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The artwork used to show cost in coins.
The artwork used to show cost in Potions.
The artwork used to show cost in Debt.

The cost of a card, Event or Project is the amount that must be paid in order to buy it. A card's cost is indicated in its lower left corner, and an Event or Project's cost is indicated in its upper left corner. Every card, Event or Project costs some number of $, P, and D. Only relevant cost components are shown, the rest are omitted. If something does not cost any resources (besides a Buy), $0 is shown. To buy something, a player must have the requisite number of $ and P unspent, a Buy, and no D.


[edit] Symbols in costs

Most cards include Coins in their cost, symbolized $. To buy a card with $ in the cost, you must have made enough $ during your turn. The primary way of making $ is by playing Action and Treasure cards. Coffers and some Events, Artifacts, Boons, Allies, and Night cards provide additional ways to make $.

Some cards in Alchemy include PotionPotion.jpg in their cost, symbolized P. This may be in addition to some number of $. The $ and P components of costs are orthogonal; $1 is not greater than, less than, or equal to P. To buy a card with P in the cost, you must have played a Potion, in addition to having made enough $ to pay for the $ portion of the card's cost.

Some cards in Empires include Debt in their cost, symbolized D. This may be in addition to some number of $. The $ and D components of costs are orthogonal; 1D is not greater than, less than, or equal to $1. Unlike $ and P, players do not pay D when buying cards costing D; instead they take D tokens when buying cards costing D. D is paid off by $.

Some cards in Guilds include a superscript plus sign in their cost (e.g., $3plus). This indicates the card may be overpaid for.

Some cards include an asterisk in their cost (e.g., $0star). This indicates there is something unusual about the card's cost. Cards from non-Supply piles have asterisks in their costs to remind players that, despite having a cost, they cannot be bought. PeddlerPeddler.jpg, DestrierDestrier.jpg, WayfarerWayfarer.jpg, and FishermanFisherman.jpg have asterisks to remind players that they have effects that change their cost, and Animal FairAnimal Fair.jpg has an asterisk to remind players that there's an alternative way to buy it other than by paying its cost. Cards with asterisks can be found in Prosperity, Cornucopia, Dark Ages, Adventures, Nocturne, Menagerie, and PlunderPlunder (expansion).jpg.

Asterisks and plus signs are only reminders; unless otherwise specified, a card still has its normal cost for all purposes described below.

[edit] Comparing costs

Many effects cause players to compare the cost of a card to another card, or a fixed value. These commonly include effects from gainers, remodelers, and trashing attacks. An amount of two cost components ($ and P, or $ and D) is only larger than another if both cost component amounts are larger, or one is larger and one the same.

For example:

  • $4P costs $2 more than $2P.
  • Any card with P or D in its cost does not cost up to $4.
  • Any card with P or D in its cost does not cost from $3 to $6.
  • $88D costs more than $5, but 8D does not.
  • 4D is not more than $4, and $4 is not more than 4D; both have something the other lacks.
  • Things that change costs only change the $ cost; P and D are unaffected by changes in $.

[edit] Purposes of costs

The primary purpose of a card's cost is to indicate the resources needed to buy it. However, many things make references to a card's cost at other times. For example:

For this reason, all cards have costs, even those that it is never possible to buy, such as Shelters and Heirlooms.

[edit] Changes in cost

Some things have effects that temporarily or permanently change the cost of some or all cards: BridgeBridge.jpg, Bridge TrollBridge Troll.jpg, CanalCanal.jpg, CheapCheap.jpg, DestrierDestrier.jpg, Family of InventorsFamily of Inventors.jpg, FerryFerry.jpg, FishermanFisherman.jpg, HighwayHighway.jpg, InventorInventor.jpg, PeddlerPeddler.jpg, PrincessPrincess.jpg, QuarryQuarry.jpg and WayfarerWayfarer.jpg. When these effects occur, the affected costs are changed for all purposes (see above). These abilities change the costs of cards, but not of Events or Projects.

[edit] Strategy

In general, more "powerful" cards, Events and Projects have higher costs, but overall power is not the only consideration that goes into determining cost. For example:

  • ChapelChapel.jpg is often cited as a card whose strength is considered disproportionate to its low cost of $2.
  • Costs between $2 and $4 are influenced by how useful the card, Event, or Project is as an opening, and how desirable or necessary it is to be able to accumulate multiple copies of a card with extra Buys.
  • Cards with beneficial on-gain or on-buy effects typically cost more than their on-play effect would seem to require.
  • Some cards' costs differ from what their power levels might suggest in order to interact better with other cards. RatsRats.jpg costs $4 to interact favorably with trash-for-benefit cards, while Border VillageBorder Village.jpg costs $6 to give you a wider range of other cards to gain with its when-gain ability.
  • Some strong non-Supply cards, such as WishWish.jpg and Rewards, cost $0star in order to remind the player that they cannot be bought, and to make them less appealing targets for trash-for-benefit effects. However, other non-Supply cards, such as Loot and HorseHorse.jpgs, do have costs roughly commensurate with their power level.

In general, a card will never be strictly better than a similar card with the same or a higher cost.

Most Kingdom cards cost between $2 and $6. There are only eleven Kingdom piles with cards costing more than $6 and one Kingdom card costing less than $2. This means most games of Dominion do not have Supply cards costing $1 or $7. These gaps can influence gameplay in subtle but substantial ways. For examples, UpgradeUpgrade.jpg can trash CopperCopper.jpg without gaining anything, and cannot trash anything to gain a ProvinceProvince.jpg. In the rare games when cards costing $1 or $7 are in the Supply, the utility of a card like Upgrade can change dramatically.

[edit] 0 cost

Cards that cost $0 are either meant to be so terrible that they're essentially free (e.g., CopperCopper.jpg, CurseCurse.jpg, and Ruins), or are non-Supply cards that are meant to be quite powerful. In the latter case, a zero cost helps indicate that these are not normal cards, and discourages any other use for them than playing them (such as remodeling them).

Events that cost $0 are meant to be always available, and come with some penalty or restriction to prevent their abuse.

Cards and Events that cost $0 still require an available Buy, whether the single Buy available each turn or given by a card such as FestivalFestival.jpg, in order to buy them.

[edit] 1 cost

Cards that cost $1 do so mainly as a gimmick: Poor HousePoor House.jpg has this cost for flavor reasons, and to change early game playstyles.

SaveSave.jpg and BuryBury.jpg, the Events that cost $1, have a relatively minor effects that are intended to be almost always available.

[edit] 2 cost

$2 is the lowest normal cost for Kingdom cards. Cards that cost $2 are priced so players can always open with them, and can easily pick up extra copies of them with spare Buys. These include:

  • Cards whose effects are usually relatively weak or inconsequential (e.g., Pearl DiverPearl Diver.jpg and DuchessDuchess.jpg).
  • Cards that are strong only in multiples (e.g., Fool's GoldFool's Gold.jpg and Native VillageNative Village.jpg). These cards are cheap to enable you to easily buy enough of them to make them worthwhile.
  • Cards that are less strong in multiples (e.g., CourtyardCourtyard.jpg or HamletHamlet.jpg). The low price does not make these cards overpowering because, although you can buy several copies of them, they have diminishing returns; you don't get that much benefit from having many copies of them. ChapelChapel.jpg epitomizes this: it's often described as the strongest card in the game relative to its cost, but rarely does anyone need more than one copy of it.

The $2 Events mostly give +Buy and a small but useful bonus, offering another use for extra $ the player may have in their Buy phase.

There are no $2 Projects as it would be too automatic to pick one up with an extra +Buy.

[edit] 3 cost

Cards and Events that cost $3 are priced so that players can open with two of them, but cannot (usually) open with one of them and a card costing $5. They are typically more powerful than $2 cards and Events. Cards, Events and Projects at this cost also directly compete with SilverSilver.jpg.

[edit] 4 cost

Cards, Events and Projects that cost $4 are priced so that players can usually open with one of them, but cannot (usually) open with more than one of them. $4 cards are often relatively powerful early-game Attacks or trashers.

[edit] 5 cost

$5 is considered to be the most important cost in Dominion, and it is the cost with the most cards, Events and Projects. Most cards at this cost are considered quite powerful; if a player gets to open with a card costing $5, their other opening card must be $2 or less. The difference in power between a typical card costing $5 and a card costing $4 is substantially wider than between cards costing $4 and cards costing $3. Therefore, making $5 is an important part of early game strategy; players must often choose between early trashing, or buying things that will help them make $5. Most cursers and many powerful terminal draw cards cost $5.

[edit] 6 cost

Cards, Events and Projects that cost $6 directly compete with GoldGold.jpg. They tend to be exceptionally powerful, and players usually cannot open with them.

[edit] 7 cost

Cards, Events and Projects that cost $7 still compete with Gold, but the extra $1 in cost means these few cards, Events and Projects are just that much harder to acquire. Cards costing $7 can be seen as a consolation prizes for not making $8, but they also allow remodelers that gain cards costing "exactly $1 more than" a trashed card to gain Provinces.

[edit] 8 cost

Cards, Events, and Projects that cost $8 directly compete with ProvinceProvince.jpg; a player chooses to buy these cards, Events or Projects instead of a Province. PeddlerPeddler.jpg, while nominally costing $8, is rarely purchased for more than $4.

[edit] 9 and higher cost

PlatinumPlatinum.jpg at $9 and ColonyColony.jpg at $11 have the most expensive $ costs of card piles in the game, and DominateDominate.jpg at $14 is the most expensive Event in the game. The two most expensive Castles (Grand CastleGrand Castle.jpg at $9 and King's CastleKing's Castle.jpg at $10) also fall into this price range, and all the cards and Events in this category can be extremely powerful. Games with these high-costing cards usually last longer as players build their decks up to make enough $ to buy them.

[edit] Potion cost

Since the only way to buy a card with P in the cost is the relatively inflexible PotionPotion.jpg card, such cards are generally more inconvenient to acquire than comparable cards with $ costs. To motivate players to go to the trouble, these cards are typically powerful and reward accumulating multiple copies of them.

[edit] Debt cost

Debt allows players to pay some or all of a card or Event's cost at a later time. Cards and Events with solely D in their cost can be bought at any time, provided the player does not already have D. Thus, while they may be expensive, they can be bought on a player's opening turns, though this may mean that they can't buy anything else for the next turn or turns. As such, D cards and Events with no other cost tend to have some feature or penalty that makes them not worth buying in the first few turns.

One card (FortuneFortune.jpg) and one Event (WeddingWedding.jpg) have both a $ cost and a D cost; the same concepts from the purely D-costing cards and Events apply, but now these two have an additional $ threshold that must be met as well, rather than being able to buy them at any time.

[edit] Trivia

[edit] Donald X.'s thoughts

You start the game making $3.5 a turn, so $2-$4's are much more a function of 1) openings, 2) utility with +Buys, 3) perception. Well except for early ones where I hadn't worked this out.

Obv. some cards care about their own cost specifically, e.g. Band of MisfitsBand of Misfits.jpg, or have a weird cost thing e.g. PeddlerPeddler.jpg. And all RemodelRemodel.jpgs have built in the possibility of RemodelRemodel.jpg-ing them. I think those are the main cases - refer to cost of itself, refer to cost of cards in general. Being the bottom of a split pile does have the possibility of making a difference.

Cards try not to be too similar to other cards, but sometimes something similar seems worthwhile, and then it's an issue, it can't be strictly better than another card. This may cause it to do more/less so it can have a different cost. Or kill it.

Sometimes there's a good reason for a card to be cheap or a $5 or expensive - a reactive card wants to be cheap, an early-game card prefers to cost less than $5, a slow (but somehow worthwhile) card wants to cost more. But here the card itself is tweaked to get something that's good at the good cost.

Some statistics on costs (as of November 2018):

Cost Kingdom Card Piles Differently-named Cards Kingdom Card Piles (2E only) Differently-named Cards (2E only) Events Projects Non-Kingdom Supply Piles
334 405 322 393 34 20 11
$0 19 (4.7%) 19 (4.8%) 4 (11.8%) 3 (CopperCopper.jpg, CurseCurse.jpg, Ruins)
$1 1 (0.3%) 4 (1.0%) 1 (0.3%) 4 (1.0%) 1 (2.9%)
$2 39 (11.7%) 45 (11.1%) 38 (11.8%) 44 (11.2%) 4 (11.8%) 1 (EstateEstate.jpg)
$3 58 (17.4%) 64 (15.8%) 55 (17.1%) 61 (15.5%) 5 (14.7%) 5 (25.0%) 1 (SilverSilver.jpg)
$4 90 (26.9%) 99 (24.4%) 85 (26.4%) 94 (23.9%) 4 (11.8%) 4 (20.0%) 1 (PotionPotion.jpg)
$5 112 (33.5%) 128 (31.6%) 110 (34.2%) 126 (32.1%) 6 (17.6%) 6 (30.0%) 1 (DuchyDuchy.jpg)
$6 14 (4.2%) 18 (4.4%) 13 (4.0%) 17 (4.3%) 3 (8.8%) 3 (15.0%) 1 (GoldGold.jpg)
$7 4 (1.2%) 5 (1.2%) 4 (1.2%) 5 (1.3%) 1 (2.9%) 1 (5.0%)
$8 2 (0.6%) 4 (1.0%) 2 (0.6%) 4 (1.0%) 1 (2.9%) 1 (5.0%) 1 (ProvinceProvince.jpg)
$9 2 (0.5%) 2 (0.5%) 1 (PlatinumPlatinum.jpg)
$10 1 (0.2%) 1 (0.3%)
$11 1 (0.2%) 1 (0.3%) 1 (ColonyColony.jpg)
$14 1 (2.9%)
Includes P 10 (3.0%) 10 (2.5%) 10 (3.1%) 10 (2.5%)
Includes D 4 (1.2%) 5 (1.2%) 4 (1.2%) 5 (1.3%) 5 (11.8%)

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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