Dominion: Library



Library is the most unusual of the +Cards Actions.  Because you don’t draw a set number of cards, but rather up to 7, it responds poorly to Throne Room but does quite well with small hands (normally a drawback).  Preferably, you get your small hand through disappearing +2 Actions cards (Festival, University); indeed, the synergy between Festival and Library are so strong that when Donald X. moved Festival into the base set, he pulled Library in with it as well to keep them together.  It’s theoretically true that Library works well with Outpost, but the chance of drawing a +Actions with it in the 3-card hand is pretty small unless you’re Havening cards between hands.

Alternatively, Library is a fundamental “soft counter” to handsize-decreasing cards like Militia and Torturer.  (In fact, its presence is often a strong deterrent to playing Militia, since it’s even better of a counter than Moat.)  Library can also be used effectively with discard-for-benefit cards (Vault, Secret Chamber, even Haven), if you have enough +Actions to play it all: discard your cards, then redraw with the Library.  And it’s possible — though unlikely — to use Golem for this purpose (ideally by drawing Tactician/Library).

Its benefit of setting Action cards aside is a little less useful than it seems.  Obviously it’s of most use when your deck is cluttered with terminal Actions … but then your deck is cluttered with terminal Actions.  It’s more often better used as a way to discard the outmoded opening Actions (e.g., Chapel, Moneylender), or as part of an endgame desperate draw, hoping to get up to $8.  (Special note: sometimes you’ll want to set aside useless non-terminals like Great Hall; this is because it draws you a card, but without giving you the option of setting it aside or not.)  Alternatively, it can be nice when combined with Scrying Pool, since Library can draw all your non-Actions, and Scrying Pool picks up the Actions.

Unsurprisingly, Library is quite terrible when your hand is already quite large.  This means that not only does it anti-synergize with Laboratory, it also anti-synergizes with itself unless you are drawing more disappearing +2 Actions.  But at least you can set them aside, which can be quite useful if you’re running a rote Smithy/Big Money strategy with Library in place of Smithy.

Works with:

  • Festival/University/Native Village/Nobles/other disappearing +2 Actions
  • Cellar
  • Vault/Secret Chamber/Haven
  • Chapel, Moneylender, Trading Post, other “opening Actions” that are outmoded later on
  • Opponents’ Militia, Torturer, Ghost Ship, and other handsize-decreasing attacks
  • Black Market (in a similar vein as Black Market/Tactician, though this is admittedly difficult to pull off because you don’t have the extra Action from Tactician)

Conflicts with:

  • Caravan, Tactician, Laboratory, other handsize increasers
  • Throne Room (Throne Rooming a Library is much worse than Throne Rooming a Smithy)
  • Itself, if you aren’t drawing disappearing Actions
  • Opponents’ Council Rooms
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26 Responses to Dominion: Library

  1. Yariv says:

    Has anyone ever pulled off playing a Golem to get Library and Tactician (preferably, after getting other +action)? This sounds impressive. You can even play multiple tacticians!

    • Captain_Frisk says:

      No, but it would be awesome. Sounds like a question for RRenaud… has anyone ever successfully played multiple tacticians on the same turn?

    • lemononmars says:

      I pulled this off: +2 actions, Golem > Tactician & Apothecary > draw 3 Coppers and a Trade Route > Trade Route.

      Yes, it is very impressive. +10 cards next turn ! But then, you will draw useless Library, Tactician, Golem (nobody wants to play Golem to hit Tactician and discard 14 cards) 😦 so they conflict with themselves.

  2. tlloyd says:

    Great analysis. Thanks for doing these.

    The only point on which I disagree is the value of the ability to set aside action cards as you draw up to a seven-card hand. Clearly you don’t want to fill your deck with terminal or useless action cards. But there are times when you really need a particular action card and the Library gives you a greater chance of finding it. Even a wisely-built deck can sometimes suffer from the bad luck of drawing action cards together in bad combinations, and Library helps you avoid that. One example that comes to mind is Library/Shanty Town. Play ST for the actions, then Library. Obviously you’ll want to skip any additional libraries until the first ST shows up, and depending on how many of each action card you have in your deck, it may be smart after getting the first ST to skip any additional STs.

    Library also has the potential to fill in for Smithy in a Big Money strategy. Library is slightly more expensive, but gets you the same number of cards as a smithy and doesn’t present the risk of drawing an action card (play Smithy, draw Smithy) in place of (hopefully) treasure.

  3. Library combines well with any non-terminal that decreases hand size. You mention Cellar above, but there’s also Warehouse, Upgrade, Minion, and Lighthouse.

  4. Captain_Frisk says:

    I’m going to argue a little bit on not working well with throne room / kings court.

    Throne Room -> Library is better than Library Standalone (draw’s 4 instead of 3). Yes smithy would be better

    TR/KC x2 -> Library is quite awesome indeed.

    • tlloyd says:

      I may be missing something here, but I don’t think you’re actually improving your use of the library by combining it with throne room (in fact you’re wasting buys and space in your deck).

      Imagine Hand A: TR, Library, [ ], [ ], [ ]
      – play TR –> Library
      – since you’ve got 3 cards in hand, you draw 4 for the first Library
      – you’ve now got 7 cards in hand, so you draw 0 cards for the second Library
      – end result: 7 cards in hand

      Now compare Hand B: Library, [ ], [ ], [ ], [ ]
      – play Library
      – since you’ve got 4 cards in hand, you draw 3 for the Library
      – end result: 7 cards in hand

      So what did Throne Room do for you? Nothing. You draw an additional card, but that only makes up for the Throne Room in your hand to begin with. I think the only thing you can say for the combo is that the Library reduces the cost of having the useless Throne Room in your deck (doesn’t eliminate it, because you won’t always have a library in hand). And you still wasted whatever else you could have purchased instead of the Throne Room.

      I think the same can be said for any number of TR/KC cards in combination: at the end of the day the Library will get you seven cards in hand. Without other action cards, the TR/KC does not combo well with Library.

      • rrenaud says:

        TR/TR/Library will let you draw 5 cards and have some selection of what action the pent up Throne Room lands on. Compare this to TR/TR/Smithy, where you draw 6 but have no additional control over where the throne room lands on.

        Certainly you’d rather spam TR/Smithy combos, but Throne Room still isn’t terrible in a Library deck, even though the Library itself is idempotent.

        • tlloyd says:

          TR/KC + Library = pointless

          TR/KC + TR/KC + Library + [other useful action card] = occasionally more useful than other draw card, but usually less useful.

          Let’s take the case of KC + KC + Library. You’ve got two cards left in your hand, so you draw five. You can skip over unwanted actions, but you can’t skip over treasure or victory cards. In contrast, KC + KC + Smithy allows you to draw nine cards instead of five, but you get the next nine cards no matter what they are.

          These are the scenarios I can see in which a Library beats a Smithy:
          1. The first five cards are all action/treasure, but cards 6 – 9 contain actions which hurt you if you play them (mostly cards that force you to trash cards)
          2. The two actions you want to play are buried more than nine cards deep, and there are three or less non-action cards above them in your deck.

          These two scenarios strike me as unlikely, and VERY unlikely if you’ve been building your deck with any degree of skill. Notice that in either scenario you need (probabilistically speaking) very few useful actions and lots of non-useful or even harmful actions. If that’s the deck you’re building, I can suggest some simpler ways to improve your play than by using the TR/KC + Library combo. 🙂

          • rrenaud says:

            I don’t think that we actually disagree very much.

            The only point is that TR and Library don’t actually work against each other. If you TR into a Library, you get a little more action filtering selection. If you Library and draw into a TR, you discard it.

            Unlike say, adding another terminal action on top of an already over terminal deck, adding a TR into a deck with a Library isn’t necessarily bad. Of course, you buy the Throne Room with the intention of TR’ing actions that are not Libraries. That you happened to get a TR with nothing but a Library is somewhat unfortunate that you didn’t get the nice upside of Throne Rooming an action that really benefits from being played multiple times, but it is not terrible.

            Imagine Deck A is some deck where you’d want to buy a Throne Room. Deck B is Deck A with an additional Library. Buying a Throne Room in Deck B is probably still a good idea.

  5. chesskidnate says:

    Also note that library works well with slow trashers that are still helpful midgame, had a nice lookout-library deck once.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just to get silly, in theory you could loop that:

    -Play +2 actions card.
    -Play Golem, find Tactician, Library.
    -Play Tactitian, discard hand.
    -Play Library, draw 7 cards, one of which is Golem, one of which is +2 actions card.
    -Play +2 actions card.
    -Play Golem, find Tactician, Library.
    -Play Tactitian, discard hand.
    -Play Library, draw 7 cards, one of which is Tactician.
    -Play Tactician, discard hand.

    Next turn, get +15 cards, +3 actions, +3 buys.

    If there was any justice in the world, then if an opponent actually got crazy lucky enough to do this to you, you’d have a Possession in hand… ;o)

    • tlloyd says:

      If there was any justice in the world, I there would be no such card as Possession! ; )

      And Death to Sea Hag’s Golem/Tactician/Minion seems to be a much simpler combo. Menagerie could work nicely as well.

  7. ^_^_^_^ says:

    Justice to the player that did this to you is: You draw possession on the turn after he uses his tactician’ed hand and you find 1 golem, 1 copper, and 3 estates. You play golem, and find tactician/library that draws 1 golem 1 copper 3 estates. You play golem again and get the same result and end the turn.

    Opponent: Thanks noob.
    You: You have resigned.

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