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ChaosRed

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Newb Questions
« on: August 26, 2011, 01:47:23 pm »
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Hello,

I am very new to DOMINION. I bought the game last Saturday and my wife and I loved it so much, we've played a game (or two) just about every day since we bought it. I've also been practicing (a little) on Isotropic and BoardGameArena (and getting thrashed thoroughly on both sites).

I have some newb questions. If you have the inclination to answer, one, some or all of these questions, I would be very grateful. Most of my questions refer to base set only. I do not intend to buy Intrigue until I really get a handle on Base, but on BoardGameArena, I play Base+Intrigue.

1. I think I figured out reasonable strategies for all of the basic deck types, the basic set ships with, except the one marked "Village Square". There were so many options, I could pick the right one. What's the best strategy? I went with Remodel mostly and really suffered. Is the best three cards to focus on in this set, Village, Throne Room, Market? Here's the list, if you've forgotten the set... http://dominiondeck.com/games/village-square

2. I love games with Chapel in them and really prefer dense, tight decks. I get burned with the thief on them a lot, or any game where there's an attack and no defense. Is a Chapel deck not worth it, if the Witch or Thief is in play, and there's no defense to it.

3. I win a lot with the Witch, but now my wife is learning fast and giving me a taste of my own medicine. If there's no Chapel or Moat, it seems like its a race to acquire and play Witch as much as possible. Does this seem right?

4. I recently played a Lab vs. Chapel game. It was about the most fun I've had. My opponent bought a ton of labs and other cards, I went chapel with just one lab and a smithy and tried to keep the deck dense as I could. I added Great Hall and Nobles at the end, as I acquired Provinces. I won, but barely. I know it depends on the other cards in the set, but in general does a dense deck tend to beat a deck that's wide but has a prolific engine (Lab deck)?

5. I find a LOT of games, come down to the last few hands. I run into 3-3 province splits a lot, (especially with my wife or on BoardGameArena). Then it becomes a dance of Duthies and having the guts to buy the penultimate province, and most especially getting the perfect draw on those last two or three hands. Is this common? It seems like one unfortunate draw near the end is often the difference.

6. Isotropic murders me. Murder. Not even close. It's because the sets are so varied and stuff like potions and colonies mess me up pretty badly (not to mention any Saboteur game, I LOATHE that card). I choose "base" as a bias, but often still get cards from various expansion. Also I seem to always get matched with players who KICK my ass...do not want to chat...and seem not only unsympathetic to newbies, but enjoy kicking them hard. I had heard the opposite, that Isotropic was full of great players who not only enjoy the game, but enjoy being an evangelist and supporter for it to new players.

My question on Isotropic is:

a) I had heard there was a way to solo (practice) on the site, but couldn't find a button or outlet to do it. Is it true? How does one do that?
b) Is there a way to constrain the auto-match to players of your level?

Thanks in advance for any answers and also for reading. I have read the main article on base set strategy, if there are others out there, (or better yet if you've written one about base set), I'd love to read it. I was thinking of writing an article on a newb's experience with the game, not as a strategy article, more of a "here's how to get hooked on a great game" kind of article.

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philosophyguy

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2011, 02:04:54 pm »
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You're asking a lot of good questions.

2. I love games with Chapel in them and really prefer dense, tight decks. I get burned with the thief on them a lot, or any game where there's an attack and no defense. Is a Chapel deck not worth it, if the Witch or Thief is in play, and there's no defense to it.

If Witch is in play, Chapel is still useful in order to trash the Curses, but it's better to give than receive. So, make sure you build up your deck's buying power enough that you can also buy an early Witch.

If Thief is in play, Chapel may not be as important for two reasons. First, as you discovered, thin decks are more vulnerable to Thief attacks, especially if you really depend on your few treasures for buying power. Second, you can let you opponent's Thief trash your Coppers for you. So, if Thief is available, I'm going to think twice before buying a Chapel.

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3. I win a lot with the Witch, but now my wife is learning fast and giving me a taste of my own medicine. If there's no Chapel or Moat, it seems like its a race to acquire and play Witch as much as possible. Does this seem right?

Cursing attacks are the most damaging attacks in the game, so you're right that you want to make sure you're giving out curses quickly in almost all situations. But, remember that eventually the curses do run out. So, don't forget to be building your deck's buying power.

(You also might experiment with how effective the Moat is against Witch. It's great if the Moat is in your hand when your opponent plays Witch, but that won't happen all the time. There's a big difference between 2 player games and multi-player games on this point, so it's something to explore.)

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4. I recently played a Lab vs. Chapel game. It was about the most fun I've had. My opponent bought a ton of labs and other cards, I went chapel with just one lab and a smithy and tried to keep the deck dense as I could. I added Great Hall and Nobles at the end, as I acquired Provinces. I won, but barely. I know it depends on the other cards in the set, but in general does a dense deck tend to beat a deck that's wide but has a prolific engine (Lab deck)?

There's no general answer here; it will depend on the other cards in the engine. I will note that neither Great Hall nor Nobles increase your buying power, so it's possible that you are buying too many actions and not enough coin to sustain Province buys at the end of the game. I can't say for certain without seeing the rest of the set and what else you bought, but in general players who are new to Dominion tend to undervalue treasure.

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5. I find a LOT of games, come down to the last few hands. I run into 3-3 province splits a lot, (especially with my wife or on BoardGameArena). Then it becomes a dance of Duthies and having the guts to buy the penultimate province, and most especially getting the perfect draw on those last two or three hands. Is this common? It seems like one unfortunate draw near the end is often the difference.

It's not uncommon for games to be close, especially with the base set. The issue of the final hands being luck is partly true, but the way you've built your deck up to that point has a huge effect on how reliant you are on luck. Again, this comes down to buying power and making sure that you've got enough coin density in your deck to sustain Province buys. At a higher level you'll also want to consider who plays first (if you're the first player, you don't want to end the game on a tie, but your opponent can; if you're second player, ending the game on a tie is still a draw).

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a) I had heard there was a way to solo (practice) on the site, but couldn't find a button or outlet to do it. Is it true? How does one do that?

Click "Propose game with:" when you have NOT checked any other players.
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philosophyguy

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2011, 02:17:52 pm »
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Also, I'm sorry to hear that you've had unpleasant experiences on isotropic. The skill level of many of the players on there is probably pretty high compared to a newbie, so you are likely to lose a lot of games. But, I would suggest telling your opponent that you are new and asking if they would give some feedback on your play after the game. The vast majority of the players I've asked that of have been more than willing to give me advice. If you see me on, I'd be happy to have a friendly game (philosophyguy).

Also, at the bottom of the councilroom page (below the list of players in the lobby), you can restrict the proposed games to just the base set or just base and intrigue, if you want.
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rinkworks

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2011, 02:45:11 pm »
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1. I think I figured out reasonable strategies for all of the basic deck types, the basic set ships with, except the one marked "Village Square". There were so many options, I could pick the right one. What's the best strategy? I went with Remodel mostly and really suffered. Is the best three cards to focus on in this set, Village, Throne Room, Market? Here's the list, if you've forgotten the set... http://dominiondeck.com/games/village-square

There's a lot of flexibility in that set.  If I were playing, I'd probably go for Festivals and Libraries.  These cards go good together, because, while Festival provides some great stuff, it doesn't draw any cards -- so each one you play means a smaller hand size.  But Library works best when you have fewer cards, because then it draws more.  So if you're able to play, for example, three Festivals, then a Library will draw six (!) cards.  Plus, any actions you draw from the Library are playable, since the Festivals gave you extra actions.  If those actions you draw are more Festivals and Libraries, you can repeat the process.

I would avoid Bureaucrat, which will choke up your Festival/Library engine with Silvers (which you don't need, since the Festivals give you the equivalent cash value), and Woodcutter is just a dead-end Festival here.  But a Smithy might be useful (playing Library first, then Smithy, will wind you up with a 9-card hand), and a Cellar would be a nice thing to have to sift through the junk cards.  It helps that Cellar gets better as your hand size increases.  Throne Room is a great accessory, so long as you recognize that it doesn't work on Libraries.  I would probably avoid Remodel unless you have a late-game $4 turn.  Maybe not even then, because one of the best Remodel tricks (turning Golds into Provinces at the end of the game) won't work for you as well here, since you probably don't want more than a couple Golds total.  (Gold is great, but not if they cause your Festival/Library engine to stall prematurely.)

Finally, only buy a Market if the Festivals are gone and you have all the Libraries you need.  Don't get me wrong -- Markets are solid cards that integrate seamlessly into most decks, including a Festival/Library deck.  But your Festivals will give you all the +Buy you need, and the Market's +$1 isn't enough.  For your $5 hands, you'd rather have a Festival, a Library, a Duchy (in the late game), or maybe a Throne Room or a Smithy.

Similarly, I wouldn't buy any Villages.  Again, Village is a solid card, but what do you need it for?  The Festivals will give you all the extra actions you need, and the Libraries will compensate for the Festivals' lack of draw.

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2. I love games with Chapel in them and really prefer dense, tight decks. I get burned with the thief on them a lot, or any game where there's an attack and no defense. Is a Chapel deck not worth it, if the Witch or Thief is in play, and there's no defense to it.

Philosophyguy had a great answer to this question.  I'll only add that another factor in this decision is whether or not you can get money from action cards, like the aforementioned Festival.  If you can get all your money from action cards, then you can safely Chapel away the Coppers without being vulnerable to the Thief.  (Then again, letting your opponent's Thief slim down your deck for you is still a good option here.)

In general, Thief is a weak card in 2-player games, not at all a threat unless you open yourself up to it by slimming down and loading up on expensive treasures.  On the other hand, just because Thief is on the board doesn't mean your opponents will go for it, so keep an eye on that, too.

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3. I win a lot with the Witch, but now my wife is learning fast and giving me a taste of my own medicine. If there's no Chapel or Moat, it seems like its a race to acquire and play Witch as much as possible. Does this seem right?

Witch is one of the strongest attacks of all, not just in the base set but in every expansion released to date.  The best defense against it is return fire.  Chapel and Moat are usually inadequate counters to it, partially due to the hidden opportunity costs:  you have to use up buys to buy them and, in Chapel's case, actions to play them.  You also have to consider that, even if you draw a hand with a Chapel and four Curses, thus allowing you to get rid of a lot all at once, that's still a whole turn you spent on housecleaning.  Whereas, if you'd bought a Witch yourself and emptied half the Curses out on your opponent, maybe that housecleaning turn could have been spent doing something better.

So yeah, usually when Witch is on the board, it's a priority buy for everyone.  The only thing I'd caution you against is buying too many.  Additional Witches offer decreasing benefits.  One or two is usually sufficient.  Three is probably a bad idea, even if it means the Curses split against you a little bit.
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2011, 04:22:25 pm »
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Isotropic is the place for serious Dominion play.  I think it is understood that the only way to get better at this game is to continue taking licks from better players and learning from it.  I would caution you, however, not to pass up your wife's skill to much or you risk making playing at home no fun for either of you.
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guided

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2011, 04:25:38 pm »
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I would caution you, however, not to pass up your wife's skill to much or you risk making playing at home no fun for either of you.
Yeah, none of the people I used to play with IRL will play with me anymore :o

For a few of them, I think that one game where I bought a Curse and then passed out all the Curses in 3 turns with nothing but KC and Ambassador was probably the last straw....
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Epoch

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2011, 04:42:21 pm »
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Yeah, none of the people I used to play with IRL will play with me anymore :o

For a few of them, I think that one game where I bought a Curse and then passed out all the Curses in 3 turns with nothing but KC and Ambassador was probably the last straw....

One of my friends got noticeably angry at me when I put together an Infinite City Stack and then multiply-Mountebanked the other two players.  I mean, he apologized for snapping later, and it wasn't a huge deal, but I realized that I wasn't going to get a lot of Dominion play in with real life people anymore.
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guided

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2011, 05:06:59 pm »
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Yes, another IRL game that didn't win me any Dominion-playing buddies was an ICS/multi-Mountebank game, but in my defense I had to mount an epic comeback after my opening Pirate Ship was discarded literally nine times in a row while the less experienced players accumulated $4 and $5 on their Pirate Ship mats. It was a Colony game or I'd never have had time to make it back. Final end condition? Depletion of Curses, solely through Mountebanks that I personally played, since nobody else bought any.
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ChaosRed

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2011, 05:28:10 pm »
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Thank you all for the great answers and advice, in particular not to get too practiced, or risk losing my wife's interest in the game! I think ultimately the social aspect of gaming is more valuable than one's skill at it. Of course, I could always hamstring myself if I get too good, as in "try to win without ever buying gold, or try to win by only 3 provinces, or something like that".

Isotropic is great, now that I know how to solo (thank you for that), it is fascinating to test stuff. Actually so far, I'm learning that a simple Big Money algorithm is a superb base to test against. Often, strategies I think will be great, simply can't compete with the simple algorithm posted on this site. So now I test big money on a set a few times and get an idea of a baseline to beat. And it is not easy. I have been restricting to base set, which helps a lot. I'll move to Base+Intrigue when I am ready.

Fascinating that all of you concede how powerful Witch is and that it must be acquired and used, in almost all base set circumstances.

Now that I know how to restrict sets, I'll tinker with Isotrope more, and get to a reasonable level but not so frightening that I am passing out all the curses by turn 3! I don't want to scare my wife away entirely.

I'll come back with another set of questions after some testing, I can be found on Isotropic as ChaosRed.
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 05:39:44 pm »
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passing out all the curses by turn 3!

Now THAT sounds like a puzzle for the blog.
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ftl

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 06:34:45 pm »
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1. I think I figured out reasonable strategies for all of the basic deck types, the basic set ships with, except the one marked "Village Square". There were so many options, I could pick the right one. What's the best strategy? I went with Remodel mostly and really suffered. Is the best three cards to focus on in this set, Village, Throne Room, Market? Here's the list, if you've forgotten the set... http://dominiondeck.com/games/village-square

I'll start by answering your question with a question - have you tried "Smithy Big Money"? Or "Big Money" in general?

If you're new, you might not have heard the term, but "Big Money" is a strategy where you pretty much buy nothing but coins. Whenever you can, buy a  province; whenever you can't do that, buy a gold; whenever you can't do that, buy a silver. "Smithy big money" is a strategy where you buy ONE smithy, and the rest money.

These look really simple, but are surprisingly powerful. BM gets you to four provinces by turn 17-18 or so, Smithy+BM gets you to four provinces by turn 14 or so. It is a common newbie mistake to focus too much on all the cool actions and combos that you can do and forget that these decks take quite a few turns to set up. Especially in just the base set, in a reasonable number of randomly-chosen sets, it makes sense to go for pure money plus a small number of actions (so you rarely/never draw more than one in hand at a time) to shore it up rather than trying to get your actions to chain. Sometimes, when you're not sure what to do, feel free to try going for silver, gold, and just one or two terminal actions. You'll be surprised at how well that does, especially against players who get carried away with too many villages.

That said, in that deck, what looks reasonable is festival/library/cellar. Festival and cellar both DECREASE your hand size; festival gives you coins and +actions; library lets you draw back up to 7 after you've played cellars and festivals for coins and not have much left in hand. 

I'll also comment on the cards that you picked out as "the best to focus on" at first glance, because they're really not that good.
Village is always "safe" to have - you feel like you always draw a card with it, so there's no harm, right? Well, there IS harm - in the turns it took to buy the villages! Those could be spent to buy things that give you coins, like silver.

Throne room LOOKS really cool - you play another card twice! But with so many things around that give +actions anyway, and without any standout amazing hard-to-get card that you really want to double-play, throne room turns out to be no better than whatever else you have in your hand, and you might as well just get more of other things and not risk drawing throne room with nothing good to throne room. It's a support card for an engine here, but it's not that easy to fit in to one, since early on (when you're getting $4-size hands) it's dangerous to buy it because you might draw it as your only action (and if you're drawing $4, you probably need a silver or two to get you up to drawing $5), but later on (when you're always getting actions in-hand) youre likely to be getting $5 which could be spent on festivals.

Market is good but unremarkable. With libraries around, it's better to have festivals because you'll draw cards with library. It doesn't harm, but it doesn't help as much as you think.

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2. I love games with Chapel in them and really prefer dense, tight decks. I get burned with the thief on them a lot, or any game where there's an attack and no defense. Is a Chapel deck not worth it, if the Witch or Thief is in play, and there's no defense to it.

Chapel is awesome! It does carry risks when thief is around and you're going for lots of money. But, in general, it is really good for setting up *any* deck to be what you want it to be, to get rid of those initial estates and coppers as fast as possible. 

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3. I win a lot with the Witch, but now my wife is learning fast and giving me a taste of my own medicine. If there's no Chapel or Moat, it seems like its a race to acquire and play Witch as much as possible. Does this seem right?

That seems quite right.

Even more so, really. In a game with Moat, it's STILL a race to acquire and play witch as much as possible. When your witch gets through the moats, it's still effective. And curses really suck to have in your deck! And, to make it worse, moats aren't that good cards to have in your deck either. So even with moats around, witch is amazing.

In a game with Chapel, playing Witch more will make your opponent waste time chapeling away curses instead of doing more useful things with his actions. Still good.

Witch is amazing and one of the best attacks in the game, INCLUDING all expansions.

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4. I recently played a Lab vs. Chapel game. It was about the most fun I've had. My opponent bought a ton of labs and other cards, I went chapel with just one lab and a smithy and tried to keep the deck dense as I could. I added Great Hall and Nobles at the end, as I acquired Provinces. I won, but barely. I know it depends on the other cards in the set, but in general does a dense deck tend to beat a deck that's wide but has a prolific engine (Lab deck)?

I mean, usually a deck with less useless junk (estates, coppers) is going to be better - a chapeled-away deck with lots of laboratories is better than a large deck with lots of laboratories, but whether it's worth the actions to trim it down and how far you want to trim it down depends on what else you could be doing with those actions/buys.  For example, a hamlet-library engine works fine with a large deck with lots of stuff, because you just hamlet it away and library to redraw to find your golds.  Laboratory engines, since they increase handsize, are pretty okay with somewhat larger decks. Big Money just needs your average hand value to be above 8, so it's fine with some junk around as long as it's counterbalanced by golds. Other engines (e.g. conspirator engines) really REALLY need a deck to stay pretty trimmed, or if you're going for a draw-your-entire-deck-in-hand-each-turn game you probably can't afford to draw a late-game hand of copper, silver, estate, province, terminal.


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5. I find a LOT of games, come down to the last few hands. I run into 3-3 province splits a lot, (especially with my wife or on BoardGameArena). Then it becomes a dance of Duthies and having the guts to buy the penultimate province, and most especially getting the perfect draw on those last two or three hands. Is this common? It seems like one unfortunate draw near the end is often the difference.

It happens. I've had a game end on estates! Where nobody was willing to buy the penultimate province, and then nobody was willing to buy the penultimate duchy (but we had both greened up our decks to the point where we couldn't buy provinces), and two other piles were gone, so it ended on estates.

But it's not just luck. I actually had a game with Jimmm.... from these forums where we had a game like that which he won. If I remember correctly, we both went for money-based decks, but picked different strategies for "a card to keep our deck going once there's lots of green in it." It might have looked like luck - we both went for mostly money with one chapel and one support card, then went 3-3 on provinces, then started buying duchies, then estates, and then Jimm got a few "lucky" hands and got the 5-3 province split, but it wasn't really luck, it's that he picked a better support card and could pull out provinces when I couldn't.

It happens less once you get powerful engines that can draw your whole deck with multiple buys - in that case, it comes down to who can get their engine set up first rather than who can get the last province. But it still happens. It also would happen less if I could just recognize that last moment I could safely buy a province and not have my opponent immediately snatch up the last one, because our decks are filled with duchies. But that's also hard.

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6. Isotropic murders me. Murder. Not even close. It's because the sets are so varied and stuff like potions and colonies mess me up pretty badly (not to mention any Saboteur game, I LOATHE that card). I choose "base" as a bias, but often still get cards from various expansion. Also I seem to always get matched with players who KICK my ass...do not want to chat...and seem not only unsympathetic to newbies, but enjoy kicking them hard. I had heard the opposite, that Isotropic was full of great players who not only enjoy the game, but enjoy being an evangelist and supporter for it to new players.

Sorry 'bout your experience :/

I suppose I don't really talk much when I'm just on isotropic, a glhf at the beginning of the game and a gg at the end, sometimes a comment or two during the game if I find something particularly amusing or frustrating. Re: saboteur - usually, saboteur is just a minor nuisance... but if your opponent sets up a deck where they draw their whole deck in hand and throne room a saboteur every turn or something, that is really vicious and shuts you down entirely. 

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My question on Isotropic is:

a) I had heard there was a way to solo (practice) on the site, but couldn't find a button or outlet to do it. Is it true? How does one do that?

Just click "propose game" with no other players checked. It'll say "so-and-so has proposed a solitaire game" and you'll just get a game with only yourself.

For that, you can also use the controls at the bottom to not just 'bias' the selection, but to specify which cards or what sets you want. (For example, you can select '10 out of 10 cards from Base' to only play the base set, or '10 out of 10 from base', 'chapel' if you want to specifically practice that.)

I know when I started on isotropic I spent a while just playing solitaire games to get the feel for the place and for the game.

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b) Is there a way to constrain the auto-match to players of your level?


There is not.

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Thanks in advance for any answers and also for reading. I have read the main article on base set strategy, if there are others out there, (or better yet if you've written one about base set), I'd love to read it. I was thinking of writing an article on a newb's experience with the game, not as a strategy article, more of a "here's how to get hooked on a great game" kind of article.

You're welcome, and welcome to Dominion!

If I'm around (ftl or savfan104) feel free to message me and propose a game, we can play and I can try to give you some tips. I'm not that great - I know lots of other people on this forum and on Isotropic are far better than me - but I've been able to maintain a 50% winrate on Isotropic automatch, so I'm probably  about the level of those players who you say "murder" you on the site and would probably be able to help you out. (Heck, if you want, message me on the forums and we can set up a time and meet on isotropic, otherwise if I'm online I'll be in automatch all the time. )
« Last Edit: August 26, 2011, 06:50:07 pm by ftl »
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ChaosRed

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2011, 07:40:12 pm »
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Learning, learning, thanks to you guys. I solo'd this set for about 10-12 games:

Adventurer, Chapel, Council Room, Gardens, Library, Market, Moat, Village, Woodcutter, Workshop

My goal was to acquire all provinces (all 8 of them) as fast as possible. The fastest I could initially come up with, was a BM strategy as described above, using a Chapel to think out the deck just a little. I could get all 8 provinces in about 24 turns.

Can you come up with a faster way?

One way I could beat BM was Gardens. By turn 24 I can collect about 56 points or so using Gardens / Workshop / Market (I used the market for the extra buys).

It seems given the above set, Gardens is the way to go, buying Dutchies from time to time, and even Estates when extra buys and 2$ are left over.

So after 10 solo simulations, I think a Garden strategy for the above set would work best. It was a simple Garden strategy, buy two silver to open, then purchasing Markets / Workshop, using Workshop to acquire Gardens...using Markets to add buys and draws...and bought as many cards as I could. I'd buy gold sometimes (usually if I had 6 or 7$ and only 1 buy).

I think it would win in this set.

Should I be testing this on a shorter set of turns? As in, test BM out to the 4 province (or 5 province mark) and seeing if I can get the Gardens to get past 33 points in an equal (or lesser) number of turns?

It seems to me, just like the base strategy article describes, that if Workshop / Gardens are in play and you have a +buy card to purchase, Gardens are hard to beat in base set (especially with Witch not in play).
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Epoch

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2011, 07:55:05 pm »
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Learning, learning, thanks to you guys. I solo'd this set for about 10-12 games:

Adventurer, Chapel, Council Room, Gardens, Library, Market, Moat, Village, Woodcutter, Workshop

My goal was to acquire all provinces (all 8 of them) as fast as possible. The fastest I could initially come up with, was a BM strategy as described above, using a Chapel to think out the deck just a little. I could get all 8 provinces in about 24 turns.

Can you come up with a faster way?

One way I could beat BM was Gardens. By turn 24 I can collect about 56 points or so using Gardens / Workshop / Market (I used the market for the extra buys).

It seems given the above set, Gardens is the way to go, buying Dutchies from time to time, and even Estates when extra buys and 2$ are left over.

Try ignoring the Duchies and Markets, and just three-piling with Gardens, Workshops, and Estates.  It should be faster.
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philosophyguy

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2011, 07:59:20 pm »
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Should I be testing this on a shorter set of turns? As in, test BM out to the 4 province (or 5 province mark) and seeing if I can get the Gardens to get past 33 points in an equal (or lesser) number of turns?

Yes, you should be testing Gardens against your time to 4 Provinces. If the players have equally good decks, then the game will be over after each has bought 4 Provinces (or 3 in a 4-player game). So, your metric for Gardens should be whether you can get a better result in that number of turns.

(Technically your metric would be slightly different to compensate for the non-Gardens player getting ahead with Provinces and then ending the game on piles before your Gardens surpass him, but 4 Provinces timing is close enough for now.)
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guided

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2011, 08:03:56 pm »
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Oof, definitely don't train yourself to get 8 Provinces as fast as possible! Optimal strategy for that goal will be very different than optimal strategy for winning. You only need to score more points than your opponent, not empty the entire Province pile on your own. It can be decent practice when testing a Province-focused strategy to see how fast you can get to 4 Provinces, though consider than in intermediate and higher level play Duchies very much matter.
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guided

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2011, 08:09:25 pm »
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And at the risk of corrupting you, the likely strategy on that board is either Workshop/Gardens (buying no other Kingdom cards at all) or Woodcutter/Gardens (ditto).

Workshop/Gardens is so well-known amongst advanced players it's pretty much scripted. This isn't a 100% description of the strategy, but it's pretty close:

Turns 1/2: Buy 2 Workshops
Turns 3/4: Buy/gain at least 1 more Workshop. Consider buying a Gardens with $4+ if you're pretty certain you will still have 3 Workshops before the second shuffle.
Remainder of the game: Always gain Gardens with Workshops and $4 buys until the pile is gone. Always buy/gain the most expensive of Gardens/Workshop/Estate/Copper that you can afford, depleting those 3 piles (other than Copper) as fast as possible.

Woodcutter/Gardens works much the same way, but you usually end up buying more Copper.
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ChaosRed

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2011, 08:28:19 pm »
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Following the three-pile strategy described here was awesome advice, I can clear every Estate / Workshop / Gardens off the board in 18 turns and wind up with over 40 points. That pretty much trained me on Gardens decks (at least to intermediate level). Thanks guys!

I'll change new tests of sets to acquire 4 provinces. I'll test BM first as a baseline then see what strategies can beat it.

Won my first head to head ever too on  a 8 base / 2 intrigue blend...I played JUST big money as described (with a single Council purchase as Smithy was not available). The player was rookie too (12 games it looked like) and although he was drawing lots of cards and getting decent money, I was still faster. It really is true that Big Money is a simple algorithm that will defeat most new players, especially when there's no major attacks on the board.

What I am finding is not only do you guys really know your stuff, but the advice in the base set columns is PRECISELY right. Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2011, 01:33:02 am by ChaosRed »
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Geronimoo

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2011, 05:04:36 am »
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Practicing a strategy you came up with in solo mode is fine and all, but it's very time consuming. On top of that you might draw wrong conclusions because you played 10 games which is far too small a sample size for a game with so much variance. Also, your opponent's plays might have a very big influence on the success of your strategy which is hard to take into account when playing solo.
Another way to test strategies is to use my simulator, which I'm sure you've seen mentioned on this forum. It allows you to quickly test strategies where you have a very large sample size (10000 games in <10 seconds) and against very advanced opponents.

Download it here.

Building your own bots can be a bit of a challenge at first so follow this guideline.

I'll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
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guided

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2011, 08:28:11 am »
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Also I'm of a mind that the best way to practice is to play against people better than you and see what they do.
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ChaosRed

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Re: Newb Questions
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2011, 01:47:16 pm »
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Thank you both, I'll be sure to test the simulator and report back. I'm passing what I am learning here to my wife too, she's getting good as well. Yesterday's game was this huge race for the Witch, she beat me by one point...it was a great game. Almost ready for Intrigue I think, I'll probably buy it after Labor Day.

What a great game this is.
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