This is a 2-player game played between me and Dekker. The log is available here (spoiler alert!). Dekker is an excellent player (as of this writing, #2 on the Isotropic leaderboard). Prior to this game, I was 1-3 against him.Analyzing the Set
There are three primary interactions in this set:
- Forge becomes quite useful on Tactician turns
- Ordinarily, Hoard is pretty bad with Colony on board, since you need Colonies, which call for Platinums rather than Golds. On the other hand, Hoard/Island/Harem is a dream combo, and the sheer number of Golds from that may be enough to get to the Colonies.
- Trade Route is extremely powerful due to extra Victory cards (Island, Harem, and Colony) and Hoard (which incentivizes players to buy Victory cards, and works well with Trade Route’s +Buy)
So there’s a lot of different strategies to pursue. You could go for all of them, or just some of them; in any event, Mining Village is a great enabler for all of this, since it’s an early-game one-shot Grand Market.
On the other hand, Feast, Moat, and Talisman are going to be fairly useless. Feast because there are much better options at $4; Moat because there’s nothing to defend against; and Talisman is a decent opener, but basically only for Mining Villages. (And Talisman/Feast/Duchy never actually works, even though it sounds amazing.)
There aren’t any elaborate Action combos here, and in any event, when Hoard is present, Action combinations are much harder to pull off, since your deck will quickly fill with combo-clogging Victory cards and Golds. (The exception being, of course, Nobles.)
Based on these considerations, I open Mining Village/Trade Route. I plan to get to $6 ASAP to get a Hoard, then start piling into Islands and Harems. I get a Trade Route pre-emptively because I think an Island will get bought quickly, thus allowing me to trash for +$1. At +$0, Trade Route’s deck-thinning isn’t really worth it; at +$1, it sort of is. If I land on $5 or $7 without a Hoard, I’ll get a Tactician and Forge, since they’re almost always good additions to any deck. Tactician in particular allows for some ridiculous Hoard-play, and maybe Forge can convert my Hoards (and any loose Estates gained from Hoarding) into something better in the endgame.
Dekker opens Talisman/Silver, which I sort of understand, but don’t particularly care for here. It’s nice for extra Mining Villages, but there’s no other good $2-4 non-terminal, and you’ll probably be buying a lot of Islands, which Talisman doesn’t work on.
It’s very difficult to capture in text the feeling of playing a Dominion game. In annotating these games, I’ve decided to create a new form of notation to help parse through Isotropic logs more efficiently. I’ve stripped out hand information and almost all the Actions played, leaving in only deck-changing cards. This is because how each hand was played is pretty straightforward—choices in Dominion come primarily at the Buy stage, and so I’ve chosen to focus on those. Hopefully this strikes the best compromise between readability and comprehensiveness; the full log is always available for perusal.
If you have any suggestions for the notation system, please note them in the comments; this is far from perfect, and I greatly appreciate any ideas as to how to efficiently display relevant game data (including game state). I’ve incorporated some helpful ideas from RepGenie in composing the log below.
|1||$4 -> Talisman||$4 -> Mining Village|
|2||$3 -> Silver (reshuffle)||$3 -> Trade Route (reshuffle)|
|3||$6 -> Hoard||$3 -> Silver|
|4||$3 (Talisman) -> Silver x2 (reshuffle)||$4 -> Island (reshuffle)|
OK, so Turns 3 & 4 didn’t exactly work out in my favor. But I think his 2x Silver buy was a pretty critical mistake. That many Silvers in his deck (he’s at 3 to my 1) might boost him now, but it’ll slow him down later when we’re getting the Golds from our Hoards.
|5||$5 (Talisman) -> Mining Village x2||Mining Village (trash)
Trade Route (Estate,+$1)
$6 -> Hoard
|6||$4 (Hoard) -> Island (Gold)||Island (Estate)
$2 -> nothing (reshuffle)
|7||$7 -> Forge (reshuffle)||$5 -> Tactician|
I’m still drawing less money than him, but I’ve mostly caught up now. I spend my $5 on a Tactician as planned. He goes for the Forge; I think he would have been better off with the Tactician and then the Forge. Without Tactician’s big draw, Forge conflicts a little bit with Island.
|Key cards||1 Talisman, 3 Silvers, 1 Hoard, 1 Gold, 1 Forge||1 Trade Route, 1 Silver, 1 Tactician, 1 Hoard|
|8||Forge (Estate, 3x Copper -> Moat)
$0 -> nothing
|$6 (Hoard) -> Harem (Gold) (reshuffle)|
$6 (Hoard)(Talisman) -> Harem (Gold)
|Trade Route (Estate,+$2)
$5 -> Mining Village
|10||$6 -> Hoard (reshuffle)||Tactician (reshuffle)|
I bought the Mining Village because I don’t really need another Tactician. Better to get a one-shot Grand Market.
His second Hoard buy is unsurprising, given the number of Victory cards out. I play my Tactician, as I try to always do when I draw it (unless I have an absolutely killer hand).
|11||$8 (Hoard) -> Province (Gold)||Trade Route (Copper,+$3)
$15 (Hoard) -> Forge, Island (Gold), Island (Gold) (reshuffle)
|Current score||12 (2 Estates, 1 Island, 1 Harem, 1 Province)||9 (1 Estate, 3 Islands, 1 Harem)|
With 3 Buys here, I could have gone for three Duchies. Instead, I opt for a Forge (which would complement my Tactician nicely), and get two Islands instead. I still come away with a good collection of Golds.
|Key cards||1 Talisman, 3 Silvers, 2 Hoards, 3 Golds, 1 Forge||1 Trade Route, 1 Silver, 1 Tactician, 1 Hoard, 3 Golds, 1 Forge|
|12||$6 (Hoard) -> Harem (Gold)||Forge (Harem, 2x Copper -> Harem)
$2 -> nothing
|13||Forge (Silver, Talisman, Moat -> Platinum)
$0 -> nothing (reshuffle)
|Trade Route (Copper,+$3)
$8 (Hoard) -> Island (Gold), Island (Gold)
This was a nice draw for both of us. He gets rid of some of his crappy cards and gets a Platinum in exchange; I get two perfect Island buys with a Hoard. It’s superior to a single Province because Islands are still useful, and since they’ll get out of the way it’s basically as if I bought two Golds instead of 2-3 dead cards collectively worth an extra 2VP + 1 Gold.
|Key cards||2 Silvers, 2 Hoards, 4 Golds, 1 Forge, 1 Platinum||1 Trade Route, 1 Silver, 1 Tactician, 1 Hoard, 1 Harem, 5 Golds, 1 Forge|
|14||Mining Village (trash)
$11 (Hoard) -> Colony (Gold)
|15||$12 (Hoard) -> Colony (Gold)||Mining Village (trash)
Forge (Silver, 3x Copper -> Trade Route)
$13 -> Colony (Gold), Estate (Gold)
|16||$8 -> Forge (reshuffle)||Island (Island)
$8 -> Province (reshuffle)
|Current score||34 (2 Estates, 1 Island, 2 Harems, 1 Province, 2 Colonies)||30 (2 Estates, 5 Islands, 1 Harem, 1 Province, 1 Colony)|
I thought his Forge buy was surprising. A second Forge is usually not a great thing, since it’s hard to find something to Forge into it (a $2 or $4). My suspicion is that he didn’t want a Province without the Hoard, and unconsciously was biased towards just the most expensive Action on the board. Especially since the game is heading into the endgame, I would have gone for a Tactician or Island instead. Even Province would have been solid, since there are Islands you can shunt it off to, or Silvers with which to Forge into Colonies.
I Island my Island because I have so many of them. Normally you try not to use them on each other, but here the marginal deck-thinning is not really all that helpful to me, especially since I can Trade Route for +$5. More important is getting them out of the way for the imminent endgame scramble.
|Key cards||2 Silvers, 2 Hoards, 6 Golds, 2 Forges, 1 Platinum||2 Trade Routes, 1 Tactician, 1 Hoard, 7 Golds, 1 Forge|
|17||$3 -> Trade Route||Tactician|
|18||Mining Village (trash)
$9 (Hoard) -> Province (Gold)
Forge (Gold, Estate -> Province)
$14 -> Colony, Trade Route (reshuffle)
|19||$9 (Hoard) -> Province (Gold)||$11 (Hoard) -> Colony (Gold)|
|20||$14 -> Colony (reshuffle)||Tactician|
|Current score||2 Estates, 1 Island, 2 Harems, 3 Provinces, 3 Colonies||1 Estate, 5 Islands, 1 Harem, 2 Provinces, 3 Colonies|
If you look at the log, you’ll see that I had options for getting a Colony instead of playing my Tactician. But I decided against it: with 2 Colonies left in the supply, if I buy one and he takes the other, he’ll win thanks to his Province advantage. I need at least a Colony+Island to win, and I have the best chances for that if I Tactician instead. This follows the general principle of avoiding letting your opponent end the game.
As for the Trade Route instead of an Estate on Turn 18, I think you can go either way. I was about to reshuffle, and a +$5 is nothing to sneer at. At the same time, I’m increasingly unlikely to find anything worth trashing, and 1VP is still 1VP, especially with the game so close to ending.
|21||$11 -> Colony||(reshuffle)
Trade Route (Trade Route,+$5)
$16 -> Colony, Duchy
|Final score||66 (2 Estates, 1 Island, 2 Harems, 3 Provinces, 4 Colonies)||68 (1 Estate, 5 Islands, 1 Harem, 1 Duchy, 2 Provinces, 4 Colonies)|
This game demonstrates two points. First, my early Trade Route was critical, even though it wasn’t worth much yet. Had I waited to buy a Trade Route, I would have ran into four problems:
- I’ll have Hoards in hand and want to buy VPs instead;
- It’ll be close to the end and I need to buy VPs instead;
- I’ll likely have much more than $3;
- The trashing won’t help nearly as much.
Second, his second Forge buy proves to be a mistake, as he doesn’t play another Forge for the rest of the game. Had he bought a Province instead, my comeback would have been nigh-impossible. In standard games, games are usually defined by the highest Victory card: if you’re down 3-5 in Provinces, you’re going to need an additional 4 Duchies to catch up. So ordinarily it doesn’t make a ton of sense to be buying Duchies if you’re up two Provinces, since you’re better off trying to get to 5 Provinces, and then keeping within 4 Duchies of your opponent. But when there are plentiful Kingdom Victory cards, tie-breaking isn’t quite as simple and lesser Victory cards become more important. Here, he’s going to have to account for my massive Island advantage somehow: either by buying Provinces, or getting to (at least) a 5-3 Colony split.
Third, Hoard doesn’t usually lead to such an accelerated game, because your deck gets slowed by all the Duchies and Estates you’re buying for the Gold. This is partially why Hoard doesn’t usually work for Colonies, since your average card value is only $1.5. But here, the combination of Islands and Harems means that Hoard actually buying useful cards, with free Golds as just icing on the cake. So plans like my Tactician/Forge never really worked out.