Hinterlands: Border Village

Border Village

Dominion: Hinterlands

Border Village pushes the boundaries of what you’re really willing to pay for a Village.  Once you understand the principle of Big Money, it should become clear that trying to build any +Actions/+Cards engine, much less one with a $6 Village, almost always takes too long unless some compelling reason exists for cycling through your deck every turn.  Smithy/Big Money beats Village/Smithy every day and twice on Sunday, and paying $6 for your Villages only makes matters worse.

The real competition Border Village faces is from Gold.  The “one-good-card-beats-two-medium-cards principle” means that Border Village has to pick up a really strong $5 for the two to beat a single Gold.  Sometimes the choice is obvious, where you’d buy a $5 card with the $6 anyway (i.e., if you’re pursuing Minions, then you may as well buy Border Villages with $6 and get the Minion for free), but more often than not, you’d take the Gold over either the Village or the $5 card but not necessarily the two together.

In other words, although Border Village offers immediately obvious and enticing combos with Smithy, Council Room, etc., its prohibitively high cost means that you need to have a plan to win late, since you’ve fallen slightly behind by buying engine cards instead of money and VP.  One such plan might be being able to repeatedly play strong attack(s) (Torturer, Minion, Goons); sources of +Buy, combined with money-generators (Bank) or cost-reducers (Bridge) for a mega-turn is another.  But simply hoping to use your Border Village to pick up Smithies to draw even more Border Villages and Smithies is going to leave you with a deck full of Actions and your opponent with a deck full of Provinces.

That being said, if you are going to be building a heavy Action engine (and there are many situations in which this should be true), then Border Village is a serious contender (along with Fishing Village) for the best Village in the game.  Despite its cost, being able to grab both parts of your engine at once is a tremendous benefit: an early $6 means grabbing the Village/Torturer pair a full reshuffle ahead of your opponent, and can really catapult you ahead.  It doesn’t work with Goons, but it does work with most of the other $5 attacks, and there’s enough $5 attacks that give +Cards to make Border Village a serious threat in all sorts of Kingdoms.

Even in sets without attacks, Border Village gets you around the +Buy problem that most +Actions/+Cards engines run into.  You need +Buy early so you can buy both parts of your engine at once, but you can’t do it at the cost of purchasing power, but by the time you get $8 for a Village/Wharf turn you feel guilty about buying it instead of a Province.  Border Village makes you pay more for the Village, but afterwards gives you the rest of the engine for free by faking the +Buy.

Outside of drawing your deck, Border Village is helpful with trash-for-benefit cards.  Like Peddler, its cost considerably outstrips its contribution to your deck, and in late game it’s excellent fuel for Remodel or Bishop.  Apprentice works especially well with Border Village, since buying Border Villages can supply you with both the fuel (Border Villages) and the motor (Apprentice).  And Farmlands is a nice intra-Hinterlands combo, since Border Village is about as ideal a target for your Farmlands as you can find.

Finally, Border Village naturally combos with Royal Seal or Watchtower.  You can exploit it to have guaranteed combos on your deck: with Royal Seal, buy Border Village / Council Room and place both on your deck for next turn.  Even better, with Watchtower in hand, play Develop, trash a $5, gain a Throne Room, gain a Border Village, and gain a Torturer, placing them all on your deck …

Works with:

  • Torturer, Margrave, other +Cards attacks
  • Develop
  • Quarry (so long as you intend to gain other Actions)
  • Engines that focus on running out piles
  • Throne Room, since it is gainable by Border Village and well-suited to a Border Village deck
  • Colony games

Conflicts with:

  • Fast games
  • Lack of strong terminals
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28 Responses to Hinterlands: Border Village

  1. Brokoli says:

    Border Village also seems interesting with dukes and duchies… no ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Eh, not much more interesting than it was without them. It’s like he said; if you’re going to buy the $5 anyway, you might as well get a free Village out of it. But it’s still just a free Village; we’re not exactly talking a free King’s Court here. Seems about as useful as picking up a Hamlet with an extra Buy, more or less.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Little error above, Goons isn’t a $5.

  3. anon says:

    I saw an interesting combo on isotropic the other day — border village + haggler. The haggler ordinarily won’t let you pick up free green cards, but if you buy a province with a haggler in play, you can boomerang through the border village to pick up a free duchy.

  4. tlloyd says:

    BV is also great with cards that allow you to put newly-gained cards right on your deck (primarily royal seal). Yesterday I got absolutely destroyed by a Council Room Bank strategy (first time I’ve seen someone buy all 8 provinces in a single turn without bridges or king’s court — he played banks for $13, $14, and $15 in a single turn) which was greatly facilitated by Royal Seal BV. He would get $6 with a RS, buy a BV and gain a CR, putting both on his deck. Normally CR’s benefit to the opponent outweighs its use to you, unless you can be sure to hit your actions as needed. Gaining a village with the CR and top-decking it solves this problem perfectly. My point is not that this particular four-card combo is great, but that many combos become amazing when you can gain a card and village together and top-deck them.

    • rrenaud says:

      That’s a good point. You get an guaranteed hit of a +actions/+cards combo with royal seal or watchtower. It probably even deserves to be in the article.

  5. Willvon says:

    Great to have you back, Theory. The Crossroads article that Rinkworks had done was great, and it left me hungry for more analysis of the Hinterlands cards. Though you get that on the forum to some exten, a lot of threads ramble, jump around, or lose focus, such as the 14 page Hinterlands Card List thread that jumps back and forth between various cards and is hard to follow. So having individual, in-depth analysis on this site again is very helpful.

  6. chris says:

    Another thing worth noting: if several players are going for BV, expect a 3-pile. The BVs themselves are almost guaranteed to sell out, but in addition to that, some of the lower cost stuff will probably go too from the BV gains.

    Maybe that effect will diminish if more players decide to go for Gold before BV when they have the choice, though.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m not really sure that BV is usually worse than a gold. You only need your average treasure to be worth more than a copper to make most drawers worth more than a gold. Yes there is some danger of colliding terminals, but A. that can be mitigated by cycling cards (e.g. cellar) and all manner of other options, and B. by larger draws (envoy & council room both suggest that BV might be a better go than gold). Given that whenever you buy BV, you are sure to have decent odds of not dead drawing that doesn’t take a lot to make it rather strong. It is just such a fast setup to get an engine going.

    Has anyone run some stats or done some sims?

    • chris says:

      You only need your average treasure to be worth more than a copper to make most drawers worth more than a gold.

      But Adventurer is the only draw action guaranteed to draw treasure. Other drawers can draw actions you may not be able to play, victory cards, curses… You need your average *card* to be worth more than a copper *even when you have no actions remaining* to make smithy worth more than gold, and that’s pretty hard to do. Especially when you spend 6 coin on a village that you won’t even be able to play if you draw it from a smithy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, I get that. It is trivially easy to get average cards worth more than a copper in games without cursing. For starters, you can buy 3 silvers (and nothing else). Any trasher will also do this pretty quick (trading post comes to mind pretty quick) and a lot cycling cards effectively increase average worth. Yes, we all aren’t morons and know that you can draw a dead village, but how likely is that? Say you have a simple setup of smithy + silver to open and BV/Smithy for the first purchase.

        What are the odds for any given 5 card hand that you will start with the BV in hand?
        5/14 (~36%)
        In those cases your BV has a value equal to your average card value.

        Okay so what about your other 64% of possible hands.
        Well odds that they contain at least one Smithy is 43%. This allows to derive the big three cases here:
        36% of the time you will draw BV in hand to play. 37% of the time you will have neither BV nor smithy in hand and only 28% of the time (numbers don’t sum due to rounding) you will have the potential to dead draw the BV (and even here 2 out of 3 times this won’t mean a dead draw of the BV).

        I could go on to derive the full probability tree for BV/Smithy and list the odds for each draw, but suffice it say, most of the time your BV isn’t a dead draw and the odds of it being a dead draw tend to go down heavily as you add in more BV/Smithy combos. Now I haven’t broken out a spreadsheet and derived anything, but prima facie the statistics seem to say that big drawers (like envoy and CR) do make BV a better buy than gold in a lot of cases. Now I haven’t played it enough nor done enough math to substantiate that, but it is fallacious to just say that you need your average card to be worth more than copper with zero actions. You need your average card to be worth more than a copper with the average number of actions you will have after playing the smithy. Unlike with other draw/village setups, BV/draw sets up quicker and allows you to more efficiently use the treasure in your deck.

        This is what I’d like to know, has anyone simmed this? Has any done any rigourous probability derivations?

  8. chris says:

    Also, I’d add to the conflicts curse-givers and lack of trashing, because either or both of those makes it hard to set up a village/anything engine (it keeps choking on the junk draws).

    • Anonymous says:

      Note entirely true. A number of setups allow you to either cycle through the curses (cellar) or use them as feed for benefit (Vault/Secret chamber, horse traders, tactician). Also Village + draw works pretty well in cursing games where you can forge and large hand sizes are great for quick dumping curses whilst powering to high value cards.

  9. mDuo13 says:

    Border Village into Ill-Gotten Gains is a pretty brutal combo. For $6, you help yourself a little, hurt your opponents a little, and progress the game towards ending quite quickly (depleting the 3 stacks at about the same rate).

  10. Border village also seems to work pretty well with vineyard. No?

  11. crduemling says:

    One of the sneaky things to do with border village is a never ending duchy treasury loop. You aren’t buying the duchy, so you can always top deck the treasuries

  12. Biodiesel says:

    I just did this in a recent game, using the “Gambit” pre-set game from the rules. I would then Develop, trash the IGG, pick up another BV, which gains me ANOTHER IGG. I was able to keep my quanity of IGGs down, while depleting stacks and annoying my opponent. It would have been better if there was a decent 4 in play, but alas.

  13. Chit Happens says:

    If Duchess is also on the board, gain a Duchy from the BV buy and gain a Duchess from the Duchy gain and quickly run out three piles.

  14. Prince of Hinterlands says:

    How does Quarry help?

    • Anonymous says:

      At a guess, by making the BV cost less to begin with… although it then mucks with your subsequent ‘free’ choices… I played a recent game with Quarry & BV (and Talisman, for that matter) – BV buys with the Quarry cost $4, but the quarries, talismans, duchies, all get excluded from the freebie list, since they no longer cost less than BV.

  15. Paul Thomas says:

    Weird combination of cards I just ran into the other day in a mostly-Hinterlands game (I haven’t played that much Hinterlands). With Haggler, Mandarin, and Border Village all on the table, it’s possible to get a guaranteed 12 points in two turns. (First turn, Haggler+8 money buys a province, which gains a Border Village, which gains a Mandarin. Second turn, 8 money buys a province again.)

    Haggler and Border Village is also nice late-game because you can use the Border Village to essentially “filter” the “no victory cards” text off of Haggler and get Duchies.

    I don’t think Haggler is all that great, but it’s much better with Border Village than without.

    • parigi says:

      Border Village + Mandarin is interesting all on its own, I think. If you have 6 in coins, you can buy one Border Village and one Mandarin repeatedly, putting the cash back on the deck every time. You end up with plenty of actions and plenty of +3, which can be strong.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The link from https://dominionstrategy.com/all-cards/ is the wrong link for this article – it links to the 31st

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