Blue dog rule

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Trader (early version), the card that most often invokes this rule.

The "blue dog rule" is a ruling by Donald X on what to do when an ability has an effect based on a card it's gaining, but the card to-be-gained is never actually gained for one reason or another. In this case, the ability has no effect, since it did not gain a card.

The archetypal example of this rule is the interaction between IronworksIronworks.jpg and the early version of TraderTraderOld2.jpg. If you would gain a card with Ironworks, and then reveal Trader to gain a SilverSilver.jpg instead, you never actually gained anything with Ironworks, so Ironworks fails to give a bonus effect based on the type of the card gained. Since the 2020 revision of Trader, however, the rule no longer applies to it, since the revised version of TraderTrader.jpg does not prevent you from gaining a card.

It is called the "blue dog" rule because when Hinterlands was first released, Donald X posted a bizarre analogy about walking a blue dog to try to explain the interaction.


[edit] List of cards that can invoke the Blue dog rule

[edit] Gaining-hinderers

If a chosen Supply pile is empty, or a split pile with no more copies of the desired card remaining, this also hinders gaining. Trying to gain from an empty pile requires some shenanigans, such as triggering a SheepdogSheepdog.jpg, played Way of the MouseWay of the Mouse.jpg as LurkerLurker.jpg, to trash the last copy of the card you were trying to gain.

[edit] Gain-effect cards

This applies to any cards with an "If you do" or similar clause preceding an effect dependent on a card gain (such as RitualRitual.jpg), and it's usually quite clear that nothing happens, because of this phrasing. However, a few cards have no such phrasing, leading to potential ambiguity; this ruling was given specifically for these kinds of cards:

[edit] Trivia

Donald X.'s original quote:

If I say, "feed the blue dog, then take it for a walk," "it" refers to the blue dog, including its blueness, but "it" does not mean "the dog you fed." We are talking about a blue dog, and I am giving you two commands concerning it. Feed it, walk it.
—Donald X., Ironworks and Trader

While the quote provided the name for the ruling, afterward Donald X. changed his position on how the interaction should work to how it stands today.

Deck archetypes Big MoneyComboEngineRushSlog
Strategic concepts CollisionCounterCyclingDeadDuchy dancingEndgameGreeningMegaturnMirrorOpeningOpportunity costPenultimate Province RulePayloadPinPiledrivingReshuffleSilver testStop cardSplit advantageStrictly betterSynergyTerminalityTerminal spaceThree-pile endingTurn advantageVictory pointVillage idiot
Rules Blue dog ruleCostDeckGameplayMaterialsNo Visiting ruleStop-Moving rule (previously Lose Track rule) • Supply (Kingdom) • Triggered effectsTurn
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