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Author Topic: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter  (Read 1711 times)

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SeahawkTim

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Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« on: September 08, 2011, 05:07:04 pm »
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Hey all. Brand new Dominion player here - I first played it back in July when visiting some friends out of town, and finally managed to scrounge up the money to buy a core version this weekend. On that note, I've got a quick question:

In games where the Woodcutter is available, when is buying a Woodcutter preferable to buying a Silver? They're essentially a Silver with an extra +buy, but need +actions to use more than one at a time.
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philosophyguy

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Re: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 05:30:35 pm »
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Woodcutter is generally a pretty weak card. If it's the only source of +buy in the kingdom or if you're swimming in actions (e.g., Fishing Villages are available), it might make sense. Otherwise, Silver is often a better choice because you can't draw it dead.

If you want to end the game on piles (Gardens being the obvious example), then Woodcutter becomes more valuable. If there are useful cheap cards that you want to stockpile (Native Village or Hamlet are the two that come to mind, but perhaps $3 cards like Great Hall might be useful in some situations), then Woodcutter is more valuable. But usually Silver is stronger.
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Epoch

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Re: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 06:08:34 pm »
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Hey all. Brand new Dominion player here - I first played it back in July when visiting some friends out of town, and finally managed to scrounge up the money to buy a core version this weekend. On that note, I've got a quick question:

In games where the Woodcutter is available, when is buying a Woodcutter preferable to buying a Silver? They're essentially a Silver with an extra +buy, but need +actions to use more than one at a time.

Woodcutter is, yeah, not a terribly strong card on most boards.

+buy is probably the hardest "vanilla" bonus for newcomers to the game to use right, because newcomers are rarely able to put together decks that produce large amounts of money consistently.  And there are plenty of boards in which no winning strategy will benefit from +buy.  But when +buy is useful, it's game-winning.  The difference between a deck which draws $11+ and uses it versus one that draws $11+ and buys one Province is huge.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2011, 03:30:51 am »
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In games where the Woodcutter is available, when is buying a Woodcutter preferable to buying a Silver? They're essentially a Silver with an extra +buy, but need +actions to use more than one at a time.
Needing to use an action is actually a really big detractor. You learn very quickly after playing a few games that you can't just keep buying actions and expect to play them all.
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ChaosRed

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Re: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2011, 04:13:49 pm »
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I am a total noob myself. I've learned that for most basic games and other rookie opponents that Woodcutter is useful for games with Gardens in play, but not usually a good buy beyond that. The three-pile, Gardens tactic is extremely powerful in a basic game though. I've won with it a few times now.
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Davio

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Re: Noob question: Silver vs. Woodcutter
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 07:41:14 pm »
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For new players who are just dipping their toes in Dominion waters, often just the Base set or maybe 1 expansion will (and should) be played.

This means that Woodcutter with its +Buy doesn't have that big of an impact, since most strategies will focus on buying a lot of money with just a few "terminal" actions. An action is terminal if it doesn't have +1(or more) Actions on it.

So Woodcutter is a terminal action and so is Militia. But Festival (+2 Actions) and Market (+1 Action) are not.

The earlier mentioned Gardens strategies are really strong if they can be accelerated with Woodcutters or Workshops.


So we come back to our choice of preferred terminal actions. If I open 4/3, I rather take a Militia/Silver than Militia/Woodcutter or Silver/Woodcutter. Militia is a lot better than Woodcutter in regular Province games. Some other good basic $4's include Smithy and Moneylender and even a Remodel can come in handy (especially in the end game for upgrading Gold to Provinces). A lot of these $4's are better than Woodcutter since the number of times you absolutely need that +Buy with just the base game are rare (see Gardens example above). If we find ourselves with $6 and two buys, buying one Gold is a better than 2 Silvers.

Quick math here: Let's assume we have $20 total coin output in our deck and 20 Cards. Buying 2 Silvers will increase it to $24/22 = an average of $1.090 per card. Buying 1 Gold will increase it to $23/21 = $1.095 per card. This difference goes up in favor of Gold as the number of total coin increases. Also it's worth mentioning that in Dominion, having one good turn and one bad is usually better than having 2 mediocre turns. That's why 1 Gold is better than the 2 Silvers. You'd rather be able to buy a Province and nothing than have to resort to buying 2 Duchies.


Coming back to the actual Woodcutter in question and our discussion of terminal actions: The Woodcutter would be a lot better than Silver if we are guaranteed to be able to play it every single time. Unfortunately, there may be a lot of other terminal actions which are also very good, think about a Witch for example, that we want to play. And now there is a chance (and a very big one) that at some points, we have to choose between playing the Witch or the Woodcutter, since we have only one valuable action. And we may draw the Woodcutter with the Witch and not be able to play it.
This means that, in practice, the Woodcutter does not give us $2 or 1 Buy every time. We can say for certain that it will give us that some of the time and if we twist that logic a bit, we can say that on average, the Woodcutter gives us <$2 and <1 Buy (for example $1.5 and 0.75Buy) every pass of our draw pile.

In conclusion: Remember that the Big Daddy cards (the cards you want more than one of) all cost $5+ and even with a +Buy, it's hard to be able to buy multiple of them in one turn. And then there's Festival which 1-Ups this card. If we find ourselves with $7 and 2 Buys, do we really want a Laboratory with a useless Moat? Or do we take a single Gold or even a single Laboratory instead? Good cards are expensive, so this leaves less money to spend with the extra Buy and another useless card is usually not something we want in our decks.
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