Dominion Puzzle #1

A reader sent in the following Dominion puzzle:

In a solitaire game, find a way to have 8 Colonies in your deck by the end of your fifth turn.  (Outpost and Possession turns are included in this total.)  You may assume that you have perfect “shuffle luck”: i.e., you may rearrange your deck in any way you wish after shuffling.

We’ll post the solution next Friday, May 6.  Feel free to discuss the puzzle in the comments, but please do not give obvious hints or reveal the solution. If you think you have the solution, please email us rather than spoiling it for everyone else.

(Depending on whether we receive more puzzles, this may or may not become a recurring feature.  If you want it to become one, send in challenging puzzles!)

[UPDATE: Solution posted.]

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113 Responses to Dominion Puzzle #1

  1. Manto says:

    Wow, I have to say this is a pretty challenging puzzle. I’ve spent about 10-15minutes on it and I haven’t gotten any idea how to get close to 8 colony in 5 turns…

  2. LastFootnote says:


  3. kn1tt3r says:

    Is this with or without the help of your opponent (like giving you strong cards via masquerade etc.)?

  4. Jorbles says:

    If you could play 8 Bridges in a single turn that would give you enough buys and lower the cost of a Colony to $3, plus giving you $8. Not sure what you’d need to get to that point. Maybe some craziness involving a Chancellor so you can reshuffle and then assume you’ll get a Perfect Hand every time you play. Those are both terminals though you’d need some sort of +Action to play them all. Maybe Fishing Villages could help with that +Actions?

    • Jorbles says:

      You’d need some +Card power too. This is a tough problem.

    • LastFootnote says:

      I think the only way to pull this off, if it is indeed possible at all, is to spend the first four turns building an engine that can generate an infinite loop.

      • tlloyd says:

        Doesn’t the puzzle say the “end” of turn 5?

      • Ola says:

        I don’t think infinite loops are possible in Dominion, since cards placed into the play area don’t get back into the game until the clean-up phase. You can gain new cards and then play them, but it still requires playing a card from your hand to draw the new card.

    • tlloyd says:

      How would you even get 8 Bridges in the four turns? More plausible (but still not good enough) would be a hand of KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge. That gets the price of Colonies down to $2, gives you more than enough buys, but only gives you enough coin to buy 4 Colonies–even at the discounted rate. Plus I’m not sure how you’d get two KC’s and three bridges in your first four turns either.

      • Jorbles says:

        Yeah KCs seem likely to be involved somehow.
        What about KC-KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge-Workshop-Workshop-Workshop? That would do it, but I don’t see how you can get all those cards in 5 turns.
        KC-KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge-Remodel-Remodel-Remodel would also get you the Colonies in a single turn.

      • tlloyd says:

        Okay, here’s the solution:

        Turns 1&2: Open King’s Court/Bridge. Shuffle.
        Turn 3: King’s Court your Bridge, play three Coppers. Buy a King’s Court and two more Bridges. Quickly shuffle while no one is looking.
        Turn 4: King’s Court a King’s Court and then your three Bridges. Buy 4 Colonies. *Accidentally* drop your cards on the floor, mixing up your deck and discard pile.
        Turn 5: Miraculously get KC-KC-Bridge-Bridge-Bridge again. Buy 4 more Colonies.

    • Jorbles says:

      The more I think about it the more I think it must involve the Chancellor, there’s no other way to get the cards you buy into your hand fast enough.

  5. Markus P. Corndogs says:

    I’d be willing to bet Remake is involved.

  6. Intersect says:

    I wonder if there is a crazy way to get it using a cheap but versatile card like pawn (for a cheap +1 buy / +1 action), with cellar, a cheap +2 action, counting house, ,coppersmith, and bank. Get $ for discarding your copper, bring it back with counting house, and double the value of it with coppersmith.

    • tlloyd says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Coppersmith/Counting House was involved, but I don’t think this will work. The problem is, you not only have to identify a group of cards that can produce enough buying power to gain 8 Colonies, but that same group of cards has to be gainable in only a few turns. How do you plan to get Pawn, Cellar, a Village-type, Counting House, Coppersmith, and Bank in two or three turns? Only one of those gives you plus buys, and some of those cards are pretty spendy.

      • Intersect says:

        Hmm, yeah, but now I’m thinking a better cheap draw / action / buy engine that would feed a Coppersmith / Counting House / Bank combo might be Hamlet. Hamlet would reward discards of Estates / Coppers with the extra actions and buys while drawing the deck.

        I think the first buy in such a chain would be Hamlet / Counting House on a $2 / $5 split opening.

  7. timchen says:

    How about starting from thinking how to get 8 provinces/golds at the end of turn 5? Even that sounds very hard.

  8. dutchbrowncoat says:

    a few people have mentioned kings courts, but i don’t think that is plausible in so few turns. it would be challenging to get a kings court so fast without sacrificing a turn with the shuffle. im guessing it will involve throne rooms though.

    my initial guess would be an ironworks / watchtower open, and then some tricky combination with throne rooms, bridges, talismans, and great halls/islands. gain the cards and put them right on your deck and just keep going with it indefinitely. not sure if it actually works though.

    • Jorbles says:

      I hadn’t thought of Talismans. They might help you get multiple copies of key cards and possibly Colonies if you can get their value low enough with Bridges.

      • Reyk says:

        I’ve thought about Talismans too. While your first point is valid, you can’t get Colony duplicates via Bridge/Talisman, because Colony is a Victory card.

        • Peter says:

          Smugglers doesn’t have that restriction, and operates on yourself in a solo game.

          • tlloyd says:

            But Smugglers looks at the price of the card when you play Smugglers, not when the card was gained, which means you’d have to get the cost down to $6 and play multiple smugglers on the same turn.

          • guided says:

            I would view things like Contraband, Envoy, Smugglers, and Possession as cheating of a sort. They only work because there’s no opponent to make adverse selections, and isotropic has weird, arbitrary behavior for some of them.

            But if they were the only way to get it done, well, that’d be OK then 😉 I strongly suspect there are solutions that don’t use any of these cards, though.

  9. Dominology says:

    One card that benefits a lot from lucky hand draw – menagerie – I think would be needed to draw the cards.

    • DStu says:

      I’m not so sure about that. The “luck” for the menagerie can not happen on turn 3, on turn 4 also only in combination with Cards that trigger resuffle on turn 3 and will almost surely include drawing an estate to your hand, which simply counts as “bad luck” for any other card. So you’re down to +1Action +2Cards for $3, which can also be done by a lucky Wishing Well. Which also works in turn 3. And can be TR/KCed.

      The card I think is fixed is Bridge. I can’t imagine any way to get $88 and +7Buys to your Deck by Turn 5, even with Coppersmithes/Banks. Horn of Plenty also does not seem realistic, getting 8 of them and 10 other cards in play, no way. Maybe in combination with Bridge/TR/Ironworks/GH, but still, 8 $5Cards is a lot…

      • DStu says:

        … and of course our good old friend the Chancellor is always powerfull in this kind of puzzles, (play card bought in turn 3 in turn 4, play Card bought in turn 4 in turn 5 and play Card gain during turn 5 in turn 5).

  10. Nick1001 says:

    I see what you’re saying, but I’d start coppersmith/hamlet, hamlet away an estate for +buy, coppersmith 4 coppers for $8, buy a KC and a copper. Then KC the hamlet, discard 3 estates for +3 buys, draw 3 coppers, play coppersmith with 7 coppers in hand = $14 money and 4 buys, buy kings court, council room, copper and copper.

    This leaves turn 5 –

    Draw KC, KC, Hamlet, Council room and coppersmith.

    KC the KC
    –KC Council room. Draw your deck. +3 buys.
    –KC Hamlet. Discard 3 estates for +3 buys. (draw 3 cards, have 3 actions remaining)
    –KC coppersmith, with 10 coppers in hand
    …each copper becomes worth $4
    =$40 with 7 buys.

    About as good as I can get for 5th turn. Depending on what I buy, turn 6 could probably get me to the magic $88 money with 8 buys.

    • timchen says:

      How do u draw KC and Hamlet in turn 4?

    • Intersect says:

      I only see three approaches to the problem; explode your treasure / buys quickly, crash the cost of colony quickly (Bridge) , or a hybrid of the two. I don’t see any way to upgrade the value of your treasure fast enough, so I think you have to boost the value of copper.

      Kings Court + Bridge would provide an extra $3 (small but potentially the difference), an extra +3 Buy, and cut the cost of a Colony to $8. Then the trick is to get $61 treasure in your hand.

      As each Bridge cuts the needed treasure in hand by $8 and has a +1 Buy, I suspect it has to be in a hybrid engine that also boosts copper.

    • Manto says:

      There was a problem in your 3rd turn in your example – if you draw

      hamlet – coppersmith – estate – copper – copper

      then played hamlet to draw another copper then discard estate for +buy, you would only have 3 coppers left. Playing coppersmith would give just $6, not $8.

  11. rlee says:

    I think I have a solution in 6, assuming the opening two buys don’t count. Maybe someone can work to get it down to 5, or maybe the solution is something completely different.

    Open Chancellor / Shanty Town

    1) Chancellor + 2 x Copper = Bridge
    2) Draw ST + 4 x Copper, play ST to get Chancellor + Bridge + 4 x Copper
    Buy KC + Haven
    3) Repeat (2) to get another KC.
    4) Draw ST + 4 x Copper, play ST to get Bridge + Chancellor + 4 x Copper, play them all to buy two bridges.
    5) Draw KC + KC + Bridge + Bridge + ST. Play them all, drawing 4 x Copper, 1 Chancellor, and 1 Haven from Shanty Town. Haven a Copper, drawing a Bridge, and play everything to get $12 with Colony @ $4 to buy 3 colonies.
    6) Draw KC + KC + Bridge + Bridge + Bridge + Copper, play everything to have $10 with Colonies @ $2, Buy the other 5 colonies.

    The beginning steps don’t feel very “optimal” to me, I’ll keep thinking.

  12. ultima301 says:

    I believe I’ve found a solution, but my answer makes a few assumptions based on what the rules of the puzzle are. The assumptions are :

    1 – Possession turns do NOT count towards your five turn limit. While you mentioned that Outpost turns count towards the five, you didn’t mention Possession. Isotropic’s interpretation of Possession in solo is that it doesn’t count as a turn, since it doesn’t increment the turn counter, and targets yourself since there is no other player to your left.

    2 – The puzzle allows you to continue past your fifth turn (with a Possession combo) as long as you never start your actual sixth turn.

    One of those assumptions is probably wrong, but if not, here’s my solution!

    Turn 1 – Buy Fishing Village
    Turn 2 – Buy Chancellor (shuffle)
    Turn 3 – Play Fishing Village + Chancellor, buy Potion (shuffle, draw 3 copper, chancellor and potion)
    Turn 4 -Play Chancellor, buy Possession (2c from Chancellor, 1c from last turn’s Fishing Village, 3c from coppers) (shuffle)
    Turn 5 – Play Fishing Village + Chancellor + Possession, buy Silver (shuffle)
    *Possessed turn A* – (+1 action from Fishing Village) Play Chancellor + Possession, buy Gold(shuffle)
    *Possessed turn B* – Play Fishing Village + Chancellor + Possession, buy Gold (shuffle)

    Now all you have to do is alternate between the hands of possessed turns A and B while slowly working from Silvers to Golds to Platinums to Colonies, before finally ending the chain with 8 Colonies and before starting your sixth turn.

    It’s a bit hacky and probably not the right answer, but it’s my best shot!

    • theory says:

      I will edit the post to clarify that Possession turns also count towards the five turns 🙂

      • Reyk says:

        It’s not more clear that way but instead more confusing. How can you use Possession in a solitaire game?

        • DStu says:

          Buy it and then play it…

          “The player to your left” is just you in a solitaire game…

          • Reyk says:

            ok, like playing a dog on yourself in Tichu, when two players have already finished, I guess.
            I don’t have experiences in Solitaire Dominion (because I don’t see the point). I thought the Solitaire condition was just to rule out help from Masquerade, Council room, Jester ect. Playing a Possession on yourself as part of the solution would be indeed a bit disappointing.

    • theory says:

      Remember, please do NOT post the solution in the comments if you think you have it!

  13. DStu says:

    Yepp, also thought on Possession, but this would be a little bit disappointing…

  14. Nimmy says:

    There is a 5-turn combo that buys all provinces on boardgamegeek with no Possession involved (search for the forum for shortest game), so I would be disappointed if this one was a trick using Possession.

  15. minced says:

    Are you allowed to choose between a 5/2 or 4/3 start?

  16. ilpars says:

    I found a way to do it Turn 6, but I can not reduce it to turn 5.
    Simply can not buy all necessary cards fast enough.

  17. guided says:

    I posted a 6-turn solution a while ago on BGG:

    I haven’t thought about it since the Cornucopia spoilers came out, though.

    • guided says:

      Off the top of my head, it seems like Hamlet could be helpful. I’ll give it a little thought it my spare moments this week 😉

  18. guided says:

    Question for theory:

    Talisman says “when you buy”, not “when you gain”. Before I go digging too far into this, can you confirm that you aren’t exploiting a misreading of Talisman to double up on gained-but-not-bought cards? I was making good progress toward a solution before I went back and re-read the card text.

    • tlloyd says:

      Were you using Black Market to put Talismans in play before gaining cards (e.g. with Ironworks)?

    • rrenaud says:

      I know the intended solution, it does not use talisman incorrectly.

      • guided says:

        Thanks 🙂

      • pendog says:

        I have a feeling that I am not going to like the “intended solution” 😉

        • rrenaud says:

          It depends.

          How much do you like awesome?

          • tlloyd says:

            Depends on whether it is “simple yet brilliant” awesome or “I can’t believe someone spent that much time on a puzzle” awesome.

            • rrenaud says:

              I like it. I had used the clever bit of the solution once in a real game and found it worked very well, but then failed to explain it’s awesomeness to theory, who just kind of shrugged.

              • GenericKen says:

                Well, Hunting party takes most advantage of deck stacking. It’s the only card besides Chancelor that can really cycle the deck within 5 turns. Plus, it was in rrenaud’s recent king’s court game history. <_<

                If a turn 5 x8 colony buy existed before, I'm sure it would exist on a forum somewhere if it didn't require a Cornucopia card.

                Playing 10 bridges, or playing 9 bridges and drawing 7 copper, seems like the simplest day to get 8 colonies.

                Too much real life to finish the problem though.

            • guided says:

              I’m pretty sure I’ve got one, and it’s definitely more in the “I can’t believe someone spent so much time on this” category, heh…. It requires 10 specific Kingdom cards, and turn 5 involves 30 action card plays. Though it does have a couple of “hey, that’s neat!” little tricks in it 😀

              • theory says:

                Send it in then. I’ll just say that does not sound like the solution I am thinking of.

                • guided says:

                  It was broken (it actually required *12* Kingdom cards), but I fixed it. I’ll send it in shortly.

                  My final play area contains 41 action cards. I look forward to seeing a more elegant solution if you have one!

                  • guided says:

                    I just realized Turn 4 I don’t have enough money for the card I buy. An earlier version actually had this right, but it involved not gaining a different critical card on that turn. Not sure I can fix it easily. Drat.

                • guided says:

                  I sure hope the linebreaks were preserved in the version you actually received, because it will be utterly unreadable without them!

          • pendog says:

            Alright, maybe I will like it. I was worried that it was some sort of “trick” question, but after looking at guided’s 6 turn solution I am inspired to keep searching.

      • Intersect says:

        Perhaps Talisman clones a key buy from the Black Market as well as regular buys. Throne Room. might be a candidate.

  19. Manto says:

    I just got a solution – though after figuring out the key piece, I think there are more than one solutions. Clever puzzle! Cheers to whoever sent it in.

    I’m able to finish the turn with enough to buy an extra Province. Does anyone has a solution that can get you more beyond the 8 colonies?

    • Howard says:

      I think I also found the solution. I will send it to my buddy Manto and the admins to check it out.

  20. Jeff says:

    I wonder if Peddler could help out? Gets cheaper in the buy phase, but it can be salvaged for $8 or expanded to $11 during the action phase. I’m still not seeing how to get enough of them to make a difference in 5 turns.

  21. I Eat Tables says:

    This is a good puzzle, I’ve done all the provinces in 7 turns, all the Colonies, Provinces, Duchies and (IIRC) all but 1 Estate in 8 turns, but… all the Colonies in 5!? That’s mad!

    I suspect the answer might use Bridge+Ironworks+Nobles but I’m not entirely sure how, and it hasn’t worked for me yet. I also strongly suspect at least one Cornucopia card is used, but I simply don’t know what one it might be.

    • I Eat Tables says:

      On second thought, I don’t see any Cornucopia Cards that’d really help, except possibly Hamlet, but then I’d expect Pawn would work just as well for +1 action, +1 buy unless you need to hit a reshuffle and draw a key card?

      • pendog says:

        Horn of Plenty…. 😉

        • I Eat Tables says:

          I doubt it. For Horn of Plenty to help, you’d first need a reasonable number of them, AND enough Bridges to reduce the Colony cost to something reasonable.

          • guided says:

            My original solution that was broken only in that it require 12 Kingdom piles involved gaining the 8 Colonies by playing 8 Horns of Plenty 🙂 I know of no way to do this with 10 Kingdom piles, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s possible.

            • rrenaud says:

              Copper/Silver/Gold count as played for the purpose of Horn of Plenty, so even without doing anything fancy with Bane Cards/Potion/Black Market you can hit 13 cards played (of course, doing this on turn 5 would be tough).

              • guided says:

                There was no trouble getting to 11 differently-named cards played. The 12 piles were required because 12 different in-Kingdom cards were needed on turn 5. Actually, I only noticed that I had 12 Kingdom piles when I went to count my differently-named cards to make sure I had enough to gain Colonies with HoP.

  22. guided says:

    I can confirm it’s possible without Cornucopia cards! My solution just happened to not use any. It could get 11 Colonies on turn 5, or it could be extended slightly to get a lot more than that. I just stopped with the tedious repetition at the end once I got enough cards together for 8+ Colonies.

  23. Nakamura says:

    Maybe play Horn of Plenty->gain Horn of Plenty->reveal Watchtower & put it on deck->play Venture and repeat? But I can’t figure the rest.

    • Silverback says:

      You would need more Ventures than you can get in the given time.

    • pendog says:

      I like your watchtower idea, but I have a question. If you play your watchtower to draw up to 6 cards, and then gain a card later that turn, can you put that card on top of your deck or does watchtower have to be in your hand to do that?

  24. GalacticHitchhiker says:

    Perhaps a Quarry/Baron opener? Quarry gets the key victory cards real cheap, and Baron gets you +$4 and 2 buys, potentially getting you 2 KCs on Turn 3. But then you probably don’t have enough deck cycling to get the necessary cards in hand again.

    • pendog says:

      Quarry only makes actions cheaper.

      • Reyk says:

        plus baron + quarry isn’t a legal opening.

        • Death to Sea Hags says:

          no, but Quarry, Chancellor is and that +3 coppers lets you buy KC on turn 3, with a reshuffle, to draw the KC on turn 4. But I don’t see how even KC-Chancellor Quarry gets you enough of anything for turn 5… no +Buy or +actions.

          • pendog says:

            Throneroom + Bridge or Throneroom Chancellor also can get you a Kings Court on turn 3. With TR +BR, not only do you get a KC but you can also use the extra buy to get a card that originally costs 2, but that hasn’t helped me lol.

            I was wondering, with watchtower, lets say I play a Kings court of a Ironworks and I have a watchtower in my hand. If I choose to gain a Great Hall (action-victory) do I draw a card first then use my watchtower to put the Great Hall on top of my deck, or can I use the Watchtower first to place the Great Hall on top of my deck and then draw a card because of the Ironworks?

            • michaeljb says:

              Since Watchtower is revealed when you gain a card, Ironworks goes like this:

              Gain a card costing up to 4: Great Hall
              –Reveal Watchtower now, put it on deck

              Great Hall is an Action card, so +1 Action
              Great Hall is a Victory card, so +1 Card

              Now Great Hall is in hand, Ironworks is done being played.

              This is more useful with Island or Nobles (assuming Bridges of course), because they give you something besides +1 Card/+1 Action; when you play Great Hall, you’ll just draw the card you would have drawn with Ironworks anyway.

            • chesskidnate says:

              also TR+ bridge isn’t legal

          • Stephen says:

            I’m thinking if you manage to first KC a bridge, then KC+ironworks can get you a KC, ironworks, and something else. This is one way to get lots of stuff, but not sure how to get to this point.

  25. DG says:

    I think I’ve found a solution requiring 7 cards in the kingdom supply: 2 from the base set, 3 from intrigue, and 2 from prosperity. At least one of those cards hasn’t been mentioned in the discussion yet so keep an open mind. I expect that some completely different solutions will be possible too.

  26. Marstead says:

    Is Princess completely right out, given that you’d have to use valuable time to pull the Province?

    • guided says:

      I suspect it’s possible to incorporate Princess, but it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. Remember, too, no matter how many times you play Princess its reduction effect only occurs once.

      • Jorbles says:

        Given that you can’t chain Princess it would probably be simpler to just Throne Room a Bridge for the same effect.

  27. Manto says:

    My first solution used a very similar set of cards as DG – but with 3 cards from the base set for total of 8 kingdom cards.

    After looking at the other posts for inspiration, I went back and came up with a more optimized solution that could buy 16 colonies. That solution uses a similar core set of kingdom cards but with one from Cornucopia and a 4th one from Intrigue.

  28. chesskidnate says:

    so envoy would reveal 5 cards and have you discard one right?

  29. ghettorabbi says:

    I can get to a turn 5 opening hand of TR, KC, Bridge, Ironworks. Only have single +1 card draw up my sleeve, however, and no Watchtower (but Chancellor is available). Can’t seem to work it from there – feel like I’d need to open KC -> KC rather than TR -> KC.

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