City Quarter

This article is a brief look into City Quarter from the Empires expansion. If you’d like a deeper dive into the card, check out this episode of Making Luck, a Dominion Podcast. If you like the podcast, feel free to check out this page for more information on the podcast, including links to iTunes, Google Play Music, and YouTube pages where you can listen; and forum links where you can interact with the creators of the podcast.


The effect of City Quarter has the potential to be extremely strong: +2 Actions, almost double your hand size. In the absence of discard attacks, you can play that card three times and you usually just draw your deck with lots of actions. Insane power. If you can build your deck so that you have almost exclusively Action cards in it, drawing your deck becomes very easy to do.

In reality, it’s not always that easy. You can also draw zero cards with your City Quarter, which feels really bad for a card you paid 8 debt to have. To justify its cost, the first City Quarter you play should be drawing you at least two cards consistently, which means that over half of your deck needs to be Action cards, plus you’d like to have a chance to have a City Quarter in your starting hand.

The most important thing you need to enable City Quarter is trashing. Trashing is important because it increases the percentage of Action cards in your deck, and it also increases the odds that you can find your City Quarters at the start of your turn. Most other cards can achieve this consistency by gaining a lot of copies of them and other Action cards, but this is more difficult with City Quarter because it is so expensive.

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Chariot Race

This article was written by Tracer.


The promise of Chariot Race is in its potential to provide points while not making your deck any worse. The somewhat random nature of what is on top of decks makes this promise inconsistent; but it is fulfilled often enough that ignoring the card completely is rarely viable as it can act as a significant source of points. While some turns will yield nothing from your Chariot Races due to an opponent’s topdecked expensive card (and as such relying on Chariot Race as a source of coins is inadvisable), there will usually also be turns where each Chariot Race played scores, and these turns are when you build a points advantage.

While Chariot Race often features prominently on boards, it is still important to have a functioning deck before gaining Chariot Races in high quantity. This means trashing down and then building draw, both of which will help with getting points from Chariot Race once you have them. If in the middle of that process you end up with a spare gain, a Chariot Race will often be preferable to say, a Silver. Once you have done this you can emphasize Chariot Race without risking falling behind, assuming there isn’t anything that can lead to explosive decks, such as Bridge or Horn of Plenty, in which case the speed of a megaturn from those will not allow Chariot Race to score enough points to be relevant.

Once you have Chariot Races, having them actually give points is the goal. The best way to do this is simply to increase the value of cards in deck through trashing less expensive ones and gaining more expensive ones, generally things that you would want to do anyways. This also has the benefit of defending against your opponent’s Chariot Races: just as you are more likely to reveal a more expensive card from your deck on your turn to score, they are more likely to reveal a more expensive card from your deck on their turn and be unable to do so. If you cannot obtain more expensive cards in quantity (for example if the draw present is Village and Moat), Chariot Race might not be an effective buy.

More directly, one can also look to control what is on top of each of the decks. For the opponent, attacks such as Scrying Pool are the most obvious way to do this: you can seek to leave a cheap card on top. Also notable are cards like Council Room, which, while not giving information about what is left on top of the opponent’s deck, can remove an expensive card that your Chariot Races cannot beat. For your own deck, both cards that directly manipulate the deck such as Courtyard or Sentry and also ones that give information about what is on top such as Ironmonger are relevant – in the former case to place an expensive card on top and in the latter to choose not to play a Chariot Race should a cheap one be on top. Also important are midturn gains – once you draw your deck you can potentially gain a Gold then play a Chariot Race which has a decent shot of hitting.

There will be times due to the nature of the card that one player will get luckier with Chariot Race and win the game because of it; however, a better deck or more clever player will more often than not be able to take advantage of Chariot Race to win.

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Duration Draw

This article was adapted from a forum post, originally by markusin.


Being able to draw and subsequently play every card in your deck in a single turn lets you reach your deck’s full potential, maximizing your capability to gain cards and letting you play whatever attack cards you might have. However, guaranteeing that you will be able to draw your deck puts tough restrictions on your deck building.

If you want to guarantee you draw your deck, then you want to make sure there is no possible deck ordering that will prevent you from drawing your deck. You can ensure this by restricting the number of non-drawing cards you include in your deck to a number below your starting handsize. If your starting handsize is the default five, this really doesn’t give much room for adding non-drawing cards to your deck while still being sure you’ll draw your deck next turn.

Fortunately, you can get around this restriction by using “duration draw” effects that will increase your starting handsize, thereby leaving more room in your hand for the cards that don’t draw.



“Stop cards” are cards which do not draw cards from your deck when played. Gold, Province, and Workshop are examples of stop cards.

“Duration draw” are cards which set up card draw that will be available to you at the start of a future turn. This includes but is not limited to duration cards that give card draw at the start of your turn like Caravan and Hireling.

Your “stop card capacity” (SCC) is the number of stop cards your entire deck can contain before you risk not drawing your entire deck in a turn. Even if you have 10 draw cards like Laboratory or Market in your deck and you only need one of them in your starting hand to draw your entire deck, so long as you have at least 5 non-drawing cards, or stop cards as I will call them throughout the rest of this article, you might end up having a starting hand of all 5 of them, unlikely though this may be. So long as there is a possible starting hand and deck ordering that prevents you from playing every other cards in your deck that turn, then you’ve exceeded your stop card capacity.


Impact of Duration Draw

You start the game with a starting handsize of 5 and a SCC of 4. You also start the game with 10 stop cards. So without deck thinning, realistically you will never get your number of stop cards to be within your SCC, which guarantees you draw your deck, without deck thinning.

A simple example of when you should be mindful of SCC is in a Bishop/Fortress game where you want to do nothing but trash Fortress with Bishop for the VP chips. With an SCC of 4, you can have up to 4 Bishops (which are stop cards) in your deck and still be guaranteed to draw and play them all. The moment you add a 5th Bishop, you run the risk of having a starting hand of all Bishops with no Fortresses to trash. If you and your opponent’s VP score were equal up to this point, then this opening hand of 5 Bishops pretty much makes you lose the game on the spot!

But duration draw changes this math by increasing your starting hand size and hence your SCC. Now imagine you have the same deck, but you have a Hireling in play. Now you have a starting hand of 6, and an SCC of 5. Hence, you can now gain a 5th Bishop and still be guaranteed to play all 5 Bishops, eventually overtaking the VP count of a player that can only support playing 4 Bishops a turn. So we see here that duration draw is a boost to the maximum potential of what your deck can do while not being at risk of failing to drawing every card. Being within your SCC can matter for less extreme examples as well, such as when you want to be sure you can play all your Grand Markets each turn, or even when you just want to be sure you find your single source of +buy in your deck.

When you reach a point where you have drawn your deck, pay attention to your SCC. If your number of stop cards is below your SCC, then you don’t have to hold back on gaining more stop cards out of fear that you won’t draw your deck next turn. If gaining a extra stop card or two like Gold will help you buy more cards next turn without impacting your deck’s perfect reliability in any way, then it’s likely that you should get that card. Investing in duration draw cards will let you stuff your deck with more stop cards before you sacrifice perfect reliability.

If you have already reached your SCC, you can still choose to nevertheless exceed your SCC by gaining more stop cards and risk not drawing your entire deck in order for a potentially bigger payoff. You however need to keep in mind that the likelihood of you failing to draw your deck increases the more stop cards you add relative to the size of your whole deck and your SCC


Hireling is probably the simplest example of a card increasing your SCC, but it is by no means the only example. Playing Haunted Woods increases your next starting handsize to 8, and you can maintain this starting handsize by playing one copy of Haunted Woods each turn. Staggering Haunted Woods in this way increases your starting handsize by 3, but Haunted Woods is itself a stop card the turn it’s played that you’d have to draw in order to draw your entire deck. So effectively, staggering two copies of Haunted Woods gives you a net increase in SCC by 2. Playing more copies amplifies the effect. Staggering two copies of Wharf also gives a net increase of SCC by two, since Wharf is a draw card the turn it is played and doesn’t increase the raw number of stop cards in your deck.




The duration draw effect is not limited to Duration cards. Alchemists that you topdeck act as duration draw as well, with each topdecked Alchemist increasing your SCC by one. With Alchemist, it is especially important that you are mindful about your SCC because failing to draw your entire deck could mean you fail to draw your Potion, scattering your Alchemists and making you lose control of your deck. A Laboratory topdecked with Scheme works exactly the same way, and again you have high incentive to want to draw your entire deck in this scenario so that you find the Scheme that will topdeck the Laboratory again for the next turn. And of course, paying for the Expedition event increases your starting handsize and thus SCC.


Why Stop Card Capacity Matters

Stop cards can be very important towards winning the game, as they are often the most effective sources of money and VP.  The more stop cards you can draw in a turn, the more your deck can accomplish that turn. You want to be drawing as many stop cards as you can each turn, and being within your SCC lets you draw them all without fail. By increasing that SCC with duration draw effects, you increase the number stop cards you can play on your turn while still being certain that you’ll draw your entire deck.

Games where players slowly drain Provinces are likely to have players eventually exceed their SCC, so you’ll have to be aware of your risk of stalling once that point of the game is reached. However, games where you gain a Province or two then pile out the next turn, or at least threaten to, may never require that you exceed your SCC. Even if you have to exceed your SCC, that’s okay! Duration draw is still a big boost to your deck’s reliability even when they aren’t quite giving your deck perfect reliability.



More than just making it easier to line up your engine components, playing cards that let you start with a larger handsize increases the hard limit on the number of stop cards you can have in your deck before you aren’t guaranteed to draw your deck. Use this to your advantage towards building more powerful decks that maintain their reliability even as they add more stop cards.

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Combo: Night Watchman/Tunnel


Two weak cards. Combined they are a powerhouse. In the case of Night Watchman and Tunnel it’s not entirely clear if that’s true. Let’s find out.

It’s well established by the Dominion community that Dungeon and Tunnel are a great combination. Dungeon discards Tunnel for Gold and looks at 13 cards with each play to find Tunnel(s). The huge amount of deck cycling means you’re buying Provinces early and often. The deck also doesn’t really stall in the end game thanks to Dungeon’s filtering. It outperforms all Big Money decks and the weaker engine decks. It also has enough speed to keep up with the rush decks (like Ironworks/Gardens).

Night Watchman only looks at 5 cards but opening Tunnel/Night Watchman almost guarantees having a Gold before the first shuffle. On top of that, when you buy the Watchman he goes straight to your hand. Let’s simulate it to find out its matchup vs Dungeon/Tunnel.

NW vs Dungeon VP

Dungeon/Tunnel wins 80% of the games vs a mere 17% for Night Watchman/Tunnel. The average $ generated each turn is also interesting:

NW vs Dungeon $

Here’s the optimal game plan (buy rules need to be evaluated from top to bottom for each buy):

  • Province
  • Duchy when 6 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Tunnel when 4 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Estate when 2 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Tunnel if you have equal or more Night Watchman
  • Night Watchman

Notice this deck never buys Gold or Silver (this would actually decrease the win rate).

Here’s the Dungeon/Tunnel Bot for reference:

  • Province
  • Duchy when 4 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Tunnel when 4 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Estate when 2 or less Provinces left in the supply
  • Dungeon if you have equal or more Tunnels
  • Tunnel
  • (Silver) -> probably never bought

Night Watchman/Tunnel’s strength/speed is comparable to Gear Big Money (one of the better Big Money variants). You shouldn’t try this strategy if there’s a moderate/strong engine or rush strategy available.

You can improve this deck by adding a strong attack (like Mountebank). Adding strong terminal draw (like Wharf) will also help. There’s an idea to incorporate it in an engine as payload, but that’s probably too cumbersome. NW/Tunnel doesn’t work very well in decks that draw a lot of cards because unlike other Tunnel enablers, NW doesn’t want you to actually draw your Tunnel, which is what makes this synergy strong. Night Watchman’s filter effect mimics trashing effects, so adding a trasher won’t help much.

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Fishing Village


Fishing Village is a very strong card, strong enough to enable decks that wouldn’t work with most other villages, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t draw a card. Most of the time drawing a card is better than getting the $1, except for in the very beginning of the game, making Fishing Village one of the few villages it can be OK to open with. To compensate for the fact that Fishing Village doesn’t draw a card, it’s usually best when paired with stronger sources of draw; +3 cards or more.

Most villages give you +2 Actions when you play them, and while it’s true that one play of Fishing Village will net you 3 Actions, the more relevant comparison is that it gives you the “village effect” on two consecutive turns. The important thing here is that it doesn’t actually increase the number of terminal actions you can play in one turn, but rather you only have to draw the card one time to get the benefit for two turns.

The reason Fishing Village is so powerful is that duration-Fishing-Villages give you actions at the start of your turn, which is by far the best time to get actions. You don’t need to worry about drawing villages to kick off your turn as long as you have some in play. For this reason, in many decks it can be good to “stagger” your Fishing Villages, meaning that you want to have roughly the same number of duration-Fishing-Villages out at the start of each of your turns, instead of having a bunch on one turn and then only one or two on the next. Decks constructed and played this way are usually very reliable when other engine decks could have issues.

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Beat the Bot #7

Wubba lubba dub dub. Are you ready for another challenge? This Beat the Bot features another beautiful engine. What? You don’t like engines. No problem, try a Big Money approach, but don’t go crying to your mummy you only won 1 in 100 games.

The goal is to beat the bot by playing against it. Bonus points if you win with 100 VP or more!

Click the simulator to get the new version and the Beat the Bot #7.

Here’s the Kingdom used:

Good luck and have fun. Discuss here


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Dominate is a lot of points. Similar to Colony, when it’s available, you’ll find that almost all of the time it’s the source of VP that you want to be going for, simply because of how many points you can score. Most other strategies struggle to score enough points to compete with a player who goes for Dominates, particularly just Provinces. With just two Dominates, you’ve scored the same number of points as a player who had to put five Provinces in their deck, and it’s quite easy to overcome the VP deficit from six Provinces with just two Dominates and a few Duchies.

The big difference between Dominate and Colony is that you don’t have a baked-in way to hit $14 — you need some support. Just drawing five cards and getting a bunch of Golds isn’t going to cut it here, you need some form of +Cards to have a shot of getting Dominate in enough time to win the game with it. Cantrips or terminal draw cards can work for this, but without at least something for support you may not be able to make Dominate happen.

That said, most of the time you can find a way to hit $14, and the reward is huge when you manage to get there.

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Opening Probabilities: A Study

This article was adapted from a forum post, originally by SettingFraming, aka breppert.

An Introduction

Dominion is, at it’s core, a game of probabilities. This is something we know and love, especially because the probabilities of Dominion are often so vast that they get in touch with our pure thought-stuff, and reckon with the limits of our reasoning.

But there is also much that we can know about Dominion, and that is what this article is about. Specifically, this article is going to be dealing with the first few turns of Dominion in very concise, exact ways. While there is much more to Dominion than the opening turns, they are often the most important ones and largely set the pace of the game. Also, those turns are rather simple, and you should nearly exactly know what chances you are giving yourself. Here’s what you need to know when considering openings, from both hitting numbers and trashing cards standpoints.

The Economy is Thriving

We’re a salty bunch, Dominion players. We often get super mad if we do something like don’t hit 5. But how unlucky are we? I’ll start this article gently with some basic openings, and compare the differences. The first table is the probability of hitting a number at least once on turns 3-4, while the second table shows you the probability you have of hitting at least a number on both turns 3 and 4.

Openings and $
$4 $5 $6 $7
Poacher/Silver 100% 91.8% 37.8% 6.3%
Silver/Silver 100% 91.2% 42.5% 8.8%


Openings and $ $3/3 $4/4 $5/5
Poacher/Silver 94.7% 62.6% 8.2%
Silver/Silver 94.7% 64.6% 14.9%

The difference between a Peddler Variant (in this case Poacher) and Silver in the opening may surprise you, mostly because there’s not much of one. We all know that opening a cantrip card is great for cycling, and that cycling is great, but also you’re really not at all harming your chances of hitting a number by doing so. By opening Tournament/Silver your odds of hitting 5 are almost exactly the same, while your odds of hitting 6 or 7 are very slightly lower. Maybe if your plan is to do something like Hireling-Big Money then Silver/Silver is defensible since you have a 5% greater chance to hit $6, but other than that you’re always going to want the Peddler variant.

Playing or Praying the Chapel

Alright, let’s move on to some less obvious stuff. One of the angriest moments of Dominion is if your Chapel misses the shuffle. So, what’s the difference between opening Cantrip/Chapel, and Silver/Chapel?

Openings and Cards Trashed 0 3 4
Chapel/Cantrip 9% 0% 91%
Chapel/Silver 16.6% 30.3% 53.1%

It turns out there’s a pretty significant difference between average number of cards trashed with Chapel when opening with a Silver (or other stop card) and a cantrip. Namely, Chapel/Silver trashes on average 3.03 cards while Chapel/Cantrip trashes 3.64.

The reason for this is two-fold, the first being that having a Silver in your deck instead of a cantrip increases the chance that Chapel misses the shuffle by more than 7%, and the second being that the Silver will be sitting (nearly) uselessly in a collision with your Chapel 30.3% of the time. With strong trashing, the importance of opening a cantrip may be less about the presence of the effect of the cantrip, and more about just getting the heck out of the way of whatever else you’re doing.

Going Big or Going Home with Double Terminals

Another question often faced in the opening is pretty straightforward: Should I open double terminal? Well in order to answer that, you need to know how good the terminals are (i.e. is it worth risking collision), but also the chances of actually getting to play them. The table below shows %’es of the time that you get to play both cards or if you just get to play one of them, either because they collided or one missed the shuffle.

Terminal Plays 0 1 2
% 1.5% 60.6% 37.8%

A couple main points from this table: Both your cards will miss the shuffle 1.5% of the time. This is definitely something to get salty about, and often means you just lose. You only get to play both cards on turns 3/4 37.8% of the time, though of course it can be really, really good if you get to do so. Finally, you get to play only one of the cards 60.6% of the time. So you shouldn’t be expecting to be able to play both cards if you open double terminal, though it can be a very real possibility.

Steward: A Double Terminal Case Study

Double Steward is one of those hot topic debates that keeps us up at night. Okay maybe not so much, but anyways, I want everyone to sleep well. There are a few key questions with Double Steward that you need to ask. How important is being thin? Am I fine with the $2’s? Do I need to hit numbers any time soon? How good are two Stewards in my deck long term?

Sometimes the answers to those questions are marginal, and then it’s really important to know what double Steward actually does for you. Here are some tables detailing (a) how many cards Steward actually lets you trash, assuming you always choose to trash, and (b) what is the difference between opening Steward/Steward and Steward/Silver in terms of hitting numbers (again, assuming always trashing).

Openings and Cards Trashed 0 2 4
Steward/Steward 1.5% 60.6% 37.8%
Steward/Silver 16.7% 83.3% 0%

A couple quick notes on the above table:

  • You should see the usefulness of knowing the double terminal opening odds for Steward/Steward.
  • Steward/Steward trashes 2.72 cards on average, while Steward/Silver trashes only 1.6. Recall that Chapel/Silver trashes on average 3.03 cards, meaning that Steward/Steward is remarkably similar to Chapel/Silver at thinning rates.

And here’s the economy table.

Openings and $
$2 $3 $4 $5 $6
100% 57.1% 31.9% 5.3% 0%
100% 98.7% 76% 40.7% 8.8%


Openings and $
$2/2 $3/3 $4/4 $5/5
66.1% 1.3% 0% 0%
98.2% 42.8% 7.1% 0%

In terms of economy, it’s not even close. Steward/Steward means that you aren’t going to be able to buy high-$ cards for a while, since even your chance of hitting even just 3 just once before the next shuffle is only 57.1%, and if you were planning on picking up a $4 village before shuffling, well good luck with that since you only have a 31.9% chance of hitting $4. Steward/Silver is much, much stronger at nearly everything, providing reasonable chances of hitting most numbers, though of course being weaker than a straight-up double economy opening. Of course, one can choose to use their second Steward for economy, but that is a dubious plan for risking the double terminal. One of the main benefits of opening double Steward may in fact be in reducing the chance that your trasher misses the shuffle, giving yourself a 98.5% chance to trash at least once instead of only an 83.3% chance.

An Outroduction

Of course there is much more to playing Dominion than just knowing the percentages. You need to build a deck, and you need to know where you’re going. But knowing the percentages can help inform you and help the decisions you make be just a little less in the dark. I plan on doing more follow-ups to this article, some with more specific or in-depth focuses, or even just different concepts such as durations in the opening.

Until then, I hope we can all keep learning, and be just be a little less bad at Dominion.

Addendum: It’s been brought to my attention that it would be good to include this, so here’s a link to a Wandering Winder article that shows probabilities of hitting price points for a variety of economy-based openings.

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Original Article by Polk5440


Cultist junks decks faster than any card in the game, and dealing with the onslaught of Ruins is extremely difficult, making Cultist a very strong card.

Cultist’s abilities strongly incentivize building a “Cultist stack”, a deck that buys primarily Cultists and no other Actions. First, playing a Cultist does not let you play other Actions after, except for other copies of Cultist. This pushes you to have lots of copies of Cultists to chain the draw and attack and not have a lot of copies of other Action cards, which you would not be able to play if you drew them. Second, while playing a village would enable playing Actions other than Cultist, it’s usually hard to reliably start your turn with a village in hand in a strong junking game. This further disincentives including Actions other than Cultist. Third, the game could end quickly on piles (Cultists, Ruins, and something else, like Duchies). This reduces the amount of time you have to build a more comprehensive deck.

Night cards, Treasures, and Events cannot be drawn dead, and some of these cards can push against adhering to a pure Cultist stack strategy. For example, Ghost Town or Save can help you consistently start your turn with a village; a reserved Coin of the Realm can allow you to play Actions drawn dead; Lost Arts can give Cultist an Action token. Even so, Cultist’s potent ability to chain the drawing of cards and dealing out junk remains powerful.

Sometimes Ruins can be cleaned out or ignored. Strong trashing can allow a recovery from the Ruins deluge and enable you either to transition from a Cultist stack to a controlled engine with Cultist as a source of draw or to build a different engine entirely. Additionally, unlike Curses, Ruins are worth 0 VP and are themselves Actions. That means building decks that rely on Vineyards or Gardens to score is more viable in the presence of Ruins than other type of junk. However, transitioning from Cultist into a Village-based engine can be difficult to pull off, and viable alternative VP is not always available, making it necessary to play a Cultist stack instead.

Finally, while the on-trash benefit is rarely a good reason to buy Cultist if you are not going to buy it for its primary abilities, it can be an added benefit in kingdoms where trashing plays a role.

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Chapel is the second-fastest way in Dominion to purge your bad cards (only surpassed by Donate), and with a cost of $2, can be bought in the opening along with another fairly good card. Trashing cards in Dominion is really, really good; you almost always want to trash your ten starting cards and any junk your opponent gives you in order to play your best cards more frequently and make your deck more consistent. Even in the face of the most powerful junking attacks in the game, you shouldn’t have a problem staying on top of your deck with Chapel on your side.

If you want a Chapel, you want to open with it and hopefully see it on turn 3 or 4; in almost every case, you’ll want to play the Chapel and trash your entire hand. Even if you’re just trashing Coppers and no Estates, this is almost always the best play because with these four cards out of the way, you’ll be able to line up your Chapel with the rest of your starting cards more quickly. The main exception to this is if you drew the other card you opened with — though this problem can be sidestepped by opening with a strong cantrip, which also reduces the odds of not seeing your Chapel before turn 5. The brief tempo loss you take from sacrificing a whole turn just to trash four cards will quickly become worth it when you’re playing lots of good cards each turn because you don’t have bad cards to get in the way.

After playing your Chapel for the first time, you may want to be a bit more judicious about keeping a Copper or two around — make sure you think about having enough money in your deck to buy what you want each turn, as long as drawing your last one or two Coppers isn’t a huge pain — you may even find yourself planning one or two turns ahead, which is a luxury you’ll get much sooner with the trim deck Chapel gives you.

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