You Swindled my Prince into a Peddler! Let's All Play Dominion

I first encountered Dominion on a Christmas morning. It was exactly the sort of game I tended to pass over when I saw it on store shelves - land-grabbing, money-shuffling games just never caught my interest. But given a free copy, I had to give it a try. From the first game, I was hooked, and I spent the rest of the weekend trying to hunt down the numerous expansions to broaden my experience - when I wasn’t playing the ones I already had, that is. I now carry the whole collection with me in a giant tub whenever I visit anyone who might be interested in playing, and I’ve learned a few fast-shuffling techniques to keep the game moving. Okay, I develop unhealthy obsessions with things I enjoy. But is this not LP Zone, home of just that? I invite you to check out this fascinating game with me and play along, and perhaps even take part in this Let’s Play with me.

Dominion is a deck-building game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, quite possibly the game that made “deck-building games” a genre. Originally designed to be a standalone game with a set number of expansions, it’s exceeded that target as development continues, now standing at eleven expansions and a handful of promotional cards, all of which are mutually compatible. Any game of Dominion will use ten of these cards to form a common supply, and all players start with an identical deck of meager resources that they must use to buy more cards to build their ultimate deck. It’s similar to Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh, except that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars buying random cards only to lose to that rich kid who bought a factory and built the unbeatable Exodia Blue Mana deck. All of the same cards are available to all players, and you’re buying cards right up until the game ends, instantly adding them to your deck and expanding what you can do.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Dominion, and the thing that keeps me coming back for more, is the huge variability between games. The base set alone has well over 5 million unique sets of cards that can be chosen, and with all of the expansions available, the number is well into the quadrillions. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever play the same game twice if you randomly choose cards, and even if you get the same set of cards, the randomness of shuffling, varying tactics from the opposition, and even your own changing whims and increased experience will keep things fresh.

In this thread, I’ll be teaching people how to play Dominion from the ground up. The videos will cover all of the cards and game mechanics, one expansion at a time. I’ll be recording games with pre-selected themed decks in the manuals, including tutorials on any new cards or mechanics introduced in each, followed by some random games using all of the cards introduced so far. The videos will be timestamped with the start of the game for those who already know how to play and just want to watch the fun. I’ll also provide in-thread commentary for each video if I have anything to say beyond the usual post-analysis.

If you’d like to participate, I’ve set up a Discord for this thread at, where I’ll be organizing the games for the videos as well as random games with any interested players. You can sign up for a free account at to play along - there’s no payment required to play with the base set, and if at least one person at your table has paid for the expansions, they’ll be available. Share your username in the server if you’d like more friends, although the friend functionality is a bit sparse right now, and hang out with a bunch of fun-loving, respectful people.

Dominion Base Set (Second Edition):
Tutorial and First Game with Warmal:
Size Distortion with maswastaken and TerrorVan:
Deck Top with TerrorVan:
Sleight of Hand with LaminatedMoth:
Improvements with Terror Van and Dancer:
Silver and Gold with bufi44:

Intrigue (Second Edition):
Victory Dance with jivjov:
The Plot Thickens with KREINOP:
Best Wishes with Warmal:

Base and Intrigue:
Underlings with Warmal:
Grand Scheme with jivjov:

High Seas with Warmal:
Buried Treasure with kieranmillar:
Shipwrecks with LaminatedMoth:
Random with kieranmillar:

Beginners with kieranmillar:
Friendly Interactive with kieranmillar:


This looks really good. Not so sure about this Warmal fellow though.

It was a lot of fun and really I can’t wait to play more. If I had more people to play with in person I would absolutely consider buying the actual game.

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Additional commentary on First Game: I think every Dominion player has probably played this game at least a few times, since it’s the manual’s recommended set for teaching new players. I don’t think I’ve used quite the same strategy twice, although the endgame of Remodeling Gold into Provinces has become my standard, and I always go for the Remodel early to make use of the Estates. I played a three-player game with the same set over Christmas break and used much the same strategy, although I bought an early Workshop as well so I could get Villages at twice the rate. I Remodeled it into a Market once it had served its purpose. I think a Workshop might have been a better buy for me in this game at turn 6 than the Silver, but there isn’t as big a rush to get Villages in a two-player game, and I wanted to make sure I had some money, since I hadn’t managed to reach five coins yet. Worst case, if you don’t get as many Villages as you want, you invest a bit more in Merchants and Markets and perhaps Remodel Smithy or Militia into some Gold if you have more Action cards than you can play. This collection of cards really supports a wide variety of strategies - I played one game using a set very close to this, with another draw card (Library) instead of the Remodel, and went for the Village-Smithy strategy. That opponent asked for a rematch using the same set, and with a 5-2 opening split, I went with Library/Cellar and concentrated on buying Treasures. It’s interesting to see new players move from buying all the cards that seem to do the most interesting things to forming a strategy and trying to build a deck that works as a whole. The art of figuring out which strategy will work best for any given collection of cards is something I’m still working on, and I’ll probably be learning as much from this LP as anyone watching the videos will.

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Hey neat! FWIW I was a very early playtester of Dominion. I’m one of the Knight cards!

Most any question anyone could have about the design and history of the game has probably been covered by Donald X in his Secret History of Dominion articles. So I probably wouldn’t have much to add to that except opinions.

It’s been a long time since I’ve played, and I was not like the best player in the group in the first place, so I’d be willing to play. Many of the second edition cards are wholly new to me…

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Wowee, a Dominion LP and by someone I’ve been watching a real long time. I’ve played quite a bit with Dominion Online and I’ve been keeping up with a subscription to all the cards so I’d love to play sometime.

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Size Distortion with maswastaken and TerrorVan:

Commentary: I think I covered most of this briefly in the video, but there are two main strategies that can work with this kingdom. The dominant one in the first game was the “Gardens rush”, where the plan is to grab as many Gardens as possible and then end the game before the player who’s going for Provinces can set up their deck. Workshop and Throne Room accomplish both goals - there’s no real problem with having a few dud cards when you can grab a key card every time you see a Workshop and two if there’s a Throne Room with it. The only difficult part is balancing when to go heavy on Gardens and when to get more of the action cards. A Silver or two can also help supplement the Workshop gains with productive buys, and even buying Copper and Estates can fill up the deck and make the Gardens worth that much more. The other main strategy is a “thin deck”, where you start with a Chapel and trash as many of the starting cards as possible, leaving only a few key cards that will come up almost every turn. I went for the thin deck in both games, but played the first one terribly. As was pointed out, I needed to open with a Bandit. The idea then is to play the Chapel every time it comes up with at least one Copper or Estate, and the Bandit if it comes up without the Chapel. Ideally, my deck will be reduced to Chapel, Bandit, and some number of Golds, at which point I start buying Provinces whenever I can. I’ll buy an Artisan the first time I have only two Golds, and I should really concentrate on getting Sentries rather than Festivals, since I won’t need the coins or the buys (Gold is worth more than Festival, and I’ll never have enough to buy two Provinces), and the actions will rarely be of much use when my deck is mostly money and Provinces. This strategy can be hindered by an opponent getting a Bandit, though, since they can trash my Golds faster than I can filter them through the deck and into my hand. A Witch or two would be handy to help connect enough Gold to buy Provinces, and then I might need a Festival, but a stack of Sentries should do the job just as well, letting me discard Provinces and draw more Gold when I need it. Worst case, I can try to gain a Duchy with the Artisan and toss a lone Gold back on top of the deck. Taking Sentries over Festivals might have given me the edge in the second game as well, although I think taking an early Silver instead of the Bureaucrat would have been a better choice. I was trying to get an early 5, and I figured a source of Silver might be more useful than just buying one. The attack also hurts players doing a Gardens rush, which I had to expect the second time around. The chances of hitting five Coppers on turn 3, having bought two non-money cards, are about 2.65% by my calculations (21 possible hands that are five Coppers out of 792 possible hands), so it’s not something you can plan for. While I’m on the subject, the chances of getting a 5-2 money split on the opening are about 16.6% (8.3% for each of the first two turns).

The Gardens rush works well here with two people going for it, because that makes the piles run out even faster. One person going for Gardens in a three-player game will have a tough time clearing three piles before someone starts buying high-value cards, and even in a two-player game, there’s a careful balance to buying enough Gardens to get a big lead without clogging up your deck too much. The thin deck strategy in this kingdom relies heavily on money, rather than actions. A real problem here is that there’s very little way to increase your hand size, which was the essence of the Village-Smithy combo from the first game. Here, the only way to do it would be to have a Throne Room and a Witch with either a Festival and a Sentry. You can Throne a Sentry for an extra action and then play the Witch to increase your hand by one card, or play the Festival and then Throne the Witch to increase by two. These are tough combos to set up and require a lot of actions that aren’t otherwise doing you a great deal of good. I think Festival is kind of a trap card here - potentially handy if you happen to get it with two other actions that you want to play, or if you want the extra buys for your Gardens rush, but you won’t be playing enough Festivals to make much of a difference. You can make an entire economy out of Festivals, but it takes the support of a card like Smithy to get those Festivals into your hand. I recently played a game where I trashed all of my Coppers, and my opponent observed that I hadn’t bought any Silver and wondered where I was going to get money from. When I proceeded to play seven Festivals and two Markets per turn for the rest of the game and buy two Provinces at a pop, I think she got the picture. Bandit, and to a lesser extent Bureaucrat, are good for building up economy here, but you need a concentration of high-value Treasure cards, and Festival won’t help you get there as much as another Gold, and exactly as much as a Silver. The only advantage to Festival here is that it can’t be trashed by Bandit. That might be something to consider.

The Witch was also kind of a non-presence here, although the Curses aren’t as beneficial as my opponents might let on. They’re still dead cards, which can interfere with any strategy, and even when an odd Curse does bump up their deck to the next multiple of ten, it’s still no better than any other card for doing that. Nine times out of ten, it’s just minus one Victory Point. With only me playing Witches, the Curses won’t run out quickly enough to be a factor in a three-pile ending scenario, although there may be a case for buying the last few if someone has enough of a lead, plays a Festival, and can’t buy out any other pile. I’ve won games by buying Curses before.

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Deck Top with TerrorVan:

Commentary: There are several good ways to play this kingdom. Having a bunch of Artisans doesn’t really appeal to me, since they’re stop cards that get in the way of drawing your whole deck, but they give you excellent control over the Duchies and mid-turn gains that can immediately cover for dud hands like my last one. Village/Festival and Council Room are a pretty standard way to draw your deck, with as many Sentries as you can get to help filter out the Provinces once you start buying them. Your economy can come from Festivals and Vassals, so you can eliminate most or all of your Treasure cards. If you decide to focus on money, you can use a Bureaucrat to seed your deck with Silver and possibly slow down your opponent, and Council Room is again a great way to bulk up a hand of Treasure and get an extra Buy with it. When there’s no Militia, there’s a serious downside to Council Room, but it slightly improves your opponent’s next hand while greatly improving your own in a more controlled fashion. Bureaucrat also pairs well with Council Room - as long as your opponent has at least one Victory card in hand, you can make them topdeck it and then draw it again, over and over, as long as you’ve got extra Actions and a desire to have more Silver in your deck. I preferred having a more Action-dense deck, so I likely should have focused on Vassals and Villages more than Festivals. I was getting plenty of Buys from Council Rooms each turn, so the Festivals were hampering my ability to draw cards.

Sleight of Hand with LaminatedMoth:

Commentary: As the name implies, sort of, this kingdom is all about manipulating the size of your hand as well as your opponent’s. There’s a draw engine here with Festival and Smithy/Council Room/Library, but it’s pretty slow to get started, since there’s no trashing, so you’re stuck with your starting cards and any Treasures you buy along the way. Cellar is actually pretty good when there’s no trashing, since you can use the stop cards to get the cards you want. I think the money heavy strategy works better, though, since Library becomes even stronger if you get attacked with a Militia - you can toss a couple of Victory cards or Coppers and almost certainly draw more money. The big problem is that the only ways to get more Actions before drawing are Festival or Throne Room and a +1 Action card, and Cellar is not really ideal for playing twice in a row. Throne Room can also backfire horribly if it fails to come up with a card you want to play twice, so saturating your deck with them is usually not the best idea.

I don’t think I played either game very well - you can see the trouble I have driving the first game home, although it’s nearly impossible for LaminatedMoth to catch up near the end. In the second, I think I really needed a Library, at least. Other than not buying the Throne Rooms as early as I did, I don’t know what else I should have done differently. Buying Smithies might have been preferable, but Council Room is superior in almost every way, and it’s tough to keep enough Festivals to keep the turn going. More Poachers might have worked as well, since it’s unlikely that any pile will run out before Provinces in this kingdom. I think I just had really good luck overall in the first game and pretty bad luck in the second.

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Improvements with Terror Van and Dancer:

Commentary: This is the first kingdom where I think some of the cards are obviously inferior. Artisan is especially unhelpful when the only 5-cost card worth having more than one of is Market, and even one Mine may be too many when Moneylender is available - turning Copper into Silver is just vastly inferior to using them to buy Markets or Silvers, or even Poachers. For the same reason, opening Moneylender rather than Remodel is likely superior - you can use the extra money to fill your deck with enough good cards that you can work around the Estates rather than trying to concentrate on getting rid of them. I think Remodel worked well enough in First Game, where Moneylender wasn’t an option, but I think Moneylender is usually going to be one of your strongest possible openings whenever it’s available. You need a Witch just so you don’t get bombarded with Curses (at least, if any opponent buys a Witch, you should get one), and Moats will be decent when they manage to block the attacks, but I wouldn’t recommend making them a key part of your strategy here - a Moat is almost the equivalent of a Curse, functionally, setting aside the loss of a Victory Point. The main difference is that you can turn Moats into Poachers or Silvers, while Curses will only turn into Moats or Cellars. Cellar’s not completely awful here, but it’s also hampered by the lack of any way to increase your hand size while you still have Actions remaining.

I stand by my statement about my luck in the first game being as awful as it could possibly be - the other advantage of Moneylender over Remodel is that it’s far more likely it will come up with cards you want to trash with it early on, so that would have helped. The late-game Moneylender was an obvious mistake, but I think the game was long lost by then. Terror Van’s mass-Remodel strategy works - I used a similar strategy the next day in a game with Remodel and Throne Room, with another helpful support card (Farmland, for those familiar with it), but it’s a bit rough here again because you can’t do much to connect your Remodels with targets, other than saturating your deck with cards you want to trash. Remodeling Remodels reduces your ability to play it in the future. I’m also a bit dubious of the early Merchant over Silver - if you’ve got a card that you want to play a lot, like Witch, then Merchant is better for cycling through your deck to get it more often. But the Silver is much more helpful for buying the Witch in the first place, and Merchant does nothing beneficial if you don’t play a Silver that turn - in general, it’s identical to not having that card in your deck at all. I’ve said before that Merchant isn’t a very good card, and I stand by it, but if you have an Action-dense deck and a reliable way to play a Silver every turn, it’s better than more Silver. In this kingdom, Action-dense decks aren’t going to function well - you can’t build a workable economy out of just Markets and Poachers, and the Poachers will be even less useful once the Markets or Curses run out. I think the best strategy is to stick with mostly Treasures, supplementing them with Markets, and maybe a late-game Remodel or two to turn the Gold in sub-Province hands into more Provinces. That’s the strategy I used in the second game, and I think it worked well enough. My mistake was in trying to empty the piles before I had enough of a lead, which gave Terror Van the opportunity to overtake me with Province-Cellar on his final turn.

I’ve just watched the last video and, as a complete newbie to the game, I have a question about artisan. You say it’s especially unhelpful but, to me, it seems like having one around to grab free duchies is worth it. Then either keep them for the points or improve them to gold. It’s less than ideal but unless you spam market, merchant or poachers in that kingdom, you’re going to get 1 or 2 actions a turn anyway so it’s not like padding the deck with victory points is going to cause ‘dead’ turns that much unless you really go overboard. And with just a single artisan, it doesn’t seem like going overboard is that likely.

Does that make sense or am I misreading the situation?

The problem is that with only one terminal action per turn, gaining a Duchy isn’t what you want to do until very late in the game. As you might have seen in the Deck Top game, a stack of Artisans can empty the pile quickly, but one per turn isn’t enough at the end of the game when you could be Remodeling Gold or buying multiple Duchies with your Markets in play. You especially don’t want the Duchies early in the game - even Remodeling them into Gold is no compensation for having them in your deck while you’re trying to work your way up to buying Provinces, and there are probably much better Remodel targets by that point. By the time you want to be gaining a Duchy in addition to whatever else you do that turn, it’s late enough that you’re not likely to get much value out of the Artisan. Then, as difficult as it is to get the cards you want with no draw, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have a card you want to put on top of your deck after gaining the Duchy. You certainly don’t want the Duchy itself in your next hand. And when you’ve got six cards at most in a turn, Victory cards really are going to slow you down.

When there are a lot of $5 cards that you want, and a good way to cycle your deck to get the Artisan to pop up frequently, it might be useful. Here, you’re going to lose pace on the Market split if you stop to buy an Artisan, and you won’t be playing it enough to catch up. You don’t want too many Witches (unless you’re going for the Witch/money only strategy, in which case an Artisan is also unhelpful), and I don’t think you want any Mines. The Gold is far more useful here, in my opinion.

It seems like a reasonable time to get some feedback on the pace of the LP. My original plan was to spend ten videos on the Base set before moving on - the six pre-selected Kingdoms, three random Kingdoms, and maybe one Kingdom with a promotional card included, for a bit of variety. I can still do that, and then continue the same general schedule for each expansion as I introduce them. The random Kingdoms will naturally include all of the expansions introduced so far, to show more interactions between groups of cards than the pre-set Kingdoms (which feature at most two sets), so it might not make as much sense to do them for the first two sets. Once we have three sets in the mix, it will likely be more sensible to randomize in that fashion. So, in order to pick up the pace a bit and get more cards into the mix sooner, I’ve been thinking about dropping the three random games and moving on after the final pre-set Kingdom. If you’ve got a preference, please let me know.

As for the promo card game, there aren’t many promo cards that function with the mechanics we’ve already introduced. Black Market technically does, being the first of the promo cards released, but that one’s really complicated and I want to save it for the end. Some of them obviously pair with later expansions, such as Summon for Adventures and Sauna/Avanto for Empires. The really simple ones are Walled Village, which I think is a bit too vanilla to be an interesting addition to the game at this point, and Dismantle, which is the latest card and also nice and simple to understand. So I’d end the coverage of the Base set with a Dismantle game, but again, that’s up for audience opinions. We could introduce promo cards later on, or even save them all for the very end, when we’ve got all the game’s mechanics under our belts and can freely select Kingdoms that give each promo card a chance to shine.

I’m also willing to entertain viewer-submitted Kingdoms for consideration in videos, particularly if you spot something in the videos that you want to see me mess around with or want to see a card shown off under more favorable circumstances.

Personally, what I’m most interested into is seeing the ways different card synergies can dramatically change the flow and strategies of the game. If all the interesting synergies and combos have been shown off already, then I’d favor moving on to the next expansion already. Randomness would likely be more entertaining with a larger pool of cards.

I’d say that we’ve probably seen most of the unique combinations from just the Base set. There are a few interesting effects, but the original game was fairly tame, and the second edition couldn’t really change things up too much without deviating from the spirit of the set. Adding more expansions and their unique mechanics will generate more interesting interactions.

Silver and Gold with bufi44:

Commentary: The final Base Set kingdom lets us compare the various means to fill our deck with valuable treasures. Like Improvements, it’s all about figuring out what works best and what’s not worth the time. Like I said in the commentary for the Size Distortion kingdom, the Chapel/Bandit opening is pretty dominant, and the second game demonstrates that going perfectly. Granted, it was amazing luck that let me trash all ten of my starting cards with three Chapels and discard my opponent’s Bureaucrat almost every time I played my Bandit, at which point my victory was pretty much guaranteed. The situation was quite different in the first game - my opponent didn’t trash diligently enough, so the Coppers got in the way of playing more attacks. A second Bandit shouldn’t be necessary if the first one comes up more often, and I think the Throne Room was way too early. Throne Room is a very situational card. It works when you have enough Actions in your deck that you want to play double, and enough reliability to connect them with the Throne Room. Once you have enough Laboratories and Harbingers, it makes sense to grab a Throne Room or two, but count the number of times her Throne Room came up with no other Actions and you’ll see the downside. Mine is still pretty useless with Moneylender available - I could see maybe getting a Mine if you’ve got a Bureaucrat, but the Silvers are probably okay to stay until you’ve got some Gold density, at which point you can trash them with a Chapel if you really need to. Speaking of Chapel, you need to buy it early if you’re going to bother at all. By the third shuffle, you’re not getting enough benefit from it to be worth the space in your deck, not to mention the lost opportunity of the Buy. I think it’s interesting in retrospect that I didn’t bother with one in the first game. I relied more on Labs and Harbingers to draw past the Estates and focused on eliminating Coppers. To that end, opening Silver/Moneylender gives a really good chance to hit five coins at least once, allowing you to pick up a Bandit and start stacking your deck with Gold. Two Estates getting hit by a Bandit was, again, amazing luck.

Basically, with no +Buy and no Festival or Village to give extra actions (Throne Room is a bit too unreliable to count on here, in my opinion), your goal is to start hitting eight coins as consistently as possible. When Mom said she shouldn’t have trusted me about not buying a Province early, I stand by my advice - it’s too early for her to buy Victory cards, while my deck was already getting reliable enough to sustain them. Trash the garbage as quickly as you can and play the Bandit as often as possible, and you can more or less ignore Silver and Merchant. I like a Vassal late in the game even without high Action density, because it’s a two-coin Action that can’t be trashed by an opponent’s Bandit, even if it doesn’t hit an Action card. It can be your single Terminal when the Bandit doesn’t come up, or if it makes the difference between missing or buying a Province.

The only opinion I got about the pace of the LP suggested that I move on to more interesting kingdoms, so the next video will introduce the Intrigue expansion and double the number of Kingdom Cards we have to play with. If anyone’s been waiting for this to get involved, now’s a good time to hop into the Discord and join the fun.

Victory Dance with jivjov:

Commentary: It’s time to move on from the original game and expand our card selection. The Intrigue expansion adds two new elements to the game: cards that are both Victory cards and another type, and cards that let you choose from a list of possible effects. We have both of those in this kingdom, along with a couple of cards that take advantage of them. The pillar of almost any strategy here is Patrol - it works well with both dual-type Victory cards and with Victory cards that don’t do anything for you. If you have a lot of Victory cards in your deck, Patrol can be one of the strongest draw cards in the game. That’s helpful if you go for a lot of Mill and Nobles, but also if you aim for the Duchy/Duke combination. The big problem with Duke is that you need a lot of Duchies to make it worthwhile, and that means that you’ll typically have more than ten Victory cards in your deck doing nothing but being drawn by Patrols sometimes. The dual-type Victory cards, on the other hand, can be drawn by Patrols but also contribute to giving you an economy without having a lot of Treasure. Nobles function as a Village in terms of providing extra Actions (so you’re not drawing a bunch of unplayable Mills with your Patrols), but can also stand in as draw cards if need be, while Mills let you extract money from the Victory cards that can’t be played. Courtier can also potentially function as economy - if you have at least one Mill or Nobles in hand, you can get an Action and three coins, or a Buy if you don’t need the money. Baron also provides Buy, but without extra Treasures, it’s going to be tough to afford two Provinces, so I didn’t see the need for it here. Not to mention that Baron is rather sad if you don’t have an Estate in hand. It can be a decent opening card, but this kingdom had Masquerade. That’s a card you really can’t ignore, even if you don’t intend to buy one, because your opponent almost certainly will. As long as there’s at least one Masquerade at large, you’ll need to have enough useless cards that every hand you draw has something you don’t mind handing to your opponent. Usually, that means getting rid of Estates early on to increase money density and let you buy better cards, but I can see possibly keeping them and getting the Baron. You just might have a hard time affording anything good even with the four coins, if you’ve got too many Estates around.

The other important card to watch here is Replace. The attack isn’t usually a big factor - after all, you can always Replace the Curse into an Estate and toss a Curse back at your opponent, and in this kingdom, Curses are also good to pass your opponent with Masquerade, although if it’s your opponent’s Masquerade, they’ll probably just trash the Curse immediately. Victory cards are also stop cards in most cases, so trashing one of your other cards for one just to hit your opponent with a Curse isn’t always a good option. In a kingdom full of ways to handle Victory cards, though, it’s a pretty strong move, and I think jivjov’s biggest mistake was waiting until near the end of the game to start buying them. Tossing some Curses my way in the mid-game would likely have slowed me down a bit. It also tends to run out the Curses sooner, which can give you a jump toward ending the game on three piles if you take an early lead. It’s also never a bad thing to topdeck a Nobles for the following turn.

Finally, the eternal question: If you are going for Treasures in a kingdom like this, do you buy Harem or Gold with your six coins? I think that again depends on whether you want the game to end on three piles or not. In this kingdom, Mills went quickly and Nobles were highly desirable. If the Harem points put you in a better winning position, then they’re probably the better buy. With only eight of them available, how often will you have enough of them in hand that having Gold instead would make the difference in affording the card you want? Harem is also a slightly smaller hit to your turn’s economy if you Replace it into a Province, which can make the choices slightly less painful. Another general strategy is to buy Gold early, to boost your hand values, and get Harems late in the game, once you start buying other green cards. In this case, since Patrol will draw Harems, there’s a stronger case in their favor.

In short, I think the best strategy here is to go for lots of Mills and Nobles, get a decent number of Patrols, and aim to Replace into as many Victory cards as possible, while keeping a Masquerade around to keep your opponent on their toes.

Hey its me! I didn’t do so hot this time, mostly due to me not being able to nail down which strategy I was going for.

The Plot Thickens with KREINOP:

Hey, it’s the first of the three cards I mentioned in the thread title!

Commentary: I have to start by pointing out that Lurker is an amazing card that I seem to have a giant blind spot for. It’s great in games where there are Action cards that are tough to get, like the really expensive ones from Prosperity and the ones from Alchemy that can’t be bought with just coins, as well as cards with negative effects when you buy them. I buy as many Lurkers as I can and play them in pairs to trash cards from the Supply and then gain them right out of the Trash. There’s not a great deal of call for that in this kingdom, since none of the Action cards are difficult to get, but Lurker pairs really well with some of the other cards, and I never seem to notice that. In this case, the key play is to play a Mining Village, trash it for the coins, then gain it back with a Lurker later in the turn. With enough draw, you can even play the same Mining Village a second time in the same turn, an opportunity rarely available in Dominion. (I’m discounting double-play cards like Throne Room, which play one card multiple times at once - playing the same card again later in the turn is a different thing.) Another neat use is to have one handy when you hit a great card in your opponent’s deck with a Swindler. You can scoop up that card before your opponent has a chance to recover it. We trashed a lot of great cards in this game, and I feel like I should apologize for giving Lurker such a poor showing.

In any case, the first game went pretty smoothly. The deck that reliably draws all of your cards and gains more during the turn, which you can then play, is a great goal in a kingdom like this, where you can use Conspirator for most of your economy (and Mining Village/Lurker if you spot it) and Mining Village/Torturer to draw all of the payload cards, with the added side effect of shutting down your opponent until the Curses run out. Curses aren’t all that bad here, since you can use Trading Post or Steward to eliminate them in pairs. Which is better? Steward can function as draw or economy once you’ve trashed everything you don’t want in your deck, while Trading Post gives you the early benefit of Silvers to get you started, but becomes a dead card later in the game (unless you’re picking up lots of Curses). Obviously, I went for Steward both games, but on a 5/2 opening, I think Trading Post is better than Torturer. Turning your starting cards into Silvers rapidly both improves your deck and gives your opponent fewer Coppers to target with Swindler. This is why I aimed to trash Coppers rather than Estates early on - sure, general strategy is to eliminate the Estates while keeping the cards that are at least minimally useful, but Estates can only be swindled into more Estates, while Coppers will turn into Curses. Getting some early non-Cursable money (whether Silvers or Actions) and eliminating as many zero-cost cards as possible can keep the purple flowing in the opposite direction. Another thing to keep in mind with Swindlers is that they become dangerous as the Province pile empties, especially if you’re behind. There’s nothing like playing a Swindler to get the last two coins you need to buy the final Province and trashing your opponent’s Province, emptying the pile before you can get it.

I don’t think either of us played very well in the second game. I didn’t pad my lead enough before I started looking to empty three piles, underestimating my opponent’s deck spectacularly. I also forgot that Torturers can become Duchies - I was looking at the two five-cost actions and thinking that I would prefer him to buy Trading Post instead of Torturer, so when I had the opportunity to make the swap, I took it without thinking. I also pointed out during the video that I should have been buying Pawns (or Lurkers!) instead of some of those Silvers. The fewer Treasures in this deck, the better control I have over being able to play like I did in the first game. Leaving two Curses and two empty piles is essentially a loss - my opponent can win on a three-point lead by using either an Ironworks or a Pawn to gain the last two Curses. I didn’t feel obliged to point that out in the moment, though. The play of trashing a Copper and a Gold into a Silver was also probably not a great move, although at that point in the game, it might well be worth having one fewer Treasure card even if it reduces the value of a single hand. If he was already planning to buy the Pawn, it may have been his best move. If you can build a great economy of Actions and Trading Post is the only trashing available, it can be worth trashing two Silvers and gaining one back.

The four-cost collection here is interesting. Secret Passage is a great enabler for many other cards, none of which are found in this kingdom, but it does provide some weak filtering ability. If you’ve got plenty of Villages and Torturers, you might find Secret Passage handy to find them in your deck. If not, you may end up sticking a bunch of Victory cards on the bottom of your deck - not the worst thing that can happen, since they’re likely to be in your hand when you shuffle, but stack too many dud cards at the bottom of your deck and you’ll have a dud hand, likely at a crucial moment. It’s great for stacking cards where you can find them with Sentry, to name one example of a card that draws before doing stuff to the top of your deck. Cards like Harbinger and Artisan can put something on top of your deck, where Sentry will draw it before letting you trash the next two. Secret Passage can put a Curse second or third from the top, right where you want it. Ironworks is handy for end-game pile control, but in this kingdom, there’s no way to trigger more than one of its bonuses. Do you want to get an extra action, or an extra card by gaining an Estate? It also works to empty Curses in a pinch, although Pawn can do that just as easily while also giving you another action. Ironworks is the main reason I start looking for potential forced win conditions as early in the game as I do. Conspirator is interesting for being a stop card in your starting hand, but a cantrip once you get your turn going. Having too many too early is a bad idea (unless you’ve got really good enablers like Throne Room), but even just having one to play as a terminal Silver equivalent can work. And Mining Village often functions as a more expensive Village because you can’t afford to trash them for the money. Again, my blind spot for Lurker really hurt me in these games.

Finally, a behind the scenes look - when I said “I think it’s finally time for a Swindler,” that was really my way of saying “Hey, I noticed my Swindler hasn’t been coming up… oh, right. There are two missing from the supply because my opponent bought them both and I just assumed I had one because who the heck buys two Swindlers that early?”

Best Wishes with Warmal:

Commentary: I find it surprising that the three suggested kingdoms for Intrigue Second Edition don’t manage to cover all twenty-six cards from the set. We’ll be seeing the other two in the next two kingdoms, which will be our first experience with mixing multiple sets together. Intrigue and Base won’t be as dynamic as some of the later sets, but I think we’ll get some interesting interactions nonetheless. Speaking of interesting interactions… Wishing Well is one of those cards that can be difficult to get much use out of, especially late in the game, when you’ve got a big deck and little to suggest what card might be on top. You can play probabilities or name the card you most need at that time (i.e. if I don’t draw a specific card, my turn is over anyway, so why bother), but if you’re good at tracking your deck, it’s great to play Wishing Well when you’ve only got two cards left on top. Secret Passage, on the other hand, is an excellent pair with Wishing Well. There’s never a rule in Dominion that says you’re not allowed to know what card is going to come up when you have to guess, provided you gain that information through legitimate means. I suppose you could fool the bots by playing a Wishing Well, then requesting an undo, but it’s highly unethical.

Torturer remains a pretty painful card, so you want to be the person playing lots of them. If you’re getting buried, taking Curses could be a way to recover - true, you’ve got Curses, but you’ll also have five-card hands to play with so you can start trashing them sooner. Really, though, if you can’t keep on top of the Torturer game, there’s probably no good way to recover. The problem in this kingdom is that neither of the Village options are very good - Shanty Town rarely draws, although it’s possible to enable them with Courtyard or Wishing Well so you’re guaranteed to draw an Action card, and Diplomat requires you to shrink your hand, which is very difficult to do here without your opponent’s Torturers. Upgrade can do it, if you start with five cards (draw one, then trash one), but then you have to have something you want to trash. Baron can also do it, but you need to have an extra Action first. Then you need to have a good mix of draw cards and payload. Conspirator gives a bit of both, but you can’t use one to kick off. The only other Action card that gives you money is Baron, and it’s tough to make a deck with a lot of Barons work. The nice part is that you can discard an Estate to a Baron, draw it back, and discard the same Estate to another Baron, but since I don’t think triple-Province turns are possible, I think one Baron and a single Estate is the best balance. The early Baron can work really well for spiking Torturers and Upgrades, but I really think you want to start with Secret Passage/Wishing Well or Upgrade/Courtyard to get yourself into the position where you can draw your deck pretty reliably.

My opponent’s real downfall here was probably buying so much Treasure. A Treasure-dense deck isn’t going to be able to stack Torturers or connect the Action cards that work well together (Wishing Well/Secret Passage, Baron/Estate, Shanty Town/Torturer…), and buying more of those cards really doesn’t help. Some kingdoms cry out for buying lots of Treasures, particularly when there are cards that can dump a lot of Treasure into your deck at once, but Attacks can really favor a deck that plays a lot of Actions. I could afford to take on the odd Curse and trash it later, but being hit with two or three Torturers in a turn might have hurt me. Buying Coppers is almost never a good idea, unless there are cards that work well with it (none of which we’ve seen so far - I wouldn’t even consider Moneylender worth it, and the old Coppersmith from Intrigue First Edition was removed from the Second Edition) or you’re trying to pile out Victory cards (Duke/Duchy) and desperately need the extra money. Trashing Coppers made my deck more reliably able to get to the Conspirators and the couple of Golds I had, and turning Silver into Conspirators doesn’t reduce my economy at all. Granted, I should have been counting my economy as I went, but I ended up with exactly 16 coins, which is my target here.

I don’t think Duke is even worth considering in this one. No idea why they didn’t toss in one of the unused cards. I could see Bridge being incredibly good here. Frankly, even Upgrade isn’t all that great, since there are very few cards that I’d want to have and then turn into something worth 1 coin more. I honestly used it more for the cantrip effect (+ Card, + Action) and the trashing was incidental. I could almost see trashing a Province late in the game just because you need every other card and that draw is critical. Upgrade works well alongside cards like Chapel that do their work and then become useless, or cards like Ironworks that can gain 4-cost cards that you’d want to turn into 5-cost cards. I’m sure it’ll get a better showing later.

Underlings with Warmal:

Commentary: I think our first kingdom that combines two sets is probably going to turn out to be one of my favorites. You’ve probably figured out by now that I love trashing Treasures, and when I can trash them all, I’m in my element. In essence, there are three basic types of kingdoms with respect to Treasures: kingdoms where the Actions don’t work well together, so the best thing to do is stock up on Treasures and get a few Action cards for support; kingdoms where the Actions work well together but don’t provide sufficient economy, so you need enough Treasures to buy the cards you want; and kingdoms where the Actions can support your entire economy and function well with no Treasures at all. There are a couple of edge cases, like Stables from Hinterlands, but those are the main strategies I know about. This is the first kingdom I think we’ve had in this series that falls firmly into that last category. You can get your money from Minion, Vassal, Courtier, and Pawn; use Nobles, Cellar, Minion, and Library to move through your deck; and Diplomat, Festival, and Nobles for the Actions to play it all. The only downside is that the only trashing is Sentry, but that’s honestly one of the best cards to be the only trashing, since it continues to work in your favor when you don’t have anything left to trash.

The best strategy, in my opinion, is to get a couple of Silvers to start with and race for five-cost cards - at least one Sentry, but preferably two or three, and a decent mix of Festivals and Minions early on so you can safely trash your Treasures without destroying your ability to buy good cards. The early Nobles was probably not my best purchase, but I want to have as many of those as possible once I start loading my deck with Vassals. Pawns are great buys when you don’t have five coins, and when your opponent starts buying Minions, it’s a good time to pivot to Diplomats. Diplomats work well in this deck, because you can use Festival, Pawn, Minion, or Courtier to reduce your hand size easily and get those extra Actions, even if your opponent doesn’t play a Minion that turn. +2 Cards +2 Actions is one of the most powerful card effects in all of Dominion, such that any card that grants that much always, always comes with a downside of some kind. Diplomat’s downside of requiring you to have a small hand to get it is sometimes impossible to work around, but sometimes hardly a restriction at all. Once you’ve trashed most of your non-Actions, Vassals start to be very strong. I really should have bought a Cellar instead of one of the Pawns, just to provide a bit of extra filtering in a rough situation, but I don’t think there were many times it would have been of much use until I had several Provinces, at which point the game was almost over anyway. It’s definitely a great buy if you’ve got a leftover Buy and a couple of spare coins. The thing to be careful about is that Vassal and Festival are your only guaranteed money, since you might need to use your Minions or Pawns to draw, and Courtier requires either an extra Action or one of the two-type cards to give you the three coins, although you can always play it terminally if it’s the last Action card you have. (Just make sure you have at least one other card in hand to reveal, or you get nothing at all.) This deck could probably triple Province if built correctly, and would likely survive having a few Golds, which you can get from Courtier if you don’t need the other rewards at the time. Meanwhile, a few spare Treasures can be handy Diplomat discards until you start buying Victory cards.

On my opponent’s part, I think he still fails to appreciate the value of trashing, and consequently, the value of relying on Actions to generate money. In kingdoms like this, the solution to not having enough money is not to buy more Treasures, but in fact, to get rid of them to make way for more Action cards to come up that either generate money or help you get to the Treasures you still have. Buying Coppers is almost always a mistake, and even the Silvers are just there to get you kicked off in stocking up on Actions. I admittedly wantonly trashed all of my Coppers, even though my Sentries took forever to hit Estates, because I knew my deck could easily and reliably hit at least three coins, worth an extra Vassal, and would almost always hit five, giving me a Minion or a Festival. The Minion attack is hardly relevant once your deck is fairly saturated with Action cards that will start a good turn, and having a Diplomat in the top nine cards of your deck (so you’re either holding it during the attack or pick it up afterward) starts you off very well. This deck could work well using nothing but Minions for draw, but Nobles and Diplomat mean that you can save most of your Minions for coins. There’s also an interesting trick you can do with Sentry and Cellar - draw everything but three cards, then discard two cards that you want to trash with your Cellar. When you play Sentry, you’ll draw the final card and can trash both of the cards you discarded. By the time you can set up that combo, though, you probably don’t even need to trash anything anymore.

As a final note, neither of us did anything with Libraries, and while they’re probably a decent fit here, they’d be better if we didn’t have Nobles. Minion and Library both demand that you reduce your hand size for maximum benefit, and Library’s big trick is skipping Actions, which is the opposite of what you want here. I think you want to have either Minion or Library, but probably not both, although you could get by playing all of your Minions for money and then drawing with Library rather than ever using the discard. I think this kingdom would be absolutely wonderful for replacing the Library with Tactician from the Seaside expansion. For those not familiar with it… you’ll see what I mean when we get there.