The Five Best $6+ Cards

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.

Harem

Dominion: Intrigue

Honorable Mention: Harem

In many ways Harem is similar to Nobles, but Harem is on this list and Nobles on the Worst list because it doesn’t really need any additional support to make it worthwhile.  Without support, Harem is much better than Nobles even if you’re using the Nobles for the +3 Cards: unless you have +Actions, or you’re running a pure Big Money deck, Smithies are generally worse than Silvers!

At the same time, Harem benefits just as much from support as Nobles does: it stacks wonderfully with Hoard and is a great Mint and Mine target.

As noted before, you should start taking Harem over Gold around when you would start taking Province over Gold. It’s a little weaker against attacks than Gold, but especially in games without +Buy and good draw, the coin difference doesn’t make much difference, and the 2VP adds up to quite a bit.

Peddler

Dominion: Prosperity

5. Peddler

This is a bit of a cheat, since you would rarely actually buy Peddler at $6 or more.  And it loses serious points in games without any +Buy, since you’ll rarely want to buy this with $8 in hand, even if it’s free.  It might be useful in very-low-money no-Buy Curse-infested games, where you might actually play two or three Actions but not hit $5-6, but otherwise Peddler is usually not worth spending your whole Buy on.

But it’s a glorious card when you’ve actually got the +Buy: traditional Market-type decks depend on density, and so the usual way to make it work was to trash everything that wasn’t a Market.  Peddler works the opposite way: achieving density by filling you up with so many Peddlers at once that it doesn’t matter that you have junk in your deck.  (Conditioned, of course, on you having enough +Buy to make it worthwhile.)

The real reason Peddler is such an all-star, though, is how it interacts with all the cost-based Actions.  Remake them into Platina, two at a time; Salvage them for +$8; Bishop them for 4VP; Apprentice them for +1 Action and +8 cards.  They’re even great defenses against Swindlers, since if the Peddlers are exhausted your opponent will hesitate to play Swindlers for fear of converting your Peddlers into Provinces.

Hoard

Dominion: Prosperity

4. Hoard

On the worst list, yes, but Hoard is also on the best list, primarily because it’s such a strong card in Province games that you can’t ignore it.  It’s one of those rare almost-must-buy cards even without its support: in a vanilla Province game, you can get all the Golds you need just from Hoard.  By the time you should stop buying Hoards with $6, you should probably be buying Duchies instead.

Plus, it has all sorts of hidden synergies that you might not immediately expect.  Salvager / Hoard is a great way to deal with the Duchies and Estates you accumulate with Hoard, and gives you the +Buy to extract maximum benefit out of the Hoard; Apprentice lets you use your Duchies for the +Cards needed to draw all your Golds; even the lowly Trade Route synergizes with Hoard, since all those Victory card buys free up Trade Route tokens and send it to +$3.

And I haven’t even mentioned its delicious interaction with Kingdom Victory cards.

Goons

Dominion: Prosperity

3. Goons

Goons needs no introduction.  Its appeal is immediate and obvious: no one really forgets that first game they got crushed by Goons.  Before Goons, it was inconceivable to score over 60 or so in a 2-player game; but with a big Goons stack, scoring hundreds of points is almost trivial.  Because you’re not interested in buying green cards, there’s simply no way that someone rushing for Provinces or Colonies can beat your Goons stack, since every purchase they make slows their engine, while every purchase you make only further accelerates your engine.

But Goons falls to #3 on this list because it is heavily dependent on a supporting engine.  Big Money + Goons is hardly any better than Big Money + Militia; in order to really deploy the Goons stack, you need enough +Actions to play all your Goons, you need +Cards to draw all your Goons, and you need to be able to do this consistently on a 3-card hand because your opponent will probably be Gooning you just as much.

With the right setup, Goons is an unstoppable juggernaut.  Without that support, Goons is a nice kicker at best.

Grand Market

Dominion: Prosperity

2. Grand Market

The mark of a good Kingdom card is when you’d take it over Gold.  The mark of a truly obscene Kingdom card is when you’d seriously consider taking it over Platinum. Grand Market falls into the latter category: the +$2 instead of Market’s +$1 is an insane boost over Market.  It makes it even easier to get more Grand Markets, and it makes it probably the single best target for a Throne Room or King’s Court, since Grand Market literally gives you everything: Actions, Cards, Coin, and Buys.

Grand Market just edges ahead of Goons because it’s a worthy addition to every deck, even if it can’t score quite as obscenely.  Grand Market doesn’t need any support: it’s just a free +$2 and buy on every turn.  No deck is ever hurt by the addition of a few Grand Markets: it is one of the few exceptions to the general rule that you should avoid delaying Province or Colony buys for Kingdom cards. I am happy to go second in the Colony race if it means I get an extra two Grand Markets in my deck.

King's Court

Dominion: Prosperity

1. King’s Court

Raise your hand if you accurately predicted that the difference between Throne Room and King’s Court would be this staggering.  Then put it back down, because you didn’t.  In playtesting, the card was originally priced at $5, which might have seemed intuitive at the time but in retrospect “did not turn out to be [a] good guess[]“.

Throne Room makes for merely cute plays; King’s Court leads to truly obscene plays.  You can make your Coppers worth $10 each; you can grind your opponent down to a 0-card deck every turn. The fact that King’s Court works so much better on itself than Throne Room does is the icing on the cake; there’s nothing quite as thrilling (or ominous, or groan-inducing, depending on your viewpoint) as watching someone announce a King’s Court on another King’s Court. Virtually every single ridiculously lopsided game in Dominion involves this card in one way or another.  Much as Menagerie is a defining card of Cornucopia, so too is King’s Court the defining card of Prosperity.

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45 Responses to The Five Best $6+ Cards

  1. drg says:

    Put the top 3 cards in the same game with any trashing card and wait for the craziness.

  2. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    My favorite KC game of all time: KC + Council Room + Possession. Once I had KC’ed the Council several times my opponent had drawn his whole deck. Best Possession turn I have ever seen.

  3. Nagetier says:

    King’s Court — King’s Court — Estate — Copper — Copper😉

  4. timchen1017 says:

    Sorry, but I don’t quite agree on the comparison between nobles and harems. It is only true that nobles are significantly worse without support if you are getting lots of them. This scenario, however, very rarely occurs. Also in this case, the first nobles is still better than the first harem. The second is probably still better.

    On the other hand, they are incomparable when they have support. Yes you can hoard and mine and mint a harem, but you cannot KC. Nor can you combine it with any other powerful terminal actions. I think it is much much more often that Nobles are better buys than Harems when they are on the same board.

    • Amaranth (aka Katsue) says:

      There are a great number of action cards that are a better target for Nobles than King’s Court. Laboratory and Market spring to mind immediately.

      • Anonymous says:

        KC-Lab draws you +6 cards and +3 actions. KC-Nobles draws you +6 cards and +2 actions. That’s usually a negligible loss and you have +2 VP in your deck from the Nobles. And KC-KC-Nobles is WAY better than KC-KC-Lab.

        • Amaranth says:

          Part of what makes Lab a better target for King’s Court than Nobles is that you don’t need to have the King’s Court in hand for Lab to be good. And I can’t say I agree about the extra action from a single King’s Court being a trivial difference in the kind of deck that’s playing King’s Court.

  5. Last Footnote says:

    I’ve said this before, but it seems to me that Goons wasn’t playtested enough. In a proper Goons engine, you will easily exhaust all the Victory Point tokens included with the physical game. This isn’t the exception; it is THE path to victory in a game that supports a Goons engine and it WILL happen in a two-player game with competent players .

    • bob dole says:

      I’m inclined to agree, this might just be the people I’m playing/flaw in my own playing, but goons is going to be bought even if only one can be played a turn. The hand reduction hurts and the +buy, +2 money is good, vp tokens is too to pass up

    • Kuildeous says:

      After having read Donald’s secret history of the cards, I would say that Goons was playtested *plenty*.

      Now, maybe the final version of Goons is not to your liking, but I would definitely say that it’s not true that it wasn’t playtested enough. Donald knew what he was doing when he settled on this card. It didn’t come about out of ignorance.

      • Taco Lobster says:

        Claims that a card wasn’t playtested enough always bug me. It’s one thing to claim that a card is unbalanced, or is too good/bad, based on reading and playing with it. It’s another thing to go one step further and assert that there’s insufficient (quasi-)objective evidence (i.e., playtesting) to warrant the card being in its present form. If you’re claiming that the underlying (quasi-)objective evidence is insufficient, the only way I can see to support such a claim is to have gathered your own (quasi-)objective evidence. If you lack such (quasi-)objective evidence (and I’m not sure data from Council Room gets you all the way there), the best you can say is that, based on your experience, the card is too good/not good enough/unbalanced.

        Plus, such claims entirely discount the fact that the designer may have playtested the card completely, and yet made a different determination of its final form based on that playtesting and their view of what is good/bad for the game (Dominion design does not seem to require that all cards at a cost be equally good, but that each card has a niche or situation in which it shines).

        By asserting insufficient playtesting, you are in effect asserting superior design skills (you can identify a card as being unbalanced better than the game designer, and can identify an unbalanced card that was missed and is detrimental to the game) and superior data collection and analysis (if the designer had observed the data you did, they would’ve made a different decision regarding the final card design).

        It’s a pet peeve.

        • Last Footnote says:

          Wow, reactionary much? I’d like to point out that nowhere in my post do I complain that the card is too powerful or imbalanced. My complaint of poor game design is based on the fact that when playing with Goons in a physical copy of Prosperity, you are likely to run out of Victory Tokens included in the game. I did a search for games with Goons on councilroom.com and it didn’t take long to find some examples. There are only 91 VP worth of tokens included in the set, and here are just five games where they would have run out.

          http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110701-191318-d82e5df4.html
          http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110701-200742-d0ae9565.html
          http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110701-211316-a6b18b57.html
          http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110701-223313-6f51010f.html
          http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20110701-175727-b33cfc7b.html

          Have you ever run out of Embargo tokens? How about Pirate Ship tokens? No? If the game only included 5 Embargo tokens, would that be acceptable? After all, you’d only exceed that in say, 1 in 20 games. Similarly, the games with Goons where you’ll run out of VP tokens aren’t in the majority, but they’re common enough that either the card should have been altered OR more VP tokens should have been included in the physical game.

          Now, care to argue against that, rather than the straw man you threw up?

          • Kuildeous says:

            I’m not Donald, but I’d wager that it’s a matter of economics. Printing little metal chips costs money, and they want to maximize their profit.

            Is there the possibility that you can exceed the number of VPs in the box? Sure. In fact, Donald said so by indicating that if you run out of tokens, then keep track of what you have.

            At some point, you have to stop spending money on the tokens and give a reasonable number to the populace. My experience is only anecdotal, but I can’t imagine that there are that many games that would exhaust the supply. In the rare moments that it happens, the players can make do with improvised tokens. Since most players will never see this happen, why spend that extra for a very small subgroup?

            Also, I doubt this was Donald’s decision and more of the publisher. I could be wrong there.

  6. Kuildeous says:

    I did elicit groans with a KC-KC. I “only” had two other action cards in my hands to play, but they were Pirate Ship and Saboteur.

    Funny thing is that I generally avoid the Saboteur path, but my wife started picking on us, and she hit one of my King’s Court with her Saboteur. It only made sense that I turn that into a Saboteur, and obscenity quickly followed.

  7. WanderingWinder says:

    FWIW, with nothing else other than Big Money, Nobles is better than Harem, and Smithy is better than silver. ~20 minutes on Geronimoo’s simulator and I get a 57/38 split in favor of Nobles/money over Harem/money

    • WanderingWinder says:

      Also, a straight-up Smithy strat outperforms either one.

    • Yes. I used to try to gauge the usefulness of cards by comparing “Big Money” to “Big Money plus that one card”. It’s a bad metric. It “proves” that Smithy is the best card in the game, whereas Grand Market is rather weak, and Kings Court is utterly useless. Ha!

      • WanderingWinder says:

        I wasn’t actually trying to use this to say that Harem<Nobles. But I tend to think Nobles fits better in most combos. Furthermore, such an evaluation system doesn't really do any of the things you say (other than the King's Court obviously). Smithy isn't close to being the best card in the game (loses to militia, envoy, most every cursing attack, etc.); Grand Market is still decently good.

      • chwhite says:

        If you were to actually use “Big Money plus one card” as a metric, I bet Masquerade would top that list- and several other cards would probably beat Smithy as well- Vault, Envoy, and Hoard would be my guess.

        • WanderingWinder says:

          First off, the top several are curse-givers. If you take those out, then I find four or five (I can’t tell on ambassador) which beat Masquerade – Vault, Envoy, and two others. Hoard actually gets sorta crushed, according to the sims, which surprises me a little, though I would expect it to lose.

          • chwhite says:

            I call shenanigans. My experience has been that, in the absence of attacks, a properly played Masquerade-Big Money strategy usually gets to four Provinces by Turn 12, which is definitely faster than Envoy and probably faster than Vault. “Properly played” Masquerade Big Money buys a second Masquerade on Turn 3 or 4, by the way.

            My guess would be that a) the sims are only buying 1 Masquerade, and b) having trouble deciding when to trash and when not to trash. Don’t trash if you have Province power!

            • WanderingWinder says:

              ‘Properly played masquerade’ buys a second masq on 3 or 4? I call shenanigans on that. IF you get four by twelve, also, I think you’re going to stall out pretty quick after. First to four isn’t the entire game.

                • chwhite says:

                  Which is to say, yes it’ll stall eventually, but it has longer staying power than Chapel Big Money. And you’re certainly right that the cursing attacks- especially Mountebank- will screw it up as well. Forgetting about them was an oversight on my part. Except, I’m guessing, Sea Hag- it’ll slow down the Masquerade player, but because the curses are going on top of the deck, most of them will quickly end up in the deck of the Hag player, and they’ll be even farther behind.

                • kn1tt3r says:

                  Well, you had exceptionally good draws (your Masquerades did not collide even once), and your opponent ignored masquerades completely, went for Shanty Towns instead (which is definately worse) and just relied on Upgrades for trashing (which is propably worse). Maybe it’s still a good strategy, but this game isn’t really representative.

    • Stephen says:

      except that Big money + Harem can still get one terminal action without getting hurt; Big money + smithy + harem maybe? vs Big money + smithy + nobles.

  8. Zaphod says:

    Based on the difference between win rate with and without on Council Room, the list would be, in order: Goons, Grand Market, King’s Court, Nobles, Peddler. I’m not saying that’s the definitive test, but I find it interesting.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Harems have some advantage over gold in envoy game, if there is gold it will be discarded anyway.

  10. play2draw says:

    A Throne Room is only as good as your best action card. A King’s Court is twice as good.

    • vidicate says:

      Why did this comment receive a thumb down? I thought it was perfectly relevant at least as a rough, yet clear, comparison.
      No big deal, but maybe someone has a different point of view that they could feel free to add to the discussion?

      • vidicate says:

        😦
        All right, guys. Take it easy, sorry I mentioned it.
        vidicate is now even more confused what the issue is. On top of that his feelings are a little bruised.

        (p.s. I know I worded it funny, but that last question was an invitation for anyone to share a dissenting opinion with play2draw.)

    • ipofanes says:

      Throne Room can be a bit better as after TR+Card you have one Action more than after Card+Card.

      • vidicate says:

        Indeed.
        This further affirms play2draw’s intended (I assume) comparison of Throne Room versus King’s Court (as opposed to Throne Room versus best Action) — “after [KC]+Card you have two Action[s] more than after Card[*3]”.

        Of course the comparison breaks down with multiple TR versus multiple KC, where the TR’s improve by one doubled action at a time, while the KC’s improve by two additional tripled actions each time (under ideal conditions). So someone might say that KC ≥ 2*TR, or equivalently, “even at its worst it’s still twice as good”.

  11. Jets says:

    Poor Fairgrounds and Expand. Hoard gets to be on two lists and they get nothing😥

    • I actually expected Expand to be the 4th or 5th worst $6+ card. It clunks up my deck half the time I buy it. It comes really late in the game for a Remodel effect, and you can’t always make use of the +$3. Sometimes it’s good — I like Expanding Estates into Laboratories or Upgrading Expands into Provinces. I’d like to see a strategy article on it.

      • rogerclee says:

        Expand is a bit expensive for what it is, but endgame accelerators are very strong. Expand keeps pushing you along in an otherwise worthless deck. I wouldn’t buy it if there was, say, Salvager/Apprentice on the board, since those cards are usually good enough (in fact Apprentice is often better than Expand), but if Expand is the only trashing card on the board, you could do worse.

      • Willvon says:

        In colony games, I have often made use of Expand to change golds into platinums and Provinces into Colonies. I am always happy when I see it in the mix in a colony game. As long as I have money for it, I would much rather have it than Remodel or Upgrade. Obviously, you don’t start out with $7 right away. So if there are other cheaper cost trashers, I will get them first. But I will definitely buy Expand if I have $7 rather than another Gold. Then again, I also like Bank, but it was on the Worst $6+ card list.

  12. DG says:

    See my post about the five worst 6+ cards for why Harem is just not in any way a strong 6+ card. Almost every kingdom gives you a reason not to buy Harems and most in situations you decide to take a useful action card (such as treasury or even cellar) and buy gold rather than skip the action card and buy harems. This is a the biggest clue possible that harems are a marginal card.

  13. Shark_bait says:

    This is rather ironic. One my popular buys page, Goons, Kings Court, and Grand Market are in the lower portion of my win rate with while Forge and Bank are near the top. I think I need to learn how to play the “powerful” cards better. 🙂

  14. ianthecool says:

    Gotta agree with the top 3, though I am also a big fan of Border Village and Expand as well.

  15. yomama says:

    Yes this is op

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