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Author Topic: Keep the change  (Read 1367 times)

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Keep the change
« on: June 20, 2016, 08:57:13 pm »

Do you remember the last time you played Dominion and honestly had no idea what the best move was or who was winning? I do, it was when I played this kingdom a few days ago with my fiancee. Empires is a beautiful and strange beast indeed.

OK, first things first:
  • Keep gives 5 points per Treasure pile, and there are six types of treasure in this kingdom for 30 points total. Wow, that's a lot of points, Keep is clearly a big deal.
  • Donate is here, the party can begin! Everyone is gonna have a slim deck, OK, I just have to think about when to do it and what my economy will be like afterwards - pretty similar to Chapel.
  • Catapult, man that attack seems strong, but I need fuel for my Catapults so I guess I can't Donate everything. How many Coppers should be retained? Also, the Catapult can fling Curses into the trash but that doesn't hurt my opponent, it just saves me a Donate. It's a tough call.
  • City Quarter will suffer from the Treasures from Keep and the handsize from Catapult. Dungeon is obsoleted by Donate and struggles with handsize anyway. Haunted Woods has good draw but the attack won't do anything. Settlers seems useless when most of the Coppers will be Donated or Catapulted.

Catapult makes games very medieval- consistent 3 card hands and a steady influx of curses, plus unlike Militia it doesn't make money for the wielder and reduces your hand size. Similar to a Mercenary melee, we both felt like we had to hold a 3 card hand of Catapult, treasure (to be launched), X. This left us with $1 + X, which made us both poor for a long time. Eventually it was quite difficult to find ammo for the Catapults, especially with Keep swaying the value of treasures. I wonder if the hypothetical correct move is to ignore Catapult, accepting the handsize & Curses (with Donate).

Fighting for the various points for Keep was really bizarre overall. It caused many irregular choices which felt necessary. It didn't help that the only extra buy came from the "consolation prize" mode of Charm. I never fired my last Rocks, deciding that 5VP was worth keeping a glorified Copper around.

Mystic seemed to be the best general-purpose card in the kingdom, although it was hard to compete for Keep points without getting unwanted variety.

In the end, we tied on points! My fiancee got the Keep points for Copper, CotR, and Silver, while I got Gold, Charm, and Rocks. We split the regular VP evenly, but she went first and ended the game, so I squeaked out a win. It was a fun & mind-bending game. If you think you know how to play this one, please share!


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Re: Keep the change
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2016, 01:27:06 am »

Caveat:  I don't own Empires and have never played with any of the new cards before.

That being said, I think Donate is strong enough to ignore Catapult completely, at least in the early game.  You don't need the Catapult trashing, a late-game Donate can take out curses if necessary, and the engine is strong enough to draw itself reliably after trashing the starting cards (even after adding 2-3 Curses).

City Quarter is strong, but it needs Action cards in your hand in order to fully activate.  Haunted Woods is amazing here.  Even with only one each turn, you're starting each turn with an 8-card hand (or 6 if your opponent made you discard), which is enough to make City Quarter very worthwhile.  With two Haunted Woods each turn, it's completely bonkers.  There's also Scheme to ensure a City Quarter in your starting hand, and Dungeon can give you more Actions and discard non-Action cards to trigger City Quarter's effect.  I would get at least 3 of them, and possibly more later in the game - however many it takes to keep drawing your deck.

Charm is the only +Buy on the board, so it will definitely play a role.  I'd probably use it for the +Buy ability a lot, since there aren't many good cards with the same cost.  Haunted Woods+Charm or Haunted Woods+Mystic is probably the best use of its main ability, but Scheme+Dungeon, Scheme+Silver, or Scheme+Catapult might be situationally useful as well.  I would probably get at least two Charms for the +Buy.  The fact that City Quarter and Donate are expensive means that +Buy won't be as crucial in the early game.

Settlers/Bustling Village is probably too weak without much +Buy and with Donate trashing your starting Coppers.  However, if you can pick up a couple of extra Settlers, they will never hurt, and they can help activate your City Quarters.  The same goes for Wishing Well, but it's outclassed by Scheme and Dungeon.  I probably wouldn't buy Coin of the Realm at all here until late in the game for Keep points; it doesn't help City Quarter at all, there are only two terminals, and City Quarter is a much better village on this board.  Mystic will be useful for the money, but Charm would probably be better there after Donating.  Catapult might be worthwhile in the later game, depending on what your opponent is doing.  Even if it only trashes a Curse per turn to make a second Donate unnecessary, that's probably good enough.

Keep will be interesting to play around.  Charm being the only extra buy makes picking up late-game Treasures difficult but not impossible.  The top priority is to keep the engine running smoothly, though, so picking up spare Silvers early probably isn't a good idea.  It's important to remember that buying a Province is a 12 point swing, whereas buying a Gold when neither of you had it or your opponent has just one is only a 5 point swing.

I would probably open Silver/Silver or Mystic/Settlers, get at least $6 in my deck (?), and then Donate all the junk, followed by buying a Charm or two and then City Quarters, Haunted Woods, and cheap cantrips.  Charm plus debt lets you buy Haunted Woods and City Quarter in the same turn, which is pretty nice.


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Re: Keep the change
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 04:55:28 am »

With Donate, you get to build any 4-5 card deck you want, then buy Donate turn 4-5

Here, I think you want to Donate into Silver/Silver/Charm/Charm/X

After paying off the debt, you can do things like buy Haunted Woods, use both Charms to pick up 2 additional Charms

After you pick up a bunch of Charms, you can play double Haunted Woods + City Quarter for draw, with 1 Catapult mixed in as an attack

And of course, count points carefully because it's going to be pretty wacky with keep :)


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Re: Keep the change
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2016, 07:29:08 pm »

Wow this board is crazy. There is no gains outside of Charm, so I think you probably want a lot of Charms, especially considering Keep. I haven't gotten the hang of Donate yet, but you probably want to do that, mainly because of Keep and Charm's +Buy. I honestly have no idea what to do here. I'm pretty inexperienced with Empires.
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