This is a revised version of a guest article by greatexpectations, incorporating additional analysis from LastFootnote, originally posted on the forum.
A Favorite Card of Mine
Let’s be honest here: Mine is probably most famous for being the card everyone confuses with Mint. A similar name, similar Treasure-related behavior, and the same $5 price point will do this. Unfortunately, Mine’s reputation doesn’t get much better past that, considering:
- It comes from the largely bland Base Dominion set, achieving the honor of being arguably the worst trash for benefit card of the set.
- Council Room’s Popular Buys ranks it as the 28th worst card by Win Rate With, and the 8th worst at the $5 price point.
- The forum user base ranked it as one of the worst cards at the $5 price point.
Mine is very often an ignorable card, but as with many other middling/bad cards, in the kingdoms where it actually is useful it can be the star of the show. Much of Mine’s intrigue is due to its fairly unique ability of gaining a card directly in hand. It is this ability which likely bumps Mine from the $4 to the $5 price point. This allows you the benefit of not only improving your deck but also improving your current hand.
The first thing to note, most obviously, is that Mine is mostly best in “money” games, as opposed to “engine” games where you rely on Actions to generate your money. Of course, a Mine can be a nice supplement to an engine, to boost your additional buying power and allow you to spend your buys on engine parts rather than Treasure, but it is generally a side luxury at best.
Mine is typically at its best when it can be played repeatedly. You can achieve this with Caravan/Laboratory stacks, Hunting Party/Golem decks, KC/TR, or conventional large draw decks. Besides the obvious improvements to your deck in the long run, repeated play offers the benefits of not having to waste your buys to improve your economy. Because the upgraded card goes directly into your hand, you can not only improve your economy you can do so immediately.
One way to think about this is that Mine improves all of your future reshuffles. The more reshuffles you will subsequently have, the more valuable Mine becomes in the long run. In the extreme case, at the end of the game, Mine is little more than a Copper. In the best case, at the start of a game, Mine offers tremendous long-term potential.
Therefore, to maximize Mine’s benefit, you either need to play it multiple times each reshuffle (using King’s Court or Throne Room), or accelerate your reshuffling (with Caravan/Laboratory, Hunting Party, etc.).
The very best way to repeatedly play Mine is with sifters like Cellar and Warehouse. They are cheap, do not necessarily enable alternative powerful engines (like King’s Court or Hunting Party), and enable a lot of deck reshuffles quickly, so you can get your newly Mined Treasures that much faster. But they have a second big advantage…
When a few Gold is more desirable than a lot of Silver
In the absence of special Treasure cards, Mine does two things. It turns Copper into Silver and it turns Silver into Gold. As has been pointed out before (I believe by WanderingWinder), Copper isn’t a terrible card in big money games. Moreover, Silver is easy to obtain. You start the game being able to hit $3 very reliably. So trashing a Copper in order to gain a Silver is pretty mediocre.
Gold, on the other hand, is harder to obtain. If there’s one thing that Mine does well, it’s fill your deck with Gold. Therefore as Gold becomes more desirable, so does Mine. Given a big-money type game, there are three basic things that make Gold more desirable: the availability of sifters, discard attacks that allow you to choose what you discard, and trash-for-benefit cards that allow you to convert Gold into Provinces.
Sifters are the big one. Cellar, Warehouse, Cartographer, Stables, etc. all allow you to play your Mine often and then allow you to pick the Gold you’ve accumulated out of the Coppers and Estates left in your deck. Laboratory variants can also help you play Mine more often, but that alone isn’t enough reason to choose Mine over other terminal Actions. You want to play almost all of your power terminals as often as possible. Mine does “stack” more than most terminals, gaining more benefit the earlier and more often you play it, like a Curse-giver. But that alone may not be enough reason to buy it. On the other hand, Lab variants and sifters complement each other very well, so if Mine, a sifter, and non-terminal draw are all available, that’s even more reason to consider Mine.
Your opponent’s discard attacks are the next big reason to buy Mine. In a big money game with Militias being played, Gold becomes much more valuable: a hand of Silver-Silver-Silver-Silver-Estate can’t buy a Province after being Militia’d, but Gold-Gold-Silver-Estate-Estate can. At the same time, however, Militia makes Gold much more difficult to obtain. Mine helps you amass Gold quickly without having to hit $6 in hand. In a 2-player game, you can’t just ignore Militia in favor of Mine. If you don’t slow your opponent down, they’ll usually win despite your Mine. However, a combination of the two cards can work. Also, if you’re playing a multiplayer game and your opponents are both buying Militias, Mine becomes much more desirable as you can let them snipe at each other while you accumulate Gold.
Perhaps Mine’s biggest tragedy is that these two enablers are mutually exclusive. If your opponents are buying discard attacks, you don’t want sifters.
As for trash-for-benefit cards, I don’t think that needs much explanation. Mine supplies you with the Gold, and with Remodel or Governor, you can quickly convert them into Provinces.
Alternate Treasure Cards
Both Platinum and Potions can give Mine a huge boost. The jump from Gold to Platinum is massive, and because of this Mine will always be more attractive on Colony boards than Province boards. Similarly, as this article points out, Mine is useful on Alchemy heavy boards because of its flexibility into and out of the race for Potion cost-cards. For example, in an Alchemist chain, you can convert your Treasures to/from Potions as needed to keep the chain going.
Mine’s power can be extended to most other alternate treasure cards as well. Horn of Plenty, Venture, Hoard, and Harem are all very attractive targets for Mine with a Silver in hand. Additionally, Hinterlands was very kind to Mine, offering both Ill-Gotten Gains and Fool’s Gold. Mine lets you turn silver into IGG, IGG into another IGG, or IGG into gold, all of which are strong options. Mine/Fool’s Gold is a pretty solid (+4) opening according to Best/Worst Openings, allowing Mine to turn your early copper into a Fool’s Gold in hand.
How To Play Mine
Mine can offer some tricky decisions when it comes to choosing what exactly you want to upgrade. Should I swap Copper for Silver, or Silver for Gold? In general, Silver to Gold is probably the better move. Here are a couple of guidelines for helping to make that decision:
- If it is a Colony board, you should prioritize upgrading S->G over C->S. Your ultimate target is Platinum, so you will want the best chance of later upgrading Gold->Plat
- If it is a board with discard attacks, you should prioritize S->G over C->S. You will be working with smaller hand sizes and you will want the larger bang for your buck.
- Swindler makes things difficult. You don’t want to lose your coppers to curses, but at the same time Gold is often immune to the Swindler attack. This will be board dependent.
- C->S should probably be prioritized on Jester boards. You do not want to be fed more copper, but you also do not want your opponent to grab free gold. A similar suggestion can apply with Smuggler.
- In general, S->G is better for your deck, but C->S maximizes the number of potential Mine targets. I rarely find myself without a target for my Mine, so unless there is a good reason otherwise, I will usually upgrade to the highest cost Treasure possible.
Mine’s real problem is that it is an assistant for a relatively slow strategy. On many boards, there is often a more explosive strategy that will beat out Mine’s long-term benefits. But given the right conditions, Mine can give you a long-term buying power advantage over your opponent.
- Repeated Play (Caravan, Lab, Hunting Party, Golem)
- Alternate Treasure (especially Platinum, Venture, and IGG)
- Heavy Trashing
- Strong Engines
- Other Strong $5 Terminals
- Copper Based Strategies