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Author Topic: [Featured] Turn 0  (Read 7245 times)

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popsofctown

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[Featured] Turn 0
« on: March 04, 2013, 04:40:08 pm »
+13

So, one part of a game that is easiest to talk about tends to be the really early part.  With that in mind, I thought I would make thread about choosing which of the two cards drawn at the beginning of the game should be your starting meld. 

This list deals with base, two player Innovation.

With 15 Stone Age cards in base, there are 15!/(13!2!) opening hand possibilities, which is 105.  Rather than have 105 entries, I'm going to present a priority list that creates guidelines that handle all 105 cases.  The priority list doesn't necessarily represent some openings being stronger than others, in fact, I don't care all that much about figuring out whether Clothing/Pottery is a better opening than Wheel/Tools, I only care about whether I meld Clothing over Pottery and whether I meld Wheel over Tools.  This is much more actionable information.
So, to interpret this list, for any opening hand, you try to select the highest priority opening meld you can.  If an exception is marked on that priority, then you meld according to the exception.
We should keep in mind that playstyle is a major factor in the decision, but at the same time there are some choices that are of such different strength that playstyle won't matter, and there are some choices that fit more playstyles than others.

______________________________________________________________________________
Priority 1:  Sailing
Priority 2: Domestication, except in favor of Masonry
Priority 3: The Wheel
Priority 4: Clothing
Priority 5: Metalworking
Priority 6: Masonry, except in favor of Writing or Pottery
Priority 7: Mysticism
Priority 8: Writing, except in favor of Tools
Priority 9: Pottery, except in favor of Tools
Priority 10: Oars
Priority 11: Agriculture
Priority 12: Archery
Priority 13: Tools
Priority 14: Code of Laws



Quote
Priority 1:  Sailing
Sailing gets you 2 standard actions for the price of one.  Only two Stone Age cards can force you to share this astounding power, and those cards happen to be unwanted melds early on anyway.
You'll notice that the first three cards mentioned all have dogmas that unconditionally or almost unconditionally cause you to perform 2 of your standard actions at once.  These effects are powerful because they help you get access to new dogma effects rapidly, and they help you gain icon control.  Scoring dogmas can be powerful too, but the player who is developing his board with 2 for ones can often share scoring effects.
Quote
Priority 2: Domestication, except in favor of Masonry
Domestication also gets you a 2 for 1, but an order of magnitude more cards can force you to share your mastery of animals.
Masonry is a close call, but I think Masonry should be melded instead of Domestication, because an opening hand of Domestication/Masonry makes it very unlikely you can perform an unshared Domestication that doesn't cover Domestication.  Masonry has better icons and Monument prospects with Domestication in hand.
Quote
Priority 3: The Wheel
The final reliable 2 for 1.  You meld Domestication instead of Wheel because Domestication is generally a better dogma.  While Archery or Oars could make you wish you selected the 2-for-1 card with more icons, for every Archery or Oars opening there's several castle-less openings where Domestication can run freely and untamed (Do you see what I did there?)
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Priority 4: Clothing
The alphabetic C means that you can meld the other card from your opening hand if it helps you block a 2 for 1.  And while Clothing is a 1 for 1, it scores you lots of free points.  Even when Clothing doesn't give you 6 points in the first few turns, it usually at least forces your opponent to spend time melding differently colored cards to block you, often ones he didn't want to spend actions melding. 
Quote
Priority 5: Metalworking
Deciding to meld Metalworking over Masonry was a close call, but my logic is this: while Metalworking does a pretty crappy job at finding you cards that work with Masonry, it does a pretty good job at finding cards that let you make use of Masonry without melding it: Pottery and Agriculture.
Quote
Priority 6: Masonry except in favor of Writing and Pottery
Masonry has good icons that block the castle 2 for 1's.  But if you draw it with a card with no castles, the future looks bleak for getting good usage out of Masonry's dogma.  Writing and Pottery have useful dogmas and are worth sacrificing castle icon dominance, Pottery does so in part by giving you the option to pitch Masonry for points and give up on the castle arms race entirely. 
The other castleless cards have dogmas that are weak enough that you would rather meld Masonry for its icons, though.
Quote
Priority 7: Mysticism
Good icons, same as Masonry.  The dogma isn't powerful early on, but the icons are powerful early on. A hypathetical triple castle card with "C: No effect" might be ranked right below this card, actually.
Quote
Priority 8: Writing, except in favor of Tools
Drawing 2's is marginally better than drawing 1's.  Tools can fix the issue with Writing and Tools sharing a color by throwing Writing away, though.  A play that is even more powerful when you consider that your Stone Age opponent will get to the end of the Stone Age stack, only to discover you put a Writing there that will be utterly useless now that he can draw 2's with Domestication now..
Quote
Priority 9: Pottery, except in favor of Tools
Pottery ranks below both of the other blue cards because the main strength of its icons is blocking Clothing, which you can't block very effectively with two blue cards in hand anyway.  But it beats everything else because it blocks Clothing and has a useful dogma (More useful than Agriculture, early on).
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Priority 10: Oars
Oars blocks Domestication.  It also has an okayish dogma early on if you share it.
Quote
Priority 11: Agriculture
Agriculture blocks Clothing.  It's also alphabetically first, giving it a "scouting" feature that synergizes with its dogma: you get a chance to see whether your opponent opened Sailing or Writing, giving you a heads-up on whether you should block by melding a Code of Laws or Tools from your hand, or instead take draw actions with the intention of pitching those cards for points later.
Quote
Priority 12: Archery
Archery blocks Domestication.  Its dogma is totally useless early on, though. 
Quote
Priority 13: Tools
I think some would put this much higher, but I don't think they should, 3's are much weaker early on, and returning three cards is costly.  However, if you make it all the way down to this priority, the other card in your hand must be pretty weak, so it hurts much less to trade it away for a 3.
Quote
Priority 14: Code of Laws
Melding Code of Laws over City States gives City States more surprise factor. 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 11:52:40 am by theory »
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Drab Emordnilap

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Re: Turn 0
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 06:50:26 pm »
+2

It's like I'm a dominion noob all over again...

Thank you; I love things like this.
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dondon151

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Re: Turn 0 (Articleish thing)
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 07:52:10 pm »
0

You should include a tl;dr version of the post to convey the general power of cards in Age 1: it seems that Sailing, Domestication, and The Wheel are powerful in Age 1, and then you want to prioritize melding castles to piggyback off shared dogmas, and then you want to prioritize turn order so you can possibly meld your second card to piggyback off shared dogmas.

(I am bad at this game, though.)
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Articleish thing)
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 08:07:08 pm »
+1

Well, I figured the tl;dr version was just the bold part.  If you just want to absorb lots of good opening strategy in thirty seconds, you can read the meld priority list and try to remember at least the first five entries, then take it on faith that there is a reason they are in that order.

Making a tl;dr version of the explanations doesn't seem to make sense to me.  You either want to know why or you don't, right?

If you meant that I could convert it to a Big Three > Castle Blockers > Alphabet hierarchy, I think there's enough exceptions to that rule that it's not a good summary: I ranked Pottery and Writing above Oars and Archery, even though the latter pair can block Domestication.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 08:28:50 pm by popsofctown »
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Hideyoshi

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2013, 02:35:33 am »
+1

A very good list for beginners. The starter may be changed due to different situation and style of playing. For me, I may meld Oars in the choice of Oars/Mansonry and Oars/Mysticism, I may meld Code of Laws in the choice of Code of Laws/City States, and I may say Archery is my priority 15.
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2013, 09:46:17 am »
0

Oars/Masonry and Oars/Mysticism seems like a matter of taste and playstyle.

Code of Laws over City States was one I was not very sure about, would you like to explain the preference?

And I logged on to knock Archery down in one of its pairings, perhaps it will fall all the way to 15 as I get better.

I'll keep this out of the opening post, but this is why I realized Agriculture should go above Archery:

Agriculture and Archery each can block Clothing or Domestication, respectively, but neither card can "scout" for the other: if you realize you opened the wrong one, melding the other one to block the corresponding power card leaves you with no cards in hand, something necessary to share Clothing or Domestication effectively.

Although Domestication is more powerful than Clothing, Agriculture is a better starting meld because having only two castles in your opening hand renders it rather unlikely that you'll be able to match your opponent's castle count.  Whereas Archery/Tools has a third castle right there in your hand so you can block Wheel, Archery/Agriculture is dependent on drawing more castle cards off the top of the deck just to even stop a Metalworking spam. 
It's probably better just to give up on the castle arms race, even if it means you're blocking the weaker of the Clothing and Domestication pair.  Agriculture can pitch Archery later, helping you in adopting a castleless strategy.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 10:28:54 am by popsofctown »
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ConMan

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 05:38:44 pm »
0

I'll put down a big "It depends" for # of players for some of those, although I assume you're writing for a 2-player game only. In 3 and 4 player games, Writing drops a lot in priority because its ability to "tech up" is weakened by the larger number of people able to draw 1s that will result in everyone being able to draw 2s soon anyway, while all of the Castle-based cards shift up a little bit because there's a much higher chance of someone else using a dogma you can share.
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 05:49:42 pm »
0

Wouldn't all the alphabetically strong cards shift down?  Losing an action on the first turn seems like a bigger disadvantage in multiplayer.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 11:38:24 pm »
+1

I just wanted to bump this since I'm trying to learn this game. I think this is an area worth discussing, since unlike in Dominion, it doesn't depend on the board. When you open, you have no other information than the two cards in your hand, so we should actually be able to answer all the situations.

The ones I have comments about are (for now):
Oars/Masonry: Here it seems like you'd be better off going with Oars. In the likely event that you end up sharing it, you draw 2 cards, which gets you to the point of using your Masonry sooner. If you start by melding Masonry, what are you going to do? Just draw?
Archery/any of the other bad ones: So archery lets you share Domestication, but the dogma is 100% useless, so if they don't have Domestication, you get absolutely nothing. The other ones at least might be useful. For example, if you draw more bad cards, you can use Tools to trade them in. 
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2013, 02:52:58 pm »
0

Well, Hideyoshi agrees with you, and he's a better player, so you're probably on the right side of history HME.

There's a reason I feel the way that I do though:

Oars vs. Masonry:  If you meld Oars, you are losing a castle card.  To meld two cards off of Masonry, the expected number of times you'll need to apply the dogma of Oars is 2ish, since 7/13 remaining 1's have a castle. 
If you meld Masonry, the expected number of times you'll need to use your standard draw action to meld two cards off of Masonry is more like 1.5.  You have a coin flip chance of being able to do it right away, as opposed to Oars' 7/13*6/12=2/26=~= 8% chanced of being able to double Masonry off only one action.

If your plan is triple or quadruple Masonry, I am here to discourage you.  Monumental Masonry is not that good without Wheel or other strong enablers.  I do not think Oars is a good enough enabler.  You need to, on average, share Oars 4 times to enable Monumental Masonry, meaning you're going to spend the first four actions doing something that's hardly better than your standard draw action.  The only strategies that won't be thrilled that you're giving them the extra cards are Wheel and Metalworking, which are cards you definitely want to be blocking with Masonry anyway (I'm assuming here that your argument for Oars is based on the opposing openers with less than 3 castles).
By the time you are done with Monumental Masonry, you are likely to have already lost Prehistory to your opponent, which defeats the purpose of having Monument anyway.  Special achievements are offensive, they are the achievements the aggressive players want to get all the way to six.  Standard achievements are defensive and offensive, getting them denies your opponent the opportunity to get them, and allows you to deny the next age too more easily (While claiming Monument blocks them from claiming and Industrial Monument, but fails to help at all with blocking Wonder.  While blocking Prehistory helps you block Medieval when you already have some score. )

So if you let your opponent achieve 1, you are more or less trading material from behind (chess concept).  Monument is an offensive mechanism that helps the player who quickly achieved 1-5 shut the game down so that his opponent can't get Vaccination going or win by Empricism or what have you.

Opening Masonry is better for getting a double Masonry off, which is a nice, reasonable 2 for 1.  Blocking more dogmas is a plus that puts it over the edge.
I probably disagree with Hideyoshi the strongest about this one.

Archery versus Tools/Code/City: I don't feel as strongly about this one. Archery is good against Writing, fwiw, you don't get ABSOLUTELY nothing.
You should note that Domestication isn't the only thing you are blocking with Archery/Tools.  Archery lets you block The Wheel, at least temporarily, if you meld it instead of Tools.  (it depends somewhat on the other card they drew with Wheel)
Same goes for Metalworking. 

City States can be useful, but is quite often more powerful as a surprise.  Your opponent is more likely to play around it if it's already on the board.  I could certainly be wrong about City States, but I prefer it in hand.

Code of Laws has a pretty miserable dogma early on, and since that dogma's only purpose is icon control, surely you would want to play Archery instead for superior icon control..
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 08:52:21 pm »
0

Thanks for the feedback, it's definitely some things I hadn't thought about.

I didn't really think you'd want to play Masonry just as a meld 2 card, particularly if the 2 are going to be like Oars+Archery or Oars+Metalworking or Oars+Tools or Oars+City States. OTOH, if you wait to meld a lot at once, you're getting like a 4-for-1 (or better depending on how you value the achievement). If you spend 3-4 actions on shared draw and then 1 putting down a bunch of cards, you've on the whole not done that poorly in terms of total draws+melds per action spent. The only thing is you're giving them free reign for a bit. So you probably want to throw down cards sooner in some situations, but not necessarily immediately once you hit 2-for-1.

I also object to the notion that shared Oars is "hardly better than your standard draw action". Since you're going to be able to mass meld the cards you draw at some point, each card drawn is more valueable to you than each card drawn for your opponent. They're almost worth one and a half, since half the time it will be a castle, which you'll get to meld "for free" at some point.

Shared Oars is essentially equally as fast as The Wheel for going Monumental Masonry, with the downside being that your opponent gets to draw cards too. But well it's not like you had the option of opening with the Wheel. You're not looking at a great opening either way, and it seems opening Masonry is more hopeless. I think opening Oars at least gives you the option of playing for Monument if the first turn leads you in that direction, and if not, at least it offers you more options for whatever better cards you want to meld, since you draw 2 instead of 1.
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 10:18:21 am »
+1

Assuming your opponent can't find a way to make use of his draws seems shortsighted, in a way reminiscent of when I was 7 years old and felt certain that in 2 years I could catch up and become equal in age to a 9 year old friend.

Your opponent has lots of ways he can use the extra cards.
1. He can share Masonry
2. Selection for Clothing, which will force you to stop your strategy to block, possibly forcing you to meld castle cards.
3. Card selection in the general sense.
4. Tools
5. And since you're clearing out the prehistory pile 3 cards at a time, the 2's are worth consideration, Currency, Canal Building, and Road Building can all mobilize extra cards in hand.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 10:42:05 am »
0

I'm not saying that the opponent can't find a way to use the card. I'm saying that each card is less useful to them than it is to you, since you have a mass-meld card and they don't.
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popsofctown

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Re: Turn 0 (Article)
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2013, 10:46:45 am »
+1

Even that statement is not necessarily true though.  Shared Masonry allows your opponent to achieve Monument before you can.  Possession of the mass-meld card doesn't matter much if you don't also have the icons backing it up.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 08:35:05 pm by popsofctown »
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