Glossary

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

Base Cards: A set of the non-kingdom supply cards (such as Coppers, Provinces, and Curses) needed to play any game of Dominion. Purchasing a set of Base Cards makes any expansion playable or expands play of the base set to five or six players. Compare base set.

Base Set: The original Dominion, with no expansions. For example, “In the base set, Chapel is the best early-game trasher.” Compare Base Cards.

Big Money:  See money.

Board:  See kingdom.

Cantrip: Any card that gives +1 Card, +1 Action; it costs no action to spend it and it replaces itself in the hand.  Usually does not refer to cards that give more than Card or more than one Action. Compare village and lab.

Colony Game:  Any game in which Colony and Platinum (from Prosperity) are available for purchase.

Combo: A small set of cards (usually two, sometimes three) whose interaction is particularly strong, especially if the cards are individually weak but together can become a game-winning strategy. Compare enginemoneyrush, and slog.

Counter:  A card or strategy that acts to neutralize another card (usually an attack) or strategy, whether directly (e.g., Moat) or indirectly (e.g., Library vs. Militia/Goons).

Cycling: Moving through your deck.  Scavenger and Messenger provide an extreme example of cycling because your entire deck is moved into your discard, but cards like Warehouse and Cellar also cycle your deck by drawing and discarding 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: When players are buying Duchies instead of Provinces, even if Provinces are available, as no one is willing or able to buy Provinces without risking losing the game.

Early Game:  The first few decisions or turns which sets up the rest of the game. Usually, the opening two hands through the first couple of shuffles.

Endgame (or Late Game): The time of the game when players are looking to score points, empty piles, or considering immediate abilities to do so.

End on piles:  Force the game to end by emptying three or more piles (four or more with 5+ players).

Engine: Deck which dramatically grows in value or lets you do more and more as it gets built. Usually characterized by drawing and playing lots of Action cards, but not always. Sometimes augmented by a descriptor of a key feature of the deck, such as a “draw-your-deck engine” or “multi-Province engine”. Compare moneycomborush, and slog.

Gainer: A card with the ability to gain other (usually desirable, c.f. junker) cards.  Most gainers are restricted in what they can gain, such as a card that only gains silvers, or a card that only gains cards costing up to $4.

Greening:  Purchasing victory cards, usually in the endgame.

Junk: (noun) Bad cards that add bloat to a deck. Coppers, Estates, Curses, and Ruins are the usual examples. (verb) Add bad cards to a deck (preferably an opponent’s).

Kingdom: The set of cards that make up the game of interest. Sometimes referred to as the board.

Lab: Short for the card Laboratory, also refers to any card that non-terminally increases your hand-size by one.

Late Game: See endgame.

Midgame:  The middle of the game. Players have decided upon a general path of deck building, but players aren’t necessarily looking to score yet and there aren’t active threats to end the game.

Mirror Match: When players pursue identical or near-identical strategies.

Missing the Shuffle: Refers to any cards that aren’t included in the next shuffle. Cards that miss the shuffle are usually in your hand or in play. Oftentimes, you want bad cards to miss the shuffle and good cards to stay in the current shuffle.

Money: Narrowly, a deck where no Actions are bought at all, only Treasure and Victory cards.  More broadly, a deck that gets economy from Treasures supplemented with some Actions.  Money decks usually don’t draw much. When using Treasures and one other card exclusively, this is sometimes called Big Money + X. Compare comboenginerush, and slog.

Non-Terminal (or Non-Terminal Action):  Any Action card that gives at least one additional Action.

Opening:  Purchases made on the first two turns.  Usually clarified by the opening split.

Opening Split:  Treasure values of the first two hands (usually 5/2 or 4/3). Compare split piles and winning the split.

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. For example, Island sets aside cards.

Rush: A strategy that attempts to end the game as quickly as possible, typically with a three-pile ending. Compare comboenginemoney, and slog.

Sifting: Selecting one set of (usually good) cards and discarding or returning another set of cards. For example, Cartographer sifts by letting you discard unwanted cards from the top of your deck. Compare cycling.

Slog: A game or strategy characterized by decks filled with junk, willingly (e.g. to beef up Gardens) or unwillingly (e.g. because of attacks). Compare comboenginerush, and money.

Split Piles: Piles containing more than one differently named card, in a particular order. For example, Encampment and Plunder. Contrast with Knights and Ruins which are shuffled. Compare opening split and winning the split.

Stop Card: A card that does not draw any more cards from your deck, like Giant or Gold. If Actions are limited, this may or may not include terminal draw.

Terminal (or Terminal Action):  Any action card that does not provide another Action when played.

Terminal Collision: Drawing multiple terminal action cards together, especially when you can only play one of them.

Terminal Draw: An Action card that draws cards but gives no additional Actions. Usually refers to +2 Cards or greater. For example, Moat, Smithy, or Hunting Grounds.

Terminal Gold: Any terminal action that gives +$3.

Terminal Silver:  Any terminal action that gives +$2.

Topdeck:  Place a card on top of your deck that would normally go elsewhere (e.g. Alchemist, Royal Seal).

Three-Pile: Ending a game by emptying a third pile, often while ahead on points. See end on piles.

Trasher (or Deck-thinner):  Any card that allows one to trash cards from one’s deck.

Trash-for-Benefit:  A card that trashes, then does something (useful) based on what it trashed. For example, Apprentice draws cards and Salvager gives coin.

Village:  Besides the card of the same name, can refer to any card which allows someone to play multiple actions in a turn; most (but not all) such cards have “Village” in their names.

Winning the Split: Getting the most copies of a Kingdom Card from a heavily contested pile, oftentimes a card that all players want as many copies of as possible. For example, if you gain 6 Bridges and your opponent gains 4 Bridges, you win the split 6-4. Compare opening split and split piles.

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:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost

      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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