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Jack Rudd

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Compare the Smithies
« on: September 02, 2011, 07:22:30 pm »
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The companion to "compare the Villages". Just as the crucial feature of the Village is +2 Actions, that of the Smithy is +3 Cards. So the definite Smithies are:

Smithy
Torturer
Rabble
Council Room
Envoy
Nobles

With the following cards also worthy of consideration in this category:

Wharf (it's +4 cards over 2 rounds).
Menagerie (+3 card effect can't usually be guaranteed).
Library and Watchtower (card draw effect is often 3 or more cards).

In addition, Scrying Pool, Apothecary and Scout can draw 3 cards in the right decks.

My favourite of the Smithies is probably Torturer, but only if I'm trying to build a +Action/+Card deck (it's a pretty mild attack otherwise); my least favourite is Envoy. (Envoy always seems to me to be a way to get your best cards discarded every time. It's probably best in flat decks where your best cards aren't miles better than your worst.)
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 07:56:30 pm »
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It's odd; I'll often pick up Torturer or Rabble for the +3 Cards, considering the attack portion just a "kicker". But I never buy Smithy on its own. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate?

I hate Nobles. I hate it so much. It's the weakest action splitter out there, and it's only worth having if you have 2-3 of them in your hand at once. If it didn't put you so far behind on points I'd just ignore it, but you can't let the other guy take them all.

I agree with your assessment of Envoy: it's extremely powerful if your "good" cards and "bad" cards are roughly the same; otherwise it's very very dicey. As such it's best when combined with strong trashing or upgrade-type cards.

I generally avoid Council Room because it's great for me and good for my opponent and I'm not a fan of that; but then, I do play Bishop all the time and Vault pretty often. That said, Council Room can be really powerful, and needless to say it's the best of the "Smithies" to KC.
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ackack

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 08:07:01 pm »
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It's odd; I'll often pick up Torturer or Rabble for the +3 Cards, considering the attack portion just a "kicker". But I never buy Smithy on its own. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate?

Yep!

Quote
I hate Nobles. I hate it so much. It's the weakest action splitter out there, and it's only worth having if you have 2-3 of them in your hand at once. If it didn't put you so far behind on points I'd just ignore it, but you can't let the other guy take them all.

As mentioned elsewhere, Nobles is a really bad self-contained engine. Sprinkled in with other stuff it can be quite useful, and the extra VPs are often very helpful themselves. It's a good card, but not necessarily an automatic must-buy.

Quote
I generally avoid Council Room because it's great for me and good for my opponent and I'm not a fan of that; but then, I do play Bishop all the time and Vault pretty often. That said, Council Room can be really powerful, and needless to say it's the best of the "Smithies" to KC.

The marginal benefit of those last 3 cards isn't that great to you when you've drawn so many already, but the 3 you give your opponent is a really big contribution there. If there's no other +buy or draw available it's probably worth doing anyway, but I'd almost always be happier with Torturer/Rabble/Wharf(if we're including that) and often with Smithy/Nobles.
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 08:33:48 pm »
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You forgot Courtyard, which is actually a very good hard draw card if you consider its "drawback" is really a boon when you use it to draw blind.

Torturer is obviously a very strong attack and the winner of the race to get multiple Torturers in play in the same turn has taken a great leap forward towards winning.  Rabble's attack ability is more subtle and not as aggressive, but it's attack strength comes into play in a different phase of the game and playing multiples in the end-game can really hamper an opponent.

The Council Room is tailored toward a specific type of deck; it is very strong mixed with Village-types and cards that force your opponent to discard to three.  The extra card you draw helps to keep chains going, and the buy is really great it you manage to build an economy into your deck.  This is an old-style deck that has been around since BSW was the only place to place Dominion (or when we bought the original box set) and it has stood the test of time when the Kingdom is right for it.

The drawback of Envoy seems to be bad, but really the card costs only $4 and with a decent density of treasure it is still usually worth at least a Gold, even with the opponents discard.  It is a staple for BMU but can be used to great effect in a deck that can successfully chain.  It's main weakness imo is in KC-driven decks, where it is too easy for the opponent to knock out the all important upcoming KC or linchpin card.

Wharf is an engine onto itself and therefore one of the best cards in the game.  Even without Village it really rocks the house and a just a few can make an otherwise bland BM strategy soar.  The buy is just icing on a great card, and the icing is tasty.  Mixed with villages this card is just stupid good.

Smithy is too weak of a card to try to build a Village chain by itself and I usually only  use them for BM in a Kingdom that doesn't have much synergy, or maybe to support other cards.

Nobles is a weak card but it has its place.  It goes pretty good with other engine cards, especially Minion and Scrying Pool.  These engine cards do not play well with treasure and the extra actions and VP can really be a boon.  It has also been noted that the VP gained form buying them can swing a game, but I have largely found this to be rather overstated.  In a game where Nobles isn't a key card I would almost rather have the Gold and take my chances that I will be able to buy more Provinces and Duchies.

I should note that all the hard draw cards go excellently with KC and create some monster turns.  KC/KC/X and you are off to the races.  This is my preferred use for all of these.  Fishing Village is just sick with these types of cards and can also easily make huge chains.  The other Village-types, for the most part, require some trashing in order for them to sync well, and this style of play can be too slow to compete against BMU.

As for Menagerie, Watchtower and Library, they are a different breed and should be considered separately.
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DG

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 08:51:25 pm »
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Unlike the villages, I think most cards in this category are interesting for what they do that isn't like a smithy. Attack cards like witch and rabble have their own complex issues. There's only the courtyard, council room, masquerade, envoy, and nobles that are close variants. The wharf, watchtower, library etc are played differently and the menagerie is closer to a laboratory than a smithy.

Unfortunately most of what could be said about these cards is patently obvious or would take a lot of explanation if you detailed the real differences in how you'd use them. I'll just dodge that bullet.
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 09:09:20 pm »
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It's odd; I'll often pick up Torturer or Rabble for the +3 Cards, considering the attack portion just a "kicker". But I never buy Smithy on its own. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate?

Perhaps you're just not noticing how good the attack is in the kind of strategy where you go for this kind of action chain. Even if you're just buying it for the +3 cards, you're still getting the attack effect. The thing about making "village/smithy"-type action chains is that it's a somewhat slow process getting to the point where you can consistently draw into huge hands, since you need a good density of villages AND smithies. This is what makes vanilla village/smithy not so good. But the attack effects of torturer and rabble slow your opponent down, preventing them from grabbing too many points before you really kick it into high gear.
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 09:15:06 pm »
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Torturer uber alles! All others are just pretenders 8)
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2011, 12:02:34 am »
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It should be noted too that the wharf not only has amazing card draw but also is kind enough to, in decks where you don't have any villages, only draw 2 cards the first time allowing you to buy more of them without worrying too much about conflicting
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2011, 12:35:15 am »
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I hate Nobles. I hate it so much. It's the weakest action splitter out there, and it's only worth having if you have 2-3 of them in your hand at once.

This sounds totally backwards. Someone made a very good point about Nobles on another thread, and I forget which one it was.

If you think of Nobles as an action splitter, you're probably playing it wrong. Nobles is an improved Smithy. It's improved in two ways: (a) it's worth 2 VP, and (b) in the unfortunate case that it collides with another terminal, you may be able to use it as a terrible village instead.

Having 2 nobles in your hand is not a very good thing at all. It intuitively feels good, but it isn't. Your nobles collided. Now you have to use one of them like a broken shanty town.

But at least that combination is worth a laboratory. Combining two cards to be a really expensive lab is not good, and it's definitely not something to build a strategy around, but it's better than having a dead card, which is what you'd have with Smithy and its other variants.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 12:37:30 am by rspeer »
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2011, 04:52:07 pm »
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The ones that will make me very excited about a cards/action engine if I see them on the table with a village:

1.  Torturer.  'Nuff said.
2.  Wharf.  Wharf is like +5 cards, not +4 (+2 on turn 1, effectively +3 on turn 2 -- you end up with 7 cards, like if you'd played a Smithy).  And it comes with +buy already included.  It's amazing.
3.  Council Room.  +4 cards and +buy -- hell yes.

The one that will make me very excited about an engine regardless of whether there are villages on the table:

1.  Scrying Pool.  Jesus, this is a great card.  The best drawer in the game.

Special mention:  Nobles is pretty awesome, as others have said.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2011, 03:14:54 am »
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Menagerie and scrying pool don't belong here. Save it for the "compare the labs" thread :)
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2011, 12:22:42 am »
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I hate Nobles. I hate it so much. It's the weakest action splitter out there, and it's only worth having if you have 2-3 of them in your hand at once.

This sounds totally backwards. Someone made a very good point about Nobles on another thread, and I forget which one it was.

If you think of Nobles as an action splitter, you're probably playing it wrong. Nobles is an improved Smithy. It's improved in two ways: (a) it's worth 2 VP, and (b) in the unfortunate case that it collides with another terminal, you may be able to use it as a terrible village instead.

Having 2 nobles in your hand is not a very good thing at all. It intuitively feels good, but it isn't. Your nobles collided. Now you have to use one of them like a broken shanty town.

But at least that combination is worth a laboratory. Combining two cards to be a really expensive lab is not good, and it's definitely not something to build a strategy around, but it's better than having a dead card, which is what you'd have with Smithy and its other variants.

This is an incredibly good way to put it, and I will make sure it goes into the eventual article on Nobles.
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Jack Rudd

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2011, 07:12:45 am »
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So my rankings of them...

1. Torturer: the ultimate card for an +Action/+Card deck. If I see a Village of any sort in the tableau with it, that's pretty much my strategy sorted. The Attack portion of this card is so strong that whoever gets this combo in first is very likely to win.

It loses points, however, if there is no Village or other similar ability in the tableau; it's then effectively just a Smithy with a Militia effect. Which is nice, but in such a scenario, I'd rank it below...

2. Wharf: this effectively draws more cards than any other Smithy-type - +2 cards on the next turn is equivalent to a +3 card played on that next turn - and kindly gives you the +Buy for the monster hands you may draw with it. In addition, the fact that the draws are spread out means that your Wharves are less likely to collide, so you can easily have two or three in a Big Money deck before they start getting problematic.

3. Council Room: another which draws 4 cards and has a +Buy. Unlike the Wharf, though, it directly benefits your opponents, so it has to be treated with caution. If it's on the table with Militia, Ghost Ship or Goons as well as a Village, it's likely to be extremely strong - although this can lead to silly degenerate games where everybody's hand starts off Village-Council Room-Militia,  no matter which turn it is. Otherwise, it's a strong card you have to be careful with - you may want to start greening your deck sooner than otherwise with this card, because everybody's going to be playing with big hands.

4. Rabble: another Smithy-with-an-Attack. Unlike Torturer, though, the attack doesn't tend to bite much until the endgame; it's a mild inconvenience rather than a hand destroyer. This card has the opposite dynamic to that of Council Room: you'll probably want to start greening your deck late, because Rabble against a greened deck is a nasty Attack, and enough of one that I rank this card ahead of...

5. Smithy: the original. Not one I usually run +Action/+Card decks with, because it has neither the +Buy nor the Attack features of the four above it, which means decks based around it tend to develop a little late - the exception is if there's a really nice kicker card such as Goons. Still, it's not a bad card, and is great for getting you up to 6 early.

6. Nobles: this is neither a good Village nor a good Smithy; its strength is that it can be either in a pinch, plus its being worth 2 VP. I'm not going to buy it to use it as a principal Smithy - I'm buying it (if I am at all) to get VPs without clogging my engine up too much.

7. Envoy: drawing four out of five cards seems great - until your opponent continually discards the card on which your strategy relies. This is no problem in a Big Money deck, but in a +Actions/+Cards deck, it's a good way to spin your wheels and go nowhere.

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chwhite

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2011, 11:28:23 am »
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Aw, what the heck.  I like making lists.  But really, Torturer and Wharf are easily the two best, and all the rest are pretenders.  In general, I like the Labs a lot better than the Smithies.

1. Torturer.  Torturer + any Village at all (probably even Shanty Town, ugh) is usually the winning strategy on boards where it appears, since chained Torturers are… well, torture.  There are exceptions!  More direct curse-givers will short-circuit this plan, Minion with strong trashing can evade it, Gardens just doesn't give a flip, Ambassador is an obvious counter and dominates just about anything anyway.  Single Torturer is nothing special, and I'm likely to do something else if there are no Villages and other attacks, but usually there is a Village, and then it's a race to get your Torturers to hit first.  Torturers are one of the very few cards that will spur me to actually buy a Moat, which should give a sense of their power.

1. Wharf.  So many cards!  A mini boost this turn, and a free Smithy plus Buy the next: strongest card-draw in the game*, much like Fishing Village is the strongest source of +Action. Safe to buy multiples even without Villages, and one of the easiest ways to draw your deck with them.  And the Buy means it's worthwhile to build a big engine, because you can build up to double-Province even if there's no other Buy in the Kingdom.

*Not counting the upper end of Scrying Pool possibilities.



3. Nobles.  Nobles is great!  +2 VP is nothing to be sneezed at, and while you generally don't want to be using your Nobles to give +Action, the fact that it gives you that option makes it much more flexible and valuable.  As long as Villages are out (and even sometimes if they aren't, i.e. Scrying pool decks), Nobles are a fantastic way to add VP without diluting your deck strength, allowing you to power through to a stronger endgame.

4. Council Room.  +4 Cards is a lot; it's the same net +Cards as Wharf, all in one turn.  And the +Buy is also great for giving your +Actions/+Cards engine a reason to get big.  But the +Card you give your opponents is a sizable disadvantage.  Obviously, Council Room shines when there are discard attacks, but it can be risky otherwise.

5. Rabble.  The attack is a lot more subtle and less damaging than Torturer, but it can be quite painful in setups without +Buy, such that you have to green slowly.  I'm disinclined to build an engine around Rabble most of the time, but it's a great mid-to-late game buy.

6. Smithy.  Whee, the original.  Like Envoy below it, its best use is probably as a single or double addition to a Big Money deck, which is pretty good evidence that the most interesting part of most of these Smithies are the things they give you above and beyond the net +2 Cards.  Not worth creating an engine without good kickers.

7.  Envoy.  I have an (ir)rational hatred of Envoy.  Most of the time, It simply ensures that you never get to play your best cards, since they just get Envoyed away.  Yeah, it's great as an addition to Big Money, but Envoy Big Money games are boooooring.  Sometimes, I will look at a board with no synergy, or a lot of cards that benefit by being in an engine and Envoy's the only +Card out there.  And I realize "crap, I'm gonna have to buy an Envoy".  Then my heart sinks like a stone.  But most of the time, I find a way around Envoy, and most of the time that alternative strategy works!  Envoy is one of the most overrated and frustrating cards in Dominion. 

...

ETA: Library and Watchtower are different beasts, but they also kind of fit here, as terminal sources of +Card.  Library would be near the bottom of the list, maybe even dead last.  Some of the time, it's great: if it has its specific enablers (Fishing Village/Festival/Hamlet), or as defense against hand-reduction attacks.  But most of the time it's just an overpriced Smithy that's hard to stack: the "set aside action cards" bit is a really marginal benefit most of the time.  Watchtower is a lot better than Library IMO: one less +Card for a cost of $2 less makes it a much better deal, and the Royal Seal power/defense against deck pollution makes it useful in a wider variety of situations.  Watchtower is still situational, but its low price tag and extra powers ensure those situations are far more common.  I'd probably put it on par with Rabble, maybe even a hair better?
« Last Edit: September 12, 2011, 12:21:53 pm by chwhite »
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Brando Commando

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2011, 11:29:16 am »
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If you think of Nobles as an action splitter, you're probably playing it wrong. Nobles is an improved Smithy. It's improved in two ways: (a) it's worth 2 VP, and (b) in the unfortunate case that it collides with another terminal, you may be able to use it as a terrible village instead.

Having 2 nobles in your hand is not a very good thing at all. It intuitively feels good, but it isn't. Your nobles collided. Now you have to use one of them like a broken shanty town.

But at least that combination is worth a laboratory. Combining two cards to be a really expensive lab is not good, and it's definitely not something to build a strategy around, but it's better than having a dead card, which is what you'd have with Smithy and its other variants.

This is an incredibly good way to put it, and I will make sure it goes into the eventual article on Nobles.

I have been thinking of Nobles as only good if you can whittle your deck down so that you will get 2 in your hand.

If that's not so, should I really just buy only as many Nobles as I would Smithies (or maybe 1 or 2 more since they don't collide so poorly), to give a boost to Big Money?

I could see them working well, too, though, in a big draw deck where at any given time I might want more actions or +3 draw...but those decks are often more time/money then they're worth.
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2011, 11:50:16 am »
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I'm still not sure how best to use nobles, but it has a huge win vs loss effect on my stats, so, heh...

I dunno, I think nobles is basically the one smithy you almost never have too many of. Because it does double duty, very often it's the only village, or the only smithy, and so it becomes often a must have. It also works well to damp down variability in a deck with lots of normal +actions and +cards, preventing stalls. The +$6 is a big hurdle, yes, so it shouldn't be the first $6 you get, but if you are building an engine deck, you don't actually want too many golds so nobles is a solid pickup. With throne room or king's court, it's great as well.
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2011, 01:08:41 pm »
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I think the use of Nobles is more board-dependent than most cards.  If +actions are rare but would be useful, you don't mind using it as a broken Shanty Town so much, though you probably still don't want to shoot for elaborate action trees with it.  If +actions are plentiful, multiple Nobles can provide the draw component of an engine while beefing up your VP in the process.  If there is a completely separate engine available (say, Minion or Village/Torturer or Conspirator or Goons), they can grease its wheels without much getting in its way.  In BMU+X, it's a great X.

The only running theme here is that Nobles is a supplemental card.  It can improve most decks that are otherwise still self-sufficient.  Where Nobles is clearly poor is when you try to build a Nobles Engine.  That just doesn't work.  You do get some nice extra VP, but as an engine Nobles/Nobles is worse than Village/Smithy.
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DG

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2011, 01:46:58 pm »
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Quote
The only running theme here is that Nobles is a supplemental card.  It can improve most decks that are otherwise still self-sufficient. 


This can be a good thing. You start an engine with cheap cards and supplement it with expensive nobles when the time comes.
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2011, 02:01:27 pm »
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For big money with nobles, the considerations are:
It generally plays as a smithy.
You can get it slightly more often, since if you have 2 in your starting hand of 5, the second isn't dead. However you can still draw it dead, and if you go Nobles(Actions)->Nobles(Cards), you actually haven't used the first nobles for anything positive for you.
It has 2 VP. This is pretty big actually.
The opportunity cost is generally a gold.

In a condensed sense, you want to get a gold with your first $6, nobles subsequently, and only prefer duchy to nobles very late. This isn't exactly right, but a fairly close rule of thumb and a pretty big improvement over straight up money/standard green cards.

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2011, 02:15:23 pm »
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Quote
The only running theme here is that Nobles is a supplemental card.  It can improve most decks that are otherwise still self-sufficient. 


This can be a good thing. You start an engine with cheap cards and supplement it with expensive nobles when the time comes.

Totally agree.  My post may not have been clear, but unlike many here I'm a big fan of Nobles.  When it's on the table, usually I buy quite a few in the mid-late game.
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tlloyd

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2011, 04:07:21 pm »
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It's only a minor point, but Nobles also combos much better with KC/TR than the other Smithy-types (although KC + Torturer is pretty brutal).
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Epoch

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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2011, 04:38:32 pm »
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It's only a minor point, but Nobles also combos much better with KC/TR than the other Smithy-types (although KC + Torturer is pretty brutal).

Well, KC/Torturer is "gain 2 Curses, +9 cards."  Arguably worse than KC/Witch ("gain 3 Curses, +6 cards").  Unless your opponent behaves suboptimally to the known event of "there are three tortures coming at me."  Or, if your opponent has a genuinely useless hand right now, it may just be, "opponent forgoes their useless turn, +9 cards."
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Re: Compare the Smithies
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2011, 02:29:13 am »
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It's only a minor point, but Nobles also combos much better with KC/TR than the other Smithy-types (although KC + Torturer is pretty brutal).

Well, KC/Torturer is "gain 2 Curses, +9 cards."  Arguably worse than KC/Witch ("gain 3 Curses, +6 cards").  Unless your opponent behaves suboptimally to the known event of "there are three tortures coming at me."  Or, if your opponent has a genuinely useless hand right now, it may just be, "opponent forgoes their useless turn, +9 cards."

True, but we were comparing Smithy-type cards (+3 cards or more), which doesn't include Witch.
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