This is the nastiest combo in Dominion.
The key to the combo is that you trash down to a four-card hand of King’s Court, King’s Court, Goons, and Masquerade. Playing King’s Court – King’s Court – Goons reduces your opponent to 3 cards; now, playing a (Kinged) Masquerade forces him to pass you a card. But since you have no more cards in hand, you can’t pass him anything, but you can still trash the cards he gives you.
Essentially, what this combo does is trash three cards out of your opponent’s deck per turn, while starting him with a 0-card hand each turn. Played consistently, you can force your opponent into a 0-card hand every turn while you empty some non-terminal piles for VPs. Eventually, all the cards in their deck will be trashed.
There are several things that can substitute for Goons. Any discard-down-to-three attack will work, but Goons is the best because it allows you to score points without having to buy green victory cards . With Militia, for example, the worst case scenario is that you’ll be “resetting” the game, though of course you have a massive advantage since you have cards in your deck and your opponent doesn’t. Outpost is another way to get in enough plays of Masquerade to trash your opponent’s hand, and has the added benefit of being unblockable by reactions.
Note that your deck doesn’t have to be just those four cards: cantrips (like Caravan or Pearl Diver) are very helpful in this setup because they allow you to have some KC targets for explosive draw, are cheap, and are good Masquerade fodder (rather than being forced to pass away a King’s Court).
The combo, however, can be stopped cold in a couple of ways:
- Reactions will stop the discard attack. You still lose 3 cards per turn, but it’s nowhere as deadly.
- The combo does not work in multiplayer, unless your idea of victory is to destroy the person to your left and no one else.
- It is countered if your opponent can somehow hide his VPs on a Native Village mat or Island mat.
- The cards of the combo themselves are often a counter.
- King’s Court enables crazy explosive megaturns: by the time your pin is set up, maybe he’s already used KC/Bridge to empty the Provinces.
- Goons slows the pace of the game, taking you forever to get those King’s Courts, and by the time you start getting it ready he might have already piled out and ended the game.
- Masquerade itself is a counter: while you are trashing down to a small deck of very valuable cards, you are very vulnerable to being forced to pass a valuable card to your opponent.
- Duration cards can help evade the pin: drawing only 5 cards from your Tactician is a bummer, but at least it gives you options.
- And even though your opponent has a 0-card hand every turn, it’s still possible for him to buy out the Curses, and that might end the game on piles.
Really, this combo highlights the power of King’s Court more than anything else. Just like King’s Court – King’s Court – Bridge – Bridge – Bridge, it’s a multiple-card combo that is devastating once pulled off.