Category Archives: Dominion

Bite-Sized: Star Chart

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Star Chart’s effect looks innocent at first glance, but the consistency it provides is extremely valuable in the first few turns of the game, to the point where it’s difficult to imagine situations where it’s not worth it to get Star Chart within that time frame. Along with that, it continues to be valuable throughout the entire game.

The most common situation for Star Chart is to open with it, ensuring that you see your other opening buy on turn 3. This makes opening with duration and reserve cards much better, and shores up the chance that a critical card misses the shuffle, which is frequently more valuable than buying another card in the opening. There are a few exceptions to this, the most notable of them being: a 5/2 or 2/5 opening, or maybe if hitting $5 on both of turns 3 and 4 is appealing. Even in these cases, you are likely to want to pick up Star Chart soon.

Given that you have this extra piece of consistency from early on, you can build your deck more aggressively. The need to overdraw just for consistency’s sake is much less, and generally you can prioritize payload a little higher with Star Chart around.

Bite-Sized: Scrying Pool

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Scrying Pool is one of the few sources of unbounded draw in Dominion. In an action-dense deck, Scrying Pool can draw you an obscene number of cards without even using an action. This, coupled with the attack, makes a strategy based on drawing your deck with Scrying Pool much more powerful than it might seem on a lot of boards. Trashing your starting cards is one of the best ways to get an action-dense deck, so it can be worth delaying your Potion buy until after the opening to get started faster.

Even in decks that aren’t action-dense, Scrying Pool is still worth going for, as it can still draw a significant number of cards, especially when you consider that the sifting effect for your own deck is often as good as drawing an extra card. It’s usually only skippable in heavily treasure-focused decks with limited gains, because in these games it takes longer to get an action-dense deck up and running and it’s more difficult to overcome a points deficit.

Bite-Sized: Masquerade

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

It’s easy to look at Masquerade and get too focused on the passing portion of the card, but this is not really what makes it powerful. Drawing multiple cards while being able to thin makes Masquerade a potent force for early deck control, and when you throw in its low cost, it winds up being one of the strongest cards in the game. It’s very rare that you can open with a card that allows you to thin your deck and also buy a good card on that same turn, unless of course you had a 5/2 opening.

The passing portion of the card is not completely insignificant, though. You really don’t want to pass good cards to your opponent, which means you can’t get so thin that you don’t expect to draw at least one bad card in your opening hand. Masquerade also has synergy with discard attacks, because if you have actions remaining after making your opponent discard, there is still the threat that you will play a Masquerade, which will force them to pass you a good card unless they kept a bad card after getting discard-attacked.

Bite-Sized: Peasant

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Teacher’s effect is extremely powerful because it offers the effect of a village, draw, and +Buy, all in the same card – you can almost always have some pretty great turns because of Teacher if you have enough time to set it up. You’ll want at least two spammable cards for Teacher to be at its best, and of course one of them can be terminal if you’re OK putting your +Action token on it.

Disciple is an excellent card as well, and it has a synergy with Teacher: Disciple likes to double action cards and gain more copies of cards if they are enhanced by Teacher’s tokens. iIf you’re going for Teacher, you’ll want to pick up additional Peasants so you can have one or two Disciples along with your Teacher.

Peasant’s main weakness is that it takes a while to get going. You can help things along with trashing and junking, but it’s unusual to get more than two of Teacher’s tokens out before the game is over. Soldier can help slow your opponent down, so when you’re not being contested with these Travellers, you’ll want to make sure to play two Soldiers each turn.

Bite-Sized: Mountebank

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Junking attacks in general are pretty powerful in Dominion, but Mountebank is able to potentially give out two cards worth of junk on each play, making it one of the most powerful junking attacks in the game. Even after the Curses are gone, Mountebank can still junk opponents by giving them extra Coppers.

Decks with lots of Curses can dodge Mountebank’s attack, however, so after the first few plays, Mountebank’s attack can get less effective. To mitigate this, you may want to switch to another junker later on if it’s available, or try to play multiple Mountebanks in a turn if possible.

If your opponent has Mountebanks and you are faced with the choice of trashing a Copper or a Curse (which you may have a few copies of), consider keeping the Curse around to guard against future Mountebank attacks. Often times this can be better for your deck control, and this will outweigh the payload you get from the Copper, especially if you can trash the Curse later.

Bite-Sized: Minion

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Minion’s presence often leads to games that focus around getting as many copies of Minion as possible. Its flexibility to be used as either draw or payload enables decks with lots of copies of Minion to be both powerful and somewhat consistent. Support for Minion usually comes in the form of “virtual payload,” meaning payload that happens in the action phase of your turn, which sidesteps Minion’s drawback of forcing you to discard your hand when used for draw. Minion also likes to be able to trash cards that aren’t virtual payload, such as treasure cards.

On top of this, though the attack portion of Minion is often underestimated, it is often more powerful than other discard attacks. This means that playing other decks gets worse, as Minion serves a soft counter to its own attack.

Bite-Sized: Pathfinding

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Drawing cards is great, and tacking on extra card draw to cards you already have in your deck is even better. Pathfinding is at its best when it’s put on a non-terminal (especially a cantrip), because those are the cards you tend to have a lot of.

Pathfinding does cost a lot, but it quickly pays for itself by eliminating the need for putting extra draw cards in the deck, while suddenly boosting your deck’s consistency.

Bite-Sized: Overlord

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

At first glance, Overlord might just seem like an expensive Band of Misfits, which isn’t a very powerful card, but Overlord has a couple of use cases that push it up to one of the best cards in the game.

The first is opening with an Overlord. You can have access to a $5 card, even if you didn’t open with a 5/2, along with whatever else you can afford on your first turn, if you just buy an Overlord on your second turn. This is strongest when there is a $5 card that trashes cards or attacks your opponent, because these effects can be meaningful even if you’re in debt. If you can open with the card otherwise, or if your only $5 options for Overlord are cards that make money, Overlord openings aren’t nearly as good.

Overlord’s flexibility is not to be ignored, though. Its role can change as the game progresses, so you may play it as a trasher or junker early on and then something else when that’s no longer useful — in these cases you may even consider opening with an Overlord if the trasher or junker costs less than $5. The flexibility is stronger with Overlord than Band of Misfits simply because you will have more options to choose from, and those options are usually stronger because $5 cards are significantly more powerful than $4 cards.

Bite-Sized: Margrave

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Finding a card that draws cards and gives an extra buy is rare in Dominion, and cards with this combination of abilities are usually quite powerful. You can make much better use of your turns that gives you lots of cards in hand if you have the extra buys to take advantage of them. The most important part of Margrave, though, is the attack. Most decks have trouble dealing with an opponent who consistently plays a discard attack.

While it’s true that the attack gets worse when multiple Margraves are played in one turn, you have the core of a very powerful deck that aims to draw itself each turn with the support of just about any village, making Margrave nearly unignorable.

Bite-Sized: Page

The Bite-Sized series of articles is meant to take the most powerful cards in Dominion and give a short explanation of what makes them powerful.

Champion is an extremely powerful effect, and makes a lot of very powerful decks possible. Infinite actions is, of course, a huge asset when there are lots of terminals you want to play, especially ones that draw cards. This effect alone is almost always worth opening Page for, and it’s almost always worth focusing the first ten or so turns of the game on getting Champion in play as quickly as possible. Naturally, the strongest synergies here are trashing or anything else that helps your play your Travellers sooner.

Getting complete immunity from attacks is a great effect as well. However, most of the time you should still invest in attacking your opponent just to slow their Champion down. Of special note is Warrior, which can trash your opponent’s Warrior, slowing their Champion down enough to be game-decisive most times this happens.

Champion is not the complete focus of every game it appears in, but Page offers support for money-focused decks as well with Treasure Hunter and Hero, which can make Page still worth going for in these situations.