The Five Best $2 Cards

Disclaimer: Dominion does a really great job of balancing its Kingdom cards.  Pretty much every card has some situations where it shines, and some situations where it doesn’t.  Nevertheless, some cards just end up being flat-out better than others, either because they are more useful more often, or just ridiculously good when they are useful.  Don’t expect this list to be very scientific.


Dominion: Intrigue

5. Pawn

Yes, I know I just put it on the Worst $2 Cards, but honestly, this is one of the most all-around useful cards in the game.  It’s great early when you can afford to blind draw, it’s an easy way to get a non-terminal Buy, it’s ridiculously cheap, it’s a great disappearing source of money (good for Library, Minion, Grand Market), and yes, if all else fails, it’s +1 Action / +1 Card…





Native Village

Dominion: Seaside

4. Native Village

Being able to tuck away cards is really nice.  It works as a pseudo-“trash the top card of your deck”, if you can commit to never drawing from the mat, or alternatively a mini-Tactician, if you change your mind.  And it also happens to be the cheapest source of +Actions in the game.  Loses a point, though, for the possibility of self-inflicted rage (“Nooo, not my Platinum!”) matched only by Lookout.





Dominion: Intrigue

3. Courtyard

I considered placing this above Haven, but ended up ranking it just below.  It’s decent (but not great) in a +Actions/+Cards chain (as befitting a $2 card), but it’s really nice even when you don’t have any +Actions.  Placing a card back on top is like a mini-Haven, and it saves you from drawing dead Actions, the biggest drawback to +Cards in the absence of +Actions.  But it ranks below Haven simply because it doesn’t feed on itself well: you can’t play multiple Courtyards since it’s terminal, and even if you have +Actions, playing multiple Courtyards on top of each other is not that great.




Dominion: Seaside

2. Haven

I really, really like this card.  Probably more than it deserves.  But it’s saved my bacon many times: literally any combination of cards benefits from a Haven, making those lovely massive Action chains that much easier to put together.  In particular, it gets rid of those situations when you draw your King’s Court all by itself, even though you have like a million other Actions in the deck, but your stupid opponent lucked into his stupid King’s Court with his stupid Mountebank and now you’re pretty much dead on arrival because of a random number generator.

In other words, Haven is great.




1. Chapel

The obvious choice, and one I strained against making, but you simply can’t put the closest thing Dominion has to a must-buy anywhere but #1.  Indeed, I think Chapel is probably the strongest card that will ever be included in a Dominion set: what other card could possibly be such a first-turn must-buy and not be horribly overpowered?  Moneylender and Ambassador come closest out of the existing sets, but neither defend nearly as well against attacks.  Chapel is the gold standard of Dominion openers, and I suspect it will remain as such for a very long time.

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10 Responses to The Five Best $2 Cards

  1. Bulb says:

    Flooding your deck with pawns (through extra buys, Ironworks, Talisman, etc.) can make a deck already containing a TR or KC stronger, by minimizing the possibility of drawing TR/KC without any other actions. A KC’ed Pawn is nothing to scoff at!

  2. Axxle says:

    Very glad to see Pawn on this list after seeing it on the Worst cards list. Definitely see why it was there though, just because of the AP it causes. Pawn is one of my favorite cards, not just because of the versatility but the flavor as well. Go do my bidding pawn! Today I want you to collect some money and go buy something for me.

  3. timchen1017 says:

    I found it amusing when you say the courtyard is a decent drawer in +action/+card chain, but regard the moat as mediocre. I think in the settings of such a engine two cards work more or less the same, with the exception that the court yard gives you one extra card to draw your villages. This does help though. 😛

    I really like the way you put pawn in both lists. I am surprised, however, that embargo is not on the good list though. Not enough space I guess 😛

    • theory says:

      Courtyard is considerably better than Moat (and sometimes even a Smithy) simply because you can play it blind with greatly-reduced risk of drawing dead Actions.

  4. Yariv says:

    The card I’m missing here is lighthouse. As long as there are attacks, and especially if there is some reasonable drawing engine, I see it as a must buy. With a reliable drawing engine I will usually get 2, to be covered at all times. This is by far the best defence in the game (given a drawing engine, or some trashing).

  5. AJD says:

    So now that Cornucopia’s out, I’m thinking Hamlet should go somewhere on this list. Like Pawn, it’s flexible, but even if you decide not to use its useful effects it still doesn’t take up a spot in your hand..

    • theory says:

      Grr, I don’t know what to do about Cornucopia. Menagerie, Tournament, and Hamlet probably all belong on a list, and probably Fortune Teller too (though on a different list …)

      Edit these lists? Write new posts?

      • Zaphod says:

        You could do a new list like “Top 5 Cornucopia cards”, if you want.

        My personal experience (which seems to verify) says that Hunting Party belongs in the Five Best $5 Non-Attacks list, as well. Actually, I think Hunting Party is my favorite Cornucopia card at the moment. It’s similar to a Laboratory, but slightly better IMO. If you have one very powerful card in your deck, that card will get into your hand more often if you have Hunting Parties.

  6. WanderingWinder says:

    I think you’re probably underrating the most difficult-to-play card in the game, embargo

  7. Anonymous says:

    1. crossroads
    2. chapel
    3. fools gold
    4. lurker
    5. native village

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