This is the third part in a series of four articles written by Polk5440. The series studies games of Dominion with three or more players and how they differ from games with just two players.
Think about how you begin a game of Dominion. Before you even take your first turn, usually you spend a couple of moments perusing the kingdom, deciding on a general strategy, and what cards might be worth buying. How do you decide what your deck will look like? What’s your plan for the game?
With one opponent in a two-player game, the decision process is usually pretty straightforward: Pick the strategy that gives you the best deck if you were able to build it uncontested. That is, strategize without thinking about how an opponent may get too many of the same cards you want.
Why is this the case? If your opponent does something different than you, then either you can think “oh, no! What have I done?!” or you can proceed with gusto toward executing your strategy and fulfilling your destiny of Dominion domination. As your armchair advisor, I say you should have confidence in yourself and do the latter.
Alternatively, suppose you both decide to do the same thing. Well, now you are competing for the same cards. If you need a lot of copies of key cards, you might not get as many as you want — even if you react to what your opponent does during the game.
Does that mean when you see your opponent going for the same cards you are that you should give up on your initial plan and start doing something else? NO. By doing that, you let your opponent successfully implement the winning strategy, unimpeded. By trying to switch strategies, yes, the game will be over faster, but it will be over faster because you will lose.
In conclusion, with two players, you can gauge the power level of a potential deck by how well that deck-building strategy performs uncontested.
How it changes with more players
In games with more than two people, the dynamic is more complex and this simplistic approach won’t work anymore. In the same game, one player can contest the best uncontested strategy, but another player can do something completely different. So the best uncontested strategy can both be contested and losing.
This dynamic makes multiplayer games tougher to win; what other players decide to do can determine whether you win or lose. If you are used to two player games, this may be jarring: Two player games are much more a test of skill of those two players than a multiplayer game is a test of the relative skill of those players. In addition to luck of the draw, and more players to compete and win against (so you expect to win a lower percentage of games), what other players decide to do or strategies they pursue can influence whether you win or lose.