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WanderingWinder

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Playing Against Possession
« on: September 14, 2011, 12:36:29 pm »
+1

The number one way of playing against possession is to ignore it. It takes a long time to get a possession; you need to waste a turn getting a potion, then waste another turn (where you have the potion and $6 in the four other cards, basically more difficult than getting a province) buying the possession, then you actually have to play it often enough to make this worth it. Basically you need at least two plays of possession, probably more, to make it worth it. And on most boards, just racing for the provinces is going to be fast enough to make this entirely not worth it. It's a little more interesting in colony games, but still quite often just going for the colonies and ignoring will be the best bet.

But there are, of course, a number of reasons to go for possession. Usually this has to do with having other potion-cost cards that you want anyway, and then later you happen to get enough to buy a possession and go for it. The top card here is apothecary, which helps you get to 6p fairly well and helps you play possessions more often when you get them. Alchemist fits too, though more on that card's interaction later. And golem is a natural fit, too, if you actually want to spend the time for that card (which has its own issues). There are a number of other scenarios where you want to go possession as well. Probably the next-most-common is in a chapel deck, where your opponent's deck is likely to be strong for you to possess, and you'll likely be able to play your possession often.
So let's assume that for whatever reason, your opponent is going to have possessions in his deck. What kind of cards do you want and not want to have in your deck. Basically, what cards have more value to you intrinsically for owning them, which cards have less value for you than your possessor, and which cards does it not matter much for?

Among the cards that are more valuable to you, the most obvious are victory cards. They lead you to victory without giving your opponent anything. The next place to look is attack cards. In order for your opponent to get benefit from them, they must attack themselves. Possession fits here as well, as does golem when there are lots of you-benefit, they-hurt actions in your deck. There's also VP chip cards. All of the VP chips go to you, not them, so at least a significant portion of the card's benefits lie squarely with you.

The top two cards you don't want in your deck when being possessed are ambassador and masquerade. They let your opponent have your precious, precious (good) cards. On the other hand, there aren't that many boards where you can just ignore these cards. If you ignore ambassador, you'll be quite swamped and slowed, and you almost certainly won't get a possession soon enough or often enough to take advantage of your opponent's ambassador. Furthermore, they can ambassador you an extra ambassador and get a possession themselves. It is similar with masquerade, except that you won't be swamped so much as you'll be too far behind. In fact, most decent masq or amb decks will be enough ahead that they could deal with a province switching hands.

But there are a whole class of other cards that you want to avoid having when your opponent possesses you. Chief among these are trash-for-benefit cards. Remodel, salvager, expand, apprentice, and the like. While you often don't want to trash your own provinces with these, your opponent will have no such compulsions. Bishop is, of course, an exception, as you retain the benefit. Cards that have you choose what you do to your opponent are also much stronger in your opponent's hands: the big example here is swindler, which will turn curses into coppers, etc. rather than the other way around, and spy-style attacks are here too. Many now-or-later cards are significantly worse against possession as well; with courtyard and haven, they'll simply give you an estate (or your other weakest card) next turn, reaping the full benefits for themselves.

Duration cards in general have a slightly weird interaction with possession. Because their effects are usually better on the next turn than the one they're played on (because you didn't have to spend the card and action), so they're slightly better for your opponent than they are for you (generally you shouldn't play them against possessions unless you need them, which, on the other hand, you quite often do). So they end up being basically a wash (lighthouse) to being really bad (tactician).

The final note I'd like to make about possession is in dealing with styles of deck. Money decks tend to fight possession a bit better than engine decks do. There are a few reasons for this. One is that engines tend to take longer to set up, giving their value over fewer turns, and if they're viable, these turns are significantly more valuable. They also come later, which is when you can be possessed, so quite a higher percentage of their value ends up getting stolen. Beyond this, there are often many ways for the possessor to mess up your engine. One big way is to trigger reshuffles at inopportune moments - the classic example is a minion deck that they force to reshuffle after having played all your minions, where your deck will then be crippled for a couple of turns. But there are also cards like treasury, alchemist, herbalist, and walled village, that you better believe they'll use to give you a much worse top of deck than you would.

rinkworks

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2011, 01:19:42 pm »
0

Good article.

Island is another card you'd rather not have in hand when you get Possessed.  Your opponent will gleefully Island away a Gold or other power card.
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AJD

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 01:36:51 pm »
0

There's a couple of cards whose interaction with Possession I wonder if you could comment on—not cards like Goons where it's obvious that they're of much greater value on regular turns than on Possession turns, but ones where I think they're of slightly greater value to the owner than to the Possessor, and therefore might be of slightly greater value when Possession is on the table than in other games.

Jester is a bit of an odd duck; whereas when you play Jester on a regular turn you can choose whether you or your opponent takes the cloned card, on a Possessed turn (in a 2-player game) all Jester-cloned cards go to the possessor. So that means, unlike most Attack cards with choices (such as Swindler), Jester actually gives fewer choices to someone using it through Possession, and might force an opponent to clone their own bad cards.

Unless your opponent is playing Possession on more than half of all turns, Scout seems like a net win for you as well. Without +cards or cellar/warehouse it's a dead card for your opponent unless they've got two Possession turns in a row, since playing it just improves your next hand. On your own turn, it suffers from a bit of the Duration card problem, since if you play it and then get Possessed on your next turn you've improved your opponent's situation, but unless you're getting Possessed extremely frequently you'll get the benefit more often than not. So I'm not totally sure I've got this right, but I think Scout can be effective support for a Big Money / quick-greening Possession defense; I won a game against Possession once by rushing the Duchies and ending the game on piles, and I think the fact that I bought a lot of Scouts helped with that. Thoughts?
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guided

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 01:55:12 pm »
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Scout is not effective if you're just using it to clean up your next hand. Never say never I guess, but I would say it's probably never better than Silver if that's your only plan for it.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 03:34:17 pm »
0

Good article.

Island is another card you'd rather not have in hand when you get Possessed.  Your opponent will gleefully Island away a Gold or other power card.
I meant to mention island. Yes, this is something to think about. But I think most people overvalue this effect. First off, you'll be islanding your islands away early, and they won't be around when you're getting possessed. Second, even if you do have one, and they knock out your gold, there's two things to mitigate. First, if they knock out your gold, they can't use it themselves, which is actually a pretty decent knock on their possession. Second, by the time you're getting possessed, you're probably not going to have been able to play that gold so many more times anyway. But overall, yeah, you don't want to mix them, which mostly means preferring duchy to island a little earlier when your opponent is likely to have a possession.

I should also mention that all this article is dealing with 2-player, as multiplayer possession is another can of worms.

WanderingWinder

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 03:37:47 pm »
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There's a couple of cards whose interaction with Possession I wonder if you could comment on—not cards like Goons where it's obvious that they're of much greater value on regular turns than on Possession turns, but ones where I think they're of slightly greater value to the owner than to the Possessor, and therefore might be of slightly greater value when Possession is on the table than in other games.

Jester is a bit of an odd duck; whereas when you play Jester on a regular turn you can choose whether you or your opponent takes the cloned card, on a Possessed turn (in a 2-player game) all Jester-cloned cards go to the possessor. So that means, unlike most Attack cards with choices (such as Swindler), Jester actually gives fewer choices to someone using it through Possession, and might force an opponent to clone their own bad cards.

Unless your opponent is playing Possession on more than half of all turns, Scout seems like a net win for you as well. Without +cards or cellar/warehouse it's a dead card for your opponent unless they've got two Possession turns in a row, since playing it just improves your next hand. On your own turn, it suffers from a bit of the Duration card problem, since if you play it and then get Possessed on your next turn you've improved your opponent's situation, but unless you're getting Possessed extremely frequently you'll get the benefit more often than not. So I'm not totally sure I've got this right, but I think Scout can be effective support for a Big Money / quick-greening Possession defense; I won a game against Possession once by rushing the Duchies and ending the game on piles, and I think the fact that I bought a lot of Scouts helped with that. Thoughts?

Scout is generally not a good card against possession. You're always cleaning up your next hand, so the possessors are going to benefit, but they won't play your scout, therefore it's better for them. On the other hand, you don't want scout anyway, and if you DO ('cause you have a huge harem/nobles/great hall density I guess), it's probably not gonna matter so much.

Brando Commando

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 04:30:50 pm »
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At least a few times, I've been the boob who went for Possession when it wasn't worth it...

I will say that Possession seems much more important in powerful prosperity games, where mid-game decks are gathering steam and threatening to draw a ton of cards on a single turn. In these cases, I think it's particularly dangerous to ignore Possession, since each turn can be so explosive.
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Buggz

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 05:00:23 pm »
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Jester is a bit of an odd duck; whereas when you play Jester on a regular turn you can choose whether you or your opponent takes the cloned card, on a Possessed turn (in a 2-player game) all Jester-cloned cards go to the possessor.
Are you sure? According to the rules, the "you" always refers to the player even if possessed.

Also, any trashed cards in a possessed turn are merely discarded, so only ambassador and masquerade could have you actually lose your cards.
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AJD

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 05:36:29 pm »
+1

Jester is a bit of an odd duck; whereas when you play Jester on a regular turn you can choose whether you or your opponent takes the cloned card, on a Possessed turn (in a 2-player game) all Jester-cloned cards go to the possessor.
Are you sure? According to the rules, the "you" always refers to the player even if possessed.

Also, any trashed cards in a possessed turn are merely discarded, so only ambassador and masquerade could have you actually lose your cards.

I'm not sure quite what you're thinking of here; no trashing takes place with Jester.

So, Possessor A has Victim B play Jester. The top card of A's deck is revealed, and either A or B gains a copy of it. Since it's a Possessed turn, any cards that B gains go to A instead. So the copy that Jester produces either goes to A... or tries to go to B and then gets gained by A anyway.
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Buggz

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 05:45:24 pm »
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Ah right, that clears it.

Concerning trashing, I meant that as a separate issue refering to the trash-for-benefit segment of topic creator. Those cards get immensely powerful in the hands of a possessor, but you won't lose any cards. While I don't think OP made a mistake, it was worded in a way that one could misinterpret the downside.
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 08:54:10 pm »
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Great article; I can get behind about everything you said.

A few ideas about Possession:

As mentioned by WW, it is great to have cards that do not help or outright hurt the opponent, but also in a dedicated Possession mirror match sometimes it is better to have a weaker economy.  In general, the presence of treasure slows down engines anyway, so if it is possible to clear your deck down to draw-power, village and a couple of Possessions you basically can't lose unless your opponent reacts and does the same thing.  When both players have ruined their economy the game can stall, but this is a confusing situation that can befuddle even good players.  One of the common mistakes I see players make is that they build their deck too well, and so my Possession turns are way more effective.

Also, it is kind of pointless to Possess someone who you have cursed heavily.  And watch out for cards that will disrupt the hand you are about to Possess.  Believe me, this happens a lot.  Militia and Possession really are not that great in a deck together.
Salvager is deadly when opponents Possess you.  And of course, be aware of the KC/KC.
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ehunt

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 09:54:26 pm »
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Envoy and Contraband are horrible against possession. I especially enjoy when possessing contraband to pick the most absurd thing for myself not to buy; curse and copper are much too pedestrian.

One defense to possession I've tried with some success (no colonies) is an explorer (!) strategy which is essentially big-money + 1 or 2 explorers + duchy rushing earlier than usual. the point is that when i draw an explorer, i'm never unhappy that i bought it instead of a silver, but the possessor is, as playing the explorer puts a silver in his discard pile and doesn't increase the quality of the possessing hand.
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AJD

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 10:36:55 pm »
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Hmm on a similar note, Mine is another card that's of more benefit to the owner than the Possessor. (I mean the... well, you know what I mean.) The Possessor can still gain good cards by it, of course, but less efficiently than the owner and at the cost of hurting the current turn.
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tlloyd

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2011, 02:23:49 am »
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The number one way of playing against possession is to ignore it. It takes a long time to get a possession; you need to waste a turn getting a potion, then waste another turn (where you have the potion and $6 in the four other cards, basically more difficult than getting a province) buying the possession, then you actually have to play it often enough to make this worth it.

This reasoning is a bit misleading, because generally your early turns are worth much less than your later ones. I would gladly give up a silver early if I can get a Province or two late. Of course you really have to consider the cumulative value of the silver (vs. potion) over the course of the game. But that suggests two points of Possession strategy that are somewhat in conflict:

- If you plan to use Possession, it's best to build an engine first, then buy Potion once you are able to quickly and consistently draw it and $6. That way you minimize the amount of time that potion drags on your deck before the Possession plays are paying off.

- If you are trying to defend against Possession, it's best to peak early rather than late. Rather than aiming to slam a bunch of VP in your last few turns, start greening early and let your deck drag itself across the finish line. That way you spend your deck's strength before your opponent can get his hands on it and are left with only a weak deck by the time he gets around to possessing it. You also get an early VP lead which makes it harder for your opponent to catch up even with multiple possessions.

So what do you do if you want to use Possession but also defend against it?
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Geronimoo

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2011, 03:36:26 am »
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The best defense against an opposing Possession is probably to build a deck that completely leeches off the other guy's deck and doesn't have any real buying power so Possessing you is near worthless.

Here's a deck that completely crushes a lot of strategies just by building up to multiple Possessions turns (and can't be hurt by opposing Possessions):

Code: [Select]
<player name="Possession">
   <buy name="Colony"/>
   <buy name="Province">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Colony"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="4.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Duchy">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Colony"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Estate">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Colony"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="1.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Possession">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Possession"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="King$s_Court"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="King$s_Court"/>
   <buy name="Possession"/>
   <buy name="Gold">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Gold"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Scrying_Pool">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardTypeInDeck" attribute="Action"/>
         <operator type="greaterThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Alchemist"/>
   <buy name="Potion">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Potion"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="1.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Chapel">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Chapel"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="1.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
   <buy name="Silver">
      <condition>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Gold"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="1.0"/>
      </condition>
   </buy>
</player>
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2011, 04:29:50 am »
0

Council Room probably needs a mention here for its interactions with Possession. If you're likely to be playing a Possession this turn, you want to get as many plays of Council Room as you can before the end of your turn. Usually the +1 card for your opponent is a semi-major drawback of the card, but when you're going to be playing that hand, who cares? Similarly, if your opponent has Council Rooms while you are possessing him, playing as many as you can is a no-brainer. What's that? +4 cards and a buy now, +1 card on my next turn? YES PLEASE.

Council room is generally a great card for a Possession player to see on the table (especially with KC. KC-KC-CR-Possession is in that group of combos that, while we hate using the word, might actually qualify as "broken" (not literally, please don't kill me)), but not so great to use if your opponent is running Possession.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2011, 11:25:53 am »
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The number one way of playing against possession is to ignore it. It takes a long time to get a possession; you need to waste a turn getting a potion, then waste another turn (where you have the potion and $6 in the four other cards, basically more difficult than getting a province) buying the possession, then you actually have to play it often enough to make this worth it.

This reasoning is a bit misleading, because generally your early turns are worth much less than your later ones. I would gladly give up a silver early if I can get a Province or two late. Of course you really have to consider the cumulative value of the silver (vs. potion) over the course of the game. But that suggests two points of Possession strategy that are somewhat in conflict:

- If you plan to use Possession, it's best to build an engine first, then buy Potion once you are able to quickly and consistently draw it and $6. That way you minimize the amount of time that potion drags on your deck before the Possession plays are paying off.

- If you are trying to defend against Possession, it's best to peak early rather than late. Rather than aiming to slam a bunch of VP in your last few turns, start greening early and let your deck drag itself across the finish line. That way you spend your deck's strength before your opponent can get his hands on it and are left with only a weak deck by the time he gets around to possessing it. You also get an early VP lead which makes it harder for your opponent to catch up even with multiple possessions.

So what do you do if you want to use Possession but also defend against it?
I disagree with both points to some extent. It's not like you want to start buying duchies on turn 8. Of course, you do want to start buying them earlier. But going too far out of your gameplan is not going to be very good. Yes, they'll possess some of your better turns, but... seriously ignore it without support. They're costing themselves 3 turns in opportunity plus all the weakness of having a potion rather than a silver. Even with your stronger deck, they need over 2 plays of possession to make it worth it, and with as big a deck as they'll have by then, it's unlikely they'll get that.
On the engine point, the problem there is that your engine doesn't want to slow down the two turns to grab a potion and possession. Just sticking to your engine will probably be better.

WanderingWinder

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2011, 11:30:04 am »
0

Great article; I can get behind about everything you said.

A few ideas about Possession:

As mentioned by WW, it is great to have cards that do not help or outright hurt the opponent, but also in a dedicated Possession mirror match sometimes it is better to have a weaker economy.  In general, the presence of treasure slows down engines anyway, so if it is possible to clear your deck down to draw-power, village and a couple of Possessions you basically can't lose unless your opponent reacts and does the same thing.  When both players have ruined their economy the game can stall, but this is a confusing situation that can befuddle even good players.  One of the common mistakes I see players make is that they build their deck too well, and so my Possession turns are way more effective.

Also, it is kind of pointless to Possess someone who you have cursed heavily.  And watch out for cards that will disrupt the hand you are about to Possess.  Believe me, this happens a lot.  Militia and Possession really are not that great in a deck together.
Salvager is deadly when opponents Possess you.  And of course, be aware of the KC/KC.
Great points. Militia also really slows you down in getting to possession, which makes it just a great anti-possession card. Cursers will make your possessions less effective, unless they then have some kind of trashing to speed themselves back up. So familiar and then a big upgrade or apprentice chain by them to clean up is something you really really really want to possess. Especially apprentice - that's a really dangerous recipe.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110709-112031-2a9faa39.html

is a very interesting game where we almost got into a lockdown, with both of us having to really burn our decks and possessions flying everywhere. I would have eventually won, but it could have taken a very long time for me to do it safely.

WanderingWinder

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2011, 11:35:02 am »
0

Envoy and Contraband are horrible against possession. I especially enjoy when possessing contraband to pick the most absurd thing for myself not to buy; curse and copper are much too pedestrian.

One defense to possession I've tried with some success (no colonies) is an explorer (!) strategy which is essentially big-money + 1 or 2 explorers + duchy rushing earlier than usual. the point is that when i draw an explorer, i'm never unhappy that i bought it instead of a silver, but the possessor is, as playing the explorer puts a silver in his discard pile and doesn't increase the quality of the possessing hand.

Contraband is horrible anyway. Envoy is of course much better for the possessor, but on the other hand it's so fast, you'll probably not feel the pain too much unless there's something to slow you down off of the basic grand envoy plan. Of course, it all changes with colonies.
And yeah, explorer, bureaucrat, mine (which AJD mentioned), all pretty good against possession, as are any strategies that give you lots of treasure, as well as strategies like duke and gardens (and, somewhat to a lesser extent, fairgrounds) which are pretty possession-proof. Of course, these decks would love to have possessions, but it's definitely not worth the effort to get one.

I also wanna mention that native village is really really terrible against possession, especially when you're trying to use it for a mega-turn.

mischiefmaker

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2011, 06:19:39 pm »
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The best defense against an opposing Possession is probably to build a deck that completely leeches off the other guy's deck and doesn't have any real buying power so Possessing you is near worthless.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110908-160907-fed8ab87.html

Here's a game between two fairly high level players (35 v 33) where both players did this; it's particularly interesting due to the inclusion of a lot of cards that people have identified as good/bad: salvager, bishop, council room, native village. Colony makes it likely that the game will last long enough for possession to be a major factor, and there's effective trashing so that possession turns happened frequently -- I possessed him 9 times and he possessed me 13 in a 20 turn game.

Turns of note:

Turn 9: I possess him, only to draw copper-potion-possession-steward-estate. He has only one other card in his deck, a silver. A good example of the scorched earth strategy -- he's intending to build a deck with multiple possessions and use my deck to do all the buying.

Turns 12, 13, and 14: Good examples of why Salvager is so dangerous. I gained the only province of the match by salvaging his possession; I knew I had a salvager in my deck and was hoping to bishop it before he could possession-salvager it. No dice; he gained the only colony of the match by salvaging my province. You'll also note that he had no bishops, so on turn 13, possession-plays my bishop (ordinarily a mistake) to trash his salvager. I manage to bishop my salvager on turn 14.

Also important to note that if you are playing a scorched-earch possession strategy, you need to think about how you're going to end the game. Ordinarily this comes from possessing your opponents, but if both opponents are playing scorched earth, this can be tricky. I end up building a deck that consistently draws $6P and two bishops, and end the game on piles by buying out all the possessions, though my opponent, I think, was intending to try and end the game on piles by buying out estates and duchies.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2011, 06:25:08 pm by mischiefmaker »
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ftl

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2011, 07:21:45 pm »
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That is is all interesting advice. Previously when I'd played I tried to both get Possessions AND have a good deck to buy Provinces with. Now I think I'll know to look for ways to get away with buying just Possessions and playing them a lot, trimming my deck so that the other guy can't buy Provinces with my deck and getting points with VPs, OR ignore it entirely, but be wary of the middle ground and avoid it.
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Markov Chain

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Re: Playing Against Possession
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2011, 09:39:44 pm »
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Envoy and Contraband are horrible against possession. I especially enjoy when possessing contraband to pick the most absurd thing for myself not to buy; curse and copper are much too pedestrian.

This is specific to a two-player game.  With more than two players, the possessor doesn't get to make the choices for Envoy and Contraband, so they are no more useful to him than to you.
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