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