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Author Topic: PPR = overrated!?  (Read 3355 times)

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Geronimoo

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PPR = overrated!?
« on: September 01, 2011, 08:31:24 am »
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The simulators among you might be wondering why I haven't added the Penultimate Province Rule feature to my simulator!? Well, it's rare that it applies (<2% for most games) and when it actually does, using it might not have a significant impact on your win rate.

I added some code to my simulator as an experiment:

if you are behind and a Duchy will put you in the lead, buy Duchy instead of the Penultimate Province

When I let two identical strategies play each other, but one uses the PPR and the other doesn't, there are very few strategies where using the PPR increases the win rate more than 1%.

The only ones I found were very quick games like BM Envoy. The PPR applied in 4% of all games and this was the result (only games where the PPR applied for player 1 are counted here):

Quick games where you should definetely use the PPR
BM Envoy (ignoring PPR) 40% - BM Envoy 52%
BM Envoy (uses the PPR) 48% - BM Envoy 44%

So the PPR clearly has an impact in this sort of game.

A slower game involving attacks
BM Mountebank (ignoring PPR) 47% - BM Mountebank 47%
BM Mountebank (uses the PPR) 44% - BM Mountebank 46%

So using the PPR when it applies actually hurts the player in this much slower game! This shouldn't be a surprise because as theory mentioned in the article you should only use the rule if there's a high probability your opponent will be able to buy the last Province in his next turn, which is much more likely in an Envoy game than in a Mountebank game where both player's deck are highly diluted.

All in all, it's cool that the rule exists, but don't let anyone fool you into thinking it will catapult you from spot 5000 to spot 100 on the isotropic leaderboard. Learn all the other stuff first (like good openings, the design of a decent engine,...)!
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ackack

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Re: PPR = overrated!?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2011, 08:39:19 am »
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I don't see that PPR is a very complicated idea, in terms of learning. And it's also just the most obvious case of a more general important principle: be careful before making plays that make it possible for your opponent to win next turn. Sometimes you have to do that anyway, and making that judgment is somewhat more tricky than just applying a rule. Even in just the case of Big Money, careful deck tracking might reveal situations where you should go ahead and get the penultimate Province (e.g. you know you have 8 coming next turn and there's a good chance your opponent doesn't).
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cherdano

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Re: PPR = overrated!?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2011, 09:25:11 pm »
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Thanks for your post, I had been wondering about that. Of course, PPR is really only useful when you have the stronger hand, i.e. you expect to win the duchies-race to put you into the lead and be able to follow this up by buying a province later. I am not sure there is a simple setup where this will happen frequently - would need a strong engine that is resilient to adding green stuff.

Quick games where you should definetely use the PPR
BM Envoy (ignoring PPR) 40% - BM Envoy 52%
BM Envoy (uses the PPR) 48% - BM Envoy 44%
There seems to be a typo here.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: PPR = overrated!?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 12:04:36 am »
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I tried to talk about this in my endgame primer. However, I think that in most cases, when you shouldn't follow PPR, it's fairly obvious - you're hobbling around to get 8, so of course you need to jump at the chance, penultimate or not.

vidicate

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Re: PPR = overrated!?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 02:08:30 am »
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Quick games where you should definetely use the PPR
BM Envoy (ignoring PPR) 40% - BM Envoy 52%
BM Envoy (uses the PPR) 48% - BM Envoy 44%
There seems to be a typo here.
Geronimoo said that these numbers are only from the sub-sample of games where player 1 is faced with a PPR possibility. The first simulation was when player 1 stayed normal BM Envoy, and the second was with p1 applying the PPR on top of BM Envoy.
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Razzishi

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Re: PPR = overrated!?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 10:44:31 am »
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I think the important point with the PPR is, as has already been mentioned, making one think about endgame scenarios.  It mainly is a simple rule for people that are interested in taking their (2-player) game to the next level in that it introduces concepts they may not have thought of before.  I'm not at all surprised at the low level of applicability, as the conditions under which it should be applied are very narrow and only come up in games that are close and both players have very good chances of making $8 every turn.  Most games I play aren't close enough to apply the rule, or are only close in that one player has a large point lead but a super greened deck while the other has a good engine built.  The main point of the rule is not its application but its thought process: don't let the opponent end the game with the lead if there are other actions to take.

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