Article: How to write Dominion articles

This article aims to talk about making good Dominion content, something I seem to care a lot about. The Dominion Strategy blog is in the process of being revitalized and with that is coming a new wave of people enthusiastic to write stuff that they hope will get published there. This article aims to provide some focus to those hoping to make quality Dominion articles so that they can spend more of their time writing better articles. In particular, it should apply to anyone hoping to write something about Dominion for any reason, even if it’s unrelated to the DS blog or F.DS.

Disclaimer: I’ve written some articles in the past. Some of the things I suggest here are things I could definitely use some work on — if I was a perfect writer I’d probably be a journalist but instead I’m a software guy where most of the writing I do is technical writing. However, that alone doesn’t make what I have to say into bad advice.

Step 1: Choosing the right article

The right article is the one you want to write, of course. So if you feel like you’re bursting with knowledge about Mint openings and you are just dying to share that with the world, you should totally do that. On the other hand, if you feel like you have any freedom at all in your topic choice or anything else, there are choices you can make that will direct your article towards helping the most people.

Who is your audience?

This is by far the most important thing to keep in mind at every stage of writing your article. You need to decide who you’re going to aim this article to help the most and keep the focus on those readers at every single step of the process.

Also, your audience should probably be players who are below you in skill level. It’s a huge positive to have your article accessible by anyone who knows the rules of the game, regardless of skill. So unless you have a really good reason, you should probably be aiming your articles towards newer players. The downside of this is usually really small. Higher-level concepts are usually best presented in media other than articles anyways, since they can be so context-dependent or open to interpretation.

What matters to your audience? The “cost of entry” to your article should be as low as possible, meaning that it should be very easy for someone who is not an expert at the game to spend 5 minutes with your article and gain new understanding of the key points you’re trying to make. It’s really hard to do that with longer articles, so you should have a goal to keep your article as short as possible. If you want to add depth, you’ll have to find a way to do it that doesn’t take emphasis away from your main points. A couple of ways you can do this include: having collapsible text boxes, appendices for examples, or maybe just emphasizing your important points so that someone just skimming the article can easily find the detail they want to see.

What types of articles need to be written?

Some cards deserve to have their own articles, some cards don’t. The types of cards that deserve their own articles are usually the really good ones that have some kind of unique effect. If a card is just one of these two things, sure an article is probably beneficial, but realize that the scope of that article is going to be a lot different. If the card is not really good but has a unique effect, articles are still easier to write, but if the card is just good and it’s similar to a lot of other cards, many times the “community” is better served by writing an article about that group of cards instead, with just a mention of the really good one.

If you’re writing an article and you haven’t gone through the process a few times already, it makes sense to write an article that is easier to write. Cards that you feel comfortable with strategically can help, but cards that are less complex and are generally more agreed upon by the community in terms of power level/utility are great starts. These articles are just as important to write, but you’ll probably be able to get more help from more people when writing, plus less disagreement on core points during revision.

If you’re writing an article about a concept, you’ll have a bit more work to do in pre-writing so that you can provide some focus to what you’re trying to say, so you’ll want to keep this in mind and spend a LOT more time in the pre-writing phase.

Why work alone?

It can be very helpful to have someone you trust help you through each step of this process. Bumps in the road get a lot less scary when someone is there to offer a new perspective. Writing Dominion articles shouldn’t be a competition to see who can write the most, or who can write the most legendary Earth-shattering article, but rather a community effort to just get good content out there. There are enough people out there who are currently excited about producing content that there really should be no shortage of this, so take advantage! Collaboration should make things better for everybody involved in the process, most importantly the author and the reader.

And let me say, collaboration should not begin in Step 4 of this process. It should begin in Step 1.

Step 2: Pre-writing

It’s pretty obvious to me that the authors of a vast majority of what’s out there have completely skipped this step, and their articles have really suffered for it. Yes, it’s technically true that if you just sit down and start banging out letters and words, you will have something you can call an article sooner, but if you want to have a good article, or even the best article you can write about a topic, going through these steps is going to get you there a lot faster, especially on topics that are more challenging to write about.

Let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone out there can just sit down and start typing and just come up with an article that everyone thinks is good. Aside from choosing your audience and your focus, pre-writing is the most important step in the process of writing an article. Both of them are far more important than the actual writing.

Organizing your thoughts

I write outlines, but other people prefer other methods of organizing their thoughts. The goal is to figure out what the main takeaways of your article will be so that everything else can focus on supporting those points. Whatever method helps you; flowcharts, diagrams, singing a song (not kidding), interpretive dance (still not kidding); it’s all good. On the other hand, I’m going to talk in the context of an outline because that’s what I know.

Your outline should include everything you decided in Step 1, where you chose the article you were going to write and the audience for it. That needs to be part of your outline because if it isn’t, you risk losing focus on it (or maybe you didn’t focus enough on step 1 in the first place).

The main point of your outline is to organize your thoughts, and those thoughts should probably revolve around the main things you want the reader to take away from your article. If they make it all the way through, what are the best nuggets they’re going to be thinking about the next time they’re staring at your card in a kingdom? Those can be the main points, and everything else in your outline, and subsequently your article, should focus on and support those main takeaways.

There should really only be three or less of these main takeaways. If you have more than three of them, you should pick your three favorite and make everything else a more minor point. Most people aren’t going to be able to process even three of them if they’re really learning all that much from your article, so this is the time to focus down so you can define and narrow the scope of your article.

And it’s really important to do this now! If you try doing this after you’ve written a wall of text, it’s much harder to delete large chunks of stuff you’ve poured your heart into than it is to move a couple of lines around on an outline. It’s the whole point of pre-writing!

“Why,” not “What”

Articles will be much more valuable to the reader if they can understand why things work the way you’re explaining. It’s a really hard thing to take the thoughts that you understand so well and make them into something that makes sense in someone else’s brain when they could think very differently than you. Giving an exhaustive list of synergies isn’t going to be as instructive as saying why certain kinds of things work well together. That way, they can more easily fit that piece of knowledge into their mental model of Dominion and they’ll be better equipped to handle a Dominion situation that they’ve never seen before.

Examples can be helpful with this, but you should make a conscious effort to move away from a list of examples and towards more general statements. If your statements have exceptions or aren’t perfect, it’s OK to point that out. Most of the time it’s still better to present your concepts this way than it is to just run down a list of information.

Lists can be useful to reinforce points, but when you’re pre-writing your article, the focus should be on how to converge your ideas into a main point that answers the question “why” instead of “what,” and this will help you focus the article on supporting that.

Get feedback.

No, that’s not step 3. Step 3 is actually writing the article and we need to get feedback before that happens. Why? Because it’s much easier to incorporate feedback earlier on in the process, and this is the first chance you have to really get some useful feedback.

It’s so common to see people realize that they need to rework parts of what they’ve done, but never find the motivation to actually do it. An outline is much easier to manage and the personal ties you have to it are much easier to get over because you haven’t spent as much time with it. So most people will find it much easier to receive feedback and suggestions at this point of the process. Pre-writing is the most valuable step in the process to receive feedback.

Step 3: Writing

If you’ve done the other steps properly, this should be the easiest one. I don’t want to say too much about it other than to just do you. Write however you feel comfortable, and use your pre-writing as a guide.

When you’ve finished writing, one of the best things you can do is to step away for a while, ideally at least a day. Let it breathe, come back and re-read it. If things don’t make sense or they seem out of place or you think they could be clearer, it’s much easier to spot it after you’ve had some time to clear your head.

Step 4: Revising

Being able to listen and take criticism well are really what drive this part of the process. Unfortunately, reading this article isn’t going to give you those skills. What I can do is provide a couple of pointers to keep in mind while editing your article.

First, the goal of most of your revisions should be to make the article smaller. It’s tempting to get a piece of feedback that asks you “what about XYZ?” and just tack on a section about XYZ somewhere in the article, but this kind of stuff usually doesn’t make the article better. Rather, if you’ve done your pre-writing properly, questions like that should fit nicely into one of your main points, or at least some of the support for it. What the feedback likely means is that you should take the part that was supposed to address that and try and make it simpler and clearer, which usually means making the article shorter.

If it doesn’t fit in nicely into your outline, then you may want to revisit your outline and see if you want to make some changes. This is pretty expensive, since it can result in rewriting sections of your article, but really this kind of critique should have come up before writing the article when you asked for feedback then, so hopefully this shouldn’t happen too often.

If a sentence doesn’t relate to a key point of your article, then why is it there? Be ruthless, your article will be better for it.

Remember way back in the beginning when I said you’ll want to always focus on your audience? It’s important to continue doing that here. The most valuable feedback you’ll get is from people who fit the audience of your article. What they say can be far more important than what anyone else says, so make sure you go out and find people who are part of your audience to give you feedback on your article.

Step 5: Publish

This one is easy. It’s mostly copy/paste and maybe some formatting. In a perfect world, the person who decides when an article is ready to publish is not the person who writes the article.

That’s about all I have to say on this topic. Hopefully actually putting this stuff into practice, especially the first two steps, will lead you to writing better articles and putting more Dominion content out there. Good luck!

Article: Native Village

Native Village
$2 Action

+2 Actions

Choose one: Set aside the top card of your deck face down on your Native Village mat; or put all the cards from your mat into your hand.

You may look at the cards on your mat at any time; return them to your deck at the end of the game.

Native Village is gradually becoming one of my favorite cards in Dominion, and that’s because I like doing cool Native Village tricks. One of the fundamental things about Dominion is that scoring points is supposed to make your deck worse, but Native Village can get around that in ways that make me happy.

On the other hand, it’s not a very good card, so trying to pull this off can backfire if the situation isn’t just right for it.

The Village

Native Village is a village, it does village things. This isn’t an article about villages, so I’m not going to go over all of the points that apply to all villages.

Native Village costs $2, and that’s because it’s not really a very strong card. The comparison to Village can be made where Village draws you one card every time you play it, while NV draws you N/(N+1) cards on average, where N is the number of times you set aside a card to your mat before picking up. Since this average draw is always going to be less than 1, it’s not a favorable comparison, but if you’re wanting to use NV for the same thing as Village, it can be instructive: you want to pick up cards from your NV mat as little as possible to maximize your draw from Native Village. This is typically done by having lots and lots of Native Villages and only picking cards up off the mat if there’s a significant, immediate benefit to doing so.

But that’s really hard to actually do. You typically want to draw cards the most at the beginning of your turn and the best (only) way to do that is to leave them on the mat at the end of your previous turn. But that means you aren’t playing them! What cards are so important to you that you need them at the start of your turn, but you could get through your entire previous turn without playing them?

If it’s payload, then you’re sacrificing your payload for reliability. That feels pretty bad. If it’s draw components, then usually you’ve severely overbuilt. These don’t do very well, so in this situation, it’s usually really difficult to maximize that N/(N+1) term.

In practice, this draw ends up being pretty close to zero, so this is what you should probably expect when using NV as a village. I’ve called it “Necropolitive Village” in the past, which is pretty fun to say 🙂

Megaturns

There’s the “classic” Native Village/Bridge combo deck, which involves setting cards on your mat the whole game and ending the game in a huge megaturn where you play a lot of Bridges. In some situations, a properly played NV/Bridge deck is the best thing you can do, but Native Village really isn’t all that great at enabling megaturns because most of the time you’re better off playing your payload cards every turn so you can build faster. Usually Bridge combos or similarly explosive payloads are the only things out there strong enough to justify building in this way, and if there’s any draw out there at all, you’re usually better off using that instead of playing for a Native Village megaturn.

The Tricks

So the really cool thing to do with Native Village’s ability is to use it as pseudo-trashing by never picking cards up from the mat. Actually, not many cards out there will let you keep your Provinces around and not have them in your deck — there’s only Island to compete with but normally there aren’t enough Islands to go around to make this work, among other things. With the right support, one single Native Village can represent all of the green cards you hope to “have in your deck”. Yes, these decks can be quite satisfying to pull off, so let’s talk about when they’re good.

The easiest example is the Apothecary/NV deck: with pretty much any +Buy at all, this is a lightning-fast, reliable Province-per-turn deck. Apothecary is great at getting you your NV in hand while putting a green card on top of your deck, and the big synergy is that most Apothecary decks tend to stall with any reasonable amount of green in them, so NV’s role is quite welcome there.

Aside from Apothecary, though, relying on deck inspection to get your greens onto the mat just doesn’t cut it in practice. There are two main ways to get this to work for you, and they both involve drawing your deck as a prerequisite. You can either target-discard the card, then play your NV, or you can gain a Province mid-turn and then mat it. Keep in mind that this will almost always require another Village on the board besides NV, since the only thing out there that’s non-terminal AND capable of gaining Provinces mid-turn is Governor, and it’s really tough to use NV as a splitter this way because you have to draw your entire deck first without playing any villages, then play NV to put nothing onto the mat, then gain the Province, then play another NV to mat the Province. Rough.

When is it good?

So we’ve talked about the mechanics of NV pseudo-trashing, but when are they actually good? Sure, thinning Provinces is nice, so if you’re looking at the opportunity, sure do it. I’m talking about when it’s best to roll in Native Village pseudo-trashing when building your deck.

A little bit of math. You’re going to have one NV in your deck at the very least, and most of the time you’ll start your turn with a Province in your deck that you’ll have to draw in order to put it on your NV mat. You’ll want these two stop cards to be much less than what you’d otherwise have if you just left the green in your deck, and maybe take into account that you probably could have just bought another draw card instead of the NV. It also needs to happen before the game is over, since if the pseudo-trashing finally worth it and you never get to take a turn with those benefits, then it wasn’t helpful there either.

What this points to is that these tricks are really only practical in decks that aim to buy just one Province or Colony per turn. Gaining and matting two cards per turn doubles the opportunity cost and ends the game twice as fast. So what you’re really looking for is a quick way to get up to Province-per-turn and then stay reliable.

NV tricks can work well with Wall around, since they allows thin decks to stay viable without picking up too many components or overdraw.

As discussed earlier, Apothecary is great for this. Governor, not as much, since the payload of most Governor decks is multi-Province turns. Other synergies here include attacks that you want to play every turn like Militia or Pillage, but be careful of stuff like Rabble or Ghost Ship, as Native Village can serve as a soft counter to those attacks. Junking attacks can work if it’s one of those games where you’ll want to go for them in the mid-game or late game.

Dominion: Card Power Levels

This article has been a long time in the making, and it’s going to be a big one, but there is a lot of information here. Let’s get to it.

At some point on our Dominion journey we’ll all be at that point where we understand the fundamentals of the game and we’re starting to get good at the game; we come across a board and get completely destroyed by a card that seemingly came out of nowhere. Or maybe there’s a card that we see some potential in but we just can’t seem to make it work. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a general idea of the super-power cards to look out for, so we can focus on understanding them better?

A week or two ago (depending on how long it takes me to write this article) I posted on reddit, asking for people to fill out a Google form. The intent is to rate each Dominion card on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of power level. I’ll copypasta the description below:
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I’m looking to compile some data for an article I plan to write, and you can help by filling out this form! It took me about 15 minutes to complete. Feel free to share wherever you’d like. I’ll publish a draft article on reddit and on my blog when it’s complete.

Rate each Dominion card (or card-shaped-object) on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the most powerful. The cost of the card, not just the effect, should be taken into account for your score. I have a few suggestions:

1.Your name is “required,” you can put anything there though — I’d prefer some username that I can recognize so that I can make sure submissions are unique. If you troll me, I reserve the right to not count your input 😛

2.You can pick and choose which cards you rate — feel free to leave some cards blank if you don’t want to rate them for whatever reason.

3.If you aren’t using every number at least once (and preferably more than once) then you may want to consider adjusting your criteria so that all ratings 0-10 are actually useful.

4.You may use whatever criteria you like for your ratings, but I have a guideline that can be used as an example or a template if you would like something to get you started — the examples in parentheses are just my opinions, feel free to disagree!

0 – Adding the card would make most decks worse than adding nothing (Scout, Secret Chamber)

1 – The card almost never sees play in good decks, and when it does, its effect is marginal at best

3 – The card is not necessarily bad, but usually doesn’t play a key role in any deck; still not worth picking up some of the time

5 – The card plays a minor supporting role in many decks, or has some synergies that make it good in a few situations

7 – The card plays a support role in most decks, plays a critical role in many decks, or can be the backbone of good or mediocre decks with proper support

9 – The card is almost never ignorable, and usually plays a large role in the best decks that can be built

10 – The card warps the strategic and/or tactical landscape, causing most games to revolve around it. Ignoring or misusing the card will almost always result in a clear loss (Donate, King’s Court)

Landmarks can sort of be judged on a similar scale, kind of. Again, feel free to rate Landmarks using whatever criteria you want, but I personally would give higher scores to landmarks that are more likely to influence the strategy, tactics, and/or outcome of the game.

This may be helpful for looking up what cards do: http://wiki.dominionstrategy.com/index.php/List_of_cards

Five. I’m aware that these ratings are similar to Qvist’s cards lists, I’ve talked with him about using his data and what I’m going for here is a comparison of cards with different costs, while taking those costs into account. While his web portal supports doing a ranking of cards just like this to aid in making an ordered list by cost, the data from that unfortunately can’t be used for what I’m going for. Your participation is completely voluntary and it would really help me out. Thanks!

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The response was great! I felt I could have some useful data with 20 responses and I got about twice that. The purpose of this article is to present the data by looking at it from as many viewpoints as possible and clarifying what can actually be useful when it comes to playing games of Dominion.

Here’s a link to the raw data. The rows below the black line are each person’s submission, with their name replaced by a letter code (just in case someone didn’t want their ratings shared). Here’s a link to the Excel spreadsheet where I’m taking these screenshots from. I’m not using a Google Doc for this because Google Spreadsheets don’t support some of the features I wanted to use for presenting this data. In any case, you’re free to download a copy of that data and I encourage you to play around with it if you’d like!

So let’s talk briefly about what the data actually means. A bunch of different people rated Dominion cards using whatever criteria they felt was appropriate. My definition of what constitutes a 10/10 could be very different from someone else’s, and this fact has to be kept in mind when interpreting every result we get from the data. It can be perfectly reasonable to completely agree on a card’s power level and rate it up to two scores apart. With that said, I’ll just give you what you probably came here for, here’s the ordered list of all of the cards, sorted by mean rating.
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1 King’s Court
2 Donate
3 Mountebank
4 Chapel
5 Goons
6 Page
7 Cultist
8 Wharf
9 Ambassador
10 Peasant
11 Fortune
12 Tournament
13 Governor
14 Rebuild
15 Scrying Pool
16 Witch
17 Avanto
18 Ferry
19 Lost Arts
20 Grand Market
21 Torturer
22 Border Village
23 Inheritance
24 Minion
25 City Quarter
26 Pathfinding
27 Masquerade
28 Dominate
29 Margrave
30 Sauna
31 Overlord
32 Familiar
33 Highway
34 Wandering Minstrel
35 Steward
36 Fishing Village
37 Wild Hunt
38 Junk Dealer
39 Lost City
40 Remake
41 Villa
42 Royal Carriage
43 Ghost Ship
44 Ironmonger
45 Sentry
46 Counterfeit
47 Hunting Party
48 Upgrade
49 Keep
50 Black Market
51 Urchin
52 Crown
53 Bridge
54 Encampment
55 Groundskeeper
56 Save
57 Tomb
58 Bridge Troll
59 Plunder
60 Laboratory
61 Butcher
62 Alms
63 Museum
64 Rabble
65 Hireling
66 Swindler
67 Alchemist
68 Haggler
69 Amulet
70 Throne Room
71 Wall
72 Fortress
73 Knights
74 Count
75 Stables
76 Plaza
77 Peddler
78 Magpie
79 Gear
80 Port
81 Tactician
82 Vineyard
83 Swamp Hag
84 Jack of All Trades
85 Worker’s Village
86 Soothsayer
87 Herald
88 Wolf Den
89 Hunting Grounds
90 Bonfire
91 Legionary
92 Forager
93 Young Witch
94 Borrow
95 Bandit Camp
96 City
97 Smithy
98 Menagerie
99 Horn of Plenty
100 Lurker
101 Raze
102 Altar
103 Sacrifice
104 Training
105 Bandit Fort
106 Possession
107 Militia
108 Apprentice
109 Sea Hag
110 Spice Merchant
111 Bazaar
112 Nobles
113 Envoy
114 Coin of the Realm
115 Summon
116 Caravan
117 Haunted Woods
118 Tower
119 Orchard
120 Patrol
121 University
122 Village
123 Ratcatcher
124 Travelling Fair
125 Bustling Village
126 Council Room
127 Replace
128 Journeyman
129 Artisan
130 Hamlet
131 Marauder
132 Scheme
133 Storyteller
134 Catacombs
135 Baker
136 Moneylender
137 Hermit
138 Enchantress
139 Stonemason
140 Archive
141 Jester
142 Plan
143 Bishop
144 Trade
145 Apothecary
146 Embassy
147 Prince
148 Mining Village
149 Market Square
150 Distant Lands
151 Conspirator
152 Quarry
153 Delve
154 Forum
155 Procession
156 Dungeon
157 Ill-Gotten Gains
158 Farming Village
159 Advisor
160 Castles
161 Royal Blacksmith
162 Temple
163 Monument
164 Chariot Race
165 Salvager
166 Relic
167 Triumph
168 Festival
169 Fool’s Gold
170 Triumphal Arch
171 Outpost
172 Watchtower
173 Band of Misfits
174 Merchant Guild
175 Artificer
176 Golem
177 Seaway
178 Bank
179 Transmogrify
180 Salt The Earth
181 Remodel
182 Mountain Pass
183 Lighthouse
184 Catapult
185 Ironworks
186 Charm
187 Advance
188 Ranger
189 Walled Village
190 Market
191 Trading Post
192 Vault
193 Forge
194 Inn
195 Expedition
196 Engineer
197 Warehouse
198 Obelisk
199 Defiled Shrine
200 Mill
201 Treasury
202 Courtier
203 Wine Merchant
204 Lookout
205 Fairgrounds
206 Capital
207 Colonnade
208 Fountain
209 Emporium
210 Battlefield
211 Bandit
212 Courtyard
213 Duplicate
214 Cartographer
215 Guide
216 Squire
217 Library
218 Duke
219 Crossroads
220 Expand
221 Labyrinth
222 Treasure Trove
223 Ball
224 Palace
225 Native Village
226 Giant
227 Diplomat
228 Arena
229 Farmers’ Market
230 Mission
231 Hoard
232 Doctor
233 Basilica
234 Wedding
235 Gladiator
236 Mystic
237 Smugglers
238 Shanty Town
239 Poacher
240 Loan
241 Graverobber
242 Gardens
243 Horse Traders
244 Island
245 Pilgrimage
246 Merchant
247 Rogue
248 Cutpurse
249 Scouting Party
250 Scavenger
251 Trader
252 Windfall
253 Mint
254 Candlestick Maker
255 Caravan Guard
256 Aqueduct
257 Armory
258 Storeroom
259 Conquest
260 Patrician
261 Settlers
262 Wishing Well
263 Tunnel
264 Develop
265 Pawn
266 Oasis
267 Baron
268 Venture
269 Oracle
270 Sage
271 Miser
272 Workshop
273 Messenger
274 Secret Passage
275 Merchant Ship
276 Farmland
277 Silk Road
278 Tax
279 Ritual
280 Haven
281 Feodum
282 Vassal
283 Rats
284 Harbinger
285 Vagrant
286 Taxman
287 Royal Seal
288 Cellar
289 Death Cart
290 Harem
291 Nomad Camp
292 Pillage
293 Rocks
294 Trade Route
295 Moat
296 Talisman
297 Explorer
298 Mine
299 Tribute
300 Quest
301 Banquet
302 Feast
303 Baths
304 Contraband
305 Woodcutter
306 Embargo
307 Spy
308 Coppersmith
309 Poor House
310 Noble Brigand
311 Mandarin
312 Treasure Map
313 Stash
314 Fortune Teller
315 Raid
316 Masterpiece
317 Annex
318 Saboteur
319 Great Hall
320 Pirate Ship
321 Navigator
322 Beggar
323 Pearl Diver
324 Herbalist
325 Counting House
326 Philosopher’s Stone
327 Cache
328 Chancellor
329 Bureaucrat
330 Harvest
331 Thief
332 Adventurer
333 Secret Chamber
334 Duchess
335 Scout
336 Transmute

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So let’s be clear about what this does NOT mean. Just because Market was in 190th place and Trading Post was in 191st place, doesn’t mean that I should always buy Market over Trading Post 100% of the time whenever I have the choice — that’s ridiculous. It means that they are somewhere in the middle in terms of overall power level. That’s basically it. It can be pretty dangerous to go extrapolating from this point.

So this data is approximate. If it’s so approximate, what can we actually learn from it? Well, let’s look at the data from a few different viewpoints and see what kinds of conclusions we can draw…
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This is the top of the heap: every card you see here has the potential to be the focus of an entire strategy because it’s just so powerful. Most of the time these cards aren’t ignorable and when they are, you typically need a compelling reason for it. Especially notable are the ones towards the top with low variance: what this means is that across all different definitions of what constitutes the highest possible rating people could give, these cards fit all of them.

Also, in my personal opinion, the cards here with low variance scores are probably all worth having dedicated articles written about them.

Let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum:
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No card in Dominion is completely useless, but it seems that these cards are about as close as they come. It’s no surprise that five out of these bottom twelve cards were removed for the second edition of Base and Intrigue. If you want to make these cards work, you’re going to either need a ton of support (such as the Travelling Fair/Counting House combo or the Herbalist/Phil Stone combo) or a very weak board so that the marginal effects and somewhat high opportunity cost of these cards is mitigated (almost all of them are terminal and the two that aren’t either require a Potion to buy or is Scout).

I’m not going to say you can always ignore these cards, so I’ll just say you can almost always ignore them and do pretty well.

Here’s a chart that will require a little bit of explanation:
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OK, first of all, what does all of this mean? So I’ve taken every card-shaped object and categorized it according to 12 things that I thought might be useful. Let me start by saying that a lot of the definitions of these things are not entirely agreed upon, so I used my own definitions. If you disagree with my choices on one or two of the cards, sorry! You’re welcome to make a copy of the data and tinker with it yourself to see how things change.

Then, I wanted to capture statistics about each type of card in isolation and compare it to the statistics about all cards. So the data at the right is the average mean, median, and variance for all Dominion cards. Looks like the average Dominion card has a 5.7 mean and 2.3 variance, so that’s the baseline we’re working with. Then, we can look at the categories and see what the differences are. The bottom section is the same data, only it’s the difference between the stats-by-category and the overall stats that we’re looking at — I just subtracted out the overall averages in case looking at those numbers is easier to digest.

So what does this all mean? A few things. First, it seems that the community believes that villages and draw cards are pretty good, and that defense cards are pretty bad. VP and Treasure cards aren’t considered powerful overall, +Buy, Attack, and Trashing cards are considered pretty powerful. Not the most useful thing because it’s so abstract, but I don’t think I’d disagree with it. The valuable thing here is that these can be used as reference points later on, for example, when we choose to look at just the victory cards — we’ll want to keep in mind that the ratings for VP cards are going to be a little more pessimistic than overall ratings, and maybe it will make more sense when we compare victory cards to one another.

The “average variance,” what does that even mean? So higher numbers here represented where the community disagreed more on how each individual card should be rated. It means that there’s less consensus on the precision of these ratings, so more is left open to interpretation. Some would consider the median of a data set more valuable than the mean when the variance is high, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

For example, it’s pretty well agreed upon that villages and draw are pretty good. VP cards and Landmarks, on the other hand, seem a bit more difficult to judge in a consistent way.

So with that said, we can look at every category of card and see how things shake up. I’m not going to address every one of them in this article but I will address the four categories that I think will be the most instructive: Landmarks, villages, VP cards, and trashers.
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Comparing Dominion cards to Landmarks can be difficult to understand, partially because I don’t think it makes much sense to do so, so I think it’s especially useful to look at them separately. Keep in mind that the variance on Landmarks is higher than other categories of cards, so you may want to pay special attention to the median even though the cards are sorted by mean in this picture.

What can we get from this data? I see a couple of useful things. First, the bottom four Landmarks; Baths, Aqueduct, Basilica, and Arena; have some of the lower variances, so we can feel pretty good about the idea that these are four of the least impactful Landmarks around. It also looks like the top five Landmarks; Keep, Tomb, Museum, Wall, and Wolf Den; deserve a bit of a distinction as being pretty powerful.

I can’t say this for certain but I suspect that unpopular cards tend to have higher variance than normal, and this probably hurt Wall and Wolf Den in this case. Those Landmarks can be unpopular simply because they give negative VP instead of positive VP. Same thing with Bandit Fort to a lesser extent.
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The villages, or by my definition, any card that allows you to play more than one terminal action in a turn. The data for this is pretty tight, actually; variance is quite low on every card here except for Prince (which is not a conventional village by any stretch). What kind of information can we get from this list?

Let’s start by looking at the bottom of the list for the cards on the lower end. Many of them don’t draw a card, and/or don’t always give the village effect. When compared to a lot of other cards which can do those things and more, they end up on the bottom of the list. So if you’re looking for a village and all you have are those guys, you’re going to have a tougher time.

Let’s look at the top of the list; a lot of these cards will give you the village effect along with something else, and that’s what truly sets them apart. King’s Court, Page, Peasant, Border Village, City Quarter, Sauna, Wandering Minstrel, and Lost City all fit into this description: they’re good at being villages but they’re also good at something else.

So what about the cards near the top that I didn’t list? Lost Arts, Fishing Village, and Villa. Each of these cards has a unique effect that makes it so good that it appears high on this list in spite of its other potential weaknesses. Lost Arts on a terminal draw card makes drawing your deck trivial. Fishing Village gives you actions at the start of your turn, which is when they are far more useful than any other time. Villa is broken as heck because you can play it after you have zero remaining actions (among other insane interactions). These are cards to look out for.
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It can be useful to look at just the victory cards in relation to each other, mostly when assessing the potential strength of strategies that want to pursue points in this way. It’s similar to Landmarks (especially the ones where you aren’t limited to a certain number of VP) in some ways.

The variance is pretty high on almost all of these cards, so the conclusions you can draw from this data are going to be a bit fuzzier. I think it’s useful to talk about the best cards on this list that just give you points: Dominate, Vineyard, Distant Lands, Castles. These are useful on quite a few boards that they appear on. Below them on this list are mostly cards that can provide support along side other methods of scoring points in the right situations.
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Trashing cards is really good. Not all trashing cards are created equal. Many cards aren’t very good at trashing other cards and for that reason, they appear towards the bottom of this list. I think Forge and lower on this list are good cards to keep an eye on, since they all are either very slow, or somewhat ineffective at removing bad cards from your deck in many circumstances.

Similar to villages, looking at the top of this list can be instructive because many of the cards the top are there because they’re either really good at trashing, or they do something else besides trash cards.

Ambassador, Governor, Inheritance, Masquerade, Sauna, Steward, Remake, Sentry, Counterfeit, Upgrade, Urchin, and Butcher all give great auxiliary benefits.

Donate, Chapel, Ambassador, Steward, and Remake are all really good at trashing cards. Of note are the three cards that appear on both of these lists.
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Finally the “fun” chart. If I showed you the lowest variance cards, it would look like a combination of the top and bottom cards — it seems that those cards are easier to agree on. On the other hand, these are the cards that have generated the most disagreement.

What does it mean? It means that the ratings on these cards are most likely to be inaccurate. It means that they’re the most likely to be talked about. Several cards on this list have a min score of 0 and a max score of 10 — how does that even happen? I think the main takeaway for me is that if anyone tries to write an article on any of these cards, or claim to have them “all figured out,” I’m going to be extra skeptical of them. It doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about, but a little extra healthy scrutiny would seem appropriate to me.

By the way, my next article will be about Possession. Just kidding.

So I’ve presented the data and given some different viewpoints on it. This article is already long enough so I’m going to stop it here, but there’s still quite a bit more to do with this stuff. Discussions about the rankings and about individual cards in relation to these rankings are easy and fun to have.

I think if I write more card articles, I’ll start at the top of the list and pick cards I feel comfortable with. Also, I plan to make a video in the near future about cards I rated differently enough from the community average that it’s worth talking about. I’ll take a closer look and see if maybe I got it wrong, or if I want to double down and say I have some insight that the community just isn’t seeing. Guess which one there will be more of?

Dominion Rant/Article: Mint Openings

I frequently find myself staring at a 2/5 or 5/2 opening, seriously considering a Mint opening. There are some cases where trashing 5 Coppers from your deck immediately can put you so far ahead that you can’t realistically lose the game, but I find those so incredibly rare that in 3000+ games of Dominion, I’ve never had it happen to me, not even once. (I’ve done it before and regretted it but I’m not counting that)

And the common wisdom out there among many people I’ve talked to (not necessarily “top players” but this article probably isn’t helping those people that much anyways) is that a Mint opening on a 5/2 is just overpowered, even with no support at all (opening Mint/Copper is pretty bad, especially considering how bad opening Mint/Silver is). This is really far from the truth, and this article aims to explain exactly why this is the case. I want to outline the few scenarios where opening Mint is good and why; then explain a few of the common examples I get told about where opening Mint is supposedly great, but I think it isn’t. Hopefully you’ll finish this article with the tools you need to decide whether opening Mint is good for you on any given board. Pro tip, if you just say “no” all the time then you’re almost there!

In general, the reason opening Mint is bad is because you have 6 or 7 cards in your deck after T2 and four of them are completely dead (3 Estates and 1 Mint). Two of them are really bad (Coppers), and your next few turns are going to be spent not doing anything useful. Many times this just loses to Big Money pretty hard. Usually it’s much better to put one or two better cards in your deck (something that trashes Estates or draws cards is best here) and hope for a Mint on the next few turns. If you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to do with your turn 3 and turn 4, and you don’t think the tempo boost you’ll get from trashing those Coppers in the opening (as opposed to a couple of turns later) will be significant enough to outweigh the very real possibility that you will be getting some awful draws and just have to pass your T3, T4, T5, etc. completely, then you really shouldn’t open with a Mint.

There is only one card in all of Dominion where if we just had the two-card kingdom of Mint and that card, I’d open Mint on a 5/2: Fool’s Gold. This is because you have an 85% chance to pick up at least a FG on turn 3, and these odds only get better for future turns. You even have a 38% chance to Mint a FG and buy a FG on T3, and going forward you have decent odds at having a FG in hand whenever you draw your Mint. Trashing the Coppers in this case doesn’t actually hurt your T3 or T4 all that much, and it’s a huge boon to a FG deck. It’s certainly better than a double FG opening, and if there is any Estate-trashing on the board the advantage becomes really big.

The next one, which is probably worth going for almost all of the time, is Page. Page/Champion are just so powerful that usually the first person to get a Champion in play has a huge advantage, not to mention the potential blowouts related to Warriors. Trashing 5 Coppers immediately accelerates your cycling so much that just playing your Page on T3 constitutes a successful turn (your chances of this are just over 70%, which I might add are pretty much the best chances you have of anything good happening on T3 if you opened Mint), and on 47 out of those 70 percents you’re also getting a second Page that turn, which is a solid addition to the deck.

Add to that the fact that Treasure Hunter quickly injects economy into the deck at this point, which you desperately need, and Warrior helps you make use of that economy, so you’re usually able to have whatever support you needed in your deck already by the time your Champion is in play. Plus, Champion needs so little of this support to be the main focus of your first few turns; a Mint/Page opening shines here almost all of the time.

Why not Peasant? Without going into too much detail, Peasant/Teacher is slower and doesn’t give you as much immediate support as Page does; you need a lot of cards in your deck for Teacher to be good at all, and the Mint opening is sacrificing a lot of that to get you a Teacher ASAP. I’m not saying it can’t work, but it needs a LOT of support to be better than playing for a later Mint instead of opening with it.

I want to be clear about this: other than Fool’s Gold and Page, every other Mint opening requires a lot of support to be good. Support beyond just the other card you get with Mint in the opening, because that alone isn’t enough.

After this, the need for support gets bigger and bigger as the list goes on, and eventually it’s just going to be not worth it most of the time.

Alms: The really nice thing about Alms is that the 2 out of 7 (about 30%) chance you have of not drawing the other card you open with and having your T3 really suck just doesn’t exist with Alms — you can always gain a card costing up to $4, so if there are some good ones, you can even get one before you shuffle! In particular you’re looking for something that can trash Estates that you can gain with Alms. The thing you have to be careful about, though, is that 5/2 with Alms is pretty good in general, so the bar you’re comparing a Mint opening against is higher. Without that Estate trashing that you can easily get with Alms, it’s going to be much harder to justify a Mint opening, especially if the Estate trashing exists but costs $5 (in that case, you open with the Estate-trasher and play towards a later Mint if there’s any draw at all).

Chapel: It’s true that opening Mint takes away a lot of the targets that you wanted to Chapel, making Chapel slightly less good. But Chapel is a really good card, and it’s the only thing at the $2 price point that can just eliminate those Estates (and yes the Mint too) lightning-fast, which is the main weakness of a Mint opening. By the end of T5, even with below average draws, you can have a deck with a Silver, three Coppers, and at most one Estate plus a Chapel. While this isn’t the best thing ever for building whatever engine you want, a lot of times it’s better than not going for the Mint, especially in the absence of a better $5 option. It’s also slightly better than the alternative for Big Money.

On top of this, you get the possibility of a huge high-roll if you draw your Chapel on T3 and are able to trash three out of your four junks and buy a Copper (about a 43% chance of this happening), giving you a deck of Chapel/Copper/Copper/Copper/Silver to start T5 with. Sometimes you can even do better than Silver.

When is this not good? Well, plan out your next few turns from there and if it feels like pulling teeth, you may be better off without the Mint. If I’m getting a T6 Market, then a T7 Gold, then a lot of my components are still pretty expensive (and don’t draw lots of cards) then you lose a lot of that pace the early Mint bought you, so many times you’re better off thinning more gradually and focusing on drawing more cards.

Why not Donate? With Donate you can just get rid of those Coppers whenever you want, so normally you want to put a few good cards in the deck and then Donate. Passing up the opportunity to put a fiver in your deck and potentially even play it before Donating, and trashing 5 Coppers immediately just doesn’t mean as much with Donate around. So don’t open Mint here.

Overlord: Let’s take that 1/6 chance of getting our “lucky” opening and chop it in half. If you have a 5/2 (not a 2/5) you can consider an Overlord opening with the right support. I’m looking at junking attacks and Estate-trashing (the kind of stuff you normally look for when you think about opening Overlord) with Soothsayer and Trading Post at the top of the pile here.

Advance: This is really only viable when you have Shelters, since you can trash your Necropolis on the turn you aren’t buying your Mint. It still requires the same kind of support as all of this other stuff, namely something good to gain off your Advance. Sure, you can pick up a crappy action for $2 or less and hope to Advance it later, but this is much worse and requires super-strong support in order to be better than “awful.”

…and as we get farther down the list, I’m now requiring 3 almost-unique cards to be in the kingdom. These are barely worth talking about, but here we go…

Steward: Needs Baker, Borrow, or some other shenanigans to work, but sure, this is a fine opening for most of the same reasons as Chapel is, but the tactics are slightly different.

Ambassador: Needs the same enabler as Steward does for the opening, but yeah if the Ambassador war is everything, this puts you in a decent position to start the game.

Let’s say you have a 4/3 and a coin token from Baker. Most of the time trashing 5 Coppers is barely enough to be worth it, so trashing 4 Coppers plus spending your opening token to do it? Ugh, this is worse than opening Baker/Silver or Baker/whatever-you-were-getting-with-your-Mint almost all of the time. Just don’t do this. Maybe you can do a Save on a 3/4 if you’re going to use some of the support I mentioned above that’s compatible with this (so basically just Alms and sometimes Advance).

Delve/Squire: Delve is usually better than Squire for this purpose but they’re similar enough that I’ll lump them together. These aren’t very good unless you have some big draw and something to reward you for having a bunch of Silvers. So basically Feodum. Just run the numbers, opening Mint/Silver is more likely to give you bad draws than good draws, hitting $4 with this deck on T3 is nearly impossible (28% with Delve and 0% with Squire) and your bad draws don’t increase the odds of this by very much very quickly. All you can realistically expect to do on these turns is get some more Silvers and Squires — if there isn’t some big payoff for that, then I’d say don’t bother.

Poor House/Secret Chamber/Engineer (5/2 only): These aren’t good. In fact, yeah I’ll just say that and end the list here. Sure, with enough support anything can be good but man, Secret Chamber isn’t even in the game anymore. You have to construct a kingdom and require like 5 or 6 cards before I would open Mint because of these cards.

So yeah, that’s about how good opening Mint is, with a lot of detail to support. Sure, you can craft kingdoms that are exceptions to these rules, but I don’t feel like talking about them. Maybe I’ll change the name of this from “article” to “rant” at some point 😛

Dominion: Discipline in the Opening

One of the easiest ways I have of telling that someone isn’t fantastic at Dominion is that they open with a village. Sure, there are some edge cases where opening with a village isn’t all that bad, like opening Fishing Village or a very sad Bazaar, but these are the exception. Opening with Village or Farming Village or something is pretty much never correct; you can do better.

Every card you buy and the order in which you buy those cards should have a specific purpose in mind; if a card isn’t helping you directly towards where you want your deck to be, then you shouldn’t get that card. Having focus on where you’re going and getting there as quickly as possible is how games of Dominion are won (it’s also pretty good general life advice), but it’s not exactly where I’m going with this article.

Your opening buys are the most important buys of the game; messing them up can set you really far behind, and it’s very possible that you can be dead in the water after turn 2 against an opponent who makes a better decision here and has reasonable draws. How will you know what to buy? The purpose of this article is to provide a general outline of the thought process for the first two turns of Dominion.

From a long way up, a game of Dominion should have the following rough outline:

1. Get control over your deck
2. Make your deck do good stuff
3. Win the game with your deck

Your priorities should start at 1 and shift to 2 and then 3 as the game progresses, so for the first two turns of the game, you usually want to get cards for the purpose of getting control over your deck. If that is not possible or can be accomplished with only one of your buys, then the next best thing is a card that makes your deck do good stuff. This is not very specific, but I feel like the “why” is much more important than the “what” here — I’m not going to be there to give you advice for every single kingdom you play, but you can always ask yourself “are my opening buys helping me get control over my deck?” and if the answer is no, find something better.

So we know what our purpose is, but let’s go into a bit more detail. Your priorities (again, ordered like the above list) should go something like this, keeping in mind that if you’ve decided you can’t or don’t want to pursue some of these steps, you’ll just skip over them:

A. Thinning and junking
B. Gainers
C. Draw
D. Payload
E. How do I win?
F. Endgame play

A and C correspond to 1, B and D correspond to 2, and E and F correspond to 3 — in terms of the opening, you can prioritize your buys according to this list. That’s the really short version, I’ll go into a little bit more detail now.

Thinning and junking: so these are both kind of serving the same purpose, if you’re junking your opponent then it’s harder for them to get thin, so both of these have sort of equal priority. If you can do both of them, I’d say I pick up the junker before the thinner more often than the other way around, but it depends on a lot. Keep in mind that a lot of the best cards for thinning and junking cost $5 and you don’t usually get to open with those cards, so buying a Silver or some other card that helps you hit $5 counts as working towards this purpose.

Gainers: the earlier you can pick these up, the more of an effect they can have on your deck, and the faster they can “pay for themselves” in terms of giving you a tempo boost when building your deck. So it follows pretty easily that opening with a gainer is a pretty good play. Be careful, though, since most gainers are going to actively hurt your chances of hitting $5, so while it can sometimes be correct to open Ironworks/Silver and hope to high-roll and hit $5 anyways, you may be better off opening double Silver and picking up Ironworks later. Just keep in mind that thinning and junking should be your first priority and make sure you don’t lose sight of that goal.

The rest of the items on this list usually don’t drive your opening buys all that much, so I won’t talk about them here.

I have just one more main idea I want to get to in this article: we’ve stated the goals we want our opening buys to accomplish, but sometimes it can be tricky to evaluate how well cards can help us reach those goals. The rule of thumb I have is that if your opening buys aren’t going to do something for you on turn 3 or turn 4, you should try really hard to find something better. I have a few more specific things to look out for:

I really don’t like opening with Duration and Reserve cards because they so often miss that second shuffle. Sometimes their effect is so good (Amulet, Transmogrify, Ratcatcher, basically the trashers) that you want to open with them anyways, but so many of these cards are really bad unless you draw them on T3 so you’re better off not going for that 40% chance of greatness and dealing with these guys later.

Keep in mind that cards don’t have to be orange or tan to have these issues, a Warehouse (or Dungeon) opening is really only good if you draw the Warehouse on T3, since if you draw it on T4 and play the Warehouse, then the amazing card that Warehouse helped you buy doesn’t get shuffled in. Another one to look out for is Ranger, since it doesn’t do anything the first time you play it.

Opening with two terminals can be a little suspect if your goal is to hit $5, even if both of them give you $2 to spend; in general, you should think about the cost of the cards you want to buy/gain on T3 and T4 and put some focus on hitting those price points, especially if those cards you’re aiming to buy are trashers or junkers. More generally, if you are unlikely to hit a price point you really want, then think really hard about your openers.

Make sure you aren’t putting something higher on your priority list than thinning/junking, and you aren’t putting anything else higher than gaining good cards.

Consider the chances of denying your opponent a $5 hand with a well-timed attack like Militia or Cutpurse if you’re first player — as a later player this gets much less good since you pretty much have to draw your attack on T3 for it to have the desired effect. If the trasher or Junker costs $5, then denying your opponent the fiver is on that level of importance.

There are many more nuances that I could list, but the more important skill is to know the right metrics to use to guide your decisions when you open. Think about what your T3 and T4 will be like, and make sure your priorities are in order and that you stay focused on them, and you will find your way to the best opening.

Dominion: Summer 2017 Tournament summary

I hosted a tournament this past weekend in Cincinnati, we had 17 people show up for it and things went pretty well. It’s the seventh IRL tournament I’ve hosted and the seventh unique winner we’ve had; there’s a large amount of Dominion talent in the area and a significant number of people traveled to attend, including my first contestant from out of the country!

The tournament consisted of three-player games, using all expansions. You can view more details about the tournament format here and find the spreadsheet I used to organize kingdoms here. The winner of the tournament this time was Jim Mounce, part of a very enthusiastic group from Indianapolis who have recently become regulars to the tournaments I host (and may host some tournaments of their own soon!) Other players who won portions of the prize pool were Ben King, Adam Hopkins, and Kevin Thompson — congrats to them and thanks to everyone who showed up and performed well. There were a lot of very talented people at this tournament.

Most of the purpose of this post was to talk about the designed kingdoms I came up with for the finals. The 9 players who made it past the first round of the tournament got to play four kingdoms I designed for this tournament; I never considered myself to be all that great at kingdom design but feedback from the designed kingdoms was overwhelmingly positive so I guess that’ll be a staple in my future tournaments. In any case, 9 people got to play these four boards and I’ll share my thoughts as well as what I saw from people while they were playing these kingdoms.

It took me a few months to design, playtest, and tweak these kingdoms, so I’m reasonably confident that what I’m saying isn’t total garbage, but hey I could be wrong…

Game 1: Crossroads, Squire, Apothecary, Gear, Duplicate, Mill, Duke, Festival, Talisman, Prince; Windfall, Palace

If you’re thinking that this looks very familiar to one of the kingdoms I used for my 2P tournament six months ago, you’re right. Not many people got to play it then and nobody who did built a deck close to the one I really like here. Also in 3P games it gets a little more interesting. There are two main directions you can go here: Duplicate/Duke, or the Crossroads engine.

Duplicate/Duke is pretty straight-forward: Get lots of Duplicates (4-6), get them all on the Tavern Mat, get a bunch of Duchies in one turn. Repeat with Dukes, have a lot of points. Support for this deck includes Gear and Mill, but surprisingly I don’t think Talisman, Crossroads or Squire really fit in here.

The Crossroads engine, though, is something a little more complex. The main idea is to get four Gears, playing two each turn and setting aside four green cards, and also Prince a Crossroads. You are able to start your turn by effectively “thinning” your starting Estates and having nine cards in hand with three Actions. You can use Festival/Crossroads for an insane amount of draw and you’ll find you’re piloting a deck whose draw gets stronger as you add more green. With just these four cards you can build a pretty powerful deck, but it doesn’t stop there: Windfall allows you to add payload lightning-fast and has great synergy with Palace, Mill helps you hit the price points you need with Gear’s help, along with providing you with some reliability with Crossroads; and Squire/Duplicate can find their places in the deck to accelerate growth and further increase the point-scoring potential of the deck when it’s time.

Surprisingly, after several games, I found that Apothecary is actually not good enough to really fit in, in spite of the fact that you can’t trash Coppers and that it has a ton of support here — it turns out you can put together a deck that’s amazing quickly and reliably without it.

Really, it’s Gear who is the star of the show here, but Crossroads/Gear/Prince at the core of the deck have such strong synergy that this deck breaks a lot of the usual rules of the “Crossroads decks” that you’ll see every once in a while. A lot of those decks need a lot of green to function and just can’t tolerate treasures; also the Crossroads decks tend to have severe reliability issues. This deck flies in the face of both of those, because it’s just so powerful.

I saw a couple of people playing a deck that had a similar concept to this at the tournament — it was at most one per game and they all won handily. I don’t believe they committed quite as hard as you can really afford to commit here, with the four Gears and multiple Windfalls, but they had the Crossroads/Gear/Prince core of the deck found.

Game 2: Native Village, Ambassador, Village, Mining Village, Poacher, Artificer, Library, Pillage, Rabble, Soothsayer; Donate, Wall

Ambassador is on my list of banned cards for 3P tournaments; usually nobody “wins the Ambassador war” and the game turns into a drawn-out slog that isn’t much fun. Wall can be unpopular because it gives you negative VP (among other reasons) and can be especially offensive with Ambassador-junk flying around. Donate is loved by many, but a common criticism is that it makes thinning and building your deck trivial. But what if you put them all in the same kingdom? Turns out there’s a very interesting dynamic to play with.

If you just look at these three things plus Soothsayer, you have a pretty unique start to the game: Soothsayer works pretty well for getting Golds and taking part in the junkfest for a while; but the Curses will eventually run and Ambassador will be necessary to keep your opponents from building too good of a deck. You also don’t want too many Golds since there is no +Buy. The games at the tournament, from what I saw, were mostly about the dynamics between these cards — once the Curses run, Donate for the second or third time, pick up a terminal draw card, and just go straight for green and hope it’s enough. The tournament champion was clever enough to spot an opponent playing Rabbles, so he kept some Native Villages around in order to counter those Rabble attacks by tucking his VP cards safely away to stay “thin.” But there’s more…

These decks are still vulnerable to sustained junking, and the threat of losing too many points to Wall can allow a player who continues to build to really shut their opponents down. There is a deck to be built here that is one level beyond. Turns from that deck look like this:

Play a couple of Villages/Rabbles to draw most the deck. Play Artificer, discard 5 cards, gain Pillage to the top of the deck. Play another Artificer, discard a Province (bought last turn), then play Native Village to mat the Province. Play Pillage, maybe play Ambassador(s) to keep thin and keep junking, then play a Library to draw the Spoils; buy Province. Rabble/Library are somewhat interchangeable here, but sustained Rabble attacks can shut down your opponents so it’s important to have a few Rabbles at least.

This deck stays thin while greening, and manages to play three different types of attacks on opponents every turn — even with Donate around, I don’t think decks will be able to buy Provinces under this assault. Plus, it’s sustainable for the most part, since you’ll be able to stop your opponents from doing much to attack you once you get this online.

Furthermore, the deck gives you options. You can remove the Pillage and just have two Golds in the deck. You can use Mining Villages and trash them on the last turn for Wall points. You can work in more of one type of attack if you feel that’s appropriate, and if things get too hairy you can always Donate to make sure this somewhat delicate deck doesn’t fall apart too badly.

I didn’t see anyone attempt to build this deck at the tournament, but I think it’s quite good.

Game 3: Pawn, Pearl Diver, Gladiator/Fortune, Harbinger, Warehouse, Diplomat, Throne Room, Baker, Mandarin, Mine; Dominate

There’s no thinning here; there are tools to make an “engine” but the draw is very weak (Diplomat only) and those two things combine to make a deck that’s pretty unreliable. Without some severe overbuilding, the best I was able to do was a deck that kicked off every other turn.

But there’s Dominate, and that’s a lot of points. So you want to put a lot of cards in the deck, and they work well enough together that you probably want to go for this weird Warehouse/Diplomat/Throne Room thing with Bakers in order to hit $14 as much as you can. Fortune helps a lot here too.

Surprisingly, Mine is great here — it has everything going for it. You can open with it and another good card because of Baker, and its effect is actually quite good because there’s no thinning and you want to like, have a lot of money. I saw many people build decks capable of Dominating a few times over the course of the game, and usually the person who Dominated most… dominated the scoreboard. Oh, I’m hilarious aren’t I?

But there’s a hidden gem here that nobody found during the tournament. If you can manage to find the following five cards in your hand: Fortune/Gold/Gold/Gold/Copper, you can buy Dominate/Mandarin and topdeck those five cards, meaning you can Dominate every turn. While the draw resources on this board are weak, there are a ton of tools to help you get these five cards in hand quickly: Mine is a rock star here, Warehouse/Diplomat is the core of the deck, and even Gladiator helps you out by probably giving you a Gold when you pick up that Fortune. Throne Room is pretty good here too. I was able to get this “golden deck” set up as quickly as turn 8 in my playtesting, and it almost always happened by T10. Being able to Dominate every turn with an option to double Province to just end the game did way better than any “engine” I was able to build here, and is a pretty unique payload. Before, the only real Mandarin combo out there was Mandarin/Horn of Plenty, which required a ton of support, but Fortune does the job all by itself, and Dominate made the payload of that Mandarin trick actually worth going for here.

Game 4: Fool’s Gold, Fishing Village, Forager, Jack of All Trades, Coin of the Realm, Charm, Counterfeit, Journeyman, Hoard, Watchtower; Battlefield, Keep

There’s a lot of stuff going on here, and this game tends to be over super-fast so there’s just not enough time to go for all of it. You have Fishing Village/Forager/Jack/Watchtower, which you can do for a while before you start shoving treasures in the deck as fast as you can with Hoard. You can also go for other sources of draw like Journeyman, other support cards like Charm or Coin of the Realm, and other payloads like Counterfeit/Hoard or Fool’s Gold. You can mix and match a lot of these things to build lots of different decks here, and there’s no telling which combination is right until you actually get in a game and see what your opponents are doing.

And that’s because Keep is weird, and it gets a lot tougher because of the fact that this is an IRL 3P game and there are eight different treasure piles that you may want to KEEP track of (oh yes). Oh yeah, and Battlefield is also a pretty big deal here because a lot of times, the temptation is to keep building and building with Keep around (because it can be the best points play for you) but not so much here.

This is a really tough board to play and it can be very different depending on what your opponents do.

Dominion: 2017 Video Tutorial

Recently I made another update to my Dominion video tutorial series. This time I made it so hopefully I won’t have to completely redo everything, but maybe I can make small adjustments or add new topics as I feel they are helpful/necessary.

I go into a number of topics here that really haven’t been talked about before. It may not be perfect, but I think it’s a good resource for anyone who’s trying to get better at Dominion, regardless of their current skill level. I’d encourage you to check it out!

Here’s a link to the playlist

My games sheet

I play a lot of tabletop games, and many times I’m playing in a game store or someone’s home. I have a duffel bag on wheels that I stuff full of board games (there’s more than 25 games in there) and I’ll throw it in my trunk whenever I’m going somewhere to play games.

Then the question is asked: what are we gonna play? It’s usually followed by awkward silence while people try to figure out how many people we have, how long of a game we want, and what they brought with them. Sometimes, someone has something they want to play, but for all of the other times, we don’t know what to do.

So I made this. I carry it around in my wallet all of the time. I feel like everyone should have one of these, so I’m sharing mine:

Games sheet

Rant: Existing in shared spaces

When I was 6 years old I remember being able to run at full speed through crowded rooms with no problems. Later in my life, when I was a teenager, I realized that this was because other people were paying attention and were getting out of the way of the small child with little awareness of what was going on around him. When I had this realization, I knew that I had elevated to a higher plane of existence: I was a “mature adult”*. With great power, though, comes great responsibility. Now that I had reached this great pinnacle of human achievement, I knew I had to be aware of my surroundings when I was in any place that I shared with other people. No longer could I run without looking where I was going. No longer could I stand in a place where I was blocking the path of others. Those days were gone.

*The irony that I’m using the words “mature adult” to describe myself is not lost on me.

I had this epiphany when I was still in high school, but many times in my life I have noticed people much older than me who don’t seem to understand this basic concept. The purpose of this rant is to increase awareness of the obligations people face when they are in spaces they have to share with other people. Another purpose of this rant is that I like to whine and it makes me feel good.

I realize that in some situations, the problem is solved by alerting the offending the person to the fact that they’re in the way. Simply saying “excuse me” can suffice in a lot of situations. On the other hand, there are a lot of times where this is inconvenient, difficult, or even impossible to do (as you will see in some of the examples below). I believe it is important, regardless of circumstance, that every person take responsibility for making sure they are always aware of what’s around them when they are in public. At the very least it makes you more pleasant to be around; but it’s nice to not have to worry about distracting people from whatever is so important on their phones that they CAN’T PAY ANY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY ARE WALKING OR THE PEOPLE THEY ARE ABOUT TO RUN INTO. I also won’t judge you silently and harshly if I interact with you and you’re being particularly annoying to me.

I’d like to outline some scenarios that have come up in my life where people have created situations that made me wonder if they had any awareness that other people might have been around. If you should ever find yourself in one of these situations, perhaps you will have read about it here and you can do the right thing. Even if the people there don’t thank you for thinking ahead, I thank you now for making the world a better place.

Situation 1: You’re in a grocery store aisle. The bad guy (denoted with red circles) is looking at some item on the shelf, but has parked his cart (the red rectangle) across the aisle so that it’s blocking the entire path. Innocent bystanders just trying to get through (the blue circles) now have to either wait for this person, or interrupt them and tell them to move.

Much better would be to park your cart on the same side of the aisle that you’re looking at, or to stand on the other side of the aisle with your cart and look across the aisle at the shelf until you’re ready. A move I sometimes use is to park my cart at the end of the aisle and just hop in and grab what I need, but this has its issues.

Then there are the worst type of people in the universe, who see someone they know at the grocery store and stop to chat with them for however long — while having their carts block so much space that the entire aisle is unusable. They are so engrossed in their conversation that they will never realize what’s going on and don’t respond to interruption. Ugh.

Situation 2: Now we’re in a hallway, or maybe on a sidewalk or something. If we’re on a sidewalk, let’s assume there’s snow piled up on the ends or it’s really muddy or something so it’s oppressive to leave the sidewalk. There are pair of bad guys walking side-by-side in one direction, and even when they see me walking, they will not make any adjustments so that I can get by, despite the fact that the hall is only wide enough for two people, one in each direction. Often I’m forced to come to a complete stop, while one of them brushes up against me and acts like I’m a jerk because they couldn’t be bothered to move. Where am I supposed to go?

There are a couple of variations on this situation. One where I’m coming up behind them and I want to pass them because they’re walking super-slow. If I can’t get their attention somehow, there is no way for me to pass them.

Then there’s this travesty, when the hallway is wide enough for them to still walk beside each other, but they don’t move and I still have to smush up against the wall! When people walk side-by-side like this they are always taking up space that needs to be shared with other people sometimes, so when you do this, be aware of what’s going on around you and stop getting in the way, jerks!

Situation 3: Here’s one I ran into at work the other day. A guy was walking in the building, and he presses the button for handicapped-access, which opens one of the doors in front of him. There is already judgment here because he is fully capable of opening a door himself, but he decided to press the button, and wait for the door to slowly open instead of just opening the door that’s right in front of him. Seriously, how lazy can you be? And before you ask, yes I know he is capable of opening a door because I saw him open the door right behind him, which didn’t have this button (it’s an exterior door and you have to badge in and open it manually).

Anyways, he then goes over to the left side of the hall to enter the open door as I’m coming up. Naturally, I have to stop and wait for him to get back over to the other side of the hallway. I made sure to squeak my shoes nice and loud as I had to come to a sudden stop because this guy is too lazy to open a door that’s right in front of him. And yes, the doors were glass, he could see me coming. There is no excuse.

There’s a scenario that’s even worse, though. When I was in college, there was this same scenario, only imagine instead of one person going each way, it’s a constant stream of people (people entering/exiting a building between classes). Both doors open, but the red people are not allowing the blue people to pass because they don’t want to open the door that’s right in front of them. So the blue people have to just stand and wait because not a single person in the red line has the common sense to just open the other door so everyone can get where they’re going.

There should be a license to have the privilege of walking in a public place and it should be revoked for stuff like this. Come on, people.

Dominion: Never Give Up

I played an interesting game of Dominion today, and while I was nowhere close to perfect, I think the way this game went down is worth talking about. Here’s the kingdom:

Pearl Diver
Courtyard
Urchin
Hermit
Shanty Town
Explorer
Council Room
Forum
Merchant Guild
Possession

I look at this board and I see a couple of things I don’t like: Urchin is the only real form of trashing available, and there’s a way to play multiple Possessions per turn with Council Room to support, so it’s very likely this game will end up being degenerate if both players go for Possession. Also, the Shanty/Council Room draw engine isn’t all that reliable, so there’s potential for “good” decks to have bad turns.

In any case, I judge that the best strategy here is to thin as quickly as possible by opening double Urchin and hoping for the best, then I’ll probably have to prioritize the Shanty Town split as I build my draw engine that aims to play 2-3 Possessions each turn. Once I have all the cards I need for this, I’ll trash all of the other useful cards from my deck until all my deck is capable of doing is playing Possessions.
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Kingdom cards: Pearl Diver, Courtyard, Urchin, Hermit, Shanty Town, Explorer, Council Room, Forum, Merchant Guild, PossessionTurn 1 – Opponent

O plays 3 Coppers.
O buys and gains an Urchin.
O draws 5 cards.Turn 1 – Adam Horton
A plays 4 Coppers.
A buys and gains an Urchin.
A draws 3 Coppers and 2 Estates.

Turn 2 – Opponent
O plays 4 Coppers.
O buys and gains an Urchin.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 2 – Adam Horton
A plays 3 Coppers.
A buys and gains an Urchin.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 3 Coppers, an Estate and an Urchin.

Turn 3 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards an Estate.
O plays an Urchin.
O trashes an Urchin.
O gains a Mercenary.
O draws a card.
O plays 3 Coppers.
O buys and gains a Silver.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 3 – Adam Horton
A plays an Urchin.
A draws an Estate.
O discards an Estate.
A plays 3 Coppers.
A buys and gains an Urchin.
A draws 3 Coppers, an Estate and an Urchin.

Turn 4 – Opponent
O plays 4 Coppers.
O buys and gains a Silver.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 4 – Adam Horton
A plays an Urchin.
A draws a Copper.
O discards a Copper.
A plays 4 Coppers.
A buys and gains a Hermit.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 2 Coppers, 2 Estates and a Hermit.

Turn 5 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards an Estate.
O plays a Silver and 3 Coppers.
O buys and gains a Forum.
O draws 5 cards.

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Things aren’t going very well to start out with. My opponent collides Urchins on T3 and decides to buy two Silvers instead of more Urchins, signaling that he wishes to pursue a more money-based payload. In the meantime, I fail to collide my Urchins, so I have to pick up a third Urchin and I go for a Hermit on T4 — it will help me gain Shanty Towns or Silvers as I need them and maybe help out with thinning.

I take a look at my T5 hand and see a draw that suggests I’m likely to collide Urchins on T6, so I go ahead and grab a Madman in hopes of catching up in tempo, while deciding to get a Shanty Town to go along with this plan. I want to re-buy the Hermit later.
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Turn 5 – Adam Horton
A plays a Hermit.
A looks at an Estate.
A trashes an Estate.
A gains a Shanty Town.
A trashes a Hermit.
A gains a Madman.
A draws 2 Coppers, an Estate and 2 Urchins.

Turn 6 – Opponent
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes 2 Estates.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards a Copper and an Estate.
O plays a Silver and 2 Coppers.
O buys and gains a Gold.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 6 – Adam Horton
A plays an Urchin.
A draws a Copper.
O discards a Copper.
A plays an Urchin.
A trashes an Urchin.
A gains a Mercenary.
A draws an Urchin.
A plays an Urchin.
A trashes an Urchin.
A gains a Mercenary.
A draws a Copper.
A plays 3 Coppers.
A buys and gains a Shanty Town.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 3 Coppers, a Shanty Town and a Mercenary.

Turn 7 – Opponent
O plays a Gold, a Silver and 2 Coppers.
O buys and gains a Gold.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 7 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Mercenary and 3 Coppers.
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes 2 Coppers.
A draws a Mercenary and an Urchin.
O discards a card and a Silver.
A plays an Urchin.
A draws a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Mercenary and a Copper.
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes a Copper.
A buys and gains a Courtyard.
A draws 2 Coppers, 2 Estates and a Madman.

Turn 8 – Opponent
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes 2 Coppers.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards 2 Estates.
O plays a Copper.
O buys and gains a Silver.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

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Some somewhat fortunate draws for me follow. Thinning is going well and I see my Madman in a hand that has a lot of potential, but I get rekt hard by a Mercenary attack that is a huge setback. At this point I’ll need to add Silvers to my deck to hit $5. My opponent has added several very good treasures to his deck, but no +Buy or any signals that he plans to build an engine, so I take some comfort in knowing that even if I get pretty far behind, I’ll have a good deck to Possess, which gives me a chance to catch up.
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Turn 8 – Adam Horton
A plays a Madman.
A returns a Madman to the Madman pile.
A draws 2 Coppers.
A plays 4 Coppers.
A buys and gains a Silver.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Copper, an Estate, a Courtyard and 2 Mercenaries.

Turn 9 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards a Mercenary.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes a Copper and an Estate.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards a Courtyard.
O plays 2 Golds, a Silver and a Copper.
O buys and gains a Gold and a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 9 – Adam Horton
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes a Copper and an Estate.
A draws a Copper and an Urchin.
O discards a card and a Copper.
A plays a Copper.
A buys and gains a Shanty Town.
A draws 2 Coppers, an Estate and 2 Shanty Towns.

Turn 10 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards a Shanty Town.
O plays a Gold and 2 Silvers.
O buys and gains a Gold.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 10 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals an Estate and 2 Coppers.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver and a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals an Estate, a Silver and 2 Coppers.
A draws 2 Mercenaries.
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes a Copper and an Estate.
A draws a Copper and a Courtyard.
O discards a card and a Silver.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws a Shanty Town and an Urchin.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Silver and 2 Coppers.
A buys and gains a Merchant Guild.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns,
2 Mercenaries and a Merchant Guild.

Turn 11 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes 2 Coppers.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards 2 Mercenaries.
O plays a Silver and a Copper.
O buys and gains a Council Room.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 11 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws a Copper and a Silver.
A plays a Silver and a Copper.
A buys and gains a Hermit.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Copper, a Courtyard, a Shanty Town, an Urchin and a Merchant Guild.

Turn 12 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards a Merchant Guild.
O plays 3 Golds, a Silver and a Copper.
O buys and gains a Gold and a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 12 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals an Urchin, a Courtyard and a Copper.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws a Silver, a Shanty Town and a Mercenary.
A topdecks a Silver.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals an Urchin, a Mercenary and a Copper.
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes a Copper and an Urchin.
A draws a Silver and a Mercenary.
O discards a card and a Mercenary.
A plays a Silver.
A buys and gains a Council Room.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Copper, a Silver, 2 Shanty Townsand a Hermit.

Turn 13 – Opponent
O plays 2 Golds and a Silver.
O buys and gains a Shanty Town and a Forum.
O draws 5 cards.

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My opponent has chosen to build a reliable deck with lots of Golds and has added a few Forums to it — while the Forums aren’t currently necessary for the deck to stay viable, he should have little trouble staying viable while he greens. I need to get in gear.

I hit $5 a couple of times and get a Merchant Guild and a Council Room — I probably could have just skipped the Merchant Guild and just gotten two CRs, but I was worried I would run out of payload. I probably slow down by one or two turns because of this mistake, though.

On T13 my opponent still has zero points, but now he gets a Shanty Town and a Council Room, which signals that now he wants to build something resembling a draw engine. This is pretty worrisome, as his deck should adapt pretty quickly to this change since he has ample cycling from his Forums.
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Turn 13 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Hermit, a Shanty Town, a Silver and a Copper.
A plays a Hermit.
A gains a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Silver and a Copper.
A draws 2 Mercenaries.
A plays a Mercenary.
A trashes a Copper and a Mercenary.
A draws a Shanty Town and a Merchant Guild.
O discards a card and a Silver.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Silver.
A buys and gains a Courtyard and a Shanty Town.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Council Room, a Courtyard, a Shanty Town and a Hermit.

Turn 14 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards a Hermit.
O plays 3 Golds.
O buys and gains a Shanty Town and a Forum.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 14 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Silver, a Council Room and a Courtyard.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Courtyard, 2 Shanty Towns anda Merchant Guild.
O draws a card.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild, a Silver and 2 Courtyards.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns and a Mercenary.
A topdecks a Mercenary.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns, a Merchant Guild, a Silver and a Courtyard.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town, a Silver and a Courtyard.
A plays a Courtyard.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Hermit and a Mercenary.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Hermit.
A trashes a Mercenary.
A gains a Shanty Town.
A plays a Silver.
A buys and gains a Potion.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Council Room and 3 Shanty Towns.

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Turn 15 begins and my opponent has zero points still, even though his deck is very capable of much more. I have to believe that he’s built this pretty inefficiently, since he could have picked up an earlier Council Room for faster expansion. I think reliable double-Province turns were possible for him at least 2 or 3 turns ago.

I pick up a Potion here, since if I Hermit-gain a Silver and draw it, I’ll be able to use that along with my coin token to buy a Possession, potentially playing it the very next turn. With a decent draw I should have no problem winning this game, as I should be able to reliably play lots of Possessions. At this point, it shouldn’t matter how good his deck is, I should have the control to win the game.
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Turn 15 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals 2 Golds, a Mercenary and 2 Coppers.
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes 2 Coppers.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards a Silver and a Shanty Town.
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays 2 Golds and 2 Silvers.
O buys and gains a Province.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 15 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Council Room.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Shanty Town, a Potion, a Hermit and a Merchant Guild.
O draws a card.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Hermit, a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild and a Potion.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Hermit, a Merchant Guild and a Potion.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Hermit.
A looks at a Shanty Town and a Silver.
A gains a Shanty Town.
A trashes a Hermit.
A gains a Madman.

A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, 2 Courtyards and 2 Shanty Towns.

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Huge mistake from me here, I forgot I’d lose my Hermit by not buying something here (Pearl Diver would have been just fine). I actually didn’t realize this had happened (thanks, ShuffleIt) until I drew the Madman. Also, at this point I’ve trashed my Urchin and my last Mercenary, thinking that I want him to have large hands for me to Possess. This is probably premature, and it will certainly hurt now that I have to take and extra turn buying a Silver instead of the Possession that I wanted so badly. My opponent is greening hard at this point, so time is running out.
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Turn 16 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Mercenary.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals 3 Golds, a Forum and a Council Room.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws 4 cards.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Silver.
O plays an Urchin.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a card.
A discards a Silver and a Shanty Town.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Forum.
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes 2 Silvers.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards a Courtyard.
O plays 5 Golds and a Silver.
O buys and gains 2 Provinces.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 16 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Courtyard.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns and a Merchant Guild.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws a Potion and a Madman.
A plays a Madman.
A returns a Madman to the Madman pile.
A draws a Council Room.
A plays a Council Room.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Courtyard and 2 Shanty Towns.
O draws a card.
A plays a Courtyard.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Silver and a Potion.
A buys and gains a Silver.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 2 Silvers, a Council Room and 2 Shanty Towns.

Turn 17 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and an Urchin.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Forum.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals 3 Golds, a Forum and a Council Room.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws 4 cards.
A draws a Courtyard.
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Province.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Mercenary.
O plays an Urchin.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a card.
A discards 2 Silvers.
O plays a Mercenary.
O trashes a Silver and a Shanty Town.
O draws 2 cards.
A discards a Courtyard.
O plays 5 Golds.
O buys and gains 2 Provinces.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 17 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Council Room.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Courtyard, 2 Shanty Towns and a Potion.
O draws a card.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns, a Courtyard and a Potion.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns and a Merchant Guild.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns, a Merchant Guild and a Potion.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild and a Potion.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Potion.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town and a Potion.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Potion.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 2 Silvers.
A plays 2 Silvers and a Potion.
A buys and gains a Possession.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws 2 Silvers, a Courtyard and 2 Shanty Towns.

Turn 18 – Opponent
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Province.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Mercenary.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Province.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Gold.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals an Urchin, 2 Golds, a Forum and a Council Room.
O plays a Council Room.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 4 cards.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 cards.
O discards a card and a Province.
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards 2 Silvers.
O plays 5 Golds.
O buys and gains a Province, a Courtyard and a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

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I had my hand hovering over the resign button on this turn — if he double Provinces here, he’s got 7 Provinces and I can only play one Possession on my next turn. I just don’t see much of a way I can catch him here, but luckily he’s a dollar short, so I decide to keep going. He also adds cards to his deck that are huge liabilities when Possessed, so all hope is not lost. He does, after all have seven stop cards in his deck (six Provinces and a Mercenary).

Notice that he’s played his Mercenary twice, it seems for the purpose of just attacking me, and he trashes three Silvers and a Shanty Town from his deck. Yes, this is annoying, but Shanty Town does soft-counter discard attacks, so the fact that he’s making his deck much worse because of this is a pretty big deal. He could have trashed Forums to get the money to Double on that last turn but he doesn’t. Right now, his deck is set up for something I’ve never actually pulled off in a game of Dominion before…
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Turn 18 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns and a Courtyard.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws a Council Room, a Shanty Town and a Merchant Guild.
A topdecks a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns and a Council Room.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Courtyard, a Shanty Town, a Possession and a Merchant Guild.
O draws a card.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, 2 Shanty Towns,a Merchant Guild and a Courtyard.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild and a Courtyard.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns and a Potion.
A topdecks a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild and a Potion.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Possession.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Potion.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver and a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Silver and a Potion.
A draws a Silver.
A plays 2 Silvers and a Potion.
A buys and gains a Possession.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, 3 Shanty Towns and a Merchant Guild.

Turn 18 – Opponent [Possession]
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Courtyard.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a Shanty Town.
A discards a Silver.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals 2 Golds, a Mercenary, a Council Room and a Courtyard.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws a Gold, a Province and 2 Forums.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 2 Provinces and a Forum.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Forum.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Forum.
O discards 2 Forums.
O plays 5 Golds.
O buys a Council Room.
A gains a Council Room.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O draws 5 Provinces.

Turn 19 – Opponent
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

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My opponent draws “the perfect hand.” I now have the ability to play more turns than my opponent with his deck, and the ability to ensure that he’s able to do absolutely nothing with his turns. I have all the time in the world to make up this points lead, while his deck gets to buy me Forums, Duchies, and everything I need to keep my foot firmly placed on his throat. BUAHHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAHHH!!
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Turn 19 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 3 Shanty Towns and a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Shanty Towns.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws a Courtyard and a Shanty Town.
A plays a Courtyard.
A draws a Council Room, a Shanty Town and a Possession.
A topdecks a Possession.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Shanty Town, 2 Possessions and a Potion.
O draws a card.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Possessions, 2 Shanty Towns and a Potion.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals 2 Possessions, a Shanty Town and a Potion.
A plays a Possession.
A plays a Possession.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Potion.
A draws a Silver and a Courtyard.
A plays a Courtyard.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Duchy and a Council Room.
A topdecks a Duchy.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Duchy.
O draws a card.
A plays 2 Silvers and a Potion.
A buys and gains a Council Room and a Shanty Town.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Duchy, 2 Shanty Towns and a Possession.

Turn 19 – Opponent [Possession]
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Council Room and a Forum.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Forum.
O discards a Province and a Mercenary.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold and 2 Provinces.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws a Province and 3 Forums.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays 5 Golds.
O buys a Forum.
A gains a Forum.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a Gold, a Shanty Town, an Urchin and 2 Forums.

Turn 19 – Opponent [Possession]
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Mercenary and 2 Forums.
O discards a Mercenary and an Urchin.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Council Room.
O discards a Province and a Forum.
O plays a Shanty Town.
O reveals 2 Golds, a Forum and a Council Room.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws 3 Provinces and a Forum.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 3 Golds.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Province, a Courtyard and a Forum.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Courtyard.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 2 Provinces and a Forum.
O topdecks a Province.
O plays 5 Golds.
O buys a Forum.
A gains a Forum.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O draws 3 Provinces, a Mercenary and an Urchin.

Turn 20 – Opponent
O plays an Urchin.
O draws a card.
A discards a Silver, a Duchy and a Shanty Town.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws 5 cards.

Turn 20 – Adam Horton
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession and 2 Shanty Towns.
A plays a Possession.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws 2 Shanty Towns.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Shanty Town.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals nothing.
A draws 2 Council Rooms.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws a Council Room, a Shanty Town,a Potion and a Merchant Guild.
O draws a card.
A plays a Council Room.
A draws 2 Courtyards, a Shanty Town anda Possession.
O draws a card.
A plays a Council Room.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Duchy and 2 Forums.
O draws a card.
A plays a Forum.
A draws 2 Duchies and a Shanty Town.
A discards 2 Duchies.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, 2 Shanty Towns,a Merchant Guild, a Duchy, a Forum, a Silver,2 Courtyards and a Potion.
A plays a Forum.
A draws a Silver and 2 Duchies.
A discards 2 Duchies.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, a Shanty Town, a Merchant Guild, a Duchy, 2 Silvers, 2 Courtyards and a Potion.
A plays a Shanty Town.
A reveals a Possession, a Merchant Guild,a Duchy, 2 Silvers, 2 Courtyards and a Potion.
A plays a Merchant Guild.
A plays a Possession.
A plays 2 Silvers and a Potion.
A buys and gains a Possession.
A shuffles their deck.
A draws a Silver, a Duchy, a Council Room, a Shanty Town and a Forum.

Turn 20 – Opponent [Possession]
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Courtyard.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Council Room.
O draws an Urchin and 3 Forums.
A draws a Shanty Town.
O plays 4 Golds.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O buys a Duchy.
A gains a Duchy.
O draws 2 Provinces, a Shanty Town and 2 Forums.

Turn 20 – Opponent [Possession]
O plays a Forum.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a Gold and 2 Provinces.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Province and 2 Forums.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Gold, a Province and an Urchin.
O discards 2 Provinces.
O plays a Forum.
O draws a Mercenary and 2 Forums.
O discards a Mercenary and an Urchin.
O plays a Forum.
O draws 2 Golds and a Courtyard.
O discards a Gold and a Shanty Town.
O plays a Courtyard.
O shuffles their deck.
O draws a Gold, a Province and a Council Room.
O topdecks a Province.
O plays 4 Golds.
O buys a Province.
A gains a Province.
O draws 3 Provinces, a Shanty Town and a Mercenary.

Turn 21 – Opponent
Waiting for Opponent.

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I don’t blame him at all for ragequitting, Possession is not a fun card to be destroyed by, but when you play so hard into Possession, this is what happens. Even the largest lead can be completely neutralized if your opponent is able to completely shut you down.

I was ready to give this game up, but sometimes it’s worth playing out.

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