Some of the terms commonly used on in the Dominion community include:

Base: The original Dominion, with no expansions.  E.g., “In base, Chapel is the best early-game trasher.”
Big Money:  Strictly speaking, a strategy where no Actions are bought at all, only Treasure and Victory.  In practice, often used to refer to a strategy emphasizing Treasure and Victory cards that is merely supplemented with one or two Actions.  Compare Engine.
Board (or Set, Table, or Tableau):  The set of cards that make up the game of interest.
Cantrip:  Any card that gives at least +1 Card, +1 Action; it costs no action to spend it and it replaces itself in the hand.  Can technically refer to Villages, but in practice usually refers to cards like Spy.
Chain:  A deck in which the same card(s) are played either multiple times per turn (or simply every turn for some powerful cards).  E.g., “Lab chain”.
City Trap:  Purchasing multiple Cities in a game in which no piles (other than Province or Colony) are likely to be emptied; the Cities are very expensive Villages in this case.
Clog (or Bloat, Gum Up…): Add cards to a deck (preferably an opponent’s) that interfere with the engine being used.  Often happens voluntarily in the endgame.
Colony Game:  Any game in which Colony and Platinum (from Prosperity) are available for purchase.
Counter:  A card that acts to neutralize another card (usually an attack), whether directly (e.g., Moat) or indirectly (e.g., Library vs. Militia/Goons).
Cycling:  To move quickly through your deck.  Chancellor provides an extreme example of cycling, but cards like Warehouse and Laboratory also cycle your deck effectively.
DoubleJack: A strategy involving buying only two copies of Jack of All Trades, and otherwise exclusively Treasure and Victory cards.
Draw Dead: Generally refers to drawing an Action card when you have no more Actions to play.  In context, may refer to drawing an Action card that cannot be effectively used (e.g., Baron without Estate, Moneylender without Copper).
Duchy Dancing: Towards the end of a game, when both players are buying Duchies and neither side is willing or able to take the final Province(s)
Early Game:  Most purchases are low-cost cards; players are defining their overall strategy.
Endgame (or Late Game):  Players are purchasing almost exclusively victory cards.  Often accompanied by jockeying with lower-value victory cards, e.g., PPR.
End on piles:  Force the game to end by emptying three or more piles (four or more with 5+ players).
Engine:  Loosely defined, the Action cards that “drive” one’s deck.  An “engine-based” strategy refers to a strategy emphasizing Actions.  Compare Big Money.
Envoy/Big Money: see Smithy/Big Money
Greening / “Go Green”:  Begin purchasing victory cards.
Isotropic (or Iso) — an exceedingly popular online implementation of Dominion, often linked to from these forums.
Midgame:  Most purchases are actions or treasures of value $5 or higher, but rarely with hands above $6 (Province game) or $9 (Colony game); players are refining their strategies and attempting to tune their engines.
Mirror Match: When both players pursue identical or near-identical strategies
Non-Terminal (or Non-Terminal Action, sometimes NT):  Any action card that gives at least one additional Action.
Opening:  Purchases made on the first two turns.  Usually clarified by a 4/3 or 5/2 opening.
Piles: see “end on piles”
Province Game (rarely, Non-Colony Game):  A standard game in which Colony and Platinum are not available.
Pseudo-Trash:  Remove cards from your deck without trashing them, e.g., Island.
Sift:  Filter through your cards by removing unwanted cards.  Similar to cycling, but with more finesses.  See, e.g., Warehouse.
Smithy / Big Money: A strategy involving one purchase of a Smithy and otherwise exclusively Treasure and Victory.  Reaches 4 Provinces in approximately 14 turns.
Split:  Treasure values of the first two hands (5/2 or 4/3).  Tournament and league play often gives players the same split.
Terminal (or Terminal Action):  Any action card that does not provide another Action when played.
Terminal clash: Drawing multiple terminal cards together, such that you can only play one of them
Terminal Silver:  Any terminal action that gives $2.
Top-Deck:  Place a card on top of your deck that would normally go elsewhere (e.g. Alchemist, Royal Seal).
Trasher (or Deck-thinner):  Any card that allows one to remove cards from one’s deck.
Trash-for-Benefit:  Any card that gives a benefit at the cost of trashing a card.  Apprentice draws additional cards, Salvager gives cash, etc.
Village:  Besides the card of the same name, can refer to any card which gives +2 Actions; most (but not all) such cards have “Village” in their names.
Village Idiot:  Village seems like a great card to an inexperienced player, and it is good–but taking Villages without any terminals makes the Villages worthless.  Hence, Village Idiot.  More loosely, refers to any poor strategy that buys too many Actions.
Virtual +Buy: Cards like Ironworks and Workshop, which allow you to gain an additional card on your turn along with your ordinary Buy


C, S, G, E, D, P:  Sometimes used in game analyses for the basic treasure cards and basic victory cards.

Amb: Ambassador
BM:  Big Money (rarely, Black Market, in context)
BMU: A particular algorithm for playing Big Money that intelligently purchases Duchies
FV:  Fishing Village (rarely, Farming Village, in context)
GM: Grand Market
Hag: Sea Hag
HoP: Horn of Plenty
HP: Hunting Party
HT: Horse Traders
IGG: Ill-Gotten Gains
JoAT: Jack of All Trades
KC: King’s Court
Masq: Masquerade
MV: Mining Village
NV:  Native Village
Lab: Laboratory
PPR:  Penultimate Province Rule
TFB / T4B: Trash-for-benefit
TM: Treasure Map
TR: Throne Room (rarely, Trade Route, in context)
UAS: Unstoppable Alchemist Stack
UCS: Unstoppable City Stack

21 Responses to Glossary

  1. jTh says:

    What is “spammable?” I’ve long been wondering about this.

    • theory says:

      Good catch, I’ll add it. Basically, it’s any card that you can keep playing multiple copies of: “spamming” it like a spammer might spam out emails. Lab, Caravan, Village are “spammable”; Chancellor is not. In practice it’s basically the same as cantrip, though I suppose something like Oasis would be a cantrip but not spammable.

      • chwhite says:

        Obviously this a point of contention, but I prefer to think of cantrips as those cards which give you exactly +1 Card/+1 Action. IMO if they give you more +Action than they’re Villages, and if they give you more +Card than I’d classify them as Labs instead.

      • jTh says:

        Ah, so Minion would qualify as spammable then? (Just got Intrigue recently and I am DIGGING that card!)

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is a bane card?

  3. Jimmmmm says:

    I tend to think of a cantrip as a card which (at least) replaces itself in terms of actions and handsize, thus excluding handsize reducers such as Oasis and Upgrade. Perhaps others think differently…

  4. Schnel says:

    It may be too late to post a reply here, but can someone tell me what a “Duchy Rush” is?

    • theory says:

      Generally, it’s just when someone rushes to end the game on Duchies + two other piles, rather than going for Provinces. You see it a lot with Ill-Gotten Gains, because when you buy out the IGG’s both the IGG pile and the Curse pile will be empty, and in a IGG-heavy game it’s a lot easier to buy out the Duchies than the Provinces.

    • WheresMyElephant says:

      A [Card] Rush is where you try to buy lots of that card as quickly as possible, especially before your opponent can get to it. Often it also means you’re trying to end the game early by cleaning out that pile, and in the case of Duchy I think this is usually the meaning. On the other hand, “rushing the Fool’s Golds” usually just means you get lots of them as quickly as possible and then move on to the next part of your plan.

      The most common example in Duchy’s case is probably the Ill Gotten Gains/Duchy rush: since IGG and Curses usually run out simultaneously, that just leaves one pile to be bought up with your ugly Coppery deck.

      Duke/Duchy is another example, but it can often turn into what people like to call a “slog” instead of a “rush.” Instead of ending the game early you play for a long endgame which, you think, your opponent is poorly prepared to handle. He has to hit $8 while you only have to hit $5; his deck might fail while yours keeps going. (Especially if he didn’t foresee this problem, as many beginners don’t.) On the other hand if he tries to counter you by taking time to build a super-strong deck that can buy up all eight Provinces without breaking a sweat, then you rush! Grab up all the Dukes and Duchies you can before he ends the game.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks to both of you for the explanation. Since I’m only a beginner, I’ve never tried to end the game early by clearing out three piles (or even the Province or Colony pile for that matter). I’ll often try too keep track of the score in my head so I’m in a position to know whether or not I’m ahead, but more often than not, I lose track of that pretty quickly (a symptom of being in my late 50s, I fear). Many a time, I was sure I was going to win a match and ended up losing…or vice versa!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What does “pile drive” mean?

  6. Duncan Timiney says:

    What does “high opportunity cost” mean?

    • theory says:

      Opportunity cost is the “price” of something you choose to forgo when you make a choice. When I buy Gold, there is an inherent “opportunity cost” of passing up a $5 card instead.

      • Duncan Timiney says:

        What I can’t grasp is why different cards of the same value might have different opportunity costs. What makes Cartographer and Horn of Plenty “high opportunity cost” (according to Qvist) compared to other $5 cards? I am thick. Thank-you.

        • theory says:

          They have a high opportunity cost relative to their power. He is really just saying that they are good cards made worse because of the existence of better cards.

        • theory says:

          In other words, they are good cards to get when they are the best cards at that price point and the better cards are not present in the game. Compare to Counting House, which is something you might skip even when it is the best card at its price point.

          On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM, Dominion Strategy wrote:

          > They have a high opportunity cost relative to their power. He is really > just saying that they are good cards made worse because of the existence of > better cards. > > > On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM, Dominion Strategy <

  7. Beowulf Validus says:

    You said most +2 action cards are villages. This is close to true, although technically only 10 out of the 25 +2 actions have “village” in their name, which is only 40%; more than a coincidence, but definitely not most.

  8. MVoltaire says:

    I’ve also stumbled across the word “payload” in articles on this page. What does it mean in the context of Dominion?

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