these are my Dominion opinions. i'm not the best player in the world but i am always right about everything.

all card images from diehrstraits

i will commonly refer to dominionstrategy.com's articles, because they are the only other site that gives a damn about Dominion

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Council Room

This is still one of my absolute favorite cards. It gives such fat draw, and another Buy to use on hookers or whatever you want, cocaine, whatever.

It does let your opponent draw a card, which I also love, because it means I get to draw cards when you play one! This card makes everybody happy.

And you can play Militia to totally negate the card's disadvantage.

The only problem with this card is that it isn't tattooed on my face.

Rating: 5/5
The best card-draw in the game.

Throne Room

Throne Room has some weird effects on the game. For one, it uses one Action to play two action cards, so if the card has +1 Action on it, it suddenly becomes able to give you multiple actions rather than simply replacing its own. It also makes certain actions wickedly powerful and doesn't do much or anything to others.

Throne Room doesn't expand your hand in quite the way that King's Court does; you're taking one card and effectively playing two copies of it, so Throne Room sort of just becomes an extra copy of whatever else you have in hand. In the same sense, King's Court behaves like two copies of that card, giving you three cards in the space of two. Pretty cool.

Anyway, if you have a specific strategy in mind for Throne Room, or there are no true +Actions cards on the board, picking one up is a good idea.

Best cards to use with it: Council Room, Smithy, Torturer, Nobles, Possession, Rabble, and Envoy. All of them draw a ton of cards, except Possession, which... well, that's a bag of shit that we can smell later.

Rating: 3/5
Entirely dependent on the available actions, but potentially devastating


I know two-player games are in vogue thanks to Isotropic, but every game I play with physical cards has three or four players. In those situations, Thief doubles or triples in effectiveness, and it can be a fun way to grab three Golds in one turn.

That said, Thief also has a good chance of helping your opponent by trashing his Copper for him. Also, if Thief is in the game, your opponent might grab one and steal all the shit you stole from him right back... making the whole exercise futile.

It's a gamble, and with most attacks, you don't really want a gamble.

Rating: 1/5, 2/5, or 3/5
It gets better the more opponents you have, but it never becomes great.


Spy is still a pretty useful card. Only Familiar replaces itself in the same way (+1 Card, +1 Action), but Spy also helps you control your upcoming draws. A big Spy-chain can both mess up your opponents and provide you with a juicy hand to play with.

Spy also combos with several other attacks: Thief to find the opponent's big money, Swindler to find the opponent's Copper (or turn his Torturer into a Duchy), and Jester to find something you'd like to have. This covers one of Spy's main disadvantages; it doesn't do all that much to your opponent by itself.

So, a few Spies rarely hurt. I wouldn't buy ten of them; you still need an Action to cycle them out, and if you blow your last Action on a Smithy and draw three Spies, you'll be pretty disappointed.

Rating: 3/5
Gets more useful with each new set, and usually doesn't take up space in your hand.


Even a beginner intuitively understands the value of card-draw. This might have been the first Dominion card I ever bought, and I'm still buying it just as often in games today.

Smithy is one of my favorite cards in the set, even though it's really simple. It's not expensive, it combos well, it fits almost any strategy... there's nothing to dislike about it.


Nothing at all.


Okay, fine. What the fuck are they doing in that picture?

"Hey, Bob, I'm gonna start hammering the fuck out of this double-bucket, why don't you lean way over and put your hand in there for me. That's a lad."

Oh, wait, there's something in the old man's other hand, there. Is he chiseling something? Why? Is he bored of making things out of metal and now he's blacksmithing with fucking stone?

What's the leaning guy wearing? Does he always put a belt on over his bicep that goes behind his back? What is that for, besides making every movement more difficult?

Also he has the longest forearm in the history of forearms.

Christ al-fucking-mighty.

Rating: 3/5
The card draw is good, even if the card's drawing is awful.


Cards are tools. Their purpose is to help you win the game. I know you like drawing a bunch of money every turn, but you can't keep it for its own sake. Remember the real objective.

Remodel will turn your Gold into a Province, or your Platinum into a Colony. It's not always the right move, if it's early in the game and you're still putting your deck together, but you should consider it an attractive option, rather than a last resort.

Aside from that point, Remodel basically improves your control over your deck. The card you gain doesn't have to cost $2 more than the one you trashed; it can be any card below that cost, too. (This is in contrast to Upgrade, which has its own merits and flaws.)

You don't always think about Remodel being part of your deck when you're planning it, but I can tell you that I use it almost every time I draw it.

Rating: 4/5
Always helpful, sometimes critical.


Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid, I read Moneylender and thought to myself, "Why would I want to throw away perfectly good Copper?" (I didn't win many games back then.)

Now, of course, whenever I see it, I usually buy one. At worst, it turns your lonesome Copper right into Silver, and at best it'll help you get Gold or better. It's a very solid card.

Of course, eventually you run out of Copper, and unfortunately the Moneylender doesn't just disappear at that point. If there's other trashing on the board, feel free to buy a few Moneylenders and then trash them when the Coppers are gone. As a 4-cost, Remodel will turn it into a Gold for you, Upgrade will make it whatever 5-cost you want, so on.

So while I do like Moneylender, if Chapel and Moneylender are both out, I'll probably just get the Chapel. It is four times faster at trashing Copper and it works on other shit, too. Cards like Masquerade and Ambassador will also make me think for a minute about what I really want to do with my Copper.

Rating: 3/5
Useful, but limited.


This is still one of my favorite attacks. Goons, the current best card in the game (you heard it here first), is heavily based on this card. Militia just plain fucks your opponents; playing with a three-card hand is absolute torture (just ask the Torturer).

Militia absolutely shines when combined with Council Room (especially if you King's Court the Council Room... hang on, I have to adjust my pants). You and your opponents both draw a shitload of cards, and then they all get to discard down to 3. Of course, they get to pick the best 3 cards out of however many you let them draw, but at the same time you've got umpteen billion cards AND all of the Buys from Council Room. Glorious. (Imagine it with Goons*... oh god I messed myself)

The primary drawback to Militia: it says specifically "down to 3 cards" so playing multiples at once will only give you a bit more money and will not further punish your opponent (in contrast to Torturer, which chains very nicely).

Furthermore, it doesn't so much win you games as slow down your opponents. You won't have Militia as part of your +Actions/+Cards Machine (though it can spice the thing up if you've got Actions to spare).

Rating: 4/5
Potentially infuriating.

* oh hey, that's Combo #8!


This card is strictly better than Duchy. It costs less, and in most cases, it will be worth at least as many VP (unless you decide to buy Gardens while also intentionally staying under 30 cards, in which case you're just trying to piss me off).

I like the idea behind Gardens. It rewards you for doing something that is otherwise inadvisable: bloating your deck. That said, I'm not sure how I feel about attempting a true, full-on Gardens strategy.

For one, it absolutely depends on you grabbing every last Gardens, which a decent opponent will not let you do. Grabbing a few extra victory cards won't hurt him as much as denying you those same cards will hurt you.

For two, it absolutely depends on you finishing the game quickly, before your opponent (who is likely attempting to win) buys up all those Provinces. (Oh, and God help you if it's a Colony game.)

For three, it absolutely depends on you grabbing as many cards as you can. If there aren't enough actions that let you gain extra cards or add Buys, you're basically attempting to win with about (by my calculations) 27 points; that's as much as 4 Provinces plus 3 Estates.

So if you think you can end the game before your opponent gets 4 Provinces, go for it.

Otherwise, play normally and grab it when you would otherwise pick up a Duchy.

Rating: 3/5
Better than a Duchy... but that's not saying much, is it?


I'm fairly torn about this card, if we're honest. If what you really need is that tasty five-cost action, and you open 4/3 (4 copper in one of your first two hands, 3 in the other), and there's no other 4-cost action at all, I'd get one.

And I mean one. If I draw $4 again, I'm probably going to get a Silver the next time. Maybe I should have done that the first time. It really depends on the board; if Minion is out, or Vault, or Mountebank, some really game-changing $5 card, Feast will get you there, slowly but surely...

... but so would a Silver...

... God, I don't know, I just don't know...

Rating: 1/5
... please, just put me out of my misery...


Back when I was just playing with the Base set, this was an awesome card. You gain a Silver on the deck, AND you potentially fuck up your opponent's next draw! It was almost too good to be true.

Nowadays, of course, Silver isn't worth as much as it used to be, and many decks won't be bothered and might even be assisted by you messing with their Victory cards. (I'm thinking specifically of Native Village tucking the thing away.)

However, the biggest indictment of Bureaucrat is that it just doesn't combo well. You could figure out a few ways to draw those Silvers, but then you've still got a deck full of Silvers at the end of the day. Back then, that was fine; these days, that can be a liability.

And how about that Victory card the opponent has on the deck now? You could Swindle it, but most of the things you could do with it might only help him. Jester is a cool solution now, as when he reveals it, he'll get a Curse... but there are certainly more straightforward ways of Cursing someone, and anyway that's not how I prefer to use my Jesters.

And once you hit the late-game, you just don't want to see that fucking Bureaucrat anymore.

Rating: 2/5
An obsolete attack. Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Okay, it's not the worst card ever printed, but here's what's going to happen: you're going to bloat your deck with cheap cards. You'll have it, you'll be like "I bought it, I shouldn't waste it," and you'll load up on 4-cost Actions (which usually aren't game-winners) or Silver, and then you'll be sitting around in late-game playing with a deck that's stuck in the mid-game.

A finely enfattened deck might be all right if you're running a pure Gardens strategy, but if you're not, you're slowly dying from obesity.

Note: playing Bridge just once suddenly makes this card really, really good.

Rating: 2/5
Requires a strategy built around it, or it's deck poison.


I think I've purchased one Woodcutter, ever. Fuck, I hate this card.

It's not bad, it's just not good for much. Let's just forget about the +2 Coin and focus on the +1 Buy, which is the only reason you'd purchase this over a Silver.

You only need extra Buys when you have so much money that you are able to buy more than a Province/Colony. It doesn't matter if you have $500, if you only have one Buy, you might as well have $8/$11.

So you'd buy a Woodcutter if you're able to amass so much wealth every turn that you can buy several cards, but there is absolutely no other source of +Buy on the board. No Market, Festival, Council Room, Pawn, Bridge, Salvager, Wharf, Herbalist, Trade Route, Worker's Village, Goons, Grand Market, Hamlet, Horse Traders, or even the debatable sources from Baron, Tactician, Contraband, Princess (from Tournament), and City.

If you're getting all that money without any of these other cards on the board, you're a Dominion Grand Master.

Rating: 1/5
A sad, lonely card for desperate players.


Everybody's old favorite. Veteran players bitch about how people just buy a shitload of these and do nothing with them. Whatever, you were new once, you didn't know what you were doing, and now you know better. Once you chain 8 Villages only to end up drawing 1 more Copper than you already had, you learn your lesson. (I hope.)

Village is the card that you wish was around when the set is full of powerful terminal actions. Nowadays, there are better versions of it that cost a little more, but Village will always hold a dear spot in my heart.

Sigh... memories.

Rating: 3/5
Powerful in action-heavy (especially draw-heavy) decks, poor in others.


A man named Drew practically wrote a book about Chancellor, so I'll keep my post brief.

Chancellor is a tease. You're dreaming of that glorious moment when you just drew a couple hands with all your favorite cards, you're halfway through your deck, and your next hand will be a bunch of dumb copper and a Chancellor, and you know the rest of the deck is all your victory cards and other crap that won't combo or nothin'. Wham, let's trigger that reshuffle and do it all again! Whee!

In truth, you're just as likely to draw your Chancellor in an early hand (when you don't want it) or a late hand (when you don't need it). And then, while you're hemming and hawing over whether or not to reshuffle, your opponent sneaks off behind you and bangs your girlfriend. Now you'll be raising his baby and you'll have no idea.

Fuck you, Chancellor.

Rating: 2/5
Only useful in a perfect world.


If you're like me, you don't want Moat... but you probably need Moat. Especially in 3-4 player games, where the chance of attack doubles/triples.

There's a strange disappointment when you have Moat in your hand and nobody attacks you. Especially in person, there's that glorious "Fuck-You" moment when you reveal the blue bastard from your hand. Then it gets to your turn, and you're like... +2 Cards, golly gosh, how am I going to use them all...

Its primary competitor, Watchtower (link), isn't effective against ALL attacks, but certainly many, and the Reaction ability is useful on your own turn, too. And it's likely to let you draw more than Moat lets you draw.

Put simply, Moat can be important when it's an attack-heavy board and there's no other Reaction card and no Lighthouse. But even then, perhaps the best defense is a good offense.

Rating: 3/5
A solid card for the cost.


Dominionstrategy calls this "the best card in the game." It isn't, because you can't trash yourself all the way to victory, and there are definitely other cards that can win you games all by themselves. Yes, Chapel is still good, and yeah, it probably is a must-buy.

Trashing your Coppers and Estates can significantly power up your deck early on; the most important concept in Dominion is managing one's card economy; every good card you draw is a shitty card you didn't draw. However, Chapel is only truly useful for getting rid of your beginning cards and any Curses you pick up. After that, it's a dead card, and I just fucking hate cards that stop being any good after a while (I'm looking directly at you, Sea Hag).

Technically you could use it to get rid of cards that you don't need late-game (maybe Silvers when you're loaded on Golds/Platinums, Potions when you've already got all ten Possessions, etc) but there are much better options for that; trash-for-benefit cards are far more common than I imagined they were going to be a few sets ago.

So, if you're in a game with Chapel, buy one. Just the one, and don't be afraid to use it, even if it means buying nothing for a turn; a thin deck is a happy deck*. Later on, see if you can get rid of the damn thing.

Rating: 4/5
The original king of trashing.

* Go ahead and spam the comments about Gardens decks or whatever, you fuck


I never buy this.

If your deck is somehow built around drawing a bunch of shit you won't use, you may love this card. Otherwise, you're usually taking a gamble; is the card I'm going to discard better than the one that discarding it will allow me to draw? The answer is a solid, emphatic "maybe."

Dominionstrategy says it can be useful in certain cases, such as when you draw four victory cards and a cellar and your draw pile is empty, because it can trigger a reshuffle and leave those cards out of the deck. I agree, and I should add that the Cellar is also useful when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, you can use the Cellar to bring about the Age of Aquarius.

This card was essentially replaced by Warehouse, a card I STILL don't like, because both cards shrink your hand each time you play them. I had a friend who played Warehouse over and over and then he had an empty hand. Granted he was drunk.

I'd rather have Smithy. Smithy is my boyfriend. Nothing can go wrong when Smithy is around.

Rating: 1/5
Useful in rare cases; i.e. you're loaded with Curses and there are no trashing cards and your opponent sucks.