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Subject: Tug-of-War rss

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Greg Jones
United States
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This was a 2-player game on BSW. I can't remember all the kingdom cards in the set, but the relevant ones were

Chapel Moat Spy Thief Laboratory

There was not much else useful. There were no +2 action cards and no Smithy. The obvious route was to to Chapel down your deck and just go for high-value Treasure cards. Both players bought up a couple Silvers while Chapeling down. My first priority was to get a Gold.

Next priority was to worry about the Thief. That means both thinking about getting one for myself, and defending myself against it. Often I've found that the Thief is not as effective as you expect it would be in a 2-player Chapel game. A Chapel deck is so streamlined, it can buy Gold faster than the opponent can steal it. The Thief becomes like a progressive tax. The richer player is slowed down, but the poorer player never becomes the richer.

However with the Spy you can make the Thief more effective, so the next time I had four coins, I bought one. Then I bought a Thief. My opponent had got the same a turn or two before me.

At this point I believe I had two Silvers and one Gold. My opponent might have had 3 Silvers. I had bought the first Province using Copper, Silver, Silver, and Gold. My opponent as yet had none. On his first try, my opponent spied out and stole my Gold. Now I had just 4 coins worth of Treasure in my deck (having Chapeled away my last Copper). So, I bought more Spies. The Gold changed hands back and forth several times. Unfortunately, it never showed up in my hand, and did show up my opponent's hand. He was able to buy I think the next three Provinces.

Eventually I decided I had enough Spies, and instead with my only 4 coins I bought a Silver, and next time since I had 6 coins I bought a Gold rather than relying solely on stealing it back. I was now having more success getting my opponent's treasure away from him. I had so many Spies getting a treasure was almost guaranteed. I also had a Laboratory or two in there, which helped me in case I didn't quite draw a Spy for every Spy I played. I stripped enough treasure away from him that he didn't have enough for a Province in his whole deck anymore. However, he took it in stride, buying Duchies instead.

I believe I bought all the rest of the Provinces. On my last turn, I drew 8 coins, and counted up the score. For me, 4 Provinces = 24; 30 if I bought the last. For my opponent, 3 Provinces and 4 Duchies = 30. I tried to remember who went first. I thought I remembered my opponent going first.

Well, I could buy a Duchy. But then my opponent would do the same and we'd still be tied. My deck was getting clogged with victory cards. Who knows when I'd next get 8 coins? And my opponent was still a capable Thief. He might steal a Gold from me and then buy the last Province. So I bought the Province and ended it.

I had remembered correctly. He had gone first, so it was a tie.

It was an interesting game. It was like a tug-of-war. Whoever was ahead could score points; the other player couldn't really. If we managed to be even, we could probably both score points.

I don't think the card set inevitably led to a game like this. I think it was partly chance. I've certainly played games with Chapels and Thieves before that didn't go like this. The timing had to be just right. If the Thief comes in too early, it just speeds the opponents' efforts to rid themselves of their Coppers. If it comes in too late, the opponent can buy up all the Provinces before they lose significant treasure. This game went the way it did because we both got the timing just right.
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