“Draw” is any combination of cards that increases the number of cards you have in your hand, without decreasing the number of actions you have remaining.
The presence of draw in a given kingdom is important because having a cap on the number of cards you can have in your hand is a significant limiting factor in the potential of decks you’re able to build; Kingdoms with draw and kingdoms without draw play very differently. Without the presence of draw in a kingdom, the focus of most decks shifts to the cantrips and other draw-neutral combinations of cards, plus the most desirable non-drawing cards available.
This article is a deep-dive into draw in Dominion. I will list all of the “draw cards” in Dominion and discuss how to evaluate whether or not there is draw in a given kingdom — you can stop reading after this paragraph if you are not interested in that.
It will help if you are familiar with my village article before reading the rest of this article.
THE DRAW CARDS
Cards that can provide the draw effect will be listed below. Without the presence of at least one card on this list, it is impossible for a kingdom to have “draw” as defined above. However, the presence of most of the cards below does not necessarily mean that draw is possible — some of the cards require some level of support to achieve the draw effect. Draw cards are sorted into sections according to what type of support they require in order to give the draw effect.
Draw that doesn’t require a lot of support
The length of this list is pretty short compared to everything else; these just draw you cards if that’s what you want. If you need to meet a requirement in order to enable that draw, it’s usually not a huge deal to do so.
Alchemist, Apprentice, Archive, Caravan, Cursed Village, Den of Sin, Destrier, Governor, Hireling, Hostelry, Hunting Party, Laboratory, Lost City, Research, Sauna/Avanto, Stables
Draw that requires some other non-village support
Most draw cards require some support in order to work. With this list, you will need some support in order to make them work, but I find that the support is there enough that it’s frequently worth going for these as a source of draw.
- Advisor needs a deck with few enough bad cards in it that you can reasonably expect to draw something good.
- City needs a way to empty a supply pile quickly enough to be useful as a source of draw.
- City Quarter, Scrying Pool, and Herald need an action-dense deck to be effective.
- Crossroads and Shepherd need a way to line them up with enough Victory cards to make the draw worthwhile.
- Encampment needs a way to line it up with Gold or Plunder, or else it doesn’t stay in your deck.
- Expedition and Experiment need additional buys and money because you have to buy them repeatedly. Similarly, Horse requires something specific in the kingdom to allow you to gain it, so you’ll be subject to whatever that card needs you to do.
- Captain, Ghost, Golem, King’s Court, Pathfinding, Teacher‘s +1 Card token, and Prince need Action cards to find in your deck that you’re happy to play and/or use as sources of draw, even if they only have +1 Card (which is not normally enough by itself to give you a draw effect).
- Imp needs enough unique cards in your deck to play with its ability, otherwise it will need village support.
- Menagerie needs a deck that can provide opportunities to activate its draw ability.
- Minion and Tactician need a form of “virtual payload” to mitigate their drawbacks of discarding your hand.
- Sauna and Avanto require you to be able to draw the cards together in order to not decrease your action count.
- Seer requires you to have enough cards in the appropriate cost range in your deck that you would like to draw in order to make use of its effect.
- Storyteller needs high-value treasures, or having money before playing it, to work as draw.
- Way of the Chameleon requires a card in the kingdom that gives enough money to increase handsize.
- Way of the Horse requires you to be OK with losing the card you play, or for it to not have a pile to return to, to stay in your deck.
- Will-o-Wisp can be hard to get, plus it doesn’t always draw you an extra card.
- Wishing Well normally only works as draw when you have some way of knowing what the second card of your deck is, which requires somewhat narrow support.
Draw that requires village support
All of these cards are terminal when used for their draw ability (in fact, they are often referred to as Terminal Draw cards). In order to achieve the definition we have for draw, we need to have the support of a village in the kingdom.
Be careful, though, that you consider the village you plan to use with these draw cards, and make sure it will actually work. For example, if your village is Festival and your draw card is Moat, your hand size hasn’t actually increased while maintaining the action count.
Barge, Black Cat, Catacombs, Council Room, Courtyard, Cultist, Diplomat, Enchantress, Embassy, Envoy, Faithful Hound, Gear, Ghost Ship, Haunted Woods, Hunting Grounds, Journeyman, Lackeys, Library, Margrave, Masquerade, Moat, Nobles, Old Witch, Patrol, Pooka, Rabble, Ranger, Royal Blacksmith, Scholar, Sheepdog, Silk Merchant, Smithy, Steward, Swashbuckler, Torturer, Tragic Hero, Vault, Watchtower, Way of the Otter, Way of the Owl, Way of the Squirrel, Wayfarer, Werewolf, Wharf, Wild Hunt, Witch
Draw with serious issues
The cards in this list can be used, in theory, to meet the requirements for draw; but it’s usually extremely difficult or impossible without very strong support. Many of these cards are good cards, but they don’t serve the purpose of meeting the objective of the draw definition very well. That’s not to say that you can’t make them work in a pinch when nothing better is available, but it’s a lot of work and frequently won’t be worth it to pursue.
- Apothecary can’t increase the number of non-Copper or non-Potion cards in your hand, which is a huge mark against it in terms of actual draw; you usually need some other enabler like Warehouse to make it function as draw, otherwise its effect is closer to sifting.
- Cavalry increases your hand size on-gain, so it works in a pinch when you need some cards, but the on-gain benefit isn’t a sustainable source of draw.
- Crypt will increase your hand size, but the issue here is that you can’t use it to draw your deck in any meaningful way, as other cards that you might want could be “trapped” in duration-land. Plus, it only works on treasure cards.
- Cultist has an on-trash benefit of +3 Cards. While this works well as draw, the number of times you can use this is usually limited to the number of Cultists you have that you’re willing to trash from your deck (or from the supply with Lurker).
- Church, Ghost Town, Haven, Native Village, Royal Carriage, and Way of the Turtle are all just forms of pushing a card from a previous hand off to a future hand — you’ll need something like a megaturn deck to take advantage of this kind of thing.
- Goatherd doesn’t usually give you the chance to choose when it can draw, and almost never increases handsize when it draws cards.
- Invest doesn’t usually give you the chance to choose when it can draw.
- Ironmonger can increase your handsize, but in order to get this to happen reliably, you need a high density of victory cards in your deck, which usually makes decks much worse and doesn’t function well without another source of draw.
- Madman is a one-shot and is tough to gain.
- Magpie only works on treasure cards
- Warrior can be tough to get a lot of, and usually isn’t good at drawing cards until you get a Champion out.
- Patrician is difficult to enable, especially if you want to have a lot of Patricians; plus there are only five of them.
- Settlers/Bustling Village are very difficult to enable, and most of the draw you can expect to get from these cards is just Coppers.
- Shanty Town‘s draw very rarely happens and is pretty much impossible to make reliable.
- Sinister Plot can be used to draw lots of cards on specific turns, but can’t be used to increase hand size consistently across consecutive turns.
- Summon can work as draw but is usually very expensive and it only effectively gives you one card worth of draw.
- Vagrant can usually only draw cards that aren’t very good, so it’s more of a sifter than a draw card in real games of Dominion.
- Way of the Mole can only draw up to 3 cards in hand.
Draw that doesn’t work out in practice
These cards, while you can theoretically make them work as draw, have issues that are serious enough that they can almost never provide the draw effect in a real game of Dominion.
- Adventurer can only draw treasures, and requires village support to fit this definition.
- Beggar and Counting House are not only terminal, but they only draw Coppers, so you need to convert that into cards that aren’t bad. Beggar gains you a whole bunch of Coppers which you have to deal with somehow, and Counting House requires you to have Coppers in your discard to work at all.
- Boons can sometimes increase your hand size in some cases with The Sea’s Gift or The River’s Gift, but these are unpredictable, weak effects that are impractical to try to plan around.
- Cobbler and Save are forms of pushing a card from one turn to the next, but are limited enough in their utility that they don’t work out well in practice.
- Duplicate and Engineer have interactions with the gain-to-hand abilities of cards like Den of Sin, Rocks, Ghost Town, or Guardian; which can increase hand size. While this fits the definition of draw here, it’s completely impractical.
- Fortress and Rats need to be combined with some very specific sources of trashing in order to function as draw, which is convoluted enough that it’s almost never possible; the main exception being with Procession and Fortress.
- Guide will increase hand size when called if you’ve been hit by a discard attack or something similar.
- Jack of All Trades has many abilities, but the draw-to-5 isn’t powerful enough to overcome the fact that a deck that uses this as its only source of draw is brought down by the constant treasure-gain from Jack.
- Cargo Ship, Citadel, Crop Rotation, Flag, Innovation, Piazza, Sir Destry, Trusty Steed, and Zombie Apprentice will only effectively draw one extra card per turn for you at most, and many of them have additional requirements on top of this restriction in order to get the draw effect.
- Road Network can be useful towards the end of the game, but its reliance on opponents to do something very specific to enable it means that building a deck around this as the only source of draw isn’t practical.
- Scout is a bad card.
- Tribute isn’t reliable enough at drawing cards to work out.
- Villa increases hand size when gained and returns to the Action phase, so it technically fits the definition of draw. With Alms this can function as draw once per turn, but isn’t practical.