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Subject: The Teachers' Game rss

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Michael Pustilnik
United States
Bronx
New York
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It is June 28th. The students are all gone. The school is empty except for teachers and administrators. We teachers have been cleaning up our classrooms for the past few days, and there is really nothing left to do. Nothing left to do, that is, except play Dominion!


From left to right: Dr. Pustilnik (Science), Ms. da Rocha (Math), Mr. Castanheira (Math), Mr. Perrucci (Math)

I introduced the three other players to the game several weeks ago. All three liked the game, and have been playing on their own. I am the most experienced player by far, but I don't consider myself to be a particularly good player. However, against three new players, I am able win the first game. It is still only about 3 PM, so we decide to play one more time. We have the base set, Intrigue, Prosperity, and Seaside. We spend about 10 minutes shuffling the huge selector deck, and flip over the first card. we are excited, it has the Prosperity symbol on the bottom! We get to play with Colonies and Platinum! We flip over the other nine cards, and this is what we get . . .


Pearl Diver, Chancellor, Spy, City, King's Court, Haven, Shanty Town, Caravan, Witch, Peddler

Okay, what is my game plan here? King's Court is really powerful, so I should aim to get one as soon as I can. There are also a lot of good action cards to go with it. Peddler, City, Shanty Town, Caravan, Haven, and Spy are all worth considering. I don't really like Pearl Diver or Chancellor. And there is also the Witch. I carefully search all 10 cards to see if any one of them could possibly give me a way to trash a Curse. Hmmm, . . . Okay, it looks like I had better put the Witch at the top of my shopping list . . . whistle

We randomly determine the first player, and it is I. I draw my hand, and get 4 Coppers and an Estate. I guess I am not getting a Witch until Round 3 at earliest. Ms. da Rocha also had her Coppers divided 4-3, but Mr. Castanheira and Mr. Perrucci had 5-2 divisions, and the both buy Witches . . . shake

Soon the Curses start flooding into our decks. Ms. da Rocha refuses to stoop to our level, and never gets a Witch of her own. I am eventually able to get one, but the Curses are starting to run out . . .

At about this time, an announcement comes over the PA system. Final paychecks will be available in the business office, but only for the next 30 minutes. We all leave the game aside, and scramble downstairs . . .

When we return to the game, I have feelings of inadequacy due to me weak Witch-force, I only have one! I do get a hand with 5 money, but should I buy a second Witch, or should I buy a City? I might or might not get to play that second Witch before the Curses run out. After some thought, I decide to go for that second Witch . . .

This decision does not work out well for me. Mr. Perrucci plays a Witch and distributes the last 3 Curses before I get to play Witch number 2. With the Curse pile empty, Cities are now pretty good, giving 2 cards and 2 actions. I clearly made a mistake. The Curses were definitely going to run out soon, with quite a lot of game left to play. I should have bought that City, because there was 100% chance that it was going to be a very good card.

All our decks are frankly awful now. In desperation, some of my opponents start buying Copper, thinking that this would actually increase the quality of their Curse-ridden decks. I don't fall into this trap. Instead I buy a couple silver and a gold, and I buy Cities when I have exactly 5 money. Sooner than everyone else, I realize that our decks are never going to be any good. No one has bought a Province yet. Ms. da Rocha and Mr. Perrucci have King's Courts, but mostly they seem to play them on Spies. All the turns take a while, and everyone is drawing lots of cards, but most of the time we are ending up with Curses, Estates, and a few Coppers. This was one of Ms. da Rocha's typical hands:



I realize the the Provinces are never going to run out this game. This game is going to end when when 3 piles run out. I do have about 4 Cities in my deck, but I decide to give up on trying make my deck better. When I have a hand with 5 money, I buy a Duchy. This turns out to be a very good decision on my part. I do make my deck a little worse, but my deck was so bloated anyway, that it doesn't matter much. I get a head start in the points race, and my opponents don't shift over to buying green cards for a couple rounds . . .

Seldom is anyone able to get to 8 to buy a Province. Eventually, one of the action card piles empties, and this makes my Cities even better. I end the game on my turn by emptying the Duchy pile, so it is time to score it up . . .

Dr. Pustilnik (me): 1 Province, 5 Duchies, 6 Estates, 9 Curses (18 points)
Ms. da Rocha: 3 Duchies, 7 Estates, 10 Curses (6 points)
Mr. Castanheira: 1 Province, 1 Duchy, 6 Estates, 4 Curses (11 points)
Mr. Perrucci: 2 Provinces, 3 Duchies, 4 Estates, 7 Curses (18 points)

So, is this game a tie? No, since I was the first player and I ended the game, Mr. Perrucci had fewer turns then me. Therefore Mr. Perrucci won, and I came in second. It is extremely likely that if I bought a City instead of that second Witch, then I would have won the game.

Having Colonies and Platinum available for purchase turned out to be a cruel joke. Not a single one of these cards ended up in any of our decks. However, all four of us did have a great time, and hopefully I learned a little and improved my game. Congratulations to Mr. Perrucci, the winner!





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Rahul Chandra
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Great report. With no trashing and no +buy other than upgraded Cities, I'm wondering if you are best with just money + Witch. But King's Court is so good and these other cards are all full of non-terminal draw power, that I think it's worth just trying to fill the deck with good cards and fight through the curses. Especially in 4-player, once two people open with Witch it makes me tempted to skip it and that deck should be more fun.
 
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Michael Pustilnik
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rchandra wrote:
Great report. With no trashing and no +buy other than upgraded Cities, I'm wondering if you are best with just money + Witch. But King's Court is so good and these other cards are all full of non-terminal draw power, that I think it's worth just trying to fill the deck with good cards and fight through the curses. Especially in 4-player, once two people open with Witch it makes me tempted to skip it and that deck should be more fun.


The second Witch I bought turned out to be strictly worse than a city. Even the first Witch only reduced my total curses from 10 to 9, so it didn't do much.

I think going heavily into the card drawing actions might have been the wrong plan; and all four of us adopted this plan. Card drawing actions are less useful if half of the cards that you are drawing are Curses, Estates, and Coppers. Maybe the best plan was Silvers + Havens. If I get a bad hand with one Silver, I might be able to squirrel away the Silver for next turn, and use it to try to get a gold the next turn. Once I get to a Platinum and a few Gold in my deck, I could then shift over to buying points.

I know quite few times that game I played Shanty Town for 2 cards, but the cards I drew were not very good.
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Paul Castanheira
United States
New Jersey
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It was a pretty intense game!
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