Dark Ages

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Dark Ages
Dark Ages.jpg
Type Large Expansion
Icon Dark Ages icon.png
Cards 500
362 (35 sets)
Other Card(s)
  • Trash
  • Upgrading
Release August 2012
Official Rulebook PDF

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 SpoilsSpoils.jpg. Many cards in Dark Ages have theme related to trashing and upgrading.



Basic Supply Cards

$0 Ruins (10 each) - Abandoned MineAbandoned Mine.jpg, Ruined LibraryRuined Library.jpg, Ruined MarketRuined Market.jpg, Ruined VillageRuined Village.jpg, SurvivorsSurvivors.jpg

  • Ruins are included when at least one of the Kingdom cards (or a card in the Black MarketBlack Market.jpg 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

$1 Poor HousePoor House.jpg
$2 BeggarBeggar.jpg, SquireSquire.jpg, VagrantVagrant.jpg
$3 ForagerForager.jpg, HermitHermit.jpg, Market SquareMarket Square.jpg, SageSage.jpg, StoreroomStoreroom.jpg, UrchinUrchin.jpg
$4 ArmoryArmory.jpg, Death CartDeath Cart.jpg, FeodumFeodum.jpg, FortressFortress.jpg, IronmongerIronmonger.jpg, MarauderMarauder.jpg, ProcessionProcession.jpg, RatsRats.jpg, ScavengerScavenger.jpg, Wandering MinstrelWandering Minstrel.jpg
$5 Band of MisfitsBand of Misfits.jpg, Bandit CampBandit Camp.jpg, CatacombsCatacombs.jpg, CountCount.jpg, CounterfeitCounterfeit.jpg, CultistCultist.jpg, GraverobberGraverobber.jpg, Junk DealerJunk Dealer.jpg, Knights, MysticMystic.jpg, PillagePillage.jpg, RebuildRebuild.jpg, RogueRogue.jpg
$6 AltarAltar.jpg, Hunting GroundsHunting Grounds.jpg

  • 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.

Additional Materials

$0star MadmanMadman.jpg, MercenaryMercenary.jpg, SpoilsSpoils.jpg
$1 Shelters (6 each) - HovelHovel.jpg, NecropolisNecropolis.jpg, Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg

  • 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.
  • 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 - HovelHovel.jpg, NecropolisNecropolis.jpg, and Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg. These cards replace starting Estates in some games, as described under Preparation. Shelters have no corresponding Supply pile; they can never be bought, and AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg (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 KnightsKnights.jpg 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 TributeTribute.jpg (from Intrigue) reveals two different Ruins cards, it will give +4 Actions. When ContrabandContraband.jpg (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 EmbargoEmbargo.jpg 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 ProcessionProcession.jpg. 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 Ruined MarketRuined Market.jpg with TalismanTalisman.jpg (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 Sir MartinSir Martin.jpg 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 GraverobberGraverobber.jpg and uses it to trash a CultistCultist.jpg, he first draws three cards for trashing Cultist, then continues with resolving Graverobber and gains a card costing up to $8. 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 MasqueradeMasquerade.jpg (from Intrigue). When two or more cards are trashed at the same time, as with CountCount.jpg, 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: SpoilsSpoils.jpg, MadmanMadman.jpg, MercenaryMercenary.jpg, 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 ArmoryArmory.jpg. 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 CityCity.jpg (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 ProcessionProcession.jpg a MadmanMadman.jpg, 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 $1 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 ArmoryArmory.jpg 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 $1 (Poor HousePoor House.jpg and Shelters), the only supply piles that consist of multiple differently-named cards (Knights and Ruins), the only Action card of which there are more than ten copies (RatsRats.jpg), and more paradigm-breaking effects.


Shelters games cause many Kingdom cards to work differently, and affects the opening two turns as well.

  • Weakened cards:
    • AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg, since Shelters can't be returned to the supply, and JesterJester.jpg, since Shelters can't be gained from the supply
    • Cards that interact with Estates (or Victory cards in general), such as BaronBaron.jpg and Silk RoadSilk Road.jpg, aren't able to interact with them from the start
    • Cards that dislike variety, like Hunting PartyHunting Party.jpg and JourneymanJourneyman.jpg
  • Strengthened cards:
    • Cards that like variety, like HarvestHarvest.jpg and FairgroundsFairgrounds.jpg
    • 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 3VP

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. CultistCultist.jpg 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.

  • AltarAltar.jpg - expensive, but incredibly useful - turning bad cards into $5 Actions in the early game, and gaining Duchies in the late game
  • CounterfeitCounterfeit.jpg - one of the best Copper trashers, especially since it continues to be useful after your Coppers are all gone
  • Death CartDeath Cart.jpg - it gives the highest non-variable +$ in the game
  • ForagerForager.jpg - it has to be built up to get the full benefit, but as a non-terminal trasher, it is typically a good opener
  • GraverobberGraverobber.jpg - one of only two cards that can gain from the trash, and the more effective of the two - it can also turn $5 Actions (like itself) into Provinces
  • HermitHermit.jpg - the best Curse defense behind only WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg, since it can trash cards directly from your discard pile, making it as though the Curser hadn't even been played
  • Junk DealerJunk Dealer.jpg - the Peddler variant trasher
  • KnightsKnights.jpg - while swingy, they can be quite devestating in large numbers
  • MercenaryMercenary.jpg - trashes very quickly while still giving a benefit and harming your opponent
  • ProcessionProcession.jpg - while chiefly best with other Dark Ages cards, it can be quite good in engines, especially on boards with Actions of every cost
  • RatsRats.jpg - useless on its own, it is a powerhouse when paired with trashers that care about cost (like BishopBishop.jpg) or card type (like Death Cart)
  • RebuildRebuild.jpg - 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
  • RogueRogue.jpg - a weak card, but the only one 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.

  • CatacombsCatacombs.jpg - it gains a cheaper card when trashed, mirroring Border VillageBorder Village.jpg
  • CultistCultist.jpg - draws 3 cards when trashed
  • FeodumFeodum.jpg - 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
  • FortressFortress.jpg - the only card that can never be removed from your deck - as it can be infinitely trashed, it does great with cost-caring trashers
  • Hunting GroundsHunting Grounds.jpg - gains a Duchy or three Estates when trashed
  • Market SquareMarket Square.jpg - the trashing analogue to TunnelTunnel.jpg, it is very effective at gaining Gold in heavy trashing games, and then putting that Gold to use with its +Buy
  • RatsRats.jpg - though it does trash, its main role is to be trashed, similarly to Fortress
  • Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg - draws a single card when trashed
  • Sir VanderSir Vander.jpg - gains a Gold when trashed
  • SquireSquire.jpg - 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.


Secret History

When I showed Dominion off to RGG, I had five expansions. They were: Intrigue; Seaside and Hinterlands combined; Prosperity; "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 SwindlerSwindler.jpg, Trade RouteTrade Route.jpg, TributeTribute.jpg, Council RoomCouncil Room.jpg, and SmugglersSmugglers.jpg. Council RoomCouncil Room.jpg 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 ArmoryArmory.jpg. Those of you noting that Dark Ages is the 7th expansion, and that in the Secret History for Dominion I say that AdventurerAdventurer.jpg came from the 7th expansion: that 7th expansion was the top-of-deck one. Ditto for Shanty TownShanty Town.jpg.

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 - AltarAltar.jpg and Band of MisfitsBand of Misfits.jpg. The KnightsKnights.jpg 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 RatsRats.jpg and Junk DealerJunk Dealer.jpg. 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

  • Grim Parade: Armory, Band of Misfits, Catacombs, Cultist, Forager, Fortress, Knights, Market Square, Procession, Hunting Grounds
  • Playing Chess With Death: Bandit Camp, Graverobber, Junk Dealer, Mystic, Pillage, Rats, Sage, Scavenger, Storeroom, Vagrant

Dark Ages & Dominion

  • High and Low: Hermit, Hunting Grounds, Mystic, Poor House, Wandering Minstrel, Cellar, Moneylender, Throne Room, Witch, Workshop
  • Chivalry and Revelry: Altar, Knights, Rats, Scavenger, Squire, Festival, Gardens, Laboratory, Library, Remodel

Dark Ages & Intrigue

  • Prophecy: Armory, Ironmonger, Mystic, Rebuild, Vagrant, Baron, Conspirator, Great Hall, Nobles, Wishing Well
  • Invasion: Beggar, Marauder, Rogue, Squire, Urchin, Harem, Mining Village, Swindler, Torturer, Upgrade

Dark Ages & Seaside

  • Watery Graves: Count, Graverobber, Hermit, Scavenger, Urchin, Native Village, Pirate Ship, Salvager, Treasure Map, Treasury
  • Peasants: Death Cart, Feodum, Poor House, Urchin, Vagrant, Fishing Village, Haven, Island, Lookout, Warehouse

Dark Ages & Alchemy

  • Infestations: Armory, Cultist, Feodum, Market Square, Rats, Wandering Minstrel, Apprentice, Scrying Pool, Transmute, Vineyard
  • Lamentations: Beggar, Catacombs, Counterfeit, Forager, Ironmonger, Pillage, Apothecary, Golem, Herbalist, University

Dark Ages & Prosperity

  • One Man's Trash: Counterfeit, Forager, Graverobber, Market Square, Rogue, City, Grand Market, Monument, Talisman, Venture
  • Honor Among Thieves: Bandit Camp, Procession, Rebuild, Rogue, Squire, Forge, Hoard, Peddler, Quarry, Watchtower

Dark Ages & Cornucopia

  • Dark Carnival: Band of Misfits, Cultist, Fortress, Hermit, Junk Dealer, Knights, Fairgrounds, Hamlet, Horn of Plenty, Menagerie
  • To the Victor: Bandit Camp, Counterfeit, Death Cart, Marauder, Pillage, Sage, Harvest, Hunting Party, Remake, Tournament

Dark Ages & Hinterlands

  • Far From Home: Beggar, Count, Feodum, Marauder, Wandering Minstrel, Cartographer, Develop, Embassy, Fool's Gold, Haggler
  • Expeditions: Altar, Catacombs, Ironmonger, Poor House, Storeroom, Crossroads, Farmland, Highway, Spice Merchant, Tunnel

Dark Ages on DS.com and F.DS.com

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