Dominion Puzzle #2

A reader sent in the following Dominion puzzle:

In a solitaire game, find a way to have no cards in your draw deck after 6 turns.  More specifically, you must be unable to draw a starting hand on Turn 7 and every turn thereafter; accordingly, durations that are in play count as being in your deck.  As with Puzzle #1, you may assume perfect shuffle luck, and Outpost and Possession turns count towards your 6 turns.

We’ll post the solution next Friday, June 10.  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.

(If you enjoy this series as much as we do, help it become a recurring feature by sending in challenging puzzles!)

UPDATE: As it turns out, there is another solution to this puzzle, one different than the one we originally prepared and the one most of you submitted.  As a hint: the alternative solution does not work in a Colony game.

[UPDATE: Solution posted.]

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124 Responses to Dominion Puzzle #2

  1. WanderingWinder says:

    I’ve got it down to 1 card pretty easily. I think I’ve figured out vaguely the end of how to get to none, but (so far) I’ve got nothing on how to get there that fast.

  2. timchen says:

    This one is quite a bit easier than the previous one (provided I got the problem correctly…)

    A few points to be clarified:
    unable to draw a starting hand on Turn 7: does this actually mean “unable to draw a starting hand for turn 7 at the clean up phase of turn 6”?

    Duration cards that are in play count as being in your deck-> does this just imply you may not play a duration card at turn 6? (In the solution I have I don’t need any duration cards anyway) How do I get this statement according to the previous statement is somewhat obscure. I think it comes from the requirement that at turn 8 you cannot have any cards to start with as well; this is only true if you chose to buy nothing in turn 7 though.

  3. WanderingWinder says:

    Actually I’ve gotten down to one card by turn 5 now and none by 7. Just missing a little extra spurt…

  4. WanderingWinder says:

    Oh wait, none by 7, not 6? I’ve got it then.

    • timchen says:

      I think it means none at the end of turn 6; you start with nothing in turn 7.

      Curiously, I don’t see how it works, if at the end of turn 5 you only have one card which you cannot get rid of at turn 6, but you can get rid of it at the end of turn 7.

    • WanderingWinder says:

      Wait, no again, I’m miscounting the end by a turn.

  5. drg says:

    After 7 is rather easy. After 6 is still a lot easier than the last puzzle, but probably only has the one solution – just have to imagine what cards will set you to your goal quickly and put it together. Took me about 10 minutes.

    You can actually get to a 1 card deck by the end of turn 4, or a 2 card deck by the end of turn 3, but getting rid of the last card is not possible in that process.

    • WanderingWinder says:

      I had the end of this figured out when I posted before. Now I have the actual puzzle done, too (and I’m sure, sense I wrote it out and have now submitted it).
      Yeah, much easier than the first puzzle, but I think it’s still a good one.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “You must be unable to draw a starting hand on Turn 7 and every turn thereafter”. And every turn thereafter ? So by Turn 7, you cannot even buy a copper or a curse ?
    So this means that every copper/curse has already been bought by turn 7 ?

    I have a solution in 5 turns: I buy all colonies,and then the game stops. So there is no turn 7, and I am unable to draw a starting hand.

    • ImperialStout says:

      I doubt that is what is meant given that the instructions expressly stipulate: “no cards in your draw deck.” Although the idea that there are no cards left in the draw deck because the game is over is philosophically interesting….

      I found this one easy but interesting as well; I find the instructions are such that the relevant kingdom cards immediately suggest themselves and then it’s just a matter of determining the order in which they should be bought….

    • Arya Stark says:

      you are so funny, i love your comments

    • theory says:

      Just like in real Dominion, you can do whatever you like, so long as you do what is required. I can’t choose not to draw cards during cleanup phase if I have cards to draw, but if I have an empty draw deck I can choose not to buy a Copper or Curse.

  7. Nick Bailey says:

    For some reason I really wish Masquerade would let me pass itself to the other player. That’d be a really fun way to end this.

  8. tlloyd says:

    So is this based on some quirk in the solitaire gameplay on isotropic? Because otherwise I don’t see how you get to zero cards. Seems like any card you use to trash your other cards will still be in your deck. There is no card that trashes itself AND other cards. Is there some nifty combo that accomplishes this?

  9. guided says:

    I’d suggest that the puzzle is worded in a strange way that makes it sound harder than it really is! I’d just say something like this: Draw no cards in your cleanup phase starting at the end of turn 6.

    There’s no need for weird hanky-panky. Straight up, after turn 6, you simply have no cards under your control at all.

    Cool puzzle, even if it’s not as crazy as the other one 🙂

    • Kuildeous says:

      “I’d just say something like this: Draw no cards in your cleanup phase starting at the end of turn 6.”

      But, this does not preclude having Duration cards.

      • guided says:

        It absolutely does preclude duration cards. It’s not possible to have a duration in play at the end of turn 6 and then never draw it during your cleanup phase.

        • Kuildeous says:

          I overlooked the “starting” comment. So, basically from Turn 6 on. I see that now.

        • tlloyd says:

          Of course you could play a Duration card ON turn 6 and then not be able to draw it during the Cleanup phase of turn 6. So the puzzle has to make clear that you will have no deck to draw from in all future turns.

          • guided says:

            pulling my hair out here…

            starting at the end of turn 6″

            • tlloyd says:

              Shouldn’t you say “cleanup phases” then? As long as we’re nitpicking…

              • guided says:

                Seriously? You’re going to pick nits over English grammar just so you can argue with me about some totally uncontroversial thing I wrote when you have no actual difficulty understanding what I meant?

                I’m shocked, honestly. And it’s not even correct nitpicking either….

                • tlloyd says:

                  Take a deep breath Guided.

                  I also had no difficulty understanding the original phrasing of the riddle/puzzle, and your posting was an attempt to clarify that language. You can’t post a purportedly clearer way of saying something and then take offense when someone criticizes the clarity of your suggestion.

                  • guided says:

                    “Take a deep breath Guided.” — You know what’s enormously more impolite than being frank about confronting you on this? Deliberately arguing in bad faith just for the sake of picking a fight.

        • Peter says:

          Not if you strictly define “cleanup phase.” If you have a deck of two Havens, when you play Haven you set aside one Haven and the other remains in play as a duration card. Then during your Cleanup phase you can draw nothing. But then at the beginning of your turn you get a Haven and the other Haven goes into your discard and gets drawn when you play Haven. Keep playing Haven once per turn and the condition that you “never draw cards during clean up” is met, since you only are drawing cards at the beginning of your turn or during play, not in cleanup.

          • Bulb says:

            If you play a Haven on Turn [X], it does NOT go into your discard pile at the beginning of Turn [X+1]. This is what happens if you only have 2 Havens in your deck:

            Your turn 11 —
            You play a Haven.
            … You draw nothing and get +1 action.
            … You set a Haven aside.

            — Your turn 12 —
            You pick up a Haven from your Haven.
            You play a Haven.
            … You draw nothing and get +1 action.
            … You have no cards to set aside.

          • guided says:

            There is one and only one right way to define “cleanup phase”, and you cannot hide duration cards from ever being draw during that phase as you seem to suggest. In your example, the turn after you first play a Haven, you will discard it during cleanup, and then immediately draw it during the same cleanup phase.

    • tlloyd says:

      Okay. I hesitate even to respond again, because never in the past have our little “discussions” ended amiably. I am more than happy to allow you the last word, so I promise whatever response you want to make to this comment I will read but not respond to.

      I just have two things to say: first, I feel that your responses are so frequently combative that reasonable and respectful disagreement is difficult. Perhaps you feel the same about my comments (and I’m sure the rest of the blog readers – who are the innocent victims here – think we both ought to shut up). But that’s how I feel.

      Second, I don’t actually enjoy arguing for the sake of argument (despite the fact that I just graduated from Law School). So let me run down our present discussion turn by turn. First, you suggested that the original puzzle was worded “strangely” and suggested a re-phrasing. I questioned whether your rephrasing actually communicated the puzzle correctly, since it seemed to me (and to at least one other poster) to leave open the possibility of drawing cards on turn 7 or later. Of course that’s not what you meant, and arguably it’s not what you said–hence your frustrated reply emphasizing the word “starting.” I then suggested that your meaning would have been clearer (remember that was the original goal of your suggested rephrasing) if you had said “cleanup phases” in the plural. Then the accusations started, ending with me “deliberately picking fights” and “arguing in bad faith.”

      Obviously a question of grammar on the wording of a puzzle based on a card game is of so little importance that the length of our discussion is absurd. But since this is at least the third time we’ve gotten into a debate over such trifles, I thought it was worth the response just to suggest that we read each others’ posts a little more charitably, and that we moderate the tone so as to avoid implying that the other must surely be an idiot.

      • guided says:

        We’ll stop getting into debates about trifles when you stop looking for excuses to debate me about trifles. “Reasonable and respectful” cuts both ways, and respect is not earned by making unreasonable arguments.

  10. GalacticHitchhiker says:

    Does not being able to draw a starting hand indicate NO cards at all, or just not be able to draw a full 5 card hand?

  11. david707 says:

    Solved, once you realise the key card it isn’t too hard.

    • Ryan says:

      I’m actually surprised people are having trouble with finding a card that gets rid of itself. For me, that was the easiest part.

      The first time I played a game with Chapel I said “Wow, this would be even more incredible if I could just get rid of the stupid Chapel now that I’m finished with it.” So I was on the lookout, and when I saw a card that actually can get rid of itself I immediately made a mental note. I guess other people didn’t do the same thing.

      • tlloyd says:

        I agree – and I felt a little silly that I didn’t recognize the key card at first. On the other hand, the key card doesn’t technically trash anything, so it didn’t spring to mind when I asked myself how I could quickly trash my deck.

  12. Death to Sea Hags says:

    getting no cards by turn 7 is indeed easy… anyone got it by turn 6 though?

    • Ryan says:

      You mean “By the end of,” I assume. Yeah, there’s another little trick to it. It seems obvious in hindsight, but it’s also easy to dismiss until you actually work through the details.

      • Death to Sea Hags says:

        I meant the answer to the puzzle as given is easy – but can anyone do it one turn faster?

        Be “unable to draw a starting hand” on Turn 6? I.e., get rid of all cards by end of turn 5?

        I think the answer is “it’s impossible”, but I’m not 100% sure, because everything I try ends up one card or 1$ short.

  13. lefaiison says:

    This is indeed easier than the previous puzzle. However, what I do like about this puzzle is there seems to be only one solution. (Obviously I’m not counting the differences in turn order).

  14. I Eat Tables says:

    Mmm… doing it in 7 turns is easy enough. I’m struggling to find a method for 6 turns though. Two of the key cards seem obvious enough… but on their own they don’t seem to be able to do it. There must be a third I’m missing.

    • Kuildeous says:

      There is indeed a third card that will accelerate the self-trashing portion. At first, I dismissed it and tried doubling up on one of the two cards, but it just didn’t work. I revisited that card and its timing. Then, I had it working.

      • I Eat Tables says:

        When I realised the card in question, it took about 10 minutes to get the working solution. Yay!

  15. Shark_bait says:

    Just figured this one out… nice little puzzle. I think I might have put a bit of extra flair into it, but it’s all pretty straightforward.

  16. nemryn says:

    I managed to get to 0 on turn 9 on isotropic, so 6 with perfect luck certainly seems doable. A small glitch, though: once you’re at that point, isotropic won’t let you concede.

  17. Axxle says:

    Awesome puzzle, I ended up needing 4 kingdom cards to do it, looks like most people used three, I’m looking forward to see what I missed…

    edit (kinda): Oh wait, one of my cards was useless, I only need three cards hahahaha.

    • drg says:

      My solution used 4 cards.

    • Kuildeous says:

      I’m actually quite curious about that fourth card. In my solution, there is no room to buy a fourth kingdom card. That makes me wonder if my solution is *not* the only one.

      Can you give us a hint? Maybe just the card cost mod 3 and the fourth letter of the name? Just something so people who are avoiding spoilers won’t figure it out without working on it. Although, I’m not sure I can figure out the card just with that alone, but I don’t want to wait until next week to see what other solutions there are.

      • theory says:

        As I edited my original post to note, there are actually two solutions. One uses 3 cards (though you could use 4) and is the one that quite a few sent in; the other (extremely different from the first) uses 4 cards and has thus far only been submitted by boloni 🙂

        • Kuildeous says:

          So, a new puzzle on top of the original puzzle. I shall think on that.

          I’m not sure what you mean, theory, about it not working in a Colony game. Could you elaborate?

          • theory says:

            It means exactly that. You will know if you get it because you will, at some point, say to yourself, “Ah, this wouldn’t work if it were a Colony game.”

            • The Guy on Shanty Town says:

              I am a bit of a newb, so pardon the question, but what exactly is different in a colony game? I was under the impression that the only difference was the presence of colony and platinum in the supply, but I can’t see how they would prohibit you from doing what you need to do. I think i have the “common” solution, but am totally stumped as far as how else to do it.

            • drg says:

              The card involved for the colony game to matter jumps out, but I’m not sure what the solution involving it is, although I can do 7 turns with it.

        • drg says:

          Not quite sure where one of the cards I used was removable. Not even sure which of the cards is the one that people aren’t thinking about, two are obvious, but the others aren’t as much.

  18. jonts26 says:

    I was able to carry out the solution in an actual isotropic solo game. The amount of shuffle luck is not overly prohibitive. Took about 20 minutes. I was hoping to send in the game log as my solution but I find myself unable to resign and access it. Is there any other way to view the game log?

    • guided says:

      After you get down to 0 cards you can buy a copper, then resign.

      • jonts26 says:

        Oh, oh course! Good call.

      • joel88s says:

        I tried running my solution on Isotropic and got the draws on the second try!! Unfortunately tried buying a curse instead of a copper for style points, but then it oddly wouldn’t let me resign. When I finally bought a copper after a couple more empty turns then it did.

        Tried to do it again and gave up after 15 tries or so, confirming how lucky I was!

  19. dutchbrowncoat says:

    i know of two solutions, one involving 3 kingdom cards and one involving 4. a friend of mine verified the simpler strategy on isotropic, and as other commenters pointed out you can’t resign at this point. this scenario led me to think of a sort of combination puzzle of this one and the last one: starting with no cards at all, what is the fastest way to end a solitiaire game?

  20. keithjgrant says:

    I got the general 3-card solution and submitted it, but I since realized that I still had a card in play that I would then discard and draw on turn 7… not sure how to get rid of it without taking up another turn, though.

  21. dougz says:

    I suspect this is not the solution you had in mind:… 🙂 (Not a real spoiler!)

  22. guided says:

    Found an alternate solution with no overlapping Kingdom cards (except the one that’s obviously required for any solution), and it does follow the hint. It also kind of solitaire-specific so it feels like cheating a bit 😉

    • guided says:


    • guided says:

      I’ll add an alternate hint for the alternate solution: It will be much more difficult to duplicate on Isotropic since it requires much more specific draw order than the other solution.

    • joel88s says:

      Theory, does this description fit bononi’s solution, or do we have a third?

      • boloni says:

        What guided said sounds like my solution.

        But interestingly I still didn’t find the original solution.

        • joel88s says:

          That *is* curious, since many of us obviously found it a lot easier. I think I know the non-Colony card, and maybe the solitaire-specific card, but am stuck on how to buy four cards and still have time for the requisite trashing.

          And sorry for misspelling your name. 🙂

          • DStu says:

            Hi think I also have Boloni’s but not the “obvious” one

          • Kirian says:

            @joel88s: Consider that you do not have to “buy” cards to “gain” cards. Just sayin’.

            @boloni: Given the rest of what’s been said here, I think I also have your solution; it won’t work with Colonies, won’t work except in solitaire and, as guided notes, requires incredible specificity of draws.

            If you’re still having trouble with the first solution… hrm. Theory, delete this part if it’s too obvious, but I think people should be looking for fresh sources of cash.

            • chris says:

              That’s interesting; I thought the solution I came up with (using 3 Kingdom cards, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Colony game or not) was the common one, but it doesn’t involve any sources of cash other than the starting Copper (some of which are spent again on turn 3 or 4 — I’m pretty sure my turn 3 and 4 are interchangeable).

              I think I’ve already had one comment deleted for too much hinting, so I’ll leave it at that.

              • Watno says:

                i got two solutions none of which includes buying any sorts of cash

                • joel88s says:

                  right – a source of cash does not equal cash.

                  • Watno says:

                    neither is there a source of cash involved (except if you count drawing cards)

                    • DStu says:

                      Then maybe you really have a different one. Any hints from your side?

                    • Watno says:

                      Well it involves the no-colony card,
                      a card that works a bit differently in solitaire (though it would also work with more players),
                      the obvious card and another, which is the one i had to think about a lot, till i finally found one that did everything necessary.

                    • Watno says:

                      now i read the comments again i think it might actually be a different one, since my card that does something special in solitaire would also work in 2 player if your opponent does the right thing.

            • DStu says:

              What do you mean by “works only in solitaire games”? Does it really only work in solitaire or would you just need the cooperation of your opponent?

              • Kirian says:

                The cooperation of one’s opponent would also work, yes. I assume you’re unlikely to find a cooperative opponent, though. 🙂

                • chris says:

                  Well, if you were trying to win, I’d understand why your opponent wouldn’t cooperate, but in this case you’re trying to do something that will pretty much inevitably result in your loss, so maybe your opponent *would* cooperate with that. 🙂

            • joel88s says:

              Aha. Thought a bit in that direction, will think some more. Thanks.

              And I think your hint about solution #1 is quite nice. And in excellent condition.

            • joel88s says:

              OK, got it now. Actually had the right cards in one attempt, but was overlooking the potential double function of the key card. Thanks for the tip!

  23. Watno says:

    i have one card too much for an alternative solution 😦

  24. Last Footnote says:

    Sorry to be a hater, but I’d like to put my vote in for fewer of these puzzles and more strategy articles concerning the actual game. This ‘Solitaire Dominon Where You Get Perfect Shuffles’ game that we’ve invented bears only a passing resemblance to actual Dominion, and I find it much less interesting. Just my two cents.

    • Kuildeous says:

      Well, I know that theory put out a call asking for opinions, so I don’t think your comment is considered to be hating or otherwise unwelcomed.

      Something to keep in mind is that this is just the second puzzle in the entirety of this blog. There is a pretty strong strategy-to-fluff ratio already.

      Now that Cornucopia is released to stores, I suspect there will be a tasty nugget coming up.

    • joel88s says:

      This reminds me of the question of chess puzzles – you know, the ‘White to mate in 2’ puzzles with the kings on the far sides of the board surrounded by absurd phalanxes of pawns and pieces that could never in a million years occur in a real chess game.

      I used to dislike these puzzles because they have nothing to do with the actual game of chess as it is played. But at a certain point you accept that they’re simply a whole separate genre, with its own long tradition. They’re really more logic puzzles, using the mechanics of chess, than puzzles about the game per se (as opposed to ‘studies’, which aim to illustrate real game situations).

      And you could say much the same about these ‘perfect shuffle’ Dominion puzzles. (I don’t think any of us will be aiming to have no cards in our deck in a game any time soon.)

      Of course you can still like ’em or not as you choose.

  25. zaphod7 says:

    My solution requires 4 Kingdom cards. It won’t work without all 4.

    I’m battling to come up with the second solution. The “wouldn’t work in a Colony game” clue gives away one of the key cards, but getting the final details down is a bit maddening.

    • chris says:

      If true, this implies the existence of at least 3 solutions, since mine uses only 3 Kingdom cards and it also doesn’t matter whether or not Colonies/Platinum are in the game. The only way it relies on being a solitaire game is in not being attacked or having the opponent play any other card that affects me.

      • guided says:

        In addition to the “easy” 3-card solution, there’s a similar 4-card solution. If you found the 4-card version it wouldn’t necessarily be obvious that you could accomplish the same result with only 3 of those 4 cards, since the 3-card version has a very different buy order.

        • guided says:

          And I should add, these two solutions (while similar to each other) are completely different from the 4-card non-Colony solution 🙂

          • zaphod7 says:

            Oh, wait. I get it now. D’oh, I was making it more complicated than it had to be. I just realized I could do it without one of those cards, so, yeah, I must have the “obvious” solution.

          • joel88s says:

            Should we call it the ‘anticolonial solution’? 😉

        • Kirian says:

          I’m interested to find out what the fourth card is in this case–it’s almost certainly going to be harder to look at my 3-card solution and try to add an extra step than for someone who found the 4-card solution to drop a card…

          • chris says:

            Well, I can think of one way to gain one of the cards instead of buying it, without interrupting the tempo of the solution (by taking advantage of a special property of the card being gained)… it’s unnecessarily complicated, but it would work. You would just end up trashing one more card on turn 5 than in the 3-kingdom-card version, which is perfectly possible.

            • boloni says:

              I think there are at least 4 solutions to this puzzle:
              1. the original 3-kingdom-card solution
              2. one more kingdom-card than in 1, but with different buying order(hinted by guided)
              3. one more kingdom-card than in 1 which is used to gain one of the cards (hinted by chris)
              4. the anti-colony solution with 4 kingdom cards

              Yesterday I finally found solution 2 and with guided’s hint I was able to find solution 1. After chris hint I also found solution 3.

              • guided says:

                Ah ha, I hadn’t thought of #3 before. I suspect that’s Axxle’s original solution, since the extra card is entirely unnecessary.

                • Axxle says:

                  Yep, that’s what my original solution was, I kind of wish I submitted that way to be different, but oh well. Still trying to figure out #4 though.

              • chris says:

                Ah, I think I have #2 now. It also involves the three kingdom cards from #1 plus one more, but unlike #3, they’re all bought, not gained. I didn’t think you could do that and still be fast enough, but with the right card, you can.

                It does take a bit more luck than #1 though, since you own 6 cards at the end of turn 4 and have to draw the correct hand (solutions #1 and #3 involve having 5 or fewer total cards at this point).

            • joel88s says:

              Ah, I think I see how that works, so to speak. Really takes advantage of properties of the gained card and the gaining card in tandem, if I have it right.

            • joel88s says:

              And at last I think I got solution #2, geez, a miner miracle. If I have these right, the perceived degree of difference in buy order might vary because, as with the main solution, turns 3 and 4 are really interchangeable.

    • joel88s says:

      Yes, finding the second solution is maddening. I spent much of yesterday maddened, before I finally got it. There are a couple of little hints above though that helped me.

  26. Glooble says:

    Argh, I think I know what the four cards are, but I keep taking one turn to many.

  27. R says:

    The “no-Colony” solution definitely took me a while. Here’s my generic hint: Look for cards that don’t always work optimally, and make them work optimally.

  28. chris says:

    Well, I finally found a possibility for the not-in-a-Colony-game solution, but it seems sort of degenerate. Several other people have commented similar things, so it’s probably the same one they found. I probably wouldn’t have found it without joel88s’s link, though.

    • joel88s says:

      Well, glad to return the favor. If by degenerate you mean really would only work in solitaire (or with opponent cooperation), then yes that sounds like what I think it is. But hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

  29. Ninjabus says:

    I just found a 5 card solution, I think it combines the best of both worlds from the regular solution and the anti-colonial one, which for the life of me I can’t seem to get.

    • joel88s says:

      A fifth solution? Cool.
      Here’s a hint for the anti-colonial, if you haven’t gotten the key card yet:
      What happens when you Upgrade a Copper?

      • Ninjabus says:

        Holy crap I had the anti-colonial card completely wrong! I guess it gave some good results though.

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