First Game

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First Game: a recommended set from Dominion

First Game is a recommended set using only cards from the Base set. It is the first recommended set of 10 contained within Dominion, and is designed as an introductory game to demonstrate the basic card types and to allow new players to explore some of the most basic strategies available in Dominion, most notably simple engines and Big Money-style tactics.


[edit] Cards

Cellar.jpgMarket.jpgMerchant.jpgMilitia.jpgMine.jpg Moat.jpgRemodel.jpgSmithy.jpgVillage.jpgWorkshop.jpg

[edit] Cellar

Main article: Cellar

A card costing $2 that acts as a sifter, replacing cards you do not want in your hand with an equal number of cards from the top of your deck.

[edit] Market

Main article: Market

A card costing $5 that is a cantrip (meaning that it gives +1 Card/+1 Action and does not prevent you from drawing or playing other action cards) which also gives you +$1 and +1 Buy - a little bit of everything.

[edit] Merchant

Main article: Merchant

A cantrip costing $3 that gives you +$1 if you are able to play a SilverSilver.jpg after it in the same turn.

[edit] Militia

Main article: Militia

An Attack costing $4 that is a handsize attack, making opponents discard down to three cards in hand. It is also a terminal silver, giving +$2 but no +Action.

[edit] Mine

Main article: Mine

A card costing $5 that is a trash for benefit card applying only to Treasures, allowing you to trash your CoppersCopper.jpg to gain SilversSilver.jpg and trash your SilversSilver.jpg to gain GoldsGold.jpg, gaining the upgraded treasures directly to your hand for immediate use.

[edit] Moat

Main article: Moat

A dual-purpose Reaction card costing $2: when played, it gives +2 Cards, and if it is in your hand when an Attack card is played, then you are immune to the attack.

[edit] Remodel

Main article: Remodel

A card costing $4 that is a flexible trash for benefit card which allows you to trash a card from your hand, and gain a card costing up to $2 more, thus improving your deck.

[edit] Smithy

Main article: Smithy

A terminal draw card costing $4 which gives +3 Cards, allowing you to obtain an increase in handsize, but not giving any +Action.

[edit] Village

Main article: Village

A card costing $3 which gives you +1 card from the deck and +2 actions, allowing you to play more than one terminal action each turn.

[edit] Workshop

Main article: Workshop

A card costing $3 which is a gainer, allowing you to gain cards without buying them; though it is limited to cards costing up to $4.

[edit] Strategies

This recommended set is designed to expose the player to some of the key basic strategies available in Dominion, and to facilitate the learning of basic concepts without adding many of the additional complexities that come with other cards in the Base set and in later expansions. In keeping the game relatively simple, it is not typically expected that CursesCurse.jpg would feature in games using this set, there is only one Attack, and there are no additional Victory card or Treasure options beyond the standard cards. However, even with this simplicity, this recommended set is an excellent demonstration of the scale of tactical variety which can be deployed in any one game of Dominion. Of course, the best strategies are likely to use a combination of the below ideas, and react to what one's opponent is doing and how long is left in the game - but a lot can be learned about the relative benefits of strategies and cards by testing out basic strategies and seeing how they compare.

[edit] Big Money

Main article: Big Money

At its simplest, Big Money can be played as follows: buy ProvinceProvince.jpg with $8, buy GoldGold.jpg with $6-$7, buy SilverSilver.jpg with $3-$5, and don't buy anything else. It will not take many Dominion players long to learn that this is a reasonably mediocre and fairly boring strategy, however its key feature is that the possibility of doing it will be present in every single game of Dominion, no matter how many expansions are used or how complex the kingdom is. It therefore provides two key learning opportunities: (i) learning how Big Money be optimised by including complementary Action cards within one's deck and choosing the opportune moment to buy DuchiesDuchy.jpg, and (ii) providing a barometer against which all other strategy ideas can be judged - if it won't beat Big Money, then you should just play Big Money (or better still, develop a strategy that is stronger).

In this kingdom, the most likely choices of Action card to buy that will assist with playing a Big Money strategy are:

  • SmithySmithy.jpg, to facilitate the classic "Smithy - Big Money" strategy by increasing handsize to maximise the chance of hitting $8;
  • MineMine.jpg, allowing you to speed up the process of acquiring SilversSilver.jpg and GoldsGold.jpg; and
  • CellarCellar.jpg, allowing you to bypass Victory cards in your deck (particularly useful if you do not trash your initial EstatesEstate.jpg,

but most of the other cards can also be incorporated into what is essentially a Big Money deck (MerchantMerchant.jpg will give you money for playing Silver, RemodelRemodel.jpg may allow you to quickly speed up the endgame etc.).

Cards that it is probably unwise to purchase if attempting a Big Money strategy are:

  • WorkshopWorkshop.jpg: since this only permits gaining cards up to $4, the only card you are likely to want within that price band is SilverSilver.jpg, but there will come a point where having too many Silvers becomes a hindrance since you would rather be drawing GoldGold.jpg in their place, because in order to buy a ProvinceProvince.jpg, four Silvers are required in a hand of five as opposed to three Golds (or two Golds and a Silver);
  • MoatMoat.jpg, simply because its +2 Cards are not as good as SmithySmithy.jpg's +3 Cards (unless your opponent has bought MilitiaMilitia.jpg and you can therefore benefit from its defensive ability); and
  • VillageVillage.jpg, whose +1 Card ability simply replaces itself, and so whose real benefit is in its +2 Actions, which are no good to you if you have no other Action cards to play (nobody wants to be a Village idiot!) - but see Engines below for where these will come in handy.

[edit] Engines

Main article: Engine

Contrasting with a Big Money deck and its one or two choice Action cards, an engine aims to buy many Action cards and chain them together each turn. Every successful engine will likely need several components, breaking down into three key categories:

  • Villages, that is to say cards offering +2 Actions (or more);
  • Something allowing you to draw more cards (most typically terminal draw since you will already have sufficient Actions); and
  • Some sort of payload, i.e. something that you are aiming to play as frequently as possible in order to achieve an effect that cannot be achieved by Big Money - this could be + Buy, it could be playing a gainer to acquire more cards, it could be an Attack - as you go on in Dominion and play with more expansions, the possibilities become (almost) endless.

The typical engine strategy is therefore going to consist of playing +Actions to enable more terminals to be played, playing +Cards to increase handsize and maximise the chance of drawing the payload, and then playing the payload, with the aim of all of that being to leave enough $ to eventually start to buy ProvincesProvince.jpg (perhaps, with +Buy, more than one in a turn).

In this kingdom, the most likely choices of Action card to support an engine strategy are:

  • VillageVillage.jpg, an absolute must for its +2 Actions and the fundamental part of any engine; and
  • SmithySmithy.jpg, for its handsize increase (MoatMoat.jpg will work too, clearly it draws fewer cards but is cheaper and has a defensive benefit);
  • your choice of payload (as to which, see below).

In terms of the less important cards for engine players:

  • CellarCellar.jpg is probably going to be less of a help to engines - of course deck cycling is useful, particularly to avoid Victory cards later in the game, the idea with an engine is to render much if not all of your hand playable in any given turn, which should lessen the need to discard and re-draw cards because of terminal clash and you would typically be aiming for a big enough handsize to be able to work around Victory cards; and
  • MineMine.jpg may fall lower down the pecking order if your engine is using cards to produce +$, leaving you less reliant on Treasure.

[edit] Payload Strategies

Any of the following could be used (alone, or in combination with others) as a payload for your engine:

  • MarketMarket.jpg, whose +Buy is likely to be very handy;
  • WorkshopWorkshop.jpg, which especially if bought early on can gain VillageVillage.jpg and SmithySmithy.jpg to build up your stack of engine pieces much more quickly;
  • MilitiaMilitia.jpg, to provide +$2 towards buying other cards as well as slowing down your opponent through its strong handsize attack; and
  • RemodelRemodel.jpg, which can upgrade your engine pieces throughout the game (e.g. turning your starting EstatesEstate.jpg into VillageVillage.jpg or SmithySmithy.jpg, MoatMoat.jpg into SmithySmithy.jpg, or VillageVillage.jpg into MarketMarket.jpg, as well as being a very useful endgame card for converting as much of your deck into VP when you anticipate the final turns arising (it can turn any $3 or $4-cost card into a DuchyDuchy.jpg, and most notably can convert GoldGold.jpg into ProvinceProvince.jpg). Choosing the right time to pull off these exchanges can often be the difference between winning and losing - too early and you risk stalling your engine, too late and your opponent may end the game before you get the chance.

[edit] Cantrip Rush

It is worth noting that three of the cards in this kingdom are cantrips, that is to say offer at least +1 Action and +1 Card (thus replacing themselves): VillageVillage.jpg, MerchantMerchant.jpg and MarketMarket.jpg. In addition to this basic ability, each of the cards offers a different incremental benefit:

Since cantrips are "invisible" in one's deck in most cases, one simple strategy is also to simply buy as many of them as possible for the incremental benefits they provide. Of these benefits, +1 Action on its own is of no use (hence why VillageVillage.jpg should be combined with an engine strategy. However, each of MerchantMerchant.jpg and MarketMarket.jpg can, in theory at least, be used to build up a deck solely by buying as many copies of those cards as possible (perhaps with some supplementary Villages or terminals).

  • MerchantMerchant.jpg's benefit is reasonably marginal, however it is cheap to buy, and gain be gained by WorkshopWorkshop.jpg - so it may be possible to gain a large number of them and play several in a single turn for a large $ benefit when playing a Silver.
  • MarketMarket.jpg is more expensive, but gives the same $1 regardless of whether you have a Silver to play, and also gives +1 Buy to enable the purchase of multiple cards in one turn.

Several copies of these cards, combined with either Treasure or engine components, are also capable of forming a decent deck.

[edit] Openings

A wide variety of different openings are possible, depending on (i) what your starting hands are and (ii) what strategy you are attempting to play.

[edit] 4 / 3 split

  • SilverSilver.jpg/SilverSilver.jpg - the opening of choice for a pure Big Money strategy, but also maximises the chance of obtaining $5 or $6 on the first reshuffle.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/MoatMoat.jpg - if your opponent opens MilitiaMilitia.jpg, you may want Moat's defensive capability, but it is unlikely to be a better opening than simply fighting fire with fire and buying Militia.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/MerchantMerchant.jpg - this is a nice symbiotic opening if you are playing an engine / cantrip strategy, if a little luck-based - but if you can draw both in the same turn then your Silver is effectively playing as a GoldGold.jpg.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/WorkshopWorkshop.jpg - possibly a useful opening if your target is to gain as many $3 and $4 cards as possible.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/SmithySmithy.jpg - probably the classic opening for Smithy-Big Money, allowing you to realise the handsize benefit as soon as possible.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/MilitiaMilitia.jpg - this is typically a strong opening, giving exactly the same benefits as Silver/Silver whilst you only have a single Action, plus allowing you to attack your opponent.
  • SilverSilver.jpg/RemodelRemodel.jpg - a decent opening for an engine deck that aims to trash as many of your starting cards as possible.

The following are probably lesser-advised:

  • Opening with VillageVillage.jpg - the extra Action will definitely be useless on the first reshuffle since you will have at most one other Action - so save buying Village until Turn 3 at least.
  • Opening with CellarCellar.jpg - again, given you should be able to avoid terminal clash, Cellar can only skip past EstatesEstate.jpg, which is likely not worth spending an opening Buy for.
  • Opening with MerchantMerchant.jpg and not SilverSilver.jpg - Merchant without Silver is simply a +1 Card, +1 Action - totally invisible in your deck.
  • Opening with WorkshopWorkshop.jpg and another terminal Action - terminal clash is best avoided, especially early on. Having two Actions when you can only play one is both a waste of a card in your deck and a waste of the opportunity to buy something else you could have played.

[edit] 5 / 2 split

  • MarketMarket.jpg/MoatMoat.jpg - Moat gives some handsize benefit and Market some $, though not as much as SmithySmithy.jpg and SilverSilver.jpg in each case, but additionally Market allows you to cycle through an additional card each turn, and gives you +Buy.
  • MineMine.jpg/MoatMoat.jpg - this is probably a poor opening, as the terminals could collide, and relying on Mine alone to upgrade Treasures is likely too slow.
  • MarketMarket.jpg/CellarCellar.jpg - these two cards together will allow you to seriously mitigate the EstatesEstate.jpg in your starting deck and allow you to cycle round to newly-bought cards more early, but would probably need supplementing with Treasure fairly early.
  • MineMine.jpg/CellarCellar.jpg - slightly better than pairing MoatMoat.jpg with Mine since there is no terminal collision.

Cards $2 CellarCellar.jpgChapelChapel.jpgMoatMoat.jpg $3 HarbingerHarbinger.jpg • MerchantMerchant.jpgVassalVassal.jpgVillageVillage.jpgWorkshopWorkshop.jpg $4 BureaucratBureaucrat.jpgGardensGardens.jpgMilitiaMilitia.jpgMoneylenderMoneylender.jpgPoacherPoacher.jpgRemodelRemodel.jpgSmithySmithy.jpgThrone RoomThrone Room.jpg $5 BanditBandit.jpgCouncil RoomCouncil Room.jpgFestivalFestival.jpgLaboratoryLaboratory.jpgLibraryLibrary.jpgMarketMarket.jpgMineMine.jpgSentrySentry.jpg • WitchWitch.jpg $6 ArtisanArtisan.jpg
Removed cards $3 ChancellorChancellor.jpgWoodcutterWoodcutter.jpg $4 FeastFeast.jpgSpySpy.jpgThiefThief.jpg $6 AdventurerAdventurer.jpg
Combos and Counters Beggar/GardensChancellor/StashGuide vs MilitiaHighway/MarketMine/PotionWorkshop/GardensBishop vs GardensLibrary vs BishopLibrary vs MilitiaLibrary vs RelicMilitia vs Warehouse
Other concepts Vanilla
Dominion Products
Sets DominionIntrigueSeasideAlchemyProsperityCornucopiaHinterlandsDark AgesGuildsAdventures • EmpiresNocturneRenaissanceMenageriePromo
Collections Big BoxSpecial Edition (German) • Guilds & CornucopiaAlchemy & Cornucopia (Japanese, German, Netherland)
Accessories Base CardsUpdate PacksPlay Mat • Base Cards MatCollectors CaseDominion Chest
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