Friday, 24 April 2015

Instructional Game #2: Scrying Pool, Saboteur, and Switching Gears

Game Log

The card that jumps out to me here is Scrying Pool. Scrying Pool is incredibly powerful, on many boards drawing huge amounts of cards non-terminally. Something to note, though, is that, without trashing, you need other cards that draw cards in order to draw your deck. They don't have to draw many cards - cantrips work just fine - but they do need to draw some. Oasis is pretty good with Pool, but doesn't actually fill that role. Which means that here, you actually need a good amount of Worker's Villages. I do think that Pool is probably still worth it - it's really that good - but it is not as much a slam dunk as you might think (or as I thought at the start of this game).

Something I want to note at this point is that you will definitely want Marauder here. People think that Scrying Pool negates Looter attacks, but this isn't really true. Sure, it's less bad for my Scrying Pool deck than it is against a lot of other decks, but it's still a real pain. There's a couple reasons. First, the subtle one is that you can have Ruin on top of your deck followed by non-action: in this case, you will keep the ruin, then not draw all that much, whereas if the ruin wasn't there, you'd skip your non-action, and at the end of all this, you've drawn FEWER non-ruin cards than you otherwise would have (and drawing extra ruins really doesn't compensate). Second, and I think more important (though I'm not sure, as it's a bit tricky to quantify), you are just less likely to start with a Scrying Pool in your hand, which means you end up drawing stone nothing significantly more often than if the ruins weren't there. So this is really a pseudo-counter. While the Spoils do also reduce your ability to draw, they do so less offensively, especially since you can get rid of them at will, which isn't true of the ruins.

Ok, on to the game:
I open with Oasis/Potion. My opponent is on a 2/5 and gets a Saboteur. Ok, let's talk a bit about this decision. Saboteur is not a very good card. Really at all. However, I find it to be quite a reasonable opener on some boards. It will usually completely desctroy one of the opponent's opening buys, which is really a serious setback so early in the game, and then it provides some added value. It's still not great, and lots of other cards are better, but it's something you can do in a pinch.

His Saboteur hits my oasis on turn 4, and then it nails my potion on turn 5. In the meantime, he's added a potion of his own, but I've been fortunate enough to get two Pool buys in before my Potion goes down.

At this point, I decide to shift gears. Instead of rushing on focusing to re-buy my potion and continue with my original plan, I decide to play anti-Saboteur. There are a number of factors that lead me to this. Perhaps the biggest thing is that the Pools themselves are immune, which means that he's going to be able to nail my Oases, Potion, and Worker's Village with pretty high regularity. And since there are no decent 2-costs on the board, I end up getting nothing for them. So instead, I go for the anti-Saboteur strategy of "buy the most expensive thing possible". This will let me downgrade into those Potions if he hits my Gold anyway, and in general really lessens the effectiveness of his Saboteur. It's also fast enough that I figure I won't be too bad off against the Pool player, especially given that I already have a couple myself, and he was slow to start getting them. I am definitely still looking to pick up actions, when that's reasonable on a price-point, as they work much better with the existing Pools I do have.

I get a key stroke of luck on turn 11, when he ends up hitting 1p, which slows him WAY down in getting to his second Scrying Pool. At this point, he's going to be very, very slow at maneuvering the game into the state he needs. On that same turn 11, his Saboteur hits of my Golds, and I turn it into a Potion - I actually think this is a pretty serious mistake on my part, as it's a bit late to try to go back into pools, and I would have been much better served by simply taking a Marauder.

By the time we reach the end of turn 16, our decks looks like this:
His deck is going to be humming pretty nicely here, IF he can find his Scrying Pools often enough. My main trumps are my lead and his relative lack of Pools. I am also very well-positioned against his Saboteurs. The most damaging card for him to hit would be the Marauder, followed by the Oases. Nothing else is really close. Hitting Bank or Gold is not going to be much of a downgrade for me. And hitting my Provinces, at this point, increases the strength of my deck, dramatically increasing my chances to make MORE provinces. Three pools are also not really enough to zero in on my good targets with reliability. Still, there's some danger left for me, and if he can get a couple more Pools, his deck will suddenly be firing with pretty good regularity. I still like my chances here, because I only need a couple more Provinces to put him in a very difficult position (and he should seriously consider not playing his Saboteur starting around this point). And he definitely has some more building to do in the mean-time.

After some reasonably favourable draws for me, we reach the following state after turn 21:
...where it's very important to note that there is a province in the trash. What this means is that I believe I'm actually in very good shape. It's true that his deck is much better at this point, but I am closing in on having a fairly insurmountable points lead. I also have a Pillage, which apart from giving me safe sources of money, will, I hope, more importantly steal a big chunk of one of his turns by nabbing a Scrying Pool. Now, you might think that having such a big point lead doesn't mean much, given his Saboteur. The problem with this is, he really needs to train that Saboteur very well in order to hit what he wants - otherwise he's pretty likely to actually score me points by playing it. And even if he hits Province into Duchy, that is not such a huge blow for me. Indeed, he's in the difficult spot of needing his deck to maintain reliability whilst also running out the Duchies (to make his Saboteuring of Province that much more effective). Simultaneously, he has to worry about three-pile endings in that plan: Oases are gone, and only one Scrying Pool remains. So perhaps his best chance is to actually get a huge economic thing going and score a bunch of points at once. Triple Merchant Guild can help, but it will take a while, and my deck is not so bad - and he's running out of VP left in the supply, meaning he's running out of time. On top of this, he's still not actually that reliable to find a Scrying Pool. Yes, he is a favorite to do so, but not a huge one.

Despite him hitting some of my Victory cards, I am able to cash them in for other VP, and he has another dud turn. I more or less seal the game by grabbing another Province on turn 24.

No comments:

Post a Comment