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Episode 24: Jack of All Trades

In this episode, Adam and Jake discuss Jack of All Trades from Hinterlands.

Kingdom at the end: Engineer, Herbalist, Scrying Pool, Lookout, Secret Cave, Ironmonger, Jack of All Trades, Mining Village, City, Idol, Seaway, Wolf Den

I think I've come back toward you in the interim. Then, I think I was higher on draw-your-whole-deck-every-time, whereas now I think I'm more in line with getting going a little faster a little more. I still think there are reasons you don't go Jack more often than you, I think, but it's like, I don't know, the situations you call out plus maybe 5% or 10% of the time where something is just super strong and streamlined and you can't fit one in. Even there, it's not like Jack is ever really a bad card for almost any deck, it's just that you sometimes can't afford the opportunity cost, but even if you do go for it, you're not going to be THAT far off.

 

I don't know what you guys are doing to pick kingdoms recently, but it's working. Gut feel is that I think the strategy you're advocating is like, third-best. My first gut is to go more or less double jack with some ironmongers (not sure what order to get 2nd jack in and amongst ironmongers). And just race down to 50% of the VP, because that seems pretty quick and good. Second idea is to go for pools without Jack, opening Potion/Lookout. The reason I don't like Jack there isn't so much about it not being a good card for the deck, but much more really wanting to get the Pools running fast (and Jack not being GREAT for this deck). The other thing here is that I think that Wolf Den should not be underestimated, and is kind of one of the biggest reasons I don't like what you're talking about. Does that deck want 2 jacks? Will it end up with 2 Lookouts? Potions? Engineers? I can easily see there being 2 cards you end up penalized for, and with the game this fast and tight, that seems like it could definitely be the difference. It's going to be really hard to get 5 Provinces in time, I think.

 

Let's math out my proposals. The double Jack with some Ironmongers has to be like turn 14ish for 4 provinces, right? Like, it's not that far from well-simulated stuff which is around there. The Potion/Lookout is going to go P/L/Engineer/Pool/Ironmonger+Secret Cave/Pool/Seaway(IM)/Pool+IM/and at this point you start drawing your deck pretty consistently? This looks just a tiny bit faster to me (turn 13 on average is my best guess? but wouldn't be surprised if I'm off by a couple turns), but it's close enough that actually playing will be important. And a lot will come down to how good your Lookout is to you. I guess I might be overestimating Secret Cave here?

 

Idol would do work, but I don't think you can take the time for it, particularly because a lot of your gains in the action-y deck are from Engineers, and your buys in the other deck can get there, but you aren't going to play two often enough. It is maybe the best point for Adam's proposal? So maybe if I'm just underestimating that card, his idea is just a lot better than I think. Even in his deck, though, I kind of want to go Lookout/Potion, and THEN get Jack, which... actually seems pretty good, so I'd at least try that out too.

Quote from WanderingWinder on May 16, 2018, 12:48 PM

I think I've come back toward you in the interim. Then, I think I was higher on draw-your-whole-deck-every-time, whereas now I think I'm more in line with getting going a little faster a little more. I still think there are reasons you don't go Jack more often than you, I think, but it's like, I don't know, the situations you call out plus maybe 5% or 10% of the time where something is just super strong and streamlined and you can't fit one in. Even there, it's not like Jack is ever really a bad card for almost any deck, it's just that you sometimes can't afford the opportunity cost, but even if you do go for it, you're not going to be THAT far off.

I'ma be honest here, I saw that you posted here and I had my heart attack. Something I really wanted was to have an episode that would get a better reaction from you than what happened when we tried to record our Jack episode that was never published. I'm happy with what you said 😀

I thought about it some and I think a lot of why we went around in circles was not even related to the core of our disagreement on things related to playing Dominion, it's just that we weren't talking about it as effectively as we should. As hosts of a podcast, talking about Dominion is kind of the whole point, so of course I've been constantly trying to get better at that. And that's really hard because talking about Dominion is hard, because it's a really complex game. I've made big adjustments to the way I mentally categorize things and I still have a long way to go, just so I can better communicate my thoughts and have them be less wrong.

Of course I will still be wrong, but at least it will be easier to tell what I'm wrong about, which is about the best I can hope for.

Anyways, the way I feel about Jack hasn't fundamentally changed since that time, and even though you say you've adjusted yours, it doesn't seem that super-far-away from what I remember about our conversation. I tried really hard to be careful with my language here to make it so that if we had a disagreement on anything, it would be productive, and I kind of want to call that a success.

WHEW.

 

I don't know what you guys are doing to pick kingdoms recently, but it's working.

So umm, we include the card and roll random boards until we see one that we can agree on. Normally I like boards where it's not immediately obvious what I'm going to do -- it's the same thing I do when I'm picking the "randomly generated but filtered and then maybe tweaked" sets I use for my IRL tournaments (except I don't bother to tweak them because most of the reason I do that is to make my life easier when I'm using physical cards). The point is to make people think and generate discussion, so I'm glad to hear that you think I'm wrong 😀

 

Gut feel is that I think the strategy you're advocating is like, third-best. My first gut is to go more or less double jack with some ironmongers (not sure what order to get 2nd jack in and amongst ironmongers). And just race down to 50% of the VP, because that seems pretty quick and good. Second idea is to go for pools without Jack, opening Potion/Lookout. The reason I don't like Jack there isn't so much about it not being a good card for the deck, but much more really wanting to get the Pools running fast (and Jack not being GREAT for this deck).

[...]

 

I haven't tested this yet. I'm optimistic that I can get in some games with you this weekend, and I think you'd be great "fun police". With that said, I wasn't thinking about Wolf Den as a real source of points during the podcast, and my main reason for liking Idol has to do with Curses being worth points.

I do think that trying to trash Magic Lamp has to be part of the focus of whatever you do, so I'm less warm on straight-up Jack+Ironmonger+Money. Going directly for Pools and skipping (or delaying) Jack could be OK, though I still really like opening Jack and getting the Potion later. I remember having some disagreement on this during the very first episode of the podcast when we talked about delaying Potion for Scrying Pool. Engineer plays a somewhat significant role in wanting me to delay Potion, but really I don't think the Scrying Pool is gonna do much for the deck for a while. Even though that could change if you go straight for Lookout like you suggested.

I'd completely overlooked Magic Lamp (much like last week I forgot about Lucky Coin). This makes me lean more towards Lookout/Potion, and in particular probably the last thing I said (Lookout/Potion into Jack, or possibly into engineer then Jack). On the other hand, I don't know if it sways me THAT much - it's a bunch of work for 6 costs, but what 6 costs do you want? I guess it helps with the Idol plan. The whole thing makes me much less confident I understand what's going on here, though. I still think everything I lined up above is at least worth a quick spin though.

By this point I've played one game with a bot, opening Jack/Lookout. I think I had above average but not amazing draws, and the bot did its standard "buy four Jacks, do nothing" strategy (it wasn't playing any attacks on me). I had 5 Provinces by T12 and only -3 points from Wolf Den (I had one Jack as my only singleton) and I ended the game the next turn.

I'm starting to think that Mining Village is much better than Ironmonger here. An extra shot in the arm for $10-$20 on your last turn, or at least being able to threaten it, seems really good, and I'm just not sure what Ironmonger is doing for you that's better than another Action to offset that.

This weekend looks somewhat promising for testing a bit more...