Dark Ages: Beggar

This featured article on the DominionStrategy Wiki is written by Schneau, originally posted on the forum.

Beggar is the new Copper hipster. When we were all introduced to Dominion, we thought Coppers were cool. Who would want to trash them? Hipster Chapel, I guess. But, as time went by, we all realized that trashing Coppers was fun, and the hipsters started saying they liked Chapel before it was cool. Now the hipsters are back into Copper, and Beggar is their new retro king.

Before considering how to use it, let’s take a look at what Beggar does. The action part is pretty simple, right? Gain 3 Coppers into your hand. But, it’s more subtle than that. Beggar can be seen as a terminal Gold that comes with the drawback of three more Coppers in your deck. The reaction part of Beggar gains you two Silvers, one on top of your deck. This is also more subtle than it looks, and depends on what Attack card it is reacting to, as we will discuss in a bit.

As an Action
So, when would you want to use Beggar? Didn’t we all learn long ago that Coppers are bad? Well, yes, they are bad in many engines. But, as most things in Dominion, it isn’t as simple as that and it depends on the kingdom. Even in a thin engine, there may be a time and place for Beggar.

The thing to realize about Beggar is that $3 on a terminal Action is really good, especially on a $2 card. With a terminal Gold, it is easy to hit $5, $6, and even $7 on early hands, making it easier to get those important high-cost cards. The only downside is that you now have Copper clogging your deck. So, if you can play it in situations when you don’t mind the extra Copper, it can be fantastic.

Another general use for Beggar is as a late-game buy to keep your money going strong as you start to green. If you can pick up a Beggar with an extra buy when you expect to see it only once or twice more until the end of the game, it can be used as a terminal Gold without worrying about the Coppers hurting your deck too much. In non-trimmed decks, this can make all the difference in hitting $8 more often than your opponent, and in thinned engine decks, it can boost you to $16 for the all-important double Province or $13 for Province + Duchy.

Early Beggars aren’t good in straight Big Money or BM+draw decks – they conflict with drawing terminals, and aren’t good enough on their own since the Coppers slow things down a bit too much. They also aren’t good early in engines, where they put too many Coppers between important engine parts. As mentioned above, Beggar can be worthwhile later in both of these types of decks as a boost to large payoffs. In Curse or Ruins slogs where you aren’t as worried about a few extra Coppers, Beggar can be more effective early, since it can help buy important Attack cards and Provinces and Duchies later. Additionally, Beggar’s reaction provides a benefit when hit by the Attack cards that are slowing down the game.

One situation when extra Coppers don’t hurt much is if you aiming for alternative Victory cards. Gardens are a natural fit, since playing Beggar allows you to gain 4 cards on a turn and all but guarantees enough money for a Gardens (see below for more detailed analysis). Beggar works decently well with other alt-VPs, namely Silk Road and Duke, and possibly Feodum if your opponents are going heavy on the Attacks. These strategies require a heavy density of Beggars, which is probably easiest to achieve if there is a source of cheap +Buy, especially if it is non-terminal such as Hamlet, Worker’s Village, Forager, or Market Square. In these games you will want to load up on 4 or 5 Beggars, and then start hitting the Victory cards. Note that in games without cheap +Buy, these strategies will more likely end up being slogs than rushes.

Specific Card Combos
Some Action cards don’t mind having a pile of Coppers around. Apothecary might be the strongest combo here, where Beggar can be the terminal after an Apothecary chain. The Apothecaries will just sweep up those extra Coppers to easily get to Province or Colony range. Non-terminal +Buy would definitely help here, both for Apothecary+ buys as well as Province+ buys.

Similarly, Counting House can be a good partner in an otherwise mediocre kingdom – you can easily get more than enough Coppers in your deck to get Colonies. Also, since Begger is a terminal Gold, it is easy to hit early $5 to get the Counting Houses. This should come with the usual caveat that Counting House is not a good card, and should only be attempted if no strong strategies are present.

Bank can also be one of Beggar’s best friends (which is sort of ironic when you think about it). Bank has several properties that make it work well with Beggar. It is a Treasure, so you can play Beggar and Bank on the same turn without a village (unlike Counting House and Coppersmith). Beggars can help hit the high $7 cost early in the game. Plus, each time you play a Beggar and a Bank in the same hand, you are already guaranteed $7, which means you just need a Copper more to hit Province.

Gardens may be Beggars most powerful combo. Unlike just about any other board, it may be optimal to buy a straight Victory card on turn 1 or 2 with the opening Gardens/Beggar. This allows you to get a jump on the Gardens pile to almost guarantee an even split of the Gardens, if not a split in your favor. According to simulations performed by DStu, just buying Gardens / (Estate when Gardens are low) / Beggar / Copper wins against a basic Workshop / Gardens bot 80% of the time. When your opponent is not rushing the Gardens, you should buy Duchies once the Gardens are gone to help 3-pile and get more VP. This wins against a DoubleJack bot 75% of the time.

Even though Coppersmith + Beggar intuitively seems like it would work well, I think most of the time it will end up being more of a nombo than a combo. Coppersmith likes Coppers, but more of the time it prefers you just draw your starting Coppers on the same turn you play Coppersmith, not that you actually gain extra Coppers. Playing village then Beggar then Coppersmith is doable, though unlikely. And once you have played Beggar a few times, the extra Coppers make it difficult to line up your village + draw + Coppersmith for the big hands. If you are playing Beggar a lot, you may be able to expect at least 3 Coppers in hand with your Coppersmith, though you will be unlikely to hit the necessary 4 for a Province.

A few other cards may combo decently depending on the board. Stables will enjoy guaranteed Coppers to discard, though the Copper flood will limit the ability to build an engine. Philosopher’s Stone, like Gardens, likes a thick deck and may be a decent option, especially with other Potion-cost cards present. If you have a Trader in hand, you can Beggar for 3 Silvers, albiet ones that go to your discard pile instead of your hand. Counterfeit, Moneylender, and Spice Trader can all trash Coppers for benefit, though in most cases it won’t be worthwhile to go Beggar if you want to trash down your Coppers.

As mentioned earlier, Beggar can boost you into the expensive card zone early on, with Bank being the star of the show. Additionally, expensive cards like Goons, Hunting Grounds, Forge, and Alter may be willing to sacrifice having 3 extra Coppers to buy them early. On the other hand, cards like Grand Market, King’s Court, Border Village, and Expand conflict with having lots of Coppers around, making an early Beggar not worthwhile to get to them. If you need to hit $5 on your first reshuffle for some important card (Witch and Mountebank come to mind), Beggar all but guarantees their purchase while giving some defense if your opponent is also grabbing attacks.

As a Reaction
You rarely want to buy Beggar solely for its reaction. But, if you were thinking about it anyway for its Action, you may be swayed further by its reactionary ability. Beggar is often happy to be hit by an Attack card. Gaining 2 Silvers is very good, unless you’re going for a Treasureless deck, in which case why would you buy Beggar in the first place? Unlike Moat, and somewhat like Horse Traders, Beggar’s reaction acts differently depending on what attack triggers it, making it a better defense against some Attacks than others.

Junkers: Beggar’s reaction is probably weakest against Cursers and Looters. You still get the Silvers, but no other advantage. On the other hand, Beggar’s action can be good in Curse slogs, so Beggar may still be worthwhile in these games. Beggar pairs well with Ambassador as described above, both for its action and reaction abilities.

Discard Attacks: Beggar is very good against many discard attacks. Against a vanilla discard attack like Militia, Beggar allows you to discard it to gain 2 Silvers, while reducing your hand size so that you have to discard one fewer card. This works great against Militia, Goons, Ghost Ship, and Urchin/Mercenary, and decently against Margrave. Beggar is an excellent counter to Pillage, since it removes itself from your hand, giving you 4 cards which makes you immune to Pillage. Similarly, Beggar allows you to dodge Minions if you wish, or you can choose not to reveal it if you don’t like your hand. Beggar is bad against the targetted discards of Cutpurse and Bureaucrat, which don’t care about handsize.

Deck Inspection Attacks: Though cards like Spy and Scrying Pool will usually discard the topdecked Silver, they are often played frequently and therefore you can expect them to be played when you have Beggar in hand. Beggar is not as good against Rabble, Fortune Teller, or Oracle, which will discard the topdecked Silver. It is pretty decent against Jester, which prefers to hit your really good cards or your really bad cards; Silver is in the middle ground which gives your opponent the least advantage.

Trashing attacks: Beggar somewhat protects against Thief and Noble Brigand, since you’ll likely gain a Silver while giving your opponent a Silver. It is excellent against Saboteur, Rogue, and Knights, since the topdecked Silver protects your better cards. It is also great against Swindler, where you will gain a Silver and another $3 card. The one card you’ll almost never want to reveal Beggar to is Pirate Ship – you will guarantee they’ll hit Treasure.

Works with:
– Alt-VP, especially Gardens
– Apothecary
– Bank
– Counting House
– Hitting high price points early (Bank, Goons, Hunting Grounds, Forge, Alter)
– Buying late with an extra buy
– Discarding attacks and some trashing attacks

Conflicts with:
– Colonies
– Strong trashing
– Buying early in engines or BM
– Grand Market, King’s Court, Border Village, Expand
– Pirate Ship
– Cutpurse
– Venture and Adventurer
– Poor House

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Dominion: Adventures!

Dominion: Adventures

Dominion: Adventures

Dominion: Adventures, the ninth expansion to Dominion, will be released in April 2015! Here is the blurb from Rio Grande Games:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. You’re not sure which, but at least you’ve narrowed it down. You are rich with life experiences, but have had trouble trading them for goods and services. It’s time to seek your fortune, or anyone’s really, whoever’s is closest. To the west there’s a land of milk and honey, full of giant bees and monstrous cows. To the east, a land of eggs and licorice. To the north, treacherous swamps; to the south, loyal jungles. But all of them have been thoroughly pillaged. You’ve heard legends though of a fifth direction, as yet unspoiled, with its treasures conveniently gathered into troves. You have your sword and your trail mix, handed down from your father, and his father before him. You’ve recruited some recruits and hired some hirelings; you’ve shined your armor and distressed a damsel. You put up a sign saying “Gone Adventuring.” Then you put up another sign, saying “Beware of Dog,” in case people get any ideas. You’re ready. You saddle up your trusty steed, and head florst.

This is the 9th addition to the game of Dominion. It has 400 cards, 6 mats, and 60 tokens. There are 30 new Kingdom cards, including the return of Duration cards that do things on future turns, plus Reserve cards that can be saved for the right moment. There are also 20 Event cards that give you something to buy besides cards, including tokens that modify cards.

Obviously, there’s not much news on the expansion yet, but people are discussing the expansion on the forum with some of the expansion’s playtesters.

Later this month, stay tuned for card previews from Adventures from Donald X. Vaccarino!

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2014 Kingdom Design Challenge

One of our most popular contests is back!  The full rules and entry form is here.

Submit a Kingdom set of 10 Dominion cards, and we will personally select the best seven of these to be played in the Grand Final of GokoDom III. After the Grand Final, voters will determine the best of the seven Kingdoms, and the creator of that Kingdom will receive a free copy of any Dominion expansion.

Previous winners of the Kingdom Design Challenge can be found here and here.

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GokoDom Tournaments

In lieu of the DominionStrategy Championships, Kirian is organizing GokoDom III, a series of periodic online Dominion tournaments held on Goko.  The tournament will be played online at Goko, and feature some of the best old Isotropic players and new Goko players.  You can see a first-person view of the GokoDom II final here.

Signups close February 7.

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Dominion Team World Cup!

If you are interested in representing your country in an international Dominion tournament, you should visit our Tournaments & Events subforum, where Qvist is organizing the 2013 International Dominion Team World Cup! The tournament will be played online at Goko, and feature some of the best players from across the globe.

Signups close November 10th.

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The Secret History of Dominion

The “Secret Histories” are a series of articles by Donald X. Vaccarino, detailing the evolution and development of a particular expansion. This one covers the entire game.  Previous “Secret Histories” can be found here; the forum discussion topic for this is here.

W. Eric Martin interviewed me for his website, BoardGameNews, some years ago. He mostly wanted to know about the game itself, so I decided to write a companion article about the cards, which is how the Secret History series got started, with The Secret History of the Dominion Cards. BoardGameNews is long dead, and, while I’ve told this story to various lengths many times, it seems like, what, let’s have it in a convenient place I can link to. Plus I can talk about everything that wasn’t out, because man, it’s out. So here goes.

Continue reading

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Dominion Outtakes

This is an article by Donald X. Vaccarino, detailing the Dominion outtakes. Forum discussion topic here.

Here at last are endless images of Dominon outtakes.

In an effort to keep this remotely entertaining, I have mostly pruned out cost changes and slight tweaks. I left in a few for some reason. This doesn’t include the actual cards in their final forms either, because hey you can already see those. It doesn’t include every outtake – some never got an image, some I didn’t save the image for, and some just didn’t seem worthy. There are a lot of outtakes here though, it is plenty for anyone. I am even including some cards that are so weak or so strong that it’s humiliating I even tested them. They are outtakes for a reason, okay. Those of you who have been following the secret histories will have heard about most of this stuff, but it’s different seeing the pretty picture, and there are some things that didn’t make the secret histories for whatever reasons.

The cards don’t appear in the order I made them; that was not possible. They are very roughly in that order within each expansion, but it jumps around some. It is interesting to look at the evolution of a particular card all at once, but you will have to do that sorting if you want to see that. For some cards it will cross expansions.

Again I have gone over this stuff in detail in the secret histories, but I will somehow say a few words about a bunch of these cards. I shrunk the images down to reduce the risk of ire from copyright holders; I just google up whatever for my prototypes. If the text is ever so small that you can’t read it, man that card was too wordy, I can see why it’s an outtake.

Continue reading

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The Secret History of the Guilds Cards

The “Secret Histories” are a series of articles by Donald X. Vaccarino, detailing the evolution and development of a particular expansion. Previous “Secret Histories” can be found here; the forum discussion topic for this is here.

Dominion: Guilds

Dominion: Guilds

Right around when Prosperity was due, the powers-that-be decided that they wanted small expansions too. Products that seemed more expansion-like than these giant game-sized expansions I was doing. The ideal time to do one would be next, and so Prosperity got pushed back, and Alchemy came out in its stead. I got Alchemy by breaking off a thematic chunk from a large set, and eventually reshaped the remains of that large set into Cornucopia.

I had two large expansions left after Prosperity, so this left me one small expansion short. I had to make one more small expansion to go in between Hinterlands and the last large expansion. Well I didn’t have to, but you know. It was expected. So I made one. Guilds is thus the only expansion with no roots in Dominion as it existed prior to the main game being published. As it happens, the Base Cards product came out instead of Guilds, and then Dark Ages came out so we’d have a large expansion that year, so now the last expansion to be made is also the last to come out.

On my list of possible future mechanical themes, “tokens” was the easiest-sounding, so I went with that. There are a bunch of things you can do with tokens. My initial idea was to use them as money you could hang onto for later. This was simple and meant that any one card that used the tokens was useful by itself; there was no reason for anyone to insist on more than one token-involving card in the game at once, thus avoiding an issue that Alchemy had. The initial idea worked out and so there it is.

To supplement the tokens, I added the overpay cards. Overpay was a natural extension of the when-gain cards in Hinterlands, and was a good match for the tokens, since you could save up tokens for a big overpay. Two sub-themes is plenty for a small expansion, but I also flirted with a “name a card” sub-theme. In the end there’s just a hint of it.

Before picking the tokens and overpay themes, I considered revisiting duration cards. I asked Jay what he thought, and he said that something new would be better than more of an old thing. Some of you are reading this and wishing I’d gone with the duration cards, but man, I have no regrets there, I am pleased with what Guilds offers up instead.

When I first made cards for this set, I hadn’t picked out flavor for the set. So I gave some cards silly names, including Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker. It turned out people really liked those names, so that ended up determining the set theme. There’s a lesson there for all of us.

On to the cards!

Advisor: Envoy was an Intrigue outtake. If it hadn’t been used as a promo, I would have eventually fixed it up. One day I decided, what’s stopping me? The key thing was to give it +1 Action, so that you didn’t just say, lol here are some actions you can’t play. I originally made Advisor for Dark Ages, but moved it here because it seemed to fit with the emphasis on decisions this set has.

Baker: Originally it didn’t have the setup part. It was just a very basic coin token card. When I thought of the setup thing, I realized that whatever card I put it on might sometimes not be bought, such that that starting coin token was all the card did. I decided that was okay though, and to just put the ability on something simple and likely to be bought.

Butcher: I wanted some other way to use coin tokens if I could get one. Butcher lets you spend them as part of a Remodel. It also gives you coin tokens, so it won’t be sad when there are no other coin tokens around. For a while I considered making a simpler version of this, but ended up going with the full-on tricky version. The wording is convuluted, and not even technically correct – it says “plus the number of coin tokens,” which never confuses anyone, but it should convert the units – “plus $1 per coin token.” It ended up with this phrasing because a phrasing that said “per coin token” got read by some people as gaining you a card per coin token spent, rather than adding them to the cost.

Candlestick Maker: For Alchemy I wanted a single $2, with a +Buy, and tried “+1 Action +1 Buy +$1.” Some people preferred this to Herbalist, but some people felt like, hey what does this have to do with Potions. And I could make that card later. So I put Herbalist in Alchemy. I next tried the card out in Hinterlands, with “when you gain this, +1 Buy.” As recounted in that secret history, some people though it was hilarious that two Highways let you just buy out the pile, but some people abhorred it. I couldn’t tell you why, I thought it was hilarious. But the card was just not sufficiently hilarious to live with the hate. I bumped the card out again. Then it seemed like a great fit for Guilds, where the +$1 could become a more exciting “take a Coin token.” And here it is.

Doctor: Again as recounted in the Hinterlands secret history, I tried several “when gain” trashers for that set, and was not happy with any of them. The main problem was that you would buy the card just for the trashing, and end up with whatever other effect in your deck randomly. The solution was to make that other effect also trashing. Doctor gives you three options per card you see on the overpay in order to make sure you’re as happy as possible with the outcome. The when-play part gets in the name-a-card thing I mentioned.

Herald: The top is an old card, a less-crazy relative of Scrying Pool that I tried out long ago. The bottom was just something else I could do with overpay that would feel different. I tried it first on Duchess’s top, then moved it to this card.

Journeyman: I took this from Dark Ages, when I thought I might push a mild “name a card” subtheme here. I didn’t end up pushing it enough to make it really visible. Journeyman and Doctor have you name a card, and then Taxman kind of does, and Advisor has you pick a card. Some playtesters called this card Bigot Parade, because you know, they don’t like some particular card. “No Estates!” they chant, marching through the streets.

Masterpiece: This was just the most basic possible overpay. Early on Ben bought one for $10 or so and said “achievement unlocked.” It turned out to be a fine play though.

Merchant Guild: This started out thinking it could cost $4, like Bridge. As it turned out, it could not.

Plaza: Originally this also let you trade a coin token for +1 Card. The card was plenty good without that, plus I wanted to cut complexity wherever I could.

Soothsayer: I had tried “gain a Gold, they gain a Curse” in Alchemy, but it was a poor fit for a card with potion in the cost. I tried it out again here with the Council Room penalty. It worked fine, but some people complained about how bad the card got when the Curses ran out. Wei-Hwa suggested having it not give them a card unless they got a Curse, and there you have it.

Stonemason: Some work went into this one. I tried the top with several Remodel-family overpay bottoms. The first one was, per $2 you overpay, Expand the top card of your deck. The most promising one was, per $2 you overpay, draw a card, then Remodel a card from your hand. In the end the crazy huge overpay turns were fun but too random. Meanwhile I tried the printed bottom with Develop on top and liked it. The bottom wanted to go on a super-cheap card, so I paired it with the printed top and moved Develop into Hinterlands.

Taxman: This started in Cornucopia, based on an idea that didn’t go far in Alchemy. For the Cornucopia version, the discarding was not limited to players with five+ cards in hand, and the treasure you gained didn’t go on your deck. It was painful and not good enough. In Hinterlands I tried a version that gained you two cards. Finally it moved here and I fixed it up. It’s a lot of words, that’s like a theme of this set. It does a fine job of feeling like a new attack though, and well that’s what that takes.


I tried overpay for coin tokens, that was pretty obvious. It was predictably crazy. Another overpay card was a VP card that was a twist on Island – shuffle all but 2 cards per $1 overpaid from discard to deck. That direction hadn’t worked out in Hinterlands and still didn’t here. I had a Village for $2 with a penalty, and per $2 you overpaid, you got another one. Foosh, a pile of Villages. It sounded good but was not exciting enough. Stonemason does a better job there.

What about granting overpay to other cards, so to speak? There was a Village with, while this is in play, when you buy an action card, you may pay $2 for another copy of that card. I liked it, but there was only so much space, and again, I had Stonemason.

I tried +$1, take a coin token per card the player to your right gained on their previous turn. Then I flipped it – take a coin token, get +$1 per card they gained. Both were too random in an unfun way. I also tried +$1, take two coin tokens, everyone else gets a coin token. As is sometimes the case with such cards, people just did not want to hand out presents to the other players. And I tried +1 buy, discard cards for coin tokens.

For the name-a-card sub-theme that I didn’t so much end up with, I had a Cellar version of Journeyman, also from Dark Ages. You named two cards, discarded two cards, and drew two you didn’t name, with +1 action. It was fine, it was totally fine. A little more memory-rewarding than some players like but whatever. But again, there’s only so much space, it did not make the cut.

There is a card with a long history that had its last stand trying to get into this set. Once, the main set had a card, look at your top four, put one in your hand, discard the rest. I dropped it from the main set for being too boring. It resurfaced in Prosperity with +1 Action, and well it was crazy powerful. It cost $4 and I thought it might work out kind of like Throne Room, but it was way better. It really wanted to cost $4, so I tried several versions of it with different tweaks before giving up on it. Then I brought it back in other sets a few times and tried to get a good one. The version in Guilds was +1 action, could only get actions, but played the action it got. Anyway I did Herald instead, hooray.

For a bit I kind of wanted a new action-victory card, and tried +1 Action, reveal a card from your hand for the corresponding Ironworks bonus, 2 VP, for $4. It was fine but I mostly just liked that it was an action-victory card.

Walled Village is an outtake from this set. As a village you can keep around until you need it, it sort of fits in with the coin tokens. I couldn’t actually give you something like action tokens because that would have been another kind of token to include. I also couldn’t put coin tokens on piles, because Trade Route ate up that space.

Two cards used Spoils, which I stole briefly from Dark Ages but then gave back to it. Wandering Minstrel got worked on some here before moving to Dark Ages.

I hope this has been informative!

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Guilds cards revealed!

A photo of the cards can be seen here.

Candlestick Maker
Types: Action
Cost: $2
+1 Action. +1 Buy. Take a Coin token.

Types: Action
Cost: $2+
Trash a card from your hand. Gain 2 cards each costing less than it.

When you buy this, you may overpay for it. If you do, gain 2 Action cards each costing the amount you overpaid.

Types: Action
Cost: $3+
Name a card. Reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. Trash the matches. Put the rest back on top in any order.

When you buy this, you may overpay for it. For each $1 you overpaid, look at the top card of your deck; trash it, discard it, or put it back.

Types: Treasure
Cost: $3+
Worth $1.

When you buy this, you may overpay for it. If you do, gain a Silver per $1 you overpaid.

Types: Action
Cost: $4
+1 Action. Reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. The player to your left chooses one of them. Discard that card. Put the other cards into your hand.

Types: Action
Cost: $4+
+1 Card. +1 Action. Reveal the top card of your deck. If it is an Action, play it.

When you buy this, you may overpay for it. For each $1 you overpaid, look through your discard pile and put a card from it on top of your deck.

Types: Action
Cost: $4
+1 Card. +2 Actions. You may discard a Treasure card. If you do, take a Coin token.

Types: Action – Attack
Cost: $4
You may trash a Treasure from your hand. Each other player with 5 or more cards in hand discards a copy of it (or reveals a hand without it). Gain a Treasure card costing up to $3 more than the trashed card, putting it on top of your deck.

Types: Action
Cost: $5
+1 Card. +1 Action. Take a Coin token.

Setup: Each player takes a Coin token.

Types: Action
Cost: $5
Take 2 Coin tokens. You may trash a card from your hand and then pay any number of Coin tokens. If you did trash a card, gain a card with a cost of up to the cost of the trashed card plus the number of Coin tokens you paid.

Types: Action
Cost: $5
Name a card. Reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal 3 cards that are not the named card. Put those cards into your hand and discard the rest.

Merchant Guild
Types: Action
Cost: $5
+1 Buy. +$1.

While this is in play, when you buy a card, take a Coin token.

Types: Action – Attack
Cost: $5
Gain a Gold. Each other player gains a Curse. Each player who did draws a card.

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Combo of the Day #31: Beggar/Gardens

Everyone and their mother knows about Ironworks/Gardens, but the new standard for Gardens enabling is here. Beggar! How cool is this dude!?. If you manage to collect all Gardens by the end of the game, each Beggar play will have added 2.4 VP. Comparable to Rebuild, a sick $5 card that adds 2 to 3 VP per play.

Now you don’t have to be called WanderingWinder, -Stef- or Geronimoo to figure out Beggar and Gardens form a great combo, but you might want to consult with these guys if you’re facing the tough choice between a strongish engine like Hunting Party/Baron or Beggar/Gardens. Here’s me to help you out.

How to play the combo

Beggar/Gardens isn’t a rush strategy like Workshop/Gardens but a slog. (You might want to read the articles by the great WanderingWinder first). One notable aspect of the slog is that Copper is a good card instead of a liability. Another important property of the slog is that it does better the longer the game takes (unlike rushes and engines).

Ideally you’ll want to be able to play a Beggar each turn for the entire game which means you need to get a healthy number of them before greening. The simulator suggests 6 Beggars if your opponent goes for a Combo, Big Money or Engine strategy (Beggar isn’t published yet in the sim so you can’t test it yourself). If your opponent mirrors you, then you should aim for 4 Beggars before trying to win the Gardens split. This might seem late, but remember that once the Gardens are gone the game becomes a slog where being able to reach Duchy $ is very important. The extra Beggars will ensure you have enough fuel for the rest of the game. If your opponent goes for a rush (like Workshop/Gardens) use the same advice of 4 Beggars before greening.


At game end your Gardens will often be worth 7 Victory points which means an opponent aiming for Provinces needs to end the game as soon as possible. If your rushing, engining or comboing opponent tries to fight you for Gardens the green cards will hurt him a lot more than you.

vs Big Money

A typical big money strategy is Wharf BM. Beggar/Gardens beats it 4 out of 5 games. The Wharf deck can’t prevent Gardens reaching the 7VP treshold which means game over most of the time.

vs Rush

Ironworks/Gardens will win only 1 out of 20 games because it’s not good at buying Duchies after the rush becomes a slog.

vs Attacks

Attacks often turn games into slogs and the reaction part of Beggar adds some more value. Now you can discard all your excess Beggars to gain Silvers and keep one in hand for the Coppers. Curses don’t really hurt (8 Gardens = -2 points from 10 Curses) so a Sea Hag or Mountebank centered deck doesn’t stand a chance. Discard attacks like Goons are a little stronger, but unless they’re part of a big engine they can’t really beat the Beggar/Gardens.

vs Combo

Let’s take the Golden Deck (a deck that consists of exactly 5 cards: 1 Bishop, 2 Silver, 1 Gold, 1 Province which trashes a Province each turn). This can reliably empty the province pile in 16 turns which will beat the Beggar about half the time.

vs Slog

If your opponent decides to use the Beggar for a different slog like Duchy/Duke he doesn’t stand a chance because Gardens will reach 5 VP when three piles are empty (Beggar, Copper, Gardens). The Duchy player doesn’t have time to gain enough 8VP Dukes to compensate.

vs Engine

Hunting Party/Baron is a nice simple engine which beats the Gardens player by a few percentages if the engine player builds up enough before going for the 8 Provinces.
A strong engine like Fishing Village/Wharf will win 9 out of 10 games so you really shouldn’t try to go for the Beggar when there’s a mega turn engine.

Colony games

The 10VP of Colony is better suited to fight 7VP Gardens. The stronger Big Money decks will now also be able to beat the Beggar and all the engines will perform much better (not just the mega ones).

In conclusion this is a very strong combo that only gets beaten by the strongest engines or in Colony games. Just remember to load up on Beggars before greening and you should easily coast to victory with this little gem.

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