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Militia, an Attack card.

Attack is a card type. An Attack is a card intended to hinder the player's opponent(s), either by making their next turn worse in some way, or otherwise weakening their deck. However, not all Attacks are equal, and while some can be quite devastating, others can range from mildly annoying to borderline beneficial to other players, depending on the circumstances. Most Attack cards are Action cards. There are no special rules relating to Attack cards; they are simply a useful label to have so that other cards (mostly Reactions) can refer to them.


[edit] List of Attack cards sorted by expansion

Cards in italics have been removed.

[edit] Overview

Attacks are often a crucial component of an engine strategy: an engine deck can take longer to build than an unimpeded Big Money deck; but an engine that frequently plays Attack cards can slow down an opponent's deck-building enough to make engine construction competitive. However, since they attack the opponent, strong Attack cards often have relatively weak (or even no) direct benefits to their owner's deck, slowing down deck-building from that direction as well.

Not every play of every Attack card will adversely affect (or even affect at all) an opponent, and some cards which can be used to hurt an opponent, such as MasqueradeMasquerade.jpg, PossessionPossession.jpg and Ill-Gotten GainsIll-Gotten Gains.jpg, are not Attacks. The fact that "Attack" is a card type becomes relevant in that certain cards have specified interactions with Attacks. Most of these are Reaction cards that can be revealed when an opponent plays an Attack to have some effect that usually mitigates or counters the adverse effect of the Attack. Other cards that have specific interactions with the Attack type include SquireSquire.jpg, UrchinUrchin.jpg, and Battle PlanBattle Plan.jpg.

All Dominion expansions have at least two Attack cards. The greatest density of Attack cards is found in the first edition of Cornucopia, which contains three Attack cards out of 13 Kingdom cards, as well as FollowersFollowers.jpg, an Attack–Prize. As of the second editions, The lowest density of Attack cards is in Renaissance, which has only two Attacks out of 25 Kingdom cards. As of the second editions, which removed two Attacks from Cornucopia, the greatest density of Attacks can be found in AlliesAllies.jpg, in which six out of 31 Kingdom card piles contain Attacks (some of which are split piles), and AdventuresAdventures.jpg, in which there are seven Attacks (some of them Travellers not in the supply) compared to 30 Kingdom card piles;

[edit] Kinds of Attacks

There are 6 basic kinds of Attacks; some Attack cards belong to two of these categories. Donald X. Vaccarino explained 4 of them here in depth, including how to defend against them; the other two were speculated on here.

Some Attack cards from Nocturne, such as SkulkSkulk.jpg, invoke Hexes. The Hexes themselves are not Attacks (since they are not cards) but the Doom cards that invoke them against opponents are. Hexes have a range of possible effects, so an Attack such as Skulk may belong to different ones of these classes on different occasions.

[edit] Handsize attacks

Handsize attacks reduce the number of cards you have in hand on your next turn, thus reducing the range of options available to you on that turn. The majority of these make you discard down to 3 cards, and the victim chooses which cards to discard; thus multiple plays of such handsize attacks don't hurt the victim more than the first one. These include cards like MilitiaMilitia.jpg. A few, like ClerkClerk.jpg, instead force opponents to topdeck cards from their hand. Some only hit players above a certain handsize, such as PillagePillage.jpg. Some handsize attacks can make victims continue discarding cards on multiple plays, such as TorturerTorturer.jpg.

The strongest counters to most handsize attacks include MenagerieMenagerie.jpg, which is more likely to grant +3 cards in smaller hands, Horse TradersHorse Traders.jpg, which increases your handsize again once your next turn starts, and draw-to-X cards like Cursed VillageCursed Village.jpg.

[edit] Attacks that trash your cards

Trashing attacks usually trash one of the top two cards of the opponents' decks, directly combating their deck-building efforts. Donald X. Vaccarino has described it as challenging to create trashing attacks that aren't too random in their degree of effectiveness and don't totally ruin players' enjoyment of the game. This is accomplished in various ways: trashing can be restricted to Treasure cards, as in BanditBandit.jpg, or to a certain price range, as with KnightsKnights.jpg, or the Attack can offer the victim a replacement for the trashed card, as with SwindlerSwindler.jpg. CardinalCardinal.jpg exiles opponents' cards instead of trashing them, which makes it possible for the victim to restore the lost cards to their deck by gaining another copy.

Trashing attacks can often be countered with gainers.

[edit] Attacks that give you junk

Attacks that add undesirable cards to opponents' decks hurt an opponent by weakening the turns on which they draw those "junk" cards, and by slowing their deck cycling. The majority of these, like WitchWitch.jpg, distribute CurseCurse.jpg cards and therefore are referred to as cursers; the on-gain effect of Ill-Gotten GainsIll-Gotten Gains.jpg has the same function as these Attacks, though it is not itself an Attack card. Dark AgesDark Ages.jpg does not contain cursers; instead, its junking attacks are Looters which distribute Ruins. A few junkers, like Noble BrigandNoble Brigand.jpg, can distribute CopperCopper.jpg. Some, such as AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg, distribute a variety of junk cards, including Curses under some circumstances.

Junkers are usually countered by trashers, particularly WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg, which can trash cards when you first gain them.

[edit] Attacks that muck with your deck order

Deck order attacks attempt to ensure that weak cards are left on top of an opponent's deck, or strong cards are discarded, weakening their upcoming hands and denying them opportunities to play their best cards. Cards like BureaucratBureaucrat.jpg specifically try to put bad cards on the opponent's deck; cards like RabbleRabble.jpg can make them discard whatever good cards are there while leaving bad cards behind.

Trashers and cyclers can help mitigate these Attacks, as can cards that fish cards out of your discard pile, like HarbingerHarbinger.jpg, or deck inspectors, like CartographerCartographer.jpg.

[edit] Attacks that make other players' turns worse

Turn-worsening attacks, though not addressed in his Guide to Beating Attacks, were mentioned by Donald X. in his Seaside preview. Until Adventures, there weren't really any Attacks that fit this category and not any others (obviously, a handsize Attack usually makes a player's turn worse). Attack-Durations and tokens make this category possible.

The main examples here are Bridge TrollBridge Troll.jpg and EnchantressEnchantress.jpg; they don't make players discard, trash their cards, or give them junk, and they do nothing to their deck, but they certainly makes their turns worse. RelicRelic.jpg also fits here (as well as RaidRaid.jpg, though it is not an Attack); rather than making a player discard directly, it prevents players from drawing in the first place. This can either make their current turn worse if they have draw cards, or their next turn if they do not.

[edit] Attacks that lower other players' score

The only Attacks that consistently lower opponents' scores in Dominion are cursers, though their effect as junking attacks is usually more important than the fact that Curses are worth negative victory points. Trashing attacks can lower scores if they hit a Victory card. One Hex (MiseryMisery.jpg) lowers scores directly, and Attack-Doom cards will eventually hit that one. CovenCoven.jpg effectively just reduces other players' scores by 1VP per play unless/until the Curse pile empties. Donald X. has said he's tried cards that lower scores directly, e.g. like a reverse MonumentMonument.jpg, but they "fluctuated between being too weak, too strong, and too much work to deal with."

[edit] Defending against Attacks

The most direct way to defend against an Attack is with a card that simply grants you immunity from attacks, if one is available. However, those cards are not always the most efficient way to protect yourself, and there sometimes exist other ways to mitigate the effects of certain types of attack. Handsize attacks can be handily combated by MenagerieMenagerie.jpg or a draw-to-X card, junkers can be thwarted by a heavy-duty trasher or a protective WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg, trashing Attacks can be countered with gainers, and deck-order attacks can be mitigated by sifters. All of these are embodied in Jack of all TradesJack of All Trades.jpg, which Donald X. has revealed he designed as an "after-the-fact Moat." A number of different counters to specific Attacks have also been found.

[edit] Card gallery

Archer.jpgBandit.jpgBarbarian.jpgBerserker.jpgBlack Cat.jpgBlockade.jpgBridge Troll.jpgBureaucrat.jpgCardinal.jpgCatapult.jpgCauldron.jpgCharlatan.jpgClerk.jpgCorsair.jpgCoven.jpgCultist.jpgCutpurse.jpgCutthroat.jpgDame Anna.jpgDame Josephine.jpgDame Natalie.jpgDame Molly.jpgDame Sylvia.jpgEnchantress.jpgFamiliar.jpgFrigate.jpgGatekeeper.jpgGiant.jpgHaunted Woods.jpgHighwayman.jpgIdol.jpgJester.jpgLegionary.jpgMarauder.jpgMargrave.jpgMercenary.jpgMilitia.jpgMinion.jpgOld Witch.jpgPillage.jpgRabble.jpgRaider.jpgRelic.jpgReplace.jpgRogue.jpgSea Witch.jpgScrying Pool.jpgSiren.jpgSir Bailey.jpgSir Destry.jpgSir Martin.jpgSir Michael.jpgSir Vander.jpgSkirmisher.jpgSkulk.jpgSoldier.jpgSoothsayer.jpgSorcerer.jpgSorceress.jpgSwamp Hag.jpgSwindler.jpgSword.jpgTormentor.jpgTorturer.jpgTrickster.jpgUrchin.jpgVampire.jpgVillain.jpgWarlord.jpgWarrior.jpgWerewolf.jpgWitch.jpgWitch's Hut.jpgYoung Witch.jpg

[edit] Removed cards

Spy.jpgThief.jpgSaboteur.jpgAmbassador.jpgGhost Ship.jpgGoons.jpgMountebank.jpgNoble Brigand.jpgOracle.jpgPirate Ship.jpgSea Hag.jpgFollowers.jpgFortune Teller.jpgTaxman.jpg

[edit] Trivia

[edit] In other languages

  • Czech: Útok
  • Dutch: Aanval
  • Finnish: Hyökkäys
  • German: Angriff
  • Polish: Atak
  • Russian: Атака (pron. ataka)

[edit] Why is Attack a type?

The point to "attack" was to let MoatMoat.jpg refer to it. This is an old trick. If the original game didn't have "attack" and at some point I wanted to add MoatMoat.jpg, it would be messy. You can cobble something together but it's not great. Probably I would just do it over multiple cards instead - WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg for CursingCurse.jpg although it also covers discard although not by letting you not discard, Market SquareMarket Square.jpg for trashing, after-the-fact stuff like MysticMystic.jpg for SpySpy.jpg. But if I stick on this label "attack," suddenly I can just say, bam, stop attacks. And I wanted MoatMoat.jpg. So I did that.

It has to be timed for when they play the card, before it does anything, because man, who knows what complex things that card will do. This means that cards that have attacking as an option, e.g. Pirate ShipPirate Ship.jpg, end up letting you MoatMoat.jpg them before they decide, and they may not even end up doing anything to you. Which is different from if I say WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg a CurseCurse.jpg you're giving me. But that seemed like something I could live with.

It has to be clear what happens when you Moat. This ruled out putting "attack" on MasqueradeMasquerade.jpg.

And finally some things can hurt another player but don't have much spirit of attacking to them, like Council RoomCouncil Room.jpg. I always say, MoatMoat.jpg doesn't have a responsibility to stop every bad thing possible from happening to you. It doesn't stop them from buying ProvinceProvince.jpg, that's a big one. So Council RoomCouncil Room.jpg is not an attack. It would look weird, and would slow down the game, as you thought, hmm is there some reason not to draw the card this time. TributeTribute.jpg meanwhile refers to the top cards for information; it has to get that information to be playable, we can't have someone MoatingMoat.jpg it. It might feel like MoatingMoat.jpg a SpySpy.jpg to you, but to the guy with TributeTribute.jpg it's like you MoatedMoat.jpg his GoldGold.jpg.

It's nice when e.g. Black CatBlack Cat.jpg gets to be MoatableMoat.jpg; if I were making the game from scratch I might end with "attack" embedded in text such that you could MoatMoat.jpg e.g. IGGIll-Gotten Gains.jpg. But MasqueradeMasquerade.jpg, it so doesn't need that tag. I haven't done the work, and don't have to, but I imagine e.g. MilitiaMilitia.jpg being "+$2. Attack: Each other player discards down to 3 cards in hand." And so on. IGGIll-Gotten Gains.jpg would be "When you gain this, Attack: Each other player gains a CurseCurse.jpg." And then you know, MoatMoat.jpg would be phrased to stop attacks, which would be these bits of embedded text.

[edit] Countering attacks

It's not some specific concern to focus on. We play games with the cards, if they're too strong or too weak I change them, unless they're early cards and I didn't know better, or later cards where I just blew it. It's fine by me if say draw-to-X is good against Militias. It's a problem if an attack is too often shut out; I try to avoid that.

[edit] Strong attacks getting removed

The game has plenty of strong attacks still. There's strong, and then there's MountebankMountebank.jpg.

I got a lot of data from players when making the decisions as to what to cut. The best players did in fact like the strong attacks more than other players. Mic Qsenoch for example - who has won the league many times - defended the strong attacks and did not want them to go. He does not dislike slogs. (And I personally like slogs more than most players.)

For competitive players, the game is more interactive than it is for casual players; just, any set of 10 cards, right away, it's more interactive. There is no respect in which they are trying to cut down on player interaction; that's an absurd idea.

[edit] Power level

Well I mean. Dominion in fact has fewer centralizing attacks. That change happened years ago at this point, but has swept to second editions.

I think it's important that attacks aren't all down there with RaiderRaider.jpg and GatekeeperGatekeeper.jpg. There is a tendency in this direction; a big thing is, I prefer attacks to not be draw, because you'll buy them just to draw and then oh look you're attacking. So then they're usually payload cards that then it's easier not to buy. And well I don't want to err on the side of too strong with attacks. But, there are players who adore them.

Me personally, I don't mind slogs, and love the game feeling much different; that doesn't mean I need attacks to provide that feeling though. I need attacks for people who like attacks though, and to make sure I have enough interaction in each set.

MountebankMountebank.jpg, Ghost ShipGhost Ship.jpg, and (in multiplayer) AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg were the "you don't get to see any of your cards" attacks. It's great that we're not sellng those to new players anymore. Sea HagSea Hag.jpg wasn't strong; it's just a card with a high hate-to-love ratio.

Dominion Card types
Basic types ActionTreasureVictoryCurseCurse.jpg
Multi-expansion special types AttackDurationReactionCommand
Single-expansion special types PrizeRewardShelterRuinsLooterKnightReserveTravellerGatheringCastleNightHeirloomFateDoomSpiritZombieAugurClashFortLiaisonOdysseyTownsfolkWizardLoot
Non-card types EventLandmarkBoonHexStateArtifactProjectWayAllyTrait
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