Annotated Game #1 Preview

Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post!  We’re still open to more feedback, of course, but since one of the top requests was for individual game annotations (combined with some analysis of kingdom sets), let’s start with that.

Below is the Kingdom set for a recent 2-player BGGDL game I played on Isotropic.  (No Colonies or Platinum.)  As suggested by susie, I’ll be posting the set today and analyzing the actual game tomorrow.  You’re welcome to comment on the set (how you think players should open, what cards to go for) and try it out for yourself.

Secret Chamber, Warehouse, Caravan, Mountebank, Harem,
Smugglers, Watchtower, City, Saboteur, Peddler

Caravan, City, Harem, Mountebank, Peddler, Saboteur, Secret Chamber, Smugglers, Warehouse, Watchtower

(Click for enlarged version at

If you have interesting sample games that you’d like to submit for annotation, please submit them via the Contact Us link.  Criteria for annotating games include:

  • Reasonably skilled play by both sides
  • An interesting set where the Kingdom cards are important (as opposed to Big Money Smithy games)
  • Diverging strategies taken by both players, especially in terms of openings
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25 Responses to Annotated Game #1 Preview

  1. dave glasser says:

    Was this game with Colonies/Platinum?

    • theory says:

      There are no Colonies/Platinums. Thanks for reminding me though — if there are I’ll be sure to explicitly note that fact.

  2. Rod says:

    I don’t see how there are divergent strategies with this set ; I’ll be interested to see why i was wrong.

  3. Tim says:

    It seems to me that mountebank would be quite dominating without trashing here. My top priority would, therefore, be to get a mountebank as early as possible. I’ll open silver+caravan. (With 5-2 I guess mountebank+secret chamber is of no doubt.) I would plan to get 2 mountebanks with 2 warehouses, with as many caravan as possible.

  4. boloni says:

    I’m not sure that caravan is a good option if you don’t have a draw deck. I would open silver/watchtower or silver/silver to get to the mountebanks quickly.
    Warehouses are also good because there is no trashing. And they combo with the watchtowers, because a watchtower fills up the hand again after the handsize has been reduced playing one or more warehouses.
    To have a smuggler in the deck should also be useful. At least if the opponent doesn’t go for peddlers.

  5. gilroy says:

    I don’t think mountebank will be particularly potent with both secret chamber and watchtower available, especially with no cheap action enhancer. I would concentrate on dominating the caravans, opening caravan/smuggler if possible, and use them to pick up cheap peddlers.

    • rrenaud says:

      I think Mountebank is going to be a cornerstone in the game. The game is either going to revolve around getting them first and using them the most as the first order strategy, or possibly directly trying to counter the first order strategy.

      Secret Chamber doesn’t help much against the Mountebank. It only really helps if you had a secret chamber in your hand, and a Curse in your 6th or 7th card. If you didn’t have the SC in the first place, you had one more space in your hand to get the defensive curse anyway.

      Watchtower/Warehouse might be okay. It requires you load up on Watchtowers though, so you can block most/all of the attacks.

      Smugglers won’t let you steal Peddlers, but it could let you steal Mountebanks and Cities. A well timed Smugglers buy could actually work in the set.

      You can use warehouses to spam actions to make Peddlers cheap, but you can’t get +buys to really take advantage of its cheapness.

  6. Jahz says:

    Do we open 5/2 or 3/4 ?
    Or are we meant to analyse with both possibilities ?

    • theory says:

      This particular game was 3/4. I’ll specify explicitly if there’s reason to focus on 5/2; I probably won’t post many 5/2 games, just because 5/2 vs 3/4 is usually pretty one-sided.

  7. nomnomnomstock says:

    The presence of the Peddlers and the Caravans, not to mention the Harem, which can also go really fast in some games, makes me think the game would end from piles running out before anyone could get an ultimate city engine going. On the other hand, all those cards could also help that engine work really fast if someone did succeed in setting it up. I’d be interested to see how it plays out.

  8. Elaine says:

    I like this idea. I’ll play this set tonight with my husband and then read the critique tomorrow.

    Another idea for a topic is how two people games compare with multi-player games.

  9. joel88s says:

    Since the Cities are the only +2 actions as well as the only +buys if/when they ramp up, it seems like the ‘City question’, whether the game will reach the 2-pile point, is even more critical than usual.

    Since there are Mounties with no active trashing, does that mean a slow game with clogged decks so the Cities would have time to kick in? If so maybe you try to corner the cities and run out the caravans or warehouses. In that case, do you buy more than one Mountebank before switching to Cities?

  10. Jahz says:

    Well with this set I would ignore mountbank, city, peddler (because no +buy), saboteur, opening with caravan / warehouse and then focusing on caravan, one or two gold and then harem / province. Getting a smuggler sometime for a single terminal action, and some watchtowers in case the opponent is going for mountbank. I don’t see city getting too strong as there is no +buy to empty a pile, it’ll take a while for caravan and harem to be emptied.
    Then obviously it really depends what the opponent will do 🙂

  11. Personman says:

    SkurlyWaterPog and I just played this spread on Isotropic. Here’s our log.

    We were too lazy to annotate it inline, but we had a nice chat about most of the notable decisions/misplays we thought of. It’s in a google doc here.

    I’m especially interested in feedback on the interesting decision I mention right at the beginning of the log.

    • theory says:

      You’re right that it’s a really rough decision. I think you could have gone either way and neither way is “wrong”; I would have gone for the Gold (like you), but I hate Reaction cards in general. But given that you had a Watchtower already, maybe getting more was the right choice: although Gold + Copper + Curse works out to an average of $1.33/card, it doesn’t take into account the added cost of not drawing your Mountebanks quickly, and lowered chance of other Watchtowers being effective.

  12. dave glasser says:

    If you’re trying to play this on Isotropic and you’re copying and pasting the card list, be sure to add a comma after Harem! Otherwise it looks like you don’t get Harem and Smugglers, and Isotropic doesn’t give an error about the unknown card “Harem Smugglers”.

  13. jambarama says:

    I’d skip the mountebank because of defense cards – watchtower, secret chamber – and because the warehouse is a decent response too. For 3 dollars, I’d go caravan/silver, for 5 I’d go for a simple city/saboteur, and for 6 I’d buy all the harems I could. Secret Chamber works well against saboteur, but there are enough high value cards that you’d need a lot of Chambers to defend. Mostly, I’d try to out-saboteur/city my opponent.

    • rrenaud says:

      I’d bet that going early Saboteur will be sunk by a Mountebank based strategy.

      And Saboteurs will turn Peddlers into Gold, which is a major upgrade.

  14. chesskidnate says:

    personally(and hopefully optimally) I’d open warehouse- silver. I’d try to get an early mountebank and if I’m sucessful on my next 3 buy get another warehouse(it matters whether or not because if not I may want extra coin from another silver buy) I’d essentially get a caravan on all fours, get a watchtower after two warehouses, then get two more wares(assuming my opponents using mountebank) . grab a city after having two mountebanks(bought on fives which I think i should be getting a lot of) then alternate cities and mounts for 5. on 6 I’d probably stick with gold as my warehouses want high variance and less silvers somewhat making harem worse. I think this should give a strong mountebank deck with good cycling and later create a city monster as curses deplete(maybe if I have enough late cities I wont discard a curse to run the curse pile out). would I think about all this before I play? Probably not, just seemed like this setup was interesting on which options were better

  15. rubble says:

    Thank you for the preview and annotation. I hope to see many more of these in the future.

    I particularly like this set for analysis, for there are several possible strategy paths to consider (for a near-beginner like myself, anyway). Obviously Yaron and yourself pursued different strategies with fairly close scores at end. One or two more (un)lucky draws and we might’ve seen Yaron win.

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