Category Archives: Tabletop Games

Anything related to games that are played on the top of a table

Bite-Sized: Torturer

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.

Torturer is one of the only discard attacks that stacks with multiple plays, meaning that you can force your opponent to either take a lot of Curses or discard all the way down to zero cards in hand if you can play enough Torturers in a turn. For this reason, Torturer is the focal point of most kingdoms where it appears with a village.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t always discard to Torturer — if you give up chances to play your own Torturer, your deck may stay clear of Curses but you won’t win. Most games like this revolve around just playing as many Torturers as possible until one player has been beaten into submission. Only strong trashing can prevent this kind of scenario, because that type of deck can power through the Curses until they are gone, rendering Torturer’s attack mostly inert.

Bite-Sized: Rebuild

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.

Rebuild is one of the less popular cards in the game, in part because it’s so powerful on its own. Rebuild is powerful because can score a respectable amount of points and then end the game quickly while taking away opportunities for other decks to catch up. Most synergies with Rebuild revolve around cards that help you play more Rebuilds. Most other types of support don’t end up being helpful, and Rebuild tends to not fit into decks with other game plans very well.

When uncontested, Rebuild has the potential to end the game extremely quickly. The best plan for this deck is often to trash Provinces and regain Provinces, just to empty the pile as quickly as possible, only turning for more points if necessary.
When both players pursue a Rebuild-focused strategy, things change a lot. Winning the Duchy split is usually game-decisive, so you usually name Duchy with your Rebuild unless Duchy is the only target in your deck. Getting caught with an Estate in your deck when the Duchies are gone is a huge negative. For more detail on Rebuild mirrors, check out this article.

Bite-Sized: Seer

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.

The ability to get the full package of draw (that is, increasing your handsize while maintaining your ability to play more action cards) from a single card is very powerful, and any card which allows it without having to jump through too many hoops deserves significant consideration.

Seer gives you this ability, with the only stipulation that the cards need to cost between 2 and 4. In general, if you are drawing less than one extra card off Seer, it’s mediocre; at around 1 card, it’s pretty decent. But it’s when you start getting multiple extra cards from a single Seer that it starts to get particularly powerful. Will you get to that point? That depends a lot on how you build your deck – how well can you get rid of your coppers? Are you getting junked? Do you want cards that cost 2-4, or does most of your ideal deck cost 5+? Of particular note is that, barring cost-reduction, Seer doesn’t cost 2-4, meaning that you can’t just build a stack of only Seers and have everything draw beautifully. Overall, though, the range is really wide on how good it will be, and you need to look at every case on its own merits; thankfully, this is not so hard to do, so long as you roughly know your plan and your deck’s composition.

One note about the action phase when playing multiple Seers – try to give each Seer the maximum possible search space to hit draw-able cards; this is done by not having multiple wrong-costed cards on top of your deck when you play it, playing other draw cards (most often cantrips) in between Seers when necessary.

Bite-Sized: Recruiter

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.

Recruiter is a very powerful thinner and a very powerful village. It lets you trash a targeted card from a fairly wide range – one more than the number of cards in your hand when you played it. In most cases, it’s effectively nonterminal, as the villagers usually more than pay for the action cost of the Recruiter itself. It does not actually increase your handsize, since you have to trash a card, but being handsize-neutral is already better than almost all other trashers. If you’re willing to feed it a bit you can use it as a village extraordinaire, sometimes even powering all the remaining terminals in your deck. It’s almost always worth getting one on an early $5 hand, and often it’s worth getting a second. Do note, though, that there are diminishing returns, as can be the case with many trashers.

Bite-Sized: Silk Merchant

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.

Silk Merchant provides a little bit of everything you want at the start of the game. It increases your payload with the on-gain coffer (which is really, really good at hitting early price points. Opening SM and silver, you’re likely to be able to hit 5 twice, or up to 7 once, on turns 3-4). It increases your deck control with the draw, and the Villager. The villagers it gives helps you pick them up without much fear, which you’d normally otherwise have with a terminal, even though it’s also a drawing card. Extra buys are also something you want to pick up fairly often, and on Silk Merchant, you’re getting them on a card which already otherwise furthers your game plan, making the cost of getting that +buy quite small.

Having said this, you can’t usually build a deck just from these – they are terminal draw, and if you spam these and only these, you don’t end up with much of a deck at all – you eventually won’t have enough villagers to play them all, and you don’t have much lasting payload. So you want to use the card more as a role player, combining with things like villages and economy in order to maximize your deck’s effectiveness.


The on-trash effect is also a nice bonus and is usually quite strong wherever there’s something that gives you benefit for trashing a card (especially one which cares about the card’s cost).

Bite-Sized: Sauna/Avanto

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.

The split pile of Sauna and Avanto can provide three different deck control functions that are valuable in most games of Dominion: thinning, draw, and a village. In spite of the fact that it’s mediocre at providing each one of these effects individually, the fact that you can get all three of them makes Sauna/Avanto worth going for in many games, especially if it’s the only source or at least one of those effects.

If you’re using Sauna/Avanto for trashing, you usually want to go for other sources of trashing first, unless those sources are prohibitively expensive. In the absence of other reasonable trashers, you’ll either want to open Sauna/Silver and hope for collision soon, or consider skipping trashing that game.

If you want to draw cards with Sauna/Avanto, you’ll want to make sure you are in a situation to get lots of Avantos. Draw is what this pile is best at, so you’ll be in good shape if you build a deck to be ready for the Avantos when they show up. The main exception to this is when Sauna is the only village.

If you want a village out of the pile, Sauna is pretty unreliable and inefficient at getting you there. You have to line up three cards to get that effect, and get lots of copies of both Sauna and Avanto. On top of this, you won’t get all of the possible actions every turn. As a supplemental source of one or two extra actions each turn, or to support Avanto as draw, this is pretty good, but as the only village for supporting other terminals, Sauna usually doesn’t cut it by itself.

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.