Dominion Strategy Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: [1] 2  All

Author Topic: Crossroads  (Read 11522 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

rinkworks

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1316
  • Respect: +917
    • View Profile
    • RinkWorks
Crossroads
« on: October 24, 2011, 01:03:57 pm »
+7

Crossroads is a very interesting, unique card.  Multiples can serve as both halves of a +Actions/+Cards engine, a strange feat accomplished by no other card save Nobles.  But Crossroads is dramatically cheaper than Nobles and therefore much easier to accumulate.  It also has a much better upside:  +3 Actions and unbounded drawing power!  Compensating for these relative strengths, however, is the tricky coordination required to activate them.

To analyze this card properly, I think it's important to look at two different cases separately.  These cases are (1) when victory cards in hand are always "dead" cards until the end of the game; and (2) when it helps to have victory cards in your hand.  The reason I want to separate these cases is that the mechanics of the card are much easier to understand on an intuitive level if we consider the simple first case first.

When Victory Cards In Hand Are Dead

First, let's imagine a deck with no victory cards whatsoever.  You've trashed your starting Estates and not gained any other victory cards.  What does a Crossroads do for your deck?   Obviously in this case, all you'll ever get from a Crossroads is +3 Actions.  And if multiple Crossroads collide, you don't get anything from the duplicates.  How good is a one-time +3 Actions?  I would argue that it's not very good.  In a 5-card hand, the +3 Actions are only fully useful if 3 of your other 4 cards are terminal actions, or if you have drawing terminals that will pull in other terminals.

Thing is, it's really tough to use this Village-type effect without also having drawing power.  If you've ever tried to build a +Actions/+Cards engine with University, Nobles, Shanty Town, or Native Village, you know how much that +1 Card on the vanilla Village really helps.  Sometimes the lack of draw on Fishing Village even hurts sometimes.  If the draw component of a +Actions/+Cards engine is lacking, getting an extra extra action from Crossroads still leaves you with a draw problem.

Additionally, since Crossroads cards don't stack, you won't want to get too many, for fear they'll collide.  And if you can't get too many, that means you shouldn't be buying lots of terminals, and if you're not buying lots of terminals, you're probably not going to use the +3 Actions you get.  It's a vicious circle.

But everything I've said so far is probably obvious:  the real power of Crossroads is when you get some drawing power out of it.   So let's consider the effect of a single Crossroads card in a deck with some percentage of victory cards.

Let's say your deck consists of 50% victory cards.  Given such a deck, a hand of Crossroads-X-X-Estate-Estate is probably quite likely.   Now we play the Crossroads, which gives us +2 Cards and +3 Actions.  That's pretty spectacular!  It's basically the equivalent of a Laboratory and two Villages.  Staggering.   Now, what do we draw?  Remember that our deck consists of 50% victory cards, so if we draw two cards, the average case is that we'll draw one Victory card and one X.  Now our hand is this:  X-X-X-Estate-Estate-Estate.

But hang on.  Isn't this an even worse outcome than our earlier example of a deck with no victory cards?  Remember, we're operating under the assumption that Victory cards in hand are always dead to us, so the useful part of our hand is now X-X-X.  But in the earlier example, we had X-X-X-X after playing the Crossroads.

This is the Crossroads paradox:  you need Victory cards to activate Crossroads, but having Victory cards in your deck weakens your deck more than a single Crossroads strengthens it.  See, the thing is, even in the best case, a single Crossroads only gets you to the point you'd have been if you hadn't had any Victory cards in your deck at all.  Say your perfect shuffle luck got you a hand consisting of Crossroads-Estate-Estate-Estate-Estate.  You play the Crossroads, and let's say you draw four non-Victory cards.  Now your hand consists of Estate-Estate-Estate-Estate-X-X-X-X.  Since we're assuming all Victory cards are dead cards, the useful part of your hand is only X-X-X-X, which is exactly what it would have been if you hadn't had any Victory cards in your deck in the first place!

So maybe the solution to this paradox is to accrue multiple Crossroads.  Let's say our hand is Crossroads-Crossroads-X-Estate-Estate, again from a deck of 50% Victory cards.  Playing the first Crossroads gives us 2 cards, 1 Estate and 1 X.  Now our hand is Crossroads-X-X-Estate-Estate-Estate.  Now play the second Crossroads.  Let's be charitable and assume we draw 2 X's and 1 Estate.  Our hand now is X-X-X-X-Estate-Estate-Estate-Estate.  Well, we drew a lot of cards, but we still only got up to 4 X's, no better than having a single Crossroads in hand from a deck with no Victory cards.  Worse, we lost one of our +3 Actions playing the second Crossroads.

Obviously when you have such a deck, some hands will play out better than this, and some worse.  But this is not a spectacular average case.  Moreover, although increasing the number of Victory cards in your deck will further empower these Crossroads cards, that increase will also space out your Crossroads cards more, making them less likely to collide.

Ultimately, Crossroads doesn't seem very good, does it?  Except as an end-game accelerator:  buying a mid-late game Crossroads might allow us to start greening earlier without clogging as badly.   But that's a pretty narrow application for a card that seems like it should have better potential.

But to understand the situations where it shines, let's take a brief second look at what it actually did for us in the above examples:

  • The first Crossroads provides us the +Actions component of an engine, but it doesn't really provide +Cards so much as a pseudo-Cellar effect.  As observed, even in the best case, the first Crossroads can't get us more useful cards in hand than we might have gotten with perfect shuffle luck.  And having the Crossroads in hand still uses up a card slot.  So, again, the first Crossroads is really more like a Cellar with extra actions than something like a Level 2 City, which provides both +Actions and +Cards free and clear.
  • Successive Crossroads cards provide terminal drawing power, like Moat or Smithy.  They use up an action to play, but now it's possible to accrue more useful cards in your hand than you started with.  However, the drawing power of these extra Crossroads cards is somewhat determined by how diluted your deck is.  So even if you get a staggering +4 Cards out of a Crossroads, the fact that you can get +4 Cards probably means the cards you draw won't all be useful ones.

Now, certainly there are combo possibilities.  If you can play a Scout before playing Crossroads, not only will Scout increase the drawing power of your Crossroads, but it will increase the quality of the cards you draw with the Crossroads, which is pretty cool.  But in the absence of synergy with other action cards, Crossroads is probably pretty bad most of the time.

Unless....

When Victory Cards In Hand Are Useful

First, when might Victory cards in hand be useful?

  • When you have discard-for-benefit actions.  These include Hamlet, Vault, Secret Chamber, Baron, and Tournament.  Having Victory cards in hand means you can discard these for some benefit, rather than having to discard a more useful card for those benefits.
  • When you have mandatory discard actions.  These include Horse Traders, Young Witch, Warehouse, Embassy, and Inn.  These cards require you to discard something as compensation for receiving their other benefits.  If you have Victory cards in hand, you can discard those instead of more useful cards.
  • When you have trash-for-benefit actions.  These include the Remodel family, Apprentice, Bishop, Salvager, and Trader.  Assuming you might want to feed any of your Victory cards to these, Crossroads can help you draw these with those Victory cards.
  • When you have hybrid Victory cards.  This is the obvious and strongest situation.

The first three cases here are very situational.  They only apply when such cards are in your deck, and the benefit you get from comboing them with Crossroads may or may not actually be worth the trouble to try to do so.

But the last case can be overwhelmingly strong.  Crossroads turn all your Great Halls into Laboratories, basically, because when you play Crossroads, you draw a card for each one, then draw another when you play each Great Hall itself.  Having multiple Crossroads compounds that benefit even further.

With Nobles, Crossroads does better than drawing an extra card per Nobles:  it also allows more of those Nobles to be played for +Cards rather than merely for +Actions, which is huge.

With Harem, Crossroads turns each one into an activated Conspirator, sort of, because you get +$2 from the Harem and also get an additional card in your hand for it.

It's less effective with Island, however, because the best way to use Island is to get it out of your deck as soon as possible, but it may still help you pair up your Islands with good Island targets.

The bottom line is that Crossroads with hybrid Victory cards is probably a no-brainer.  Otherwise, Crossroads is probably a bad bet unless there is a specific combo possibility, OR you have a spare $2 buy after you've started greening but before you want to start buying Estates.


Works With:
- Hybrid Victory cards.
- Discard-for-benefit cards, including Baron and Tournament.
- Mandatory discard cards.
- Trash-for-benefit cards if your Victory cards are good targets for them.
- Scout.
- Silk Road (only insofar as it makes accumulating a density of Victory cards more attractive).

Conflicts With:
- Lack of the above.
- Availability of less finicky alternatives for +Actions, +Cards, and/or Cellar-like sifting.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 02:05:14 pm by rinkworks »
Logged

timchen

  • Minion
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 704
  • Shuffle iT Username: allfail
  • Respect: +233
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2011, 01:16:15 pm »
0

Excellent article! The points being made explains exactly why this is a 2 cost card.

Without things to do with the vps in hand, it is just a cellar that only works on VPs. Lesson learned.
Logged

DStu

  • Margrave
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2627
  • Respect: +1485
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 01:26:58 pm »
0

On the other hand, there is a point in the game where you usually have Victory cards in your deck, that's at the end. So if you can fetch some of them while you are greening, I think that should stabilze most engines towards the end of the game. And as they only costs $2, you more or less only need a free buy.
Logged

HiveMindEmulator

  • Mountebank
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2222
  • Respect: +2090
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 01:27:52 pm »
0

Great article. Very well written and organized. The fact that crossroad+estate is not really good is actually a really hard topic to explain. I was trying to explain it to someone IRL earlier and had quite a hard time. +1 to you, sir.
Logged

AJD

  • Margrave
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2925
  • Shuffle iT Username: AJD
  • Respect: +3702
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 01:30:13 pm »
+1

On the other hand, there is a point in the game where you usually have Victory cards in your deck, that's at the end. So if you can fetch some of them while you are greening, I think that should stabilze most engines towards the end of the game. And as they only costs $2, you more or less only need a free buy.

And by the same token, the presence of Crossroads means you can start greening a little earlier than usual. After all, it's true that "useful part of your hand is... exactly what it would have been if you hadn't had any Victory cards in your deck in the first place!", as Rinkworks puts it—but the difference is that if you didn't have any Victory cards in the first place, your score would be 0.
Logged

chwhite

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1065
  • Respect: +436
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 01:45:01 pm »
0

This article belongs on the front page.

Even with hybrid victory cards Crossroads can be a trap.  I played this game about a week ago (and saved the log because I knew it was a powerful illustration of this point), where I basically went dumb Militia-Big Money (with some Cartographers to improve my own hands and a couple opportunistic Cities when it was clear they were getting to Level 2) against a big slow-developing Crossroads/Great Hall/Fool's Gold engine.  Said engine eventually fired for MASSIVE points and buying power, but only after I had seven provinces and over half the available points.

http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201110/20/game-20111020-130600-76c9fc67.html

The presence of Crossroads definitely lets you green earlier, though- I agree with AJD on that.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 04:14:56 pm by chwhite »
Logged
To discard or not to discard?  That is the question.

rinkworks

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1316
  • Respect: +917
    • View Profile
    • RinkWorks
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 01:50:23 pm »
+1

And by the same token, the presence of Crossroads means you can start greening a little earlier than usual.

I intended to work this line, almost exactly as you've written it, into my article somewhere.  Then I guess I forgot to make that point, although I touched on it obliquely.  I totally agree that Crossroads lets you green a little earlier, somewhat like Scout lets you do too.  The trick is finding the opportunity to obtain the card in the first place.  There's a very narrow window between when you don't want the card in your deck at all, and when you do want it.  And within that window, sometimes there just isn't the opportunity to get it.

But at half the cost of Scout, it should be easier to find the opportunity for Crossroads, especially if you have spare buys.

Edit:  I found a spot to work that point in.  Thanks, all who reminded me of that.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 02:05:58 pm by rinkworks »
Logged

Karrow

  • Baron
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 56
  • Respect: +6
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2011, 01:53:33 pm »
0


Crossroads is one heck of a trap.  It looks like such a strong core engine could be built on it, but drawn in separate hands the Victory cards and Crossroads are all dead cards.  Getting enough Crossroads & Victory cards to support a strong drawing engine usually ends up without any buying power.

I have seen that Crossroads is a good support card after you have the big hand.  After the Council Room, Tactician, or Lab-chain, the Crossroads can shine.  But at that point any card can shine.  And as noted, a Cellar is often just as good or better.
Logged

rod-

  • Conspirator
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 213
  • Respect: +49
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2011, 01:59:10 pm »
0

It's not always as clear-cut as "my deck has 0 green cards" vs "my deck has 50% green cards":  You always start with estates, yet you can't always trash them.  Crossroads is always helping you skip your dead green cards when you can't otherwise get rid of them.  Also, in a deck where you have enough drawing power to draw your deck, crossroads will provide you with some added consistency (getting you around the awkward hands where your green cards are in the top of your deck, for example, at least some of the time) and the additional actions. 

It's probably not a great card when you don't have a ton of non-terminal or semi-terminal drawing power, and it can definitely be a card that doesn't work the way you'd like it to, but it's not extremely black and white.  You've always got to build your deck, not just throw "good" cards into it.
Logged

rinkworks

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1316
  • Respect: +917
    • View Profile
    • RinkWorks
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2011, 02:09:10 pm »
0

It's not always as clear-cut as "my deck has 0 green cards" vs "my deck has 50% green cards":

Absolutely, yes.  My point there was to look at two opposite extremes in order to establish what the progression is for the more realistic cases in between.
Logged

DG

  • Governor
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4029
  • Respect: +2562
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2011, 02:12:14 pm »
+1

Logged

rod-

  • Conspirator
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 213
  • Respect: +49
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2011, 02:20:02 pm »
+1

It's not always as clear-cut as "my deck has 0 green cards" vs "my deck has 50% green cards":

Absolutely, yes.  My point there was to look at two opposite extremes in order to establish what the progression is for the more realistic cases in between.
The problem is that the in-between case is not actually in between either of these cases.  50% green and crossroads should be compared to 50% green and no crossroads, not 0% green and crossroads, when evaluating what crossroads does for your deck. 
Logged

tlloyd

  • Tactician
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 404
  • Respect: +81
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2011, 02:40:31 pm »
0

You forgot Trade Route in your trash-for-benefit list, and Crossroads + Trade Route seems to have some serious combo potential (I wonder if the names are intentionally related). Use the trade route to trash your coppers, and use the +buy to grab multiple Crossroads, estates, etc. You can ramp up your buying power AND your draw power all while racking up points!
Logged

rinkworks

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1316
  • Respect: +917
    • View Profile
    • RinkWorks
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2011, 03:27:08 pm »
+1

It's not always as clear-cut as "my deck has 0 green cards" vs "my deck has 50% green cards":

Absolutely, yes.  My point there was to look at two opposite extremes in order to establish what the progression is for the more realistic cases in between.
The problem is that the in-between case is not actually in between either of these cases.  50% green and crossroads should be compared to 50% green and no crossroads, not 0% green and crossroads, when evaluating what crossroads does for your deck.

Ah, I see what you're saying.  Yes, that argument says nothing about whether or not Crossroads is a net benefit to add to a deck that already has some percentage of Victory cards.

I was arguing from the other direction, though:  given a deck with a Crossroads in it, how can one make that Crossroads more powerful?  I think the kneejerk thought, before one is familiar with Crossroads, is "Well, I can activate it by buying green cards, and that will power up my Crossroads deck!"  My point was that, no, this doesn't work.

Now, to be sure, at some point you need to buy green cards anyway, whether or not you've got a Crossroads already.  And once you hit that point, adding a Crossroads to your deck is probably a good thing, provided you can spare the opportunity cost.  I agree that I made this point clumsily in my original draft, but I made a couple of minor edits to try to improve it.  But the excerpt you're talking about was really more about the early game.
Logged

AJD

  • Margrave
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2925
  • Shuffle iT Username: AJD
  • Respect: +3702
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2011, 04:04:26 pm »
0

Well and also, it's not totally invalid reasoning to say "at some point I'm going to be going green, and it'll useful to have Crossroads then; I've got a spare $2 buy now, and I may as well pick it up while I have a chance; and at any rate till then it might help keep my Torturer chain going." ...In other words, Crossroads isn't a great provider of +actions because its draw is contingent on green and the village effect doesn't stack, but the +actions can be a bit of a motivator to get Crossroads earlier than you ordinarily would in the same way that the presence of Crossroads can be a bit of a motivator to go green earlier than you ordinarily would.
Logged

Mean Mr Mustard

  • Witch
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 452
  • First to 5000 Isotropic wins
  • Respect: +118
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2011, 04:17:41 pm »
0

Very nice article.

I will jump on the bandwagon here and say that Crossroads really shines when the game is nearly over and  the deck has stalled.  A lucky CR or two can be the difference in finishing that Province pile.  This is a far cry from an active Crossroad strategy, more like a coping mechanism for a situation that has plagued us all at one point or another:  greened too early and often and no real chance of getting $8 hands together again.
Logged
Jake <a href=http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201203/17/game-20120317-030206-6456f97c.html>opening: opening: Silver / Jack of All Trades</a>
<b>IsoDom1 Winner:  shark_bait
IsoDom2 Winner: Rabid
Isodom3 Winner: Fabian</b>
Utúlie'n aurë! Aiya Eldalie ar Atanatári, Utúlie'n auré!

ChaosRed

  • Duke
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 387
  • Respect: +13
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2011, 04:51:10 pm »
0

I love Crossroads, but probably reach for it too early.
Logged

guided

  • Jester
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 940
  • Respect: +88
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2011, 04:54:46 pm »
+1

I keep opening with Crossroads, and I keep regretting it :-[
Logged

ackack

  • Explorer
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 302
  • Respect: +19
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2011, 04:55:59 pm »
0

Just for fun http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201110/16/game-20111016-182210-24a991c8.html.

The Remodel isn't even really necessary here. Crossroads/Tactician/Vault is really strong already. I'm glad I looked at this log, as it put me in mind of that idea when it came up in a recent game.
Logged

Fangz

  • Apprentice
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 260
  • Respect: +12
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2011, 05:18:31 pm »
0

I've actually built a treasureless deck using crossroad, plentiful estates, and Baron. Not sure if it's efficient at all though.
Logged

cherdano

  • Moneylender
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 166
  • Respect: +54
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2011, 11:54:29 pm »
0

Crossroads can also shine when you already have a draw engine (say, from labs) and throw in a crossroads to play and draw even more cards after you have already increased your handsize. You are more likely to hit it with 3-4 green cards at a time. It can make your engine extremely resilient against slowing down while buying VP cards.
Logged

theory

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3585
  • Respect: +5970
    • View Profile
    • Dominion Strategy
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2011, 02:50:52 pm »
+1

I posted this to the front page, since I thought the article was outstanding.

(I do still read the forum.  I've been torn lately over whether I should try to keep up the blog if I can only write articles sporadically, now that I'm employed and not just in school.)
Logged

rinkworks

  • Saboteur
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1316
  • Respect: +917
    • View Profile
    • RinkWorks
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2011, 02:58:12 pm »
0

Wow, thank you!
Logged

olneyce

  • 2011 DS Champion
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 245
  • Respect: +210
    • View Profile
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2011, 05:33:58 pm »
+1

I posted this to the front page, since I thought the article was outstanding.

(I do still read the forum.  I've been torn lately over whether I should try to keep up the blog if I can only write articles sporadically, now that I'm employed and not just in school.)
I think people would be happy with the occasional post - and the occasional promoting of good posts from the forums.  It doesn't need to be comprehensive to still be incredibly worthwhile.
Logged

momomoto

  • Pawn
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1
  • Respect: +1
    • View Profile
    • My Twitter
Re: Crossroads
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2011, 09:25:50 am »
+1

I posted this to the front page, since I thought the article was outstanding.

(I do still read the forum.  I've been torn lately over whether I should try to keep up the blog if I can only write articles sporadically, now that I'm employed and not just in school.)

The articles are invaluable: I've printed them out and have them in my Dominion case along with the FAQs. As Olneyce noted, even sporadic posts do a world of good. Quality over quantity!

ED: And, yeah, I guess that means my first post evar is just to say "please don't stop."
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 09:39:42 am by momomoto »
Logged
Pages: [1] 2  All
 

Page created in 0.118 seconds with 20 queries.