Dark Ages Preview #1

This is the first of several previews by Donald X. Vaccarino, introducing the next Dominion expansion: Dark Ages.  The community is discussing these new cards in the Dark Ages Preview subforum.

Dark Ages Preview #1
There comes a time in every man’s life when he must preview Dark Ages cards. On second thought maybe that’s not as universal as I was thinking. Anyway, metaphorically, there comes a time etc. And that time for me is now. Actually it was a few minutes ago, when you were reading the cards. I figured I’d just let you keep reading though. Have your fun. I can wait. Okay then.

Dark Ages has several themes and mini-themes. It’s a big sprawling expansion. I am previewing three cards a day, that’s how big it is. It’s also the crazy combo expansion, and today’s cards demonstrate that without even trying.

Graverobber is the way to get things from the trash that you always knew I’d make eventually. What you didn’t know is that it would look like that. If you’re gonna take things from the trash, you have to make sure there are good things to get. Graverobber does this by rewarding you for trashing expensive actions – just the kind of thing you’ll want back later. And when you do take a card from the trash, it puts it on your deck, so you’ll draw it before the game is over. Of course if someone else has Graverobbers, maybe they’ll get that card first. It’s a competitive business in these troubled times.

Poor House says, build a deck with no money. Also a Village, no money and a Village. If you can’t trash your money, at least discard it somehow. And it costs $1. Why even have a card that costs $1 – aren’t you usually going to be paying at least $2 for it? Well sure, but you know. Not always. Anyway it’s cool to have a card that costs $1, I don’t know what to tell you.

There’s a tendency to want to show off the most exotic cards, but I don’t want people to think the set will just be non-stop confusion. So I’m also showing off a simpler card, Sage. Dig for a card costing $3 or more, that’s all there is to it. It will turn into something good for a while; then eventually it will start reminding you about those Provinces you bought. And of course sometimes a Sage just wants you to talk to another Sage.

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61 Responses to Dark Ages Preview #1

  1. Glooble says:

    It’s a card that costs 1. Remake just got worse. Better? No, worse. No one wants 7 poor houses.

    • Lhurgoyf says:

      On the other hand, Upgrade turns useless Coppers into valuable Poor Houses while removing the Treasure from your hand and deck. The +Action from Upgrade does make a difference here.

    • Kevin says:

      So Remake them?

    • Kevin says:

      You do realize that only about 1 in 400 games will include both those cards…

      • vidicate says:

        While you have a point, that math doesn’t look right. Any given pair of two kingdom cards should occur much more often than that, especially considering that there isn’t even 400 cards. I would do the actual calculation for you here, but I don’t have the time or motivation at the moment.

        • rrenaud says:

          Let’s say there are 200 ordinary kingdom cards. The chance that any one is selected at random is 10/200 = 1/20. The chance that the second is picked given the first is picked is approximately the same. (1/20)^2 = 1/400.

          • vidicate says:

            You know what? I guess my intuition was telling me that a more practical stat was how often Remake would appear given a Poor House game, since we wouldn’t care otherwise. And that would be your rough estimate of 1 in 20 then, or whatever. I blame my math degree; way too much math and it all starts to go fuzzy.

            But the point is I support the point Kevin made. 5% of games, or 0.25%, doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

          • vidicate says:

            And to Kevin: my apologies, bro.

  2. Sam says:

    I had a feeling we’d see a $1 card if ONLY to change up Upgrade and Remake.

    But I’ve been pretty vocal about expecting we’d never have a “gain from Trash” card (although I’ve added the caveat that if we did, it would also trash good stuff), so I have to eat some humble pie over that one.

    Sweet cards!

  3. jtotheonah says:

    Can anyone say “Tactician-Poor House”?

    • DrFlux says:

      It does only work if you can trash or discard the all the copper, since it looks at your hand when you play it. Seems a lot more difficult than just something like vault+tactician, especially since you have a 10 card hand, it’d be tough to have no treasure.

  4. DrFlux says:

    Not worse, situationally different: 7 poor houses seems pretty good if there are cheap villages around.

    • DysgraphicProgrammer says:

      You only need 2 if it is a non-colony game, you have a way to sift victory cards, and a string trasher. I am thinking, Chapel, Farming Villages and 2 poor houses.

  5. Lenoxus says:


    I too had assumed that nothing would ever gain from the trash, but I had failed to consider that there could be a way of doing it “right”, because most trashed cards are low-cost but (in combination with other cards) potentially spammable-maybe.

    I wonder if my sacred belief that Curse will remain the only Curse is also going to be disproven…

  6. Chocophilebenj says:

    Poor house :
    Whaaaaat ???? I was already shocked by fool’s gold (buy it to $2, and 2 of’em > 2 silvers, and it goes even higher with more), so… why ?

    PH + loan : fatality ! Trash ALL your treasures (except loan), and since it costs $1, buy it with loan ! And you probably want a +buy to buy it, so why not… a woodcutter ?
    And ”no one wants 7 poor houses” : what if you remake your estates to villages ? (or simply buy villages (vanilla or better ones) thanks to PH ?

    Sage : nice for junked decks (gardens, goons, sometimes curses and ambassadors games) otherwise, what ? As a “non-terminal chancellor” (I think that’s the point of the card, right ?) I think it deserves at least +$1 with the action.
    I imagined a similar card with “action card” instead of “card costing $3 or more”…

    Graverobber : He did it ! Gaining cards from the trash ! Only good for a late-game action->province expand, otherwise dangerous if your action drops into opponent’s Graverobbers, but will it be much useful (and don’t forget it’s terminal)
    It might either add a good psychological compound, or be a weaker expand. I don’t know…

    • vintermann says:

      Graverobber seems to have the effect that if your opponent starts doing it, it suddenly becomes much more attractive for you to jump in (as there is more good in the trash). I like those sorts of interactions, to a degree.

    • ftl says:


      Sage/Sea Hag opening. ’nuff said. Digs for the sea hag.

      • ackmondual says:

        Better than Scheme in ways! Main thing being different is with Scheme, you have control and know what’s getting played again, while Sage… unless you’ve scouted your deck, neither you nor you opponents know for sure (unless you’ve only got 1 action card). Plus, Scheme can be saved for multiple turns, while Sage is all at once.

  7. Silverback says:

    Remake got worse with Poor House? Not if you add Village or Fishing Village. Start Remake/FishingVillage, Remake your Estates into Villages and Copper into Poor Houses. Now you your only problem is that you need extra buys. But even without them, this deck should be blisteringly fast, as you should get to 8 pretty often.
    Hamlet is another nice addition, that gives you extra actions, extra buys and gets rid of your copper. Yummy!

  8. Anonymous says:

    So if you play multiple poor house cards in one hand they might be worth different amounts depending if you drew any treasures in between playing them?

  9. Timothy says:

    If you’ve already played an action card that gives you coin, and you then play poor house, and you have more than 4 treasures in your hand, does PH eliminate all the PH coin plus the previously earned coin? Before anyone asks why you would do it, it’s possible that your Golem deck could be poisoned with PH’s from Ambassador or masquerade.

    • GwinnR says:

      Yes, I think it eliminate this coins. Because the PH says “-1 coin” and it doen’t say that is only for the 4 coins you get from itself.

      • clb says:

        I think the poor house has a minimum floor of 0 – the card (as I read it) says $4 -(1 x #of treasures) with a minimum of 0, meaning that the card can be worth 0 as a minimum. Maybe we’ll have to wait and see.

        • ftl says:

          It was clarified in bgg by Donald and one of his playtesters.

          As it turns out, as with all the dominion cards, it helps to just read it in order.
          First, it gives you +$4. Great! Now you have +4!
          Next, it gives you -$1 for each treasure you have, boo! But that can’t push you to below $0, naturally.

          So if you play Market, then PH revealing 5 treasures, you’re back down to $0. But if you play PH first (revealing lots of treasures), then Market, you have $1.

        • Anonymous says:

          This makes the most sense to me. I don’t think PH would steal your already gained coins.

        • Timothy says:

          No, it’s two separate lines, not a calculation all in one go. I’m pretty sure it could take out more than the 4 it provides.

    • ackmondual says:

      Sounds about right. And also messy now that you’d need to keep track of coins as well. Oh well, I’m sure that’s why this introduced later than earlier in the Dom series

  10. ianthecool says:

    I have a feeling cards are just going to start getting more and more convoluted from this point on…

  11. Itchiko says:

    Seems to me like sage/feast would be a good opening if there is a good 5 cost Attacks that you would want to repeat a lot early on (i am thinking of witch or mountbank). I suppose a sage/masquerade or sage swindler would be pretty good opening too.

  12. ackmondual says:

    I always figured there would be 7-cost cards…. it was just a gut feeling. Also called Platinum coming (although I didn’t see Colony coming, by name or concept, and my version of the Platinum gave only $4, which I was told early on was too little gain for a 9-cost card). I figured there would 1-cost cards, although I figured the set would’ve been called Dominion: Poverty:p (although Dark Ages also says that).

    I guess you could pull off a “Sage idiot” with nothing but Sages :p and going past Coppers and Estates makes no difference! Graverobber’s restriction of only action cards is fiendish…. no Platinums for you, nor victory cards!

    • Bugle says:

      You can’t -trash- platinums or victory cards with grave robber, but then you probably wouldn’t want to (outside of estates). You can still GAIN platinums and victory cards, though, with either ability.

  13. Wolphmaniac says:

    I love building treasure-free decks whenever it’s feasible, so I really like Poor House. PH will combo amazingly with Vineyard for several reasons:
    – Good Vineyard decks get money from action cards, not from treasure
    – You don’t need any cash in your deck to get Vineyards, just a potion
    – You can stack lots of PH’s for cheap to help pop points out of Vineyards, and get money to buy more action cards.

    • carter-thaxton says:

      To be effective, a Vineyard strategy needs several Potions, and those are treasures, which will count against Poor House.

  14. BB says:

    Poor House + Silk Road ftw…

  15. Intersect says:

    I get the idea a big sub-theme is going to crazy-awesome decks made out of the right cheap cards. Poor House has serious abuse potential. Several cheap actions that get rid of or discard treasures have combo potential (Spice Merchant and Oasis for example).

    In fact, lots of decks with only cheap cards can be amazing (Poor House, Hamlet, Secret Chamber, Haven, Fishing Village, Menagerie, Oasis). Saboteur got a lot weaker with Poor House on the board.

    However, it is important to see the full set as most sets combo best with other cards in their own set.

    • GenericKen says:

      Poor house seems sick with black market. What it really wants is +buy for engines though.
      Guarantees $4 for gardens and silk road games – interesting card.

      Grave robber remodels itself into province, which is awesome, but it seems awfully slow to start. It seems like it needs help (maybe duchesses?)

      Sage seems swingy w power 4s like sea hag militia pirate ship alch/potion. I’m not looking forward to more autoloss boards.

      • Intersect says:

        A plus buy on Poor House would make for totally insane Goons engines.

      • ozyx says:

        Why would Poor House be sick with Black Market (or different from Poor House + any other card that gives +$2)? You’d have to play the Poor House before the Black Market, and you’d still have to reveal your hand and any treasures.

  16. Intersect says:

    I suspect Border Village just got taken up to 11 with Graverobber – we’re probably in combo territory. Buy Border Village, get Graverobber for free, use Graverobber to trash Border Village…

    • Anonymous says:

      But what do you do with the Graverobber/BV once you’ve got them? I’d much rather have a pile of remodel/BV’s, which can turn remodels into gold/BV+Remodel & can turn BV/gold into provinces.

  17. chris says:

    Grave Robber:

    This really takes the idea of the trash-for-benefit card up to 11, since it can’t trash any of the Original 10 or curses *at all*. So the only reason to use it is for the cards you can gain from it — it doesn’t work as a traditional trasher. I think it will turn out disappointing aside from specific combos (TR+GR+any player’s successful Treasure Map comes to mind — repeat as many times as you like or until the Gold run out).

    On the other hand, it is probably the best way ever to dispose of a Witch or Torturer that has outlived its usefulness. Not quite as impressive for a Young Witch, Coppersmith, Baron, Moneylender, or other primarily opening-oriented cards that cost less than $5, but still not terrible. (But again, by the time those cards are being trashed, even for benefit, you probably don’t want them either.)

    As far as the actual grave robbing, it seems highly board dependent — Feast and Treasure Map put themselves in the trash (so does Embargo but it’s too cheap to graverob), things like Upgrade will often put some good cards in the trash, but if Graverobber itself is the only trasher people probably won’t get it until late and then they’ll be trashing Witches, Torturers or Mountebanks with the Curse pile empty. Early trashing usually focuses on cards you can’t Graverob and wouldn’t want to if you could.

    Terrible opening card — even if you can pair it with a $2 action, all that happens is that *if* you draw them together you can trash it for the $5 action you could have bought instead of Graverobber in the first place. With Poor House it’s worse than that, and when paired with a non-action or buying nothing on the $2 turn you won’t even be able to play it.

    Unless you can choose the second option, reveal (or just claim? is this a card where hidden information creates a rules problem?) that you don’t have any Actions to trash, therefore don’t trash anything, and gain a card costing up to $3 more than the cost of nothing, i.e. $3… that’s still just a weaker Workshop, but at least it’s better than nothing. Maybe the rulebook addresses this, but considering you can choose impossible options for e.g. Torturer, it seems like you should be able to choose to trash an Action even if you don’t have one.

    Poor House:

    Has the potential to be an explosively powerful card on the right board, I think. That’s right, I’m picking the $1 card as the most exciting of the three. Remake+Scheme opening leading into remaking your whole starting deck into Fishing Villages and Poor Houses would be stupendous. But it stinks without villages — almost the worst possible card for BM+X boards — and on those crazy treasure-heavy boards that show up sometimes.

    Villages, sifting and +buy are Poor House’s best friends and that means Festival, Inn, Oasis, and Hamlet will work well with it, IMO. Copper trashing is also highly desirable.

    Also, it might be worth looking into Mint + Poor House opening on some boards. (Mint+Hamlet, then hope for Hamlet + both remaining Copper => 2 Poor Houses on turn 3 might be good too. With a 7 card deck and Hamlet being a cantrip I think the odds of hitting that are pretty good.) If there is some kind of TFB you can use to turn the Mint into something useful later, you can get rid of almost all the treasure in your deck really fast while at the same time gaining a money action that helps you buy more mid-range cards even though there is now hardly any treasure in your deck. Of course, the presence of a village (preferably one costing $4 or less for this strategy) is a must.

    Possibly the best anti-pirate card EVER (although successful anti-piracy will still require some good nonterminals and/or villages). Also doesn’t really care about Cutpurse (and to some extent other discard attacks too — Hamlet, Poor House, Poor House guarantees you a Province even after being hit with Militia or similar).

    Would also fit well into Minion or Double Tactician if you have some kind of village mixed in (and copper trashing, but those engine types usually can’t be built without it anyway).

    Obviously conflicts hard with Bureaucrat, Jack, Explorer, Trader, etc., and Coppersmith and Counting House.

    Will probably work well with alternate VP, especially Gardens and Silk Road, and probably Duke.


    Seems kinda like a watered-down Scheme (this is not necessarily a condemnation, I love Scheme). Getting a treasure out of it isn’t that exciting (although it might turn out to be boring but effective) so you might want to avoid that by building a treasureless deck, and then it just doesn’t necessarily give you what you want. You still can’t play more of X than there are in your deck. On the other hand, it is procyclic, which Scheme is not, and counters some topdeck attacks (Sea Hag, Rabble, Spy, Oracle, etc.), except when it’s a high-cost Victory card being left on top of your deck. Could also partially counter Ghost Ship, which few cards can say.

    On the other hand, on a no-trashing board, or worse, a no-trashing Curse board, being able to cycle past a few 0-2 cost cards every turn could be pretty useful. It also has a positive use of sorts for Pearl Diver putting a bad card on top of your deck, provided that card costs $2 or less.

    Could work with Tournament, sort of (at least it’s one time when Saging for a Province wouldn’t be a letdown), but kinda clashes with Prizes, which cost $0 and will be passed by.

    Where things get interesting is if you play a Highway first. Now it skips over Silver and other Sages (as well as other $3s), to help pick out things like Stables, Hunting Party, and other Highways…

    • ftl says:

      I’m pretty sure that if you trash nothing with Graverobber, you can’t gain an action card costing $3. There’s no accountability.

      Compare this with Remodel, governor, farmland, etc; if you have nothing in hand when you play them, you don’t get to gain an estate! If you don’t trash an action card, you can’t “gain a card costing (3) more than it”, because you didn’t trash anything at all, so 3 more than what?

    • carter-thaxton says:

      I love the Highway/Bridge combo with Sage. That’s cool.

  18. sffc says:

    Sage looks like a very nice card for putting combos together, especially combos that don’t result in adding expensive cards to your deck. Just imagine the possibilities! For example:

    Opening: Remake, Sage. Remake your Coppers to Poor Houses as quickly as possible, and buy only Sages and Crossroads, using your Sages to draw your Remake every turn. By turn 5 or 6, get a Tournament. When you draw Crossroads, Poor House, Poor House, X, X, it’s time to get a Province! Use your Sages to combo your Tournament and Province several turns in a row. 🙂

    It also looks like an effective way to match your Treasure Maps. But as has been mentioned, trashing Treasure Maps with Graverobber in play may not be the best idea. 😉

  19. Lenoxus says:

    So to clarify the rules questions on these (totally non-expert understanding here):

    When you play Graverobber. you make one of two choices, and no matter what, you are always allowed to choose either one. If you make the first choice, then you look at the trash and pick a card costing 3 to 6. If there is no such card in the trash, then show the trash to everyone (for clarity) and do nothing; Graverobber is done. Meanwhile, if you make the second choice, then you look at your hand and pick and Action card, or… show a hand with no Actions? (Uh oh, same problem as Throne Room all over again!) If your hand had no Actions, Graverobber is done. Otherwise, trash the action, pick a car in the Supply costing up to 3 more, gain that card. If no such card exists (which is almost impossible), then Graverobber is done. Whew! Again, you can always play Graverobber (no Dominion Action is ever “unplayable”), and you can always make either choice.

    When you play Poor House, your current coin total (which could be 0, or 3, or 10, or whatever) is increased by 4. Then you have to reveal your hand. Count the number of Treasures in your hand. Subtract that number from your current coin total to find your new coin total. If the result is negative (which might happen whether or not you had any coins before playing Poor House, so long as you have a lot of Treasure cards), then your coin total automatically changes to equal 0 (partly because entering the buy phase with negatuve money makes no sense, do you have to return cards from your discard to the Supply or what). At this point, Poor House is done.

    Sage doesn’t seem to create any confusion. I assume that, as with similar cards, if you go through your deck “twice” (your draw pile goes into your discard, is reshuffled into a new draw pile, the new draw pile is entirely exhausted into discard) then you simply draw no cards and Sage is finished doing stuff.

    • Lenoxus says:

      Cme to think of it… I assume you can use Graverobber to gain any card costing less then the trashed card, too. You would rarely want to do it, of course.

  20. Pingback: Dominion gets a 7th expansion… « Theology of Games

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hamlet + Poor house is a huge combo all by itself.

  22. fhnuzoag says:

    Maybe a Graverobber/Saboteur combo would be pretty sick.

    • fhnuzoag says:

      Heck, mass Grave robber alone could be pretty strong (especially with village support, or a cheap way of gaining the initial grave robbers). One grave robber = a grave robber back on the top of the deck. Two grave robbers = a province.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Nice Post!
    Nice blog! Following!

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