Caleb Stanford Blog

Quarterfinals -- Dominion Online tournament 2019


I won 4 to 3 in the quarterfinals! This was the 6th round, and now there are only 4 players left. Previous post about round 5 is here.

For each kingdom, try to guess the most valuable cards, i.e. which cards are most important to the best strategy. For reference, a list of all Dominion cards can be found here. Good luck!

Game 1

Kingdom 1

Druid has Moon’s Gift, Flame’s Gift, and Mountain’s Gift set aside.


Most valuable card(s): Chariot Race, Forum, Baker, Recruiter, Magic Lamp.

There is no draw, but Forum and Chariot Race work well together to allow us to set up points every turn if we are careful about it, especially if opponent gets unlucky. Baker is good because there is nothing better to build to, it doesn't reduce hand size and it allows stockpiling coffers for having a double-Province pile out threat. Recruiter and Magic Lamp are good for the usual reasons: excellent in the early game to accelerate Estate trashing and gain a lot of good cards at once when the Lamp pops. Druid is also good to get because it has Flame's Gift for copper trashing and gives +Buy.

I was behind early because my opponent popped Lamp first, but later I was ahead because I had Bakers and opponent didn't, so I had a lot of coffers to win on the last turn. I made a pretty bad endgame misplay that thankfully didn't cost me the game.

Game 2

Kingdom 2


Most valuable card(s): Amulet, Menagerie, Pathfinding, Devil's Workshop. Honorable mention: Warehouse.

Initial observations about the board: (1) Limited on gains -- there is no way to double-Colony in a turn, but there are some restricted ways to gain extra cards, like Sculptor, Devil's Workshop, Amulet, Duplicate, and I suppose Contraband. (2) Limited on actions -- the only way to play multiple terminals is by saving up villagers with Sculptor, which looks difficult. (3) Draw is excellent, mainly Pathfinding looks good, and the best Pathfinding target looks like Menagerie (turning it into a better-than-lab). Menagerie/Warehouse also looks like a reasonably strong interaction. (4) Amulet is premium trashing.

Building for something strange like Sculptor villagers or Duplicate gains seems not worth it for two reasons: Wall (means lots of minus points) and Colony/Platinum (means small amounts of points don't matter so much compared to just getting Colonies).

So we elect to play with a very clean deck of 2 Amulets, Menageries with Pathfinding and a couple Warehouses, enough money to get Platinum and then Colony, and Devil's Workshop to gain a Menagerie every turn. I also played with a second Devil's Workshop to get some imps, later trashing it to save Wall points. I got a super lucky early draw with Menagerie triggering for +3 cards twice, allowing me to buy Pathfinding early. This probably decided the game, but my opponent also made some very strange buys like Caravan Guard and didn't go for Pathfinding on Menagerie, which seems like really the thing to do here.

Game 3

Kingdom 3


Most valuable card(s): Overlord, Mountebank, Remake.

If you can get an early lead on this board, you can play 2 or 3 mountebanks a turn and completely drown the opponent's deck in junk. So the goal is to trash down as much as possible and play Mountebank every turn.

Remake open is clear; I also bought Ferry on Mountebank which I think was a mistake; I think Overlord is better. Overlord is very flexible; you can trash if you need to do more trashing, play it as Recruiter if it collides with another action, and play it as Mountebank if you want to attack. I think getting about 2 Overlords early is crucial. I lost partly because I didn't get the Overlords, but also because my Remake missed the shuffle, so I ended up behind and being drowned in junk. Commentators seemed less critical of my play than I thought, so maybe it was mainly the Remake missing.

Game 4

Kingdom 4


Most valuable card(s): Peddler, Training, Pixie, and Candlestick Maker. Possible honorable mentions: Minion, Talisman?

Peddler looks really good especially with Training, so we want to hit several actions in play with several buys early. That makes an early Candlestick Maker or two good (I even opened Candlestick Maker), and that also makes Pixie could because several of the boons help a lot with this: Swamp's Gift (getting Wisps that can help with having actions in play), and Forest's Gift (landing it on the right turn means two more Peddlers).

Both of us got Plan on Pixie early to help trash more quickly, buying Pixies and Candlestick Makers. I bought Minion, which I think paid off for the attack; a single Shanty Town early on is also quite good (I opened it) because it is guaranteed to draw. However, my opponent got the right boons at the right time, so was very ahead on Peddlers, and had Training on Peddler as well, and it was too hard to catch up from there. Something I'm wondering about is whether early Talisman is good; some Spectators brought it up as a possible option, as it allows draining Pixies or Peddlers very quickly. I bought it only later as a pile-out threat, but I was already behind and had not enough economy, so my opponent just bought Province and I had no effective response to that.

Game 5

Kingdom 5


Most valuable card(s): Steward, Patron, Watchtower, and Dominate. Honorable mention: Forum.

This is my favorite board from the set. There is premium trashing (Steward or Amulet). But there are no actions besides Patron villagers, and no consistent way to draw. So the question is, how can you build to Dominate, if at all? (Building to Dominate usually wins, if it is possible, because Dominate is just a ton of points.)

There are basically two ways. One of them is to use Forum and Crypt with several Golds in deck; Forum can sift through and find the Golds, and Crypt can set aside money to give you a six-card hand for the next several turns. The other way is to use Patron and Watchtower: Patron can save up villagers early, then you build to a deck of like, 6 Patrons, a Watchtower or maybe 2, and Steward (leftover from trashing stuff), with everything else trashed.

My opponent went for the Forum/Crypt idea, and I built the Patron/Watchtower deck. Patron/Watchtower in the end was stronger. I also had 2 Forums to help sift through and find the right hand to kick off. But it was a close game: we both hit Dominate on I think 3 consecutive turns, but finally on the 4th turn my opponent missed Dominate.

Game 6

Kingdom 6


Most valuable card(s): Sculptor, Magic Lamp. Honorable Mention: Werewolf, Hunting Grounds, Conquest?

This is a messy and difficult board. Again no +actions except Sculptor villages (how does this keep happening?). So the natural deck to build is basically Money, with some good cards for that being Poacher and Sculptor.

Sculptor has some nice interactions however: if it gains Silver you can save up a few villagers, which makes Werewolf or Hunting Grounds pretty good to buy. And if you happen to line up several Sculptors, as well as maybe a Wine Merchant, you can double Conquest for a lot of points. For example, 3 Sculptors + Wine Merchant means 5 + 7 = 12 VP.

The other thing about the board is Orchard points: you want 3 of, at least, Poacher, Secret Cave, and Sculptor, probably Werewolf also. So you end up building this really messy deck with a bunch of treasures and lots of actions. Werewolf is maybe nicer than Hunting Grounds because if you don't have the villagers to waste on it, you can just use it to attack. I lost probably because I went to hard for Orchard points; I bought 3 Wine Merchants, which just clog the deck basically, and I didn't save enough villagers to pull enough good Conquest turns to catch up, while my opponent was just Provincing.

I am curious if playing for a big megaturn here is viable (with Sculptor and Conquest points). You want to have a few Sculptors and Wine Merchants in deck, and several Werewolves and Hunting Grounds. In the game, it was not possible for me to go for this because I didn't save enough villagers; I used a couple villagers in order to pop Magic Lamp.

Game 7

Kingdom 7


Most valuable card(s): Lackeys, Sentry, Count, Grand Market, Throne Room, Poor House.

I won this as second player, and this is the kind of board where first player should generally win. We both got Lackeys Silver on the open, and Sentry as first 5, but I got Count as the second 5, which seemed to pay off. Sentry only lets you trash from deck, and Count means you can trash from hand which is very valuable, and then once you are thin you can hit Grand Market very soon after. Lackeys is for early accelerating turns to hit good price points and trashing.

Once you are trashed down you just want to hit Grand Market as soon as possible, and soon after Poor House, Throne Room, etc. I'm not convinced by Bazaar (I don't want it here, would rather have Throne Room on Grand Market for actions, with Lackeys to help).