Guest Article: Annotated Game #6

The following guest article is written by Jeroen Aga (Geronimoo on Isotropic).

(Monday’s preview)

Loan, Watchtower, Bridge, Militia, Wharf,
Lookout, Workshop, Envoy, Thief, Harem

Annotated Game #6

(Click for enlarged link at dominiondeck.com)

This is a 2-player game played between me [Geronimoo] and crduemling. The log is available here (spoiler alert!).Analyzing the Set

I see many people instantly buying a card when the game starts. While they often take the best card, it might not be the best card for the best strategy. I always take a minute to read the board and if you want to get better, you probably should too.

This was actually a very unexciting collection of cards, but the majority of random boards are unexciting, so you should also learn to play these well. I’ll start off by giving some insight into my pre-game minute.

I always start by finding the build-around me cards. Here, Bridge immediately draws my attention, but without +Actions it’s not much better than a Silver and since the next best card on the board is probably Wharf I’d rather buy Silver. Workshop is awful unless you’re an avid Gardener. Wharf, Envoy and Harem are great for a Big Money strategy.

Next I check out the attack and defense cards to see if I can use them or if they might hinder my strategy. Militia is a fine attacker, but it will also conflict with any Wharves and Envoy I intend to buy so I don’t want it. I quickly disregarded the Thief because I’ve never seen it be good in 2-player games. Since I don’t think the attacking cards are very strong on this board I won’t be wanting any Watchtowers. And even if my opponent were to go for Militia I’d still avoid it because of the conflict with Wharf and Envoy.

Now I look for any trashing cards. Since this will most likely be a Big Money game with card drawing and no Colonies only the very best trashers should be considered. The rest are just too slow for this type of game which always lasts less than 20 turns. I did consider the Loan because it doesn’t get in the way of my Wharf, but after some simulations I discovered Loan is terrible in Big Money strategies.

By now I’m ready to sculpt my game plan. I’ll open with Envoy/Silver; buy more treasure; buy a Wharf or two; buy Harems; buy Provinces and pretty soon Duchies. GG. Another?

Since I think my opponent will follow the same path I expect this game to be won by the luckier player (with a small edge to the starting player which unfortunately isn’t me).

Game Analysis

Turn crduemling Geronimoo
1 $4 -> Thief $4 -> Envoy
2 $3 -> Silver(reshuffle) $3 -> Silver(reshuffle)
3 $4 -> Silver $4 -> Silver
4 $4 -> Silver(reshuffle) Envoy (reshuffle)
$7 -> Gold(reshuffle)

To my surprise my opponent opens with Thief. Alarm bells go off and I quickly check my opponent’s level on the leaderboard. I relax a little when I see my opponent being only a lvl 13 (at that time). He’s probably overrating the card and not some pro with a cunning plan. I do realize at this point that the Thief is probably a little stronger on this board with the presence of Harem which can be “stolen” by the Thief for a 4VP-swing. Still, I can’t imagine it can compete with the raw power of Envoy and Wharf. We both spend the remainder of the early game buying money and Envoy accelerates me to the first Gold which I take over Harem.

5 Thief(Copper)
$3 -> Silver
$6 -> Harem
6 $6 -> Harem (reshuffle) Envoy (reshuffle)
$8 -> Province (reshuffle)
7 $4 -> Thief $5 -> Wharf
8 $5 -> Duchy Envoy
$6 -> Harem

Since I already have a Gold, I buy the first Harem and Province. It’s way too early for Duchies though so I buy a Wharf as planned. My opponent clearly has a different opinion and buys a Duchy with his $5 instead of buying Silver (he’s probably hoping his Thieves will give him the money he needs later in the game). I like the way this game is developing.

9 Thief(Copper)
$6 -> Harem (reshuffle)
Envoy
$8 -> Province
10 $2 -> Estate Wharf (reshuffle)
$7 -> Harem
11 Thief(Copper)
$7 -> Harem
$6 -> Harem (reshuffle)
12 Thief(Copper)
$4 -> Thief (reshuffle)
Envoy
$8 -> Province

My poor opponent has been very kind getting rid of my Coppers while I’ve gathered a huge VP-lead (29 to 13). By this time I’m not really paying much attention anymore since the game is basically over.

13 $8 -> Province $6 -> Harem (reshuffle)
14 $6 -> Duchy Wharf
$6 -> Duchy
15 Thief(gaining Harem)
$2 -> Estate
$8 -> Province (reshuffle)
16 Thief(gaining Harem)
$5 -> Duchy (reshuffle)
$4 -> Thief
17 Thief(gaining Harem)
$2 -> Estate
Envoy
$7 -> Duchy (reshuffle)

I manage to buy the last Harem, but then Lady Luck leaves my side as I see a Harem going to my opponent three turns in a row. I get so desperate I buy a Thief as well to steal them back. This was a mistake because I’m way more likely to hit his Coppers and other junk than his Harems. I’m still in the lead with 37 VP’s to his 33 (although at this point I’m not counting anymore since I had such a huge lead after turn 12).

18 $8 -> Province Wharf
$5 -> Duchy
19 $5 -> Duchy Envoy
$6 -> Duchy (reshuffle)
20 Thief(gaining Silver)
$4 -> Estate
$5 -> Estate
21 Thief(nothing)
$0 -> Copper (reshuffle)
Wharf
$3 -> Estate
22 Thief(gaining Harem)
$2 -> Estate
$2 -> Estate

On turn 19 I draw the Thief with my Envoy so I only have $6 to spend. If that Thief was a Silver I would have been able to buy a Province. Instead I have to settle on the last Duchy and the next turn I need to spend $5 on an Estate which also hurts. My fourth Harem gets stolen and my opponent is suddenly ahead in points which I don’t realize since I’m not counting VP’s anymore and I buy the last Estate emptying the third pile. I’m a little shocked when I find out I’ve lost by 2 points. I’m really angry at myself for not counting the VP’s (I’m often too lazy for this), but in hindsight the only real mistake I made was buying the Thief. Also, I’m wondering if Thief was actually the right way to go on this board or if my opponent just got really really lucky.

I, Robot

Time to start up my trusty Dominion Simulator and turn myself and my opponent into bits and bytes. You might want to check out my last article to see how this works.

My bot’s buy rules are quite simple (This is not the actual algorithm, but very close):

  • Open with Envoy/Silver ($4/$3) or Wharf/Nothing ($5/$2)
  • Buy up to 3 Wharves or up to 2 Wharves and an Envoy
  • Buy Silvers
  • After buying the first Gold, buy Provinces and Harems
  • When there are 5 or less Provinces left, start buying Duchies
  • When there are 2 or less Provinces left, start buying Estates

My opponent’s bot’s buy rules:

  • Open with Thief/Silver or Thief/Nothing ($5/$2)
  • Buy up to 3 Thieves
  • Buy Silvers
  • Buy Harems over Golds
  • Buy Provinces when you can
  • When there are 7 or less Provinces left, start buying Duchies
  • When there are 5 or less Provinces left, start buying Estates

Notice I’m really emulating both player’s behavior: my bot buys a Gold first, while my opponent’s doesn’t. Also the Thief-bot is buying Duchies and Estates very early (which is probably not a good idea).

I have two graphs for your viewing pleasure:

Annotated Game #6 Buying Power

This graph shows the average amount of spendable money each turn. As can be seen the Wharf player makes a big jump early on while the Thief player only gradually increases his money output.

Annotated Game #6 VP/turn

This graph shows the average amount of VP-points gained each turn. The Wharf player clearly outbuys the Thief player for most of the game. Only in the end the Thief is catching up, but as can be seen by the winning percentages, not by enough.

I’m glad to see my strategy was the winner in the long run (61% to his 35%). So it appears my opponent got a little lucky in the actual game.

I tried to optimize my strategy against this opponent and found these changes to give the best results:

  • DON’T BUY HAREMS
  • When there are TWO or less Provinces left, start buying Duchies and Estates

This was the result:
Annotated Game #6 Optimized

So countering my opponent’s Thieves by not buying Harems and waiting a bit longer to buy non-Province VP’s halved my opponent’s win rate (from 35% to 17%)!!

I also enhanced my opponent’s bot strategy and found these changes to yield the best results:

  • When there are 6 or less Provinces left, start buying Duchies
  • When there are 2 or less Provinces left, start buying Estates

This Thief bot is still buying Duchies a lot earlier then my bot, but waits to buy Estates. This increases its win percentage to 21% (+4%) so still a big dog to the Wharf strategy. Any other changes I made in its strategy decreased its win percentage (like in/decreasing the number of Thieves or letting Thieves trash Silver from a certain treshold).

For reference, the best bot-strategy for this board I could find was this:

  • Open with Envoy/Silver or Wharf/Nothing
  • Buy up to 3 Wharves or up to 2 Wharves and an Envoy
  • Buy Silvers
  • After buying the first Gold, buy Provinces and Harems
  • When there are 3 or less Provinces left, start buying Duchies
  • When there are 2 or less Provinces left, start buying Estates

My initial strategy was very close apart from waiting a little longer to buy non-Province VP’s which is probably due to the presence of Wharf and Envoy.

Another viable strategy is to open Militia/Silver. It doesn’t have the explosiveness of the Envoy opening, but makes up for it later in the game. In the late stage Envoy will frequently draw Wharves and Provinces while having to discard Gold and getting stuck with a single Copper or Silver for its trouble. When lined up against each other the Envoy/Silver and Militia/Silver have the same win rate, so it’s mostly a matter of taste which opening you choose. One more thing, trying to counter the Militia/Silver opening with a Watchtower is a horrible idea and you will lose 2/3 of those games. This is because Watchtower and Wharf really don’t go together and not buying Wharf on this board is just silly.

A few lessons learned:

  • Sometimes you’ll play the best strategy and lose
  • The best strategy for a certain board might not be optimal anymore if your opponent is playing a different strategy. Finding a counter to his strategy will increase your winning rate even more (like not buying Harems against a Thief or buying Lighthouse against Sea Hag)
  • Since every buy a player makes is visible, Isotropic should have a counter for both players indicating their total VPs (not just VP tokens). This will free up our brains for real strategy. Thoughts?

Geronimoo on Isotropic signing off…

This entry was posted in Annotated Games, Dominion Stats, Guest Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Guest Article: Annotated Game #6

  1. DRG says:

    Thief getting the harem 3 times in a row was incredibly lucky for him, but with wharves, gold almost surely would have been a better buy for you to avoid VP swings and get more provinces, while late game gold steals don’t hurt so much.

    As for the score counter, I strongly dislike the idea – purchases are public knowledge in real life games too, but the vast majority of players don’t write down other people’s VP totals, and many would disallow those who wanted to do it.
    Those who pay more attention to what they are doing deserve an advantage. In a two player game it’s really easy to keep track of VPs, you just have to remember your own and the screen shows what the total in play are. The computer could be used to do a simulation and suggest what the best card to buy is every turn too, but then you’re not even playing the game.

    • DStu says:

      Of course hitting 3 Harems in a row is lucky, on the other Hand hitting 4 Coppers in a row in the beginning is not really what you would call luck. I didn’t do the math, but you could at least one time expect to hit silver (or nothing, which is better than copper).

      I agree (DRG) to the score counter, you don’t do this in face to face gaming. There are some other things that are public knowledge or at least your knowlegde, like the cards in your draw and discard pile, the number of cards in your discard pile, some idea about the cards in your opponents draw pile, even some idea about his hand, you are not allowed to see them by the rules so the interface should not show them.

      On the other hand it is of course a little bit unfair that it IS possible to keep track on these with other means than your brain begining with “Ctrl+F You bought a Province”, a sheet of paper and probably ending with browser plugins, and nobody can notice that you do so, but it is not such a difficult task in most games to remember how many Provinces etc you have bought that the advantage of cheating is so game-breaking that one should change its rules.
      Because, if you start with the score because “you could know it if you want/cheat”, then you can not stop there but would have to show the other things as well.

  2. Ben Friesen says:

    I absolutely agree about adding in VP counting. The only situation that I can think of where you wouldn’t know is if someone used Masquerade (and even then, it would have to be in a multiplayer game). I often find myself using ctrl+F to search out how the provinces have been split so far. I also think that tracking VP makes the game a little more exciting, as you can get down to nailbiters, rather than random guessing and anticlimax endings.

  3. Audrey says:

    Huh, I never really thought Lookout was a weak trasher, although it is a hinderance in the end game. Then again, I under-value Envoy and of course Lookout is useless if you draw it with the Envoy…

  4. Kirian says:

    Absolutely no on automatic VP tracking. Ability to count cards–not just VP, but Curse splits, important card splits (Minion, GM, etc.), and even cash if you’re really good–make the difference between a skilled player and a master player. Writing down VPs wouldn’t be kosher in a face-to-face tournament, nor are you going to write down every card purchase.

    In fact, I’d go one step farther and suggest that isotropic should not scroll backward past the last, say, two turns.

    • Armando says:

      I agree about not scrolling back the entire game, not only for not being able to go back & count cards, but also for a different reason.

      It would make playing on an iPad much, much easier, since at every turn it takes you to the top of the page, and you have to scroll clear down to the bottom to play your next turn. By the end of the game you spend more time scrolling than playing. Your idea would eliminate that problem completely.

      • Crystal says:

        If you play on an iPad in landscape, with text instead of images, it doesn’t scroll to the top every time — it works properly. The only thing I’ve found that doesn’t work is the drag interface for Stash and Apothecary and cards like that.

    • Jahz says:

      —>In fact, I’d go one step farther and suggest that isotropic should not scroll backward past the last, say, two turns.

      I agree with this, and the game would come closer to offline play.
      But I’d like to still know if I began or not (smth I usually forget if the game is long🙂 )

      • Kirian says:

        You can tell who went first by the indentation of the current round. First player is not indented; second player by two or so spaces, third by four-ish, etc.

    • Lost Alpaca says:

      In fact, I’d go one step farther and suggest that isotropic should not scroll backward past the last, say, two turns.

      ^THIS^

      I’ve ‘caught’ several players delaying the game to count VPS near the end. Annoying as hell, if you don’t want to spend the brain power to count, you shouldn’t get to delay the game when you need to know the knowledge.

      • Mean Mr Mustard says:

        I disagree. The information is there for your opponent to use as well, and you should expect a good player to recheck if he loses count. Therefore you are damaging your win chances by not doing this. My argument for a vp counter would be that since it is trivially easy for a decent programmer to make a tracking module it is giving them a clear advantage, so equalize the playing field.

        • Personman says:

          There’s no need to be a programmer to track the score with your computer — I am a programmer, but I just type the current score differential into the chat box every time it changes. I do occasionally make mistakes, but not often.

          Removing the advantage that I gain over people who think this is cheating, or people who haven’t thought of it, would be a really nice thing. I guess I should write a score-display greasemonkey script/chrome extension and advertise it aggressively in the lobby until enough people use it that Doug more or less has to implement it server side…

  5. kn1tt3r says:

    I’m not sure about getting Harem right after the first Gold. I’d propably like to get 3 Golds before I go for Harems, just to push my buying power for the endgame.
    Maybe it’s a bit different with Envoy, since you’re looking for very homogeneous decks (revealing 5x Silver is better than 1x Gold, 3x Silver and 1x Copper) but in general I don’t buy Harems that early (I know about the article here but I’m not convinced completely).

    • DStu says:

      I kind of support you. I don’t think you should per se buy Harems after the first Gold, even if there are no thiefs. I think the question is, if you seem to be in front of your opponent or not. In most games “after the first gold” it might be a little bit to early to answer this question probably, but anyway:
      If it is likely to go for a 4-4 split on provinces, every harem is presure on your opponent to either also buy some (or duchies) before he buys the 7th province. If he bought gold instead, he will likely waste money on that turn, so a harem would have been better anyway.
      But if your opponent is behind, you better take the gold in order to get to five provinces, then he can (nearly) get as many harems as he wants and it wont help him.

      I’m just afraid that in most cases, at the point where you have to make this descision, you can not really say in which case you are…

    • Zaphod says:

      I typically only buy a Harem that early if there’s a complementary card available (Scout, Hoard, Trade Route) and it’s part of my strategy. In most sets, I would be going for the Gold at that point. You make a good point about the Envoy, though. It is better with a balanced deck.

    • theory says:

      See https://dominionstrategy.com/2010/12/20/intrigue-harem/ for an argument to buy Harems after your first Gold

      • Zaphod says:

        The argument that 3 Harems = 2 Golds and a Province only makes sense if you don’t care about variance, or want a balanced deck. In most games, I’d rather have a less homogeneous deck because it allows for big turns. It depends somewhat on what cards are in play, of course.

  6. scarius says:

    Isotropic should definitely not count VPs.
    Not keeping a running score is a recognised design feature of this sort of game (german boardgames).
    In a real face-to-face game there is no scoreboard keeping track of VPs!
    I wouldn’t go as far as Kirian and say it shouldn’t allow multi-turn scroll back, (I find it useful because I’m often too lazy to count VP cards other than Provinces (or Colonies), but you can’t do it in a face-to-face game, so I couldn’t really argue against it!

  7. tlloyd says:

    I don’t see how there is any principled stand to take between, on the one hand, an automatic VP tally, and on the other, a ban on scrolling back to count VP manually. If the record is available for review, I don’t see how posting the score automatically is any worse for the game (in fact it would be convenient and time-saving). If you object to VP counting, then you shouldn’t be satisfied with Isotropic as it currently operates.

    As for the game, I would assume a more optimal Thief strategy would be to wait until your opponent has bought a few Harems before buying the Thief. In the end it’s still probably not a winning strategy, but at least that way you avoid the early deck-thinning for your opponent.

    • Rod says:

      There is no logical ground between the two options. I personally would fall on the side of public VP information, because the “skill” required to keep a running tally in your head is merely good memory or willingness to spend 90 seconds backtracking.

      The difference between buying the last province when you’re behind by 8 points and not is NOT the difference between a good player and a great player. It’s the difference between a lazy player and a diligent player.

      • Paragon says:

        This is where I stand as well. There isn’t much skill involved in keeping track of VPs. And any player is going to be able track them regardless of the isotropic interface because pen and paper is easy and effective.
        Right now not having a running total of VPs just slows down the game. I’m sure I would lose more games if it were implemented, but I would rather have a less tedious gaming experience.

      • joel88s says:

        I agree with this as well. I had the same argument with my friend when we started playing Tigris & Euphrates…. I guess if not keeping score is a recognized design feature it’s one I just don’t understand. Scoring is either public or it’s private. Keeping score in your head is just memory work, it doesn’t make any more sense to me than it would in a football game.

        (Hey how about playing basketball this way?! Four quarters, no scoreboard, who won is only revealed at the end. And of course coaches ‘keeping track’ on the sideline would be strictly forbidden!!)

        Keeping track on paper can’t be prevented online, and I don’t see how writing numbers on a sheet of paper is ‘cheating’ even FTF.

        • Kirian says:

          It’s the difference between a lazy player and a diligent player.

          You could argue that tracking VP merely makes a player diligent, I suppose.

          At the same time, I’d go further than tlloyd and suggest there is no principled stand between no back-scrolling and automatically tracking all cards purchased. Did I win the Minion race? Well, I can backtrack and find out, though it’ll take a bit longer because I can’t just look for green. Might as well automate counting those cards too, it would speed things up.

          Hey how about playing basketball this way?!

          Given that basketball’s never been played that way, and Dominion’s never been played such that you could automatically track your scores–and I’ve never seen anyone do it in person–I guess I don’t see your point.

        • DStu says:


          Hey how about playing basketball this way?!

          That it is not done in some other game is not a reason that it shouldn’t be done in this. Why not playing memory the way that all cards that have been revealed once can be seen the rest of the match? They are public knowledge, so what’s the matter?

          The question is, is the remembering a (n important) part of the game? For sports, this usually is not the case, as the focus is on something completely different. This is not really the case here, as anyway most of the work has to be done by your brain…

      • ghweiss says:

        If I’m using Chrome just for the point tracker plugin, does that make me lazy or diligent?

  8. Matt Ryan says:

    How about if VP-counting were implemented on Isotropic as a pre-game option you could set, which would be declared as part of game proposals?

  9. Zaphod says:

    I appreciate you guys who have the humility to post games where you lost, knowing everyone is going to pick your game apart. I guess I’m more insecure than you.

    I’m curious as to why you think Militia conflicts with Wharf, but Envoy does not. In my mind, Envoy conflicts more, because it could draw a Wharf without an action available, making the Wharf useless that time through the deck. I’m not a big Envoy fan, so perhaps I’m just biased against it.

  10. Epoch says:

    Did you try changing the thief-bot strategy to buy its first thief on turn 3/4/5 instead of turn 1/2, but keep the same overall target for number of Thieves? A turn 1/2 Thief is Just A Bad Idea, and his deck could have gotten rolling a bit quicker if he’d had more buying power after the first reshuffle.

    • Epoch says:

      Actually the other change I’d like to see for the Thief-bot strategy is simply disallow it from starting 5/2. Because I think with this board, if you start 5/2, you need to get a Wharf — any other result means, “I’m going to start off willfully worse off than I would be if I started 3/4.”

      So my thought for optimizing Thief strategy is “Don’t go Thief strategy if you start 5/2.”

  11. guided says:

    Yes, a Harem stack against Thief is a bad idea.

    • guided says:

      I’m rather skeptical that 2 Wharves and an Envoy is a good idea, for that matter. Personally, I would look to buy 1 Envoy and no other actions (maybe 1 Wharf) against a Thief opening, or no Envoy and 2 Wharves (purchased only at exactly $5). It wouldn’t totally shock me if there’s room for improvement over those instincts of mine, but I would expect the improvement to be small.

      • guided says:

        Well, I’m forgetting about Militia, which is likely a much better option than Envoy. Against a Thief opening, Militia (or 2) and treasure is going to clean up. With $5 exactly you might buy a Wharf too.

        • tlloyd says:

          I’ll bet on my Envoy/Silver followed by one or two Watchtowers over your Militia. Watchtower is a great counter to Militia for obvious reasons (although Envoy is just as good and maybe better), and Watchtower also helps against the Thief (my newly gained Gold goes right on my deck so I get to use it at least once before your thief has a chance to nab it).

          • guided says:

            “Watchtower is a great counter to Militia”

            It’s really not, though. You blow your one precious action to get back to 5 cards… plus just 1 more card. A much better counter is to buy your own Militia and hit back.

            You know what helps against a Thief opening? Completely F’ing ignoring it. On balance, over the course of the game, it’s going to help you (unless you do something silly like stocking up on Harems).

            • tlloyd says:

              This is true only if almost every card in my deck is a useful treasure card (and more golds than silvers). How often do you draw a hand with all treasure? Not that often. If I’m holding Watchtower, Gold, Silver, Copper, Estate (or something along those lines) and you play Militia, I drop to Watchtower, Gold, Silver. Then I play Watchtower and draw four cards. There is now a very good chance that the six cards I’m holding get me a Province, while Militia plus two other cards only gets me a Province if the other two are both Gold.

              I’m aware that Thief isn’t a strong strategy here, and defending against the Thief isn’t the dominant concern in determining my strategy. I was just pointing out one benefit of having Watchtowers when there is a Thief lurking nearby.

              • guided says:

                Watchtower provides maybe $3 of value as a soft counter to Militia. But you’re really failing to consider that on this board you get to play only one action card per turn (barring Lookout), so $3 is immaterial: you need to make every terminal action in your deck count. And Watchtower as a counter to Militia simply doesn’t provide enough bang for your action buck compared to the other available cards here. Wharf and Militia are much better choices.

                • tlloyd says:

                  The ultimate – and only – goal is to maximize VP. Using actions is only valuable to the extent doing so produces VP. And I just explained why my hand of Watchtower + treasure will produce more VP than your hand of Militia + treasure.

                  • guided says:

                    “The ultimate – and only – goal is to maximize VP.”

                    Bzzt.

                    1. That isn’t the goal at all. The goal is to score more points than your opponent. Militia stops them from scoring points.

                    2. Militia slows down their deck construction continuously over the course of the game, giving you more time to improve your deck and buy VPs.

                    • tlloyd says:

                      The formatting here is getting ridiculous.

                      In a way, you’re right. My comment wasn’t so much on whether Watchtower or Militia is better, but rather suggesting that Watchtower is valuable as a counter to your opponent’s use of Militia. That doesn’t bar the possibility of using both in your deck.

                      But in a way, you’re wrong. You claim that your use of Militia keeps me from developing my deck. But I just demonstrated how your use of Militia (in conjunction with my use of Watchtower) can actually improve my hand each turn. Watchtower already provides its own form of deck acceleration (placing newly purchased Golds on your deck for immediate use). The Militia provides another form of deck acceleration: you play Militia, I discard weak cards, then I play Watchtower and draw back up to six cards. Notice two things:

                      1. Because I had a Watchtower, I probably have a stronger hand than I did before you played Militia.

                      2. My Watchtower was much more effective than it would have been if you hadn’t played Militia.

                • Meej says:

                  Yeahh, but that’s totally ignoring the value-add of Watchtower’s “put it on top” acceleration of your own buys. (IE, it does something even when you can’t afford to use the terminal action on it.)

                  Granted, that only works if you’re not using it for its action, but it’s real, in my experience.

                  • guided says:

                    …and you’re totally ignoring the fact that it costs you a card slot in your hand to use Watchtower in this way. Royal Seal is a mediocre $5 card, and it’s MUCH better than Watchtower at loading cards onto your deck.

                    Watchtower is a $3 card, and that’s just the right price for it. It isn’t a magic bullet.

                    To be perfectly honest, as a seasoned 2p strategist, the rampant overvaluing of Watchtower and irrational fear of Thief in response to this pair of articles has been exasperating.

                    Watchtower would be an excellent counter to Militia if Festival or Fishing Village were on the board. But they aren’t, and the fact that your action phase always ends as soon as you play Watchtower makes it a mediocre response, not worth buying when compared to the alternatives (Militia and Wharf).

  12. rrenaud says:

    For those who want auto score keeping:

    https://github.com/drheld/isotropic_dominion_extension

    I think it’s at the point where it should advertise itself and offer the ability to be queries for current score. If it’s not implemented in < 2 weeks, I commit to doing the implementation before more work on councilroom.

  13. tlloyd says:

    “as a seasoned 2p strategist, the rampant overvaluing of Watchtower and irrational fear of Thief in response to this pair of articles has been exasperating”

    Oh the Ego…
    It must be so exasperating for a Seasoned Strategist such as yourself to put up with us irrational types.

    • rrenaud says:

      FWIW, I would much rather see game logs than 10 level deep bickering😉.

      Go, play, report back!

    • guided says:

      “Oh the Ego…”

      If you want to be that way, fine. I said it’s been exasperating because it has.

      “You claim that your use of Militia keeps me from developing my deck. But I just demonstrated…” — You’ve demonstrated that if you always have the exact cards you want in your hand, good things will happen. “What happens in the perfect case where I have my counter in hand, and it doesn’t draw any more terminal actions?” is a shallow question. Consider how the entire game will develop.

      I’m happy to play set games with this board if anyone would like.

    • DStu says:

      I think as a unseasoned 2p strategist, I’m with guided in this matter. You will not be able to play many action cards here, so you will not buy many.

      Wharf is 2x(+2Cards +Buys).
      Watchtower is +4Cards if attacked, +2 Cards if not (or if played a wharf the turn before)

      So unless you are under very heavy attack, which is unlikely due to no +Actions and mediocre trashing, this sounds like Wharf is clearly better. Otherwise, with just 1 or 2 Militias against you, in many turns the Watchtowers will just not meet them and will not be better than a Moat.

      • tlloyd says:

        I don’t disagree with you DStu, but you didn’t exactly address what guided and I were debating. He claimed that the optimal strategy was Militia + money. I claimed that a Watchtower would be an effective counter to Militia. Wharf would also be an effective counter to Militia, although having a Wharf doesn’t discourage your opponent from buying/playing Militia the way that Watchtower does (because Watchtower is actually better than it otherwise would be when your opponent plays Militia – as you noted).

        Wharf is also more expensive. If you have $5, a Wharf is a great purchase; but that doesn’t tell you whether or not you should buy a Watchtower when you only have $3. And unlike other terminal action cards, you can’t dismiss Watchtower simply because you prefer other terminal cards (Wharf, for example) and they will conflict. This is because Watchtower provides a benefit even if you draw it with no actions left to play it. I did some experimenting with multiple-Watchtower decks, and would frequently play one, draw another, buy a Gold and put it right on my deck.

        In the end Guided and I were discussing (more or less amiably) the value of Militia, and whether Watchtower reduces the value of your opponent’s Militia. We weren’t deciding whether Watchtower was better or worse than the other card draw-ers.

        • guided says:

          “This is because Watchtower provides a benefit even if you draw it with no actions left to play it.”

          Do consider that (vs. Silver) you’re giving up $2 for the privilege of top-decking a card, and that $2 is a big deal–for example, any time you top-deck a Gold, you could have bought a Province instead with Silver. Watchtower’s top-decking ability is a bit of a booby-prize if you couldn’t find some better use for the card that turn. I would argue in most cases where you use this ability you’d be better off with Silver.

          To be clear, I believe Wharves are an important adjunct to Militia on this board, and I think it likely that Lookout and/or Loan would prove helpful as well. I also have no difficulty understanding that somebody who plays Militia against you while you have a Watchtower in hand has likely done you a small favor.

  14. DStu says:

    I’m not quite sure that I don’t (implicitly) commented on that, because your argumentation was manly that Militia is not good because there is a good counter. I said that Watchtower is not a good counter (in this setting) because it is, even when attacked, not much better than a Wharf. You have a small benefit when drawing two on one hand, on the other hand it is (esp. when attacked) much more likely that this will actually happen. As you don’t want many Actions, these cards more or less excludes each other. For every Watchtower in your deck, you want on Wharf less. And combinations are also not really welcome, because the Durationeffect of the Wharf collides with the “Protection” that the Watchtower gives against the Milita.

    And Wharf is not really a counter to the Milita, because it does not gain at all from being attacked. So in the end it boils down whether the Wharf can beat the Militia. Watchtower vs. Militia is then, if at all, only slightly better. I would bet that it is.
    I don’t know what is the answer for Milita vs. Wharf, but as far as I have seen nobody says something differnt than that the whole setting more or less boils down to this problem (prob. combined with Envoy)

  15. Geronimoo says:

    I updated my post to discuss the Militia/Silver opening which turns out to be a viable alternative to Envoy/Silver. After some simulations countering Militia with Watchtower turned out to be a really bad idea (at least for this board)

  16. pst says:

    I’m late replying, but wondering at buy rules like “After buying the first Gold, buy Provinces and Harems” in the simulations. Do you really mean “if I already have a gold” so you don’t avoid rebuying a gold if the thief immediately snatched it? If not, that improvement might be worthwhile.

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