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Subject: A look at the Interactive cards rss

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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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This is a strategy article on using the ‘interactive’ cards of Dominion. I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m not a playtester or a developer, just a player who has played over 70 games on BSW. So I thought I’d give it a shot.

This article is written assuming that there is no Moat in the game. Please keep that in mind when you comment. Also of course if I mention any other card, the point is only valid if that card is in the game. There is probably a Moat article to be written all by itself, but because the Moat just became completely playable yesterday on BSW, I don’t feel I have enough experience to write about it yet. The Chapel deck is discussed here and the interactive cards are shown here. The Chapel deck is the only deck so far to have its own thread, which is why I mention it in some of the descriptions here.

Bureaucrat
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: mild
Player Number sensitive: no

Bureaucrat is a card that helps quite a bit if you pick it up early. While you can use 3 coins to buy a silver, the silver will not have any effect on the other players, so at 4 coins, the Bureaucrat is better than the silver. Don’t pick up more than three because Bureaucrat quickly loses its effectiveness, both as a card you want to play, and as an interactive card. This is because the other players will be buying more and more cards that are not VP cards. By the time other players are actually buying VP’s, the Bureaucrat will likely have little effect. I don't worry if a Bureaucrat is being played against me, it is a quickly diminishing problem.

Militia
Time in the game to acquire: Early/Mid
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: no

Militia is a card that slows the early game way way down. It reduces the amount of copper available for purchases by forcing players to discard what can be a significant percentage of their coins (as in 20%). It completely takes the Cellar out of the game because it is unlikely that a player will have any cards left to discard after the Militia is used. Chapel decks hate it because they can’t get enough cards in hand to trash at one time. Smithy/Council Room/Library/Adventurer are a good response to Militias because they put multiple cards back in a player’s hand. When you are considering purchasing a Militia, keep in mind that what it does for you directly is +2 coins, so later in the game there may be better ways to spend 4 coins. On the other hand if the Smithy et al cards are not in the game, the Militia will be effective throughout, making it challenging to have 8 coins in hand to purchase Provinces. (Courtesy Kevin Bourrillion)"It should be noted that Library doesn't just counter a Militia, it usually makes the holder GLAD you played the Militia!"

Spy
Time in the game to acquire: Mid/Late
Effect on other players: moderate
Player Number sensitive: no

Spy is a quintessential deck manipulation card and can be a good card even if everyone has loaded up on Moats because it allows you to choose whether or not to get your next card. It works best for you when your deck is low and you know certain cards are still in the deck. However, overall, the Spy is probably the least useful of all the interactive cards because it only affects one card, which normally will not be a significant card in either your deck or your opponents’ decks. It does give you another action which can be helpful, but the Village gives you two more actions plus a card and at 3 is just an overall better deal. If a player is playing a lot of Spies on you, you can counter with a Chancellor because that puts all your cards back in action. A Council Room also effectively does the same thing, and even a Smithy will help.

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

The more players in the game, the more you want to use the Thief plain and simple. The ability to pick up 3+ coins in one play is pretty significant. There really isn’t much of a downside to this card if you are in a 4 player game. If you are trying to defend against a Thief you need to put cards in your deck. Have lots of cards so that the Thief will have a hard time finding the Silver and Copper cards. Unfortunately that means you will have a hard time finding them too, but +card/+action cards can help with that. Thieves can and will totally wreck a Chapel deck, don’t try one with a Thief in play. (Courtesy of Tom Rosen) "Another way to counter the Thief is to use Action cards to generate money rather than Silver/Gold. Instead of simply increasing the size of your deck to decrease the chances of your opponent finding your valuable money, you can just use cards like the Woodcutter or Festival to generate money."

Witch
Time in the game to acquire: Early/Mid
Effect on the other players: mild to substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

All of the above information is completely dependent on the number of other players who are acquiring Witches. If you are the only player playing Witches, you can acquire them all game long and they will continue to be effective, but not necessarily as effective as multiple players playing Witches. If there are 3 or fewer Curses left, don’t acquire any more Witches because they are too expensive to be used as a simple +2 card. Also be careful of using Witches with the Garden in play. A Garden can somewhat mitigate the effectiveness of Curses because the Curses count toward possible VP’s. Chapels are not a problem however because it’s difficult to match up Curses and Chapels. Speaking of Chapels, a Chapel deck will not work well with a Witch in play, simply because the Chapel has to be used to eliminate Curses instead of eliminating 1 copper cards and Estates. Curses increase the deck size and that’s the bane of a Chapel deck.

Discussion is welcome so I can learn some more about this great game! laugh
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Jeff Kunkel
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I agree with most of what you say, with a few additions:

Quote:
Bureaucrat


The Bureaucrat as an attack card is a bit annoying in the early game, and not much of a problem later in the game. However, the cumulative effect of all the silvers he can add to your deck can be significant and this is the primary reason to pick him up. At a cost of 3 I consider him to be a no-brainer buy whenever he shows up. If you only play him twice he's already paid for himself twice over. So, early game I buy 3 or so, and just let the cash roll in. Also, pretty great in combination with the Mine.

Quote:
Spy
However, overall, the Spy is probably the least useful of all the interactive cards because it only affects one card, which normally will not be a significant card in either your deck or your opponents’ decks. It does give you another action which can be helpful, but the Village gives you two more actions plus a card and at 3 is just an overall better deal.


Remember the Spy also gives you +1 card, just like the Village. I value it a bit more than you because the ability to possibly help my own deck a little and slow my opponents' decks a little (as in discarding a gold or a Festival) can be significant in a close game. I also believe it IS player sensitive, since with more players the chance of having an impact on an opposing deck increases. Also a good card when you can follow it with a Smithy, Moat, etc., increasing the odds of getting a helpful draw.

Great article. Thanks for getting this discussion started.
 
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Kevin Bourrillion
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Jennifer, I regret that I have only one thumb to give. I was mulling writing a post like this, but you did it for me, and I agree with basically everything you've said. Very well done!

A few very minor comments.

jschlickbernd wrote:
Smithy/Council Room/Library/Adventurer are a good response to Militias because they put multiple cards back in a player’s hand.


It should be noted that Library doesn't just counter a Militia, it usually makes the holder GLAD you played the Militia!


Quote:
(The spy) does give you another action which can be helpful, but the Village gives you two more actions plus a card and at 3 is just an overall better deal.


I would word this differently. Between these two only the Village actually gives you an extra action; the Spy just replenishes the action it consumed. I think of it as a "free-action" card, as opposed to the plus-action cards and regular action cards.


Quote:
If a player is playing a lot of Spies on you, you can counter with a Chancellor because that puts all your cards back in action.


Wow, you found a way to make the Chancellor seem marginally useful. Congrats!


Quote:
Thief


The Thief can be a good card to support a green thumb (a Gardens-heavy strategy) because it's the only action that can sometimes net you multiple cards. True, sometimes it nets you none. But each card it gets you it gets you free and clear, like the Workshop does, rather than making you dip into the funds you might have used for your regular buy, like a Woodcutter.

Quote:
A Garden can somewhat mitigate the effectiveness of Curses because the Curses count toward possible VP’s.


Yep, having a lot of Gardens can offset the cost of those penalty points. But there's another reason Curses are less effective against the green thumb: that player is already taking significant measures to accommodate his/her lower average card quality, such as having lots of Chapels, Council Rooms, etc. So while the -1 VP still hurts, the uselessness of the card doesn't hurt as much.

Quote:
Chapels are not a problem however because it’s difficult to match up Curses and Chapels.


Hey, it's easy to match up Curses and Chapels: just trash all the rest of your cards and your Curses will show up! Kidding.

But seriously I'm not totally sure about what you say, because you tend to get most of your Curses early so there should be ample time. If I want to make this work I get multiple Chapels.

I think Remodel is a good way to deal with Curses; turn them into Moats/Chapels/Cellars early and Estates late.

Again, awesome post.
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Kevin Bourrillion
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jeffk wrote:
Remember the Spy also gives you +1 card, just like the Village.


Bear in mind that that extra card it gives you is the same card you would have drawn if you hadn't had the Spy/Village in the first place. So it's not that can be seen as an advantage of this card, more like a disadvantage that most other cards have. If that makes any sense.
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Jeff Kunkel
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kevinb9n wrote:
jeffk wrote:
Remember the Spy also gives you +1 card, just like the Village.


Bear in mind that that extra card it gives you is the same card you would have drawn if you hadn't had the Spy/Village in the first place. So it's not that can be seen as an advantage of this card, more like a disadvantage that most other cards have. If that makes any sense.


I'm not clear on your point. True, you have no control over the extra card that Spy draws for you, but you do have some control over the very next card you draw. Regardless, I was just pointing out that Spy lets you draw an extra card just like Village does. I never said it's card drawing was better than the Village.
 
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Tom Rosen
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jschlickbernd wrote:

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

The more players in the game, the more you want to use the Thief plain and simple. The ability to pick up 3+ coins in one play is pretty significant. There really isn’t much of a downside to this card if you are in a 4 player game. If you are trying to defend against a Thief you need to put cards in your deck. Have lots of cards so that the Thief will have a hard time finding the Silver and Copper cards. Unfortunately that means you will have a hard time finding them too, but +card/+action cards can help with that. Thieves can and will totally wreck a Chapel deck, don’t try one with a Thief in play.


Another way to counter the Thief is to use Action cards to generate money rather than Silver/Gold. Instead of simply increasing the size of your deck to decrease the chances of your opponent finding your valuable money, you can just use cards like the Woodcutter or Festival to generate money.
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Gareth B
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Quote:
I don't worry if a Bureaucrat is being played against me, it is a quickly diminishing problem.

Quote:
The Bureaucrat as an attack card is a bit annoying in the early game, and not much of a problem later in the game.


One time you may need to watch out is when your deck is low in cards that provide a draw action. In this case getting hit by Bureaucrat with any regularity can prove to be very frustrating.

Even if you don't have many green cards yet, the same green card keeps rotating into your hand every turn. There's no way for you to get rid of it, because it's back on top of your deck by the time your turn to play comes round again. You are stuck with only four new cards a turn until you can play a draw action, or until a turn goes by in which no opponent plays a Bureaucrat.
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Alan Kwan
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If every opponent in a 4-player game keeps playing a Bureaucrat every turn, you'll get only 2 cards each turn. soblue Bureaucrats (when they strike) are effectively half a Militia, but unlike Militia they are also cumulative.

Someday someone will get locked out by the opponents playing 5 Bureaucrats every turn ...
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Alan Kwan wrote:
If every opponent in a 4-player game keeps playing a Bureaucrat every turn, you'll get only 2 cards each turn. soblue Bureaucrats (when they strike) are effectively half a Militia, but unlike Militia they are also cumulative.

Someday someone will get locked out by the opponents playing 5 Bureaucrats every turn ...


10x Lab
6x Village
5x Bureaucrat
1x Chapel
1x Renovate

Play the Bureaucrats every turn, locking your opponent out. Chapel away all the silvers and trade one for a market every turn. Once you've exhausted the silvers, remove the Renovate and start buying provinces. Use chapel to remove any provinces that give you more points than necessary. Win by emptying the provinces.

Note that unlike Alan's idea, this actually won't ever happen.
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Jeff Kunkel
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Alan Kwan wrote:
If every opponent in a 4-player game keeps playing a Bureaucrat every turn, you'll get only 2 cards each turn. soblue Bureaucrats (when they strike) are effectively half a Militia, but unlike Militia they are also cumulative.

Someday someone will get locked out by the opponents playing 5 Bureaucrats every turn ...


This only happens if you have lots of VP cards in your hand. If you have none in your hand the Bureaucrat has no effect. It's actually the opposite of the Militia. The Militia are no threat if you have 2 VP cards in your hand, while the Bureaucrat are more of a threat with VP cards in your hand. In my experience a well balanced deck has little to fear from the Bureaucrat. If your hands are generally VP heavy you have a problem anyway.
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Because of this:

Militia hae better attack power against players early in the game.

Bureaucrats have better attack power late in the game. Of course, you want to get early Bureaucrats for the silvers they can provide, as opposed to waiting until the card's attack is more effective.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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The only way Bureaucrats are better later in the game is if they have a decent probability of working. They are certainly better against a Chapel deck late in the game because the percentage chance that a Chapel player will have a VP in hand is greater. However, against a 30-35 card deck, their probability of working goes down significantly. And then you have to decide whether or not a Bureaucrat is your best choice. I would say that usually, you will have a better single action (remember the Bureaucrat does not give you another card or action) than to play a Bureaucrat.

Now I may be wrong, but from the decks that I've seen, buying a bunch of Bureaucrats late in the game would not even marginally increase your chances of winning.
 
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Brian Bankler
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jschlickbernd wrote:


Spy
However, overall, the Spy is probably the least useful of all the interactive cards because it only affects one card, which normally will not be a significant card in either your deck or your opponents’ decks.

If it's not significant, what's it doing in my deck? The spy isn't my favorite card drawing (or opponent-hosing) card, but it's pretty reasonable. Getting a VP card out of the way serves a mini-cellar function. Also, this goes way up with Throne Room. Just like lots of cards...

jschlickbernd wrote:

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

There really isn’t much of a downside to this card if you are in a 4 player game.

The downside is that you are trashing my coppers, which I probably don't want once I have a few silvers (and markets, etc etc). In effect, you are chapelling my least effective money for me. Now, sometimes you'll get a silver (or, heaven forbid, a gold), but unless I've chapelled my deck out, or you hit my big money early, the trade is roughly equal. I'd rather have people thieving me with average luck and buying a 4 point card than smithying and buying a 6 point card.

And in a four player game, stealing 3 coppers isn't really that good. You do get more chances to hit a lucky silver or gold, though.

Thieves do prevent you from gong for an all-gold mega thin deck, as you mentioned.
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Jeff Kunkel
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out4blood wrote:
Because of this:

Militia hae better attack power against players early in the game.

Bureaucrats have better attack power late in the game. Of course, you want to get early Bureaucrats for the silvers they can provide, as opposed to waiting until the card's attack is more effective.


In my experience late game Bureaucrat attacks don't bother me much. By then my deck engine is running pretty well and the single VP card put back on the top of my deck doesn't have a huge impact.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Bankler wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:


Spy
However, overall, the Spy is probably the least useful of all the interactive cards because it only affects one card, which normally will not be a significant card in either your deck or your opponents’ decks.

If it's not significant, what's it doing in my deck? The spy isn't my favorite card drawing (or opponent-hosing) card, but it's pretty reasonable. Getting a VP card out of the way serves a mini-cellar function. Also, this goes way up with Throne Room. Just like lots of cards...

jschlickbernd wrote:

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

There really isn’t much of a downside to this card if you are in a 4 player game.

The downside is that you are trashing my coppers, which I probably don't want once I have a few silvers (and markets, etc etc). In effect, you are chapelling my least effective money for me. Now, sometimes you'll get a silver (or, heaven forbid, a gold), but unless I've chapelled my deck out, or you hit my big money early, the trade is roughly equal. I'd rather have people thieving me with average luck and buying a 4 point card than smithying and buying a 6 point card.

And in a four player game, stealing 3 coppers isn't really that good. You do get more chances to hit a lucky silver or gold, though.

Thieves do prevent you from gong for an all-gold mega thin deck, as you mentioned.


I don't know what the Spy is doing in your deck I'm sure you can create a situation where you would use one in order to change one card, but my main message was that out of the attack action cards available, it is the least 'attacking' card that I've seen. I guess I should have said that not only was I assuming that there was no Moat, I was also assuming that there was no Throne Room. All of the cards change assumptions which I thought was implied by the fact it was a general strategy article. I feel that even with these restrictions some analysis of the action cards is worthy.

I'm not sure that the very act of taking coppers out of your deck is always good for you. If the Thief is in a four player game, there's probably a pretty high likelihood that he will get more than just a copper from 3 pulls. I've seen too many times where people are stripping left and right and losing because they don't have what they need at the time. I just finished a game where the person bought a Chapel, stripped out his 1 VP's then bought them again at the end of the game. He lost to me by the number of VP's he stripped.

Unfortunately I don't have the game yet, just my experiences with BSW. Once I get the game, I plan on running some empirical experiments to see how the cards play out under different scenarios. I also plan to write a review, something I have been wanting to do since I've been playing so much, but it will be awhile because I want to get some FTF in before writing it.
 
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Brian Bankler
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jschlickbernd wrote:

I don't know what the Spy is doing in your deck I'm sure you can create a situation where you would use one in order to change one card, but my main message was that out of the attack action cards available, it is the least 'attacking' card that I've seen.

Uses of the spy I've seen:
1) Tossing a gold off your opponents deck.
2) Noticing there was a gold/silver on top of your opponents deck, leaving it there and then play the thief.
3) Noticing there wasn't a gold/silver (but a VP), then deciding to not play the thief and instead play something else.
3a) Having opponents show a moat on the spy, so not playing your second attack but your non-attack action.
4) Leaving the VP on your opponents deck, then play Bureaucrat next turn.
5) Noticing a gold/action on your deck that makes a one card cellar worthwhile.
6) Tossing away your VP to just improve your deck ever so slightly.
7) The act of looking at your opponents (empty) deck forces them to reshuffle one turn earlier, meaning that their great new card they were about to buy doesn't get into the deck.
8) Spying before any card drawing to toss away an action card you won't be able to use (since you'll be out).
9) Spying to make a decision whether to smithy/moat or play some other action.
10) Create an excuse to hum the 007 theme.

Sure, these are minor, but the spy never clogs your hand, which the other attacks sometimes do, since they don't give an action. And then if you start tossing in Throne Room ... You draw a card, then look at the top card and decide whether to draw it or discard it. Since ~15% (or more) of the time, it's a VP, you've got that little extra bit of efficiency. (Or if you chain spys together).

Now, the Spy as a purchase doesn't advance your deck much. But neither does it slow it down, and sometimes that's good enough. (Particularly if you are just grabbing a card with a workshop or looking for a stack to deplete to race the game).

Quote:
I'm not sure that the very act of taking coppers out of your deck is always good for you.

Nothing is always good. But it's usually quite reasonable. The thief is better in a four player game, and you'll hurt your opponents more than you'll help them, but it's not a universal good. The main problem with the Thief (unlike the Spy) is that you have to give up your action for a conditional hurt. You can't Thief then Workshop or something else (unless you've villag'ed or festival'ed earlier).
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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How would you know that 15% or more of the time the Spy would see a VP?

I understand that it can be used, and I can see why people use it and it's one of those 'gotcha' cards that can work spectacularly. But I usually see a better card out there than it, and using my opportunity to buy a Spy instead of a Smithy (nearly always useful) or a Remodel, or a Moneylender, or a Feast, or even the lesser cost cards like a Silver or a Woodcutter has been a weaker play than those other cards.

And that's really my issue with it. When I used to buy it, I realized that when it came up, I just wished it was a different card, so I stopped buying it. My win percentage has gone up since then but that could be a coincidence.
 
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Brian Bankler
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jschlickbernd wrote:
How would you know that 15% or more of the time the Spy would see a VP?

Decks start at 30% VP and (barring a chapel) slowly dilute to about 10-15% before adding VP. With a chapel that number may go down to zero, admittedly, but 15% seems a reasonable average.
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Greg Payne
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Bankler wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
How would you know that 15% or more of the time the Spy would see a VP?

Decks start at 30% VP and (barring a chapel) slowly dilute to about 10-15% before adding VP. With a chapel that number may go down to zero, admittedly, but 15% seems a reasonable average.

Remodel also has the potential to drop that to 0. At which point, you're then possibly considering leaving coppers on top.
 
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Neil Ikerd
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Witch

Speaking of Chapels, a Chapel deck will not work well with a Witch in play, simply because the Chapel has to be used to eliminate Curses instead of eliminating 1 copper cards and Estates. Curses increase the deck size and that’s the bane of a Chapel deck.

I would disagree with this statement. Witch is a great card in a chapel deck if there is no Labratory. Acquiring two early on allows you to injure your opponent and get deeper into your deck. Admittedly, you do need to pair it with Village or Festival since it does not add an action. However, turning one over every turn or two will devastate your opponent's deck if they have no moats.
Also, if witches are there, they will be used against you. Cycling the deck to get Curses in hand to Chapel offsets the game in your favor. Finally, the more witches you control/trash, the fewer your opponents can get.
I agree that in the late game after all the curses are gone, Witch is hardly more useful than Moat, and 2 1/2 times the cost, but in the early game a witch is good in a tight deck.
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Cool observations. Here are my thoughts...

jschlickbernd wrote:


Spy
Time in the game to acquire: Mid/Late
Effect on other players: moderate
Player Number sensitive: no

Spy is a quintessential deck manipulation card and can be a good card even if everyone has loaded up on Moats because it allows you to choose whether or not to get your next card. It works best for you when your deck is low and you know certain cards are still in the deck. However, overall, the Spy is probably the least useful of all the interactive cards because it only affects one card, which normally will not be a significant card in either your deck or your opponents’ decks. It does give you another action which can be helpful, but the Village gives you two more actions plus a card and at 3 is just an overall better deal. If a player is playing a lot of Spies on you, you can counter with a Chancellor because that puts all your cards back in action. A Council Room also effectively does the same thing, and even a Smithy will help.


Multiple spies can really help cycle through your deck. If I play 3 spies in a row it is pretty likely that I'll force my opponent to discard a powerful card or get his top card stuck on a vp.

I would rather have 1 village than 1 spy, but after you have a few villages then there are many cases where spies start working better.

jschlickbernd wrote:

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

The more players in the game, the more you want to use the Thief plain and simple. The ability to pick up 3+ coins in one play is pretty significant. There really isn’t much of a downside to this card if you are in a 4 player game. If you are trying to defend against a Thief you need to put cards in your deck. Have lots of cards so that the Thief will have a hard time finding the Silver and Copper cards. Unfortunately that means you will have a hard time finding them too, but +card/+action cards can help with that. Thieves can and will totally wreck a Chapel deck, don’t try one with a Thief in play. (Courtesy of Tom Rosen) "Another way to counter the Thief is to use Action cards to generate money rather than Silver/Gold. Instead of simply increasing the size of your deck to decrease the chances of your opponent finding your valuable money, you can just use cards like the Woodcutter or Festival to generate money."

Downside to a thief is that you wasted an action to get a copper or two into your deck (which I think is of dubious value). I'm usually happy when someone starts stealing copper out of my nicely tuned deck. Chapel deck becomes a lot better against thieves when you add replacers like village/market/labs/etc... to dilute your gold. A thief is a wasted action if he doesn't get any gold. Sometimes I bait my deck with a gold or two to taunt thief players. Usually my gold stays safe.

Quote:


Witch
Time in the game to acquire: Early/Mid
Effect on the other players: mild to substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes

All of the above information is completely dependent on the number of other players who are acquiring Witches. If you are the only player playing Witches, you can acquire them all game long and they will continue to be effective, but not necessarily as effective as multiple players playing Witches. If there are 3 or fewer Curses left, don’t acquire any more Witches because they are too expensive to be used as a simple +2 card. Also be careful of using Witches with the Garden in play. A Garden can somewhat mitigate the effectiveness of Curses because the Curses count toward possible VP’s. Chapels are not a problem however because it’s difficult to match up Curses and Chapels. Speaking of Chapels, a Chapel deck will not work well with a Witch in play, simply because the Chapel has to be used to eliminate Curses instead of eliminating 1 copper cards and Estates. Curses increase the deck size and that’s the bane of a Chapel deck.


Chapel deck is great against curses. In most chapel decks there aren't any copper or estates to trash after a few rounds.

The witch is also powerful against garden decks. Gardeners usually have to buy up the gardens earlier and end up diluting their decks. A few extra curse cards can make a garden deck get really clogged up.
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jschlickbernd wrote:

Thief
Time in the game to acquire: Early
Effect on other players: substantial
Player Number sensitive: yes


I would never buy a thief early, nor late, it's really a mid-game card for me.
Buying it early will only help opponents.
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