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Episode 25: Turning off the Autopilot

In this episode, Adam and Jake discuss various tips for improving your Dominion play outside the buy phase.

Kingdom at the end: Patrician, Scheme, Smugglers, Warehouse, Wishing Well, Scavenger, Treasure Trove, Altar, Grand Market, Bank, Palace

I'm stunned that you guys think that Altar Grand Market stuff is remotely close to being competitive with money on the kingdom at the end. It just blows my mind.


Altar as the only trashing, with no draw, is going to be so incredibly slow... Let's say you get the best case and you turn 3 Altar, turn 4 Scheme, and you Scheme an Altar turn 5 (all of this is already highly unlikely), and start gaining schemes for a while, eventually splitting into your third silver so you can get GMs. You get to play Altar on turn 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 (and every turn after if you want). If you're going to do that, you need exactly all three silvers to line up in 4 cards to get to your first GM (I guess you probably get more silvers at some point?). Then you can start getting GMs. And at some point you switch from Scheme to Patrician (probably after 2-3 schemes). Then you buy as many GM and Patrician as possible, and then, THEN you start assaulting points? I actually think that even the I-stacked-my-deck perfect draw still loses to maybe even the average draw from the money player. It's just too slow. But in the average case, it's not even close. You won't get your Altar until turn 5-6 usually, you won't be able to play it more than a couple times until turn 12 or something, your GMs won't start coming together until a similar time (at least)...


The money deck is a lot faster than that, is resilient to be able to take loads of green stuff, and is scoring buccoos more points off Palace. I have to imagine the Palace points will out-race the spare duchy points you can get by going for GMs. In any case, I think if you play a single game, it will become pretty clear that it's not close...


The big questions here to me are if/when you want Warehouse (for the money deck) - Treasure Trove says yes, Palace is a bit more mixed. Probably you get some at some points (not in the opening most likely, more on that in a second), but would like to keep your Silver count by the end of the game pretty level with your gold count, as Warehouse isn't THAT much better than silver? (I mean it is, but you have to measure how good 3 points is); also, what (and maybe how many) terminals do you get? Scavenger is good, once again, with Treasure Trove (and you might open Warehouse with it). But I think I like Smugglers more. Extra gains, often nabbing gold, seem really good here, and so that's the direction I think I would take. Probably Smugglers/Silver, and then Treasure Trove and one Warehouse, and then a second Treasure Trove and Silver, and then start greening. Maybe you only ever really have time for the one warehouse.



I also disagree a lot with the main content of the episode. For instance, I think that having a plan for the turn is often what can get you into trouble in the first place, autopilot-wise. You have an idea of what you're going to do, so you just run to it, which makes you miss out on other potential opportunities. Of course you want to have a general overall idea of what is good and not, what your deck likes and doesn't, etc., and where you eventually want to get to, and most importantly WHY, but you need to re-evaluate based on what you have going on right now. If I do this now, how does that set up my next turn. And that is one thing I do think you covered fairly well, e.g. with the Courtyard example. Asking questions like, if I do this now, how much does it help me now, and how does it impact my next turn or shuffle?


I actually think the whole thing about triggering shuffles is getting to the point for me like Adam has about the Penultimate Province Rule. Yeah, of course, there are times where you shouldn't trigger that shuffle, but I think most people who think about it do so too much, too often, and especially think not to trigger it too much. Like triggering a shuffle on turn 4 - the big majority of the time, you should trigger it. Yes, your turn 5 will not have much in terms of great cards, but when you trigger a shuffle, it makes the shuffle itself shorter, right? Triggering a shuffle during turn 4 means that you will trigger another one after turn 5. So there are some cases where it can be important - you're filtering your deck such that there's a lot of garbage you've discarded and/or there's actual no benefit from the card that triggers it being the two biggies, but they're pretty rare - but all in all I think the whole thing is overrated.


Also, I think most of the heuristics you talk about in terms of sequencing your actions also lead to autopilot much more than they prevent it. They are good heuristics, don't get me wrong (I'd probably summarize with give yourself as much information/options as possible when making a choice, and your opponents as little of the same when they make choices, in both cases often being facilitated by changing the time in which you're making the choices), but like in some of your examples, there are exceptions, and if you lean too much on the heuristics, you miss some schtuff.

If talking about action phase stuff, I'd probably make a comment about what you're choosing to discard - it's not always best to pitch the worst junk.


I also think that more autopiloty stuff happens, or more consequentially happens, outside the action phase, but I guess that's another episode.

Quote from WanderingWinder on May 24, 2018, 4:40 PM

I'm stunned that you guys think that Altar Grand Market stuff is remotely close to being competitive with money on the kingdom at the end. It just blows my mind.

So I decided to play a quick game with a bot on this kingdom and oh boy is that awful. I think your analysis here is spot on and there is actually something to be learned from it. It will make for some tasty bread. Still some interesting stuff to look at though in terms of the money strat. Hopefully it relates to the episode's concepts though. My gut says you want a Warehouse or three.


As for the rest of your feedback, well I want to listen to the episode again before commenting too much. My intent was to use language that pointed out the times when you need to stop and think about certain decisions you make, and empower the listener to read the situation and make those decisions. Your feedback suggests that it's not coming across that way so I want to re-listen.

This episode is quite a bit more abstract than a lot of the other stuff we have done, and Jake and I even had a bit of a disconnect when we were planning for it. It's possible that stuff like this would be better in a different medium (like in-game videos or compilations of clips of those videos, or something similar). I felt like this episode addressed the less abstract, easier-to-communicate end of the spectrum of "turning off the autopilot" so if the point is already not getting across, we'll need to make some significant adjustments if we continue on with future videos related to this same concept.

But anyways, thanks for your feedback. Negative feedback is much more valuable than positive feedback even though it can be tougher to give.

I hope I didn't come across too negative! While I disagreed with some of what you were saying (as outlined above), I do think you were raising good topics, and I still very much enjoyed the podcast.


I think it's really hard to do this abstract of a concept, at least on such a broad scale. Maybe you can take a piece of it (e.g. triggering reshuffles, when to and when not to) and cover that in nice detail. But my gut is that 'turning off the auopilot' is just sensationally broad and abstract to cover at once, because it's so different in many cases and for many people. Kind of like 'getting better at Dominion' 😉



As for the kingdom, I actually think your collective idea about Altar/GM maybe being good might in fact be an interesting exploration of autopilot in the pre-game planning phase, so I'd definitely be interested to hear more about some of the thought processes there. You two are both quite good Dominion players, so a) I'm sure you had reasons to think it was good, which would be interesting to probe, and b) I'm sure you weren't the only one who was tempted by it. (And in fact probably my own biases help to point me against it, even without a more objective analysis).

I think Warehouse is definitely a plus for the deck. But my gut says that you will usually win the mirror by getting one less warehouse (i.e. one more point-laden silver) than the opponent. Or by getting like, 3 more? So I would probably get one early and then wait and see how the game was shaping up/what my opponent did/how much palace opportunity you have. My guess is that 1 is about right in equilibrium, but that depending on what your opponent does (like, getting none for instance), you might go up to your three. I also think choice/quantity of terminals is still a little interesting, still leaning toward Smugglers there.

You make a lot of good points. We recorded episode 26 last night and address a lot of these points there, along with my excuse for not being as responsive on these forums as normal. It should be published tonight.

...I appreciate your feedback on this, and especially the kingdom. It was educational for us and probably will be for other listeners too.

I'll get to all of the other stuff I haven't replied to yet soon, hopefully this week.

Major <3 . I don't have that kind of experience myself, but that's gotta be rough 🙁


No worries or rushes on responding