This page contains answers to questions commonly asked in the Dominion forums. It is not intended to be a substitute for the official Dominion rules, so if you have a rules question, you should consult the official rules (see the Section 1 intro for links) before coming here. Obviously, if there is a discrepancy between the rules and this FAQ, you should go by the rules (unless we reference an official ruling by the designer that supersedes the rules).
See also Dominion FAQ German.
See also the Complete and All-Encompassing Dominion FAQ, for all rules and unpublished rulings.
List of game FAQs
1. Game Rules
The official rules in PDF form (english version) can be downloaded from the Rio Grande Games web site here:
1.1 When do I shuffle my discard pile?
Whenever you need a card from your deck (i.e your draw pile) and you find it empty. Most commonly you draw cards as a result of an instruction or for refreshing your hand after the end of your turn. You might also need a card from your deck if you must reveal or look at a card from it. Note that merely having an empty deck is not reason enough to permit shuffling your discards. You never reshuffle your discard pile if your deck is not empty (unless there is a card that explicitly instructs you to do so). You also never combine the deck and discard pile together and reshuffle them (again, unless the card instructs you to do so).
1.2 What does +1 Action mean?
You may play an additional Action card after you finish resolving this one. You do not play the next Action card immediately and come back to the first card later on. You do not need to use up all of your available Actions.
1.3 What does +1 Buy mean?
You may buy an additional card in your Buy phase. You do not (nor can you) buy a card immediately unless your Action phase is over. You do not need to use up all your available Buys.
1.4 What does +1 Card mean?
You must draw one card immediately, if you can. That card can be played this turn, if you have at least one Action remaining.
1.5 What does +1 Coin mean?
You have 1 more coin available for when you buy things. Most commonly this happens in the Buy phase, although some cards can allow buying during the Action phase, for example the Black Market action card (in which case this will be explicitly stated on the card). The coins produced this way are added to the coins you produce when playing Treasures in the Buy phase. (You add this up in your head. Importantly, +1 Coin does not mean "take a Copper".) You get these coins even if you do not have any Treasure cards to play. You do not need to spend all your available coins. These coins can only be used for cards you buy, not for cards that you gain through other means (for example, with Workshop).
1.6 How does the game end?
The game ends at the end of any player's turn in which at least one of the following is true:
- The Province Supply pile is empty (or the Colony Supply pile is empty, in a game with the Colony card from the Prosperity expansion)
- Any three Supply piles are empty. (Any four piles when playing with five or six players.) This includes all the Supply piles, not just the 10 Kingdom card piles that are selected for each game. So, for instance, if the Estate pile, the Curse pile, and one of the Kingdom card piles is empty, the game ends.
The Black Market deck (used when Black Market promo card is in play) does not count as a Supply pile.
When playing with Young Witch (from the Cornucopia expansion), the Bane Supply pile is a Supply pile.
1.7 What does "gain a card" mean?
Gaining a card means taking a card from somewhere (usually the Supply) and placing it on your discard pile, unless instructed to place it somewhere else (for example, the Mine tells you to Gain a card and place it in your hand). The result of buying a card is gaining it. However, this is only one way to gain a card; you can also gain it through other means (e.g. with Mine or Bureaucrat). It is important to follow the instructions on Action cards correctly and see whether they refer to the cards that are bought or gained (for example, Smugglers allow you to gain a card the player on the right gained on his previous turn, which includes cards that this player bought but also the cards he might have gained through other means).
1.8 What does "resolving a card" mean?
It means following instructions on the card in order from top to bottom. As long as an instruction isn't optional ("you may...") you must do all you can--you are only allowed to bypass something if it is impossible (for example, the card states that you must draw cards, but you have your entire deck in your hand and no discard pile). Still, in that particular case you have to do as much as you can (in the same example, if the card tells you to draw 5 cards, and you only have 2 cards in your deck/discard, you still must draw those 2 cards). If a later part of the instruction is contingent upon you doing the first part, it doesn't happen if you don't do the first part. For example, if you have a Trading Post and an Estate left in your hand, you can still play Trading Post, which means you must trash the Estate, but since you didn't trash 2 cards as instructed, you don't gain a Silver.
1.9 What does "revealing a card" mean?
Revealing means taking a card from somewhere, showing it to the other players and putting the card back where it came from (unless instructed otherwise). Blue Reaction cards are a special kind of cards which can be revealed (and partly resolved) from your hand, outside your turn, when certain requirements are met. Currently, there are three Reaction cards (Moat, Secret Chamber and Horse Traders) which you may reveal when another players plays an Attack card, one (Watchtower) which you may reveal whenever you gain a card, one (Trader) which you may reveal right before gaining a card, one (Tunnel) which you may reveal when you discard it, and one (Fool's Gold) which you may reveal when another player gains a Province. If you have multiple Reaction cards, you may reveal and resolve all of them. You only resolve the instructions pertaining to the revealing ability, not instructions that you resolve when playing the card in your Action phase.
1.10 What if the card says I need to make a choice, and one of the choices can't be resolved?
You can still choose the "impossible" choice, and follow the rule of having to do everything you can do. For example, Torturer attacks you by making you choose between discarding cards or taking a Curse. If the Curse pile is depleted, you can still opt for the second choice (i.e. you "try" to take a Curse and find it to be impossible).
1.11 Can I buy Curses and give them to other players?
No. You can buy Curses from the Supply just like any other card (they have a Cost of 0), but when you buy them they go in your own discard pile, just as with any other card. You can only give other players Curse cards by playing cards that instruct you to do so (for example Witch). You can, however, buy curses in order to either Masquerade or Ambassador them to other players, and this is sometimes a good strategy.
1.12 Does every blue Reaction card defend me from an Attack?
No. Reaction cards (and certain other Action cards) only defend from an Attack if it is written on the card. Otherwise you still get Attacked. For example, the Secret Chamber card gives you an option of drawing and placing cards back on the draw pile, but you still suffer the consequences of the Attack. Note also that you reveal a Reaction card such as Moat, Secret Chamber or Horse Traders when another player plays an Attack card, but before the Attack card is resolved. So any Reactions are revealed before he decised what option to choose on a Pirate Ship or Minion for example. So Reactions can be revealed even if the Attack card doesn't end up affecting you (such as Pirate Ship played for +Coins, or Witch when there are no more Curses).
1.13 Do I have to include Curses even if there is no Witch in play?
Yes. Curses are a standard Supply card, and as such are offered for purchase in every game for the cost of 0 (even though most of the time this purchase isn't strategically justified). Even though in the base game the Curses are mostly ignored unless the Witch is in play, further expansions offer various cards which either directly or indirectly deal with the existence of Curses. Therefore, omitting the Curse pile during game setup is technically against the rules.
1.14 How do I resolve ties?
Officially, if there is a tie when the endgame is triggered, then the player who took fewer turns is the winner (for example, if in a 4 player game, the 2nd player triggers the end, and he and the 3rd player have the same number of victory points, then the 3rd player is the winner because the 2nd player had one more turn than the 3rd player). However, if tied players took the same number of turns, by official rules they both win the game.
2. Card Rules
2.1 How does (some particular card) work?
Check out FAQ question 1.8 (resolving cards). If you still have issues with the card, remember that each rulebook has a section that addresses common questions about all the cards in that set. Look there first (see the Section 1 intro for links), and then come back here if your question still isn't answered.
2.2 Do I have to discard the Moat after I deflect an Attack with it?
No. After you Reveal a card, it goes back where it came from. So, after you reveal a Moat from your hand to stop an Attack, it goes back into your hand.
2.3 If I have a Moat in my hand, and I get attacked more than one time in that round, does Moat counter all attacks or just the first one?
There is no limit in how many times you can reveal and resolve a card from your hand while it is in your hand and the prerequisites are met. Hence, you may use it to counter all attacks. However, you are not required to reveal the Moat, so you can choose to stop some Attacks and not others (for example, if someone is attempting to force you to discard your hand with Minion, you might choose not to reveal the Moat if you have a bad hand).
2.4 I got attacked, revealed Secret Chamber, drew a Moat. Can I reveal the Moat now, too?
Yes. You are still under attack, and if after fully resolving Secret Chamber you have a Moat in your hand, you can freely reveal it and deflect the Attack. Furthermore, as Donald stated, the rules do not stop you from showing the same Secret Chamber (or any other Reaction card) again and again while reacting on only one single Attack. You might want to do this with Secret Chamber if, for instance, you draw into a Moat, use the Moat, and then want to put it back on your deck for next turn.
2.5 What happens when I use Throne Room on a card that gets (or can get) trashed?
As answered in section 1.8 which pertains to resolving cards, it is important to remember the "you must do all you can" rule and carefully follow what is written on the card to the word. For example, by Throning the Feast card, you can freely gain two 5-cost cards even though you can only trash the card once, since the gain instruction is not conditional upon the trashing (second time around you "try" to trash it, find it impossible since the card in question has already been trashed, move on to the second instruction and gain a 5-cost card). On the other hand, the Mining Village card has an instruction that reads, "You may trash this card immediately. If you do..." - the "if" part is only executed if the card gets trashed. Therefore, since the bonus is conditional upon the trashing action, even if your Throne Room lets you play Mining Village twice, you can only get the bonus for trashing it once.
2.6 What happens when I Throne Room a Throne Room?
The second Throne Room gets played twice, which means that you must now play two more cards (one at a time) and do each one of them twice. It does not allow you to add to the number of times you resolve a single card.
2.7 Can I refuse to trash the opponent's Copper when playing the Thief?
Not if the opponent revealed a Copper and no other Treasure. Remember, "you must do all that you can do". You may refuse to gain it though, since that part of the Thief's ability is optional.
2.8 What is the best way to construct a Black Market deck, used by the Black Market promo card?
The most practical way is to use the placeholder cards, and once a card gets bought you simply take the appropriate brown-backed card from the box. Some randomizer applications also include a virtual BM deck (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Dominizer). As for which cards should be included in the BM deck in the first place, this is purely left to the discretion of the players.
2.9 Why does the Bridge card claim it affects the cost of all the cards, including those in other player's hands?
Because of the potential synergy with some other cards which include instructions which have something to do with the cost of the cards, wherever they may happen to be placed. For example, when Remodeling/Salvaging after playing the Bridge both the card you trash and the card you gain have reduced cost (which can in this particular case make the Bridge redundant).
2.10 How do you resolve cards of mixed type when resolving instructions that pertain only to one of those types?
If a card has a mixed type, it is considered to be of both types when resolving instructions, meaning that instructions pertaining to any of those types affect it. For example, Harem is a Treasure/Victory card which means that it can be stolen by a Thief but would also be affected by the Bureaucrat. Also, if it were revealed by the Tribute it alone would produce two bonuses, one for each of its types.
2.11 When do I play Philosopher's Stone card (or other Kingdom cards that are Treasures)?
Philosopher's Stone is a Treasure card, which means it is played in the Buy phase together with other Treasure cards. It is not played during the Action phase. (Note: The only exception to this is the Black Market card, which allows playing Treasure cards during the Action phase as a part of resolving said card.) The same goes for cards like Royal Seal, Talisman, etc.
3.1 Some cards in my box have slightly different backs. Why is that?
Those are placeholder (or "randomizer") cards. You have one placeholder card for each type of card, and the only difference between a placeholder card and a regular card is a blue backside border instead of brown. The Rulebook mentions that those cards should be used as "empty pile" markers; however, most players find this to be rather impractical, since the front of those cards is indistinguishable from "regular" cards (and the "blank" cards are considered to be a much more convenient way to mark empty piles anyway). The most common use for placeholder cards - at least those that pertain to Kingdom cards - is to help with choosing random sets of Kingdom cards, or for creating a Black Market deck (used by the Black Market promo card).
3.2 What are the blank cards for?
Those are surplus cards included simply because they were printed out anyways, so the Dominion publisher chose to include them as opposed to, well, not including them. There have no official use. People most commonly use them as empty-pile indicators. Combining blanks from the base game and Intrigue can be used to create a custom Kingdom stack.
3.3 Is there an official online Dominion implementation?
The official online Dominion http://playdominion.com was released by Goko in 2012. It is an HTML 5 interface with true to life card art and simple gameplay. Playing with the base set is free, and all expansions plus several promo cards are available. Only one of the players needs to own the (online) expansion. There is an "Adventures" feature that is useful for learning all the different cards.
3.5 What Dominion sets have been released?
The base set contains 25 different Kingdom cards, and the Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards necessary to play the game. The base set is recommended for new players, especially those who have not played the game before, not played collectible card games, and/or prefer non-confrontational games with less complexity.
Intrigue is the next release. It also contains 25 different Kingdom cards; and is the only expansion to date to also contain the Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards necessary to play the game. It can be played as a standalone game, but its complexity is considered to make the set more suitable as an expansion. The Kingdom cards in Intrigue are more confrontational ("interactive") than the base set. Many Intrigue cards offer players interesting choices as they are played, adding some complexity and downtime to the game.
Seaside is the third release. Its theme is "your next turn", and it introduces Action cards which are Duration cards. Duration cards have an effect in the following turn. The complexity and interactivity of Seaside is between that of the base set and Intrigue.
Alchemy, the fourth release, is a mini-expansion, meaning that it contains approximately half of the content you would find in a regular expansion, packed in a smaller box and priced a bit lower. This set introduces another treasure type, called Potion, used exclusively to purchase (and occasionally use to full effect) the Kingdom cards that come with this set. Another major difference with this set is the recommendation that Alchemy Kingdom cards should be used in clusters (3-5) which must be taken into account when randomizing Kingdom setups.
Prosperity is the fifth release. It includes new Victory and Treasure cards, Colony and Platinum, worth 10 victory points and 5 coins respectively.
Cornucopia, the sixth release, is another mini-expansion, just like Alchemy. This set's theme is variety. It introduces the Prize cards - they cannot be bought, but can be gained with the Tournament. These cards are unique in that there are only five of them, and each one is different.
Hinterlands, the seventh expansion, is a big expansion, like Seaside and Prosperity. The main theme is "cards that do something when you gain them".
As of 12 January 2012, two new expansions have been announced - Dark Ages (to be released in August 2012), a big expansion of 500 cards (and it will not be a standalone, like Intrigue is), and The Guilds (to be released Spring 2013), a small expansion (150 cards).
3.6 Is Intrigue an expansion or a stand-alone game?
Dominion was designed so that any ten Kingdom cards will work together. So, in a manner of speaking, Intrigue is both. Intrigue expands the base game by giving you an additional 25 Kingdom cards, but it also provides extra Treasure, Victory and Curse cards so it can be played as a standalone.
3.7 How many different Kingdom cards are there?
Currently, 236 have been released. Those are:
- 25 from the base game
- 25 from the Intrigue expansion
- 26 from the Seaside expansion
- 12 from the Alchemy expansion
- 25 from the Prosperity expansion
- 13 from the Cornucopia expansion
- 26 from the Hinterlands expansion
- 35 from the Dark Ages expansion
- 13 from the Guilds expansion
- 30 from the Adventures expansion
- Envoy, Black Market, Stash, Walled Village, Governor and Prince promo cards (currently available in the BGG store)
3.8 Are there any user-made cards?
Too many to mention. The Variant subforums and Galleries of BGG Dominion entries are chock full of them. As for finding good, balanced ones, you are on your own there.
3.9 How does the game work with different number of players, and what is the minimum/maximum number?
Dominion is created for 2-4 players, and it works well with all these numbers. The difference is that with more players the downtime is slightly more pronounced and the attack cards usually have a larger effect on the game. Also, the advantage of being earlier in the player order is much more pronounced in games with a larger number of players.
Intrigue offers a way to add a 5th and a 6th player, but playing with more than 4 players increases downtime significantly. Other issues can arise with a larger number of players: the 6th player has a disadvantage in winning the game; and cards which benefit when any player reveals a certain card from the top of their deck (e.g. Thief and Pirate Ship) tend to be quite powerful. Even though the gameplay mechanics do not restrict the maximum number of players, 6 is officially considered to be the top number of players one should choose to include in a single Dominion game. Playing with 7 or 8 players is possible when combining Dominion with Intrigue, but it is expected that the players will split between two separate games. Note that, with two tables, you can speed up setup time for the second game simply by having each group of players switch tables.
3.10 Do I need to sleeve my cards?
Sleeving is a matter of personal preference but, of course, unsleeved cards will eventually show wear after a lot of play. Note that the Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards are used more often than a specific set of Kingdom cards, so, at least in theory, the non-Action cards should eventually show more use. If you play Dominion only once or twice a week, you should not need sleeves. An easy way to shuffle sleeved cards is to deal them into two or three stacks and slide them together.
3.11 Who makes sleeves that fit?
Dominion cards are smaller than sleeves for collectible card games, such as Magic: the Gathering. Mayday Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Ultra PRO and Cataphract Sleeves make sleeves that fit Dominion cards. There are other sleeve manufacturers but these are the most popular. Note that cards sleeved with the collectible card game sleeves will not fit into the slots of the Dominion inserts.
4. Strategy Questions
4.1 Is Dominion broken because I can win by buying only Treasure?
No. There are some games where players can win faster by only buying Treasures and Provinces, but they are rare. This is called the Big Money Strategy.
4.2 Isn't (some particular card) too powerful/crappy/cheap/expensive?
Generally speaking, no. All the cards have been extensively playtested and there is almost no chance that the designer chose a specific wording or cost without having a good reasoning behind it. Some cards often appear too powerful because the players make them seem that way by focusing heavily on the strategies which favor those particular cards, or simply by perceiving their effect as something that has a much larger impact on the game than it really does (Village being the most common example, being a card which most beginners consider being "too good" for the cost of 3). However, certain cards tend to dominate in certain Kingdom sets and with certain number of players (especially in combination with some other Kingdom cards which complement them, e.g. the Warehouse+Treasure Map combo), which is an unavoidable side-effect of the variability aspect of the game. In fact, many good players will argue that recognizing what those cards are in any particular game setup effectively is the game.
If you want to know more inside information about a specific card (and before you propose most-probably-unnecessary tweaking of it), check out the following inside information that Dominion designer Donald X. Vaccarino has helpfully provided on each and every Kingdom card currently available:
Secret History of Dominion
Secret History of Intrigue
Secret History of Seaside
Secret History of Alchemy
Secret History of Prosperity
Secret History of Cornucopia
Secret History of Hinterlands
Secret History of Dark Ages
Secret History of Guilds
4.3 Where can I find some beginner strategy tips?
Your best bet is to use the "Search" function in the appropriate "Strategy" forum. Some of the more common tips include
- realizing that Treasure is very important while Victory cards slow down your deck
- not putting focus on acquiring lots of various Action cards which will often result in a diluted and non-efficient deck
- not buying cards that will further "slow down" your deck (e.g. Coppers, Estates, even Duchies) unless you have a specific reason to do so (e.g. if Gardens are in play or the game is ending soon)
- trashing cards - when available - is a great way towards a more efficient deck; sacrificing certain Treasure or Victory cards can be very profitable in the long run
- remembering that the alternate ending condition - three piles depleted - exists which may be a more attractive goal to pursue in games where acquiring Provinces is difficult (e.g. games with lots of Attacks)
4.4 Where can I find more information about certain strategies?
There are plenty of strategies discussed on BGG, often nicknamed by the card or mechanism driving the strategy in question. Therefore you will often see a mention of "Chapel strategy" (which relies on using Chapel to whittle your deck down to just a few cards), "Big Money strategy" (focusing on Treasure), "Big Draw strategy" (focusing on cards that will let you draw more cards) etc. Since Dominion includes plenty of variations and Kingdom setups and as a result quite a lot of various strategies, it is infeasible to try to cover them in a single FAQ. So again, if you are interested in a particular strategy, your best bet is to use the "Search" function in the appropriate "Strategy" forum.
4.5 Is there advantage in being earlier in the play order?
There is a slight advantage, unofficially acknowledged even by the designer himself. However, this advantage is offset by the fact that the game plays quickly so it is common to play more sessions with alternating first players, but also by the rule of resolving ties which favors players who took fewer turns to achieve the same number of victory points. Some players choose to introduce their own rules by playing an "equal turns variant" (when the endgame is triggered the game continues so every player gets the same number of turns) and even "phantom Provinces variant" (equal turns, but virtual Provinces can still be bought even after the stack is depleted); however, this is neither sanctioned by the game designer nor supported by the official rules.
The effect becomes more and more pronounced as you add players; preliminary simulations with AI players have shown that in a three player game, the third player may win as little as 25% of the time (assuming that all players are of equal skill).
4.6 Am I doing something wrong if my games always end up with the Province pile getting depleted and never with the 3-Supply-piles-depleted condition?
No. If you are playing mostly 2-player games using only the base set or tend to avoid attacking, then the Province depletion is the most common way to end the game. Playing with more players, actively going for the 3-piles-gone condition when it is strategically feasible (e.g. when Gardens are in play), using more aggressive Kingdom card setups as well as using expansions will make the second endgame condition come up more often. The designer mentioned that the 3-Supply-piles-depleted condition was added to the game only because some random configurations could make depleting the Province pile very difficult (e.g. a Witch and Militia setup, with no trashing cards or +Cards).
4.8 Are there any convenient ways to quickly create a random set of 10 Kingdom cards?
The most practical way is simply to shuffle and randomly draw the placeholder Kingdom cards. You also have various online randomizers, one of which may be found at:
There also exists a mobile phone application here:
and an iPhone one here:
You can speed up setup by skipping the placeholder step entirely. Store the Kingdom card sets in snack-sized ziploc bags. Randomly pick ten bags and lay out the Kingdom cards. Or, if you don't sleeve your cards, a great solution is storing each set of 10/12 Kingdom cards in a single card sleeve (they will fit fine in your typical card sleeves made for wider cards). Now you can literally shuffle and deal out these card sleeves to randomize your selection, and then remove the sets of cards to play.