Prosperity: Bishop


Dominion: Prosperity

There’s two ways to view Bishop.  The first is by lumping it with Salvager and Remodel, as a 4-cost, single-card trasher that provides some kind of benefit.  (In this sense, Island is a bit like a one-time version of Bishop: it provides 2VP + the value of the Island card, but Bishop’s ability scales upward and can be used multiple times.)  From this vantage, Bishop is just another deck-trimmer that isn’t quite as fast as Chapel but provides a little ancillary benefit while trashing.  Its +$1 is more useful than one might think; the worst possible opening draw with Salvager is 4 Coppers and 1 Salvager, especially if there are key $4 cards to buy.  Bishop doesn’t have this problem.

The alternative is to view Bishop with Goons and/or Monument as a different strategy altogether.  This approach eschews Victory cards, instead focusing on buying crappy cards with Goons for VP tokens, then trashing them with Bishop for more VP tokens.  If your opponent can’t end the game, you can happily collect VP tokens in perpetuity.  This approach depends heavily on +Actions and some way to get through your deck.

Alternatively, with Talisman or Hoard, you can gain a ton of fuel for your Bishops.  Trashing Estates and Duchies with Bishop is usually a win-win—you (mostly) break even on VP, while trimming your deck.  Trashing Provinces is a little risky, though perhaps worth it if you can do it early enough.

Bishop is worst when you have weighed down your opponents with Curses and Coppers, since they derive more benefit than you out of the trashing.  Similarly, in the early game, there’s often a tension over who has to buy Bishop.  This is because if there are other useful $4 cards (or other, more important terminal Actions of any cost), then neither side wants to be the one who buys the Bishop, letting the other player trim his deck for free.  It’s a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma.

Works with:

  • Goons, as part of an overall VP token strategy
  • Bridge / Peddler / Quarry, because of the cost differential (buy a Peddler for $0, trash it for 4 VP)
  • Hoard (sample game) or Talisman, for Bishop fodder
  • Loan, which can clear out Coppers for the Bishop (see sample game)

Conflicts with:

  • Opponents’ handsize-reduction attacks (e.g., Militia)
  • Your own Curse-giving attacks
  • Odd-cost cards

Sample Game

A textbook example of how Bishop can beat a standard strategy through effective trashing.  Loan gets rid of Coppers that aren’t good for Bishop, and Bishop gets rid of the Loan when it’s no longer useful.

Sample Game #2

With a five-card deck, using the Bishop to repeatedly trash a Province gets you 5VP a turn while accelerating the end of the game.

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14 Responses to Prosperity: Bishop

  1. Nancy says:

    I don’t understand why you say you shouldn’t buy a Bishop and hope the others buy it.

    Bishop seems underappreciated to me. Why is everyone so crazy about tokens from Goons and not crazy for Bishop tokens.

    Here’s one thing Bishop has over Monument anyway – you buy too many Bishops, you Bishop a Bishop – 3 tokens, and a dollar, thanks. Monument, you only get to play one probably.

    Sure Goons is great, I’m not putting it down, and Goons would probably win a Goons vs Bishop war, because of the attack function.

    But most Bishop games aren’t going to have Goons anyway. I just went Bishop crazy for the heck of it. At the end of the game, one opponent had 5 colonies and a province, the other had 4 colonies and a province and 4 tokens, I won with 3 colonies and an estate, and 32 tokens. OK, maybe Mint contributed as I was bishoping money I might not otherwise have trashed.

    Here’s the game:

    I was PiscesMoon. None of us are expert players, and maybe my opponents weren’t too quick on picking up on my strategy, but I think my win rather surprised them.


  2. Sarphus says:

    Bishop gets 5 pts from peddler.

    4 from the trashing and +1 from Bishop. Peddler is a very good thing to trash.

  3. Zaphod says:

    I haven’t tried linking to a game before…hope this works. Here’s a game I played today. My opening combo of Lookout/Bishop worked very well. The Lookout trashed the Coppers and fed the Estates to my Bishop. The great thing about this combo is it trashes while allowing you to buy more useful cards in the same turn. I quickly got up to Silvers, then trashed them once I had Gold in my hand. It was over in 15 turns.

    Sample game played today

    A few notes about the Bishop:

    1. I think it’s a good idea to Bishop a Province or two, if you would otherwise see it several times before the game ends. You gain 5 VP coin in the move, so you’re only really losing 1 VP, and you eliminate an otherwise useless card. Bishoping Estates and Duchies is a no-brainer and you should do it the first chance you get.

    2. If your opponent plays Bishop, you should use the trashing opportunity most of the time. Sometimes your strategy will make deck-thinning counterproductive, but most of the time, it’s a good idea.

    3. If everyone’s buying Bishops, don’t bother buying a Witch. Curses fall into the trash when Bishops are in vogue.

    4. Any action card that produces free cards that would otherwise cost you coin is fuel for the Bishop. Ironworks, University, Talisman, Hoard, etc. can be very useful.

    5. Use my Bishop to trash your Coppers. Use Loan, Lookout and other cards to trash your Coppers. Use your Bishop to trash something that will give you extra VP coin. In the sample game, for example, I only trashed two Coppers by playing a Bishop, but I trashed all my Coppers.

    6. Don’t be afraid to Bishop away good cards, especially if the game is wrapping up. If you have a Bishop, a Copper and three Platinums in your hand, you only have one buy and there are three Colonies left, it’s probably best to Bishop a Platinum, not a Copper. You likely wouldn’t see that Platinum again, and it’s five VP coin if you Bishop it.

    The Bishop is extremely useful in most scenarios, and it’s fun. I don’t buy it every time it’s available, but I buy it a lot.

  4. Varsinor says:

    “It’s a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma.”

    I really enjoy your articles, but here you are mistaken.

    The situation in Dominion that one player may not want to buy an early Bishop if the other player does so has nothing whatsoever to do with a Prisoner’s Dilemma. Dominion is a Zero-Sum Game (when the other player wins I loose and vice-versa, ties can be interpreted as half victories for both) and as such can never be represented by a Prisoner’s Dilemma, not even the slightest bit.

    [If you insist on drawing an analogy to a game well-known from game theory, it should rather be the Chicken Game (see, because that shares one main characteristic. However, that wouldn’t be correct, either, because in Dominion, the player’s don’t collectively prefer the situation where both players refrain from buying an early Bishop from the situation where both buy one. (It is a Zero-sum game, after all.)]

  5. seth.marsden says:

    In the “Works with:” section, I’d add Highway to the one about Bridge/Peddler/Quarry, and maybe also Princess if you think that prizes should be included.

    • PK9 says:

      I think it works better with Bridge than Highway. Bridge is a terminal, so it will likely only be used to help cheapen the cost of cards that can then be Bishoped for full benefit. Highway, on the other hand, is self-replacing, so they tend to reduce the cost of the cards as you cycle through the deck to find a good card to Bishop (or to find a Bishop to eat the card already in hand). Also, having Highways reduces the chance of drawing the Bishoping combo into your hand immediately. So it’s annoying when you eventually get around to Bishoping a Duchy for a total of 1vp instead of 3.

  6. PK9 says:

    I actually disagree about the point of Bishop-ing Provinces being risky. I think it’s the perfect solution to the Province Dilemma – Provinces are worth a lot, but they clog up your deck. For the price of 1VP, you can Bishop the Province and get it out of the deck. I think that’s a great tradeoff, especially for that first Province you buy.

    • NewandForgiven says:

      Surely the thing to remember here is that while bishoping a province does streamline at the cost of -1VP, you could have bishoped a different card instead. Trashing a gold provides +4VP (5 more than the province). Obviously this choic is highly situational, but my point is trashing provinces isn’t always a no-brainer.

  7. Bishop is also pretty good with Fortress. I just got my ass kicked by that combo.

  8. Pingback: Blue Man Sings The Whites » 13 Games For 2013, Part 3 – Dominion

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