How about I kick off your working/studying/playing-dominion week with a few cool graphs and clever observations? I kind of had to after reading timchen’s request to simulate DG’s and Yaron’s game in the comments (you see, we at dominionstrategy really care for our readers…). Let’s recap the game in question:
Yaron chose a pretty straightforward strategy of Masquerade into bigger and bigger money into Provinces, sprinkled lightly with a few Caravans. His opponent DG had a slightly different approach by going for the Remodel into Coppersmith/Caravans into big money and finally Provinces.
Simulating Yaron’s playing style was easy, because non of his cards involve difficult decisions. DG’s Remodel and Haven on the other hand gave my poor simulator fits. It kept making silly mistakes like Remodeling the wrong card at the right time and Havening away the right card at the wrong time. I’m not making much sense here, but hold on, the serious strategy is coming. Haven is an innocuous little card, but explaining to a computer how to set up future turns is a really hard thing to accomplish. As most of you will know even the crunchiest of number crunchers is dumber than the dumbest animal on this planet (google told me it’s a turkey):So unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully simulate DG and Yaron’s game. But seeing how a Coppersmith/Caravan and Masquerade/Caravan strategy match up should still prove interesting so here goes:
On with the games… a few thousand
Here are Yaron’s buy rules: Open with Masquerade/Caravan, buy Province if you have Gold, buy Duchy when there are 4 or less Provinces left in the supply, buy Estate when there is 1 Provinces left in the supply, buy Gold, Caravan and Silvers when you can.
DG’s buy rules are quite similar except for the opening (Coppersmith/Silver) and buying Duchies a little earlier (when there are 5 Provinces left in the supply). (These are the buy rules after optimising)
Here’s the delta-VP graph (which shows the average amount of Victory points gained each turn):
And here are the winning percentages (the ties bar shows how many games where tied):
So Yaron’s Masquerade strategy beats the basic Coppersmith/Caravan which shouldn’t be too surprising (just check out councilroom). This still doesn’t tell us if DG’s Remodel will tip the game in his favor, but I have a feeling it might not. DG is playing a “big money”-strategy and doesn’t really use his Remodel to build an engine, but rather cycle his deck a little faster (buy turning Estates into Caravans) and as an aid to win the late game race for Victory Points. As I’ve noticed from my simulations, trashing will only help “big money” strategies out a little or not at all:
Loan and Lookout are really terrible and will actually hurt you when you’re a Gold digger. Chapel will give a slight edge against an opponent who only buys treasures. Masquerade is a whole different story, but that’s because its draw-2 effect is very significant:
Remodel is a not a fast trasher like Chapel and doesn’t have any other direct benefits like Masquerade, so I’m guessing it will not have a big influence on your big money deck’s win rate. If you’re trying to build a real engine, it’s a completely different story! Take this solitaire game I played as an example: I built an engine to get to that one big turn where I played multiple Coppersmiths and bought 6 Provinces on turn 13. This would be impossible to achieve without the Remodels!
Skipping the Caravans
Although we’re just guessing at how good DG’s strategy was, we can try to improve Yaron’s. Here’s what happens when we don’t let him buy Caravans (just the one Masquerade and money):
So why is it that one of the best players in this game (hello Yaron!) makes such an obvious mistake of buying extra action cards with his Masquerade? Is it because Caravan is such a sexy card: it’s got a different color than most cards, it gives you that adrenaline rush of drawing a card, not once but twice. And maybe most importantly it makes your starting hands bigger. This might be a male thing: look, mine’s bigger than yours. Which brings me to something I’ve been wondering about. Is Dominion a game played mainly by guys? Please enlighten us and yourselves in this poll: