The following guest article is written by DG.
I decided to write an article about this game since it’s short and neat, there are some nice card combinations that I’ll try to explain, and it’s not too complicated. I’m also glad to say that my opponent played a good game that does him justice too. This was a friendly game, one of three very good games I played against Yaron in succession. Here is the isotropic log for the game log.
I’ll talk about Yaron’s game first since it’s both good and simple. Use the Masquerade to draw treasures to buy gold, removing the least valuable cards from the deck at the same time. Once there’s enough gold in the deck just buy provinces. This shows the power of the Masquerade as a starting card to quickly cycle a deck with extra spending. The Caravans simply add more of the same. He plays the Masquerade 5 times in 12 turns while buying 4 provinces. Nice play! Dominion doesn’t have to be complicated.
Editor’s note: This is a great example of reading the board and coming up with a thorough plan..
When I chose my strategy the key card was the Remodel. It may sound obvious but this was based on the presence of good kingdom cards for the estates and coppers to be remodelled into. Remodel tends to work best along the 2-4-6-8 cost cards and this is how my deck would have worked depending upon the draws: copper to haven, estate to Caravan/Coppersmith, coppersmith to duchy/gold, gold to province. I had this map already in mind when sizing up the kingdom. The presence of a handy 2 cost haven in the kingdom was influential even though I didn’t actually use it much in this game. Draws like 4 Coppers and a remodel will turn up and if there’s nothing useful you can do then it is bad planning as well as bad luck.
The Caravans were an excellent partner to the Remodel. First of all they only cost four so I didn’t need much treasure in my deck to buy them, which was a good job since remodel decks don’t start out very rich. Caravans are not terminal actions. Remodelling them from the Estates was a double win for me since I removed a poor card that clogged up my deck and added something which sped up my deck too. Speed was important since it can often be a long chain of turns to get the benefits from remodelled cards. Play Remodel and get Caravan – shuffle – play Caravan – (maybe shuffle) – get extra card next turn and buy Gold – shuffle – play Gold to get Province. This doesn’t seem so bad for the first remodelled card but for the second and third cards we’re getting towards the end of the game. In this game I managed to play the remodel 5 times in 12 turns, which shows again how fast the deck cycled.
Another advantage of Remodels with Caravans is the enlarged hand size. For all actions where you choose cards from hand, having a bigger hand gives you more/better choices. In this game I was able to Remodel all my Estates into Caravans quickly. This could have been luck but it could have been due to big Caravan-sized hands giving me more choice. If anyone has wondered why their Forge has always worked badly, I’d take a guess at the Forge never having enough cards in hand to work with.
Now lets look at the Coppersmith. When I bought this guy I planned to Remodel all the Estates out of the deck. It was getting close to an ideal situation where the only other terminal cards in the deck would be 7 Copper, a Silver, a Remodel. This would make it highly likely that the Coppersmith would be better than Silver! Unfortunately reality has to set in and the reality is that a Coppersmith never gets perfect copper filled decks to work with. We fill the decks with pollutants like Gold and Provinces. Nevertheless this Coppersmith was able to find 3 coppers each time I played him (average draws) and that was good enough. Again, the enlarged hand size from the Caravans helped the Coppersmith enormously.
There’s another card in the deck that the caravans help. They help themselves. Drawing a big hand at the start of your turn means that you’re likely to draw more caravans, play more Caravans, get a bigger hand next turn, and so on. In this game, Yaron and myself only had one each turn where we didn’t play a caravan from turn 5 through to the end of the game. Considering that these are duration cards (so that some of them are on the table and not in the draw pile) this is good going. This positive feedback from drawing cards can also be seen with wharves and labs and isn’t a trivial consideration.
The last action card in my deck was a Haven that I bought in preference to Silver. This little card kept my deck cycling quickly and gave me choices such as what cards to put with my Coppersmith (copper obviously) and what cards to put with my Remodel. It also slightly reduced the risk of my two terminal actions clashing. It also had the chance to pull a universally good card like a caravan from the deck (next hand) and get it played sooner.
Finally I’d like to give an important mention to Gold. Gold was very important in the deck. Having nice action cards with lots of synergy is nice and fine but you need some payoff and the Gold provided the payoff. Two of my provinces were bought with gold and two were remodelled from Gold. At the end of the game a Remodel can stop creating your ‘engine’ and start to deliver victory cards. It can do it very well. This game also shows that a Remodel can give you two victory cards in a turn without an extra buy. Even if that extra victory card is only an estate it can still be enough to win.