Dark Ages Preview #2

This is the second preview 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 #2

Feodum is the victory card that counts treasures that you always knew I’d make. What you didn’t know is that it would only count Silvers. If Coppers count, man, that’s like a Gardens deck, we built that one already. I mean it’s different but whatever. If Golds count, man, I already wanted a deck with a lot of Gold. So it only counts Silvers. And to help that out, it’s a Silver piñata. You might even buy one just to crack it open, with no plan of really going for Feodums.

Feodum does something when you trash it. There are a bunch of cards like that in this set. There’s really only so much you can do with the trash directly, like Graverobber, but you can do tons of things based on cards getting trashed. And if you are the kind of person who likes card combos, these cards are for you. For example you can just Remodel a Feodum into a Feodum, for the 3 Silvers. Look at that.

Cultist also does something when you trash it. Those of you who were waiting for a Dominion expansion that let you sacrifice Cultists, finally, here it is. And hey you get three cards when you do it. When you play Cultist, you give people a Ruins, that sounds bad, and you draw two cards, and hey you can play another Cultist. These guys stick together. In fact if your deck’s only actions are Cultists, you can just string them together, like a line of hurtful Laboratories.

Ruinses, it turns out, are a pile of cards like Curses, with three ways to get them, besides just buying them or something. They only show up in games with a Looter, which is a word you may have been wondering about on Cultist. There are five different ones (ten copies each) and they’re shuffled together, I’m not making this up. As with Curses you only use ten total per opponent. Not two of each per opponent, just whatever random mix you got. So when you play Cultist, your opponent will get one of these five cards. You will know which one is on top of the Ruins pile, but not what’s under it. You won’t really care; even though some are worse than others, they’re all bad.

Ruined Market for example just gives +1 Buy. It’s as simple as Smithy! I am betting you can guess what three of the other Ruinses do. The last one will remain a small mystery until next week. Looking at the art, it appears that that Ruined Market was once Grand. It’s hard times for all of us.

Once you get given a Ruined Market, well, it’s pretty bad, but it does do something. You don’t usually want it – though it has a certain charm in a Fairgrounds deck – but who knows, maybe that +1 Buy will come in handy. So it’s like a Curse but more interesting. And really that’s the whole point to them.

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53 Responses to Dark Ages Preview #2

  1. sniffnoy says:

    Yay, ruins! I must say I didn’t expect this. (That they would be like this, I mean, not that they would be previewed.)

    I guess of the 4 obvious ruins, Ruined Market has to be the best one to get stuck with. A card that just gives you +1 action (Ruined Village?) or just +1 card (Ruined Laboratory? Ruined Smithy?) essentially just takes up space in your deck, like a slightly-less-bad Confusion; this one at least actually does something, even if it’s terrible. +$1 (Ruined… no idea) actually does something as well, but is worse than copper, so…

    I assume that if you want to buy a Ruins, you can only buy whichever one is on top of the Ruins pile? How do Ruins work with Ambassador and Jester and similar cards? Do players just treat all Ruins as the same and gain whichever ones are on top?

    • Lhurgoyf says:

      If a Ruin just gives you +1 action, you could just as well not play it and have the same effect. I doubt it will be this simple.

      • rakunk says:

        There’s a few cards that this hypothetical ruined village (+1 action) could help with.
        It could help in activating conspirators. You could also play it solely to reduce your hand size before playing library/watchtower/JoAT.

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s easy to imagine people intentionally buying the 0 cost +buy card in many situations. Much less so the +action or +card. At least +card lets you turn actions into cards, which generally seems stronger than turning actions into actions.

    • lemononmars says:

      The name is ‘Ruined Market’ for a reason. I believe all ruin cards share this name but with different text, which makes sense because you get +1 Action, +1 Buy, + 1 Card, and +1 Coin on Market, and ruined one will give you just one of these. But then, I don’t know what the fifth one provides. (nothing, probably)

      If this is the case, then there would be no confusion with Ambassador and Jester because all ruins have the same name, so just take whatever on top of the pile.

      • lemononmars says:

        Forget about what I just said. Donald already posted about that.
        “The Ruins pile, when present, is a supply pile. You can only buy/Workshop/etc. the top card. If it’s empty that counts towards game end.

        You can only Ambassador two Ruins at once if they have the same name. When you Ambassador a Ruined Market, you return it to the top of the pile. Then the player to your left gains one. Then the player to their left may or may not gain one, depending on whether or not the next Ruins is a Ruined Market.”

  2. swolfman says:

    I will guess that the 5th Ruins card is a “Ruined Curse” which is actually called “Malediction” and is worth -2 points. Maybe there’s a small bonus for trashing it to offset its awfulness.

  3. Lenoxus says:

    Wow, the Curse alternative that’s not quite what anyone guessed (afaik). Neato!

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I can never count on a stack of cards staying perfectly aligned such that the top card hides everything underneath. So I presume it would be acceptable to keep the Ruins pile facedown, with the “top” card always faceup and next to the pile? Please?

    Meanwhile, when I read “You may play a Cultist from your hand”, my first thought was “Huh? Isn’t that true of every Action card?”

    • Anonymous says:

      No. It’s saying playing a Cultist gives you +1 action where the only thing you’re allowed to with that action is play another Cultist.

      • Lenoxus says:

        I should have been clearer. I figured that out from Donald’s writing, but was wondering if anyone else had the same reaction I did. (I guess I would have said “another Cultist”, but there are good reasons I don’t write the cards.)

  4. Lenoxus says:

    Oh, inevitable rules question: “When you trash this.” I assume the “you” there is quite specific. Basically, any time a card says “Trash” or “You may trash”, and the trashing player (usually the active player but not the case with the Thief family) targets his own Feodum or Cultist for trashing, then the trashing player gets the bonus. Yes?

    • Nahh. Trasher attacks simply force the victim to choose which cards are trashed. For example, Thief says “If they revealed any Treasure cards, they trash one of them that you choose.” The short of it is that if a card gets trashed out of your deck, it’s always You who trashed it – although sometimes you might not have been given a choice.

      The only real question is how that works with Possession, but I imagine it’ll be simple enough.

      • Lenoxus says:

        Again with my lack of clarity! What you said is in fact what I meant (but I shouldn’t have said “targets his own Feodum”, that was confusing).

        Only after I wrote it did I look over a card list for every instance of the term “trash”. It looks like it is never used in the passive voice, and furthermore, every time it appears in the imperative form, the subject is always the trashed card’s “owner”. Hence, there always is a trasher (no card is merely “trashed” in the abstract) and the trasher and owner are always the same person; it is technically impossible to trash someone else’s cards rather than force them to trash their own cards.

        Presumably all future cards will follow this standard, because otherwise it ceases to be clear who “You” refers to. (On all current cards, “You” always means “this card’s current owner”; if it were possible to trash someone else’s Cultist then “you” would seem to change meaning midsentence or something.)

        • ftl says:

          Yep. All currently existing cards enforce the guideline that ONLY the owner can trash their own card. Stuff like Swindler and Saboteur always say “another player trashes one of their cards”. If they’re doing the trashing, they get the +3 card bonus, and they’re the former owner. It works the way it’s supposed to.

          There’s never a phrasing of “you trash somebody else’s card” which would be confusing.

          • Anonymous says:

            Also even in possession you control their turn and tell them what to do but they are the ones that do it.

  5. 2yin says:

    I have some troubles with your theory on “trash a card for bonus”:

    If remodeling a “feodum” for a feodum gives you 3 silvers.
    So “traders” on a a “feodum” gives you 7 silvers.

    Matthematicaly after the 3rd feodum trashed like this u’ll have more than 21 silvers in your deck at turn 6 or 7. Wtih a victory point value for every “feodum” of about 7 or 8 VPs and money to buy a lot of provinces?

    This combo will not fit with dominion gameplay speed, isn’t it ?

    Are you sure of what u wrote about feodum/remodel?

    • WanderingWinder says:

      Uh, he made the games, and the cards, and tested them a lot, I think he knows the rules.
      The thing is, if you go for this trader/feodum thing, there is just NO WAY you can get that going that fast. It takes 4 to buy a trader, 4 to buy a feodum, you have to buy at least one trader, at least 3 feodums, and have them all collide like that, before turn 6 or 7? Keeping in mind that all these silvers you are gaining are going to make it a lot harder to pair your trader with later feodums. And even then, you actually have to buy more feodums. Not that it’s not strong still, but it is not so broken as you are saying.

    • Bulb says:

      Methinks you have done some incorrect math… with Feodum and Traders both costing $4, you couldn’t possibly even GET both into your deck until turn 3, which means the earliest you could activate it would be turn 5. Even then, you couldn’t even BUY another Feodum on turn 5 unless you have near perfect shuffle luck. So… yeah… good luck trashing three Feodums by turn 7. Even Talisman won’t help much, as Feodum is a Victory card.

      I also think you’ve missed his point that remodeling a Feodum into a Feodum gives you 3 “free” silvers, whereas Trader does not replace the trashed Feodum.

      *Ok, technically you could Trader a Feodum on turn 4 if Crossroads is available and perfect shuffle luck: Open Traders/Crossroads, draw Crossroads/Copper/Estate x 3, play Crossroads, draw 3 more Copper, buy Feodum, and hope Feodum is the very top card of your second shuffle (triggered before turn 4, because your draw pile will only consist of a Trader and three Coppers after turn 3).

  6. DrFlux says:

    Very good design that ruins make Grave Robber much better. In a slow game, Grave Robbering a ruin into a silver or better seems quite good.

  7. Chocophilebenj says:

    I’m impatient to ask myself this : “oh dear, I hope i’ve a multiple of 3 silvers, should I try to grab a silver or a feodum ?”
    And the “when you trash this” pist wasn’t exploited already, so it’s nice ! I imagined it for the victory card challenge, but didn’t find anything interesting enough !

  8. Kyrion says:

    So (some/all) the ruins are action cards, meaning Shanty Town’s going to look a lot less appealing with a ruins-giver in the kingdom… Although on the other hand, they’re a potential King’s Court target… Um…. Yeah…

    Presumably the top ruins card will be a valid swindler target for coppers/curses?

    • Lenoxus says:

      I would assume so. Of course, going with Curse would usually be better.

      As for KCing, none of the (assumed, not yet known) effects of Ruins are quite good enough for that to be worth much. KC-“Ruined Smithy” is altogther worse than Moat. KC-Ruined Market might actually be valuable with Goons, though only in unusual circumstances where you wouldn’t just KC the Goons. The Action and Coin combos are inferior to cards cheaper than KC (Crossroads and Gold). That said, in some games it could actually be the way to go; perhaps the Ruins are the only source of +Actions on the board (and there’s a KC), for example.

      • Intersect says:

        The Goons situation is a bit more simple; if the top card of the Ruins pile is Ruined Market, it becomes an alternative to copper when using Goons and extra buys for victory points, particularly in sets with + actions where they could both be used.

  9. ackmondual says:

    Hmmm, Feodum gives more reason for any Silver approach… Trader, Beaurocrat, Mine, Expand, Trusty Steed to get 4 Silvers, but yeah, don’t know how well it’ll compete with a Gardens approach. OTOH, Thief and Pirate are back in full swing.

    Ruins reminds me of the Special Disease cards in Thunderstone: Doomgate Legion, so the variety and randomness of doling out bad cards may rub some people the wrong way, but should prove for a new and exciting style of gameplay. Also a bit disturbed the color coding is dark orange, which while is clearly different than the bright orange duration cards from Seaside… seems kinda close. I’d gander they were running out of colors though.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a very dark orange. So dark that I call it brown instead.

    • Intersect says:

      The dark side of Feodum is that by the time you’re able to get an expand or Trusty Steed you’re probably not looking at a massive silver / Feodum victory situation. Bureaucratic and Jack of All Trades would seem to be viable methods, and a nice trick with Graverobber would be to cycle the Feodums in and out of the trash supply.

      Of course, you are going to run into opponents that might be doing the same thing. Sometime tells me more games are going to three pile end with silver exhausted than in the past.

      • Anonymous says:

        Technically you cannot exaust the silver pile. its supposed to be endless.

        • Anonymous says:

          Which brings up a point i guess. Our practice has been to return coins to their decks when trashed to keep the supply up in 4 player games. Won’t be able to do that if there is a graveyard in play.

          • ftl says:

            You were doing it incorrectly; the treasures ARE supposed to be able to run out. I suppose it usually doesn’t end up mattering, but the treasures are supposed to be trashed like any other cards.

            • ackmondual says:

              There are games where it does matter, as I’ve played some where Copper, Silver, or Gold have contributed to empty piles. I recall Donald saying that in an electronic implementation, that’s one place (and an excellent on at that) to have infinite of those Treasure, but as it turns out, it’s part of the rules, and a computer can handle the correct way just fine anyways.

        • ftl says:

          No, you CAN exhaust the silver pile. It is not endless; it has however many cards it has. Donald X said that originally in the game design, he intended treasure piles to be endless, but it was simpler rules-wise and mechanics-wise to just have them be a finite but large number. You may play with the treasure cards from base+intrigue combined, but it’s still a pile which can run out.

      • vidicate says:

        You’ll need another trasher too, since the GR can’t trash the Feodums.

  10. Lenoxus says:

    So I guess The Ruins pile is used if-and-only-if one or more of the Kingdom cards is a Looter, which is a sufficient reason for “Looter” to be an explicitly-labeled card type (it would be a bit more clumsy to say “Check if any of the Kingdom cards talk about Ruins”). However, perhaps we’ll see something that reacts to Looters?

    Also, could there be a non-Attack Looter card? For example, a Cache-type Treasure whose penalty is gaining Ruins instead of gaining Coppers. (It would need to say “Looter” just to ensure that Ruins were in the game.)

  11. Lenoxus says:

    Ooh, here’s my insane guess for the fifth Ruins – it does nothing, but if you have all ten copies of it in your deck, they’re each worth 1 VP. Or maybe a less-silly variation of that.

    • ftl says:

      That seems unlikely; since you randomly choose some subset of the ruins to play with, you might not even have 10 copies of the same ruin in any given game. (In fact, it’s almost certain you won’t.)

      Might be some ruin that gives VP, though. Ruined estate – worth half of a VP. Maybe this’ll be our first fractional VP!

      • Viper Pilot says:

        If it does exist in that form, it’s more likely to be ‘Worth 1 VP for every two Ruined Estates in your deck’ – not sure if it will be round down or round up, though.

        Maybe ‘Worth 1 VP for every 2 ruins in your deck, rounding down.’

        • ftl says:

          Yeah, I considered using that phrasing. But it doesn’t quite do what you want. If I have, say, 6 Ruined Estates in my deck, according to that phrasing EACH one would be worth 3! And that’s not right.

          What you want to say is “at the end of the game, count how many ruined estates you have; all your ruined estates together are worth half that number of VP, rounded (up or down)”. But that sounds really clumsy and I bet if that’s the case, Donald found a better way to say it.

          • Viper Pilot says:

            Hm – I hadn’t thought of that.

            On the other hand, maybe this opens up a lose-to-win strategy. Or maybe not, since the ruins pile is face down – you have no idea if there’s more than one of the things in the ruins deck so do you really want to actively pursue any kind of ruined estate game?

            Exciting times ahead, either way…

  12. Intersect says:

    So, if Ruins are a separate pile and a box of chocolate at that, Fairgrounds (and, really more of the theme cards in Cornucopia that reward variety, like Harvest and Menagerie) got pumped up. Not a bad thing at all.

    I like Cultist having self-synergy, but the trashing bit makes for interesting situations. I’m looking at Bishop specifically; if you trash a Cultist do you immediately get three more cards in your hand?

    • Lenoxus says:

      Answer: yes, if I’m not mistaken. The exact sequence should be this: Play Bishop. Earn 1 coin. Earn 1 victory point. Trash Cultist. Draw 3 cards. Earn 2 victory points. Everyone else may trash a card.

      As for synergy between Ruins and Cornucopia cards, Fairgrounds would be the only one for which you might want to deliberately gain them (sometimes also the case with Curses). Menagerie doesn’t actually do “better” the greater number of unique cards you have, it merely dislikes monotony. Harvest is happy with any four unique cards, but Ruins are (probably) bad enough that literally any four other cards would be better to put in your deck.

      Horn of Plenty might benefit, but you’d have to supplement your “good” cards with so many Ruins that the money would be wasted unless you get a Victory card, which would trash Horn of Plenty (but I suppose Gravedigger can undo that, if you beat other plays to Gravedigging it). I may have forgotten one but it doesn’t matter; the short of it is that Fairgrounds is the only “pro-diversity” card that cares about your entire deck, and hence the only one that can benefit from bad unique cards.

  13. chris says:


    You might even buy one just to crack it open, with no plan of really going for Feodums.

    Indeed you might; Feodum/Chapel might be a quite interesting opening. You would actually want them to collide, but if they didn’t, trash 4 cards, buy whatever you can afford (maybe even another Feodum) and try again next reshuffle. Feodum/Lookout and Feodum/Develop could also have potential. I’d say “I can’t believe I’m talking about opening a Victory card” but, you know, Island. OK, I can’t believe I’m talking about opening a non-multi-type Victory card.

    Most plans based on trashing Feodum would also benefit from Scout.

    Secret Chamber/Feodum would be a powerful defense against Saboteur.

    On the using-Feodums-for-VP side, of course you want Trader, or if you can’t get that, other Silver generators like Bureaucrat, Trading Post, Jack, and even Explorer. But then you probably don’t want to trash them, since they won’t be worth VP in the trash. (Unless you can Graverob them. Before your opponent(s).) Silk Road, Gardens and possibly Duke would support a Feodum-for-VP strategy well, since it involves having a lot of silver and early green. Possibly Crossroads and Scout, too.

    Of course, sometimes there won’t be any trashers on the board with Feodum. In those cases it’s probably going to be a weak card unless there’s some crazy Trader combo, or at least Haggler so you can gain Feodums and Silver at the same time — without good support it would take a lot of work just to make it a cheap Duchy, and Duchies don’t win many games alone.


    At first it looks like a weaker Witch, because the card you’re giving out isn’t quite as bad as a Curse (nor worth -1 VP). The self-chaining is interesting, but you probably can’t afford a ton of them until the ruins pile is already low, if you’re spending your $5 turns on watered-down Smithies.

    Where it gets interesting is the benefit on trashing. If the trashing is terminal, so is the draw, and most trashers are terminal, but Upgrade and Apprentice are not — drawing 8 cards nonterminally would be pretty awesome, even if you still have some Ruins in your deck from an opponent’s Cultists.

    There might not even be a trasher on the board, though — although at least in that case your opponents can’t get rid of their Ruins either.

    It seems like “there might not be any trashers on the board” is going to be a recurring theme in commenting on these cards, except for the ones that are trashers themselves. Maybe the set will have an unusual number of trashers, but otherwise, I don’t think they’re incredibly common — I often look at something like develop and think “but there’s no other trasher on the board, so isn’t it better than nothing?” (Not always, but that’s a topic for another post.)

    I’ll save the rules questions until we see the rulebook.


    It’s interesting that Donald specifically mentions that there are three ways to gain them besides buying them; I hope that doesn’t mean there are only three Looters, because then ruins wouldn’t show up very often at all and they seem interesting. (Imagine Seaside with only three Durations…) Maybe he means three categories of ways to gain them: attacks like Cultist, cards with a mechanic like Cache that force you to gain ruins when you gain them (or like IGG, force everyone else to gain ruins when you gain them), and maybe even cards so powerful, they force you to gain a ruin every time you play them…? (How much, if anything, would you pay for an action that gains a Gold and a Ruin, for example?) Or, fitting the other theme, cards that make you gain (or give away) ruins when you trash them? That’s as many as six ways to gain ruins already, although I guess you could classify them as “on play, on gain, and on trash”, without regard to whether the player playing/gaining/trashing the Looter is the one who gains the Ruins (both ways are interesting, but have to be balanced very differently of course). Almost any card involving Curse could be reimagined slightly different with Ruins.

    Anyway, I already have to take back one of the bad things I said about graverobber: it *can* get rid of at least some cards you really want to get rid of. If most ruins are actions, then graverobber can turn most ruins into something useful. Also, if most ruins are actions, then they will interact differently with a bunch of other cards: Rabble and Fortune Teller will discard them, but Farming Village won’t avoid them, they won’t get in the way of Scrying Pool, and they’ll affect Conspirator and Peddler. But they will pay Tribute. And Library can set them aside, which could be pretty powerful.

    Also, in addition to being good in Curse games, Sage could also be good in Ruins games: even if he only turns up a Silver, if he also puts some Copper, Estates, Curses, or Ruins into your discard, that improves the average quality of your draw pile until the next reshuffle, and accelerates the reshuffle itself.

    The randomness of the ruins pile will add a bit of swinginess to ruins games, which may bother some people, but as long as there aren’t any outright harmless or valuable ruins, it shouldn’t be too bad.

    • pnh20 says:

      FYI: on BGG, Donald has said that there are 3 Looter cards.

    • Lenoxus says:

      You forgot anither “way to get them”: buying them! But I guess it turns out Donald just meant there are three Looters. Well, there’s only one Prize-giving card, so… something something.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ruined Chapel.
    Trash a Ruins from your hand?

    I’m starting to get curious about shelters now.

  15. GenericKen says:

    I bet the 5th ruins card just trashes itself

    (or possibly one non copper, but I like the elegance of it trashing itself).

  16. Gnomeitall says:

    So if I were to trash 2 Feodums to a Trading Post, I could scoop up 7 Silvers in one turn? I’d take that.

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