Certain cards have effects that allow you to play cards that you do not have in your deck—in effect, they allow you to "emulate" the effects of other cards. Emulator cards provide extra flexibility and reliability to the deck: when you draw such a card, you get to choose from the effects of whichever other cards would be the most beneficial for you on this particular turn. However, such cards are typically limited in what they can emulate: most are restricted to cards in the Supply below a particular price threshold. So if you need expensive cards, you'll have to buy them straight out; and emptying a Supply pile can severely weaken emulators because there's one less card they can copy.
List of emulators
- Necromancer—emulates a card in the trash :
- Band of Misfits—emulates a card in the Supply costing up to :
- Captain—emulates two cards in the Supply costing up to :
- Inheritance—causes your Estates to emulate a card from the Supply costing up to :
- Overlord— emulates a card in the Supply costing up to :
Rules complications with emulators
Early emulators—Band of Misfits, Inheritance, and Overlord—act by actually changing the identity or abilities of the emulating card. Thus when you play a Band of Misfits, for example, it "becomes" a copy of whatever card it is emulating until it leaves play, and is counted as such for the purposes of such cards as Horn of Plenty. Donald X. has expressed dissatisfaction with this state of affairs because it involves "shapeshifting": two copies of the same card in different locations (e.g., a Band of Misfits in play and one in the trash, or an Inherited Estate in your deck and one in an opponent's deck) might have different names and/or abilities.
For this reason, later emulators (Necromancer and Captain) work in a different way: technically, instead of "becoming" the emulated card, they just cause the emulated card to be played without entering the play area (i.e., "leaving it there"). These cards are not allowed to emulate Duration cards, since (not being Duration cards themselves) they are discarded on the turn they are played, which could lead to confusion. Donald X. has expressed interest in rewriting the earlier emulators to function this way as well in future editions.
Later emulators are more effective at playing one-shots than earlier ones: if you play a Band of Misfits as, say, an Experiment, the Band becomes an Experiment and, like an Experiment, returns itself to the Supply. If you use a Captain to play an Experiment, the Captain remains in your custody.