Caleb Stanford Blog


Dominion Online tournament 2019 (Round 4)


games dominion

Another post about the Dominion Online tournament! I’ve somehow made it on to the top 16, after a close match that required a tiebreaker 7th game. Previous post about round 3 is here.

Despite my good standings this year, I’m not one of the top 16 players in Dominion online; I’m not even close to one of the top 16 players who entered the tournament. The reason I’m still in this is partly due to luck: I should have been up against one of the best players in round 3, but they were defeated in round 2 in a major upset. ( — Insert disparaging remarks about single elimination tournaments here — )


For each kingdom, try to guess the most valuable cards, i.e. which cards are most important to the best strategy. For reference, a list of all Dominion cards can be found here. Good luck!

Game 1

Kingdom 1

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Page, Den of Sin, and Counterfeit. Honorable mention to Doctor.

First observations: The only draw is Den of Sin and Warrior, so we definitely want a lot of Den of Sins, and probably some Warriors. The only estate trashing is Doctor, so we want to open it or buy it soon after.

I incorrectly pegged Page as relatively weak, since we don't really need the +Actions that Champion gives. But I'm learning that Page can be good even if Champion isn't very exciting. This is due to the Warrior attack, the Warrior draw, and Hero. Hero can gain a Gold or a Counterfeit; Gold and Counterfeit go really well together.

Additionally, spectators pointed out that I should have paid attention to the interaction between Champion and Pawn. Champion turns Pawn into +1 card, +1 coin, which is a Peddler for 2, and can also be used as +1 card, +1 buy or whatever. Totally worth. In summary, by all accounts, the Page line is really good here.

I lost this game, partly due to unfortunate luck: my opponent's Warrior trashed mine, putting me quite behind on the Page line. But my big mistake was never buying Counterfeit. Even though Doctor is sufficient trashing on its own, Counterfeit is still really important because it spikes economy, and clears out unwanted Silvers and Golds.

Game 2

Kingdom 2

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Inventor and King's Court.

Just from seeing these two cards, we know this is going to be a race to line up the giant megaturn. Playing King's Court on Inventor a few times in one turn should be able to pile out with a huge number of points. The only additional thing the deck needs to work is some kind of draw, and there's plenty of that: Wild Hunt, Diplomat, and Magpie.

Also, Wishes from Magic Lamp are extra gains on the megaturn, even Provinces if necessary. We should supplement this with some trashing (Tmog and Butcher), and definitely buy Citadel (Citadel + opening the turn with King's Court feels amazing), but that's basically the deck.

This ended with me winning on Turn 10, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's possible to win earlier than that with better draws.

Game 3

Kingdom 3

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): The ultimate Seer + Patron combo!

Seer draw is often very strong, and on this board it seems especially so, because of 2-4 costs like Wishing Well and Patron. Actually this is something of a 3-way combo: Seer combos with Patron for +coffers; Wishing Well combos with Seer because if Seer *doesn't* draw, then we can rearrange to guarantee a Wishing Well hit, and because Seer picks up Wishing Well; and finally, Wishing Well can also reveal Patron for coffers.

Normally in Seer decks I get a lot of Silvers. Here Patron and Wishing Well seem strictly better. (Also Silver is -2 points due to Bandit Fort.) Of course, you want Doctor early on for trashing. The board is buy-limited but thankfully we have Pouch, so we can build to double-province and make use of all the coffers that Patron has been giving us.

Game 4

Kingdom 4

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Knights. Honorable mention to Pixie and Peasant.

This might be the most challenging board. I lost, but I still am not completely sure what I did wrong. What's clear is that the Knights attack will be devastating. Without Knights, Peasant would dominate the board as usual; but a lucky Knights hit can kill the opponent's Soldier, Fugitive, Disciple, or Teacher. Because of this, I actually elected to not open Peasant, instead trying to hit 5 to buy Knights as early as possible (I think I opened Gladiator / Silver or something).

The thing is, there's no draw here except the +Card that you can get from Teacher (or certain Pixie boons). And I figured Teacher just wouldn't be fast enough when all your cards are getting trashed from Knights. I ended up having a lead of 3-4 knights over my opponent, but my opponent managed to hold on to a Disciple and a Teacher which my knights did not trash, and these were able to gain enough cards and draw to win. Teacher put the +Card on Market Square, and I think the opponent only ever had about 2 Market Squares that weren't trashed, but maybe even that is enough draw to give them the advantage? Or maybe I was just unlucky, not hitting Disciple with my Knights. I did get Peasant as well (on the second shuffle) and a Disciple of my own, but skipped Teacher. I really would have expected to win with such a lead on Knights, even though I did not have any draw in my deck.

Game 5

Kingdom 5

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Cathedral and Black Market.

As usual, we want to buy Cathedral ASAP. The only reason we skip Cathedral would be if there is no way to gain extra cards (here there's Nomad Camp and Black Market), or if there are severe discard attacks and not a good way to mitigate them (here, Villain does hurt, but not enough to matter).

We both opened Cathedral / Black Market. In the black market deck I looked mainly for villages, better draw, and powerful cards in general, but I think I neglected buying Stables too many times; my opponent ended up with 7 of them to my 3, and although I had a few good villages I didn't have draw to go with it. So that's probably why I lost, but it could also be due to just unlucky black market reveals.

Game 6

Kingdom 6

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Procession and Fortress. Honorable mention: Engineer.

Procession/Fortress is pretty high up in terms of broken combos. I won on turn 9 by piling. You can play Procession on Fortress, gain Rabbles, play Rabbles, play Procession Engineer to gain 3 cards at a time, etc. I believe my last turn (which required several minutes of thinking) was to use Engineer to gain two Horse Traders, then draw and play them to buy out the Engineer pile. Empty piles: Engineer, Procession, Rabble.

Game 7

Kingdom 7

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Hermit. Maybe also inheritance.

So there isn't much draw here. Technically, Cursed Village is draw, but it doesn't have any cards to go with it; no way to build a deck that isn't based on treasures. That leaves Madman as the only draw, which makes Hermit quite strong (and Hermit is already a great way to trash estates).

I expected this to be mainly a money board, with a few Hermit/Madmans --- what else can you do? But the deck I ended up playing (which won) actually used Inheritance on Sage. This was mainly because I had the opportunity to buy Inheritance with 2 estates left in my deck, so this is basically like trashing two estates, which is great. Inheritance on Sage is a bit less degenerate than when you have a deck full of Sages, since the Estates do not draw other Estates. And then I had a bunch of Markets and Golds, so Estate is generally guaranteed to draw up either Market or Gold. I guess the points from Estate are also just enough to tip the game; I probably had 7 or 8 Estates, which is more than a Province.

Dominion Online tournament 2019 (Round 3)


games dominion

I finished 3.5 to 2.5 in round 3 of the Dominion Online tournament! So I’ve moved on to round 4. Here’s the post for round 2. Below are the kingdoms – try to guess the most valuable cards, i.e. which cards are most important to the best strategy. For reference, a list of all Dominion cards can be found here. Good luck!

Game 1

Kingdom 1

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Pixie and Remodel.

There is not a lot going on on this board, with no draw except Experiment and certain Pixie Boons. So basically you play with a lot of Pixies, maybe some Wandering Minstrels and Rogues, and just get Provinces. Remodel is great because it gains Pixies or trashes Estate into Experiment, or it can gain Province.

Because the board is pretty draw-limited, you also want to get Raider for the attack. It also helps spike Province easily, and can be remodeled to a Province on the last turn.

Game 2

Kingdom 2

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Inventor, Magic Lamp, and Stables.

Inventor is of course really important here: even if we don't build to the Inventor megaturn, it gives us massive control over the piles (enabling a 3-pile if opponent isn't careful). I won this game in 10 turns on a 3-pile. Triggering Magic Lamp early is also very important, for the tempo; you can even threaten to exchange Wishes for Provinces if necessary with Inventor. Finally, Stables is the draw here, so even though playing several Inventors is the end goal, mainly you buy a lot of Stables (and some Farming Villages).

Game 3

Kingdom 3

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): This one is hard. Maybe Butcher and Rats. Possible Honorable Mention to Bandit Camp and Spices.

There is no way to draw: even though Courtyard is technically draw, here the only village is Bandit Camp, which adds a Spoils to your deck, so that Courtyard + Bandit Camp can't actually draw deck effectively.

I lost this game. I elected to play mainly with Rats, Butcher, and Spices, with 1 Soothsayer. The idea is that Rats lets me trash starting cards and then can be sacrificed to Butcher into provinces; Spices gives coffers to help Butcher work and is generally good with money strategies anyway; and Soothsayer gains Golds which can be turned to Provinces with Butcher, while also attacking the opponent. My opponent got a bunch of Bandit Camps and had many Spoils, and was able to spike enough provinces to win with that.

I am not sure if I just didn't start Provincing early enough, or if Bandit Camp is actually a really key card here. I think that Butcher/Rats works very well. I also think Spices works well in that deck. But maybe you don't need Soothsayer at all, and you just buy Bandit Camps and Courtyards to kind of draw your Butchers more easily, and you don't mind junking the deck with Spoils because you can just Province if your hand is full of Spoils.

Game 4

Kingdom 4

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Engineer is *really* good. After that, probably Sauna/Avanto.

Draw on this board is Experiment, Sauna/Avanto, and Vault. Experiment is great because we can gain it with Engineer, so we definitely want that. But Sauna/Avanto is also the only trashing, and the Saunas can be rushed pretty quickly with Engineer. So we both went for it, and I think that's the right decision. Vault for draw is just too expensive (it's kind of like a Moat for 5).

Engineer is incredible on this board. My opponent was way ahead, getting 3 Saunas and 3 Avantos whereas I only had 2 of each. Their key mistake was trashing their Engineers and not getting more of them. Engineer can gain Experiment for draw, Villages for actions, Merchants for economy, and Squire for gains (Squire gains Silvers for Keep points if necessary, or it just gives you enough +buy to pile out). If you have several Engineers (I actually only had 2, but I probably should have gotten more), they threaten piling extremely effectively because you can trash them on the final turn for twice as many gains. The Experiment pile is easy to empty, and of course Sauna/Avanto is already empty, so you only need to empty one more pile.

Also, the Keep points are important -- that's partly what might enable a pileout with Engineer gains.

Game 5

Kingdom 5

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Hunting Party, Magic Lamp, and Sewers.

Sewers is the only trashing, so we want to use it early with either Trade Route or Death Cart (I'm not sure which is better to be honest) to trash down. After that, we just want a lot of hunting parties for draw (it seems to make more sense than Seer here, as we won't have a lot of cards in the 2-to-4 cost range). As usual, we want to trigger Magic Lamp as fast as possible, because it spikes tempo and gives us a lot of Hunting Parties. At some point we want a single Merchant Guild so we have two buys.

I lost this because I messed up the opening -- buying Secret Cave / Silos, which just doesn't make sense. I think I would now favor Secret Cave / Silver or Sewers / Death Cart. Sewers / Trade Route is fine, as well. Later on I got both Trade Route and Death Cart for Sewers, which was bad; I should have only gotten one of the two.

Game 6

Kingdom 6

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Stonemason and Scrying Pool.

We need Treasurer and/or Monastery to trash. What makes Monastery better than usual is that you can gain 3 cards with a Stonemason buy, and thus trash quite quickly. Then you can also be gaining 2 Scrying Pools and once, to have the Scrying Pool engine up and running much more quickly than usual.

But that's not why Stonemason is probably the best card here. Once you have several Scrying Pools, Stonemason allows for very efficient gaining and should enable an early win. We can trash, for example, a City or Gold into Blessed Villages, or trash Silver or Potion into 2 Stonemasons, then use Scrying Pool to draw up the Stonemasons and repeat. We can also trash Gold into two Duchies, then use Treasurer to gain back the Gold. So there are a number of different possible tricks, but the driving force behind it is Stonemason.

Dominion Online tournament 2019 (Round 2)


games dominion

I’m participating in the Dominion Online tournament again this year. I didn’t post about Round 1 this year, but here are Round 1 and Round 2 from last year.

For each of the 4 games, I provide the kingdom, and the puzzle is to guess the most valuable cards on the board (before looking at the spoiler), i.e. which cards are most important to the best strategy. For reference, a list of all Dominion cards can be found here.

These boards were really cool! At least two of them involved strategies I had never seen before, and none of them involved a totally standard or obvious strategy.

Game 1

Kingdom 1

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): City Quarter and Leprechaun. Honorable Mention: Pixie.

This board has everything we need to build an engine, with only one problem: gains. City Quarter on its own is plenty of draw and actions, and it's even better because we can set up the start of our turn with Dungeon. But to build the engine, and to make effective use of it at the end, we're going to need more than one gain per turn. That's where Leprechaun and Pixie come in.

Leprechaun is not a good buy early on (Gold clogs up our deck and makes it difficult to get the engine going), but it becomes of critical importance once we can activate it every turn. (Sadly, there's no way to activate it twice.) Wish can be used to pick up engine components or Duchies -- against an opponent who is only buying one card per turn, that is very strong.

Pixie is also really good here. Because gains are limited, we wait until we hit Earth's Gift, Forest's Gift, or Swamp's Gift. In my deck, I had about $14 in my deck after Leprechaun had activated for a few turns -- this is overkill because only $8 of it can be used. That means that if we get Forest's Gift once, we can double province, which is likely game-deciding.

The alternative to all of this is to play Dungeon Money, perhaps with a Leprechaun or a Tormentor and some Pixies and Ironmongers. But the money deck can only get 1 province per turn, so it should lose to the engine.

Game 2

Kingdom 2

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Remodel, Lackeys, and Market Square.

The speed of a deck based almost entirely around these three cards really surprised me. I was able to pile the provinces on T13 and didn't run out of villagers.

So what's the thought process here? We know there are no villages other than Lackeys, so we can't hope to build an engine that lasts for more than a couple of turns. We also know that the only trashing is from Remodel, which looks very strong -- remodeling Estates is good as always, and here we can also remodel Copper to Lackeys.

The next thing we notice is that Market Square combos well with Remodel for two reasons: first, Remodel activates Market Square to give us Golds, and second, Remodel loves Gold because it can be turned into Province to score a lot of points quickly.

I ended up spamming a *lot* of Lackeys. On most boards, that doesn't really work; you go through villagers and quickly run out of steam. Here, we can remodel some Lackeys into more Remodels instead of playing them, so that we have 3-5 Remodels in deck. In the process we get a bunch of golds with Market Square. Finally, we can empty the provinces by remodeling Gold into Province and/or Province into Province several times over a few turns.

Cobbler is also good; it can gain any of the key deck pieces. I opened with it on 5/2.

Game 3

Kingdom 3

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): Candlestick Maker and Conquest. Honorable Mention: Legionary and Cursed Village.

What I learned on this board is that Conquest loves coffers. What is normally a pretty weak alt-VP card becomes very strong if you can stockpile coffers, and then spend them all on a big turn (in my case, spending 30 coins for 5 conquests, which is 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 10 = 30VP). I think you should be able to ignore Province entirely -- I made the mistake of buying a few Provinces before Conquesting, which caused me to almost lose.

Thought process: Legionary is a strong attack, which means the Engine is probably favored if it manages to play Legionary every turn. Therefore we want to build an engine, but we see that the only +actions is from Cursed Village, and there aren't any good cantrips. That means the engine has to play with Cursed Village, so it's basically a draw-to-X deck. Hireling doesn't really help at all in such a deck, but Candlestick maker works very well, as does trashing with Raze and playing 1-2 Legionaries for economy. Also, we can use Gear to accelerate hitting price points early on, and later to set aside cards in order for Cursed Village to draw.

Such a deck wouldn't normally be very good, because Candlestick Maker is just not a lot of economy. But if this deck is not mirrored, you can get the entire stack of Candlestick Makers and then stockpile coffers into an arbitrarily large Conquest turn. Plus Legionary every turn really slows your opponent down. FWIW, this game lasted 23 turns, which is quite long, and that was with me making the mistake of getting a few Provinces. (The reason you don't want Provinces as the engine player is that it makes the game end faster -- and the longer the game goes on, the bigger your eventual Conquest turn.)

Game 4

Kingdom 4

Spoiler:

Most valuable card(s): City Quarter and Storeroom.

City Quarter combos well with any discard-for-benefit card -- e.g. Artificer, Vault, and Storeroom. (Incidentally, another discard-for-benefit card is present here, Mill. But it doesn't combo nearly as well as these other cards.) The idea is that you discard half of your hand, leaving only actions, then play CQ to draw everything up again, and repeat. The City Quarter/Storeroom deck scales economy a lot faster than e.g. just playing with City Quarter, Wharf, and Gold.

Wharf is also great, because it sets up the start of turn for City Quarter (to make sure we don't dud). Hideout and Lookout are both good trashers; I'm not sure which is better, but I think you get two total. Finally, Dismantle (targeting Gold) is a good gainer; I used it to gain Wharves.

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