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Overgrown Estate, Hovel and Necropolis, the three Shelter cards.

Shelter is a card type from Dark Ages. In games using Kingdom cards from Dark Ages, Shelters may be used in players' starting decks instead of the EstatesEstate.jpg that starting decks usually contain. Shelters do not have a Supply pile; the only ones in the game are the ones that players start with. Although they cannot be bought, Shelters have a cost of $1.

Shelter cards have a red frame—however, since every Shelter card has two types, each Shelter's frame is half red and half the color associated with its other type.

There are three differently-named Shelters; each player's deck starts with one of each:


Additional rules

The rules for playing with Shelters are described in the Dominion: Dark Ages rulebook and are reproduced here.


  • If only Kingdom cards from Dark Ages are being used this game, the Shelter cards replace starting EstatesEstate.jpg - each player's starting deck is seven CoppersCopper.jpg, a HovelHovel.jpg, a NecropolisNecropolis.jpg, and an Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg.
  • If a mix of Kingdom cards from Dark Ages and other sets is being used, then the use of Shelters should be determined randomly, based on the proportion of Dark Ages cards in use. For example, choose a random Kingdom card being used - such as the last card dealt from the Randomizer deck - and if it is from Dark Ages, use Shelters in place of starting Estates.
  • Do not use the same card to choose whether or not to use Shelters as you use to choose whether or not to use PlatinumPlatinum.jpg and ColonyColony.jpg (from ProsperityProsperity.jpg).
  • Using Shelters does not change the Estate Supply pile; it still contains 8 Estates for 2 players and 12 Estates for 3 or more players.


Official FAQ

Other rules clarifications

  • It is allowed to reveal a Shelter when playing AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg. In that case, it is not returned to the Supply (since it is not in the Supply) and opponents do not gain a copy of it.


Since Shelters differ from EstatesEstate.jpg in several ways, their presence in your starting deck impacts various strategic considerations.

  1. Their lower cost, at $1 instead of $2, reduces the potential value of using trash-for-benefit effects, such as SalvagerSalvager.jpg, to trash your starting cards. This can be a particular problem for cards like UpgradeUpgrade.jpg: unless there is a desirable card available at $2, such as Border GuardBorder Guard.jpg, trashing a Shelter will force you to gain an EstateEstate.jpg or another useless card.
  2. The fact that three of your starting cards are unique rather than identical has a few implications. The most likely to be relevant are those that relate to thinning: Shelters are easier to thin with TempleTemple.jpg and provide more payoffs with Bounty HunterBounty Hunter.jpg, but it's unlikely to be efficient to BanishBanish.jpg them. Before you've thinned your Shelters, or in cases where this is impossible, they improve your chances of activating MenagerieMenagerie.jpg but make drawing with Hunting PartyHunting Party.jpg less effective. Finally, if you keep them in your deck until the end of the game, they will give you extra VP with MuseumMuseum.jpg but impose a VP penalty with Wolf DenWolf Den.jpg.
  3. Unlike in other games, you start with no EstatesEstate.jpg, which devalues effects that benefit from their automatic presence in your deck, such as BaronBaron.jpg, RebuildRebuild.jpg, and InheritanceInheritance.jpg.

Beyond these issues, each of the Shelters also has some unique properties which lead to other considerations and interactions.

As an Action card that starts the game in your deck, NecropolisNecropolis.jpg sometimes has a major impact on what you can do in the opening, even though its village effect is irrelevant at first. NecropolisNecropolis.jpg is a prime target for effects that require you to trash an Action card, and in cases like AdvanceAdvance.jpg and Animal FairAnimal Fair.jpg, it's often worth activating this ability immediately. The presence of a Way can also be important: for example, Way of the SheepWay of the Sheep.jpg guarantees you can buy a card costing $5 in the opening. Later in the game, many Ways continue to be situationally more useful than Necropolis'sNecropolis.jpg effect, making it worth keeping in your deck. Way of the HorseWay of the Horse.jpg is especially noteworthy: because NecropolisNecropolis.jpg has no pile to return to, this Way makes it equivalent to a LaboratoryLaboratory.jpg that you start out with for free. In some games, NecropolisNecropolis.jpg can eventually become useful for its village effect, although this is weak, coming in the form of a stop card with no other bonus. Its presence sometimes enables you to somewhat delay the purchase of other villages, and can occasionally resolve early terminal collision, although it's still often better to thin it if you can. Alternatively, if the Kingdom offers strong deck control but no other villages, keeping your NecropolisNecropolis.jpg can be worthwhile, as it will allow you to consistently play an extra terminal each turn once you are drawing your deck.

HovelHovel.jpg not only provides no VP but lacks the Victory card type entirely, meaning that it lacks even the minor advantages of EstatesEstate.jpg in e.g. providing draw when revealed by IronmongerIronmonger.jpg. The fact that it can be trashed when you gain a Victory card is its most useful feature: for example, its presence in your hand may slightly increase the attraction of gaining an alt-VP card that is useful for your deck in any case, such as MillMill.jpg. When considering whether to gain a Victory card to trash HovelHovel.jpg, it is important to assess the long-term effect on the number of stop cards in your deck. For example, if you buy your first ProvinceProvince.jpg and trash a HovelHovel.jpg, you’ve added zero stop cards on net. If, on the other hand, you were to gain an EstateEstate.jpg in the early game to trash HovelHovel.jpg, the number of stop cards would not immediately change, but once you start greening and buy your first ProvinceProvince.jpg the number of stop cards increases by one, meaning you effectively have taken an extra EstateEstate.jpg for no particular benefit. Occasionally, however, it can be worth trashing HovelHovel.jpg by buying an EstateEstate.jpg when you have $2 and nothing better to buy if the EstateEstate.jpg can be put to use in some way that HovelHovel.jpg couldn't (perhaps in feeding a trash-for-benefit effect or using it for draw with Crop RotationCrop Rotation.jpg).

Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg is often an attractive target for trashing as early as possible, since doing so provides some cycling and is reasonably likely to draw a CopperCopper.jpg in the early game, increasing your $ output that turn. However, it's worth paying attention to cases where this effect could trigger an undesirable shuffle or draw a card dead, in which case it may be better to trash something else. Since Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg does have the Victory type, it does interact with some of the same effects as EstateEstate.jpg (such as RebuildRebuild.jpg and ShepherdShepherd.jpg), but these are still unlikely to be worth using.

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.

Card gallery

Hovel.jpgNecropolis.jpgOvergrown Estate.jpg


In other languages

  • Czech: Útočiště (lit. refuge)
  • Dutch: Onderdak
  • Finnish: Suoja
  • German: Unterschlupf
  • Japanese: 避難所 (pron. hinanjo)
  • Russian: Убежище (pron. ubyezhishshye)


Here they are at last, the Shelters. In an all Dark Ages game, your starting deck is 7 CoppersCopper.jpg, NecropolisNecropolis.jpg, Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg, HovelHovel.jpg. When mixing sets up, the rule for using Shelters is similar to the PlatinumPlatinum.jpg / ColonyColony.jpg rule.

Shelters may not be worth the 1 VP of an Estate, but they are way better to have in your deck. Necropolis lets you go a little heavier on terminals from the get-go. Overgrown Estate gives you an extra little treat if you ever manage to trash it. And Hovel has a built-in way to get rid of it - you move out of that Hovel, and into a nice DuchyDuchy.jpg or something.

You can't buy Shelters, but they cost $1. That's just to shake up how various cards interact with them. A RemodelRemodel.jpg doesn't take you as far as it used to. And with only one being a Victory card, that CrossroadsCrossroads.jpg doesn't go to as many places. BaronBaron.jpg doesn't know what to do with these. And an AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg can't even give them away, since they have no piles to return to. On the other hand, they are fine places to get animals for your MenagerieMenagerie.jpg. And how much exactly can you build FairgroundsFairgrounds.jpg up to now, in games without Black MarketBlack Market.jpg? Man. A lot.

Secret History

Tom Lehmann suggested replacing starting Estates with something else, to make the environment feel more Dark Ages-y. I thought this was a great idea. Ruins obv. doesn't work, because some people would make out, unless we picked specific ones. And Curse isn't very interesting. But I could just make up three new cards, which is what I did. NecropolisNecropolis.jpg shakes up early turns, since you can stomach more in the way of terminal actions; Overgrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg gives you a little prize if you crack it open eventually; and HovelHovel.jpg tempts you into buying a victory card when you might not have.

Hovel is the only one that changed. Originally it was an action you could trash by discarding your hand. It turned out that trashing it turn 1-2 usually seemed like the correct play, even if you drew it with four Coppers. So that was no good. Hovel as printed has nice flavor going for it; you move out of your old Hovel and into a nice Duchy.

Cards $0 Ruins (Abandoned MineAbandoned Mine.jpgRuined LibraryRuined Library.jpgRuined MarketRuined Market.jpgRuined VillageRuined Village.jpgSurvivorsSurvivors.jpg) $0star SpoilsSpoils.jpg $1 Poor HousePoor House.jpgShelters (HovelHovel.jpgNecropolisNecropolis.jpgOvergrown EstateOvergrown Estate.jpg) $2 BeggarBeggar.jpgSquireSquire.jpgVagrantVagrant.jpg $3 ForagerForager.jpgHermitHermit.jpg (MadmanMadman.jpg) • Market SquareMarket Square.jpgSageSage.jpgStoreroomStoreroom.jpgUrchinUrchin.jpg (MercenaryMercenary.jpg) $4 ArmoryArmory.jpgDeath CartDeath Cart.jpgFeodumFeodum.jpgFortressFortress.jpgIronmongerIronmonger.jpgMarauderMarauder.jpgProcessionProcession.jpgRatsRats.jpgScavengerScavenger.jpgWandering MinstrelWandering Minstrel.jpg $5 Band of MisfitsBand of Misfits.jpgBandit CampBandit Camp.jpgCatacombsCatacombs.jpgCountCount.jpgCounterfeitCounterfeit.jpgCultistCultist.jpgGraverobberGraverobber.jpgJunk DealerJunk Dealer.jpgKnightsKnights.jpg (Dames AnnaDame Anna.jpgJosephineDame Josephine.jpgMollyDame Molly.jpgNatalieDame Natalie.jpgSylviaDame Sylvia.jpg • Sirs BaileySir Bailey.jpgDestrySir Destry.jpgMartinSir Martin.jpgMichaelSir Michael.jpgVanderSir Vander.jpg) • MysticMystic.jpgPillagePillage.jpgRebuildRebuild.jpgRogueRogue.jpg $6 AltarAltar.jpgHunting GroundsHunting Grounds.jpg
Combos and Counters Apprentice/Market SquareBeggar/GardensBishop/FortressDonate/Market SquareHermit/Market SquareLurker/Hunting GroundsMasterpiece/FeodumProcession/FortressTrader/Feodum
Other concepts When trashLooter
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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