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werothegreat

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Graverobber
« on: January 11, 2013, 02:01:09 pm »
+3

(in progress)


Gaining cards from the trash is a power that has been long expected by many, and has been long derided by others.  Many a fan card has attempted this, but never with the success that Graverobber has.  Most of them have missed the point that the trash is for cards you don't want.  In many games, trash-gainers would be stuck looking at Estates and Coppers, or worse, nothing at all.  So a good trash-gaining card should include a way to fill the trash with cards that you do want.  Which is what Graverobber does.

Well, what does it do?  Graverobber offers you a choice: either Expand an Action, or gain something from the trash of a reasonable cost, putting it on top of your deck.  All of this works together almost perfectly, and makes Graverobber a much better trash-gainer than even the other official one, Rogue.  I've played several games where Hermits or Rats prevent Rogue from ever Attacking, and thus adding better stuff to the trash to gain, which is why Rogue needs the +$2 to compensate.  Graverobber gets out of the trash exactly what you put into it, and not what you manage to pilfer from your opponent.

Graverobber, along with the Knights pile, expands upon the dynamic introduced by Tournament.  Previously, the competition was to see who could get the most of a card, whether it be Cities, Wharves, Minions, or Provinces.  Tournament added a mechanic where the competition is now for a specific card, of which there is only one copy.  Many players dislike this aspect, but I personally find it diverting and enjoyable.  Knights and Graverobber expand this concept by removing the "race for more of a pile" entirely.  Instead of an intermediary Province race, the race for the one specific card is immediately on.  So if there's one card in the trash you really want, you'd better grab it before your opponent does.

Perhaps the best Graverobber strategy is to trash $5 Action cards to gain Provinces.  With no other $5 on the board, Graverobber itself can fill that role, but Graverobbing Graverobbers into Provinces tends to clock in at about the same as pure Big Money, as there will be a couple turns where Graverobber does absolutely nothing if you buy it too early.  So this strategy works best either within the context of engines, where you're buying lots of Actions anyway, or with Action-gaining cards, such as University.  What differentiates Graverobber from other trash-to-replace cards is that Graverobber can put trashed cards back on top of your deck (as long as your opponent doesn't take it first). 

When you're using Graverobber to pick up the leavings of your opponent, chances are there was a better $5 card on the board which your opponent went for, which you should have gone for.  If your opponent Developed a Tournament into a Menagerie and a Mountebank, the correct play is not to Graverob the Tournament.  The correct play is to have bought the Mountebank in the first place.  Graverobber is a good card, but it is not a board-dominating card.  It is a supplemental card, except in the absence of junking Attacks, when it becomes a strategy on its own, as previously described.  Now, if you do find yourself with Graverobber in hand, and something tasty in the trash, snap that up before your opponent does.

How can I help my Graverobber? While Graverobbing Graverobbers can work, this can be made faster by filling your deck with expensive Actions, particularly within the context of an engine, as mentioned previously.  If they're non-terminal, even better.  Cards like Market, Bazaar and Junk Dealer are great for this.  Grand Market does well with Graverobber because you can Expand a cheaper Action into it, forgoing the need to rid yourself of Coppers.  That Grand Market can then be turned into a Province if necessary.  Border Village is awesome with Graverobber, because in buying one, Expanding into one, and gaining one from the trash, you acquire an extra card.  And Border Village games tend to produce a superfluous amount of Actions, so you don't feel so bad turning those Border Villages into Provinces.

You also want to maximize the chance of pairing Graverobber with a relevant Action even further, by either trashing away non-Actions (making Graverobber combo rather well with other trashers, particularly non-terminal ones like Spice Merchant and Junk Dealer), or by high draw and/or sifting (again, preferably non-terminal, such as Laboratory or Warehouse).  Laboratory and Junk Dealer are, in turn, good targets for Expansion into Provinces when the time comes.

When should I stay away from Graverobber?  Graverobber's power is much diminished in Colony games.  It will only ever be able to Expand a Peddler into a Colony (barring lots of Highways), and while Colony games tend to have $6 and $7 cost cards, you should be more concerned about stocking up on those, than on getting a Graverobber to turn them into Platinums.  This, of course, is if you're actually going for Colonies and not trying to rush the Provinces.  But if your opponent gets just one Colony, he can still win even if you split the Provinces 5-3, so be careful.

How do I counter Graverobber?  Buy the more powerful card, or, if Graverobber is the prime $5 on the board, mirror a Graverobbing Graverobbers strategy.  For Attacks, the best are Looters and Cursers.  Ruins are too cheap for Graverobber to usually do anything useful with them, except getting a Silver, and it has no idea what to do with Curses.  Discard Attacks typically will not hurt a GR/GR strategy.  You may be tempted to Pillage to knock one of those Graverobbers out of their hand, but the Graverobber-er will simply put that freshly trashed Pillage on top of his deck and use it on you next turn.  Deck inspection is usually useless here, and Graverobber can gain back cards lost to trashing Attacks, though this does slow your opponent down.

Now let's mention a few cards that Graverobber interacts with especially well.

Fortress changes Graverobber from a replacing card to a gaining card (so long as the gained card is less than $8).  Graverobbing Fortresses will never get you a Province, but it can get you Golds and King's Courts, and lots of them.

Be careful with cost reduction around Graverobber - just a little, and you can gain Provinces from the trash; too much, and you can't gain anything from the trash.  This is convoluted, but if you can make it work, it pays off in droves: reduce cost so that Provinces cost $6 or less, then with either Saboteur or Knights, trash an opponent's Province (cards like Spy are great for ensuring you hit a Province, though cost reduction raises the chance anyway), then use Graverobber to gain it from the trash.  This is one instance where Rogue is better, because Rogue does the deck-trashing AND the trash-gaining, so long as there's nothing able to be gained in the trash (again, cost reduction helps here).

Cards that trash themselves are simply begging for Graverobber to come along.  Excepting Embargo, which is too cheap, every self-trasher can be brought back to life with Graverobber, and be used on your next turn.  Madman strategies no longer have to be insanely fast, and Pillaging is no longer limited to ten strikes.  Graverobber even allows you to forgo buying these cards in the first place.  Just wait for your opponent to use them, and then snatch them up on your turn.

Since Graverobber likes to trash $5 cost Actions into Provinces, cards that give you $5 cost Actions do well with it, and in general any card that gives you extra cards is of benefit - Altar, Border Village, University, Haggler, even Catacombs.

Does well with:
Fortress
Self-trashers
Border Village

Counter with:
Cursers/Looters
More powerful cards
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 10:01:32 pm by werothegreat »
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LastFootnote

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 02:14:56 pm »
0

Pillage as a counter is questionable, since as you say in your own article, you can topdeck trashed Pillages with Graverobber, often a very nice play.

In my experience, Graverobber is best with non-terminal $5 cards on the board, so you can afford to load up on them at the expense of Gold and always have something for Graverobber to trash for a Province. For this reason, Altar seems like a premier Graverobber enabler. Trash crap from your deck and gain $5 Action cards.
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ftl

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2013, 02:22:25 pm »
+1

Now, Graverobber combos with several other cards, but perhaps the best combo is with itself.  One cute trick I've seen played (and played myself) is to buy lots of Graverobbers, and then whenever two of them collide in your hand, feed one to the other and gain a Province.  When they don't collide, Graverob a Graverobber out of the trash, handily putting it on top of your deck.  This is similar to the pure Remodel strategy, but eliminates the intermediary Gold step, and allows you to get back what you trashed (as long as your opponent doesn't take it). 

Is this actually viable? It seems like it would be slower than standard BM. And definitely slower than BM+X where X is a reasonably good 5-cost you might want instead of Graverobber. 

How fast does that get to 5 provinces? Have you tried that?

I'd suspect that BM+Graverobber is a waste of time and that it'll be one of the weaker BM enablers. When you really want graverobber is when you can build an engine to consistently match up Graverobbers with 5-cost cards to trash into provinces - then you can get rid of all your treasure, since you're no longer buying anything, for super-consistency.

Though remember, to graverob a 5-cost into a province, and then graverob it again to get it back, that takes three 5-cost cards in hand and a village to play the two graverobbers. There's a lot you can do with that. You can make do with one fewer 5-cost card if you still generate $5 each turn to buy it back.


I would expect Graverobber to work very well with Treasury, since you don't need to buy green and can just Graverob it, letting treasuries stay on top.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 02:26:44 pm by ftl »
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werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 02:39:47 pm »
0

http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20130111/log.505c6195a2e6c78ad2ed5a99.1357933131289.txt

This definitely had help from Border Village, and from a really dumb AI.  5 Provinces in 13 turns.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 03:14:52 pm »
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This is making me want to go Graverob Rats into Grand Markets.
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jamespotter

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 03:52:15 pm »
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It should also be noted that action cards that have an on-trash effect are very useful with graverobber, especially Hunting Grounds. Being able to gain Province- Duchy consistently is very powerful. I agree that BM- Graverobber is not a very good strategy...it is slower than straight BM, I would think...
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2013, 05:08:01 pm »
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Graverobbing Feodums is also very good!! coz u trash the Feodums to get silvers, and can then get the Feodums back at the end of the game with graverobbers!!
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 05:10:42 pm »
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Graverobbing Feodums is also very good!! coz u trash the Feodums to get silvers, and can then get the Feodums back at the end of the game with graverobbers!!
You can't use graverobber to trash a feodum due to feodum not being an action.

werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2013, 05:11:38 pm »
0

Graverobbing Feodums is also very good!! coz u trash the Feodums to get silvers, and can then get the Feodums back at the end of the game with graverobbers!!
You can't use graverobber to trash a feodum due to feodum not being an action.

Thoughts on the article, WW?
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2013, 06:33:07 pm »
0

Graverobbing Feodums is also very good!! coz u trash the Feodums to get silvers, and can then get the Feodums back at the end of the game with graverobbers!!
You can't use graverobber to trash a feodum due to feodum not being an action.

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I feel entirely unqualified to say anything on the matter.

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 07:27:20 pm »
+1

http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20130111/log.505c6195a2e6c78ad2ed5a99.1357933131289.txt

This definitely had help from Border Village, and from a really dumb AI.  5 Provinces in 13 turns.

But that's Border Village+Graverobber. That's a whole heck of a lot better than Graverobber alone, because you get to gain both a BV and Graverobber with one buy (or gain). Yes, Border Village works great with trash-for-benefit like Graverobber, but that doesn't say much about the strength of Graverobber alone, I think.
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werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2013, 11:30:32 pm »
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How's this?  I mainly ignored Festival and tried to go purely for a Graverobber/Graverobber strategy.  5 Provinces in 19 turns.

http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20130112/log.505c6195a2e6c78ad2ed5a99.1358051331401.txt
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2013, 11:31:08 pm »
+2

How's this?  I mainly ignored Festival and tried to go purely for a Graverobber/Graverobber strategy.  5 Provinces in 19 turns.

http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20130112/log.505c6195a2e6c78ad2ed5a99.1358051331401.txt
Which is about what you can do with just money.

werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2013, 11:37:26 pm »
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How's this?  I mainly ignored Festival and tried to go purely for a Graverobber/Graverobber strategy.  5 Provinces in 19 turns.

http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20130112/log.505c6195a2e6c78ad2ed5a99.1358051331401.txt
Which is about what you can do with just money.

What I'm noticing is that Graverobber needs something to trash or to gain - there were a couple of turns there near the beginning where Graverobber had nothing to do.  Having the Hamlets to trash into Graverobbers was nice.

EDIT: I've altered the article to reflect this.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 11:42:23 pm by werothegreat »
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2013, 06:56:25 am »
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I just played a Rebuild game, and having Rogue was really helpful for retrieving the spent Duchies (and in my game, Harem, which I always bought over Gold).  Graverobber might have worked just as well, although I still feel that Rogue may be better since the +$2 an help you reach $5.  Also, there's that chance that you'll Rogue your opponent's Rebuild or Rogue earlier on before Duchies hit the trash.  The big problem of course is that Rogues and Graverobbers compete with Rebuild and Duchy at $5.
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2013, 10:38:19 am »
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I suspect this is an engine card that can build up impetus when paired with other impetus cards. So you could play an apprentice, trash a gold, bring it back with the graverobber. Play a throne on a graverobber, trash a hunting party for a province, gain that hunting party back and put it on top of your deck. Play a saboteur, trash an opponent's minion, use the graverobber to put the minion on top of your deck.

Perhaps you could also use graverobbers similarly to governors and horns of plenty, preparing a deck that you can trash out in the last couple of turns for many provinces. This could be yet another classy king's court finish.
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werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2013, 11:45:23 am »
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I amended a paragraph.
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2013, 01:23:21 am »
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Graverobber feels like the dud card of the set for me. Now, this is probably due to me not getting the card. But, I tried to build a Graverobber engine. I even put Chapel on the board, but out of three games, I lost every time where I tried to build a Graverobber engine that involved either trashing the Graverobber into a Province or gaining the Graverobber back from the trash. I do, however, think that maybe one of these days a lightbulb will go off, and I will see the true power of Graverobber. But, at this point, I don't get it.
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werothegreat

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2013, 08:45:08 am »
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Graverobber feels like the dud card of the set for me. Now, this is probably due to me not getting the card. But, I tried to build a Graverobber engine. I even put Chapel on the board, but out of three games, I lost every time where I tried to build a Graverobber engine that involved either trashing the Graverobber into a Province or gaining the Graverobber back from the trash. I do, however, think that maybe one of these days a lightbulb will go off, and I will see the true power of Graverobber. But, at this point, I don't get it.

Eh.  Dark Ages cards are tricky.  I was talking to someone who didn't get Rats the other day.
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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2013, 12:33:01 pm »
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A few things Graverobber can play like a gimped Expand or like a skewed Workshop; unsurprisingly, it shares a lot of play characteristics with these two types of cards. Like Workshop, gaining cards with Grvr is pretty crappy if you don't have a good supply of cards you can readily obtain; you want to look at both what you can poach from the trash and what you make out of sub-5 actions you may be able to mass (e.g. Rats). Like Expand, Grvr's usefulness is dependent on what sequence of cards you can expect to play (e.g. Rats -> Grand Market -> Province) and how often you can line them up. Because you need to pair specific types of cards and don't have the good shot of Estate -> 5 or the middling shot of Copper -> Silver, Grvr is much more dependent on either flooding your deck with high value actions or constructing a deck with dynamics that create high odds of pairing the cards you want.

Flooding your deck comes from getting lots of high value actions, reliable means of doing this include: University, Haggler, Border Village, Quarry/+buy (needs engine normally), Altar, Peddler/+buy, Rats, etc.

An alternate approach is to make your deck give you high odds of pairing up your Grvr and it's target actions. The simplest one is to trash down. Most trashers work quite well with Grvr as you can easily get to a point where you can play 5 coin to buy a 5, and either expand a 5 to a province or Grvr a 5 from the trash. Likewise, engines, particularly ones heavy in 5's, greatly increase the odds on any turn that you will have a target 5 & your Grvr show up together; with +action you may even be able to recover or even reuse your target. Sifting is also extremely strong here, once you have enough 5 coin actions in deck, you can just sift away your entire hand to hit a 2 card hand of Grvr + target. Even just hitting the Grvr can allow you to pick up a 5 coin card that is a decent turn if you've already greened heavily. Like Baron, Death Cart, Treasure Map, Expand, etc. Grvr is a pairing card that benefits an awful lot from having high odds of making its pairing.

Combining a method of action flooding with a method of pairing is extremely strong, this is why cards like Altar that convert mostly worthless coppers & estates to nice 5 coin actions are so good at helping Grvr set up better.

A couple of odds and ends for Grvr:
1. Grvr cannot give you colonies without cost reduction. This doesn't sound like a lot, but it means that you either use Grvr to build up deck strength (e.g. build a Gm deck) or you use Grvr to get big coin (e.g. plat) in colony games. Even with a 6 or 7 coin card out, Grvr tends to be slow at getting Plat.
2. Cost reduction is weird with Grvr. This can allow tricks like playing a Princess to pull a Kc out of the trash or playing 5 total cost reduction to Grvr a Fortress -> Province; more often cost reduction can work well to supply plenty of 5/6 cost cards to give you good odds of pairing up for a province. However, a lot of cost reduction setups are better at just playing for a megaturn.
3. Grvr is not that great at creating top deck combos or gain it and play situations, but it can do those (particularly with Kc, Prssn, or Tr) and have fun results. For instance, Tr-Grvr can set you up to pick up two trashed Treasure Maps and auto-pair them. Something more common might be playing Tr - Grvr to put a Bazaar & Hunting Grounds on deck top to ensure a huge starting hand (with the goal of playing two Tr - Grvr combos to gain 2 povinces & a duchy and reset the deck for next turn).

4. You can set up a few very neat ultra-lean decks with Grvr - Kc/Kc/Grvr/any draw/Bish : Kc -> Kc -> Grvr (gain three 6 coin cards from the trash) -> draw them -> Bish them for 12 points; you can also build this combo with Tr and villages for 8 VP per turn. Nv/Grvr/Rebuild/Nv : Nv (nothing) -> Grvr (gain duchy) -> Rebuild  (gain province) -> Nv (mat Province).

 
A few very strong synergies for Grvr:
1. Procession, particularly with ANY 6 coin action out. Normally you prefer not to Prssn your big 5 coin power cards as that destroys your engine really quickly, Grvr, however lets you get them back and as an added bonus can chomp on 6 coin cards to turn them into provinces. This can get quite insane as with Prssn/Grvr/Hunting Grounds/village where you may well gain 3 or 4 cards that you turn into 2 provinces and 2 duchies a turn.
2. Rats - while greatly increasing your action density and giving an on trash bonus, Rats/Grvr can be quite strong for quickly setting up high value engines (e.g. Gm, Torturer/Bazaar).
3. Catacombs - it draws, it sifts, it gives useful card when you turn it into a Province.
4. Altar - gives lots of 5 coin cards & gets rid of space wasting coppers/estates.
5. Hunting Grounds - it draws BIG, and gives you a bonus duchy when you trash it to a province.
6. University - +actions (so you can play multiple Grvr or terminal draw) and gains 5 coin action cards; too slow without support but normally there is something that works at 5.
7. Squire - trash a squire: gain draw, gain attack, and seed the trash with a village to gain later. Extremely good with 5 coin drawing attacks like Margrave, Ghost Ship, and Torturer.
8. Cartographer. It pairs nicely to make a 5. It allows you to sift and draw cards this turn. When gained to deck top, it can immediately allow you to set up the turn after next.

Countering Grvr:
In addition to cursing, you can also:

Rabble - Skip the Grvr, leave him trying to hit a two card combo in a 2 card hand; Rabble really needs to be massed to work well here and if a Rabble engine is viable, then you may want to add a Grvr to allow you to either "buy" a province for 5 or to allow you to have alternating double & single province turns.

Noble brigand - If the opponent has trashed out his coppers for better Grvr pairing, you can slow him back down by flooding him with copper (greatly reducing the odds that he can pair Grvr with a 5); if he has thinned and is relying on gold/silver to replace his 5's, this can be an even stronger move. This is particularly strong if he has used Grvr on his trasher or if you can multiplicatively play the Nb with something like Tr or Kc.

Possession - If you can either play multiple possessions or if the opponent is using some form of hand/deck control (e.g. haven, courtyard, etc.) you can often poach provinces using his cards and leave him with crappy hands.



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hsiale

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2013, 12:56:41 pm »
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Graverobber feels like the dud card of the set for me. Now, this is probably due to me not getting the card. But, I tried to build a Graverobber engine. I even put Chapel on the board, but out of three games, I lost every time where I tried to build a Graverobber engine that involved either trashing the Graverobber into a Province or gaining the Graverobber back from the trash. I do, however, think that maybe one of these days a lightbulb will go off, and I will see the true power of Graverobber. But, at this point, I don't get it.

Eh.  Dark Ages cards are tricky.  I was talking to someone who didn't get Rats the other day.
I tried to use Graverobber/Rats to get Grand Markets once. But it didn't work as great as I expected. Maybe I should try more games, but I kept on failing to draw them together reliably often.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2013, 03:39:46 pm »
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You can graverob peddlers into colonies.  You can't pull them back out of the trash though.
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jomini

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2013, 03:52:07 pm »
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You can graverob peddlers into colonies.  You can't pull them back out of the trash though.

Thank you, I had forgotten that. Still Grvr is fairly weak in most colony games. You can pull them out of the trash with cost reduction, but that is even more rarely useful.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2013, 05:25:10 pm »
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You can graverob peddlers into colonies.  You can't pull them back out of the trash though.

Thank you, I had forgotten that. Still Grvr is fairly weak in most colony games. You can pull them out of the trash with cost reduction, but that is even more rarely useful.

It's still conceivable that graverobber/peddler would dominant, particularly in the presence of workers village and a strong trasher like remake.  You could even remake remakes and workers villages into graverobbers and use them to recover the spent remakes and workers villages.  Meanwhile the workers villages would bring in lots of peddlers and allow you to play multiple graverobbers per turn to make colonies.

That's a rather idealized 4 card combo, but surely there are other nonterminal +buy and trash pairs that would enable graverobber/peddler on a colony board.
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jomini

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Re: Graverobber
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2013, 07:44:39 pm »
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You can graverob peddlers into colonies.  You can't pull them back out of the trash though.

Thank you, I had forgotten that. Still Grvr is fairly weak in most colony games. You can pull them out of the trash with cost reduction, but that is even more rarely useful.

It's still conceivable that graverobber/peddler would dominant, particularly in the presence of workers village and a strong trasher like remake.  You could even remake remakes and workers villages into graverobbers and use them to recover the spent remakes and workers villages.  Meanwhile the workers villages would bring in lots of peddlers and allow you to play multiple graverobbers per turn to make colonies.

That's a rather idealized 4 card combo, but surely there are other nonterminal +buy and trash pairs that would enable graverobber/peddler on a colony board.

Oh, I don't doubt that such boards exist, but I think they will be rather rare. For instance, let's take your Remake/Peddler/Grvr/Wrkv setup. Is it really going to be faster there to Grvr them up to Colonies ... or to Remake Peddlers into Plats and quickly start buying out the Colonies the easy way? I honestly don't know, but that is also a VERY strong setup for Grvr (Ped -> Col). You have deck thinning, you have +action/+buy/+cards and you have a way to quickly boost your Grvr count without spending 5 coin; every thing else you need is really cheap. I still maintain that on most colony boards, and most Peddler/Colony Grvr boards, Grvr is likely to be weaker.
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