Competitive Chapel variants
We continue to evaluating the Chapel, but now concentrate results rather than how to analysis.
Previously we saw that using a single Chapel does not yield great results when not buying Duchies and Estates. But what if you allow both the Chapel and the competing Big Money strategy to do so? Finding the optimal strategy is not easy, and I’m open to suggestions to make it better. My current best is Single Chapel 1, and is very much a combination of Single Chapel canonical 1 and Bmu. Optimal [d/e] values for the Chapel strategy seems to be [3/2] but [3/1] gives almost identical results. Single Chapel strategies favor buying Duchies and Estates later than Big Money. Which makes sense to me.
But how good is it?
Single Chapel 1 wins 5319 (55%)
Big Money Ultimate wins 4306 (45%)
Hmmm, not impressive. But on the bright side I finally found a graph that makes it easier to understand what is going on: the average change in VP (delta VP), weighted with the percentage of games that is running. Say that Bmu -on average- gains 3 VP in turn 18, but only half the games are still playing in turn 18 then the graph will display a value of 1.5.
The result is a sort of relevant average VP gain in a given turn. The area under the graph is a measure for the total score of the strategy over all games. From this graph it is possible to compare how well strategies are contributing to certain stages in the game, as well as do a general overall comparison.
The simple conclusion is that the single Chapel strategy just does not cut it, barely beating Big Money. The graph shows the Chapel strategy outperforms Bmu from turn 13 onwards. But the negative scoring in the first turns seems to roughly match the better performance in the later turns. So even with Duchies and Estates in play, the trashing of the Estates still hurts the Chapel strategy a lot.
Ok, moving on to a more competitive strategy: Chapelab. In this strategy you combine the trashing power of Chapel with the non-terminal drawing power of Laboratory. The idea is that you create a deck that can draw all cards each turn, guaranteing a Province draw each turn. Matt Sargent posted an elegant set of rules for a Chapelab strategy in his article on Board Game Geek. It only buys 2 Golds and at most 4 Labs and scores 61% against the Bmu. We can do even better if we take the basic buy rules from single Chapel 1, and the trash rules from Matt’s strategy to form a hybrid strategy.
Chapelab 1 wins: 6356 (66%)
Big Money Ultimate wins: 3224 (34%)
The graph shows that with the addition of Labs the Chapel starts to seriously out buy the Bmu in turn 9, which is 4 turns earlier than without the Labs. From turn 10 the influx of Provinces hurts the buying power, but in turn 14 the buying power of the Chapelab increases again. I guess that is due to the extra Golds being bought when Provinces were to expensive.
Thoughts so far
Given the reputation of Chapel, I’m not impressed with the performance of real Chapel strategies. It’s actually nothing new if you have read Matt’s simulation results, but I don’t share his conclusions that the Chapel is a good card until I actually see it shine. From his data I would guess that Chapel performs better as a counter to opposing curses, which was what it was intended for in the first place. I will have to investigate. But not before looking into a very specific Chapel based strategy.
Up next is Turbo Remodel.
[Edit: I decided that card names should be capitalized.]