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Subject: Error in the mechanism rss

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Ewert Sundja
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We started playing Dominion this Christmas when i got from Santa.
Our team has now over 50 plays under our belt and we feel we know how to play the game.
Although, one very annoying fact started to trouble us soon.
You don't really need to buy the action cards at all if you play without the Thief.
And trust me it works. Tested it several times cos we felt that cannot just be.
But unfortunately it is.
If you buy only Treasure Cards in the beginning of the game you will reach a deck full of Gold pretty soon, and then you end it very quickly by just buying most of the Province cards, when others get only 1 or 2...
On some occasions Smithy and Chapel may also work, but you can win without them.
Has anyone else got to that point?
I used to love this game and it just feel so frustrating that the developers didn't see that through.

Any thoughts?
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Geert VG
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This actually makes sense!
It's going to be hard not to use this strategy next time laugh
 
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wodan wodan
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Seems unlikely. For example, take the Chancellor. The Chancellor costs the same as the Silver, also grants 2 Money, and allows you to move any Gold earned into your deck. The Workshop costs the same as a Silver, and allows you to buy a Silver each turn. The Bureaucrat gets you a Silver, ensures that it will be in your hand the following turn, AND screws over an opponent. The Cellar costs less than a Silver, and can allow you to cycle out VP cards and Coppers for Silvers and Gold. Festival achieves the effects of Silver and then some, Market to a lesser extent. Put simply, having a couple of action cards of this nature is almost assuredly going to result in an improved deck. They will be more useful than a Silver except in the uncommon event that you draw several.

To say nothing of the card trashers, which allow you to get rid of your starting hand and replace it with more powerful cards, including, of course, treasure.

However, I believe that your central point is still correct. Players often prioritize buying action cards over treasure, when action cards are ultimately a means to get lots of good treasure in your hand to obtain those VPs. Players don't know when to stop, and I have repeatedly defeated people who were too preoccupied with their action machines when they should've been switching to Treasure and Vp.

That said, Remodel, Chapel, Garden, and +Action/+Card decks can surpass a non-action deck, though the +Action/+Card deck can potentially be beaten by a deck with a few Action Cards but does not attempt to turn them into an engine.
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TJ
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Rather than calling this an alternate "strategy", I would say it constitutes the game being broken, if proven. I'll be testing this asap! Only have about 8 plays so far.....
 
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Kim Hartsfield
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Militia can help stop that (having only three cards always means having less money, which makes buying stuff harder). So can Witch (a Curse can nullify all those Victory Points you are buying). So can Garden (if you aren't buying Action cards, you will never get one, but if your opponent is smart, he is buying them up). As you stated, Thief can also help. I should also say, that if all you have is coin, the most you can have is 15 (5 Gold cards) and one buy phase.. Sounds like a lot, but a well played, small deck can consistently let you draw multiple cards with multiple buy phases. In our games, we have seen a player have 20+ coin AND 2-3 buy phases. It is not that odd to win the game by buying the last two Province cards on one turn due to having a good selection of cards.

Yes, the only money strategy can work. It can also be beat. Much like many strategies.
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wodan wodan
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Also, note that a powerful strategy is to buy a Chapel, one other action card (say, Council Room), and beyond that only Silver and Gold. The Chapel allows you to get rid of your entire starting hand, leaving you with a deck that is something like 4 Silver, 3 Gold, 1 Chapel, and 1 Council Room. This is essentially the same to your strategy, except that a few turns are wasted eliminating your starting hand, giving you a much more fine tuned deck.
 
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Andy Van Zandt
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really? no.

everyone's got a deck full of gold and you don't buy a militia on a 4 money turn rather than a silver? somebody is playing a militia every turn and you don't buy a moat or library or smithy?

any time you play a card-drawing card, in a deck of pure money, you're getting way more money on average back.

and those are just extremely simple things, without even going into diluting vp draws, tempo arguements, and other possibilities. if you're not buying ANY actions, you're wasting unarguable, straight up, mathematically measurable advantage. you don't have to have an action engine every game, by any means, but not buying any action cards? no.
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Michael Knauss
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If all ylou are buying is Treasure, gold and silver, you will be limited to only buying 1 card per turn. So you will start the game building up lots of treasure cards and then you switch to point cards. In the meantime I buy cards that give extra actions and buys. You may be able to start buying point cad before I do, but it is not uncommon for me to be able to buy two provinces a turn and on some lucky turns 3. So you are buying one and I am collecting two per turn I should be able to catch up rather quickly.
I don't think it is a broken mechanism in the game as much as it is a different level of skill perhaps with the people ou are playing with. As stated previously a few militia cards would also really dampen you ability to buy score cards.
 
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Andrew Mitchell
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The strategy you are describing is what we have named "the default strategy".
We have played 80+ games with that strategy and simulated a further 10000 games with it.
In general I think you are entering into an enlightenment phase of domainion that players eventually reach... you have discovering that for most kingdom card sets the best option is to only buy 1 or 2 action cards. This does not make the game broken... it still has interest, but I, also, was disappointed in this finding.

For the majority of our matches we add in a third imaginary person who plays the default strategy... so we have probably played 80+ games with 3 players where one plays this strategy. This allows us to test any alternate strategies against a basic player and helps us learn quickly if one of the players had a slow strategy or of the other has a fast strategy.. Here is what we have found:

* If 2 players are thieving consistently (at least once per turn) then default strategy deck collapses.
* If one player is turbo thieving (3+ thieves per turn) then default strategy collapses after buying about 6 provinces.
* A good witch deck will defeat default strategy soundly.
* A good gardens deck defeats default strategy soundly.
* Turbo remodel is about equal to default strategy (5 games each at this point).
* There are many modifications to default strategy involving buying 1 or 2 action cards (1 or 2 chapel or a malitia or a remodel or one of several other cards.) These modifications usually exist and have an 80% to 90% chance of beating the default deck in any one game where default strategy starts.

Also note that the default deck (as with most decks) suffers from a lot of randomness. Here is the distribution of how-many-turns it takes (without attack cards) to reach 4 provinces (+3 estates) using the default deck. The average is a bit below 17 turns.

#turns, number of times this happens in 10,000 games.
11 7
12 30
13 135
14 878
15 1430
16 1879
17 2137
18 1581
19 1035
20 588
21 260
22 43
23 12
24 4
25 1

Andrew
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Jeroen Rombouts
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armitch wrote:
The strategy you are describing is what we have named "the default strategy".


Yup, this. That's the benchmark to test every deck: does it regularly beat the baseline strat?
 
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wodan wodan
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What about Festivals/Village+Council Room/Smithy+Laboratory decks?

Generally, I perceive there being 6 strategies, Remodel, Gardens, Chapel, Engine, Default, and Default with Actions. The question is to evaluate which strategy is best given the following:
1. Is Turbo(Village/Festival/Throne Room) present? (Engine NEEDS this.)
2. The presence of Attack Cards/Moat/Council Room.
3. The presence of other supporting cards (things like Workshop)

To me, Default strategy would inherently be inferior to a strategy that is the same as Default, but buys a choice action card or two.
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Geert VG
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So, uptill now there's only Andrew (and Ewert, obviously) who has an opinion based on real experience. For all you (or should I say "us"?) other guys this is only theory. I noticed someone mentioned the terms "unarguable, straight up, mathematically measurable advantage" (talking about buying Action Cards) but I'm sorry, I don't believe him...
At this moment I can only conclude that if there are (almost) no Attack Cards (Thief, Militia, ...) it's not difficult to win the game with only 2 Action Cards (Chapel and whatever other one is useful). A lot of theoretical blabla but if Andrew is right than his empirical research wipes that all away...

I hope someone can prove (and I mean próve) him wrong...
 
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Yaron Racah
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garion wrote:
So, uptill now there's only Andrew (and Ewert, obviously) who has an opinion based on real experience. For all you (or should I say "us"?) other guys this is only theory. I noticed someone mentioned the terms "unarguable, straight up, mathematically measurable advantage" (talking about buying Action Cards) but I'm sorry, I don't believe him...
At this moment I can only conclude that if there are (almost) no Attack Cards (Thief, Militia, ...) it's not difficult to win the game with only 2 Action Cards (Chapel and whatever other one is useful). A lot of theoretical blabla but if Andrew is right than his empirical research wipes that all away...

I hope someone can prove (and I mean próve) him wrong...


I believe Andrew is very clearly stating that the "default strategy" of buying only treasure is inferior to most other strategies he tested (witch, gardens, mostly treasure with some actions). That is also my impression after 952 games on BSW. So, it seems that theory ("blabla") and experience are in perfect agreement.

You could make a case for Chapel decks being "broken" (i.e., dominating in a boring and repetetive way). You could also make a pretty good counter-case. But ignoring actions and buying only treasure? I will defeat you 90% of the time. Actually, I doubt that there's a single 10 card set for which the "default strategy" is the best strategy (but it could be fun if people try to make them!).

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Robert Birks
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I'd also agree that the "default strategy" is not optimal in most sets of cards. I've got 200+ plays on BSW and FtF, with 70% win rate overall, and roughly speaking the only time I think the treasure strategy is right is if there are no + action cards available, and no witch or chapel. Even then it's almost certainly right to buy a couple of kingdom cards.

If you truly want to test a strategy, try playing games on BSW and see how you go. Particularly if you play against players with a reasonable number of games under thier belt.
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Scott Mayer
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garion wrote:
I noticed someone mentioned the terms "unarguable, straight up, mathematically measurable advantage" (talking about buying Action Cards) but I'm sorry, I don't believe him...
This is easy to prove in theoretical terms. If my deck has no other action cards, a Woodcutter is always better than a Silver; it provides the same monetary boost, but allows me to buy two cards when I have sufficient money to do so. The same is true of the Chancellor (which lets you flip your deck when you've gone through a high proportion of your money) and the Militia (which can slow the other players down).

Similarly, it's not hard to prove that a single Smithy in a deck with no other action cards will generate more than 2 units of money on average with no downside.

t~
 
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Dave Kudzma
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If there are extra actions and/or buys you'd lose.

We should play and see who wins
 
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Kirkwb
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With 200+ plays, i'm in agreement with others who've posted with 200+ plays, buying only money is very rarely the optimal Strategy. Engines can be built quicker and make your deck more efficient while they're at it because if done correctly they're compensating for filling your deck with unplayable points where money only decks end up just clogging themselves.

I think like someone said, it's a common stage in learning the game that is soon bypassed for more optimal play.
 
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Seth Hiatt
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With over 200 plays I have to say in the BASE (intro) game the best strategy for me seem to be to OPEN with a silver and a SMITHY and then just buy treasure cards blindly. At some point I will sometimes buy a Remodel if I get a 4 value treasure hand toward the bottom of my deck and know I'm about to reshuffle and the game is ending soon. Mine is also another card that is good to have in your hand to get rid of the uslees copper.

I NEVER had more than 3 action cards in my hand on the intro game though, those 3 being (in order of importance), Smithy, Mine (usually only bought early if I happen to open with a 2 coin/5 coin opening), and Remodel. I guess I don't have to point out that the remodel can really put your game over the edge if you get it right. If you get the Remodel with say 3 victory point cards and a gold you can turn in the gold for a Province.

As for a game where you get 2 or even 3 provinces in a turn, someone isn't playing the treasure with 2-3 cards strategy right if they are letting you go that long into the game. How many turns does each person get to end the game on your typical games? I just know our games go about 10 minutes each with our groups of 4, sometimes less.

IMHO the cards are a distraction more than anything and anyone who draws a cooper on their turn for any reason other than a gardens deck will never win


The opening draw is key in any game. Its like coming out of a turn on a long race track in Gran Turismo, if you're going just 5 MPH faster out of the curve then you will be way, way ahead at the end of the straight away. You have to play the opening 2 turns right or you will lose badly many times.

Just the fact that this is getting so much discussion proves that the mechanism isn't BROKEN and the Gardens, Chapel, thief and Adventurer and other cards mixed in change everything and can defeat the pure money strategy too.
 
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Scott Mayer
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sphiatt wrote:
With over 200 plays I have to say in the BASE (intro) game the best strategy for me seem to be to OPEN with a silver and a SMITHY and then just buy treasure cards blindly. At some point I will sometimes buy a Remodel if I get a 4 value treasure hand toward the bottom of my deck and know I'm about to reshuffle and the game is ending soon. Mine is also another card that is good to have in your hand to get rid of the uslees copper.
I recently destroyed a player who was using this strategy by using a Workshop to pick up a Remodel, then set up a Village/Smithy chain while using the Remodel to acquire a Mine and a Market. By the time he was starting to buy provinces, I was drawing my deck every turn, which meant I had access to all of my money (which was being constantly upgraded), multiple buys, and could upgrade the cards that were no longer useful to the deck (Workshop had long since been Remodeled into a Market). That meant I could also acquire a province every turn while making my deck richer and keeping it consistent. A few turns later I acquired three provinces in one turn to end the game.

Buying only a Smithy, treasure, and one-two other action cards is a strong strategy, but it's not fast enough to beat a well-made engine deck with no competition for the engine cards.

t~
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Seth Hiatt
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Very very interesting! I'll have to give that a try and see how it plays out Again, that is proof the mechanism isn't broken then huh? Good stuff!

I guess it all depends on getting the right draw of 5 cards to start any hand, I mean without a Village and a Smithy among the 5 cards you happen to draw that strategy really can't take you anywhere consistently IMHO. With 3 estates and at least 7 treasure in your hand, along with Mine and possibly Workshop I'd say the odds of drawing a Village and a Smithy on the 5 cards (well 6 after the Village) would be good but not GUARANTEED every single time? I guess that gets back to how many villages and smithy's you have. My luck always seems to go that I will draw two mines, an Estate and 2 gold on a turn when I have a ton of other good stuff in my deck though... maybe I just have bad luck.
 
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Scott Mayer
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sphiatt wrote:
I guess it all depends on getting the right draw of 5 cards to start any hand, I mean without a Village and a Smithy among the 5 cards you happen to draw that strategy really can't take you anywhere consistently IMHO.
Certainly bad draws can happen, but with a good mix of cards you can minimize the chances. When your deck consists of 5 Villages, 4 Smithys, 1 Mine, 1 Market, 1 Remodel, 4 Copper, 3 Silver, and 1 Gold (Estates had been Remodeled into Villages or Smithys), you have pretty good odds of having at least one Village and one Smithy. Something to be wary of--in this kind of deck, if you do draw a hand with a Smithy but no Village, it's usually best not to play the Smithy. You're just too likely to draw action cards without the actions to play them.

When you do draw hands that don't draw up your deck, you can usually acquire cards that help your deck become more consistent. Adding a Cellar or two (or Remodeling Coppers into them) to the above mix makes your odds of drawing every relevant card even better.

t~
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Oliver Grimm
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Hiho,

I can't believe it, so i try the outlines "strategy" his weekend. And all what i can say: It worked!
I bought 2 actions cards in the beginning and after that i only buy treasure cards and victory points (i start buying victory points after the first time i had 8 money on hand).

I can't say if it will work *every* time, but it seems to be a very strong "no-brainer" - very easy (and boring from the 2nd time) to play.

Atti
 
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David desJardins
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tiornys wrote:
When your deck consists of 5 Villages, 4 Smithys, 1 Mine, 1 Market, 1 Remodel, 4 Copper, 3 Silver, and 1 Gold (Estates had been Remodeled into Villages or Smithys), you have pretty good odds of having at least one Village and one Smithy.


Only 55%, with that deck. It's pretty hard for me to imagine that you spent all of the time to buy all of that, and you still need multiple turns to buy several provinces, and the game isn't over yet with you losing.
 
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Scott Mayer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Only 55%, with that deck.
Did you add in the extra card(s) from having one or more villages or the market in the opening hand without a smithy?
Quote:
It's pretty hard for me to imagine that you spent all of the time to buy all of that, and you still need multiple turns to buy several provinces, and the game isn't over yet with you losing.
You're absolutely right that spending the time to buy all of those kingdom cards would take way too long. However, I didn't buy them all--I workshopped some, and I remodeled some, and I was able to get multiple buys for a few of them. Even before the deck gets to the point where it expects to draw itself any time it starts the turn with village+smithy, the deck has a ton of velocity, which means I cycle through it quite quickly, and it has enough actions that I expect to play each action card every time through the deck. That snowballs quite rapidly.

t~
 
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David desJardins
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tiornys wrote:
Did you add in the extra card(s) from having one or more villages or the market in the opening hand without a smithy?


No. And you might benefit from the Market as well. I agree the chance of a decent draw is probably somewhat higher than 55%. Although you can also go the other way, you can draw Village-Smithy and then still stall out on your next draws.
 
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