From DominionStrategy Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Cost $3
Type(s) Victory - Castle
Kingdom card? Yes
Set EmpiresEmpires icon.png
Illustrator(s) Julien Delval
Card text
Sort the Castle pile by cost, putting the more expensive Castles on the bottom. For a 2-player game, use only one of each Castle. Only the top card of the pile can be gained or bought.

Castle is a type of Kingdom card from Empires. It is a Split pile with 8 differently-named unique Castles; when Castles are selected as a Kingdom card for a game, they are ordered in ascending order of cost from $3 to $10 in a single Supply pile, of which only the top card can be gained at any given time, though you may look through the pile to see which Castles are next.

Every Castle is a Victory–Castle card, though 3 have an additional type as well. They are all worth some amount of VP (and are thus considered alt-VP), and most have different abilities as well.

In games with more than 2 players, an extra copy of 4 of the Castles (Humble, Small, Opulent, King’s) are added to the pile, still in ascending order of cost.


List of Castles

Image Gallery

Humble Castle.jpgCrumbling Castle.jpgSmall Castle.jpgHaunted Castle.jpgOpulent Castle.jpgSprawling Castle.jpgGrand Castle.jpgKing's Castle.jpg


See individual Castle pages.


Note: This section is written to specifically address the setup for two-player games, but the general concepts still apply to multiplayer.

The Castles pile consists of alt-VP cards with variable names, prices, and other properties. If uncontested, acquiring the complete set of 8 Castle cards is worth at least 45 VP, which rivals the 48 VP value of the entire 2-player stack of Provinces:

  • Humble Castle: 1VP for each castle = 8VP
  • Crumbling Castle: 1VP, plus an extra VP for gaining = 2VP
  • Small Castle: 2VP
  • Haunted Castle: 2VP
  • Opulent Castle: 3VP
  • Sprawling Castle: 4VP + a free Duchy = 7VP
  • Grand Castle: at least 5VP
  • King's Castle: 2VP for each castle = 16VP

In practice, the pile is likely to be contested. The presence of so much additional VP in the Kingdom tends to prolong the game and provide more time and payoff for building a good engine that can take many green cards per turn. Because most of the Castles are not very useful as playable cards, they are often gained towards the endgame, like other Victory cards; however, because several of them do have other functions and certain Castles may be more desirable than others, there is sometimes pressure to start gaining them slightly earlier.

The variable nature and increasing costs of Castles have several ramifications that differentiate them from uniform piles of Victory cards:

  1. First, effective scoring with Castles is largely tied to King's CastleKing's Castle.jpg and, to a lesser extent, Humble CastleHumble Castle.jpg, which both scale with the number of Castles you have. As such, you’ll usually have to commit to scoring via Castles, and won’t get much VP from only one or two copies as you would with ProvincesProvince.jpg, even if those are the pricier Castles. It also means that if your opponent is going for Castles, you will need to periodically weigh up how much VP you can deny your opponent by taking a Castle for yourself.
  2. Second, the varying costs of Castles mean that you are often rewarded for building to have both additional gains via gainers or sources of +Buy (to acquire multiple cheaper Castles at once) and the ability to hit high pricepoints (to afford the more expensive Castles). In Kingdoms without those additional gains, you’ll likely have to start buying Castles earlier, as buying them later is likely to waste $. Additionally, you’ll need to be aware of uncovering particular Castles for your opponent; for example, if you buy Small CastleSmall Castle.jpg, your opponent may then be able to attack you by buying Haunted CastleHaunted Castle.jpg.
  3. Third, the greening process can be significantly smoother (and might therefore start earlier) or your scoring more potent with effects that appreciate the variety of Castles. Notably, deck control is much easier to maintain with Castles than with ProvincesProvince.jpg when you’re drawing with MenagerieMenagerie.jpg; Bounty HunterBounty Hunter.jpg also has many more opportunities to generate $3. Similarly, Castles tend to synergize well with DisplaceDisplace.jpg, since they make many differently named cards available, and can be Displaced into more expensive Castles or ProvincesProvince.jpg. The fact that Castles each have a unique name also means that they provide extra VP with effects such as FairgroundsFairgrounds.jpg and MuseumMuseum.jpg but incur a significant VP penalty with Wolf DenWolf Den.jpg.

Another somewhat significant difference between Castles and ProvincesProvince.jpg is that emptying the Castles pile is not solely sufficient to end the game. If you’ve emptied the Castles pile, you’ll likely need to find a way to end the game another way, probably by taking ProvincesProvince.jpg. This feature also means that milling Castles isn’t very effective, as it doesn’t bring the end of the game nearer and you would rather keep those cards to increase your own VP.

Since all the Castles have different abilities, there is also some strategy around targeting specific ones that are especially powerful or important to you in a particular game, and it’s important to consider the effects of leaving an opponent the opportunity to gain the next one (or multiple subsequent ones). The relevant considerations vary greatly depending on the Kingdom, but in general:

  • Humble CastleHumble Castle.jpg is functionally equivalent to a CopperCopper.jpg that comes with a small amount of VP unless you have many other Castles. This means it is usually a weak card, especially in the opening where it has a high opportunity cost. Typically, timing when to gain Humble CastleHumble Castle.jpg will depend on a mix of whether you have additional gains, your deck’s readiness to green, and its opportunity cost this turn. Humble CastleHumble Castle.jpg can be more attractive with a few effects: for example, if KeepKeep.jpg is present, it is worth an additional 5 VP.
  • Crumbling CastleCrumbling Castle.jpg comes with a SilverSilver.jpg. Gaining two stop cards early in the game greatly hinders your deck control, so an early Crumbling CastleCrumbling Castle.jpg is therefore most beneficial if you can both draw and benefit from the added payload. It might also be risky to uncover Small CastleSmall Castle.jpg, potentially leaving it to your opponent, if you lack the ability to gain that on the same turn too. Crumbling CastleCrumbling Castle.jpg is often a particularly good target for Small Castle’sSmall Castle.jpg effect, and by the time you’re in a position to use this, you may be able to make better use of the additional SilverSilver.jpg that Crumbling CastleCrumbling Castle.jpg provides on being trashed.
  • Small CastleSmall Castle.jpg allows you to trash a Castle to gain a more expensive Castle. This is usually useful, especially if you can trash a weak Castle (i.e. Crumbling CastleCrumbling Castle.jpg) or one whose primary appeal lies in its on-gain effect (usually Haunted CastleHaunted Castle.jpg); however, if no better targets are available in hand, trashing Small CastleSmall Castle.jpg itself still tends to be worthwhile as it usually generates a net increase in the amount of VP you’re scoring with Castles. It may be worth retaining Small CastleSmall Castle.jpg for better control of the very expensive Castles if hitting those pricepoints is otherwise difficult.
  • Haunted CastleHaunted Castle.jpg has an on-gain handsize attack that is powerful and good at causing duds, so it can be a bad idea to uncover this Castle for an opponent. The GoldGold.jpg gaining is also often a useful boost to your payload by the time this Castle is available.
  • Opulent CastleOpulent Castle.jpg also offers a benefit beyond VP. It is most valuable if you are well into the greening phase (and therefore have plenty of Victory cards to discard), have very strong draw that enables you to make consistent use of it, and have enough +Buy to put it to use.
  • Sprawling CastleSprawling Castle.jpg can often be rather undesirable because it mandatorily adds additional, relatively low-value Victory cards to your deck. This is less of a problem if you anticipate the game ending very soon or need the extra VP, and may in some cases even be useful such as if you’re using ShepherdShepherd.jpg for draw.
  • Grand CastleGrand Castle.jpg is variable in its VP value, and deciding whether or not to gain it is often situation-dependent. While it has a good chance of being worth significantly more VP than a ProvinceProvince.jpg as you’re well into the greening phase, you may alternatively be in a position to claim relatively few on-gain VP and, more importantly, taking it without also being able to take King's CastleKing's Castle.jpg gives your opponent a shot at the latter. You need a significant amount of draw to fully profit from gaining Grand CastleGrand Castle.jpg because you need both enough payload to afford the Castle and multiple Victory cards in hand to get extra VP; this can be a particular problem if you’re using Opulent CastleOpulent Castle.jpg for payload and don’t have overdraw to draw the Victory cards back up.
  • Finally, King's CastleKing's Castle.jpg provides a significant VP swing depending on how many Castles each player has. Gaining it is likely to be very important; even if you have very few Castles yourself, this probably means that denying it to your opponent is crucial.

External strategy articles

Note: Article(s) below are by individual authors and may not represent the community's current views on cards, but may provide more in-depth information or give historical perspective. Caveat emptor.


English versions

Print Digital Text Release Date
Castles Castles from Shuffle iT Sort the Castle pile by cost, putting the more expensive Castles on the bottom. For a 2-player game, use only one of each Castle. Only the top card of the pile can be gained or bought. Empires June 2016

Other language versions

Language Name Print Digital Text Notes
Dutch Kastelen
Finnish Linnat
French Châteaux French language Castles 2021 from Shuffle iT Triez la pile des Châteaux par coût, en plaçant les Châteaux les plus chers en-dessous. Pour une partie à 2 joueurs, n'utilisez qu'un exemplaire de chaque Château.
Seule la carte du haut de la pile peut être reçue ou achetée.
German Schlösser German langugage Castles 2021 by ASS German language Castle from Shuffle iT Spielvorbereitung: Sortiert die Schlosskarten aufsteigend nach ihren Kosten, die teuerste wird zuunterst gelegt. Im Spiel mit 2 Spielern wird nur ein Exemplar jeder Schlosskarte verwendet.
Es darf nur die oberste Karte des Stapels genommen oder gekauft werden.
2. Edition
Japanese 城 (pron. shiro) 城カードをコストが低いものが上になるよう重ねて山を作る。2人戦では各1枚のみ用いる。一番上のカードのみ購入・獲得可能。
Polish Zamki Polish language Castles Karty w stosie Zamków należy ułożyć pod względem kosztu (od najdroższej na spodzie stosu do najtańszej na wierzchu).
W rozgrywce dwuosobowej używa się 1 kopii każdego Zamku.
Gracz może dodać lub kupić tylko wierzchnią kartę ze stosu.
Russian Замки (pron. zamki)


Official card art.


Looking at the other previews this week, you may have gathered that Empires’ theme is “different paths to victory”. You’ve got Landmarks that reward different strategies, and more uses for VP tokens than ever. But you may have wondered, where are the actual Victory cards? Today I’m previewing eight, though they’re all in the same pile. Like a split pile, the Castles are sorted by cost, with the cheaper ones on top. In a 2-player game, you use one of each unique Castle card. In a game with more players, there are duplicates of four of them (Humble, Small, Opulent, King’s). I’ll say a quick word about each one.

Secret History

There was an old idea in the file, a pile of Victory cards with different sizes. One day we needed a promo (which became SummonSummon.jpg) and Matt Engel decided to try this out. He made 8 cards for it, including Small Castle and King's Castle, and converting Opulent Castle from an old outtake from Hinterlands (there a straight action). He also had a vanilla treasure-victory card ($2 and 1VP). I thought it was important to have a cheap one that rewarded you for loading up on them, and made Humble Castle for the first one. Small Castle trashes itself or another Castle, so Crumbling Castle is something nice to trash, and Haunted Castle isn't so bad there either. Sprawling Castle and Grand Castle interact with some of the other cards and are also nice for people not going for Castles.

Mostly the cards didn't change after the second version; they just worked out. There were a couple cards in the Haunted Castle slot. I tried a Castle that shuffled cards from discard into deck, after an old outtake; I tried a one-time Cursing one (like Ill-Gotten GainsIll-Gotten Gains.jpg). Haunted Castle couldn't work at weird times (such as when gaining it with SaboteurSaboteur.jpg) and so ended up saying "on your turn," to be as friendly as possible (still works with Small Castle) while shutting out weirdness.

Cards 4D EngineerEngineer.jpg 8D City QuarterCity Quarter.jpgOverlordOverlord.jpgRoyal BlacksmithRoyal Blacksmith.jpg $2 EncampmentEncampment.jpg/PlunderPlunder.jpgPatricianPatrician.jpg/EmporiumEmporium.jpgSettlersSettlers.jpg/Bustling VillageBustling Village.jpg $3 Castles (HumbleHumble Castle.jpgCrumblingCrumbling Castle.jpgSmallSmall Castle.jpgHauntedHaunted Castle.jpgOpulentOpulent Castle.jpgSprawlingSprawling Castle.jpgGrandGrand Castle.jpgKing'sKing's Castle.jpg) • CatapultCatapult.jpg/RocksRocks.jpgChariot RaceChariot Race.jpgEnchantressEnchantress.jpgFarmers' MarketFarmers' Market.jpgGladiatorGladiator.jpg/FortuneFortune.jpg $4 SacrificeSacrifice.jpgTempleTemple.jpgVillaVilla.jpg $5 ArchiveArchive.jpgCapitalCapital.jpgCharmCharm.jpgCrownCrown.jpgForumForum.jpgGroundskeeperGroundskeeper.jpgLegionaryLegionary.jpgWild HuntWild Hunt.jpg
Events 5D TriumphTriumph.jpg 8D AnnexAnnex.jpgDonateDonate.jpg $0 AdvanceAdvance.jpg $2 DelveDelve.jpgTaxTax.jpg $3 BanquetBanquet.jpg $4 RitualRitual.jpgSalt the EarthSalt the Earth.jpg $43D WeddingWedding.jpg $5 WindfallWindfall.jpg $6 ConquestConquest.jpg $14 DominateDominate.jpg
Landmarks AqueductAqueduct.jpgArenaArena.jpgBandit FortBandit Fort.jpgBasilicaBasilica.jpgBathsBaths.jpgBattlefieldBattlefield.jpgColonnadeColonnade.jpgDefiled ShrineDefiled Shrine.jpgFountainFountain.jpgKeepKeep.jpgLabyrinthLabyrinth.jpgMountain PassMountain Pass.jpgMuseumMuseum.jpgObeliskObelisk.jpgOrchardOrchard.jpgPalacePalace.jpgTombTomb.jpgTowerTower.jpgTriumphal ArchTriumphal Arch.jpgWallWall.jpgWolf DenWolf Den.jpg
Combos and Counters Capital/HerbalistCapital/MandarinDonate/Market Square
Other concepts DebtGatheringSplit pilesVictory tokens
Dominion Card types
Basic types ActionTreasureVictoryCurseCurse.jpg
Multi-expansion special types AttackDurationReactionCommand
Single-expansion special types PrizeRewardShelterRuinsLooterKnightReserveTravellerGatheringCastleNightHeirloomFateDoomSpiritZombieAugurClashFortLiaisonOdysseyTownsfolkWizardLoot
Non-card types EventLandmarkBoonHexStateArtifactProjectWayAllyTrait
Personal tools