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Considering we all have limited memories (and scratch paper is frowned upon in over-the-board play), what sorts of things are highest priority for keeping track of and committing to memory over the course of a typical game?

Considering we all have differing memory capacities, list the 'memorable items' in order of priority, with an explanation of each.

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Excellent question. I was going to ask this before, but I forgot. –  Marcin Sep 21 '12 at 14:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Victory Point differential - This should be your highest priority, and is quite easy to remember if only playing two player. If playing 4-player, it is still only 3 numbers to memorize. It is important to know, because it allows you to know if you will win when ending the game.

Everything below is probably more important in some kingdom distributions, and less important in others.

Gold/Silver distribution - What you would really like to know here, is your average treasure value per hand, but that number gets exceedingly difficult to calculate as you consider card draw, victory cards, action cards with variable cash values, etc. It would also be good to know what your opponents AVG hand value is too, but I have a difficult enough time keeping track of my own.

Terminal Actions/2+ Action cards - The number of terminal action cards needs to stay below a certain threshold to prevent you from getting multiple terminal actions in a hand, and being unable to use them both. This threshold is dependant on the number of +2 Action cards and deck size.

Buys/Gains per turn - Important to know if you are losing (or winning), if you can out buy your opponents.

Defensive/Reaction cards - This is of course highly dependant upon the number of attack cards your opponents have, and how disruptive those attack cards are to your deck.

Individual Combo odds - Highly dependant upon the kingdom cards, but many times you want to be able to estimate the number of Barons/Estates, Treasure Maps, Scout/Great Halls, etc.

Not necessary to count

  • Deck size
  • Kingdom card piles
  • Trash contents
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Just played a game and, for the first time, memorized the VPs (two-player). Made for a HUGE influence in my strategy. I think it'll be awhile before I can keep track of that and the other things here, but I'll work up to it. Thanks! –  Christopher Berman Sep 21 '12 at 15:08

You may be interested in this thread on the dominionstrategy.com forums, but here's my ranking:

  1. Composition of your own deck, particularly the number of terminal Actions. This is usually pretty easy to remember, but important so you can assemble a cohesive deck rather than a poorly-fitting set of shiny cards.
  2. Number of Provinces (and/or Colonies) in each player's deck. This lets you know where you stand and if you need to need to try to end the game quickly or shift into an alternate strategy.
  3. Number of other VPs in each player's deck. If you can count Duchies and Estates, this helps time the end of the game. It is critical when, say, Duke is on the board. It helps more, and is easier, in 2-player. If you are considering ending the game when the score is close, this helps a lot. Counting alt-VP cards like Gardens and Silk Road can be useful, but it's more difficult to judge their exact value.
  4. Location of the important cards in your own deck. For instance, if the only three cards left in your deck are two Actions and an Estate, you probably don't want to play a Moat with your last action. Later in the game, knowing how strong your next hand is likely to be can suggest how aggressively you should buy green cards.
  5. Number of key cards in each player's deck. Depending on the board, this includes powerful cards that might pile out (Caravan, Fool's Gold, Minion), cards that might give a player big turns (Goons, Highway, Madman, Platinum), and attacks you want to defend against.
  6. Number of buys an opponent with a powerful engine can generate. This is difficult to memorize (I don't) but can help you avoid letting your opponent drain 3 piles for a quick victory.
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