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Author Topic: Helping your opponent - that bad?  (Read 10916 times)

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JazzPianist

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Helping your opponent - that bad?
« on: December 10, 2011, 10:22:58 am »
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So, I recognize that this forum generally considered Council Room and Governor as mediocre cards.  However, Laboratory and Smithy are usually seen as effective cards.

My question is, isn't governor (at least it's +cards option) a laboratory, that then gives a card to both players?  Isn't council room a smithy (with a +buy), that then gives a card to both players?  So, why does giving your opponent a card hurt so much?
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shark_bait

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2011, 10:31:55 am »
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First, governor for yourself is actually better than a lab but with the downside that it gives a free one shot laboratory to your opponent.
In other words, anytime you play governor for cards, you are letting your opponent start his hand with a free 5$ action card.  Unless you have a way to again decrease his handsize (militia, ghost ship, etc...) this helps him tremendously.
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DG

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2011, 11:02:32 am »
+1

The problem for the bishop, council room, and governor is that you're giving your opponent a benefit with a card that was purchased with your coins, has to be managed in your deck, occupies space in your hand, and takes one of your actions to play. Nonetheless, in the right situations they are extremely powerful.
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werothegreat

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2011, 11:57:05 am »
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Drawing four cards is an enormous benefit, and if Council Room is the only source of +Buy on the table, it's essential.  Amateurs will often see the "gives opponents a card" and shy away from it, but then get their asses handed to them because the other player is drawing FOUR CARDS WITH ONE ACTION.  With the right number of villages, you can draw your whole deck with Council Rooms.  Sure, your opponent will have a fairly large starting hand, but if you play it right, you can buy the last few provinces before he can even use those cards, making it all the more disappointing for him.
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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2011, 11:58:57 am »
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And as for Bishop - when Bishop is on the table, you're not going to want to trash when your opponent plays one, because then you're wasting V chips.  You could be trashing that card on your turn and getting points for it. 
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dondon151

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 12:02:40 pm »
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That's a terrible cost/benefit analysis with Bishop. If I draw a hand of CCCEE, I'll not hesitate in trashing one, or both of my Estates in multiplayer games, to opponent Bishops. The disadvantage of losing out on 2 VP tokens in the long run is mitigated by the advantage of having a significantly thinner and higher quality deck.
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yuma

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 12:32:05 pm »
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So, I recognize that this forum generally considered Council Room and Governor as mediocre cards.  However, Laboratory and Smithy are usually seen as effective cards.

My question is, isn't governor (at least it's +cards option) a laboratory, that then gives a card to both players?  Isn't council room a smithy (with a +buy), that then gives a card to both players?  So, why does giving your opponent a card hurt so much?

I have been beaten and won games in which Governor was used essentially as an attack. The first time I experienced this was in a Colony game where my opponent basically clogged my deck up with silvers. I know, silvers as an attack? He bought Governor's nearly every chance he got. Filled up on the golds, giving me silvers and then used the governor to draw the +3 cards. I was only able to get high enough for one Colony and had to settle for provinces while he used multiple golds to bump up to Colonies with neither of us having a need or, in my case, an opportunity for Platinum.

I replicated that strategy a couple of times with pretty decent success. At the end of the game my opponents can have up to 15+ silvers, while I was swimming in gold and green.
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The Adventurer

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 12:46:29 pm »
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Yes - it can be that bad. It just depends on how your opponent has a deck built to leech on those opportunities you toss at him! For example, one would go and prioritize the purchase of other cards because you are taking care of bishoping away what he would've trashed, basically being employed as his garbageman for the game. And no, I would NEVER pass on an opportunity to trash my own cards while my opponent plays it, regardless of the fact I own a bishop myself... way faster.
Also, most of the times I am disappointed in my 7$ hand I just got dealt when my savior of an opponent plays a council room to nudge me right over the 8$ bar... I can't count how many times this has happened to me. Think of it this way : any card I draw but a green one will help me in that sense, whether it is money, or one of my carefully picked actions I bought. I guess it's particularly dangerous when you pile them up because, chances are, you turned whatever hand your opponent had into a fully enabled, ready to roll hand, and if you did all of that work for 1 province, it is not worth it at all. Don't forget that most hands are just one card away from being perfect, or at least enabled for something greater... Make them draw just one Hunting party and there you go! As an aside, letting them have 1 more card has way less effect if your opponent draws his whole deck every hand anyway, like Alchemists or such...
As for Governor, it has been discussed in other threads, but the Gain a gold option would be the most viable at the start of a game, and yes, can be used as an attack in Colony games. The drawing cards DOES hurt more than you think. It can be THAT bad.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 03:12:48 pm »
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The problem for the bishop, council room, and governor is that you're giving your opponent a benefit with a card that was purchased with your coins, has to be managed in your deck, occupies space in your hand, and takes one of your actions to play. Nonetheless, in the right situations they are extremely powerful.
This is the main thing, imo. There is a big difference between a card being good to have, and a card being good to buy. No one is suggesting that you don't play a council room if you have one, but you have to consider when you buy one, that you're in some sense simultaneously buying your opponent a free lab.
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barsooma

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 03:32:28 pm »
+1

One thing which has been noted before (maybe on the blog?) but which I don't see mentioned here:

Hand strength is an extremely nonlinear function of hand size.

All the balancing and costing of the cards has been done with the assumption that players start with a 5-card hand.
If you are drawing with governor and giving your opponent a 6-card hand every turn, you are giving them a pretty big boost.

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jotheonah

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 05:39:43 pm »
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We've all seen that just about every kind of attack card scales insanely in a 4 or 5 player game. Isn't the same thing true here? If everyone buys a Council Room and they all play them, I could end up with a 9-card hand. On the other hand, if the 3 people to my left bought a council room and the guy on my right bought a militia, I might be the only one not to get to start with a big hand.
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papaHav

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2011, 06:02:33 pm »
+1

I challenge your presupposition that governor is mediocre. I think its one of the best cards out there and often build around it as my star card.

http://councilroom.com/win_rate_diff_accum.html?cards=Cost%3D%3D5%26%26%20Cards%3E2%2C%20Governor

Take a look here, councilroom on the otherhand is definitely the worst of these drawers because you often draw dead (can only play treasures post action) whilst he draws live (pre action) and have better success combining cantrips.

+1card each helps him more than you.
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dan11295

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2011, 07:06:30 am »
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Governor+handsize reduction attack is very potent though. Had a Colony game last night w/Governor, Tournament no curse givers or trashers, though Watchtower was there. Grabbed early Province w/Governor+Baron (A nice combo by the way) took Followers and opponent quickly resigned.
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Octo

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 08:35:39 am »
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Giving your opponent another card being a huge boost is one interpretation, but how about this (and this echoes what someone said earlier):

yes, your opponent has 6 cards now and hand strength is non-linear etc, but then so do you. You all now have a 6 card hand this turn and there are equal, and you have a laboratory on top (+2 cards/+1 cards) which *drum roll* a $5 card. Which is also what governor costs. Same as argued above with regard council room - you're not only giving your opponent an extra card, you're giving yourself an extra card too. Then you're giving your self a smithy +buy on top (which should rightly cost $5, as smith is $4, though I guess Margrave is $5 too and that's better). If gov. was +1 card, +1 action, each opponent draws one card - it would essentially be a 0 cost card, because you gained no advantage doing that. There's no disadvantage in playing that card either, there's just a wasted buy, and no real advantage to you to play it either.

Edit - interesting point about drawing dead with CR though papHav.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 08:38:45 am by Octo »
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 08:56:14 am »
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Nobody's saying "Playing a Governor or CR gives more of a benefit to your opponent that it gives yourself". If that were the case, the cards wouldn't be printed. The point is, the cards give a benefit to your opponent, and that's something you have to consider when buying and/or playing the card. Giving your opponent a free Laboratory is not a negligible effect, and when you've spent YOUR money, YOUR buys and YOUR actions getting it into your deck and playing it, while your opponent has contributed nothing to the cost of getting that card into play, you better make sure you're getting your money's worth; the other guy's getting his and more.
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Octo

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2011, 11:11:09 am »
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Yes, I wasn't suggesting it was better for them, just that this "free" laboratory that's being spoken of is countered by your own "free" laboratory, and then you get another one on top.

I see what you're saying (I think): "don't just think of it as +3 cards / +1 action .... (oh and btw they get some kind of benefit too)" because that benefit they get is indeed quite significant. But the reason I piped up was because it sounded like what was being said (and this kind of links up with the top 5 promo cards thread that I got confused with slightly) was that that meant it wasn't that good value for money.

The phrase "this helps him tremendously" was used by shark_bait - well if that's the case then you're helped 2 x tremendously  (which I assume amounts to 'ridiculously') which is obviously good. If one lab is 'tremendous' for the other player, then Governor is obviously a 'tremendous' card because it gives you both a lab (cancels each other out) then gives you your own lab on top, which, as stated, is a 'tremendous' help to a player by itself. So Governor is a tremendous card by that token. (By this token, Lab is a tremendous card too, which it is - :))

Edit - hypothetical example from the opposite end: is a card that reduces your opponents hand to 4, and gives you only +1 action any good? No, it's shit - because it has exactly the same effect on both of you. Yes, you can spam it with drawing, but then he's just as capable of drawing back up from 4 as you as because there are the same cards on the table for each of you - the fact that the card leaves both of you in exactly the same position - one card down, still with one action left - means that it's got a net effect of zero and thus you can effectively discount it from your calcucations - whether you play it or not sort of doesn't matter. Except you wasted a buy/clog on it. (A rough analogy I realise, but illustrative I hope)

Vault is more interesting because the benefit is not directly covered by the action of the card, same with CR.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 11:21:18 am by Octo »
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barsooma

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2011, 11:41:15 am »
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Yes, I wasn't suggesting it was better for them, just that this "free" laboratory that's being spoken of is countered by your own "free" laboratory, and then you get another one on top.

I see what you're saying (I think): "don't just think of it as +3 cards / +1 action .... (oh and btw they get some kind of benefit too)" because that benefit they get is indeed quite significant. But the reason I piped up was because it sounded like what was being said (and this kind of links up with the top 5 promo cards thread that I got confused with slightly) was that that meant it wasn't that good value for money.

The phrase "this helps him tremendously" was used by shark_bait - well if that's the case then you're helped 2 x tremendously  (which I assume amounts to 'ridiculously') which is obviously good. If one lab is 'tremendous' for the other player, then Governor is obviously a 'tremendous' card because it gives you both a lab (cancels each other out) then gives you your own lab on top, which, as stated, is a 'tremendous' help to a player by itself. So Governor is a tremendous card by that token. (By this token, Lab is a tremendous card too, which it is - :))

Edit - hypothetical example from the opposite end: is a card that reduces your opponents hand to 4, and gives you only +1 action any good? No, it's shit - because it has exactly the same effect on both of you. Yes, you can spam it with drawing, but then he's just as capable of drawing back up from 4 as you as because there are the same cards on the table for each of you - the fact that the card leaves both of you in exactly the same position - one card down, still with one action left - means that it's got a net effect of zero and thus you can effectively discount it from your calcucations - whether you play it or not sort of doesn't matter. Except you wasted a buy/clog on it. (A rough analogy I realise, but illustrative I hope)

Vault is more interesting because the benefit is not directly covered by the action of the card, same with CR.

The point is, giving yourself 2 Labs while giving your opponent one may have a worse outcome for you than just giving yourself one, due to the nonlinearity of hand values. You can't just assume that giving one to each cancels out.
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Epoch

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2011, 12:10:32 pm »
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The point is, giving yourself 2 Labs while giving your opponent one may have a worse outcome for you than just giving yourself one, due to the nonlinearity of hand values. You can't just assume that giving one to each cancels out.

Well, more to the point, when you bought that Governor, your opponent bought something else.  If he's broadly speaking doing "as well" as you, then sure, you get 2 Labs and he gets 1 Lab... plus whatever $5 card he bought when you bought the Governor.  That starts looking a lot less good.

If a hypothetical "Governor that only has the lab option" card was just magically placed in your deck, you'd probably be pretty happy about it.  But Dominion is principally a game about managing the opportunity cost of buying cards.  You can't meaningfully analyze any card on the basis of "how good is it once it's in my deck."  You have to analyze it on the basis of, "how good is it compared to other things I could buy instead."

Magical free Governors would be great cards.  Governors that you have to buy, for $5, and thus not buy another powerful Action for, are a lot less good.  Though my understanding is that they're still pretty good, you just have to not necessarily go with the Lab option without a good reason to.
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Octo

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2011, 12:54:10 pm »
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@Epoch - so what card would he buy instead, a Lab say? So, look back over my post with the assumption that he bought a lab. How is your two-labs-for-me-one-lab-for-you a wasted purchase, where as his one-lab-for-me is not? I may well be I'm just not seeing how it's so wasted.

@Barsooma - ok. Non-linearity how though? As in, an extra card for him is better than an extra card for me (with an action left to play)? I thought you meant that six is not necessarily merely 20% better than five (which I agree with), but if we're getting into "6 cards may benefit him more than 6 benefits you", well, that's quite a different calculation and depends on a ton of stuff we're not discussing (though it is also true at times).
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Epoch

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2011, 01:04:10 pm »
+1

@Epoch - so what card would he buy instead, a Lab say? So, look back over my post with the assumption that he bought a lab. How is your two-labs-for-me-one-lab-for-you a wasted purchase, where as his one-lab-for-me is not? I may well be I'm just not seeing how it's so wasted.

No, at that point you go to two explanations:

1.  Governor (or even "Governor but only with the labs option") is not always a bad purchase.
2.  But then there is some truth to the idea that going from 6->7 cards is not as much of a marginal advantage as 5->6.  Sometimes.  Depends a lot on the table.

But the point is, that stuff is AFTER you make the first big leap of understanding that it's not "Governor gives me 2 Labs and him 1 Lab, so it's awesome."  It's "Governor gives me 2 Labs and him 1 Lab plus whatever he bought instead of Governor."

If you don't make that leap first, then the stuff above is kind of irrelevant.  If your opponent gets totally unlucky and doesn't get many $5 buys, your Governors will be awesome.  If your opponent is somehow forbidden from matching you in buys, your Governors will be awesome.

And sometimes, Governor (the Labs option) will be awesome.  It's not like it's a card without merit.  But lots of people's analysis tends to ignore the buy phase, and proceed only from the point of "when the card is in my deck."  The buy phase is the most important tactical point in Dominion.
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barsooma

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2011, 01:18:56 pm »
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@Epoch - so what card would he buy instead, a Lab say? So, look back over my post with the assumption that he bought a lab. How is your two-labs-for-me-one-lab-for-you a wasted purchase, where as his one-lab-for-me is not? I may well be I'm just not seeing how it's so wasted.

@Barsooma - ok. Non-linearity how though? As in, an extra card for him is better than an extra card for me (with an action left to play)? I thought you meant that six is not necessarily merely 20% better than five (which I agree with), but if we're getting into "6 cards may benefit him more than 6 benefits you", well, that's quite a different calculation and depends on a ton of stuff we're not discussing (though it is also true at times).

I guess what I'm saying is that going from 5 cards to 6 for him may be better than going from 6 to 7 for you.
I think that the biggest gain/loss with handsize happens around the normal balance point of 5, and the marginal utility of draws decreases with handsize (although I don't have hard data to back this up).
Of course it depends a lot on the board, for instance I think this will be especially true if +buy is lacking.

EDIT: oops just saw Epoch basically said everything I did and more.
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The Adventurer

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2011, 03:03:45 pm »
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Yes, like Barsooma and Epoch just said, Dominion wouldn't be the same game if you started every hand with 6 cards instead of 5. And although I get your literal interpretation of "I give 1 apple to get 2 apples, I'm winning!", the value of that extra 1 apple is way more important to the hungry person than it is to the rich and well fed (if I may pursue the analogy...). Think of Minion attacks and how you only have 1 card less to play with than normal, but how much less you can REALLY do with that hand! Yes, sometimes it cleans some junk away, but more often than not, this handicap is way more than what it would seem like at first glance.

All that to say that there will always be occasions when getting 2 apples is worth the giving of 1, especially if you're sure that what you'll draw will be awesome. That is why the cards exist in the first place and that is for you to balance. But more often than not, you will be bringing all of your opponent's meaningless and useless hands in the realm of greatness just by adding cards to it. So if you decided to make your opponent's unplayable hand playable for you to draw Copper, Copper, Estate, let's just say that you got screwed with your two rotten apples while he got a free melon!
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Octo

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2011, 03:53:37 pm »
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Ok, ok, I'm getting it now, the 6 -> 7 thing makes sense I'm fine with that, but I'm less convinced by the "he's getting a $5 card for free" argument because without the 6 -> 7 issue it's rendered meaningless as governor is getting you the equivalent of two $5 cards, so you're both a $5 card up for the price of $5 (though I get that the 2nd pseudo-Lab play is not so good for you, but that's the 6 -> issue). If you're talking about a situation where he's gone Mountebank for example, then, well, is that really an issue of "is helping your opponent bad?" It seems more an issue of "[Strong card on this board] is simply too strong to ignore" and the same would apply also to Lab in that case.

I guess it boils down to this: in what circumstances is a Lab a better buy than a Governor? Or, in what circumstances is it best to not give your opponent that extra card? Which I'm keen to know. (The implication seems to be that two 6s are better than one 7, so perhaps always. However, obviously Governor is more complex card than that which muddies the waters - no comparison is that perfect.) Note that playing a militia et al. at the end of a Governor chain is a kind of a moot point in this question, as the thread is about giving your opponent a boost, and if you militia them then, well, you're not really giving them that much of a boost (other than giving him a better choice of 3).

PS - I wasn't trying to say that Governor was always awesome (though I could see why it came across that way) because really no card is always awesome in Dominion, it was more that the justification seemed hazy and to me and that it was still a strong card in some circumstances and it sounded like people were over-warning the drawbacks of the +1 card - though in hindsight maybe that's because the benefit of +3 cards/+1 action are so obvious and don't need saying.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 03:56:37 pm by Octo »
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olneyce

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2011, 04:01:07 pm »
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The strength of the Lab feature seems WAY lower than the Gold feature.  Think about it this way:

If you take a Gold, and dish out a silver, you are gaining something worth $3 more, and at a price level where $3 might be understating the gap in value between the cards.

If you take the Lab option, you are getting two plays of Laboratory while your opponent gets one.  So that's one extra play of a $5 card. 

Think about whether there are many circumstances where you would want to trash a Gold from you deck in order to play a Laboratory.  That's not exactly what's happening, of course, but it's pretty close.
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Epoch

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Re: Helping your opponent - that bad?
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2011, 05:17:53 pm »
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I guess it boils down to this: in what circumstances is a Lab a better buy than a Governor? Or, in what circumstances is it best to not give your opponent that extra card? Which I'm keen to know. (The implication seems to be that two 6s are better than one 7, so perhaps always. However, obviously Governor is more complex card than that which muddies the waters - no comparison is that perfect.) Note that playing a militia et al. at the end of a Governor chain is a kind of a moot point in this question, as the thread is about giving your opponent a boost, and if you militia them then, well, you're not really giving them that much of a boost (other than giving him a better choice of 3).

Well...  okay, so first of all, it's weird to talk about Governor as though it were just the Lab option.  Probably one of the biggest reasons why it's a bad idea to use Governor's Lab option is that one of the strongest Governor plays is to use its +gold option and its remodel gold->Province option.  That latter one is strongly enabled by having a moderately bigger hand, and particularly a moderately bigger hand without spending Governors, since what you're really looking for is the coincidence of Gold and Governor in your hand.  If you spend your Governors drawing cards, you may end up with lots of Gold and no Governors, while your opponent is meanwhile getting Governors + Golds.

But, ignoring that particular case, I'd say that "very big hand size that you spent resources on" < "moderately big hand size that you didn't spend resources on" when you can't do anything better with the very big hand than "buy one Province/Colony."  If you're just trying to get to $8 with your Governors' card drawing abilities, your opponent who bought Golds or other BMU-like strategies is going to benefit immensely from 6 or 7 card hands, and you'll probably be no better off than he with 7 or 9 card hands.

Where Governor is worth it for the +cards?  When you're drawing to a huge payoff card, particularly one that can screw over your opponent.  Some obvious examples:  Possession (oh, your hand is big?  darn).  Goons (again, you don't care how big your opponent's hand is after you Goons, and the +buy lets you use your very large hand to boot).  Bank if you also have +buy available.  Governor itself for the remodel effect if you are on the upside of a very uneven Governor split.  Highway if you also have multiple +buys available, or Bridge if you have Villages as well.    KC->Bridge.  Setting up KC->KC->anything.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 06:38:28 pm by Epoch »
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