Dark Ages is the seventh Dominion expansion. It was released in August, 2012. It is a large expansion, with 500 cards including 35 new kingdom cards, as well as other new types of cards such as Shelters, Ruins, and . Many cards in Dark Ages have a theme related to trashing and upgrading.
 Basic Supply Cards
Ruins (10 each) - , , , ,
- Ruins are included when at least one of the Kingdom cards (or a card in the deck) has the Looter type.
- The number of Ruins used depends on the number of players--10 for 2 players, 20 for 3 players, and so on.
- The 5 different Ruins are shuffled together, so none of the players know what number of any given Ruins card is in the Ruins pile.
- Only one card from the pile is visible and may be bought or gained at any time.
 Kingdom Cards
, , , , ,
, , , , , , , , ,
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
- The 10 Knights cards are all different. Only one card from the pile is visible and may be bought or gained at any time.
- The Rats pile has 20 copies of the card instead of the usual 10.
, , Knights,
 Parade of Misfits
, , , ,
, , ,
 Vandals and Vermin
, , ,
, , , ,
 Additional Materials
Shelters (6 each) - , ,
- Madman may be gained only through Hermit.
- Mercenary may be gained only through Urchin.
- Spoils may be gained only through Bandit Camp, Marauder, or Pillage (or from another player via ).
- The Spoils pile has 15 copies of the card instead of the usual 10.
- Shelters are not used in every game, unless that game includes only Kingdom Cards from Dark Ages. Otherwise, their use should be determined based on the proportion of Dark Ages and non-Dark Ages cards in use.
- When they are used, Shelters replace Estates in each player's starting deck so that the new starting deck consists of 7 Coppers, 1 Hovel, 1 Necropolis, and 1 Overgrown Estate. The rest of the Shelter cards are not included in the game in any way.
 Additional Rules
- Dark Ages includes three Shelters - , , and . These cards replace starting Estates in some games, as described under Preparation. Shelters have no corresponding Supply pile; they can never be bought, and (from Seaside) cannot return one anywhere.
- Dark Ages has two piles of cards that have a variety of cards in them: the Ruins pile has a mix of five different Ruins, and the pile has ten different Knights. These piles should be shuffled before each game, as explained under Preparation. The only card that may be bought or gained or chosen from one of these piles is the card on top. Players cannot look through the piles, only at the top card; the players turn the top card over any time it is face down. If a card is returned to one of these piles with Ambassador (from Seaside), turn over the current top card and the returned card goes on top, turned face-up. Ruins cards with different names, and Knights with different names, count as differently named cards for cards that care about this. For example if (from Intrigue) reveals two different Ruins cards, it will give +4 Actions. When (from Prosperity) is played, a player can name a Ruins or Knight, but that only stops that specific Ruins or Knight from being bought. However an token (from Seaside) placed on the Ruins or Knight pile will affect any cards bought from it.
- Players can buy Ruins even though they normally will not wish to. Ruins cards are Actions; they may be played in the Action phase, and count as Actions for things that refer to Action cards, such as . The Ruins pile, when used, is in the Supply, and if it is empty that counts towards the normal end condition. Cards that try to get specific cards from the Supply fail to get a Ruins or Knight if the correct one is not the top one. For example if you buy a with (from Prosperity), you only gain another Ruined Market if that is the top Ruins under the one you bought; if you use Ambassador (from Seaside) to return to the Supply, the next player will gain that Sir Martin, but the player after that will not gain a card, as the next Knight will not be Sir Martin.
- Many cards in Dark Ages do something "when you trash" that card. These abilities function no matter whose turn the card is trashed on. The player that a "when you trash this" ability functions for is the player that had that card, regardless of whose card trashed the card. These abilities happen directly after the card is put into the trash, and can function in the middle of resolving effects for an Action card; for example, if a player plays and uses it to trash a , he first draws three cards for trashing Cultist, then continues with resolving Graverobber and gains a card costing up to . Cards can sometimes leave a player's deck without being trashed, such as by being returned to the Supply with Ambassador (from Seaside) or passed to another player with (from Intrigue). When two or more cards are trashed at the same time, as with , first trash them all, then pick an order to resolve things that happen due to trashing them. A "when you trash" ability is not itself a way to trash a card; some other card will be needed to actually trash the card and make the ability happen.
- Six cards in Dark Ages are never part of the Supply: , , , and the three Shelters: Hovel, Necropolis, and Overgrown Estate. Keep these cards handy for when they are needed. These cards cannot be bought, and cannot be gained by cards that gain cards from the Supply, such as . They cannot be returned to the Supply with Ambassador (from Seaside). They can end up in the trash if something trashes them. These piles being empty does not count towards the end condition for the game, or towards the count of empty piles for (from Prosperity).
 Lose Track rule
- In rare circumstances an effect may try to move a card that is not where that effect expects the card to be. In those cases the card does not move - the effect has "lost track" of the card. Losing track of a card prevents it from being moved, but does not stop anything else from happening. For example, if you a , Procession first puts Madman in play; then you resolve Madman, getting +2 Actions and drawing cards and returning Madman to the Madman pile; then Procession fails to put Madman into play again, because Procession expects to find Madman in play, but it is not there, it's in the Madman pile; then you resolve Madman again, only getting +2 Actions this time, since it says "if you do" before the card-drawing, and you did not actually return it to the Madman pile this time; then Procession fails to trash Madman since Procession again expects to find Madman in play and it is not there; and then you gain an Action costing if you can. Cards do not lose track of cards that they move, only cards that other cards move. For example when Procession puts Madman into play, that does not cause Procession to lose track of Madman; it is Madman moving itself that causes Procession to lose track of it. Things lose track of a card if something moves it, if it is the top card of a deck and gets covered up, or if it is the top card of a discard pile and gets covered up.
 "No visiting" rule
- When a card is gained to a location other than a discard pile, it does not "visit" the discard pile - it goes directly to where it was gained. For example gains cards directly to the top of a deck.
 Flavor Text
Times have been hard. To save on money, you've moved out of your old castle, and into a luxurious ravine. You didn't like that castle anyway; it was always getting looted, and never at a reasonable hour. And if it wasn't barbarians it was the plague, or sometimes both would come at once, and there wouldn't be enough chairs. The ravine is great; you get lots of sun, and you can just drop garbage wherever you want. In your free time you've taken up begging. Begging is brilliant conceptually, but tricky in practice, since no-one has any money. You beg twigs from the villagers, and they beg them back, but no-one really seems to come out ahead. That's just how life is sometimes. You're quietly conquering people, minding your own business, when suddenly there's a plague, or barbarians, or everyone's illiterate, and it's all you can do to cling to some wreckage as the storm passes through. Still, you are sure that, as always, you will triumph over this adversity, or at least do slightly better than everyone else.
 Impact of Dark Ages
Dark Ages introduced several new cards to Dominion that broke previous unwritten (or even written) rules of card structure and gameplay, substantially broadening the scope of the kinds of things possible in Dominion. Dark Ages contains the only cards that cost and Shelters), the only supply piles that consist of multiple differently-named cards (Knights and Ruins), the only (non-Victory) Action card of which there are more than ten copies (), and more paradigm-breaking effects.
Dark Ages has been described as a highly advanced set, hard to introduce to new players, not only because of its paradigm-breaking cards, but also because many cards in it require high skill to play optimally and may depend on tricky combos with other cards.
Just prior to the release of Adventures, a poll on the forums found Dark Ages to be the most popular set, narrowly beating Prosperity. Reasons for this included the size of the set (more cards means more things to like), but also the overall quality of the cards, and the interesting new strategies brought to the game with their inclusion.
Shelters games cause many Kingdom cards to work differently, and affects the opening two turns as well.
- Weakened cards:
- , since Shelters can't be returned to the supply, and , since Shelters can't be gained from the supply
- Cards that interact with Estates (or Victory cards in general), such as and aren't able to interact with them from the start
- Cards whose value as openers depends on the fact that Estates cost , such as and , get less benefit out of the cost of Shelters
- Cards that dislike junk variety, like and
- Strengthened cards:
- Cards that like any variety, like and
- Engines, in general, are strengthened due to the addition of a Village to your starting cards, and the fact that trashing your starting cards doesn't lose you 3
Necropolis allows for more flexible openings, since there is a lower chance of two opening terminals clashing. Hovel makes for strategic decisions when purchasing Victory cards, especially Alt VP.
The addition of Looters can lead to games where twice the normal amount of junk cards are being distributed, leading to longer games. can also distribute Ruins faster than any Curser due to its chaining. With both a Looter and a Curser present in a kingdom, the game slows down considerably, but three-pile endings are much easier to achieve, since the Ruins count as a supply pile.
Given that it is one of the themes of the set, Dark Ages contains some of the strongest trashers in the game.
- - expensive, but incredibly useful - turning bad cards into Actions in the early game, and gaining Duchies in the late game
- - although it comes with stipulations, it can still usually trash 2 or 3 cards per use, and transitions into something more useful later in the game
- - one of the best Copper trashers, especially since it continues to be useful after your Coppers are all gone
- - it gives the highest non-variable + in the game
- - it has to be built up to get the full benefit, but as a non-terminal trasher, it is typically a good opener
- - one of only two cards that can gain from the trash, and the more effective of the two - it can also turn Actions (like itself) into Provinces
- - the best defense behind only , since it can trash cards directly from your discard pile, making it as though the Curser hadn't even been played
- - the Peddler variant trasher
- - while swingy, they can be quite devestating in large numbers
- - trashes very quickly while still giving a benefit and harming your opponent
- - while chiefly best with other Dark Ages cards, it can be quite good in engines, especially on boards with Actions of every cost
- - useless on its own, it is a powerhouse when paired with trashers that care about cost (like ) or card type (like Death Cart)
- - perhaps the most powerful card in this set (or even all of Dominion), it forgoes both engine and big money to directly turn Estates and Duchies into Provinces
- - a weak card, but one of the few capable of stealing non-Treasure cards from other players
There are also several cards that benefit when trashed by other cards, or simply when another card is trashed.
- - it gains a cheaper card when trashed, mirroring
- - draws 3 cards when trashed
- - can be trashed as part of a big money strategy, or as a means to get more Silvers to increase your point total from your other Feoda
- - the only card that can never be removed from your deck via trashing - as it can be infinitely trashed, it does great with cost-caring trashers
- - gains a Duchy or three Estates when trashed
- - the trashing analogue to , it is very effective at gaining Gold in heavy trashing games, and then putting that Gold to use with its +Buy
- - though it does trash, its main role is to be trashed, similarly to Fortress
- - draws a single card when trashed
- - gains a Gold when trashed
- - can gain any Attack, no matter its cost, when trashed
Because of its minor theme of card combinations, many Dark Ages cards are well suited for engines.
- - is a Village, and are practically virtual coin, not clogging up an engine
- - in high enough density, is almost a , and helps slow down your opponent, giving more time to build your engine
- - gives the highest card draw in the game without drawback
- - it's a sifter, and can be a , or , depending on which card is revealed, all of which are useful to engines
- - gives non-terminal virtual coin, and in combination with deck inspectors, is an activated
- - as stated above, the addition of a Village to your starting cards is a boon to engines
- - engines usually don't have many Treasures, ensuring that Poor House is most effective - it serves as an excellent source of virtual coin in these instances
- - helps setup your next turn, similarly to
- - it is virtual coin, and can alternate between Village and +Buy, the latter of which engines often lack
- - the perfect engine Village, as it ensures you only ever draw Actions
 Weird cards
Some of the cards introduced in Dark Ages were completely unlike anything seen before, and are still regarded as oddities.
- - the only card to subtract
- - the only card that can never be removed from your deck through trashing
- - hard to see the point of at first, and the only Action card pile with more than 10 cards
- - the only card that emulates other cards without playing a physical copy of them
- / - the only cards that can gain from the trash
 Dark Ages Theme
Game designer Donald X. offered some insight into some themes of the set here.
- 4 Ruins: Marauder, Cultist, Death Cart, Vagrant (Ruined Library, Ruined Market, Ruined Village, Abandoned Mine, Survivors)
- 3 Spoils: Marauder, Pillage, Bandit Camp (Spoils)
- 8 When-trash: Market Square, Fortress, Squire, Hunting Grounds, Feodum, Cultist, Catacombs, Rats (Overgrown Estate, Sir Vander)
- 7 Other upgrade: Hermit, Urchin, Rats, Altar, Graverobber, Procession, Rebuild
- 8 Other trashing: Junk Dealer, Counterfeit, Forager, Death Cart, Count, Knights, Rogue, Pillage (Mercenary, Hovel, Dame Anna)
- 3 Look at trash: Graverobber, Rogue, Forager
- 7 Live with junk: Poor House, Sage, Storeroom, Ironmonger, Scavenger, Wandering Minstrel, Catacombs (Survivors)
- 4 Off-theme: Beggar, Armory, Band of Misfits, Mystic (Madman, Necropolis)
Dark Ages is the only Dominion expansion that does not contain a curser. It is also the expansion which introduces the most new kingdom cards and card types.
 Secret History
When I showed Dominion off to RGG, I had five expansions. They were: Intrigue
; "War;" and a large version of Alchemy
with a touch of Cornucopia
War was interaction-themed. Different ways for players to interact. Its cards included versions of , , , , and . kept the same name when I moved it to the main set; now you know how it got that name.
War was my favorite expansion, but the problem was, every expansion needed interactive non-attack cards. Every expansion needed a certain percentage of interactive cards, and attacks slow the game down, whereas non-attack interactive cards may not, and may even speed it up. So I had to spread them around. I made War more attack-themed and gave each other set at least one non-attack interactive card. Man do I need an acronym for that? Maybe I am done saying it.
During work on the main set, I briefly tried rearranging everything into 16-card expansions, and at that time I had an expansion that was top-of-your-deck themed. This theme was no good; it's fine for making some cards that play well with each other, but since I do that kind of thing in every set, the theme is invisible. So I broke that one up, and War ended up taking a few of those cards, thinking maybe it would end up with a mild top-of-your-deck subtheme, which fit with some of the attacks. In the end it only kept . Those of you noting that Dark Ages is the 7th expansion, and that in the Secret History for Dominion I say that came from the 7th expansion: that 7th expansion was the top-of-deck one. Ditto for .
Around the time I was working in earnest on Cornucopia, I realized I had to decide what to do about the sizes of the last two large sets. The main set and Intrigue were standalones, and so 500 cards; Seaside and Prosperity had playmats and metal tokens. Hinterlands and Dark Ages did not have such things. Could they just be cheaper or what? I did not know yet if that was okay. However, I could dodge the issue for one of the sets by making it a standalone, and it seemed good to do another standalone anyway. I picked Hinterlands for that and worked to keep that set from getting too complex. And then what could Dark Ages have? And of course I realized that it could just have more cards; it could be 500 cards rather than 300. This would let me do some stuff that might not seem worth the space otherwise, like having a new kind of penalty card or cards that turned into other cards. So I expanded the expansion.
The original interactive theme was gone, and the attack theme was not going to cut it. Joe Dominion just doesn't want a heavy attack environment, that's what I think. And anyone who does can rig it themselves by including more attacks on the table. I figured attacks could still be a minor sub-theme, but slowly the cards that worked with attacks left, until Squire is all that remains (yes plus Beggar but that doesn't count). And as I mentioned, the top-of-deck theme was never going to amount to much.
I filled the void with an upgrading theme and a trash theme. Lots of cards turn cards into other cards, or themselves into other cards, and then a bunch of cards care if they're trashed, and a few care about the trash other ways. And of course the stuff I did with the extra 200 cards amounted to various minor themes too.
War was an unacceptable theme for Hans im Gluck, and I knew this basically from the day they took on Dominion. So way back when I knew I would be retheming the set. Dark Ages, there's a theme. It could be the poor to Prosperity's rich. Then when Alchemy became a small set, it looked like this set, though originally 4th, would be the last Dominion set, and that seemed cool too, going out with the Dark Ages (then Guilds got bumped to after it due to the basic cards product, which is also why Hinterlands wasn't a standalone).
Two cards from the original 2007 version of the set remain basically intact - and . The were in the original set in a different form, and there was a "+1 card +1 action" trasher which can claim to be an ancestor of and . The other 16 cards went elsewhere or didn't survive, being replaced by 31 new cards, some themselves from other sets but many new to this one. And of course I added those other cards, the Ruins and Shelters and things. The original war flavor and interaction theme are gone, replaced by the Dark Ages, upgrading, and the trash. The original set was my favorite and it turns out the final set is still my favorite. I liked the original for the interaction between players, and I like the final version for the interactions between cards. It is the crazy combos set.
 Recommended Sets of 10
 Dark Ages Only
 Dark Ages & Dominion
 Dark Ages & Intrigue
 Dark Ages & Seaside
 Dark Ages & Alchemy
 Dark Ages & Prosperity
 Dark Ages & Cornucopia
 Dark Ages & Hinterlands
 Dark Ages on DS.com and F.DS.com
 Dominion Strategy Forums