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Old 04-10-2019, 11:59 AM   #1
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Dominion Awaits! - an online table game "dynasty"

So... I am not certain that this will really "stick."

But I want to improve my play in the card game Dominion. And I know from experience that I tend to get sloppy when I don't really focus. With FOF and similar things, writing a dynasty thread here has been a way to impose some discipline on myself.

So, in theory, I want to play some games of Dominion online... write about them here... explain my thinking... report back on how it went...maybe replay some of the games... and turn this into a growing experience.

If you're not familiar with the game overall, head to this thread for some background and context.

No promises, but if I can get into a workable flow of screenshotting the board of cards, I think that could make this conversation most useful.

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Old 04-10-2019, 12:07 PM   #2
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Some bits and pieces:

-Dominion is a brilliant card-based game, nominally set in medieval times, but basically just an abstract strategy game

-The basics are unlike anything I've seen elsewhere -- each game starts with a new set of cards to play with, and the players take turns using a hand of cards drawn from their deck to either improve their deck's effectiveness, or to gather victory points toward the end-of-game scoring

-Bottom line, unlike a true CCG like Magic, Dominion requires you to start fresh each game, based on the unique set of cards available for that game, but it then incorporates the deck-building elements of those games - the mindset is pretty similar

-There's an online server at dominion.games that is free to play with the basic set of cards, or with any cards that your host opponent has purchased access to

-Online, they host head-to-head games, where you can become "rated" based on your outcomes (some Elo derivative, similar to chess ratings)... or you can play against one or more bots, who put up decent but not excellent resistance

-Personally, I played rated games online a while, but got into some bad habits, my rating suffered, and I have been out of that side of things for a while

-Right now, I am exploring a couple new sets of cards that I ponied up to access online, and am really enjoying the various angles they enable

-Ideally, I would like to build my game back up to re-enter the rated game world, and get back to being a strong player at that level... I'm hoping this thread might help me do that

-If readers get sparked to play this great game, all the better, I highly recommend it... I don't think about it in off-hours like I did with Magic and poker during those phases, but I think the game is very deep and fascinating
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:15 PM   #3
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Let's see how this flows.

I'll play a bot game, using cards from the base set, randomly selected. My plan is to:

-post a screenshot of the board of cards available

-post my thoughts about "what I see" on the board, the possible strategies to use, and maybe what I expect the bot to do

-post a log of the entire game, pasted from the site, with some notes from me on how it played out

-if warranted, I can copy the game number and replay it with a different strategy or whatever... of (I think) you could play the same game if you like (either by selecting the game number, or by manually choosing the same set of cards)
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:21 PM   #4
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
New game, base set only

Card Layout
(I'd like to sort out a way to easily post this as a non-enormous image...)
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:28 PM   #5
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
My thinking:

I typically look for game-changing cards first. In the base set, Witch is not at the top of the list, but it's up there. And in a game with NO way to trash a non-copper card, the Witch is a really big deal. So, that's a centerpiece card here. Get to a Witch, curse your rival, and maybe just big money after that.

(Note: "big money" is shorthand for a super-simple but relatively effective strategy in Dominion... simplified a bit as: buy the best treasure card you can afford each turn until you can afford Provinces, then buy them)

My angle here will be to use the Moneylender as both my route to a $5 Witch, but also as a means to thin out the deck one copper at a time. It's less than perfect (two terminal action cards with no easy way to add extra actions) but I think that might be the best path.

I expect the bot to eschew the Moneylender, and maybe the Witch, and to go to trusty Council Room. Big Money plus one accelerant card (like CR, or Smithy, for example) is generally viewed as even better than pure Big Money. I'll see if I can beat it by using the Moneylender/Witch.

Last edited by QuikSand : 04-10-2019 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:32 PM   #6
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Not planning to post this much detail generally, I think, but for starters...

Code:
Turn 1 - Lord Rattington L plays 4 Coppers. (+$4) L buys and gains a Silver. L draws 5 cards. Turn 1 - QuikSand Q plays 3 Coppers. (+$3) Q buys and gains a Silver. Q draws 4 Coppers and an Estate. Turn 2 - Lord Rattington L plays 3 Coppers. (+$3) L buys and gains a Silver. L shuffles their deck. L draws 5 cards. Turn 2 - QuikSand Q plays 4 Coppers. (+$4) Q buys and gains a Moneylender. Q shuffles their deck. Q draws 3 Coppers, an Estate and a Moneylender. Turn 3 - Lord Rattington L plays 3 Coppers and a Silver. (+$5) L buys and gains a Council Room. L draws 5 cards. Turn 3 - QuikSand Q plays a Moneylender. Q trashes a Copper. Q gets +$3. Q plays 2 Coppers. (+$2) Q buys and gains a Witch. Q draws 3 Coppers, a Silver and an Estate. Turn 4 - Lord Rattington L plays 2 Coppers and a Silver. (+$4) L buys and gains a Silver. L shuffles their deck. L draws 5 cards.

Game is starting pretty much as expected. Bot is going with Council Room and big money (silvers so far). I got my first trash-and-buy to get my Witch. A fair start for both of us, like an scripted chess opening that everyone expected to see.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:37 PM   #7
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Quote:
Q draws 3 Coppers, a Silver and an Estate.

...and here's my first dilemma. I have $5 to spend. I already have two terminal action cards in a shallow deck, and short of engineering a Throne-Market or Throne-Merchant contraption, I will only have one action per turn - so there's a real risk of dead cards if I start jacking up in that direction (like taking another Witch here, which is in the range of possible moves with $5).

I decide to take a Market. If I get that plus another terminal action card, I can play both -- it's just dead if it comes up after I Witch and gain it (so far in this deck).
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:46 PM   #8
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
So, the game plays out rather conventionally from here:

Spoiler


I end up committing to the Market card for a series of $5 hands... that card is tempting, but it's really sub-optimal unless you have a reason to use all its facets. I only used 2x Buys once, I think... so I basically was spending $5 to get a boring (+1 Card, +1 Action, +$1) which wouldn't properly cost that much (cf. Poacher...costs $4 with a downside that wouldn't have been relevant in this game).

The game ends up as a slog at the end, we both gain lots of points, but struggle to finish off the Province pile. Council Room is a great card for these situations, and he gets one to land the final game-winning Province.

Bot 38
Quik 34

Code:
Lord Rattington: 6 Curses, 7 Coppers, 4 Silvers, 3 Golds, 5 Estates, 3 Duchies, 5 Provinces and 2 Council Rooms QuikSand: 3 Coppers, a Silver, a Gold, 7 Estates, 3 Duchies, 3 Provinces, 4 Markets, a Moneylender and a Witch

Could have gone either way... should I have bought a second Witch and just taken silvers with my $5 hands? Perhaps. If I play this game over and over, I suspect the BM+CR bot approach and my Moneylander/Witch would roughly split it.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:47 PM   #9
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
So, that is more or less what I expect to do in this thread. Have stuff to do right now, will leave it here.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:18 PM   #10
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Quick replay of the same game. This time, I don't have the $5 dilemma as sharply early, and manage to win it easily (late slog again, though).

Spoiler


Bot 30
QS 49

Code:
QuikSand: 2 Coppers, 5 Silvers, 4 Golds, 4 Estates, 3 Duchies, 6 Provinces, a Moneylender and a Witch Lord Rattington: 7 Curses, 7 Coppers, 6 Silvers, 2 Golds, 10 Estates, 5 Duchies, 2 Provinces and 4 Council Rooms
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:37 PM   #11
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
With the same setup, tried a few more angles:

Silver-Moneylender-Mine-Markets (then Throne) ---> Lost 30-28 in a "last Province wins it" slog scenario

Silver-Silver-Witch-Mine (then Throne) ---> Lost 30-25 in similar setup, had $9 for my next turn

Nothing definitive, of course.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:43 PM   #12
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
..the another mostly money approach:

Silver-Moneylender-Witch-Big Money (some very late action cards after Duchies gone)

Spoiler


Easy win, 48-30
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:49 PM   #13
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Okay, new board. Catching up to my current game. I am forcing at least two cards from the Dark Ages set, which I'm still learning.

Here's the setup

Game #25472169

Quick thoughts:

-Altar seems great, but it's tough to "build" around a card costing 6... might be turn 7 before I even get to buy it. I am perplexed by Rats, have not made a successful hand with them yet. The Urchin/Mercenary combo seems intriguing, I have yet to really play it.

My first instinct -- there's not a ton to work with here. Stick to basics, mainly. Probably buy an early Monument, but basically just use it as a Silver that might generate some tiebreaker points. My first $5 hand might either turn into a Festival or a Mine, if it's super early. Past that, just money.
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:57 PM   #14
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Now, my too-complicated instincts are taking over. I see a novelty path to big points here, basically:

First money, then get a couple Festivals, then get Altars, then use Altars to thin the deck and skip the Provinces, go instead for Duchies then Dukes

The Duke, under the right circumstances (mainly a deck that can grab at least 2x $5 cards per hand when mature), is powerful... 7 Duchies plus 4 Dukes = $21 + $28 = $49, which can be enough to win a lot of games.

It's hard to imagine this being the strongest approach here. But I can't help but think about shit like this. It's part of my problem with this game, I suspect.
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Old 04-10-2019, 04:06 PM   #15
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Oh, it's glorious...

Spoiler


I get a bit lucky and get an Altar pretty quickly, then fill in with Festivals. I pick up a couple Rats along the way, just using them as trash fodder, I end up with all 8x Duchies and most of the Dukes for an easy win.

QB 76
Bot 61

Code:
QuikSand: 3 Coppers, 6 Silvers, 2 Estates, 8 Duchies, 6 Festivals, 6 Dukes, a Monument and 2 Altars Lord Rattington: 7 Coppers, 5 Silvers, 3 Golds, 4 Estates, 8 Provinces, 3 Gardens and 2 Journeymen
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Old 04-11-2019, 08:38 AM   #16
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Win a close one with a Rats-Altar-Duchy-Duke strategy,
Spoiler


QS 58, Bot 54
Code:
QuikSand: 3 Silvers, 5 Duchies, 4 Festivals, 5 Gardens, 5 Dukes, a Monument, a Farming Village, 3 Altars and 4 Rats Lord Rattington: 7 Coppers, 6 Silvers, a Gold, 3 Estates, 3 Duchies, 4 Provinces, 3 Gardens, 3 Dukes and 2 Journeymen
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:44 AM   #17
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
No Rats, delay getting Altar, still wins

Spoiler


QS 74, Bot 67

Code:
QuikSand: 2 Coppers, 2 Silvers, 6 Estates, 6 Duchies, 3 Festivals, 4 Gardens, 5 Dukes, a Monument, a Farming Village, 3 Altars and a Journeyman Lord Rattington: 4 Coppers, 8 Silvers, 2 Golds, an Estate, 2 Duchies, 7 Provinces, 4 Gardens, 3 Dukes, an Altar and 2 Journeymen
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:21 AM   #18
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
The mental hurdle to overcome if you're playing for the Duchy-Duke strategy is to recognize you will be behind in the score most of the game, meaningfully so sometimes. (I play with visible scoring on, on the website, it's a toggle-able option)

So, it' kinda tough early on when you have $9 to spend and decide to JUST take a Ducky rather than a Province. But the point is... you NEED that Duchy to make things work, and you can't afford to help the other guy end the game sooner by depleting the Province pile. It's his difficulty in getting Province #7 and #8 that should give you the time you need to grab those last $5 Dukes for 6-7-8 points apiece.

In this setup, once you get the Altar going properly, it seems to work nearly flawlessly. I've played out this game maybe 10 times with subtle variations, and haven't lost yet when pursuing Dukes.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:24 AM   #19
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
...and side light here, for dynasty purposes. I'm here all tickled because I'm beating a Bot AI with a parlor trick (to a point).

Against a savvy player, I should expect him to recognize that I am deliberately playing for Dukes, and he can counter that by just taking a couple Duchies himself. The bot won't do that.

Classic case of my "practice" potentially being counterproductive. If I try this obvious an end run against a capable foe, he will defuse that plan, I'd expect, and just beat me with a better-tuned deck to get the Provinces sufficient to beat my 5 Duchy+X Dukes effort.
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Old 04-11-2019, 12:06 PM   #20
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Okay, on to a new board.

Quick thoughts of mine:

- I am potentially too enchanted with the Peddler card, and am immediately drawn to a multi-action/multi-buy deck to start grabbing them... I think it's viable but maybe not optimal

-No curses, no attacks at all, no trashers - lots of stuff won't figure into this game at all
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Old 04-11-2019, 12:18 PM   #21
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Here's my Peddlers-focused first play.

Spoiler


The deck works basically as intended... I end up getting all the peddlers, and engine my way to several good turns later in the game.

That's enough to push me to a slight variant of a well-documented conundrum in Dominion: The Penultimate Province.

Bottom line is... if you're in a super-simple close game, where there's little trickery going on (imagine both players just using "big money")... when do you take the second-to-last Province card? If you're behind by 1-5 points, taking it gives you the lead... BUT it sets you opponent up to win if he can take the vast Province. In some cases, eschewing the PP is the right play, to avoid this risk, you take a Duchy instead. (The AI is not versed in this theory, by the way)

Here, I rolled the dice and won. Down 30-29 in Round 15, I have enough $ for the Penultimate Province card. I'm not sure my move was wise, but it paid off... Bot gets only an Estate, and I get the last province on the next turn to win 41-31.

Code:
QuikSand: 7 Coppers, 5 Estates, 2 Duchies, 5 Provinces, 3 Fishing Villages, 10 Peddlers, a Horse Traders, 3 Candlestick Makers and a Merchant Guild Lord Rattington: 7 Coppers, 7 Silvers, a Gold, 4 Estates, 3 Duchies, 3 Provinces and a Courtyard
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:21 AM   #22
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
(not the right place for this, got it)
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Old 04-15-2019, 11:50 PM   #23
britrock88
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: WI via ND via NC
I read along through the first board setup! I love this as a deckbuilder with infinite permutations. It's been interesting to see already how economical you are about action cards. Will check back in to read more.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:25 PM   #24
EagleFan
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Mays Landing, NJ USA
Love Dominion, fun game to play.
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