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Dominion: Alchemy» Forums » Strategy

Subject: The ridiculousness of the Alchemist rss

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Michael Hawryluk
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Basically, it's a Laboratory on steroids. As long as you draw a potion during your turn, you can play all that you have each and every turn (if you're fortunate enough to get all the ones you buy). Since you can play a potion during your buy phase and not use it, you can guarantee that you'll be able to get all of them back.

I'm not sure if it qualifies as broken, but it just seems pretty darn awesome.
 
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Jeremy Volk
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I think it is broken. The only card more powerful in Alchemy is Possession, which is stanken broken.
 
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Stephen Rochelle
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As with most Dominion cards, it's only "broken" if the table allows one player to use it disproportionately. 3P is not a difficult cost to reach, nor is it one that can be reached more quickly with a 5/2 opening, so the entire table ought to be evaluating Alchemist so that one player doesn't get 7.

Once it's spread around the table roughly evenly, it's clear that there's nothing "broken" about it.
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Rob Neuhaus
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I like the way Possession and Alchemist interact. Even the threat of a Possession can make players not recycle their Alchemists. The nuance gave me a bit more liking of Possession.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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hawrylmj wrote:
Basically, it's a Laboratory on steroids. As long as you draw a potion during your turn, you can play all that you have each and every turn (if you're fortunate enough to get all the ones you buy). Since you can play a potion during your buy phase and not use it, you can guarantee that you'll be able to get all of them back.

I'm not sure if it qualifies as broken, but it just seems pretty darn awesome.


You pay a higher opportunity cost for it than most other powerful cards. You need to have at least 2 potions and at least 2 Alchemists to make it work, probably more than 2 Alchemists. A faster deck will beat you and if you get caught with a bunch of Alchemists and no potions you're pretty hosed for awhile.

Whereas with let's say Possession, you can buy one Possession, then even trash the potion you used to buy it with, and if you get lucky you get a Province or Duchy, and if you don't get lucky, no biggie, it's only one card and you can try again next time.
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Rob Neuhaus
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Lots of Alchemist, a single potion, and (depending on how much of your deck you draw), a couple of herbalists works as well.
 
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Shawn Marcil
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My lunch time game group implemented a house rule that you need to have the same number of Potions in your hand as Alchemists you wish to return to the top of your deck. It seems to have solved what we perceived to be an overpowered card.
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Branko K.
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BaconSnake wrote:
I think it is broken. The only card more powerful in Alchemy is Possession, which is stanken broken.


I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.
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David Murray
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baba44713 wrote:
BaconSnake wrote:
I think it is broken. The only card more powerful in Alchemy is Possession, which is stanken broken.


I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.
thumbsup

I was going to post something excessively sarcastic but changed my mind. *phew*. All I will say is the cards have been playtested ALOT. I have played the Alchemist strategy several times and I can say it's not broken. The Alchemist strategy is one of few strategies that requires more than one potion to work well.If you let someone get all of them, then sure they will do well, but the same applies to treasury, minion, gardens, vineyard... to name a few.
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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baba44713 wrote:
BaconSnake wrote:
I think it is broken. The only card more powerful in Alchemy is Possession, which is stanken broken.


I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.


The debate is if any are broken. It is still ongoing.

My opinion is it all depends on the players (experienced or not) and the starting set of cards. Remember in the game every one has the same right to purchase any card, thus no one will (depending on luck) get all the 'broken' cards.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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The other day, I got 139 points from a deck with 1 Outpost, 9 Alchemists, 3 Herbalists, 2 Potions, 11 Vineyards and several Nobles and Islands and Wishing Wells.

It turns out this happened because the other players screwed up, and not because Alchemist is too strong.
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Myke Madsen
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SevenSpirits wrote:
The other day, I got 139 points from a deck with 1 Outpost, 9 Alchemists, 3 Herbalists, 2 Potions, 11 Vineyards and several Nobles and Islands and Wishing Wells.

It turns out this happened because the other players screwed up, and not because Alchemist is too strong.


Are you sure there were other players playing?
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Sean McCarthy
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HappyProle wrote:
SevenSpirits wrote:
The other day, I got 139 points from a deck with 1 Outpost, 9 Alchemists, 3 Herbalists, 2 Potions, 11 Vineyards and several Nobles and Islands and Wishing Wells.

It turns out this happened because the other players screwed up, and not because Alchemist is too strong.


Are you sure there were other players playing?


Yes. laugh

They both opted to skip potions in the first turns and probably got distracted by the Islands and Nobles. But I really couldn't tell you what happened. Once the consistent buying power of my deck was maxed out and I was clearly ahead, I pretty much ignored them and just tried to collect as many points as possible before three piles were exhausted.
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Len
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This is the same argument some have made that the Big Money strategy breaks dominion. It doesn't if you look for ways to defeat this strategy, any more than throne room + Lab breaks the game.

There are many strategies and cards that will dominate a game if no one counters them. But that is the beauty of the game. You have to find something that will work better or counter the Alchemist (or Big Money, etc). At the simplest level, everyone could go for the Alchemist to even things out.

IMHO, changing the rules to defeat a strategy (instead of finding a new strategy or way to slow one down) lessens the fun of Dominion. I think the designers tested these cards enough such that if one card were going to break the game, they'd know about it. Finding a way to defeat a new strategy or card is really fun.

If that fails, throw in Thief and/or Pirate ship.

I was able to dominate one game using Alchemist, and with the people I play that happened only once.

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Wei-Hwa Huang
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I played in a 3-player game yesterday where both of my opponents went for Alchemists, but I didn't even buy a Potion. I went for a Apprentice + Gold + Herbalist deck. I would have a turn where I'd trash a Province with the Apprentice, draw 8 cards to get $13, play an Herbalist, and then buy a Province and a Gold, and then use the Herbalist to put a Gold on top of my deck. Next turn I would usually buy a Province straight. The next turn I'd usually find one of my Apprentices again with a Province and repeat the process. I easily beat my opponents who were drawing large hands with the Alchemists but not much money.

baba44713 wrote:
I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.


There's a very easy trick to tell if a card is broken. Just follow the following system. It's as easy as ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR:

1. If the card name has the letter "O" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "O" looks like ONE coin.)
2. If the card name has the letter "A" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "A" has TWO little legs.)
3. If the card name has the letter "E" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "E" has THREE things that stick out to the right.)
4. If the card name has all different letters, without any repeats, then it's broken. (You can remember this because the word "FOUR" has FOUR letters in it, and they are all different!)

Using this mnemonic, you can easily determine in just four steps whether a Dominion card is broken or not.
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C. B.
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hawrylmj wrote:
Basically, it's a Laboratory on steroids.


OK.

Lab costs 5, right.

What does Alchemist cost? 3P.
How does that compare?

Well, let's see... P costs 4, Silver costs 3, Gold costs 6. Seems P should be judged as something probably better than Silver, but not as good as Gold.
Shall we take P ~= 2.5 coin?

so... a plain Lab is 5. This more powerful Lab is ~5.5. For the added troubles of acquiring one (such as having potions in your deck that don't contribute to buying most of the VP cards) you get a Lab that can sometimes be re-used.

Not seeing the problem, really. It's more powerful because it's harder to buy, it's harder to buy because it's more powerful, it all fits together.


It's like Scrying Pool vs Spy. 4 cost Spy, or 4.5 cost Pool that can maybe draw even more than the 1 card when used. 5 cost Witch, 5.5 cost Familiar that changes a +Card into a slightly better +Action, but is otherwise the same.

Alchemy cards are not that much more powerful than what you already know. They just seem that way if you don't realize the cost balances.
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Mikael Ölmestig
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onigame wrote:
baba44713 wrote:
I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.


There's a very easy trick to tell if a card is broken. Just follow the following system. It's as easy as ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR:

1. If the card name has the letter "O" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "O" looks like ONE coin.)
2. If the card name has the letter "A" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "A" has TWO little legs.)
3. If the card name has the letter "E" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "E" has THREE things that stick out to the right.)
4. If the card name has all different letters, without any repeats, then it's broken. (You can remember this because the word "FOUR" has FOUR letters in it, and they are all different!)

Using this mnemonic, you can easily determine in just four steps whether a Dominion card is broken or not.

I knew it! The Curse is broken.
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Will Yum
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onigame wrote:
I played in a 3-player game yesterday where both of my opponents went for Alchemists, but I didn't even buy a Potion. I went for a Apprentice + Gold + Herbalist deck. I would have a turn where I'd trash a Province with the Apprentice, draw 8 cards to get $13, play an Herbalist, and then buy a Province and a Gold, and then use the Herbalist to put a Gold on top of my deck. Next turn I would usually buy a Province straight. The next turn I'd usually find one of my Apprentices again with a Province and repeat the process. I easily beat my opponents who were drawing large hands with the Alchemists but not much money.


Last week (in a three player game), one player tried the Alchemist strategy. Fortunately, Pirate Ship was a stack and I picked up several copies early on.arrrh

It turned out to be a race between me and him. He would play a series of Alchemists and usually have enough to buy a Province. I built up my Pirate Booty to seven coins and was racing him to the Province store.

He was unlucky a couple of times and did not get eight coins. And he bought a gold once -- foolish mortal shake -- instead of a Victory card. I stole his gold.

Third player was behind both of us and jumped on the bandwagon a little too late.

[In hindsight, seven is overkill for the Pirate ship. Six would have been enough along with a Treasure or two.]

I won with two more Provinces than the Alchemist player. whistle
 
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Ted Vessenes
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You can claim that other people should have bought Alchemists as well to prevent you from monopolizing them, but sometimes they just get shafted on draws. What happens if they get P+2 for the first three potion draws, and you get P+3? You're just going to decimate them, largely because of who drew estates instead of coppers.

I mean you can joke about people calling all kinds of cards broken, but it's rude to condescendingly respond that way to a well reasoned argument.
 
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Dave G
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tedv wrote:
You can claim that other people should have bought Alchemists as well to prevent you from monopolizing them, but sometimes they just get shafted on draws. What happens if they get P+2 for the first three potion draws, and you get P+3? You're just going to decimate them, largely because of who drew estates instead of coppers.

I mean you can joke about people calling all kinds of cards broken, but it's rude to condescendingly respond that way to a well reasoned argument.


How do bad draws in a game based on shuffling and drawing cards make a card in that game broken? You could make that argument to declare the "best" card in the kingdom set broken in any game. First one to buy a 5 cost card, first one to a gold, first one to a province....those are all frequently (and correctly) the result of a lucky draw. Part of the game is mitigating that luck with a good strategy, and part of it is acknowledging that the game only takes 30 minutes and a little luck is tolerable.
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Ted Vessenes
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
tedv wrote:
You can claim that other people should have bought Alchemists as well to prevent you from monopolizing them, but sometimes they just get shafted on draws. What happens if they get P+2 for the first three potion draws, and you get P+3? You're just going to decimate them, largely because of who drew estates instead of coppers.

I mean you can joke about people calling all kinds of cards broken, but it's rude to condescendingly respond that way to a well reasoned argument.


How do bad draws in a game based on shuffling and drawing cards make a card in that game broken? You could make that argument to declare the "best" card in the kingdom set broken in any game. First one to buy a 5 cost card, first one to a gold, first one to a province....those are all frequently (and correctly) the result of a lucky draw. Part of the game is mitigating that luck with a good strategy, and part of it is acknowledging that the game only takes 30 minutes and a little luck is tolerable.


Because it changes the impact of variance, even if it doesn't change the width of variance or mean. Trying to buy an Alchemist but only drawing P+2 is phenomenally worse than trying to buy a Laboratory but only drawing 4, especially if there are no cards to buy for P+2. You have wasted a much larger quantity of cash due to the draw. In contrast, the "want to buy a Lab but drew 4 coin" case hurts nowhere near as badly because there are almost always useful 4 cost cards to supplement your deck, and worst case you can buy a silver.

Note that this is a direct impact from adding a second dimension of currency. Given that you'll typically have 2 to 4 cards that even have P in the cost, in contrast to the 10 card available cards in games without P. Your purchase options in Alchemy games are greatly limited on the turns in which you draw P. The smaller "sample set" exasperates the variance of having not quite enough cash to buy what you want, because it makes the penalty for missing a cash threshold much larger on average.

Regarding the statement about "the first person to buy a Gold usually wins the game", I think it's better to ask how correlated that first person is. If the first person to buy Gold wins 70% of the games, but the first person to buy Alchemist wins 95% of games, then that still says something about the Alchemist. (Numbers completely fabricated-- my point is just that your argument isn't the end of the discussion on variance.)
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Sean McCarthy
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onigame wrote:
There's a very easy trick to tell if a card is broken. Just follow the following system. It's as easy as ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR:

1. If the card name has the letter "O" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "O" looks like ONE coin.)
2. If the card name has the letter "A" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "A" has TWO little legs.)
3. If the card name has the letter "E" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "E" has THREE things that stick out to the right.)
4. If the card name has all different letters, without any repeats, then it's broken. (You can remember this because the word "FOUR" has FOUR letters in it, and they are all different!)

Using this mnemonic, you can easily determine in just four steps whether a Dominion card is broken or not.


I've always found it annoying when people proclaim cards as "broken" just because they're silly or unfun. Now I can just direct them here. Being "unfun" or "silly" never makes a card broken, and in fact sometimes causes cards to not be broken!
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Dave Daley
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david707 wrote:
baba44713 wrote:
BaconSnake wrote:
I think it is broken. The only card more powerful in Alchemy is Possession, which is stanken broken.


I am very new to Dominion and am still learning the cards. Can you please post a list of all the cards that are broken, so I can avoid them? Thanks.
thumbsup

I was going to post something excessively sarcastic but changed my mind. *phew*. All I will say is the cards have been playtested ALOT. I have played the Alchemist strategy several times and I can say it's not broken. The Alchemist strategy is one of few strategies that requires more than one potion to work well.If you let someone get all of them, then sure they will do well, but the same applies to treasury, minion, gardens, vineyard... to name a few.

???

With all due respect, it doesn't REQUIRE potions at all, to be a 3+P laboratory. If you have potions, it becomes ungodly. As it is, without potions, it's one of the strongest cards in the game.
 
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Michael Hawryluk
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I think the ability to be able to play a potion without spending it is what makes it on the high side for power. That being said, it also existed in a set that had Herbalists, which made it easy to get the potion I had along with the alchemists.

It's a powerful card, no doubt, and the ability to recycle them all the time makes it especially nice. I'm not sure that it's broken (I lost the game in which I tried this strategy, although, I wasn't trying it from the beginning), but it's just a very very good card.
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Whitney Barnes

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godfeather wrote:
onigame wrote:
There's a very easy trick to tell if a card is broken. Just follow the following system. It's as easy as ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR:

1. If the card name has the letter "O" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "O" looks like ONE coin.)
2. If the card name has the letter "A" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "A" has TWO little legs.)
3. If the card name has the letter "E" in it, it's broken. (You can remember this because the letter "E" has THREE things that stick out to the right.)
4. If the card name has all different letters, without any repeats, then it's broken. (You can remember this because the word "FOUR" has FOUR letters in it, and they are all different!)

Using this mnemonic, you can easily determine in just four steps whether a Dominion card is broken or not.

I knew it! The Curse is broken.


Luckily, Duchy and Spy are not!
 
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