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jonts26

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Masquerade
« on: July 01, 2012, 06:09:25 pm »
+12


Introduction

I love masquerade. But not because itís awesome. Well, it is awesome, but thatís not why I love it. The first Dominion I owned was Intrigue. And there are some fun cards in there, but none quite so fun as Masquerade. I would buy it almost every game and shout MASQUERADE!!! and wave my hands in the air upon playing it. Clearly this is a card designed for partying. And waving my hands in the air is about the extent of my dancing skills. Something Iím told should never be done at actual parties.

Masquerade is one of the strongest cards in the game. In fact, the most recent Top 5 $3 card list has it second only to Ambassador. And rightfully so. This seemingly innocent card is, in fact, a powerhouse. People are typically drawn to the card by the neat passing mechanic. However, for most games, the passing mechanic is the least important aspect of the card, though still not unimportant. In fact, if you had a card which just offered +2 cards and the ability to trash a card, it would be just as strong for many games. But the ability to pass does lead to some very fun interactions and the occasional situation when the correct pass means the difference between winning or losing.

Big Money

Masquerade is in the top tier of non-attack enablers for big money games. Well, Wharf might be the top tier by itself, but Masq is surely only a notch below. Both the card draw and trashing for Masquerade are fairly weak, but the combination of the two is what gives it such strength. Normally trashers are poor big money enablers. But the card draw means that after trashing you still have a 5 card hand to work with. Consider other trashers which leave you with 3 or fewer cards. It is significantly harder to ramp up your economy with gimped hands in the early game. Additionally a trasher which gives +2 cards greatly improves cycling speed allowing the card to come back into your deck faster.

Since estate trashing is so much more desirable than copper trashing for money games, you likely wonít need a second masquerade. But adding another strong terminal into your deck is often the right play. Since Masq only draws two cards, collisions become more unlikely than other terminal draw cards. Often in money games with another strong enabler, the correct move is to get both, and usually the masquerade first.

Cursing attacks in particular tend to dominate money games. Masquerade counters them harder than most, so the best move is typically to open masquerade and transition into your curser. Though special mention should be made for Sea Hag, which is simply crushed under Masqueradeís weight. The combination of no early game economy and the decent chance that that curse comes right back to you simply gives the Hag no chance. Familiar is often weak enough in big money games anyway, but it is particularly weak against masquerade due to the curse passing and sheer speed of the card. It is also generally a good counter to Torturer. Take a curse and pass it right along. Though a well supported torturer chain will still be able to give you curses faster than you can pass them off.

One final point, and this is particularly true with Masquerade/Money mirrors, is that keeping an estate either by refusing to pass it or just refusing to trash it, can give you a huge advantage in the end game. You only need to win by 1 point. Certainly in the early game you want to aggressively remove estates but as the game wears on you need to start considering the worth of each estate you see.


Engines

While Masquerade shines in Big Money games, it is darned good in engine games too. Again, itís not the best card draw, and itís not the best trasher, but it does both. And the thinner your deck gets, the more often masquerade comes around to play, giving you good deck acceleration. Masquerade is particularly strong as an opening when there are strong $5 engine cards you want like wharf and bazaar. While Masq/Silver opening makes it difficult to see $6 for a little while, $5 is still very likely.

But the card is a double edged sword in these games. As you thin and improve your deck, you start running the risk of having a great hand, only to have a masquerade played on you. So in any engine game that involves Masquerade, do not over-trash your junk. Trash just enough so that you are likely to still have a card to pass on an opponents masq while still being able to fire your engine reliably. Easier said than done.

Special mention should be made for discard attacks. Masquerade has a love/hate relationship with discard attacks. In an engine where both masquerade and discards attack exist, you likely end up having to keep a junk card, even if masquerade never ends up being played. So the discard attack hurts even more than usual. Likely, the best counter to this combo is to get it going faster.

Slightly less special mention goes to cards which are top-decked. Alchemist, Treasury, Scheme, et al. if top-decked too aggressively will force you to pass good cards more often.

Possession

Possession is not an attack. This is because your opponent cannot actually hurt your current hand or deck at large with it. Excepting, of course, when masquerade or ambassador is on the board. Passing is not trashing and it's not gaining. So any cards you pass while possessed remain passed. Now, masquerade/big money is fast, and if there is no good engine, itís unlikely that your opponent is able to buy possession, play it, and pass enough points to himself before you can drain provinces. But it there is an engine, not buying masquerade is often the safest choice unless there is a good way to trash it fairly quickly. Except, well, masquerade might be the card you need to really ramp up your engine and there might be no other trashing. Then what? Well, buy a masquerade anyway. If your opponent also has the same idea, you better hope the shuffle luck fairy is on your side. Because a bad hand or two can make the game very lopsided. If your opponent does not buy a masquerade, you are likely in a good position to set up your engine faster, and get and play possession first. Then buy a second Masquerade and pass it on over. Note: This is not a good way to make friends.


The Pin

Well, I canít go ahead and write an article on masquerade without at least mentioning the infamous pin potential. By now, most Dominion enthusiasts are aware that the unique passing ability of Masquerade can lead to a game state where you can trash your opponent's entire deck while leaving them with a 0 card hand every turn. Note that this only really works in 2P games, as you can only trash the deck of the player to your left, while any other players are free to do whatever they wish.

The pin comes in a variety of flavors. The only truly required card is masquerade, but the other cards in potential pins are all fairly specific. Finding specific 3 and 4 card combos is exceedingly rare given the amount of possible kingdom configurations. As such, I won't bother going into great detail but read this post for a detailed break down of possible pin methods.

Regardless of what cards you use, the goal is to reduce the opponent's hand size and then play a throned or king's courted Masquerade with no cards left in your draw or discard. You pass no cards but you do receive a card from your opponent, which you immediately trash. Thus, each time you play Masquerade, you trash a card from your opponent's deck while reducing their hand size by one. Just rinse and repeat until their entire deck is trashed. Also note: This, too, is not a good way to make friends.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 02:34:55 pm by jonts26 »
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Powerman

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2012, 06:59:59 pm »
0

Just a couple of questions.  With your line of "do not over-trash your junk", are you implying that you do not need to add additional trashing beyond the masquerade, or are you saying that the masquerade's trashing itself is too much?

And with the militia/masquerade, are you saying that keeping a "junk" card is what should be done, or simply what IS done.  For example, assuming your opponent is at the start of their deck after a reshuffle and plays "Village, Militia" and you know there is a chance of a masquerade, and your hand is something like Gold-Gold-Silver-Copper-Copper, are you saying to keep a copper and forgo a chance of a province, or is keeping GGS and potentially passing a silver worth the risk.  Obviously it depends on board, situation, etc. but in general.

Lastly, I think it is worth mentioning that if you play two masq's in the same turn you are very likely to get back the card you passed first, so if there is a card you want your opponent to have (ie. curse) you have to pass it second.

Otherwise good article!
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cherdano

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 10:22:10 am »
0

I think double-masquerade is a useful strategy more often that the article suggests. For example, I think double-masquerade typically beats masquerade+curser. Other than that, it can be a good combination of speedup+trashing when you want to run an engine.
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cherdano

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 10:25:12 am »
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And with the militia/masquerade, are you saying that keeping a "junk" card is what should be done, or simply what IS done.  For example, assuming your opponent is at the start of their deck after a reshuffle and plays "Village, Militia" and you know there is a chance of a masquerade, and your hand is something like Gold-Gold-Silver-Copper-Copper, are you saying to keep a copper and forgo a chance of a province, or is keeping GGS and potentially passing a silver worth the risk.  Obviously it depends on board, situation, etc. but in general.
I am not sure it's even worth making a general recommendation, other than "you really have to follow your opponent's deck in this situation". I.e., if he is going to draw his entire deck this turn, you better keep that junk card. If, on the other hand, he has already played the masquerade since the last reshuffle, you should of course keep that silver.
It's rather frequent that one or the other is so much better that an "average" recommendation seems rather useless.
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jonts26

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 10:52:45 am »
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Just a couple of questions.  With your line of "do not over-trash your junk", are you implying that you do not need to add additional trashing beyond the masquerade, or are you saying that the masquerade's trashing itself is too much?

And with the militia/masquerade, are you saying that keeping a "junk" card is what should be done, or simply what IS done.  For example, assuming your opponent is at the start of their deck after a reshuffle and plays "Village, Militia" and you know there is a chance of a masquerade, and your hand is something like Gold-Gold-Silver-Copper-Copper, are you saying to keep a copper and forgo a chance of a province, or is keeping GGS and potentially passing a silver worth the risk.  Obviously it depends on board, situation, etc. but in general.

Lastly, I think it is worth mentioning that if you play two masq's in the same turn you are very likely to get back the card you passed first, so if there is a card you want your opponent to have (ie. curse) you have to pass it second.

Otherwise good article!

With Masq as the only trasher, don't worry about overtrashing too much until late game. Probably keep that last 4 or so coppers in your deck. Also by this point in the game, you likely have some redundancy built into your engine so passing, say a village isn't as bad. Mainly overtrashing happens with other strong trashers that you want. Particularly those you'd open over masq like remake or chapel. Even if neither player opens masq, adding one in the midgame can destroy an opponent who trashed all the junk.

And yeah, with the militia example, you have to figure it out for the situation. How likely is it that masq is played? What card would you pass if you kept your top 3 cards and how bad would it be to pass? Just keep the game situation in mind.

And good point on the third comment. Multiple masqs get tricky to figure out what to pass because you'll be passing again.
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jomini

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 11:45:38 am »
+3

A couple of points:
The pin is much more varied than you are stating. I can construct it without KC for instance, Minion -> TR -> TR -> outpost -> masq; Minion -> TR -> Masq will leave the opponent just as dead as the goons pin. Likewise, a strong engine deck can setup discard -> golem (masq, masq) and leave the opponent with one card (adding outpost, NV, or TR can make it a hard pin).

Likewise just about every discard attack can work in some situation. E.g. Followers gives you an estate, but if you can draw and get it out of play (e.g. upgrade -> village, draw it with a village, play the village, alternatively you can draw it with a cantrip and trash it before playing the masq).  Even conditional discards like cutpurse can work. For instance KC/KC/Mountebank/Cutpurse/Masq will eventually leave the opponent with 3 card hands (from discarding curses or coppers) which then get trashed and odds are ever increasing of hitting 3 coppers in each draw of 5.

Of course this brings up the biggest point about the pin - it is largely overrated. You can block most non-outpost variants with a moat or light house (you still lose three cards, but you can often end the game before they can deplete your deck). All variations can be fought with duration cards (yeah starting out with 5 cards after playing tactician is harsh, but it still gives you options). And of course the biggest thing is that the best counter to the pin is masq itself. I mean seriously, you play masq every turn against the classic pin. What can they do? Send over a KC? Then how will they buy it back? Send over the goons? Same problem. They can ship over a masq ... but then they cannot pin and have to spend a turn buying a masq ... which you just might steal as well - and even better each passed masq makes it that much easier to steal another one. Likewise, consistent discard attacks can beat the classic pin silly - most masq pins need 4 cards or more in hand. Another disadvantage of the pins is that they can be slow to set up, due to the attacks, you often have to slog forever to get the multiple KC's needed. It is quite possible to race a goons pin & pile the provinces (I've done it with KC/Bridge). In other settings you can stand a good chance of 3 piling (NV/Bridge/TR comes to mind).

The strongest masq pins tend to be those that use outpost (so reactions are worthless and because outpost only costs 5) and cantrips. Cantrips allow you to KC -> cantrip to draw back from a discard attack, play everything, and then win the pin. Additionally, if you are hit with masq as the guy going for the pin, you can pass a cantrip, KC a second cantrip, and then pine like normal. Goons is just about the bottom of the barrel - VP chips are completely worthless when they start rebuilding from 0 coppers and you have KC/KC/masq/discard; once you deck deplete them, you can buy an estate (if you have any coin giving action on the board you could slip into hand), ship the estate over, trash their copper, trash the estate, buy another estate. Last turn of the game play KC -> whatever gives coin, buy an estate, win by 1 (all of this is assuming someone was tenacious enough to force you to pile curses & coppers first rather than just resigning).


As a fun note, you can set up a 3 player pin: Milita -> outpost -> masq x3 -> (outpost turn) -> militia -> masq x3. It is a bit hairy making it reliable (scheme helps a lot), but it is potentially doable (the biggest hurdle is making sure the game lasts long enough). 4 player (and higher) are also theoretically possible, but those take eons to set up (use NV to set up golems & KC->masqs, use outpost to do it all twice, make the deck reliable with scheme) and require like a 6 card combo.


Long story short: I wouldn't talk about the best masq pin. Goons gives points, militia is quicker, and outpost is unblockable; I'd say that order is from least to best, opinions may vary. I would however talk about the dangers of trying for a pin, only to be hit repetitively by a discard attack or to be repetitively masqed when you are down to your 4 final cards. I might make mention of cantrips being fantastically amazing (even just pearl diver) when going for a pin. I'd also throw in blurbs about reactions and durations as being possible escapes.

A few other odd masq interactions:
Bishop, vault, and governor can all result in head games with masq. For instance vault; if I can play village -> vault -> masq, how much do you really want to discard those two curses to find something better (particularly if your hand is gold/gold/curse/curse/province). Do you want to trash the curse off my bishop and risk being forced to pass a silver or do you just eat the curse? Do you really want to turn that militia into a governor when I remodel a gold? Optional decreases in hand size can be painful with late game masqs. Cut purse is not optional, but can also reduce masq choices at inopportune times.

An absolutely vicious combo is rabble (this turn) -> masq (next turn). Late game rabble engines can cause the opponent to have 5 greens all too often, alternatively having 3 greens and 2 key cards (e.g. golds) is almost Sophie's Choice. Nowhere near as common, but much more infuriating is rabble chain -> minion (cards) -> masq.

This also brings up another possession trick. With enough discard/draw/top decking, it is quite possible to stack the next turn for your opponent. Leaving your opponent with no option to play masq (because he risks having nothing to pass but a dead possession or VP points) can win you the game even in 3er.

A final masq trick for engines can be to turn masq into its own curser. Either you buy an extra curse the previous turn or, more powerfully, you can gain the curse this turn, draw your whole deck, and then pass the curse. Sometimes this is a one-off trick (e.g. forge 5 coppers -> curse, masq the curse over), sometimes it can be an annoying repetitive thing (IW -> gain a curse -> masq).
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DG

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 12:39:03 pm »
+2

Another advantage of the masquerade is fast deck cycling, specifically when compared to some other trashing cards. This can be very impressive at the start of the game. With the right partner cards it can lead to very rapid deck development for both treasure and engine strategies.

A more complex masquerade concept is how the card equalizes the bottom quality of each players deck. There's little point trashing out all your bad cards with a chapel if it only means that you give medium quality cards to your opponent when they play a masquerade. There's little point swindling your opponent's copper into a curse if they just swap it back with you later. However the masquerade also contracts your deck and this can be more important than pure card quality. For instance, if you play a masquerade and a witch during a turn you will add a card to your opponent's deck and trash a card from your deck. The curses might be trashed as quickly as you distribute them but the difference in size between the decks might become telling. Smaller decks are much easier to control, manipulate, and clean up.

Multiplayer masquerades are a different animal to two player masquerades. My previous comment about "equalizing the bottom quality of each players' deck" becomes particularly true. You need to start looking at the players on your left and right and hope the player on your right is making a high quality deck that will pass you decent cards. As soon as you see that masquerades will be played quite often between your turns you can deliberately get a short term card (like baron, estate with hoard, embargo curse) that you can expect to pass to an opponent later in the game.

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For example, I think double-masquerade typically beats masquerade+curser.

I don't think the simulations back you up there. If you compare masquerade/witch against masquerade/masquerade then while they are quite balanced the witch gives you a 6 card hand and the masquerade gives 5 + trash.
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blueblimp

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2012, 02:08:30 pm »
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Nice article. I like that you covered some gotchas about Masquerade: it doesn't make Torturer engines skippable (because it doesn't trash fast enough), and it often can't be skipped in Possession games (similar to Ambassador).

Of course this brings up the biggest point about the pin - it is largely overrated. You can block most non-outpost variants with a moat or light house (you still lose three cards, but you can often end the game before they can deplete your deck). All variations can be fought with duration cards (yeah starting out with 5 cards after playing tactician is harsh, but it still gives you options). And of course the biggest thing is that the best counter to the pin is masq itself. I mean seriously, you play masq every turn against the classic pin. What can they do? Send over a KC? Then how will they buy it back? Send over the goons? Same problem. They can ship over a masq ... but then they cannot pin and have to spend a turn buying a masq ... which you just might steal as well - and even better each passed masq makes it that much easier to steal another one. Likewise, consistent discard attacks can beat the classic pin silly - most masq pins need 4 cards or more in hand. Another disadvantage of the pins is that they can be slow to set up, due to the attacks, you often have to slog forever to get the multiple KC's needed. It is quite possible to race a goons pin & pile the provinces (I've done it with KC/Bridge). In other settings you can stand a good chance of 3 piling (NV/Bridge/TR comes to mind).

Totally disagree that the pin is overrated. (That is, assuming we're talking about true reduce-to-zero-cards pins here. Semi-pins like KC-Masq are definitely overrated and not very good.) Sure, attack versions can be blocked by Moat, but how often do Moats get bought in 2p? And even then, you can still trash three cards of that Moat hand, so a lot of damage will still be done on that turn. Maybe duration cards can counter it, but except for Tactician and maybe KC-Wharf, I'd have to see it to believe it. You'd need a seriously amazing engine to survive losing 3 cards every turn, unless your plan is to counter-pin.

As far as countering with Masq or a discarder goes, that's only going to work if you have perfect timing on playing it. Too early, and they didn't have their pin ready anyway. One turn too late, and you have no cards in hand to play.

While you may be able to outrace with KC/Bridge, it's hardly fatal to be slower than supported KC/Bridge. (What isn't?) In general, megaturn strategies will still be vulnerable unless they can end the game on the megaturn, so (for example) NV/Bridge would be quite weak against a pin since it usually aims for 43 points and not a game end.

I'd say pins still remain one of the strongest strategies possible in Dominion today. In particular, KC/Outpost/Masq, since it's unblockable and there isn't much else you can do with those three apart from Masq+BM, which will lose to a pin for sure.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 02:12:34 pm by blueblimp »
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jomini

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2012, 08:18:36 pm »
+1

BB:
1. The pin is strong and good, it is just overrated in the sense that the community doesn't think enough about how to counter it and how hard it is to get the pin (particularly the goons pin) before a reliable counter deck can be built. The difficulty of building the pin is underestimated and the vulnerability of most pin decks to countering is likewise underestimated.
2. Perfect timing is just playing it every turn.

If you can reduce your deck down to consistently play a pin, you can also reduce your deck down to consistently play a masq or a discard. Yes, you have to hit it every single time, but with a strong enough engine, particularly something like ghost ship or margrave, it is doable. It just takes longer to use KC -> masq to set up a pin than it does to set up a reliable engine that always plays masq or always plays a discard. I mean heck, KC -> KC -> masq draws 6 cards, passes three and leaves you with two open KC's to do something else.

Moats should be bought as soon as you believe the opponent is going for an attack masq pin; with KC, moat is not a bad card and it can completely hose the opponents strategy. It is like not buying a pawn when that is the YW bane - you just do it. In any event, losing 3 cards is harsh, but you can always keep a moat and a gold - dead drawing with the moat will often hit 5 and you can either grab a silver or an estate. Piling out on moat, estate, and curse is perfectly viable against a lot of masq pins.

I do agree that the KC/outpost pin is just stupid strong; I've been saying that since I designed it. Unlike attack pins, you don't have to fight to 7 coin against discard play (though you might if a discard is also in the kingdom). Likewise, engine possibilities are crap as outpost provides no +cards, +coin, or anything else useful until your engine is extremely reliable (often being an overpriced workshop more or less until you have a reliable engine). That, however, is the exception. Most pins require that you get multiple expensive cards, trash a bunch, and do this with attacks flowing around. That is slow. If an engine is possible, and it often is with KC/masq, you can consistently play a discard attack, masq, or both and just destroy their pin unless they have stocked up on cantrips (or at the very least have a 3rd terminal they can jettison to a masq to preserve the pin).

There are a variety of tactics that durations allow. Haven can allow you to keep a masq out of your hand for the entire game and then play it after the pin is sprung. So if they go for a classic KC/goons/masq pin they hit you, you discard 2 cards, you burn 3, and then you get a masq back to start the next hand. You play it and they have to pass over a KC (they can't replace), a goons (they can't replace), or a masq (disabling the pin for a turn). In exchange you can give them any non-action (including a province) and they have to give it back before they can pin you. KC/Wharf and KC/Caravan can let you play hands (again my best advice would be to have a high density of masq and just keep playing it) after being hit once. Merchant ship and fishing village can give you an extra turn to 3 pile, and can make it much easier for cards like haven, wharf, or caravan to draw up your deck, fight back, and replenish. Tac and lighthouse are self-explanatory. NV can allow you to hide enough VP to win before the pin strikes (if you contest the pin and make them take a slow road to it). Outpost can double most effects of your engine, which is likely the weakest of the lot (though it does give you many more chances to play a discard attack, a masq, or both).

NV/Bridge may normally aim for 43 points, but against a pin deck you have exactly one goal - pile out before you lose. To do that, you normally need to maximize buys, not bridge reductions. Once you get 3 bridges in play (not hard in a KC match), you can normally try to pile estates, bridges, and masqs. Depending you may only need 15 buys - high but not impossible.

Which is perhaps highlights what you need to think about the pin - it can be beaten, but you just have to alter your play. Much like an opponent's possession deck, you have to adjust play against a masq pin. If you play BM, forget it, your toast. If you play a reliable masq/discard/KC engine, the pin play will often never launch. If you skate on thin ice with something marginal, then hey that is what makes it fun.
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blueblimp

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2012, 09:01:03 pm »
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If you can reduce your deck down to consistently play a pin, you can also reduce your deck down to consistently play a masq or a discard.

Okay, but all you need to do to convert this engine to a pin then is to not have treasure. That seems pretty worth it to kill 3 opponent cards per turn!

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In any event, losing 3 cards is harsh, but you can always keep a moat and a gold - dead drawing with the moat will often hit 5 and you can either grab a silver or an estate. Piling out on moat, estate, and curse is perfectly viable against a lot of masq pins.

This doesn't work, because even if the discard attack is blocked by Moat, you still lose 3 cards per turn. If you have just a Moat and a Gold, then you'll lose them the next turn.

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I do agree that the KC/outpost pin is just stupid strong; I've been saying that since I designed it.

Can you back up your "I designed it" claim? The earliest reference I can find is on the BGG forums in March 17, 2011 by a poster calling themselves "Hart" (J. Smith). Is that you?

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If an engine is possible, and it often is with KC/masq, you can consistently play a discard attack, masq, or both and just destroy their pin unless they have stocked up on cantrips (or at the very least have a 3rd terminal they can jettison to a masq to preserve the pin).

But again, such an engine becomes a pin by simply removing your treasure and making your last action played a KC'd Masquerade. This seems always worth it unless you are mega-turning so hard that you don't have time to trash your treasure. (Possible, but I doubt it's common.)

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There are a variety of tactics that durations allow. Haven can allow you to keep a masq out of your hand for the entire game and then play it after the pin is sprung. So if they go for a classic KC/goons/masq pin they hit you, you discard 2 cards, you burn 3, and then you get a masq back to start the next hand. You play it and they have to pass over a KC (they can't replace), a goons (they can't replace), or a masq (disabling the pin for a turn). In exchange you can give them any non-action (including a province) and they have to give it back before they can pin you. KC/Wharf and KC/Caravan can let you play hands (again my best advice would be to have a high density of masq and just keep playing it) after being hit once. Merchant ship and fishing village can give you an extra turn to 3 pile, and can make it much easier for cards like haven, wharf, or caravan to draw up your deck, fight back, and replenish. Tac and lighthouse are self-explanatory. NV can allow you to hide enough VP to win before the pin strikes (if you contest the pin and make them take a slow road to it). Outpost can double most effects of your engine, which is likely the weakest of the lot (though it does give you many more chances to play a discard attack, a masq, or both).

Got logs for this? Because it really sounds more doable in theory than in practice. If you have access to KC-Wharf, so does your opponent, which helps set up the pin even faster. And then why not go for the pin yourself?

Quote
NV/Bridge may normally aim for 43 points, but against a pin deck you have exactly one goal - pile out before you lose. To do that, you normally need to maximize buys, not bridge reductions. Once you get 3 bridges in play (not hard in a KC match), you can normally try to pile estates, bridges, and masqs. Depending you may only need 15 buys - high but not impossible.

How are you supposed to get a KC with NV/Bridge? Without emptying your NV mat (which you wouldn't normally until you're ready for the megaturn), you'd need incredible luck to get that much buying power in a turn. (Besides, in a scenario with KC, Masq, and Bridge all available, almost for sure the right move will be to set up a KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge turn.)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 09:03:54 pm by blueblimp »
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jonts26

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2012, 09:52:59 pm »
+4

Man, this is a lot of discussion for a situation that comes up so rarely. I mean, you might see a pin possibility in what? 1 in 5000 games? And talk about some pins being moat proof, well now we need the pin and moat on the board? I mean, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with the discussion, but it feels much more like an academic knowledge than anything practical.
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verikt

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 03:25:00 am »
0

Getting back to the original subject.
You left out courtyard and mandarin as masq defense. I just played a game yesterday, (can't find it now councilroom is down) where my opponent hit kc scheme first. I had mandarin he didn't. I think I bought a cutpurse for 6 or 7 played kc kc scheme cutpurse masq and took away his scheme to come back from behind.
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carstimon

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 09:16:10 am »
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I think I bought a cutpurse for 6 or 7 played kc kc scheme cutpurse masq and took away his scheme to come back from behind.
Can you explain this sentence?  What do you mean "for 6 or 7"? Are you saying he had a hand like kc scheme copper copper copper?  Where does the mandarin come into it?
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rrenaud

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 09:17:47 am »
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I'd guess he meant he bought a cutpurse with a $6 or $7 turn.
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jonts26

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 11:35:35 am »
0

Getting back to the original subject.
You left out courtyard and mandarin as masq defense. I just played a game yesterday, (can't find it now councilroom is down) where my opponent hit kc scheme first. I had mandarin he didn't. I think I bought a cutpurse for 6 or 7 played kc kc scheme cutpurse masq and took away his scheme to come back from behind.

Are you saying CY and mandarin defend against masq because you can topdeck a junk card to pass? I don't know if that is actually that strong. I mean, in a big money game, you likely haven't thinned enough junk to have to worry about not having a card to pass anyway, so just topdeck as you would normally. In an engine I could see it I guess, but neither CY or mandarin are that great for engines. Maybe if you were drawing your entire deck you could add one of these in to do the job, but seems like a low probability that all of these factors meet up.
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blueblimp

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2012, 11:37:44 am »
+1

Getting back to the original subject.
You left out courtyard and mandarin as masq defense. I just played a game yesterday, (can't find it now councilroom is down) where my opponent hit kc scheme first. I had mandarin he didn't. I think I bought a cutpurse for 6 or 7 played kc kc scheme cutpurse masq and took away his scheme to come back from behind.

Are you saying CY and mandarin defend against masq because you can topdeck a junk card to pass? I don't know if that is actually that strong. I mean, in a big money game, you likely haven't thinned enough junk to have to worry about not having a card to pass anyway, so just topdeck as you would normally. In an engine I could see it I guess, but neither CY or mandarin are that great for engines. Maybe if you were drawing your entire deck you could add one of these in to do the job, but seems like a low probability that all of these factors meet up.
I've had a player do this against me on isotropic. I was playing discard-into-Masq, and the other player would repeatedly draw his deck, then use Courtyard to top-deck a copper (his only copper!). Otherwise, I'd be stealing an engine component every turn.

Though it probably doesn't come up often, it's a pretty slick counter.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 11:39:02 am by blueblimp »
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jomini

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 12:22:23 pm »
+1

BB:

Yes, I post as Hart on BGG.

Having an engine that can reliably play masq, discard, or both allows you to do things like have other useful cards in the deck, have VP, and have treasures. Likewise, particularly with the goons, you can just build a reliable goons engine and play out game end before they get to a pin.

Piling out happens because you can slow their build to the pin, and you lose a net of 2 cards per turn (after all you can always buy a card). Depending on the size of your deck, the number&usefulness of the cheap cards in the game, etc. you can pile out against a lot of potential pins before they eat your entire deck with masq. Part of what makes the pin strong is when it hits, you can only buy copper or curse. With a moat you can often buy a moat or an estate.

One thing to recall is that most pins don't have cash built into the final deck. If your opponent is using ghost ship, margrave, outpost, or followers (also some less likely stuff like golem/KC), once they get rid of their final treasure, they can NEVER recover if they pass you a key card. For instance KC/KC/Margrave/Masq is a valid pin. However if I can play masq every turn, they have one shot to hit that, and if they don't, I get at least the masq and then they have to buy coppers to get a another masq.

So going for a hard pin basically becomes a crap shoot - do they hit me on the turn I'm vulnerable or do they not? This is why I don't think the pin is strong unless you can overbuild it (e.g. stock up on non-terminals). Yes, then you are vulnerable to deck attacks like swindler and sab, but those aren't out in most pin kingdoms.

Quote
But again, such an engine becomes a pin by simply removing your treasure and making your last action played a KC'd Masquerade. This seems always worth it unless you are mega-turning so hard that you don't have time to trash your treasure. (Possible, but I doubt it's common.)
Well, with KC out, megaturning so hard isn't exactly uncommon. Additionally, the other guy may have gone first and had either an extra turn or shuffle luck so you know you won't be the first to the pin. In that case, they you want to buy extra masqs, steal his good cards, and delay the pin. You can either win by piling or by managing a tricky transition to having a reliable engine with all actions and no passable cards.

Quote
Got logs for this? Because it really sounds more doable in theory than in practice. If you have access to KC-Wharf, so does your opponent, which helps set up the pin even faster. And then why not go for the pin yourself?
Nope, I don't play on isotropic all that much, mostly I play real cards. In any event, in at least 66% of games I did play when studying pins (making sure that pins were possible with a preset kingdom), the other players didn't even bother to play for it. It just doesn't come up enough to test in random play.

For starters, though, I may see that my opponent has a quicker path to the pin at some point. For another, I can setup a counter deck if I don't get KC in time. The point is, we can either accept your statement that semi-pins (KC -> Masq) are weak because they burn 3 cards, but leave you 2 to play; or we have to go back and say they are strong. Wharf, haven, etc. can all have the effect of converting a hard pin (KC/goons/masq) to a semi-pin. Likewise with moat and lighthouse. Yes, the target has to build a certain type of deck and it has to be reliable to a certain degree, but I think a properly built reaction deck makes the matchup look closer to the semi-pin than the real pin.

Quote
How are you supposed to get a KC with NV/Bridge? Without emptying your NV mat (which you wouldn't normally until you're ready for the megaturn), you'd need incredible luck to get that much buying power in a turn. (Besides, in a scenario with KC, Masq, and Bridge all available, almost for sure the right move will be to set up a KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge turn.)
Well, mostly by playing differently.

For starters you'll note my original point was for a TR/Bridge/NV deck. TR/Bridge is 2 coin, 3 buys, and 2 cost reduction - aka almost enough to buy TR/Bridge/NV each turn; of course you may want to just buy heavier into the bridges or nab a KC with a TR-TR-Bridge-Bridge hand. Unlike with a traditional NV/Bridge deck, here you want to optimize buys more than cost reduction and just pile out whatever is handy (estates, NV, and bridge for instance).

For another, you may well need to play attacks, like ghost ship or margave that can delay the pin and make it harder for the pin player to get things set up.

The big thing I want to point out is that setting up a pin takes a good bit of time - if you don't have coin on a terminal, you absolutely need treasure until you've gotten all the components. Once you have all the components, you are now fighting against getting hit by the other guy stealing key components. With the exception of outpost pins and glacially slow esoteric pins, you will have to burn the treasures one turn and hope & pray that the other guy doesn't hit discard -> masq once you've trashed them.

Jonts:

This is part of why I think it is overrated. I did a lot of play testing on the pin because it was an intellectually intriguing. It is technically viable in far more games than you think (the only card strictly needed is masq) and with each new set, more ways come out to make it viable (for instance KC/KC/NB/CP/Masq is marginally viable). On the other hand, when it is viable, the cards that let you do it are also the ones that make it very hard and even risky to pull it off.


Also an alternative way to get the same effect as CY or Mand in a engine is to cellar two dross cards when there is one card left in your draw deck (assuming you will play no further draw); likewise you can discard two dross cards from hand and draw one with a cantrip. This ensures that you always have the card you need in hand. I haven't done this so much for masq, but it is hilarious to have an engine that is immune to attacks thanks to an eternal moat, always has a menage in hand, always has a province in hand, or always has a WT on top when the opponent has gone attack happy.
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verikt

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 01:48:17 pm »
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Quote
Can you explain this sentence?  What do you mean "for 6 or 7"? Are you saying he had a hand like kc scheme copper copper copper?  Where does the mandarin come into it? I'd guess he meant he bought a cutpurse with a $6 or $7 turn.
Yep. I spent a hand of either 6 or 7 coin on the cutpurse. Don't remember which.
Quote
Are you saying CY and mandarin defend against masq because you can topdeck a junk card to pass? I don't know if that is actually that strong. I mean, in a big money game, you likely haven't thinned enough junk to have to worry about not having a card to pass anyway, so just topdeck as you would normally.
This was an engine game We were both playing kc kc scheme masq every turn at this point.
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jonts26

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 02:36:11 pm »
+1

OK I modified the section on pins in the article. I still feel it's not worth a detailed discussion because of the rarity so I kept it very vague, but hopefully more accurate than what I had originally.
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rrenaud

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2012, 05:39:24 pm »
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There have been too many good articles out of you recently!  I want to front page this.  Do you have any more pending edits?
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jonts26

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2012, 06:03:30 pm »
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Thanks. I think I've included all of the important stuff I would like to. It might need a works with/doesnt work with section, but I find that a little tricky with masq.
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DG

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2012, 06:40:37 pm »
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You might want to include some stuff about multi player masquerades or explain that it is a 2-player article.
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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2012, 07:12:16 pm »
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What multiplayer considerations are there? Other than the pin, which I mentioned, I don't see masq playing substantially different.
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2012, 08:09:30 pm »
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What multiplayer considerations are there? Other than the pin, which I mentioned, I don't see masq playing substantially different.

I don't have a lot of experience with this, but I imagine that passing cards gets a little more complicated in multiplayer since you aren't simply exchanging cards with one person.

As an example, if the person you are passing to is far behind you might be able to pass VP in the late game in the hope of improving your buying power this turn.

I don't really know how often this kind of thing comes up or the best way to describe it.
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DG

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Re: Masquerade
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2012, 09:48:12 pm »
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Quote
What multiplayer considerations are there? Other than the pin, which I mentioned, I don't see masq playing substantially different.

In a two player masquerade game you'll might see a masquerade played once or twice during a cycle of your deck. In an equivalent four player game you might see masquerades played three or four times during a cycle of your deck. There is a real sharing of the worst cards around everyone's decks. You also find situations where you might not want to play a masquerade, or not play a militia, since you know the combination might result in one opponent passing good cards to another opponent in a game losing manner. Multi player torturer with masquerade is even more complex and there are probably a variety of other strange combos that I haven't come across.
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