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Subject: Is there ANY base-set deck that beat Big Money + Smithy? rss

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Joe Childers
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My wife and I are fairly low-level Dominion players and hardly ever play Dominion with other people. We got in a rut of my doing Chapel decks and she doing Big Money + Smithy. She usually won. Ultimately our group-think burned us out on it and we set it aside for many months.

Recently I saw it in our game closet and realized: We don't HAVE to play with all of the Kingdom cards available. So we are keeping out the Smithy, Library, Chapel, and Witch (which she doesn't like for thematic reasons) and having a blast. To be honest, though, she misses the Smithy, but I don't want to bring it back if it is super-powerful and sends us back to our rut.

So is there a base-set deck that beats Smithy?

Thanks,

- Joe
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Ben Bateson
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MainiacJoe wrote:
We don't HAVE to play with all of the Kingdom cards available.


Umm...don't know how to break this to you.

You SHOULDN'T play with all the Kingdom cards available. Just 10 (sets) of them. Usually chosen at random.

Now you can start enjoying yourselves again!
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Joe Childers
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ousgg wrote:
MainiacJoe wrote:
We don't HAVE to play with all of the Kingdom cards available.


Umm...don't know how to break this to you.

You SHOULDN'T play with all the Kingdom cards available. Just 10 (sets) of them. Usually chosen at random.

Now you can start enjoying yourselves again!


Yeah, thanks, we'd figured that out. As I'm pretty sure you've already realized, I mean excluding some cards from the randomizer deck from which the 10 are chosen.
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Ben Bateson
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That's all right - didn't come across too clearly in your first post, though.

Smithy + Big Money is great, but Thief is quite strong against it (which is unusual, because a lot of the time, Thief sucks). Witch is a potent attack against anything, of course, and you're hurting yourselves by not including it.

Other than Chapel, the big game game-changer for me in the base set is Festival. If you can grab a lot of Fests, which is a racing certainty at 2P, then the game's often soon over.
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Roberta Yang
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And that's not even mentioning Gardens, whose presence in the game will severely disrupt any default strategy you might have.
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Try out the following combos:

Workshops + Gardens
Witch + Cellar
Festivals + Library
Laboratories + Militia
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Ben Bateson
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Yup, I'd totally forgotten about Gardens.

And I love an alternate VP strategy too.
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Vince Lupo
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Good suggestions.


I'll also suggest getting at least a minor expansion if you're keeping it cheap for the moment. People have created 10s of threads about what order to buy the sets in, but I also like to suggest what to get if you want a cheap expansion to add to the base game.


Promo cards in the BGG store: $.01 each plus $4.99 shipping each
Black Market - can cause some interesting situations
Governor - when it becomes available, will be a great addition


The other promos are good but those 2 above will really cause some interesting situations.


For a cheap expansion to add tons of replay value:
Cornucopia great small expansion and it would really shift strategies around for you

Hinterlands not as cheap as cornucopia but it's the cheapest of the big expansions. Tons of great stuff in this set.


 
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Mark Judd
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Neo42 wrote:
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Hinterlands not as cheap as cornucopia but it's the cheapest of the big expansions. Tons of great stuff in this set.

That really depends on where you get it from. The suggested retail price is $39.99, less than that of other full expansions ($44.99). However, at my FLGS there is maybe a $2 price difference - something like $31 vs. $33.50 - not that big of a deal. And then there are online stores such as those through Amazon. I've been tracking the price of Hinterlands and didn't see it drop below $30 until a few days ago - it's at around $28.50 now with free shipping. Currently the other full sets are all around $31.50 with free shipping but were much cheaper a few weeks ago. In fact, we were able to buy Intrigue for my brother for only $22 with free shipping!

But I do agree that adding an expansion improves the game experience a lot! Just the base set gets a little bland after a while. When you add new cards, you are increasing the number of possible kingdom combinations exponentially (OK, I'm sure some math guru is probably going to correct me that it is not an exponential increase, but twice as many cards yields more than twice as many possiblities). And that increased number of possibilities results in a greater variety in strategies and more puzzle solving to determine how best to use a given kingdom, which I think are the best aspects of Dominion.
 
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Joe Childers
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ousgg wrote:
Smithy + Big Money is great, but Thief is quite strong against it (which is unusual, because a lot of the time, Thief sucks).


This would surprise me, too. How many Thieves do you need to get before you're getting at his Silvers and Golds consistently and not just his Coppers?

ousgg wrote:
Other than Chapel, the big game game-changer for me in the base set is Festival. If you can grab a lot of Fests, which is a racing certainty at 2P, then the game's often soon over.


Without a different action card to go with it, Festival seems to me to be just a Silver with a +Buy. Smithy just seems too fast for me to build even a two-card combo against it. What am I missing?
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Mark Judd
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ousgg wrote:
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Smithy + Big Money is great, but Thief is quite strong against it (which is unusual, because a lot of the time, Thief sucks). Witch is a potent attack against anything, of course, and you're hurting yourselves by not including it.

Other than Chapel, the big game game-changer for me in the base set is Festival. If you can grab a lot of Fests, which is a racing certainty at 2P, then the game's often soon over.

I don't see Thief as a very good counter to Smithy/Big Money in two-player matches. Let's break it down. Smithy/Big Money can usually end the game in something like 15 turns. The 15 buys end up being something like 4-5 Provinces, 1-2 Smithies, 2-3 Gold and 5-6 Silver. Of the 25 cards you end with, 15-16 are treasure with 7 of those being Copper. Now throw an opponent's Thief/Thieves into the mix. If they start with those early, they will clear out a lot of the Copper which will help the Smithy/Big Money player. Later in the game, they will have increased chances at getting Silver/Gold, but they will have already put themselves in a hole to get to that point. If they wait for Thief until later in the game, they have less than a 50% chance at hitting a Silver or Gold. And if they do, they have to wait until their next reshuffle for that to be of any use. In multi-player matches where several people are playing Thieves, you can throw this all out the window.

As for Festival, it is no better than a Silver with an extra buy unless you have card drawing (Smithy/Council Room/Library/Witch) available. With $5, it is usually a good investment. But I'd almost never pass up a Gold for a Festival with $6-7.


Edit: Doh! Ninja'd by the OP!
ninja
 
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Chris White
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Why are you leaving out the Library?

Big Money plus Smithy is a reasonably strong strategy that is sometimes the best on the board but frequently beatable by complex Action chains and Attacks. The problem is that complex Action chains aren't as feasible in the base set as they are with the expansions. By limiting yourself to the base set without its two strongest cards (Chapel and Witch), you're going to find that the situations where Smithy is actually the best strategy are in fact pretty common. But even here it's not always dominant.

Solution: get an expansion.
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Joe Childers
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traininthedistance wrote:
Why are you leaving out the Library?


Because a single Library gives you a 7-card hand, exactly the same as a single Smithy, and thus Big Money Library == Big Money Smithy which I at least want to avoid.
 
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John Anderson
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MainiacJoe wrote:
traininthedistance wrote:
Why are you leaving out the Library?


Because a single Library gives you a 7-card hand, exactly the same as a single Smithy, and thus Big Money Library == Big Money Smithy which I at least want to avoid.
Only if you play Library as your first action, which is certainly not its best use.
 
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Roberta Yang
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2 Libraries is better than 2 Smithies because one can skip over the other, and it also helps to counter Militia and Bureaucrat.
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HenningK
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salty53 wrote:
2 Libraries is better than 2 Smithies because one can skip over the other, and it also helps to counter Militia and Bureaucrat.


Not to mention that it gets seriously bonkers with lots of Festivals.
Cellar is also a good synergistic card with Library because it also lowers your handsize.

Gardens (especially with Workshop, but also other supporters like the usually-bad Bureaucrat and Thief) and/or heavy use of attack cards should keep the Smithy-Money-deck in check. Of course, Witch is by far the strongest attack card in there, but Militia isn't that bad either.
 
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jeff marner
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Beaveman wrote:

As for Festival, it is no better than a Silver with an extra buy unless you have card drawing (Smithy/Council Room/Library/Witch) available. With $5, it is usually a good investment. But I'd almost never pass up a Gold for a Festival with $6-7.
ninja


When talking about Festival as a suitable counter to Big Money-Smithy we're assuming Smithy will be in play. So Festival will be quite effective.
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Dave Green
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With Festival and Smithy on the board, a Big Smithy that buys Festivals after Smithies slightly out-performs pure Big Smithy on average. It's not just that Smithy is a great card, it also plays well with others. If she's consistently beating you with pure Smithy, build a hybrid Smithy engine with another Action in it.
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Chris White
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MainiacJoe wrote:
traininthedistance wrote:
Why are you leaving out the Library?


Because a single Library gives you a 7-card hand, exactly the same as a single Smithy, and thus Big Money Library == Big Money Smithy which I at least want to avoid.


Yeah, but Library costs $5 instead of $4. That probably doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is: Library Big Money is actually a lot weaker than Smithy Big Money. It's only better when you add other Actions in, but if you're adding other actions in then you're avoiding Smithy Big Money anyway, so problem solved!
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Matt N

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Doesn't witch/money beat smithy/money pretty consistently? Also, chapel + some good support actions should beat smithy/money most of the time. If you're just using chapel to remove your estates, then I'd expect smithy/money to beat chapel most of the time. (If you use chapel on estates and coppers, but don't buy supporting actions, then I'm not really sure who does best.)

Also, thanks for phrasing your original post the way you did instead of using the word "broken".
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Dennison Milenkaya
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So you read his original post? He's trying to avoid including Chapels and Witches. Of course, it does make little sense to ask if there is any way to beat something if you are going to expressly ignore the ways to beat it but he's still seeking advice that he isn't already aware of.
 
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Roberta Yang
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Stunna wrote:
(If you use chapel on estates and coppers, but don't buy supporting actions, then I'm not really sure who does best.)

If I recall correctly, simulations show that Big Money + Chapel with no supporting Actions at all loses not only to Big Money + Smithy but also to flat Big Money.
 
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Matt N

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FlatOnHisFace wrote:
So you read his original post? He's trying to avoid including Chapels and Witches. Of course, it does make little sense to ask if there is any way to beat something if you are going to expressly ignore the ways to beat it but he's still seeking advice that he isn't already aware of.


I'm not sure if you're making a judgement or if you're actually asking, but I did read it. I assumed that he was getting rid of certain cards that are "really good" to make for more diverse strategies. He did mention that he usually lost to smithy/money with chapel, and I was suggesting ways that he was misplaying his deck.
 
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Matt N

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salty53 wrote:
Stunna wrote:
(If you use chapel on estates and coppers, but don't buy supporting actions, then I'm not really sure who does best.)

If I recall correctly, simulations show that Big Money + Chapel with no supporting Actions at all loses not only to Big Money + Smithy but also to flat Big Money.


After a brief search, I found [thread=4770998]this thread[/thread] which suggests the opposite, but it's for first player in four player games. I do think I've seen other simulations that support your argument. So, maybe someone who actually runs the simulations will butt in.
 
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Mark Judd
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salty53 wrote:
Stunna wrote:
(If you use chapel on estates and coppers, but don't buy supporting actions, then I'm not really sure who does best.)

If I recall correctly, simulations show that Big Money + Chapel with no supporting Actions at all loses not only to Big Money + Smithy but also to flat Big Money.

Using Geronimoo's Dominion Simulator, Single Chapel does lose to "Big Money Ultimate" about 50% of the time with 5% draws. "Big Money Ultimate" requires buys of Duchies once there are only 5 Provinces left. It kills "Basic Money" which stipulates only buying a Province with $8+, a Gold with $6-7 and a Silver with $3-5. However, the Single Chapel strategy has a couple flaws. First, it also requires Duchy purchases with 5 or less Provinces left. If that stipulation is modified so Duchies aren't bought until there are 3 or less Provinces left, the results are swapped and it actually beats "Big Money Ultimate" 50% of the time with 5% draws. The other flaw is the use of Chapel itself. If there is $6 available (2 Silver, 2 Copper) with a Chapel, it will always go for a Gold instead of trashing the Copper and taking a Silver. I think thinning the deck and taking a lesser treasure is more important, especially early in the match.

As for performance against the Single Smithy strategy, it outperforms Single Chapel by far - about 65% wins when the Duchy restriction is modified to 75% when the original Duchy restriction is used.

The results are even more pronounced in 3 player matches, with Chapel winning about 40% of the time vs. two Big Money decks and the others winning about 25% of the time each while Chapel only wins about 15% of the time vs. two Smithy decks.
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