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Author Topic: Is Dominion dynamic enough?  (Read 4020 times)

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NoMoreFun

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Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« on: January 18, 2014, 02:57:46 am »
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Sometimes it seems like Dominion is about figuring out the best strategy at the beginning of the game, then playing it out. There's some short term tactics but they don't seem all that important, especially compared to Luck.

There was that thread about the simulators that discovered that there wasn't much "rock/paper/scissors" in Dominion; the best strategy beats all other strategies. This means that there's no point concealing your strategy, or changing your strategy on the fly. To play a strategy, then figure out a better one and alter your strategy is to play suboptimally, but to explain your every move is not.

Is this fair on the game?

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dondon151

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2014, 03:03:15 am »
+1

There's definitely space for a more tactical game, but it doesn't seem possible with Dominion's current mechanics. The deckbuilding and reshuffling aspects make it so that the speed at which you can change your strategy is generally correlated to the existing quality of your deck.

EDIT: Imagine a Dominion variant where during clean-up, you get to put one of the cards that you gained during the buy phase on top of your deck. That would lead to a more "dynamic" game, but you'd have to adjust everything else about Dominion so that this variant would be balanced and interesting.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 03:12:30 am by dondon151 »
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Awaclus

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2014, 04:51:27 am »
+2

There is rock/paper/scissors in Dominion according to simulation!

BM/Embassy/Duke wins 57/40 against BM/Embassy/Province.
Horse Trader/Gardens wins 58/34 against BM/Embassy/Duke.
BM/Embassy/Province wins 83/13 against Horse Trader/Gardens.
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Bomb, Cannon, and many of the Gunpowder cards can strongly effect gameplay, particularly in a destructive way

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2014, 05:12:06 am »
+2

It's true that most boards have a dominant strategy; on those boards, yes, the hard part is identifying that strategy. But most is far from all, many boards do have a rock/paper/scissors dynamic. In 3+ player games, you also have phenomena like, "this strategy is the best only if another player doesn't play it too" and "this strategy is the best only if one other player plays it too". Complex tactical decisions occur in many games; just watch WanderingWinder's YouTube channel and see the kinds of decisions he has to make frequently. The potential for tactics appears more commonly in deck-drawing engines, where you can gain and play cards in the same turn. (That has strategic impact too, because you don't necessarily know in advance what attacks your opponent might play this turn.)

You're right that concealing your strategy usually doesn't matter; but especially on boards where there are multiple competitive strategies, it can be right to avoid committing to your own strategy until you've seen information about your opponent's strategy. Embargo often creates situations like that, where your opponent opens Embargo and your strategy is going to depend on what he Embargoes on turn 3/4.
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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 07:56:26 am »
+4

Sometimes it seems like Dominion is about figuring out the best strategy at the beginning of the game, then playing it out. There's some short term tactics but they don't seem all that important, especially compared to Luck.

Yeah, it often seems this way, but I don't really think it's correct. If you check out why Stef is Stef... well, I'm not saying he isn't good at strategy (he's very good at strategy), but I'm pretty sure his bigger edge comes from things like "tactical considerations".

Quote
There was that thread about the simulators that discovered that there wasn't much "rock/paper/scissors" in Dominion; the best strategy beats all other strategies. This means that there's no point concealing your strategy, or changing your strategy on the fly. To play a strategy, then figure out a better one and alter your strategy is to play suboptimally, but to explain your every move is not.

Is this fair on the game?
Well, a lot of those simulator-y things were based on finding a single strategy which adjusts itself to what the other guy is doing. In some technical senses, it's a 'single strategy', but really you are adjusting. When I won the first simulation tournament, it was largely through a very fine-tuned bot with dozens of rules to try to figure out what opponents were doing and adjust accordingly. And then of course there are things that are well beyond the simulators' abilities.

blueblimp

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 12:02:24 am »
+1

Endgame tactics are interactive and are very important (in 2-player), easily at least as important as draw luck.

I'm not sure what you're looking for as far as dynamic strategy goes, though. There's definitely an aspect of, once you and your opponent have picked strategies, how you adjust. For example, if you choose an explosive engine, then if your opponent does too, you're aiming for a 3-pile victory most likely, but if your opponent doesn't go for an engine, you may need to buy half the available VP and must plan accordingly. The general theme of your strategy doesn't change, but the way you play it out is different.

It's true though that you can pick a strategy at the beginning of the game and stick with it given some adjustments. That's unlike games like Ascension, where your strategy gradually develops depending on what cards are available to you. I find it more fun to pick a strategy at the start, because it lets you pursue focused strategies instead of always ending up with something middle-of-the-road.
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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 02:07:26 am »
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One reason for concealing your strategy is so that your opponent won't do it.  (Of course, revealing your strategy part way through the game is probably more fine)
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   Quote from: sudgy on June 31, 2011, 11:47:46 pm

AdamH

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2014, 06:05:17 pm »
+12

I got this comment a lot from my IRL board game group. They thought Dominion was multiplayer solitaire and there was no interaction.

They wondered why I bought Thief after they trashed all their coppers and their economy was coming from a few big treasures, because Thief is a bad card! Then they wondered why they had no money left in their deck.

So I tell people now that if they think there is no interaction in Dominion, and if they think Province is strictly better than Duchy 100% of the time, that UR DOIN IT RONG. Just because Dominion doesn't whack you in the face with these mechanics doesn't mean they aren't there and it doesn't mean that you can win very much if you choose to ignore them.
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NoMoreFun

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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2014, 05:37:55 am »
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I got this comment a lot from my IRL board game group. They thought Dominion was multiplayer solitaire and there was no interaction.

They wondered why I bought Thief after they trashed all their coppers and their economy was coming from a few big treasures, because Thief is a bad card! Then they wondered why they had no money left in their deck.

So I tell people now that if they think there is no interaction in Dominion, and if they think Province is strictly better than Duchy 100% of the time, that UR DOIN IT RONG. Just because Dominion doesn't whack you in the face with these mechanics doesn't mean they aren't there and it doesn't mean that you can win very much if you choose to ignore them.

There's interaction, sure, but it does sometimes seem like it can be distilled down to a few simple rules (eg penultimate province) that largely don't form the basis of the game.

Cards like City are definitely the exception, and I wish there were more cards like that.
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Re: Is Dominion dynamic enough?
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2014, 09:39:18 am »
+4

Tribute is a good example for interaction.  I remember one game I played where there were things like Goons, Scrying Pool and a bit of light trashing.  The caveat was that Tribute was the only "Village". 

Needless to say, I played BM. 

It would have been quite a game if each of us had went with the Scrying Pool/Goons engine because we both could have reliably gotten +4 Actions from Tribute.  However Tribute requires you opponent to cooperate and I certainly was not about to buy actions to let my opponent play multiple Goons each turn.  Tribute is one of those cards where you need to consider what you put into your own deck and consider what your opponent is doing to theirs. 
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