Adventures Previews #3: Amulet, Swamp Hag, Hireling

This post is by Donald X. Vaccarino, previewing the new Dominion expansion: Dominion Adventures.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum.  Stay tuned later today for a bonus preview — wait, nope, that already happened.

Those of you who have been wanting more Duration cards, here they are at last. There was lots left to do with them, and I could get in some nice simple cards this way, and well people wanted them. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are simply cards that do something on future turns. They stay in play until they are done doing everything they have to do; that’s the only tricky part.

adventurespreview3
Amulet is a basic Duration card. It gives you a choice on both turns, that’s its special thing. Amulet is super-flexible; it gets rid of garbage, provides money for the same turn, and gets Silvers for later.

Swamp Hag showcases a type of Attack made possible by Duration cards. It makes the other players have worse turns. In this case, anything they buy will be cursed. Two Swamp Hags? Two Curses. It can be grim in multiplayer. They can just choose not to buy anything in order to dodge the Curses and well you will be happy with that too. Try to avoid playing Swamp Hag and Outpost in the same turn; that Swamp Hag doesn’t end up Cursing anyone.

Hireling is a Duration card that lasts forever. You put it out, and then that’s that, you have an extra card on every turn for the rest of the game. That seems good. They’re cumulative of course; with three of them out, you’ll get three extra cards each turn. You get the card at the start of your turn, rather than when drawing your hand, which means it doesn’t suck vs. Militias. $6 may seem cheap for this ability and well there’s playtesting, you know, the costs aren’t just random.

 

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Adventures Bonus Preview #3: Haunted Woods

This is the third of several previews by playtesters of Dominion: Adventures, introducing the next Dominion expansion.  This post is by Mic Qsenoch, prolific streamer.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum

Haunted Woods

Dominion: Adventures

Orange is such a beautiful color, isn’t it? We now have Duration technology to make your opponent miserable during their turn. Plus the card has a sweet name.

Haunted Woods reminds me of Rabble in many ways. There’s the nonterminal draw, but the attack parts feel similar as well. The attack can be weak for much of the game, and there’s often ways to avoid it. I’ll let all of you talk about the different ways. But if you green without preparing your deck for a constant Haunted Woods barrage you might be in for a bad time. It’s also possible for the attack portion to be friendly interaction, letting you put good cards back on top of your deck. A lot of nice player interaction to be had in this card.

As a duration you won’t be able to play Haunted Woods as often as other card drawers, but getting +3 cards at the start of your turn is, like, the best time to get them! Sometimes people underestimate this fact.

Moat must be revealed (or Lighthouse be in play) when Haunted Woods is played to block the attack effect.

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Adventures Bonus Preview #2: Transmogrify

This is the second of several bonus previews by playtesters of Dominion: Adventures, introducing the next Dominion expansion.  This post is by LastFootnote, well-known fan card designer.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum.

Transmogrify

Dominion: Adventures

trans•mog•ri•fy: verb
transform, especially in a surprising or magical manner.

Today I’m here to tell you about my favorite Dominion card: Transmogrify. It has a strange name, but packs a lot of versatility. Transmogrify is all about giving you what you need right now. Does your starting hand have three terminal Actions? Poof! Now one of them is a Village. Have your Magpies been multiplying out of control? Abracadabra! One of them just became a Lost City. Have all the Curses run out? Shazam! That Witch in your hand just turned to Gold. The possibilities are endless!

It’s a terrific card for combos. Instead of buying Tournaments, you can simply keep your Transmogrify on your Tavern mat until your Province shows up and then gain a Tournament right into your hand. It’s especially powerful with cards that have on-trash abilities. You can transmogrify a Cultist into another Cultist just to draw 3 cards. And when you Transmogrify a Fortress, you keep the Fortress in your hand and gain a Wharf into your hand on top of that. Instant engine!

I hope you’re enjoying these little bonus previews. Come back tomorrow, when somebody else will be talking about some other card!

 

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Adventures Previews #2: Guide, Duplicate, Coin of the Realm

This post is by Donald X. Vaccarino, previewing the new Dominion expansion: Dominion Adventures.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum.  Stay tuned later today for a bonus preview!

Adventures introduces Reserve cards. They go on a Tavern mat. They hang out there, turn after turn, waiting until you are ready for them. “Calling” one means moving it from your mat to your in-play area; then it gets discarded normally that turn, to eventually be drawn again and go back on the mat. Wait let’s go over this again. You play it, just doing the part above the line, putting it on your mat. Later, you move it off the mat into play, just doing the part it says there, whatever it says for whenever it says. Okay.

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Guide can give you a new hand at the start of your turn. You just skip right past a bad hand, or a Militia’d hand, or a hand that doesn’t have that Hero you need to upgrade. With multiple Guides on your mat, you can keep going until you run out or find that good hand.

Duplicate duplicates something. That name just tells the whole story. You buy a Lab; you Duplicate it, two Labs. You gain a Gold from Hero; you Duplicate it, two Golds. Whatever you are getting, you probably want more of them. Late in the game, Duplicate Duchies.

Coin of the Realm is a weird one. When you play it it makes $1 and goes on your mat. On some future turn, you call it to get to play more Actions. So it’s a village that you can’t (normally) use the turn you play it. And it’s a village that just waits until you need it. You draw your two Heroes together, play one, call the Coin, and play the other one. You can also use Hero to gain a Coin. Will the other Reserve cards all be combos with Hero? *checks…* No. Not all of them.

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Adventures Bonus Preview #1: Storyteller

This is the first of several bonus previews by playtesters of Dominion: Adventures, introducing the next Dominion expansion.  This post is by WanderingWinder, prolific streamer.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum.

Storyteller

Dominion: Adventures

First, a couple of notes for clarity: You don’t have to play treasures if you don’t want to, but you DO have to spend all the $ you’ve collected over the course of the turn, including the money from the treasures you’re playing, the $ from this card, as well as any you’ve made from previous actions.

Full disclosure: I haven’t tested or played with this card at all, so this is an article of conjecture and of theory-crafting not one built from experience.

The first thing I noticed when I saw this card was that it was another way, besides Black Market, of getting treasures in play during the action phase. Now, some of the Black Market Combos – mostly draw-to-X variants, and Tactician, – aren’t “on” here. But some of them – Quarry+gainer, using Horn Of Plenty mid-turn – still do work.

Anyway, these are only fringe benefits – the pet tricks I love and relish, but not, I am guessing, the bulk of what the card’s work is. That, namely, is to turn cash into cards. Coppers turn into cantrips, Silvers turn into labs, and Golds turn into double labs, and all on a card which. This is, in general, an improvement in every case. And all of this is on a card which is a cantrip by itself. The drawback, of course, is that if you are using this to draw your deck, you are sapping some of the money out of that deck. Still, this really gets your draw going quickly, which is especially potent in the early stages of the game.

Most cards are fairly simple to play once they’re in your deck – you just play all your villages and non-terminals first, draw cards before non-draw, and go. But I expect this card will be very tricky to play during the mid- and late-game. You need to know exactly how much money to funnel into it to get the draw you need (need to know how much draw you need for that as well) while still making sure you have enough money left to buy what you need come end of turn. I also want to point out potential anti-synergies with Peddler variants (and Conspirator variants): it may look like this is non-terminal draw/sifting (and it is), and that cantrip-money-based decks seem to love that kind of card. Normally they do, but if you draw this card late in your turn, you might be forced into not playing it at all, because it would sap you of too much money. You can mitigate that some by simply feeding fewer/worse treasures into this, but it’s not as much of a pure success as it might at first glance seem.

Ultimately this IS a sifter, with a little bit of non-terminal draw thrown in. Discarding coppers with this is like cellar plus a card; more expensive treasures get you a little more.

What kinds of decks want this? Well, engines would prefer other sifters once they are running, since this one costs economy, but Storyteller does help a lot in getting them running, and this is generally a higher-priority issue. It’s worth noting that strong trashing will probably more or less obsolete the need for Storytelling.

Terminal draw Big Money will obviously not like this. The same is true of slogs, since unlike other sifters, this can’t get rid of non-treasures. Decks which are somewhere between money decks and engines – decks where treasure is good but you’d really like to play a key action or a couple of key actions very often – seem like ideal homes for this card. Those decks exist now, but they rarely get a chance to shine, being squeezed by often-more-powerful engines and often-faster Big Money strategies. Perhaps Storyteller will allow them to shine more often. In general, you want your payload to be something which is happening at the end of your turn, and not interspersed in the middle. Treasure has this quality, but it’s not the only thing. Many mega-turn strategies like Bridge and Horn Of Plenty don’t care about traditional money. They’ll work particularly nicely with Storyteller.

As for strength, I am going to guess that this card will end up being powerful, but $5 is a price-point with a high bar. Ultimately, we’re dealing with a situational card here, so on the right board, in the right spot, it will be something you want to jump on hard, but other times it will not have the impact required for its cost. In other words, the exact thing which is my favorite kind of card.

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Adventures Previews #1: Lost City, Magpie, Hero

This post is by Donald X. Vaccarino, previewing the new Dominion expansion: Dominion Adventures.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Adventures Preview subforum.  Stay tuned later today for a bonus preview!

It’s a new Dominion expansion! Some of you knew it was inevitable; some of you hoped it would happen; some of you were glad it wasn’t going to. It’s happening though, I am so sure of it that I am previewing cards from it.

Adventures has a ton of cards, so I am previewing three a day. Each day but today the cards will fit a theme, showing off a different functional aspect of the set – Reserve, Duration, Events, tokens. That leaves today to show off some cards that don’t fit those themes.

adventurespreview1

I like to lead with a simple card, to prove that the set has some. Lost City is a vanilla card on top, that makes the other players draw a card when you get one. You really don’t want them to have that good turn, but then you may really want some Lost Cities.

Recent studies show that magpies do not especially collect shiny objects. These are folklore magpies though, which still do. Magpie might find you a treasure, or perhaps just reveal another Magpie. Over time a single Magpie can turn into a whole flock of them. There are just ten Magpies in the pile; they’re not Rats with wings.

Finally we have Hero. This one is somewhat enigmatic. The top is straightforward, you get +$2 and gain a Treasure, any Treasure in the game. Usually Gold but you never know, could be Platinum or something more exotic. And then when you discard it from play, you can exchange it for a Champion. And wait, this isn’t in the Supply. How do you get one? Well I’ll tell you. You just need to discard a Warrior from play; then you can exchange the Warrior for a Hero. Warrior isn’t in the Supply either though – you get one by exchanging a Treasure Hunter for it. I suppose it’s obvious that you get a Treasure Hunter by exchanging a Page for it. But that’s it, that’s all the turtles there are; you buy a Page, and it turns into a Treasure Hunter, then a Warrior, then a Hero, then a Champion. Page costs $2, so the actual cost of Hero is, $2, plus playing those other cards once each. I somehow fit two of these cycles into Adventures – there’s also a Peasant who becomes a Soldier, but then a Fugitive, but then a Disciple, and finally a Teacher. It’s two little life stories, played out in cards that gradually get better for you. What exactly the other cards do will remain a mystery until the set is out; there is just too much to preview.

But wait, there’s more! dominionstrategy.com is also going to have a preview each day this week – single card previews, a different previewer each time. The set has 58 uh things; even at 4 a day, it will be below average for what % of it was previewed. No doubt these other previews will be crossposted here, just as these are crossposted there. I am mentioning them here anyway.

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Dominion: Adventures Teasers!

The ninth expansion to Dominion, Dominion: Adventures, is imminent.  We will be posting card previews starting next week, but in the meantime, Donald X. Vaccarino has the following teaser for you all.  Discuss in the forums!

Dominion: Adventures

Dominion: Adventures

Previews start Monday! As a special treat for the weekend, here are some teasers – bits of information about the expansion that don’t actually tell you any cards. I will not be further explaining this stuff! Well not until after the set is out, and by then it shouldn’t need much explanation.

Some things you will find in Dominion: Adventures:

– 22 dividing lines
– 8 big arrows
– 7 cards with 3 types
– 3 treasures, including an attack and a village
– 2 12-card piles, including a victory card worth 0 VP the turn you buy it
– +$3, +$4, and +$5
– a card that gives the 2nd player an advantage
– a card you can play when it isn’t your turn
– a card that draws you 5 cards when Throned
– word counts: Supply: 15; Game: 4; Turn: 31; Token: 16.

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10 Cards to Victory

This article is written by shark_bait, originally posted on the forum.

shark_bait’s 10 Cards to Victory

This is not a list of the 10 best cards in Dominion. Instead, it is a list of the 10 cards wherein fundamentally understanding their impact to a Kingdom will help pave your way to victory. They are the cards that should make you happy because you know that your greater understanding of that card will allow you to outplay, outthink and outwit your opponent. There are 3 main categories that these cards fall under including cards that relate to VP, cycling/deck acceleration and 3-pile control. Obviously other cards in Dominion fall under the umbrella of these categories but this is an arbitrary list of 10 cards that I chose and the concepts that they cover can be applied to other relevant cards.

So here is the list.

1.) Stonemason
2.) Fairgrounds
3.) Vineyards
4.) Possession
5.) Tactician
6.) Scrying Pool
7.) Hermit/Madman
8.) Apothecary
9.) Goons
10.) Platinum/Colony

Don’t try to read too much into the order of the list. Just accept the contents of the list and that all of the cards represent an idea that a full understanding of will allow for you to win more games of Dominion.

1.) Stonemason

Stonemason is the king of 3-pile endings. Stonemason a Silver into 2 Stonemasons and buy a Stonemason overpaying $2 gaining 2 more Stonemasons to gain 5 Stonemasons in a single turn. Use it to turn a $6 Gold into 2 $5’s. Turn a $5 into 2 $4’s. This is all combined with the fact that if you can draw your deck completely you can then use your newly gained cards (which could be a Stonemason) to do even more on your turn. Games can end very quickly with Stonemason. Always be sure to think about what 3 piles are close and how Stonemason could be used to quickly deplete them.

2.) Fairgrounds

A relatively straightforward card in principle but it is quit game changing. This card is a huge boost to engines as a BM player can no longer hope to get half the VP. This card allows for engines to build longer and then capitalize on later in the game with a stronger deck. When this card is out you should think about how many points your Fairgrounds could be worth. Think of how your deck will be build. You want diversity but you don’t want to overterminalize such that your deck can’t generate $6. Dark Ages helped Fairgrounds immensely with the addition of 8 unique cards. That is almost 4 additional points per Fairgrounds. When using Shelters/Ruins with Fairgrounds think carefully about what you trash. At the end of the game you may find that you should have kept your 3 Shelters to allow your Fairground to go from 6 to 8 points.

3.) Vineyards

Another VP card in the list. What makes Vineyards great is that you get points by building a huge engine. Like Fairgrounds, it is a scaling VP card that prevents BM from obtaining half of the VP. Vineyards benefits immensely from cheap cantrips (and cantrips in general) and also from the price point. Costing only $P allows you to use a +Buy in the Kingdom to gain both a Vineyards and an engine component. You can also trash all of your treasure and still afford them. In a Vineyards mirror winning the split often results in Victory. Look for an opportunity to purchase a 2nd or 3rd Potion to try and get a 5/3 advantage. This will force your opponent to find VP elsewhere whereas you can continue to build action cards to gain points.

4.) Possession

I wrote an article here outlining many of the nuances of this card. What Possession does is flip a Kingdom upside-down. I won’t go into huge detail here but when you see Possession you have to be able to recognize (a) Is this viable to play (b) how do I build my deck in the mirror and (c) if my opponent goes for Possession how should my play respond assuming I don’t want Possession. Be careful of what cards you put in your deck. Trash for benefit greatly help the Possessor so incorporate them with care.

5.) Tactician

There are a couple of things about Tactician that warrant its inclusion on this list. First, the idea that 1 big hand is better than 2 normal hands and second is that deck cycling is extremely helpful in deck acceleration. Whenever you play Tactician it is obvious that you lose a turn and that next turn you get a double hand. You also get 5 cards of cycling which allows you to get to your newly purchased cards faster. One large hand being better than two small hands is crucial for hitting certain price points and cards that benefit from large hands. Of special mention is Colony/Platinum and Tactician. One Tactician play will often result in an early Platinum which can snowball into more Platinum. One Tactician hand with Forge allows for a quick and efficient trashing of a large part of the deck. Tactician also has many combos ala the “Double Tactician” deck wherein a Tactician is played each turn and cards are bought using virtual $$$ from Kingdom cards. This is the most “cute” of the Tactician uses but it should not overshadow the others. Tactician is a very versatile card and understanding its use in a variety of situations is essential.

6.) Scrying Pool

Scrying Pool is almost always good. It is very comparable to Vineyards in terms of what kind of Kingdoms it excels in. You want an action dense deck and cheap cantrips allows for massive card draw. There are few kingdoms where Scrying Pool can be avoided. The attack can be very powerful in both keeping junk on top of your opponents deck and also forcing him to miss plays of key cards in his deck. This attack slows down your opponent giving you more time to build your engine. In general engine with attacks are significantly better than engines without due to what they do to non-engine opponents and the relative value of each players turn. Game extension of 4 turns for a non-engine players gives them an extra 4 mediocre hands that may get a Province or Duchy. However those 4 turns for the engine player come when the engine is running at peak performance and instead of 4 mediocre turns the engine player gains a significant advantage.

7.) Hermit/Madman

These are an extremely good pair of cards. Most people are aware of the Hermit/Market Square combo as a game-winning strategy but these cards are more than that. Hermit is exceptionally good at ignoring all Cursing attacks. Being able to trash from the discard allows you to both fill you deck with Silver while simultaneously trashing Curses as soon as they enter your deck. I would go as far to say that Hermit should be bought in every game. It is so easy to replace starting Estates with Silver. That greatly increases your deck’s ability to get $5 power cards. You can then continue to gain Silver or $3 actions or you can choose to gain Madmen. I would compare Madmen to Tactician except that you get your large turn on the turn you play Madman. The catch is that you only get it once. Use Madman at the beginning of the game accelerate your cycling and deck improvement or use it end-game with multiple on a single turn for a game-ending megaturn. Look to turn your Hermits into Madmen when possible, especially if you can do two at once. These cards both have uses at the beginning of the game and in the endgame.

8.) Apothecary

Given the choice between Apothecary and Alchemist, I would take Apothecary even though it is $2P and Alchemist is $3P. Before you start to edgecase me one this I will say that the first purchase with a Potion should be Apothecary. Apothecary provides both deck cycling and hand improvement. This allows for decks to power spike much faster by using newly purchased cards faster. If Apothecary is the only Potion card you should highly consider trying to incorporate into your strategy as the benefits are immense. It has minor combos with top of the deck interaction cards but its main power is that it is the cycling/deck acceleration that it provides.

9.) Goons

Goons is similar to the VP cards included in this list in that BM can’t end the game with half of the traditional VP. The iconic Goons games are those where you get around 5 Goons in play on a single turn with a large amount of +Buy and then go on a game-ending megaturn amassing huge piles of VP tokens. However most Goons games are not like that. Lack of Village support, lack of draw and lack of trashing come rear their ugly heads and prevent a game ending megaturn. Outside of the Goons megaturn is the high-skill, highly tactical Province game that contains Goons. If you ignore Goons, you will lose and if you ignore Province you will also lose. In these games you need to recognize the pivotal point in deck development where you transition from deck improvement to score improvement. There is no easy formula to define that state. What you are looking for is the time when a non-VP card will not contribute to earning its equivalent points had it been a VP card. This is where you prioritize Duchy over more Goons. You start buying Copper and Estates with extra buys.

10.) Colony/Platinum

One could simply say that the addition of colony and platinum add more points to the game and lengthen it allowing more skilled players to have a greater opportunity to demonstrate their skill. That is true and I don’t want this description to take away from that true statement. Colony and Platinum are so much more than that. Normal Province games in a general sense go 14-16 turns. Moving up to Colony/Platinum puts you around 20-22 turns. In addition to having more turns the relevant and important decisions within those turns increases. VP vs. Treasure buying becomes much more important as the game can end with the depletion of the 2nd highest VP pile. I have won numerous Colony/Platinum games because of opponents who bought Province too early instead of Platinum. On the flip side I have won numerous games due to opponents buying Platinum when they should be buying Province. These games make you think more critically about your deck state. How many times will you see a given card before the game ends? Can you start rushing Provinces and reliably pile it out without stalling?

Conclusion

Obviously there are tons of nuances and combos not covered in this broad article. The goal is to highlight key cards that illustrate important concepts of understanding Dominion at the highest level. Thoroughly understanding these concepts and knowing when they apply is not easy. It takes lots of skill and experience to recognize the optimal decision. You win at Dominion when the game ends and you have the most points. These cards and concepts described will allow you to put yourself in a position that gives you the best chance the favorably end the game with more points than your opponents. Whether it comes from quick deck cycling, 3-pile endgame control or tight control on tactical decisions you can never be 100% sure of a win. You can only apply your knowledge as best as you can in the circumstances that you are given to maximize your chances for victory.

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Dark Ages: Rebuild

We previously posted an article on Rebuild, but this is a more advanced treatment on how specifically to deal with a two-player “Rebuild mirror match” where both sides contest this extremely powerful card.  This article is written by ragingduckd and SheCantSayNo, originally posted on the forum.

Rebuild

Dominion: Dark Ages

Rebuild Mirror Matches

When Rebuild is on the board, you usually just have to buy it. Other engines have a reasonable shot in games with Colonies or Shelters, but Rebuild is always a force to be reckoned with. When Rebuild has the home-court advantage of a Province game with Estates, there are very few decks that can outrun it.

This means that many of your Rebuild games — particularly your Province/Estates games — will be mirrors matches. Most of those Rebuild mirrors will follow a fairly consistent script. Playing them well requires first understanding that script and then deciding how and to what extent any particular kingdom demands that you deviate from it.

We assume that you’re playing against one opponent, with no Shelters, no Colonies, and no game-breaking combos, and that you and your opponent are both going for Rebuild. I briefly discuss some the major deviations from this setup at the end.

Act I: The Duchy Race

Your main goal in the early game is to win the Duchy split. An empty Duchy pile is a Rebuild roadblock for your Estates, so the Duchies you buy during this phase are the only cards you can productively Rebuild for the rest of the game. Getting more than your share of those Duchies is a huge win.

Your other early-game goal is to clear out those pesky starting Estates. If you manage to win the Duchy split 5-3 while emptying your deck of Estates, you’re in an absolutely dominating position. Every Rebuild you play will turn a Duchy into a Province, so playing Rebuild five times gets you five Provinces and a virtual lock.

Buying a Rebuild with your first $5 hand is a good start on both goals. With your subsequent $5 hands, keep buying either Rebuilds or Duchies. With each $5 hand, ask “if I buy another Rebuild, will I get to use it on an Estate before the Duchies run out?” When the answer is no, it’s time to start buying Duchies instead.

Edit: SCSN has done a wide range of simulations that suggest a simpler approach: buy 2 Rebuilds and then all Duchies.  Situations where anything else is better appear to be extremely rare.

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Rebuilding Duchies into Provinces — Deliberately rebuilding a Duchy instead of an Estate is the biggest early-game mistake you can make. Your opponent will snap up five or six Duchies, leaving you with deck full of small treasures, VP cards, and nearly-useless Rebuilds, and then rebuild his Duchies into Provinces while you scramble to find an $8 hand.
  • Buying Gold or any $5 action besides Rebuild — Unless you plan to skip Rebuild entirely, your early-game focus should be on Duchies (and Rebuilds that can gain Duchies). Even the game-breaking $5 terminals (see Combos below) should only be purchased after the Duchies are gone.
  • Buying surplus Estates — If your opponent is also rushing Duchies, you probably won’t have time to rebuild four Estates. A fourth Estate can be valuable if in you’re well ahead or in danger of running out of Rebuild targets, but it should be approached with caution. If that extra Estate wins the Duchy split, it’s a hero; if it’s the one Estate you get stuck with in a 4-4 split, it’s a goat. A fifth or sixth Estate is wildly overoptimistic and almost always a mistake at this point.

Act II: Post-Duchy Strategies

With the Duchy pile empty, the remaining sources of VP are limited. Unless there are alt-VP cards or VP tokens, it’s down to the Provinces and the Estates. Each player wants to Rebuild his Duchies, but he also has extra production to use along the way. He can use that production for of any of of three major post-Duchy strategies:

1. Turbo Rebuild: Add Rebuilds and sifters to rebuild your Duchies quickly

There are 8 Duchies in play and 8 Provinces to be gained. Every time a Province gets bought or trashed by Rebuild, another Duchy’s dreams die. With Turbo Rebuild, your goal is to make it the other guy’s Duchies that don’t get turned into Provinces.

2. Rebuild-BM: Add treasures and productive actions to buy Provinces

It’s not easy to start buying Provinces when you have a deck full of Duchies and Rebuilds, but it pays off big. Rebuilding a Duchy into a Province is only +3 VP, but buying one is +6 VP. Buying one Province can be enough for the win after a 4-4 split, and buying two will more than make up for losing the split 3-5.

3. The Estate Blitz: Buy estates and end the game early by rebuilding your Provinces into other Provinces

With Duchies gone and rebuilt Provinces worth only +3, Estates constitute a respectable form of VP. In a Blitz, you piledrive Estates and play Rebuild naming Estate to run out the Province pile. If all goes well, your opponent won’t have time to buy or rebuild into those last couple Provinces, and your pile of Estates will carry the game.

Some general considerations that should inform your decision:

  • The Duchy split — When you’ve won the split, Turbo Rebuild is usually the best continuation (assuming you don’t also have 2 or 3 surplus Estates for you Rebuilds to trip over). Five Provinces is a near-lock, if you can get there. If you can’t, then your Rebuilds will at least be productive right up to the end of the game. If you’ve lost the split, Turbo Rebuild isn’t going to close the VP gap, so go Rebuild-BM or Estate Blitz instead.
  • The kingdom — Cantrip sifters accelerate your rebuilding, which strengthens Turbo Rebuild and the Estate Blitz. Strong drawing cards strengthen Rebuild BM. Baron allows for a hybrid Estate-BM strategy. A complete list of combos would be difficult to write and painful to read, but you can usually just look at a kingdom and figure out which strategies have good support.
  • Your deck — If you have some extra Silver because you didn’t get to $5 on T3 or T4, you’re probably in a reasonable position to go Rebuild BM. If you managed to clear out all of your Estates, then Turbo is very attractive.  If you got caught with 2 or more Estates, they’re going to seriously get in the way of your Rebuilding, so you might avoid Turbo even if you won the Duchy split. On the other hand, you probably have a VP lead already and the opportunity cost of an Estate Blitz is relatively low.
  • Your opponent’s strategy — If the first thing your opponent does after Duchies run out is spend $6 on a Rebuild, he’s telling you that he’s going either Turbo Rebuild or Estate Blitz. Your time is limited, so responding with Rebuild BM is questionable unless you already have a good start. If he buys a Gold or an Estate instead, that reveals his intentions too. It’s hard to give concrete rules here, but try to anticipate how your strategies will interact and choose accordingly. If you respond to Turbo with Turbo, for example, the game will be high-variance and lightning fast.

You only get a few turns to choose your post-Duchy strategy once and for all. Once you start filling up on extra Rebuilds and Warehouses, you’ll have a miserable time changing gears to buy Provinces. Similarly, once you start adding Estates, it’s awfully hard to use your Rebuilds productively. This why Estates should be approached with caution during the Duchies race — a deck that gets caught with 2 or more Estates is essentially pre-committed to a Blitz.

Act III: End-Game Tactics

Once the players have committed to their post-Duchy strategies, the game is mostly tactical. But these aren’t the usual “do I buy a Duchy or a Gold?” end-game tactics, and they require skills that don’t normally get a lot of practice.

Tracking your VP cards throughout your shuffle is key. Rebuilding a Duchy is always best, and it’s often possible to engineer that. It’s also rather embarrassing to name the wrong card and have Rebuild skip your whole deck. If this happens to you, check the log to see exactly what was in the deck that you just discarded; this will get you back on track. The VP counter won’t do your job for you, but the counter plus the trash will often let you catch up if you’ve gotten just a little lost.

Resist the temptation to purchase haphazardly. If you’re running an Estate Blitz and some freak shuffle gives you a $7 hand, buy another Rebuild or Estate anyway. Despite this aberrant hand, you’re in no position to buy Provinces and adding a Gold isn’t going to change that. Stick to the cards that are compatible with your strategy, even if you have to grossly overpay.

Assess your long-term prospects and Rebuild accordingly. Often you have to risk either hitting an Estate or a Province. Hitting an Estate is pretty much a wash, but hitting a Province brings the game closer to its end. Before you play your Rebuild, consider whether shortening the game is good or bad for you.

As a general rule, the player with the better deck wants a longer game. If you have extra Duchies or loads of treasure, you want time to turn that advantage into Provinces. If your deck is full of Estates or you’ve already rebuilt all your Duchies, you probably want to end the game ASAP. An ordinary end-game is usually a race to gain Provinces (or sometimes to 3-pile), but a Rebuild end-game is often a race between a player who wants to gain Provinces and an opponent who wants to destroy them.


Game-Breaking Combos

Most Rebuild combos simply strengthen or weaken the various post-Duchy strategies, but there are a few that are simply so powerful that you have to scrap most of the script.

Rogue and Graverobber can regain your trashed Duchies. Turbo Rebuild is the only serious strategy on such a board, since you’ll have a continuous flow of Duchies to rebuild. For the same reason, Estates become a huge liability.  These guys are mid-to-late game buys, but with Duchies going to the trash constantly and with little else to do with your $5 hands, you’ll want to acquire two or more.

Duke is the only $5 VP in the game besides Duchy, so it provides Rebuild with the only alternate road from Estate to Province. With Duke on the board, you can flood your deck with Estates and your Rebuilds and they’ll continue being productive right up to the end. You’ll have some Dukes in your deck at the end of the game, so name Duchy when you play Rebuild and let your Provinces fend for themselves.

Tunnel, as werothegreat has already noted, turns Rebuild into a Gold machine. In a Rebuild game with Tunnel, there’s no actual rebuilding into Provinces. Just name Tunnel every time and flood your deck with Gold.

Feodum isn’t game-breaking per se, but deserves a mention here, as it’s rather strong and it doesn’t play like a normal Rebuild mirror. Edit: Rebuilding Feoda into more Feoda and then buying Provinces with the Silver seems to work rather well and usually beats a Duchy-oriented Rebuild strategy.  Ignore Duchies until late in the game and be more inclined to buy Gold, draw, and other actions that help you get to $8.


Other Notable Situations

Colonies weaken Rebuild. It takes several extra turns to go from 4-5 Provinces to 4-5 Colonies, and it’s a whole lot easier for an engine to grab 4 Colonies in 19 turns than 4 Provinces in 14 turns. With 4 VP cards instead of 3, you also have a lot less control over what your Rebuilds hit.

Shelters weaken Rebuild because you no longer get a free Duchy with every early-game Rebuild you play. I’d estimate that Rebuild with Shelters is effectively 2-3 turns behind Rebuild with Estates. In the mirror, you should buy fewer early-game Rebuilds and buy more of your Duchies directlyEdit: SCSN’s simulations suggest that Shelters don’t particularly hurt Rebuild.  When Rebuild is matched against non-Rebuild strategies, its win rate with Estates is almost exactly the same as with Shelters.

Nobles, Harem, and Farmland can all be rebuilt into Provinces. Buying these is usually at least as good as buying Duchies, so the Duchy race becomes less important and finding $6 to buy these with becomes more important.

Smaller Alt-VP cards should be added with caution. They can play the same role as Estates in a Blitz, but you can’t name both Estate and Great Hall. Every time your Rebuild trips over a Great Hall, your opponent gains time to grab the Province you otherwise would have trashed. Still, Rebuild games are usually close, so all three strategies are happy to grab some extra VP as the game draws to a close.

Posted in Dark Ages | Leave a comment

Promos: Black Market

This article is written by -Stef-, winner of the 2012 DominionStrategy.com Championships, and originally posted on the forum

Black Market

Promos: Black Market

This is my favorite card. I love the variety it brings to the game. It is a tricky card to play well, and at least as difficult to write a good article about.

Some dominating cards like Rebuild or Cultist make all the games look the same so you can give pretty specific rules for those games. For Black Market I can’t go much beyond general advice and some examples.

Yes or No?
Only play Black Market in an engine. Fortunately an engine is almost always viable with Black Market on the board.

In general, you should play engines unless a) the engine is too weak or b) something else is too strong. That may sound like lame advice but what I’m trying to say is that Black market on the board simply makes a) impossible. Your Black Market-engine will eventually always be powerful enough.

So the only reason not to play Black Market is if you lose the game before the long run ever happens. Look for…

  • Strong junking in the regular kingdom + no or weak trashing (think Cultist, Mountebank)
  • Strong slog / BM option in the kingdom (perhaps Trader – Feodum, or Horse Traders – Duke) and nothing to kill it
  • no villages (and no hunting party, minion or other non-terminal engine)

The most important thing to take away from this is: the decision whether to play with Black market does not depend on the content of the Black Market deck. It depends almost entirely on the regular kingdom and whether that allows you to build an engine. The Black Market will always provide you with payload for your engine, and it will always contain some useful cards and some mediocre ones.

Balance
A tricky thing to get right with Black Market is the balance. The card itself is terminal, and so are many of the cards you buy with it. All those shiny prizes can easily lead you astray from your main early goal: somehow get to the point where you can play your entire deck every turn. Get the engine running. This is important in almost any engine, but especially so in engines that allow you to gain mid-turn, and Black Market is the very star in that category. Far too many players focus on gaining certain cards from the Black Market in their analysis of the board or gameplan.

0, 1 or 2
Black Market is a terminal payload card that gets you even more payload cards. With those kind of cards it’s much better to play your only copy more frequently than it is to get multiple copies. Your initial plan should be to play with 1 Black Market. Exceptions arise when you can’t significantly get the frequency up (no trashing, no village+draw) or when the Black Market contains some cheap bombs. I estimate 10% for 0, 60% for 1 and 30% for 2 early copies. 2 copies is more likely in a mirror then when you play against some form of BigMoney or slog.

bombs
Sometimes the Black Market contains some exceptionally strong cards in the given kingdom. I don’t like writing this section because almost everybody overestimates the importance of this already, but hey – it does exist.

Tournament is likely to be the one; it could be Ambassador, any trasher, Possession, Goons, Tactician or King’s Court. It’s really rare that the bomb is a junker like Witch. If you’re in a game with a bomb in the Black Market, make sure to have a plan. This plan could be a) I’m just going to get the bomb and win because of it or b) I’m going to build a deck that has a chance even when my opponent gets the bomb. If b) is an option I always go for it, but sometimes it just isn’t and you should probably buy a second Black Market.

slow it down
If your opponent doesn’t mirror, look for ways to slow the game down. You will always win the long run. How are they going to end the game before you have more? If it involves a 3-pile, can you prevent buying from those piles?

Combos

Synergies

  • Watchtower, Library, Menagerie all allow you to draw more cards after you put your money into play
  • Throne Room is fantastic for both providing enough +actions and doubling up everything you have only one of
  • Quarry is good mostly because of the +buy, and sometimes you can upgrade curses into menageries after you put Quarry into play
  • Horn of Plenty can gain you a card mid-turn that you can often use immediately
  • Fairgrounds obviously becomes worth a lot with all those uniques

Example games
Beggar, Cellar, Moat, Black Market, Great Hall, Ironworks, Scavenger, Treasure Map, Walled Village, Hoard

You and your opponent both open Ironworks/Black Market. On your turn 3 you have 3 coppers and both your action cards.

What do you gain with Ironworks, and do you buy something out of Workers Village, Smithy, Spice Merchant? How does this affect your gameplan?

You gain a Walled Village. Your deck will require lots of villages.

You buy the Spice Merchant. That’s really a great early card to remove coppers and increase cycling.

As a result, you might skip a second Black Market, that you would otherwise certainly have bought on turn 4

log

Herbalist, Black Market, Great Hall, Sage, Scheme, Workshop, Ironmonger, Scavenger, Throne Room, Library, Altar (with shelters)

You open Black Market/Workshop and your opponent prefers Black Market/Ironmonger.

On your turn 3 you draw all the shelters, a copper and the workshop. What do you gain?

I think I’d already get a Throne Room now, but Ironmonger is also reasonable

On turn 4 you get Black Market with 4 coppers and you get served Council Room, Wharf, Squire. What do you buy?

You return them all and buy an Altar. Wharf is a great card but not what you need in this kingdom. Draw is provided by Library and reliability comes from scheme.

log

Black Market, Fishing Village, Caravan, Conspirator, Ironworks, Bazaar, Merchant Guild, Wharf, Goons, Hoard

You open 4/3 but get a coin token from Baker in the Black Market. What do you buy?

Fishing Village/Wharf. First mission is to get the draw up and make the engine running; add Ironworks on your next $5 miss and mostly hunt for Wharfs.

Maybe you’ll pick up a Black Market late, maybe not, but it’s not likely to have too much impact on the game.

log

Vineyard, Black Market, Fortune Teller, Mining Village, Moneylender, Quarry, Hunting Party, Inn, Journeyman, Hunting Grounds

You open Black Market/Quarry against a Journeyman/- opening. On turn 3 you have $4 for a Moneylender and turn 4 is $3 for another Black Market.

On turn 5 all of these cards clash and you gain Vagrant+Inn. Turn 6 is nets in a Mining Village and on turn 7 you finally get a good turn. You have $6 to spend when Black Market presents you with Herald, Mountebank and Tactician. In the meanwhile your opponent bought a Gold, 2 Silvers and 2 Journeyman. What to get now?

As Black Market Player you can completely ignore the provinces if you have to, and without +buy your opponent can’t 3-pile either.

That means that despite your horrible start you’re still easily win this game unless a miracle happens. Investing in reliability (Tactician) feels like the right play to me here,
even though Mountebank is a great card.

log

Transmute, Moat, Pearl Diver, Stonemason, Black Market, Caravan, Marauder, Trader, Young Witch, Inn, Rogue

You open Black Market/Marauder versus Silver/Marauder. Your opponent continues with Trader, signalling BigMoney. What is your gameplan now?

Black Market is simply the wrong call here; I don’t think any engine is going to win. Two junkers in the kingdom, no trashing and barely any draw. You need to get a lot of the caravans, ruins will run all by themselves and stonemason does the rest. Maybe if you pull 3+ smithy variants AND a superb trasher like urchin or remake you still stand a chance, but here they weren’t even available and I was just fooling around / losing

log

Posted in Promotional | 4 Comments