Fun with Popular Buys: Tournament Prizes

Theory’s hiatus continues, so you’re stuck with me providing some low quality content. Today’s mini installment is a follow up to our previous article on Cornucopia Prizes.

We now have 1 weekend worth of data on, so we can start to see some trends around which prizes are popular, and which ones are successful over on the popular buys page. Please note: with so few games relative to the rest of Dominion cards, the sample size is still pretty small, so these rankings may change over time.

Read on for the stats of Tournament prizes!

Note: this article has been updated since it was original posted, with 2 more days of data from the weekend. I’ve left the original figures in with strike through so you can see how things shifted.

Tournament has appeared in 823 6045 games thus far. It was purchased or gained in 77.9% 83.7% of games, or about 641 5060 times.  It has a win rate of 1.02 when it is bought, and 0.95 0.89 when it is ignored – putting it around Wharf, Vault, King’s Court and Torturer in terms of power level.

These rates are the # of points gained per game in which you had the card, so a win rate of 1.02 is about 51% of the time in a 2 player game (or a 44.5% win rate when ignored)

My rankings on prizes were as follows:

  1. Trusty Steed – I assumed this was hands down the best prize. At least a powered up city, and if you don’t need the actions, then it could be worth quite a bit.
  2. Followers – Brutal attack, estate gain is a mild penalty
  3. Princess – Unthroneable super bridge, interesting but you really need a crazy engine already in place to really make use of it.
  4. Diadem – Probably not as bad as it sounds, as it doesn’t require an action, and already starts with 2 coin. Every once in a while you might do something crazy that could make this worth dozens of coin.
  5. Bag of Gold – Hands down the worst. Requires an action, doesn’t even give you the gold in hand. You aren’t going to be able to play your prizes too many times, and this one seemed like it would be the hardest to use effectively.

So lets see how I did against real world opinion in terms of popularity

  1. Trusty Steed – 188 28%
  2. Followers – 157 24%
  3. Princess – 162 23%
  4. Bag of Gold – 155 22%
  5. Diadem – 86 13%

Looks like I did pretty well, off on Bag of Gold vs. Diadem.  People seem to be really unimpressed with that card, and they love gaining gold!

Now, what about effectiveness?  Just because we’re buying lots of trusty steeds, are they the right ones?  Below are the Win Rates of the cards when they were gained.

  1. Followers1.48 1.52
  2. Trusty Steed – 1.37 1.51
  3. Princess1.43 1.41
  4. Diadem – 1.23 1.38
  5. Bag of Gold – 1.33 1.35

First thoughts: those are some HIGH win rates – far higher than the current champion – Mountebank @ 1.09.  However, the types of people who are able to buy provinces are probably already doing pretty well, and if you can get prizes, that just makes you rich and getting richer!

Other thoughts – I suppose a hand cripping attack + a 2 VP swing (almost as much as taking a duchy) shouldn’t surprise me as a big winner.  Princess also makes doing things like “Buy a province AND a duchy” easier, which should help in the race for the finish line.

While trusty steed is a great all around card, the other 2 directly influence the VP totals, and because they may only get played once or twice, I think that might be why we’re seeing them stand out as having a stronger impact on winning. Update: Looks like trusty steed is making a beeline for the top, but followers is holding it off. Princess has sadly been left in the dust.

Remember folks, these win rates are based on only 200 ~1000 games each, so these may change over time, especially as people figure out how to make use of Diadem. Hey look! Diadem already passed Bag of Gold!

What have your experiences with prizes been like so far?

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46 Responses to Fun with Popular Buys: Tournament Prizes

  1. Sweet Tea says:

    Alternative formulation of the data:

    Followers is good for decks that have +actions already, and is a good consolation first prize if you barely lost the race to Steed.
    Princess helps decks without +buys by a lot, and is a great second prize if you have Steed.
    Trusty Steed is the default first choice prize, even if you don’t have a great deck.

    I think Princess’ win correlation is more a side effect of it being in decks that get it as the second prize, and Followers is a combination of slightly slower decks that get it as its first prize and much better decks that get it after Trusty Steed. I still think Trusty Steed is best for sheer versatility, and its’ ability to add +actions in games without +actions.

  2. Bob dole says:

    I know I’ve been staying away from diadem because I haven’t been playing games taht give me excess actions by my buy phase. I think it’s more useful if it has the right amount of support to it such as nobles, city etc.

  3. Horse says:

    is there going to be another card that gets prizes? because tournament just seems like what i & my fellow magic players would call a ‘win more’ card… something that’s really good if you’re already winning, but doesn’t actually make you win on its own.

    • brog says:

      Ignoring the effect of the prizes, Tournament is still a cheap Peddler early-game.

      • glennchan says:

        The thing is, Tournament can be a big liability if the other player has a province. Then tournament is no longer a Peddler… :/

        So if both players are going for Tournament then it can be potentially crippling if one person gets their province first.

        • Death to Sea Hags says:

          …which makes is a great card, thematically!

        • chris says:

          The thing is, Tournament can be a big liability if the other player has a province in hand.

          FTFY. Just as it’s sometimes difficult to draw your own Tournament + Province together (without a support network of cards like Haven or Warehouse), your opponent often won’t have a province *in their hand* when you want to Tournament, even if they have one in their deck.

          Actually, it’s even harder for your opponent to have a province to foil your tournament than it is for you to have a province to support it, because your opponent’s hand on your turn doesn’t benefit from +cards, even things like Caravan.

  4. EricTheRed says:

    How long does it take for individual player data to be updated on

    I was going to see what my personal win rates have been with each card but that data has not been added yet. In fact, my “most recent game” was several days ago.

    • captainfrisk says:

      I’ll have to wait for rrenaud to chime in, but I think that the cornucopia update has broken some of the nightly processing. It looks like the last time stats were updated were after Friday night.

    • rrenaud says:

      It should only lag by about 20 minutes after the Isotropic leaderboard updates. But I had turned the updater off when I was fixing somethings and forgot to turn it back on.

      • captainfrisk says:

        Article has been updated with these new stats. Lots of movement on the non prize cards as well. It looks like people figured out how to use Hunting Party and Fairgrounds, but people still don’t know what to do with the Horn of Plenty.

        • Glooble says:

          I managed to win a game by using one Horn of plenty to pick up several more, then trashing them all at the end for Provinces – there were like four kinds of villages going on though…

  5. RichardMNixon says:

    I’ve been picking up trusty steed with the expectation that it would help me play tournament+province more often to get the followers next, but I don’t think it’s really worked out that way yet.

    As for it being a “win more” card, I don’t think that’s really any more true than it is for platinum. Especially in games containing platinum, grabbing a province for the prizes can help you turn the tables on the guy racing for colonies. In province only games I think tournament makes an early province more worthwhile than a gold.

    • mojosmitty says:

      I like others really liked the look of trusty steed at first glance. I like you, am not getting the results I expected out of it.

      I think the main reason for this is that, there is only one copy of it. How often do we really get to play it, when it’s at the point of the game that you can gain it? Once or twice in my experience, three times if I’m really lucky. However, the swing that princess/followers gives you in that once/twice play, is much greater than trusty steed.

      I think it completely depends on the game, but I am finding, that more often than not. It’s better to go for princess or followers over trusty steed first.

      I’ve also noticed that no matter what, if you are gaining these prizes. It’s likely you are already going to win. You usually won the race to get to provinces first, and your deck is already more established. As it was stated, it’s rewarding the person that is already in the lead (which kind of makes me not like the card all that much). I don’t see these numbers changing much for that fact.

      • turnerbn says:

        Which brings me back to one of those ideas on the councilroom user voice page. Somebody suggested a visualization for matches having a “comeback” factor, something that is sort of rare in dominion. The leaders tend to maintain the lead in most cases, it seems.

        • rrenaud says:

          Graphing score vs turn wouldn’t be all that hard for someone to hack up. I have the deck composition and vp tokens stored in a per turn basis, it would just involving implementing the special scoring logic for garden/vineyards/fairgrounds, etc and putting it together in a graph.

          • cleanest says:

            Something else that I’m curious in that would take some data-mining would be correlation btwn average turn length (i.e. cards played) and leaderboard position. Given the complaints that I’ve heard about my own turn lengths, if there is a direct correlation, I suspect I’m an outlier. 🙂

    • mojosmitty says:

      Amendment to the above. “It’s rewarding the person already in the lead,” applies primarily to province only games. But it is so much so, that I dislike playing with tournament in province only games. The card itself seems much more fun, and interesting, in colony games.

  6. LastFootnote says:

    Cap’n, I don’t have much experience with the Prizes yet so I could be wrong, but I think you’re really underestimating Bag of Gold. Unless you’re playing a game with Platinum/Colony available, putting a Gold right on top of your deck mid-turn is a pretty strong effect in most decks. Since Bag of Gold also gives +1 Action, all you need to draw the Gold is any card that draws at least one card, and over 1/3 of Dominion Kingdom cards do that. In fact, it even works great if your last Action is a terminal card drawer. That Gold means you’ll be drawing that many fewer dead Action cards.

  7. turnerbn says:

    It seems the problem with bag of gold is the fact that you probably aren’t going to get it early enough in the game. The extra couple golds you get at the end aren’t going to be “game changers,” whereas the other prizes have better late game abilities. If I could take a prize on turn 6 or so, I would probably consider it more. Which brings me to wonder, what turns are all of these prized being bought on?

    • Sweet Tea says:

      I’ve seen a number of provinces turn 5, most before turn 10, and first prize in turn 9-12 or so.

    • captainfrisk says:

      I was trying to figure that out as well, but they aren’t showing up on the “gained by turn” chart yet. My assumption is that the earliest you could get one would be turn 5 with some extra ordinary chancellor luck

      Turn 1 – Tournament
      Turn 2 – Chancellor
      Turn 3 – Play Both, Reshuffle, Buy Gold
      Turn 4 – Tournament, Chancellor, Gold, Province
      Turn 5 – Ding!

      But in reality, as sweet tea is pointing out, its likely to be around turn 8-9… long enough for an early province to make it through a reshuffle, and then be lucky enough to hit your tournament.

      • Last Footnote says:

        I’d think you’d want to buy two Tournaments in a lot of cases. They’re not bad cards before anybody starts buying Provinces (a.k.a. they can help you to buy your first Province) and you’ll be more likely to hit that Tournament/Province combo mid-game.

    • Last Footnote says:

      I’d agree with you if it weren’t for the fact that Bag of Gold puts the Gold card right on top of your deck and gives you +1 Action, letting you immediately draw it with any number of cards. If it put the Gold right in your hand, that would be a bit too powerful, I think.

      • sffc says:

        I was just thinking, compare Bag of Gold to Explorer. Explorer puts the gold directly into your hand, but we don’t say that’s too powerful. Yes, Explorer has the condition that it collides with a Province, but I think this is at least as likely to occur in late game as it is to have a Bag of Gold in the first place (because of the necessary Province-Tournament collision).

        I guess one thing that might give Bag of Gold an edge over Explorer is that Bag of Gold is not terminal, so it can be played even in games without a village.

  8. Bag of Gold …requires an action

    You need to have an action to play it (so if you draw it terminal, it’s dead) but it’s not a terminal action itself.

    • captainfrisk says:

      A fair point. For a card in my hand, I’d really like it to be better than a souped up university.

      Look at some of the other comparable card gainers:

      The utility drastically reduces as the game goes on. Hoard is almost certainly better, as from turns 10 onward, you’re probably thinking about victory points anyway, and it gives you 2 coins. Yes, it does have +1 action, so you can play it, but its still taking up a spot in your hand, and you’ll need to use a card to draw the gold.

      It’s still not a bad card to have… I just think that its almost certainly worse than the other prizes… and if its the last one there, then i’m probably already thinking about taking a duchy instead with my prize pick.

      • tlloyd says:

        I predict that somewhere in the remaining expansions is a Special Victory card whose worth depends on the amount of treasure in your deck. That would provide extra reason to go for Bag of Gold, and would also explain Trusty Steed’s fill-your-deck-with-Silver ability. 😉

        • How Bazaar says:

          I’d like to see a Victory Action Attack card :

          Spoils of War
          Cost: 8* (2 cheaper per attack card in play)
          Gain a treasure card from each other opponent’s hand, their choice.

          Worth 1VP for every 3 treasure cards in your deck.

          Something like that, would have to playtest to adjust the values.

          • How Bazaar says:

            edit: or opponent reveals hand with no treasure.

            Has to have some connection to attack cards being played, but it has to work even without attack cards in the set, so I went with the cost reduction mechanic.

  9. play2draw says:

    I figured Bag of Gold wouldn’t be so useful. It might be *okay* if you buy it really early (through a Baron, for example)… but perhaps oiling up the machine would be a better use for the prize (such as the potential usefulness of Followers/Baron).

    Bag of Gold would be pretty sweet with a bishop gold-trashing machine though 😀

    And remember, if you don’t buy more than one card with the Princess, then playing the Princess is exactly the same as playing a Woodcutter.

    • Meej says:

      It’s worse than that. If you don’t buy more than one card, playing a Princess is not as good as playing a Chancellor…

  10. Horse says:

    followers may not be the best card in the set of prizes, but i honestly try to buy it first just so that my opponent can’t, and thus i can’t get hit by it. it is indeed brutal.

  11. Saucery says:

    I knew followers was too brutal to be 2nd place. Its as important as any other curse giver, even more important if none of the others are available because theres only one copy.

  12. Guy Srinivasan says:

    Here’s another possible reason Diadem is so underbought – until this post I did not realize it was a Treasure rather than an Action card, and I declined to gain it at least once because of that.

  13. kn1tt3r says:

    I’m not so sure about Followers. In 1vs1 it basically nets +2 VP, but it spams your opponent’s deck just as much as it spams yours. And the card discarding becomes more and more harmless with more spam ‘available’ to discard.
    As for Bag of Gold, I think if you can manage to get it very early, it’s really worth the buy. Otherwise, Trusty Steed is certainly the preferred prize.

  14. Zaphod says:

    If Black Market has taught us anything, it should be this: having a powerful attack that no one else has is a big advantage. I think Followers wins because, in many cases, you are the only person forcing people to discard and/or the only person handing out Curses. The Estates could clog up your hand, but there are many cards that can utilize Estates in some way (Baron, Bishop, Apprentice, etc.) if you build your deck with that in mind.

    Diadem would be fun with a City chain after a couple stacks run out. Bag of Gold would be useful in those attack-heavy sets where you find yourself scrounging for coin. Each of these cards can be the right choice in some circumstances.

  15. Death to Sea Hags says:

    I find myself taking Princess often, because its got +buy when I want it – late game, and because:

    $12 = 2 provinces

    Related: do Prizes count as unique “named” cards for Fairgrounds and other Cornucopia cards?

    • Last Footnote says:

      Yes, they do.

    • Epoch says:

      Princess is, in the absence of additional +buy besides what it itself gives, worth $2 or $4 (as two separate $2’s), as a terminal action.

      That suggests to me that its value depends almost entirely on whether or not you need the +buy.

      Of course, in rare situations in which you can get lots of +buy (double-activated cities, village/council room chains), it’s worth $6, $8, or more, and is insanely valuable.

      It is notable that $6 + Princess = Province + Estate, or Duchy + Duchy. The first is a nice tie-breaker when you’re otherwise evenly split and you’re buying the ultimate or penultimate Province, and the second one is a nice way to get categorically ahead in a Duchy race, making it safe for you to attack the Province pile again.

  16. Arya Stark says:

    I would like to see Larry break his high score with the diadem

  17. boopn says:

    Here’s an example where the Diadem helps (or is equal to win more card): With KC in play I manage to accumulate 47 actions which I cash in with the Diadem.

    The last turn I had 21 buys and $101 to spend with a Princess in play. I Ambassador my last curse to give my opponent 10 curses just for kicks.

    • Gus says:

      That was a tough game to read. That last turn was epic, if you had had a Goons in play at the time it would have been redonkulous.

      I haven’t played Corn yet, but Tournament as a card itself looks awesome.
      For some reason I hadn’t realised that you get your prize straight away if your opponent doesn’t reveal a Province!

  18. LastFootnote says:

    Has anybody else been using Trusty Steed for its ‘gain 4 Silver and discard your deck’ option? I’m a big fan. If you’re playing a mostly big-money deck thinned with Remake/Chapel/etc., it really helps to keep your engine going when you might otherwise stall out from too many VP cards.

    This assumes a Province game, of course. In a Colony game I don’t imagine it would work very well.

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