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Author Topic: The Hand-size reduction fallacy  (Read 7511 times)

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werothegreat

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The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« on: March 06, 2013, 12:08:45 pm »
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Very often, both in this forum, and on comments to my YouTube videos, people will talk about how "hand-size reducing" cards combine well with "draw up to" cards like Jack of all Trades and Watchtower.  But it only takes a little thought to see how most of these claims really don't hold any water.

The claim usually goes something like this: Playing a +1 Action card that does not have a +Cards component (like Forager, Fishing Village, or Bag of Gold) goes well with "draw up to" cards because they decrease your handsize.  While this is technically true, the end result of this play is no different than playing a cantrip before the "draw up to" card.  Let's look at two cards whose only difference is that one of them has a +1 Card: Necropolis and Village.  If I, from a 5-card hand, play Necropolis, then Watchtower, I will draw three cards, and still have 1 Action remaining.  If I play Village first, drawing one card, and then play Watchtower, this time I will draw two cards.  To some, this means that Watchtower was less effective.  But the end result is the same - I still ended up drawing three cards, and what's more, they're the same three cards in both cases.  In the context of "draw up to" cards, it does not make any difference whether you play a cantrip or a non-drawing non-terminal before it - the result is the same.  So saying things like "Festival combos well with Library" really holds very little water.

The one instance where non-drawing non-terminals are better than cantrips is with Menagerie, since instead of "drawing up to", it instead activates at maximum hand variety, which is a lot easier to accomplish when you're not drawing new cards.

But there are other ways to reduce your hand size.  Let's look at the prime example of this - Oasis.  Oasis is a cantrip, so at first glance it might seem neutral to "draw up to" cards.  But because it discards a card, it decreases your handsize.  Let's compare Oasis to Peddler, as the only difference between the two is that Oasis discards.  If I play Peddler from a 5-card hand, drawing one card, then a Watchtower, I draw two further cards, giving me three total new cards.  But if I play Oasis, drawing one card and discarding one card, then a Watchtower, I'll draw three further cards, giving me four total new cards.  My handsize is the same now in both cases, but I have one additional card drawn because I played Oasis instead of Peddler.

Perhaps what is trying to be said is that "draw up to" cards work best when they're doing most of the drawing - otherwise, why even buy them?  Well, you'll buy them if they're the only way to increase your handsize.  I'm not saying that "draw up to" cards aren't perhaps doing a little more work with non-drawing non-terminals - I just think it's silly to assume that your end result (which honestly, is all that matters) will be any different.

Moral of the story - decreasing your handsize by playing cards is essentially neutral to "draw up to" cards, at least when compared to cantrips.  The only means of decreasing your handsize in a relevant way to these cards is by discarding.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 12:13:35 pm by werothegreat »
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Watno

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 12:12:48 pm »
+19

well, the point is that cards that reduce your handsize usually have something to compensate for that. For example Festival has +1$ and a buy over Bazaar as compensation for not drawing a card. But if you play a Library afterwards, that doesn't matter. So I think it's right to say that Festival combos with Library.
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eHalcyon

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 12:41:22 pm »
+3

well, the point is that cards that reduce your handsize usually have something to compensate for that. For example Festival has +1$ and a buy over Bazaar as compensation for not drawing a card. But if you play a Library afterwards, that doesn't matter. So I think it's right to say that Festival combos with Library.

Exactly this.  The cards that reduce hand-size will have some other benefit or cost less.  Draw-up-to cards eliminate the drawback of missing that one card.  If Library was on the board and you were choosing between Fishing Village and a hypothetical cantrip Fishing Village, both at the same price -- yeah, take that cantrip!  But if the hypothetical one costs more (as it should!) then it would be perfectly fine to pick up the non-drawing FV because Library will cover it.  If the choice is between Village and an in-supply Necropolis, yeah you should probably take Village.  But if that Necropolis comes with +$1, it's worth considering over regular Village because Library will draw that missing card for you and you'll get an extra +$1 over the regular Village.
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werothegreat

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 12:47:52 pm »
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In that case it might be more accurate to say that Festival combos well with Library, rather than the other way around.
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Watno

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 12:49:55 pm »
+3

I don't think it makes sense to think of comboing as an assymetric thing.
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eHalcyon

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 12:52:15 pm »
+1

In that case it might be more accurate to say that Festival combos well with Library, rather than the other way around.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  Is there a semantic difference between "A combos well with B" and "B combos well with A"?  You yourself used this same order in your article (hand size reducer comboing with draw-up-to).
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Robz888

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 01:16:39 pm »
+4

The big thing you miss here is that not all cards are the same. Like, I don't care about discarding Estates and Coppers. So when Militia makes me drop 2 cards, I can hopefully just drop my junk, and then a play a draw-to-X card that might grab me something that's better than the stuff I discarded in the first place.

The same is true of Oasis + draw-to-X. With something like Watchtower or Library available, I would rather have Oasis than Peddler, because I can discard a card from my hand that I don't need, like Estate, and then Watchtower can draw me something new, above and beyond what just Peddler would have gotten me.
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Robz888

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 01:20:12 pm »
+1

Also, I think a reality check demonstrates the opposite. Fishing Village/Hamlet + Library is a monster combo for instance. It's usually a strong option whenever it's available.
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soulnet

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 01:25:54 pm »
+1

I agree with all responses, and to add to Robz's, the sifting effect of using cards with discard "penalty" (like the Oasis example) is good for getting a better hand AND accelerating cycling. Warehouse + draw-up-to-X is great to ensure good hands. I think Warehouse is one of the best additions to DoubleJack because of the same reason, the downside of Warehouse is mitigated.

If you add "+1 Card" to the nonterminal cards that decrease your hand, they most likely become powerhouses. Warehouse reading "+1 Action, +4 Cards, discard 3 cards" its probably better than Embassy, for $3 and no free Silvers for the opponent, and in almost any situation better than Lab and Stables. Festival +1 Card is better than Grand Market. And since Festival gives +Actions, you can keep the chain going after the Library play.
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philosophyguy

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 01:53:10 pm »
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Yeah, ignoring the value of sifting will cause you to massively undervalue the draw-to-X response.

If your deck is low-variance (e.g., a Jack deck where the vast majority of your treasures are Silvers and you've trashed your Estates), then draw-to-X is more about cycling than anything else.

But, if you have a lot of variety in your deck (common examples being alt-VP rushes, but also decks with little trashing and/or junking attacks), then discarding the bad stuff and drawing average cards (on average; sometimes better, sometimes worse) is definitely a great deal.
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popsofctown

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 02:08:08 pm »
+1

Festival is a Grand Market with an additional action if you know you will play a draw up to X later in the turn..
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dondon151

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 02:42:19 pm »
+2

I'm not quite sure that I understand the point of this fallacy. I guess if you had the choice between an activated and an unactivated Conspirator in your hand, and assuming you have a massive surplus of +action somehow, then there is no difference because the same number of cards will be drawn anyway (the exception here is Library since you can set aside Actions).

But, uh, it seems to me that there is a fallacy in your fallacy somewhere.
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elglin1982

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2013, 05:10:53 am »
+1

There is a yet another point. +Cards is spammable. Assuming infinite actions, you play two Smithies in row for +6 Cards etc. Draw-to-X is not so straightly spammable as the second Watchtower/Library in row will have the effect of a Ruined Library. However, if you have a means to decrease your handsize, which non-terminal non-drawing cards are somewhat good at, and if you are able to play multiples between your Draw-to-X plays, your Draw-to-X cards become sort of spammable.
I've recently played an (admittedly weird) game http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130227-120022-c529bf2b.html where I was able to play my Watchtowers/Pawns to great combined effect which saved my hide in a Conspirator mirror in which I lost the Conspirator split 2-8.
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platykurtic

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2013, 01:32:20 pm »
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Bazaar and Festival are the most easily compared example here. Both cost the same, but Festival lacks +1 card and instead has +1 buy and an extra +1$. You might think of it as not drawing for benefit or Ghost Shipping yourself one card you never see for benefit. Thought of this way, draw to X combos with discard or don't draw for benefit because it obviates the penalty, not the handsize reduction itself.
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DrFlux

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2013, 04:14:44 am »
+3

Yo dawg, I heard you liked fallacies, so I fallaciously put a fallacy in this fallacy.
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AJD

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2013, 11:03:56 am »
+2

There is a related fallacy, though, namely: "since I'm building a draw-to-X engine, I can load up on disappearing non-terminals with impunity, since after I play them, my hand will be restored to full size." This is a fallacy because you still only have five cards in your starting hand. Thus, if you're building a Bazaar/Smithy engine, and you have five Bazaars in your hand, you may still draw a Smithy with them; if you're building a Fishing Village / Library engine and you have five Fishing Villages in your hand, you're not playing a Library this turn. So the handsize-reduction aspect of disappearing non-terminals is still a disadvantage, since it can prevent you from having your draw-to-X when you need it.
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werothegreat

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2013, 11:41:07 am »
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There is a related fallacy, though, namely: "since I'm building a draw-to-X engine, I can load up on disappearing non-terminals with impunity, since after I play them, my hand will be restored to full size." This is a fallacy because you still only have five cards in your starting hand. Thus, if you're building a Bazaar/Smithy engine, and you have five Bazaars in your hand, you may still draw a Smithy with them; if you're building a Fishing Village / Library engine and you have five Fishing Villages in your hand, you're not playing a Library this turn. So the handsize-reduction aspect of disappearing non-terminals is still a disadvantage, since it can prevent you from having your draw-to-X when you need it.

This is why Oasis and Hamlet are better for this.
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Gherald

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2013, 01:18:47 pm »
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Libraries <3 Hamlets

But remember fishing villages have the advantage of staying in play and adding actions and coin next turn.  So in practice they combo very well as well, since you're not likely to draw a hand of 5 villages (you probably played 1-2, even 3 last turn)
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dondon151

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2013, 03:01:57 pm »
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There is a related fallacy, though, namely: "since I'm building a draw-to-X engine, I can load up on disappearing non-terminals with impunity, since after I play them, my hand will be restored to full size." This is a fallacy because you still only have five cards in your starting hand. Thus, if you're building a Bazaar/Smithy engine, and you have five Bazaars in your hand, you may still draw a Smithy with them; if you're building a Fishing Village / Library engine and you have five Fishing Villages in your hand, you're not playing a Library this turn. So the handsize-reduction aspect of disappearing non-terminals is still a disadvantage, since it can prevent you from having your draw-to-X when you need it.

This is a risk that you have to be willing to take. You can compensate by having a higher ratio of drawing cards than non-drawing cards, but the payoff of a draw-to-X engine, as stated earlier, tends to be higher because actions that don't draw cards tend to be stronger than actions that do draw cards.
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popsofctown

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2013, 03:46:41 pm »
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There is a related fallacy, though, namely: "since I'm building a draw-to-X engine, I can load up on disappearing non-terminals with impunity, since after I play them, my hand will be restored to full size." This is a fallacy because you still only have five cards in your starting hand. Thus, if you're building a Bazaar/Smithy engine, and you have five Bazaars in your hand, you may still draw a Smithy with them; if you're building a Fishing Village / Library engine and you have five Fishing Villages in your hand, you're not playing a Library this turn. So the handsize-reduction aspect of disappearing non-terminals is still a disadvantage, since it can prevent you from having your draw-to-X when you need it.
This is why Hamlet and Warehouse are really good.
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GendoIkari

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2013, 04:02:04 pm »
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It is indeed true that it's probably more accurate to say that Festival is better when Library is around than it is so say that Library is better when Festival is around. However, the fact is that they DO indeed combo will, because Library makes up for Festivals biggest drawback, that it doesn't draw a card  played. A handful of 4 Festivals is just a Province. A handful of 4 Festivals and a Library means that those 4 Festivals were better than 4 Grand Markets.

And as others have said, with Oasis and Hamlet, it's better for Library than Festival or Fishing Village, because you're discarding your worse cards to replace them with average cards.
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Grujah

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Re: The Hand-size reduction fallacy
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2013, 04:13:36 pm »
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But there are other ways to reduce your hand size.  Let's look at the prime example of this - Oasis.  Oasis is a cantrip, so at first glance it might seem neutral to "draw up to" cards.  But because it discards a card, it decreases your handsize.  Let's compare Oasis to Peddler, as the only difference between the two is that Oasis discards.  If I play Peddler from a 5-card hand, drawing one card, then a Watchtower, I draw two further cards, giving me three total new cards.  But if I play Oasis, drawing one card and discarding one card, then a Watchtower, I'll draw three further cards, giving me four total new cards.  My handsize is the same now in both cases, but I have one additional card drawn because I played Oasis instead of Peddler.

You do realize that
a) Oasis is generally easier to get
b) With oasis you discard crap and might actually draw something way more useful than Estate or Copper that you discarded.

Compare it with MTG where cards that say for example "discard a card, draw two card" (i.e. Rummage effect) or "draw 2 cards, discard two cards" are still played, even though they do not increase your handsize (or even reduce it), just because they provide a filter effect. You get what you need and discard waht you don't. That's powerful.
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