Prosperity: Goons

Goons

Dominion: Prosperity

Buy phase synergy is ordinarily a product of three factors: +Buy, cost reduction (e.g., Quarry), and buy duplication (Talisman).  Increasing a single factor provides negligible benefits; no matter how cheap Peddler is, if you have only one Buy, it might as well cost you all the money in your hand.  Increasing multiple factors, on the other hand, leads to explosive results.  (See, e.g., Quarry/Talisman).

The reason Goons is so powerful is because it adds a fourth factor: VP per buy.  So on its own, Goons is a decent card, a combination of Militia and Monument.  But with other Buy phase synergy factors, Goons becomes a devastatingly effective card for churning VP.  When building a Goons deck, you don’t need to bother with Victory cards: you’re looking to make the game drag on as long as possible, because you’re spending each turn buying more Actions to boost your Goons engine.  As your deck gets stronger and stronger, you will earn more and more VPs every turn.  Because of this, you should try to avoid buying Coppers too early, because it needlessly gums up your deck (and you’ll probably earn more VP for it later).  If the support cards are present, aim for a massive final turn where you buy out the piles while collecting a ton of VPs (50+) from Victory cards and Copper buys.

Goons decks depend heavily on +Actions, and ideally, +Cards as well.  Without the ability to play multiple Goons per turn, you’ll usually only be able get multiple VP chips by buying Coppers.  In addition, your Goons buys might end up actively hurting your deck unless you can find a way to play all the Actions you are buying.  City works especially well for this: it provides you both with +Actions and has an excellent chance of leveling up and providing you the card draw you probably need to play all your Goons.  In the alternative, if there just aren’t good non-terminals left for you to buy, trash-for-benefit cards like Salvager and Apprentice are a good way to clear out some of the junk you’ll find yourself buying.

Finally, Goons/Watchtower is a brutal combo if and only if the above conditions are met.  Watchtower alone cannot turn Goons into a viable card, but it can turn Goons from a viable card into a devastating one.

Works with:

  • +Actions (especially Fishing Village and City)
  • Other Buy phase synergies
    • +Buy (especially City and Bridge)
    • Cost reducers (e.g., Quarry, Bridge, and Peddler)
  • Non-terminal Actions to soak up the +Buys
  • Watchtower
  • Council Room
  • Masquerade

Conflicts with:

  • Opponent’s Library
  • Lack of +Actions, or terminal Actions in general
  • Gardens and Duke/Duchy decks: not only is the attack nullified by their Victory cards, they’ll look to end the game on piles before your engine reaches top speed
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27 Responses to Prosperity: Goons

  1. Yaron says:

    Another interesting point is the way the Goons fail to combo with Throne Room and King’s Court: a “Throned” Goons will only produce 1 VP per buy (even though it will give more buys). That’s because the “+1 vp” clause it’s not part of the action: it is separate clause that is contingent on the Goons being in play during your buy phase. You only get 1 vp for each physical copy of Goons you have in play, not for each time you’ve played the action.

    • Avery says:

      Can anyone point me to somewhere (more official than a poster’s opinion) that says goons/king’s court doesn’t utilize the +vp token clause? It seems to me that “play [the action] three times” means there are basically three copies of the card in play throughout the turn. For example, an action card with +money doesn’t utilize that +money until the buy phase, but that money is still tripled when the card is King’s Courted, no? It’s not as if the vp clause says this *card* has to be in play, instead, it just says this is in play. How is “play[ing] it three times” not putting it into play?
      This isn’t to say I doubt the credibility of Yaron, but I’d like to clear it up, because 2xKing’s Court and 3x Goons in hand produces 90 pts, and I have long thought that stupid.

      • theory says:

        It’s explicitly stated in the Prosperity rulebook. See also http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/607272/throne-room-kings-court-goons

        • The wording on the card is poor. What about multiple pirate ships?

          • rrenaud says:

            The modifier that makes goons VP bonus not get doubled/triped is “when this card is in play.” There is only one of the goons cards in play even when it is throne roomed or king’s courted. Pirate ship does not have any kind of ‘when in play’ modifier.

            • WheresMyElephant says:

              To clarify this, remember that “when this card is in play” just means “when this card is in the play area” as opposed to being located in the trash/discard/etc.

              Procession removes its target from the play area after it’s done resolving; thus, that card is not in play by the time the buy phase starts. Throne Room has you put its target in play and doesn’t remove it later, so in most cases it results in one copy of that card sitting in your play area.

              Conversely you could theoretically create a strange card which instructed you to put a card in the play area, but not to “play” that card; you wouldn’t execute its instructions. For instance, imagine a Haven variant which put the card “in play” face-up instead of “set aside.” Such a card could be used on Goons, and you would get your VP chips (but not the +$2 or +Buy which are part of its Action ability). Similarly for Highway, Haggler, etc.

  2. It seems to me that Goons works beautifully in a Gardens game: when collecting Gardens, you want to buy Coppers and other junk to bloat your deck size, and Goons provides you with extra VPs for doing so. You’re not going to create a magnificent deck-drawing engine to get 50 points in one turn, but that’s hardly the only possible strategy.

    • theory says:

      It can work, but it’s a bit of a gamble; maybe it’s a good last turn buy, but as your deck bloats it isn’t easy to get all the Gardens if your goal is to run them out. Certainly you can’t count on Goons if Gardens + Workshop or Woodcutter are out.

    • guided says:

      Goons is a card that you’d love to have in your Gardens deck, but from a practical standpoint:

      A) When are you going to have time to buy Goons in a Gardens deck?
      B) Is it really worth buying Goons for a huge deck where the card will only come up every 5+ turns?

      Now on the other hand, Gardens seem like a great thing to buy with an already-functioning Goons deck😉

  3. Axxle says:

    Although I think in a Gardens game you aren’t going to be getting 6 very often, I also think that if you are getting 6 you might be too slow to be getting Gardens anyway since the other player might be getting 8 in the next couple of turns. It’s a great card to get if you can in a Gardens game, but I think getting multiple cheaper actions that give +Buys (ex: two woodcutters) would be better than a Goons. I think having a +Buy card every turn is more important than a rare Goons.

    • Alex Zorach says:

      Exactly what I was thinking; if you’re getting 6 a lot, you’re probably not choosing the best strategy for gardens. With woodcutters, 6 is improbable, and with workshops or ironworks (which, IMHO work much better than woodcutters if they’re on the board) it’s never or almost never going to happen. I’ve won gardens games where I never got to 5, let alone 6.

      I can see picking up a goons if I opened woodcutters and ended up drawing 6 on turn 3 or 4, but I’d see this as a lucky fluke, not a strategy.

      I could see Goons+Gardens working as a strategy if, for whatever reason, your opponent isn’t buying any gardens, and you switch to trying to grab all the gardens before they realize what’s going on. But otherwise, investing in enough coin to get the Goons would leave you losing most of the gardens to your opponent. This could hurt you whether your opponent is playing a gardens strategy, or whether they’re buying a few to deny them to you (or buying and trashing them).

  4. Astromike says:

    “If the support cards are present, aim for a massive final turn where you buy out the piles while collecting a ton of VPs (50+) from Copper buys.”

    How do you knock out a 50+ point turn? Do you just play 7-8 Goons in a turn and then buy 7-8 coppers while netting 7-8 points per copper?

    • theory says:

      I should clarify: I meant 50+ VP from both cards and chips. But it’s quite possible to gain over 50 VP chips in a turn; it’ll mostly come from a ton of buys, from Kinged Wharfs and/or Cities most likely.

  5. Grujah says:

    Another card that does wonders is of course Worker’s Village. Its +Actions, +Card AND +Buy. And its only 4$.

    Tactician works OK if coupled with some +Actions.

  6. ShadowStarshine says:

    I love this card, I managed a 536 point game on BSW due to the right combinations of cards. Golem, Festival, Council Room, Witch (The only reason my opponent couldn’t stop me) and Goons. Managed to play 9 on my last turn.

    Of course a good opponent would never allow this, the fact that it makes a game like that possible makes it one of my favorites.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Goons works extremely well with Counting House(s) in your deck. Now all those coppers you’re buying give the extra VPs and will be useful in big money hands when Counting House is played.

    • Captain_Frisk says:

      Be careful about this. I find it very very rare that buying extra coppers to fuel a counting house is a good idea. If you managed to pull the counting house at a good time (end of your deck) +7 coppers is already good enough. If you have enough actions to realistically combo in a +buy (fishing villages and goons), I’d rather just have another goons.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My favorite Goons deck uses Mine, Bishop, King’s Court, Mint, Tactician, Watchtower, and Moat (Moat is optional). First, you buy a Mine and use it to quickly increase your buying power. Buying a Bishop early in the game allows you to eliminate those pesky Estates from your deck. Then buy up five Goons and three King’s Courts as fast as you can. Throw in a Tactician and a Watchtower to complete the cards you need. Then rid yourself of all your treasure cards by purchasing Mints. Trash your Mine and Mints using your Watchtower, your Bishop, or other players playing Bishops. That leaves you with an eleven card deck consisting of five Goons, three King’s Courts, a Watchtower, a Bishop, and a Tactician. Play the Tactician and on your next turn you will have the rest of your deck in your hand. Play King’s Court on a King’s Court, which allows you to triple three cards, Use this on two Goons and another King’s Court. Use that King’s Court on the remaining Goons. This gives you a whopping +30 coin and 17 buys (including your original buy and the one given you by the Tactician). Each of the five Goons gives you +1 VP per buy, so if you buy up 17 coppers you get a one turn increase in VP of 85 points! Then use the Watchtower to trash all the coppers! This leaves you with the same small deck, so you can repeat the same devastating play in as little as two turns! Optionally, you can trash your Bishop when another player plays a Bishop and buy a Moat. This can protect you from other players attacking with Goons. Unfortunately, this strategy usually only works against naive players, and it’s pretty easy to derail if the other players buy Goons or Provinces too quickly. I like to throw in a couple of my opponents favorite cards to complete the ten kingdom card set just to distract them.

    • thisisnotasmile says:

      Ah yes… There’s nothing like a good old 7 (optionally 8) card combo… =/

    • ElijahF says:

      Sounds good.. except for maybe the 5 Goons and King’s Court combo, and the 85 VP part.

    • PK9 says:

      If Tactician is in the kingdom with a virtual coin card like Goons and action multipliers like you described, Double Tactician is pretty much a no-brainer. With Bishop, you can even buy a Province each turn and Bishop it for 5 VP on the next turn.

  9. PK9 says:

    It’d be interesting to see when is the optimal time to start buying Copper with Goons. I (almost) never buy Copper with only one Goons in play – the one VP isn’t worth slowing down the deck. If I have three or more, then it’s a no-brainer. But what about with two? Usually in this case your coin isn’t infinite, and I tend to prefer buying one high-value card over several weak cards. That usually leaves me with 2 or more buys with very little coin, each Copper purchased being worth 2 VP…

    • Alex Zorach says:

      For me I think it depends more on trashing. One VP for one card is like buying an estate–a terrible idea unless you’re in the endgame. The extra buying power of the copper is something, but it’s still not a great.

      If there’s an easy way to trash copper though (goons+loan was in a recent game) then I might buy copper even with one Goons.

      I agree with you though in your reasoning to prefer the one high-value card, especially earlier on in the game. I think people sometimes go wrong with Goons, thinking “I can churn out VP.” and they buy a lot of cheap cards. But if your opponent is buying strong cards, they can do all sorts of things later, like buy big green cards, draw more cards and play multiple goons, buy multiple cantrips instead of wasting their buys on copper, or do any number of things that would get them an edge.

  10. Mavyrk says:

    Add opposing Jack of All Trades to “doesn’t work with”. Given an effective early game trasher in the kingdom, a DoubleJack deck will edge out a Goons deck by ending the game on piles with bought greens.

    • Alex Zorach says:

      I think the relationship between Jack and Goons is rather complex. Jack is not a complete counter. Jack accelerates the opening, and in the absence of other strong opening accelerators, it’s virtually guaranteed that both players will buy at least one. The presence of a discard attack means both players will be likely to buy more than one.

      But Goons is still such a strong card…not buying it may be worse than buying it, even if its discard attack is defended against.

      I recently played a game with both Jack and Goons, and I found some interesting synergy between the two. Playing a village (in my case, Bazaar), then goons, then Jack would draw an extra two cards, with +1 buy and +$2, plus the victory point bonus. Not a bad deal. Jack doesn’t let you trash copper, but it will let you trash cheap actions, and it lets you discard one wasted terminal action. And even if your opponent has two Jacks, the Goons attack is still going to hit some of the time. Jack is not terribly useful if you have too many of them in the deck, so if your opponent is buying enough Jacks to consistently counter the discard attack, you’re probably going to be able to get to $8 faster.

      I ended up winning the game by using Goons to earn some extra VP while going for a standard buying victory point strategy. My opponent bought fewer goons than me, and had markedly fewer VP at the end of the game. I think if I had bought gold instead of Goons, I would have gotten green slightly faster, but only a tiny bit faster, and my opponent would have been faster and I wouldn’t have the VP boost.

  11. Simon (DK) says:

    You talk about a massive final turn and cards with +actions and +cards, so what about Native Village?
    If you can buy a lot of Native Villages and a lot of Goons, then you can get a lot of cards on your Native Village mat and pick everything up in the end. In that turn you have a lot of cards and a lot of +actions from Native Villges, so you can play all your Goons and get a lot of points in that turn.
    My opponent did that to me in a game on isotropic recently. I was too focused on my own strategy to buy provinces, and I didn’t see what he was doing before it was too late. He picked up 21 cards from his Native Village mat in the beginning of that turn.

    Is there a reason why Native Village isn’t on the “Works with”-list?

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