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Dominion General Discussion / Bye
« on: February 16, 2016, 03:09:40 pm »
First, I understand why the reaction has largely been as it has been. Saying "I've been wronged" is probably not going to get you very far without more details. Probably at best you can hope for "uh, ok, I'm sorry about that". In order to do something, people are going to want more concrete reasons and examples. Moving on.

On the one hand, you're never going to see Novak Djokovic saying "I don't want McEnroe commentating my match" and getting anywhere. It just won't happen. And the same is true in basically every other sport.

On the other hand, this is mostly because the organizers sell the broadcast rights, and that's the money that gets used to pay the players. Such a thing doesn't exist in Dominion. There's no money. So it comes down to, to braodcast, you need access (since there isn't a watcher mode). You aren't going to get that access without the players agreeing. So you have to choose, do I go with this person or that. Well it's not a surprise who they picked given that they're PO'd at Adam for some reason. To be fair to them, choosing the other way isn't really better, for one incident at least. You do need to worry about precedent.

So, I don't really care about who commentates the Champion Match. Thankfully, that's not really what this topic is about, I don't think. I mean, clearly Adam is somewhat upset about being left out in the cold there, and I guess that is pretty understandable. But apart from not caring, "We got SCSN and Donald" is, from an objective standpoint, not something you can quibble with a lot. I mean, I have said multiple times I think Adam is hte best Dominion streamer, and I also think that a Champion match is not where I would choose to have Donald being broadcast, but on the other hand, Donald being broadcast at all is great, I am not going to complain about that.

But hooray, the topic is not really about that, which if you go reread the first few posts, it wasn't really? Though that has gotten dragged more and more in somehow. Anyway.

Apparently someone had a problem with Adam commentating. My thing is, did they ask the players (obviously Stef made the decision here, so it is really down to Mic) whether they were ok with this team before announcing it? If Mic was like "hey whoa guys, I don't want Donald commentating," would they have knocked him off and looked for someone else? I am going to doubt both of these things. Of course, I can't think of why Mic would have a problem with Donald commentating, but then again, I don't see why someone would have a problem with Adam commentating. That's not to say there couldn't be a reason, just that I wouldn't have seen one, the same as I wouldn't have for Donald.

To me though, the real issue we're talking about here is the title of the thread, "Accountability". At least when it comes to the league, Stef has to be accountable more or less only to himself.

I find it extremely ironic that Stef claims to be against personal insults and attacks on character, considering that this (along with the complete lack of accountability) is why I left the league. He claimed *in my own channel* that not only was I wrong about where my chances in a game stood (which would have been entirely fine, especially as I was indeed wrong), but it was to the extent that I was ethically doing something very wrong, in effect that I was purposefully trying to 'play' my opponent to get an advantage, despite not actually applying pressure to said opponent and said opponent having agreed to replay the game. After that was over, I took another look, realized I was more lost than I originally thought, and reported that I would like to take that as a loss rather than a replay. Despite this, it wasn't accepted or allowed to stand. Instead, there was a period of dead time where he considered applying some kind of additional punishment!

This is even more ironic now, given that Stef himself has all kinds of disconnection problems at a far higher rate than anyone else, and yet of course nothing is ever done about that. Indeed, the rules are loose and slack to let him get everything in, and everyone else bends their schedules to try to accomodate him. He also blames the client at every opportuinty despite it being exceedingly clear that it's at least not entirely the client's fault, since nobody else has the scale of problem he does, and a great many people have no or virtually no problems. Now I do think people should generally try to be accomodating, as I don't think he has much if any control over his disconnects, so I don't really have a problem with that. The part where I have a problem is that other people aren't given the same kind treatment. There are numerous examples of little prodding when people are behind on things, even by a very small amount.

But perhaps an easier example right now is a situation with mpsprs. They played... some number of their matches this season, and then they became inactive it seems. As far as I can tell, nobody knows why. But they haven't been on the forum in a bit over a month, what have you. At some point, Stef brings the subject of what to do about them up with their division moderator, and whle he says it's the moderator's decision, he feels there's only one thing that can be done (implying throwing the person in question (and I'm trying to not use gendered pronouns here) out of the league). I want to note at this point that mpsprs had played MORE matches than Stef for the season, because Stef was way behind (presumably due to his disconnection problems). This is a wholly inappropriate comment to be made by one of the direct competitors of the person in question, an indeed should not be in his place to bring up. But Stef runs things, so he did. And what are you going to do, disagree with him? Make a different decision? How did this person get to be a mod anyway? Stef stamped the approval. Now, I don't actually think that Stef is consciously thinking "I'm going to bully this person into getting things my way", but like most people, he has an inclination that he wants things to be done the way he wants them - and he doesn't hae a good sense of "this is not my place". On top of this, he questions whether or not mpsprs "threw" (lost on purpose) games in some number of games/matches before disappearing. I have not seen any justification which would make anyone think that this was the case (other than apparently a 6-0 score, which by the way would be enough to make it seem like many of Stef's own opponents are throwing him matches often). More importantly, that is a very CLEAR attack on character/person. Also in this exchange, there was some discussion on whether or not to include mpsprs's match results from up to that point in time. Stef suggests one position or another (I think it was to include them? I'm not 100% sure I'm remembering that part right though), making some claim about that being the rule based on number of matches completed. I looked it up. There is no such rule in the posted Rules and Regulations. And yes, I copied that whole thread this morning to have an archive copy, it hasn't been updated for many months and there's no rule about it now either. Now I want to say at this point that I don't think he was making the rule up to try to give himself an advantage - I noted at the time that the course of action he proposed would be slightly unfavorable to him, in fact. I would guess that it's what at some point he thought should be the rule, and so that's what he thinks the rule is. But rules aren't rules if you don't post them as such, and the big point here is that if you provide whatever the rule is whenever the situation comes up, you have no accountability. You, as a single person, yourself, are determining all the rules. One last thing on this situation: there was no public discussion of it. There are no posts in the forums of how it should be handled. There aren't even posts of how it WAS handled. How is a spectator/viewer/fan supposed to know the standings if you never actually post anything saying what's actually happening in a situation like that? how about that 6-0 match that isn't in the standings page, why was that not included? There's no public comments on this at all. It must have all been done in secret back rooms in private, where I would expect Stef to have been heavily involved in the decision-making process. How do I know about the situation? Because after I tabbed away from someone's stream around when it was finishing and let it sit open for a while, I tabbed back to find this big chunk of text there.

I don't think it's any surprise that Stef wins his own league with alarming regularity. And no, I don't think he's sitting there thinking "gee, what will make me most likely to win?" I think he makes rules which he thinks will be the most fun - but what's most fun for him tends to coincide pretty well with what gives him the best chance at winning. For sure the big part of it is that he's also a very very good player, you wouldn't get this far without that also being true.

The rules he makes are reasonable possibilities, in general, but certainly not the only possibilities, and at least in some players' opinions, not the best ones. I am not just talking about me, and I'm not just talking about Adam. I give an example: how are unfinished games dealt with? That any score which is not 1-0, .5-.5, or .75-.25 is not something which is agreed upon by other top players at all; notably, SCSN has expressed that he would like there to be more flexibility than that, but perhaps more notably, he didn't even know that wasn't impossible at some point, (becaues they aren't really announced or publicly discussed? I'm not actually sure about that, I wasn't around).

And that's the big point here. It's not "the Dominion League". It's Stef's. And there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. I know I certainly don't want to play in a league where one person has more or less all the power, but it's not an unreasonable thing per se. I do think it should be advertised though - people recommend it all the time as the first thing when joining the forums, and there really isn't any notice out there that it's Stef's project. It's presented more like it were a collaboration of the community as a whole. So I woudl change the name, and I would put a notice on the rules that he is the one who makes the decisions in cases not covered there. Now, I am sure people are going ot say, oh no, it's not just him, but I would dispute this. First of all, he gets choice on moderators who supposedly are ruling with him. He also tends to be the one who brings these topics up. And when he does so, it's often with an air of "I think this is the best, what should we do?" (Again, I find it ironic that he accuses Adam of doing this with his poll, considering that Adam didn't do anything to promote himself there beyond including himself on the poll, and indeed given that he had been the one commentating all the matches at that point, raising the question would serve to open, in the eyes of the community, MORE of a door for him to not be the one doing it, not less. It also provides another example of Stef being the one doing the character attacks, claiming that Adam's reasons for posting the thing were not being honest). Beyond this, in cases where he cares, he (virtually?) always ends up with the outcome he wanted. Anyway, I think that it should be labelled as his league, because that's what it is, and then people can play in it if they want, eyes open. I don't want to, so I left. But I want to point out this isn't an "Adam is the only one" issue.

Let's talk about the other big issue, though, and that's dealing with problems. If you want to try to solve an inter-personal problem, you need to talk about it. It isn't sufficient. But it is necessary. I understand not liking conflict. I don't understand pretending like it doesn't exist, hoping it will go away. That doesn't solve anything. These things don't go away. They just don't. Saying "let's not talk about this" just doesn't actually help. Saying "let's wait for everyone to cool down a bit" can, but at some point, you have to actually talk about it, or just be divided forever. Division is worse than argument.

I totally understand why the moderators aren't going to reveal the information of who is unhappy. On the other hand, it doesn't seem like a good move to let a player completely hold everything hostage. So I would think that, if the player(s) in question have an issue, you would want them to try to work it out. You would direct them to do so. Adam is getting shafted in some way, as you're just siding with the other person over him. To be totally fair, you don't wnat to be in the middle of that if you aren't the person in question. On the other hand, it's entirely clear that Stef is at least one of the people who has a problem with Adam here. I'm honestly still confused as to what the whole damn thing is about. If we're telling Adam to grow up and get over it, and the only reason Stef has really given is, I didn't like some rants you made and you banned SCSN, can we not say the same thing to him? I notice that no one is suggesting to Stef, "you don't have to be a part of it if you don't like it" as they are with Adam, even though that would equally solve the problem. Of course, the suggestion is a bit ridiculous, because it's Stef league, which is the real point.

Oh and moving threads. That is clearly not the right thing, it doesn't go where it was moved to. I assume the motivation is more "I just wish this would go away" than anything. you can view that as a positive, or you can view it as a negative. But moving this thread of course wasn't nearly as bad as moving the other one, which was definitely not general discussion and very clearly and specifically about the league.

To those people who are bringing people's personal lives into it, I could ask if you are being total pricks because your parents neglected you as a child? Just asking because you're being total jerks, and I was looking for some kind of explanation for it. I'm concerned. Of course that would be total BS and uncalled for, just like suggesting anything about personal lives causing stress. Seriously, it's none of your business nor germane to the point at hand.

I am entirely bewildered by the idea that "PMs should never be posted". If you tell me something, I have every right to repeat that as I see fit. If you don't want me to, you shouldn't tell me the thing in the first place, or at least you should at least ask me to agree to keep it private. (I am assuming that no such agreement was in place). This is especially true in potential cases of abuse. In some ways it's tempting to send PMs to all of you filled with vulgarity, profanity, all kidns of nastiness, you ****ing Nazi ****ing A**h***s, but you can't repeat any of this because I sent it in a PM! I mean, no it's not really tempting, because I don't want to do that, but it's really not hard to conceive of a situation of abusive language which should have no privelege of privacy. Of course, I rather doubt anything would come of it anyway - popular figures get absurd amounts of slack because "oh but I like him/that thing he did", and it's not hard to ignore things in private. Blaming the victim is a very terrible thing that society naturally does A LOT, and we should really try to avoid it. People wonder why rape victims don't want to speak up - well, it really isn't very hard to understand. At the same time, of course, not every person who has claimed to be a victim has been one (though in most of these cases, it can be seen that the vast majority are), and we should also not run to lambast anyone based on a single accusation for sure. None of this (paragraph) really has to do with the current dispute or feuding parties; it's about the "Nobody should ever post PMs for any reason" sentiment.

Anyway, so long forums. I would say it's been nice knowing you, but it's really turned toxic, so that's not as true as I would like it to be. I honestly do wish you well though.

Dominion Articles / Rebuild in Non-Mirrors
« on: April 10, 2015, 12:10:39 pm »
Rebuild in Non-Mirrors
   People have learned – pretty well, I think – how to play Rebuild mirrors by now, thanks in no small part to AI and SCSN’s excellent article on the subject. Seriously, if you haven’t read that, go do it – while it doesn’t get you to 100% perfect Rebuild mirror play, it gets you, in my estimation, about 90% of the way there – really the best you can expect from an article which isn’t unreadably long. I hope to be able to do something similar for Rebuild in games which aren’t mirrors. Like all such strategic points, knowing how Rebuild goes in non-mirrors is what will allow you to determine whether or not to play a Rebuild strategy at all, so even though your opponents will often mirror you, leading you to really need to know how to play mirrors, knowing how to play different strategies is important, too. And the fact of the matter is, especially with Rebuild, mirrors play a lot differently from non-mirrors. (Note: there’s actually yet another category of Rebuild game, where you use Rebuild in strategies other than the straightforward monolithic “Rebuild strategy”, but I think that requires yet-another-article).
The Rebuild Plan
   As has been said before (I think Tables might be the one I remember saying it first), the point of the game is not so much to score the most points before the game ends, but more to end the game whilst you have the most points. This is the mindset you need to get in as the Rebuild player. How do you do that? As a baseline, you’re looking to get half the points. When Big Money decks look to do this, that means 40 points past starting. But with Rebuild, you actually shift that number downwards with each play of the card. Point destruction is a huge tool. Another common win condition for the Rebuild player is to empty all the Provinces – again, you don’t actually need to get all eight here, as you can destroy some. In either case, the name of the game is to play the actual card Rebuild as often as possible.
   There are a few ways of going about this. The most straightforward is to get as many Rebuilds as you can. In the mirror, rule of thumb is to get two, then switch to duchies. That’s because you actually need points pretty quick, and the duchies are going to run out. But in the non-mirror, these tend to not really be a concern, so you will want to pile on more Rebuilds. You’re fine turning Province into Province for quite a while, and the extra points are not worth the extra plays of Rebuild over the course of the game – at least until fairly late. A very (very) rough rule of thumb here is to start thinking about picking up Duchy over Rebuild just after all your green cards are Provinces. The other way, of course, of playing your Rebuilds a lot, is by sifting through your decks to get them more. Warehouse-style cards are good here. I’d like to point out Oasis as a card that does both this and help you buy more Rebuilds.
   I think it’s useful to look at where you want to be at the end of the game. When do you have them locked out? Five Provinces will (effectively) do it, considering five Duchies are gone. That takes 8 Rebuild plays and 2 Duchy buys. Four Provinces with two milled is just about as good – that takes 9 Rebuild plays but only one Duchy buy. If you need to empty the Provinces, that will take 11 Rebuild plays all-told (unless you get very lucky to spike buying one). These are the kinds of things you need to think about when deciding on the Duchy vs Rebuild question, because really, that will come down to how your draws have been, what your opponent is doing, and the game state at hand. One last thing I will mention is that toward the end, you can buy one cheaper victory card (or even multiples, as long as they’re the same name)
Playing Against Rebuild
   If you’ve determined you’re not going to play the monolithic Rebuild strategy, then you’ll want to know how to fight it. I want to start with the number one mistake I see players making in this situation, and that is buying duchies fairly early. That’s something you want to do against the Rebuild deck in a mirror, because Duchies are something you’ll want anyway, and denial can really be a thing. But in the non-mirror, it’s quite bad – Duchies won’t run out, they’ll hurt your deck a lot, and the points aren’t going to get you there. Since we’ve seen they’re looking to mill you out, even if you do lock out all the remaining duchies, it’s usually not a big deal. Okay, having said that, let’s move on to your actual game-plan. There are three main ways to try to beat that Rebuild strategy.
   1. Be Super Fast Yourself
   If it takes 8-9 plays of Rebuild to lock you out, then if you can get to the point where you’re outscoring them before that, you’ll be in good shape. Now, they’re actually putting up a fairly quick clock in getting there, so this is not going to be a terribly common occurrence. But it will happen. Really fast engines can get there. But the surprise factor here is actually Big Money. You need a very sharp-and-quick Big Money deck to get there, but with a couple of good cards, it is indeed possible. At the very least, it’s something to keep in mind.
   2. Stop or Slow Them From Their Plan
   It’s often thought that Rebuild is incredibly resilient to attacks; you can’t stop it. And it’s true, once they have their Rebuilds, it’s hard to disrupt that. But it isn’t impervious, and you really can slow them down. Discard attacks don’t stop them from playing Rebuild, but they really hurt their ability to get more. Junking attacks slow their ability to acquire Rebuilds and to play them. If that junk is curses, the points are going to add up as well – suddenly they do need to be buying more green cards. Trashing attacks can knock out the victory points, but mostly you would want to nail their Rebuilds. If you can do that reliably, it’s very nice.
   I also want to note shelters here. Needing to turn OGE into Estate makes them need an extra play of Rebuild, and the need to buy more green cards slows them down a little bit as well. Of course, they can time their spots as optimally as possible, so this won’t be an amazingly huge difference, but you’re picking up a couple of turns against them, and that might well be enough to push you over the edge, if it was otherwise close.
   3. Go over the top:
   They’re working on a 50% of the VP, point destruction theme. Using a source of points other than Province can really make their job much harder. They have to switch to run-the-provinces, which makes them need a few more plays of Rebuild. They can’t lock you out, so they need to end it fast enough for that to still be more points than your source. You on the flipside need a source that can still set up a good number of points fairly quickly, without needing to touch the Province stack. Sloggy kinds of VP are generally not very good for this – they just don’t set up their points fast enough.
   Colony is a different story. It takes them three extra plays of Rebuild to get their original cards into Colonies plus any additional Duchy buys will take extra plays to turn into Colony as well. This is a significant slow-down. On the other hand, strong engines are usually only slowed a couple of turns to flip to Colony, so, in a relative sense, they gain a fair bit. The Rebuild player can potentially just try flipping to the “empty the Provinces” plan, but that is generally worse: it doesn’t really make them need fewer Rebuild plays, and it’s basically just worth fewer points. 2 Colonies and the last Province will overcome 4 provinces even, and merely 3 Colonies match up against 5 Provinces.
   Vineyards and Goons can also provide a large enough points to make a fight against Rebuild, but they’re going to need a good amount of support. The problem Vineyards have is you tend to only be getting 1, maybe 2 a turn, which means by the time you switch to them, you need to have quite a number of actions already. Definitely doable, but needs support. And Goons, you will need a few multi-Goons turns, so you want to be able to set up an engine reasonably quickly to get that.

Example Games
In this game, I power out lots of Rebuilds quickly, and then chomp down on Provinces. My last few turns I would not at all mind picking up a Duchy, but I’m not hitting $5 here. My opponent is just a couple too slow with a roaring engine which is just getting online.
Here, my opponent uses Ambassador to junk my deck up, and Possession to capitalize on my Rebuilds. The problem is, it’s a bit slow. Key thing here is to name Estate at the right times, which ensures that Province trashing – if the game is going much longer, I will be sunk (which is also true if he can force me to Amb him a Province)
Here, I use Scheme to get my Rebuilds to have good consistency. This is really important against my opponent, who is able to get a thin deck reasonably quickly – normally Knights would do a pretty good job of skewering me, but Scheme not only helps me play the Rebuilds more often, it protects them safely in my hand.
In this game, my Rebuild-based plan get edged out by effectively Sea Hag into Embassy-Big Money. Note that my opponent actually gets out to a significant lead here by being faster, which really damages my get-a-lead-then-lock-out “Plan A”.
Here, I just edge out Mercenary-BM with my Rebuild plan.

Dominion League / WW disconnecting
« on: April 07, 2015, 11:59:15 pm »
B1: WW 4 - 2 hdu88

Edit: Actually, okay. So there was a game I DC'ed at the end of, where I was pretty behind. Looked over the log, saw he had some junk. Felt I was maybe 10, maybe 20% to win - he needs to have a dud, then I need some moderate luck. This is my thought. Talk to him a little, he says he feels he has "a decent chance of stalling" based on what he'd discarded the previous turn. But he also wasn't entirely sure what was in his deck. Anyway, it's late and I don't want to figure it out so hard, so we just played it over. But looking at it now, it seems pretty clear to me that he has a line which either guarantees he won't stall out this turn (or he gets the vast majority of a turn anyway), or there might be one way I can exactly stack his deck where he duds out.
I won the makeup game (well, whichever one you want to count).
So, I haven't talked to him about this yet, but I'd actually just like to make this 3-3, because on further analysis, it's way too unlikely he doesn't win there.

When I wake up in the morning, I will try to get the exact chances. Brain not really functioning now.

Dominion: Adventures Previews / Preview: Storyteller
« on: March 30, 2015, 12:30:07 pm »
I’ve got a preview card to discuss today, and I’m not one who likes drawn-out introductions, so let’s get right to it:

Storyteller: Action, $5
+1 Action
Play up to 3 Treasures from your hand. Pay all of your $; +1 Card per $ paid.

First, a couple of notes for clarity: You don't have to play treasures if you don't want to, but you DO have to spend all the $ you've collected over the course of the turn, including the money from the treasures you're playing, the $ from this card, as well as any you've made from previous actions. 

Full disclosure: I haven't tested or played with this card at all, so this is an article of conjecture and of theory-crafting not one built from experience.

The first thing I noticed when I saw this card was that it was another way, besides Black Market, of getting treasures in play during the action phase. Now, some of the Black Market Combos - mostly draw-to-X variants, and Tactician, - aren't "on" here. But some of them – Quarry+gainer, using Horn Of Plenty mid-turn - still do work.

Anyway, these are only fringe benefits - the pet tricks I love and relish, but not, I am guessing, the bulk of what the card's work is. That, namely, is to turn cash into cards. Coppers turn into cantrips, Silvers turn into labs, and Golds turn into double labs. This is, in general, an improvement in every case. And all of this is on a card which is a cantrip by itself. The drawback, of course, is that if you are using this to draw your deck, you are sapping some of the money out of that deck. Still, this really gets your draw going quickly, which is especially potent in the early stages of the game.

Most cards are fairly simple to play once they're in your deck - you just play all your villages and non-terminals first, draw cards before non-draw, and go. But I expect this card will be very tricky to play during the mid- and late-game. You need to know exactly how much money to funnel into it to get the draw you need (need to know how much draw you need for that as well) while still making sure you have enough money left to buy what you need come end of turn. I also want to point out potential anti-synergies with Peddler variants (and Conspirator variants): it may look like this is non-terminal draw/sifting (and it is), and that cantrip-money-based decks seem to love that kind of card. Normally they do, but if you draw this card late in your turn, you might be forced into not playing it at all, because it would sap you of too much money. You can mitigate that some by simply feeding fewer/worse treasures into this, but it's not as much of a pure success as it might at first glance seem.

Ultimately this IS a sifter, with a little bit of non-terminal draw thrown in. Discarding coppers with this is like cellar plus a card; more expensive treasures get you a little more.

What kinds of decks want this? Well, engines would prefer other sifters once they are running, since this one costs economy, but Storyteller does help a lot in getting them running, and this is generally a higher-priority issue. It's worth noting that strong trashing will probably more or less obsolete the need for Storytelling.

Terminal draw Big Money will obviously not like this. The same is true of slogs, since unlike other sifters, this can't get rid of non-treasures. Decks which are somewhere between money decks and engines - decks where treasure is good but you'd really like to play a key action or a couple of key actions very often - seem like ideal homes for this card. Those decks exist now, but they rarely get a chance to shine, being squeezed by often-more-powerful engines and often-faster Big Money strategies. Perhaps Storyteller will allow them to shine more often. In general, you want your payload to be something which is happening at the end of your turn, and not interspersed in the middle. Treasure has this quality, but it’s not the only thing. Many mega-turn strategies like Bridge and Horn Of Plenty don’t care about traditional money. They’ll work particularly nicely with Storyteller.

As for strength, I am going to guess that this card will end up being powerful, but $5 is a price-point with a high bar. Ultimately, we're dealing with a situational card here, so on the right board, in the right spot, it will be something you want to jump on hard, but other times it will not have the impact required for its cost. In other words, the exact thing which is my favorite kind of card.

Engine Economies and the Limitations of Money Density

A point that I think a lot of players get to – and I know I certainly did – is to look at the world of Dominion in a Big Money Paradigm. What I’m talking about, in my case at least, is a concept I call “money density”. Basically, a rough measure of quality for a BM deck is something like “take your average coin production per card, multiply that by your average hand-size, and that gives you your average economic capacity per turn.”

This is perhaps a bit simplistic, but it really does give you a rough assessment of the capabilities of a big money deck. I will note that even when you are playing big money, there are lots of imprecisions to modelling things this way: card efficacy doesn’t, in general, scale linearly, unused money has no value, turn-to-turn variations are quite important, ancillary benefits of cards beyond coin-value are real, etc. Even within this Big Money Paradigm, there are lots of nuanced decisions to make.

When you are stuck in this mindset, it can be hard to think of why you would add “do-nothing” cards – a la Village – to your deck. Sure, the cantrip makes it not hurt so much, but it doesn’t actually help your money density, and you are potentially missing out on getting a better card – silver, at least, will do more for you. And in a Big Money deck, the extra action usually doesn’t do a lot for you – if you get to the point you’re needing one very often, you probably should have just bought fewer terminal actions. Or not play Big Money at all.

This is where the Engine Paradigm (or draw-your-deck if you want slightly less pithy but arguably more descriptive names) comes in. If you can get to the point where you are drawing every card in your deck every turn, the way you look at your economic output on a turn changes completely. Now, you don’t need to look at average coin per card; you can actually just add up the sum total of all economic production in your whole deck.

To illustrate this, let’s look at an example of adding a Gold (which is not what you want to do terribly often in engines, but is always available and gets the point across). Adding the gold in a Big Money Paradigm will increase your money density by the difference between $3 and your old average value, divided by the number of cards in your deck. So if you had a starting deck plus five silvers, your old density was 17/15 = 1.133, and you increase by (3-1.133)/16 = 0.117. Multiply that by 5 cards per hand, and you get .583 coin per turn on average. This is pretty good for a Big Money deck. It’s worth noting here that each successive gold will do less though – the next one only adds .103 per card, or .515 per hand. This is because the difference between where you were and the $3 of the Gold continues to shrink, and the impact of each card is less as your deck gets bigger.

If you’re drawing your deck, on the other hand, you simply get to add the full $3 to your ever-turn spending power. The next gold just adds $3 again, too. This is a lot more, and it gets to be a progressively bigger gap over time. So you can see that even treasures can get leveraged more if you are drawing your deck.

Now, there are reasons why it’s not quite so rosy for engines as the above might make it sound. As it relates to the discussion above, the most notable thing is that if you are adding payload cards which don’t help you to draw (like Gold), you will have to get more pieces that do so you can continue to draw your deck every turn (terminal payload also requires getting more villages). This diminishes the ability to really add as much economy as you might otherwise be able to. On the other hand, being able to add to your per-turn payload so quickly self-synergizes, exploding in on itself in a chain reaction – getting that extra $3 now means I have more that I’m able to spend next turn to keep increasing my economic capabilities without falling behind on draw. This ramping effect virtually always more than compensates for the need to get extra pieces to keep drawing, at least if you have the capability to get extra buys – otherwise making $30 on a turn doesn’t do much for me. On top of that, there are ancillary benefits – if there are cards which are much better in combination or in multiples, you get to reliably do that, and you get to hit them with your attacks every turn. Engines also give you better control of ending the game just when you want.

The real downside of engines, which might make you not want to go for one, is that they can be slow to set up. This, along with increasing the reliability of the engine, is why trashing and/or sifting is such a boon to the engine. It’s all about getting to that point where you are drawing your deck as quickly as possible, because once you are there, even if it takes a long time, even if you are forced in to buying victory points in less efficient chunks, the raw power of an engine’s chaining buildup, if one is possible on the board, is usually enough to overcome the potential speed deficit.

General Discussion / A Math/Stats Question
« on: January 30, 2015, 09:38:48 am »
I feel like this should be simple, but having spent 15 minutes, I haven't cracked it yet. You guys are who I've come to.

Given a Bernoulli process (probability of success p), what is the chance that, given an infinite number of trials, after SOME point, the majority of trials have come up with success?

Probably I need to explain this better. If the first trial is success, obviously we hit (1 of 1 is a majority). If after 3, we have 2+ out of 3, then we hit success, but these would already have been counted by the first one hitting, except for the case 011. etc etc. Probably there's a better way of going about this, but I haven't come up with it yet.

Game Reports / Power Kingdom
« on: March 23, 2014, 08:54:07 pm »

Code: [Select]
Great Hall, Woodcutter, Bureaucrat, Caravan, Procession, Scout, Wandering Minstrel, Mystic, Trading Post, Upgrade

SCSN builds a powerful engine based on Scout and Great Hall, with Mystic as a very key support card, Upgrade allowing trashing and later gaining, Woodcutter providing buys, and WM, Procession and Caravan greasing things up. But perhaps he forgot that Bureaucrat is the most powerful card in Dominion, and a great counter here.

No seriously, I go B-crat-caravan BM, he does this engine. And... it's pretty darn close. Ends in a tie. I definitely would go back to the bureaucrat plan if I had to play the kingdom again, but it's not a total blowout either way....

Goko Dominion Online / Legal Advice
« on: February 28, 2014, 07:18:12 am »
Yup, I'm looking for a lawyer, because there's a new ToS.

Important bits (to me) excerpted:

If you do post Content, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Making Fun a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, display, or otherwise exploit in any manner, such Content throughout the world in any media. You grant Making Fun and sublicensees the right to use the name that you submit in connection with such Content, if they choose. You represent and warrant that: (i) you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the Content that you post and/or submit; (ii) the Content is accurate; (iii) the use of the Content you post and/or submit does not violate these Terms; and (iv) the Content will not cause injury to any person or entity.

Making Fun has the right but not the obligation to monitor and edit or remove any activity or Content. Making Fun takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any Content posted by you or any third party.


We grant you a limited, personal, revocable, non-transferable, non-sublicensable and non-exclusive license to access and make use of the Service and the Materials solely in accordance with, and subject to, these Terms and any other of our policies as posted within the Service. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by these Terms, you may not: (i) collect, use, copy or distribute any portion of the Service or the Materials; (ii) resell, publicly perform or publicly display any portion of the Service or the Materials; (iii) modify or otherwise make any derivative uses of any portion of the Service or the Materials; (iv) use any “deep-link,” “page-scrape,” “robot,” “spider” or other automatic device, program, algorithm or methodology which perform similar functions to access, acquire, copy, or monitor any portion of the Service; (v) use the Service in a manner which results in the depletion of the infrastructural resources of the Service; or (vi) use the Service or the Materials other than for their intended purposes.

So, my question is, what does this mean?

Game Reports / Smashing Rebuild - With Engines
« on: February 19, 2014, 07:02:33 am »

In this one, I am able to build an engine around menagerie and Nobles and then whatever random cards. Counterfeit is pretty nice, beggar keeps me going, but the real key is Bishop as a big source of Alt VP that Rebuild player can't hit.

Here, that alt-VP source is Goons, and scrying pool draws me up. It's important to note that I think I might still lose this one if my opponent plays better - if you're not mirroring, you don't want to stop at 2 rebuilds and start buying duchies - you want more rebuilds to end the game faster!

Game Reports / In Which I Ignore Wharf
« on: October 06, 2013, 01:46:16 pm »
Wharf is perhaps the card I would put at #1 in the "I can't ignore it" department. It's very good in most any strategies. Rushes are usually the only thing you ignore it for, but oftentimes wharf is strong enough to give an option to beat a rush.

Here is a game where I ignore it full stop - in an engine:

Now, I am not saying a free wharf wouldn't help my deck here. But there is enough other important stuff going on that, well, I don't think it's ever the right call for my deck here. Counterfeit to clear me out, ironworks for actions, menagerie for the engine, armory to grab components, bridge for big economy, storeroom to make everything grease together well. I don't think I actually played all that well, but I wanted to share, because this kind of depth makes the game great.

Game Reports / Selected Endgames
« on: September 17, 2013, 09:49:53 pm »
This is all about endgames and tactics, I'm going to skip the openings and middlegames - I mean, there's probably a lot of meat there, but it's both not what I want to focus on here nor what I understand the greatest in these.
We pick this one up on my thirteenth turn. We have each used Merchant Guild to split between Vineyards and Provinces. He's managed five vineyards to my three and has a small lead. I have to maneouvre between taking the lead and being able to end the game at the right time.
Basically, we end up going back and forth a lot with this - if we would have had developed engines, it would be a lot different, but the green splits -particularly vineyards - were too critical to waste so much time. So keep in mind here, we are both accumulating lots of tokens and worthless actions, and we get it down to 2 provinces, but our decks aren't really good enough to double, and we don't want to break a lot of tokens on a province, with some weird kind of PPR considerations with very close scores - actually I only had a feel of this, having forgotten that he put #vpon in the title of the table (and not realizing there was a version of the PCE that doesn't display itself in chat...) - but regardless, the principle holds.
Turn 17 I end up trading in 4 tokens for a duchy (with only 3 vineyards, duchy is the right play for points-now). I am feeling the pressure, because duchies are getting sort of low, vineyards are gone, ruins are very low, and vagrants are pretty low too. So, not knowing the score on turn 19, I 'go for it' with a province, knowing that he has 8 tokens and can end it - this confuses him, and ends poorly.
What did this come down to? The vineyard split is what I want to point to. First turn is what I really *want* to point to, but there were definitely lots of places I could have made other choices, and I am not sure - but probably something I could have done better (certainly the last turn). And we have to give Stef a lot of credit for staying on top of this and covering up all my options at just the right time. As first player, one of your tasks is to prosecute your advantage well, and he certainly did that here, smothering my chances to come back on all sides.
Turn 13 is the first key moment I want to look at. I have an extra royal seal, an extra smugglers, fewer nobles, no oracle to his one, and extra villages. The key thing here is that I pick up the last two nobles to equalize, and I DON'T SMUGGLE LAB even though I could have. Caravans are gone, Nobles are now gone, and there were only two Labs left. Smugglers are the only gain in the kingdom, and by leaving two, there's now no way to end the game in a single turn (if I grab one, all he needs is smugglers and $2 to win the game). I pick up a strategic Great Hall instead. This gives me a little lead, it doesn't help his deck at all (actually, with the fewer villages plus the oracle, it hurts it if anything), and he can smuggle them - but I will at least potentially be able to smuggle back. Most of all, GH plays to my trump - the Royal Seal, which actually lets me buy a province if I can ever draw my deck together (and I am close).
So he double smuggles back and picks up a gold, to neutralize this advantage.
Turn 14, and plan draw-the-deck comes together. Now, he CAN indeed get a province, so this is something to be mindful of. He has two smugglers, and this is critical to know. I smuggle TWO great halls - a critical number - and a gold. Now, at first, I was thinking just one GH, because this would leave 4 and stop him from being able to pile them out (which would end the game). But then, I realized that because I knew I was buying province, he would have to use both smugglers and his buy to end the game, and of course my points protected me from this. However, getting the third would have been less good, because then two smuggles empty the pile, and buying a province would let him then tie.
The gold was nice, particularly because I had a little trick. I have a village left after drawing my deck, so I can smuggle all three things and then village to draw one - 2/3 chance I have gold the next turn, and basically I had figured the only way I was losing would be to whiff on province at the wrong moment.
Now, Stef miscalculates on the next turn (I am not sure what was up, but he knew very soon after it happened; maybe he had expected me to get GH on the third smugglers too, and with the animations not being helpful...?), getting GH down to 1 and only getting himself a 1 point lead. I only need smugglers and $2 to win (actually I make it up to 9).
So this one was also probably a good bit of first turn, along with random lucky smugglers.

Luck a good bit in both, but you also have to have skill in how you press that luck.

Oh, and good ole penultimate Lab rule.

Game Reports / The Lost Games
« on: August 10, 2013, 02:01:06 pm »
So, a few weeks ago, I made a mistake on my audio settings, and ended up losing something like 50 or 60 games' worth of usable videos. So, the best grouping of these games (funnest and/or most instructional) are going to be what I am posting in this thread.

I'm going to start off here with a bunch of these that are more middling and instructional, with only sparse comments. Later you can expect more sheer fun, long description and/or guess-the-way-it-went kind of things.
Here we see a few things: First, wishing well vs silver. I love wishing well early on, and you would think with minion, silver isn't so great (of course, wishing well isn't AS big either). But I go for silvers after the first WW, my opponent grabs more wells - and I think this was a thing, as later on, your success rate is just not going to be great. Next, Minions - especially when they're split, you run out of steam with minions before finishing things out. Finally, tournament - I get to provinces first, but I can't get prizes for a good long while. My opponent gets Steed and Followers. Finally, endgame endgame endgame. I move to slow the game down, my opponent follows. I *think* this is a mistake, at least to some extent - (the turn 17 estate buy sticks out here), but on the other hand, it's very very tricky, because if you flip one more duchy from him to me, then even the last province doesn't do it for him, at least if it wasn't super early. Also, followers slows us both down for me. And I definitely get somewhat lucky from being behind here, though I was at least somewhat unlucky to get that far behind.
This one is mostly about soothsayer. You get so many golds, you can green so early and hard. Well, it's also about remake. So many just isn't so great. And native village - it's just a solid, usable card with pretty good versatility.
The power of beggar! Also, again, you have to watch the piles - sure, maybe you won't reshuffle before they clog you, but don't always estate.
Mass venture is interesting, but fool's gold is really good, you know?
Everything to interact with copper - WW and coppersmith is really good, you know? But also cutpurse, which is killing. And beggar's reaction surprisingly good again.
Spoiler alert - Rebuild can be outraced!
Inn and Jack go really really well together.
Stonemason and Hunting Grounds - hey, sometimes engines can come back by getting gobs of duchies.

Dominion General Discussion / WW's Power Rankings
« on: June 29, 2013, 08:04:30 pm »
This is a thread in which I am going to give a comprehensive ranking of all the kingdom cards in Dominion. I don't want this to be seen in any way as trying to degrade Qvist's rankings. Indeed, that is one of my favorite projects on this site. Yet I am still doing this - what's the difference? There are a few key differences: This is purely my own rankings, not composited with other people; this is purely for the 2-player version of the game; this includes all price points into a single comprehensive list; I'm only looking at pure random setups with all cards. I will also probably not have such detailed descriptions on each card. Anyway, on to the list!

Current List:

Code: [Select]
1.) Masquerade   [X]
2.) Ambassador   [X]
3.) Cultist   [X]
4.) Chapel   [X]
5.) Junk Dealer   [X]
6.) Mountebank   [X]
7.) Goons   [X]
8.) Upgrade   [X]
9.) Wharf   [X]
10.) Steward   [X]
11.) King's Court   [X]
12.) Counterfeit   [X]
13.) Remake   [X]
14.) Hermit   [X]
15.) Rebuild   [X]
16.) Margrave   [X]
17.) Tournament   [X]
18.) Ironmonger   [X]
19.) Hunting Party   [X]
20.) Forager   [X]
21.) Governor   [X]
22.) Fishing Village   [X]
23.) Witch   [X]
24.) Wandering Minstrel   [X]
25.) Butcher   [X]
26.) Bazaar   [X]
27.) Horn of Plenty   [X]
28.) Vineyard   [X]
29.) Jack of all Trades   [X]
30.) Border Village   [X]
31.) Stables   [X]
32.) Peddler   [X]
33.) Squire   [X]
34.) Fool's Gold   [X]
35.) Scrying Pool   [X]
36.) Swindler   [X]
37.) Menagerie   [X]
38.) Monument   [X]
39.) Knights   [X]
40.) Minion   [X]
41.) Torturer   [X]
42.) Highway   [X]
43.) Hamlet   [X]
44.) Native Village   [X]
45.) Grand Market   [X]
46.) Fairgrounds   [X]
47.) Marauder   [X]
48.) Courtyard   [X]
49.) Herald   [X]
50.) Young Witch   [X]
51.) Catacombs   [X]
52.) Altar   [X]
53.) Warehouse   [X]
54.) Quarry   [X]
55.) Council Room   [X]
56.) Baker   [X]
57.) Throne Room   [X]
58.) Plaza   [X]
59.) Familiar   [X]
60.) Soothsayer   [X]
61.) Pillage   [X]
62.) Militia   [X]
63.) Stonemason   [X]
64.) Sea Hag   [X]
65.) Ill-Gotten Gains   [X]
66.) Apothecary   [X]
67.) Hunting Grounds   [X]
68.) Smithy   [X]
69.) Envoy   [X]
70.) Crossroads   [X]
71.) Bridge   [X]
72.) Smugglers   [X]
73.) Candlestick Maker   [X]
74.) Vagrant   [X]
75.) Bandit Camp   [X]
76.) Watchtower   [X]
77.) Moat   [X]
78.) Apprentice   [X]
79.) Bishop   [X]
80.) Conspirator   [X]
81.) Village   [X]
82.) Urchin   [X]
83.) Worker's Village   [X]
84.) Silk Road   [X]
85.) Gardens   [X]
86.) Ironworks   [X]
87.) Laboratory   [X]
88.) Caravan   [X]
89.) Journeyman   [X]
90.) Count   [X]
91.) Spice Merchant   [X]
92.) Haggler   [X]
93.) Black Market   [X]
94.) Oracle   [X]
95.) Fortress   [X]
96.) Rabble   [X]
97.) Duke   [X]
98.) Cartographer   [X]
99.) Horse Traders   [X]
100.) Scavenger   [X]
101.) Possession   [X]
102.) Forge   [X]
103.) City   [X]
104.) Festival   [X]
105.) Market   [X]
106.) Mining Village   [X]
107.) Farming Village   [X]
108.) Walled Village   [X]
109.) Ghost Ship   [X]
110.) Tunnel   [X]
111.) Lighthouse   [X]
112.) Inn   [X]
113.) Tactician   [X]
114.) Venture   [X]
115.) Nobles   [X]
116.) Cutpurse   [X]
117.) Treasury   [X]
118.) Hoard   [X]
119.) Jester   [X]
120.) Storeroom   [X]
121.) Salvager   [X]
122.) Masterpiece   [X]
123.) Loan   [X]
124.) Oasis   [X]
125.) Baron   [X]
126.) Embassy   [X]
127.) Market Square   [X]
128.) Procession   [X]
129.) Vault   [X]
130.) Pawn   [X]
131.) Workshop   [X]
132.) Cellar   [X]
133.) Library   [X]
134.) Fortune Teller   [X]
135.) Farmland   [X]
136.) Shanty Town   [X]
137.) Band of Misfits   [X]
138.) Poor House   [X]
139.) Beggar   [X]
140.) Wishing Well   [X]
141.) Moneylender   [X]
142.) Duchess   [X]
143.) Doctor   [X]
144.) Embargo   [X]
145.) Develop   [X]
146.) Merchant Guild   [X]
147.) Mint   [X]
148.) Herbalist   [X]
149.) Woodcutter   [X]
150.) Harem   [X]
151.) Alchemist   [X]
152.) Lookout   [X]
153.) Merchant Ship   [X]
154.) Scheme   [X]
155.) Rats   [X]
156.) Golem   [X]
157.) Island   [X]
158.) Noble Brigand   [X]
159.) Pearl Diver   [X]
160.) Death Cart   [X]
161.) Explorer   [X]
162.) Graverobber   [X]
163.) Mystic   [X]
164.) Mandarin   [X]
165.) Contraband   [X]
166.) Secret Chamber   [X]
167.) Saboteur   [X]
168.) Chancellor   [X]
169.) Rogue   [X]
170.) Remodel   [X]
171.) Talisman   [X]
172.) Advisor   [X]
173.) University   [X]
174.) Bank   [X]
175.) Counting House   [X]
176.) Coppersmith   [X]
177.) Spy   [X]
178.) Tribute   [X]
179.) Taxman   [X]
180.) Nomad Camp   [X]
181.) Haven   [X]
182.) Cache   [X]
183.) Sage   [X]
184.) Expand   [X]
185.) Armory   [X]
186.) Feodum   [X]
187.) Trading Post   [X]
188.) Outpost   [X]
189.) Trader   [X]
190.) Trade Route   [X]
191.) Feast   [X]
192.) Great Hall   [X]
193.) Philosopher's Stone   [X]
194.) Royal Seal   [X]
195.) Treasure Map   [X]
196.) Bureaucrat   [X]
197.) Stash   [X]
198.) Navigator   [X]
199.) Thief   [X]
200.) Mine   [X]
201.) Harvest   [X]
202.) Pirate Ship   [X]
203.) Transmute   [X]
204.) Adventurer   [X]
205.) Scout   [X]

Previous List:
Code: [Select]
1. Masquerade
2. Ambassador
3. Steward
4. Rebuild
5. Mountebank
6. Chapel
7. Goons
8. Witch
9. Cultist
10. Wharf
11. Hunting Party
12. Junk Dealer
13. Margrave
14. King’s Court
15. Counterfeit
16. Upgrade
17. Vineyard
18. Jack of All Trades
19. Hermit
20. Torturer
21. Fishing Village
22. Forager
23. Ill-Gotten Gains
24. Fairgrounds
25. Tournament
26. Border Village
27. Young Witch
28. Wandering Minstrel
29. Ironmonger
30. Soothsayer
31. Monument
32. Sea Hag
33. Fool’s Gold
34. Menagerie
35. Stables
36. Governor
37. Minion
38. Remake
39. Swindler
40. Marauder
41. Ghost Ship
42. Journeyman
43. Haggler
44. Horn of Plenty
45. Laboratory
46. Familiar
47. Courtyard
48. Knights
49. Embassy
50. Militia
51. Duke
52. Tactician
53. Bazaar
54. Butcher
55. Cartographer
56. Highway
57. Scrying Pool
58. Peddler
59. Bandit Camp
60. Vault
61. Catacombs
62. Inn
63. Rabble
64. Baker
65. Conspirator
66. Grand Market
67. Altar
68. Silk Road
69. Worker’s Village
70. Lighthouse
71. Squire
72. Watchtower
73. Hamlet
74. Stonemason
75. Throne Room
76. Caravan
77. Warehouse
78. Apprentice
79. Festival
80. Plaza
81. Nobles
82. Herald
83. Gardens
84. Native Village
85. Hunting Grounds
86. Pillage
87. Crossroads
88. Ironworks
89. Hoard
90. Develop
91. Oracle
92. Library
93. Jester
94. Embargo
95. Spice Merchant
96. Baron
97. Apothecary
98. Smithy
99. Bridge
100. Village
101. Market
102. City
103. Council Room
104. Oasis
105. Venture
106. Moat
107. Masterpiece
108. Forge
109. Quarry
110. University
111. Wishing Well
112. Salvager
113. Treasury
114. Mystic
115. Fortress
116. Horse Traders
117. Scheme
118. Remodel
119. Cutpurse
120. Bishop
121. Envoy
122. Procession
123. Noble Brigand
124. Lookout
125. Farming Village
126. Tunnel
127. Smugglers
128. Shanty Town
129. Market Square
130. Candlestick Maker
131. Pawn
132. Armory
133. Beggar
134. Mining Village
135. Possession
136. Count
137. Golem
138. Scavenger
139. Walled Village
140. Moneylender
141. Bank
142. Advisor
143. Storeroom
144. Vagrant
145. Doctor
146. Trader
147. Urchin
148. Mint
149. Workshop
150. Island
151. Merchant Ship
152. Rogue
153. Outpost
154. Merchant Guild
155. Farmland
156. Loan
157. Woodcutter
158. Death Cart
159. Alchemist
160. Talisman
161. Graverobber
162. Coppersmith
163. Saboteur
164. Harem
165. Cellar
166. Fortune Teller
167. Counting House
168. Expand
169. Mandarin
170. Sage
171. Band of Misfits
172. Cache
173. Herbalist
174. Explorer
175. Black Market
176. Duchess
177. Nomad Camp
178. Bureaucrat
179. Feodum
180. Poor House
181. Haven
182. Contraband
183. Tribute
184. Spy
185. Stash
186. Taxman
187. Royal Seal
188. Trading Post
189. Chancellor
190. Trade Route
191. Great Hall
192. Pearl Diver
193. Rats
194. Treasure Map
195. Navigator
196. Secret Chamber
197. Pirate Ship
198. Thief
199. Mine
200. Feast
201. Philosopher’s Stone
202. Transmute
203. Harvest
204. Adventurer
205. Scout

Original List:
Code: [Select]
1. Ambassador
2. Rebuild
3. Mountebank
4. Masquerade
5. Wharf
6. Steward
7. King’s Court
8. Goons
9. Doctor
10. Chapel
11. Witch
12. Cultist
13. Jack of All Trades
14. Hunting Party
15. Junk Dealer
16. Margrave
17. Upgrade
18. Counterfeit
19. Torturer
20. Vineyard
21. Fishing Village
22. Stables
23. Governor
24. Ill-Gotten Gains
25. Grand Market
26. Border Village
27. Knights
28. Fairgrounds
29. Tournament
30. Hermit
31. Young Witch
32. Remake
33. Wandering Minstrel
34. Soothsayer
35. Laboratory
36. Ironmonger
37. Monument
38. Marauder
39. Sea Hag
40. Minion
41. Tactician
42. Ghost Ship
43. Journeyman
44. Haggler
45. Horn of Plenty
46. Squire
47. Watchtower
48. Hamlet
49. Scrying Pool
50. Altar
51. Familiar
52. Fool’s Gold
53. Stonemason
54. Swindler
55. Menagerie
56. Embassy
57. Militia
58. Duke
59. Masterpiece
60. Caravan
61. Apprentice
62. Bridge
63. Bazaar
64. Butcher
65. Cartographer
66. Highway
67. Bandit Camp
68. Vault
69. Catacombs
70. Courtyard
71. Inn
72. Rabble
73. Baker
74. Conspirator
75. Hoard
76. Silk Road
77. Worker’s Village
78. Throne Room
79. Candlestick Maker
80. Warehouse
81. Festival
82. Plaza
83. Nobles
84. Lighthouse
85. Native Village
86. Pillage
87. Crossroads
88. Ironworks
89. Develop
90. Oracle
91. Moat
92. Library
93. Jester
94. Embargo
95. Spice Merchant
96. Peddler
97. Baron
98. Herald
99. Apothecary
100. Smithy
101. Gardens
102. Scheme
103. Market
104. City
105. Council Room
106. Oasis
107. Venture
108. Forge
109. Hunting Grounds
110. Village
111. Quarry
112. University
113. Advisor
114. Wishing Well
115. Salvager
116. Fortress
117. Possession
118. Bank
119. Treasury
120. Mystic
121. Horse Traders
122. Remodel
123. Cutpurse
124. Envoy
125. Merchant Ship
126. Noble Brigand
127. Farming Village
128. Bishop
129. Tunnel
130. Shanty Town
131. Sage
132. Pawn
133. Armory
134. Count
135. Mining Village
136. Forager
137. Harem
138. Smugglers
139. Procession
140. Golem
141. Scavenger
142. Walled Village
143. Beggar
144. Merchant Guild
145. Lookout
146. Trader
147. Urchin
148. Workshop
149. Death Cart
150. Island
151. Market Square
152. Trading Post
153. Graverobber
154. Rogue
155. Outpost
156. Mint
157. Farmland
158. Loan
159. Woodcutter
160. Vagrant
161. Alchemist
162. Talisman
163. Storeroom
164. Coppersmith
165. Saboteur
166. Cellar
167. Herbalist
168. Fortune Teller
169. Counting House
170. Mandarin
171. Band of Misfits
172. Cache
173. Explorer
174. Black Market
175. Duchess
176. Nomad Camp
177. Bureaucrat
178. Feodum
179. Moneylender
180. Poor House
181. Haven
182. Contraband
183. Chancellor
184. Tribute
185. Spy
186. Great Hall
187. Pearl Diver
188. Rats
189. Trade Route
190. Treasure Map
191. Navigator
192. Stash
193. Taxman
194. Royal Seal
195. Expand
196. Secret Chamber
197. Philosopher’s Stone
198. Harvest
199. Pirate Ship
200. Thief
201. Mine
202. Transmute
203. Feast
204. Adventurer
205. Scout
Links to descriptions/Explanations: Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Part XIV
Part XV
Part XVI

Dominion Articles / Fear And Adaptability
« on: June 25, 2013, 07:07:14 pm »
Often, players will get into a Rock-Paper strategic scenario, where they say to themselves, “I can’t play R, they will just go P and have a good matchup against me.” This is an important kind of thought process to have. But then sometimes they find that their opponent goes for S, just ignoring both options which they were discussing, and sails right on by. Oftentimes, this will happen in a scenario where S is something really really simple and straightforward, and this will leave the player who lost scratching their head.
   The best example I can think of is curse-giving attacks. Jimmy is afraid of Mountebank and goes for mass trader. Steve, his opponent, ignores this and just plays Big Money Smithy, and wins. What gives? Was Jimmy just doomed because he was first player?
   The answer is to look at what you are reacting to. Why are you afraid of it? If you have legitimate fear of it, then you should be able to punish your opponent by going for it. In this case, Jimmy would need to pivot to getting Mountebanks of his own in order to punish Steve for not getting the proper defense. Sometimes, though, the fear is not justified. In this scenario, that would mean the trader opening transitioning into mountebanks is weaker than BM/Smithy (which, in this particular case, is quite hard to believe). If that is the case, it may be the case that you can go for the second strategy – BM/Smithy here – because it can just outgun the first thing, and you really shouldn’t have been afraid of it.
   But there’s a third scenario: going for trader loses to smithy, smithy loses to mountebank, mountebank loses to trader, and as soon as you’ve committed to one, it’s too late to pivot to the proper response of another. Such situations are, I want to stress, pretty rare, as you aren’t really fully committed to one strategy or the other all that quickly (yes, opening smithy isn’t optimal for transitioning into mountebank, but of course it is possible to do). And here, that’s really the case with the mountebank – you can transition out of that pretty well. So maybe this isn’t the tip top example for the last and trickiest scenario. Fortunately, I have another example.
   Young witch is the classic card here. Let’s say the bane card is something pretty bad, like duchess. Duchess isn’t a great card, and you especially don’t want to have to pay for it. So there are a few options. You can open Young Witch/Silver, Young Witch/Duchess, Silver/Silver, Silver/Duchess, or Duchess/Duchess. Let’s assume that, apart from YW and Duchess, the only reasonable kingdom card is Cartographer – this gives us a 5 that will definitely be useful, without making something else just a clearly more important strategy, and this is roughly as close to neutral as I can think of to make the example. Okay. Duchess/Duchess protects you pretty well against the possible YW of the opponent. But it is clearly worse, head-to-head, than silver/silver. If what you are looking at loses head-to-head to something that your opponent can transition to, (and assuming it’s too late to adequately transition out), it’s a bad strategy. So this is looking pretty doubtful. Silver/Silver almost surely loses to anything with YW. So you can look at YW/Silver. But let’s assume for the moment that this loses to Duchess/Duchess (I sorta doubt it does, but it’s plausible at least). YW/Duchess looks sort of gross, going double terminal including a drawer, but it has some defense against opposing YW as well as applying pressure of its own.
   Out of this kind of analysis, you can see what your options are: basically, open double duchess with the idea of moving into YW if the opponent leaves himself undefended; YW/Silver, possibly picking up duchesses as defense if the opponent goes YW as well; YW/Duchess, adding more YW, Duchess, and silver based on what the opponent leaves open. And actually, the biggest lesson of all is to put yourself into a position of flexibility. Duchess/Duchess leaves you stuck defending pretty hard. YW/Silver is most aggressive, but leaves you open somewhat to YW hits. Still, it has some flexibility, and the worst-case is limited as well (in mixed cases with duchess, they can fall wrong and fail to defend you). YW/Duchess is probably the cagiest, and my recommendation, as it gives you good flexibility to pivot into more cursing, more defense, or just plain money, depending on the needs of the situation. It can fail the worst, though. So these are the things to weigh.

One final note: You can't ever really be behind, because you can always *do nothing* on a turn, and then grab their 'reactionary advantage' from them, if they move. This is almost never a good idea, of course, but you can actually think of the 'do-nothing kind of play' - grab a silver, say, which may not be the best thing for any strategy but will likely be fine in any of them, giving you flexibility.

Okay, technically, if the adaptability is a larger advantage than 1st player tempo but smaller than the chance the game ends in a tie, 1st player can be at a disadvantage. But this is *extremely* rare.

Dominion General Discussion / Dominion School: Basic Knowledge
« on: June 25, 2013, 02:34:49 pm »
Sometimes, I will get a game where my opponent just doen't know some combination of cards, and I basically just get a free win. Well, basically, I want to make a listing of baseline 'strategies to know', not so much because they are always best, but because a good player should be aware of them, so that on a board where they appear, the player knows that these are baselines they need to have some plan of overcoming. My idea is to have a listing of these things, not super specific 5 card combos or anything, but things which will come up reasonably often. Also not the normal use of the card that is the first thing everyone thinks of, like torturer chains. Anyway, this isn't a complete list of course, and please feel free to suggest more. Probably this would be good for the Wiki eventually???
I'd also like to eventually add links to appropriate articles for each of these.

In no particular order:
Big Money X
Fool's Gold/BM
IGG Rush
Vineyards/Gainer (e.g. Ironworks)
Gardens/Silk Road Rush
Duke (and the slog concept in general)
Masquerade Pins
The Golden Deck
NV/Bridge (and other NV megaturns)
General Engine
Minion Engine

Goko Dominion Online / Anyone Else Having this issue
« on: June 22, 2013, 11:11:35 am »
Over the past several days, every once in a while, it won't give me the option of kicking someone from a table I'm hosting. Is this happening to anyone else?

General Discussion / Star Trek
« on: June 13, 2013, 04:46:10 pm »
So... I like Star Trek? This is just a place for general discussion of Trek-y things.

I will start off with this: Ranking the TNG seasons

1 is by *far* the easiest call, as it's just way the worst. 3-6 are all just really excellent. Probably 2 over 7 is the most controversial here, but when you look at it, I don't know, 7 just doesn't do *that* much for me.

I'm actually also guilty of *liking* something from "Shades of Gray" - the joke at the end, I dunno, I just sorta like it.

Dominion Articles / Squire
« on: June 10, 2013, 06:25:11 pm »

Squire is my new favorite card. Its biggest strength lies in its versatility, which makes it a potential contributor in almost any deck, yet it is almost never the star of the show. Let’s take a look at several of its different roles:

Squire in an engine:
As Village: Squire-as-village is actually pretty bad as far as villages go, at least as the main village of an engine (somewhat similar to Shanty Town in this way). The reason, of course, is that it doesn’t draw cards. This leads it to having 20% fewer cards in your initial hand to start off a draw chain with. It furthermore hampers the efforts to draw your whole deck, as like a treasure, it counts as a ‘stop’ card. Thus, with a smithy variant, you end up with one more card than you started with rather than two, which is a pretty big deal when you are trying to run chains of actions together, and the $1 just doesn’t make up for this. It can still work if other things set up well, but it is harder to make happen than with most any other village.
But, I hear you ask, what about Fishing Village? Fishing Village also only gives you $1 and 2 actions on its turns and doesn’t draw cards, and it’s like the best village there is! What gives? Well, fishing village gives you the bonus twice, but actually more important, it is effectively a Bazaar on the second turn. Bazaar is a 5-cost card, and a pretty good one (and note that you have the full 5 to start drawing things with on the second turn). There is a squire-village tacked on the front to draw it DOWN to 3-cost (along with it missing the shuffle a bit more and being slightly delayed)! So when you look at it this way, it makes squire-as-village look pretty bad. And I think it is fairly bad, though not terrible.

Of course, there are other things to do in an engine with squire. Mostly this is using it as double-buy. How often do you need that many buys? Well, not *that* often, but it can often be useful. This is particularly true when you are trying to buy engines off of cheap components – and squire is one of these, so that is more often than normal. It also has nice synergies with cost reducers, principally highway, in this sense.

Squire for Big Money:
Yup, squire has a place in the big money deck. Let’s look at it first of all as a silver-gainer. Against bureaucrat, it gives you $1 more, but the silver isn’t top-decked, and you don’t get the attack. Against Jack, you get $1 for the filtering and drawing and trashing. Against explorer, you usually end up with $1 less. In general, these are all ‘disadvantage to squire’. But these cards cost a fair bit more than squire. Okay, except jack (which has numerous advantages), they aren’t very strong, either. Actually the best comparison is ironworks, which is exactly the same upon gaining silver.
But this isn’t the whole story. Squire once again has versatility. For the big money deck, this usually won’t mean the buys. But the actions option can be pretty useful here. The thing is, the biggest downside of all those cards mentioned above is that they are terminal. But squire doesn’t have to be. If it collides with one other terminal, it can still be a copper. And with two, it can be quite a boon. So it plays really well in those BM decks where you’d like to play a decent number of non-terminal-draw actions – decks which feature e.g. militia, merchant ship, marauder, monument (what is it with the ‘m’s?), cutpurse, swindler, fortune teller, or even other silver-flooders. Generally, in this kind of deck, you can have cantrip-with-bonuses, usually either some lab or peddler variant, but while this is still possible here, it tends to be slightly less effective, as this pushes out the squire’s usefulness. As normal, it’s all opportunity cost here. In any case, such decks with take the silver-flood-ability of squire when it doesn’t come with other actions and use the village-ness when it does.

Perhaps the best use of squire is in the slog. It looks like there are two good options here: +buys (and gain lots of coppers), or gain a silver. Actually, you almost always want to take the silvers. I actually must admit, I have gotten this wrong a lot. Okay, first thing’s first: you are generally just trying to maximize your money per hand in a slog, so more or less we can just look at money density. The thought I had was that more coppers are going to be more resilient than silvers to the bloating of a deck, because each extra green card has less of an overall impact. This trend is true generally, but 2 coppers can of course *never* produce a higher money density than 1 silver – it’s the *same* amount of money but with an extra card. So generally, you want the silvers. The exceptions to this rule are if you want to run something which cares about copper (potentially apothecary, coppersmith, counting house), something very unusual with piles running out, if you want to use at least one of the extra buys on something other than copper, or for a card like Gardens. With gardens, 4 isn’t much harder to hit with coppers than silvers, and you get an extra card for points at the end.
Why is Squire a particularly good card here, when the other silver gainers mentioned above aren’t considered magnificent? Well, for one thing, those cards aren’t terrible. For another, it’s cheaper. This helps a lot in comparison to explorer, which you normally don’t want to spend the time to get many of. It actually helps a fair bit in comparison to the others as well, as it is not unusual to miss $4 relatively often in such decks. And against them, it also provides $1 of cash, which is pretty big in a slog deck. Finally, you can use its own excess buys to pick up something like 3-6 of them really quickly, and this just gets you lots more silver a lot quicker.

General Considerations
Squire, more than any single card, can empty piles really fast. This is mostly because it has the 2 buy option, but the cheapness of the card itself also helps quite a bit. You can singlehandedly run 3 pile in 12ish turns fairly consistently (though you really don’t want to do this, as most often one of these needs to be curse, and you end up with 1 VP…). So you have to watch out for piles chomping down fast. Indeed, I have launched an assault through *all* the ruins in only a couple of turns to end a game in a flash before.

Squire can also be trashed to gain any attack card in the supply. This actually ends up being not a very useful ability – the thing is, by the time you get the trasher, the squire, and manage to get them together so that you can trash the squire, it usually would have been easier to just buy the thing. But okay, there are still some cases where this can be potent – most notably, if you are wanting to trash *everything* via chapel, or even more to the point, watchtower, which in hand turns $2 and a buy to any attack in the supply, topdecked. On the attacks side, it can be a quick way to gain Goons and especially Scrying Pool and Familiar. Actually, because you *have* to gain an attack, it can sometimes (quite rarely) be a downside, as you can’t say junk deal squires on some boards without having to gain thieves. Mostly, though, this ability is a nice little bonus to a deck where there are attacks you would like to gain already, trashers you would like to use already, and squire is relatively useful and a card you at least wouldn’t mind having in your deck already. It’s rarely something you want to go out of your way for.

Works with:
Jack of All Trades
Solid non-drawing Terminals
As icing and glue in an engine
Slogs - Duke and Silk Road and especially Gardens and Feodum

Conflicts with:
Terminal draw Big Money
Most engines without other villages
Usually not a bad card, but can be pushed out if there is something better – opportunity cost.

Simulation / Request: Rebuild
« on: June 10, 2013, 04:21:25 pm »
I'm really interested in seeing how this card holds up to certain things. There are a few things I'd like to see. Basically, two versions of Rebuild bots to give a baseline of how powerful it is. The first one is probably more important, and that is the non-mirror matchup bot. How does it do against wharf, mountebank, witch, young witch, and if it beats all of them, some of the combos, like YW/Tunnel, HP-terminal silver, HP-baron, etc. etc. The non-mirror would be something like rebuild (if less than say 2)>province>duchy(if late enough)>duchy or estate(if there are say 2 or fewer non-province green cards in your deck)>Rebuild>silver>duchy>estate(if it's reasonably late). Play rules could be as simple as always name province, or name estate if duchies are empty (otherwise name province), or if you want to give more exactitude, some way to be able to trash province->province to end the game sometimes (I doubt this will be very important though).

Also a mirror bot, how to play this optimally. This is probably similar, but you may want to duchy a little more aggressively - or at least, that's what consensus seems, though I'm not sure I see that much of a difference myself...

Game Reports / Plan: Lose the War
« on: June 10, 2013, 03:56:00 pm »

Ambassador, Village, Baron, Gardens, Navigator, Ghost Ship, Merchant Ship, Mine, Rogue, Trading Post

I always like to try to use pseudo-counters to overcome ambassador. Here, I saw an opportunity for baron and gardens to come together to that end. I still felt that I would probably just get snowballed under if I went straight for that, though, so I decided to put up a little bit of an ambassador fight, but not commit all of my resources to it, so that by the time I lost the deck-size war, I would have enough other assets to be in good shape.

So, this was probably not a good idea. Turn 12 or so, I am pretty sure I am lost. His deck is just much thinner than mine, and mine is not coming along very well at all. But you have to put these things away properly, and ambassador is really tricky there, too. He probably wants a baron at some point, for the buy. And he gets this, and it feels awkward, which, well, it probably has to. But his big problem is getting too many silvers. He really didn't need this many - three was plenty. He ends up with seven, but this just gives him too much of a chance to get his chains broken, which eventually happens. And my deck is good enough that, with that little sliver, I'm back in. I jump at the province opportunity I get, and head into the gardens hard. At this point, he flounders a bit, and it turns into a little bit of an ugly blowout, but I feel like I had a little bit of a grip anyway at that point, just from a little slip up. Ambassador can be rough, man.

Dominion Articles / Counterfeit
« on: June 08, 2013, 03:10:34 pm »

The most obvious comparison for counterfeit is moneylender (well, maybe throne room or procession, but it obviously plays way differently from them). Indeed, let's look at this. There are some type considerations (throne room, conspirator, venture, bank), but generally the differences in terms of copper trashing are these:

Moneylender is terminal. Counterfeit can't even be drawn dead.
Counterfeit gives a +buy.
Moneylender costs $4. Counterfeit costs $5.

Now, moneylender is a sort of mediocre 4-cost. It's not really a bad card, but it's not strong by any means. This is definitely better to have, so it rightly costs 5+, but you would think that it would not be too swell, given that the 4-to-5 price jump is the most important in the game. But that would only be true if Counterfeit could only be used as a moneylender. Of course, it's quite a bit better than that.

The next comparison I want to look at is salvager. Later in the game, counterfeit is very similar to a slightly better salvager-for-only-treasures. Counterfeiting a silver gives 5, whereas salvaging would only net 3. On gold, it's 7 vs 6. Platinum - 11 instead of 9. Of course, you can't trash actions or victory cards (or curses or hovels) with counterfeit. But again, it's a treasure instead of a terminal action, and it of course does MUCH better at copper-trashing than salvager.

There's of course some other uses for counterfeit, and some tactical decisions. Specialty treasures can give you double benefit. You can get the double-potion you want to end a vineyards game, or grab the last of the scrying pools or what have you. You can double Horn of Plenty to get two things, particularly nice if gaining victory cards (just remember that your HoP won't be able to count itself on the second play). It can make zany amounts of cash with bank. It just gives you lots of free coin out of your spoils, since you'd be losing them anyway (and they aren't even trashed, since they're already back in the supply!)

To follow-up on this, one draw-back of the card is that you don't get the in-play benefits of several treasures - royal seal and talisman are all less-than stellar as overpriced silver and copper, respectively.

Also, you can generally play counterfeit as copper-with-plus-buy. While this is not very good, it can be useful in some situations (where you've gotten the card for something else). Most often, this will come up when you're going for basically a treasureless deck - you still get a little benefit from your counterfeits, unlike what you'd have from moneylender or spice merchant. Occasionally, you also just won't want to trash something else. Maybe you're playing in a slog and want coppers (unlikely, given that you've got a counterfeit, but maybe a duchy was swindled into it and there aren't any swindlers left in your opponent's deck or the supply). This is  a slightly better copper. More likely, trashing a silver or gold won't let you buy anything better, and you still want them for later. You generally shouldn't be very afraid to trash those cards, but there are little segments of time in some games where this will fit. The flexibility is nice. And because there's a "may" thrown in, you never *have* to trash anything.

Of course, there's the question of 'what happens if you counterfeit a counterfeit'. Fortunately, it's really straightforward - you play the first one, giving you a coin and an extra buy, then you play the second one twice - this will give you 2 more coins and 2 more buys and the opportunity to trash and double two more treasures from your hand. You have to trash the second one, though, so this is *usually* not the greatest option, unless you *really* need the extra $1 or extra 1 buy - the exact same options of other treasures to trash are available either way.

Most normally, the flexibility of the different modes makes counterfeit a quite strong card. The obvious use for it is in engines, where it trashes coppers out of your way early, gives +buy, and pulls in a few big cash turns later. This is pretty much just what an engine likes, so it's obviously a pretty good card here. However, its real strength (I think) is in big money decks. Yup, money decks. Particularly those where the key non-treasure card costs something like $4, and particularly when we're talking terminal draw BM. Smithy, eat your heart out. Why? Well, usually engines have things they want to do on 5. Most of them will want one or two of these, but it won't be *that* big a bump. It is, however, a pretty huge bump over the silver that a lot of BM decks have. The trick is in trashing the right thing, and for that, you just need a very good feel of when you need to aggressively green, and when you still need to be building.

The card's only real weaknesses are that it costs 5, and in slogs. It just doesn't do much at all for you in slogs, and while you often want to do something else on 5 anyway, this is even moreso the case in slog-land.

Works with:
Big Money
Most any kind of normal deck, where the first one is most usually preferable to gold

Conflicts with:
Junking attacks
Hoard (sort of - the extra golds to go through are very nice)
Royal Seal
Quarry (sort of - this still gives +buy and thinning, not bad for actions)
A few power 5s

Dominion General Discussion / The WW Rating System
« on: April 21, 2013, 02:58:53 pm »
Current Rating List

Rank ID Rating Uncertainty Name
Code: [Select]
  1  13    6345   791 lespeutere
  2   9    4724  1684 qmech
  3   6    3400   796 Watno
  4   1    2944  1616 WanderingWinder
  5  19    1096   779 SheCantSayNo
  6  15     908  2140 A Drowned Kernel
  7  22       0  2500 Slyfox
  8  18       0  2500 snorkelbike
  9  14       0  2500 jonts26
 10  10    -147  2357 ftl
 11   4    -298  2418 Tables
 12  12   -1287  2254 Qvist
 13   2   -2484  2382 michaeljb
 14   8   -2664  2363 Schneau
 15   7   -2998  2454 Kirian
 16  21   -3808  2266 gman314
 17   3   -4529  2065 Twistedarcher
 18   5   -4647  2284 jsh357
 19  17   -4794  2288 Beyond Awesome
 20  20   -4849  1967 Rabid
 21  16   -5907  2392 serakfalcon
 22  11   -8546  1655 markusin

For general info (used to be here), please see the next post.

Goko Dominion Online / The Rating System
« on: April 06, 2013, 12:03:35 pm »
... is terrible. For one thing, I just won a game against the number 12 guy on the list, and gained a whopping 0 points. But ok, this appears to be a bug - it's not normally THAT bad. But there are a couple things. One, the rating it shows you is some form of rating - 2* uncertainty. Well, I don't like that so much in general - I didn't like it abut iso - and it basically strikes me as a gimmick to get people to play more. But the bigger issue I see with it is I will play someone who is rated, I don't know 5000, and I will 'gain 8 points'. Well, at least some of that is just my uncertainty lowering. Indeed, it seems to me that it wouldn't take someone much lower than that for my rating (i.e. the actual skill bit, not the number they show you) to actually *decrease* with game play. Maybe this is already happening there, it's hard to tell, since they only give you the number that they do. And while there is a big problem with the system in that people with the same rating can have a wide variety of skills, well, even someone who is pretty bad is going to have more than a 1% chance, just because of the inherent randomness. Indeed, it seems to me that the expectation function might actually be *linear*, which would be truly terrible, and that certainly there comes a point where the expectation is 100%, and after that, you are actually expected to win *more* games than you are playing, which is of course absurd.

So the other thing is that people even in the 5000s and 6000s seem to be, well, pretty bad. That might not be a problem with the ratings, so much as a weak player pool, but on the other hand, the system stops the few actually pretty good players there from rising above them significantly. I mean, there is a competitive aspect to ratings, but one of their main features is to actually get you paired up against people of reasonably similar skill levels, which should make the game more fun. And this system is failing at that.

So, question for someone who knows, or who has any kind of experience, how does the system deal with multiplayer? Because I've only played 1v1s.

Title pretty much says it.

Dominion Articles / Engines Can Overcome Curses
« on: February 13, 2013, 04:36:38 pm »
There's a thought that cursing attacks really kill engines. This is probably because curses, in general, and like so many other stop cards, actually do hurt most engines rather badly. They stop your different components, needed to draw, from coming together. And all this in a way that isn't as harmful to money, which just misses a little bit of density.

But in actuality, there are a large number of situations wherein engines can reign supreme anyway. Because curses usually do screw you up very badly, you want a way to keep your deck very clean. Generally this means some form of trashing. And because you need to actually connect that trashing with the curses, not just any trashing will do. Generally, in order to maintain your clean deck and thus running engine, you need to be drawing large parts of your deck before you get hit with too many curses. It's generally quite important to get ahead of things and be reactive rather than proactive. There are a couple ways of doing this. One of the ways you can do this is to have strong trashing and get thinned out quickly. Another is to get your engine up and running and strong quickly. Occasionally, there are other ways of getting around things, such as when your can draw even through so many curses (say scrying pool) or when you can engineer massively massive trashing somehow (say with forge and some way to get at least one big hand, like with tactician - the trashing equivalent of a mega-turn). But in general, you want to have a strong enough trasher to get things down, with a good enough engine to play it often enough to do so, too.

Exactly how much time you have is a function of a few different parameters. There is a question of what you can do with your engine once it is up and running. The stronger your engine is - this could mean more points available, it could mean stronger attacks, more buying power, could mean a lot of things - the more time you have. Probably the biggest thing, though, is how long the game is going to last. The opponent of the engine player is looking to score enough points and most importantly to get the game over. In the long run, the engine is going to be better. The big question is whether the game will be long enough for that to come through. So money strong enough to run down 50% of the points (or close enough to that amount) or to grab all the provinces (this is highly unlikely) will be a problem. But generally, the bigger issue is a three pile ending. Curses are going to run, almost always. A second pile to likely run, which is something the engine often wants, can make a lot of problems, as the money player can then target down something, usually duchies, to be a third pile, ending the game before the engine player has time to get going. This is the biggest wepon that the non-engine player usually has in such games.

Example games:
In this one, I use lookout for the trashing and scrying pool for the draw. This stops me from getting rid of all the curses, but the draw is so powerful, and with grand market and peddler, even the lack of villages isn't too much of a problem.
Apothecary provides a nice engine base, complemented well by worker's villages and an eventual margrave and alchemist, with nothing more than remodels for trashing, but this is enough to overcome mountebank.
Walled Village, Embassy, oracles, and a witch are enough draw here with Forge on the job.
Here, IGG with coppersmith support can run decent hands all day long, but remake and upgrade deal with curses, and scrying pool to draw everything, and the province train is coming.
Here my opponent goes for IGGs once again, and gardens certainly go well. But he makes the mistake of not having the three piles in sight, and abandons draining the IGGs down too early, which leaves him unable to end it. Moreover, Steward gives strong trashing and engine component down the road, with Bazaar as an excellent village.
Here, an early trading post and later upgrades combine with scrying pool's excellent draw and a massive conspirator engine to win the day over sea hag and a late mountebank.
Here, a double-tac deck with trading post, with militia, shanty town, and oracle helping along is able to eventually get through the flood of IGGs and make a pretty good bid at comeback, but my opponent puts his head down and goes on a mission to pile out IGG, curse, and silk road and is acle to come away with it. A classic close game which can go either way - nice clashing styles.
Goons gives massive point potential, throne room, worker's village, nobles, torturer, and minion all provide potential to get those goons in play, and forge can clean up. This is able to overcome even mountebank. The key points here are forge, which we both need, and my esteemed opponent turning for points too early, which gives his engine the opportunity to break, which it does - fortunate for me, because it took a long time to set this engine up. If he is able to keep enough lead with the deck relatively thin, he can look to three-pile on me pretty safely.
In this one, there's a sea hag slog, but I'm eventually able to use native village and forge to get an enormous trashing, and then I have a roaring engine. Unfortunately, in the process, most of my deck ends up on the mat, which really slows me down in getting to forge. But when I do, I come neck and neck and would have had very good chances of winning had I played better - probably I needed to be a bit more province-shy.
Bishop is eventually able to cut through all my problems from young witch AND provide my points in large quantity which also don't bring endgame closer. This was very slow, but the later bishop plays don't benefit him AS much, and his fool's golds eventually have hard times finding each other, whereas my hunting parties and shanty towns strengthen and strengthen. Importantly, peddler is a huge huge boon here.

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