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Author Topic: When to think  (Read 4448 times)

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blueblimp

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When to think
« on: August 10, 2013, 04:13:53 am »
+12

Introduction

(Disclaimer: This is mainly intended for playing 2-player games in a non-tournament setting.)

Some players seem to think about the same amount each turn. This is wrong. In Dominion, you sometimes want to think a long time, but in most situations not much. This is a brief guide to when you should think a lot, and when not to bother. Some of it will be obvious, but doing these things has helped me play better, and when I ignore them I do badly.

Like how one big turn is often better than two smaller turns, one big think is often better than two smaller thinks. It pays to spend enough time thinking when you need to, so that you have a better idea what to focus on in subsequent turns.

For that reason, the time you should think most is at the beginning of the game. The other important moment is when entering the endgame.

Before the game

Never, ever buy anything before reading the entire kingdom and doing some basic analysis. Even if you have $3, and the only <=$3 card is Silver, resist the urge to buy it, because you want to form a good habit. (I know I'm in for an easy win when the other player buys a card before I've even read the kingdom!)

Important things to do:
  • Check what all the cards are. Is there a second page of cards? Are you playing with Estates or Shelters?
  • Do kingdom analysis. (There are other articles on how to do that well.) Imagine playing the best strategy you see. Roughly what order do you think you'll want to buy the components? This will guide your thinking in buying phases later on.
  • Figure out when you'll need to think later. That way you'll avoid auto-playing yourself to death, but at the same time not waste time on decisions that don't matter. For example, if your game plan involves Expand on Peddlers and there's no village available, then on most turns you'll want to auto-play all but 1 Peddler, then check whether you have Expand in hand. The important thing is that you can know that well before reaching a turn where it actually matters.

Endgame

When is the endgame? Roughly, when the game could end by the end of your next turn. There's no single guideline for when that is, so as the game progresses, develop an idea of how to tell it's approaching the end. Like in the previous section, figure out ahead of time when you'll need to think.

The reason it's important to slow down and think here is that the endgame is pure tactics and breaks a lot of the rules you'll have been following throughout the rest of the game. It's your opportunity to be clever and steal games you shouldn't have won--or conversely throw games away.
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dondon151

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Re: When to think
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 05:22:59 am »
+5

It's also a good idea to think about what your opponent is doing after the 5th turn or so.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: When to think
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2013, 08:21:13 am »
+2

I think it's  good idea to think about what your opponent is doing, or more precisely, what he or she COULD be doing, before the game begins.


And technically the right answer is 'all the time'.

DrFlux

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Re: When to think
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 10:10:33 am »
0

Random Question, since you mentioned shelters vs estates:

If you are going first and have copper x 5, how do you know if its a shelter game? I bought an ambassador recently on 5, and it ended up being a shelter game and I was really irritated.

Also, I think your definition of endgame is too restrictive. For me the endgame is whenever you start doing calculations of points, and there is some possibility of the game ending in several turns. The beginning of the endgame is about setting yourself up in a position where you can win, such as: -empty piles, -win because you are more set up to stand up to greening, -play to your "outs" if you are behind
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heron

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Re: When to think
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2013, 10:12:50 am »
0

If you use the extension, it tells you in the log whether shelters are used.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: When to think
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 10:31:17 am »
+6

If you use the extension, it tells you in the log whether shelters are used.

DG

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Re: When to think
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2013, 12:23:13 pm »
0

On turn 1 you can make a positive decision to count. This could be counting silvers for a foedum, actions for a vineyard, curses, total coins in your deck, or anything else. It's easier to count from the start than to catch-up half way through, particularly if you are counting your opponent's cards.

Turn 3 is another time to think. Although you don't have the same certainty as on turn 1, you can still look at your draw and make some decisions for the next turn as well as this one. This is particularly true if you get an unusual draw on turn 3 as it will probably force an unusual draw on turn 4 as well.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 02:16:42 pm by DG »
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dondon151

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Re: When to think
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2013, 01:11:19 pm »
0

I think it's  good idea to think about what your opponent is doing, or more precisely, what he or she COULD be doing, before the game begins.

What your opponent could be doing on turn 1 is 99% of the time also what you could be doing. Once your opponent has committed to a strategy, though, then that's where your decisions and your opponent's decisions start to diverge.

But yes, if you really want to win, you should be thinking all the time.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 01:13:47 pm by dondon151 »
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WanderingWinder

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Re: When to think
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2013, 02:02:52 pm »
0

I think it's  good idea to think about what your opponent is doing, or more precisely, what he or she COULD be doing, before the game begins.

What your opponent could be doing on turn 1 is 99% of the time also what you could be doing. Once your opponent has committed to a strategy, though, then that's where your decisions and your opponent's decisions start to diverge.

But yes, if you really want to win, you should be thinking all the time.
Obviously I don't mean 'what could he buy right now?' - though clearly 99% is completely wrong here anyway - I mean, "What plan can he take?"

dondon151

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Re: When to think
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2013, 03:07:11 pm »
0

The problem with pedantry is that sometimes I legitimately can't tell if you understood what I meant.
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blueblimp

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Re: When to think
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2013, 03:10:46 pm »
0

And technically the right answer is 'all the time'.
I half agree. Maybe this would have been better called "when to hold on and think especially carefully". On the other hand, I think everybody who plays lots of games will auto-play to some degree--the trick is making sure you only do the auto-play that's safe in the kingdom you're playing.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: When to think
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2013, 03:26:10 pm »
+2

I think you should think once at the start to come up with a basic game plan. Then again when you get interesting new information. Like for instance, once you kind of see the path your opponent is going down or when someone gets an unexpected (un)lucky draw. Usually at the beginning you think of a few things that could happen, but only vaguely think about the right responses, so you need to really plan it out when it happens.
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StrongRhino

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Re: When to think
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2013, 10:19:37 pm »
+2

Kids, remember to think before you drink a pink mink drink, or the pink mink drink will ink with pink ink your drink, and make it a pink mink ink drink linked to a pink ink mink with a pink ink mink that will link your drink and make you think- drinking a pink mink ink link drink is bad, so you must think before having a drink of a pink ink mink link drink.
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Kirian

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Re: When to think
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 11:08:39 pm »
+1

Kids, remember to think before you drink a pink mink drink, or the pink mink drink will ink with pink ink your drink, and make it a pink mink ink drink linked to a pink ink mink with a pink ink mink that will link your drink and make you think- drinking a pink mink ink link drink is bad, so you must think before having a drink of a pink ink mink link drink.

Nope.
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blueblimp

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Re: When to think
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 11:38:04 pm »
0

It's also a good idea to think about what your opponent is doing after the 5th turn or so.
Good point. This is most important in non-mirrors, because well if I think strategy X is the best then I expect my opponent to go for it too. If they don't go for it, then a fair bit of adjustment may be required.
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terminalCopper

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Re: When to think
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2013, 04:19:40 am »
+6

I'd like to add that it's a good idea to pause for a moment if your opponent does something seemingly stupid. This impression might be correct; but if you have a good opponent, there will usually be a good reason if he opens double hermit or renounces to ambassador.


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Davio

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Re: When to think
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2013, 04:30:33 am »
0

My big thinks are mostly during the endgame, because it becomes quite an interesting risk/reward analysis at those times.

Do I want to adhere to the Penultimate Province Rule or not? How likely is it that my opponent can get the last Province? Did he just shuffle? Have I seen his good cards already? How likely am I to get it? Is it my only chance of winning, etc. etc. How much of a pile can I drain to give myself a good shot at 3-piling without giving it to my opponent? Do I need to grab some green to prevent my opponent from winning on 1 Estate, etc, etc...

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