Combo of the Day #11: Black Market/Tactician

Tactician can be an annoying card.  Playing it means forgoing your current turn for a doubly-good next turn.  This is good when you have a bad hand, or a reduced hand, but not good when you draw the Tactician with all your Platinums.

Black Market provides an interesting (and devastatingly powerful) way out of this dilemma, as a hugely easy way to implement the Double Tactician engine..  Play Black Market and use it to play your Treasures.  Whether or not you buy from the Black Market, your Treasures are now available for the subsequent Buy phase.  So long as you have at least one additional card remaining in your hand to be discarded, you can now play the Tactician, have a normal Buy phase with your Treasures, and still have a mega-turn next turn.

Black Market essentially eliminates the primary drawback of Tactician and turns it into a juggernaut. Provided you can consistently draw the Black Market and Tactician, you can have 10-card hands every turn.  And although it might seem that you need a +Actions card to be able to play Black Market and then Tactician afterwards, in practice, the extra Action from Tactician fills this need perfectly.

There are several other combos that make use of this Black Market ability: if you use Black Market to play a Quarry or Royal Seal, then the Treasure’s effect can be used on gaining Action cards.  For example, playing a Quarry with Black Market lets you then play an Ironworks to gain an Action card costing up to $6.  Even better, play a Royal Seal with Black Market, then Ironworks two Treasure Maps onto the top of your deck.  But Black Market / Tactician is probably the most powerful combo, and easiest to pull off.

Sample Game

I was lucky to have drawn a Cellar and Bank from the Black Market, which made it a lot easier.  The set was pretty convenient, since it contained Colonies/Platinums as well as a good $4 buy (Mining Villages).

Sample Game

A more archetypal example, with Crossroads support

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23 Responses to Combo of the Day #11: Black Market/Tactician

  1. joel88s says:

    Just to be clear, I assume what you’re talking about with the Tactician/Black Market trick is essentially a loophole in the server. There’s nothing in the rules to suggest that the cards could actually be played this way, is there? The Black Market buy is not part of the Buy phase, so any unspent treasures theoretically remain in hand, and thus would have to be discarded by the Tactician play.

    • theory says:

      Nope. It’s been discussed before on BoardGameGeek: Tactician only requires you to discard your hand, not any cards you have in play. Hence you can play Festival-Tactician and have $2 for the buy phase. It’s just that Black Market is the only way to play treasures in the Action phase.

      • joel88s says:

        Okay, your first point seems clear enough: Festival (or Black Market) is an action card, you can play it in the Action Phase ahead of the Tactician and it and its $2 remain in play to use. But where does it say Black Market allows you to play treasure cards in the Action Phase? It says you can buy from the black market in the Action Phase – and that (I assume) allows using treasure cards from you hand to do so. But how does that equate to playing treasure cards onto the table for later use?

        I just realized since this is a promo card there’s no explanatory rulebook paragraph (that I’ve found) as with most cards; do you know is there any other source of ‘authorized’ clarification on these kind of questions for those cards?

        Am enjoying you blog!

      • joel88s says:

        Well, to save you the trouble, I found the answer to my second question at BGG – the complete list of card rules including the promos – which in its turn answered my first question.

        So of course I stand corrected, it is written exactly as you say. The sentence “You may even play Treasure cards without Buying a card” is certainly unequivocal. I confess the logic of it still escapes me – this whole other range of possibilities you point out is definitely very cool, but seems completely irrelavent to the basic intent of the card. Nonetheless the very fact of that sentence’s inclusion suggests that Donald X. saw it as a part of its ability I guess.

        You said this has been discussed on BGG: does anyone know if he saw these possibilities when he wrote the rules, or if he’s weighed in on them since?

        • scc says:

          It seems necessary to play the treasure cards rather than use them from your hand, so that special treasures can be allowed to take effect, e.g. Bank, Quarry. It would probably be too punishing on any deck building strategy involving special treasures not to allow this.

          My guess is that this Tactician loophole was not designed in, but emerged in testing and was specifically allowed to remain.

        • Larry says:

          Hi, I know this is an old post but still seems sketchy. Where at BGG did you find this?

      • Lee Ambolt says:

        I dont understand this. Where on Black Market does it say anything about playing treasures anywhere? It gives you plus 2 coins, lets you look at the BM deck, buy one and put the others back. It doesnt mention treasures at all. What am I missing?

        • Lee Ambolt says:

          OK i see this was answered above. To be honest, it feels like nonsense, its the kind of thing that theres no way any reasonable person would interpret the wording of Black Market and rules of the game would let you do this. I think I used to have the BM card, the text doesnt really seem confusing, I would never have looked it up online for further clarification, are there any other cards that randomly include weird phase rules that dont make any sense or match anything else in the game. I guess all this is just weird. Well done for whoever came up with such a random and totally unreasonable exception

        • The card has been changed to spell this out, its most recent printing looks like this:

          • Lee Ambolt says:

            Thanks, OK, that makes a bit more sense and actually after carefully rereading the rulebook it wasn’t so outrageous as I thought (well, seems a bit cheeky if you can play treasure to buy but then not buy a BM card), and probably mostly reflects my own inexperience with this kind of card game terminology. My bad!

  2. Dustin says:

    I have always undervalued both Black Market and Tactician – I have written them off as “wild cards” that rely on too much on the luck of the draw. But this is a really great insight on the interaction between two cards I generally avoid; I really want to try this combo out now.

    Great blog – it is renewing my interest in the game! I look forwards to reading the rest of your entries after class ends

  3. df1 says:

    Tactician is pretty powerful in most setups. Something as simple as tactician + coppersmith is quite strong. When talking about how to empty your hand for value, remember the Secret Chamber.

  4. You need to have a Village or suchlike in hand first, though, or you can’t play them both.

  5. rrenaud says:

    The key to this combo is that the Tactician itself provides an action, you want multiple Tacticians when you do this.

    This combo does not shine because of something like Village/Black Market/Tactician.

    Rather, it’s about starting with a Tactician turn, playing one Black Market and then a Tactician, having some 10 card hand worth of money to make a buy or two, and then doing it all over again. For example, look at theory’s turn 8 and 9 in the sample game. Note that even though he is playing a Mining Village, it is unneeded, he ends the turn with actions.

    — BGGDL-theory’s turn 8 —
    BGGDL-theory draws 5 cards and gets +1 buy and +1 action from the Tactician.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Mining Village.
    … drawing 1 card.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Black Market.
    … getting +$2.
    … drawing a City, a Nobles, and an Adventurer from the Black Market deck.
    … playing 7 Coppers.
    … returning a City, a Nobles, and an Adventurer to the bottom of the Black Market deck.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Tactician.
    … discarding the hand (1 card).
    BGGDL-theory buys a Platinum.
    (BGGDL-theory reshuffles.)
    (BGGDL-theory draws: a Tactician, a Black Market, an Estate, a Cellar, and a Copper.)

    — BGGDL-theory’s turn 9 —
    BGGDL-theory draws 5 cards and gets +1 buy and +1 action from the Tactician.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Mining Village.
    … drawing 1 card.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Cellar.
    … getting +1 action.
    … discarding and drawing nothing.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Black Market.
    … getting +$2.
    … drawing a Harem, a Scout, and an Upgrade from the Black Market deck.
    … playing 6 Coppers.
    … returning a Harem, a Scout, and an Upgrade to the bottom of the Black Market deck.
    BGGDL-theory plays a Tactician.
    … discarding the hand (1 card).
    BGGDL-theory buys a Gold.
    (BGGDL-theory reshuffles.)
    (BGGDL-theory draws: a Platinum, a Mining Village, an Estate, and 2 Coppers.)

  6. Personman says:

    To hopefully end any remaining confusion about this:

    The rules insert sent out with purchase of Black Market says:

    Black Market allows you to Buy a card during the Action phase. You can use coins provided by other Action cards played earlier in the Action phase and you can also play Treasure cards from your hand to pay the cost of the bought card. The Treasure cards are played to the table in your play area, just as you would during the Buy phase. You may play more Treasure cards than are required for the purchase; the extra coins from Action cards and Treasure cards are available to use during your Buy phase. You may even play Treasure cards without Buying a card. You may not reuse coins already spent during a turn. A card bought during the Action phase does not count as a card bought in your Buy phase, so you do not need an action card giving you +1 Buy to still buy a card during your normal Buy phase.”

    Here is a link to the BGG page that provides the document.

    And here‘s a post by Donald X. himself giving a little more detail than that document. He certainly knew how it works when he made it, though I don’t know if he’s talked about why he made it that way. It seems like it would have been cleaner (if less ridiculous-combo-enabling) to have Black Market give you a buy and make three temporary Kingdom piles out of the top three cards of the deck. It’s not like the current text fits on the card anyway, so I don’t see why they couldn’t have done it that way.

    • Morphenius says:

      This part:

      “Black Market allows you to Buy a card during the Action phase.”

      …makes me wonder whether it lets you buy cards other than those produced by the Black Market. Later on it specifies:

      “If you play Black Market and the Black Market deck is empty, you cannot buy a card but you still get +2 Coins.”

      …which seems to imply that the “extra Buy” only applies to Black Market deck cards (as I’ve always assumed). But that’s not really specified anywhere that I see. Does anyone know for sure how it’s supposed to work (e.g. is it possible to get a normal card from an already-there supply pile via the Black Market and thus have it not count as using up a Buy)?

      • tlloyd says:

        I’m fairly certain that this is not possible. Black Market doesn’t give you +Buy. Rather, it allows you (reading straight from the card text here) to “reveal the top three cards of the Black Market deck” and “buy one of them.” If there are no cards to reveal, then there are no cards that you can buy.

  7. Swiffle says:

    Didn’t even think of the Black Market in the above regard, clever.
    As df1 alluded to, the Secret Chamber also lets you chain tacticians, while still having $$ to buy things. Turn 1: Play Tactician. Turn 2: +5 cards +1 action +1 buy. Secret Chamber up to 7 cards(Leave 1 or the tactician doesn’t work). Use Tactician, buy cool stuff. Possibly do it again if your deck is small enough to draw the Secret Chamber and other Tactician again next turn. A Vault would also work. Celler/Warehouse/Lookout/Haven etc may help get the right card combo.

  8. DRG says:

    Don’t forget black market with Library or watchtower, and plus actions cards. Playing your money, then drawing 6 cards with a library or 5 with a watchtower is just as good as playing a tactician if you have an action left.
    And always remember not to play your last card other than the tactician in the black market, or you get nothing!

  9. Petums says:

    Vault also works well with the Tactician, letting you discard cards and getting $1 for each to spend in the buy phase.

  10. Ola says:

    Wow, cool combo! I wasn’t aware of Tactitian “loopholes” (Black Market, Golem… are there more?)

    Interesting that you don’t mention the use of Tactician that to me always was the more obvious: have two in a deck, and play one every turn to draw the entire deck (while relying on +$ cards, gainers and trash-for-benefit). Why don’t you use Tactitican that way? Do you think it’s bad strategy?

  11. Mark Billingsley says:

    Before Prosperity, I pulled off a deck where several hands in a row (after a Tactician only hand) I played Laboratory, Secret Chamber (discarding 8 cards to gain 8 coins) and then Tactician (discard last card) to buy a Province. [If I didn’t get a Laboratory in the hand I still had 7 coins and two buys and still played the Tactician to set up the next hand.] Now Vault will make that strategy a lot easier to pull off.

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