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Author Topic: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship  (Read 7985 times)

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Not a Cylon

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Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« on: July 09, 2011, 10:37:44 am »
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A lot of people seem to hate Pirate Ship, even in 2p games. I've never been that sure why; I often find it easy to counter it: Just find ways to get money besides Treasure. This approach relies heavily on the rest of the board having money Actions, but it works very well where applicable.

This game is about as pure an example of my counter-Pirate-Ship style as there is. Usually the table isn't this favorable to my approach, but it often works nonetheless.

Here's the log. You can actually pretty much see what happened from the final state of the game:

Quote
Not a Cylon wins!
Worker's Villages, Native Villages, and Curses are all gone.

cards in supply: Ambassador, Chancellor, Mountebank, Native Village, Outpost, Pirate Ship, Rabble, Royal Seal, Treasury, and Worker's Village
Default card selection was used.
----------------------

#1 Not a Cylon: 25 points (4 Provinces and an Estate); 30 turns
             opening: Silver / Ambassador
             [26 cards] 6 Native Villages, 6 Worker's Villages, 3 Chancellors, 3 Rabbles, 2 Ambassadors, 1 Mountebank, 1 Estate, 4 Provinces

#2 Haug-MSS: 0 points (a Province, 4 Estates, and 10 Curses); 30 turns
          opening: Pirate Ship / Ambassador
          [70 cards] 4 Native Villages, 4 Worker's Villages, 3 Ambassadors, 3 Pirate Ships, 3 Rabbles, 3 Treasuries, 1 Chancellor, 1 Outpost, 27 Coppers, 6 Silvers, 4 Estates, 1 Province, 10 Curses

----------------------

trash: a Silver and 3 Coppers

I open Silver/Ambassador/Ambassador. Once it's clear he's going hard Pirate Ship, I look at the board and see that it's feasible to go completely Treasureless. Mountebank, Chancellor, and Treasury all provide money, and Native Village is easy to obtain and will serve both to chain together the terminals and to save them up for bigger buys. The Ambassadors get rid of all my Treasure and clog his deck, and the Mountebank provides money and also clogs his deck. (He ends up with no fewer than 27 Coppers and all the Curses.) I wind up getting just three Chancellors and a Mountebank for money; with so many NVs, I could easily stow them until I could play them all in one turn for a Provice, and his deck was getting so slow that it was okay to spend three turns building up (especially if I get to double-Ambassador in the meantime).

The game takes a while (30 turns and lots of extra clicking for Chancellor and NV), but I figure it wasn't my idea to make it dangerous to buy things the easy way :-) (And it would've taken longer had my opponent not thought to remind me to end it on piles by buying the last Worker's Village hurp derp )

Note that, according to Popular Buys on councilroom.com, even though I do win when I skip Pirate Ship and lose when I buy it, my Effect Without is pretty strongly negative (-1.18); by my understanding, this means other people actually do better than me when they skip the Ship. So just remember, much as Pirate Ship may sometimes irritate the piss out of you (especially in multiplayer), it's very counterable and definitely not a must-buy.
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tko

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 09:25:48 am »
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I tried to counter Pirate Ship once by spamming Familiars.  However, I couldn't put the game away, and the Pirate Ship started adding up to $7 which was nearly a guaranteed Province for my opponent.
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110617-012615-d4ea798a.html

So I still have some fear.
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ShuffleNCut

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 10:52:20 am »
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A lot of people seem to hate Pirate Ship, even in 2p games. I've never been that sure why; I often find it easy to counter it: Just find ways to get money besides Treasure.

A board with Pirate ship ALWAYS has at least one non-treasure card that makes money...  Pirate Ship!

Don't fight the man; be the man!

When I saw his first turn Pirate Ship buy I looked at the board and almost went for a Goons/Hunting Party/Fishing Village engine that would explode due to the fact that he would be cleaning out my crappy treasures.  I decided that it would be hard in the late game to get up to Colony money with a bunch of 1$s and 2$s and there weren't enough good cheap cards or cost reducers for the VP chips off a Goon stack to race a dedicated +7/+8$ Pirate Ship deck that bought all the Colonies so I just decided to ride the high seas myself.  Hunting Party is, as always, a star player in this game.  Add enough Hunting Parties to an Uno deck and I'm sure it would start winning games.
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Axe Knight

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2011, 12:33:43 pm »
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I almost completely play 1 on 1 on isotropic.  I buy Pirate Ship 9.4% of the time, and my Win Rate Without is 1.71.   

Even in this example from yesterday, where I was endlessly hounded by my opponent's Pirate Ships, and he had run them up to $6 or $7 or so after trashing at least one Platinum, he ran out of gas in the end.  I consistently had more buying power, and his early lead was mainly due to me ensuring a good chance of nailing VPs in the end.  My play wasn't perfect, but I don't regret my decision to ride out the wave.  At it's best, is a slightly better version of Thief, at it's worse, it's worse than Saboteur (in a two person match). 

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110710-140201-d4083174.html

A lot of people seem to hate Pirate Ship, even in 2p games. I've never been that sure why; I often find it easy to counter it: Just find ways to get money besides Treasure.

A board with Pirate ship ALWAYS has at least one non-treasure card that makes money...  Pirate Ship!

Don't fight the man; be the man!

When I saw his first turn Pirate Ship buy I looked at the board and almost went for a Goons/Hunting Party/Fishing Village engine that would explode due to the fact that he would be cleaning out my crappy treasures.  I decided that it would be hard in the late game to get up to Colony money with a bunch of 1$s and 2$s and there weren't enough good cheap cards or cost reducers for the VP chips off a Goon stack to race a dedicated +7/+8$ Pirate Ship deck that bought all the Colonies so I just decided to ride the high seas myself.  Hunting Party is, as always, a star player in this game.  Add enough Hunting Parties to an Uno deck and I'm sure it would start winning games.

What Colonies?  With your originally strategy, you could have potentially bought eight Estates in two or so turns and ran out the game, with your Goons and Fishing Villages, while your opponent would be nowhere near all the Colonies.  You also could have Embargoed the Colonies to stop him from getting close, if it weren't too much of a detour.

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Zaphod

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 02:24:39 pm »
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A quick glance at councilroom.com shows that the Pirate Ship is tied for the seventh-worst win rate with, and it has the highest win rate without of any card.  Why would it scare anyone?

The problem with Pirate Ship is the frequency with which it doesn't reveal a Treasure card, or only reveals Copper.  In these situations, you're usually doing your opponent a favor.  Also, it's a bit slow in building up the coin count unless you buy multiple Pirate Ships, or you Throne Room/King's Court it.  The lack of additional actions or buys hurts the card as well.  It's a little better when you play with 3 or 4 players, but generally speaking, it's like the Thief and the Saboteur - the best defense is not to get any.
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Kirian

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 03:20:57 pm »
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Pagin guided to thread 258... paging guided...
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guided

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 03:55:04 pm »
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I've actually lost a few games recently by stubbornly refusing to buy Pirate Ships, so I'm feeling less confident in hating on the card at the moment ;) http://councilroom.com/search_result?p1_name=guided&p2_name=&kingdom=pirate+ship

...also I just checked and it has the single worst "effect without" of any card in my popular buys. In fact I have a better win rate with than without, for a 3.8 net "with vs. without" spread. So you know, egg on my face. Basically, it's a bad card but I nonetheless have underestimated it.
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lefaiison

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate ShipY
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2011, 04:40:10 pm »
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Knowing when a card is good, and when it isn't is key in Dominion.

Pirate Ship can dominate games where there are no +$ cards, but is possibly the worst buy / action in a game where there is light trashing, and a bounty of +$ cards.

Imagine a game with Fishing Village/Remodel/Market/Bridge/Throne Room/King's Court.  Using a Pirate ship will accelerate that deck so quickly...
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play2draw

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2011, 04:45:10 pm »
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The Pirate Ship ain't so bad. A card that can fairly reliably become an action/gold (or better) is nothing to scoff at. The problem is too many people try and steal with them until they're worth at least $5 or $6, and only stop upon realizing that their opponent has already purchased the first two or three provinces.

Of course, in a 3+ player game, getting a larger ROI with the Ship becomes more reliable, but only by a little; the revealed treasure from *all* opposing players is trashed each time the card is played, and thus the card scales a little more evenly than people estimate.
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ackack

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2011, 06:06:43 pm »
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Imagine a game with Fishing Village/Remodel/Market/Bridge/Throne Room/King's Court.  Using a Pirate ship will accelerate that deck so quickly...

A powered up Pirate Ship is often a very nice thing to have in a KC engine, though. I think the trick is timing - wasting time early on building it up while helping your opponent trash coppers is generally not so great. Ship gets quite a bit stronger in Chapel games (play it more, hit better stuff if your opponent isn't countering). I had a lot of success with it once in a University/City combo where I could pick them up later on, get ~3 in hand at once and just start bombing away in the late game.
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ShuffleNCut

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2011, 09:55:22 pm »
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Yeah, I think the game I posted was the first one where I actively pursued a Pirate ship strategy in several hundred games and I had never had an issue in the past playing around it (except those rare games where the ship seeks out an destroys every silver and gold you buy and sails right past the copper <3 variance).
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HockeyHippo

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2011, 03:36:33 pm »
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The only thing your example illustrates is something that most dominion players should know:

Mountebank > All
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philosophyguy

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2011, 10:13:50 am »
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Has anyone done simulations/calculations on what an optimal Pirate Ship strategy is? I'm guessing that the biggest mistakes made by people who use Pirate Ships are a) not keeping track of the Treasure:rest of deck ratio of their opponents and b) trying to get the Pirate Ship up to too high a value.

We should be able to calculate the odds of a Pirate Ship hitting given the makeup of the opponent's deck, and I would guess that we'll see a sharp drop-off at some point. [Edit: my post below hopefully lays out the stats for this calculation]

As far as b), my guess would be that (as long as there are +Actions), using the Pirate Ship for coin becomes more valuable as soon as it hits $3 unless you know that the Ship has a high probability of success on its attack. I'm making this guess because Gold costs $6 and Contraband (a Gold with a penalty) costs $5, while the Ship only costs $4 (and has the "penalty" of costing 1 action). This estimate seems to work from the other direction as well: Chancellor and similar cards cost $3 and give $2 at the "penalty" of an action, so it makes sense that a card that produces $3 at the "penalty" of an action would be worth no less than $4.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 10:37:02 am by philosophyguy »
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philosophyguy

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2011, 10:34:33 am »
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Ok, let me try the stats again:

This spreadsheet should give the odds for a successful Pirate Ship attack, based on the opponent's deck size and number of Treasure cards. I would appreciate if someone could double check my formula, which is:

Probability of the first card being a Treasure (#Treas/#Deck) +
Probability of the first card not being a Treasure while the second card is a Treasure [(#Deck-#Treas)/#Deck]*[#Treas/(#Deck-1)]
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2011, 11:01:34 am »
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That appears to be the right formula - for two player.
Point is, heavy pirate ship play is almost never tenable in two player. Moderate PS can be played, but there's usually something better.

Elyv

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2011, 02:31:46 pm »
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PS is a good card as long as there is no good way to chain, trash, or get money from non-treasure sources. Otherwise, it's pretty bad.
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krawhitham

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2011, 06:31:16 am »
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Ok, let me try the stats again:

This spreadsheet should give the odds for a successful Pirate Ship attack, based on the opponent's deck size and number of Treasure cards. I would appreciate if someone could double check my formula, which is:

Probability of the first card being a Treasure (#Treas/#Deck) +
Probability of the first card not being a Treasure while the second card is a Treasure [(#Deck-#Treas)/#Deck]*[#Treas/(#Deck-1)]

Please tell me that you are not filling in spreadsheets during games?
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Davio

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2011, 07:09:47 am »
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Imagine a game with Fishing Village/Remodel/Market/Bridge/Throne Room/King's Court.  Using a Pirate ship will accelerate that deck so quickly...

A powered up Pirate Ship is often a very nice thing to have in a KC engine, though. I think the trick is timing - wasting time early on building it up while helping your opponent trash coppers is generally not so great. Ship gets quite a bit stronger in Chapel games (play it more, hit better stuff if your opponent isn't countering). I had a lot of success with it once in a University/City combo where I could pick them up later on, get ~3 in hand at once and just start bombing away in the late game.

In some Chapel games, players reduce their deck to basically a 5-card hand with 2 Golds, 1 Silver and 2 randoms (Labs or such).
They rely on their drawers to get the $ when they start to buy Provinces, but they only have $8 in total.

If you would be able to pick off one of those Golds, your opponent has to spend 2 turns to get back to $8 (he has $5 for a Silver which gets him to only $7).

It can be well worth it to sacrifice your PS to another attack (even when its value is already high) to stall your opponent 2 turns.
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Razzishi

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2011, 01:50:16 am »
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Only time I have ever played Pirate Ship is when the board had zero ways of gaining money outside of treasure, and the only way to trash was of all things Mint.  I bought two ships early and Minted away a bunch of my treasure after my opponent bought a ship of his own.  Problematically, there was a ton (at least 3 kinds) of non-terminal card draw ("cantrips"), including Pearl Diver, which my opponent stocked up on and then managed to squeak together a few Silver with his remaining Copper and and from there a couple Gold while I was having a hard time getting my Ships to hit enough times to regularly get Provinces; I managed to hit 6 easily, but most of my Copper to boost it up to province level was trashed already and by then my opponent had like 15 actions and 4 treasure.  I managed to squeak it out just barely, but it went to show just how counter-able Pirate Ship was on a board that was almost perfectly setup for it by the criteria most people would look at. 

edit: http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110803-125613-135c4116.html

My opponent was 1 coin short of buying the last province for a draw the turn before I did for the win.  I pretty much had assumed it was going to be a draw, and was quite surprised when he laid down 7 coins.  I then had to manage to draw 2 of the 3 coppers in my deck for a second straight turn, although I was helped by large amounts of Pearl Divers.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 02:02:14 am by Razzishi »
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Fangz

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Re: Don't Fear the Pirate Ship
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2011, 06:21:28 am »
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I think your problem was that after you trashed 2 silver 3 copper with mint, your opponent hit you with pirate ship, leaving you with only 4 coppers in your deck. This meant you couldn't pick up any more pirate ships - or heck, much other that pearl divers.
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