Silver is a basic Treasure card included in all games of Dominion. At a cost of and providing , Silver sits between Gold and Copper. Silver often ends up in a clear majority of decks, and it is typically one of the two opening buys a player will make. Each standalone set comes with 40 Silver cards, and therefore a typical game begins with 40 Silvers in the supply; this can be crucial to know in certain games (e.g., with Feodum).
Silver is a very important part of BM strategies and will typically be one of the two cards you open with in a BM strategy. It is necessary for jumping up to Gold or Platinum to ensure that you are able to purchase Provinces or Colonies. Good Silver density in your deck is often enough to purchase Provinces, especially in Terminal Draw/BM strategies, as 4 Silver is enough to purchase a Province. Having a high density of Silver is especially useful in games which benefit from deck homogeneity, such as games using Envoy, Advisor, or Pillage, in which an opponent can choose a card for you to discard.
Original article by theory
[In 2009], Stormparkiet wrote an influential review of base Dominion outlining the “Silver test”: is the card you’re about to purchase really better than a Silver? If it isn’t, you should just stick to buying a Silver. At its core, the review suggested that all you really had to do to succeed in Dominion was to blindly purchase Silvers and Golds.
Regrettably, this now-outdated heuristic continues to exert an undue influence on modern Dominion. While Gold remains a cornerstone of most successful Dominion decks, Silver has silently turned into a liability rather than an asset in most modern decks. Much of Silver’s original appeal stemmed from the fact that base Dominion strongly favored Big Money engines or slight variations thereof, and Big Money engines always benefit from more Silvers. But subsequent expansions have radically upended traditional strategical thinking; Big Money engines (and Silver) are no longer nearly as relevant as they were before, for two reasons:
- With the advent of Colonies, a deck that can churn per turn for 4-5 turns is no longer sufficient. It’s considerably harder for Big Money to maintain a consistent per turn than per turn; the whole premise of Big Money was that the constant Silvers can keep resupplying your Golds so you can keep getting to . But getting to a constant stream of Golds to resupply your Platinums is just too slow, primarily because:
- Action combinations are much stronger than before (partially due to widespread early trashing cards), and certain combos are so game-warpingly powerful that their benefits dwarf the tempo cost of setting up the combo. (See, e.g., City/Goons/Quarry.) Even in the absence of Colonies, they are simply too fast and too strong for Big Money to stand a chance.
What this means is that the ideal deck is no longer made up of just Golds and Silvers with one Smithy thrown in. Instead, it is often a mix of Actions that are good on their own but much more than the sum of their parts when played together. They churn out the Golds and Provinces; they’re what win you the game. As a result, the worth of drawing these cards together now far outweigh the marginal deck benefit of a Silver. A Big Money deck needed Silvers because it had no other way to get to Caravan/Vault combo that would net you +?; in an Action-driven deck, after you’ve got your combo set up, all Silver does is interfere. What good is its if it stops you from executing a
Silver still serves a purpose: to get you to Duke strategy, that’s just not enough to get into the big leagues. A long-term strategy really lives and dies by its Golds; Silvers are just a way of getting to them. Ideally, in fact, you’d jump to Gold without ever needing to buy a Silver (e.g., drawing Moneylender-Copper-Copper-Copper-Copper on your third turn); otherwise, you use an opening Silver or two (or three) to get you to Golds, and then buy no more.and . Silver-based decks can consistently hit that number, but unless you’re shooting for a Duchy/
Of course, if you’re being brutalized by Curses and attacks, then Silvers play a critical role in your deck even deep into the midgame, since you aren’t yet capable of reaching Great Halls and Wishing Wells when you need to get to ′s and Golds, but once you get those ′s and Golds, additional Silvers don’t help you on your next objective, which is to get to . Better instead to get the non-terminals, netting a token benefit while simultaneously aiding you in setting up your real rainmakers: your Action combos, ′s, and Golds. (Yes, I would probably take even Pearl Diver over a Silver given appropriate circumstances.) If no non-terminals are available, then even buying nothing is often better than buying the Silver.and without them. And Silvers remain important in the increasingly rare sets where Big Money is the dominant strategy. But in a typical game, after you have your first Gold and a or two, buying Silver will often just weigh you down. This is the time when those “useless” and non-terminals really shine. It’s too slow in the early game to buy
You could interpret this evolution as a sign of power creep, but I think that’s an unfair characterization. Base Dominion took relatively little skill to play optimally, since you really couldn’t hope to do that much better than the Silver baseline. Since then, however, Dominion has become a much deeper and more complex game. Merely meeting the baseline is no longer good enough; with skillful play, you can now reach much greater heights. Like a set of training wheels, Silver provides you with what you need to get going, but to really succeed, you have to learn when to move on.
While typically not enough to power an Alt-VP strategy on its own (other than Feodum), Silver can be quite important as a support card for Alt-VP strategies, especially strategies involving Duke, Fairgrounds, Gardens, and Silk Road. They benefit from Silver because in a bloated deck, having a single silver in hand helps ensure that you are able to hit the , , and price points. Ironworks, Explorer, and Haggler are examples of Silver-gaining cards which provide solid support an Alt-VP strategy.
Cards which interact with silver
Since Silver is available in every game of Dominion, several other cards specifically name and interact with it. Most of these allow players to gain Silver, as a way of providing a decent but not overly-powerful benefit.
- Dominion: Merchant, Bureaucrat
- Intrigue: Trading Post
- Seaside: Explorer
- Cornucopia: Trusty Steed
- Hinterlands: Jack of All Trades, Noble Brigand, Trader, Embassy
- Dark Ages: Beggar, Squire, Feodum
- Guilds: Masterpiece
- Adventures: Amulet, Treasure Hunter, Trade, Raid, Port
- Empires: Crumbling Castle, Rocks, Delve, Conquest, Aqueduct, Bandit Fort, Palace
- Nocturne: Lucky Coin, The Mountain's Gift, Envy
- Menagerie: Scrap, Wayfarer
- Promo: Sauna, Governor
|Dominion 1st Edition||October 2008|
|never implemented||Base Cards||June 2012|
|Dominion 2nd Edition||October 2016|
Other language versions