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Messages - Powerman

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Masq, masq, and masq again on day's ending with a "Y".  AT least those are my factors ;)

This is usually my approach as well - but using almost any measurement (CR win rates etc.) ambassador is absolutely the stronger card of the two - even if I perceive Masq to win the head to head machup. 

Is that because ignoring Ambassador when engines are possible is just damn near impossible?

Masq just gives so much more flexibility.  If you go Amb. you are committing to your strategy turn 1.  If you go Masq. and say get a lucky 6 on turn 3, you can change to more of a BM-Masq strategy.  But if you hit 5-5, you can easily go for the Engine.  My 2 cents.

I think on this board you need to go engine whether the draws are friendly or not.  I can see the case for opening Masq on the grounds that you really do want that early Bazaar, but Masq-BM has no shot against a player who can ramp up to passing out multiple Curses a turn, then transitioning to grabbing lots of points by Bishopping Peddlers to catch up no matter the Province deficit.

There were peddlers?  My bad.

Masq, masq, and masq again on day's ending with a "Y".  AT least those are my factors ;)

This is usually my approach as well - but using almost any measurement (CR win rates etc.) ambassador is absolutely the stronger card of the two - even if I perceive Masq to win the head to head machup. 

Is that because ignoring Ambassador when engines are possible is just damn near impossible?

Masq just gives so much more flexibility.  If you go Amb. you are committing to your strategy turn 1.  If you go Masq. and say get a lucky 6 on turn 3, you can change to more of a BM-Masq strategy.  But if you hit 5-5, you can easily go for the Engine.  My 2 cents.

The bottom line is that they are both being unreasonable.  WanderingWinder most likely could have beaten personman with or without tracker, but chose to make a stink about it instead.

Personman should have disabled the f'ing tracker.

How about this?  We stop posting in this thread - and from now on only talk about legitimate dominion STRATEGY.  WW has decided to stop playing with us - and i'm not going to play with Personman or respond to any of his posts going forward.  Problem solved.

So... today I played a game with Masquerade,  Ambassador, Bishop, Council Room, Peddler and Bazaar.

With a 4/3 opening - how would you open?

My opponent - a high ranked player - opened bishop / amba - and I opened masq silver.  I got the bazaar -> councilroom -> bishop -> buy province + peddler engine going faster.

My opponent commented - first one to 5 wins this game.  My retort was that he opened a very slow hand - amba / bishop is very unlikely to hit 5 on t3/t4.

When both amba and masq are on the board - what factors cause you to choose one vs. the other?

Masq, masq, and masq again on day's ending with a "Y".  AT least those are my factors ;)

You could go farther and show the cards remaining in your deck as well as the percentage chance of drawing each type of card (since that's completely open to you) but hardly anyone is going to try to keep track of that themselves during the game.

I always calculate odds about draws, even when playing without notes in real life. I don't see why a serious player wouldn't.

You calculate exact percentages of drawing each card when playing in real life.  Why exactly is the point counter sooo necessary then?

Personman, if you had a way to say order your deck in anyway you wanted, and no one would find out about it, would you do it?

A better example could be athletes taking drugs

We know some athletes take drugs, we cant stop that. Every now and then one gets caught, but in all liklihood a load more are taking some and not getting caught.

Therefore should we allow drug taking so that everyone is on a level playing field?

That is a better example.  Why didn't I think of that?  ::)

Dominion World Masters / Re: Finals order
« on: July 03, 2012, 05:58:33 pm »
Quote from: blueblimp
A little note here: from what I remember, the Donald X. ruling is that if one player is taking notes on paper, that is a variant. To play a variant legitimately, both players need to agree.

..and all players are given ample opportunity to opt out of games with the extension variant, as you yourself have just noted. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard not to read this as fairly pointless antagonism.

Quote from: Kirian
This addon will be barred from future IsoDom tournaments, should they happen.

You can do whatever you want in tournaments you run, but I beg you to consider the following line of argument:

1. Everyone likes to be able to trust each other and treat each other without suspicion.
2. People like to win.
3. People sometimes succumb to the temptation to secure advantages via illegitimate means, especially if they are 100% certain that they cannot be caught.
4. The point counter can be trivially modified to be undetectable. As blueblimp points out, at present there is no reason to believe anyone has done so (but neither is there particular reason to believe that they haven't).
5. Even if no one is actually cheating, the existence of an easy and undetectable way to cheat breeds suspicion and resentment.
6. It also provides an incentive for otherwise honest players to begin cheating - "My opponent is probably using an undetectable point counter, I guess I will too".
7. The only resolution to problems of unenforceability is to legalize the unenforceable action.
8. Therefore, to maintain the trusting nature of the community, and to avoid providing unfair advantages to those willing to cheat in undetectable ways, the extension should always be legal in competitive play. This is an unfortunate conclusion for those who have a strong preference for Dominion play without the extension, but I believe it is nevertheless an inescapable fact of online life. The alternative is to incentivize and reward unethical behavior.

I think you asked for someone to dispute this?  (if you were referring to some other post, my bad!)  First off, what you say in 4 basically is "Cheaters will cheat".  I assume you are American (as this was US only) and from my understanding of RL events (I know this is the internet) is RL cheating (AKA breaking the rules or laws) while not always caught, is never permissible  because it is done.  Let's look at speeding.  Who amongst us has not at some point gone over the speed limit?  I'm tempted to say no one, but we'll just say for ease that only 90% of people have gone over the speed limit.  Now, does this mean we abandon our speed limits because they are often ignored, and rarely caught?  No, obviously not.  There are police that watch roads and catch some people who speed, we'll say 10% (not that high, but w/e).  So 90% of the 90% (or 81%) of our population speeds (breaking the rules) and gets away with this.  But this doesn't mean we need to abolish speed limits.  Not a perfect example, I know.  But oh well.

Thanks for all the work you do! :)

Re: the word "cheat". I use this word to mean "violate the rules of the game". This may or may not be deceptive, may or may not be intentional. Please read any posts wherein I make use of this word, and its derivatives (i.e. cheating, cheater, cheated), with this definition in mind. Thank you.

Then the way you are using is wrong. See

No words about violating the rules at all.

There are lots of dictionaries though:

cheat (third-person singular simple present cheats, present participle cheating, simple past and past participle cheated)
(intransitive) To violate rules in order to gain advantage from a situation.
My brother flunked biology because he cheated on his mid-term.

People are throwing the word "cheat" around a lot. This implies there is some sort of deception going on. I was not aware of what the point counter actually did, but this was not the fault of the people using it. I could have looked it up on my own, the link is right there, so I wouldn't call them "cheaters". They're not trying to cheat anyone. They're just using a tool that is not expressly prohibited by any rules. Now if you ask them to turn it off and they don't, that's a different story. I still don't think it's "cheating" (unless they say it's disabled when it's not), it's just discourteous.

I can see why people use this for casual play. I myself use the official point counter because it allows me to pay less attention during the game, not so that I can devote my brain resources to playing better, but so that I can devote them to doing something else at the same time. In a serious 2-player tournament setting I don't see it really making much of a difference, because you're paying full attention anyway. But as the number of players increases, I can see people having a serious issue with it. Keeping track of stuff in 4 decks is hard. People who are skilled at it want to have that advantage, and people who are not don't want to be disadvantaged. Personally, I don't care, but this kind of thing has to be decided before the start of a tournament (before people even enter) and not on the day of the finals.

Good post, except I'm not sure I understand the bolded statement.  Shouldn't people who are "skilled" have an advantage over people who aren't "skilled"?  Isn't that why we hold tournaments (to find out who is most "skilled"?)

Powerman you are just so horribly wrong. From your point even using the official point counter is cheating. In the strict sense you are saying even playing dominion itself online is cheating. Who knows, maybe without shuffling with your own hands make you have more leisure thinking about other things and give an advantage to you.

But that is not at all the point. What is cheating just depends on the rules. And the rules can change once everyone in the game agrees. So the point is to respect others. And to discuss and find the solution that everyone can accept.

The worst thing one can do is just to outright call the other group of people cheater. What benefit is there?

Well, I do think that the official point tracker is technically cheating, but it is probably necessary due to a few situations on Iso not present IRL so I accept it.  And if somehow a player online could somehow play a player that would be terrible.  But since both players are using a different platform, it provides no competitive advantage (as in there is no alternative).  However, having something tell you the cards bought does provide a competitive advantage and there is an alternative (either figure out the deck composition yourself or just don't know it).

I guess it comes down to whether you think (in general) that knowing what cards are in your deck and what cards are in your opponents deck is an advantage.  Now to me, using an external aid to gain an advantage is cheating.  I'm sorry if people that don't like that get mad.

Game Reports / Re: University gains .... FEASTS!!
« on: July 03, 2012, 01:35:33 pm »
20 Turns with a wharf and no attacks... And neither of you get to a province.  I'm a bit confused.

The unofficial point tracker is cheating.  Whether or not it is possible to stop, does not change that.  Obviously in online dominion, as in many things in life, cheating will happen no matter what anyone tries to do about it.

Someone brought up liking the point counter because it stops them from ending the game when they are behind.  This is exactly the reason I HATE the point counter.  Knowing when to end the game used to be something that separated a good player from a not so good player, but anyone can see "Hm, I'm down 7.  Buying a 6 point province will still cause me to lose.  I'll buy a duchy!"  To me a good player should AT LEAST be able to know who has bought what victory cards in a 2 player game.  The piles all start with 8... know what you buy and do subtraction.  For the unofficial point counter, knowing other splits is HUGE and having something tells goes against the nature of the game.  Having something tell you "You lost the GM split 6-4 and the Peddler split 7-3 BUT you have a small lead" is huge over thinking "Was it 5-5?  Did I win 6-4?"

Secondly, with the logic of "if it's illegal people will still do it" etc. So what?  If people want to cheat by writing down all the cards on paper, oh well.  If they feel they need to get ahead by cheating good for them, I hope it helps them when they aren't able to do that.  But the point is they are cheating.

I don't like the official point counter, but I don't mind playing with it or without it.  Think of offline dominion where all you see is the board (where you aren't even sure of exactly how many cards are always left in each pile) and your deck/ discard with an unknown # of cards.  Online already has given HUGE advantages to people that can't keep track of things on their own, why should even more be available?

With all that said, I don't consider everyone using it to be "cheaters" looking to get an advantage.  I liken it to the Jeopardy! online qualifying tests.  There is NOTHING to stop you from quickly google searching all the right answers and passing the qualifying test.  Does that mean it's not cheating?  Obviously not, as (I hope) we can all agree.  However at the next level you would be exposed, when you clearly DON'T know much.  Similarly here: There is NOTHING to stop you from quickly seeing the deck contents and using that to pass the "qualifying test"...

I think we all agree that we LIKE dominion.  And probably a majority started out playing IRL.  So in general things should be as close to that as possible.  In a perfect world for me the only info given outside of what each player plays/ buys would be the # of VP chips accumulated.  But, it is what it is.


As far as the bottom goes:  Secret Chamber = Terrible.  Duchess = Terrible.  Pearl Diver = Terrible.  Herbalist = Terrible.  Moat (2player) = Terrible.  With that said, they mostly have a use.  Herbalist is good for decks that need a potion, outside of that I don't think I have ever/ will ever buy it.  Moat is good in multiplayer, outside of that it's pretty bad.  Pearl Diver... talk about irrelevancy.  I do like it in SP decks, alright to buy 1 or 2 for HoP, but man... talk about a weak benefit.  Duchess, I guess I like it on the right 5/2 board, but after that I don't ever find a use for it. Although for free I sometimes just take it for fun :)  And Secret Chamber seems useful at first, but it's just poor.  The reaction part I have never found any use for, and the discard part isn't awful but it's far from good.

Ranking them is tough, but I guess the order seems about correct, although MAYBE duchess eeks out pearl diver just for 5/2 openings.

For the middle: Cellar I've been finding less and less useful as I've stopped playing base and added in all the expansions (Plus it's worse than warehouse...).  Embargo I actually like more and more, if for nothing else the mind games/ strategy changes it causes.  It's so fun to open with it after your opponent gets a potion and crush their spirits, otherwise if you have a deck that doesn't need silver embargoing that can hurt your opponent too.  Pawn is useful in a few situations, but rarely does much more as it's easiest to go card/action :D  Native Village is another card I'm starting to like more and more, but it also isn't all that good.  The card drawing portion is worse than vanilla village, but if you have the ability to wait until you get at least 4-5 cards (or more!) it can lead to some good hands.  Haven's a cute little card, doesn't seem to do much, but it has it's place in many decks.  I guess the only change I'd make is embargo over pawn just for the game change ability.

At the top:  I really don't have too many comments as all of these cards are useful at times,  and other times they can be poor.  But I will say that I think Hamlet is a bit overrated.  Its great for ending a 3rd pile... but the discard penalty is harsher than it appears.  I realize that in lieu of other +Action/+Buy it can work, but it makes building a engine tough.  Basically the difference between this and WV is huge, and while they are different costs WV kills hamlet.  Courtyard is one of the few BM enablers I'll actually play, and FG with support is almost always the best strategy on the board.

Good list though!

Dominion Articles / Re: Scrying Pool
« on: July 03, 2012, 11:00:21 am »

When NOT to buy Scrying Pool

Case 1: Lack of plus actions or many cantrips

Case 2: Lack of (some) trashing

Case 3: Curses

Case 4: Lack of virtual $

Case 5: Lack of plus buy

Case 6: Very quick games

I play alot of Scrying Pool decks and I really think you're overstating the situations when it's not a good card. Only cases one, two, and six are truely times when you really shouldn't bethinking about Scrying Pool (maybe if Fairgrounds is in play though . . .); the reasoning behind that is just as you stated. However lack of +$, + buy, and trashing can all be made up for by the presence of quality cards in the other categories.

If you don't have + $, and you have some trashing you can clear out your coppers and estates for the bigger denomination coinage. If you lacking buys, well, you really just need to build a very lean decklist, clear your junky cards and play like champ. If you don't have trashing you just build a robust deck and utilize your buys to stock up on the cheap actions. Sometimes you just have to be willing to deviate from the norm. Heck, I played SP, something that gives + buy (Woodcutter I think), and Bank the other day. Once I got going, I was drawing my deck, Banking for $9, buying Colonies, and ninja-ing the third pile for the win.

You really can't not mention how awesome Pawn is with SP. It's + buy, + $, it digs out Scrying Pools when they miss and it helps you set up a 3-pile victory against (when the kingdom is right), and it's cheap so you can quickly build up your action density. There is no card that I like to see more in a SP kingdom than Pawn.

I think in your initial thing, you mean cases 1, 3 and 6?

But anyway, yes.  Most of the time one of these things will not be enough to make SP a "bad" card.  But I would argue that any 2 (and certainly any 3) of them makes it a less than dominant strategy.  Obviously you are never going to have a "perfect" board, so maybe you do have to sacrifice for one of these things.  But the point is these are the things that can hurt a SP deck, so if you see "Hm, there's no +Buy" you ask yourself "is it worth it"?

For example, cursing.  This might be (and is IMO) the harshest counter to SP.  But if you have enough cheap actions and GOOD trashing (ie. Forge/Chapel/Remake) you can easily handle gaining a curse a turn.

So maybe having any 1 of these isn't enough to bypass SP, but these are definitely the "bad" things to look for.

Dominion Articles / Re: Masquerade
« on: July 01, 2012, 06:59:59 pm »
Just a couple of questions.  With your line of "do not over-trash your junk", are you implying that you do not need to add additional trashing beyond the masquerade, or are you saying that the masquerade's trashing itself is too much?

And with the militia/masquerade, are you saying that keeping a "junk" card is what should be done, or simply what IS done.  For example, assuming your opponent is at the start of their deck after a reshuffle and plays "Village, Militia" and you know there is a chance of a masquerade, and your hand is something like Gold-Gold-Silver-Copper-Copper, are you saying to keep a copper and forgo a chance of a province, or is keeping GGS and potentially passing a silver worth the risk.  Obviously it depends on board, situation, etc. but in general.

Lastly, I think it is worth mentioning that if you play two masq's in the same turn you are very likely to get back the card you passed first, so if there is a card you want your opponent to have (ie. curse) you have to pass it second.

Otherwise good article!

Dominion Articles / Re: Scrying Pool
« on: July 01, 2012, 12:10:08 am »
On boards where you can't trash Copper (or the only trashing is something like Salvager that you don't want to use on Copper) BUT there are other good reasons to go Pool- cantrips, +buy, non-curse attacks, etc.- getting one Apothecary early then switching to Pools the rest of the way can often be a good idea.

Edited in section about other Potion cards.  Does it seem in line?

Dominion Articles / Re: Scrying Pool
« on: June 30, 2012, 07:39:04 pm »
Thrones, Golems, and King's courts are good partner cards for scrying pools as they can generate the extra actions to play all the action cards you're going to draw. Havens can be good as you can reserve a scrying pool to start the next turn, preventing bad draws. Outposts can come into play with a scrying pool, as can vp scoring cards like monument. Universities, workshops, and ironworks can obviously add a lot of fuel to a scrying pool. In fact pretty much every heavy action based strategy can be assisted by scrying pools.

Apothecary isn't a bad partner card for scrying pool. Many types of alchemy decks can develop faster by purchasing an apothecary to speed up the deck in the early game.

Good mention of the Outpost, that's a very natural combo and quick way to catch up.  Universities... again the potion cost makes it kind of compete, but the others I can see as a decent option.

I still am not sold on the Apothecary.  I mean it might help very, very early game, and might stay useful in lieu of copper trashing, but it seems almost superfluous to the cause.

Dominion Articles / Re: Scrying Pool
« on: June 30, 2012, 05:49:45 pm »
@TheMathProf -- I think what I added should address this.

@lespeutere -- I'm not sure how much synergy there is between these cards.  Apothecary is a competing 2P card, so picking it up would probably be better off with just picking up a SP.  And my gut feeling is scout is still terrible.  Cartographer?  Maybe decent, but if you are going SP it's likely there are better cards to buy.  But if you have any logs (once CR is fixed) I definitely could be wrong.

Dominion Articles / Re: Scrying Pool
« on: June 29, 2012, 03:59:08 pm »
Shark_Bait, good mention I'll add it!

And with the chapel, yes if you're going SP anyway you want to add in the chapel, obviously.  The problem, is if there is the potential for an engine with a chapel, you might not need the SP as you will be drawing your whole deck quickly anyway.  But they aren't exactly conflicting either I guess.

Dominion Articles / Scrying Pool
« on: June 29, 2012, 03:02:58 pm »

Scrying Pool (SP) is a card that can let you draw a lot of actions at one time.  YAY!  It also can allow you to remove a junk card from the top of your deck.  YAY!  SP also allows you to spy the top card of your opponent's deck to either remove a good card or leave a bad one.  YAY!  Lastly, SP always gives a card and an action, so it can't "hurt" your deck.  YAY!  With all of the good SP has going for it, is it always a must buy?  Far from it!

When NOT to buy Scrying Pool

Case 1: Lack of plus actions or many cantrips
Basically without a village (or King's Court!) of some type, Scrying Pool is useless.  Why?  Because it really doesn't matter how many smithies, witches, militias and goons you can get in your hand if you can only play one.  If the board calls for lots of actions to be played, SP will be able to get those actions in to your hand, but that does not mean they can all get played.  Also, many spammable actions helps to increase your action density quickly.

Case 2: Lack of (some) trashing
Your deck starts out with 10 non-actions, plus the potion you have to pick up, so at a minimum you will have at least 11 cards that SP doesn't like (and usually more!).  Without trashing any of them, that means for 1 of your top 2 cards to have a 75% chance of being an action (therefore drawing 2 cards), you need to have 11 actions in addition to the SP already in your hand.  For a 50% chance, you need roughly 6 action cards in your deck.  That means to have a 50% chance of this card being a lab, you need 11 actions in your deck.  That is a slow build up!

Case 3: Curses
This is an obvious counter to SP because more junk means less action density.  Basically for every curse added to your deck, you need to add that many extra actions to compensate.  Needless to say, Mountebank is especially bad because those coppers might as well be an extra curse!

Case 4: Lack of virtual $
Obviously if you want your deck to be mostly actions, you want to keep your treasure count to a minimum.  But you still need to buy cards, so having a way to generate $ from action cards is HUGE for Scrying Pool.  Without anyway to generate coins from actions, you have to add treasures which just further dilutes your action density.

Case 5: Lack of plus buy
This alone is not enough to avoid SP, but it should make you think twice.  Why?  First off, without an extra buy (or gain) you can only add one action to your deck per turn, which means building up to a good density of actions will be slow, especially when you want to get numerous SP's, so your potion turns pretty much are dedicated to that early.  Secondly, a SP engine is often slower than the fastest other options, so you are likely to fall behind to a good opponent.  With a plus buy, this isn't a problem because it is easy to get to 13 or 16.  But without?  It can be awfully difficult to make up the lost time.

Case 6: Very quick games
I'm looking at you JoaT!  The idea behind this being if your opponent is hitting their 4th province by turn 12, SP is just going to be too slow.  So JoaT and Masquerade do not bode very well for the SP player.

With all of these out of the way, what should you look for?  When should you buy a scrying pool?

When to buy Scrying Pool

Case 1: Cheap Cantrips
Scrying Pool basically adds 1 card to all actions, because you draw the actions up until the victory/treasure card, so it adds 1 to your hand size.  This means that your Pearl Divers, Great Halls, and Spies all become Laboratories.  The best ones here are Village (gives +action), Pawn (can give +Buy OR +$), Conspirator (gives +2$ and is trivial to activate) and Haven (can save extra SP's if you draw your whole deck) because they are cheap (easy to mass) and give a fringe benefit.

Case 2: Light Trashing
I say light trashing, because with too quick of trashing you can probably draw your deck sooner without SP, so SP will probably lose if both players go chapel.  However, with slower/lighter trashing, SP should be enhanced more than other strategies.  Good options here are moneylender  and spice merchant (getting rid of your starting coppers should be enough to quickly get through your whole deck), Salvager (although getting rid of your estates might not be enough, the +Buy is a good addition), and Trading Post (Turning your 10 starting cards into 5 silvers helps eliminate enough junk to cycle through your deck, but also gives you enough economy to buy things).

Case 3: Hand Size Reducers
SP is a great counter to militia, goons, etc. because discarding the 2 cards will rarely hurt you if you have a SP in hand, as you will quickly be drawing through your whole deck.  Additionally, because you will be cycling extremely quickly, you can play YOUR militia every turn and make your opponent play 3 card hands.  Good trade off!

Case 4: Vault, Secret Chamber
Vault (or Secret Chamber) and SP are a great combination.  Why?  Assuming you have some +Actions/+Buy, the general strategies is to draw all of your actions with a Scrying Pool, discard them for $, and then play another SP to redraw them all.  This can be repeated a few times, and then your other actions can be played out like normal, leading to huge turns.

Case 5: Vineyards (and Fairgrounds)
The things that make SP bad are it is often slow, it needs to avoid many treasure cards, and you have to buy a potion.  If only a card existed that combined these to give VP to allow for comebacks...
Vineyards are Donald X.'s gifts to Scrying Pool players.  The idea being you can fall behind, but because you will have so many actions, buying vineyards can easily be worth as much or more than provinces.  If you can avoid provinces altogether, it will be very difficult for most strategies to buy all 8 of them.  Fairgrounds deserve an honorable mention, because any time you have a potion cost card it is not too difficult to get them worth 6 VP, and they will almost always be worth 4 VP.

Case 6: Colonies
Colonies mean two things good for SP players: more victory points available, and a longer game.  This means that it will take longer for your opponent to get their strategy together, but it will only take a SP player maybe 1 or 2 turns longer for Colonies than Provinces. 

Playing with Scrying Pool

Case 1: Spying your deck
It's one thing to know when to buy SP, but it's another to know how to use it.  For your deck, always keep an action on top, even if you don't plan to use it.  Out of coppers but have a moneylender on top?  Don't discard it, just draw it instead!  Assuming you show a victory card, discard it.  Those are the easy ones.  Treasures are a little more difficult.  Coppers should almost always be discarded, as your next card should be better.  Silvers/Golds... you probably shouldn't have many of these in your deck, but if you think you ABSOLUTELY need the cash, keep it and buy the card you need.  Potions, if it's early and you need more SP's keep it on top, otherwise discard it as it won't do you any good.

Case 2: Spying your opponent's deck
Obviously, your goal is to both skip a good card from your opponent's deck, and leave a bad one on top.  But what is a bad card?  Well, it depends what strategy they're doing.  If they are doing a SP deck too, ask yourself if you would discard it from your own deck, and you should probably do the opposite.  If they are going more of a Big money deck, try and guess what their average money density, and then get rid of it if is higher.  A good synergy with Scrying Pool is cards (namely other attacks) that benefit from knowing what is on your opponent's deck.  Have a Saboteur in hand?  Keep flipping your opponents cards until a Province is on top.  Have a Jester?  Wait for a card that helps you (ie. a good action) and leave that on top OR put a victory card and give them a curse.

Case 3: How many Scrying Pools to buy?
The easy answer to say would be "as many as possible" and you can't go wrong with getting more.  However, there is an opportunity cost.  With the help of Scheme, or other cards to make sure you start with a SP in hand, you probably are fine with only 2-3 of them.  However, as you start greening, every additional SP limits the chance of your engine stalling.  Plus because it has a relatively low cost of 2P, it is easy on province turns (assuming you have +Buy) to pick one up even late in the game.

Case 4: When to buy Victory Cards
With Scrying Pool, you are almost certain to fall behind a more traditional strategy early.  Hopefully you will be able to set up your engine quickly so that this lead will only be ~2 provinces, but with +Buy, falling behind is not necessarily a big deal.  But when should you jump into the greens?  Well, with alternate victory cards you can wait a little longer as that gives you a bigger pool of points to choose from.  The exceptions being Nobles, Great Hall, and Island, as they still count as actions so buying them early actively helps your deck as well as giving you a VP boost.  But what if there are no alternate VP cards?  The simple answer is there is no perfect time to green -- it depends on the board.  But a rule of thumb can be wait as long as you can.  In general waiting to make your first green turn a double (or triple) province, is a good idea, but obviously if your opponent is going too quickly you might need to simply settle for a 1 province turn. 

Case 5: Other Potion Cards
Obviously buying a Scrying Pool requires you having a potion in your deck, so other Potion cards that are either too weak or slow to buy a potion on their own now become an option.  Possession can easily be played every turn, and the opportunity cost is much lower if you already have a potion in your deck.  Vineyards (as mentioned above) don't require the potion buy - you already have it for the SP!  Even the Transmute can be worth looking at, as without estate trashing turning your starting estates into golds can be a real boost to your economy.  Apothecary can be good in lieu of good copper trashing, as it can clear off your none action cards while building your economy.  Another Alchemy card that can be good with SP is Herbalist -- it provides a +Buy, and it lets you return your potion to your hand early to quickly get SP's.  The Alchemy cards that don't work well with SP are Philosopher's Stone (no deck left!) and Familiar (curses!).  Alchemist and Golem don't hurt SP, but might not be worth the buy if you can already draw your deck.

Example Game Logs
Here I use Remodel (normally very slow) as the only trasher to start drawing my whole deck by about turn 15.  I cash in for 4 provinces on turn 17, and the last 2 (and 2 duchies) on turn 18.  Note how I turned my coppers to Herbalists, as they were easy to draw.

Here I use light trashing from Mint and Expand to counter Witch (and use SP to play my witch very often).  Caravans are useful here to expand hand size to guarantee starting with a SP.

Here I have just enough time to come back from a fairly quick Vault/Tunnel engine.  Using the SP, I am able to pull a bunch of bridges into my hand, and I can use village to play them all.

Here I have a board with Vineyards and Scrying Pool.  With the addition of Wharf for +Buy (and more cards) and Remake for trashing, this board is tailor made for SP.

Here I use a DoubleJack strategy (with disappearing village) to beat a SP strategy on a fairly weak SP board.  Although he makes a mistake ending the game, my VP lead is simply too big to come back from.

Here my opponent goes for SP, and I overwhelm him with Ambassador and Familiar (although, I probably should have picked up some SP's myself)

Here, I go for SP on a board with A) NO trashing (besides Jack, which doesn't really trash), B) NO cheap cantrips to load up on... in fact no cantrips at all, C) JoaT which leads to fast games, and D) NO villages.  How do I dominate here?  Using Throne room, which allows me 2 searches with my SP for actions, and allows me to get the +Actions to play my Goons (and later bridge).

Lastly, here I go Duchy-Duke, and the SP player has no choice but to try and fight me.  Needless to say, his deck clogs and I win easily.

Works with:

Hand Size Reducers
Conspirator, Peddler, and many other cheap actions
Light trashing (Moneylender, Trading Post, etc.)
Vineyards (And to a lesser extent, other VP sources)
Other Deck-Inspection Attacks (Especially Jester)
Other Potion Cards

Conflicts with:

Fast games (JoaT, Masq)
Few cheap actions to pick up
No +Buy/ +Actions
Cursers (especially Mountebank!)

(Note:  Some game logs will be added once CR is back up.  Also, any advice is greatly appreciated as this is my first article)

Dominion Articles / Re: Trader
« on: June 28, 2012, 06:16:34 pm »
Tradering Golds can be very effective if done early:

While this still isn't amazingly quick, it seemed good at the time :P

Could it be Witch?  While it is already an extremely strong card at $5, does it really get that much stronger at 4?  I mean, a player still will only want 1 or 2 of them, and it eliminates a lot of the luck in getting one.  It doesn't make it any more of a "must-buy" and it doesn't seem to break it (within the base set).  I mean, it's perfectly acceptable at 5, but is it less acceptable at 4?

Dominion Articles / Re: Request: Tribute
« on: June 27, 2012, 06:19:09 pm »
Outside of dual type cards (Nobles, etc.) and curses there are only 9 possibilities of what bonus you receive:

1. +2 Cards (Worth less than $2)
2. +2 Actions (Worth less than $2)
3. +$2 (Worth about $2)
4. +2 Cards/+2 Actions (Worth more than $5... probably $6)
5. +2 Cards/+$2 (Worth around $5)
6. +2 Actions/+$2 (Worth slightly less than $5)
7. +4 Cards (Worth slightly more than $5)
8. +4 Actions (Worth maybe $4?)
9. +$4 (Worth about 6 on an action?)

As you can see, 3 of the 9 options make tribute a terrible card, 3 of the 9 make it an average card, and 3 of the 9 make it quite a good card.  Curses obviously make the card much worse, while dual victory make it significantly better (nothing like hitting harem/nobles).  So my general strategy with tribute is to ignore it unless I am fairly certain I can avoid the 3 bad options or I am in desperate need of a potential +Actions card.  Of course as it's been said, KC can make it really good.

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