Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Pile Lowering

In the game of Dominion, a question which often needs to be asked (admittedly, I don't see it getting asked all that much, part of why I want to write this article) is "When do I want to lower piles (or not)?" This is a bit of a tricky question to answer in the abstract sense, as every situation is different, but there are some general principles which can help you out - principles which I often see violated.

  1. If you have a forced win by emptying piles, take it.

    This one's pretty straightforward, though sometimes a bit hard to see. Knowing which piles are low, and your capability of scoring points while simultaneously emptying piles, can help. This is something to think about at the start of your turn. Awareness helps a lot.
  2. The player with the higher-quality deck wants the piles to be higher

    The reasoning here is fairly straightforward. The longer the game goes, the more the player with the better deck is able to enjoy the advantage offered to her by said better deck. A lot of people think that lowering piles helps the player who is ahead in points - this is generally true, but not hugely so. Usually better deck quality aligns with lower in points, but in the cases that isn't true, the player who is doubly behind usually likes lowering the piles, because there is a better chance of some fluke making the difference in a short game (one unlikely-but-possible dud hand, say).

    Perhaps more commonly, I see players start to lower some piles to "set up the win next turn" or two turns down the line, etc. This can be fine, and it's usually winning, but people are often in much more of a rush to do so than they should be, i.e. it increases their chance to lose.

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