Original Article by 4est, adapted for the blog by Polk5440
The original article is being discussed in this thread.
Archive is an odd card. As a sort of mash-up of Caravan, Haven, and Gear, Archive can provide duration draw, keep junk cards out of the shuffle, and set up your next turn all in one package. In decks where it’s not realistic to otherwise draw all of your cards consistently, Archive can humbly step in as a quiet yet versatile hero.
Archive can draw cards, but similar to Caravan, it only increases your handsize on its duration plays. As a nonterminal action, Archive’s draw requires no village support, so multiple Archives stack very easily giving you larger hands and greater control and flexibility over the cards in your hand at the start of your turn. However, in kingdoms with a lot of powerful draw, Archive may be more of a hindrance than a help. Smithy draws three cards for you to use now, but of the three cards Archive sets aside, one will not be played until next turn, and another of them will not be played until two turns later. Thus, in slim and powerful deck-drawing engines where all your cards could be used every turn, Archive is less useful as pure draw.
Archive’s set-aside ability both helps you see bad cards less often and good cards more often. Archive does not remove cards from your deck permanently; however, in kingdoms where trashing is weak or unavailable, Archive’s ability to set aside cards can be used to hold cards like Coppers and Victory cards out of the shuffle helping you get to your good cards more often. With multiple staggered Archives, you can get a large percentage of your cards set aside, making your deck behave as if it was much thinner, providing surprising control. Conversely, if Archive sets aside a card you do NOT want to keep out of the shuffle (you want to draw it!), it may be better to put it into your hand immediately rather than let it remain set aside.
Archive’s ability to seed your next turn and help prevent duds is quite powerful. This often occurs unintentionally — Archive sets aside two Villages so you take one and leave the other for next turn — but you can use this ability to set up a big plays later. Archive also works well in money-ish decks by smoothing your price points, very similarly to Gear — if Archive turns over Gold, Copper, and Estate, with $7 in hand, you can take a Copper, buy Province, and leave the Gold for hitting $8 again next turn.
So much of Dominion is learning how to work with what you’ve got. Archive doesn’t draw like Smithy or trash like Chapel, but it can really help out your deck in kingdoms where there otherwise isn’t good trashing or draw.