This article was originally written by aku_chi and edited in collaboration with the Dominion Strategy blog team.

At first glance, Gear looks similar to Moat: +2 cards and some additional text. But it’s this additional text that enables Gear to provide so much control over your turns, and makes Gear one of the strongest cards in Dominion. Let’s look at all the valuable things you can do by setting aside cards with Gear:

  • Save excess money from turn to turn. This is especially important when you only have one buy. Early on, you can save a Copper to turn a $4 hand into a $3 hand in order to hit $5 on the next turn. Later in the game, you can save money exceeding $8 so you can buy Provinces more consistently.
  • Save an unplayable terminal action for the next turn. This is especially important in games without villages.
  • Improve your starting hand. You can set aside +card or +action cards that will make your next hand stronger. This is especially valuable when you have a few powerful draw cards such as Scrying Pool or Storyteller.
  • Force bad cards to miss the shuffle. If you’re about to trigger a shuffle, you can set aside green cards so that you don’t draw them in that shuffle.
  • Pair up synergistic cards. Gear can help you pair up your Estates with a good Estate trasher, or Province with Tournament, or Gold with Encampment, and more!
  • Let’s dive deeper into a couple contexts in which you might use Gear.
  • Gear in the Early Game

    Gear is a very strong card with a $3/$4 opening. If you draw Gear on turn 3, you’re guaranteed to be able to see and play your other opening card on turns 3 or 4. If your other opening card doesn’t draw, you will end turn 4 with an empty deck – having seen all twelve of your cards. You will be able to freely distribute your deck’s total money over these two turns. If you draw Gear on turn 4, you might have to set aside your other opening card to play on turn 5 (if it’s an action you can’t play), but you will also have an opportunity to cause 1-2 weak cards to miss your next shuffle.

    If there is a key $2-4 card on the board that you want to open with, consider a Gear opening carefully. If the key card is non-terminal such as Quarry or Transmogrify, Gear is usually a great accompaniment. However, if you open Gear with a terminal trasher such as Chapel or Steward, they might collide on turn 4. Gear will probably only be worth opening if you can get a cheap village while trashing.

    If there is a key $5 card on the board, Gear + Silver is an excellent opening. So long as Gear is drawn on turn 3 or 4, you are guaranteed to be able to buy a $5 card and (almost always) a $4 or $3 card (perhaps another Gear, if the key $5 card is non-terminal). You can also open Gear alongside a coin-generating action such as Poacher or Swindler, but you run the risk of not hitting $5 on turn 3 or 4 if you draw poorly. Gear + Potion is also one of the most reliable ways to hit $3P on turn 3 or 4.

    In the rare event that there are no kingdom cards costing $5 or less that you want early, double Gear is a good opening. With a double Gear opening, if you draw Gear on turn 3, you have a good chance to hit $6 on turn 4 for Gold (or something better). If you don’t see any Gears on turn 3, you can buy Silver and have a great chance to hit $6 on turn 5.

    Gear + Money

    Usually, you will want to play a card-drawing engine, and a few Gears will fit in well. But, sometimes there is no good engine to build, in which case you should play primarily with Gear and treasures. This is often the case when there are no villages and no non-terminal draw in the kingdom. Gear is a very strong card in moneyish strategies, because Gear’s money saving and terminal spacing functions give you tremendous control over your turns.

    Gear + money strategies benefit most from Estate trashing and treasure gaining, so consider incorporating them into your strategy. Gear + money’s strongest supports are cards and events that can trash Estates with very little lost tempo: Trade, Transmogrify, and Plan. With strong support, Gear + money can beat slower engines – especially if there are no handsize attacks or alternative VP available.

    Non-terminal support cards such as Sentry or Treasure Trove are easy to incorporate into a Gear + money strategy. Because Gear can help space terminal actions, using 3-4 terminal actions is a good rule of thumb for a Gear + money strategy. Sometimes, Gear is better in a support role with strong terminal actions such as Witch or Haggler. In this role you can use 1-2 copies of Gear along with 2 additional terminal actions. More often, you will want to combine 2-3 Gears with one copy of a supporting terminal action such as Salvager or Bandit.

    Sometimes, there aren’t any other beneficial kingdom cards. Unassisted, you should open double Gear hoping to get Gold on turn 4. You should get a third Gear as soon as you are confident you can get Gold. With 3 Gears, you should be able to play one Gear each turn pretty consistently and smooth your money to exactly buy Golds (3-4), and then Provinces. Without support, Gear + money does not get 7+ Provinces very fast, so beware strong alternative VP.

    Gear Tips

    Gear is almost always good; buy it, you won’t regret it. Here are a few final Gear tips:

    • When playing Gear, if you choose not to set aside any cards, Gear will not stay in play.
    • Usually, set aside all the cards you don’t need on a given turn, even if it’s just one card.
    • When using Gear as your primary source of draw (not recommended if there are alternatives), only save cards with your final Gear.
    • When trashing from your deck with cards such as Sentry or Lookout, stop using Gear to save cards you want to trash pretty early.
    • The cards saved by Gear are not in your hand during opponents’ turns, so you can’t use saved reactions such as Moat.
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    Counting House + Night Watchman

    This post is an expansion of a post from the Dominion Strategy Forums by aku_chi, with editing help from the Dominion Strategy Blog staff.

    Counting House was once considered the weakest $5 card – and for good reason.  It requires some very specific support to be powerful. Counting House works best when you can consistently draw it with a discard pile full of Copper.  Fortunately, some of the most recent Dominion expansions have provided excellent support for Counting House. Travelling Fair from Adventures has a very strong combo with Counting House, as discussed in a recent article from this blog.

    Night Watchman from Nocturne presents another strong combo with Counting House, which works a little differently.  This combo works by having two pairs of Counting House and Night Watchman and alternately playing these pairs of cards while buying one Province each turn.  Once the combo gets started: your deck will be empty, you’ll play your Counting House and draw to 8 Copper, you’ll buy a Province, then you’ll play Night Watchman to set up a 5-card deck including your other copy of Counting House and Night Watchman – which you draw for your next turn.  Rinse and repeat.

    This combo can usually be set up starting on turn 7, after which you can reliably buy one Province per turn until the Province pile is empty (turn 14 if your opponent doesn’t help you).  This is usually faster than competing strategies.

    Playing the Comb0

    There are four conditions you need to meet to start the combo:

    • Have the following deck contents: Counting House x2, Night Watchman x2, Copper x8, Estates (or Shelters) x3, one other card.  The other card could be a ninth Copper, a Silver, an Heirloom, or (if you’re lucky) a Duchy.
    • Have the following hand: Counting House x1, Night Watchman x1, three other cards.
    • Have the following deck and discard pile: Counting House x1, Night Watchman x1, Coppers, and at least two non-Copper cards.
    • Be able to generate $8: This is usually accomplished by having all Coppers in your hand or discard pile.

    From this point on, you can buy Province, play Night Watchman, discard to a 5-card deck that includes your other Counting House and Night Watchman, and do the same thing over again.  If your opponent doesn’t affect your deck, this combo is 100% reliable through 8 Provinces. For the 8th Province, you can discard your Night Watchman to find your Counting House.

    Building to the Combo

    You need to gain six cards before you can start the combo: Counting House x2, Night Watchman x2, Copper, and one additional card.  In most circumstances, you should aim to start the combo on turn 7 after buying one of these cards each turn. Rarely, there will be a way to accelerate this process and start the combo on turn 6.  Conversely, sometimes you’ll get unlucky and your Counting Houses or Night Watchmen will stick together, or maybe you’ll have a difficult time affording your second Counting House, but these usually only set you back one turn.

    The order in which you buy these six cards ought to depend on your opening split:

    • 4/3: This the best case.  Buy Copper turn 1, then Night Watchman turn 2, to set up $5 on turn 3, which you should use to buy your first Counting House.
    • 3/4: Buy Silver on turn 1, then Night Watchman on turn 2 to set up $5 on turn 3, which you should use to buy your first Counting House.  You still need to buy a Copper at some point, but there’s no rush.
    • 5/2 or 2/5: Open with Counting House and Copper.  Often, you can buy a Night Watchman on turn 3 and guarantee your second Counting House purchase on turn 4.

    Once you have one Counting House and one Night Watchman, you should have opportunities to set up a $5 turn to buy your second Counting House.  You can also sometimes use your second Night Watchman purchase to set up a good Counting House turn to buy a second Counting House. Once you have two Counting Houses and two Night Watchman, you will want to try to get them into alternating pairs.

    If all goes well, you might have alternating pairs of Counting House and Night Watchman set up by turn 6.  However, you will not be ready to buy Province yet (unless you got extra gains, somehow). You need 8 Coppers for the combo to be reliable, so make sure you buy an eighth Copper before buying Provinces.  Even if you have the eight Copper by turn 6, you won’t have enough non-Copper cards to take a Province while setting up your next turn: grab fewer Coppers with Counting House and buy a Duchy instead.

    Opponent Disruption

    There are many cards your opponent can play that will affect this combo.  Haunted Woods completely kills your combo by making you unable to play your Night Watchman.  Minion discards your Counting House and Night Watchman. Pillage can discard either your Counting House or Night Watchman.  Against Enchantress, you can protect yourself by buying a couple dummy actions (ideally cantrips) to protect your Counting House plays.

    Because this combo relies on keeping a full discard pile, any card that causes you to draw or reveal additional cards from your deck can trigger a combo-killing shuffle (e.g. Council Room, Bandit).  If you know the opponent can only play one of these cards in a turn, it is possible to slow down the combo 1-2 turns and keep 1-2 extra cards in your deck. This will also hurt your reliability, because your Counting House or Night Watchman might be in these 1-2 extra cards.

    Most handsize attacks and junking attacks merely decrease your reliability by adding more non-Copper cards to your discard pile.  Once you have 9+ non-Copper cards in your discard pile, there is a chance that you cannot guarantee Counting House and Night Watchman in your next hand.  Still, you should be reliable through 5-7 Provinces and win unless there is extremely strong alternative VP. Early handsize attacks can make it more difficult to afford Counting Houses.  Against junking attacks, buying 1-2 extra Night Watchman can help with reliability.

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Counting House strategies are generally wacky, and this combo is no exception.  If this combo sounds interesting, I recommend practicing it a few times solo so you have a good feel for how to play it if you encounter it in the wild.  Happy counting!

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    This article was written by Polk5440 with editing help from the Dominion Strategy blog team. The article is based on an article originally posted to the forums in September 2017.

    “Over you gold shall have no dominion.”

    – Lady Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring

    Gold increases your buying power, does not cost an action to play, and is available in every kingdom. What a great card! You can’t draw it dead with Smithy! It’s so shiny! A no-brainer buy, right? No. Do not succumb to dragon sickness.

    “Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should buy it.” This aphorism — who knew Suze Orman gave such great Dominion advice? — is especially true with Gold. In fact, buying Gold whenever you can afford it or even just when you can first afford it is often an unmitigated disaster.

    Why does the allure of glittery Gold spell your eventual defeat?

    • Gold is a “stop card”, preventing drawing or cycling through your deck.

    Ask yourself at the beginning of the game: “What’s my ideal deck going to look like? What cards do I need lots of? What’s my plan?” With each passing expansion, a deck that buys mostly Treasure with only a couple of Action cards is increasingly a losing proposition to Action-heavy decks thinned of cards that stop you from drawing or cycling through your deck. Estates, Coppers, Shelters, sure, they’re junk, and too many terminal Actions can obviously stop up your deck, but even though Gold produces $3, it, too, is a “stop card” that slows you down.

    • Gold isn’t the strongest card you can afford.

    Costs in Dominion are a funny thing. Just because something is expensive does not mean it’s better than all of those other cheaper things. There is usually something better to buy to advance your plan and improve your deck than Gold, and it may not cost $5 or $6 either. Do you need a village for more actions? Or maybe desperately need an extra buy? Sure, it may feel pretty terrible to buy a $6 Herbalist at first, but if you need the card, get the card! And it makes sense, right? What’s the point of having lots and lots of cool Kingdom cards and lots and lots of expansions from which to pull those cool cards if buying Gold on $6 is always the right call? Boring! Dominion expansions would be such a rip off.

    • Gold is not the best payload in the kingdom.

    “Payload” is what you actually use to end the game with a win. Buying gold should be thought of as the payload of last resort, not the default one. There are lots of great cards in Dominion and lots of interesting decks you can build that do not rely on Gold as the payload to buy Provinces outright. For example, Gold isn’t always the best Treasure available for maximizing your coin available. Or maybe you are building a very Action heavy deck that gets more than enough coin and buy from Action cards, instead. Maybe you are able to gain lots of cards and empty piles early. If your answers to “What’s my ideal deck going to look like? What cards do I need lots of?” and “What’s my plan?” do not involve lots of Gold, then don’t buy it! Don’t be afraid to buy something more useful, instead.

    I’ll admit, there are some good uses for Gold.

    • Gold can be engine fuel and a trash for benefit target.

    Gold in a engine? Yes! A timely Gold or two can directly fuel a draw engine that relies on Encampment or Storyteller. It’s also the necessary companion card for Legionary’s attack, which is great for slowing down your opponent while you continue to build. Finally, Apprentice loves the high cost of Gold, drawing you as many as six cards.

    In fact, Gold is often a great target for many types of trash for benefit. It’s exactly $2 away from Province which is very convenient for cards like Remodel and Governor, and the $6 cost is great for VP from Bishop and Ritual, boost of coin from Salvager, or gaining expensive engine components or late Duchies from Stonemason.

    • Gold is sometimes the only payload option you’ve got.

    So even though I just knocked the idea, sometimes Gold is the best payload for implementing your plan (you haven’t forgotten your plan, right?), either through generating lots of coin, then buying Provinces or through trash for benefit. (Hey, sometimes it happens!)

    However, even if Gold is your designated payload, resist the urge to add Gold to your deck sooner than you need it. Build your deck first, then add Gold as payload as late as possible. You need to first ensure that you have enough draw in your deck to handle the additional stop cards (i.e. The Golds). When you add the Gold before you’re able to reliably draw it, it will simply get in the way.

    • Gold can be a good card in a money-ish deck.

    Sometimes you just can’t build a deck that draws a huge hand every turn or cycles efficiently through the junk. In fact, the fewer cards you play on your turn, the better Gold tends to be. For example, in a Legionary game with no way to increase handsize, gaining multiple Golds is almost certainly going to be essential to victory.  On the other hand, a deck with Embassy and Treasures can get by fine with 0-2 Golds.

    • Gold provides economy.

    Sometimes you just need the money to act as a reliable springboard to more expensive engine pieces. I get it. Just don’t get greedy. Ask yourself “Do I really need a/another Gold now?” If there is a critical Attack, trasher, engine component, or other card you need first to execute your plan, and you can afford it, get it. Do not be afraid to buy a cheaper card that you need, and look for other ways to integrate the necessary Gold gaining, instead.

    Also, even if you have to rely on Treasure to get the necessary economy for your deck, ask yourself whether you really need Gold, specifically. You already got to $6, didn’t you? Was it a perfect shuffle to get there? Or is your deck already capable of what you need? In many kingdoms, due to it’s convenient price point and the many possible gainers, Silver may be the only Treasure you need.

    • Free Gold is better, but not always good.

    When using Gold as engine fuel, payload, economy, or even in a money-ish deck, the last thing you want to do is waste a precious buy and $6 on such an expensive lump of coal. Luckily, Gold is often easier to gain than to buy. The gaining is built-in on cards like Governor, and interactions like Apprentice-Market Square and combos like Hermit/Madman-Market Square rely on Gold gaining to work. Lots of cards like Tunnel, Soothsayer, Bandit, Courtier, Bag of Gold, and events like Windfall, can give you the necessary golden fodder easily, as well.

    However, do not get bogged down with too much Gold. It’s tempting to overuse the “gain Gold” option. Every Gold you add to your deck is a stop card, even if it’s free. Too much Gold and you’re just Cursing yourself to the delight of your opponents.


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    Combo: Travelling Fair / Counting House

    This article was written by Polk5440. The combo potential of Counting House and Travelling Fair was first suggested by gamesou and discussed in this forum thread. The article below is based on posts and comments from that thread.

    Counting House is usually a pretty weak card. It’s strength comes from drawing Coppers out the discard pile, but it’s usually difficult to construct a good deck that always has a lot of Coppers in the discard pile. Travelling Fair solves this problem.

    The idea of using Travelling Fair with Counting House proceeds in two stages. Stage 1: Get a Counting House. Stage 2: Once you draw a Counting House with enough Coppers in your discard pile,  use Travelling Fair to consistently topdeck a Counting House, Coppers, and Provinces turn after turn without ever shuffling your deck.

    Basic Strategy:

    • Never buy anything beyond Travelling Fair, Copper, Counting House, and Victory cards.
    • Buy Travelling Fair to fill your deck with Copper. ($3 -> Copper x2, $4 -> Copper x3)
    • Buy one Counting House on your first $5+.
    • Strategically and selectively use Travelling Fair’s top-decking ability. For example,
      • Top deck Coppers to guarantee $5.
      • Keep track of your Estates to see if it’s worth top-decking Coppers.
      • If you have $7+, buy and top-deck a Counting House.
      • When waiting to draw a Counting House you bought, only top deck enough cards to guarantee the Counting House is drawn without triggering a reshuffle (and thus, ending up with an empty discard pile).
    • When you hit a turn with $13, you can buy Travelling Fair x4, one Counting House, and Copper x4 and top-deck everything. This guarantees that your next hand will be a Counting House and 4 Coppers and all your other cards will be in your discard pile.
    • Now, as long as there are Counting Houses to be bought, every turn after can be started from this state (a Counting House and 4 Coppers in hand and everything else in discard) and you will no longer shuffle. Every turn there will be more and more Coppers in your discard pile meaning every turn you can buy more and more in addition to Travelling Fair x4, one Counting House, and Copper x4.
    • With your increasing buying power, buy Victory cards and Coppers (using Travelling Fair to buy more buys as needed).
    • You can top-deck these Victory cards instead of the four Coppers, if needed, as well. Just make sure you are always topdecking four other cards with Counting House so you do not trigger a reshuffle.

    Note that the final endgame state of never triggering a reshuffle can be achieved with less than $13 and topdecking fewer than 5 cards if you have a cushion of cards on your deck. The key is that there will be a tipping point where you will no longer shuffle for the rest of the game.

    If no one else goes for a Counting House-Travelling Fair strategy, there will be enough Counting Houses and Coppers to empty the Province pile.

    Counting House-Travelling Fair is a resilient strategy that is not slowed down much by junking attacks. In fact, in the endgame, it’s not slowed down by them, at all, and Mountebank arguably helps it out. While the basic strategy can be interrupted by someone triggering a reshuffle (e.g. Scrying Pool, Oracle, Rabble), taking over your deck (e.g. Possession), or discarding key cards or your hand (e.g. Pillage, Minion), this can often be played around. For example, the Counting House player can leave more than 5 cards on the draw deck to prevent a reshuffle. Even if an opponent manages to trigger a reshuffle, the Counting House player can get back into the groove of the combo or have some lucky big turns if the game lasts for a while.

    Except in the face of the most disruptive attacks, Counting House and Travelling Fair is a dominant strategy in most kingdoms in which it appears; it takes an extraordinary counter-strategy to beat it.

    For more information and a demonstration of the combo in action, check out this video by RTT:

    One final note: We will be publishing another Counting House combo in the coming weeks! The next article will feature Night Watchman, as a less potent but surprisingly strong enabler.

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    Dominion Online Championship 2018

    For the second year in a row, ShuffleIt is hosting and sponsoring the Dominion Online Championship. Last year’s tournament had over 360 participants! You can learn more information and register for the large tournament on the ShuffleIt forums.

    Some details:

    • The first round begins on September 17th; signups close September 10th
    • A Gold subscription is required to play
    • Cash prizes from a 1000€ pool will be awarded to the top 4 finishers
    • Single-elimination format; “best of 6” (first to 3.5 wins advances)

    Best of luck to all Dominion players participating in this event!

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    Five Ways To Get More Out of Your Turns

    This article was written by Titandrake, with minor adaptations for the blog. Interested in writing for the blog? Check out this F.DS thread for details.

    I like to model Dominion gameplay as two broad categories: strategy, and tactics. Strategy is your plan for the entire game, and tactics is your plan for this turn. In this article I’m going to focus on just one aspect of the tactics: how to play your hand. This is the nitty-gritty of Dominion optimization – it’s easy to autopilot your hands, but you can get surprisingly large gains from tightening your play. These small edges can add up to 1-2 turns of speedup, which can be enough to decide the game.

    1. Watch Your Shuffle Timings

    If you only get one thing out of this article, it should be this.

    shark_bait’s Deck Control article is 7 years old, but still holds up well. Whenever you run out of cards in your draw pile, you reshuffle your deck. All cards in play and in your hand will miss that reshuffle. If you can control when you reshuffle, you should try to do so when your discard pile has good cards and your hand has bad cards. If you have a lot of good cards in play and a lot of bad cards in your discard pile, you may not want to reshuffle at all.

    Whether you want to reshuffle or not is very context dependent, which makes it hard to give general advice, but I’m mentioning it because it’s that important to keep in mind.

    2. Draw Cards First

    Most gainers gain cards to your discard pile, which influences your next shuffle. If you want to draw the card you’re planning to gain, you want to play these gainers before reshuffling, since that will let you play it sooner. Conversely, if you don’t want to draw the gained card, playing the gainer after the reshuffle guarantees you can’t draw that card for 1 cycle through your deck.

    In either case, you should play the gainer as late as possible – right before the shuffle if you want to make the shuffle, or at the end of your turn if you don’t want to make the shuffle. Delaying the decision gives you more information – depending on what you draw, you may decide to gain a different card than you intended.

    For cards that trash from your hand, play them later rather than earlier. It doesn’t matter when you trash your cards, because you’ve already drawn them. Trashing them now won’t retroactively save the draw you spent. The only thing that matters is that they get trashed before you finish your turn, so that you can stop spending draws on bad cards.

    This is most important for Junk Dealer and Upgrade. These cards are cantrips, which makes it tempting to play them as soon as you draw them, but unless you need that card now, you should play your other draw cards first, to see if you can find a better trash target.

    3. Card Revealers and Shuffle Timings

    Consider Wishing Well. It both draws a card and reveals a card, which triggers a reshuffle if you have fewer than 2 cards in your deck, even though it may only draw 1. Let’s say your hand has a Peddler and a Wishing Well, you have exactly 2 cards in your draw pile, and you don’t want to trigger a shuffle. To get the +$1 from Peddler, you need to play Wishing Well first, wishing for a card you don’t have, then play Peddler to draw the 2nd card.

    Similar principles hold for Sentry (reshuffles with < 3 cards), Cartographer (reshuffles with < 5 cards), Patrol (reshuffles with < 7 cards), and others.

    4. Unintuitive Discards

    If you get hit with a discard attack like Militia, you have to choose the best 3-card hand. Note this may be different from the 3 individual best cards in your hand.

    Let’s suppose you’ve built a deck that can usually draw itself every turn. Your hand is:

    Village, Smithy, Smithy, Gold, Gold

    If you get hit with a Militia, you should discard the two Golds. Sure, Gold makes a lot of money, but if your deck is consistent enough, keeping the draw cards will let you draw through your deck until you redraw the discarded Golds.

    Here’s a real world example. It’s early in the game. My draw pile has 2 cards left. My hand is:

    Warehouse, Copper, Copper, Estate, Estate

    My opponent plays a Militia. I decide to discard the 2 Coppers.

    Why? I’m not going to buy anything that costs $2, and because it’s early, it’s unlikely I draw many good cards from my Warehouse. I also know that playing my Warehouse will trigger a shuffle. If I keep my Estates, I can make both Estates miss the shuffle. Sure, the Warehouse misses the shuffle too, but that’s worth it. This was a scenario where the best hand was actually one that had Estates in it.

    5. Saving Your Throne Rooms

    Some cards are better to copy than other cards. You always want to double the Action that gives you what you’re lacking the most. If you need draw, then Throne Room a Smithy. If you can comfortably draw your deck, save it for a card that gives +$ or +Buy. If you need Actions, then save your Throne Room for a card giving +Actions.

    In all these scenarios, it is better to hold onto Throne Room until you know what you need this turn. If you draw poorly, you may need to double a +Cards action. If you draw well, you’d rather double an Action that gives +$.

    If you draw a hand of Throne Room and 4 other Actions, then playing Throne Room first is probably wrong. You want to play your other Actions first, to see if you can draw a better target for Throne Room, and then play Throne Room only when you’re at-risk of running out of good Throne Room targets. (Either because you are running low on Actions, or because you are drawing too many Throne Rooms and not enough non-Throne Room actions.)

    This logic is especially important for King’s Court – the best target for King’s Court is almost always another King’s Court. Saving King’s Court to the last second gives you the best chances of tripling a King’s Court.

    Throne Rooming a Throne Room is usually correct, because it let you play a Throne Room twice while using only 1 action. However, if you have plenty of actions, it’s better to play your Throne Rooms individually. If you do TR-Action1, then TR-Action2, you still get to play Action1 twice and Action2 twice. However, splitting the Throne Rooms gives you more flexibility if you want to play another Action in between the two doubled Actions.

    It takes a bit of practice to keep these tactical decisions in mind, but there’s no reason not to do them. With some practice, many of these choices become second-nature, leaving you free to focus on the important strategy questions.

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    Cursed Village / Storeroom

    Cursed VillageStoreroom

    How does it work?

    Essentially, Cursed Village and Storeroom are a complete engine in themselves – Cursed Village provides the actions and the draw, and Storeroom sifts and provides payload in the form of +Buy and economy. You start with a Cursed Village to get a 6 card hand with +2 Actions, then play Storeroom. Discard to draw cards to ensure you have at least a Cursed Village in hand, then discard everything except one Cursed Village (rarely, also a Storeroom) to get +$4 and +1 Buy. Then you can play Cursed Village to draw 6 new cards, repeating the cycle until you’ve got a ton of Buys and money.

    In a theoretical two card kingdom, you’d open Silver / Storeroom, grab Cursed Village whenever you can, and then otherwise grab Storeroom, perhaps adding a second Silver if you’re having trouble getting Cursed Villages into play. It does take a little while to get going – this won’t win any races against Governor, but it’s flexible and resistant to greening. Because of this, the strategy can delay greening until the game state calls for it and win in the long haul. If your opponent starts to green too early, just be patient and let them choke on their stop cards while you sift past them.

    Cursed Village followed by Storeroom for full draw lets you see up to 11 cards, making it quite easy to find your next pieces. Because of this large search space, it’s really no problem at all to discard excess Cursed Villages and Storerooms. If you’ve been disciplined about buying several Storerooms, you can discard down to just Cursed Village as you’ll most certainly see another Storeroom on the draw. Your deck ends up shuffling every cycle or two, so those cards you discard for benefit are seeding your next cycle.

    There are a bunch of small upsides to this combo that make it work reasonably well. First, you don’t need to be very thin, though modest thinning can help with reliability. Another advantage to this strategy is that it is resilient to most attacks. Discard attacks help it out as Cursed Village draws more on the first play, thus allowing you to see more cards. Trashing attacks are cushioned by the junk cards your deck still has. Junking attacks can hurt after awhile, but the deck is somewhat more resistant to junking than many other strategies. One more small plus is that the Hexes which Cursed Village makes you take are very rarely a big problem – most of them don’t really affect you negatively except Deluded, Bad Omens, or War – and these won’t totally ruin your game necessarily either.

    The strategy is helped with support but as payload it mostly stands alone. You can certainly add other terminal payload if the board calls for it, but I would consider another Village for each one of those – you really want to be using Cursed Villages for full draw and Storerooms for full payload, so any Cursed Villages you use to play that Monument or whatever are wasting the card’s draw potential.

    What are some pitfalls to watch out for?

    As emphasized before, this strategy is not the fastest, so you need to make sure you have time to set it up and keep it going. If something else on the board is better supported, particularly fast strategies, you’re just not going to have the time to get off the ground. The combo unsupported is just okay, not world-breaking or anything.

    The easiest play error to make is to force awful shuffles. Remember that you should expect to shuffle about once every 1-2 Storeroom/Cursed Village pairs. This means discarding components for the coin benefit in order to make sure they are in the next shuffle. Once you are using the last of your Cursed Villages, you will want to keep careful track of your deck – you don’t want Storeroom to draw too many cards and force a terrible shuffle. Remember how many Cursed Villages and Storerooms you have to work with, and adjust your decisions as you reach the end of your supply of those cards. All of that said, keep in mind if you’re still buying Cursed Villages, a few of those Hexes mess with the top of your deck, so don’t be afraid to keep a card or two there. It pays off to keep track of the Hex stack and to note when those top-of-deck hexes have or haven’t shown up yet.

    How do you support this strategy?

    You do want to support this strategy with the other parts of the kingdom, it is certainly not a monolithic strategy and gets much better with certain kinds of support. Here are a few examples – these aren’t meant to be an exhaustive list, just something to get you thinking:

    Scheme – Just one Scheme effectively guarantees this combo works out unless you have an extraordinarily fat deck (in which case, two will work) – topdeck Cursed Village, or Cursed Village and Storeroom.

    Light trashing, especially nonterminal – Lookout, Loan, Forager, Raze, Ratcatcher… all of these things help. You don’t need to get extremely thin for this combo to work, so you buy fewer than you normally would, but having fewer opportunities to whiff and a smaller handsize for a Cursed Village play are both nice. Even terminal trash-for-benefit like Butcher or Replace can help.

    Summon – Summoning a Storeroom guarantees a $5 hand at least, and if you manage to find a Cursed Village in that 10 card search space, you can start off your turn with $4, a Buy, and a Cursed Village ready to draw up.

    Artificer – An early Artificer lets you topdeck a Cursed Village or Storeroom and then immediately draw it with a Cursed Village in hand, ensuring you get another cycle.

    Tunnel – Get just one on the opening, and you won’t have trouble hitting $5 for Cursed Villages after a few shuffles. Tunnel / Storeroom almost guarantees a Gold gain early on. Don’t get too many Golds.

    Alt-VP – These extend the game by giving you more sources of points, and your ample +Buys help with picking up multiples of Silk Roads, Dukes, Castles, etc. The strategy is at its best when you can green for an extended period.

    Other sources of virtual Coin – Cursed Village works great with other virtual Coin sources, particularly if they also do something better than what a Storeroom cycle would do. Mystic is particularly nice since it is nonterminal and not a huge problem if it doesn’t draw.

    Other Villages – These can be hard to incorporate as they usually compete at cost with Storeroom or Cursed Village, but splashing a Village in or two can help you incorporate other payload, making your engine more well-rounded.

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    Dominion: Renaissance announced


    Dominion: Renaissance, the 12th expansion to Dominion, has been announced. Check out the following announcement blurb from the Rio Grande Games’ website:

    It’s a momentous time. Art has been revolutionized by the invention of “perspective,” and also of “funding.” A picture used to be worth a dozen or so words; these new ones are more like a hundred. Oil paintings have gotten so realistic that you’ve hired an artist to do a portrait of you each morning, so you can make sure your hair is good. Busts have gotten better too; no more stopping at the shoulders, they go all the way to the ground. Science and medicine have advanced; there’s no more superstition, now they know the perfect number of leeches to apply for each ailment. You have a clock accurate to within an hour, and a calendar accurate to within a week. Your physician heals himself, and your barber cuts his own hair. This is truly a golden age.

    This is the 12th expansion to Dominion. It has 300 cards, with 25 new Kingdom cards. There are tokens that let you save coins and actions for later, Projects that grant abilities, and Artifacts to fight over.

    This expansion is currently expected to be released in early October, both physically and online, with previews in late September. As always, previews will be posted to the Dominion Strategy blog when released, so check back here for details as the game’s release approaches.

    Discussion on this announcement on the Dominion Strategy Forums

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    Q&A kickoff and world national tournament

    We’d like to start a new type of content here at the DS blog where we take questions from readers and give them to the community to get some answers. We’ll summarize them and post the answers here on the blog. Give us any Dominion-related question and we’ll answer them all to the best of our ability.

    If you’d like for your question to be credited to you, you may provide your name. But if you’d rather stay anonymous, no worries; feel free to leave that field blank.

    Click here for the question form.


    Dominion World Masters at GenCon 2018

    For the last several years, the publisher of Dominion, Rio Grande Games, has held a World Masters tournament at GenCon in Indianapolis. This year will be no exception, and the $1000 prize for the winner will remain for this year as well.

    Most of the day on Thursday and Friday (August 2-3, 2018) there will be qualifying rounds in the RGG room in the Indianapolis Convention Center — they are free events that you can just walk into and play: if you fare well you could qualify for the later rounds of the tournament and make your way towards the largest prize competitive Dominion has to offer!

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    Settlers/Bustling Village

    This article was written by DeepCyan

    The Settlers/Bustling Village split pile is a strange set of cards. To a new player, they seem strong, albeit a little gimmicky. However, once a player gains more experience in building a consistent deck, it’s easy to regard the pile as unreliable and lackluster. While it’s true that the Settlers/Bustling Village pile is highly situational, and quite often a waste of resources to go for, the pile sometimes has its uses. In the presence of the right cards (or more importantly, when certain cards are absent), the Settlers/Bustling Village pile can be the key to creating a consistent, powerful deck in kingdoms that could otherwise not sustain one.



    To understand the Settlers/Bustling Village pile’s inherent failings (and how to work around them), one must simply evaluate the two cards at face value. First, Settlers: on its own, it’s a useless cantrip. With a copper in your discard pile, it becomes a cantrip that gives you money – going off of Poacher’s value as $4 with a condition, albeit a usually negative one, an activated Settlers is, at first glance, a $4 card bought at $2. Not bad, right? Then there’s Bustling Village: on its own, +1 card,+3 actions, the same effect of playing two villages consecutively. Useful, but somewhat mediocre for a 5 cost. If Bustling Village picks up a Settlers, it becomes +2 cards, +3 actions – an even stronger variant of Lost City, which itself is a major power card for any action-heavy deck. If the subsequent Settlers picks up a Copper, then you have +2 cards, +3 actions, +$1, which appears utterly absurd for a mere 5 cost card. In a vacuum, these cards seem perfectly strong, albeit unreliable, but simply buying out the pile brainlessly comes with 2 fatal flaws.

    1) To maximize the potential of the pile, you need to keep Coppers in your deck. One of the most important things you can do for your deck is to remove your Coppers and Estates as quickly as you can, though doing so removes Settlers’ only potential benefit to your deck, rendering it a useless cantrip. While this drawback only affects Settlers, which Bustling Villages can still pick up for an effective +1 card, this leads us to problem number 2.

    2) The Settlers/Bustling Village pile only reaches its full potential off a filled discard pile. With a thin or empty discard pile, both Settlers and Bustling Villages are rather underwhelming cards. Sure, when you draw all your Bustling villages with a discard pile full of Settlers, your deck will work fantastically, but that’s hardly something you can rely on happening consistently. Furthermore, if you’ve made a deck that regularly draws itself, you’ll likely start your turns with an empty discard pile most of the time, making the pile an even weaker option.

    So, knowing these weaknesses, why would this be a pile you’d ever want to go for?


    I really need the +3 actions!

    On boards with incredibly strong terminals and no other villages, it can sometimes seem tempting to drain the Settlers pile just to get those all-important +3 actions, discard pile benefits be damned. While this is certainly a viable reason to drain the pile, be very careful when going for this. In order to get to the Bustling Village pile, you first need to gain 5 Settlers which, for the most part, will rarely help your deck on their own. While you spend your buys and economy on the Settlers pile, your opponent can happily spend the time simply building up their own deck in anticipation. If you’re not prepared, your opponent can simply buy out the Bustling Villages with his superior deck once you’ve revealed them, giving them free reign of the terminals and leaving you with an incredibly lackluster deck. Because of this, you should usually avoid focusing on piling out the Settlers/Bustling Village pile without the ability to gain settlers both quickly and with minimal expense to your deck quality. Multiple gains are the easiest solution to this, through either +buys or action gainers such as Ironworks.


    I can’t trash my coppers…

    The Settlers/Bustling Village pile excels in boards with no trashing options. In these scenarios, Settlers permanently retain their Copper-collecting benefit, and you’re more likely to be unable to draw through your deck quickly, letting the Settlers/Bustling Village take cards from the discard pile more often. Sifters such as Warehouse make a trash-less Settlers/Bustling Village board even stronger. Not only can you use Settlers to pick up the Coppers that sifters discard, but you can also pick up Coppers with Settlers, then use Warehouse to effectively swap them for cards you actually want in your hand. Through this, Settlers can help negate the hand-size decrease that most sifters cause. Discard-for-benefit cards such as Artificer and Storeroom are also less costly to play, as you can pick back up the Coppers you discard. A special mention goes to Stables – through Settlers, you can effectively reuse Coppers discarded by Stables through picking them back out of your discard pile, letting you play multiple Stables while mitigating its potential drawback to your economy.


    I can’t even draw half my deck…

    Being able to consistently draw your deck is hardly a guarantee. In games with junking attacks, bad or no trashing options, and/or no reliable draw or good cantrips, you may end up in a slog – games with slow cycling, bloated decks, and weak economy. In these games, the Settlers/Bustling Village pile will simply be far more consistent, as a filled discard pile means that your Settlers and Bustling Villages are more likely to hit. Sifting cards are also sometimes strong in slogs, which can also work to your benefit since sifters synergize quite well with the Settlers/Bustling Village pile, as discussed earlier.


    What if none of the above is true?

    Well, the Settlers/Bustling Village pile will hardly be a power card in these sets, but it will almost never be a pile to stay away from. As a cantrip, Settlers can’t necessarily hurt your deck, so if you hit $2 and don’t have anything better to grab, there’s no shame in picking one up. If nothing else, a Settlers and a little bit of luck can definitely be a nice boost in the early game, letting you pick up Coppers from the discard pile as a temporary economy boost or just for more efficient trashing. In 3 or 4 player games, sometimes the Settlers pile will simply run down passively if every player picks up 1 or 2 copies on a dud turn.

    In this case, it’s best to treat Bustling village as a somewhat value-for-money village purchase, and a nice pickup if your deck is heavy on terminals. Unless you’re talking about Rats, Dominion is rarely an all-or-nothing game – if you think a Settlers or Bustling Village will be handy and have the buy/economy to spare, you might as well grab a couple.



    Overall, the Settlers/Bustling Village pile is an outlier for understanding Dominion boards. Unlike most situational power cards, which require specific combinations of cards to be worthwhile, the Settlers/Bustling Village pile (quite thematically) thrives off of Kingdoms in which basic action types – villages and trashers – aren’t there. Because of this, understanding both when and how to drain the Settlers/Bustling Village pile, and when to ignore it entirely, will make and break the games in which this pile is present.

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