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Author Topic: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?  (Read 877 times)

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Yitzi

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When Vassal hits, it's basically a double peddler.  When it misses, it's a terminal silver.
Assuming an engine with an average cost for +action, a terminal silver is basically worthless but not harmful; it's essentially the same as getting a silver (cost 3) instead of a village (cost 3).  A double peddler is twice as good as a peddler (generally assumed to be balanced at cost 4).  So one might expect that Vassal, which can be a value of 0 peddlers or of 2, should also be cost 4.

And, sure enough, Conspirator has a very similar behavior and does cost 4.

If we look at Vassal vs. Conspirator, they each have advantages and disadvantages.  Conspirator can reach a 100% chance of hitting (though with good trashing Vassal can come pretty close), but Vassal has some chance of hitting even before your engine really starts going.  Conspirator can be played "safely" if you've got cantrips but no villages (playing a vassal without playing a village first can end your turn prematurely), but Vassal can be drawn in a hand with only terminal actions and still have a decent chance of not stalling your engine (a hand with 2 smithies and 3 conspirators is going nowhere; 2 smithies and 3 vassals still has a decent chance).

So why is it that Conspirator costs 4, whereas Vassal costs only 3?  3 is pretty cheap, there's often nothing cheaper worth getting.
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weretheruler

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2024, 03:30:12 pm »
+1

Card costs are only loosly correlated with card power. Mostly they are correlated with "would having too many of them be overpowered in the opening?".

Vassal almost always misses unless you've taken the time to trash most of your starting cards, which normally takes several turns. So starting with an extra one doesn't change the game that much; if vassal is the best card on the board probably the player who trashes first wins even if they lose the split.

Conspirator on the other hand just needs "a few cantrips" in your deck to start hitting, which you could easily have as soon as the second shuffle. So it costs 4 to prevent you from getting too many too fast.


...also in my experience vassal sucks at first, then is awesome after trashing, then sucks again as soon as you start greening. But maybe that's just me, I'm not top ranked or anything.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2024, 03:38:47 pm »
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Wait, if you only have a few cantrips and haven't trashed yet (at least not enough to make vassal reasonably reliable), how are you making sure that your conspirator shows up with 2 cantrips rather than a bunch of coppers and estates?

Your experience seems pretty on-par, though it's not horrible at first (I'd usually rather have it than a copper), then becomes awesome until you start greening, then is still pretty good for its cost as long as you've got a few extra villages and not too many greens (or have other ways to make sure you get a long vassal chain in your discard, such as cellar or library, which makes it stay awesome).
« Last Edit: January 29, 2024, 03:39:51 pm by Yitzi »
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segura

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2024, 06:00:23 pm »
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Vassal is far less reliable than Conspirator. You also seriously misevaluate terminal Silver, no way you would ever pay $3 for such junk.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2024, 06:41:23 pm »
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Vassal is far less reliable than Conspirator. You also seriously misevaluate terminal Silver, no way you would ever pay $3 for such junk.

I would say that Vassal is differently unreliable than the Conspirator.  Conspirator is basically all-or-nothing; once you've got it going, it goes indefinitely, but if you don't you've got a dead turn.  Vassal is easier to get up to a 5 or 10% chance of hitting than Conspirator is, harder to get up to an 80-90% chance, easier to get up to 100% but that won't last unless you have a way to turn $ into VP without adding greens to your deck, and can take the occasional miss more easily.

No, no way I would pay $3 for a terminal silver, that's true.  (Well, unless I had a lot of VP-on-buy effects).  I could get a regular silver for that value, of course I wouldn't pay $3 for a terminal silver, and I never said I would.

But if I had it in my deck for some reason and hit it with a sentry?  It would be a very non-obvious call whether to trash it or not.  And if I only had $2 and it was that or nothing...again, a non-obvious call.
And that means that it may very well be viable as the low end of a $3 card.
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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2024, 07:37:56 pm »
+2

I remember when I first saw Vassal previewed, I thought it would be overpowered. I was wrong. it's fine.

segura

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2024, 02:24:49 am »
+2

Vassal is far less reliable than Conspirator. You also seriously misevaluate terminal Silver, no way you would ever pay $3 for such junk.

I would say that Vassal is differently unreliable than the Conspirator.  Conspirator is basically all-or-nothing; once you've got it going, it goes indefinitely, but if you don't you've got a dead turn.  Vassal is easier to get up to a 5 or 10% chance of hitting than Conspirator is, harder to get up to an 80-90% chance, easier to get up to 100% but that won't last unless you have a way to turn $ into VP without adding greens to your deck, and can take the occasional miss more easily.

No, no way I would pay $3 for a terminal silver, that's true.  (Well, unless I had a lot of VP-on-buy effects).  I could get a regular silver for that value, of course I wouldn't pay $3 for a terminal silver, and I never said I would.

But if I had it in my deck for some reason and hit it with a sentry?  It would be a very non-obvious call whether to trash it or not.  And if I only had $2 and it was that or nothing...again, a non-obvious call.
And that means that it may very well be viable as the low end of a $3 card.
I constantly overvalue Vassal, I want it to always work.But terminal space is limited and Vassal gambles with that valuable resource.
So I totally disagree, Vassal is virtually always inferior to Conspirator.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2024, 02:25:50 am by segura »
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Awaclus

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2024, 08:00:34 pm »
+2

Nerfed Chancellor Vassal is actually considered a pretty weak card.

The problem with Vassal is that it costs you actions whenever it fails, and you can't really predict how many times per turn that's going to happen, so either you prepare for something roughly around the worst case scenario, in which case your deck works but you spent a bunch of time acquiring the extra +actions that mostly are just going to sit there doing nothing to return that investment, or you prepare for something more like the average scenario, in which case your +actions are getting spent efficiently but your deck doesn't work half the time. It similarly costs +cards as well. Even when your deck contains almost exclusively Action cards and you can support many Vassals with only a couple of extra villages, it is often a significant drawback that you don't get to choose the order in which you play them. Conspirator doesn't have any of these problems, you can just add it to any normal engine deck and it'll just be an actual double Peddler, and 5 Conspirators actually cost less than 5 Vassals + 2 Villages.

Also, terminal Silvers are godawful. Regular Silvers themselves are not that great, because each Silver you add makes it harder for your engine to work you need more draw to be able to draw your whole deck and more villages so that you can play all the draw, and that takes some time to acquire and you'll have a bigger risk of a bad draw the bigger your deck is. It's often necessary to get 1-2 Silvers in the early game so that you can hit $5, but you really want to stop buying Silvers and start spending your buys on engine components as soon as possible, and often you don't even want Silvers for free in the mid and late game. Terminal Silvers are that, but way worse, and you should actually be trashing them with Sentry more often than not if you find yourself having cards in your deck that are practically just terminal Silvers all the time.
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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2024, 02:54:56 am »
+2

It's also worth noting that a deck in which Vassal works well will probably be a deck that draws itself every turn. But Vassal does not work with an empty deck. Conspiator does.
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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2024, 08:38:24 am »
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Agreed with the general sentiment about terminal Silvers being bad and Conspirator on average being a better card than Vassal. I'm a bit surprised that no one's talked about the fact that a Vassal miss is usually still better than a Conspirator miss. Cycling a Copper or Estate is pretty nice, especially in the early game. You're never going to open with Conspirator but it's not that crazy to open Vassal and a non-terminal Action like Poacher. Poacher + Vassal reduces the chances of missing one of your opening buys and cycles through one more card after the first shuffle than Poacher + Silver.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2024, 08:39:39 am by 4est »
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Awaclus

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2024, 09:17:15 am »
+1

Agreed with the general sentiment about terminal Silvers being bad and Conspirator on average being a better card than Vassal. I'm a bit surprised that no one's talked about the fact that a Vassal miss is usually still better than a Conspirator miss. Cycling a Copper or Estate is pretty nice, especially in the early game. You're never going to open with Conspirator but it's not that crazy to open Vassal and a non-terminal Action like Poacher. Poacher + Vassal reduces the chances of missing one of your opening buys and cycles through one more card after the first shuffle than Poacher + Silver.

You are of course correct that a terminal Silver that cycles a Copper or Estate is better than a literal vanilla terminal Silver, but it's not as simple as that. You know in advance whether Conspirator will fail and e.g. choose to play a different terminal with your last action instead.

It's also not crazy to open Conspirator either. If there's nothing important at $4 and you don't expect to have terminal collision problems in the early game (big ifs), it's one of the ways in which you can hit $5 while skipping Silver. DomBot stats claim that at least one player opens Conspirator 17% of the time in high level games, and both players open it 4% of the time, which is not a lot, but it's substantially more than never.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2024, 01:31:28 pm »
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Vassal is far less reliable than Conspirator. You also seriously misevaluate terminal Silver, no way you would ever pay $3 for such junk.

I would say that Vassal is differently unreliable than the Conspirator.  Conspirator is basically all-or-nothing; once you've got it going, it goes indefinitely, but if you don't you've got a dead turn.  Vassal is easier to get up to a 5 or 10% chance of hitting than Conspirator is, harder to get up to an 80-90% chance, easier to get up to 100% but that won't last unless you have a way to turn $ into VP without adding greens to your deck, and can take the occasional miss more easily.

No, no way I would pay $3 for a terminal silver, that's true.  (Well, unless I had a lot of VP-on-buy effects).  I could get a regular silver for that value, of course I wouldn't pay $3 for a terminal silver, and I never said I would.

But if I had it in my deck for some reason and hit it with a sentry?  It would be a very non-obvious call whether to trash it or not.  And if I only had $2 and it was that or nothing...again, a non-obvious call.
And that means that it may very well be viable as the low end of a $3 card.
I constantly overvalue Vassal, I want it to always work.But terminal space is limited and Vassal gambles with that valuable resource.
So I totally disagree, Vassal is virtually always inferior to Conspirator.

Well, that's really the question: How limited is terminal space?

If you can get an extra terminal space for the price of a silver, that doesn't really seem that limited.  Especially since getting one village for every 2 or 3 vassals will probably be enough in many engines.

I mean...it's definitely a resource, but one that seems to be costed as significantly cheaper than cards (the upside to your gamble).
« Last Edit: February 02, 2024, 01:45:48 pm by Yitzi »
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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2024, 03:29:35 pm »
+1

Vassal is far less reliable than Conspirator. You also seriously misevaluate terminal Silver, no way you would ever pay $3 for such junk.

I would say that Vassal is differently unreliable than the Conspirator.  Conspirator is basically all-or-nothing; once you've got it going, it goes indefinitely, but if you don't you've got a dead turn.  Vassal is easier to get up to a 5 or 10% chance of hitting than Conspirator is, harder to get up to an 80-90% chance, easier to get up to 100% but that won't last unless you have a way to turn $ into VP without adding greens to your deck, and can take the occasional miss more easily.

No, no way I would pay $3 for a terminal silver, that's true.  (Well, unless I had a lot of VP-on-buy effects).  I could get a regular silver for that value, of course I wouldn't pay $3 for a terminal silver, and I never said I would.

But if I had it in my deck for some reason and hit it with a sentry?  It would be a very non-obvious call whether to trash it or not.  And if I only had $2 and it was that or nothing...again, a non-obvious call.
And that means that it may very well be viable as the low end of a $3 card.
I constantly overvalue Vassal, I want it to always work.But terminal space is limited and Vassal gambles with that valuable resource.
So I totally disagree, Vassal is virtually always inferior to Conspirator.

Well, that's really the question: How limited is terminal space?

If you can get an extra terminal space for the price of a silver, that doesn't really seem that limited.  Especially since getting one village for every 2 or 3 vassals will probably be enough in many engines.

I mean...it's definitely a resource, but one that seems to be costed as significantly cheaper than cards (the upside to your gamble).

That's only if Village is also in the kingdom. Not all kingdoms have a lot of free villages around.

The questions around Vassal are basically,

* how much gambling can I afford with my terminal space?
* can I expect to usually play all my Vassals before I draw my deck?
* Is there a better effect to use my terminal space on?

I do think there are boards where Vassal is better than Conspirator, but it's primarily on boards where you can set-up the topdeck to reduce the gambling risk (i.e Sentry, Artisan, etc.), and on board where it costing $3 vs $4 actually matters (enough +buy). The fact that you have to gamble with Vassal is what makes it hard to just shovel into decks  - when Vassal misses it really sucks.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2024, 04:03:33 pm »
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So it's not so much that vassal is strong overall, but that it's very kingdom-dependent?  In a kingdom with strong trashing, plenty of +action, and plenty of extra buys you'd be getting anyway (e.g. market is the only decent $5), it's super-strong (can go from a $6 engine to a $16 in 2 turns), but if things aren't set up just right for it, it's quite weak?

(Oh, and another way I've eliminated the gambling risk in one game is with Library; I drew my junk, set aside all but one of my vassals, and then just triggered the vassal chain.  Again, though, that's not something you can do in every kingdom.)
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Awaclus

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2024, 04:32:54 pm »
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So it's not so much that vassal is strong overall, but that it's very kingdom-dependent?  In a kingdom with strong trashing, plenty of +action, and plenty of extra buys you'd be getting anyway (e.g. market is the only decent $5), it's super-strong (can go from a $6 engine to a $16 in 2 turns), but if things aren't set up just right for it, it's quite weak?

Kind of, but the best case is more like mid-tier than super-strong, and the basic case is more like useless or actively harmful than quite weak.

It is worth noting that the base game doesn't really have any actually good engine payload, so in base only games, Vassal is more often worth buying just because you're desperate for anything at all and Vassal is something.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2024, 07:55:30 am »
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So it's not so much that vassal is strong overall, but that it's very kingdom-dependent?  In a kingdom with strong trashing, plenty of +action, and plenty of extra buys you'd be getting anyway (e.g. market is the only decent $5), it's super-strong (can go from a $6 engine to a $16 in 2 turns), but if things aren't set up just right for it, it's quite weak?

Kind of, but the best case is more like mid-tier than super-strong, and the basic case is more like useless or actively harmful than quite weak.

It is worth noting that the base game doesn't really have any actually good engine payload, so in base only games, Vassal is more often worth buying just because you're desperate for anything at all and Vassal is something.

Ah, maybe that's it.  What is the superior engine payload you'd get in expansions?
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Awaclus

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2024, 12:07:54 pm »
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So it's not so much that vassal is strong overall, but that it's very kingdom-dependent?  In a kingdom with strong trashing, plenty of +action, and plenty of extra buys you'd be getting anyway (e.g. market is the only decent $5), it's super-strong (can go from a $6 engine to a $16 in 2 turns), but if things aren't set up just right for it, it's quite weak?

Kind of, but the best case is more like mid-tier than super-strong, and the basic case is more like useless or actively harmful than quite weak.

It is worth noting that the base game doesn't really have any actually good engine payload, so in base only games, Vassal is more often worth buying just because you're desperate for anything at all and Vassal is something.

Ah, maybe that's it.  What is the superior engine payload you'd get in expansions?

Some of the stronger ones include Bridge, Bridge Troll, Inventor, Highway, Horn of Plenty, Groundskeeper, Collection, Merchant Guild and Outpost for example, but even Conspirator is a lot stronger than Vassal.
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Yitzi

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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2024, 03:57:08 pm »
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Some of the stronger ones include Bridge, Bridge Troll, Inventor, Highway, Horn of Plenty, Groundskeeper, Collection, Merchant Guild and Outpost for example, but even Conspirator is a lot stronger than Vassal.

Most of those, powerful as they are (at least in large groups; a single Bridge is usually not that impressive), require an extra village and an extra draw for each payload card.  Depending on the deck, Vassal may only need extra terminal space and draw for every second or third vassal, or even less.  They also all cost more than Vassal.

That's really the thing about Vassal: It's not a super-powerful payload card, but it's (assuming terminal space is at least reasonably available) a mid-tier one at a low-tier cost, meaning that you can ramp up extremely quickly once you've got an engine going (assuming your engine comes with enough +Buy to take advantage of the low cost).
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Re: How is Vassal (with suitable support) not overpowered/undercosted?
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2024, 05:38:29 pm »
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Some of the stronger ones include Bridge, Bridge Troll, Inventor, Highway, Horn of Plenty, Groundskeeper, Collection, Merchant Guild and Outpost for example, but even Conspirator is a lot stronger than Vassal.

Most of those, powerful as they are (at least in large groups; a single Bridge is usually not that impressive), require an extra village and an extra draw for each payload card.  Depending on the deck, Vassal may only need extra terminal space and draw for every second or third vassal, or even less.  They also all cost more than Vassal.

That's really the thing about Vassal: It's not a super-powerful payload card, but it's (assuming terminal space is at least reasonably available) a mid-tier one at a low-tier cost, meaning that you can ramp up extremely quickly once you've got an engine going (assuming your engine comes with enough +Buy to take advantage of the low cost).

Sure, it is easier to get five Vassals in play than it is to get five Bridges in play. The difference between how difficult they are is way smaller than the difference between how massive the effects are when you succeed.

Horn of Plenty is probably the most obviously unfair comparison here: in the same amount of time a $6 producing engine (that has both the +buys required for Vassal and the uniques required for HoP) can get to double Province turn by buying Vassals as per your example, it gets to a triple Province + single Duchy turn by going for HoPs. The Vassals take up about 2 card slots and 2 terminal slots assuming every second or third Vassal takes up one, the HoPs take up 3 card slots and 0 terminal slots. If both of these players were given one more turn of time, the Vassal player's fastest way to get points would be to buy 4 Provinces across two turns rather than investing any further into Vassals, while the HoP player should still keep gaining more HoPs instead of greening on the penultimate turn to gain 7 Provinces and a Duchy on the final turn.

HoPs are massively faster, require no terminal space, and while they use slightly more card slots in this example which doesn't have to be the case; just get fewer HoPs if your deck can't support that many they also give more benefits per card slot used. And Vassal's lower cost was factored in here; it was mediocre when the cost was factored in.

Admittedly, most payload in the game is not as good as Horn of Plenty, but most of it is better than Vassal (even when you consider Vassal's cost).
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