Reveal the top 3 cards of the Black Market deck. You may buy one of them immediately. Put the unbought cards on the bottom of the Black Market deck in any order.
(Before the game, make a Black Market deck out of one copy of each Kingdom card not in the supply.)
Black Market is a promotional Action card that allows players to buy Kingdom cards that are not in the supply for the current game. It has a reputation for leading to swingy and unpredictable games because the Black Market deck contains only one copy of each card and they appear in a random order.
As the only card that can allow Treasure cards to be played during the Action phase of a turn, Black Market can enable some exotic combos. The presence of Black Market in a game can also lead to odd consequences such as an eleventh Kingdom card being in the supply without Young Witch, or Ruins being in the supply without Looters, since Young Witch or Looters may be in the Black Market deck.
- Black Market allows you to Buy a card during the Action phase.
- You can use provided by other Action cards played earlier in the Action phase and you can also play Treasure cards from your hand to pay the cost of the bought card.
- The Treasure cards are played to the table in your play area, just as you would during the Buy phase.
- You may play more Treasure cards than are required for the purchase; the extra from Action cards and Treasure cards are available to use during your Buy phase.
- You may even play Treasure cards without Buying a card.
- You may not reuse already spent during a turn. A card bought during the Action phase does not count as a card bought in your Buy phase, so you do not need an Action card giving you +1 Buy to still buy a card during your normal Buy phase.
- To use the Black Market Kingdom card, you must create a Black Market deck before starting the game. The Black Market deck is made up of Kingdom cards that are not in the Supply of the current game. The players should agree before the game which cards will be used to create the Black Market deck (for example, you could agree to use one of every Kingdom card you own that is not a part of the Supply).
- It is recommended that the Black Market deck contain at least 15 Kingdom cards, with no duplicates.
- All players can see which cards are placed in the Black Market deck before the game begins.
- Take one of each selected Kingdom card, shuffle them together, and place the deck face down on the table where all players can reach it.
- This deck is not a Supply pile and if it is emptied, it does not count towards the end game conditions.
- If you play Black Market and the Black Market deck is empty, you cannot buy a card but you still get + .
- If you play Black Market and choose not to buy one of the three cards from the Black Market deck, you still get + .
Other Rules clarifications
- Black Market does NOT give you an extra buy phase, so the cost of Peddler stays at , and you may not spend Coin tokens while resolving Black Market.
- Only one Knight may be placed in the Black Market deck.
- Although Black Market says "each Kingdom card not in the supply", it is not necessary to include every such Kingdom card; you may decide how many cards to include in the Black Market deck, and which ones, in any way. On Isotropic, only a subset of cards not in the game was available in the Black Market deck; Goko creates a deck of up to 25 cards (less if you only have Base and Promo cards). On Goko, if you wish to look at which cards are in the Black Market deck (as is allowable in the FAQ above), you have to click the "all cards" button above the Trash pile and scroll through the next pages. The strategy for playing Black Market may vary depending on how the Black Market deck is set up by your playgroup.
- If you buy a card from the Black Market deck and then use Trader to prevent yourself from gaining it, the bought card goes back on top of the Black Market deck.
Strategy Article (Titandrake)
Often, Dominion cards can be classified into a certain category. You have trashers like Chapel and Remake, +Cards like Smithy, +Buy from Woodcutter and Herbalist, and +Actions from villages. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it shows that many Dominion cards can be grouped together into certain general effects.
Black Market throws all of that out the window. It is the only card in the game that allows you to buy cards from outside the game. And because of this, it is one of the most high-variance cards in the game. You can lose a game because one player managed to pick out a power card from the Black Market and you didn't, and there isn't really much you can do about it.
Black Market is terminal. Because of this, it must always be judged in comparison to buying a Silver instead of Black Market.
Black Market is highly likely to give you otherwise strong cards at the wrong time. Let's suppose you buy a Black Market on T1/T2. Then you play it on T3/T4. That means that if you buy Chapel from the Black Market, the earliest you can see that card is on turn 5; that's way too late to start trashing your starting cards. It might give you a curser when you're already greening, or good villages before you've bought any terminals, or terminals when you haven't bought enough villages. It's unpredictable. There is absolutely no guaranteeing that you find the card you want, with the money to pay for it. The most important thing to remember about Black Market is that you should never assume you'll get a specific card. To get the most from the card, you need a variety of cards that you would want to buy, and you need to be flexible in building a plan that can accommodate or benefit from them.
When to buy Black Market
- A slow game. This is probably the most important point to keep in mind. Black Market is only useful if you actually get the time to play the action card you bought. Against a fast Big Money strategy, like Embassy-BM or Courtyard-BM, I would hesitate at picking up Black Market. The fast pace means you play fewer Black Markets, have a smaller chance of obtaining a good card, and an even smaller chance of having that card have a meaningful impact.
- Villages. Unless you're buying Black Market for variety (see a later point for this), villages are almost essential to Black Market. Because of how the Black Market deck is created, you are going to primarily be buying actions, often terminals. You need villages to ensure you can actually play them.
- Engine decks. If you can play Black Market every turn, you're bound to find what you want fairly quickly. The problem is that buying Black Market early will probably hurt the speed of your engine deployment. So in these games, you want to do it after you've picked up a few pieces. Throne Rooms and King's Courts are particularly good with Black Market. They allow you to rapidly churn through the Black Market deck and loot the best cards. The overall deck will become a good match too with many different action cards and some terminal actions for + coins.
- Strong cards in the BM deck, preferably those strong even when bought late. Remember that when buying from a Black Market, you're getting the card turn 5 at the earliest. So although buying trashers from the Black market is tempting, I would hesitate about it. There's a reason you open Chapel, Steward, and Remake on T1/T2, and not on turn 5. Even Ambassador is not an amazing buy from the Black Market. Also, there need to be strong cards. Not one strong card and several weak ones. There should be a couple (at least 3) cards that you really want from the Black Market, as well as some that you would be fine with adding to your deck (generally cantrips).
Cards that like variety can benefit, sometimes hugely, from the extra variety afforded by the Black Market cards. These cards include:
- Fairgrounds. Black Market–Fairgrounds is very strong, and is worth considering even if there are not many villages in the game. I'm honestly not sure how it compares to the top-tier BM decks, like Masquerade-BM, but you can get very high point-scoring Fairgrounds with Black Market out.
- Horn of Plenty. Black Market alone does not make Horn of Plenty a viable strategy, but Black Markets make a great addition to otherwise viable decks based around this card.
- Menagerie. The synergy between these cards is obvious: Menagerie benefits from the added diversity of Black Market, and in turn provides the Card-drawing power, while being non-terminal, adding two factors that help you get the most of your Black Markets.
- Harvest, while not a power card or game-changer, benefits from the added variety from Black Market. It also provides disappearing Virtual Coin, which can be of use in a Draw-up-to-X engine, which synergize with Black Market as discussed below.
Other cards on the board that synergize with Black Market are:
- Vineyard. Vineyard likes slow games as well (ignoring Vineyard rushes with Ironworks and the like.) So Black Market can be useful in picking up lots of actions, and as a source of virtual +Buy. Ideally, the Black Market will have lots of cantrips, or the board or the Black Market deck will have decently strong attacks to slow down the pace of the game.
- Tactician. So Black Market is an amazing way to fuel a Double Tactician deck. Play Black Market, play Tactician, use massive buying power from the Treasure in play. This is discussed at Combo: Black Market and Tactician.
- Treasures with special abilities. Getting treasures played mid-turn uniquely allows advantages from kingdom Treasures, such as Royal Seal, and Quarry to be available before the buy phase.
- Draw-up-to-X engines like Watchtower, Library, Minion can draw after you've played your Treasures. (Menagerie also has a similar effect.)
Cards to watch out for in the Black Market deck are:
- Cursers. Although curse-givers are much stronger early on in the game than later, Curses are still amazingly painful. Still, if there's only one Curser and nothing else, I wouldn't bother unless the board was very slow. The chances of getting it are too slim otherwise.
- Missing engine components. This should be considered more as a bonus than as an active reason to buy it.
- Good engines typically have +Actions, +Cards, and +Buys. If one of those categories is missing from the board, you can try to get it from the Black Market. As mentioned before, trying to get missing +Actions from Black Market is usually not worth it. Trying to get that missing +Buy is alright, but don't neglect Provinces/Colonies. Finally, picking up terminal draw can be quite good, but should be considered more as a side goal.
- Tournament. Yep, Tournament gets its own section. It's that good. I might be overdoing it, but if I see Tournament in the Black Market, I'd buy Black Market about 80% of the time. If you get the only Tournament in the game, you get exclusive access to all the Prizes. And the prizes are really good. Essentially, Tournament can be considered as a potential Curser, +Buy, +Actions...you get the idea. The best part is that because Tournament is most useful after the first Province, it is relevant over almost the entire game.
What can mess up a Black Market deck.
One way to misplay Black Market is to buy too many terminal actions. It is very tempting to take terminals offered from the black market stack, since the opportunity might not come again, but this is the classic way to break your deck. This also needs to factor into your decision whether to buy the Black Market or not.
A second way to misplay Black Market is to have a weak deck, expecting the Black Market to rescue it. If the deck is weak then you might not have enough coins in hand to buy the best cards when they are offered. Get the foundations of the deck right and then bring in the Black Market if you need it.
Cards with Transmute). Buying a Potion just to hope you can use it to snatch a Possession, Golem, Familiar, or whatever from the Black Market deck is usually a mug's game, though: on most turns it'll simply be a dead card in your deck, and there's no guarantee it'll ever be useful to you.in the cost may sometimes show up in the Black Market deck when there are no -cost cards in the supply (or only ones you don't want, like
Lastly, if you insist on always buying a card from the Black Market, it will lead to a lot of bad plays. Suppose you open Black Market, and draw your Black Market with three coppers on turn 3. If the market only contains cost opportunity cost, only buying cards when you get a distinct advantage from them. Even if you are playing a Variety-driven strategy like Menagerie or Fairgrounds, it is not necessary or beneficial to buy from the Black Market every time you play it.- cards, or cards that you can't afford, unless one of the cheaper cards is essential to your strategy, it is usually better to forgo the Black Market buy and instead get a card from the Supply. Always compare your options to what is on the board and consider
- Black Market/Tactician is a top-notch combo enabling a powerful double Tactician deck, since Black Market allows you to play your Treasures and then play Tactician.
- Black Market is a strong enabler for Fairgrounds, since Fairgrounds depends on differently-named cards for its value and Black Market greatly increases the number of differently-named cards available in a game.
- Since most cards in the Black Market deck are Actions, Quarry is helpful for buying good cards from the Black Market deck and still having enough money left over to buy another useful card during the Buy phase of the same turn.
- When the Black Market deck contains powerful terminal Actions, villages are helpful to ensure that cards acquired from it can be regularly played.
- Powerful cards already in the Kingdom make searching the Black Market unnecessary and risky.
- When an engine depends on cards from the Black Market, it is particularly vulnerable to cards like Swindler, Saboteur, and Knights, which can trash key engine pieces with no good way of replacing them.
Strategy Article (-Stef-)
This is my favorite card. I love the variety it brings to the game. It is a tricky card to play well, and at least as difficult to write a good article about. Some dominating cards like Rebuild or Cultist make all the games look the same so you can give pretty specific rules for those games. For Black Market I can't go much beyond general advice and some examples.
Yes or No?
Only play Black Market in an engine. Fortunately an engine is almost always viable with Black Market on the board. In general, you should play engines unless a) the engine is too weak or b) something else is too strong. That may sound like lame advice but what I'm trying to say is that Black market on the board simply makes a) impossible. Your Black Market-engine will eventually always be powerful enough. So the only reason not to play Black Market is if you lose the game before the long run ever happens. Look for...
- Strong junking in the regular kingdom + no or weak trashing (think Cultist, Mountebank)
- Strong slog / BM option in the kingdom (perhaps Trader - Feodum, or Horse Traders - Duke) and nothing to kill it
- No villages (and no Hunting Party, Minion or other non-terminal engine)
The most important thing to take away from this is: the decision whether to play with Black Market does not depend on the content of the Black Market deck. It depends almost entirely on the regular kingdom and whether that allows you to build an engine. The Black Market will always provide you with payload for your engine, and it will always contain some useful cards and some mediocre ones.
A tricky thing to get right with Black Market is the balance. The card itself is terminal, and so are many of the cards you buy with it. All those shiny prizes can easily lead you astray from your main early goal: somehow get to the point where you can play your entire deck every turn. Get the engine running. This is important in almost any engine, but especially so in engines that allow you to gain mid-turn, and Black Market is the very star in that category. Far too many players focus on gaining certain cards from the Black Market in their analysis of the board or gameplan.
0, 1 or 2
Black Market is a terminal payload card that gets you even more payload cards. With those kind of cards it's much better to play your only copy more frequently than it is to get multiple copies. Your initial plan should be to play with 1 Black Market. Exceptions arise when you can't significantly get the frequency up (no trashing, no village+draw) or when the Black Market contains some cheap bombs. I estimate 10% for 0, 60% for 1 and 30% for 2 early copies. 2 copies is more likely in a mirror than when you play against some form of Big Money or slog.
Sometimes the Black Market contains some exceptionally strong cards in the given kingdom. I don't like writing this section because almost everybody overestimates the importance of this already, but hey - it does exist. Tournament is likely to be the one; it could be Ambassador, any trasher, Possession, Goons, Tactician or King's Court. It's really rare that the bomb is a junker like Witch. If you're in a game with a bomb in the Black Market, make sure to have a plan. This plan could be a) I'm just going to get the bomb and win because of it or b) I'm going to build a deck that has a chance even when my opponent gets the bomb. If b) is an option I always go for it, but sometimes it just isn't and you should probably buy a second Black Market.
Slow it down
If your opponent doesn't mirror, look for ways to slow the game down. You will always win the long run. How are they going to end the game before you have more? If it involves a 3-pile, can you prevent buying from those piles?
Tactician is amazing because you can just use all your money on the turn you play Tactician.
- Watchtower, Library, Menagerie all allow you to draw more cards after you put your money into play
- Throne Room is fantastic for both providing enough +Actions and doubling up everything you have only one of
- Quarry is good mostly because of the virtual +Buy, and sometimes you can upgrade Curses into Menageries after you put Quarry into play
- Horn of Plenty can gain you a card mid-turn that you can often use immediately
- Fairgrounds obviously becomes worth a lot with all those uniques
You and your opponent both open Ironworks/Black Market. On your turn 3 you have 3 coppers and both your action cards. What do you gain with Ironworks, and do you buy something out of Workers Village, Smithy, Spice Merchant? How does this affect your gameplan? You gain a Walled Village. Your deck will require lots of villages. You buy the Spice Merchant. That's really a great early card to remove coppers and increase cycling. As a result, you might skip a second Black Market, that you would otherwise certainly have bought on turn 4. log
You open Black Market/Workshop and your opponent prefers Black Market/Ironmonger. On your turn 3 you draw all the Shelters, a Copper and the Workshop. What do you gain? I think I'd already get a Throne Room now, but Ironmonger is also reasonable. On turn 4 you get Black Market with 4 Coppers and you get served Council Room, Wharf, Squire. What do you buy? You return them all and buy an Altar. Wharf is a great card but not what you need in this kingdom. Draw is provided by Library and reliability comes from Scheme. log
You open Baker in the Black Market. What do you buy? Fishing Village/Wharf. First mission is to get the draw up and make the engine running; add Ironworks on your next miss and mostly hunt for Wharves. Maybe you'll pick up a Black Market late, maybe not, but it's not likely to have too much impact on the game. log/ but get a coin token from
You open Black Market/Quarry against a Journeyman/- opening. On turn 3 you have Vagrant+Inn. Turn 6 nets in a Mining Village and on turn 7 you finally get a good turn. You have to spend when Black Market presents you with Herald, Mountebank and Tactician. In the meanwhile your opponent bought a Gold, 2 Silvers and 2 Journeymen. What to get now? As Black Market player you can completely ignore the Provinces if you have to, and without +Buy your opponent can't 3-pile either. That means that despite your horrible start you'll still easily win this game unless a miracle happens. Investing in reliability (Tactician) feels like the right play to me here, even though Mountebank is a great card. logfor a Moneylender and turn 4 is for another Black Market. On turn 5 all of these cards clash and you gain
You open Black Market/Marauder versus Silver/Marauder. Your opponent continues with Trader, signalling BigMoney. What is your gameplan now? Black Market is simply the wrong call here; I don't think any engine is going to win. Two junkers in the kingdom, no trashing and barely any draw. You need to get a lot of the Caravans, Ruins will run out all by themselves and Stonemason does the rest. Maybe if you pull 3+ Smithy variants AND a superb trasher like Urchin or Remake you still stand a chance, but here they weren't even available and I was just fooling around/losing. log
In other languages
- Chinese: 黑市 (pron. hēishì)
- Czech: Černý trh
- Finnish: Musta pörssi
- French: Marché noir
- German: Schwarzmarkt
- Italian: Mercato Nero
- Japanese: 闇市場 (pron. yamishijō)
- Polish: Czarny Rynek
- Spanish: Mercado Negro (Unreleased)