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I've brought my Dominion Base set into work and have played a few games with my fellow geeky co-workers. None of them have played Dominion before, but after the first game, they have been playing online and with the Android version. A lot. That is how those things go.
Before, whenever we've played, we've done with the First Game Deck recommendation with the directions. This time, they all admitted they were comfortable with the game, so we used Dominion Shuffle on my phone to choose the cards. Below are the cards it chose.
They had been comfortable with using a Market, Village, or Laboratory as an "action net," yet none of us were happy that there was just a the Village in this game. I talked about the Witch card, and what the Curses do, and we started the game.
The Village cards ran out quickly. I also bought a couple Cellars and used them to discard Estates to draw more Coppers. My plan was to get enough going to start buying Witches. An other player used the Remodel and Moneylender early on, getting lots of money. He got a very early lead.
Soon I had enough money to by some Witches. I started having turns with multiple Villages and then a Witch or two. The Curse pile started going down. This allowed me to quickly pick up more Witches and Gold. The other players didn't quite know what to make of these Curse cards until they started filling up their hands. Another player started buying a few, and I ended up getting three Curses before the pile went out.
The other two players bought Witches too late -- sure they got to draw two more card, but didn't get to deal any Curses to me.
So Villages and Curses were gone. Which was the next one to go? Well, with the Curses starting to fill up everyone else's hands, the Cellars started flying so they could clean out their hands. That was fine by me -- I spent my time buying Provinces when I could, or Woodcutters or Duchies when I couldn't. When there was one Cellar left when it was my turn, but I bought a Woodcutter instead. "Aren't you going to finish this?" I was asked. "Not until I'm sure I'm ahead." Yes I was worried about the early Province purchaser from the money guy early on but I shouldn't have been.
One player used a Village, Throne Room, Cellar, and Library combination a few times to clean the Curses and other cruft from his hand to get money to do a buy. I thought that was ingenious.
The Cellar was by itself for two turns, until it was my turn, and I got a Village, Witch, and Woodcutter in my hand. Was able to get enough money for a Duchy and a Cellar, so I ended the torture.
The final tally? I had 26, the player with the Village-Throne Room-Cellar-Library combo got 8 points, the other two had 3 and -2. The guy with -2 was the early moneybags -- the Curses infiltrated his hand early and he wasn't able to recover.
I better watch it next time -- because I think they learned the power of the Witch!
Must resist the temptation to comment on your group's strategy... must resist...
Considering you and your friends are new to the game, I think the tone of the last reply is unnecessary. However, I do think you will find it interesting to come back to this session report after you have been playing a while longer and see how far you have come as a group.
Your overall conclusion is correct- curse givers are hard to ignore and often, he who gives out the most the quickest will fare the best.