Dominion: Cellar

Dominion (Base)

Like most other $2 Actions, Cellar is a versatile card.  Early game, it cycles through your deck so you can quickly play your newly-bought cards.  Mid-game, it fixes unlucky draws in order to set up your engine.  Late-game, it helps you avoid your Victory cards to scrounge together enough money to end the game.

The efficacy of the card is directly tied to your hand size.  Cellars are best with large handsizes; for instance, a Laboratory/Alchemist chain or a +Actions/+Cards engine. In games with smaller handsizes (e.g., Militia-/Goons-heavy games), Cellars are more of a liability than a benefit.

Note that you need not actually discard any cards to the Cellar; this can be useful to lower the price of the Peddler or to activate a Conspirator chain.

One of Cellar’s best features is its ability to control reshuffles.  Suppose you draw a hand of 4 Victory cards and a Cellar, and you have no more cards left in your draw deck.  Instead of Cellaring all 4 Victory cards, you can instead Cellar exactly 1 Victory Card, thus triggering the reshuffle, and then end your turn and discard your hand (which will hopefully still be junk).  The quality of your draw deck is thus improved because you have kept a hand full of Victory cards out of the reshuffle.

Players that draw two or more Cellars in a single hand often face a decision of whether or not to Cellar the other Cellar.  The answer depends on your deck composition and how many other cards you are Cellaring.  Cellaring the other Cellar allows you an extra card in your hand, but saving the other Cellar allows you a second chance to draw.  Generally speaking, if you are Cellaring more than two other cards, you should almost always save the other Cellar; if you are Cellaring only one other card, you should probably Cellar the other Cellar as well.

Cellars are also useful in crappy decks that have been Witched or Mountebanked.  It’s completely worth giving up one slot in your hand in order to be able to cycle through your bad cards.

The biggest drawback to Cellar is that it’s been largely outclassed by Warehouse, whose ability to draw 3 cards and look at them before discarding means that Cellar is superior only if you’re discarding 5 or more cards at once.

Works with:

  • Cards that increase hand size: e.g., Laboratory/Alchemist, Caravan/Wharf, Tactician
  • A 5/2 split, because it lets you cycle through your deck faster to play your $5 Action again
  • Libraries, which weed out unwanted Actions but not unwanted Treasures or Victory cards.  Cellars can alleviate the problem of a late-game Library drawing nothing but Victory cards.
  • Curse-based attacks

Conflicts with:

  • “Dense” decks, e.g., Market-based decks, where the lowered hand size hurts
  • Opponents’ handsize-lowering attacks (Militia, Goons, Torturer, Minion, Ghost Ship)
  • Warehouse
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8 Responses to Dominion: Cellar

  1. John Hodge says:

    I would also say that Cellar conflicts with Warehouse, which can usually accomplish the same goal more efficiently (except for the large hand decks where you are likely to want to discard more than three cards).

  2. Rich Charters says:

    I’m curious about this comment: Instead of Cellaring all 4 Victory cards, you can instead Cellar exactly 1 Victory Card, thus triggering the reshuffle, and then discard your hand (which will hopefully still be junk). The quality of your draw deck is thus improved because you have kept a hand full of Victory cards out of the reshuffle.

    I’m a new Dominion player and don’t yet understand the relative value of things. I see how the strategy mentioned could improve your draw deck, but the cost of a draw of 4 cards seems too high. Four cards could allow you to buy a Province (depending on how many gold/silver you’re holding). It seems in nearly every case, you’d want to take the “draw-4” option rather than the “improve your draw deck” option….am I missing something here??

    • rrenaud says:

      Cellaring off one card when you have 5 bad cards in hand so that you force a shuffle is a tactical decision. You are essentially sacrificing one turn to ensure that 3 bad cards (+1 unknown), are skipped for your next pass through your deck. Since you turned your discard into your draw pile when you had a very crappy hand, your new draw pile is relatively cleaner.

      Whether you want to do this really depends on the situation. If there is only one province left, you wouldn’t want to do this deck management trickery, turns are simply too precious. But if there are still say, 8 turns in the game, having your next 3 turns all be pretty good in exchange for one dead turn could be a lot better than having 4 average turns.

      This deck management idea is also important if your deck contains just a few good cards. You want to make sure that the good cards do not get stuck in your hand/in play when shuffling the discard to make a new deck. If your draw deck has 3 cards and you have a witch in hand, cellar exactly one card, even if it means holding onto an estate, because with the witch draw, you’ll draw to exactly 0 left in your deck, and then you’ll shuffle and draw in cleanup, with your witch included.

    • ElijahF says:

      I don’t see the point in doing that.. you discard your cards at the end of the turn anyways. It’s not worth it.

  3. Mark says:

    Quick question… the cellar card mentions to discard +1 card per card discarded. If I discard 3 estate cards for example, am I allowed to acquire 6 new cards from my deck, or only three? In other words, I’m confused whether the +1 designates one additional card on top of the card I get for each card that I discard.

    Mark 🙂

  4. Pingback: Designing a robust Dominion game engine: Part 1 Creating a card data structure | Boardgames & Source Codes

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