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 :
- Some cards can play a card that isn't put into play.
- When you play one of these cards, leave it in play as long as you would have left the card it plays in play.
- If it plays multiple Duration cards (e.g., you used Throne Room on it), leave it out until the Clean-up of the last turn that one of them still had effects.
Rules complications with emulators
Early emulators—prior versions of Band of Misfits, Inheritance, and Overlord—acted by actually changing the identity or abilities of the emulating card. Thus when you played a Band of Misfits, for example, it "become" a copy of whatever card it was emulating until it left play, and was counted as such for the purposes of such cards as Horn of Plenty. Donald X. had expressed dissatisfaction with this state of affairs because it involved "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. This led to the Dominion 2019 Errata and Rules Tweaks that altered these to work like the later emulators.
The 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"). Certain of these cards are not allowed to emulate Duration cards, to avoid confusion caused by Duration cards being played with nothing left in play to track them. New tracking rules were added to allow some of these later-style emulators to track Duration cards (either playing them or playing a card that plays them multiple times).
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. On the other hand, earlier emulators are more effective with cards that have an effect when in play, like Highway, or when discarded from play, like Herbalist; with later emulators, the emulated card never enters play at all so its abilities are never activated. For these reasons, certain one-shots were given errata to have some of their effects contingent on trashing.