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Author Topic: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round  (Read 10581 times)

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fp

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In the Dominion world, there is a phrase: “Village Idiot”. It refers to a player who has played the game only a few times before, and in those games, he or she bought too many action cards to play. He soon realizes that “villages” are, sometimes, key, and as a result, he buys them all up only to take long turns consisting of “Village, draw, Village, draw, …, …, 4 coppers, buy Village”. The Village Idiot is a common phenomenon, and it is a hard habit to break. In this article, I want to give players some pointers to help them break this habit.

Today's lesson is: “Money makes your deck go Round.”

It is very easy (even as an experienced player) to get caught up with all the cool cards on the board and forget to buy the cards they actually need!

Why you need money.

A typical Dominion game is going to determined by Provinces or Colonies. And in short, in most cases, if you can not buy Provinces or Colonies, you cannot win! To buy a province you need $8 in your hand which is an average of $1.6 per card in your 5 card hand, and for a Colony it is $2.2 per card. Now observe that when you start the card you have on average $0.7 per card. That means in order to win the game, most often, you need to more than double or triple the purchasing power in each of your hands!
 

6 Important Rules About Money

1. In general, money is more important than action cards; they do not cost you actions!

First, I should emphasize, “in general.” This is not a hard and fast rule. And the essence of becoming a better player relies heavily an determining when an action card which offers a better alternative to money (say, for example when to buy a Witch or not). However, the ultimate goal of the game is to buy point cards. Buying a bunch of cool cards which do not provide money, no matter how cool that are, is generally not going to help you buy Provinces or Colonies any faster.

2. When in doubt, buy Treasures.

Many times, a player will draw $6 on the third turn and buy a $5 card because they really want the “cool” action card. However, the truth of the matter is that the Gold in the early game is more likely to propel your middle game that that $5 action card. (Of course, there can be exceptions). If you draw $6 on your third turn, more often than not you should buy the Gold. You can often buy that Rabble later. Having $6 or $7 in the early game is probably not a chance you will again soon. Take advantage of it!

3. For your first two buys, look for what will get you the money you need to by more expensive cards.

A dominion game can be viewed as a complicated ladder. The main question you should ask yourself is “How will what I buy now help me buy something more expensive later?” If you keep that question in mind when deciding your buys, you will improve your game. For example, while a Workshop is very efficient in terms of money, it does not let you climb the ladder!

4. Buy “Villages” only if you need them.

A good rule of thumb is that you only need “Villages” (that is + 2 Action cards) only if you plan on exceeding 1 “terminating” action card per 5 or 6 cards in your deck. Here “terminating” means an action card that does not give +Actions in itself. If you only have 2-3 non-terminating actions in your 20 card deck, then you really do not need any “Villages”. The odds that you will draw more than one is minimal, and so, you should spend your buys on more useful cards (e.g., Gold).

5. Conversely, avoid terminating actions if you do not have “Villages”.

The previous concept works in reverse as well. If you do not have any “Villages,” then your deck should be limited to 1 terminating action card per 5 or 6 cards. Since a typical deck well end with between 25 and 30 cards, this means you should stick to between 4 and 5 terminating actions. Further, you should pick and choose those 4 to 5 terminating actions cards extremely carefully, as when you buy  such a card, you will likely be stuck with it for the duration of the game, and it will take up a valuable spot as one of your few action cards.

6. In Colony games, Platinum are key!

The $5 a Platinum offers is a huge advantage. Many colony games can be characterized as the one who gets the first Platinum wins. To put things into perspective for a Province game, your average card must offer $1.6 and a Gold offers roughly twice that. However, in a Colony game, your average card must offer $2.2 and a Platinum offers roughly two-and-half times the average. That is, Platinums are more essential in a Colony than Golds are in a Province game.

Let me give you a real  example- the game long can be found here: http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110612-023533-ee18122f.html. It was a late night, and I went over to my friends' apartment (handle: Pat) and happened to see him playing on Isotropic. He was playing a game where he happened to miss the Alchemist with a hand of 3 Estates, 2 Coppers, and a Potion after playing a Watchtower on the third turn. This is ordinarily catastrophic, however, the board featured alternatives to the Alchemist in the form of Watchtower and Hamlet. In any case, as the game went, the opponent was claiming all the Alchemists and was able to draw most of his whole deck each turn. In order to win this game, we needed to focus upon money We realized that one can have all the smart people in the world, but if you have no money, they are just going to stand there.  On turn 11, Pat  bought a Gold, and two subsequent turns later he was able to buy a Platinum. As the game progressed, Pat had more money that the opponent. So while the opponent was able to draw more cards, Pat was able to buy bigger and better things. Pat was able to grab the first Colony, and with a 3 to 1 advantage on Platinums, he was able to leapfrog the opponent upon buying the last Colony.

The point here is that, for the most part, at some point in the game you need money. Buying cool cards can help too, buy many times those cool cards (especially cards that draw cards) will not help you unless you have money to support them.

Next time we will make friends with Oscar the Grouch on our way to Level 10.

Until Next Time,
Spin your world with $,
fp
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 01:46:10 pm by fp »
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philosophyguy

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 09:10:46 am »
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For easy reference, I'm linking to Stomparkeit's review in which he proposes the Silver test.

I'm sure fp will be covering this point in far more detail in his subsequent articles, but I'll also link to Beyond Silver for completeness' sake.
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HockeyHippo

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 12:14:15 pm »
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Quote
To put things into perspective for a Province game, your average card must offer $1.6 and a Gold offers roughly twice that. However, in a Colony game, your average card must offer $2.1

So I understand the whole average value of 1.6$ for a Province game, because 1.6x5 = 8. But why 2.1$ for a Colony game? 2.1x5 = 10.5, was this a typo or am I missing something here?
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fp

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 01:45:28 pm »
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Quote
To put things into perspective for a Province game, your average card must offer $1.6 and a Gold offers roughly twice that. However, in a Colony game, your average card must offer $2.1

So I understand the whole average value of 1.6$ for a Province game, because 1.6x5 = 8. But why 2.1$ for a Colony game? 2.1x5 = 10.5, was this a typo or am I missing something here?

That's a typo. Fixed.
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Blooki

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2011, 02:39:39 pm »
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I don't know if it's too late to addend the article or if the following suggestion will be addressed in a future one, but it might be worthwhile to emphasize the wisdom of tracking the maximum money your deck can produce especially in games of heavy trashing, deck-drawing or both. It's not uncommon for even top players to forget to reach or stay above certain money thresholds due to overzealous trashing (i.e. Chapel, opposing Bishops, etc.) or draw engine building (i.e. NV/Library, Scrying Pool, etc.).
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 02:42:26 pm by Blooki »
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mcshoo

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 03:45:44 pm »
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Thanks for the post. 

In the post, you mention that if you were to draw $6 on turn 3, you should go for the gold rather than the Rabble.  Would you go for gold over a curse giving attack? If you've drawn $6 on that turn, chances are you won't crack $5 on the next two as  you either have [silver (or equivalent) and 3 coppers] or [5 coppers] left in your deck. 
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Superdad

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 09:06:59 am »
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I may be wrong in this, but on turn 3 with $6 I would never pass up a montebank/witch to buy a gold instead.

Blooki's post about the maximum buying power in your deck is a great one. I bet we are all guilty of buying that extra hunting party when our deck actually needed more golds to enable either colony/province buys every turn, or possibly to hit $16 buying power to enable double-province for the last crucial turn.
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Agrisios

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2011, 10:42:46 am »
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I may be wrong in this, but on turn 3 with $6 I would never pass up a montebank/witch to buy a gold instead.

You are right, of course - but this is the Level 5 audience. fp simply didn't explain the exceptions yet - and rightly so, because it would probably be confusing. Instead he wrote:

Quote from: fp
(Of course, there can be exceptions)
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Davio

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 10:45:26 am »
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I see many beginners make the mistake of not buying enough Silvers and Golds.
They are mesmerized by all the funky Action Cards and would love to have at least one copy of everyone.

I try to teach new players that with $3 and $6, Silvers and Golds are pretty handy dandy and when they draw those Silvers and Golds, they usually understand why.

It all boils down to the very essence of the game: Trying to get to that magical $8 or $11 for those big daddy VP cards.
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fp

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2011, 11:07:43 am »
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Thanks for the post. 

In the post, you mention that if you were to draw $6 on turn 3, you should go for the gold rather than the Rabble.  Would you go for gold over a curse giving attack? If you've drawn $6 on that turn, chances are you won't crack $5 on the next two as  you either have [silver (or equivalent) and 3 coppers] or [5 coppers] left in your deck.

I used Rabble as the "mediocre $5 card" as an example. But you are right, for Witch and Montebank are typically worth passing over the Gold. Some possible exceptions to the exception include:

1) Heavy Defense (Chapel and Lighthouse)
2) Turbo Fast Game (e.g., Ironworks with Gardens and Great Hall, etc.)
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cherdano

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2011, 07:20:09 am »
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5. Conversely, avoid terminating actions if you do not have “Villages”.

The previous concept works in reverse as well. If you do not have any “Villages,” then your deck should be limited to 1 terminating action card per 5 or 6 cards. Since a typical deck well end with between 25 and 30 cards, this means you should stick to between 4 and 5 terminating actions. Further, you should pick and choose those 4 to 5 terminating actions cards extremely carefully, as when you buy  such a card, you will likely be stuck with it for the duration of the game, and it will take up a valuable spot as one of your few action cards.
It's maybe worth pointing out that in many decks, this number is still rather higher. If you have 5 terminating actions in a deck of 25 cards, you need perfect shuffle luck to avoid them to clash. (If you don't realize how bad that is, just imagine you had a free silver any time you have a collision of terminal actions.) If you have actions that draw cards, then you would actually be 100% sure to get a collision.
Of course, if the actions are really good, it may be worth risking the collision, but on other boards you should just buy 2-3 terminating action cards.
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axlemn

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Re: Making it to Level 42: Level 5- Money Makes Your Deck Go 'Round
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 12:13:51 am »
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One of my friends won her first game ever by figuring out big money-smithy back when I was still a village idiot.  She had no idea how to play when we started out (and didn't have a really good idea how to play after, either, unfortunately).  She only knew the the basic rules plus the advice we gave her.

The rest of us playing told her to think about were "how will this affect your deck versus the other options, especially the option to buy more money?"  And, "the goal of the game is to get your deck good enough to hit 8 money enough times".

There were some more specific tips about what to buy:
>Actions have the drawback that they can collide, but they give you cool special effects!
>Playing multiple actions that are normally "terminal" is hard, and require you to get +actions cards and then play them first.  It can be worth it, though, if the special effects are really good!  Sometimes, it's not worth it, though.   
>Take a minute to read all the cards and think about stuff.

And these tips on when to go for points:
>For timing, know the "4 provinces by turn 16" rule of thumb.
>You probably want at least 2 golds before buying provinces, even if you can hit 8+ before you buy them.
>If you have the chance to get ahead, but the game will go on for a really long time after, you need to think, "a few turns later, when I've shuffled once or twice more, will it be more helpful to have bought this card, something else, or nothing?"
>Think about how hard it is to end the game - you need a lot of good hands, so your deck needs to get to be that good.

What I learned from that game is that if you're really, really confused by a board, or you think a strategy is too high above you in skill requirement to execute, there's nothing wrong with just going with something good.  (Actually, that will get you pretty far with knowledge of some combos and basic familiarity with cards.)
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