This article is written by Captain_Frisk. He is currently ranked #17 on the Isotropic leaderboard.
This is a 2-player game between me [Captain_Frisk] and Yaron. The log is available here (spoiler alert!).
Yaron is an excellent player, who is generally ranked above me on the leaderboard. As of the writing of this, I am 6-11 against him.
This game is not especially flashy, although after reading some of the comments from the game preview, there are some things available that I hadn’t even considered (Warehouse / Counting House). This recap isn’t going to teach you a nifty new combo that you’ve never seen before. It’s a reminder that not every game has crazy combos, and you have to be very careful with what you choose to buy. Instead, I chose this game because:
- Matches between top players are regularly mirror matches. A 5/2 vs. 4/3 split might cause some variety, but generally speaking, if there’s a sea hag on the board, we’re both going to open Silver / Hag. Many games come down to turn order and luck of the draw at the end game. For example: the prior match between us was this gem. We both opened Silver / Chapel, but Yaron was able to get a gold on turn 3, while I settled for a lab. The game ended in 12 turns with us having identical decks except: I had 1 extra silver, and 2 fewer provinces. It is less common that I see truly diverging strategies when playing people Level 35 or above.
- It’s a “standard game” – no fancy alternate VPs, or Colonies. Most games are like this, and playing them well is important! theory seems to get carried away with crazy stuff… like being trapped into an Apprentice-fueled Colony engine. Cool, but not something that gets seen every day.
- It illustrates a core principle of Dominion that I think we lose track of sometimes when trying to figure out how to get a perpetual Tactician chain going. The game is FAST. It’s over in 15 turns. This is something that so many beginning and mid-level players forget.
- After what felt like a solid win against an opponent who usually beats me, I wanted to see if I was ridiculously lucky (either through good draws on my end or bad draws on the Yaron’s side). Shuffle luck plays a huge role in Dominion. If your Chapel falls to turn 5 after the first reshuffle, you’re in a bad spot. If you open with a card that draws 3 or more (Smithy, Warehouse, Navigator, Torturer, Council Room, etc.), the card is significantly better if you can play it on Turn 3 (because it causes a reshuffle and accelerate cycling). If it falls to Turn 4 or 5 and you use it, it falls out of the reshuffle and you’ve basically lost a chance to play it — as if it was discarded by a Spy or Sea Hag. On the flip side, if your estates are drawn on Turn 5, it’s a major boon because they will clutter your hand one time less.
Analyzing The Set
Here’s what I noticed as I looked at the set:
- Limited trashing. I love Trading Post, but you need to get it early, and sometimes an early 6 will cause me to pass it in favor of Gold.
- Cursing – The Witch is in play. I’m going to want this as soon as possible
- Big Money! – Envoy and Bank make for good synergy, even without extra buys.
- No buys – There won’t be any magic 2 province comebacks
- No end game acceleration (Remodel, Expand, Salvager, Apprentice, Swindler). The game is most likely going to end 4/4 or 5/3 on province split.
- Native Village is the only source of extra actions. Has some neat interactions with Watchtower.
- Like theory, I dislike buying reactions, but Watchtower is a defense against Witch, so it is more useful than normal.
- Without +Buy or big action cards, Quarry is going to be limited to early game use only.
- Warehouse is one of my favorite cards. It helps play your big cards more often, although after the most recent article, I’m now more wary than I used to be about buying it early.
- Counting House and Explorer I skip over. I rarely like Explorer, and I didn’t even think about Warehouse / Counting House tricks.
I have the first-player advantage after the aforementioned Chapel beating. I decide that I want a Witch, and I want it early. Attacks are better as P1, and I want to press that advantage, so I open with Warehouse / Quarry. The Quarry gives me a nearly guaranteed chance of getting $5, and the Warehouse will help me to find the Witch and play it often.
Yaron decided that Banks and Envoys were just too tempting, and opened Silver / Envoy.
I’m going to use theory’s notation, but with a few more breaks and looking at the reshuffle.
|1||$3 -> Warehouse||$4 -> Envoy|
|2||$4 -> Quarry (reshuffle)||$3 -> Silver (reshuffle)|
$5 (Quarry) -> Witch (reshuffle)
$7 -> Bank (reshuffle)
We both hit pretty much a perfect opening hand. I got my Warehouse, which triggers the reshuffle, and I pulled the Quarry in there as well, so I got my Witch. This is EXACTLY what I wanted. Yaron also hits it perfectly, using his envoy to get him up to big treasure and reshuffling.
$5 -> Trading Post
$5 -> Trading Post (reshuffle)
Trading Post (Estate x2 -> Silver)
$3 (Quarry) -> Silver
|$8 (Bank) -> Province|
I hit him with the first of hopefully many Witches, and get a perfect Trading Post crushing of estates. I elect to buy a second Silver instead of the second Witch because I will need coins, and I probably don’t want 3 terminal Actions at this point. I want the Trading Post because I’m still expecting Yaron to buy a Witch, and the value of Trading Post drops significantly if you don’t buy them early. Remember kids, Dominion is short. You may only get to play a given card 5 or 6 times, and that’s if you buy it early.
Yaron’s Province is too early for my tastes (I like to have at least 2 Gold equivalent treasures), but its hard to pass up the big hand, especially when you’re expecing the quality of your deck to be dropping rapidly.
$5 -> Silver (reshuffle)
|Trading Post (2x Estate)
$3 -> Silver
|7||Trading Post (Quarry + Copper)
$6 -> Gold (reshuffle)
|$4 -> Warehouse (reshuffle)|
Nothing flashy here. I Witch again, and now that the Quarry has done its job, I crunch it down. Obviously, I’d rather have hit the 3rd Estate. I overpay for that silver because I still don’t have enough Coin for my taste, and there are no repeating 5’s, so there’s nothing to really do here. Yaron crunches his Estates, and picks up a Warehouse to deal with the Curses. At this point I’m feeling good, because the more non-coins that Yaron buys, the less useful his Envoy purchase is.
$8 -> Province
|Trading Post (Curse + Copper)
$4 -> Silver
|9||$7 -> Bank (reshuffle)||Warehouse
$9 (Bank) -> Province
I intentionally didn’t play the Trading Post in my hand, so I could buy the Bank. In retrospect, I probably should have played the Trading Post; in a deck where your coins are generally Silvers, the Bank isn’t going to be that much better than Gold.
|Score||7 (Province + Estate)||11 (2 Provinces, 1 Estate, 2 Curses)|
|Deck||Copper x6, Silver x4, Gold, Bank, Estate, Province, Warehouse, Trading Post, Witch||Copper x6, Silver x4, Bank, Curse x2, Estate, Province x2, Warehouse, Trading Post, Envoy|
We’re entering the end game now. I’m behind, but with a tighter (16 vs. 19) deck. So far I haven’t felt like there has been any ridiculous luck on one side or the other, we both drew our power cards at the right times, and our Trading Posts have been in mostly useful situations.
|10||$12 (Bank) -> Province||$3 -> Warehouse (reshuffle)|
$7 -> Duchy
$6 -> Gold
I can’t see what Yaron drew / discarded, but since he drew that $6 in his starting hand, he must have missed the Bank or the Envoy.
$9 (Bank) -> Province
|$5 -> Duchy|
$9 -> Province (reshuffle)
$4 -> Estate
|14||$5 -> Duchy||$5 -> Duchy|
$8 (bank) -> Province
|$8 -> Province|
On turn 13, Yaron has a collision between his Envoy and his Trading Post (and has no Curses to trash either). When he plays the Envoy, I sap the Bank, and he’s basically dead. It’s a bad draw, but at that point I already had 4 Provinces, we’re tied on Duchies. I think this is the point where he realizes the game is over, and doesn’t even bother drawing the game out by trying to make up the difference after I get the 5th Province. The logs unfortunately don’t tell me what either player drew with their Warehouses (or Witches), so I can’t see how often I drew a dead Trading Post, but here are some final stats.
|Score||37 (5 Provinces, 2 Duchies, 1 Estate)||21 (3 Provinces, 2 Duchies, 2 Estates, 5 Curses)|
|Deck||Copper x6, Silver x4, Gold, Bank, Estate, Duchy x2, Province x5, Warehouse, Trading Post, Witch||Copper x6, Silver x4, Gold, Bank, Curse x5, Estate x2, Province x3, Warehouse x2, Trading Post, Envoy|
|Cards Played||Warehouse x5, Witch x6, Trading Post x2, Bank x3||Envoy x3, Warehouse x2, Trading Post x2, Bank x2|
I think the biggest takeways for players from this game should be:
- The game is fast
- Don’t overbuy actions
- Beware of the Witch. Everyone should know this, and yet even a player as good as Yaron thought that he might be able to beat it by ignoring it and going for an Envoy/Big Money engine supplemented with Trading Post for the Curses. Cursing attacks are brutal, and frequently the best defense against them is to make sure your opponent is equally hindered. Yaron and I chatted briefly after the game, and his takeaway was similar.
- Don’t be afraid to overpay for what is right for your deck. Yaron’s initial buys of Bank and Province were probably not the right things for his deck, especially after I had the Witch and the Warehouse full of deck-torching Witch-accelerant. I passed up 2 chances at $5 cards on Turns 5 and 6 to make sure that I had enough coin in my deck to support the Province rush that was about to happen.
[Editor’s note: one of these days we’ll feature a game with yaron that he wins. Honest.]