This article was written by Polk5440. The combo potential of Counting House and Travelling Fair was first suggested by gamesou and discussed in this forum thread. The article below is based on posts and comments from that thread.
Counting House is usually a pretty weak card. It’s strength comes from drawing Coppers out the discard pile, but it’s usually difficult to construct a good deck that always has a lot of Coppers in the discard pile. Travelling Fair solves this problem.
The idea of using Travelling Fair with Counting House proceeds in two stages. Stage 1: Get a Counting House. Stage 2: Once you draw a Counting House with enough Coppers in your discard pile, use Travelling Fair to consistently topdeck a Counting House, Coppers, and Provinces turn after turn without ever shuffling your deck.
- Never buy anything beyond Travelling Fair, Copper, Counting House, and Victory cards.
- Buy Travelling Fair to fill your deck with Copper. ($3 -> Copper x2, $4 -> Copper x3)
- Buy one Counting House on your first $5+.
- Strategically and selectively use Travelling Fair’s top-decking ability. For example,
- Top deck Coppers to guarantee $5.
- Keep track of your Estates to see if it’s worth top-decking Coppers.
- If you have $7+, buy and top-deck a Counting House.
- When waiting to draw a Counting House you bought, only top deck enough cards to guarantee the Counting House is drawn without triggering a reshuffle (and thus, ending up with an empty discard pile).
- When you hit a turn with $13, you can buy Travelling Fair x4, one Counting House, and Copper x4 and top-deck everything. This guarantees that your next hand will be a Counting House and 4 Coppers and all your other cards will be in your discard pile.
- Now, as long as there are Counting Houses to be bought, every turn after can be started from this state (a Counting House and 4 Coppers in hand and everything else in discard) and you will no longer shuffle. Every turn there will be more and more Coppers in your discard pile meaning every turn you can buy more and more in addition to Travelling Fair x4, one Counting House, and Copper x4.
- With your increasing buying power, buy Victory cards and Coppers (using Travelling Fair to buy more buys as needed).
- You can top-deck these Victory cards instead of the four Coppers, if needed, as well. Just make sure you are always topdecking four other cards with Counting House so you do not trigger a reshuffle.
Note that the final endgame state of never triggering a reshuffle can be achieved with less than $13 and topdecking fewer than 5 cards if you have a cushion of cards on your deck. The key is that there will be a tipping point where you will no longer shuffle for the rest of the game.
If no one else goes for a Counting House-Travelling Fair strategy, there will be enough Counting Houses and Coppers to empty the Province pile.
Counting House-Travelling Fair is a resilient strategy that is not slowed down much by junking attacks. In fact, in the endgame, it’s not slowed down by them, at all, and Mountebank arguably helps it out. While the basic strategy can be interrupted by someone triggering a reshuffle (e.g. Scrying Pool, Oracle, Rabble), taking over your deck (e.g. Possession), or discarding key cards or your hand (e.g. Pillage, Minion), this can often be played around. For example, the Counting House player can leave more than 5 cards on the draw deck to prevent a reshuffle. Even if an opponent manages to trigger a reshuffle, the Counting House player can get back into the groove of the combo or have some lucky big turns if the game lasts for a while.
Except in the face of the most disruptive attacks, Counting House and Travelling Fair is a dominant strategy in most kingdoms in which it appears; it takes an extraordinary counter-strategy to beat it.
For more information and a demonstration of the combo in action, check out this video by RTT:
One final note: We will be publishing another Counting House combo in the coming weeks! The next article will feature Night Watchman, as a less potent but surprisingly strong enabler.