A curser is any card which has the potential to distribute Curse cards to other players. Cursers are generally considered among the strongest cards at their price points, since the effect of putting Curses into an opponent's deck is very powerful: it simultaneously reduces their score, puts useless cards in their future hands, and usually slows down their future deck cycling. The presence of one or more cursers in a kingdom therefore has a major influence on gameplay; most winning strategies will involve either gaining cursers or finding a way to defend against them. This early-game strength is offset somewhat by late-game weakness: since there are a finite number of Curses in the supply, cursers often lose most or all of their value after all the Curses have been distributed. Most cursers are Action–Attack cards.
List of cursers
These are Kingdom cards that specifically instruct other players to gain Curses in ways that they do not always have the option to avoid:
- Dominion: Witch
- Seaside: Sea Hag
- Alchemy: Familiar
- Prosperity: Mountebank
- Cornucopia: Young Witch
- Hinterlands: Ill-Gotten Gains
- Guilds: Soothsayer
These cards can cause opponents to gain Curses, but in more restricted circumstances:
- Intrigue: Swindler—whether it can distribute a Curse depends on the top card from the opponent's deck; may give a Curse only when they reveal a card costing , often a Copper.
- Intrigue: Replace—it only distributes Curses if the player playing Replace gains a Victory card
- Intrigue: Torturer—the opponent is always free to not take the Curse and discard instead; in games without villages it's relatively likely that few Curses will be distributed by Torturer
- Seaside: Ambassador—it can only distribute a Curse if the player playing Ambassador has a Curse in hand
- Cornucopia: Followers—as this is a Prize, it is difficult to gain, especially early in the game when cursing is most valuable
- Cornucopia: Jester—whether it distributes a Curse depends on the top card from the opponent's deck
- Adventures: Giant—whether it distributes a Curse depends on the top card from the opponent's deck
- Adventures: Swamp Hag — the opponent may forgo gaining a Curse if they choose to buy no cards on their turn
- Empires: Catapult — distributes a Curse if the player is willing to trash a card costing or more
- Nocturne: Idol — distributes a Curse only if there are an even number of Idols in play
Other cards that can distribute Curses but are not usually considered cursers
It can be argued that the main curser from each expansion that has one (except for Guilds) closely represents the expansion's theme:
- Witch has only a minor "vanilla" effect other than cursing; the base game's theme is cards with simple effects.
- Torturer gives the opponent a choice about whether to be cursed; Intrigue's theme is cards with a choice of effects.
- Sea Hag puts a curse on top of the opponent's deck; Seaside's theme is cards that affect the next turn.
- Familiar is non-terminal and has in its cost; Alchemy's theme is Potions and action chains.
- Mountebank distributes Copper in addition to Curses; one of Prosperity's themes is Treasure cards.
- Young Witch increases the number of differently-named cards in the Kingdom; Cornucopia's theme is variety.
- Ill-Gotten Gains distributes Curses when it is gained, not when it is played; Hinterlands' theme is cards with on-gain effects.
- Swamp Hag is a Duration card that distributes Curses outside of the player's turn; Adventures adds more Durations, and has many cards with delayed or long-term effects.
- Catapult is a Split pile card, and requires the player meet certain conditions before it attacks; Empires introduces Split piles, and has many cards that are more complicated than those in previous sets.
- Idol is a Fate card, so it also distributes Boons, one of Nocturne's themes. Nocturne also includes several Doom cards, which have a chance to distribute Curses.
Although they are not cursers, Marauder and Cultist continue this pattern by, respectively, gaining a Spoils, and having a special effect when trashed, in keeping with two of Dark Ages' themes. Soothsayer, from Guilds, breaks this pattern.