Attack Cards: The Showdown
And now… on with the main feature:
First up is Sea Hag.
Best result: 2 cards versus Bmu: 98%
Interesting: 1 card versus Bmu: 94%
This girl makes Witch look like Piper Halliwell from Charmed. And where Witch provides at least some utility to the player, Sea Hag’s sole purpose is to latch on to the opponent’s jugular vein. Given the strength of early Curses, this works like a… let’s just say it’s damn effective. So I wonder which one to choose when there is both Witch and Sea Hag available. And this is where things get really interesting:
1 Sea Hag versus 1 Witch: Sea Hag wins 52%
2 Sea Hags versus 2 Witches: Witch wins 61%
Sea Hag is slightly stronger against Bmu, and the one-on-one results reflect that. But when adding a second card, the added attack strength of the second Hag is far less effective than the added utility of the second Witch. And that means that the Witch comes out on top. My favorite must-buy card may have been been wounded, but is far from defeated.
But there is another strong contender to best attack card: the Mountebank.
Best result: 2 cardsversus Bmu: 91%
Interesting: 1 card versus Bmu: 87%
Almost… but no cigar! Mountebank is an awesome card by all means, but the fact that victims can escape by discarding a curse from a previous round impairs the Mountebanks effectiveness somewhat. If that bit was not part of Mountebank then 3 Mountebanks would devastate Bmu with a 98% win rate. But now it is slightly less wicked than Witch against Bmu. As for a direct confrontation between those heavyweights:
2 Mountebanks versus 2 Witches: Witches win 65%
Brutal! I was afraid that even though the Witch outperforms Mountebank against a non attacking strategy, Mountebank would wing it when the curses run out. But Witch reigns supreme. (Things get only slightly worse if we have them fight one on one, in which case the Witch wins 61% of the games.)
Best result: 3 cards versus Bmu: 90%
Interesting: 1 card versus Bmu: 82%
Time now for a more civilized and stately attack card. Don’t let the name fool you, Goons is the older, wiser and more successful brother of Militia. The +1 VP per buy combined with the +buy makes this a formidable card combining decent attack with a great VP boost. It turns out the VP ability of Goons needs to be fed, even with Coppers if nothing better can be afforded for the second buy. It also turns out that you can choose buy Estates over Coppers whenever you have enough coin or choose to ignore Estates for the second buy. The choice does not significantly alter the results. Apparently the extra VP from the estates are countered by the extra loss of buying power. Strategy Details here.
Good results, but not nearly good enough to beat the killers. 2 Witches versus 3 Goons yields a 76% win rate for the dark side.
Best result: 2 cards versus Bmu: 72%
Interesting: 1 card versus Bmu: 70%
The attack may seem weak, but its good to know that it does pack somewhat of a punch. If this is the only attack on the board, by all means use it. But compared to the other attacks, one of its better features is that it was easy to simulate.
Single Ambassador 1 versus Bmu: 69%
Simulating the Ambassador is a bit like simulating the Chapel. When is it a good idea to trash that Copper? When do you stop trashing your Estates? Single Chapel 1 provided a great base for my Ambassador strategy. But as we saw with Mountebank, spamming your opponent with Coppers is not as effective as you might hope. Making this attack not nearly as effective as other attacks.
Minion chaining 1 versus Bmu: 66%
Finally an attack card that has no trivial strategy to play. The basic idea is that you aim for getting a hand with 2+ Minions. Play all but the last one for money and use that one to get a new hand of cards. Now the problem with this is that you need a small army of Minions to pull that off. However, to fund that army you will need some treasure to get started. You don’t want that treasure, because it will be in the way when you are chaining your Minions. So you’d expect that buying an absolute minimum of treasure is the best strategy.
And that’s were it’s good to simulate these things. It turns out to be much better to buy a couple of Golds (max 3) and all the Silvers you can get. Once you reach 3 Golds you stop buying that and focus on Minions.
Playing minions is also tricky. When playing the last minion in your hand you have to weigh the value of your current hand +2 (from the Minion) against the potential value of four new cards. I found a simple heuristic that works like this:
if (current hand value +2) > 5 : use Minion for money
else: use Minion for cards
Once you have 2 minions, the target becomes to buy Provinces.
if (current hand value +2) > 8 : use Minion for money
else: use Minion for cards
All in all, the results from the single card point of view are disappointing. I expected Minion chaining to be more effective. Maybe the Minion strategy would really benefit if we were to add a trasher… like the Chapel…