The month of Alt-VP : Silk Road

In this article series I will explore the so called Alt-VP or Alternate Victory Point cards. I will analyze simple decks that use Alt-VP as their win condition and how well they fare against baseline strategies. I will also try to find (near) optimal strategies for the mirror match. 

Week 4 : Silk Road


Silk Road doesn’t need much support to be awesome. Any green card in the kingdom will enable it. Even the lowly Great Hall. Today I’ll examine Island as an enabler. We won’t be using any other kingdom cards to keep things simple. Let’s let it fight against Smithy Big Money (which buys 1 Smithy, Treasures and Provinces)


Island/Silk Road wins 69% of games! Here are the buy rules for the optimal bot (evaluated from top to bottom for each buy):

  • buy Silk Road when you have 5 more Islands than Silk Road
  • buy Island
  • buy Silk Road
  • buy Duchy
  • buy Estate if there are 4 or less Silk Roads left in the supply
  • buy Silver

Notice that this bot starts greening from the first turn and hardly builds economy. I expected this kind of strategy wants to buy Copper, but the simulations suggest otherwise. Also this bot shouldn’t buy Province because emptying the Province pile fast enough wins the game for the Smithy deck. You want the game to drag on to maximize Silk Roads.

Now we look at the mirror match where both players go for Silk Roads.

silk 2

After a few iterations I came to this optimal and very simple bot for the mirror:

  • Open Island/Silver
  • buy Silk Road
  • buy Duchy
  • buy Island
  • buy Estate if there are 4 or less Silk Roads left in the supply
  • buy Silver
  • buy Copper

As was expected you want to rush the Silk Roads as soon as possible and turn 3 is really soon. Contrary to the previous deck, this one wants Copper. It wins 75% vs the original non-rushing bot.

Lessons learned: don’t help your opponent by buying cards he wants to pile out as fast as possible; and you don’t want a lot of economy building if your goal cards cost $4 or less.

Join me next week when I build a Masterpiece.

(these bots have been incorporated in the latest version of the simulator)

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