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Episode 26: Our Favorite Cards

In this episode, Adam, Jake, and special guest Jessica talk about our favorite Dominion cards.

Kingdom at the end: Steward, Bishop, Jack of All Trades, Noble Brigand, Rats, Sea Hag, Festival, Vampire, Farmland, Hunting Grounds, Ritual

Great episode.

Seemed like almost every game you were describing, Jessica was able to say "I won that game". 🙂


Like many kingdoms, I think the one at the end here would be more interesting without Platinum/Colony. And probably without shelters as well? As is, Vampire into Festival/Hunting Grounds drawing thing has to be best. Getting Festivals seems pretty important. One vampire vs 2 is a question, as is whether you get a Steward or not. I lean toward one Vampire and a Steward, but that's based on gut, and no Steward into 2 Vamps doesn't seem crazy. Bishop/Ritual stuff seems wrong to me, but I suppose it might be a bit tactical, might come up. I think it would be way more important if Plat Colony weren't here. I guess it's a valve to score oodles of points from Platina if an opponent greens too early, which might be important, but I don't think it is a thing in a well-played game, except again maybe tactically right at the very end. Without Plat/Col, a more money-ish deck would have at least a halfway reasonable chance I think, because the draw deck is a bit slow and perhaps not entirely reliable. I still think it would be better - in this case Ritual/Bishop would be a lot more important to give you room back into the game.



I agree with Jake about giving yourself permission to lose. I look at it as about respecting my opponent as well as myself. If your opponent plays as well as you, you will lose about half the time. So, if they play perfectly, you can't really expect to win more than about half your games.I think where things get dangerous is when you think you played better than them, and then blame luck for your loss. In reality, that may be true in some cases, but that line of thinking is almost certainly a trap.


With really thorough analysis, you might in some completely over-simplified case be able to say that e.g. what you did wins 70% of the time, but you know, 30% is 30% not 0. And anyway, such things usually are really hard to say, because there are a lot of decisions that go into that, and it's very hard to know what your opponent would have done for other luck outcomes.


It's also important to remember that just because your opponent got lucky doesn't mean they didn't also play well. Somebody has to get luckier than the other person/people.

Good episode.

I really liked Jake's article on Embargo.  Embargo is kind of a favorite card, and I'm always sad to see top players put Embargo tokens on throwaway piles because they're convinced it's useless.

Other favorite cards: Tragic Hero, Conclave, Shanty Town, Encampment/Plunder.  I tend to like wonky control cards.

For the kingdom at the end, I think Ritual is a lot better than Bishop.  +Action is much more precious than +Buy here.  And you get a lot more points with Ritual than with Bishop, especially since I think your target is probably Colony or Platinum.  You don't mind gaining the curse, since you'll be thin and your bats need food.  Of course, all you're really doing is turning VP cards into VP chips, and maybe your draw is good enough that you can just hold your green until the game ends.

As for my favorite cards:

I feel like most games of Dominion follow the formula of: Get deck controlled to the point you can draw it all every turn, add payload, win game. The particulars shift a bit based on the individual cards, and sometimes you're missing a key piece that makes the whole thing not work, but most games end up working out that way. And that's been increasingly true as time goes on, in part because the fraction of cards enabling this has gone up (mostly because bad/niche cards are getting printed much less often), and in part because things like events mean there's more total options, making it more likely you'll have your bases covered.

All that is by way of saying, my favorite cards are most often things which subvert this, and moreso by having strong alternatives encouraging different styles of decks rather than just sucking the air out of the "engine". BUT having said that, I also don't like things which are just monolithically powerful and you blindly mind-numbingly go for every time they're there (e.g. Rebuild), because that isn't really solving the sameness problem for me. So I like niche cards, basically.



My favorite for a long time was Gardens, before it was eventually supplanted by Silk Road; Duke is good along similar lines. These all give you sources of lots of VP, which sometimes can help draw-your-deck decks by opening up the overall footprint of points available (which helps the long game be good), but the specific nature of them can also help decks that are less focused on comboing off lots of actions, since they can mean that your deck eventually needs to be very big. Stonemason can let you empty piles very quickly, which encourages you to have some amount of tactical points in some cases, and really keen pile control/endgame play, which is to me the best part of many-actions-per-turn decks. Ironworks can be good in similar vein as that. Hoard is a card that can either give you longevity in greening earlier or really ramp your payload in some cases in draw-heavier decks. Haggler is similar there. Fool's Gold can be a card you rush down for burly economy, or a card that you nip into a few of for efficient payload. Courtyard is not super strong as main draw component, but the 'drawback' lets you do nice things to smooth OR to seed next hands. Coin token generators have similar smoothing properties, and Butcher in particular let's you apply pressure to piles at the same time, which is nice. And then there's cards which are generally fine but rarely great, and play best in what I call 'good stuff decks', like Caravan, Lab, Monument, etc. - they're rarely the star of the show, but they're almost always at least fine.


I'm not the hugest fan of the newest expansions, mostly because I find they can add too much. Which seems exciting and all, but there's something to be said about restrictions breeding difference (and some of the stuff feels a bit gimmicky to me - ymmv). I quite liked Guilds, actually, along with Hinterlands, Intrigue. But there's not a huge difference. I'm also not the biggest fan of Prosperity, mostly for the card Colony (which I find usually detracts from strategic decisions rather than adding to them), VP tokens (one of the best things about Dominion is the tension between making your deck better and scoring points, which makes your deck worse), and some overly powerful cards (King's Court, Goons - the novelty of which is fun for a while, but can get old).




In general, though, it's more boards that make the game interesting than cards, and any card can be interesting in the right context. The cards I usually like least are the ones which usually make that context rarer - usually because they're so strong so often (occasionally for being too weak - e.g. Scout).




All in all, it makes me very interested in a very very slight variant, wherein the only thing different is that the number of kingdom piles is reduced slightly; I think I would try going from ten to eight to start with.