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Subject: What's Your Move Part 2: Terminal Terror rss

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Dave F.
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After the triumphant success of the first part *cough*, now is the time for part 2.

As always, I will state the rules first:

- All parts of these series will be based on the regular Dominion, no expansions.
- All parts of these series will be based on a 2 player game for simplicity.
- You are always playing against a 'perfect' player, you can't count on your opponent to make mistakes
- It is always your turn.
- Decide what you think is the best play and support it with solid arguments.

Part 2: Terminal Terror

Consider this setup:
$2: Chapel, Moat
$3: Chancellor, Woodcutter, Workshop
$4: Bureaucrat, Feast, Gardens
$5: Mine
$6: Adventurer


You study the supply for a while and to your surprise you see that there are only terminal cards! You are happy at first, because the slowest players always seem to be going for the biggest action chains. At least this will be a quick game, or so you think. You look harder and realize there no real "power cards" here, not even a smithy! So you may have to work hard to get your first province.

The questions:
- What is your best general strategy with this setup?
- Should you just employ the über-boring 'Buy money ultimate' strategy or is there any way this can be beat?

I will let the experts have a go at this before I copy someone elses opinion post my very original unbeatable strategy. laugh
 
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Joseph DiMuro
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Too bad the Village isn't in there. Chapel/Village/Workshop/Gardens is awesome.

Ah well. It won't be as fast as with the Village around, but I'll go for a Gardens deck anyway. I'll open Bureaucrat/Workshop, and get started on my bloated deck.

Forget the Chapel. I want bloat.
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Eric Rampson
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I think I would just open Chapel/Silver, then go Big Money until I felt I needed an Adventurer to help keep up the buying power. Maybe a Woodcutter at some point for the +Buy, but with no +Card/+Action cards, the perfect Woodcutter hand is 4 Gold and Woodcutter for 14 Coin and 2 Buys, so a Province and a Duchy. I would only buy it, I guess, if my opponent was doing the same thing and it might make a difference, having that double buy turn.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I'd try Chapel/Adventurer. Get big cash quickly, trash lesser money, draw big money with Adventurer.

In detail:

5/2: Mine/Chapel; buy silver, mine it to gold, try to trash all coppers and estates; get 3 or 4 gold, then 1 or 2 adventurers; buy provinces and duchies (if no adventurer on hand and less than 8 coins)

4/3: Bureaucrat: get some silver, hinder opponent, chapel away bureaucrat later; maybe get a mine on the fly, later adventurers
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Ben Bateson
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With a 2/5 opening split, I'd go Chapel-Mine, otherwise Chapel-Silver and then play big money with an Adventurer as suggested by the others.

I'd avoid a Gardens deck because of the presence of the Bureaucrat.
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Andrew Hardin
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The Moat will be of minimal help.
The Woodcutter is weaker than the Workshop in this type of game.
This is not a Chancellor game. Bad everything for the Chancellor.

This has the feel of a Chapel game or a Workshop/Gardens game.

The Bureaucrat causes problems for both games. But it is useful if you are running your own Workshop/Gardens game because it loads you up with Silver and slows down your opponent.

I am up for trying for trying Workshop/Silver and then either convert convert to Big Money with the help of a Bureaucrat to slow down the Chapel game or stick with Gardens.

With these cards spamming Silver with the Workshop and Bureaucrat to play either Gardens or Big Money is about all that is really available.
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Shucks! I just finish two days of simulation just to answer you first challenge, and you have the second already.

This looks like a gardens deck to me, but I'm curious if it is fast enough. Lots of 2 cost cards though that make it easy to deplete piles. Woodcutter, Workshop and Bureaucrat for extra cards. Since there is nothing else on the board that is half decent, I'd go for the Bureaucrat opener for the added bonus of the attack.

By the way: Bmu + 1 average action card is already better than Bmu.Even buying a single Woodcutter allows you to drag out a few percentage points extra win chance.
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LexH wrote:
This has the feel of a Chapel game or a Workshop/Gardens game.

I don't see anything the Chapel can accelerate. The hit you take to thin your deck is not really rewarded with any combo that you will draw more often. This time even Theory might agree
 
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A 3/4 split is, hands down, a Workshop/Gardens game. I'd probably open double Workshop to speed up gaining cards into my deck. Drain the Workshop pile first, then go after Gardens. Even a good Chapel deck, considering this setup, wouldn't be able to beat a strong Gardens deck.

The 5/2 split is trickier, and quite a bit slower. Your choices for the 5 are really either Mine or Workshop. I wouldn't pair it with a Moat; I'd rather pass on a purchase than pick up a Moat in this setup. I'd consider Mine/Chapel, Workshop/Estate, Workshop/Nothing, or Silver/Nothing, probably leaning towards Mine/Chapel. I'd work on getting my deck down to a few strong Treasure cards, purchasing VP whenever I could (especially Gardens, if my opponent is going for them), as well as grabbing a couple of Adventurers when I have 6. Adventurers will help to cut through the excess Green. It's not ideal, but fighting against a strong Gardens setup is going to be tough.
 
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Edward
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I think it's really amusing that both sets that you've posted so far have extremely obvious answers. In neither set would I hesitate for even a second.

Here, you open double Workshop and rush for Gardens. (I outlined the actual script -- and it's a very scripted game -- at greater length on the blog a little while ago.) There's really no other viable option: Chapel decks are too slow to compete with a Gardens piles ending. If you get 5/2, well, sorry, you probably just lose. Mine is basically the crappiest $5 in the base game, and it's not helped by having Chapel/Moat as the $2's (Chapel conflicts with Mine somewhat, and Moat is just bad).


EDIT: Sorry, there is actually a little more to discuss here. Supposing this was a multiplayer game, with competent opponents that you can count on all going Workshop/Gardens, you might be able to pull off a Woodcutter/Gardens strategy instead. Woodcutters are less effective at grabbing Gardens (and therefore usually inferior in a head-to-head Gardens matchup), but they can help you grab Duchies, whereas Workshop cannot. It's a more high-risk strategy, and therefore better suited to multiplayer games where you have to go big or go home. Ditto for Bureaucrat.
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Dave Goldthorpe
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With feasts in the supply a workshop player can get duchies too. Three pile depletion from garden, feast, duchy or estate looks fast and likely. It will certainly rule out any strategies that try to deny a few gardens and then build up a normal purchasing deck.

Quote:
Drain the Workshop pile first, then go after Gardens.


If you want gardens then you can't delay if your opponent starts taking them. It's hard to win a gardens strategy with only 3 gardens in your deck.
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Andrew Hardin
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GhostEcho wrote:
LexH wrote:
This has the feel of a Chapel game or a Workshop/Gardens game.

I don't see anything the Chapel can accelerate. The hit you take to thin your deck is not really rewarded with any combo that you will draw more often. This time even Theory might agree


I don't think the Chapel strategy works, but if you open 5/2 it is probably your best option. You aren't going to be able to match with just 1 Workshop and a very fast Chapel deck can win if it hits right.

Putting Workshop and Garden together in a deck with bad terminal Actions pretty much dominates so I am not surprised Theory has a very strong strategy for winning with it. I think I have never committed quite enough to the double Workshop opening to win with it. But I probably will next time.

- Lex
 
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Captain Frisk
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I agree, I suspect that double worksop opening, grab 2 more workshops, and then go to town snagging gardens will beat a head to head player straight up, even with Bureaucrat, but thats just a suspicion.

Looking forward to someone who simulates this out. Curious what to do on a 5/2 split, as i'm pretty sure that chapel / mine -> big money would get SMOKED by quad workshop gardens.

LexH wrote:
GhostEcho wrote:
LexH wrote:
This has the feel of a Chapel game or a Workshop/Gardens game.

I don't see anything the Chapel can accelerate. The hit you take to thin your deck is not really rewarded with any combo that you will draw more often. This time even Theory might agree


I don't think the Chapel strategy works, but if you open 5/2 it is probably your best option. You aren't going to be able to match with just 1 Workshop and a very fast Chapel deck can win if it hits right.

Putting Workshop and Garden together in a deck with bad terminal Actions pretty much dominates so I am not surprised Theory has a very strong strategy for winning with it. I think I have never committed quite enough to the double Workshop opening to win with it. But I probably will next time.

- Lex
 
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Nate S
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Workshop/Gardens or Woodcutter/Gardens (played perfectly) are slight favorites against Chapel/Silver (played perfectly).

In a 3p game if both other players are going for Gardens you might be able to get away with Chapel. In a 2p game you probably want to go for Gardens regardless of what your opponent does.
 
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Peter Hall
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Seems like going second would be more interesting. Say, if your opponent has purchased two Workshops, and you've bought a Workshop are deciding how to spend four. If you buy another Workshop, you're speeding up the game that much more. A Bureaucrat still helps some with Garden purchases, makes Duchies more feasible, and slows the game down (via attack and by leaving the Gardens/Workshops there a little longer vs. 2nd 'shop). I dunno, maybe I'm wrong.
 
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David desJardins
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ghorsche wrote:
Workshop/Gardens or Woodcutter/Gardens (played perfectly) are slight favorites against Chapel/Silver (played perfectly).


I am skeptical that you can compute "perfect play" in any of these scenarios. Perfect play means that you can adjust your play optimally to not only what your own deck is doing but also what your opponent's deck is doing. This is not easy to do, either theoretically or practically, because your opponent can also react to what you are doing.
 
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Dave F.
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Indeed, the perfect play is almost impossible to compute, given the fact that you need some learning AI and calculate ahead a number of moves, you would need something very much like IBMs Deep Blue chess computer.

We can calculate some basic strategy however and see how some basic strategies fare against others and draw some conclusions from that. If you see one strategy beating another about 75% of the time, that's pretty significant. If, on the other hand, you see a win percentage of about 58%, you can't draw hard conclusions from that.

We must also not forget the human element. If you have played a lot of games against a certain opponent you can guess which plays he will make and how he will react to you and how you must react (ad infinitum). The more games, the better your information and the better your opponent's.

Simulations also have another problem: they are almost always too simple, picking one or two cards. Most humans don't play that way and buy a lot more kingdom cards. While I do find game theory and simulations a fascinating subject, in the end we must use our experience to gauge which strategy is best for a certain setup.
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Would buying 2 Bureaucrats early and aiming for Provinces, Duchies, and Gardens beat the Chapel and Workshop/Gardens decks?

 
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Nate S
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I am skeptical that you can compute "perfect play" in any of these scenarios. Perfect play means that you can adjust your play optimally to not only what your own deck is doing but also what your opponent's deck is doing. This is not easy to do, either theoretically or practically, because your opponent can also react to what you are doing.

I'm talking about optimal play for these strategies specifically against each other. I did some extensive playtesting of these Gardens strategies vs Chapel/Silver a while back and was surprised to find that Chapel fared pretty well, only a slight underdog. The Chapel player must buy some Gardens early and (usually) trash them quickly.
 
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Ron Laufer
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I suspect the "right" answer here is chapel/Big Money. (Your label of "power cards" is lacking if you don't include chapel.) But I agree, that's kinda boring.

So I would probably go Woodcutter/Workshop/gardens instead. In a gardens deck, you're going to bloat with coppers, so there will be less chance of terminal conflict.
 
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Dave G
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I'd go workshop/Gardens and try to blitz for a 3 pile ending with estates.
 
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Matt N

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I'm curious as to how bureaucrat/workshop fares against workshop/workshop. If you pick up two more workshops after the first shuffle and then go to town, you'll probably end up with a 4/4 or 3/5 gardens split. With a 4/4 gardens split, that's basically an automatic win due to duchies, and with a 3/5 split, a 3 or so duchy margin would still get you the edge (two is probably not enough). The attack portion of bureaucrat would hit almost every time, and slightly increasing the probability of a bust hand with no terminal action would be important.
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Andrew Wilkins
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I'd open Chapel/Silver regardless of my opening split. Mine is too slow and I'd probably draw Chapel and Mine together on turn 3 or 4 anyways. I'd add an adventurer in the mid-game after I bought a Gold or two and started on the Provinces.
 
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John Anderson
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andwilk9176 wrote:
I'd open Chapel/Silver regardless of my opening split. Mine is too slow and I'd probably draw Chapel and Mine together on turn 3 or 4 anyways. I'd add an adventurer in the mid-game after I bought a Gold or two and started on the Provinces.
This was my first instinct too, although objectively I think a well-played Gardens strategy will win this one.
 
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Nate S
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A naive Chapel/Silver strategy (buying no Gardens) will get absolutely creamed by good Gardens play with Workshop or Woodcutter.
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