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Dominion Articles / Another Puzzle
« on: February 25, 2018, 05:04:18 pm »
Here's another puzzle:
Win a solo game on turn 8 on the board shown below.

How to load the game (1-player):
1. New table
2. Set min and max players to 1
3. Create table
4. Advanced options->load game 12023791, decision 0
5. Play game

It's possible to peek at the solution I found by loading at the last decision point.


Simulation / Testing Big Money Ultimate
« on: December 05, 2017, 02:47:25 am »
Bots are often benchmarked against Big Money Ultimate (BMU), and I'm interested in how BMU performs in ladder matches.

In an initial set of 10 games, the strategy went 1.5-8.5. Attacks hurt a lot, but around half of the games were close.

To get reasonable statistics, I'd like to play around 100 games total. If you'd like to pitch in a few games, shoot me a message me on discord.

For reference, the BMU buy rules are:
- DUCHY when provinces left <= 5
- ESTATE when provinces left <= 2

Game Reports / 2017 Dominion Online Championship Finals Recap
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:21:41 pm »
Crossposted from:

The 2017 Dominion Online Championships were quite an exciting tournament. With a turnout of 389 players, it was the biggest dominion tournament ever, as well as the debut of new tournament-friendly features on the new dominion client.

To make it far in a tournament, you have to play well. Some games are one from clever plays on both sides. But some games are also decided by P1 advantage and shuffle luck. You need a little luck at precisely the right time, and boy did that happen here.

In the semifinals, I was down 1-3 against jsh357, then won a couple of engine games to force a game 7. I thinned down with Donate, built up a Plaza/Witch engine, and won the Plaza split, partially at least, due to P1 advantage.

Then in the finals, I was down 1-3 against Mercury444F, then won a couple of engine games to force a game 7. I thinned down with Remake/Bonfire, built up a Plaza/Witch engine, and won the Plaza split, partially at least, due to P1 advantage.

Recording of my matches (including the finals) are up on youtube here:

A big thanks to Shuffle IT for hosting the tournament. Another big thanks goes out to the moderation team -  drsteelhammer, assemble_me, Deadlock39 and irrationalE.

And finally, a big thanks to the community for coming out and competing, spectating and discussing. It was great to see so many people excited about competitive dominion come together for this event.

See you next year!
-Dan Brooks

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Nocturne has been released, go buy it!
« on: November 16, 2017, 11:43:55 am »
If you already have a gold subscription, Nocturne is something like 50 cents/month.

Enjoy! Also, Den of Sin is great!

Dominion Articles / What to Wish For?
« on: November 04, 2017, 10:11:33 pm »
What to Wish For?

Consider the following situation. You have N Mystic plays and need an extra $1 to win the game. Your deck consists of Coppers and Estates.

1. Suppose you have only N=1 Mystics. What do you name?
You name Copper. Hitting Estate doesn't help you hit $8.

2. Now suppose N=2. What do you name?
Name Estate first. You now also win if the top of the deck is Estate-Copper

3. Now suppose N=3. What do you name?
Name Estate first. If you hit, name Estate again. You now win if the top of the deck is Estate-Estate-Copper.

Of course, if at any point, you know the top card of your deck is a Copper, draw it and win.

General Strategy
If you are digging for a specific card:
1. Spend your first guesses on the most likely "blocking" card. This helps you dig deeper into the deck
2. Spend your last guess on the card you want to find. This maximizes your chances of finding the card that you need.

Dominion Videos and Streams / Dan Brooks Dominion
« on: September 28, 2017, 05:49:01 am »
So I finally got around to making a youtube channel - subscribe to catch every update!

Dominion Articles / Public Service Announcement: Mandarin/Capital
« on: September 25, 2017, 08:26:59 pm »
The Mandarin/Capital Combo
By: Dan Brooks

Mandarin/Capital is an underappreciated combo, capable of multi-Province turns and reliable sustained greening.

The Mechanics:
Capital generates debt when it is discarded from play. If a Capital is topdecked to Mandarin's on-gain ability, it is not "discarded", so no debt is incurred.

The build path is broken down into three distinct stages.

1. Buy Capitals
The goal of this stage is to buy at least 3 Capitals, taking them on every $5+ hand. Terminal draw, sifting, and sometimes light trashing can be helpful, but don't build up like traditional engines - just buy Capitals.

2. Line up the Capitals
Once you have a few Capitals in your deck, buy Mandarins to continuously topdeck the Capitals you draw. As you sift your deck, you'll eventually have all of them in hand.

3. Greening
If multiple Capitals are in play, it's usually correct to buy green cards. Two Capitals + Copper can buy Mandarin + Province and Three Capitals + Silver + Copper can pick up Mandarin + 2 Provinces or Mandarin + Colony + Duchy.

The Mandarin Pile:
In a non-mirror, the deck picks up around 50-60 VP and empties the Province pile around turn 12-13 with a few Mandarins left in supply.

When mirrored, the Mandarin pile sometime runs out before greening is finished. Continue taking Provinces and close out the game with moneyish play. When there are two Mandarins left in supply, it's usually best to take both to deny one from your opponent.

Sample Game:

Words of Warning:
The Mandarin-Capital combo is resilient to most attacks. It can power through junking attacks like Mountebank and Cultist. Handsize attacks simply limit the number of Capitals topdecked.

Watch out for Minion and Possession, however, as they can disrupt your Capital investments ;)

Other Mandarin Golden Decks:

It is also possible to build a Mandarin golden deck without capital. The idea is to use a treasure generate an additional gain and to pick up Mandarin + a Victory card every turn.

Some of the more common examples are:

Horn of Plenty + Copper + Silver + Gold + Platinum -> Mandarin + Colony
Horn of Plenty + Copper + Silver + Gold + Treasure -> Mandarin + Province
Counterfeit + 4 Gold -> Mandarin + Province
Fortune + Treasure -> Mandarin + Province
Counterfeit + Potion + Treasure -> Mandarin + Vineyard

Most of the time, these Capital-less decks will be outclassed by multi-Province engines or outpaced by traditional money decks, but have applications on junk heavy boards, where a Province a turn can be winning.

Game Reports / Monoset #2 Finals - A Tournament Report
« on: February 26, 2017, 07:53:27 pm »
Monoset Tournament #2 Finals Tournament Report

I had a chance to play some really interesting games in the finals of the tournament, and didn't have a chance to record them, so I decided to write up a tournament report instead.

First, on the format. Each match is played best of 7 and there are a total of 9 sets that can be chosen from. Players take turns choosing sets, which the player who chose the set starting second. Since you get to play most of the sets anyways, it makes sense to choose the sets that you would like to play second on. Particularly early in the match, this encourages choosing sets that lead to longer games like Prosperity and Dark Ages. Empires is also an excellent choice if you can dodge Donate, a skill that I most certainly do not have.

Game 1 - Prosperity - Game #1537499

I choose to start with Prosperity, following the choice Markus had made in the last few rounds.

The board:
Loan, Monument, Quarry, City, Counting House, Mountebank, Vault, Expand, King's Court, Peddler, Colonies/Platinum

After a couple of Counting House jokes, the game gets underway. The board is a pretty typical Mountebank/King's Court board with only light trashing in Loan and Expand. The goal is to Mountebank more than you get Mountebanked and keep a high action-to treasure count to facilitate Loan and King's Court. Markus and I both open Loan/Quarry and then things quickly go south for me. I hit 7 and, with no targets to King's Court, pick up an Expand, which promptly collides with 2 Mountebanks. I do get off the first King's Court + Mountebank play, but Markus makes a smart early switch to Cities and I'm never really in it. He picks up a Colony and 4 Provinces to my Duchy before piling.

Markus leads 1-0

Game 2 - Adventures - Game #1537902

Markus chooses to start with Adventures for the second game, one of the higher power-level sets in the pool.

The board:
Ratcatcher, Guide, Miser, Giant, Haunted Woods, Lost City, Relic, Swamp Hag, Wine Merchant, Hireling, Events: Alms, Ferry

Playing Adventures boards like remind me of my roommate coming back from a summer spent playing Adventures-only dominion and crushing me over and over again on 4-event boards. Since they don't take up a slot in your deck, events are some of the most powerful effects in dominion, and Ferry, in particular, is one of the trickiest to play with, as it opens up a plethora of options for building.

Looking at the board, there are a bunch of attacks (Giant especially), that discourage taking on dead green too early. Other than that, Alms discourages playing with treasure, Lost City is the only Village, and Wine Merchant is the only gaining.

Miser plays really well with Alms. I end up opening Miser/Ratcatcher into a second Miser and ferry on Lost City. I get a little nervous when Markus opens Ferry on Hireling into 2 Hirelings and a Wine Merchant. My deck ends up coming together nicely as 4 Lost City, 2 Misers (7 coins),1 Ratcher and 3 Wine Merchants, and I end up hitting 26 a couple of turns in a row.

Series tied 1-1

Game 3 - Dark Ages - Game #1538456

I choose my favorite set for game 3, Dark Ages.

Storeroom, Urchin, Ironmonger, Procession, Scavenger, Band of Misfits, Cultist, Graverobber, Pillage, Rebuild

I start out trying to figure out if there's a good way to go infinite with Procession, Graverobber, Band of Misfits, and Cultist (hint: there's not!). What I do realize is that Graverobber is quite good for greening and gaining.

Markus gets off to a solid start by colliding his Urchins and quickly heading into three Cultists. I mess around with Procession tricks a bit, but I'm never really in it. I resign as Markus takes a 4-0 province lead.

Markus leads 2-1

Game 4 - Empires - Game #1538848

The board:
Engineer, Royal Blacksmith, Encampment, Settlers, Chariot Race, Enchantress, Castles, Archive, Forum, Legionary, Events: Annex, Conquest

There's no trashing, which encourages playing with an Archive stack. To that end, I open Silver/Enchantress, which promptly hits Markus's Engineer. I pick up an Engineer and an Archive, followed by a Gold and a rush on the Encampment pile. Around this time, I realize that the board is single buy, which leads to a lot of unplanned Forum + cheaper card buys to make use of coins.

We end up playing a long, mirror with turns consisting of playing a few Encampments, Enchantresses, Forums, Settlers, and Chariot Races before gaining a card with Engineer and buying an expensive card. Eventually, Markus broke parity by trashing his Engineer to gain Humble Caste and Crumbling Castle and buying Small Castle, which let him progress up the castle chain. Now with the Engineer advantage, I lowered the Enchantress pile to threaten a pileout and Markus responded by returning Encampments to supply. The extra Encampments added to the reliability of my deck and I eventually squeaked out a 1 point win by trashing Engineer.

Series tied 2-2

Game 5 - Seaside - Game #1540218

After a quick break, I choose Seaside for game 5, hoping for a technical Ambassador board. The randomizer delivered.

The board:
Embargo, Pearl Diver, Ambassador, Lookout, Cutpurse, Pirate Ship, Salvager, Sea Hag, Treasure Map, Wharf

The biggest constraint on this board is terminal space. You want Ambassador to trash early, Treasure Maps to connect for Money, and Wharf/Salvager later in the game for buying power. That's a decent number of terminals and there's not too much space for much else.

We both open Ambassador/Lookout, pick up a Silver, and smoothly trash down to smallish decks. We both connect maps at around the same time, and Markus picks up a couple of Wharves, while I play a thinner Pearl Diver/Salvager variant. The Province pile starts to run, and Markus takes the second-to-last Province for an 8 point lead.

I need exactly Salvager + 3 Gold + a non-green card in hand to win. Of course, sometimes you just run well.

Dan leads series 3-2.

Game 6 - Base - Game #1540671

Markus elected to play base set for the sixth game, a format I have a lot of experience with from my WeedGoku days.

The board:
Cellar, Moat, Merchant, Remodel, Smithy, Throne Room, Bandit, Council Room, Sentry, Witch

There's a complicated engine and Sentry, arguably the best early-game trasher in dominion. I get a lucky 5/2 and open Cellar/Sentry. Turns 3, 4, 5 and 6, I play Sentry and trash two of my starting Copper/Estates. I pick up a bunch of Throne Rooms and on turn 8, I get gaining online from Bandit. A few turns later, as I start remodeling Gold into Witches and other engine components, Markus resigns.

Result 4-2 Dan

I have to say, I'm quite excited to win the tournament. I made a number of mistakes in earlier rounds, but thought I played the finals fairly well. Big shout outs to the nice players and awesome community that made this tournament a lot of fun!

Feedback / Username change?
« on: January 06, 2017, 03:04:11 pm »
How do I go about changing my username? For consistency, I'd like it to be "Dan Brooks" on f.ds


Dominion Articles / Twenty Questions
« on: September 10, 2016, 11:12:20 pm »
For a while now, I've been meaning to expand on my first article
and expand on the sections about building up and staying thin

What I found was that Dominion is full of corner cases. While cards like Mountebank and Ambassador are great most of the time, there are specific situations where it's correct to skip them. How do you identify these situations, well, you need to be asking the right questions

I've compiled a list of twenty questions that covers everything from openings to endgame control. Hopefully you find these useful. Enjoy!

Dominion Articles / Dominion Fundamentals
« on: June 17, 2016, 07:59:13 pm »
Dominion Fundamentals
By: Dan Brooks

There are a lot of great articles on f.ds and I've been meaning to write one for a while now. The focus is less on particular card interactions and more on developing, selecting, and evaluating plans. This is followed by some practical tips on deck tracking and learning from previous games. I hope that you enjoy the read!

Have a Plan
First and foremost, have a plan.

As a simple example, consider a board with Hunting Party and terminal actions. Here, you might open Militia/Silver, pick up a bunch of Hunting Parties and a Gold before hammering the Provinces.

This type of deck only wants one terminal and the choice of terminal might depend on how the game plays out. Facing a library opening, for example, Monument might be better than Militia.

Selecting a Plan
There are many possible plans for each board of Dominion. Sometimes one plan is clearly stronger than the others, and some cards are strong enough that they will work themselves into whatever plan you elect to play.

Even in these games, marginal decisions arise on how to open, which cards to buy, and when to start greening. For these spots, I propose the following principle:

When in doubt, maximize payload

Loosely defined, payload is anything that your deck does. This includes +coins, +buys, gains, attacks and durations, with draw and +actions as enablers.

There are a multitude of benefits from adding payload.

High payload decks grow exponentially and can rapidly adapt their buys to the current state of the game. Going into the endgame, they have pile control and threaten to pick up a large number of points in a single turn.

The fewer players in a game, the more important endgame control becomes. So, in two player games, playing a high payload deck is especially critical.

Building the Engine

Draw as much of your deck as possible

First, take a look at the board and identify the most powerful actions. In the early game, trashing and junking are particularly important.

Consider the most expensive action that you would like to pick up. Build the thinnest deck that can reliably purchase that action, picking up a Silver if necessary.

When in doubt, favor the actions that were votest strongest by the Qvist rankings:

After you've purchased a powerful action or two, draw as much as your deck as possible. The traditional method for doing this is trashing aggressively. Going straight for draw can also be viable, particularly powerful draw like Wharf or Lost Arts/Smithy.

In any case, maximize the fraction of the deck that you see each turn. Often this means cycling through the deck while minimizing stop cards. Warehouse, for example, gets you three cards closer to the relevant actions, whereas a silver leaves you one card farther.

Then, grow exponentially

Once you are able to draw deck, continue to add payload - coins, buys, gains, attacks, along with the necessary draw, until you reach the endgame.

The Endgame
The goal of dominion is to end the game, either by emptying provinces or piles, while you have a point lead.

Payload helps greatly with pile control, so it's generally desirable to build for as long as possible before greening.

Piles running low (or the VP pile running low!) are generally triggers to start thinking about greening.

The key questions are:
1. Can I win this turn?
2. How do I prevent my opponent from winning next turn?
3. Can I threaten a win for next turn?
4. How do I best set up for future turns?

Deck Tracking
Making good decisions, particularly during the endgame is contigent on having clear information.

The simplest method for deck tracking is to note changes to your deck, then use the supply and trash to keep track of your opponent's.

For example, "this will be my second village, there are 7 in supply and none in the trash, so my opponent must have 1."

With a little bit of practice, you can use this method to count coins and buys in the end-game, as well as tracking deck composition to fine tune the building phase.

On Money
In additional to draw-the-deck engines, dominion features money decks, which aim to hit 8 to buy provinces, and slog decks which aim to buy alt-VP over an extended number of turns.

On some boards, these decks have favorable matchups against engine. For example, on a board without +buy, a money strategy might be able to outrace engine on provinces. And if strong alt-VP like Duke is on the board, a slog might outlast the money deck.

However, on boards with trashing, draw, alt-VP, and attacks, engine has a lot of options against money. Commonly, the engine builds as the money deck picks up a few provinces. Then, the engine adds a few attacks as the money deck stalls on green. Finally, the engine dips into alt-VP to generate points in a few swoops before ending the game on piles with a small point lead.

For this reason, draw-your-deck engines tend to have favorable matchups against money, unless a key component is missing. Sometimes this means there's not enough trashing to build a consistent engine. Other times, a village might be missing or terminal draw.

When selecting a strategy, first look for the highest payload deck. Then, look for decks that might compete with it

After the Game

Postmatch discussion is a great way to learn about the game. Consider questions such as:
-What was my plan?
-What as my opponent's?
-How were they executed?
-Any surprises during the game
-How would I play the board next time?

Game logs are are also a great resource for review, and are available at

Win or lose, maintaining a positive attitude can help keep you interested and engaged after the game

The same goes for interacting with great community over at f.ds

Thanks for reading! I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on dominion fundamentals.

Tournaments and Events / Online Tournament - Reddit
« on: May 02, 2016, 02:21:19 pm »
Sign ups for the Reddit tournament are now live:

There's a focus on commentary for matches of all levels. If you are looking to play more dominion, check it out!

Dominion General Discussion / Bracket of Favorite Brackets
« on: April 11, 2016, 05:52:53 pm »
Finally, there's a bracket for voting on other brackets. It'll be a racket!

I'm going to bend the rules a little bit to give this bracket the #1 seed. Feel free to write in votes for other brackets, like the NCAA bracket, "{}", "[]", and "()"

1 Bracket of Best Brackets
8 Scout Combo Bracket

2 Basic Treasure Bracket
7 Peddler Variant Bracket

3 Action-Reaction Bracket
6 Peddler Variant Bracket

4 Alt-VP Bracket
5 Terminal Draw Bracket

Game Reports / Scout + 9 Green Cards
« on: February 25, 2016, 05:37:32 pm »

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