, but I only own one when the game ends on piles, because my deck is too thick for me to get to potions, which I didn't buy fast enough. I end up ironworks-ing estates in a desperate attempt to find my potion:

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110624-182933-6aa14320.html

You will want to have most of the vineyards before the province pile runs out, and usually one potion doesn't cut it, unless you have a lot of cycling. You want to be buying something like two vineyards every three turns, and you should increase this estimate if your opponent is also going for vineyards: if he gets more, and your strategies are otherwise similar, you lose.

After this, the strategy is simple: buy vineyards whenever you get a potion, and buy actions. Depending on how many provinces your opponent has, you may consider ending the game quickly on piles, as in a gardens game. Time is probably on your side, however, so if you're unsure, just keep buying actions. Look out for your opponent ending the game on piles. If you've lost count of the score, ask yourself how many action purchases you've averaged per turn and look at the turn number.

Do not buy provinces - if you have eight coin and no extra buys, something is wrong with your deck. Two action cards will often be worth more to you than one province, and emptying the province pile helps your opponent. Even in the very end-game, duchies are almost always a mistake, unless you strongly suspect that it's your last turn and you are certain that the number of actions in your deck is either 0 or 1 mod 3. I commonly make the boneheaded mistake of ending the game on piles and then buying an estate with my last buy, when an extra action card would be worth 7 or 8 points.
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painted_cow

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2011, 05:49:19 pm »
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Pretty good article, Vineyards is really a fun way to win.

But you said, that Embargo would not really fit in this kind of decks. I have to disagree here. Embargo is the perfect card for all this "I-dont-go-for-provinces"-decks. Buy 2 Embargos fast and hit the provinces. No the opponent will have a very hard time to get 8 provinces. Maybe he wil try to switch to Vineyards too, but you should have the better earlygame buys for this strat.
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ehunt

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 05:54:39 pm »
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Great point. (On the flip side, your opponent can embargo vineyards and potions.) I just mean that I don't count embargo as a cheap buy when I'm scanning the board and deciding whether to go for vineyards or not, because I'll trash them anyway.
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drg

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2011, 06:56:08 pm »
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University and ironworks are pretty sick with vineyard.  Especially when cards like pawn, pearl diver, villages are around.  Throw in some draw power and it gets disgusting pretty quickly.

Embargo can work in your favor when you can acquire cards using other cards as opposed to buying, but if you are clearly going for vineyards and none of those are available, your opp can probably hinder you significantly with them.
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ackack

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 07:47:45 pm »
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Nice article. I was thinking a couple weeks ago about writing a Vineyard article, since it's one of my favorite cards. This one covers most of the bases. Some more thoughts:

- I tend to find gainers more useful than direct +buy for bulking up the Vineyards. They're faster, and make piling out much more of a threat.  As you say, University and Ironworks are beasts for this, and those + Vineyards are very tough to beat. Workshop is viable, though not as good. Talisman can be sufficient if there's a lot of cheap stuff out. Horn of Plenty is probably too slow early on. However, if you have a setup where you can play multiple a turn later on, they'd be quite devastating. (Of course in such a spot you can also usually tweak them into Provinces, but hey.)

- A deck that can draw out fairly reliably and has some +buy can score quite cheap VPs in the late game, even if it wasn't a Vineyards deck to start with. Vineyards are way better than Gardens in terms of price/performance for this, usually.
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DG

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 09:25:45 am »
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One feature of vineyards is that need just one potion to buy them, which means you need plenty of potions. If you're competing with opponents for vineyards then you should consider just how many potions you need to buy the most vineyards.

Vineyard games often end on three pile depletions so you should consider which piles might deplete and then control those depletions. You'll need to judge whether your score will be better in a long game or short, balancing the purchasing of your opponents and the increasing vineyard points as action cards accumulate.

If you're playing a game where the vineyards are split then you need to keep your eye very firmly on the points. Opportunities can appear for quick finishes from 3 empty piles so getting ahead in vp will give you those opportunities and put pressure on the opponents. When you have 4 vineyards (and no more in the supply) you might be able to buy three merchant ships for 4 vp or three duchies for 9vp, so regular scoring through the basic green cards is certainly an option.
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snappy

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Re: Vineyard
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 10:30:29 am »
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University and ironworks are pretty sick with vineyard.  Especially when cards like pawn, pearl diver, villages are around.  Throw in some draw power and it gets disgusting pretty quickly.

especially university b/c of the potion cost.

the other card that i really like with vineyard is another potion card, scrying pool.
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