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dondon151

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Develop
« on: April 27, 2013, 02:29:53 am »
+11

I had a half-finished draft of this written and got stalled for awhile, and I finally got around to finishing this. Hopefully it's not terrible.


Develop

A quick perusal of Qvist's Dominion card rankings will reveal the community's general consensus that Develop among the worst $3 cards in the game. It is not immediately obvious why this is the case, as Develop is an exotic trash-for-benefit card that typically gains two cards at the cost of one and topdecks both for their immediate use, either for the current or the subsequent turn. Less expert players will either blindly follow this consensus and ignore Develop where it is situationally useful or misjudge its power and use Develop in the wrong contexts.

It is helpful to first cover the main reasons why Develop is generally a weak card:

1. It's terminal.
You wonder, should this count as a point against Develop? Most other TfB's are terminal. However, one must consider that the opportunity cost of a dead Develop is a Silver or a non-terminal $3 that could have done something useful.

2. It doesn't benefit the current hand.
Develop doesn't produce $, nor does it draw cards, and it trashes a card from the player's hand. Assuming no interference from the opponent, that leaves the player with 3 cards from a 5-card starting hand. Even if the player manages to increase his handsize beforehand, choosing to play Develop renders two cards in hand unusable for the buy phase. Opening with Develop sacrifices a lot of buying power on the turns where it appears in hand.

3. It slows deck cycling.
Develop gains cards to the top of the deck. Unless Develop topdecked cards that draw cards, this anti-cycling effect inhibits deck momentum by delaying the speed at which the player can get subsequent reshuffles.

4. It's bad at gaining Victory cards.
In the final stages of the game, when the player's deck is in its dying throes (or just choking on Victory cards), most TfB's are useful because they can convert assets to points in some way. Develop can do this too; the problem is that topdecking a Victory card strongly hampers the subsequent turn, and Develop is fickle about what cards it can trash for points in the first place. And while Salvager, Apprentice, Forge, Remodel, and Expand can all perform some variant of trash Province -> gain Province, Develop lacks this function entirely.

5. It's inconsistent between kingdoms.
Develop is unlike most traditional TfB's in that its potential benefit is strongly dependent on the other cards in the kingdom. In particular, Develop benefits most from there being in the kingdom good $3 cards and/or synergistic cards that are exactly $2 apart. Some of the benefit from Develop is negated if, for example, you're forced to topdeck a Silver that you don't necessarily want. This also makes most $3 cards generally bad targets for Develop, as good $2s will not always be in the kingdom and Estates are ubiquitous.



Naturally, by examining Develop's shortcomings, we can identify the conditions that make Develop much stronger than we normally perceive it.

1. When Develop is the best form of trashing in the kingdom.
Develop is a weak trasher, but it's a trasher nonetheless. It provides no benefit at all upon trashing Coppers and Curses, but sometimes we use other TfB's, such as Salvager, $0 Trade Route, or Trader for that purpose. In engine games in particular, Develop's trashing is an important consideration, because there is potential to play Develop more often and the weak trashing goes a long way towards improving engine consistency.

Example: Menagerie typically synergizes with Develop because it trashes Estates for Menageries (or other $3s), and the Copper trashing is also beneficial to this type of deck by reducing the frequency of duplicate cards.

2. When cards of cost $2-$4 in the kingdom are abundant and strong.
This is an indicator for Develop in a few ways. First, hands with Develop on turns 3 and 4 will tend to hit $2-$4 depending on the opening, so being able to buy something useful with those hands is a boon. Second, Develop converts Estates into $3s. Third, it is not as bad to trash a Copper with Develop in the midgame and knock the player's buying power from $5 to $4 if he doesn't mind passing up the $5 in the first place.

Note that Develop is not always a must-have if there are kingdom cards at $3, nor should it always be ignored if there is only Silver at $3. Developing Estate to Silver substantially improves the deck’s economy in future shuffles, and the topdecked Silver may very likely let the next hand reach $5.

Example: a Fishing Village - Watchtower engine likes a Develop opening because both key cards are at $3 and Watchtower's draw benefits from Develop's trashing due to handsize reduction.

3. When there is a combination of surplus +action and +card.
There is no doubt that most terminal cards are significantly improved given the means to play them frequently and in large numbers. The question is whether this is even worth mentioning with regards to Develop. In these situations, not only is Develop an adequate trasher, but it can also be a potent gainer. Because Develop gains cards to the top of the deck, a drawing engine can easily play the gained cards on the same turn. Or, one can choose to leave the gained cards on top in order to kickstart the next turn.

Example: any variant of a village / terminal +3 cards drawer can work here. Several factors are preferable, though: a drawing village, a $3 village, supplementary nonterminal drawing, gainers (Workshop, Ironworks, etc.), and so on. Draw-to-X creates a mild synergy as well, because a play of Develop reduces handsize by 2 cards.

4. When important cards are exactly $2 apart.
If the player is forced to gain 2 cards that are $2 apart, then obviously the ideal situation is when both cards are important components of the deck. This is another reason why Develop likes kingdom cards at $3: power cards are most commonly at $5 but not as common at $6. $4 cards also tend to be weaker than $5 cards and are easier to gain, so there is less opportunity cost in trashing them instead of playing them.

Example:
- $3 villages and $5 terminal drawers make for synergistic pairs. These tend to be common.
- $4 villages or cantrips and Goons, Border Village, Grand Market, or Hunting Grounds at $6 are also pairs to watch out for.
- $5 drawers (both terminal and non-terminal) synergize exceptionally with King’s Court at $7.

The best case scenario is if there are good cards at all price points from $3-$6. In these circumstances, Develop can be used repeatedly to gain more cards at each of these price points. It is possible, for instance, to trash a $4 into Develop and a $5, and then to trash the $5 into a $4 and a $6. The flexibility offered here can prove to be extremely advantageous. A special mention goes to $7 kingdom cards, which can be trashed into a Province and a $6 if the situation calls for it - usually, near the end of a game.

Something to watch out for, though, is getting caught in the trap of only trashing your good cards and not playing them. Inexperienced players who get too Develop-crazy end up spinning their wheels instead of building an amazing engine. It is of paramount importance to keep in mind that, though the goal of Develop (in this context) is to gain new cards, the goal of the deck is to play those cards, preferably as often as possible.



In summary:

Indicators for Develop:
- Engines. There are a few exceptions (e.g., Estate and Silk Road rushes), but Develop is heavily reliant on kingdoms having engine potential in order for it to be worth using.
- Strong cards at $2-$4, particularly at $3. $3 is important because Estates can be trashed into $3s. Non-terminals are especially desirable here.
- Desirable cards that are $2 apart. Develop’s strength as a gainer is greatest in these circumstances. Even better is if there are good cards at all price points from $3-$6.

Counterindicators for Develop:
- Lack of surplus actions. In the absence of surplus actions, Develop will often be competing with stronger terminals. However, note that it is possible to transition from using Develop as the terminal to using a different card, particularly when there is no need to continue trashing.
- Lack of draw. Without drawing, newly gained cards will be played less often, and Develop’s anti-cycling effect becomes noticeably bad. Hands with Develop will always be burdened by the card slot that it occupies.
- Handsize attacks. This can swing both ways - a handsize attack doesn’t matter if someone can draw his deck, and handsize attacks promote engine-building, but hitting a 5-card hand that has Develop will usually deny the receiving player a buy or a Develop play.
- Fast strategies, especially involving power $5s. Sometimes you just don’t need Develop. Picking up Develop increases the likelihood of being unable to hit $5 until turn 5.
- Stronger trashing. Whether it be Ambassador, Chapel, Jack of All Trades, or Remake, those cards can more or less do what Develop does, but better (or with a bonus). CR.com stats indicate that stronger trashers tend to lower Develop's winrate to most (thanks DG!).
- Shelters. Even assuming that there are good $2s, trashing a Shelter forces the player to gain a Copper, Curse, or Ruins. Plus, most $2s aren't good enough to be worth opening Develop for anyway.

Develop is a high-skill card, and even with the advice in this article in mind, it can be hard to see exactly when investing in Develop will pay off and when it will flop. One rule of thumb that I generally follow is to consider Develop first as a trasher, and to consider it second as a gainer. Its power is modest as a trasher on certain boards, but Develop's power truly shows when it can be used effectively as a gainer. Hopefully this article has provided you a better understanding of this card.



Example games:

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130120-133204-a3a98c42.html
In this tournament game, -Stef-‘s Swindler wreaks havoc on my deck. However, the Develops that he gives me let me trash useless $4s and $5s for useful cards. Shanty Town and Council Room are gained together at $3 and $5 and help build a massive drawing engine in conjunction with Mining Village and Mint.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130130-020915-7a44dc5b.html
I (cbaka) use Develop to launch my deck into a Fishing Village - Watchtower engine.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130105-163323-1b5b25f9.html
Here I use Develop to build a Menagerie engine. Not much else to say about this game and the previous one.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130126-215017-0d4dbfd3.html
Though some of my opponent’s choices were suspect, Develop helps me win the Fishing Village split and get my Torturer engine running faster.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130302-092551-90bdd231.html
-Stef- uses Develop to transition into a Grand Market deck supplemented by Farming Villages, Libraries, and Shanty Towns. Here, Library and Shanty Town is a modest $5/$3 combination, and Spice Merchant is an idea target for Develop once its role is done. With the surplus actions from Farming Village, Develop synergizes with Library by reducing handsize by 2 cards. The presence of Expand in this kingdom lets excess STs and Silvers be converted into GMs. Expand itself can be trashed into a Province.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130106-054742-446cc358.html
This game highlights the power of Develop in a drawing engine powered by King's Court. -Stef- made use of Develop on cards at $4 to gain Develop + Rabble, $6 to gain Rabble/Duchy + King's Court, and $7 to gain Province + Gold. Note that the presence of $7 cards makes trashing into Victory cards more alluring, not only because $7 cards can be trashed into a Province, but also because $6 cards can be trashed into a Duchy + $7 card. The fact that Develop leaves the Victory card on top of the deck is not a problem here when those cards can be drawn immediately.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 05:35:52 am by dondon151 »
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achmed_sender

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Re: Develop
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 05:04:57 am »
0

Nice Artice!

Maybe you could mention Rats and Fortress in cards that synergies with develop in engines. Maybe also Cultist (trash Cultist and gain the 2 cards + another one immediately in your hand (correct?))
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Awaclus

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Re: Develop
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 05:08:22 am »
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Maybe also Cultist (trash Cultist and gain the 2 cards + another one immediately in your hand (correct?))
You draw before you gain.
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dondon151

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Re: Develop
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 06:24:47 am »
+1

I haven't played very much Dark Ages, much less Develop in Dark Ages kingdoms, so I don't have much to say there. I added a bullet about Shelters that I had somehow neglected in the original draft.

I don't particularly feel the need to highlight TfB + on-trash benefits as a combo, because that tends to be true for all TfBs. I can't identify any super amazing combos at first glance, but Forager doesn't seem too bad (Develop is a conditionally superior Estate trasher) and Market Square has potential, but they need to be part of a bigger engine. Obviously Fortress is amazing on the right board. Armory could be good with lots of surplus +action, and Ironmonger is a decent $4 to pick up if you Develop a $5. Likewise, Sage and Storeroom are decent cards at $3 that help engines.

But the thing is that very rarely does Develop shine in a 2-card combo. The closest thing that I can think of is Menagerie, and even then you'd want better cards in the kingdom.
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RD

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Re: Develop
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 09:02:08 am »
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I've found it's ideal not just to have good cards separated by $2 (although this is obviously good especially when they form a combo) but a continuous spectrum like $3-4-5-6.

The problem I find is that if you just have your eye on a nice $3/$5 combo, then you're going to wind up a victim of your own success, with a deck full of $3/$5 cards where the good $4 Develop targets become hard to find. One solution that's been mentioned is using Rats/Fortress to provide a continual source of fuel. I think this can be generalized to other $4-gainers. It also helps to be running an engine which finds good Develop targets even if they are a little scarce. But another way is to plan on Developing the cards you gained by Develop, assuming there is a wide variety of useful and somewhat interchangeable cards at all price points, so that you can improve your deck quality this way instead of hurting it. A special case is perhaps to Develop a $4 into Develop/$5 and then next turn gain a $6/$4.

There's obvious synergy with on-gain and on-trash effects. I especially note BV and Catacombs.
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AJD

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Re: Develop
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 10:07:44 am »
+1

How do we feel about Develop in alt-VP games—especially Gardens and Vineyard? As usual its viability depends on the presence of desirable cards at all price points, I suppose, and you can't use it as your only gainer or it'll just be lining up with Coppers too often.

The special relationship of Develop with the $7 Prosperity cards—especially Expand and Forge, the $7 remodelers—should probably be mentioned. Develop Expand into Province and Gold, or Develop Gold into Expand and Duchy and then Expand Duchy to Province.
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ednever

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Re: Develop
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2013, 11:36:14 am »
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I've struggled making develop/gardens work.

But Develop/Vineyards is a killer combo. I wrote an article in the combo a while back.
It lets you load up on actions, then convert actions into potions and top deck them in the end game. Other guy rarely sees it coming.

Ed
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lespeutere

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Re: Develop
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2013, 01:22:57 pm »
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I think, the existence of 7$ cards deserves a more prominent mention. Especially with KC, where you can KC develop for strong trashing and set up hands that let you trash 2 or 3 KC for 2-3 provinces + 2-3 golds (or other 6$ cards).
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Re: Develop
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 02:56:13 pm »
+2

Fantastic article.
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dondon151

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Re: Develop
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2013, 05:35:48 pm »
0

I've found it's ideal not just to have good cards separated by $2 (although this is obviously good especially when they form a combo) but a continuous spectrum like $3-4-5-6.

A fair point, and I appended it to one of the sections.

The problem I find is that if you just have your eye on a nice $3/$5 combo, then you're going to wind up a victim of your own success, with a deck full of $3/$5 cards where the good $4 Develop targets become hard to find. One solution that's been mentioned is using Rats/Fortress to provide a continual source of fuel. I think this can be generalized to other $4-gainers.

Yes, I already made a mention about $4 gainers. I'm going to hold off on listing specific synergies because I feel like this article is quite bloated already and Develop synergizes in different ways with many cards. It's not so easy as hammering out a list of synergies, because most of those require an explanation. And even then, most of those synergies don't make a successful deck by themselves.

I think, the existence of 7$ cards deserves a more prominent mention. Especially with KC, where you can KC develop for strong trashing and set up hands that let you trash 2 or 3 KC for 2-3 provinces + 2-3 golds (or other 6$ cards).

I don't find that KC-Develop on Coppers is exceptional enough to be worth mentioning, though it's better if you're getting cursed or something. That's always true with KC, though. I did add a sentence on trashing $7s into Provinces.

Please feel free to provide more example games or criticism on things that I've worded poorly. I seem to recall an insane Develop game that -Stef- posted awhile ago, but I have no idea where to find it. I could be confusing it with Remake.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Develop
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2013, 05:38:51 pm »
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Please feel free to provide more example games or criticism on things that I've worded poorly. I seem to recall an insane Develop game that -Stef- posted awhile ago, but I have no idea where to find it. I could be confusing it with Remake.

http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=6339.msg169599#msg169599

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Re: Develop
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2013, 06:24:55 pm »
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The 'card winningness' stats on the council room are good for picking out supply based combinations. So immediately if you look at develop you can see the cards that lower its win rate the most: ambassador, chapel, masquerade, steward, bishop, salvager, jack of all trades, remake, upgrade. This really highlights that if you want trashing then almost anything else is better than a develop. Black market is the only card to break that list.

At the other end of the scale are king's court, a bunch of villages, menagerie, grand market, colonies and platinum, fairgrounds, great hall, forge, and bank. This reinforces the use of develop in big engines and possibly also shows the value of developing 7 cost cards for provinces and probably also developing gold in 7s and 5s. Develops can be good at moving from treasure deck to an engine deck. Border villages and grand markets are just good cards to gain generally.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 07:44:27 pm by DG »
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Re: Develop
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 06:44:08 pm »
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Actually, mentioning Border Village, Develop Border Village --> $5 and $7 seems pretty good, since after you buy the Border Village it's not the greatest card in your deck (just a normal village).
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AJD

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Re: Develop
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2013, 06:56:45 pm »
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The 'card winningness' stats on the council room are good for picking out supply based combinations. So immediately if you look at develop you can see the cards that lower its win rate the most: ambassador, chapel, masquerade, steward, bishop, salvager, jack of all trades, remake, upgrade. This really highlights that if you want trashing then almost anything else is better than a develop. Black market is the only card to break that list.

At the other end of the scale are king's court, a bunch of villages, menagerie, grand market, colonies and platinum, fairgrounds, great hall, forge, and bank. This reinforces the use of develop in big engines and possibly also shows the value of developing 7 cost cards for provinces and probably also developing gold in 7s and 5s.

Interestingly, though, if you want to use Develop in big engines, don't you want to have one of those other trashers also in order to trash into your engine more efficiently than develop can?
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dondon151

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Re: Develop
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2013, 07:17:22 pm »
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Interestingly, though, if you want to use Develop in big engines, don't you want to have one of those other trashers also in order to trash into your engine more efficiently than develop can?

Cellar is bad because Warehouse exists.

I couldn't find -Stef-'s game because Iso logs are gone, but I found a good example from his CR.com profile and added that. I also added a part about stronger trashers obsoleting Develop.

I am considering adding a small section on Develop "tactics," seeing as there has been a topic about that in the past.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 07:18:50 pm by dondon151 »
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Re: Develop
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2013, 07:35:57 pm »
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Interestingly, though, if you want to use Develop in big engines, don't you want to have one of those other trashers also in order to trash into your engine more efficiently than develop can?

Cellar is bad because Warehouse exists.

I couldn't find -Stef-'s game because Iso logs are gone, but I found a good example from his CR.com profile and added that. I also added a part about stronger trashers obsoleting Develop.

I am considering adding a small section on Develop "tactics," seeing as there has been a topic about that in the past.
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20130106-054742-446cc358.html is the game he referenced.

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Re: Develop
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2013, 01:50:38 pm »
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The 'card winningness' stats on the council room are good for picking out supply based combinations. So immediately if you look at develop you can see the cards that lower its win rate the most: ambassador, chapel, masquerade, steward, bishop, salvager, jack of all trades, remake, upgrade. This really highlights that if you want trashing then almost anything else is better than a develop. Black market is the only card to break that list.

At the other end of the scale are king's court, a bunch of villages, menagerie, grand market, colonies and platinum, fairgrounds, great hall, forge, and bank. This reinforces the use of develop in big engines and possibly also shows the value of developing 7 cost cards for provinces and probably also developing gold in 7s and 5s.

Interestingly, though, if you want to use Develop in big engines, don't you want to have one of those other trashers also in order to trash into your engine more efficiently than develop can?

But if you have one of those trashers, then most of the time, you're not getting that much out of Develop. Topdecking 2 cards isn't a huge deal when you already can draw most of your deck, so mostly it's just a restricted gainer at that point, potentially useful, but not really strong. I think it's at its best when you want to go for an engine, but it's going to be a slower build-up.
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Re: Develop
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2013, 05:41:27 pm »
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Quote
Develop is an exotic trash-for-benefit card that gets the player two cards at the cost of one and topdecks both for their immediate use on the subsequent turn.

Jeez, you learn something new everyday ???
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Re: Develop
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2013, 08:07:46 pm »
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Quote
Develop is an exotic trash-for-benefit card that gets the player two cards at the cost of one and topdecks both for their immediate use on the subsequent turn.

Jeez, you learn something new everyday ???
You didn't know that?

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Re: Develop
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2013, 09:05:34 pm »
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SheCantSayNo may be referring to the immediate/subsequent thing, but they could also just not have known, I suppose.
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Re: Develop
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2013, 09:53:22 pm »
0

Quote
Develop is an exotic trash-for-benefit card that gets the player two cards at the cost of one and topdecks both for their immediate use on the subsequent turn.

Jeez, you learn something new everyday ???
You didn't know that?

No, weird huh?

Other notable things I learned only in the past two months or so: Jack draws until you have 5 cards in hand rather than always giving you +1 Card, and Courtyard can actually be very strong and is not just that exasperating thing that makes you want to resign when upon expecting +3 Actions you receive +3 Cards!
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lespeutere

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Re: Develop
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2013, 05:28:10 am »
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Quote
Develop is an exotic trash-for-benefit card that gets the player two cards at the cost of one and topdecks both for their immediate use on the subsequent turn.

I'd actually rephrase this. It is not necessarily your next turn but might be this very turn you can use them which is an important feature.
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dondon151

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Re: Develop
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2013, 05:37:42 am »
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Yeah, that was making me a little uncomfortable too. Hopefully the new wording is better. I wanted to capture more of a "first impression" of Develop rather than a comprehensive summary of its functions. I doubt that I can fit everything into a sentence without it becoming unwieldy.

I added -Stef-'s second game as an example.
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Qvist

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Re: Develop
« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2013, 07:56:06 am »
0


I think, the existence of 7$ cards deserves a more prominent mention. Especially with KC, where you can KC develop for strong trashing and set up hands that let you trash 2 or 3 KC for 2-3 provinces + 2-3 golds (or other 6$ cards).

I don't find that KC-Develop on Coppers is exceptional enough to be worth mentioning, though it's better if you're getting cursed or something. That's always true with KC, though. I did add a sentence on trashing $7s into Provinces.

Please feel free to provide more example games or criticism on things that I've worded poorly. I seem to recall an insane Develop game that -Stef- posted awhile ago, but I have no idea where to find it. I could be confusing it with Remake.

I agree with lespeutere here. King's Court is really good with Develop. Trashing a Gold to topdeck King's Court + $5 cards is so good, because you can guarantee a King's Court next turn and even a good target for it. That's worth the tempo loss you might have in the beginning. Later you can develop King's Courts into Province and Gold which is also really good. I agree that KC+Develop isn't that good on it's own, but if the $5 card is a card drawer, then you get big hands very fast and then a KC-Develop (on whichever target) is really good.
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DStu

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Re: Develop
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2013, 11:47:17 am »
+1

I'll just drop that again because I like it so much.
Develop Gold->King's Court/Governor. Turn 9 explosion.
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