The Five Best $5 Non-Attacks

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.

See also: The Five Best $5 Attacks.


Dominion: Prosperity

Honorable Mention: Venture

Venture is basically the better version of Adventurer, in the same way that Warehouse is the better version of Cellar and Hoard is the better version of Explorer.  In any trimmed deck, Venture is usually better than Gold, and sometimes better than Platinum, especially when Bank is in play.  A Venture-powered deck is immune to the endgame green card slowdown and resilient against Cursing attacks.  And even though it’s much worse in untrimmed decks, it’s still strictly superior to Silver so long as you draw a Copper with it.

It takes a while to appreciate the power of Venture, but the first time you realize the power of chained Ventures is when you begin to realize how much of a ridiculous game-changer Venture is in the presence of any good trashing.


Dominion: Seaside

5. Tactician

One of the fundamental principles of Dominion is that one good thing tends to be better than two mediocre things.  Tactician is a good example: having a big hand is helpful for just about every strategy, and so just about every hand is worth giving up for an even better one.  It counters quite a few attacks directly (Ghost Ship, Militia), and helps you set up combos that are otherwise too difficult to pull off (e.g., Throne Room x4 + Bridge x4).  Tactician even works with itself in certain rare situations, when you can find some way to discard your hand but still have money to buy cards (either using Actions for money, or something like Black Market/Tactician).

About the only time Tactician isn’t useful is in extremely trimmed Chapel-like decks, since there’s no point to giving up a turn if you’re drawing your whole deck anyway. But even with trashing, Tactician helps trash your stuff quickly, and you can trash it for some benefit later (e.g., using a Tactician turn to Forge away your crap, and then Forge the Tactician into something more useful).


Dominion: Prosperity

4. Vault

It’s amazing how the +2 Cards can turn one of the crappiest Actions in the game (Secret Chamber) into one of the best.  I suspect this card sets a new baseline for “Big Money plus”, a la Smithy-BigMoney or Envoy-BigMoney: every time you play it, you’re guaranteed a Gold, and every time you play it and draw a Gold, you’re guaranteed a Province.  There are some fancy combos you can set up with it (Festival/Vault/Library), but in general, Vault is effective enough just played singly, to get the Golds, Grand Markets, or Provinces.

Like Tactician, Vault does best in poor-quality decks, since there aren’t many cards you really want to discard for $1 in a Chapel deck.  And it’s not quite as fun in Colony games, where you’re looking for Platinums rather than Golds.  On the other hand, there’s no other Dominion card as consistent or “safe” as Vault for improving your deck.


Dominion: Prosperity

3. City

A notorious “trap” card, but activated Cities are some of the most fun cards Dominion has to offer.  If you haven’t already made progress on the Provinces or Colonies, there’s basically nothing that can stop a full-blown activated City stack.  If you know you’re building for them, it leads to Fishing Village-type situations where you can get away with buying many more terminal Actions than usual.  City stacks tend to lead to hilarious games when King’s Court, Bridge, and/or Goons are involved.

On the other hand, as a general rule, I avoid them in most Province games.  Unless another pile (usually Curses) is emptying, the only hope of upgrading your Cities is by emptying the City pile, and buying out all 10 Cities takes quite a while.  In addition, you might very well find that Level 2 Cities don’t actually help you much, since unless you have a ton of Monuments or Saboteurs or some fun terminal Action, you could have bought Laboratories instead if you just wanted to draw your deck.  By the time you hit Level 3 Cities, your opponent very well might find a way to end it on piles before you can use your fully-upgraded Cities.



2. Laboratory

You can basically never go wrong with buying a Laboratory.  This is the only $5 (so far) for which this is true other than Market, and realistically you aren’t going to strike much fear in your opponents with a Market-based deck.  Among non-terminal non-attacks, Laboratory and Alchemist are second only to Grand Market in win rate.

The fact that it’s totally OK to never stop buying Lab is a huge point in its favor.   A common problem with decks built around a terminal is getting stuck on the wrong money amount and thus unable to continue buying engine components.  For instance, a deck built around Mine that keeps stalling at $5 has to either buy more Mines and hope they don’t conflict, or buy something that doesn’t really work with the deck.  Alternatively, a standard +Actions/+Cards engine has to balance getting +Actions and +Cards separately, and is dependent on drawing its cards in the right order.  Laboratory-based decks face no such problems, and is therefore the easiest and most reliable engine to build.

1. Wharf

Wharf is to cards as Fishing Village is to Actions.  This picture says it all:

The power of Wharf

That red line is not Outpost.


Dominion: Seaside

With the right +Actions, Wharf completely smacks Laboratory: after all, the Wharf duration bonus is equivalent to having played two Labs.  Indeed, it’s the only +2 Cards in the game that is worth building a draw engine around.  With Throne Room and/or King’s Court in play, it just becomes absolutely unreal, letting you get multiplied benefits both this turn and the next.

It loses a lot of strength without +Actions, but even then, you can safely get multiple Wharves with less chance of drawing them together, because you’ll often have one in play rather than in your deck.  The +Buy is really just the icing on the cake.

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69 Responses to The Five Best $5 Non-Attacks

  1. mischiefmaker says:

    I don’t understand the example, “a deck built around Mine that keeps stalling at $5” — how (or why) do you build a deck around Mine? And if you kept getting $5 with your Mine, why not just Mine one of those treasures into something better, and have $6?

    • Mean Mr Mustard says:

      With one Mine, one (or maybe more) Pawn or Market, and a majority of the Lab stack it is possible to gain a strong enough economy to never buy more then the first turn silver and coast to a victory. Mine in other action chains seems too slow and unreliable. If you can get a Lab on turns 1-4 and immediately buy a Mine followed by relentless Lab buys you can do well on certain “safe” boards (ie no major attacks that you cannot ignore).

      The trick with mine IMO is to buy it as early as possible, be able to cycle your deck quickly and don’t dilute your deck with other coin buys. On a board with Platinum it seems best to try to go Gold>>Platinum as often as possible because the +2 coin improvement, while on a board without Platinum it is better to upgrade your coppers to silver first to avoid getting Golds+Mine only.

      Keep in mind the Mine (and Mint) are really two weak trashers that should only be considered on boards that have no better trashing abilities. If you are looking at a non-trash board it may be advisable to upgrade those seven coppers rather than try to work around them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother with either Mine nor Mint. They are too slow.

      • Epoch says:

        What makes you think that Mint is slow? It’s a multiple-card-trasher that trashes at the moment of buy. It has at least the potential to be a MUCH faster trasher than Chapel.

        What Mint is, is luck-based. If you draw a hand of 5 Coppers on term 3 or 4, after having bought a silver or something morally equivalent on turn 1 or 2, it’s amazing. It’s also good for 3-4 Coppers and 1 Silver, if you have enough remaining buying power in your deck after trashing the Silver (and particularly if you’re in a Platinum game and don’t want the Silvers long-term). But in a lot of games, you’ll never draw the right combination of money to make it worthwhile.

        Special note: Tactician/Mint: I’ve trashed all 7 Coppers in a single turn.

      • Yoshi34 says:

        Someone should post an article about the 5 best Treasure cards (and worst)…
        1. Platinum
        2. IGG
        3. Hoard
        4. Venture
        5. Bank
        HM- Quarry
        1. Contraband
        2. Talisman
        3. Cache
        4. FG (too chancy!)
        5. Bank (Yes, on both!)
        HM. Loan

    • theory says:

      Suppose there’s literally no good Actions, and so you’ve decided to play Big Money with a single Mine. If you draw $5 (either $4+Mine or just $5), you’re basically either buying another terminal that conflicts with your Mine, or a Silver. You can’t directly improve your engine as easily when it mostly just relies on a single terminal.

      • Mean Mr Mustard says:

        At which time you must do something that might confuse a new player; nothing. Doing nothing with 4 or 5 is sometimes a very good choice.

      • vidicate says:

        I’m also confused where you say “A common problem with decks built around a non-terminal” and give the Mine example. Did you intend to have the “non-” there?

  2. rrenaud says:

    Wow, maybe I should look at my own data more. I didn’t realize wharf so massively outperformed everything else.

    How much of this is due to the Throne Room/King’s Court duration isotropic bug though?

      • theory says:

        Suppose you play KC – KC – Wharf – Wharf – Wharf. Your opponent plays KC – KC – Wharf – Bazaar – Monument.

        By the rules, both of your KC’s and your 3 Wharves should all stay out, and one of your opponent’s KC’s and his Wharf should stay out. Isotropic always allows at least one of the KC’s to come back into the discard to get reshuffled.

        • Ola says:

          Well, if Donald himself said so… Although I’m really with Doug on this one, I think the rules were quite clear as it was (only the modifying card stays out, even if it worked on two cards). My implementation copies isotropic.

          • tlloyd says:

            The point is that the first KC is a modifying card. The second KC had to be modified in order to play multiple Wharfs. So both should remain in play.

            • AJD says:

              Fair enough, but all the rules say is “If you play or modify a Duration card with another card, that other card also stays in your play area until it is no longer doing anything.” The second KC isn’t a Duration card, so the rules as written don’t immediately imply that the first KC (modifying the second KC, not the Wharfs) should remain in play.

              • tlloyd says:

                True. I suppose Donald’s reasoning is something like “the first KC indirectly modifies the Wharfs by modifying the KC that directly modifies them.”

                Say that five times fast. 🙂

  3. DStu says:

    Don’t think that the bug matters much. As I understood it, it is only an issue with chained KC/TR. You get back both while according to the rules you should only get back one. So for a engine with double KC-double Wharf each turn, you need 3 KC +4 Wharfs instead of 4/4. I don’t think that saving one KC is the only reason that makes the combo so good, especially as also 1KC+1Wharf each turn is overpowered enough as you start your turn with 11 cards to find KC+Wharf (or something that helps you find them…) and draw 6 more. With any reasonable trashing, this should do it, needs only 2 KC+2 Wharf and there is no bug on isotropic with single KC+duration.

    • DStu says:

      Change: You get back both while according to the rules you should only get back one.
      to: You get back one while according to the rules you should only get back none.

  4. tlloyd says:

    I think we need to be clear on just what basis we’re comparing these cards. Is it something like, “which is the best card to build a strategy around”? Or is it “which single card would you rather have in your hand all else equal”? Because I’m having a real hard time accepting that Tactician is #5 on this list, with Laboratory #2. I’d rather have seven Labs than seven Tacticians, but I’d sure rather have two tacticians than three or even four labs.

    On a related note, I think you be clear on just what your data indicates and what it does not. You show how winning correlates with the difference between the number of [whatever card] you have and the number your opponent has. Clearly if you have 8/10 Labs (or 8/10 Minions) you’re on your way to victory. But some cards aren’t meant to be bought en masse, and I believe your data under-values those cards.

    • tlloyd says:

      [Trying again:] I think you – should – be clear…

    • theory says:

      It’s mostly based on what cards I prioritize. There are very few cards that are very good but which you want very few of. I am much happier to see my opponent ignore Labs than I am when he ignores Tactician.

      Like I said, don’t expect the list to be scientific. If you really just wanted “win rate when bought” you can consult CouncilRoom for that.

      • timchen says:

        Interesting, as intuitively I would think otherwise: I am a lot happier if my opponent choose not to get tacticians than not taking labs. Or maybe this is not a very good comparison anyway, as there is hardly anyone who ignores lab.

        But I think the issue is, this depends on the type of game. With attacks you are usually much better off with a Tactician. Whether with curses flowing around, or hand size reduction, Tactician deals with it so much better. Without attacks, Tactician loses a lot of its steam, but Labs are not the best cards out there either.

        In the end, nowadays I rarely play a pure-lab strategy any more. It is always a $5 card I am willing to take when I have $5 without higher priorities (well, the same can be said for Village but it is not a good sign if you are stuck at $3 or $4) and sometimes even at $6. On the other hand, Tactician involves a choice. In the setups where I chose to take at least one, and my opponent did not, I am usually well on my way to victory. Which one is the better card, I guess, is a more personal question. 😛

        • theory says:

          If you look at your Popular Buys page, you underperform your overall winrate by .5 stdev when you get Tactician, and underperform your overall winrate by 1.15 stdev when you ignore it. Overall, Isotropic’s winrate is 1.01 with Tactician and 0.98 without it.

          Compare to Lab: you overperform by 0.08 stdev when you get it, and 0.43 when you don’t. Overall, Isotropic is 1.01 with Laboratory and 0.95 without.

          • tlloyd says:

            Great data, but once again in need of clarification. The fact that the Laboratory has a larger net impact on winning than Tactician for the general Isotropic population probably speaks at least in part to what we might term the cards’ relative degree of difficulty inherent in optimal play. In other words:

            “You can basically never go wrong with buying a Laboratory.”

            “it’s totally OK to never stop buying Lab”

            “Laboratory-based decks . . . [are] the easiest . . . engine to build.”

            So the Laboratory is easier to play correctly than the Tactician (hard to go wrong playing a Lab), but this is not the same as it being the stronger card. In the hands of a skilled player I would imagine that the Tactician is much more effective.

            Thus which card is “best” or “better” might depend on whether the player is a novice or an expert. I assumed, given the forum and its contributors, that the default perspective was the above-average player. I think “spammability” is probably not the best criterion on which to base your rankings.

            • theory says:

              Man, it’s easier to build a Lab engine than a Counting House / Coppersmith engine, but that doesn’t mean that advanced players do Counting House / Coppersmith and newbs buy Labs. “Easier” aka “better chance of succeeding” is a pretty important criterion in deciding what kind of engine to run!

              • tlloyd says:

                Sorry Theory. Not trying to be argumentative. Obviously it’s okay if we disagree on these admittedly subjective rankings.

                I wasn’t saying that “easier” AKA “better chance of succeeding” (not sure those are always the same) is not a relevant consideration–just that it’s not the only one.

              • Personman says:

                Now now, Theory, it looks you’re trying to win the argument by redefining the word ‘Easy’ 😉

                tlloyd’s point is pretty valid — CouncilRoom data is not drawn from a pool of expert dominion players. Rather, as a cursory glance at the lobby or leaderboard will tell you, the vast majority of players are pretty inexperienced. I think it’s very likely that a card like Tactician is played incorrectly often enough that the CouncilRoom stats don’t reflect it’s true power.

                To shoehorn my pet Dominion project into this discussion, let’s take a look at Wishing Well. Its ‘Win Rate With’ is tied for 39th lowest overall, nearly in the bottom quarter. By contrast, it’s tied for 8th _best_ in my personal ‘Win Rate With’ column, and is my 5th best ‘Effect With’. People *really* don’t know how to play that card.

                Of course we’ll never know the true power level of each card expressed as the expected number purchased by a supercomputer playing every possible Dominion spread perfectly, but assuming that a group of humans on the internet are doing anything even *close* to approximating it is naive.

          • timchen says:

            May I ask what should I take away from this data?

            Does it mean that I don’t know how to play Tactician as well as Lab? Or does it imply that games with tactician is more swingy, as I underperform no matter whether I buy it or not.

            On the other hand, it seems to me the Lab data tells essentially that I almost always get Labs. When I don’t, since I cannot really think of any good reason, those probably corresponds to cases where I had some bad luck so that I have trouble getting to $5 consistently (such as being heavily cursed) and have some other higher priorities. My underperformance here seems just to tell I am still losing in those games in average, which is not surprising.

            • theory says:

              I didn’t mean it to prove anything definitive. I think it is just an interesting insight into how Tactician and Laboratory affect your game. (Though note that you overperform both when you don’t buy Laboratory and when you buy Laboratory.)

            • timchen says:

              Ah. I misread that. So this does imply that when I don’t buy labs, I do have a good reason. 😛

  5. tlloyd says:

    I think it’s worth mentioning that the Vault is the most straightforward way to win the Grand Market race. The guaranteed $6 (which as you mentioned can get you a Gold) is also an easy way around the Copper restriction on Grand Markets.

  6. Saucery says:

    I consider Tactician to be a more important buy than any of the other cards listed above. You only need one or two to enable your main strategy.

    • Saucery says:

      Especially in platinum games, and head and shoulders above the rest as your 1st $5 buy.

    • theory says:

      I also buy Baron before Caravan, but that doesn’t mean Baron is “better” than Caravan, in my eyes.

      • tlloyd says:

        I imagine you’d agree that a single Baron is a more powerful addition to your deck than a single Caravan though, right? So it seems to me that the comparison you’re making is between the usual number of Caravans you’d buy (4-6) and the usual number of Barons you’d buy (1, maybe 2). And that’s a totally legit comparison, as long as we’re all on the same page. I think some of your readers (like me) have in mind a 1 to 1 comparison.

  7. painted_cow says:


    so after the 2 lists of 5-$ cards you prefer attacks like Rabble, Torturer, Ghost Ship over Wharf or Laboratory? Or did i got this wrong?

    Imho the latter are better in most setups.

    • theory says:

      Yeah, if a Village is out with Torturer I think trying to build any alternative engine is almost always suicide. And I might still go with a Lab chain if Ghost Ship is out, but I’ll pick up the Ghost Ship first to make sure I play it as much as possible.

      I think Rabble is not nearly as good as Wharf or Laboratory, but it can be pretty painful in the late game.

      • tlloyd says:

        The Minion can be a pretty effective counter to Torturer chains, since you can often drop to one card in hand and still have an effective turn. You also slightly disrupt the Torturer chain by forcing your opponent to start with only 4 cards in hand. It also helps that an opponent who is dedicated to setting up a Torturer chain will often let you get a majority of the Minions, and you’ll probably get your deck rolling faster. Still, I would only go for this if there was also a way to trash the inevitable curses, or at least a support card like Cellar or Warehouse.

      • Anonymous says:

        If there is another cursing attack, you can often give the curses out quickly enough to make the other person’s torturer engine irrelevant by the time it gets going, and if they also get one to counter you, they disappear even more quickly.

    • Captain_Frisk says:

      Barring +actions, I would buy 1 torturer / ghost ship, and then infinite labs. I would probably buy wharves over single torturer.

      Rabble I would ignore over most of the cards on this list.

  8. Silverback says:

    The +buy on Wharf is more than just icing on the cake. It becomes really important, if you’re working towards a Megaturn.
    Imagine this:
    You have built your draw engine in a manner that you are able to draw your entire deck. You just played 4 Wharves. This means, that you will start your next turn with 8 additional cards and 4 additional buys. It also means, that the Villages du jour, that you used this turn will most likely return to your hand next turn, but you will probably not have that many terminal actions left.
    In that caseyou should buy as many Coppersmiths and/or banks as possible.
    Next turn you will create enough money to buy 5-8 Provinces and most surely end the game (victorious).
    This is only possible because the Wharves grant that extra buy and because they increase your handsize without costing you an action.
    The same thing also works with Goons and Bridges of course.

  9. chwhite says:

    This is probably the list I’ve agreed with most so far, especially as the evidence keeps piling up that I tend to drastically underrate Venture to my detriment. I might bump Tactician and Vault above Lab, but they all clearly belong.

    I’d personally swap City for Apprentice, though: I tend to do *really, really well* when I ignore City, because it really is nothing more than an overpriced Village in a large fraction of the games it appears in. And a lot of otherwise good players get suckered into basically being City Slickers, the grownup version of Village Idiots. Yeah, it’s often a powerful card, but it’s also wildly overrated.

    • chwhite says:

      See for example this game, where I chose Mountebank instead of Venture as my first $5 (yes, Mountebank, one of the three best cards in the game along with KC and Chapel)- and lost horribly because of it:

      • cleanest says:

        I think you’re right and the Venture would have been a much better buy with this set of cards. The Sea Hags and the Secret Chambers both reduce the value of the Mountebank and the lack of +action cards that would allow you to play more than one terminal also favors Venture+Sea Hag over Mountebank+Sea Hag.

        I’m not sure what you should have done if you’d opened with 5-2 though…

        • chwhite says:

          I still think Mountebank would have been the right opener at $5- the problem was my opponent was able to discard Hag-given curses most of the time I struck with my Mountebank, and that wouldn’t have been nearly as large an issue with at $5 opening.

          What was especially silly on my part is that there was another recent game where I won by passing up Witch, correctly figuring that my opening Hag would provide sufficient cursing power to maintain near-parity and I could focus on buying cards which provided more benefit than just +2 Cards. Moral of the story: Mountebank and Witch are strong because they give out curses, not just because they’re Mountebank and Witch. Hags and Familiars will do the job just as well- and in the case of Hag, cheaper.

          • Zaphod says:

            Sea Hag is cheaper, but also a bit weaker because it provides no benefit, as Councilroom indicates. If the Curses run out, your Sea Hag becomes worthless. On the other hand, the win ratios with Witch, Mountebank and Familiar are remarkably similar.

            Venture is a good way to get past Curses, but the Mountebank weakens the Venture significantly, since it fill your deck with Coppers.

    • chieftains says:

      I’m also surprised not to see Apprentice on this list. In an expert player’s hands, Apprentice is deadly.

      • theory says:

        I have a little bit of an anti-Alchemy bias. If this list could keep going Apprentice was coming up next; as it stands, I don’t know what I could swap out for it. I guess you might swap out City, but I really do enjoy City engines much more than Apprentice engines, and it’s pretty must-buy in many Colony games.

  10. Jets says:

    I am also very surprised that Apprentice is not on this list. I would remove City for it.

    This list reminds me of the one thing in Dominion I find baffling. People complain that Chapel or Fishing Village is undercosted (I don’t have a problem with there cost) but the one thing no one brings up is how did Wharf get a +buy over Merchant Ship??

    • theory says:

      Well, Donald X. said that Wharf got the +Buy to make it compare more favorably to Merchant Ship. This makes sense: if you stacked a lot of Wharves, they wouldn’t really get you that far without the +Buy. I think it makes Wharf very strong, but without the +Buy I think Wharf would be a little weak.

    • Jack Rudd says:

      Merchant Ship with the +Buys would be a Woodcutter on the turn it’s played and a Grand Market on the next turn. That would be… formidable.

      • Jets says:

        I agree that without the +buy Wharf would become weaker but by looking at the Councilroom graphs it currently dominates by so much that I don’t think it would become that much worse. Merchant Ship, on the other hand, is just absolutely crushed by Wharf as is.

        Personally I think they both should have a +buy. Sure a woodcutter followed by a grand market would be formidable. But so is a +2 cards +1 buy (comparable in strength to Woodcutter) followed by a +3 cards +1 action +1 buy card(just as strong if not stronger than a grand market). But then again thats probably why Wharf is so far ahead of the other 5$ non-attack cards.

        • theory says:

          Well, Merchant Ship’s +Buy would rarely be that helpful. The reason Wharf needs it is because you tend to play big Wharf chains; playing Merchant Ships doesn’t help you play more Merchant Ships.

          I think you’re right that the +Buy being on Wharf instead of Merchant Ship makes Wharf way better than Merchant Ship most of the time, but that might not really be such a bad thing. I’ve certainly had situations where I buy Merchant Ship over Wharf when both are available (especially since Wharf in and of itself doesn’t add to your buying power; if you can draw your whole deck, the Wharf is just +Buy).

          • I Eat Tables says:

            Couldn’t Wharf have been more balanced if it was: +2 cards, +1 buy, at the start of your next turn, +2 cards? It would certainly weaken it a fair bit since it’s the second turn boost that really helps.

  11. Stephen says:

    I know most of you guys play 2p, but City can be just destructive if you ignore it in a multiplayer game. In a 4p game, once one person starts buying cities, it’s too hard to trust both other players to let him fall into the City trap. Might as well start buying cities yourself.

  12. ipofanes says:

    > Wharves with less chance of drawing them together, because you’ll often have one in play rather than in your deck.

    The probabilities of composition of my discarded vs my drawn cards don’t change just because I happen to turn one of these cards face up.

    The duration cards turn up slightly less often than the other cards mostly because when in play during a reshuffle, they will be missed in the next drawing pile. For average 20-25 card decks this means a Laboratory will be drawn five times whereas a Caravan will appear only four times on average. This justifies the relative costs of these cards very well. In trimmed decks, you’d be better of with the Lab. (In very tightly trimmed decks, of course, both are useless.)

    • DStu says:

      > The probabilities of composition of my discarded vs my drawn cards don’t change just because I happen to turn one of these cards face up.

      That’s not true, or better the example is not right. When one wharf misses a shuffle, it can’t collide with the other wharf until the next shuffle. In the extreme case, where you draw your whole deck (consider for example a KCed Wharf and some trashing, and/or many selfreplacing actions in addition to the wharf) two wharfes never collide, as you play one on turn 2n and the other one on turn 2n+1 for each n.

  13. Jeremy says:

    I dunno, I just have a problem with City. I play pretty regularly with people who are fairly good at the game, and we’ve gotten efficient enough to the point that games RARELY see more than one pile go out before the game ends on Provinces/Colonies. So I just don’t think it’s worth hoping that you can get the upgraded abilities. But I guess I’m missing something. If it’s the only +2 action card, it’s okay, but even then it’s expensive to try and build a deck around it.

    If you’ve got stats that show how often two piles run out with City in play, I’d love to see them and admit I’m wrong.

    • I Eat Tables says:

      Not having more than one pile go isn’t necessarily a sign you’re playing efficiently. It could be that people are taking diverging strategies, not building strategies reliant on multiple copies of a single card or other potential effects. E.g. in a 4p game with Witches and no good trasher, it’s almost certain the curses will go and there’s a pretty high chance the game will end on piles as people struggle to deal effectively with the curses and can’t afford Golds and better.

    • Stephen says:

      Do you mostly play 2p games? It can be hard to run a pile down in a 2p game, but it is really easy to empty a pile in a 4p game, especially with cursing attacks. Even without cursing, all it takes is one good non-terminal (caravan, laboratory, minion, …. city even) and for multiple people to start buying them for the pile to run out quickly. If 4 people go for Caravan, a player on average can only gain 2.5 caravans before the pile runs out. Once one pile is gone, city’s +2 cards/+2 actions makes it an insane action. The two pile bonus just makes it obscene.

      • Katsue says:

        The big drawback to City in a 4 player game is that arguably you should be buying Duchies instead, since City is a card that really accelerates the three pile end.

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