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Subject: Analyzing a random cardset rss

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Alex Rockwell
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Some initial thoughts on how to analyze a random cardset:
**********************

To develop a strategy for a dominion random set, I go through the following general questions:

1) Is there a Chapel? If so, shrinking my deck initially (removing the 10 starting cards) and then acquiring powerful cards is likely the dominant strategy. Make sure to get silver as you remove copper so as not to run out of buying power.

If there is a chapel:
1a) Is there a thief? If there is, then chapel strategy is very risky. I would only do it with a thief around if I was there was festivals (to get a deck full of unstealable money that doesnt lose an action to play), and/or moats. If no thief, definitely perform a chapel strategy.

If there is no chapel:
1b) Is there remodel, moneylender, or mine?
If so, use remodel to change 1pt cards into good stuff, Moneylender/Mine to remove copper as applicible. (If using moneylender, make sure to buy replacement silvers/golds so you dont run out of buy power.


2) Is there additional action providers? (Village/Festival/Throne Room if with a Laboratory).

If these cards do NOT exist:
2a) Since there is no way to get more than 1 action per turn, purcahse only a very limited quantity of action cards (enough to draw about 1/turn). Focus almost entirely on improving your treasure cards and then buying points. Focus on actions with strong effects that aid you to do this.

If these cards DO exist:
2b) What is the best available card drawing card to combine with the action provider to form a Chain?
If the action provider is Festival, then Library is the best combination. If the action provider is Village, then Smithy/Witch/Council Room are good. The other possible strong action source is Throne Room/Laboratory combinations. Alternately, Villages combined with other actions (which dont draw), and some Libraries works well.


If it is possible to form a good chain, it is probably the best strategy. The chain is strengthened by the availability of cards that remove the Copper/Estates from your deck, like Chapel/Remodel/Moneylender. This is because it is easy to get enough Action/Draw cards in a small and tight deck to sustain the chain.


* If there are no cards providing extra buys, then a chain is fairly pointless, it is better to siply get ahead in scoring instead of building it up.

2c) Is Workshop in the game?
If it is, then Workshop is the most efficient way to build up a Village/Smithy based Chain. Use extra early village actions to play workshops, take more Villages/Smithies/Workshops, and later just Villages/Smithies. Ideal ratio is about 1/2 Village. 1/4 Worksop, 1/4 Smithy, but dont start with the villages.

If Workshop is not in the game, and Remodel is the 2nd best way to build it.


Do not build a Village/Smithy chain in a game without either Workshop or a way to remove bad cards from your dec (Chapel/Remodel/Moneylender). It will be too slow.



3) Is Gardens in the game?

3a) If not: The priority for the game is to gain 6pt cards. If you can get half the 6pters, then even if your deck becomes terrible due to their inclusion, you will win by simply then taking 3pters if you can, or 1pters.

If Gardens is in the game: The priority is probably to obtain the majority of the gardens, and then maximize deck size. 6pt cards are also very helpful if possible. Build up to the point where you can acquire 2 gardens or a 6 in your turn, and then begin scoring. Prioritize: 2 Gardens > 1 6pt > 1 Gardens.
3b) Is Workshop in the game?
If so: Workshop is the ideal way to acquire Gardens. Focus on getting workshops and the ability to reach $4 consistently, then acquire multiple gardens per turn. Combining Workshop with Throne rooms to do this is also strong.


4) Is Witch in the game?
If it is, what of the following are in the game:

Chapel: In this case, Witch is not a high priority but is helpful. Use chapel strategy to counteract opponents withces.
Moat: In this case Moat and Witch are both moderate priorities. Buy moats if opponent buys Witches, buy witches unless opponents has already bought multiple moats.
Neither: In this case, Witch is a high priority. Develop the ability to acquire $5 and generate actions, and then buy witches. Focus on getting more Curses into your opponents deck than in yours.



An important grouping of cards to watch for is:
Workshop plus some of the following:
1 or more of: Village/Throne Room/Festival
1 or more of: Smithy/Laboratory/Library
Feast
Gardens

The more of these cards that are in the game, the stronger the grouping becomes. These cardsfacilitate a strategy of acquiring multiple Gardens/3pt Cards per turn.

Start out with Workshop, use it to acquire Village/Throne Room + card drawers.

Then, you have turns in which you are able to acquire multiple point cards before even getting to your purchase.


Example:
Your hand is:
Copper, Village, Throne Room, Workshop, Smithy (all acquirable via Workshop):

Play Village. Play Throne Room/Smithy. Draw additional Village, Throne Room, Workshop and 3 copper. Play Village. Play Throne Room/Workshop, get 2 gardens. Play Workshop, get Gardens. Buy Gardens.

This type of deck both acquires gardens fast and builds deck size fast. Once gardens are gone, WOrkshops acquire 1pt cards to end the game via 3 piles, if necessary.


Another example:
Throne, Throne, Feast, Workshop:

Play Throne Room, Throne Room, Feast (get 2xGardens), Workshop (get 2xGardens).
After Gardens are gone, Feasts get 3pt cards and Workshops get 1pt cards.

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Kevin Bourrillion
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Quote:
2) Is there additional action providers? (Village/Festival/Throne Room if with a Laboratory).


To get an extra action using the Throne Room, any particular reason you mention Laboratory but not Spy or Market? A throned laboratory brings in four cards, so that's very good indeed. A throned spy brings in only two, but I had some control over the second one, and I got to mess with my opponents as well. A throned Market also brings in two cards plus effectively a silver...


Quote:
If these cards do NOT exist:
2a) Since there is no way to get more than 1 action per turn, purcahse only a very limited quantity of action cards (enough to draw about 1/turn).


In this situation I also especially want to look at Spy/Market/Laboratory/Cellar, since these will be the actions I can continue to perform unlimited numbers of.

Quote:
If the action provider is Festival, then Library is the best combination.


Too true.

Quote:
If Gardens is in the game: The priority is probably to obtain the majority of the gardens, and then maximize deck size.


I feel like there should be a viable alternative -- some players should be able to opt instead to thwart the Gardens players buy buying a few provinces and then getting the game to end before the Gardens players get very far. However, in practice it's extremely hard to drive a game toward completion without help, and doing so involves eating so many cards you may as well be getting gardens anyway. So grudgingly I think you're right that this is the one true path.

With gardens you'd like to be growing your deck faster than your opponents are growing theirs so that hopefully you can time the game end to have your gardens worth more than theirs. So you want the basic +1 Buy cards (Woodcutter, Festival, Market, Council Room) but also Workshop, Bureaucrat, Thief (especially if a 4p game, and especially if the game is requiring a money-heavy strategy, this can net you mucho cards). And you want to view Mine, Remodel, Feast, Chapel with more skepticism since they don't help you fatten up your deck.

Note that the more you fatten up your deck with lesser-value cards, the more you need Cellars.

Quote:
4) Is Witch in the game?

Moat: In this case Moat and Witch are both moderate priorities.


I feel pressure to load up on both of these. Remodels help, since I can remodel my coppers into Moats early, and my Witches into Gold late. And I think about getting Villages/Festivals so that all the Moats I'm getting can actually get played.

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Jim Cote
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Alexfrog wrote:
1a) Is there a thief? If there is, then chapel strategy is very risky. I would only do it with a thief around if I was there was festivals (to get a deck full of unstealable money that doesnt lose an action to play), and/or moats. If no thief, definitely perform a chapel strategy.

More often than not, when an opponent steals a Copper from me, I say a private "thank you".
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Marshall Miller
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Excellent analysis.
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Greg Payne
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ekted wrote:
More often than not, when an opponent steals a Copper from me, I say a private "thank you".

This is a definitle drawback to the Thief. It can thin out your opponent's deck. But then again, it's a nice way to earn extra cards for Gardens, and that's one of the few times when you don't want your opponent taking them from your deck.
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Alex Rockwell
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ekted wrote:
Alexfrog wrote:
1a) Is there a thief? If there is, then chapel strategy is very risky. I would only do it with a thief around if I was there was festivals (to get a deck full of unstealable money that doesnt lose an action to play), and/or moats. If no thief, definitely perform a chapel strategy.

More often than not, when an opponent steals a Copper from me, I say a private "thank you".


Yes, if they steal copper thats great.


But the chapel deck is going to throw away its copper and point cards and get silver and gold, so they are highly vulnerable to thieving.
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Tim Seitz
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Brilliant analysis, from one of the best "pure gamers" around. Bravo. One point I might disagree with:
Alexfrog wrote:
If Gardens is in the game: The priority is probably to obtain the majority of the gardens, and then maximize deck size. 6pt cards are also very helpful if possible. Build up to the point where you can acquire 2 gardens or a 6 in your turn, and then begin scoring. Prioritize: 2 Gardens > 1 6pt > 1 Gardens.

Gardens are tricky.

In sets without multiple buy cards or freebie cards, I might skip Gardens and go with Provinces. In those cases, you can only get 1 card per turn, and if you start collecting Gardens too soon, then you can clog a deck and not be able to get Provinces. Also, those Gardens will be worth less than normal because decks will be smaller at game's end. The Province player might be slower to draw his pile, but he will have more points per clogging card than you with Gardens and it's possible he will win anyway, even if you continue to gather Duchies once the Gardens are gone. The chances of getting to 40 cards in deck before he gets the Provinces is remote.

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Nick King
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I think this is a great read for early to mid strat, but the next set of experiments you go through while playing will open things up a lot more. I think there is almost a series of events all players follow more or less as they progress in thinking about strategies.

too many actions
too much trash
just because I have 5 coin doesn't mean i have to spend 5 coin
chapel as THE card
moneylender and remodel become playable
I don't need 5 villages
the importance of +buy
gardens rock

then soon the different player counts start to have a real impact on strat, as well as what your opponent is doing. I've had several moatless games where 3+p have left the thief pile in tact. In my first 10 games, I'd have never guessed that would happen.

Starting to see cards that invalidate other cards, or cards that truly magnify other cards becomes more and more important as well. Often in BSW, there will be a library and adventurer. If the layout doesn't have ways to put extra actions in play, ie tr, village, etc. library turns into a real liability. Buying something else and waiting on the 6 for adventurer is a hard choice to make sometimes, especially if there are no other 5 coin cards besides Duchies.


gardens and witches really start to change when 4 players are involved, as do other combinations.

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Tim Seitz
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ohgeetee wrote:
If the layout doesn't have ways to put extra actions in play, ie tr, village, etc. library turns into a real liability.

I don't know about that. The best use for Library appears to be games with Militia . Library becomes a great counter to heavy Militia use, even better than the moat.
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Jeff Wolfe
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out4blood wrote:
ohgeetee wrote:
If the layout doesn't have ways to put extra actions in play, ie tr, village, etc. library turns into a real liability.

I don't know about that. The best use for Library appears to be games with Militia . Library becomes a great counter to heavy Militia use, even better than the moat.


The last time I played, I had the following experience:

- Opponent announces Militia while I'm still shuffling
- Quickly finish shuffling
- Draw hand
- Quickly look at hand
- See blue Moat card
- Play Moat card
- Look at hand more closely
- See Library card
- D'oh!
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Alex Rockwell
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Yes Library is good against militia, and yes, library generally isnt good in a set without bonus actions.

Generally I wont get Militia in a game with library, since its not helpful.



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Nick King
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That's another one that I have paid more attention to recently. When NOT to play every card in your hand, or when to go for the non draw option when you have a couple of different plays.

I have a feeling that FTF play will lend itself to making better decisions about this, as the online play tends to let you get away from what has and hasn't been played in your deck as opposed to discard, since you never really physically shuffle.
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Jim Cote
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ohgeetee wrote:
When NOT to play every card in your hand...

This is an important issue. Say you have Gold/Gold/Silver/Estate/Smithy. The only reason to use the Smithy is to run out your draw deck (eg not many good cards left in it). It's amazing how many times I've had 18 coins and 1 buy.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Great analysis Alex. One thing I'd like to see is a discussion of cards that speed up the game and cards that slow down the game. What's happening to me, particularly when Gardens is in the game, is that I haven't been able to successfully speed up the game so that the Garden player gets less benefit from the Gardens. I think it's clear for example that having Militias in play slows the game down, but how do you speed the game up? There are other times when you'd like to speed the game up, like when you've bought the first two provinces. You don't want to let the other players catch up to your tempo. What can you buy/play to prevent this?
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Jim Cote
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Take extra buys (eg Woodcutter) and spend them on cheap stuff (eg Copper, Estate, Moat, Chapel, Cellar).
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Fel Barros
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I do believe you were rather simplistic about the Gardens.

1) Gardens with no + buy cards (festival/woodcutter/market) usually loses value.

2) Gardens against fast decks (chapel/festival + militia) will usually end up at 2/3 point most and clogging the deck in the process.

3) You have to ask yourself about the Cellar. Key card for garden deck.

Also, as It was said before. Timing is everything. You have to start buying Gardens only when you have a deck capable of buying 1/2 per turn to keep up with the depletion. You can't rely on workshop to do that and buying more than one will usually mean a bad late game as workshop usually has a bad late game ...

Another classic is the estate into remodel.

Remodel is a very powerful card usually undervalued by newbies as it is an alternate deck thinner when Chapel isn't available

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Fel Barros
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jennifer,

When you are in a 2p game with a 2 province advantage, you probably won.

Remember you want to deplete your deck as much as possible and maximize the odds of getting a 8-money hand.

In 2p games don't expect to deplete three piles , it will end by 6vp so just stick to gold/powerful cards that allow you to reach the 8-money mark two more times.

Also, by game end, if you realize your deck won't cycle one more time don't be afraid to buy multiple estates with a 4-money hand or duchy/estate with a 7-money hand. Usually 2p games are very close with each player getting 4 provinces and the estates/duchies making for the decisive factor.

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Mat Nowak
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FakeDutch wrote:
I do believe you were rather simplistic about the Gardens.

1) Gardens with no + buy cards (festival/woodcutter/market) usually loses value.

Not necessarily. If cards like Thief and Bureaucrat are in play they usually increase the value of Gardens. Thief usually works even better than one +buy card in a 4 player game, and Bureaucrat allows you to add a silver into your deck while slowing everyone else down. A Bureaucrat is a often a much better play than simply playing a +buy card and taking a Copper with your second buy.

Quote:
Also, as It was said before. Timing is everything. You have to start buying Gardens only when you have a deck capable of buying 1/2 per turn to keep up with the depletion. You can't rely on workshop to do that and buying more than one will usually mean a bad late game as workshop usually has a bad late game ...

The key to timing has to do with the amount of money in your deck in my opinion. I'd only start acquiring Gardens if I have a fair amount of silver in my deck, or if someone else starts pushing for Gardens and I'm trying to base my deck around them as well.

Quote:
Another classic is the estate into remodel.

This is a nice thing to do when you're not pursuing a Garden-based strategy, as it upgrades your Estate into more points while denying Garden players an extra Garden into their deck(s). I probably wouldn't do this if I was trying to aggressively get Gardens since Remodeling doesn't increase your deck size.. but maybe if I was desperate I might consider this option.
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Fel Barros
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exactly because you are racing that you wanna remodel your estates into gardens and deny gardens to the opponent in the process.

The thief you will be relying on probabilities and in a 30-40some deck of cards you will be on the odds of just cycling the opponent deck instead of increasing yours.

The bureocraut on the other hand is a good addition even if you probably want more actions with him as playing him solo usually decrease the value mid-game in the same fashion as other cards and he ends up as being the "singleton" in the deck.

When I said + buy, usually festivals/markets which is nice to run multiples and even the woodcutter if coupled with + action cards.

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Alex Rockwell
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UlyZed wrote:

I'm not sure I understand. What do you mean by '1pt' cards?


Estates.

Quote:

I have around 40 plays under my belt. I completely agree that the Chapel is the best pound-for-pound card in the game. However, I am unsure about Remodel. Trashing Estates for Silver or Actions is great, but there are plenty of sets without consistent options for two points.


I still like to trash coppers for some 2 cost card (even estate), and then trash the estate or 2 cost card to move up.

Remodel also has other uses, such as trashing a province for a province to end the game faster when youre ahead, or trashing gold for a province. Or trashing random cards later on for duchies. Or you get a bunch of remodels and if you draw multiple together, you trash one for a gold!

Quote:

Seven Coppers at 0 points each doesn't give you a lot of options with Remodel even if you were lucky enough to trash your Estates sequentially.


Remodeling 3 cost things into strong 5 cost cards or 4 cost into Gold are both great too.

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David desJardins
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Alexfrog wrote:
I still like to trash coppers for some 2 cost card (even estate), and then trash the estate or 2 cost card to move up.


I find this hard to believe. I think Remodeling coppers is generally way too slow.
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Seth Jaffee
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ekted wrote:
Alexfrog wrote:
1a) Is there a thief? If there is, then chapel strategy is very risky. I would only do it with a thief around if I was there was festivals (to get a deck full of unstealable money that doesnt lose an action to play), and/or moats. If no thief, definitely perform a chapel strategy.

More often than not, when an opponent steals a Copper from me, I say a private "thank you".

yes, but if you've chapel'ed away all of your coppers and have only Silver and Gold in your deck, then you are very vulnerable to the Thief.
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Michael Mindes
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I think you needed a

1) Chapel C) Is gardens in the game?
In my experience, gardens is a superior scoring strategy/method to highly compact and powerful chapel deck. Although if there is a militia, this opinion may change.
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In general I disagree. Depending on what's available, if you chapel and stick to your plan you can usually have all your provinces before anyone else is close in points w/ gardens.
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John Anderson
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moisie wrote:
In general I disagree. Depending on what's available, if you chapel and stick to your plan you can usually have all your provinces before anyone else is close in points w/ gardens.
Dukes and duchies on the other hand...
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