Hinterlands: Farmland

This is an article by Brando Commando, originally posted on the forum, incorporating analysis from many other forum members.


Dominion: Hinterlands

Farmland is the kind of card that is unusual enough that it’s hard to imagine what other card would take its place. This means it can also be hard to strategize around.

Is There a Bigger Strategy with Farmland?

There’s some disagreement whether Farmland is worth thinking about in your overall strategy. It certainly can’t hurt, though. Here are some reasons (2-4 courtesy of HiveMindEmulator):

1. Buying a Farmland at $6 on lets you buy what amounts to a $6 Province later on if you trash the first Farmland to remodel it into a Province. More on this later.

2. There are more total VPs on the board to buy, so “you need more than 44 VPs to clinch a win. So it may make Big Money rushes less effective.”

3. If there’s no other way to trash an Estate or a juicy Dark Ages trash-benefit card, this might be pretty good, relatively.

4. It enables a lot of end game tactics where you can do stuff like getting 5 VP without draining a Province, or get 8 VP with one buy. (Discussed further below.)

You’ll notice, these are not game-busting issues, and I’m not sure they even qualify as “strategy.” To my mind, Farmland works strategically if it happens to do something worthwhile both with its on-buy trash benefit and afterward, when it’s in your deck ready to be trashed for benefit or remodeled into a Province. So the thesis of this article is that if you are considering a Farmland buy, you probably want to get advantage from it both coming and going. This, in effect, is strategy, since it asks how your Farmland fits into the larger game and not just the hand you happen to have.

Question 1: What are you going to trash by buying Farmland?

Keep in mind, you’re probably forgoing a Gold when you buy a Farmland, which is a big hurdle.

a) You’re not trashing anything, but you can gain a Gold with Farmland through Hoard or Market Square. 

This is probably superior to anything that follows.

b) You’re trashing nothing.

Surely you can do better than this with your $6.

c) You’re remodeling a Gold into a Province.

This could well be a strong move, but it really just invites the question: can you get that many Golds to begin with? This especially might be a good move if you aren’t going to have +buys to convert them into anything else later or in late game when you won’t see the Gold again anyway.

d) You’re remodeling a previously bought Farmland into a Province.

Sounds great: a net 6 VP for $6. The real trick is only that you need to have bought Farmland in the first place, back when you didn’t have one. This, indeed, is a bit of strategy. If Harem isn’t out, then you might think of it as a Harem that can only buy a Province. (Think about it: You only need to get to $6 in hand and you can Farmland your Farmland into a Province for 6 VP. Special thanks to WheresMyElephant for these observations.)

The other reason to do this, of course, is if you’re not planning to buy any more Provinces and just plan to remodel the rest of your deck into whatever you can get it to — that is, you’ve given up on improving economy and are, most likely, in the home stretch trying to get as many points as possible.

But remember, using Farmland like this might be more trouble than it’s worth. As ecq put it: “Buying a Farmland and trashing a Farmland for a Province only nets 6 VP.  Any time you do that, you could have just bought a Province if you had any other source of $2 instead of a Farmland.  Further, other sources of $2 aren’t nearly as bad to have in your hand as Farmland when you only have $5.”

So that Farmland you have in hand? Maybe it should just have been a Gold, unless you’re so full up with Gold you can pull off both a Farmland and Province in a single buy (by remodeling a Gold into a Province when you buy a Farmland).

Also, another important warning: If you’re cycling Farmlands like this, and especially if your opponent is too, you have to watch the Farmland pile carefully, since (absent Remodel, etc.) you’re only going to be able to pull off this trick with future Farmlands if there are still Farmlands to buy.

e) You’re remodeling Silver for a Duchy.

This might be a good idea. As ftl notes, “The Farmland and the Duchy together are 5 VP — a province is 6 VP. It’s one dead card more and one VP less, but it seems like a pretty solid PPR play. Especially if the $3 card you’re trashing isn’t a silver but something that wouldn’t have given you the +$2 that would have let you buy a province.”

So, in sum, this might work late game when you’re hitting the wall. Think on it.

f) You’re remodeling a <$5 card into something better.

One more bit of strategy: If Farmland is in the kingdom, decide early if you’re going to make use of it later, because a bunch of $5 cards in your deck are not going to be very useful with it.

Trashing Coppers and Shelters into $2 or $3 cards:

Stop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect a $2 card. A general rule of thumb is that remodeling or expanding Coppers or Shelters into cards to improve your economy is too slow in most kingdoms. Even if you use an Expand, the differential between a Copper and Silver is just too little to justify the economy and time that goes into swapping the Copper for a Silver. So this isn’t a strong reason on-buy use of Farmland.

Trashing an Estate into a $4:

This is more likely, especially if you plan to get to a point where you’re just using Farmland on itself and can generate $6 in order to turn a Farmland into a Province.

“Trashing a Curse into a $2 card, especially a late-game Estate.” 

…as ecq put it. “Buying a Duchy gives you 3VP, +1 dead card.  Trashing a Curse to, say, a Lighthouse is 3VP, +0 dead cards.
Trashing a Curse to an Estate is 4VP, +1 dead card.”

Trashing $3 or $4 cards into better $5 or $6 cards. 

This can be a way to set yourself up for the endgame when you aren’t yet hitting $8 but have already developed infrastructure/economy and want to start cashing in by getting VP.

There are any number of cards that work well in the early game but not so well later, and these are your ripest targets for trashing.

  • $4 cards that want Coppers or Estates in your hand/deck:
    Baron, Moneylender, Remake, Spice Merchant, Rats. (This might include more Dark Ages cards when we figure out which ones are weakest  in late game.)
  • $3 cards that want Coppers or Estates in your hand/deck:
    Masquerade, Lookout, Loan.
  • Attacks that are less relevant mid to late game:
    Sea Hag, Young Witch, Cutpurse, Ambassador.
  • Low-grade gainers (better for building mid-game economy than buying Provinces):
    Trader, Jack of All Trades, Bureaucrat, Ironworks, Workshop, Talisman.
  • Miscellaneous cards that are better in early or mid-game:
    Smugglers, Potion, Quarry, Tunnel.
  • Cards you shouldn’t have bought in the first place:
    Sometimes you have a dud card in your deck that’s not synergizing the way you thought it would, or maybe it’s just not doing much in this hand, maybe a dead Throne Room, dead Conspirator, or dead Nobles.

Question 2: What are you going to do with that Farmland now that you’ve trashed something with it?

Here’s the rub: Now you’ve got this lame green card that isn’t going to do much and is only worth 2 VP. If it’s not interesting to you now that you’ve gotten the trashing benefit out of it…then you probably shouldn’t have bought it. Like Border Village, you probably shouldn’t buy Farmland just because it gives you a fun on-buy effect. So which of these are you going to use it for?

a) Remodel the Farmland itself into a Province

This is more or less covered above. With regards to trashing Farmland itself, however, the big note is that this use of Farmland only gets better when you have actions that can do that so you don’t even have to spend the $6 to get the benefit, like Remodel, Expand, Governor, or Rebuild.

b) Use the Farmland for its greenness. 

An unlikely case. You might be using some combination of Crossroads and Scout, which sounds pretty bad to begin with, but Farmland would slow your deck down a little less this way. More plausibly, you’re doing Silk Road, in which case it really comes down to the math.

c) Just use it for the 2 VP, absent any other advantage listed here.

This might be fine if your on-buy advantage was big and you’re really going for the green. Consider its effects on your game position, especially relative to the PPR.

d) Remodel/expand it into a nice fat $7 or Platinum 

Look for this combo mid-game, especially with a Remake, Upgrade, or Develop. First, use the Farmland for one of the answers to Question 1 above, then turn it into a good $7.

e) Trash it for benefit.

One of its best uses. Asklepios puts it this way: “When a card has some of its benefit on buy/gain (or just on buy in Farmland’s case), then once it’s in your deck it’s less valuable to you than a card of its price ought to be. This makes it a good target for trash-for-benefit like Apprentice or Bishop.” Or Salvager, for that matter.

Sounds great, right? But you need to be able to draw that Farmland and your trasher together, so you’ll be wanting a deck that draws a lot of itself on a given turn to get your Farmland together with something that can trash it.

Thanks to everyone quoted, but also to everybody who participated in my original thread post on Farmland and other threads, which I’ve taken a lot of these ideas from.

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3 Responses to Hinterlands: Farmland

  1. Anonymous says:

    One thing that I believe combos pretty nicely with Farmland is terminal draw. Once you’ve got a Farmland in your deck, terminal draw is an easy way to get that Farmland in your hand with $6, allowing you to buy another Farmland and trash your current on for a Province.

    • WheresMyElephant says:

      The biggest problem with “using Farmland as a Harem” is the unpredictability. IF you can make sure it pulls its weight every time it comes into your hand (or almost every time),Terminal draw certainly helps your ability to get $6 Farmland hands, but as far as reliability goes, I think you can do better.

      The ideal scenario is a draw-your-whole-deck engine, or Hunting Party, or maybe Tactician; things like this. Now, if these enablers are available, you might well have better things to do than monkey around with Farmland, but then again you might not. In some of these cases it might be worth buying Farmland for the bonus VP, even if you don’t really get a good remodel out of it (which would usually be a dealbreaker). This is especially true if you’re gearing up to buy a Province on every turn, in which case the game might be a very tight race to the finish and the 2VP could be important.

      All that said, you can do worse than simple terminal draw, and I imagine this is indeed a factor that favors Farmlands if you were already considering them. Envoy looks particularly plausible as its draw is huge and predictably mediocre, favoring weakish cards (your Gold would just get discarded anyway so why bother?) and ambiguous cards (Oh crap do I discard his Farmland or his Copper?). Although you don’t want too many Envoys and they miss reshuffles so that’s problematic. Courtyard is another terminal draw card that brings the word “reliability” to mind, but I’m not sure whether this is a good fit.

  2. Ondra says:

    Also ending game, you could use farmland to turn $4 action into farmland to turn $4 action into farmland, and with engine that uses $4 cards/rats end game when two piles are empty by 16 point swing

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