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.

Bite-Sized: Governor

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.

Governor is very powerful, largely because of its versatility. You can gain a Gold, draw that Gold, and “remodel” it into a Province, all non-terminally. On top of that, decks that use Governor can benefit from almost every kind of support, because even if the support is something Governor already does, you can free up your Governor plays to do more of the things you have less support for.

Drawing cards with Governor is probably its riskiest ability; not because drawing three cards is bad, but because it helps your opponent so much. Because of this, other sources of trashing and/or draw are the strongest support for Governor, and using this ability is best when you plan to end the game that turn. It also gets much better when you have a discard attack to play afterwards.

The Gold-gain ability of Governor is a great option in the early-to-midgame, largely because you have the most time to spend those Golds before you eventually turn them into Provinces.

The “remodel” ability is usually best in the endgame, because you’ll want to gain Provinces then, but also because it’s fairly weak early when your opponent can use it to thin Coppers or turn $4 cards into Governors. However, make sure you’re aware of your opponent’s ability to get points from your Governor plays.
More detail on Governor can be found in this podcast episode.

Bite-Sized: Grand Market

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.

Grand Market’s effect is very powerful, and it would be a good addition to almost every deck, provided you can afford it. It’s strong because you get to add payload to your deck without having to spend extra resources drawing that payload or decreasing your deck’s reliability.

However, the restriction on Copper makes the cost very high. Without Copper trashing, Grand Market is sometimes not worth going for, in the sense that you may not want to build your deck enough to hit $6 consistently without Coppers in play even if you would still want the card if that situation came up. If you can sidestep this part of the cost, usually by gaining the card in some way other than buying it, Grand Market gets much stronger.

Once you have a couple of Grand Markets in your deck, future Grand Markets become much easier to buy, meaning the pile will frequently empty. In this cases, it’s usually wise to be thinking about Estate pileouts for the rest of the game.

Bite-Sized: Lost Arts

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.

Many types of terminal actions can be made much better by tacking on +1 Action.

The most common synergy with Lost Arts is putting it on a terminal draw card. This is very strong because you no longer need to line up a village with your draw card, and you get all of your draw up front. This leads to decks that can be built much more efficiently and end up being much more consistent; drawing your deck at this point becomes trivial.

You can also put Lost Arts on terminal payload cards, even weaker ones, to make spamming these cards a valid strategy, even without any other support.

Bite-Sized: Fishing Village

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.

Fishing Village is a very strong card, strong enough to enable decks that wouldn’t work with most other villages, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t draw a card. Most of the time drawing a card is better than getting the $1, except for in the very beginning of the game, making Fishing Village one of the few villages it can be OK to open with. To compensate for the fact that Fishing Village doesn’t draw a card, it’s usually best when paired with stronger sources of draw; +3 cards or more.

Most villages give you +2 Actions when you play them, and while it’s true that one play of Fishing Village will net you 3 Actions, the more relevant comparison is that it gives you the “village effect” on two consecutive turns. The important thing here is that it doesn’t actually increase the number of terminal actions you can play in one turn, but rather you only have to draw the card one time to get the benefit for two turns.

The reason Fishing Village is so powerful is that duration-Fishing-Villages give you actions at the start of your turn, which is by far the best time to get actions. You don’t need to worry about drawing villages to kick off your turn as long as you have some in play. For this reason, in many decks it can be good to “stagger” your Fishing Villages, meaning that you want to have roughly the same number of duration-Fishing-Villages out at the start of each of your turns, instead of having a bunch on one turn and then only one or two on the next. Decks constructed and played this way are usually very reliable when other engine decks could have issues.

Bite-Sized: Highway

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.

Gaining all of the Provinces gets a lot easier when they don’t cost so much, so whenever there’s a cost reduction effect around, the potential for huge turns should be on your radar, as it is the most common cause of these types of “megaturns.” Highway is very powerful because this effect is attached to a cantrip, making it relatively easy to play a lot of them.

The main synergy with Highway that you’re looking for is extra buys or gains. You can eliminate the need for village support by looking for non-terminal synergies like Seaway, other cantrip +Buy, or Ironworks. To take full advantage of these, you really want some trashing because it eliminates the need for draw on top of already not needing a village.

Bite-Sized: Goons

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.

Goons is important on nearly every single board where you see it, but why it’s important can vary. The differentiating factor here is whether or not you can realistically play more than one Goons in a turn.

If you can only play one Goons in a turn, chances are the attack portion of the card is very strong, while the VP tokens you get are a nice little bonus. In these games, it’s frequently worth picking up several copies of Goons just to ensure you can play one every turn.

While that case still makes it a very important card in most games, Goons is much more powerful when it’s possible to play multiple copies in one turn. This is mostly because you can outscore most other strategies with just VP tokens that you get from Goons, while not necessarily making your deck worse in the process.

In most Goons games, putting the first Goons in your deck is usually a high priority, since the discard attack can make it difficult for your opponent to hit $6 to get their first Goons.More detail on Goons can be found in this podcast episode.

Bite-Sized: King’s Court

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.

Playing an action once and playing it three times for the cost of just one action are very different in power level. King’s Court’s effect on other action cards is already extremely strong for most actions in the game — for two cards (King’s Court and target action) you get the effect of three card plays.

Things start getting absurd when you play King’s Court on King’s Court, though. Using the analogy from above, King’s Court on King’s Court allows for three tripled actions, which is nine card plays for five cards, which is more efficient as more King’s Courts are tripled. Turns that start with two King’s Courts and any source of +Cards are usually extremely good since you can draw your deck and use remaining King’s Courts to triple payload cards.

King’s Court’s effect on other action cards is so strong that even with very weak actions available to triple, King’s Court is usually part of the best decks that can be built: “where there’s King’s Court, there’s a way.”

Bite-Sized: Ferry

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.

First, Ferry enables you to add a $5 action to your deck before turn 3, no matter what opening you have, and on a 3/4 opening you can even open with a $6 card. On top of allowing more cards to be opened with, expensive cards are more easily accessible as putting Ferry down reduces the price point you have to hit to access those cards; which is normally a huge limiting factor, especially for cards you want a lot of copies of. This is especially true for cards whose cost can be reduced to $4 or lower when appropriate gainers are around, but can still be useful on cheap cards, provided you have extra buys or gains in abundance.

It can often be good to move your Ferry token after it’s already on a pile. It pays for itself pretty quickly with just two gains of the new card, provided that the extra buy wasn’t a big deal, and can be very useful for enabling 3-pile endings.