Golden Deck

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A Golden Deck is any deck that, every turn, gives the player the same hand and nets them +VP. Usually a Golden Deck consists of the five-card deck BishopBishop.jpg-GoldGold.jpg-SilverSilver.jpg(x2)-ProvinceProvince.jpg, allowing the player to Bishop a Province for 5VP and buy another Province.


[edit] The Standard Golden Deck

The single deck commonly referred to as a Golden Deck is a five-card deck with

  • Three treasures which, combined, are worth $7 or $8
  • One BishopBishop.jpg
  • One ProvinceProvince.jpg

Every turn, this deck can play Bishop to trash a Province for 5VP, and then use $8 to buy a new Province, earning VP without changing the state of your hand or deck. More generally, "a Golden Deck" is used to refer to any deck that shares that property - you are guaranteed the same draws every turn, and you earn VP without changing the composition of your deck.

[edit] Setting it up

  • The standard setup for a Golden Deck requires opening with BishopBishop.jpg/ChapelChapel.jpg. Opening StewardSteward.jpg/Steward or LookoutLookout.jpg/Bishop is also possible, though significantly slower.
  • Your aim is to trash your starting cards as fast as possible; almost always err on the side of trashing faster rather than buying, unless you would go below $3 total in your whole deck. When your starting cards are gone (or perhaps one card before that), you should end up drawing the Bishop and Chapel together, and use the Bishop to get rid of the now useless Chapel.
  • You should not need to buy more than two SilversSilver.jpg. Buying one GoldGold.jpg will be easy once your deck gets down to 5 cards.
  • Drawing your Chapel on turn 5 will seriously mess you up. There's not much you can do about that.
  • Once the deck is set up, trash Province every turn and buy Province, until the game is over.
  • Sometimes you will find it natural to get two Golds and one Silver, rather than the other way around. In this case you will not need to trash when you buy the last Province, which is 1VP better for you.
  • If the Penultimate Province Rule is a concern, you can instead switch to buying and trashing Gold for 4VP per turn instead of 5VP for trashing Provinces. (This gives you a significant advantage over a player who is duchy dancing, since you are getting more VP per turn and also not clogging your deck.) If you have one Gold, you might also trash Silver and buy Gold, anticipating a Province buy without trashing as described above.
  • The DonateDonate.jpg event from Empires allows a faster setup with no (further) shuffle luck, especially on anything but a 2/5 opening. For 5/2, Donate turn 1 and keep 3 Coppers; repay on turn 2; buy Silver on turn 3 and Bishop on turn 4, then proceed normally. For 4/3, Donate turn 1 and keep 4 Coppers, repay on turn 2, buy the Bishop on turn 3, and replace a Copper with Silver on turn 4. For 3/4, buy Silver on turn 1; Donate on turn 2, keeping the Silver and 2 Coppers; repay on turn 3; buy Bishop on turn 4. Either way, you begin trashing Provinces on turn 8. On 2/5, keep 3 Coppers; it will unavoidably take an extra turn to repay the Debt, but after that it works the same way. (With perfect shuffle luck, Bishop/Chapel starts trashing Provinces on turn 9 - though this also requires careful play, deliberately not trashing one of the Coppers when there is an opportunity to do so.)

[edit] Strategy

  • The Golden Deck is weak against many Attacks.
    • Cursers and other junking attacks can cause you to have a 6-card deck instead of a 5-card deck, thus breaking your combo; you will be forced to spend turns trashing incoming junk and not buying/trashing Provinces.
    • Bureaucrat can mess up your strategy once you have your Golden Deck, because it will topdeck your Province, leaving you with the unpleasant choice of either buying a second province, getting a 6-card deck; or waiting a turn and not earning anything.
    • Discard attacks will leave you with a 3-card hand. (Once the deck is set up, unless you want to risk "breaking" it, the best you can really do here is to trash and replace a Silver - so you only get 2VP that turn. Or if you have a 2-Gold setup, you can "downgrade" to a 1-Gold setup, claiming 4VP this turn.)
    • However, once the Golden Deck gets going, it is immune to trashing attacks and SpySpy.jpg-type Attacks, because your entire deck is in your hand; there's no deck for the Attacks to target.
    • If there is LighthouseLighthouse.jpg in the supply you can exchange Silver for Lighthouses for an Attack-resilient Golden Deck. You want to get exactly two Lighthouses, playing one each turn (with the other out as a Duration from the previous turn). Keep in mind that Ill-Gotten GainsIll-Gotten Gains.jpg and MasqueradeMasquerade.jpg still hurt you. You can also still be PossessedPossession.jpg (in this case, stick with one Gold; then your opponent can't claim a Province from your deck without giving you the Bishop VP as well).
  • The Golden Deck is weak against strong engines that don't stall. 5VP per turn isn't actually that many; it will beat strategies that stall after picking up a few Provinces, but engines that can continue to pick up Provinces without stalling and can detour for DuchiesDuchy.jpg (or which can pick up a lot of VP in other ways, e.g. massive GoonsGoons.jpg or MonumentMonument.jpg engines) will be able to overtake a Golden Deck. This is especially true since the opponent will have the benefit of a lot of Bishop trashing early.
  • ColonyColony.jpg games do not favor a Golden Deck, since Colonies are effectively worth only 1 more VP than Provinces to you (since you are trashing them for 6VP instead of 5) but 4 more to your opponent (who is keeping them in deck for their face value). Given its overall power, however, the Golden Deck is still often strong in such games, in either Colony OR Province form, depending on your opponent's strategy.
  • If behind with a golden deck (or in a close game against an opponent who is likely to stall), the deck can continue to get slightly fewer points almost indefinitely by trashing and buying other expensive cards (not just Province and Colony), typically GoldGold.jpg (or PlatinumPlatinum.jpg in a Colony game)

[edit] Variants

Though the standard Golden Deck is (Bishop, Gold, Gold, Silver, Province), there are many ways to achieve consistent VP gain.

  • Decks which gain Gold cards with TunnelTunnel.jpg and then trash them for VP
  • ColonyColony.jpg Golden Decks such as PlatinumPlatinum.jpg, Platinum, Bishop, Colony, Colony
  • PeddlerPeddler.jpg instead of Province also gives 5VP, but is cheaper to buy
  • Combo: Bishop and Fortress
  • 5-card decks with MonumentsMonument.jpg, potentially with Throne RoomThrone Room.jpg or King's CourtKing's Court.jpg to maximize points.
  • 5-card decks with GoonsGoons.jpg and WatchtowerWatchtower.jpg score points by buying cheap cards, and maintain the 5-card deck by trashing the incoming buys.
  • 4-card decks with 2x Poor HousePoor House.jpg, BishopBishop.jpg and any +actions.
  • Three Fool's GoldFool's Gold.jpg and a BishopBishop.jpg. With this, you can buy a province each turn and trash it the next repeating the cycle like a normal Golden Deck

[edit] Beyond 5-card setups

There are a few ways to build a larger deck so that it is guaranteed to draw itself and score points without your deck composition changing.

  • Cantrips can be mixed in to this strategy more or less freely, although there needs to be a good reason to pick them up or else they are just a distraction. On a board with light trashing and FamiliarFamiliar.jpg, for example (such that going straight for the Golden Deck will be much too slow), you might start out attacking with Familiar and transition into a Golden Deck later; there is no need in this case to remove the Familiars with your Bishop.
  • King's CourtKing's Court.jpg/SchemeScheme.jpg combos can come into play here as well; each turn you top-deck KC-KC-Scheme-X-X (or similar) in such a way that you're guaranteed to draw the rest of your deck (although if the pieces are in place to do this, you quite likely have even better options!)
  • Two TacticiansTactician.jpg may allow you to play an 11-card Golden Deck, inspired by the basic Double Tactician engine idea. Each turn you trash one or more cards, generate virtual coin in whatever way, and then buy replacements. This especially works well with the TunnelTunnel.jpg variant, since you will be discarding your hand to Tactician anyway, which takes care of enabling the Gold gain from Tunnel.
  • AlchemistAlchemist.jpg stacks work great for this as well (this especially helps out with the Goons/Watchtower variant, since you will only be able to play at most 3 Goons with a "basic" 5-card Golden Deck). You only need one PotionPotion.jpg in the "steady state"; just make sure that at least 1/3 of your deck is Alchemists.
  • MenagerieMenagerie.jpg or StablesStables.jpg can make the Golden Deck mostly resilient against discard attacks.

[edit] Beyond VP chips

There are a few strategies which score points by gaining Victory cards as usual but can still maintain the same 5-card hand each turn.

  • The Scavenger-Stash combo can guarantee a hand of 4 Stashes and a Scavenger each turn and buy Provinces without ever seeing them in hand.
  • Some decks involving King's CourtKing's Court.jpg and SchemeScheme.jpg can guarantee the same hand of Action cards will be drawn each turn. For example, a hand of two King's Courts, two Schemes, and a MandarinMandarin.jpg can buy a Province and top-deck itself each turn.
  • With MandarinMandarin.jpg in the supply, a hand of four distinct Treasures adding up to $8 or more plus a Horn of PlentyHorn of Plenty.jpg can buy a Province or Colony, gain a Mandarin, and top-deck itself each turn - see (Combo: Horn of Plenty and Mandarin). Alternatively, you can use four Treasures adding up to at least $12 (e.g. four GoldGold.jpg) and a CounterfeitCounterfeit.jpg or CharmCharm.jpg, also allowing you to buy a Province and Mandarin every turn.
  • Several combinations of three cards can give you +1 action, +1 buy, and enough coin to purchase an IslandIsland.jpg and another victory card. This allows you to repeatedly Island the victory card and buy the replacements. This works best if the other Victory card is Silk RoadSilk Road.jpg. Two Fishing VillageFishing Village.jpgs (one played each turn), a QuarryQuarry.jpg, and a BridgeBridge.jpg are an inexpensive combo that can manage this.
  • Many cards that use the Exile mat can create a Golden deck. For example, either SanctuarySanctuary.jpg or Bounty HunterBounty Hunter.jpg can be used with 2 GoldsGold.jpg, 1 SilverSilver.jpg, and 1 ProvinceProvince.jpg to have a Golden Deck. You exile the Province and gain one each turn. With DisplaceDisplace.jpg, you have to have some cantrip in the game in order to keep up the Golden deck. With BanishBanish.jpg, you need some +Buy. Though this is hard in a Province game, it is much easier in a Colony game. For example, 2 PlatinumsPlatinum.jpg, 1 GoldGold.jpg, 1 Nomad CampNomad Camp.jpg, and 1 ColonyColony.jpg, can gain a Colony and Banish the one in hand.

Cards $3 AnvilAnvil.jpgWatchtowerWatchtower.jpg $4 BishopBishop.jpgClerkClerk.jpgInvestmentInvestment.jpgTiaraTiara.jpgMonumentMonument.jpgQuarryQuarry.jpgWorker's VillageWorker's Village.jpg $5 CharlatanCharlatan.jpgCityCity.jpgCollectionCollection.jpgCrystal BallCrystal Ball.jpgMagnateMagnate.jpgMintMint.jpgRabbleRabble.jpgVaultVault.jpgWar ChestWar Chest.jpg $6 HoardHoard.jpg $6star Grand MarketGrand Market.jpg $7 BankBank.jpgExpandExpand.jpgForgeForge.jpgKing's CourtKing's Court.jpg $8star PeddlerPeddler.jpg $9 PlatinumPlatinum.jpg $11 ColonyColony.jpg
Removed cards $3 LoanLoan.jpgTrade RouteTrade Route.jpg $4 TalismanTalisman.jpg $5 ContrabandContraband.jpgCounting HouseCounting House.jpgMountebankMountebank.jpgRoyal SealRoyal Seal.jpgVentureVenture.jpg $6 GoonsGoons.jpg
Combos and Counters Bishop/FortressCounting House/Travelling FairGolden deck
Other concepts Victory tokens
Dominion Card Combos
Apprentice/Market SquareBeggar/GardensBlack Market/TacticianBishop/FortressCapital/HerbalistCapital/MandarinCounting House/Travelling FairDonate/Market SquareGolden deckHermit/Market SquareLurker/Hunting GroundsMasquerade pinMasterpiece/FeodumNative Village/BridgeProcession/FortressRoyal Carriage/BridgeTrader/FeodumWorkshop/Gardens
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