Combo of the Day #24: King’s Court/Goons/Masquerade

This is the nastiest combo in Dominion.

The key to the combo is that you trash down to a four-card hand of King’s Court, King’s Court, Goons, and Masquerade. Playing King’s Court – King’s Court – Goons reduces your opponent to 3 cards; now, playing a (Kinged) Masquerade forces him to pass you a card.  But since you have no more cards in hand, you can’t pass him anything, but you can still trash the cards he gives you.

Essentially, what this combo does is trash three cards out of your opponent’s deck per turn, while starting him with a 0-card hand each turn.  Played consistently, you can force your opponent into a 0-card hand every turn while you empty some non-terminal piles for VPs.  Eventually, all the cards in their deck will be trashed.

There are several things that can substitute for Goons.  Any discard-down-to-three attack will work, but Goons is the best because it allows you to score points without having to buy green victory cards .  With Militia, for example, the worst case scenario is that you’ll be “resetting” the game, though of course you have a massive advantage since you have cards in your deck and your opponent doesn’t.  Outpost is another way to get in enough plays of Masquerade to trash your opponent’s hand, and has the added benefit of being unblockable by reactions.

Note that your deck doesn’t have to be just those four cards: cantrips (like Caravan or Pearl Diver) are very helpful in this setup because they allow you to have some KC targets for explosive draw, are cheap, and are good Masquerade fodder (rather than being forced to pass away a King’s Court).

The combo, however, can be stopped cold in a couple of ways:

  • Reactions will stop the discard attack.  You still lose 3 cards per turn, but it’s nowhere as deadly.
  • The combo does not work in multiplayer, unless your idea of victory is to destroy the person to your left and no one else.
  • It is countered if your opponent can somehow hide his VPs on a Native Village mat or Island mat.
  • The cards of the combo themselves are often a counter.
    • King’s Court enables crazy explosive megaturns: by the time your pin is set up, maybe he’s already used KC/Bridge to empty the Provinces.
    • Goons slows the pace of the game, taking you forever to get those King’s Courts, and by the time you start getting it ready he might have already piled out and ended the game.
    • Masquerade itself is a counter: while you are trashing down to a small deck of very valuable cards, you are very vulnerable to being forced to pass a valuable card to your opponent.
  • Duration cards can help evade the pin: drawing only 5 cards from your Tactician is a bummer, but at least it gives you options.
  • And even though your opponent has a 0-card hand every turn, it’s still possible for him to buy out the Curses, and that might end the game on piles.

Really, this combo highlights the power of King’s Court more than anything else.  Just like King’s Court – King’s Court – Bridge – Bridge – Bridge, it’s a multiple-card combo that is devastating once pulled off.

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74 Responses to Combo of the Day #24: King’s Court/Goons/Masquerade

  1. Jets says:

    If you add in a Monument you can gain points while you do this. This also works with Militia (obviously).

    I wonder how difficult this would be to pull off on an experienced player. On a new player it is quite easy to do this. However, that will also likely make them hate Dominion for life. I wonder if this combo ever game up during initial playtesting?

  2. Deadlock39 says:

    This actually works just fine with Militia and you don’t need non-terminal actions. You can still guarantee a win regardless of anything that has happened before the combo has gone off (except perhaps an opponent has gained so many VP chips from Goons that you can’t catch up even after buying out all but one of every pile in the game, but that seems unlikely).

    The easiest solution alternate solution that uses militia is if monument is in the set. This allows you to play KC, KC, Militia, Monument, Masquerade, massing tokens similarly the way you do with Goons. Even without a VP chip solution, you are still guaranteed a win (except I just realized that there is no way to incorporate Bishop into this strategy, so if it is in the set, and your opponent has amassed a chip lead with it, you might be hosed). If there are no VP chip cards, you are still guaranteed a win with KC, KC, Militia, Masquerade. As has already been shown, once the combo is complete, your opponent starts each turn with 0 cards, and the only option they have is to buy a copper or a curse. In the mean time, you are trashing 3 of their cards every turn. First, you have to repeat the process until they have no cards left in their deck. Once they have no cards, you can start buying any one card of your choice each turn using the 6 coins from Militia. The hand you draw is now KC+KC+Militia+Masquerade+’Any Card’. Playing the combo first forces you to pass the card you purchased to your opponent (and receive/trash the copper or curse they bought if they did). The second pass causes them to pass the card you purchased right back to you, at which time you can trash it. Neither of you will have any cards for the last pass. Once you have cleared 2 piles, just go for the Duchies (or the Estates) and when you buy the last one you will win 3VP to 0VP.

    Anyway, I guess my observations are: Goons is replaceable with Militia, non-terminals are not required, and you can still “score points”(enough to win) without VP chips. Barring the Bishop situation I mentioned, I believe this combo will always win you the game if you can pull it off before your opponent ends the game.

    • Deadlock39 says:

      Just rechecked the BGG thread, and noticed a couple other options that could potentially beat this before it went off:
      Island enough VPs away before it hits, or hide enough VPs in the Native Village.

    • theory says:

      This I can believe, that you can execute it with Militia if you happen to have 2 non-terminal stacks available. But wouldn’t it be quite vulnerable to an opponent’s VP chips? E.g., you can’t win by a single Duchy if your opponent has 4 untrashable VP chips …

      • Deadlock39 says:

        If your opponent has 4 non-trashable VP chips (and Goons is not available), then they are either from Monument or Bishop. As I mentioned, I don’t see any way out of this if it is Bishop, because I can’t come up with a way to add Bishop to the combo, but if it is Monument, you can add it to the combo and play KC->KC->Monument, Militia, Masquerade every time, and generate infinite VP chips.

        In the Bishop scenario, you can probably still win unless your opponent has amassed a huge VP chip lead. You would be able to trash their deck until they have nothing, deplete piles to a desired level, abandon the combo, rush for as many provinces as you need to win, and end the game. Since your opponent would have to build up from nothing starting with buying coppers, you should be able to get quite a few VPs before they can do anything dangerous (since you start with KC,KC,Militia).

        Non-terminals are not required in any form of this combo. Once your opponent has no cards left, you can trash one card, and buy one card every turn to deplete piles right up until you buy the last Duchy or Estate and win the game (or just deplete any 3 piles if there are VP chips after you have gained an advantage).

    • mith says:

      I think Bishop could be incorporated, at least on the short term. Say your deck is KC, KC, Militia, Masquerade and you’ve just finished destroying your opponent’s deck. Buy a Bishop. Next turn, opponent buys a Copper, and you KC the Militia and Bishop, trashing your Masquerade, gaining 4 VP, and buying a new Masquerade. Opponent buys another Copper. You now KC the Militia and Masquerade, and even though you pass the Bishop you still trash both Coppers and the Bishop. Buy a new Bishop, lather rinse repeat.

      • mDuo13 says:

        Bishop can certainly be incorporated. I did a variation using Bishop entirely by accident before seeing this. As long as you have a VP lead from trashing stuff before you “pin” the other players, you’re set.

  3. timchen1017 says:

    For the 4 points you mentioned, I only agree on the last one.

    First, since Masquerade provides light trashing, once you get to King’s Court it is going to be faster. Certainly in some unfortunate situations it will take you a while, but more often than not, your game plan of a setup with King’s court will coincide with the route. It is quite untrue that this combo can be easily disrupted by a few play of Goons and Masquerades: usually there will be a card or two to spare. If anything, it is only dangerous when the deck is nearly ready; and in those kind of settings other powerful combo has the same problem as well.

    Then, this combo is actually quite as effective even without the goons. Three cards will be trashed every turn for the opponent and he has to start with only 2 cards. While it is not entirely impossible to recover from that situation, since recovering requires heavy action density, usually his deck will not be in a better situation than yours. For an assisted-BM deck, once the combo clicks it is often effectively gg.

    Once the opponent cannot recover from the depletion of his deck (or instead, he has to buy coppers every turn to keep his deck from shrinking), it is not necessary to win by accumulating VP tokens. If you can get rid of opponent’s deck, 1 VP card is sufficient to win. If not, if you can deteriorate his deck with coppers, you can still win by ramping your own deck much more quickly than his after he got enough coppers.

    Now, the other question is how does one watch out for this combo. For me, I think the easiest way to compete against it is just to play it myself. Thinking to endure the attack consistently means you have to play a small deck (so that you have control of your draw), and inevitably you would probably find that playing the same combo is easier.

    It’s not the best thing to say, but I did try lots of random sets with Masquerade and King’s Court, with random opponents. I didn’t even lose one game playing this combo. I think this qualifies the combo on the “broken side”, just as fishing village+torturer.

    • Deadlock39 says:

      Clearly I agree with you since we posted a bunch of the same stuff. Just wanted to add my thoughts on the fourth point that you provoked.

      It is definitely much less effective in multi-player, and will be significantly more vulnerable to the game ending before you can completely lock down your opponents; however, (with 3 players for example) once the combo is complete, the player to your left will still start every turn with 0 cards, and the 3rd player will still get hit with Militia every turn and have only 3 cards (at least one of which is from the other player’s deck). As soon as your have successfully emptied the player on your left’s deck of cards, the 3rd player will also start each turn with 0 cards, and you will have the game in complete lock down. (The 3rd player can start with one card until he also runs out if the other player buys a copper or a curse every turn.)

  4. Deadlock39 says:

    One more observation.

    This also isn’t terribly vulnerable to your opponents Masquerade unless they are going for the same goal. Since the end game combo only contains 4 cards you should always have a card you don’t need in your hand prior to trashing out everything. If you get hit with Militia/Goons (and they aren’t out of actions), you must be sure to keep a card that isn’t in the combo in your hand to pass if they follow up with Masquerade. There would be a single turn of vulnerability after trashing your last “non-combo” card, but if you get hit with Masquerade, you can send your Masquerade over, and then buy a new one on your next turn with KC+Militia, and as always, once you successfully play the combo once, they will start their turn with 0 cards for the rest of the game.

  5. Silverback says:

    As others already pointed out, Goons can be replaced by Militia, but Ghost Ship works too, if you have enough coin-producing non-terminals to buy one VP-card in the end.

    One of the King’s Courts can also be replaced by a Throne Room or any kind of Village.

  6. theory says:

    Updated the post with some of the suggestions from everyone. I’m a little more convinced of its power, but I still think we’re all a little deluded from having played very particular sets over and over again. In a non-ideal set (i.e., given a random set including King’s Court, Goons, and Masquerade), I don’t think it’s really that easy to set up and execute.

    • timchen1017 says:

      Read your update, still disagree.

      I think the most important concept here is that Goons is not at all necessary in the combo. If you think this way: how often can you win if you were hit by a militia every turn? The answer is not that often, except in the case where you have a thin deck and pretty much can do that yourself. Now the King’s Court+Masquerade combo is even more mean than a militia attack, as it reduces the hand size to two, and against a thin deck it is just devastating. Reaction cards are non-issue as well as it is not an attack.

      Now about the scoring. I think the key observation here is that this combo is just not that hard to setup, and without VP tokens, hiding more than half of the VP does not seem likely. Once you kill the opponent’s deck, it becomes easy to ramp up your own buying power much faster than his and you can buy the rest of things. With VP tokens, the situation becomes even easier. With goons, the only danger is that the opponent massed the majority of goons and accumulated hundreds of VP chips so that you cannot catch up. Otherwise you can always kill his deck and then win by massing the goons yourself. This however is unlikely as massing the goons requires the same time, if not more. Monuments are even easier. You can get infinite points from them so as long as you can kill the deck you will win. Points from Bishop may not be easy to catch up, but it is not as fast and bishoping from the opponent will only help you setup the combo.

      If you are not convinced, I would be glad to play a few games with KC and Masquerade and random setups.

      • rrenaud says:

        +1 for the throw down challenge ;). Unlike when it happens on BGG, this one actually has good players on both sides of the argument.

      • Zaphod says:

        Regarding your assertion that “this combo is just not that hard to setup”, that depends on your opponent. If Masquerade and Goons/Militia/Ghost Ship are in the game, your opponent may use them as well. Several other attack cards could also interfere with getting the correct setup. Setting up a hand with just the right four or five cards, and nothing else, would require considerable luck, or a clueless opponent.

    • Deadlock39 says:

      In response to the 5th point, the only reaction that even slows this down is Moat. The other reactions don’t prevent you from discarding two cards to Militia/Goons/Ghost Ship, and none of them can stop Masquerade from trashing the other 3. Moat would allow you to block the discard, and start your turns with 2 cards, but you won’t be able to do much with that, and you will still eventually be forced to pass your Moat away, and watch your opponent trash it (and soon thereafter have no cards at all).

      I would be very interested to see the results of play testing this in random sets with one player going for the combo, and the other trying to counter.

  7. RichardMNixon says:

    Why would you need a village with the monument? Your king’s courted king’s court can hit a third card.

  8. Captain_Frisk says:

    I’m somewhere between theory’s “It’s no big deal” and the “It’s broken” crowd.

    I personally think that KC x2 + Bridge x3 is easier to execute, can hit faster (doesn’t require emptying your deck first), and works with a wide variety of supporting cards. It ends the game almost as certainly.

    Where it differs from KC + Masquerade is in the fun factor. When someone pulls a monster bridge on you, its pretty cool, and the game ends right then.

    When someone pulls this masquerade mess on you, it just sucks, and its going to suck for a long time.

    That said, its probably the most interesting piece of dominion related content that I’ve read this month… I have many times done the Militia / Torturer / Goons -> Masq. combo… (making the opponent discard down, and then making them give me one of their sweet remaining cards), but i had never considered the possibility of actually trashing an opponents deck.

  9. Yariv says:

    This is a complex combo, but not that limited to specific sets. You are fooled by the zero card hand, this is devastating even if you reduce your opponent to two card hands, and you also decrease his deck size, eventually you push him to zero-card deck. Masquerade is required, and KC as well (it would be weaker, although still dangerous, with TR). Goons can be replaced with Monument, of course, and there is no need for anything else from the other piles. If you play it with Monument, there is actually no way to stop you once you pull it off (except for your opponent pulling it off at the same time, with a few extra cards to initiate it from a two-card hand). If you ran it with monument, you can gain as many VP-chips as you like, buying nothing. Then, when you have 6,000 of them and you opponent have an empty deck, move to finish the game in any way you like. It might be hard to set up, but only due to the heavy trashing. Masquerade is ineffective against (except for multiple-trashing masquerade, of course), hand size reduction simply requires you to have some drawing card, and might, allow you to play it only on some turns (if you have a smithy, you can use a 2KC+smithy+monument+masquerade and won’t be held back by hand reduction). Cursing attacks make it harder to set, but once rolling they will only slightly reduce the number of cards trashed from your hand each turn.

  10. Man@Work says:

    I tried it today with Throne Room, Masquerade and Monument. Haven was used later to hide VP Cards. This is the game log:

    If you follow the link, you will find, that I didn’t win. I hadn’t counted points. But I could have continued forever and eventually win. On the other hand it’s not much fun for the opponent…

  11. DG says:

    Have played this combination just once, where myself and my opponent agreed to abandon the game because it was degenerate, I’ll add the following comments.

    Firstly a king’s court masquerade combination isn’t hard to set up. Not at all. Buy some masquerades and silver, get one king’s court then another king’s court will come soon, and you’re practically there. Moreover, if one player pursues this combination (without the militia) then I suspect that the opponent will also have some of the key cards and will try to keep them when the deck starts being reduced. This leads to the prospect of the opponent trying to buy the rest of the cards to compete on the same strategy which seems much more sensible than trying to buy/score through the masquerade attack. In other words, a likely outcome is the game descending into a strange trashing competition with some make or break decisions about whether to buy coppers once you have 5 or less cards in your deck.

    If a friendly gaming group does not like this style of masquerade attack then I suggest they consider a house rule – “If you have no cards in hand when a masquerade is played you must pass any card received (from the player on your right) directly to the player on your left”. I can’t see any situations where this house rule would detrimentally affect the game. If those situations arise I expect they will be more obscure than this strategy combination.

  12. Zaphod says:

    Played consistently, you can force your opponent into a 0-card hand every turn while you empty some non-terminal piles for VPs.

    Not only non-terminal – every card you buy would have to be + Card, + Action for that to work (Laboratory, Caravan, Village, Pawn, etc.). You would need to draw and play all these cards every turn until the only unplayed cards in your deck were the two King’s Courts, the Goons and the Masquerade. Otherwise, the Masquerade would draw the additional cards and your opponent wouldn’t end up with an empty hand.

    It doesn’t really matter if you gain VP tokens; most likely, the game will end with your opponent resigning, so you’ll win regardless.

    • Deadlock39 says:

      Once your opponent has no cards remaining, you can buy any card in the game. Since you are playing Masquerade 3 times, you will pass the card you bought to your opponent on the first play, and then you will get it back from him on the second and can trash it. (The 3rd play does nothing.)

      It is true that you can purchase self-replacing (perhaps a better description than non-terminal) cards and play them all prior to finishing with the combo, but this is not a requirement to deplete piles.

      This is definitely true:
      “It doesn’t really matter if you gain VP tokens; most likely, the game will end with your opponent resigning, so you’ll win regardless.”

      • Zaphod says:

        Are you referring to the point where the player has no cards remaining in his hand, or the point in the game where the player has no cards at all?

        I was referring to theory’s statement that you can force your opponent to draw to 0 cards each turn while simultaneously buying cards to gain VP tokens. In order to force your opponent to 0 cards, when you play KC/KC/Goons/Masquerade, you must have no cards in your hand, or in your draw or discard pile. Otherwise, when you play the Masquerade the first time, it will send a card to the other player, which means he’ll have a card left at the end of your turn. If that card is a Masquerade, or an attack card, it could mess up your carefully constructed hand. Therefore, if you’re using the Goons’ power to buy cards for VP tokens while depleting your opponent’s deck, as he suggests, they would have to be cards you could play before playing your KC/KC/Goons/Masquerade, while still guaranteeing that you get all those cards in your hand when the other cards are all gone. The only cards that will do that every time are + card, + action cards. Does that make sense? Perhaps I’m not explaining it very well.

        • Deadlock39 says:

          You are correct, this type of card is required to gain VPs while simultaneously reducing your opponents hand to 0 cards (while they still have cards). I was just pointing out that you do not need these types of cards in the supply to keep your opponent at 0 cards for the remainder of the game and gain VPs.

          I was referring to when the other player has no cards at all, since you are slowly trashing their deck. If you are behind in VP tokens and there are no +action/+card cards in the deck, you have to repeat the combo, without buying any cards, until your opponent has no cards. You can then buy and trash one of any card every turn.

          I am just saying that there is no reason you need to buy self-replacing cards to gain VP tokens at the same time you are trashing the other players deck. At that point in the game, you have complete control over the game and can extend it indefinitely, so you don’t need to be buying cards until you can do so without breaking the combo.

          (Technically, if at least one pile is gone, you cannot extend the game indefinitely since your opponent can buy out the curses and the coppers.)

          • Zaphod says:

            Thanks for clearing that up. I think you’re probably right. In fact, I think most players would resign before all their cards are gone anyhow. This would be a particularly annoying way to lose a Dominion game.

  13. Bob dole says:

    I got hit with something like this a while back. The trick is that you need something to reduce your opponent’s handsize: goons, militia, ghost ship, even cutpurse if they can KC that as well. It’s just that goons or monument is going to be the best combo.

  14. Epoch says:

    To the extent that this is a real problem for the game, the fix seems simple: errata Masquerade to say that if the person to your right has no cards that they can pass you, you do not need to pass any cards yourself.

    Seems like it has essentially no impact on the normal use of Masquerade, and shuts down this combo.

    • joel88s says:

      In fact, I’m curious whether Donald X. has weighed in on the interpretation of Masquerade in the case where the player of it has no card to pass. (Or are we just assuming that the way the Isotropic engine processes it is by definition correct?!) The rulebook notes make no mention of this odd eventuality, specifying only that all cards are passed simultaneously.

      I think one could make a fair case that THEMATICALLY, since the idea of Masquerade is the EXCHANGE of cards round the table, it would be reasonable that if one player cannot pass a card then the whole clause is obviated and no cards are passed.

      • Zaphod says:

        A basic rule of Dominion is “If you can’t do everything the card tells you to do, do as much as you can.” Donald has mentioned the rule on the BGG forum in the past. Based on that rule, the way Isotropic plays the card is probably correct – everyone who can passes a card from his hand to the player on his left. Perhaps Donald will join the BGG discussion at some point and we’ll know for sure.

        • tlloyd says:

          Sorry to be so repetitive, but this is why the rule change (and it would be a change) should impose a condition for receiving a card, not for passing a card. If everyone does as much of what the card says as they can, then everyone who has at least one card should pass it. Where the change would come in is in who gets to receive the card you pass. How about this wording:

          “Each player passes a card in their hand to the next player to their left that has passed a card. You may trash a card from your hand.”

    • tlloyd says:

      I think a better fix would be “only receive a card if you passed a card”, not “only pass a card if you received a card”. That way the card still does something even if a single player has zero cards in his hand.

      • Eric says:

        I think a much simpler fix would be to put the keyword “Attack” on the Masquerade.

        • WheresMyElephant says:

          I don’t understand? This doesn’t eliminate the combo, which would be the goal if we were “fixing” things. In fact, a Moat or Lighthouse already kills most versions of this combo by stopping Goons/Militia/etc, so even when a Reaction is available this change wouldn’t make much difference.

          Making Masquerade an Attack doesn’t really accomplish that much except to make the rules confusing. (“Okay if Jim Moated it, who do I pass my card to?”) The attack doesn’t really need to be nerfed on the whole; in most games the worst it does is trade a Copper for an Estate or whatever. Occasionally it’s stronger than that but that’s not really a problem that needs fixing.

  15. Nimmy says:

    Suppose one turn before your opponent did his KC-KC-Goons-Masquerade combo, you played Lighthouse and KC+Wharf. You thus have 8 (2+3*2) cards in hand, and you just realized that this might be your last turn before being combo-ted to death. What cards should you play to hope to counter the combo ?

    • First says:

      Masquerade + Lighthouse. You can use a Lighthouse to protect yhand cards from Goons and then play Masquerade next turn. Your opponent will give you his Masquerade and has to buy another one next turn, and you are free from this devastating combo if you can use Masquerade every turn.

      I just tried this combo with only Throne room, Masquerade and some other self-replacing cards and they worked. my opponent had a 3-card hand every turn, but eventually his deck was reduced to only 5 Provinces and 1 Bazaar. The extra condition here (if there is no Militia,Goons,Ghost Ship) is the absent of +buy since your opponent can buy coppers/curses to pass to you and still have a non-shrinking deck.

    • First says:

      Actually, just play Goons yourself since this combo requires all 4 cards (or village + KC + Goons + Masquerade, in which he can draw the one he discards back)

  16. Thisisnotasmile says:

    I’ve played this 6 or 7 times today against unsuspecting opponents (suspecting opponents would just do the same thing and… it would be horrible). I’ve won every single game I played with king’s court and masquerade. It sees that they are all you need to pull off this combo. Obviously, other cards can help (I had one with militia, one with goond, one wit monument which ended up with my having KC, KC, monument, monument, masquerade and could have gone on indefinitely), but KC and militia are sufficient to do this. You can easily get it set up in time so that they have 2-card hands every turn before they can buy out the provinces, and when they’re reduced to 2 cards it becomes VERY had to buy more provinces. At that point you just continue to eat their deck away until nothing and then use your self-replacing cards to buy out the provinces.

    As much as I hate to say it, and I’ve read the topic on bgg, but this is the closest thing to “broken” I’ve seen in dominion. With only 2 cards you can pretty much guarantee a win against an opponent not playing the same strategy.

    • Thisisnotasmile says:

      Wow, sorry about that. Excuse the typos. “but KC and militia are sufficient to do this.” is obviously supposed to read “KC and masquerade”.

  17. Hart says:

    A few other notes I didn’t see covered earlier:
    1. Goons, militia, ghost ship, or outpost will work for this. Goons is obviously the best to have at the end, but it also takes longer to setup. Outpost works extremely well because it cannot even be countered by moat, the opponent can’t automatically slow you down with discards from their attacks, and even if you are hit with some discard attack you can place KC/outpost and drop their hand to two cards with your 3 card turn. (KC->KC->Outpost->Masq leaves KC -> Outpost on the table making you draw KC, Masq which plays again. Another alternative is minion/TR/TR/Outpost/masq (play minion to discard cards, play TR->TR->TR->Outpost-> Masq, play minion for cash -> TR -> Masq).
    2. Counters are NOT reaction cards (aside from moat vs militia/goons) they are duration cards that increase hand size (so you actually have something to play) and that let you deck deplete (before all your VP gets eaten by the trash). Things like tactician come to mind. Hiding cards outside of your deck just doesn’t seem to be fast enough.
    3. This gets horridly slowed by curse givers and ambassador.
    4. A less devasting (and less practical) combo is KC/KC/Bureacrat/Bureaucrat/Watchtower. This lets you force the opponent to top deck their green every turn. If they have 5 VP cards in their deck and no drawing you will eventually have 5 cards you can force them to top deck every turn. Watchtower kills the silver and you can build your deck into whatever draw engine you like (including VP cards) provided you can hit that combo every single turn. As long as you can chain something else in, your opponent will be reduced to 0 cards every turn and you can keep gaining VPs. Additionally this works against all opponents. I’ve only ever gotten this to work once with the above cards + rabble and one of the villages with liberal use of an opponent’s bishop.

    The downside is that an opponent can play draw (e.g. CR) or cycle (e.g. loan) cards to slow the build up of green on top of their deck. Still, you are looking at a game of odds for when those cards will hit; you can still pin someone as long as you trap 5 greens before draw/cycle cards undo your efforts.
    5. I really wouldn’t worry too much about bishop chips. Every time your opponent uses bishop (minus one or two 7 coin hands), you move that much closer to the terminal phase.
    6. Against multiple opponents this is still somewhat effective. With KC/OP/Masq you trash the player to your left’s entire hand every turn. The player to your right (assuming a three player game) has the joy of playing a two card hand, loses a card a turn from his deck, and eventually will get trashed out as well. As noted above there is at least one alternative pin (forcing the opponent to have a zero card hand, every turn) that does work for multiple opponents. I’m curios to see if any others exist.
    7. Another less effective alternative is KC/KC/Mountebank/useful action/Masq. This will only drop their handsize to zero when they have two curses in hand, however they gain a curse most turns (barring turns when they have 3 or more in hand) and the concentration of curses in their deck goes up pretty quick. A surefire shot is KC/KC/Mountebank/Cutpurse/Masq. I haven’t played either of these, but they should work if you can build them unopposed; I’m not sure if you can get either to fire soon enough if the opponent is mountebanking you.

    • kn1tt3r says:

      I didn’t understand the whole Outpost thing.
      Maybe I’ve misunderstood you, but Outpost just influences your next turn (which takes place right after the turn Outpost is played), and it doesn’t work w/ KC or TR.

      • chesskidnate says:

        basically you’re using the outpost to gain another turn to play the combo again for a trashing total of 6 cards

      • Hart says:

        Outpost “works” with TR/KC in the sense that you can play TR/KC on it; you just get no benefit from doing so.

        The reason I say you play KC -> KC -> Outpost -> Masq is that in your normal (5 card) hand you will trash 3 of your opponent’s cards. One KC and the outpost do not go into your discard. In your three card hand you draw KC/Masq. This lets you trash another three cards. After your three card hand, all four cards go into your discard and you can draw them all again.

        Minion/TR/TR/Outpost/Masq works in the same way. Your 5 card hand draws your whole deck. It forces the opponent to get a 4 card hand and then kills two of the cards. Your 3 card hand draws minion/TR/Masq which kills the other two cards in their hand.

  18. Leshrac says:

    Pardon me if someone already mentioned this and I didn’t notice it, but I think your opponent gaining VP chips or hiding away victory cards is irrelevant. Once you’ve reduced their deck to zero, just gradually buy one Copper per turn and eliminate the Copper pile. At that point, they have no way to reenter the game and you can just play solitaire, buying up however many VPs you need to win the game (assuming, of course, that you make sure you have some way of producing coins yourself, but that seems unlikely to be a problem). More likely is that your opponent will just concede once you explain/they realize what you’re doing.

    • Chasm says:

      This may sound stupid but are treasure cards intentionally limited?

      • rrenaud says:

        In most games, the, gold/silver/copper aren’t supposed to run out (though I guess platinums running out isn’t super rare in a multiplayer game), but there has to be a limit somewhere to due physical constraints, and in strange games, the limits can be hit.

  19. Reyk says:

    as a side note: Player ‘jungbluth’ is setting people up on isotropic with this combination:

  20. dutchbrowncoat says:

    go with:

    kings court / kings court / goons / masquerade

    just buy one curse per turn. point from the goons, a little protection against their masquerade, trades their 5 cards for one curse each time you play it.

    • Reyk says:

      “trades their 5 cards for one curse”

      This is somewhat missleading as he will return the curse and keep his best card out of the original 5 + curse. Agreed with the masquerade protection, but after you’ve trashed to the four card hand, this is only necessary if you are behind in vp chips (or points hidden at islands/native villages) by more than two points. Otherwise masquerade from a zero card hand is obviously no longer a threat.

  21. Yariv says:

    I came to the conclusion that although KC+KC+Goons+Masq is somehow the ultimate attack, this ability to trash card from your opponent’s hand is actually effective in many more situations. You can do it only if there’s strong trashing, and in this situations your opponent is unlikely to have useless cards at all, and his deck is small. So, trashing cards will be effective in any case. Since while running it you can’t buy victory cards, you should probably not use it except for the extreme case (trashing at least 3 cards per turn) unless you can gain VP tokens or put victory cards on Island. However, in those situations, it is effective. Here is an example where I managed to use this against a top-player (second on the list when we played, I think. Also, he got disconnected, but I think it is clear that I was winning there. Others might disagree, of course). Key cards are masquerade, TR, steward and monument. I also used quarry as a cheap gold, and shanty town.
    Not as powerful as the combo suggested above, but definitely giving a player relying on VP-tokens a great advantage against a Colony-player.

  22. WanderingWinder says:

    Probably the most annoying game of Dominion I’ve ever played is where BOTH key pieces of the combo were pulled by my opponent out of the Black Market deck.

  23. Garak says:

    Games are quite crazy if both opponents go for this particular combo:

    I tried to find a way to ignore his constraint “Constraint(s) used: required: Chapel, Goons, King’s Court, Masquerade.” and started to buy a province and a duchy on turn 10 when I had all parts of the combo in the deck already. Nevertheless, next turn I thougt “Why not? He wants to have that combo? I will make it happen!”.

    Afterwards I only needed to ensure that Ive the right number of cards in the deck when he plays his kings courted masquerade. Went fine 🙂

  24. Mark Kroft says:

    One variation on this combo that I have found very devistating is a hand of KC,KC,Goon,Goon,Goon. This gives you 10 buys, with 9 points per buy, so even without buying any victory points, you get 10 buys * 9 points each is 90 points. With the 18 coin you get from the goons, you can buy 2 provinces and an estate, for a total of 104 points in one hand.
    Even if you don’t get all 5, getting KC,KC,Goon,Goon gives you 42 points. If your 5th card is a watchtower, then you can get 42 points every time, with no extra cards going into your deck.

    • rrenaud says:

      The gain per buy with Goons does not get multiplied by KC/throne room.

      The point of this combo isn’t so much to get VP from the Goons, it’s to obliterate an opponents deck. It would work just almost as well with Militia.

      • Mark says:

        I didn’t notice the while this is in play, so I guess you wouldn’t get 90 points for the full combo, but you would get 30 points, since you would have 3 in play and 10 buys, so that is still quite a bit of points, and 14 points for the 2 KC with a tower. It is useful to hit others decks, but if you get lots of buys and a few goons, the points add up really fast.

  25. uncool says:

    I just managed to play and beat someone at their own game with this.

    At first I blundered around a little, but then realized it was essentially this. When it got down to it, I was able to take out everything in his deck but his masquerade. When I bought a copper and gave that to him while trashing his other card, he ended up with nothing. I then started rebuilding my deck from the ground up. When I got a swindler, he just left, because I could destroy everything in his deck from then on trivially.

  26. WolverineFury says:

    I fail to see how you are going to get your whole hand down to 4 cards, that’s the only major problem here.

    • WanderingWinder says:

      Easy. Play lots of Kinged Masquerades. Trash a LOT. Don’t buy stuff after you’ve got stuff in place.

  27. WanderingWinder says:

    You don’t in fact need KC or Goons for this pin. It will be helpful to have KC, but you can manage with throne room and a village. Also goons can be substituted by LOTS of stuff: Militia, Margrave, Ghost ship, outpost… yes outpost.
    For a horror video, er, me pulling off the (outpost) version of the combo:

  28. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t the best combo be goons, 2 king’s court, watchtower, and moat.

  29. ddddddd says:

    Am I crazy – how can you have enough actions to play KC-goons, and then KC-masquerade? Do you need a Village in there?

  30. Ha? Why won’t you have any cards to pass? Masq draws you 2 cards before passing occurs…

    • Jets says:

      Because your entire deck consists of 2 Kings Courts a Goons and a Masquerade. You have no cards to draw.

      • 1. And how are you going to achieve that?
        2. And say you did. Okay, your opponent has no turns. But how are you winning exactly? If you buy something, the combo will end. And if you don’t buy anything, no one will win.

        • thisisnotasmile says:

          1. You achieve it by trashing. Masquerade is key to this combo so you already know you can trash,
          2. Once you get to the position of KC – KC – Goons/Militia/other discarder – Masq vs. Nothing, it’s a race to build back up and end the game. The KC – Masq guy has a huge advantage in this race and I don’t think anybody would bet against him. Goons has the added advantage of VP tokens.

  31. Dan says:

    I don’t understand how you don’t have any cards in your hand to pass. You have 4 cards; 2 KC, Goon and Masquerade. You KC a goon and then KC a Masquerade, but don’t you have to pick up 2 cards every time you play the Masquerade. Is it an option to play only the parts of the cards that I want to?

    • theory says:

      You can’t draw 2 more cards if you have no more cards in your deck. So either those are the only four cards in your deck, or you have a lot of say, Caravans that you played already and are no longer in the deck.

  32. Chetar Ruby says:

    Article writer is an idiot. Masquerade makes you draw 2 cards upon play, meaning unless you have a 3 card deck, it is literally impossible to have an empty hand by the time you get to passing cards. Stupid article from someone who doesn’t know how to play Dominion.

    • theory says:

      Actually, the point of the combo is to have “neutered Masquerades” that aren’t drawing cards because you don’t have enough cards left in your deck. You don’t have to trash all the way down to just four cards, you can have cards like Caravan and Pearl Diver played before the final four cards.

  33. Jacob Hoover says:

    The recent errata on Masquerade makes this combo not work. Masquerade’s second effect now reads: “Each player *with any cards in hand* passes a card to the next such player on their left, at once. Then you may trash a card from your hand.” (The asterisks were added for emphasis.) This means that the passing effect now skips players that don’t have cards in hand to pass, and since the combo relies on you not having a card in hand to pass, it now doesn’t work.

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