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Topics - tlloyd

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Although I guess to be more precise, I dabbled in the Ambassador game briefly before diverting into an Envoy/Inn draw Engine with Remake support. But my opponent went full-bore Ambassador cursing, which is both strong and annoying and therefore quite satisfying to survive.

Variants and Fan Cards / Magician
« on: May 09, 2012, 04:51:54 pm »
Somewhere in the Secret Histories Donald mentioned that he had more ideas for one-shot cards, and that we might see more in the future. I think one-shot cards are very interesting strategically, but it's hard to see how games would work if many or most of the kingdom cards were one-shots. This put in my head the idea of a card that would allow you to recover your one-shots. Rather than another "sift through the trash pile for goodies" card, I envisioned a reaction that would work like a reverse Watchtower -- allowing you to gain cards that had just been trashed.

In order to make the card relevant, though, it has to do something else as well, and it probably needs to ensure that cards get trashed. This could mean one of three things: make it a trash-for-benefit card, make it a trashing attack, or make it a one-shot itself. All are interesting possibilities.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking that there should be a card that allows you to put gained cards directly into your hand, which also is a spin-off of Watchtower. The common connection to Watchtower led me to combine the two ideas as follows:

In plain English the card can react to three different events: (1) if a card from your deck was just trashed, you may gain it (to your discard pile); (2) if you just gained a card, you may move it to your deck; and (3) if you just placed a card on your deck, you may place it in your hand. Obviously in order to keep a trashed one-shot from coming right back into your hand, this card would have to use a reveal-and-discard mechanic.

Notice that this reaction would not allow you to trash incoming curses, so in that respect Watchtower still has a unique function. But it would allow you to snatch back the Colony that just got Sabotaged (you also get to gain a Platinum, because your Colony was in fact trashed, but the Plat can't go on top of your deck if you intend to save your Colony).

If that's all the card does though, then it only serves as a half-watchtower in games without certain trashers or top-decking potential. But I'm already worried that there is no sufficiently concise way to word the reaction component. Also, this card could be terribly confusing with Possession, could make Forge, the Remodel family, and trash-for-benefit cards very powerful, and would completely nerf Saboteur.

As for the name, I'm inclined to go with Magician, as it connotes both bringing the "dead" back to life and sleight of hand with cards. I would welcome any thought on cost, whether an action is necessary and what it should be (I like the idea of a card that is simply a reaction, if it is worth buying), and any other potential problems I may have overlooked (I'm sure there are many).

Variants and Fan Cards / New Gainer
« on: March 20, 2012, 01:47:13 am »
Action ($5)
+1 Action
"Discard any number of treasure cards from your hand. You may buy an action card from the supply costing up to the value of the discarded treasures, putting it into your hand."

This is similar to Black Market, in that it allows you a mini-buy phase (of sorts) during your action phase, although the available cards are those in the supply. It's also a unique mechanism for buying the cards, since you can conceivably discard treasures and then draw them right back to play them. It had to be non-terminal since the whole point is the ability to gain an action card and immediately play it. Like University, this only gains Action cards, so it's best for building an engine. But since the range of cards you can gain with this depends on the value of the treasure in your hand, this card gets stronger once you already have a working engine.

What do ya think?

Dominion Articles / Request: Saboteur
« on: March 16, 2012, 02:44:51 pm »
Saboteur looks so big and scary to new Dominion players, and is largely ignored by most experienced players. One fairly well-known exception to this is an engine that can play Saboteur multiple times on every turn (King's Court being the most effective way to do this). But is that really the limit of Saboteur's usefulness? I'd love to see a full-blown article exploring circumstances in which Saboteur is worth the investment.

I don't consider myself an expert on Saboteur (or anything else Dominion-related, for that matter), but I think I am more open to its possible upsides than many experienced players. I can recall many times I have won a game with Saboteur only to be told by my higher-ranked opponent how foolish I was for buying one.

So to get the ball rolling, here's my two cents on Saboteur: Unless you can play it multiple times each turn, it's not going to be a very effective tool for grinding down the general strength (or VP value) of the opponent's deck. Saboteur is just not worth it in BM games.

But Saboteur can be effective against single-card engines. In a Minion game with at least decent trashing, a single Saboteur as your terminal action can be very effective, because your opponent only has to lose one or two Minions for his deck to tank. Without a sufficient number of Minions, the deck loses its ability to cycle and can't reach $8 for Provinces. Even with four Minions your opponent likely will have to revert to a BM strategy halfway through the game, and the odds are against him. Throw in the fact that you may get lucky and reduce his VP total, and the Saboteur becomes a good investment. The only downside (other than the opportunity cost of the Sab), is the chance that you will take out a few silvers and thereby increase the opponent's Minion concentration. But most Minion decks, once they start greening, will eventually reach a point where silvers are necessary to reach $8. If your opponent has a couple Provinces and can no longer reach $8, he has to decide whether to re-build his deck or to settle for Duchies. Either way, the Saboteur probably has bought you enough time to make up for the cost of buying it and carrying it in your deck.

I think a similar argument can be made for Saboteur in Hunting Party games (which, by the way, are near the top of my boring strategies list). If your opponent has followed the standard "1 Gold, 1-2 Silvers, 1 Terminal silver, infinite HPs" formula, his deck is vulnerable to Sab for two reasons: first, his deck is relying heavily on a single card, and removing one or more of those cards from his deck will really hurt (unlike turning a gold into a silver in BM games). Second, his deck is intentionally thin on cards that cost $3 or more, and very thick on the target card, which improves your odds of delivering the fatal blow.

Are there other situations where Saboteur is effective? Disagree with everything I've written here (as my last Saboteur victim did)? Write the article!   :D

Game Reports / Monument/IGG vs. Chapel/Lighthouse/Peddler/Trade Route
« on: March 08, 2012, 04:07:02 pm »
So if anyone needs a ranking boost, go ahead and play me a few times. I am on a definite cannot-win streak. Anyway, here's another game I thought should have been a win:

One consolation is that the opponent is top notch, so losing isn't too depressing. But I still think my strategy was superior. Any comments from the experts out there?

My monuments collided three times, which seemed more than average for a deck with two non-drawing terminals and no trashing. Despite the collisions, I can't help thinking that a third Monument might have been an improvement, as his cycling allowed his single Monument to nearly keep pace with my pair.

Also I was able to buy four Provinces after the IGGs were gone, but had a really hard time getting to $5 for Duchies otherwise. Isn't an IGG deck supposed to be pretty consistent in picking up Duchies for the three-pile? Should I have gained coppers other than when it was necessary to reach $5 or $8?

And of course I was second player, so perhaps there is some solace in that, although my next turn would again have produced only $4.

Game Reports / A real heartbreaker...
« on: March 08, 2012, 01:16:15 am »
So I rarely go for alternate VP strategies, and I'm sure I played this sub-optimally, but I really should have had this one:

My opponent goes for Colonies, while I buy up most of the Silk Roads, Gardens and Estates. It took longer than I expected for me to empty the piles, as a result of which my opponent was able to grab several colonies. With two estates left I pull up $2 with a Tactician. My tactician turns usually netted me 2-3 victory cards, so I figured it was worth the wait. Big mistake. My opponent wisely buys the two remaining estates on his next turn to end the game up 7 VP. The real heartbreaker is that a single additional victory card would have put me from 23 victory cards to 24, and from 49 total cards to 50. With 7 Silk Roads and 6 Gardens, that estate could have netted me 14 points! It was a bad night and I lost a lot of games I should have won (looking at you WW!), but this one really took the wind out of me. Anyone else have an impenetrable barrier at level 39?

Variants and Fan Cards / Would you pay $6 for this card?
« on: March 07, 2012, 03:22:37 pm »
Artisans' Guild
+1 Card
"Choose One:
     +2 Actions
     +1 Card, +1 Action
     +2 Cards"

The card can be a Village, a Smithy, or a Laboratory. Because it lets you choose based on what you need at the time, and because it draws one card before it makes you choose, it is strictly superior to any of those three, which suggests that it should cost at least $6. It is stronger than Nobles, but doesn't provide VP. It seems underpowered at $7, although throwing in a coin bonus could fix that.

I'm pretty sure that all of my other card ideas have been attacks, so this was my attempt to go in a different direction. As for the name, I was going for some type of village where you might find a Laboratory or a Smithy. No intent to rip off the forthcoming expansion.

Dominion General Discussion / Golem + Scheme + Chancellor + Stash
« on: March 06, 2012, 02:18:26 pm »
Okay, so I know four-card combos are not really worth studying in depth - especially when each of the four components is unique and irreplaceable for its function, but this one is still pretty fun.

Every turn you play Golem, which then plays Scheme and Chancellor (in that order!). You buy a Province, reshuffle your deck with three Stashes on top, and then replace your Golem with Scheme. Rinse and repeat. Once you get the combo set up, its a guaranteed* Province every turn. In a solitaire game I got 4 Provinces in 11 turns, and all 8 Provinces in 16** turns.

*Any discard attack will of course mess this up completely.
**The extra turn came about because on one turn I accidentally played Chancellor first, then Scheme, which made my stashes miss the reshuffle. But even with this mistake all it took was a single play of Golem to get the deck back in order.

The neat thing about this combo is that it avoids*** the one downfall of Scheme/Golem combos. Normally it's a problem if you draw your Golem with your action cards in hand, since then you can't play both actions and return Golem to your deck. But if you have Golem in hand plus three Stashes, then there is only room in your hand for one other card. If that card is Chancellor, then you play Golem, which then plays Scheme, giving you the action to play Chancellor. If the card is Scheme, then you play Scheme first, then Golem, which plays Chancellor.

***The only way the combo breaks down is if you have Golem, Scheme, Stash x3 in hand, and Chancellor is on top of your deck. You could avoid this very unlikely problem by buying a fourth Stash.

Here's the solitaire game where I tried this out:

Variants and Fan Cards / Lookout-style attack?
« on: February 26, 2012, 08:30:07 pm »
Okay, so this idea is not well-thought-out at all. Actually that's not true--I've thought about it a lot, but it seem irretrievably broken. So maybe this will up getting re-posted on the "Really Bad Card Ideas" discussion. But I have shot myself in the foot so many times with Lookout that I have at times wished a Lookout on my opponent.

In theory you could have a card that forces other players to reveal and then trash/discard/replace the three top cards on their deck. But that seems both too harsh (if "trash the top card of your deck" attacks are out of bounds, then only getting to pick which one card out of three to trash might still be too brutal) and yet too weak (people do, after all, pay $3 for the chance to do this to their own decks).

So a possible fix to both problems might be to affect the other players' hands instead of their decks. It would be a combo Militia/Ghost Ship (discard one, put one back on your deck), plus a trash one card out of five attack. But that again seems both too harsh (no other single attack can reduce other players' handsize to two) and too weak (discard one and put one back on deck is probably less frustrating than either discard two or put two back on deck).

To fix the too-harsh problem, we could perhaps take a lesson from Margrave and first have the other players draw a card, then trash/discard/replace. That leaves the other players with a handsize of three, and makes the trashing attack a one-out-of-six choice, which is probably tame enough. But is the attack now much too weak? You basically leave the other players with a best-three-out-of-six hand, with the opportunity to (1) trash an unwanted card (2) pass a victory card safely through to the discard pile, and (3) put a desired card back on the deck. How do you price an attack which most of the time is welcomed by the victims but has an even worse potential downside than Saboteur?

So then I thought I could ramp up the attack by adding "every other player gains a curse." Now the attack seems to do a little bit of everything (it's like Jack of All Trades turned to the Dark Side). The only problem is, how effective is a curse-dealing attack that also gives other players the opportunity to trash on out of six cards from their decks? Seems like this attack will cleanse other players' decks at the same pace it tries to fill them with junk.

Then I realized another major problem for this card: what happens if you first play a Militia, or in multi-player if someone else has played one? If a person already had a three-card hand, should this attack leave them with a one-card hand?

Anyway, I like the idea for this card, but it just has so many problems. Anyone out there got a solution?

Game Reports / Oracle vs. Envoy BM
« on: February 20, 2012, 08:01:18 pm »
My opponent opened Envoy/Silver, so I tried Oracle/Silver with a second Oracle soon after.

Envoy obviously draws more, which can lead to early Gold, but it also allows the opponent to nerf the best card you draw, which can start to hurt toward the end when you draw more than one green. But even if your best cards are getting discarded, Envoy still cycles through your deck like mad, which in general helps you ramp up quickly to $8 hands.

Oracle is in some sense the opposite of Envoy. It only draws two cards, but at times allows you to avoid drawing bad cards. It also allows you to - again - keep your opponent's best cards out of his hand. And while Envoy's huge draw creates a significant threat of collision if you buy more than one, Oracle's built-in defense against collisions allows you to buy more than one.

So my thought was that multiple Oracles should match up to a single Envoy in terms of draw power, and the fact that both my Oracles and his Envoy give me opportunities to interfere with his drawing should give me the edge.

Here's the log:

As it turned out, Oracle's "check first" ability was very useful, as I more than once discarded two green cards. Even more significant was the fact that I actually discarded his Envoy more than once, which really slowed him down.

So did I get lucky, or does Oracle have the edge over Envoy?

Rules Questions / Horse Traders + Margrave
« on: February 09, 2012, 12:51:32 am »
Just played a game on Isotropic with Margrave and Horse Traders. A few times I would reveal a HT in response to my opponent's Margrave, set it aside, and then draw another HT. My initial expectation was that I would be able to reveal the second HT as well, since we were still resolving the attack (kinda like how you can reveal a Chapel that you have pulled into your hand with Secret Chamber). But that's not how it works on Isotropic, and I guess it makes sense since the moment "when another player plays an attack card" has passed, but I find these temporal mechanics confusing. Donald, can you confirm that Isotropic has implemented the rule correctly? I promise not to start any more fights over the timing of reaction cards!  :P

Dominion General Discussion / Open with Rabble on 5/2?
« on: January 27, 2012, 12:18:46 am »
So maybe this should go in game reports, since a particular game gave rise to the question, but I just wanted to get people's thoughts on this. I'm not a big fan of Rabble, and so I sometimes lose by not buying it when I should. But I know that Rabble gets stronger toward the end game (more green cards in your opponent's deck), so even when I do buy Rabble I tend to wait. But say it's a board where you might otherwise open with a Smithy. If you get $5/$2, do you go for the Rabble right off the bat? Seems to me like Rabble will on average be a net benefit to the opponent because you cycle his coppers out and his silvers and other stronger cards up a turn or so.


By the way, I did not open Rabble but bought a few later on. It was generally a money-heavy game. I won, but it was close. My opponent, who has been named a few times in the "Decline of Civility on Isotropic" discussion, told me in a few blunt words just what he thought of my decision to pass on Rabble in my opening. So did I just get lucky? Or did I win for a reason? [Sorry - this really did morph into a game report post].

Game Reports / The perfect kingdom for Ill-gotten Gains?
« on: October 23, 2011, 08:10:12 pm »
Yes - there is one.

I have to admit I was underwhelmed when IGG was revealed. Why would I waste a $5 buy on a copper, just to give the other guy a curse? Oh, I also get the ability to add - more copper - to my deck? No thank you.

Now I don't claim that this setup was the only circumstance in which IGG is worth it (I got beat rather thoroughly by an IGG/Apprentice strategy), but in this game I think IGG was the dominant strategy (I'll post the Councilroom link once its available).

Key characteristics of the Kingdom:
- Trashing for treasure cards, but for nothing else (Mint)
- Significant VP available for $5 hands (Duke)
- It also helped that I started $5/$2, so I could add a curse to my opponent's deck before his first reshuffle.    ;D

Here's how it played out:
- After opening IGG/- (should have been IGG/copper), I bought nothing but IGGs if I had $5+ or silvers otherwise. I handed out 8 curses this way, and fairly quickly.
- My initial plan was to dish out as many curses as I could, even at the expense of taking extra coppers if necessary, and then to quickly thin down with Mint (perhaps an early Mint would also have let me dish out curses faster).
- Then I realized that a theoretical deck with an infinite amount of copper would be fairly competitive at a Duke/Duchy race, especially if the opponent was bogged down in curses, so I used IGG's gain-copper ability every time I could. I wasn't diluting my deck, I was actually pushing it closer to the $1/card average I needed (it might actually have been higher at some points given the IGGs and a few silvers.
- At one point my opponent bought a Duchy, and fearing to lose the Duke/Duchy race I left the last two IGGs and plowed into the Duchy pile. Then the Duke pile. A couple times I had enough IGGs in my hand at one time to buy a Province with the extra coppers.

As I had planned, my deck was very reliable at getting one Duke or Duchy every turn. This Kingdom was very conducive to this type of slow-and-steady "tortoise" strategy. A different kingdom might have made a massive-final-turn "hare" strategy more feasible.

Of course I didn't play the strategy optimally - heck, I didn't even see it until a few turns in. And my opponent made a few misplays (usually trashing five coppers by buying Mint is a strong move, but not if the majority of your remaining deck at that point is curses).

I also wonder what other Kingdom would be similarly conducive to an IGG strategy. I never used Mint, but maybe I should have. Moneylender would be an alternate coin-only trasher. And I think Gardens may have been even stronger than Duke/Duchy (I very-nearly emptied the copper pile).


Variants and Fan Cards / Idea for a New Dynamic
« on: September 09, 2011, 01:37:15 am »
I've got an idea. I think it could be a new dynamic (entirely new card type), but I can also see using the same idea within the confines of existing card types, or possibly even within a single new card. Clearly my thoughts are still a bit muddled, so any feedback would be appreciated.

Here goes. Imagine a card that you play down on this turn (with some immediate effect), but which stays in play in front of you for as long as you want (even past multiple future turns). At any point in the future you can choose to clean up the card to gain some latent effect. As a simple example, a card called "Crack for Action-chain Addicts" might give +1 card and +1 action now, and then on any future turn you could clean up the card for an additional +1 action. Don't ask me about costs - the idea isn't that developed yet.

Now some of you might be thinking "that's just a variation on Duration cards!" I agree to some extent. You could simply call these Duration cards where the secondary effect and cleanup occur not necessarily on the next turn, but rather on any future turn. That may sound not-too-exciting, but just that little bit of freedom in how you play the card could have incredible combo potential. For instance, we all know that you can't (productively) Throne Room a Tactician. But what if you had a "Duration+" card that gave you +1 card at any time--including right in the middle of your turn? Play Throne Room, Tactician, discard your hand, cleanup the Duration+ card, draw one card, then discard it. You have successfully Throne Room-ed a Tactician.

But we can go even beyond that. Why limit the card to being used only during your turn? Have an incredible hand thats about to be demolished by a Torturer chain? Think your top card could be your Moat? Clean up your Duration+ card in the middle of your opponent's turn and hopefully stop his Torturers in their tracks. Of course, there could be potential for abuse (and outright chaos) if there were any Attack-Duration+ cards. Imagine cleaning up your Militia-type card right after your opponent has drawn his whole deck. Not nice.

Two more thoughts on this: first, we could combine the latent-effect idea with Donald's interest in one-shot cards. If the latent effect of these cards was strong enough, they might be worth buying, playing, and waiting for that one opportune moment to trash them for a benefit that could win you the game. Very swingy, which always bothers the rank-chasers on isotropic, but lots of fun for those of us who remember this is just a game.

Second, we could encapsulate most of this concept with a single new card: the Ultra-Haven. Rather than putting aside a card face-down to draw immediately next turn, place a card aside face-up for use at any time in the future. Now every card in the supply could be held in waiting for a time when its effect is desperately needed. Biggest drawback to this approach would be having to choose between the "play even during an opponent's turn" idea and the possibility of a latent attack, because you don't want both.

Anyway, there's the idea. Let me know what you think, what ideas you have for particular cards, and what cool name we could use for the concept (hopefully something sexier than "latent").

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