Intrigue: Baron


Dominion: Intrigue

Baron is one of those cards whose benefit is immediately apparent to beginners, but also includes some more subtle rewards for more advanced players.

The early game benefit is pretty apparent: it’s a huge amount of buying power this early in the game, and can even lead to a Turn 3 / Turn 4 double Gold buy.  The drawback is just as apparent: if you miss the Estate, you’re pretty much DOA, since you have one gimped hand with a dead Baron, and another gimped hand full of Estates.  And like Moneylender, this will happen more and more as the game goes on, since you’re less and less likely to draw the Baron with the Estate.

The question is, then, when is the Baron risk worth it?  Compared to, say, Horse Traders, Baron more reliably gets to $6, but less reliably hits $5 on Turns 3 and 4.  So in games with critical $5’s (e.g., Witch), I would take something like Horse Traders or Silver instead, sacrificing the $6 chance for more guaranteed $5’s by the first reshuffle.  (Especially since Baron, like all combo cards, is much worse with Cursers out.)  But without good $5’s, you’re better off shooting for an early Gold, especially if there are worthwhile $4’s (Caravan).  Good cheap cards in general will soften the blow of missing your Baron.

Baron somewhat conflicts with trashers (if you’re Remaking your Estates, you won’t have any for your Baron), but even then can sometimes be worth it.  Baron/Chapel, for instance, gives you a pretty strong chance at a Gold/trash 4 cards scenario; if there are no good $2 cards, drawing them together doesn’t actually hurt, since it wouldn’t have done anything even if it was a Silver.  With trashing, Baron is more likely to connect with the Estates.  And like most other opening cards, Baron meshes nicely with trash-for-benefit like Salvager or Apprentice, since you can get rid of it after your Baron odds drop too low.

At a more advanced level, Baron retains some of his power past the opening.  Unlike Moneylender, you can incorporate Baron as a cash generator in total draw decks.  The fact that he discards rather than trashes Estates becomes an advantage, since you can keep triggering Barons with the same Estate for a ridiculous amount of coin per Action.  He’s very helpful in a double-Tactician deck with +Actions, since it’s hard to do better than +$4 per Action.  And the +Buy is quite convenient, especially if you’re playing multiple Barons per turn.

Hunting Party is, as always, a good alternative to a total draw deck, and works quite well with Baron since you only need 1 copy of the Estate and the Baron.  It has the advantage of starting with 3 copies of its combo card, and Baron and Hunting Party can start reliably churning +$4.   Add in a Gold, and with a few Hunting Parties you can consistently generate $8 each turn (with each hand ideally being Copper, Gold, Estate, Baron — you can even swap the Gold out for Silver if you think you can draw an extra Copper each time).  Like most combo cards, Baron responds well to most hand-discard attacks but not to cursing attacks.

You should almost never take the Estate with the Baron.  It’s a useful consolation prize in the extreme late game, and makes Baron slightly less awful then, but gaining additional Estates with the Baron early on will slow you down too much.  Though of course, in Silk Road or Gardens games, his Estate gain is quite powerful and further boosts his own power somewhat.

Works with:

  • Hunting Party
  • Total deck draw
  • Tactician
  • Caravan and Haven, as compensation if you miss your Baron, and as helpers to trigger Barons
  • Warehouse and other sifters
  • Crossroads
  • Strong $6 and $4 but no good $5’s

Conflicts with:

  • Strong opening $5’s
  • Opponents’ cursers
  • Early trashing
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13 Responses to Intrigue: Baron

  1. thisisnotasmile says:

    Could be worth mentioning that Baron works well with Tournament. In the early game Baron can get you to $8 for a quick Province and then later on you don’t actuallly mind Followers’ Estate-gain ability as it just helps you to fuel your Barons.

  2. Geronimoo says:

    It’s better to buy Hunting Parties over Golds when you have a Baron. More Hunting Parties + less different cards = much smoother deck.

  3. Worth noting that Baron combos nicely with Grand Market. Opening Baron/Silver has a decent (though unexceptional) chance of getting you a turn 3 GM, which is a phenomenal boost to the early deck, and a great springboard to get more.

  4. jtotheonah says:

    There is another case where you might take the Baron for the Estate, I’ll though I’ll grant it’s a rare one: When you really need that +buy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Baron is also good mid-game-late because it gives you +buy along with lots of coin. Hitting 7 coins with 2 buys or >10 can allow an engine to get built more quickly and survive longer.

    As far as works with/conflicts with the biggies I’d add:
    limited draw (watchtower, library, and maybe jack) – baron is pretty good at diminishing handsize by two cards allowing for greater draw for a high coin payout.

    minion decks – locked in +4 coin, comes with a +buy for double minion buys

    dukes – play the green game. You need +buy for coppers, you need a high odds source of 3-4 coin, and you want to quickly pile duchies, estates & something else – hello estate pile

    opponent’s rabble – higher frequency of hitting estates -> makes baron better

    forge – baron is one of the quicker ways to hit 7 coin and nothing has the potential to thin down a deck like forge. As a bonus, baron + estate = gold or baron + 2 estates = province. Also, barons estate gain can provide a steady supply of 2 coin cards to use as forge bait.

    Conflicts with:
    farming village – normally skipping those estates is a great move, with baron, FV drastically reduces the chances of baron hitting.

    opponent’s bureaucrat – driving early estates out of hands with the baron is extremely powerful.

  6. ipofanes says:

    > Works with:
    > * Hunting Party
    > * Strong $6 and $4 but no good $5′s

    I seem to be missing something here.

    • shmerker says:

      So maybe ammend it to * Strong $6 and $4 but no good $5’s other than Hunting Party

    • thisisnotasmile says:

      I think you’re supposed to read those as two seperate points. It works well with Hunting Party decks. It also works well on a board with good $6 and $4 cards but no powerful $5 cards. This is because of Baron’s ability of getting you to $6 but not $5. Obviously you can buy down if there are $5 cards you want, but in that case there are much more reliable ways of hitting $5 then Baon.

      • WheresMyElephant says:

        Yeah, a lot of these “works with” and “works against” points are contradictory or can occur simultaneously. You just have to know how to weigh them appropriately.

  7. LastFootnote says:

    Since I’m often more vocal when I’m being critical of the blog, I just wanted to say thanks for the great article! I love these single-card analyses.

  8. steven says:

    What about using the baron with rebuild? If it’s forcing you to gain the odd estate but you are slowly bringing those all up to provinces. If you have one baron in engine to generate money but the odd time gives fuel to rebuild?

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