Dominion Strategy Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: [1]

Author Topic: The Step Two Stall (draft)  (Read 2364 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

AdamH

  • Board Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2785
  • Shuffle iT Username: Adam Horton
  • You make your own shuffle luck
  • Respect: +3792
    • View Profile
    • My Dominion Videos
The Step Two Stall (draft)
« on: April 05, 2013, 11:53:56 am »
+3

Some people have called the "Step One Stall" but this is how I've always heard it. This article will address what it is and how to position yourself to either benefit from it, or to not suffer from it.

The Step Two Stall happens in games of Power Grid where nobody builds their seventh (in 4/5 player games, sixth in 6 player games) city for a while, there can be two or more turns where nobody builds any cities and just powers the five or six that they have. I've even heard legends of games where the Step 3 card is revealed before Step Two is triggered, but I've never seen it happen. I've only seen Step Two Stalls in games with four players or more.

Why does it happen?

The Step Two Stall usually happens because none of the people who are able to trigger Step 2 want to do it. The people who want to start Step Two (those not benefitting from a stall) are unable to do it, usually because of prohibitively expensive connection costs; i. e. their cities are blocked in. The people who can easily start Step Two are benefitting from a stall because they are making more money each turn than their opponents (unless they build enough to trigger Step 2), or they can be towards the back of the turn order and it's important for them to get first crack at building those juicy cheap connections in Step 2.

The longer the stall goes on, the larger cash reserves people usually have, so the more important it is to continue the stall for those people benefitting from it. Being towards last place when Step 2 hits is a strong move, but if everybody is building five or more cities before you ever get a chance to build any Step 2 Cities, you're going to be hurting even more. In general, the longer the stall goes, the more incentive the people causing it have to continue it.

What can I do about it?

The easiest thing, and most of the time the best thing you can do is to position yourself to benefit from the stall. This puts your opponents in a difficult position because either they can give you an advantage by stalling with you, or you get to have good initiative on the first turn of Step 2. How can you position yourself this way? Well it comes down to having at least one of two things: good plants and good board position.

An ounce of prevention...

What does it mean to have good plants for a Step 2 Stall? You want to be able to efficiently power 5 or 6 cities. Usually a single endgame plant will suffice for this, and the 13 Plant (nothing -> 1 City) helps as well. You want to profit a lot by powering less than 7 (or 6 in a 6P game) cities, so this should be a significant factor when you're looking for your second and third power plants of the game. Operating efficiently here is very valuable; the more prepared you are for this point in the game, the more you can benefit from it.

...A pound of cure.

Sometimes you don't get that luxury of being efficient in the early game. Hopefully in return for that, you have at least a strong board position. This means you're in a place where you can build the few cities remaining on the board for Step 1 at a reasonable price. If you're lost on both of these accounts, then you've probably misplayed the beginning of the game and you're about to pay for it, but the course of action is still the same (it just hurts more).

If you're not benefitting from a Step 2 Stall, then you don't want it to happen, or at least you want it to be short: you've got to build those cities and trigger Step 2. Now don't just go building them if you can't power them, that's even more of a waste. Once someone builds up to Step 2, that almost guarantees them first place in the turn order, so you have to be prepared for the consequences of that.

If you've prevented the stall by doing this, that's pretty good, you have just a slightly weaker position than your opponents, and hopefully the extra money you made from powering one or two more cities than everybody else will compensate for that. If the stall has been happening for a while now, though, you need to go big, since you likely won't be able to expand at all next turn.


Positioning yourself for a potential Step Two Stall is one of the more subtle tactical plays you can make in the early game and it can carry a big advantage. Look for these things to maximize that advantage, or to deny those advantages to your opponent.
Logged
I respond to PMs.

theory

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3582
  • Respect: +5950
    • View Profile
    • Dominion Strategy
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 11:21:02 am »
0

Is there any way to recover from a situation where you aren't benefitting from the Step 2 Stall?  In every game someone has to be the worst off in the S2S situation.  Do they have reasonable odds of victory afterwards, or does S2S decide the game?
Logged

AdamH

  • Board Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2785
  • Shuffle iT Username: Adam Horton
  • You make your own shuffle luck
  • Respect: +3792
    • View Profile
    • My Dominion Videos
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 11:25:12 am »
0

If you aren't benefitting from the S2S, you want to begin Step 2 as quickly as possible. Giving priority to that, if it's possible, you also want to build as many cities as you can when you do it.
Logged
I respond to PMs.

Shiroiken

  • Swindler
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
  • Respect: +4
    • View Profile
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2013, 05:22:20 pm »
0



Our group sees little of the S2S, because everyone is aware of it. Players who are not going to benefit from it, trigger Step 2 before the stall can even occur. If it does happen, it lasts only 1-2 Turns before someone breaks it. If everyone is aware of the possibility of the S2S, the probability decreases considerably.

The big trick is to know when to kill the stall. If you are benefiting from the S2S, the proper time to break it is when you can build the remaining cities near you and power all of them. I will only trigger Step 2 if I can build to at least 9 Cities, preferably 10, unless I'm getting killed by the S2S. As I normally am very careful of my board position and my Power Plants, I seldom suffer from the S2S, even if others are gaining slightly more of a benefit than I.

Logged

AdamH

  • Board Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2785
  • Shuffle iT Username: Adam Horton
  • You make your own shuffle luck
  • Respect: +3792
    • View Profile
    • My Dominion Videos
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 09:21:25 am »
0

I will only trigger Step 2 if I can build to at least 9 Cities, preferably 10, unless I'm getting killed by the S2S.

This can be effective; you're hoping the extra money you make on this one turn will give you an advantage, since everybody else will likely stay below seven cities this turn. There is money to be made here, which makes it a good option in many situations.

But this is not the only way to begin Step 2, and a lot of times you can do better when this method's potential drawbacks end up costing you more money than you gain on your opponents.

Starting Step 2 is all about timing -- when will being in first place hurt me the least? Generally speaking, it's when your opponents have less cash reserves, so if you can do it a turn earlier, don't wait just because you want to go big when you start Step 2.
Logged
I respond to PMs.

florrat

  • Minion
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 542
  • Shuffle iT Username: florrat
  • Respect: +748
    • View Profile
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2013, 09:22:10 am »
0

Great! I wanted to see an article about this step 2 stall, because in my second game of Power Grid (playing against players who were equally inexperienced as I was) this Step 2 stall was occuring. I don't know the details anymore, but it was a three player game and in that game the step 3 card was revealed before anyone dared to move to step 2. I don't really know anymore how the stall started, but when it was going on for a few turns we all feeled like "why would anyone now build a 7th city, allowing the other players to build 4-7 cities way cheaper the next turn". Then we all individually decided that we would wait for the step 3 card. I know that I even downgraded my most expensive power plant, just to ensure I was the last player, so that I could build the cities earliest when the step 3 card was turned over (and that was totally worth it!). It was a crazy game, and it somehow felt we "broke" power grid. But more likely we all just played very suboptimally, and if we would play better this would have never happened.
Logged

AdamH

  • Board Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2785
  • Shuffle iT Username: Adam Horton
  • You make your own shuffle luck
  • Respect: +3792
    • View Profile
    • My Dominion Videos
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2013, 10:17:57 am »
0

Thanks for your feedback. That sounds like quite a bit of suboptimal play, of course. After reading this article, do you think you would be able to recognize who should have done something differently and what it was? If not, then I can think of a couple of things I should make more clear in the article.
Logged
I respond to PMs.

florrat

  • Minion
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 542
  • Shuffle iT Username: florrat
  • Respect: +748
    • View Profile
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 09:15:52 am »
+1

Thanks for your feedback. That sounds like quite a bit of suboptimal play, of course. After reading this article, do you think you would be able to recognize who should have done something differently and what it was? If not, then I can think of a couple of things I should make more clear in the article.

Well, I guess the player who is paying the most per turn for recourses should try hardest to move to step 2. And he should try that as fast as possible, because if the stall is going on for a few turns, then there's a chance he can hardly (or only for a lot of money) build any step 2 cities, because the other players can build first. If there are more conditions to who should start step 2, then you might want to highlight them better in your article.

And also, suppose you're paying just $3 more than your opponents for recourses per turn. Should it be top priority to move to step 2? Probably the answer is "yes," but maybe you can add a few more lines about "when not to go for S2S" i.e. "When should you move to step 2 as soon as possible."

Now that I reread the following sentence
I know that I even downgraded my most expensive power plant, just to ensure I was the last player, so that I could build the cities earliest when the step 3 card was turned over (and that was totally worth it!).
I really feel like I was saying
Quote
So, we were playing a three player Dominion game. We all rushed for the villages of course, and at a moment we all had three, so there was 1 left in the supply. I just got a hand of 5 copper, so I could buy a mountebank, but I went for the last village, so that I could win the village split. I know it's a bit strange, but it was totally worth it!
But well, at that point it felt like a good move :)
Logged

ChocophileBenj

  • Minion
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 504
  • Respect: +563
    • View Profile
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2014, 11:05:51 am »
0

I actually played several games with Step 3 starting before step 2 or, more common, step 2 trigerred after build phase of turn n, and step 3 after bid phase of turn (n+1).

But I know this phenomenon of "nobody wants to buy, everybody wants money".
Logged
Chocolate is like victory points in Dominion. Both taste good but they'll hurt you if you eat too much of it instead of something else in your early days.

funkdoc

  • Witch
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 472
  • Respect: +414
    • View Profile
Re: The Step Two Stall (draft)
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2014, 09:47:49 am »
+1

i find that this is more likely to happen on maps with heavily unbalanced geography, like USA/germany. france & italy are a lot kinder in this regard unless you're playing 3-player with only the most expensive regions...

i notice that in general you are less likely to have a really bad stall in strong BSW games, for the reasons adam has noted. there's also another issue that i discuss a bit in the article i just finished: if they're badly behind on plants OR there is one player in a dominant position, good players will make all kinds of aggressive plays solely to move the market. making an expensive build to break a stall if nobody else will is an example of this!

you will still have an occasional game where step 2 never happens, but the better your competition is the rarer it gets. it should only happen when the market is badly stalled as well, i.e. when breaking the building stall won't give you a chance at a good plant.
Pages: [1]
 

Page created in 0.125 seconds with 20 queries.