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Episode 23: Gladiator/Fortune

In this episode, Adam and Jake discuss Gladiator and Fortune from Empires.

Kingdom at the end: Castles, Fool, Gladiator/Fortune, Trade Route, Market Square, Armory, Horse Traders, Archive, Den of Sin, Haggler, Travelling Fair, Wedding, Platinum/Colony

I agree with Jake, there are times when you don't want to play Gladiator because you don't want to reveal Fortune for your opponent. Basically, it's whenever you realize that getting Gladiator in the first place was a huge mistake.  For example, maybe your opponent is drawing a lot, and you are not.

Maybe I missed it, but I feel like you didn't discuss the decision of when to get Gladiator in the first place.  If you're drawing more than your opponent, you want to capitalize on how much better Fortune is for your deck, but usually this asymmetry isn't yet apparent in the opening.  I only open Gladiator if I think it's good in the mirror.  And while getting Fortune half a turn earlier than your opponent is nice, I actually think the main advantage of Gladiator in the mirror is the Gold gain.

Kingdom at the end: I think Adam is underrating Archive as an alternative trasher.  Each time you gain an Archive, it's about equivalent to trashing a card, and on average it gives more draw per turn than Den of Sin.  So rather than playing Trade Route to trash a card, you could just play Horse Traders and use it to buy an Archive.  Not that Trade Route is terrible, but in the opening it seems weak because there isn't much worth getting with your remaining hand.  I'd open Horse Traders/Silver/Silver.

I assume Adam must be way overselling the whole not playing/revealing Gladiator thing, mostly because there are more cases than that where the money won't matter at all. And in those cases, I would think it's much closer to 50-50 on whether or not you play/reveal (though probably if someone got the gladiator in the first place, you more-often-than-not still want to play/reveal it).

 

I would think that Gladiator is in a kind of an interesting spot, and I would have liked more discussion of this, about this pressure of, I don't know the right way to phrase this exactly but it's something along the lines of, "You usually don't want to be the first person to get a Gladiator". I.e., the gladiator itself isn't that great, and isn't the point of the card. Fortune is much stronger, and so getting the Glad is mostly about getting to Fortune. But you're speeding your opponent to Fortune just as much as you are yourself, unless/until you rip the last one off and can buy a Fortune in the same turn. Even in that case, it seems better to get a Gladiator when there are only a couple left rather than when the pile is full. In some ways, this is somewhat similar to City, though at least for city, if you go all the way yourself, you have a deck full of great cards as reward. Here, all you get are... extra golds? Which isn't nothing, but isn't such a huge game. Maybe other split piles have similar things going on, but if so I'm not so aware.

 

As for the kingdom at the end, my initial impression was that you were super pinched on draw. But with Colonies around, I assumed you'd still want to build toward drawing everything anyway. Now, I'm less sure, and I'm wondering whether you can eschew most of that to just get some high-value stuff and buy a colony a turn. Trade Route for trashing is sooo slow, but of course Colony usually gives you that time. I should probably point out that I haven't played with half the kingdom cards, and only a couple times with one of the events (never with the other). I'll also say I'm a bit surprised that you talk about Archive into Den of Sin, because I'm leaning towards the opposite. I also think that Gladiator is bad here, though you will of course take a Fortune if you get a chance.

Anyway, I think what I ended up at, after re-reading Archive a few times, is more or less similar to what you're talking about, just without the Trade Route (or the Merchant Squares). The eventual goal is to have a Haggler, 0-3 DoS (I'm leaning toward 2, but when you get them is a bit tactical), as many Archives as you can get, and some high value treasures, and Colony per turn. How you get there is very draw-dependent. On 5/2 I'm reasonably sure I want to open Wedding+pay a debt/Pay Debt, which virtually ensures at least 1 $5 on turns 3-4 (with a small chance at 2). On 2/5 I have to think about DoS vs Haggler vs... I dunno, but being pretty sad. The thing is, what I want is the Haggler, but I'm pretty concerned about drawing it with less than $5, which happens 40% of the time (that you draw it - can't do much about the 1/11 shot it misses entirely), and seems like complete disaster. I guess if that happens turn 3 you can go Wedding->Pay debt (or if you hit 3, it really is a disaster), or on turn 4 get like Horse traders/Silver (blegh!).

On 4/3 I'm also thinking about Wedding/Pay Debt, comparing with Silver/Silver. In general my impression is that gold is better in the long run, and in the short term it's giving you a higher chance at 5, but only by a couple percent, vs a significantly lower chance at 5 twice. It's very close, but I think Wedding is better. I guess it gets you a VP, too.

On 3/4 I have to think about Silver/Wedding vs Silver/Silver. But here, it looks like while you're still a favorite to get a 5er with the gold, it's much less of a chance than you get with Silver/Silver, plus you have actual zero chance to get two 5ers. So it seems pretty clear that you just head off to Silver/Silver here.

It looks nice - most of the different scenarios here look pretty close to each other, despite there being a zillion options.

But we're not done. Turn 3 and 4 provide MORE options, basically surrounding getting DoS on turn 3 to guarantee a 7 card turn 4 hand. If you do this following Silver/Silver (unless you've hit $7), then you guarantee another $5 on turn 4; with Gold/- you'd need exactly $5 to make this so sure a bet, though note that it also triggers a shuffle in that case. The more I think about this, I think that's probably not worth it, but it's close, in both cases. Actually the more I think, the more I'm not really sure I like DoS in general basically at all, and maybe would only get it in rare tactical situations and/or after Archive runs out.

 

By the way, I don't see Archive as a trasher at all - I really don't get it. It's a draw card which is also a smoother, a la Courtyard, and which basically always misses a shuffle.

 

Anyway, let's put this all together. Your buys probably look like: Fortune/Debt/Haggler/Silver/Archive/Gold+Archive/Archive/Gold+Archive/Platinum/Platinum+Archive, and then you start getting colonies pretty consistently? Which puts you around turn 15 to get to 4 colonies?

 

 

My gut says that's going to be... kind of close to the trade route thing? To the extent that I think I might actually want to go for TR on 3/4 exactly, but not not otherwise (3/4 is good for TR, but bad for the money strat). But I still think I would not go Market Squares even in that deck.

 

 

Anyway, testing should be fun.

 Quote from trivialknot on May 9, 2018, 1:24 AM

Maybe I missed it, but I feel like you didn't discuss the decision of when to get Gladiator in the first place.  If you're drawing more than your opponent, you want to capitalize on how much better Fortune is for your deck, but usually this asymmetry isn't yet apparent in the opening.  I only open Gladiator if I think it's good in the mirror.

Quote from WanderingWinder on May 9, 2018, 5:26 PM

I assume Adam must be way overselling the whole not playing/revealing Gladiator thing, mostly because there are more cases than that where the money won't matter at all. And in those cases, I would think it's much closer to 50-50 on whether or not you play/reveal (though probably if someone got the gladiator in the first place, you more-often-than-not still want to play/reveal it).

So I was being a touch hyberbolic at points, I'll admit. I also want to point out that when I was, I think it was hilarious, so it was totally worth it 😛

Sure, you shouldn't blindly reveal to a Gladiator every time and you shouldn't blindly play all of your action cards no matter what. That deserves to be thought about. On the other hand, I think the situations where you don't do these things with Gladiator are pretty narrow and contrived. They're not impossible (but I didn't even say they were) but in my book, "oops I shouldn't have bought this Gladiator" seems a bit contrived to me. In my mind it really is as simple as deciding that you want the Fortune (which I feel like was covered when we talked about Fortune) and then getting the Gladiator if the terminal space isn't a big deal for you.

If there's a part of this that doesn't get through or still isn't clear, I'm curious to hear about it. I mean, there's always a ton more detail we can go into on every single topic we talk about but I didn't see much else worth diving into here... have I missed something?

 

By the way, I don't see Archive as a trasher at all - I really don't get it. It's a draw card which is also a smoother, a la Courtyard, and which basically always misses a shuffle.

Archive isn't a trasher. It bothers me when people make that comparison because they'll use language that suggests that Archive is actually trashing cards, which it obviously isn't. Trivialknot didn't explicitly say that (and I don't quite know of a better way that's concise) but describing this effect is hard to do...

The effect they're talking about is something that can kinda-sorta-work as thinning but really isn't. You know how you can have two Havens in your deck and Haven a Province every turn, and as long as you can draw your deck enough to find the other of those two Havens every turn, it gives you a similar effect to thinning the Province? I guess that's the best pre-Empires analogy I can think of.

If you get 6 or 7 Archives and you are kinda-but-not-quite drawing your deck each turn, you can kind of achieve the same effect with your ten starting cards. It's a lot jankier but in the absence of real thinning or real draw, this can be a somewhat good effect that's almost as good.

That said, it is no substitute for real trashing. I don't think it compares in power level to Trade Route, I don't even think it's close, even though it's been said that I'm underestimating Archive here. I haven't tested the kingdom yet but I'd be really surprised if I was wrong about this one.

Quote from Adam Horton on May 10, 2018, 12:21 PM
in my book, "oops I shouldn't have bought this Gladiator" seems a bit contrived to me.

You only say that because you're a world champion, and therefore never make mistakes.  In my book, situations where I buy a card that turns out to be absolutely awful are not at all contrived.  😛

Archive isn't a trasher. It bothers me when people make that comparison because they'll use language that suggests that Archive is actually trashing cards, which it obviously isn't. Trivialknot didn't explicitly say that (and I don't quite know of a better way that's concise) but describing this effect is hard to do...

You're very kind, but it's okay to attribute that to me.

Obviously Archive isn't really a trasher, and these are all just heuristics.  It's on the same level as when people say trashing a card is like gaining a Lab.  And I always think, "but surely, trashing a card is more like gaining a Fugitive than a Lab?"  And does the analogy go the other way? Is gaining a Fugitive like trashing a card?  Is gaining a Forum like trashing 2 cards?

Archive is like trashing kind of like how Forum is trashing, except that when you discard cards to Forum, you can eventually draw them back.  And with Archive you can't do that.  That makes it slightly more like trashing than Forum is.

Another heuristic I was applying, is the long-term average draw of a card.  If you play an Archive every 3 turns, then the per-turn average is: set aside 1 card, and draw 2/3s of a card.  Den of Sin draws 1/2 a card.  So Archive is better than Den of Sin in the long run, if you can afford to set aside cards.

And you definitely can afford it here!  Even if you're forced to set aside a good card, there aren't any particularly important synergies going on.  Your deck is mostly just money, and you don't even need the +Buy, since Travelling Fair is right there.

Looks like the forum ate another post by WW -- I thought that had been fixed with the updated I did but maybe not.

...he used the term "thinning-adjacent" to describe what Archive does, and that's my favorite of the terms I've heard so far.

I still haven't gotten the chance to play this kingdom yet, but we'll see how things turn out 🙂