Dominion: Market



It pains me to say this, but Market is one of the worst $5 cards in the game.

Don’t get me wrong: Markets are definitely good, as a non-terminal Action that provides +$1 and +1 Buy, and therefore readily spammable.  But the problem is its opportunity cost.  At the $5 level, there are some seriously amazing cards that you’d be passing up for the Market.  The $5 Attacks in particular are so ridiculously strong that you will usually fall behind quickly if you can’t keep up with the Mountebanking or the Witching.  Market, on the other hand, is essentially equivalent to having played a Fishing Village on the last turn, except with the +Action traded for a +Buy.  Zzzz.

Not to mention that Market has a ton of similarly-priced clones (Peddler, Bazaar, Treasury, Grand Market), all of which are superior unless you have a pressing need for a ton of +Buy.  Of Actions, Cards, Coins, and Buys, Buys are the least helpful resource—the Market’s abundance of extra Buys are almost always wasted because the quality of cards is superlinear; a $6 card is better than 2 $3 cards or 3 $2 cards. (This is why Tactician is a good card.) With the exception of certain situations involving Goons, Peddlers, Bridge, and Hoard (3/4 of which are Prosperity cards), you very rarely want more than 2 or 3 Buys.

Of course, if there are no other non-terminal $5 Actions, then you’ll mostly be buying Markets with your $5.  But it won’t be ideal, and with two Buys at $10 you’d probably rather purchase $6/$4 or Province/$2 instead of two Markets.

Market, therefore, is best deployed as a supplemental card when superior alternatives for +Buy (e.g., Grand Market, Festival, Goons, or even Worker’s Village) are not available.  A card to pick up along the way so your Laboratory/Alchemist chain doesn’t look foolish spending $20 on one Province (or worse, one Woodcutter).  But rarely as a card to build your deck around, and one of the first to be sacrificed to the Salvager or Forge.

Market’s strengths and weaknesses are best illustrated by comparing it to Laboratory.  It trades an extra card for +$1 and +1 Buy.  Accordingly, it does best in extremely dense and/or fully-drawable decks, where the $1 and the Buy outweigh the disadvantage of drawing one fewer card.  It does worse when cards like Cellar and Vault are available, which take better advantage of increased hand sizes.  And its lack of deck-drawing power makes it much more vulnerable to opponents’ attacks.  You’d rather have 3 Laboratories and 1 Market over 4 Laboratories with no +Buy, but 2 Laboratories and 2 Markets usually leaves you with wasted extra Buys and wishing you had another card in hand instead.

Works with:

  • One of the better (but not the best) sources of +Buy
  • Very dense decks and/or fully-drawable decks
  • Cards that call for +Buy (e.g., Goons, Peddlers, Vineyard)

Conflicts with:

  • Its superior alternatives
  • Opponents’ attacks
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3 Responses to Dominion: Market

  1. chinano says:

    Hi! Thx for this and all other articles o´yours, they´re just great. Just wanted to say that if you build an engine that needs +buy, an early Pawn (sometimes even Hamlet) is of much better use…

  2. It always amazes me how Grand Market, a card which is more expensive and harder to buy, and only differs from Market by an extra coin producion is one of the best $6+ cards in the game (and possibly one of the best cards period) while Market is one of the worst $5 (although not on any list I’m aware of).

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