Puzzle Strike vs. Dominion

Discussion in 'Puzzle-Strike: Bag of Chips' started by Yomi the Clown, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. I posted this in another thread

    For all the people who have been playing a long time, has this happened to you with Puzzle Strike? I've only played Dominion like five times and I'm already done with it, so I know this game outlasts it due to the interaction with the other players. But if you were a playtester or have become very familiar with this game, do you find yourself just going through the motions looking for a certain pattern with each character? Ideally you would need to change your playstyle based on the bank and react to what your opponent was doing, but I don't know if it actually plays out like that.
     
  2. Sotek

    Sotek Super Moderator Staff Member

    Occasionally with Setsuki, if the first few turns pull together right, the rest is pretty mechanistic.

    But that requires T2 RM->ICT, and even then there are subtleties.

    Otherwise, really, not so much.
     
  3. Amaris

    Amaris Member

    For me, it sort of depends. There are some characters which sort of lend themselves to one particular strategy or another, for sure. And even some cases where the opening couple of turns will be obvious (especially the aforementioned Setsuki play, which also works with sale prices to a lesser degree).

    Other than that, though, it's going to vary based on two things: The puzzle chips that end up in the bank and what the other player(s) are doing. If there are no forks in the pool, it's going to change your strategy a lot. If your opponent is going for an obvious attack/disruption strategy then that sometimes might change your own strategy (or at least alter it a bit as you buy chips for defense or try to speed up what you were doing, etc).

    I haven't played Dominion, myself, but so far I'm finding that one of the great things about Puzzle Strike is that there IS such a variety that makes every game different (and a game that leads to crazy huge hand combos resulting in DCing 4+ gems to each other near the endgame is just as fun, in a different way, to a game that requires a lot of thought, cleverness and winning due to playing something as unlikely to be a game ender as Stolen Purples- even more amusing when someone manages to knock out BOTH opponents in the same turn by playing it).

    I wasn't around for the beta testing part, really, but I have been playing for a few weeks now and have played each character and probably won and lost as each character and I can say that I'm still seeing/learning new and interesting strategies and plays.

    So... yeah. If your concern is long term playability and weather or not you might get bored with it after a dozen games, then you have nothing to worry about. :D
     
  4. Another thing that bugs me about Dominion is the way that expansions are handled. A lot of the new card effects are interesting, but since you just toss them in with the other stuff you have some potentially dumb banks. For example it is possible to have a bank where everything costs 5 or more.

    I really like the cards in some of the expansion stuff, but I don't know how to optimally integrate them into a deck building game that thrives off having a certain ratio for the bank. With so many "hey look how much bigger this is" effects in the expansions, it just seems like way too much to be tossing it all together; and basically impossible to be properly balanced for a competitive match (non-competitive doesn't necessarily mean un-fun though). Perhaps a better way of implementing expansions would have been to keep the same basic ratios for all of them, and you just use them as standalones without mixing potential banks. I.e., ok choose at random between Seaside and Prosperity and so on. Ok Seaside it is, now choose the bank from Seaside only cards.

    Any thoughts on how Puzzle Strike might implement expansions? Adding new characters alone will never muddle up potential bank ratios, so that part is simple.
     
  5. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    You can build your banks however you want, imo. You can make seperate randomizers for 2-4 and 5+ for instance. Playing sets only with themselves is also fun, of course, so whatever floats your boat.
     
  6. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm not convinced Lum can't just play mechanically every time, and I'm not sure about forkless pools, but otherwise it's very rare for 'mechanical' play to work against a good opponent.
     
  7. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Your comments about Dominion make no sense. You've only played it 5 times, but you've already discovered an optimal min/max strategy regardless of the bank? I seriously doubt it, sir...

    I will say, however, that the expansions are really where Dominion shines, the initial game bores me too. Intrigue adds a lot more player interaction, and Seaside adds just more wacky evaluation stuff, so they really improve it a ton.

    You seem to be saying this is a problem when it really isn't. The whole fun of Dominion is that every set of bank cards is competitive. You have to play completely differently when every card costs 5 than in one of the more normal "suggested"-style banks. There's no optimum ratio, and the fact that you can combine the different sets is really what makes it worthwhile. Implementing your rule that you have to stick with a single card-set would completely kill the game. It's the potential unbalanced-ness of any given bank that makes each game unique, and lets people keep playing it for years and still come up with weird situations where it's not completely clear what to do.

    Just as a few examples, I've played crazy garden-based banks where the winner was a rush to 80 points, and I've played witch-based banks where I believe the winning player had a score of -3 at the end. The easiest things to vary are having no attack-reactions, but leaving in attack cards. And having no +buy, vs. lots of +buy (just because it seems to be the most rare effect).

    The only problem I've ever seen in choosing bank cards is to make sure nothing is obviously useless. Incidentally, despite my earlier comments above, having every card cost 5 can cause this effect... by making everyone just stack currency directly because it takes too long to get an engine going. But that could be fixed by just taking silver out as well or something... (remember all the currency/scoring cards are fair game for removal from the bank too... just having no provinces can make a huge difference in how one plays a set)
     
  8. It's obvious after the second or third time playing that there is one "correct" path in Dominion that you should be following for each given bank. I dunno if I know what that correct path is yet, but I don't care to continue playing a game where skillful play boils down completely to "how closely did I stick to the efficiency chart that a computer or cheat sheet could have figured out as soon as the bank was revealed."

    I'm sure in lots of configurations it can still be fun (just as I'm positive that a lot of configurations with all the expansions would make some completely not fun banks too), but that doesn't mean it's competitive. The best analogy I can come up with is how really good pizza shops only offer one or two toppings because they can't ensure the quality of their stuff if they need twenty different ingredients laying around. The new big flashy Dominion stuff is intriguing, but it's not balanced for competitive play. This is an unfair evaluation since Dominion is the ultimate casual/gateway game and not meant for hyper competitive interaction - I was just bringing up Dominion's implementation of expansions to see what people thought would be the best way to expand Puzzle Strike.
     
  9. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    Right, in a sense Dominion seems like 'playing against the bank' rather than 'playing against the players'. I've only played Intrigue/base mixes, but it's rare that I sculpt my buys around what another player's strategy is.

    Of course, that's not to say that it's a stale or figured-out game, because there are tons of banks to play against.
     
  10. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, but this is just so incredibly not true, that I don't know where to begin. Good dominion banks have several different viable strategies, and they often counter each other quite nicely. There's not just one strategy that everyone should start out with.

    The basic example is the whole combo v. control v. rushdown decks like in MtG. Where a basic combo deck is basically chaining Villages together to draw all your cards. A control deck is based on attack cards, with something like Masquerade to make sure your opponents get hurt more than you do. And a basic rushdown would be Chapel into currency to force an early win before your opponents have their engines running.

    Control forces combo decks to slow down, at least to buy Moats or something. Rushdown decks can usually trash out the bad cards from a control deck and power through to their early win. And an unimpeded combo deck will usually win against rushdown, unless the latter player has absolutely perfect luck with their hands. Who actually wins once you have a couple strategies going almost always comes down to which player was able to adjust to their opponent's actions just enough to get a decent defense without slowing themselves down too much.

    This still doesn't make any sense whatsoever... adding pizza analogies doesn't help. The cards are balanced because all players have equal access to all cards. Play cannot somehow become less competitive because of some given card existing, the entire concept is ludicrous. There's also almost nothing that completely outclasses a previous card. In particular made true by the fact that even if there was a situation like that, the "lesser" card would have less competition, allowing a player to get more of them while opponent's compete over copies of something else, and card quantity can often make up for differences in power.

    You are correct that it's possible to construct bad sets... but it's not like they're hard to spot or something. One of my least favorite things to do is put too much +draw into a set that has no +action cards. You're gonna cycle half the stuff you bought, and you probably won't have a good time. But it's not like these situations are difficult to spot... I've rarely ever found a set I hated, and I've certainly never made the same mistake twice.
     
  11. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    Good posts by Claytus in this thread.
     
  12. Dominion is really fun so I can see why the defense force is out in full blast, but it's not a competitive game at all, and pretty bland strategically. Sorry.
     
  13. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    I haven't thought about it in rushdown vs. combo vs. control terms before. I guess it's probably more like, trashing vs. engine vs. wounding? Or does it generalize beyond that?

    I guess I haven't played with a pool where all three strategies were viable (or at least, I didn't notice at the time). Plus, I'm not sure that trashing actually loses to engine.

    Anyways, to answer OP's question: maybe it's not clear to everyone that there are interactive strategies in Dominion, but it's unmistakable in Puzzle Strike. I can't see anyone trying to make a spreadsheet or calculate a goldfish time or anything like that in PS.
     
  14. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    To use more direct terms, there are various attack decks, some of them attack-rush (like classic witch, that empties curse and two other piles), some of them attack combo (minion), and some of them "oh god everyone is buying goons this game sucks"
    Combos can be directly adaptive (running watchtower/library in response to militia-types, or Tribute if you know what your neighbour is going to be buying) or just subtly adaptive (these guys are going to fight over the big stuff so I'm going to get something going with the Shanty Towns they're ignoring). You can also have non-attack rush decks, like Gardens.

    ANYWAY that is a bit beside the point that I meant to make. Really I don't think we should be directly comparing PS to Dominion at all. They fulfill different purposes. When I market to people I tell them it's a "puzzle-like competitive boardgame using the dominion engine."
    also dominion is kinda huge, and somehow getting bigger. so while I can see the attraction in trying to climb that mountain, I'd rather climb a nearby one.
     
  15. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    We're just into the classic Eurogames argument now (admittedly I'm not sure Dominion is actually european... but it stylistically falls into that category). Almost all Eurogames prevent directly attacking the opponent in any way. And yet skillful play in all of the games relies on finding ways to injure your opponent's ability to play.

    One of the most obvious examples are Carcassone. The rules clearly forbid you from every playing on an opponent's tile, so obviously players can't affect each other, right? Well... no, the entire game is actually about placing new tiles bordering an empty space that your opponent wants to fill, in such a way that you reduce their chances of getting a tile that allows them to fill that space, or create a situation where it's literally impossible to fill a space with any remaining tile.

    Dominion has exactly the same thing going on... on the surface it looks like player's decks are generally unrelated to each other, and player strategies can be independent. A lot of those tools are, obviously, bank-specific... Soldier (? the card where other players discard to 3), and Embargo are some of the most obvious examples of being able to completely destroy someone if you buy a bunch of those cards and they try and ignore it. More importantly, you have the ability to essentially deny your opponents cards by buying out a stack.

    I've seen some really wacky stuff work incredibly well, and I still feel like there's a lot more potentially good plays that I haven't found yet. A friend of mine has won multiple times by purposely buying curses and masquerading them into his opponent's hands. I've seen people win against decks stacked with Thief+Soldier by stopping buying currency at all, grabbing a couple +money cards, and then letting their opponents cycle all their point cards, while they just manage to pull in another Estate or Duchy each turn.

    (Note: I always play dominion with 4 players, and I don't think I'd ever consider playing it with less. With 10 cards in each stack and only 2 players, you're almost never gonna run out, and it does kill a lot of the stuff I'm talking about.)

    It's a tossup if the trashing card is Chapel. Games where I've seen that go down usually just end up with a random difference of one Province based on who went first and who got better draws. If it's any other trashing card, then a good engine should be able to win.
     
  16. brainof7

    brainof7 Member

    the game is a lot less loose than people think it is. I play this usually with a couple of girls who don't analyze the game in any way, and they almost always tend to do very well compared to the rest of us! You can make a lot of suboptimal buys and still end up about even with anyone else unless they just buy all the labs or something like that, and get an overpowered deck that they shouldn't actually have if the rest of the players are playing well. Dominion is a lot deeper than it looks, but puzzle strike is more fun IMO because of no lame duck endings and stuff like that
     
  17. XDarkAngelX

    XDarkAngelX Member

    I don't think it's true that Eurogames in general forbids you from attacking your opponent. I think what differentiates Eurogames is that you cannot (or have a very limited ability to) set back an opponent. Take Vincy/Smallworld, for instance. It's definitly euro, but the gameplay is based at least partly on attacking directly other players. However, you cannot lose points. If you've attained a given position in the game, you can't be set back more than a very limited amount. It will only reduce your income in VPs for the next turns, it won't cancel out the points you've already accumulated.

    Similarly in Settlers of Cataan, where the only setbacks you can get is if someone takes your longest road or largest army card, which is in the worst case a 2 points setback. Which is often easy to regain (these cards tend to flip flop between two players or so until one is able to build up to 8 and get it back, sealing the game).

    This is in contrast to games from American roots like Steve Jackson's games (Illuminati being the foremost example), where at least half the fun is that players gang up on each other and wipe each other's positions multiple times over a game, which leads to a high variance in gameplay experience, particularly game length (we had an Illuminati game last six hours once because all the players were experts and were able to detect it when someone was pulling ahead as leader, and were able to collaborate to make sure nobody ever did... most of the time we're done in an hour).
     
  18. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I was really just quoting this guy (who makes some pretty good points):

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/5986/game_design_essentials_20_.php?page=9

    I don't think he actually includes Dominion in that article at all... but replace the reference to Catan in the above paragraph, and it would be hard to see the difference...
     
  19. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    Dominion is from an American designer but it qualifies as a "eurogame."
    And yes, I also enjoy 4player Dominion more than 2- or 3player. (note that in 2player the victory cards are reduced to 8, making a province race more likely than a pile-empty strategy. otoh if there are alternate victory cards like Gardens, you have to split them or your opponent will demolish you as you try to accumulate Provinces, unless you have a gorgeous engine somehow, etc. A different beast, but not an altogether worse one, just a different one.)
    I'm not quite sure the first sentence agrees with the rest of the paragraph? Anyway sure you can make suboptimal buys and still get stuff done, but I wonder how good their competition is? I have played with people who will just steamroll someone who plays suboptimally.
     
  20. brainof7

    brainof7 Member

    ya, I meant to say the game is a lot looser than it seems and that you can make suboptimal buys. As long as there isn't one guy who is making all the good buys I mean, I have seen someone who buys up about 8 labs go on to win, but everyone else also has a chance to buy labs before he gets to 8. If (at least in 4p) there are a couple of people fighting over the "best" strategy then suboptimal buys can win
     

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