Annotated Game #11 Preview

Below is a 2-player game on Isotropic, with Colonies and Platinums.  I will post the annotated game on Monday, April 23.  You’re welcome to comment on the set (how you think players should open, what cards to go for) and try it out for yourself.  Please consider how you would open with either 5/2 or 4/3.

Scrying Pool, Scheme, Warehouse, Apprentice, Harvest,
Ambassador, Tunnel, Conspirator, Counting House, Bank

Annotated Game #11

Click for enlarged link at

If you have interesting sample games that you’d like to submit for annotation, we’d love to hear about them. Criteria for annotating games include:

  • Reasonably skilled play by both sides
  • An interesting set where the Kingdom cards are important
  • Diverging strategies taken by both players, especially in terms of openings
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36 Responses to Annotated Game #11 Preview

  1. BaruMonkey says:

    My first thought: Open Ambassador/Warehouse, aiming for Tunnels soon after.

    Warehouse gets your Ambassador out more often and paired up with your estates more often, and you have to start that ASAP for Estate tennis. Silver can be ignored because Warehouse is such a good Tunnel enabler.

    5/2 would be unfortunate here. I guess I’d open Ambassador/- ?

  2. rrenaud says:

    Too bad there are no action forks and no plus buys, Dominion: Poverty! :(.

    Strategy 1, conventional deck spam to engine. Open scheme/ambassador. Make deck small, transition to conspirator/scrying pool.

    Strategy 2, try to get into some apprentice to trash gold, warehouse to reveal tunnels for more golds, buy colony loop. If you draw the whole deck (maybe not too hard if you are burning golds with apprentices), you can really spam the warehouse/tunnel combo for more tons of golds. How to get the loop started? Ambassador as always?

  3. WanderingWinder says:

    First impressions: Warehouse! With tunnel or with conspirator/scrying pool/amb?
    Second impressions: No +buy, so scrying pool is probably too slow. Amb might be too slow too, I’m not 100%. My guess is warehouse/tunnel/apprentice. Hopefully, you can have something like apprentice gold, play warehouse for three more gold, buy province, and have it going on decently regularly.

    • WanderingWinder says:

      Shoot! I ought to read. Colonies change things…

    • This were basically my thoughts too, except I did read and didn’t think Colonies changed much. Yes, it means a longer game, but I thought basically all that means is that you have time for ambassador/scheme/conspirator. No +buy still means no scrying, and that bank is not going to be great, even if you’re drawing all your coins.

  4. jtotheonah says:

    I’m going Ambassador/Potion to build a tight Scrying Pool deck with Conspirators and Harvest. Some Schemes to ensure I always get at least two Scrying Pools once it gets going. Bummer about no +Buy, but in a Colony game I think this deck will play consistently and be resistant to greening. The only thing is, with no gainers or +buy it’s gonna take a long time to buy all the pieces.

    On a 5/2 I think Counting House/Copper or Counting House/Nothing and try to build a Counting House/Bank deck. Maybe get some Schemes and try to use the CH more than once per reshuffle?

    • jtotheonah says:

      At least, that’s my 5/2 if my opponent gets 3/4 – high variance in the face of bad luck and all that. If I know we both have 5/2 I might open Apprentice/nothing and go for that Apprentice/Warehouse/Tunnel strat.

    • Dorestu says:

      I can vouch for a Counting House strategy here, especially against avid Ambassador action. In a recent game, my opponent used plenty of Schemes and a Counting House to pick up 3 Colonies in a row thanks to all the Coppers I gave him through Ambassador (okay, and Mountebank, too). If he hadn’t blown it by top-decking only CH just as he was about to reshuffle his bloated, cycling-free deck, I’d be doomed.

      This board not only has Bank to assist with this strategy, but Warehouse will usually be a huge help. The lack of +Buy or any sort of gainer (other than Tunnel) might seem to hinder this strategy (especially when you have to decide between Scheme and Warehouse), but it didn’t really help my opponent that much, either.

      So yeah, I’d likely end up going for a Counting House strategy if I had a 5/2 opening. Even with 4/3, I could see it happening depending on what my opponent does.

    • Anonymous says:

      i agree especially with ambassador out there! bring on the copper!

  5. DG says:

    No that’s a good kingdom. No shortage of options. No extra buys or gains. Easy to lose pace with the wrong purchases.

    • DG says:

      Actually I’ll correct myself. Tunnel can gain gold. Very suggestive. Ambassador/scheme then warehouse/tunnel/apprentice and away.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Some good Tunnel enablers, but a tight SP deck with Ambassador can potentially swamp the opposition with Curses.

    • Anonymous says:

      it’s quite hard to swamp the opposition with curses if you can play only one terminal each turn, and with ambassador available.

      • dondon151 says:

        The only terminal that you’d play is Ambassador. In a fat deck (which an opponent will have if he goes for Warehouses), the opponent is going to have a difficult time matching his Ambassador with a Curse. Ambassadoring Potions is also difficult to deal with.

        The one card that would make this strategy not so strong is Apprentice. It takes a long time to build up a mean SP + Amb engine without +buys, and the guy with 3 Colonies and an Apprentice can just drain that pile.

  7. RoryG says:

    Ultra-thin deck. Open warehouse/tunnel, get ambassor and apprentice ASAP. Ambassador away the coppers. Apprentice trashes estates, then golds once you’ve bought platinums to draw the deck; warehouse with tunnel will resupply golds every turn.

  8. Trlstanc says:

    My instinct would be to open WH+Tunnel with 3/4 or Apprentice with 5/2 (and then pick up an Ambassador.

    But after a little more thought I think that WH+CH+Bank would be a lot more fun and might be able to quickly and consistently hit $11. If I got lucky and had a 5/2 opening, it might be able ot win with as little as 1xCH, 1xBank and 3-4 WH, especially if the opponent kept sending me coppers. Not my first thought, but definitely something I’ll try out the next time I get the chance.

  9. brokoli says:

    Very interesting board. I really don’t know what I would play. My first impression was Scrying Pool + scheme + Conspirator but tunnel ans Apprentice are interesting also.

  10. ehunt says:

    Writing this before reading other comments.

    My first instinct (assuming 3/4 split) is the fantastic ambassador/scheme opening, trashing into a good conspirator/scheme deck. With no +buy, you’re likely to overpay for conspirators a few times; that’s OK – conspirator is better than gold if you can rig it to work every turn. Whether or not to go for the scrying pool is a little awkward here, again because there’s no +buy; I say yes, picking up only a couple (since they can be returned to the top of the deck with scheme, you don’t need more). So certainly conspirator is preferable to anything but platinum and colony here, and even with platinum you don’t want more than one.

    So 5/2 really sucks here, even though the apprentice is normally quite strong. My feeling is that the inability to open ambassador/scheme means that you should concede the ambassador war at this point already and just open counting house/copper, putting your ambassadoring opponent in an uncomfortable position. Bank also goes well with counting house, and you can afford to buy provinces, duchies, and tunnels much earlier than usual with this strategy. (Assuming the opponent ambassadors you coppers – which he probably will and probably should, you should buy as many counting houses as possible, preferring them to golds but not to banks. Prefer banks to platina, but prefer provinces to banks pretty early.)

  11. chris says:

    5/2, I think it would have to be apprentice, and pick up an ambassador in the second shuffle, planning to apprentice your estates and ambassador coppers, mostly. It’s a bad draw on this board, but if you just take ambassador/nothing it amounts to surrender. So you have to gamble on being able to get ambassador later and still come back by trashing estates and giving yourself more hand to choose from with the ambassador/drawing it faster.

    4/3, ambassador/scheme seems hard to beat, moving into conspirators after you pick up your second scheme (or maybe third, so you can scheme the ambassador, and still scheme two schemes to guarantee activating the conspirators; with no villages you really don’t want to be stuck playing them terminally, especially with several in hand).

    I tend to think that warehouse/tunnel is a distraction here compared to scheme/conspirator, even though I normally love warehouse, and scrying pool is going to be way too unreliable with ambassadors flying around. And I expect counting house to lose to a strategy that actually gets rid of its coppers (like ambassador/scheme/conspirator). Conspirators have no use for banks, and harvest is hardly even worth looking at compared to the rest of the board (especially considering it’s villageless).

    But what do I know, I’m not even level 30.

  12. Davio says:

    I’ll be very inclined to just try Scheme-Conspirator here, just because I don’t remember having played it.

    Just buy 2 Schemes, keep putting ’em back and every Conspirator is a Grand Market already. Unfortunately, without the buys. Warehouse and Ambassador might help setting it up.

    Whether it’s going to be faster than plain old Warehouse+Tunnel (with or without Ambassador) is doubtful though.

  13. WanderingWinder says:

    Has anyone else ‘cheated’? (Note I only did this after posting)

    • ftl says:

      After you reminded me, yes. My instincts about speed of various strategies was wrong 😦

      • captainfrisk says:

        It’s important to note that one of the reasons why this game was featured was because we both remained extremely puzzled about how to play this thing. Neither of us even noticed / considered Counting House… although I’ll admit to a giant blind spot regarding that card… with all of the other power on the board, I didn’t even consider it as a possibility.

  14. tlloyd says:

    I see two possibilities:

    1. Open potion/ambassador, then (in order of priority):
    – buy 3-4 scrying pools
    – “trash” two coppers/estates with ambassador
    – buy 6 conspirators
    – buy schemes

    2. Open warehouse/ambassador, then buy 2-3 tunnels, gain golds, buy plats

    I would tend toward the first, but I bet the second would win.

    • tlloyd says:

      Okay, so after some solitaire trial runs, I have concluded that scrying pool is not worth it (unless the attack proves very effective at disrupting your opponent’s deck). A couple schemes work just as well, and are much faster to buy. Once you start greening, a warehouse comes in handy, so I would pick that up after the schemes if I fail to reach $4. But here’s the extra wrinkle that I enjoyed discovering: saving a single copper allows you to reach $11 with only five conspirators, and gives you the chance to continuously drop coppers into your opponent’s deck. That may or may not be advisable depending on his strategy, of course.

  15. ftl says:

    Hm. I see a few options here.

    1) Target deck of Scrying Pool, Scheme, Conspirator, Amb, Warehouse, aiming to draw whole deck with pool, send away a curse with Amb, Set up next turn with scheme, buy colonies with conspirators and a small number of treasures (one plat? plat+gold?)

    2) Warehouse/Scheme/Tunnel deck. Koad up on warehouses to get golds and use those to get plats; add in an apprentice to nom estates and later to nom golds for huge draw.

    3) Warehouse/Counting House/Bank. Rely on your opponent ambing you more coppers, play warehouse to cycle your deck and find your counting houses, discarding coppers and then drawing back up.

    3 sort of counters any amb play. Amb is slow, and if I can counting house those coppers, I can jump straight to banks and plats with just one or two lucky counting houses. Definitely the my choice on 5/2 versus 4/3. Whereas on 4/3… hmm. I’d probably open Warehouse/Amb. Try to find time to buy just one tunnel; after that, focus on warehouses and a second amb to win the amb tennis. Hopefully, this will pick up some gold along the way to bootstrap to a second tunnel, and apprentice.

    Option 1, with Scrying Pool, seems like it would take too long with no +buy around. Well, those are my guesses. Let’s go see what actually happened!

  16. jtotheonah says:

    I really hope someone does go Counting House here, just because I’d be interested to see annotated high-level Counting House play.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think this is kinda like rock paper scissors. If your opponent opens up amb/scheme to consp, you need to look into going counting house/bank (if your are fortunate to have a 5/2 opening, otherwise your gonna duke it out). It takes about 12-14 turns before the scheme/consp will effectively draw colonies. If your opponent opens up tunnel/warehouse to apprent, you need to flood him with coppers/estates in order to prevent him from reaching the point where he can effectively trash golds each hand and draw his entire deck. From a little testing this tends to happen around turn 12 (if unaltered). 1 Scheme can help this method by always putting an apprentice on the top to trash a gold. Some serious playtesting might be in order to figure out if one of these strats truly is supreme to the others.

  18. flies01 says:

    My instinct would be to open warehouse/tunnel to apprentice, but with 5/2 i would certainly go counting house/copper. I recently played counting house against ambassador and won (narrowly), so I’d hope for a repeat of that.

  19. vaivraza says:

    4/3 for Warehouse/potion. My idea is a deck for warehouses and Tunnels for gold, also Scraying Pools and Conspirators. Warehouses for jump over extra coppers and states my opponent would give me via Ambassador. Counting House may help with those copper I discarded from Warehouses, and Schemes for replay Scraying Pool and Counting House.

    5/2, same idea but open with Apprentice/nothing. This card is great; at any moment I can sacrifice a gold (or either a Prov) to do a big turn, buying Colony.

    I take note in this game there is no Extra Buy.

    I think is an error to buy Ambassador here.

  20. papahav says:

    Alot of people are talking about warehouse but warehouse/tunnel/goldspam gets you nowhere to closer to $11 in plat games. Scying/conspirator decks are also slow to construct without buy (and end with a worthless mega turn).

    The countinghouse-bank combo has 2 perfect setup cards-> scheme and warehouse. But leaves the 4/3 player at a decent disadvantage having to waste time with at least 1 silver (if hes lucky)

    • jtotheonah says:

      Idk about that. It’s slower in Colony games, but you just use your Golds to buy Platina if you don’t get four in hand. Add to that, you have a bunch of Warehouses to help you connect 3-4 Golds together and/or Ambassador to get rid of extra stuff.

  21. PitzerMike says:

    I believe I’d buy two to three Warehouses, two Counting Houses and the rest Coppers, Banks, Colonies depending on how much $ i have to spend.
    I’d add the second and third Warehouse and the second Counting House a bit later on of course.

  22. Geronimoo says:

    I simulated a few strategies for this board and here’s what I found:
    -Counting House is a decent counter for Ambassador and combos with Warehouse and Bank, but it’s still a pretty slow and unreliable strategy
    -Scrying Pool-Conspirator which opens Potion/Ambassador is very strong. Yes, it takes a bit of time to set up, but eventually a stack of Scrying Pools is a guaranteed Colony. The same strategy with Schemes instead of Scrying Pools is less reliable.
    -And finally Warehouse/Tunnel is awful until you combine it with Apprentices. You gain some Golds and can trash them at will for 6 cards leading to lots more Golds and a Colony buy. This should likely open Ambassador/Warehouse to make the deck smaller and facilitate Tunnel discards. This is the best strategy according to my simulations, but Scrying Pool-Conspirator is a very close second

    • DG says:

      I suspect the warehouse/scheme/counting house option can work with a very low number of purchases. If the deck can hit a quick streak of provinces before the deck becomes too large to control then it can win. The choice of putting warehouse or counting house on top of the deck will probably always fool the simulator so it will never be optimal, and the lost tempo could be fatal.

      • Geronimoo says:

        I realise that, but now the Counting House deck loses 4 out of 5 games against the other decks with bad play decisions and I doubt a human player would be able to improve the strategy to a winning one. I’d suggest you let two high level players try the matchup on isotropic a few times to get a better idea.

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