This article was originally written by aku_chi and edited in collaboration with the Dominion Strategy blog team.
At first glance, Gear looks similar to Moat: +2 cards and some additional text. But it’s this additional text that enables Gear to provide so much control over your turns, and makes Gear one of the strongest cards in Dominion. Let’s look at all the valuable things you can do by setting aside cards with Gear:
- Save excess money from turn to turn. This is especially important when you only have one buy. Early on, you can save a Copper to turn a $4 hand into a $3 hand in order to hit $5 on the next turn. Later in the game, you can save money exceeding $8 so you can buy Provinces more consistently.
- Save an unplayable terminal action for the next turn. This is especially important in games without villages.
- Improve your starting hand. You can set aside +card or +action cards that will make your next hand stronger. This is especially valuable when you have a few powerful draw cards such as Scrying Pool or Storyteller.
- Force bad cards to miss the shuffle. If you’re about to trigger a shuffle, you can set aside green cards so that you don’t draw them in that shuffle.
- Pair up synergistic cards. Gear can help you pair up your Estates with a good Estate trasher, or Province with Tournament, or Gold with Encampment, and more!
Gear in the Early Game
Gear is a very strong card with a $3/$4 opening. If you draw Gear on turn 3, you’re guaranteed to be able to see and play your other opening card on turns 3 or 4. If your other opening card doesn’t draw, you will end turn 4 with an empty deck – having seen all twelve of your cards. You will be able to freely distribute your deck’s total money over these two turns. If you draw Gear on turn 4, you might have to set aside your other opening card to play on turn 5 (if it’s an action you can’t play), but you will also have an opportunity to cause 1-2 weak cards to miss your next shuffle.
If there is a key $2-4 card on the board that you want to open with, consider a Gear opening carefully. If the key card is non-terminal such as Quarry or Transmogrify, Gear is usually a great accompaniment. However, if you open Gear with a terminal trasher such as Chapel or Steward, they might collide on turn 4. Gear will probably only be worth opening if you can get a cheap village while trashing.
If there is a key $5 card on the board, Gear + Silver is an excellent opening. So long as Gear is drawn on turn 3 or 4, you are guaranteed to be able to buy a $5 card and (almost always) a $4 or $3 card (perhaps another Gear, if the key $5 card is non-terminal). You can also open Gear alongside a coin-generating action such as Poacher or Swindler, but you run the risk of not hitting $5 on turn 3 or 4 if you draw poorly. Gear + Potion is also one of the most reliable ways to hit $3P on turn 3 or 4.
In the rare event that there are no kingdom cards costing $5 or less that you want early, double Gear is a good opening. With a double Gear opening, if you draw Gear on turn 3, you have a good chance to hit $6 on turn 4 for Gold (or something better). If you don’t see any Gears on turn 3, you can buy Silver and have a great chance to hit $6 on turn 5.
Gear + Money
Usually, you will want to play a card-drawing engine, and a few Gears will fit in well. But, sometimes there is no good engine to build, in which case you should play primarily with Gear and treasures. This is often the case when there are no villages and no non-terminal draw in the kingdom. Gear is a very strong card in moneyish strategies, because Gear’s money saving and terminal spacing functions give you tremendous control over your turns.
Gear + money strategies benefit most from Estate trashing and treasure gaining, so consider incorporating them into your strategy. Gear + money’s strongest supports are cards and events that can trash Estates with very little lost tempo: Trade, Transmogrify, and Plan. With strong support, Gear + money can beat slower engines – especially if there are no handsize attacks or alternative VP available.
Non-terminal support cards such as Sentry or Treasure Trove are easy to incorporate into a Gear + money strategy. Because Gear can help space terminal actions, using 3-4 terminal actions is a good rule of thumb for a Gear + money strategy. Sometimes, Gear is better in a support role with strong terminal actions such as Witch or Haggler. In this role you can use 1-2 copies of Gear along with 2 additional terminal actions. More often, you will want to combine 2-3 Gears with one copy of a supporting terminal action such as Salvager or Bandit.
Sometimes, there aren’t any other beneficial kingdom cards. Unassisted, you should open double Gear hoping to get Gold on turn 4. You should get a third Gear as soon as you are confident you can get Gold. With 3 Gears, you should be able to play one Gear each turn pretty consistently and smooth your money to exactly buy Golds (3-4), and then Provinces. Without support, Gear + money does not get 7+ Provinces very fast, so beware strong alternative VP.
Gear is almost always good; buy it, you won’t regret it. Here are a few final Gear tips:
- When playing Gear, if you choose not to set aside any cards, Gear will not stay in play.
- Usually, set aside all the cards you don’t need on a given turn, even if it’s just one card.
- When using Gear as your primary source of draw (not recommended if there are alternatives), only save cards with your final Gear.
- When trashing from your deck with cards such as Sentry or Lookout, stop using Gear to save cards you want to trash pretty early.
- The cards saved by Gear are not in your hand during opponents’ turns, so you can’t use saved reactions such as Moat.