Dark Ages: Beggar

This featured article on the DominionStrategy Wiki is written by Schneau, originally posted on the forum.

Beggar is the new Copper hipster. When we were all introduced to Dominion, we thought Coppers were cool. Who would want to trash them? Hipster Chapel, I guess. But, as time went by, we all realized that trashing Coppers was fun, and the hipsters started saying they liked Chapel before it was cool. Now the hipsters are back into Copper, and Beggar is their new retro king.

Before considering how to use it, let’s take a look at what Beggar does. The action part is pretty simple, right? Gain 3 Coppers into your hand. But, it’s more subtle than that. Beggar can be seen as a terminal Gold that comes with the drawback of three more Coppers in your deck. The reaction part of Beggar gains you two Silvers, one on top of your deck. This is also more subtle than it looks, and depends on what Attack card it is reacting to, as we will discuss in a bit.

As an Action
So, when would you want to use Beggar? Didn’t we all learn long ago that Coppers are bad? Well, yes, they are bad in many engines. But, as most things in Dominion, it isn’t as simple as that and it depends on the kingdom. Even in a thin engine, there may be a time and place for Beggar.

The thing to realize about Beggar is that $3 on a terminal Action is really good, especially on a $2 card. With a terminal Gold, it is easy to hit $5, $6, and even $7 on early hands, making it easier to get those important high-cost cards. The only downside is that you now have Copper clogging your deck. So, if you can play it in situations when you don’t mind the extra Copper, it can be fantastic.

Another general use for Beggar is as a late-game buy to keep your money going strong as you start to green. If you can pick up a Beggar with an extra buy when you expect to see it only once or twice more until the end of the game, it can be used as a terminal Gold without worrying about the Coppers hurting your deck too much. In non-trimmed decks, this can make all the difference in hitting $8 more often than your opponent, and in thinned engine decks, it can boost you to $16 for the all-important double Province or $13 for Province + Duchy.

Early Beggars aren’t good in straight Big Money or BM+draw decks – they conflict with drawing terminals, and aren’t good enough on their own since the Coppers slow things down a bit too much. They also aren’t good early in engines, where they put too many Coppers between important engine parts. As mentioned above, Beggar can be worthwhile later in both of these types of decks as a boost to large payoffs. In Curse or Ruins slogs where you aren’t as worried about a few extra Coppers, Beggar can be more effective early, since it can help buy important Attack cards and Provinces and Duchies later. Additionally, Beggar’s reaction provides a benefit when hit by the Attack cards that are slowing down the game.

One situation when extra Coppers don’t hurt much is if you aiming for alternative Victory cards. Gardens are a natural fit, since playing Beggar allows you to gain 4 cards on a turn and all but guarantees enough money for a Gardens (see below for more detailed analysis). Beggar works decently well with other alt-VPs, namely Silk Road and Duke, and possibly Feodum if your opponents are going heavy on the Attacks. These strategies require a heavy density of Beggars, which is probably easiest to achieve if there is a source of cheap +Buy, especially if it is non-terminal such as Hamlet, Worker’s Village, Forager, or Market Square. In these games you will want to load up on 4 or 5 Beggars, and then start hitting the Victory cards. Note that in games without cheap +Buy, these strategies will more likely end up being slogs than rushes.

Specific Card Combos
Some Action cards don’t mind having a pile of Coppers around. Apothecary might be the strongest combo here, where Beggar can be the terminal after an Apothecary chain. The Apothecaries will just sweep up those extra Coppers to easily get to Province or Colony range. Non-terminal +Buy would definitely help here, both for Apothecary+ buys as well as Province+ buys.

Similarly, Counting House can be a good partner in an otherwise mediocre kingdom – you can easily get more than enough Coppers in your deck to get Colonies. Also, since Begger is a terminal Gold, it is easy to hit early $5 to get the Counting Houses. This should come with the usual caveat that Counting House is not a good card, and should only be attempted if no strong strategies are present.

Bank can also be one of Beggar’s best friends (which is sort of ironic when you think about it). Bank has several properties that make it work well with Beggar. It is a Treasure, so you can play Beggar and Bank on the same turn without a village (unlike Counting House and Coppersmith). Beggars can help hit the high $7 cost early in the game. Plus, each time you play a Beggar and a Bank in the same hand, you are already guaranteed $7, which means you just need a Copper more to hit Province.

Gardens may be Beggars most powerful combo. Unlike just about any other board, it may be optimal to buy a straight Victory card on turn 1 or 2 with the opening Gardens/Beggar. This allows you to get a jump on the Gardens pile to almost guarantee an even split of the Gardens, if not a split in your favor. According to simulations performed by DStu, just buying Gardens / (Estate when Gardens are low) / Beggar / Copper wins against a basic Workshop / Gardens bot 80% of the time. When your opponent is not rushing the Gardens, you should buy Duchies once the Gardens are gone to help 3-pile and get more VP. This wins against a DoubleJack bot 75% of the time.

Even though Coppersmith + Beggar intuitively seems like it would work well, I think most of the time it will end up being more of a nombo than a combo. Coppersmith likes Coppers, but more of the time it prefers you just draw your starting Coppers on the same turn you play Coppersmith, not that you actually gain extra Coppers. Playing village then Beggar then Coppersmith is doable, though unlikely. And once you have played Beggar a few times, the extra Coppers make it difficult to line up your village + draw + Coppersmith for the big hands. If you are playing Beggar a lot, you may be able to expect at least 3 Coppers in hand with your Coppersmith, though you will be unlikely to hit the necessary 4 for a Province.

A few other cards may combo decently depending on the board. Stables will enjoy guaranteed Coppers to discard, though the Copper flood will limit the ability to build an engine. Philosopher’s Stone, like Gardens, likes a thick deck and may be a decent option, especially with other Potion-cost cards present. If you have a Trader in hand, you can Beggar for 3 Silvers, albiet ones that go to your discard pile instead of your hand. Counterfeit, Moneylender, and Spice Trader can all trash Coppers for benefit, though in most cases it won’t be worthwhile to go Beggar if you want to trash down your Coppers.

As mentioned earlier, Beggar can boost you into the expensive card zone early on, with Bank being the star of the show. Additionally, expensive cards like Goons, Hunting Grounds, Forge, and Alter may be willing to sacrifice having 3 extra Coppers to buy them early. On the other hand, cards like Grand Market, King’s Court, Border Village, and Expand conflict with having lots of Coppers around, making an early Beggar not worthwhile to get to them. If you need to hit $5 on your first reshuffle for some important card (Witch and Mountebank come to mind), Beggar all but guarantees their purchase while giving some defense if your opponent is also grabbing attacks.

As a Reaction
You rarely want to buy Beggar solely for its reaction. But, if you were thinking about it anyway for its Action, you may be swayed further by its reactionary ability. Beggar is often happy to be hit by an Attack card. Gaining 2 Silvers is very good, unless you’re going for a Treasureless deck, in which case why would you buy Beggar in the first place? Unlike Moat, and somewhat like Horse Traders, Beggar’s reaction acts differently depending on what attack triggers it, making it a better defense against some Attacks than others.

Junkers: Beggar’s reaction is probably weakest against Cursers and Looters. You still get the Silvers, but no other advantage. On the other hand, Beggar’s action can be good in Curse slogs, so Beggar may still be worthwhile in these games. Beggar pairs well with Ambassador as described above, both for its action and reaction abilities.

Discard Attacks: Beggar is very good against many discard attacks. Against a vanilla discard attack like Militia, Beggar allows you to discard it to gain 2 Silvers, while reducing your hand size so that you have to discard one fewer card. This works great against Militia, Goons, Ghost Ship, and Urchin/Mercenary, and decently against Margrave. Beggar is an excellent counter to Pillage, since it removes itself from your hand, giving you 4 cards which makes you immune to Pillage. Similarly, Beggar allows you to dodge Minions if you wish, or you can choose not to reveal it if you don’t like your hand. Beggar is bad against the targetted discards of Cutpurse and Bureaucrat, which don’t care about handsize.

Deck Inspection Attacks: Though cards like Spy and Scrying Pool will usually discard the topdecked Silver, they are often played frequently and therefore you can expect them to be played when you have Beggar in hand. Beggar is not as good against Rabble, Fortune Teller, or Oracle, which will discard the topdecked Silver. It is pretty decent against Jester, which prefers to hit your really good cards or your really bad cards; Silver is in the middle ground which gives your opponent the least advantage.

Trashing attacks: Beggar somewhat protects against Thief and Noble Brigand, since you’ll likely gain a Silver while giving your opponent a Silver. It is excellent against Saboteur, Rogue, and Knights, since the topdecked Silver protects your better cards. It is also great against Swindler, where you will gain a Silver and another $3 card. The one card you’ll almost never want to reveal Beggar to is Pirate Ship – you will guarantee they’ll hit Treasure.

Works with:
– Alt-VP, especially Gardens
– Apothecary
– Bank
– Counting House
– Hitting high price points early (Bank, Goons, Hunting Grounds, Forge, Alter)
– Buying late with an extra buy
– Discarding attacks and some trashing attacks

Conflicts with:
– Colonies
– Strong trashing
– Buying early in engines or BM
– Grand Market, King’s Court, Border Village, Expand
– Pirate Ship
– Cutpurse
– Venture and Adventurer
– Poor House

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5 Responses to Dark Ages: Beggar

  1. clb says:

    Thanks, Theory and Schneau!
    I am curious what you would say about beggar in a game where ill gotten gains is a good strategy. I have found that its terminal gold aspect lets me grab an occasional province and also helps me consistently hit $5 for the IGGs and duchies. If my opponent is attacking me, the silver reaction is also very helpful. Perhaps you considered this already and it wasn’t worthy of making the combo list.

    • DStu says:

      Sounds like a natural fit. IGG games also usually are more slogs, and Beggar should be good there. And as you said, it should be good enough to reliably get $5 and spike to $8.

      Just note that IGG is not an attack, so even when you are forced to gain a Curse, you can’t use reactions that trigger on played Attack Cards (like Beggar and Moat), as neither a card is played (just gained) nor it is an Attack Card.

  2. vidicate says:

    The return of the ds.com blog articles? Sweet! I am now happy, thank you.

  3. flies01 says:

    pirate ship? heh…

  4. flies01 says:

    madman+coppersmit+beggar+extra buys? it could happen, right?

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