Monday, June 19, 2017

What to cover next...

I'm debating on where to start next. I'm think I will finish off the Here I Stand (HIS) Strategy blogs which I started. I've since played several dozen games of HIS since my hiatus. There have been many great games out there since.

So, what game do you feel I should work on next? Give your feedback in the comments or feel free to email me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Back at it

Been some time (years actually), but I'm restarting this blog again. going to give it another go and see what happens.

Dominion I - Tracking Score ()

This blog post is brought to you by another contributor and friend of mine: "Sapphire Harp".

One of the most important things about playing Dominion competitively is knowing the score.  In Dominion, the leading player is based on who has the most victory points in their deck.  You aren't permitted to look at any player’s decks during the game, so this is hidden information - but it’s easily knowable.  In every game, all players start with three victory points and will show all other players whenever they purchase more.  It’s a simple matter to keep track, especially if you use a notepad to write on.

The advantage of keeping track is being able to make smarter decisions towards the end of the game.  One of the players is going to decide when the game ends by buying either the last Province or by buying the last card of one type ,once two other purchase options are sold out.  If one player has a major advantage in a game, knowledge of the score won’t help change the outcome.  However, if you’re contemplating buying that last Duchy and your opponent is two to four points ahead of you, knowing the score can make a big difference!

Keeping track of the score can also be a good method of evaluating your strategy, if you are less concerned about winning this particular game.  Knowing the score moment to moment will let you see when your opponent is pulling ahead of you.  It can also give a sense if they’re making poor decisions and getting lucky draws, or if their strategy is a superior one.  Maybe you’re using an over complicated approach and buying too many action cards, while they quietly pick up VPs every three or four turns.

Dominion - Main VP cards
Whether you want to keep track of the score or not usually depends on how important winning that specific game is to you.  If you’re playing with friends, I strongly recommend against it unless you all enjoy one-upmanship.  If you’re in a competition playing Dominion for prizes, I would anticipate every player keeping close track - either mentally or on paper.  And I find using a scratch pad is a more accurate way to keep track, which is important because the games you really want to win will often be decided by a small number of points.  

Ultimately, deciding whether to keep detailed track of the score or not should be based on how tolerant your other players are to the delay.  You could easily be performing addition instead of making decisions when your turn starts, so the other players will have to wait while you’re calculating.  It isn't conducive to a good time, so it’s important to streamline the process if possible.

At first I kept running totals, but eventually switched to a simpler method I now prefer.  The total number of points accumulated isn't important, in itself.  All you actually need to know is who’s in the lead and by how much.  To do this I use individual
columns for each player.  When a player gains victory points, I write that digit in their column.  When all players have gained an equal number of points, I cross out all of those digits together.

For example, I buy a Duchy and an Estate, so I’d either write a ‘4’ or a ‘1’ and a ‘3’ in my column.  My first opponent buys four Estates for no understandable reason, so I’d probably write a ‘4’ in his column, but might write ‘1’ four times.    My second opponent buys a Province, but already has two Curses in his deck.  I put a ‘6’ in his column in addition to the two ‘-1’s I've already written there.  Then, because we've all changed scores by a matching value, I cross all of these digits out.
Scoring Sample:  At this point, everyone has
accumulated 4 points so simply start over at 0
I believe it presents a smaller mental demand than totaling scores as you go, as well as being faster to write.  It isn't going to keep the other player’s waiting more than a couple seconds.  Additionally, it keeps you thinking about the score in terms of the cards, themselves.  A player might be nine points ahead of you, but it could be because they have a Province and a Duchy, or it might be because they have a Duchy and six Estates.  These two possibilities represent very different levels of challenge from your opponents and it’s good to know which is occurring.

Not totaling also offers a little flexibility if your current game involves cards which change in value over time.  Gardens are a frequent problem for keeping track.  Dukes from the Intrigue expansion present another.  In these games, I would use ‘G’s and ‘D’s to keep track of those purchases.  Crossing them out isn't an option since your Garden’s value will not match your opponent’s.  I usually didn't keep exact track of deck sizes in Garden games, but you might find it important enough to do it.  

As for Dukes, it should be relatively easy to know the value of your opponent’s deck if you use exact values when writing down digits on your pad.  In that situation, you can look at their column and see how many ‘3’s there are, whether crossed out or not.  That count will be the value of their Dukes.  Also, once all of the Duchies are purchased, the Dukes become a fixed value for the rest of the game.  At least, it’s highly unlikely a Duchy will be discarded at that point.

This is the best and quickest method I've come up with for tracking the score of Dominion.  If you choose to give it a try, your mileage may vary, but I believe this style has a considerable amount of advantages.  You will want to adopt and adjust to find the practices that work best for you.  And it will change from game to game, depending on what your card selection turns out to be.

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Dominion Post!

Hello Everyone:

Starting next week I have a guest blogger writing Dominion posts for me.  The contributor is a good friend of mine and, obviously, a fellow gamer.  I plan to post these new offerings on Friday mornings starting 8/15.  We have a set of 5 blogs written and going through final editing.

If you have a suggestion or would like to contribute, please email me!  If you have a favorite game you'd like to discuss in depth, drop me a line.  I give credit where it is due and want this blog to grow in popularity.  Just drop a line to:

Thank you and thanks to my first contributor: Sapphire Harp!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

HIS-English: Assault of Scotland

Goal: Scotland

Attacking and defeating Scotland is possible on the first turn.  It is not difficult, but it does require the expenditure of several command points.  The goal is to capture Edinburgh as quickly as possible.  The required steps for this plan are as follows:
General Plan
  1. During negotiations with France, DO NOT offer an alliance with France.  You cannot declare war on Scotland if allied with France.
  2. Spring Deploy troops from London to Berwick.
  3. Move both navies to the North Sea (2 cp).
  4. Play English Home Card to Declare war on Scotland.
  5. Move troops to Edinburgh and lay siege to it.

York vs Berwick

It is possible to launch an attack from either York or Berwick.  If launched from Berwick, it will be necessary to spend at least 1 cp for a mercenary and then spend 1 cp to move into Edinburgh.  The other option is to Spring Deploy to York and move all troops to Edinburgh.  This also takes 2 cp of movement.

The Berwick approach is the better option.  Both options require 2 cp, but replacing the York regular infantry would cost 2 cp whereas the loss of the mercenary effectively brings the player back to their starting pieces.

Average Losses & Winning the Combat

On average, it takes 9 dice rolls to eliminate the units in Edinburgh.  Mustering enough troops to reach these 9 dice rolls will require at least 8 troops.  With only three cards, and the 4 cp required to lay siege to Edinburgh, getting the additional 5 cp of troops needed to meet this in one die roll is highly unlikely.  Therefore, England will need to combat Scotland at least twice.

England can expect between 2 and 4 losses.  Therefore, England should begin the invasion with at least 2 mercenaries, with 3 being preferable.

Benefits and Challenges

If successful, England conquers Scotland and controls Edinburgh.  This gains them one Key and an additional card draw per turn.  Given Edinburgh's remoteness, it is unlikely anyone will be able to retake Edinburgh.  This makes conquering Scotland an attractive target for England.

The worst case for England is if France intercedes on Scotland's behalf.  In this case, the French could spend resources tying up England in a War in England.  This essentially places England in the unenviable position of fighting a war both on their island and near Calais.