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Author Topic: Don't Play Everything!  (Read 7244 times)

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Davio

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Don't Play Everything!
« on: March 13, 2013, 07:48:14 am »
+10

A mistake I often see less experienced players make is that they just keep playing every Action card in their hand until they're out of actions, even when the Action cards have 0 effect. What's worse is that they keep playing those Action cards if they actually have a negative effect. Why? Well, just because they like playing strings of cards, because that's what the game is about, right? Nothing like playing 10 Villages and feeling like a boss.

Zero Effect
This is the least hurtful, but it can still be annoying for your opponents. Imagine having drawn your entire deck and still having 5 Wishing Wells. Luckily, the interface on Iso knows that you have no more cards and thus you can't wish for anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone got a smack in the face in real life for doing this and still wishing for stuff and acting all surprised "Oh, I don't have any cards in my deck anymore!" every single time. Still, it's not so bad to play Actions for 0 effect, it's just pretty useless. But this paragraph only serves as a step-up to negative effects.

Negative Effect
When does playing an Action card have a negative effect? There are a couple of cases:
  • They hurt yourself directly
  • They hurt yourself indirectly
  • They help your opponent directly
  • They help your opponent indirectly

Let's deal with each case separately to give you an idea of what I mean.

1. They hurt yourself directly
Now how can playing an Action card hurt yourself directly? Well, you could play a cantrip before Menagerie drawing a copy when you had a hand of uniques, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is with a card that forces you to do stuff like Golem-ing into an Ambassador, Masquerade, Trade Post and the likes. Throne Room is similar, always weigh the risks vs. the rewards. If you have TR-TR-Lab and some risky cards still in your deck, consider just TR-ing a single Lab instead of starting off with TR-TR. It's too easy to automatically start a chain with TR-TR without thinking it through. TR-TR-Lab-Terminal leaves you with 2 Actions remaining while TR-Lab, TR-terminal leaves you with 1 action remaining. Is that one action worth the risk? I don't know, but you should think about it.

2. They hurt yourself indirectly
Actions that hurt yourself indirectly have mostly to do with your next hand. An easily understood example is playing a cantrip after a chain of Hunting Parties. A typical Hunting Party deck will still have Coppers and Estates and happily skip them while searching for your good cards, leaving you with an empty draw deck and full discard. What happens when you play that cantrip? Your Coppers and Estates get shuffled into a new deck, one of which you will draw, and your Hunting Parties played this turn will miss the shuffle. Shuffle timing is very important in HP decks, play the cantrips first to not risk drawing into your discarded crap. Warehouse has a similar style. After a few Warehouses, you've discarded most of your crap, don't play that extra Warehouse just because you can and force your Curses, Estates and Coppers to make up your next two hands.

There are a lot of cards which mess with the top of your own deck, either by revealing or drawing, and can cause an unwanted reshuffle. If you played a lot of good cards this turn, they will miss that shuffle. If you have reached a certain treshold, $8 for Province or $11 for Colony, and only have 1 Buy, always consider stopping the chain as an option. Think about what's left in your deck. Try to leave $8 for the next hand as well instead of $16 for this one.

3. They help your opponent directly
Reactions immediately should spring to mind when thinking about cards that help your opponent directly. Of course you don't always know whether your opponent is holding Watchtower or Trader when you're thinking about playing that Sea Hag. But again, you should think about it. Sometimes you can know in advance due to having seen the cards of your opponent with a missed Bureaucrat or Cutpurse. There are also cards which give the opponent an extra card or choice, Governor, Council Room, Vault, Bishop, etc.. I've made a costly mistake once when I needed to play 2 Governors as remodels to get the last Duchy and Province. I took the Province first, allowing my opponent to sneakily transform a $4 into the last Duchy. It was a silly mistake which could have been prevented if I hadn't played on auto pilot.

4. They help your opponent indirectly
Examples of cards that help your opponent indirectly are the ones that mess with the top of the deck. Uncertainty plays a part with Sea Hag and Swindler. Consider a game where you're trailing by more than 1 Province and you already have $8, Curses are gone, but you think "what the heck, let's play Swindler" and oops your opponent trashes a Province for a Province. It helps to know what's on top of your opponent's deck, Oracle, Spy, Scrying Pool etc help, but even if you don't know it's good to pause for a second. The information you have about the top of their deck is not 0. Because Dominion is a game of incomplete information, the trick is to make the best decision based on the little information you do have. Oftentimes you can prevent looking like a fool if you think about the order you want to play your cards in. After a couple of Rabbles your opponent has 2 Provinces on top and then you play a Tribute for kicks and giggles (you don't need the benefit of 2 cards), your opponent will be very grateful!

If you're playing at a high level it's important to not give your opponent more information than what's absolutely necessary. Playing every Copper one at a time isn't what I'm talking about. Imagine a game with Governors where you just played your single $4 card, a dead Sea Hag, for no real reason other than boredom and maybe discarding a good card. Your opponent can now safely use Governor to remodel knowing that you can't pick up a Duchy this turn.

What to take away from this
I've shown a couple of ways for Action cards to either hurt you or help your opponent. Now I'm not trying to scare you into never buying or playing some cards or doubting every simple situation, I just urge you to weigh the risks versus the rewards. Don't just play your Action cards simply because you have actions left over. Dominion is a highly situational game where solid tactics can sway close games in your favor. Don't just consider which cards to play, always consider if it's even worth playing them at all.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 07:53:00 am by Davio »
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 09:00:21 am »
+5

SMUGGLERS!  I see this so often.  Never give your opponent information about your Smugglers unless you are using it to get a card from them.  Yes you may want to play it just to say, "Oh poor me I'm getting so unlucky b/c you just bought a Province on the turn I had Smugglers in hand".  But when you do that you provide me information and I will happily buy Duchies until you reshuffle with no risk of a Smuggled Duchy.  The information about it can be crucial for your opponents buying/gaining decisions.
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dondon151

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 09:32:43 am »
+2

Same thing when you draw a hand of 2+ dead TRs or KCs.
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DG

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 09:40:47 am »
0

There are also the times where you might not reveal a moat or watchtower. There's also farmland that can give more points if you can restrain yourself from playing all your 6 cost cards from hand.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 09:43:28 am »
0

Hmm, I thought this article would be about not always playing all of your Actions because sometimes it's better to save them (with Haven, Mandarin, or Count) or trash them (especially with Develop, but any trash for benefit card would apply).
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 10:27:21 am »
+1

The more stupid, I think, is playing a Rats with a full hand of Rats ! Equals to trashing the top of deck without seeing it before ;)
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Davio

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 10:47:52 am »
0

There are also the times where you might not reveal a moat or watchtower. There's also farmland that can give more points if you can restrain yourself from playing all your 6 cost cards from hand.
I guess this only works in real life since on Iso you have that small waiting window when you have to click not to reveal anything which is a dead giveaway.

Hmm, I thought this article would be about not always playing all of your Actions because sometimes it's better to save them (with Haven, Mandarin, or Count) or trash them (especially with Develop, but any trash for benefit card would apply).
Title could be better, but this was the first thing I came up with.

Same thing when you draw a hand of 2+ dead TRs or KCs.
Yes, it's often a cry for sympathy while players don't realize that this is also valuable info when deciding to break the PPR for instance.
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DG

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 10:54:21 am »
0

Quote
I guess this only works in real life since on Iso you have that small waiting window when you have to click not to reveal anything which is a dead giveaway.

I played a game on iso last night where in one turn I revealed the moat to a young witch, didn't reveal it to a minion, then revealed it to a ghost ship.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 11:01:13 am »
0

Quote
I guess this only works in real life since on Iso you have that small waiting window when you have to click not to reveal anything which is a dead giveaway.

I played a game on iso last night where in one turn I revealed the moat to a young witch, didn't reveal it to a minion, then revealed it to a ghost ship.

I hate to belabor this point, but in two days, iso will no longer be a thing Dominion-wise.  So mentioning it in strategy articles at this juncture will only confuse future readers.

"What's iso?"  "It's a thing we really liked that we used to play on."  "...so what relevance does this have to me playing Dominion now?"
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Davio

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 11:06:32 am »
0

Quote
I guess this only works in real life since on Iso you have that small waiting window when you have to click not to reveal anything which is a dead giveaway.

I played a game on iso last night where in one turn I revealed the moat to a young witch, didn't reveal it to a minion, then revealed it to a ghost ship.

I hate to belabor this point, but in two days, iso will no longer be a thing Dominion-wise.  So mentioning it in strategy articles at this juncture will only confuse future readers.

"What's iso?"  "It's a thing we really liked that we used to play on."  "...so what relevance does this have to me playing Dominion now?"
Well, it isn't mentioned in the article other than referencing it has some UI which doesn't bother you to wish for cards with an empty deck.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 11:15:52 am »
+1

Hmm, I thought this article would be about not always playing all of your Actions because sometimes it's better to save them (with Haven, Mandarin, or Count) or trash them (especially with Develop, but any trash for benefit card would apply).
Title could be better, but this was the first thing I came up with.

I think the title is fine and that your article is worthwhile. You could incorporate the situations I mentioned, or not. Either way it's completely legit.
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itchiko

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 01:35:39 pm »
+2

Without going to the point were you are playing copper one by one, the article could also talk a little about the treasures.
You should not play all your treasures, all the turn for mostly the same reason as for actions:
- giving deck information to your opponent, eg. if you don't need that bank don't play it.
- creating unwanted shuffle with a venture
- or worse play a loan when it as more chance to hit a silver or a gold than a copper (you may only discard it but that still prevent you from playing it)

And the loan example is a point i think may be missing in your article:
the randomization and expectation part of the game.

Sometime an action (or treasure) can have both a possible positive and negative outcome:
So you want to not play a card not only when it's bad for you (with all the details and example of the article) but when the expecting negative outcome is greater than the positive outcome.
And that again also depend on the notion of risk taking.

So that you will not only have to weight negative versus positive of playing something but of the level of risk you want to take:

Let's take a made up example:
you have an hand with a golem and 1 colony. you know that in the rest of your deck you have: 7 poorhouses and 1 ambassador.
with a little luck you could hit 2 poorhouses save your turn and buy a province.
on the same time if you hit the ambassador you will have to give that colony to your opponent.
So you have a decent chance to 8VP but a small but not negligible chance to give 22 points to your opponent.
Do you play it ?

Of course: It depends ^^

in that case it depend on the level of risk taking. if your are currently winning why take the risk ? on the same time if you are losing and that could save you: go for it.

So yes to sum up my point is:
there can be time when you will have to ponder the expected positive outcome of the card versus the negative one. It's not because something as a chance to be positive that you should do it (another example would be playing the sea hag when there is no curse because there is a chance to discard your opponent's good card, don't do it: it helps him seeing that good card more often).
And that pondering will have to take into account all the available information about the current state of the game including the level of risk you are ready to take.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 01:44:51 pm »
+1

...

Your example is a little off - province is 6 VP, not 8; Colony is 10 VP, not 11, and you could reveal it but return 0 to the supply, thereby only costing you 10 points rather than twice that amount.

Having said that, yeah, your point that very often you need to weigh such things is correct.

But on treasures, with iso and goko at least, it takes a lot longer to play only some things out, and generally because it's about having fun, you play them all anyway, and take the small strategic hit.

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2013, 01:50:20 pm »
0

But on treasures, with iso and goko at least, it takes a lot longer to play only some things out, and generally because it's about having fun, you play them all anyway, and take the small strategic hit.

I think I'm the exception to this rule. If I'm playing against a human opponent on Goko, I will usually play Treasures from my hand one at a time, unless:
  • It's the second turn of the opening and I played all my Treasures the previous turn.
  • All I have left in my hand are Treasures AND I need to play all of them.
  • It's the last turn of the game.
  • One of us is so far ahead that there's no possibility for a turnaround.
I don't think it gives me that much of a strategic edge (beyond the opening, anyhow), but in general playing slower makes me play more carefully, which usually translates to better play.
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itchiko

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2013, 02:09:01 pm »
0

...
Your example is a little off - province is 6 VP, not 8; Colony is 10 VP, not 11, and you could reveal it but return 0 to the supply, thereby only costing you 10 points rather than twice that amount.

Sorry about that. Made the post too quick i guess ^^

Also i mostly play IRL so playing treasure one at a time is very feasible for me but i can see why it would a pain for your opponent in online gaming.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2013, 04:48:19 pm »
0

There are also the times where you might not reveal a moat or watchtower. There's also farmland that can give more points if you can restrain yourself from playing all your 6 cost cards from hand.

Of course choosing to not reveal Moat is something that works differently in real life vs online... online, even if you choose to not reveal Moat, your opponent will have the information that you had a Moat, because the game paused while it waited for you to say if you wanted to reveal Moat or not.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2013, 05:08:56 pm »
+2

An easy solution would be to introduce an artificial pause whenever it is possible that the opponent would have a reaction to use (i.e. when the player has at least one reaction in his deck).  It would only need to be a slight pause -- maybe just 1 second, which is enough time for an attentive opponent to click on the "not revealing" button.  It could get annoying for someone chaining attacks, like a SP deck, but it would add that aspect of the game back in.  To be more convincing, the pause could be randomly determined between 0.5-1.5 seconds or whatever is reasonable.

Not saying it's a good idea.  Just that it's an idea. :P
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2013, 05:26:06 pm »
0

An easy solution would be to introduce an artificial pause whenever it is possible that the opponent would have a reaction to use (i.e. when the player has at least one reaction in his deck).  It would only need to be a slight pause -- maybe just 1 second, which is enough time for an attentive opponent to click on the "not revealing" button.  It could get annoying for someone chaining attacks, like a SP deck, but it would add that aspect of the game back in.  To be more convincing, the pause could be randomly determined between 0.5-1.5 seconds or whatever is reasonable.

Not saying it's a good idea.  Just that it's an idea. :P

I think it's a good solution. To further cut down on the delay, it could only happen after the first time someone gains a Reaction card. Although that might lead to impatient players getting mad at opponents when they buy a Reaction. So maybe it's not such a hot idea.

I think your randomized artificial pause idea is a good one, though.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2013, 06:47:24 pm »
+3

IIRC on Iso, the opponent does not see a "waiting for reaction" prompt if you have the choice to reveal a Watchtower or a Trader. The game just pauses and the opponent can't continue, but if he's not playing super fast and you are able to quickly pass on a reveal, it's impossible for him to tell if you have such a Reaction in your hand or not.

And man, I found wero's post to be super unconstructive.
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Powerman

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2013, 08:34:15 pm »
+1

Quote
I guess this only works in real life since on Iso you have that small waiting window when you have to click not to reveal anything which is a dead giveaway.

I played a game on iso last night where in one turn I revealed the moat to a young witch, didn't reveal it to a minion, then revealed it to a ghost ship.

I hate to belabor this point, but in two days, iso will no longer be a thing Dominion-wise.  So mentioning it in strategy articles at this juncture will only confuse future readers.

"What's iso?"  "It's a thing we really liked that we used to play on."  "...so what relevance does this have to me playing Dominion now?"

There's no proof Goko will survive forever so maybe we shouldn't mention that either.

Heck, there's no proof that any of this will be valid once Guilds comes out so maybe we shouldn't write anything until then.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2013, 08:38:20 pm »
0

Good topic for an article.  Bad shuffle timing is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making a lot, and not something immediately obvious to folks who don't play a lot of card games.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2013, 08:42:35 pm »
0

I played a game yesterday where playing extra torturers was a mistake - see the video 'torqueing vigilance'

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2013, 08:45:43 pm »
0

Personally, I think it's always best to write strategy articles to be independent of implementation as much as possible.  There aren't many reasons that you'd need to mention Iso, Goko, or IRL.  If one does write an article with a specific implementation in mind for some reason, I would personally consider IRL to be the most canonical.  When I first came here, I felt very alienated by articles posted on theory's blog which referred isotropic.  I basically had to struggle with learning iso's interface -- despite having no interest in playing there -- simply to make sense of some articles.  I don't see any reason to set up a barrier to entrance like that.  Especially when future users won't have iso to even poke around on soon.

All that said, users here who write articles are providing wonderful contributions to this community, and I'll happily accept them regardless of stylistic disagreements.
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Davio

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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2013, 04:19:25 am »
0

Personally, I think it's always best to write strategy articles to be independent of implementation as much as possible.  There aren't many reasons that you'd need to mention Iso, Goko, or IRL.  If one does write an article with a specific implementation in mind for some reason, I would personally consider IRL to be the most canonical.  When I first came here, I felt very alienated by articles posted on theory's blog which referred isotropic.  I basically had to struggle with learning iso's interface -- despite having no interest in playing there -- simply to make sense of some articles.  I don't see any reason to set up a barrier to entrance like that.  Especially when future users won't have iso to even poke around on soon.

All that said, users here who write articles are providing wonderful contributions to this community, and I'll happily accept them regardless of stylistic disagreements.
I try to write articles without talking about specific implementations, but online Dominion and Iso in particular are so much part of the Dominion world that it's hard to do. Besides, there are some parts of online Dominion which influence the actual game like reaction timings. When an opponent plays an Attack card and you don't want to reveal you can always stare in blank space in real life, but Iso (or Goko) waits for you to acknowledge you don't want to reveal.

The main point here is that online play is a variant, but not one we should ignore, because it's used so much.
Online play can and will be never similar to real life play.

I found the point about Treasure timings interesting enough that I will probably integrate it later today.
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Re: Don't Play Everything!
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2013, 02:08:19 pm »
0

Another thing is to keep an eye on your cost reduction. If you play your last Highway and suddenly find you can't Upgrade your Bank into a needed Province because they both cost zero, you're going to feel pretty stupid. There are lots of little interactions like that.

I've also been screwed by blindly playing all my Cities, then realizing I had a chance to empty a second pile via Ironworks mid-turn, meaning I could've been playing third-level cities instead and won the game.
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