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Author Topic: Engines Can Overcome Curses  (Read 2931 times)

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WanderingWinder

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Engines Can Overcome Curses
« on: February 13, 2013, 04:36:38 pm »
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There's a thought that cursing attacks really kill engines. This is probably because curses, in general, and like so many other stop cards, actually do hurt most engines rather badly. They stop your different components, needed to draw, from coming together. And all this in a way that isn't as harmful to money, which just misses a little bit of density.

But in actuality, there are a large number of situations wherein engines can reign supreme anyway. Because curses usually do screw you up very badly, you want a way to keep your deck very clean. Generally this means some form of trashing. And because you need to actually connect that trashing with the curses, not just any trashing will do. Generally, in order to maintain your clean deck and thus running engine, you need to be drawing large parts of your deck before you get hit with too many curses. It's generally quite important to get ahead of things and be reactive rather than proactive. There are a couple ways of doing this. One of the ways you can do this is to have strong trashing and get thinned out quickly. Another is to get your engine up and running and strong quickly. Occasionally, there are other ways of getting around things, such as when your can draw even through so many curses (say scrying pool) or when you can engineer massively massive trashing somehow (say with forge and some way to get at least one big hand, like with tactician - the trashing equivalent of a mega-turn). But in general, you want to have a strong enough trasher to get things down, with a good enough engine to play it often enough to do so, too.

Exactly how much time you have is a function of a few different parameters. There is a question of what you can do with your engine once it is up and running. The stronger your engine is - this could mean more points available, it could mean stronger attacks, more buying power, could mean a lot of things - the more time you have. Probably the biggest thing, though, is how long the game is going to last. The opponent of the engine player is looking to score enough points and most importantly to get the game over. In the long run, the engine is going to be better. The big question is whether the game will be long enough for that to come through. So money strong enough to run down 50% of the points (or close enough to that amount) or to grab all the provinces (this is highly unlikely) will be a problem. But generally, the bigger issue is a three pile ending. Curses are going to run, almost always. A second pile to likely run, which is something the engine often wants, can make a lot of problems, as the money player can then target down something, usually duchies, to be a third pile, ending the game before the engine player has time to get going. This is the biggest wepon that the non-engine player usually has in such games.


Example games:
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130106-105232-6f7c7712.html
In this one, I use lookout for the trashing and scrying pool for the draw. This stops me from getting rid of all the curses, but the draw is so powerful, and with grand market and peddler, even the lack of villages isn't too much of a problem.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130108-185736-a16383ff.html
Apothecary provides a nice engine base, complemented well by worker's villages and an eventual margrave and alchemist, with nothing more than remodels for trashing, but this is enough to overcome mountebank.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20121226-082756-3f5af445.html
Walled Village, Embassy, oracles, and a witch are enough draw here with Forge on the job.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130111-215827-2deafe44.html
Here, IGG with coppersmith support can run decent hands all day long, but remake and upgrade deal with curses, and scrying pool to draw everything, and the province train is coming.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130119-150121-7e5ffc9e.html
Here my opponent goes for IGGs once again, and gardens certainly go well. But he makes the mistake of not having the three piles in sight, and abandons draining the IGGs down too early, which leaves him unable to end it. Moreover, Steward gives strong trashing and engine component down the road, with Bazaar as an excellent village.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130128-142736-ca25e0f5.html
Here, an early trading post and later upgrades combine with scrying pool's excellent draw and a massive conspirator engine to win the day over sea hag and a late mountebank.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130130-135139-d8614927.html
Here, a double-tac deck with trading post, with militia, shanty town, and oracle helping along is able to eventually get through the flood of IGGs and make a pretty good bid at comeback, but my opponent puts his head down and goes on a mission to pile out IGG, curse, and silk road and is acle to come away with it. A classic close game which can go either way - nice clashing styles.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130203-091410-94ee9233.html
Goons gives massive point potential, throne room, worker's village, nobles, torturer, and minion all provide potential to get those goons in play, and forge can clean up. This is able to overcome even mountebank. The key points here are forge, which we both need, and my esteemed opponent turning for points too early, which gives his engine the opportunity to break, which it does - fortunate for me, because it took a long time to set this engine up. If he is able to keep enough lead with the deck relatively thin, he can look to three-pile on me pretty safely.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130131-155828-6f6a72e3.html
In this one, there's a sea hag slog, but I'm eventually able to use native village and forge to get an enormous trashing, and then I have a roaring engine. Unfortunately, in the process, most of my deck ends up on the mat, which really slows me down in getting to forge. But when I do, I come neck and neck and would have had very good chances of winning had I played better - probably I needed to be a bit more province-shy.

http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201302/12/game-20130212-122608-871d4433.html
Bishop is eventually able to cut through all my problems from young witch AND provide my points in large quantity which also don't bring endgame closer. This was very slow, but the later bishop plays don't benefit him AS much, and his fool's golds eventually have hard times finding each other, whereas my hunting parties and shanty towns strengthen and strengthen. Importantly, peddler is a huge huge boon here.

dondon151

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2013, 05:00:41 pm »
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You should add that in an engine vs. non-engine matchup:

1) Curses can hurt the non-engine player more because the trashing is less reliable.
2) You don't necessarily have to have strong trashing or a quickly running engine - usually you'll have time to rebuild after the Cursing phase. This is particularly true if the Curse-giving card is Young Witch or Sea Hag, which tends to have a much greater impact on early economies than $5 cursers.
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Jerk of All trades

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 05:04:11 pm »
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That first game is crazy. He opened witch/CY and because of how fast SP/lookout goes through your deck, you still managed to win the curse split.  Even if you had lost, you would have just trashed them.  Probably the best example of what you are talking about, an engine beating one of the best opening curses out there. I wonder if the extra coppers from mountebank would have slogged you enough though.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 05:17:44 pm »
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You should add that in an engine vs. non-engine matchup:

1) Curses can hurt the non-engine player more because the trashing is less reliable.
2) You don't necessarily have to have strong trashing or a quickly running engine - usually you'll have time to rebuild after the Cursing phase. This is particularly true if the Curse-giving card is Young Witch or Sea Hag, which tends to have a much greater impact on early economies than $5 cursers.
1) a non-engine player shouldn't really be look to trash curses most of the time, as it's far too unreliable; if the engine player CAN have this happen, advantage engine, which is the point of the article
2)There's a sliding scale for sure (what counts as 'strong'?), but I tend to disagree with this sentiment. If there's no strong trashing and you can't get the engine up fast, usually your engine will never come together in time - and this is particularly true of the cursers you mention, as it just takes them forever to get going. But maybe what I consider strong is only mediocre to you?

dondon151

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2013, 05:37:25 pm »
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1) a non-engine player shouldn't really be look to trash curses most of the time, as it's far too unreliable; if the engine player CAN have this happen, advantage engine, which is the point of the article

Which means that the engine wins either way, no? The thing is that it's going to take forever for a non-engine to reach half of the points with 3-7 extra dead cards in his deck, unless he tries to trash them.

2)There's a sliding scale for sure (what counts as 'strong'?), but I tend to disagree with this sentiment. If there's no strong trashing and you can't get the engine up fast, usually your engine will never come together in time - and this is particularly true of the cursers you mention, as it just takes them forever to get going. But maybe what I consider strong is only mediocre to you?

Upgrade, Lookout, Trade Route, Develop... (okay fine Upgrade is a little stronger than the rest but the point is that Sea Hag and YW really slow down economies for both players and that is plenty of time to rebuild a deck)

e.g. this is what I had in mind:
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20121210-035147-e2d7620d.html
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130106-220245-0e38dd7d.html

And I also recall a game posted by -Stef- somewhere in this forum where he wins by rebuilding after a Curse war.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2013, 05:52:17 pm »
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1) a non-engine player shouldn't really be look to trash curses most of the time, as it's far too unreliable; if the engine player CAN have this happen, advantage engine, which is the point of the article

Which means that the engine wins either way, no? The thing is that it's going to take forever for a non-engine to reach half of the points with 3-7 extra dead cards in his deck, unless he tries to trash them.
Not at all. There are lots of boards where it's way way better to play money than engine, either for a three pile or the points. 5 useless cards hurts a money player a little. It hurts the engine player a LOT.

Quote
2)There's a sliding scale for sure (what counts as 'strong'?), but I tend to disagree with this sentiment. If there's no strong trashing and you can't get the engine up fast, usually your engine will never come together in time - and this is particularly true of the cursers you mention, as it just takes them forever to get going. But maybe what I consider strong is only mediocre to you?

Upgrade, Lookout, Trade Route, Develop... (okay fine Upgrade is a little stronger than the rest but the point is that Sea Hag and YW really slow down economies for both players and that is plenty of time to rebuild a deck)

e.g. this is what I had in mind:
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20121210-035147-e2d7620d.html
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130106-220245-0e38dd7d.html

And I also recall a game posted by -Stef- somewhere in this forum where he wins by rebuilding after a Curse war.
Lookout and upgrade are borderline, reasonably strong - sometimes strong enough, sometimes not - but both significantly more effective against sea hag. Develop and trade route are poor - how many games can you find where those as the trashing pay off?
You can absolutely rebuild your deck after a curse war into an engine, but you have to ask yourself how fast will it be, how much potential does it have, and how quick can my non-engine opponent get things over with?

Jerk of All trades

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2013, 06:08:56 pm »
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Have you had a chance to play much with forager? It has the same issue as TR or develop for curse cleanup, however I find that's it's usually worth at least 1$, and you can safely buy 2 of them in a curse game. I'd say it's as good as lookout or upgrade at "restarting" an engine.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2013, 06:12:44 pm »
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Have you had a chance to play much with forager? It has the same issue as TR or develop for curse cleanup, however I find that's it's usually worth at least 1$, and you can safely buy 2 of them in a curse game. I'd say it's as good as lookout or upgrade at "restarting" an engine.
No but I assume it would be much closer to lookout than TR or develop because it's non-terminal, and that's really big. Same deal with Junk Dealer vis a vis upgrade, though for this purpose I suspect junk dealer is even a significant improvement usually.

DG

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 07:30:56 pm »
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I suppose that deck base engines that can perform with curses might be worth a mention. Sages, golems, schemes can ensure engine components are played often or at the right times. Scavengers, develop, armouries can also set things up although each might be a special case. Vaults and secret chambers can get value from bad cards. Rats might be able to devour curses and become a usable asset to the deck. Possession engines might only need to play possession regularly and not care about the rest of the deck.

In general decks can defend better if they are are small, are easier to clean up if they are small, but soak up poor cards better if they're big. This is the essence of your second paragraph but also gives a mention to reaction cards (and lighthouses) since they can be an important part of an engine deck.

In multiplayer you need to watch what your opponents are doing when the curses run out. Competition for key engine cards could empty piles quickly. If all your opponents are going for a quick finish then a pile of 12 duchies will also be gone quickly. On the other hand, if only one opponent is going for a quick finish then you might have considerable time for engine building before any 12 card victory piles run low.
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jomini

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 11:30:25 pm »
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The other thing engines have going for them is they can often use scaling sifting to more quickly curse, trash, and build. Take something like Cellar. In BM it isn't that strong as in a 5 card hand with cellar we should expect 2 cards to be above average value and 2 cards to be below average value. Discarding the 2 low cards means we should expect another high/low combo. This is an improvement, but a weak one. In contrast, engines can dump enough garbage to draw everything useful left in the deck; sometimes you can sift out enough garbage to draw the rest of the deck & the garbage. Take something like Cellar/Menage/Hag, an engine will much more easily cycle through to the Hag and should win the curse war over BM even if both buy only 1 Hag. Once the curses are gone, you will often be dumping 4+ crap cards to Cellar, say looking for Copper, Silver, Gold, Terminal 2 Coin.

Other sifters just work better in engines than in BM. Oasis isn't bad in a curse riddled engine - effectively turning a curse back into a copper, and getting it out of hand for the cards that care about hand size. Inn not only allows you to use its on-gain fun, but also is a completely viable sifter to line up village/draw. Farming village mitigates curses, but also gives the much needed +action. So on and so forth.

Yeah sifting isn't a panacea, but you need to know how the curse split will go and how often your trasher will hit. Sifting, particularly scaling stuff, goes big for engine.

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timchen

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2013, 01:23:59 am »
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I am confused. I have some same feeling with dondon. Is a money strategy that strong?

So you are talking about engine+cursing vs. money+cursing. Maybe it is better first to establish the point which one is generally stronger. (I take the point is that money+cursing is usually stronger but sometimes engine+cursing can win.) This point should be established by thinking about a 9-card kingdom without curser where the engine strategy and the money strategy are of comparable strength or the engine being slightly better. Then if by adding a curser we clear see that the engine strategy just falls apart, we establish that point.

Then we focus on these special situations you mentioned. Without the curser the two strategy should still be comparable, however. Otherwise we are just saying that a strong engine strategy remains somewhat strong, which is not that surprising. (but I have a feeling this is actually your point) Prime example would be say CY+engine+witch vs. CY+witch or IGG+CY+BM vs. IGG+CY+engine.

I feel in your examples a big portion of them are actually engine vs engine-- so I don't know what to take away from those.
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carstimon

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2013, 09:56:25 am »
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I feel in your examples a big portion of them are actually engine vs engine-- so I don't know what to take away from those.
The examples are all ones where the engine is actually able to overcome the cursing, thus if you take away the curser it's probably going to be an excellent game for an engine.

I think it was taken as given that a lot of great engine boards are ruined by cursers, especially (imo) sea hag, young witch, and IGG.
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dondon151

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2013, 06:09:17 pm »
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This point should be established by thinking about a 9-card kingdom without curser where the engine strategy and the money strategy are of comparable strength or the engine being slightly better. Then if by adding a curser we clear see that the engine strategy just falls apart, we establish that point.

This is not actually a good way to think about the matchup. A lot of engines work just fine with no trashing or Copper-only trashing. What usually sets apart an engine that works fine under Curse duress against one that falls apart is the availability of trashing or sifting. It could be that given trashing (or particularly sifting), the engine gets stronger with the introduction of a curser in the kingdom as opposed to getting weaker.

I think it was taken as given that a lot of great engine boards are ruined by cursers, especially (imo) sea hag, young witch, and IGG.

I used to think this as well until I started losing these kinds of games. I think the converse is actually true in many circumstances. Of the three that you listed, IGG is probably the biggest culprit here.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2013, 06:49:04 pm »
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I think it was taken as given that a lot of great engine boards are ruined by cursers, especially (imo) sea hag, young witch, and IGG.

I'm almost certain that Sea Hag is a huge indicator in favor of engine strategies as long as there is basically any trashing at all. Sea Hag big money is like the most hopeless thing in the world. It takes well over 20 turns to get half the Provinces. This is more than enough time to build some sort of engine even while getting cursed, as long as the curses eventually go away. With strong trashing, you can even skip the Hag and just take and trash all the curses a fair amount of the time.

Young Witch BM is not as hopeless, but usually engines are going to be favored still, since you have to buy the bane, which is usually another action which tends to get in the way of a money strategy much more than an engine strategy.

IGG, however, I think leans more toward BM unless there is really good trashing. The big reason, along with the 3-pile thing, is that you can't just buy 1 card to get a 4-6 Curse split the way you would with the other cursers. You actually have to buy several IGGs or take all the Curses. With strong trashing and some other decent attack or kingdom VP card you can take all the Curses and trash them all before your opponent can end the game, but you do need that extra attack or VP card, since a mass IGG deck that is not being attacked has no problem buying half the Provinces.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2013, 06:50:27 pm by HiveMindEmulator »
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carstimon

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Re: Engines Can Overcome Curses
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2013, 08:08:47 pm »
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I think it was taken as given that a lot of great engine boards are ruined by cursers, especially (imo) sea hag, young witch, and IGG.
...
I think you're completely right, and I don't agree with my past self all that much  (Except for, of course, IGG).  If there is no trashing and at least a mild BM-enabler I'd go for the BM-enabler, though.  What I have in mind are things like explorer or bureaucrat.
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