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Game Reports / Coppersmith shines
« on: May 08, 2012, 10:04:24 am »

This is a game I played the other day (as That's Numberwang!).  I was originally going for a Scrying Pool / KC / Monument engine to load up on VP tokens, but Coppersmith stole the show.  Note that there's no +buy, so it's hard to see just how much Coppersmith was rocking.  I had at least two turns with enough coins for 3 Colonies.  And yes, I ignored Counting House and stand by that decision.  It could have been good, but I didn't have an opportune $5 hand for it.

It was the closest I've come to buying no additional sources of coins in a game.  I had all engine components in place without buying any kingdom cards or treasures that gave +coins.  I could have easily done without the +$2 from Monument.  It demonstrates that even the typically ignorable cards occasionally have their uses.

3rd worst $4 card?  No, 41st best $4 card!

Council Room Feedback / Feature suggestion: Add date to game logs
« on: May 03, 2012, 05:02:01 pm »
When trying to find a game, I often know I played with a card or cards and roughly when I played the game.  If I just search for my name and the card, I may end up with dozens of potential matches to weed through.  A date would help narrow that down.  Even better would be to allow searching by date.

I think a date would be sufficient, as opposed to a date/time, because (a) I don't think date/time information is available from isotropic, and (b) date/time information could potentially be incriminating  ;)

This came up in a game on Isotropic yesterday.  The supply contained Familiar and Scrying Pool.  I had a Haggler in play.  I bought a Familiar assuming I could gain a Scrying Pool, since $2p costs less than $3p.  I was a little unsure of the rule, though, and thought Isotropic may force me to take a $2 card.  In fact, it did neither.  Instead, it allowed me to gain a card costing up to $3, which makes no sense to me.

What's the rule and reasoning behind this?  Do any other cards behave this way?

* edit - as mentioned below, gaining a Scrying Pool does work (tested in solitaire).  I'm not sure what happened.

The Challenge: Show that Philosopher's Stone is worth buying as part of an Ill-Gotten Gains strategy.

Create a bot which uses a Philosopher's Stone + Ill-Gotten Gains strategy to defeat a bot on a pure Ill-Gotten Gains strategy.  Inspired by claims in the Philosopher's Stone article request.

Some rules:
- Use the optimized Ill-Gotten Gains bot as a starting point, not the default bot.
- If you include alternate VP, the pure IGG strategy should be updated to buy those cards where rational.  So, for instance, if the P. Stone / IGG bot is buying Tunnel / Province, the pure IGG bot should buy Tunnel with < $5 hands while greening, or to end the game.
- There's no limit in the number of extra cards you throw in the mix, but since the point is to show that P. Stone and IGG work well together, the fewer the better.  I.e. it's a stronger statement to say "IGG + P. Stone works great in the presence of alternate VP" than it is to say "IGG + P. Stone works great if you have at least 3 alternate VP cards and Monument."

Dominion Isotropic / Bug: auto-match showing players as level 0
« on: April 30, 2012, 01:18:43 pm »
This usually works fine, but I've seen the bug twice now.  I've now played against two people listed by auto-match as being level 0 who are actually around level 40+ (chwhite and theParty).  I mentioned it during both games.  chwhite thought it may have been because he hadn't played in a while, but I had played theParty and seen his level just a few games earlier, so I'm pretty sure lack of play isn't the cause.

Game Reports / Well-supported Vineyards vs well-supported Duke
« on: April 28, 2012, 05:14:28 pm »
This game came up yesterday:

Chancellor, Duke, Haggler, Hamlet, Horse Traders, Lighthouse, Mining Village, Pawn, Potion, Vineyard, and Walled Village

The game was impressively close, and ended with the lead trading back and forth and neither player being comfortable letting piles get too low.  It could have gone either way in the end.  Vineyards won, but the Duke player had $5 in-hand to buy an 8VP Duke the next turn, which would have given him the lead.  It's rare to see such divergent strategies end up that close.

I can spot a few mistakes on both sides, and I'm still not sure whether one strategy is better.  Thoughts?

Goko Dominion Online / Where's the official app?
« on: April 25, 2012, 01:21:05 pm »
Okay, I know this has been talked about to death, but its been a while since I've seen any news whatsoever.

Donald X. posted in January saying that the Isotropic tournament would get to finish and urging people to hurry up with whatever unofficial things they were doing, which seemed to imply the game would be released imminently.

Previous discussions/news also talked about time frames like "early 2012" and "Q1 2012."

We're now entering mid-2012.  I've been patiently saving up my hard-earned cash (RGG, Mr. Lincoln says "Hello!").  When can I have my official game?

It's often difficult to see the real impact of a play on a hand or deck.  Sometimes when you analyze a play, you'll discover that what seemed like a good play is nearly* equivalent to something else that's obviously not that great.

* I'll stress nearly equivalent.  The idea here is to understand the impact of a play on your deck in the general case.  We can gloss over situations where Silver / Village might be a reasonable opening.

Here's the ones I can think of off the top of my head:

Situation: Open Silver / Village
What you think you've done: Given yourself a chance to get some early cards and actions
What you've actually done: Opened Silver / Nothing

Situation: Open Develop / Silver.  Trash an Estate, top-decking a Silver.
What you think you've done: Traded an Estate for a Silver, getting access to that Silver on your next turn
What you've actually done: Traded an Estate for a Develop, delaying access to a Silver by one turn (i.e. you could have opened Silver/Silver)

Situation: Play a Tournament game with mostly non-terminals.  Gain a Trusty Steed.  Always use it for +Cards +Actions.
What you think you've done: Snagged one of the most powerful cards in the game.  Prevented yourself from drawing your Tournaments dead.
What you've actually done: Added a Shanty Town to your deck

Situation: Buy lots of Highways without any support cards (+buy, Saboteur, etc)
What you think you've done: Found a spectacular deal on Provinces
What you've actually done: Paid $5 each for a bunch of Peddlers

Does anyone have other examples?

Simulation / AI Competition: Any interest or ideas?
« on: January 04, 2012, 02:42:00 pm »
I'd like to put together and participate in a competition where people write scripts to play fixed sets of kingdom cards optimally.

My main goal is to capture what optimal play looks like.  On the whole, our simulations are good at assessing big-picture strategies, but they lack the nuance and adaptation present in a real game.  Some examples:
  • You're buying a key engine card this turn and want to avoid triggering a shuffle.
  • It becomes obvious that your opponent is going for Duke/Duchy.
  • You're going for Conspirator and have several available cantrips.
  • The Kingdom makes Fairgrounds or Menagerie viable.
  • Your opponent pulled Lighthouse from the Black Market on turn 3.
  • Embargo is available.  Perhaps your opponent has even used it.
My thinking is that optimizing simulated players against fixed Kingdoms will bring out some of these nuances, and that will hopefully produce meaningful improvements to our current simulators and to our understanding of optimal play.  As a side-effect, we'd also end up with some really thorough board analysis.

First question: Would anyone participate in such a thing?

Now let's talk mechanics.  I'm open to any and all ideas of how this should work or why my thinking is wrong.

Firstly, it seems like we'd almost have to use Dominiate rather than Geronimoo's simulator.  Geronimoo's simulator is already excellent about hard-coding many of the game nuances (massive thanks for his dedication to this), but Dominiate's openness and extensibility are completely compelling.  As far as I can tell, it's possible to program any decision in the game in Dominiate, using a fully-featured programming language.  It also seems better suited to a server-side environment.

It's difficult to rank bots.  There are two problems: (1) Three bots may all beat each other in rock-paper-scissors fashion, and (2) it should not be possible to beat the current first-place bot using a functionally identical strategy.  I was thinking each bot could play each other bot 100 times and its score would be its total number of wins.  This would resolve the first problem but not the second.  I'm not sure what to do about the second, but I'm betting the answer has the words "Standard Deviation" in it.

I do think it's important to make the bots publicly viewable for educational reasons.  I also think people should be encouraged to tweak and tune the best bots to make them even better.  It'd be nice if there were some meaningful way to give credit to the authors of previous iterations.

Finding a good source of Kingdoms is tough, too.  The 2011 Championship finals seems like one good place.  We could just let people submit Kingdoms at will.  Presumably the more interesting Kingdoms would get played more.  This could also be a way to involve people who are interested in Dominion but not in simulation.

That's a long enough post for now.  Thoughts?

Dominion Isotropic / Feature Request: Make resigning easier
« on: January 01, 2012, 11:54:59 pm »
It should be possible to resign at any time during any turn.  The "resign" button should also be more obvious. 

It seems as though, more often than not, if I'm way ahead in a game the other player will just disappear, possibly having closed the tab or similar.  It's very frustrating having to sit around and wait for a couple of minutes to force-resign the other person.  The resign button is hard to find, and I imagine many players don't know it's there.

Having a small child, I've also been in situations where I've needed to resign *right now* and the resign action has been unavailable to me.  It should be available at all times.  I'm sure it's more polite to use it on my turn, but it's even more polite to not have to pull the plug mid-turn due to an emergency.  And hey, sometimes I don't want to sit around and watch a 10 minute Scrying Pool turn.

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