Annotated Game #5 Preview

Below is a 2-player game I played on Isotropic (without Colonies or Platinums).  I will post the annotated game on Tuesday, March 15.  You’re welcome to comment on the set (how you think players should open, what cards to go for) and try it out for yourself.

Cellar, Moat, Masquerade, Mining Village, Quarry,
Courtyard, Pawn, Bishop, Monument, King’s Court

Annotated Game #5

(Click for enlarged link at

If you have interesting sample games that you’d like to submit for annotation, we’d love to hear about them. Criteria for annotating games include:

  • Reasonably skilled play by both sides
  • An interesting set where the Kingdom cards are important (as opposed to Big Money Smithy games)
  • Diverging strategies taken by both players, especially in terms of openings
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40 Responses to Annotated Game #5 Preview

  1. I would be very tempted on this set to try to get my deck down to 5 cards: Mining Village, King’s Court, Monument, Bishop, Gold; and just get 7 VP chips every turn. (MV, KC-Monument, Bishop the Gold, buy a Gold.) Don’t know if I could get that set up before my opponent has finished the game.

    • lemononmars says:

      So, isn’t it better to get 9 VP chips every turn from KC + KC + 3 Monuments ? Or even 10 VP chips from KC + KC + Monument + Bishop + Province > buy a Province, which also reduces available Provinces ? However, that would be easily countered by Masquerade (yes, give me your Mining Village) =/

      I would open Quarry/Masquerade with $4/$3 and Quarry/Pawn with $5/$2 and race for King’s Court. I would buy a few Pawns for +buy, which is worth a free Courtyard/Pawn with Quarry, and then thrive for KC/Monument/Bishop.

      I don’t think Mining Village is necessary once you have several King’s Courts and Bishops/Monuments, and I will not bother buying any Silver/Gold.

      • tlloyd says:

        I agree with lemononmars’ first paragraph, but not the second or third. It’s going to be awfully hard to create a perfect deck (KC, KC, Monument, Bridge, Province) while you’re being handed junk from the masquerade. And while you’re playing the Bishop early your opponent slims his deck for free. And even if you did achieve the perfect deck, how long will it last given the Masquerade?

        I actually think this may be a case where first player advantage is reduced, because I would really love to know what strategy the other player is planning on before I make my initial purchase. If you go with the Bishop, I bet I can win with MV/Masq and then spam the MV/Monument. It seems like the MV/Monuments engine would provide its own buying power as you built it.

        An early investment in Pawn and Quarry might pay off by helping me win the race for Monuments, but this would only help if I got the Pawn and Quarry together, and I don’t want to waste buys getting multiple copies of each. Also, if you are going for KC’s, then I may have most of the Monuments by the time you get around to buying them. And at that point, if my MV/Monument combo is working, there won’t be too many Provinces left for you to cash in with the Bishop.

  2. I’m new to the game, so this is quite a challenge!

    I would go for a a MV + Monument Engine

    On 4/3 split I would open Masquerade/quarry.

    The early turns the Masquerade will help you thin the deck, making the engine more efective later on, and it also helps against an opposing Masquerade.

    Quarry is basicly a 4$ gold as I’m not planing on buying treasures right away.

    From there I would buy MV and Moument, I’m not sure the order for the next MV or Monuments…

    If at any point I get just $2 or $3 i would buy a pawn, for it’s synergy with Quarry and the extra buy.

    Just my thought afert 2 weeks playing the game

    – Joaquín

  3. Jorbles says:

    I think getting one of those chains going would be too slow. I ran solitaires on this and it looks like it’s fastest to just start Bishop/Silver and then use the Bishop to thin your deck while you grab a Mining Village and then a Monument. Then just grab cash or more Mining Villages until you can get a King’s Court or two. At that point you should have a couple golds and you can buy a Province or gold every turn while racking up points with the Monuments and Bishops.

    The Quarry looks appealing at first, but with the only source of +Buy being the Pawn, it doesn’t really seem worth it.

    • rrenaud says:

      A solitaire game is going to overstate how good the Bishop is. It helps you, but it also helps your opponent.

      So say, 35 points at turn 14 with an early Bishop could be substantially worse than 35 points turn 16 without any Bishop.

  4. √⅞ says:

    this is very hard set. it has + actions, +draws, +vp, +buy, trashing, playing multiple times, simply EVERYTHING

    i would play something like this
    1.Masquerade – drawing cards
    2. Village – actions
    3. monument – $ and VP

    and it makes sense to me;d

    i played 7 Monuments, 4 King’s Courts, 2 Mining Villages, 1 Masquerade and was drawing whole deck every turn, but this deck require some improvements for sure

  5. Stephen says:

    This set is very interesting — even though there are no attacks, there is plenty of player interaction via Masquerade and Bishop. I think I’d let my opponent trash for me with Bishop, and focus on building my engine with MVs, Masquerades, monuments, and KCs.

  6. play2draw says:

    Buy a masquerade and a bishop. Use the masquerade to give the opponent your bishop. Now he’ll waste all of his time trashing cards… but don’t trash any of your own. In fact, buy curses and coppers if convenient. Buy a quarry and grab an early king’s court. Now his deck should be nice and thin. Wait for him to buy a province. Now unleash the fury; king’s court your masquerade. You opponent will probably be forced to give you a gold (or maybe a province!) in lieu of disrupting his point machine. Buy a province. Wait for your opponent to bishop the curse. Unleash the masquerade assault again. Repeat until winning.

    Editor’s Note: this is clearly a joke

    • tlloyd says:

      I think you’ve left out one key element that would make this strategy unbeatable: King’s Court a Quarry to make the Provinces cheap.

      Bam. Victory.

      • chesskidnate says:

        I think I’ve found the best strategy, open with two moats then keep buying moats and copper if you can’t buy moats and when both of those run out buy the curses. with this strategy I got a 65-turn solitaire victory with -10 pts. beat that ROFL.

      • pendog says:

        Except you can’t King’s Court a Quarry 😉

      • Willvon says:

        I am still learning this wonderful game, but if I understand correctly, I was thinking that it would not be possible to King’s Court a Quarry since Quarry is not an Action. Please correct me if I have misunderstood the rules with King’s Court and Throne Room.

        • Joaquín Gasa says:

          You understood the rules perfectly

        • tlloyd says:

          Sorry Willvon. You are quite correct: you can’t King’s Court a Quarry, and Quarry doesn’t have any effect on the price of victory cards. And to preempt your next question, the Moat doesn’t block the Masquerade.

          All of the above was riddled with sarcasm. At least I know my posts were sarcastic, and I hope Play2draw’s post was as well. 🙂

      • Steve says:

        There are two MAJOR problems with this.
        Quarry is a Treasure card, therefore you cannot King’s Court it.
        Quarry only reduces the prices of Action cards, Provinces are not action cards, therefore it would not make them cheap.

        • vidicate says:

          You are correct. Now if you had read the rest of the conversation then you would see that these guys were just being silly, and that at least two others already pointed out the error as well. 🙂

  7. guided says:

    First thought that comes to mind:

    Masquerade/Quarry. Rush KC with Mining Villages for <$6 buys along the way. Don't be afraid to trash a Mining Village if it gets you to the next price level you want. Get a Pawn for the buy if the opportunity comes up. Then go KC/Bishop. It might be feasible to construct the KC/KC/Monument/Monument/Bishop deck this way, though KC/Bishop is good even if you can't do that.

    • guided says:

      You know, I forgot one key thing about KC/KC/Monument/Monument/Bishop: you’re going to get Masquerade played against you and lose one of those cards.

      • chesskidnate says:

        well it doesn’t seem like a major block, until maybe when all the monuments are gone, you can just do KC-KC-monument-bishop-trash junk-Buy monument

  8. Nathan B says:

    I’m not any sort of expert or anything close, but my inclination is to start pawn+quarry in either split.

    If I get lucky and draw the quarry with 4 coppers or the pawn and 3 coppers or 2 with on on top of my deck I can get a KC in the second shuffle. If I get the pawn and KC with three coppers I can get a KC and another pawn. The other draw prior to the reshuffle would be at least 3 coppers or two coppers and a pawn to pick up a silver, though having one of the estates fall out of the shuffle would let me get another quarry. Quarries and pawns will let me basically get pawns and courtyards for free while putting together a draw engine out of mining villages, king’s courts, and courtyards.

    If I don’t get lucky I can still probably get the quarry and a mining village or worst case another quarry and pawn increasing the chances of stacking pawns and quarries to grab free pawns and courtyards from the +buy while paying half price for mining villages. KC will probably be affordable on a later shuffle.

    A bishop should come in the third shuffle along with silver or if I get absurdly lucky with KC and the pawn gold.

    It’s not as pretty as a five card bishop deck, but it should be redundant enough to recover from the masquerade. It would probably be heavily overstocked with pawns because they almost never hurt and are basically free with quarry and +buy so losing some to the masquerade wouldn’t kill the deck. They kind of act as KC grease once the deck is put together, reducing the chances of drawing a dead KC.

    If provinces clog the deck endgame mining village trashing should let it keep buying provinces as it breaks down.

    It’s tempting to put in monuments for my main VP source and go for ending the game by using the pawn +buy with quarry to empty stacks, but I suspect that would be too many terminal actions for the deck to run smoothly. If I found myself with a glut of extra actions I’d probably grab more bishops and play bishop fratricide.

  9. rrenaud says:

    How about the action sequence..

    KC/KC/(some card draw with court yard or pawn)/KCed Bishop (opponent trashes bad cards)/Masquerade you send away crap and get back some nice card


  10. Rob D says:

    My playgroup tried this out yesterday with 4 people no platinum/colony (at the time we just had the dominiondecks link with no information on platinum/colony)

    There were 2 “diverging” strategies identified:
    – King’s Court / Monument after pawn / quarry
    – Pile the game with quarry/pawn, shooting them bishop

    The game ended on piles with the winning deck getting an early KC and masquerade, which drew 6 and trashed three, allowing him to really thin out and move into mining villages to eventually monuments. By the end, he was able to consistently KC a KC for several cards, buys, treasure and VPs. He could have move on to provinces, but knew he was ahead and spent the last turn piling us out.

  11. Axxle says:

    Since the only trashing cards are bishop and masquerade, I don’t think getting either of them early is that important. Quarry is a must, as actions in this game are going to be dominant, as well as pawn since it’s the only source of +buy, and you’re going to want a lot of buys if you have cheap actions lying around. I would then get two monuments (a king’s court if I can) then I would get a few mining villages and rush the king’s courts, grabbing a bishop along the way. And of course grabbing as many free pawns as I can.

  12. ksf says:

    Masquerade is a powerful defense against 5 card decks. I think this spread highlights the prisoner’s dilemma inherent in almost every game with Bishop.

    No matter what, both sides are going to thin decks fast, so you’re not going to get more than 10ish VP out of the bishop. An opponent using your Bishop’s largess to go KC+Monument quickly could almost recoupe that in a single turn with a province buy. One thing, though, is that you don’t want to feed your opponent’s bishop by masquerading estates.

    Opening blind, I’d go masquerade/mining village. I think buying mining villages is better than a quarry for getting your KC, since popping it is about the same. Focus on $$ early because it’s going to disappear fast and KC is expensive. Use KC and monuments to buy provinces, and masquerade to defend against an opponents 5 card deck.

    • Nathan B says:

      I disagree about mining village being better than quarry for your initial buy, at least with masquerade as the other buy. It might be better with courtyard

      Quarry is a simple 3 coin towards actions if you have no +buy, and your claim is that it’s better for getting you King’s Court. It’s certainly better for gold, but not for KC, and as important as actions look in this set the long term benefit of having a quarry is nothing to sneeze at compared to the chance of getting a gold.

      Mining village gives 2 coin and a draw. Unless that draw is your masquerade it’s at best a copper in the second shuffle and could be an estate and unless the masquerade draws two coppers it’s still breaking even on coins. That means it’s better than the quarry in the second shuffle if and only if it’s card number 6 with the mining village in hand 3 and coppers at 7 and 8 or card number 11 with mining village in hand 4 and a copper at 12 and another copper on top of the third shuffle.

      There’s also the posibility of drawing the mining village with the masquerade. This is easier than drawing the masquerade with the mining village, requiring the masquerade to be card 6 or 7 with the masquerade in hand 3 or card 11 or 12 with the masquerade in hand 4. At this point you may as well have bought an estate for all the good it does you that shuffle.

      Triggering that third shuffle is the kicker in my mind though. If you draw them both on turn 3 you trigger the shuffle when you draw for turn 4 which is good, but if you draw either on turn 4 you trigger the reshuffle during turn 4 unless you decline to play it, losing your turn 4 buy from the reshuffle. Buying the masquerade with a non-drawing card you reshuffle before turn 5, but without the bottom two cards lost from the shuffle.

      Since you’re planning on trashing the mining village the first time you see it there’s no long term advantage to having chosen it compared to the long term advantage of having a quarry in a deck with lots of desirable actions.

      • ksf says:

        I hadn’t fully considered the shuffling mechanics. It seems like a pretty high risk strategy. It only pays over getting an early gold if you get a KC into your second shuffle, and then pair it with masquerade to win the battle of deck slimming. I’m too lazy to work out the full counting problem, but it looks like getting a KC is 40ish% odds into your second shuffle. But in most scenarios, you don’t get your monument if you pull off the KC. So you’re in the ballpark of 25% odds post shuffle of pairing your actions for massive damage.

        Assuming mining village turns into a gold, you’ve got a good shot of getting a KC into your third shuffle along with a second action – at which point you’ll be ahead in buying power and on par with actions. But on retrospect, with masquerade instead of a silver, getting that gold is also not so much guaranteed, in which case you’re dragging around a useless card and potentially jumped the gun on a shuffle.

        Since the game revolves around KC, I think I concede your point on quarry being a better buy.

  13. Saucery says:

    KC, monument and quarry preclude the use of bishop in my eyes, the last thing you want is someone accelerating toward a mega KC combo. I would probably go quarry pawn -> masquerade(s)/mining villages -> KC/monuments. If my opponent bishops it would be very easy to get an action chain going by spamming more pawns and using quarry/pawn buys to fill up on KCs/monuments.

  14. mr. grieves says:

    I just played this setup with my wife. I opened Quarry/Masquerade. I got the impossible 3rd turn of Quarry/Masquerade/estate/estate/estate. Kind of funny seeing that after reading the previous article on opening %’s.

    Nonetheless, I got a Bishop and eventually after playing my first Kings Court on Masquerade, I had managed to whittle my deck down to 5 cards. KC, KC, and 3 Monument. Scoring me 9 points each turn for about 6 turns. Then I got hit with Masquerade, but it only slowed my machine a bit. A couple of turns later I finished up the province pile and ended up with KC, KC, copper, Monument, Monument, and 2 Provinces.

    Getting the KC, KC, triple monument engine wasn’t too hard. Especially with Bishop in play. Also, I can’t imagine getting that off with any type of cursing cards on the board.

  15. Zaphod says:

    Normally I’d avoid the Quarry, given that all but one card costs 4 coin or less and the only + Buy card is the Pawn. However, that one expensive card is King’s Court, and there are several cards here that combine well with King’s Court. If I could get KC/Pawn to draw to a KC/Monument, it would be worth getting the Quarry.

  16. Epoch says:

    I think that the deck to beat here is:

    Bishop + Masquerade big money.

    I think it opens Silver/Bishop, picks up more Silvers and one Masquerade until it can buy Gold, and then buys Gold and Provinces. Probably just have one Bishop and one Masquerade, ever — all else is money or Province buys. So each time through the deck, it thins 1-2 cards, and both Bishop and Masquerade provide some additional buying power. Eventually trash the Masquerade to Bishop if you get a deck where you don’t want to give anything to your opponent.

    It won’t be blindingly fast, but since all you’re working to is $8, and you have two different trash-for-benefit cards, it’ll slim itself down pretty quickly, and it’ll pick up 5 or 6 VP worth of victory chips, so you’ll need to be a full Colony up on it to win (or be Bishoping effectively yourself).

    So what beats that? The card engine is there, via Mining Village and Courtyard, but since neither of those are the optimal cards for card engine, I expect it’ll break a little bit late — and there’s no +buy besides Pawn, so you either need to buy Pawns (slowing down your engine yet further) or be sure that your engine kicks in before your opponent starts buying Colonies himself. I don’t think I believe in the card engine. Maybe KC makes it fast enough, but I kind of doubt it — not given how close $7 is to $8 anyhow.

    Hmmm. KC/Masquerade is less amazing than I’d like, since your opponent presumably passes your crappy card back to you on the 2nd and 3rd repeats. Still nice, of course, but it doesn’t force your opponent to pass you an actual good card the way that “pass three cards at once” would.

    Amusingly, a $5/$2 start is, I think, strictly inferior to $3/$4 in the field.

    The only thing that looks like it challenges Bishop + Masquerade + Big Money to me — and it’s a hell of a gamble — is to fast-track yourself to, say, 3 Pawns and 2 Quarries, with the intent to bootstrap yourself into a actions/card engine via +buy of no- or low-cost actions (like, Pawn (1 action, 1 buy) + Pawn ($1, 1 buy) + Quarry + Copper = Mining Village/Masquerade/Courtyard). I’m pretty dubious that this would actually work the majority of the time, but if it did click in, it would be kind of awesome and glorious.

  17. zzz says:

    As I learned to my dismay recently, if you can get yourself down to a 4-5 card deck of KC/KC/{Militia/Goons}/Masquerade, you can make your opponent discard/trash their entire hand every turn, especially if opponent is helpfully playing Bishops to let you reduce your deck. KC/KC/Monument/Masquerade/{some other action to defend against opponent’s single Masquerade} won’t trash the entire hand, but will reduce your opponent to a two card hand, while trashing 3 cards out of their deck every round. Quarries will help you assemble the pieces. If you can arrange this against an unwary opponent, you’re probably a lock to win, since they won’t be any condition to end the game.

    Side note: I also found out that you can’t make the “resign” button appear on isotropic when you have no cards in hand.

  18. cpflames says:

    I like the Quarry + Pawn(+buy) opening, with an eye on getting a bishop, and a cellar to cycle back to the bishop, quarry, and pawn more often.
    If you can buy a second quarry, this should make buying a KC a lot easier, and allow you to cheaply buy more bishop fodder.

    As others have pointed out, a 5-card deck is thwarted by masquerade, but a lean deck containing
    [a KC, 2 quarries, a bishop, some number of pawns]
    could be fairly safe, because you can pass the pawns for masquerade, but you can also use the pawns to pick up the cards not in your hand, or use the pawns’ +buys to buy other cards for free (even bishops or monuments for free, if you’re holding both quarries).

    You wouldn’t have guaranteed turns each time, but you’ll generally have good turns, and quarry + pawn provides a good path for getting there.

  19. jambarama says:

    King’s Court + Monument. I’d get bishops & Mining Village, unless my opponent does, in which case I’d ride his Bishop coattails.

  20. Properly interested to find out the result here as my normal instinct would be to go for the Bishop but without Platinum/Colonies I think that would be too slow to benefit me too quick at benefiting my opponent.

    With the possibility of fairly slim decks and only needing to get to 8 I see Courtyard being useful, effectively +2 good cards and setting up your next draw if you’ve overdrawn good stuff.

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