Annotated Game #2 Preview

Below is a recent 2-player game I played on Isotropic, with Colonies and Platinums.  I will post the annotated game on Monday, February 14.  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.

Embargo, Secret Chamber, Woodcutter, Apprentice, Mine,
Haven, Shanty Town, Baron, Explorer, Tactician,
Platinum, Colony

Annotated Game #2

(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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68 Responses to Annotated Game #2 Preview

  1. Curious that there’s only 1 card from Alchemy.

    I’d open Baron/Silver with a 4/3 and Apprentice/Haven with a 5/2. There doesn’t seem to be much use for extra actions here, so it seems like we want to just pile up money, using Apprentice to thin the deck a bit, until we can get to Platinums and Colonies.

  2. play2draw says:

    Grab a shanty-town and a silver. Buy some gold. Get two tacticians, an apprentice, a secret chamber, a woodcutter, a bunch of havens, and a platinum. Try to get your havens and the tactician together and play all of them. Apprentice one platinum, play the shanty-town, the woodcutter, and the secret-chamber. Then play the second tactician. Buy a Colony and a platinum. Repeat until you win (because you’ll totally win if you do this).

    • Tim says:

      Sounds like a grand scheme. The problem is that you need at least to have a 18+3+1+1+1=24 card deck to make this happen. With havens you need even more cards. I am not quite sure how good is the odd to have both the apprentice and the platinum in the ten-card hand, but surely the chance seems to be less than a half. With multiples of both, and the dense money getting there, just straight-forwardly buying colonies seems to be quick enough before this strategy kicks in.

      • play2draw says:

        Well, the solution is obvious. Buy two province, two explorers, two shanty towns, and two apprentices. Use the explorers to snag two golds and apprentice them both for a net gain of six cards. Then cash in on the Colony windfall.

  3. Tim says:

    This one is hard to say, as who knows what will be embargoed.

    I won’t touch Wood Cutter and Explorer. Double Tactician+Secret Chamber seems like an interesting idea, but with Colony this sounds like an uphill battle. Use Apprentice to thin and Mine gold into Platinums should be the mode of play here I suppose.

    With 4-3 I would open Baron+Silver, get plenty of Apprentices and a single Mine. A Tactician would also help I think. With 5-2, the easy open would be Embargo+Apprentice.

  4. nemryn says:

    I’d open with Silver/Baron for 3/4. For 5/2, Apprentice/Embargo is tempting, but Tactician/Secret Chamber is probably better. Tactician chains are probably the key here.

  5. Saucery says:

    5/2: Tactician/Embargo
    4/3: Baron/Silver

    In either case, getting a couple of tacticians, leapfrogging to platinums, and using my second buys on embargoes and havens (to ensure tactician plays every 2nd turn). I would probably get an apprentice or two to get rid of baron/estates, and for endgame VP buys trashing my other action cards.

  6. jimmy james says:

    4/3: Baron / Silver –> we want a Tactician, then 1/2 Apprentices and Gold
    5/2: Tactician / Haven –> we want 1/2 Apprentices and Gold

  7. Kn1tt3r says:

    I think Baron/Haven is a great opening, followed by some Shanty Towns, 1-2 Mines, and finally I’d propably go for Tactician/Secret Chamber, stabilized by 1-2 Havens more. Together with Baron and some Platinums coming along, this approach looks promising imo.

    • Edge says:

      For me, it is +1 for Baron/Haven, but followed by Gold/Baron, Gold/Haven or Tactician/Haven, then a few more Golds, more Havens if possible, some Platinums, maybe a second Baron or a Mine, later one or two Apprentices. Embargos bought/placed and the cash in turns 3/4/5 are the decision factors.

      Alternatively, the Tactician/Haven/Secret Chamber route aiming for Provinces while embargoing the way to Colonies.

  8. Geronimoo says:

    This board is too hard for me. So I might just go for big money with Baron into Golds and meanwhile Embargo the Tactician to screw up my opponent if he wants to go for a more combo-oriented strategy.

  9. Davio says:

    I agree with Geronimo, I haven’t played enough Tactician to get a good grasp of its value. Therefore I will play it close to the vest.

    5/2: Apprentice / Embargo
    4/3: Baron / Silver

    Both approaches let me go for gold pretty soon. I might get a Mine at some time to upgrade those golds to platinums.

  10. Frisk says:

    I suspect that this wouldn’t have been selected if it didn’t involve some crazy shanty town + secret chamber + double tactician goodness, but I would probably play reasonably conventionally.

    With 4/3 I would go baron/silver then tactician for early platinum and apprentice for deck thinning, possibly apprenticing the tactician once I had gotten 1 or 2 plats, and then grind out some colonies, maybe even with some apprenticing of colonies to accelerate the game end. The baron can either provide buys or be fed to the apprentice, depending on how it plays out.

    With 5 /2 I probably would have gone tactician/ Haven, but after reading some of these comments, tactician+ secret chamber would have been awesome sauce. (after the tactician a 10/11 chance of getting platinum)

    I mean, how awesome would getting a platinum on turn 4 be?

    Council room says “pretty awesome”

    As one person pointed out above though, embargo can change your plans quite a bit.

  11. ½ + ¼ = ¾ says:

    4/3 -> baron/silver, probably only one reasonable beginning

    5/2-> much harder to choose, first turn apprentice would be awesome…
    second option would be tactician/secret chamber for free platinium in early game, and tactician/heaven for middle/late game

  12. Zorblak says:

    My gut feel here is Baron/Silver or Baron/Haven to start, and then try to stock up on Barons, Havens, and Shanty Towns (which are, sadly the only card that’ll let us increase actions). Use the Havens to get the Barons together with estates, and get some big turns. Grab a platinum or two, and then start loading up on colonies.

    Reflecting a little more, I feel like I would want an apprentice or two to help get big hands. I think that’ll work better than the Tactician, though I’m not sure what I’m going to feed into it.

  13. permagoof says:

    Assuming 4/3, I vote for Baron/Haven opening, hoping to Haven Estates. I would try to get a Mine at some point in the first few turns, perhaps even overpaying so as to start getting rid of copper. A Shanty Town or two would be desirable as well, and lots more Havens, and perhaps a Woodcutter. I’d steer away from Tactician, my hope being to get to Platinums quickly, and start buying Colonies before potential mega-Tactician turns from my opponent could get rolling. With each hand hopefully holding lots of $$$, I’d not want to be tossing it to get a mega-hand next turn.

  14. castrock says:

    4/3: With Baron one should be able to go directly to Gold here. Do I really need a silver? One should try to get a Tactician and a Gold in turn 3/4. Without silver I need a perfect draw of 5 Copper and 2 Copper+Baron. Thus, I should start with Silver/Baron even if there is the chance of the perfect draw with Haven/Shanty Town. Embargo would be a 2nd terminal besides Baron.

    5/2: I’d go for Tactician. The 2nd card ist more difficult, but I’d choose Embargo. This helps to get a Baron (or perfectly drawn a Gold) in Turn 3 if I do not draw the Tactician.

    Afterwards grab some shanty towns, havens, a secret chamber and a mine. Baron should stay within the deck a while. It will guarantee a +$4 in Tactician’s 10-card-turns. 2nd Tactician should follow.

  15. Tim says:

    I’ve had really frustrating games where the baron misses every time so I’d probably pair him with a haven as an enabler and try to skip silver straight to gold. Maybe get one gold then go into tactician/secret chamber up to platinum then grab colonies.

  16. SkittlesMcGee says:

    The fact that there’s only one card from Alchemy suggests to me that whoever initiated the game stipulated certain cards that should or should not be in the set. I thought you only played league games, Theory?

    • theory says:

      I don’t play only league games (in fact, I think I’m done with the BGGDL for now). This game I believe was proposed to me by my opponent, so maybe he had something like !potion as a constraint.

      • joel88s says:

        Also I notice there are platinums and colonies despite their being, if I’m not mistaken, no Prosperity cards. Doesn’t that mean the game proposer must have specified them as well? Unless the Isotropic algorhythm is different from the rulebook one…

        • theory says:

          That is quite peculiar. This leads me to believe that my opponent specifically required this set or something similar, for reasons that will become quite apparent.

          • Paragon says:

            It would be nice to see the conditions (if any) that were put on the game before you decide to accept. I don’t really like the idea of someone playing a particular set over and over unless it is known by both players.

          • guided says:

            Is this going to be some crazy shit like Tactician, Shanty Town, Explorer (reveal Province), Apprentice (Gold), Secret Chamber, Tactician?

            Though seems like you’d want to use a real Village for that instead of Shanty Town, if you were stacking the set.

  17. comonadic says:

    5/2 – Apprentice/Haven, 4/3 – Baron/Silver.
    I would go for 2/3 Apprentices, a few Havens and a Mine. Slowly trashing Estates to fuel the Apprentice and using the Mine trying to gain a few Platinums. Between turns 7 and 11 I would buy a Tactician to make most of the lean deck. I would not care too much about the Embargoes, I would just add more Havens or Apprentices if necessary to remove the curses from my way.

  18. jambarama says:

    Open Silver / Baron or Apprentice / Mine. Just build up a big money deck and churn through colonies.

  19. Newbie says:

    Baron/Silver, then try and buy Tactician on turn 3/4/5. Hopefully I can get a Platinum on the first Tactician turn, then get a mine, and finally an apprentice. Apprentice helps thin the deck while I try to get 2-3 Platinums, and also comes in handy late game to help mitigate an otherwise bad draw (like say, estatex3/Plat/Apprentice? Although trashing the Platinum if there’s one colony remaining is an obvious choice especially if the deck’s been thinned somewhat)

    • Newbie says:

      I was thinking of Mint, instead of Mine. It still worked out pretty well on isotropic, even though I used apprentice badly on 2 or 3 turns, and had 2 wasted buys, still ran out the colony pile in ~19 turns.

  20. joel88s says:

    My first dilemma would be that two of the most appealing cards early on, the Baron to build quickly to $5 and $6, and the Apprentice to trim the deck, conflict somewhat, since the Apprentice gets its best yield early from trashing Estates which the Baron relies on them.

    Does that mean one should choose one or the other approach? Or get both and let them ‘fight it out’ for profit?….

    • joel88s says:

      (…the Baron can of course replenish Estates for both of them to use, but then that undermines the trashing effect of the Apprentice…)

  21. guided says:

    Baron/Silver or Apprentice/Embargo, looking to get Gold and then Platinum as fast as possible. I strongly suspect any Tactician funnybusiness is going to get stomped by a Treasure deck: the card drawing simply isn’t there for double-Tactician/Secret Chamber, and Shanty Town is just about the worst card in the world to put in a Tactician deck.

    During the game, with precisely $5 I’ll look to get Apprentices, and maybe a single Mine (perhaps before buying the first Apprentice, perhaps not). $4 buys may go to additional Barons (to feed Apprentices, if I have enough of them) or to Silver (also planning to feed it to Apprentice but willing to take the booby prize of $2). Prioritize feeding Silvers and then action cards to Apprentice. Silvers are not terribly helpful in a Colony deck.

    I’ll might look to use an early $2-$3 buy on an Embargo so I can Embargo the Embargoes 😉

    • guided says:

      Baron/Haven is another option that reduces the chance of the “gg” disaster that is drawing your Baron dead at turn 3-5, though this means you are not going to hit the dream scenario of Gold plus a $5 card at turns 3 and 4, which is actually reasonably likely with Baron/Silver.

    • guided says:

      I mean, the first priority for Apprentices is your Estates and your Baron, but after that you want to prioritize Silver and then action cards (including other copies of Apprentice).

    • guided says:

      Really getting into the nitty gritty now: Mine strategy.

      On a Province board with no other relevant trashing, I categorically prefer to Mine my smallest available treasure. There is no distinction whatsoever in coin value between mining up from Copper to Silver vs. Silver to Gold: It’s worth precisely $1 every time you draw that card in the future. But if I mine from Copper to Silver I’m left with a Mine-able Silver, whereas if I mine from Silver to Gold I may end up with a hand in the future that contains Mine and no non-Gold treasure cards.

      In a Colony set with no other relevant trashing, I almost-categorically prefer to mine my largest non-Platinum treasure card, aiming to get as many Gold -> Platinum transitions as possible. You could imagine exceptions but they would be rare.

      On this board, you have to strike a balance between turning Coppers into Silvers (since Silvers are much more useful to feed to Apprentice), and quickly going up the line toward Platinum. I’d probably prefer to mine Mine G->P in most circumstances, then C->S if there are few remaining Apprentice targets left in the deck or S->G if there are plenty of Apprentice targets already.

      • Dominion_geek says:

        I have no statistical ev to back this up, but I think you always want to mine the highest treasure up (e.g., silver->gold over copper->silver). The reason is that, while having a silver and a silver from a copper produce the same money as a copper and a gold from a silver, the latter has a more dense form of money, which is useful in many situations (e.g., if an opponent plays a Militia-type attack, if you want to Cellar away cards, or if you need to remodel a coin into a victory card).

        • rrenaud says:

          I think you usually want to mine the highest card up, especially when there are Platinums in the game, but guided’s counter point is still valid. It’s not always the best decision.

          Imagine you have 5 golds, a silver, and a copper in your deck and there are no platinums. Now you have a choice of mining the last silver or the last copper. If you mine the silver to gold, the number of usefully minable cards goes to down to 1, where as if you mine copper to silver, your number of minable cards is still 2.

        • guided says:

          You’re right, there are specific (and not terribly uncommon) circumstances where you should prefer to mine to Gold instead of Silver.

          • Frisk says:

            I’m with rrenaud and parent that most of the time, you want to increase the variance in your deck by going largest treasure first (so silver -> gold before copper -> silver). While drawing them together is identical, having a gold in your hand usually means “i can buy a 5 cost or better card”.

            Also, with your basic 7 treasures, i’d rather have gold gold silver silver copper copper copper, than copper + silver * 6. With the former, there is a chance of buying a province with 3 of your 7 coins. With the latter, you MUST draw a hand with 4 silvers.

            • guided says:

              Never thought about it this way. Good points. More variance in coin values with the same average value is generally a good thing, because of the nonlinearity of card quality with respect to cost.

  22. Dave970 says:

    I’m going to add to the Baron/Silver sentiment for a 4/3 start. I want to build cash quickly.

    Tactician and Apprentice are both $5 cards that I like, though I’ve really felt the power of Tactician in the past, so I think I would go for that first, but definitely pick up an Apprentice somewhere along the line. So, given that, if starting 5/2, I’m taking Tactician… but what $2 to match with it? Haven will allow me to pass money to the Tactician, Secret Chamber will allow me to toss junk for a coin on Tactician’s turn.

    Haven will also help me draw as we get further into the game, if I combo with some Shanty Towns, another card that has worked well for me in the past. Depending on how things progress, if I end up drawing most of my deck each round, I may not even need to use Apprentice, opting for the extra buy coming from the Baron (and the Tactician), or maybe just enough to drop 2 Estates (and then coppers, I suppose).

    So, I think I would opt for Tactician/Haven on a 5/2 start, although I’d be pretty cash poor, and still in need of getting a Baron. Possibly, then, Baron/Haven on 5/2… something I’ll have to think about longer than just while posting this comment.

    Ultimately, I’d be looking to build up a lot of cash through drawing my deck and using Tactician every other turn. Haven and Shanty Town are my target action cards here, besides the key cards of Tactician and Baron. Apprentice and Mine offer tantalizing choices, and Shanty Town provides extra actions for the Mine. Embargo could also cause a little havoc, but Apprentice can take care of Curses, if needed. This game for me would be about maximizing available cash on Tactician turns (fistful of dollars!), and maximizing the number of Tactician turns, to hopefully win by Colonies.

    • Dave970 says:

      I think, while commenting, my brain was constantly mixing Shanty Town with Conspirator (as far as chaining with Haven to get cards drawn). Might need to re-think the ability to draw here, but I still like the idea of Haven passing money to Tactician.

  23. don says:

    Apprentice is the card here. Get a lead, trash what you must to get a colony, then rush an ending before your opponent catches up. So 5/2 is a Apprentice/Haven and 4/3 is Silver/Silver. Baron is no good here since you’ll likely not need +Buy and eventually you’ll want to trash Estates with Apprentice (though you could then trash Baron too).

    A mid-game Mine might be a terminal to upgrade cards for better future Apprentice-ing.

  24. don says:

    Also, as a long-time lurker, first time poster I should say… Love the blog. I attribute your knowledge sharing to a surge in the quality/difficulty of Isotropic games.

  25. SPQR says:

    4/3 I’d go Baron/Haven. Haven isn’t a dead card later on, whereas silver typically is in a colony game. You also need to guarantee your baron is drawn with an estate to get an early jump to gold. If your opponent starts off with an early gold, and you don’t, you’ll be vastly behind in the rush to the first platinum.

    5/2 I’d go Explorer/Embargo. I know, unusual compared to the other posts here, but chances are your opponent will have a 4/3 baron/silver or baron/haven deck. In that case, he’s going to want to grab gold as soon as possible – which I’d embargo. There’s also not strong trashing – no one wants to use an apprentice on a curse. Build up to 8 ASAP (perhaps with a tactician, or thinning your own deck with an apprentice), use explorer to grab golds free of curses, and run the province pile out before your opponent can build up a strong enough economy to snag platinums and colonies.

  26. DRG says:

    With 5/2 I think apprentice/embargo is clear (especially if first player), and hope to embargo the apprentices before my opponent can get one. You could go for the turn 4 platinum with tactician/embargo, but the odds are so against it (you have to draw the tactician on T3 and then an estate has to be the card not in your hand after you play it, so it’s around 11%) that it’s not worth giving up early turns to attempt it.

    4/3 Baron/silver seems the obvious opening to get to 6 quick. Both will be useful cards to apprentice later.

    Getting a mine once you start getting gold seems sensible and if you don’t start with one you’ll need 1-2 apprentices, then you can worry about whether you need/want the tactician(s) – the trashing options aren’t strong enough to guarantee the double tactician/secret chamber combo will draw the right cards.

  27. momomoto says:

    I really like the idea of some crazy deck that revolves around Tactician-Haven-Shanty Town-Secret Chamber, but am unconvinced that it could be done quickly and effectively enough that it could actually work.

    So as a result I’d just do what everybody else here is thinking of 😉

  28. ½ + ¼ = ¾ says:

    i would apprentice a colony and then discard a hand with tactician

  29. joel88s says:

    Side note to Theory: Based on this discussion I can see that one card analysis post I’d love to see at some point is Apprentice! I realize I don’t have a very clear idea about how to use it beyond the initial trashing of Estates (and Coppers for lack of better), i.e. when to start feeding action cards to it, whether to deliberately purchase pricey fodder for it, etc.

    • theory says:

      Hint: you’ll see on Monday 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        right off the bat i think of baron shanty apprentice (for the extra estates from baron) chain

        • chesskidnate says:

          The main problem I see with that is that you wouldn’t want to gain the estates in the first place since when you draw apprentice-estate and trash the estate with apprentice basically the net effect is no extra cards in your starting hand and the estate out of your deck which would be good but shows that the estate isn’t great apprentice fodder if you’re intentionally gaining them

  30. chesskidnate says:

    btw an explorer- apprentice deck might work, the province you’ll need is at least tiebrakers at the end of the game and being able to trash gold with apprentices is a juicy card bonus, main problem is you need to depend on shanty town for +actions(you’ll probably want 2 explorers and possibly a woodcutter so this deck is seeming less feasible

  31. Matthew Ryan says:

    Haven’t read comments yet.

    I’d aim for 1 each of Woodcutter (to improve Haven buying), Shanty Town, Baron, Tactician, Mine, and (mid-game) Apprentice. And as many Havens as possible.

    Opening buy: Baron/Haven for best shot at Haven-buying advantage.

    Haven Estates to the Baron. Haven Golds to the Mine. Haven as much as possible past the Tactician.

    Can probably afford to get a 2nds of Baron/Mine/Shanty Town once the deck is Haven-rich.

    Side note: Secret Chamber is very bad in a Haven-rich deck!

  32. Fuu says:

    Played this 5/2 vs 4/3, and was beaten by a Tactician/Embargo (embargo the tacticians) to my Baron/Haven. The early Tactician was a good move, getting straight into Gold + Secret Chamber. Without good trashing, chambering Estates seems sensible.

  33. Chris Larsson says:

    If you start with 3/4 buy 2 woodcutters. 5/2 buy apprentice and any other small card. buy a total of 3-4 apprentices as fast as possible and a couple of woodcutters, mix in a few of the silver or cheaper cards if you don’t have enough in a turn. Then sacrifice everything but woodcutters and apprentices to your apprentices. You will quickly start buying 2 platinums per turn or even 2 colonies per turn.

    The apprentices allow you to draw almost your whole deck each turn and the woodcutters keep the apprentices fed.

  34. Anonymous says:

    The link to isn’t working for me. Here’s a link that works:

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