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Author Topic: 3 Player Dominion  (Read 5874 times)

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Davio

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3 Player Dominion
« on: August 29, 2011, 10:30:19 am »
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While I enjoy 2 player Dominion on Isotropic and think it is the most pure form, it is actually 3 player that I have the most fun with while playing live.

There are some added dimensions:
- Players will often try other strategies
- More often than not, the kingdom cards will be unevenly balanced
- Interaction will happen more often

The fair share of Victory cards for each player is still 4 (there are 12 instead of 8), but a 3-pile ending may be more common with 3p than with 2p.


I am starting this topic because I am playing in a Dominion tournament this weekend and it will be 3p all the way (unless there is a shortage of players) with 3 rounds of point scrambling and a semi and full final after that.

So I am asking you for any insightful comment regarding 3p.

Of course I already know that attacks are more powerful since there are 2 players who can play one in 1 turn, but any other things to look out for?
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DG

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 10:37:16 am »
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Defences are more powerful. Your attacks are no more powerful than in two player (although they may provide extra benefit - thief) and can often be weaker. The combined attacks of two players can produce unusual results and can tie down an unprepared opponent.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 10:42:05 am »
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Well, with Attacks (especially Cursers), I think it's better to join the fray.
There are 20 Curses to be divided with 3 players and you certainly want no more than 7 of them and must try to get at most 5.

What I am more curious about is when to switch over to Duchies.
I know with 2p it's Duchy time when P <= 4 and Estate time with P <= 2, with P the number of remaining Provinces.
This is of course a rule of thumb, but does anyone know if this is much different with 3p?
I guess it is, but by how much?
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guided

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 10:45:07 am »
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Cursing attacks are specifically less of a priority the more players there are. 7 is less than 10.

I don't have a rule of thumb for you on Duchies. 3p strategy is not my forte.
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shark_bait

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 10:45:40 am »
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Here's a few things off the top of my head.  Watch out for a 3 pile ending.  With more players, they could end it faster before you get your engine running.

Also, be careful if city is in play.  In 2-player, you can sometimes ignore it and let your opponent try to empty it by himself.  However, if 2 people are working on the city stack, they WILL empty quickly and then proceed to have an advantage over you.
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DsnowMan

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 10:49:24 am »
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If you ignore curses in a 3-player game, while the other 2 go for it, you get the same 10 curses but you get them FASTER than in a 2p game.

I don't think it's a good idea to ignore most cursing attacks in 3p.

Start buying duchies with 6-8 provinces left. Depends on game.
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tko

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2011, 10:53:48 am »
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For 3 player, if Jester a popular buy, be aware that the game will often end in a 3-pile ending in a quick fashion.  That's a multiplayer surprise I found.

After you've seen your opponents play previous matches, and you have meta knowledge that they attempt to build complicated engines, consider playing Big Money (maybe add 1 Smithy, Envoy, Torturer, Rabble, Library, or Nobles).

Keep up in the VP tokens race.  For example, if Monument is out, it's often not the worst opening buy.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2011, 11:08:09 am »
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I did not want to mention this in the opening post, because I wanted the topic to be mainly about 3p in general, but the tournament I'm playing in is Base only for the first rounds and Base + Intrigue for the semis and final.

I tried Workshop/Gardens not too long ago against 2 others who went with somewhat polluted BM strategies and it proved quite succesful.

Obviously, this combo is always something to watch out for with Base, but in 3p it still has some potential, even though it's harder to clear both the Gardens and Estates alone (both have 12 cards) and I don't know if it would have still been as succesful if the others would have tried some things to sabotage me (like getting a lot of Gardens themselves?).
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Geronimoo

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2011, 11:17:40 am »
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spellenaanzee, Davio?
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guided

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2011, 11:37:33 am »
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If you ignore curses in a 3-player game, while the other 2 go for it, you get the same 10 curses but you get them FASTER than in a 2p game.
But each of them has ~5 curses now, so you're only 5 curses down compared to the other players instead of 10.

This is not a good situation to be in, but it's not nearly as bad as taking all 10 curses in a 2p game.
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Epoch

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2011, 12:08:48 pm »
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But each of them has ~5 curses now, so you're only 5 curses down compared to the other players instead of 10.

This is not a good situation to be in, but it's not nearly as bad as taking all 10 curses in a 2p game.

Guided is right, and also consider that in a 2p game, if you evenly split the curses, you each have 5 curses, whereas if it goes entirely one way, you get 10 curses (ie, the difference between working to split the curses and not is about 5 curses to you).  In a 3p game, the difference is 6.7 -> 10, or 3.3 curses -- so for the same amount of effort, you save yourself from fewer Curses.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 12:41:01 pm »
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spellenaanzee, Davio?
Yes, it's my first tournament/conference so I don't quite know what to expect.

Well, I'll just try to have fun of course and at least I get to play 3 rounds, but I can't help but try to do well, even if I'm doubtful to go to Essen to the Dominion World Championship if I win (automatic entry for the winner, but own transportation).
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 06:21:58 pm »
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Okay, I've played around with the simulator a little and was somewhat surprised.

The optimal value for D (buy a Duchy if P <= D) seems to be 7 with the BMU strategies.
It seemed somewhat high to me, since 7 Provinces seems still a long way to go.
On the other hand, 5 Provinces are already gone which is 1.67 per player and this is less than in a 2p game.

Am I right in thinking 3p games are more "scrambly" than 2p? In 2p games, you can somewhat control the pace of the game and react to to your opponent's style. 3p's (and probably especially 4p's) are more "free for all" style games in which you have to focus more on yourself and grabbing as big a share of the points you can get. I think it's a lot harder to control the game and use the normal 2p rules of thumb like the PPR. You may withhold from buying the penultimate Province, have your neighbor buy it and the third player as well, making yourself lose to both.

In the tournament format I mentioned in which you get points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place (a percentage of the points gained in each game is also noted for tiebreakers, e.g. 40 of the total 98 points shared between 3 players gets you 40,81%), I think it's more essential to just focus on getting the green instead of going all out or bust for the win. Surely, you want to win and getting a lot of green will help you towards this goal.

I am hoping to see some input from Theory and RRenaud, since they played at GenCon or WBC, see this topic: http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=439.25 and probably have some experience with 3p.


Some more Simulator findings:
- A single Workshop/Gardens crushes 2 BMU's (and BMU Militia for that matter) hard: 99%
- 2 Players going for Workshop/Gardens will share their wins with the 3rd BMU player winning virtually 0%, although this may be tweaked to make the 3rd player more privy to what is going on and try to react somehow.

So if I see 2 players open Workshop/Workshop before me, I guess I just have to join the fun and hope my shuffle luck is better than theirs.
If I try adding some juice like buying Duchies, the results only get worse. Of course, being 3rd can really hurt, since there are only 10 Workshops and 6 will be gone the first round, meaning we will need some luck getting at least one more!
« Last Edit: August 30, 2011, 06:48:16 pm by Davio »
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pst

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2011, 03:51:06 am »
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In the tournament format I mentioned in which you get points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place (a percentage of the points gained in each game is also noted for tiebreakers, e.g. 40 of the total 98 points shared between 3 players gets you 40,81%),

That's not a good tiebreaker, I think. Firstly it encourages a clear winner to keep increasing the distance instead of just winning at the first opportunity: That would be boring. Secondly it works really bad with negative scores. So if you win +3/0/0 you get 100%, if you win +3/-1/-1 it's even better of course, 300%. But if you get +3/-3/-3 you only get -100% and in the worst case you win with something like +3/-1/-2 and the tournament has to be cancelled or something.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2011, 04:06:25 am »
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In the tournament format I mentioned in which you get points for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place (a percentage of the points gained in each game is also noted for tiebreakers, e.g. 40 of the total 98 points shared between 3 players gets you 40,81%),

That's not a good tiebreaker, I think. Firstly it encourages a clear winner to keep increasing the distance instead of just winning at the first opportunity: That would be boring. Secondly it works really bad with negative scores. So if you win +3/0/0 you get 100%, if you win +3/-1/-1 it's even better of course, 300%. But if you get +3/-3/-3 you only get -100% and in the worst case you win with something like +3/-1/-2 and the tournament has to be cancelled or something.
I've send your very astute observations to the organization. Tiebreaking systems in a game like Dominion (in which an early lead can have great effect on end score and end scores are prone to be very swingy) are almost always going to be bad. I'm curious to their reaction.
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2011, 04:14:16 am »
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I'm sure they'll just treat any negative score as 0. Tiebreakers are never going to work, but tournaments need them so there's no point complaining every time someone tries to implement something.
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pst

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2011, 05:51:21 am »
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I'm sure they'll just treat any negative score as 0. Tiebreakers are never going to work, but tournaments need them so there's no point complaining every time someone tries to implement something.

The problem with negative scores is a minor point that isn't common and easily can be averted. The main issue is that this tiebreaking scheme encourages accumulating extra "unnecessary" points. That will matter in many games and in way that makes the game less fun and more frustrating, which certainly isn't intended.

Yes, tiebreaking is a "necessary evil", and yes, no tiebreak is perfect, but most wouldn't have such a negative impact on the game. Often a tiebreak can be almost invisible in that players normally don't have to think about it, maybe except for in the last round.

I would probably use number-of-wins-on-their-own as first tiebreak, and number-of-shared-wins secondly. Maybe some Buchholz then (how well your opponents did). If you want to avoid that calculation you could go for the result between two tied players if they've played each other. (If there are many players / few rounds that might not be enough.)
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2011, 06:07:25 am »
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Whether or not any tiebreaking system "makes the game less fun and more frustrating" is up to each individual to decide for themselves. Who's to say I don't like dragging a game on a bit longer so I can win by a bigger margin? If that's what I like to do, then this tiebreaking scheme makes the game more fun for me. Yeah, it may make it a bit frustrating if I'm on the losing end, but if I'd do it with the positions swapped, I can't really complain if it happens. At the end of the day it's up to the tournament organisers to implement any tiebreaking system they see fit. It's announced ahead of time. If you don't like it, don't enter the tournament. If you do enter the tournament, adapt your play to fit the system being used.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2011, 06:47:39 am »
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While I have serious doubts about the current tiebreaking system, I find it very hard to come up with a good alternative.
I like the Buchholz idea of summing up your opponent's ending scores, so if you beat someone who goes on to get 2-3-3 (points), then in hindsight you have done better than when you beat someone who gets 1-1-1 (points). You will play against 6 different opponents (opposed to 3 if it were 2p), so this has some meaning. A median-Buchholz could even be used. Still, it's only 3 rounds, so distortion is inevitable.

It is mentioned that the current system will cause longer games, since players will drag the game along to grab more points. The opposite could also be true, since winning 12-1-1 will give you a better scoring percentage than winning 24-13-13. I think it won't matter much in practice and if I can end the game ahead, I'll probably do so, because those 3 points are more valuable than concerning myself with tie breaks.

There are 16 tables of 3 and 9 will go through to the semis of which the winners will proceed to the final.

This means it's possible to NOT make the semis even with 3 wins, there could be 16 players with 3 wins (the losing players of each table just shift around and lose to others who have won) and thus 7 who could fail to make the cut even with a perfect record.

That's just the way the tournament works and if I'm the one who by 1% fails to make the semis, I'll surely not be happy.

Yes, the tiebreaking system is far from perfect, butI think the bottom line is that we have to support these kinds of tournaments. Someone took the time and energy to organize it and for that I am thankful. Maybe after this tournament, there will be more and some things will be learned from this one.
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pst

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2011, 07:47:24 am »
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It is mentioned that the current system will cause longer games, since players will drag the game along to grab more points. The opposite could also be true, since winning 12-1-1 will give you a better scoring percentage than winning 24-13-13. I think it won't matter much in practice and if I can end the game ahead, I'll probably do so, because those 3 points are more valuable than concerning myself with tie breaks.

True. And I think you said this was basic set only? With no victory tokens I think there won't be large problems with this.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2011, 11:27:00 am »
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Am I right in thinking 3p games are more "scrambly" than 2p? In 2p games, you can somewhat control the pace of the game and react to to your opponent's style. 3p's (and probably especially 4p's) are more "free for all" style games in which you have to focus more on yourself and grabbing as big a share of the points you can get. I think it's a lot harder to control the game and use the normal 2p rules of thumb like the PPR. You may withhold from buying the penultimate Province, have your neighbor buy it and the third player as well, making yourself lose to both.
I definitely agree about the pace thing. In 2 player, you have a ton of control over the pace of the game. Half the turns are yours, and it's hard for one person to end the game if you're trying not to. But with 3 players, the kingdom piles will already be a little shorter, making pile endings easier; and more importantly, if they both get to 5 provinces, that leaves only 2 for you instead of the 3 you'd have in 2-player, meaning you'd need a SIX duchy edge to make up for it, which is just too much.

As far as the PPR thing, the PPR is obviously a 2-player rule. The equivalent rule for 3 players would be the TTLPR (third-to-last province rule). The principle is the that you don't want to buy a province you'd be able to buy next turn.
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Deadlock39

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2011, 11:42:15 am »
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Kuildeous

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2011, 11:51:46 am »
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The Antepenultimate Province.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/antepenultimate

Drat, I came here to say that. There are so few instances where "antepenultimate" can be used.
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Kirian

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2011, 12:48:35 pm »
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Yes, but the APR doesn't apply nearly as well in 3-player as the PPR does in 2-player.  Certainly it works if everyone's deck is likely to produce $8+ and no bonus buys every turn (Alchemists might make this likely).

But let's say you're player 1, 3 Provinces are left in the pile, the scores are tied, and you have $8.  Chances are good that one of your opponents has $8, but how likely is it that both will?  How likely that P3 doesn't buy a Province, and you get a shot at the final Province?  And if that happens, what if you have $7 and P2 can grab the final Province to win?  With three players, this goes into deep analysis paralysis for someone faced with the choice of breaking the APR... but no paralysis for the other players, as once the rule is broken, their choices are more obvious.

----

Another thing of note, since this is face-to-face; remember that in F2F play you don't have to reveal all your cash, and it's going to be advantageous not to do so if you buy a Duchy but had enough to get a Province.  We all toss all our money on the table on isotropic because it's just quicker, but in person it's easier to hide your real total cash.
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guided

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2011, 01:01:31 pm »
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Tournament thoughts: Advance all tied players from one round to the next. Odd-size games could either be 2p or 4p, or volunteers could fill in spoiler seats to make 3p games. If players are tied for the overall championship, play another game.

When winnowing from 48 straight down to 9, tiebreakers will matter and I expect one or more tables will have souring experiences due to VP-based tiebreaker metagaming. I'm of a mind that cutting more than 80% of the field in one 3-game round is probably a bad idea. I'd suggest either playing a longer round or having an additional round before the semis.
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Deadlock39

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2011, 01:06:26 pm »
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There is clearly more analysis to be done, but I don't think it justifies too much over thinking.  If you aren't in the lead, you should pass on the APR unless you are pretty sure one player can't make $8.  If your Duchy puts you in the lead, your opponent should follow suit.  If he doesn't, and everyone has $8, you will beat him with the last province on your turn.  If the player to your right breaks the rule when you are behind, you are just screwed, and can't do anything about it, but that is just the nature of 3 player.

What you really need to watch out for is the Preantepenultimate Province Rule when you are playing 4 player games. ;-)

http://www.wordnik.com/words/preantepenultimate

Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2011, 04:49:05 pm »
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Tournament thoughts: Advance all tied players from one round to the next. Odd-size games could either be 2p or 4p, or volunteers could fill in spoiler seats to make 3p games. If players are tied for the overall championship, play another game.

When winnowing from 48 straight down to 9, tiebreakers will matter and I expect one or more tables will have souring experiences due to VP-based tiebreaker metagaming. I'm of a mind that cutting more than 80% of the field in one 3-game round is probably a bad idea. I'd suggest either playing a longer round or having an additional round before the semis.
I received an email from the organization today.

I had proposed the Buchholz system to them which in my view is more fair than anything having to do with VPs.
I don't think they will implement it, but I had other good news.

They wanted to draw random sets per table for every round, which in my view was absurd with the tiebreaking system based on scoring as Curse games will generally have lower scores and thus higher percentage swings. They have changed it so now they will draw a supply which will be played by each table.

I think it's more fair this way and as I am going with 2 friends we can maybe talk about the same setup afterwards instead of everyone talking about their own kingdom, which may be confusing.

I am looking forward to it however.


This APR is hard to follow in a tournament structure. Sure, if you're playing in your home game and winning (and gloating) is everything, passing up that Province may be the right choice. In a tournament, 2nd place may be something worth going for, even if it means sacrificing the win. It's better than 3rd.

Our tournament which goes from 48 to 9 in 3 rounds differs, because the jump is so great. 1st places are worth a lot more than 2nds, since getting 3 1sts doesn't even guarantee going through, let alone some sloppy 2nds.
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guided

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2011, 05:37:00 pm »
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Yeah, with that 48/9 tournament format, if tables are playing different boards but VP differentials count for tiebreakers, I would simply not enter. Anything but duplicate boards should be an absolute non-starter.

Bad tiebreakers can be OK if rarely used (though personally I would argue that coin flip is better than VP differentials if tiebreakers must be used), but they will not be a rarity when dumping the vast majority of the field after 3 games.
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Deadlock39

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2011, 12:19:00 am »
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You definitely need to know when to play for 2nd place in a tournament I suppose, but if you are winning, you should never pass up the province.  PPR and APR don't apply in that situation.  In that situation, the best case scenario is that the other two players empty out the pile and end the game, because you will still be winning, and the game will be over.

rspeer

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #29 on: September 01, 2011, 01:08:23 pm »
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Everyone's talking about the antepenultimate province rule here, but I don't believe it exists.

It would only apply if you think both of your opponents are very likely to buy a province, which I think is low enough probability already that it would almost never be worth giving up 3 VP for.

It only applies when the opponent to your right is ahead, as he would not buy the last province if it would cause him to lose.

It only applies when first place is the only thing that matters, which is not the case in TrueSkill rankings and some tournament situations.

It only applies when you are in last place but within 6 VP of first place. If you're in second place, you can buy the province and assume your left-hand opponent will apply the penultimate province rule.

Basically, there are vanishingly few situations where the APR would give you a positive expected value, and the value it would give you is so small that it's not worth the brainpower you spend on the APR instead of other things.
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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2011, 11:57:34 pm »
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What about a 3-player PPR? If you're 1 or 2 points behind both players and you buy the PP, chances are at least one of the other two will hit 8 and buy the last one to win the game. But if you buy a Duchy, they both need to hit 8 to end the game, which is much less likely.

Of course, this will be even less common than the equivalent 2-player situation. However, it could be that it's far more important when you do find yourself in this situation to follow the PPR, as there are now twice as many chances for the last Province to be bought.
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Davio

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #31 on: September 04, 2011, 02:51:37 pm »
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Okay, I played in the earlier mentioned tournament (try not to think about prizes) today and here is a short report.

Me and two friends arrived on time and got our seat assignments: We all sat close to each other, but at different tables and would stay at these tables for the other two rounds. So we already had a bit of good luck here, since we didn't want to play against each other (until the final of course).

The first round was an easy win for me and J. in a Chapel game. My left neighbor bought an Adventurer with his first $6 and my right Neighbor didn't trash his Coppers. S. was not so lucky and lost.

The second game had no Chapel and no Cellar, but had Moat and Witch (and Militia), so I went for a basic BMU+ strategy with a very nice 5/2 opening (Witch/Moat) and won this game fairly easily too, so did my friend J. S. was last yet again. He is the worst player of us three, so it wasn't a real surprise.

The third game I won with Smithy and some useful $5's like Lab and Market and was able to hold off some Remodelers by buying the last Province just in time after my neighbor had bought the 2nd to last one.


Now we were waiting for the announcement of who would be in the semis. I had three wins, so was pretty sure (although mathematically not 100%) that I would make it. My friend with two wins and one 2nd wasn't so sure, but he went through as the #8 seed. I was the #1 seed which was nice to hear, but I didn't feel any pressure since the semis is just one game and anything can happen.

And something did happen. My luck turned against me on a board with both Swindler and Saboteur after my opening buy of Swindler got Swindled into a useless Workshop immediately. GG me, I could not cope with this early blow against decent opponents and was chasing most of the game. I thought about some fancy Duke strategy and even some shenanigans with Estates, but there was nothing I could do, but sit back and play until the end.
I managed no more than 20 pts, lowest of all my games and not a single Province. Getting to $5 proved tricky, let alone making it to $8. Golds couldn't be Swindled, but I had to sacrifice them to Saboteur, so it didn't matter. I even bought some Coppers out of despair!

At least we at our table all had fun with those crappy decks and anytime someone played a useless Workshop to gain something like a Silver (which almost ran out!) or when someone couldn't buy anything we all had a good laugh.

J. didn't have much luck either and neither of us ended in the final, which was won by some Belgian unknown to us.

All in all it was a funny little gettogether and I even met a fellow Isotrooper (Akroma) and of course bought some other board games with a discount at the convention.

I was glad I did some homework beforehand, since buying Duchies with 7 Provinces left proved a good decision in almost every game and so was going Witch/Moat instead of Witch/Witch or Moat/Moat.
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ratxt1

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Re: 3 Player Dominion
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2011, 11:08:53 pm »
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here are some other thoughts on playing 3player dominion.

-when one of the players is slightly weaker than the other two and you can tell that it will be a fight between you and the other player often times it is a good idea to go for a strategy that would not normally work in a two player game because its two slow but it has the advantage of beeing able to get to 5 or 6 provinces quicker.
ex. say ther is lab and chapel and +buy on the board instead of going for just a chapel strategy where you buy labs when you have $5 you might want to thin down to $13 dollars so you can buy lab and a province every turn. this will take a little longer to set up but will stall out later.

-this ties in with the one above. often times that tiebreaking estate is not as important as going for the better engine if someone gets bad luck and it looks like they wont be getting 4 provinces in time, that extra estate is going to be to your disadvantage.

-if its a attacking game you are going to want to be more defensive than normal if your the 3rd person as you are going to be hit with stuff first. the opposite goes with being first your going to want to be dishing off as much attacks as possible to keep your self at the advantage.

- remeber three pile endings are more common and it is often a good idea to race someone for a certain card (like cities) keeping in mind my first point above. one person will be on the bad end of the deal (usally the person who joins in last) and so it will be a fight between you and the other player and again who ever has the better engine (not necesarily faster engine) will probably win.

in conclusion three player is a slightly different game than two person and you should adjust accordinly. but remember (as shown in the post above) luck still plays a factor (and even more so the more players there are).
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