Hiatus! I didn’t want to let folks down because theory thinks he needs to study, so here is some light content:
Theory and I played a series of epic games a few weeks back, some of which will probably get written up while he is “studying”.
The least interesting of these was http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110408-191900-6a229632.html.
In this game, theory was upset that he drew a 5/2. I sized up the board, and then executed one of the most boring strategies, coined as “Grand Envoy” (or Single Envoy Big Money if you prefer more specific names)
This strategy (with the goofiness of theories Penultimate Province Rule removed for readability) can be summarized as follows:
Do I have an Envoy? Play it. Opponent discards highest treasure. Do I have 8 and at least 1 gold? Buy Province Do I have 5 AND the game is somewhere around half over (provinces <= 5ish) ? Buy Duchy Do I have 2 AND the game is really over AND it might make a difference? Buy Estate Do I have 6? Buy Gold Do I have 4 and No Envoy's? Buy an Envoy Do I have 3? Buy Silver Do Nothing
It was a predictably fast boring match… over in 14 turns, although theory didn’t even try to stretch the game out with duchy dancing. I had 5 golds by turn 8, and then it was province x2, gold, province x2, duchy, province. Theory tried treasure maps, hit them, but even by then I already had more gold.
I honestly don’t enjoy playing this way, but because because it was a ranked match with theory, I couldn’t really afford to experiment (see this match with yaron for an example where experimentation with bad cards failed in epic fashion)
Afterwards, in our typical debrief, we went though the logs to see what we could learn from this experience. Our gut feel was that there really weren’t alot of options here, especially for theory sitting on 5/2.
- Treasury is usually a slow engine card… very useful if you want to repeatedly buy mid cost cards to build up your engine. Not great if you need to be green card rushing because your opponent will buy 5 provinces by turn 14.
- Upgrade / Nothing looks like it might be slightly stronger than Native Village per the opening buy analysis, maybe move into Envoy with the upgrade after.
- Treasure Map / Native Village is interesting?
- Envoy / Nothing is strictly worse than Envoy / Silver, but perhaps the p1 advantage might make up for it?
On the 4/3 side
- Nothing involving village will work here, the only thing that needs extra actions is Envoy.
- Treasure Map / Chancellor is a little crazy. Crazy like a fox perhaps?
Without extra buys, we didn’t see anything that would realistically beat (as defined by win more often) Grand Envoy. Unfortunately, I don’t have any fully functional simulators, so I figured I could pose the challenge out to the simulator community…
On this board is Grand Envoy a “Dominant Strategy“?
I’m defining Grand Envoy is defined as any strategy (regardless of parameters) that only buys 1 Envoy, and the rest coins and victory, even if the parameters are slightly different than what I outlined above, as I make no claim to knowing for sure that the optimal parameters are.
It is going to be very difficult (if not impossible) to prove that this strategy is dominant, but it should be possible to demonstrate that it is not, if a strategy can be defined that beats it.
You’ll only get partial credit for winning if the answer is
Do you have 4/3? -> Play Grand Envoy Otherwise buy Upgrade / Nothing -> Play Grand Envoy, with trashing states into Silvers.
Contact us if you think you have an answer and want to discuss further! Alternatively, discuss how you would play the set in the comments below.
Any ideas on what theory could have done differently besides treasure map desperation? I had luckier than average draws, IIRC Grand Envoy typically has 4 provinces by turn 14, not 5.