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Making Luck Episode 37: When there's no "X"

In this episode, Adam and Jake discuss what to do when important resources aren't available.

Kingdom at the end: Stonemason, Familiar, Shanty Town, Tunnel, Silk Road, Temple, Baker, Mandarin, Pooka, Witch, Colonnade, Fountain

I think there's another X that you missed (or I missed you talking about it).  You talked about games where you can't do any better than a single province/Colony per turn.  But there are also games where you can't even get more than one component per turn as you build.  This can be a very severe restriction, because in a one-province game you just want to start hitting provinces as fast as possible, which means you can't put too many components together.

You also talked about card-neutral draw, like Festival/Moat.  In my play group, we refer to that as a wheel-spinning engine.  I recall a game with Hamlet/Ghost Ship, and it seemed reasonable because Hamlet sifts, and you wanted enough Ghostships in your deck to play them every turn.  I think I've also played with Squire / Oracle, which is not good, but Oracle sifts and attacks so that's something.

In the kingdom at the end, there are several things that are technically there, but just aren't very effective.  Shanty Town/Pooka for draw... Stonemason for components... Several alt-VP options that let you do better than Province, but not by much...  Honestly I don't think any of that is happening, except Temple and Colonnade points.

I think the biggest thing here is Cursed Gold (which you should play like every time) and Witch.  The curses will fly.  So I think Temple is a must.  And if both players get Temple, then you want even more Temples for the VP.  Between Temples and Witch, that eats up all your terminal space, so I'd get Silver, Gold, and Baker.

So far I've only listened through the first segment, covering the kingdom from last time, and watched the video of those games, but I have some hot takes:

  • Eventually you got to roughly the right Duchy/Duke strategy, Adam - mostly. Capital is real bad for that deck. Inheritance is good but not amazeballs. Nomad Camp is bad, especially because you want to be able to Ironworks for Silver (and you're never using that +buy).
  • Still, you greened too late. Especially past the one Inheritance, there's just nothing you're building towards, and so there's very little reason to not get Duchy on 5. I guess you can hope for Charm to do some cute thing with Duchy AND Duke, but you need to do that twice to actually be better than just buying Duchy instead of the Charm? Seems unlikely. Greening too late is mostly important due to the split. I think I would start greening on turn 5 (possibly that's a tiny bit early), though after then I would stop for the Inheritance assuming you haven't gotten it. The Ironworks go a LONG way to helping you get away with that early of a green.
  • I think you jumped the gun a bit on resignations, for the most part. It looks like Jake's deck is a lot better than yours when you resign, and you're down in points. But Jake's deck falls apart in the face of green pretty substantially.
  • Therefore I actually think Expand is quite important for Jake's deck, and a big part of why I still agree with your overall conclusion that the cantrip deck is better than the Duke deck here. If Expand weren't around, I think it would be close, but maybe in favor of the slog?
  • I would have liked to see you note in the episode that contesting Duchy is important for Cantrip player. That importance also helps underline the importance of Expand in the matchup, as well as why Duke player actually still wants to green earlier even in non-mirror.
  • On the other hand, I think Expand is actually not a good card in the Duchy/Duke deck. I think Jake was saying it would be good, since he says in either deck you were talking about, it's a high priority after Inheritance. Maybe by the either deck thing, you didn't mean the slog? You just don't have things in the deck you really want to expand out of in the Duke deck - it's a pretty rancid card there, I'm not sure if I would take one for free, and it's certainly worse than Gold or Duchy.
  • My impression is that Chariot Race is generally more important to the cantrip deck than Groundskeeper? Certainly I think it's better for its cost... I don't know, they're probably roughly similarly valued
  • But to that end, I don't think I like potion in that deck at all. It seems pretty slow to add a potion, add a University, then start gaining stuff, as opposed to just buying stuff, especially when you can just gain Chariot Races which are at least almost as good? (Granted, I think Groundskeeper relatively improves more in the mirror, partially because they help you win Chariot Races). Moreover, it's actually more about the Potion and University not drawing cards, in a deck that wants high card flow and has no way to increase handsize; I don't really think you can afford that very well.
  • I also think that Chariot Race is a good card in the Duke deck! Whether it's better than Silver is somewhat more questionable. But there were times where Adam didn't play Ironworks, and I think that both Estate-as-Ironworks and Chariot race are definitely better than nothing. Thing is, you still have your garbage-y starting cards, yes, but you get a lot of 3s, and a decent number of 4s and 5s. Basically any time you win a race the card is better than a silver, and losing it, it's still fine-ish. You actually should win a pretty decent chunk of your races early, and a few late. So in general, I would lean toward getting a silver, I think, especially since denying CR doesn't seem that important. But I would definitely still get one over nothing, and would not fear over-grabbing Ironworks as much as Adam did, because CR is not that bad of an alternative in hands you have multiple IW.
  • Adam mentioned my math in the video, and said that what you were doing you didn't think was much worse in terms of spiking that early 7 for an Inheritance. I am pretty sure it's a lot worse. You have 0 chance of hitting 7 on turns 3-4, instead of 8.8%, and you also have worse chances of hitting 6 by a pretty significant margin, and then you have the ironworks which you can draw and if you do counts as basically a copper. By that point you can at best have parity in the number of silvers in your deck, and so it all makes it a lot less likely to actually line up what you need to to spike that 7 that fast. I'm pretty sure you're under 1/3 to hit in the Ironworks case, probably less than that.
  • As for the discussion at the end of the video about which cards are most important to the cantrip deck, I think it's 1st Lookout (most trashers would work at least as well though) without which I don't think the deck would really work; next are Chariot Race, Groundskeeper, Expand, and Inheritance, all roughly similar value to each other; I think the game would be roughly close against Duke without any one of them - in some cases maybe still a little ahead, in some a bit behind. I guess Capital falls in there, but only because you want to spike Inheritance with it. Actually, without Capital, Inheritance would probably be better for the Duke player.

Great episode guys!  Sorry you were so sick Jake.  This one hit right where my skill level is and made me see some things more clearly.  I'm still learning and listening and playing...when I can.  What I thought would be a good complimentary topic for a future concept episode is how to rank deck-types relative to each other when there are multiple types available in one kingdom.  (deck control vs slog vs. alt-VP, etc.)  How do you decide in the beginning of the game which deck will have the most power relative to other decks available in this particular kingdom?

I would start by ranking the archetypes on an absolute scale relative to each other so that players could begin to assess kingdoms from a perspective of end-game strength depending on which types of decks are available.  There will be variation in actual deck strength  from the archetype due to individual card differences of course, but I'm wondering if a player could say to themselves "on a scale of 1-10, an average deck control engine out performs an average "good stuff" slog by a ratio of 8/5, but the average "good stuff" deck out performs pure big-money by a ratio of 5/3 if they all happen to be available in the same kingdom?  Later with experience, a player would develop the skill to assess the influence on the min-max range of an archetype's deck strength as influenced by particular cards and combos.

On the main content of the episode, I think it was pretty good. I definitely don't view Big Money as a fall back which should almost always try to be avoided and only ever taken when other stuff is egregiously missing, which is the impression I was getting. But that also might be down to terminology differences. It could be that you're using "Big Money" to denote the literal no-kingdom-cards version, which would be fairly consistent with what you are saying, except in that case, I think you're giving it far too MUCH credit. I.e. if you never considered no-kingdom-cards BM, then I think you lose no win rate at all compared to optimal play. It's correct on a less frequent number of boards than stuff you're down on here (i.e. Adam says he's seen something be right exactly once a couple times - I think this is MORE often than no-kingdom-card BM). And even when it is correct, it's not like you're going to be trying to do anything else anyway, because the only time it's right is when you really can't do anything at all.

In general, Big Money is something that can be good and useful in a number of situations; it's not only about the board lacking things, but also about the strength of the Money deck itself. There are cards which actively make money better, cards that are stronger in money than other strategies, etc.

Also, the quality and especially speed of some of the other things matters a lot. If you have Festival as a Village, Werewolf as draw (with the Festival), Trade Route as trashing, and Merchant Guild as payload, you nominally have everything you need, but trying to build a deck that uses all of those components is TERRIBLE, right?

 

The other thing I'm not entirely on board with is talking about getting more than one Province a turn. I've seen some other people talk about that as well, but I just don't get it. I don't think there's anything magical about the one-province-per-turn mark. For instance, a deck which can never ever gain more than one card per turn (and can't get VP tokens, no landmarks, etc.), but which does play Militia every turn seems a LOT better than a deck which isn't attacking but gets to buy a Province AND gain a whole Estate per turn, yeah? I think what you want to be getting at here again is a speed/power trade-off. If by the time everything has come together, you're behind, then you either need to not be behind by too much and be able to score points much more consistently/efficiently at that point (because your deck is good, and your opponent's deck is mediocre, and/or because you're attacking them), OR you need to be able to score a large number of points quickly to be able to overtake. Or to put it more simply: if you are gaining points later, that means you're gaining points over less time, which means you need to score more points per turn over that period of time in order for you to end up with more.

Also in that section, I think Jake mentioned that sometimes money decks can get to the point where they are provincing very consistently. Technically that is true, but it should almost never happen in practice - if the money player waits that long to green, they are almost always waiting too long. Again, this is a speed thing - the fastest way to get to X provinces is usually to buy provinces more or less when you can, and while maybe you build once instead very early, it's almost never right to build enough that you are buying province X turns in a row, because if you start earlier, you're going to finish earlier.

The kingdom at the end, I think I vaguely agree with you on what kind of deck to build, except I disagree rather strongly about how best to green. It's going to be really hard for this deck to get to 8 a lot, since it's going to be very bloated. Conversely, hitting 4 is much more reasonable. Plus Tunnels are real Silk Road support. And importantly, Fountain is a LOT of points. You need to buy 4 coppers, which is not something that the deck which is going for Provinces has a convenient time to do... ever, but the Silk Road player can fit in, if not entirely reasonably, then pretty reasonably. My gut is that Temple isn't very good here, but I haven't played with it... seems hard to be good enough here, though, since you want coppers, and because I think you want SR, you are much less incentivized to ditch Estates. Trashing Curses is definitely nice, but getting them to line up is not the easiest, and the Temple itself doesn't do the business for you economically in the meantime.

 

So I think that I would open Witch/Silver (on 5/4 I *might* go for Witch/Baker?), though I might potentially consider Mandarin/Witch/Silver or something if the 5 is exactly 5 coppers (which is really unlikely). Then I don't want to get more Witches; I am probably mostly just playing Cursed Gold, getting a Baker or two*, possibly a Mandarin or two*, and then going after the Silk Roads pretty early, because I don't want to lose that split. Copper is a card I am always happy to add to the deck, so when I get low amounts of money, I will just do that. Tunnel is actually more efficient VP-per-$cost than Duchy, and a lot easier to get than Duchy, though obviously if you wake up with the money for Duchy, you should generally prefer that.

As for the * above: I generally think I probably want two Bakers eventually, but this will vary a bit based on how the Colonnade points work out, as well as what my opponent is doing - i.e. how hotly SR are contested. In general I would also like to wait for my deck to bloat a bit before getting too many actions, because Witch drawing stuff dead FeelsBadMan. And Mandarin has these issues as well, but on top of that anti-cycling to the Witch, which is much worse while there are still curses around. But Mandarin itself is a pretty good card for the deck I want.

I am just not seeing how you can get enough Provinces here for that to be a good strategy. Basically, I can't ever imagine a deck that can consistently single Province per turn for even 4-5 turns. If you really want to go that way, I think you have to skip out on Fountain, which hurts a LOT. And the Silk Roads can pretty easily be worth 4, and it's not hard to imagine them being worth 5... at this point, once you add in Fountain and then all the chip points from your random Tunnels and other junky green cards, I think even the full stack of Provinces is losing?

 

(Edited because I confused Colonnade and Fountain)

I tried a bit against a BM+Witch bot, and obviously the bot is awful, but I think what I said before was garbage.  I am not convinced by the Witch/Temple opening.  They just seem to collide 100% of the time.  Playing cursed gold also seems pretty bad.

I do believe in getting Fountain points, but you surely don't get them by buying 4 copper.  Buy a stonemason instead, trash your estates.

I'm really not sure what else to do here.  Bakers seem okay.  Tunnel/Silk Road seems okay.  Even Mandarin and Shanty Town seemed like they might be fine?  Playing against the bot isn't very informative, but that's nothing new.

Hmm. I would think you need to be getting stuff early enough that you should be playing Cursed Gold at least most of the time, at least assuming both people are opening with Witch. Obviously it depends a bit on what it gets you to vs the alternative, and how likely you are to get the curse soon anyway. So I'm not that sure about that.

 

I could see getting a Stonemason maybe, but my gut is against it. Thing is, I want Silk Road, and Silk Road kinda likes the estates. I guess maybe it being able to trash the odd curse or two, a Witch that's outlived her usefulness, and I guess get the coppers. In a non-mirror, those two estates are worth on average 3 points each once you have all the SR. I guess the coppers help you power through to get Duchy over tunnel more maybe? Copper is genuinely a good card in this slog deck, as making 3-4 is kinda where you want to be, and copper gets you there. In a mirror, I really want to be cramming down for the Silk Road so fast, the split has to be huge. The more I think about it, the more I think it's a strong consideration IF you're getting value, so something like an overpay for 2 5s, or a spare 2 at some moment. ButI'm not entirely sold - adding more cards overall too early is also going to lessen the efficacy of your witch, e.g., and with as early as I am thinking about greening, I'd kinda expect the deck to get bad enough where some copper buys aren't all that out of the question.

 

Mandarin seems fine at the right time. Baker seems to grease wheels pretty well to hit exact price points, and I guess maybe in some mirrors or something (maybe even non-mirror), can be used to plan spiking an odd province, gives some real strategic complexity. Shanty town seems pretty terrible; I mean, you can maybe draw with it a lot, but you aren't using the +actions I don't think, and I think your deck is bad enough that drawing 2 cards is generally going to be worse than having a Silver.

Okay, now I actually played a game (just one though).  It was a sort of mirror where I went for silk road, and my partner decided he should contest, at which point he was playing the silk road strategy too.  The game ended on Curses/Tunnels/Silk Roads, but we snagged a few provinces too.  I guess you can't necessarily tell from a mirror game, but it felt pretty strong, and I'm betting it's the dominant strategy.

I think Stonemason is amazing enough in this deck that you are willing to buy one or two without overpay.  Trashing estates for copper early on is great, because copper is a decent card in your deck, and estates are bad.  Between estates and curses and cursed gold, there are enough targets that it usually hits.  You can make up the VP loss later by trashing cards for Duchies, Silk Roads, Tunnels, or estates.  Baker is also good because it's the easiest way to get Colonnade points, it's a good card in your deck, and you can trash it for VP cards later.

Sorry I haven't been the most responsive here. I'll add my comments on a couple of things...
Quote from trivialknot on August 16, 2018, 11:59 AM

I think there's another X that you missed (or I missed you talking about it).  You talked about games where you can't do any better than a single province/Colony per turn.  But there are also games where you can't even get more than one component per turn as you build.  This can be a very severe restriction, because in a one-province game you just want to start hitting provinces as fast as possible, which means you can't put too many components together.

I think I viewed this as a subset of the part when there's no way to get more than a Province in a turn. It's sort of an arbitrary distinction that's hard to talk about generally, but in this particular case I think it's safe to say that when there are no extra gains at all, you need a heck of an attack to justify building a lot.

 

Quote from WanderingWinder on August 16, 2018, 7:11 PM
  • Still, you greened too late. Especially past the one Inheritance, there's just nothing you're building towards, and so there's very little reason to not get Duchy on 5. I guess you can hope for Charm to do some cute thing with Duchy AND Duke, but you need to do that twice to actually be better than just buying Duchy instead of the Charm? Seems unlikely. Greening too late is mostly important due to the split. I think I would start greening on turn 5 (possibly that's a tiny bit early), though after then I would stop for the Inheritance assuming you haven't gotten it. The Ironworks go a LONG way to helping you get away with that early of a green.

I would say Charm has to go off once before Duchies are gone to make it worth getting, but I'm not sure you can ever count on that happening, especially if your opponent starts to contest Duchies like they should.

  • But to that end, I don't think I like potion in that deck at all. It seems pretty slow to add a potion, add a University, then start gaining stuff, as opposed to just buying stuff, especially when you can just gain Chariot Races which are at least almost as good? (Granted, I think Groundskeeper relatively improves more in the mirror, partially because they help you win Chariot Races). Moreover, it's actually more about the Potion and University not drawing cards, in a deck that wants high card flow and has no way to increase handsize; I don't really think you can afford that very well.

Man I still think Potion is good, especially when uncontested. You want a LOT of Groundskeepers because I think the way that VP token/cantrip deck likes to win is just by outscoring the Duchy/Duke deck. I just feel like it's so hard to get a large number of Groundskeepers any other way.

 

Quote from WanderingWinder on August 18, 2018, 9:56 AM

I definitely don't view Big Money as a fall back which should almost always try to be avoided and only ever taken when other stuff is egregiously missing, which is the impression I was getting. But that also might be down to terminology differences. It could be that you're using "Big Money" to denote the literal no-kingdom-cards version, which would be fairly consistent with what you are saying, except in that case, I think you're giving it far too MUCH credit.

So I have issues with "Big Money" just like I have issues with "engine" -- there's one saving grace in that you can just define "big money" as the version with no kingdom cards, but I don't like that because of exactly this issue. I try not to say "big money" either but I'm not very good at it, as you can tell.

In practice, it's probably this spectrum where BM-with-no-kingdom-cards is on one end and the other end is huge deck control and payload, and there are lots of places in between that are hard to talk about. So yes whatever "disagreement" we have lies in those grey areas which are extremely hard to talk about. Turns out it's hard to talk about Dominion. Who knew?

Quote from edmoonus on August 16, 2018, 11:28 PM

Great episode guys!  Sorry you were so sick Jake.  This one hit right where my skill level is and made me see some things more clearly.

I'm glad you liked it, and more importantly I'm glad you said something about that. There was a worry on my part (I want to say on Jake's part too but I'm not him so I won't speak for him, but I think he worried even more about this) that this episode wouldn't help anyone and I'm glad to be very wrong about that.

There are times when my own experience with talking to people about Dominion in person is very different than talking to people about Dominion on the internet, and many people question where I'm coming from when I say that certain topics are important for a lot of people even though those people aren't on the internet screaming about them. So it makes me feel better about myself to know that this kind of content is relevant for people.

...and really that's exactly what we want to direct the podcast towards -- even if you have something you want talked about that isn't well-formed or is tough to nail down, Making Luck™: A Dominion Podcast™ will tackle The Tough Issues™.

What I thought would be a good complimentary topic for a future concept episode is how to rank deck-types relative to each other when there are multiple types available in one kingdom.  (deck control vs slog vs. alt-VP, etc.)  How do you decide in the beginning of the game which deck will have the most power relative to other decks available in this particular kingdom?

I would start by ranking the archetypes on an absolute scale relative to each other so that players could begin to assess kingdoms from a perspective of end-game strength depending on which types of decks are available.  There will be variation in actual deck strength  from the archetype due to individual card differences of course, but I'm wondering if a player could say to themselves "on a scale of 1-10, an average deck control engine out performs an average "good stuff" slog by a ratio of 8/5, but the average "good stuff" deck out performs pure big-money by a ratio of 5/3 if they all happen to be available in the same kingdom?  Later with experience, a player would develop the skill to assess the influence on the min-max range of an archetype's deck strength as influenced by particular cards and combos.

Oh man, so if there is something like this out there I don't think I'm the best person to talk about it. I'm not gonna say that my mental model of the game is perfect but I've had success with it, and coming up with numbers for stuff like this seems way beyond what my brain is capable of doing, let alone being able to talk about it with authority.

It's very possible that others will feel differently about this and be able to talk more intelligently about it, but I guess take some comfort in knowing that I've had nonzero success in my Dominion life by going off of "feel" rather than trying to put numbers to stuff like this.

...but of course if numbers existed and were reasonable, I'm sure they'd be better than "feel"

As for the rest of the discussion on the kingdom for next week: I'll say some stuff now but be advised I've only played a bot so far.

Nobody is arguing this, but I think trying to get good deck control here is definitely awful. I tried a couple of times to win a game against the bot that way and never came close.

As for what type of green card to get, well, umm. I normally don't make that decision until I have to? I mean maybe I would have decided it was time to green after it looked like the Curse split and Colonnade split had been mostly decided and at that point I would have done the math and gone with Silk Road? Perhaps it's obvious even without that information. I mean, in any case I think the opening and plays of the first few turns aren't affected too much by that except for a couple of points.

  1. It feels bad to trash my Estates and turn them into Coppers with Stonemason for Fountain points if I'm going for Silk Roads. Obvs. it's still worth it but you know.
  2. I'm really not convinced that playing Cursed Gold every time you see it is always worth it. I haven't experimented much with this but like, the bot is awful at trashing Curses so my games so far are inconclusive. It's something I want to focus on though.
  3. Silk Road decks get Provinces too, right? I mean, I would still think that every time I'm able to get a Province (I assume it's by spending coin tokens) I should do it...
Quote from Adam Horton on August 20, 2018, 12:24 PM
Quote from WanderingWinder on August 16, 2018, 7:11 PM
  • Still, you greened too late. Especially past the one Inheritance, there's just nothing you're building towards, and so there's very little reason to not get Duchy on 5. I guess you can hope for Charm to do some cute thing with Duchy AND Duke, but you need to do that twice to actually be better than just buying Duchy instead of the Charm? Seems unlikely. Greening too late is mostly important due to the split. I think I would start greening on turn 5 (possibly that's a tiny bit early), though after then I would stop for the Inheritance assuming you haven't gotten it. The Ironworks go a LONG way to helping you get away with that early of a green.

I would say Charm has to go off once before Duchies are gone to make it worth getting, but I'm not sure you can ever count on that happening, especially if your opponent starts to contest Duchies like they should.

So, the key points to my mind are that 1)getting Duchies is way more important than getting Dukes, and 2)you aren't actually using the +buy here, because of Chariot Race. Given that, the downside of getting the Charm is maybe you are greening too late, you could have bought Duchy instead. The normal downside of getting Duchy is you greened too early, and run out of juice, but in this case, whenever you get to that hand where Charm would have been enough money, but Duchy means you don't, well then you can just buy a silver then, and you're not really behind. If that situation comes up, then sure, you'd rather have the Charm, because maybe someday you can use the +buy for a tiebreaker or something, and I guess there's some chance you can get the Duchy+Duke thing which is a bit helpful. But it's pretty unlikely you get to 5+Charm, especially in a way where you don't want to Inherit more anyway?  ...all of which is to say, I think I like Charm over Duchy on turns 3-4, but would probably lean toward Duchy after, and anyway I'm not sure Ironworks isn't just better...

  • But to that end, I don't think I like potion in that deck at all. It seems pretty slow to add a potion, add a University, then start gaining stuff, as opposed to just buying stuff, especially when you can just gain Chariot Races which are at least almost as good? (Granted, I think Groundskeeper relatively improves more in the mirror, partially because they help you win Chariot Races). Moreover, it's actually more about the Potion and University not drawing cards, in a deck that wants high card flow and has no way to increase handsize; I don't really think you can afford that very well.

Man I still think Potion is good, especially when uncontested. You want a LOT of Groundskeepers because I think the way that VP token/cantrip deck likes to win is just by outscoring the Duchy/Duke deck. I just feel like it's so hard to get a large number of Groundskeepers any other way.

So maybe you're right on this, the more I think about it. My train of thought is, your deck will fall apart if you are leaning on Groundskeepers so much. You've get this University, this potion, adding a couple Greens means you have so many dead cards, you aren't going to be able to get all that many groundskeepers anyway, at which point I'm not sure if it's actually worth slowing yourself down to get the potion and University to start with. Also, it hurts your flow of Chariot Race a bit, which generally seemed stronger. Having said that, the thing that I am thinking may swing it back over to your way of thinking is Expand. You turn a Province into a Province and gain 10 points, well now that's something, and something you can sustain, much more than trying to buy provinces and have enough points. Obviously the VP Chips can eventually outscore Duchy/Duke, so Duchy/Duke needs to end the game before that happens, but the idea was that Duchy/Duke is scoring enough points while the Duchies and Dukes are emptying to keep pace more or less. But ok, I think it's a bit moot anyway. And I think, again, Expand is really key there.

Quote from WanderingWinder on August 18, 2018, 9:56 AM

I definitely don't view Big Money as a fall back which should almost always try to be avoided and only ever taken when other stuff is egregiously missing, which is the impression I was getting. But that also might be down to terminology differences. It could be that you're using "Big Money" to denote the literal no-kingdom-cards version, which would be fairly consistent with what you are saying, except in that case, I think you're giving it far too MUCH credit.

So I have issues with "Big Money" just like I have issues with "engine" -- there's one saving grace in that you can just define "big money" as the version with no kingdom cards, but I don't like that because of exactly this issue. I try not to say "big money" either but I'm not very good at it, as you can tell.

In practice, it's probably this spectrum where BM-with-no-kingdom-cards is on one end and the other end is huge deck control and payload, and there are lots of places in between that are hard to talk about. So yes whatever "disagreement" we have lies in those grey areas which are extremely hard to talk about. Turns out it's hard to talk about Dominion. Who knew?

I'm not sure I entirely agree with that kind of spectrum exactly per se. I think it's more about how many cards you are drawing in a turn. If you replace silvers with terminals, it plays just like Big Money. But the more you start to replace them with Labs, or Village and Smithies, then the more your deck plays like an Engine. I generally think things still play more or less like Big Money until you're hitting the inflection point around "I'm actually drawing the entire deck", at which point the important questions are "how reliably?" and "what can you do with the contents of your whole deck", because before that, you're still looking at the average card in your deck improving or worsening more than what your deck does as a whole. But you're right in that there's no super-bright dividing line - decks are decks, and they're different, and maybe more importantly, they're always changing.

Quote from Adam Horton on August 20, 2018, 12:36 PM

As for the rest of the discussion on the kingdom for next week: I'll say some stuff now but be advised I've only played a bot so far.

Nobody is arguing this, but I think trying to get good deck control here is definitely awful. I tried a couple of times to win a game against the bot that way and never came close.

As for what type of green card to get, well, umm. I normally don't make that decision until I have to? I mean maybe I would have decided it was time to green after it looked like the Curse split and Colonnade split had been mostly decided and at that point I would have done the math and gone with Silk Road? Perhaps it's obvious even without that information. I mean, in any case I think the opening and plays of the first few turns aren't affected too much by that except for a couple of points.

So, I think if you do that, you are probably starting to get Silk Road too late, which is why I don't advocate that. I think you need to start getting Silk Roads before that, or you're waiting too long to green. By that point, you probably do need to go for your Province plan, maybe grabbing a SR or two along the way, but I think you're probably just too far behind.

  1. It feels bad to trash my Estates and turn them into Coppers with Stonemason for Fountain points if I'm going for Silk Roads. Obvs. it's still worth it but you know.

Agree, but still think it might well be right to do it. On the other hand, it would really boggle my mind if you actively want to go out of your way to get extra Stonemasons - it's so hard to see myself buying a second one of those, especially not on an overpay.

  1. I'm really not convinced that playing Cursed Gold every time you see it is always worth it. I haven't experimented much with this but like, the bot is awful at trashing Curses so my games so far are inconclusive. It's something I want to focus on though.

Sorry that breaking your quote up like this screws up the numbering. I want to blame the forum software, though admittedly there is probably a way I could have kept the original, and I did not try all that hard. Anyway, the point, sure, you probably want to pick your spots. I just figure, if you are getting the curses anyway, you might as well get some nice cards? Maybe you aren't getting them anyway, in which case absolutely don't play the thing. But if it's just about getting a curse a shuffle faster, I would think in most cases, I'd rather have a good card and the curse a shuffle faster than something garbo. Obviously it depends on the difference between cards you're buying.

  1. Silk Road decks get Provinces too, right? I mean, I would still think that every time I'm able to get a Province (I assume it's by spending coin tokens) I should do it...

In general, if they can, sure, although you want to watch out a little bit for 2 things: it costing you the SR split might actually not be worth it, and emptying Provinces might help your opponent end the game, whereas if you're going for SR in a non-mirror, then the long game should favor you. But the bigger point is that I don't think you want to build long enough to the point that getting Provinces is realistic, especially because I'd rather save my tokens to be able to keep pounding SR until the end of time (and then some combination of Tunnel/Duchy). If the tokens help my buy green cards 12 turns in a row, I think I'm happier than if they let me get a couple provinces.

Quote from Adam Horton on August 20, 2018, 12:31 PM
Quote from edmoonus on August 16, 2018, 11:28 PM

Great episode guys!  Sorry you were so sick Jake.  This one hit right where my skill level is and made me see some things more clearly.

I'm glad you liked it, and more importantly I'm glad you said something about that. There was a worry on my part (I want to say on Jake's part too but I'm not him so I won't speak for him, but I think he worried even more about this) that this episode wouldn't help anyone and I'm glad to be very wrong about that.

There are times when my own experience with talking to people about Dominion in person is very different than talking to people about Dominion on the internet, and many people question where I'm coming from when I say that certain topics are important for a lot of people even though those people aren't on the internet screaming about them. So it makes me feel better about myself to know that this kind of content is relevant for people.

...and really that's exactly what we want to direct the podcast towards -- even if you have something you want talked about that isn't well-formed or is tough to nail down, Making Luck™: A Dominion Podcast™ will tackle The Tough Issues™.

What I thought would be a good complimentary topic for a future concept episode is how to rank deck-types relative to each other when there are multiple types available in one kingdom.  (deck control vs slog vs. alt-VP, etc.)  How do you decide in the beginning of the game which deck will have the most power relative to other decks available in this particular kingdom?

I would start by ranking the archetypes on an absolute scale relative to each other so that players could begin to assess kingdoms from a perspective of end-game strength depending on which types of decks are available.  There will be variation in actual deck strength  from the archetype due to individual card differences of course, but I'm wondering if a player could say to themselves "on a scale of 1-10, an average deck control engine out performs an average "good stuff" slog by a ratio of 8/5, but the average "good stuff" deck out performs pure big-money by a ratio of 5/3 if they all happen to be available in the same kingdom?  Later with experience, a player would develop the skill to assess the influence on the min-max range of an archetype's deck strength as influenced by particular cards and combos.

Oh man, so if there is something like this out there I don't think I'm the best person to talk about it. I'm not gonna say that my mental model of the game is perfect but I've had success with it, and coming up with numbers for stuff like this seems way beyond what my brain is capable of doing, let alone being able to talk about it with authority.

It's very possible that others will feel differently about this and be able to talk more intelligently about it, but I guess take some comfort in knowing that I've had nonzero success in my Dominion life by going off of "feel" rather than trying to put numbers to stuff like this.

...but of course if numbers existed and were reasonable, I'm sure they'd be better than "feel"

I think the "scale of 1 to 10" numbers are basically always "feel" anyway.

 

But trying to say "X is generally better than Y" is super hard - that's a big part of what makes the game interesting (at least to me). I think a reasonable thing to be able to do, though, is "In the matchup between X and Y, the important things tend to be N and P."

Thanks for the feedback Adam and Wanderingwinter.  I appreciate the comments because I generally don't approach games with a get your hands dirty and learn by doing approach...that's one of my weaknesses.  I've generally tried to see the big picture, watch, and give orders 🙂  Dominion however fascinates me in the building up phases and gives me a sense of powering something up with fuel that's bigger than the sum of its parts.  But, I can't see the big picture as well as I would like.  I am getting there, but need to spend more time playing, and less time thinking about it.