Seaside: Embargo


Dominion: Seaside

The guiding principle behind effective use of Embargo is Embargoing cards that your opponents need more than you.  It is always worthwhile to hurt your own deck so long as you hurt your opponents’ more.

For example, if you have an early lead in Golds, placing the Embargo token on the Golds will lead to a long, brutal, and unpleasant game where you will have a decided advantage.  Likewise, Embargoing the Victory cards when you are in the lead (or plan on going for VP tokens) helps you win by lowering the overall number of Victory Points available.

Unlike most cards, there’s no particular set of cards that Embargo works best with.  Rather, Embargo is especially powerful whenever an opponent is going for a specialized strategy that requires certain cards.  For instance, if your opponent opens double Woodcutter with an eye towards the Gardens, Embargoes on the Gardens, Estates, and Woodcutters will be ruinous.  (Note that this doesn’t work nearly as well if he goes Gardens with Workshops instead.)  Against a Goons player, an Embargo on the Coppers stops him from “free” buys.  A well-timed Embargo on the Dukes cripples players who over-invested in Duchies.  Even a strategy as simple as Village/Smithy can be stopped in its tracks.  And if you are concerned about your opponent rushing a 3-pile ending, Embargo can slow the game down enough for you to grab some VP.

A less strategic but equally valid concern is using Embargo on cards you simply don’t like.  Goodbye, Pirate Ship!  A meaner variant of this is Embargoing the Reaction cards (after you’ve picked some up, of course) so your Pirate Ships can ravage your opponents’ decks with impunity.  Mwahaha!

Naturally, Embargo loses much of its effectiveness when Curse-giving attacks are present.  However, opening with a $5 attack and Embargo can be deadly; for instance, if you Embargo the Witches before your opponent can get one, the Curses are almost guaranteed to split at least 7/3 or 8/2 even if he buys a Witch at the first opportunity.

As alluded to earlier, Embargo is also weak against Actions that gain cards.  A truly desperate player can even use Talismans to at least receive fewer Curses.  And of course, opponents with Watchtowers have nothing to fear from your Embargoes.

Works with:

  • Any set that encourages your opponent to adopt a predictable buying pattern

Conflicts with:

  • Cards that gain cards (e.g., Hoard, Workshop, Feast, Remodel, Expand, Smugglers, Ironworks, Black Market, Mine, Upgrade, Treasure Map)
  • Curse-giving attacks
  • Watchtower

Sample Game

Because I draw my Embargo with 4 Coppers, I know that I can buy Gold and effectively leapfrog Silver.  So by Embargoing the Silvers, I slow him down dramatically if he can’t also get to an early $6 like me (and he doesn’t).  Later on, I Embargo the Golds once I have a Gold advantage.  These Embargo tokens end up slowing him down just enough for me to squeeze out a victory.  (Note that because I trashed one fewer Estate, I can safely buy the second-to-last Province because I hold the tiebreaker.)

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19 Responses to Seaside: Embargo

  1. Lost Alpaca says:

    Embargo can lead to some silly games when multiple Embargo tokens are placed on all the victory points. A run on the feasts? O.o

  2. Eric S says:

    Here’s a game I just played opening double embargo for the first time ever so I could be quick enough to slow him down with his trade route / treasure map:

    His embargoing doesnt do much of anything though to slow me down grabbing some provinces and ending the game on piles.

  3. Brian says:

    Embargo works well with Remodel if you have Remodels and your opponent doesn’t. I played a game where I triple embargoed the Provinces. My opponent had to either take curses and try to trash them, or go for duchies. I just got provinces myself by remodeling gold.

  4. Does the Lighthouse negate Embargo’s cursing effect while in play?

  5. DysgraphicProgrammer says:

    I always buy Embargo so I can Embargo Embargo.

  6. JtotheOnah says:

    It seems like it would be worth including some discussion of embargoing the standard victory cards. You see a lot of people embargo the provinces when they think they’re not going to be able to get them, but in fact you have to thrice embargo them to make it worth it to go for duchies instead. On the other hand, a single Duchy embargo makes it questionable whether to go for them in late game (in particular with plus buys, since double-buying Estates is $1 cheaper and gets you the same VP and same cards in deck). Embargoing the Estates just once makes them totally pointless (except, perhaps, for the desperate Gardens player). Speaking of which, a Gardens player with a real sense of risk might choose to place multiple embargoes on a cheap card (coppers, for instance) and buy them up just to ramp up his deck size in a hurry.

    But more to the point, I would posit that the best way to use embargo on VP cards, somewhat counter-intuitively, is to embargo the Duchies once you’re one or two ahead on Provinces. This effectively prevents an opponents deck from beating you on the Duchy rush. And embargo’s low cost makes it an easy pick up when you have $10 and an extra buy.

  7. E says:

    My opponent just had the nice strategy of embargoing Gold and then Provinces, using the Embargo +2 to buy as many Governors as possible, playing Governors to gain Golds, and converting his Gold into Provinces with the Governors. Ouch.

    • Alex Zorach says:

      Because Governor can avoid embargoes two ways (gaining golds + the remodel effect) I think it often makes sense to buy and embargo them if you can get ahead. I managed to buy two governors in one game, before my opponent had a single one, and then embargoed them and the game was pretty much locked down at that point.

      In the example you gave, simply buying governors might have avoided that trap, unless you had already vested yourself in some other strategy for which it was too late to turn back. I think governor is often a strong card, but with embargo on the board it becomes even more attractive (even before anyone has played an embargo) simply because it sneaks two of the most attractive piles to embargo, gold and province.

      Governor, however, could conflict with the silver embargo strategy mentioned above by giving your opponent an abundant source of silver.

  8. PK9 says:

    I’d be interested in some kind of discussion of the interaction between Embargo and Trader. Trader turns the Embargo token into a free Silver. I suppose generally this means a conflict, but if you’re the one with the first Trader, and then you Embargo the Traders, then you could be the only one to get the completely free Silvers.

  9. Ginkies1230 says:

    Question: The embargo token stays on the supply cards the entire game, right? A friend of mine thinks that after the first person buys that card and takes the curse(s) that the embargo token gets taken away and no more curses until another embargo token is put on that card supply. I believe it stays there the entire game. Which is correct?

  10. Anonymous says:

    If I play embargo on a card pile then later buy from that pile, do I also have to collect curses?

    • WheresMyElephant says:

      Yes. Even if you buy it in the same turn, which to me is the most painful part: I’d be pretty happy if I could use the $2 from my Embargo to buy just one Gold before the embargo token appeared.

      Actually I wonder if DXV ever tried this version out. It would fit with the Seaside next-turn theme but it might well be too strong or just too complicated. The Secret History doesn’t mention it though.

  11. Rabbit93 says:

    I played a game that worked fairly well with the embargo. We had 6 attack cards with 3 being curse attacks. I started out with a pirate ship and silver. Then in the next few turns bought a couple embargoes and a couple more prate ships and a mountebank. I ended up having a triple embargo on provinces and since there wasn’t much money going around in this game i went for the duchies every chance i got and kept attacking with my pirate ship to keep my opponent from building mney in his deck. I ended up losing by 3 points but it was a strong strategy i think. Any thoughts?

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