Dominion: Hinterlands is the next expansion for the grand daddy of Deck Building games due out in November right around Essen time. The German rules PDF was recently released giving the world its first peak at the new cards.

Board Game Geek is abuzz with talk hinting at the power of the cards. Luckily with my last name being Buckendorf, I can read all the cards without ever having taken German class in my life. All I needed to do was double check my character sheet for my given 2nd language and roll a 16.

The following cards will each have 10 copies with the normal back, 1 with the randomizer back:


Border Village

+1 Card, +2 Actions. When you gain this, gain a card costing less than this.

Every set seems to have a take or two on the original Village, and this one looks to be a doozy. Nothing is more fun than than chaining together a never ending string of Actions until your deck is gone and Border Village helps speed up the process a bit netting you another card to combo with.

Many people fall victim to the Village Idiot strategy when learning the game, called thus because you just chain together a never ending string of Villages to no positive effect. But you can have the last laugh if you grab the right cards to go with your never ending string.

Normally you'd have to stop buying Villages every once in awhile to get other cards and that's no fun at all, I want more Villages please! Ahem, I mean, only an idiot would want to buy infinite Villages. Border Village solves that problem, gaining you another card when to combo with it all in one purchase. I'm already chomping at the bit to try out this new theme.


Cache

$3 (large coin). When you gain this, gain two Coppers.

Basically this is a Gold card that costs 1 less to buy, but the drawback is you need to take two Coppers into your deck to get it. Guess that means the only time you'll be buying this is if you have strategy that will turn that drawback into a positive.

One possibility is cards that take advantage of accumulating a large deck like Gardens; 3 cards each buy will multiply your deck significantly. Or you can combo with cards that take advantage of Coppers like Counting House or Coppersmith.


Cartographer

+1 Card,+1 Action. Look at the top 4 cards of your deck. Discard any number of them. Put the rest back on top in any order.

I always look for free to play cards that do useful things (I like to refer to cards in Dominion that replace themselves with a card and an Action as free or free to play cards).

They are kind of like a spacer in your deck that makes your virtual card count smaller than it actually is. For example, if you have a deck with 20 cards, and 4 of them are free to play, you virtually have a 16 card deck, because those cards can be played immediately with no loss of card or Action.

In the case of the original Village, it was a free card that gained you an extra Action. Here, Cartographer gives you the the effect that you get to smooth out the draw of your next four cards.

This is especially important late game when your deck starts getting clogged with Victory Points, as you'll get to cull those out of the way with Cartographer. It will also enable your ability to piece together combos. Each successively played Cartographer may have diminishing returns, so you probably don't need too many, but that just allows you to Buy other cards to go with it.


Crossroads

Reveal your hand. +1 Card per Victory card revealed. If this is the first time you played a Crossroads this turn, +3 Actions.

I like Crossroads because it's cheap and it turns liability Victory cards into triggers that will replace themselves with the chance at more useful cards. But it is risky, because if you have a lot of Victory cards in your deck, you might just be drawing more Victory cards.

Also you don't want to draw multiple Crossroads, so while it's cheap, you may not want to buy these early or often. It could be a good late game addition to your deck when you have a couple Coins left over and an extra Buy, especially if you've started buying Provinces.


Develop

Trash a card from your hand. Gain a card costing exactly $1 more than it and a card costing exactly $1 less than it, in either order, putting them on top of your deck.

Interesting; a card that Trashes anything from your deck is usually an auto-pick but this one actually takes more thought because it puts more cards into your deck.

You can trash Coppers without any worry of replacing them with equal or worse cards, but that's painfully slow at one Copper per Action. This one is really going to depend on what else is available on the board.

Before knowing that though, an optimal Cost card to Trash would be a 5 Cost, turning it into at least a Gold and hopefully an equally useful 4 cost card. Will that make those two cards worth the single 5 cost cards you trashed? The Gold going on top of your deck goes a long way, so it's really going to depend on the what the 4 and 5 cost cards are.


Duchess

Each player (including you) looks at the top card of his deck, and discards it or puts it back. In games using this, when you gain a Duchy, you may gain a Duchess.

Holy cow, is that some medieval theme influencing the design of cards? In Dominion? (wink, wink). Silver costs you $3 to give you $2 in coins when played, but you can play all the Silver you draw in one hand.

Dead end Actions like Duchess (dead end means it doesn't provide the ability to play more Actions) need to have pretty decent effects to be included in your deck if there aren't a lot of Multiple Action enablers like Village available.

The secondary effect of getting to possibly discard a Victory card from the top of your deck is nice, but everyone gets that ability as well. When cards like this do shine is when you are trying to avoid putting any Treasure cards into your deck, especially against Attacks like Pirate Ship; but you really need Village-like Action generators if you're going to go that route.


Embassy

+5 Cards, Discard 3 cards. When you gain this, each other player gains a Silver.

Daddy like, Daddy like very much. You remember how I was saying you need good cards to go with your Village chains using cards like Border Village? Oh, look, this one happens to cost $5, how convenient.

Digging 5 more cards off the top of your deck is very good. With your starting hand that is 10 cards you get to cull 3 from.

There is a drawback though, since you're going to be giving your opponents Silvers along the way, but I don't think this is as bad as it sounds. Council Room was one of my favorite cards in the past, because 4 cards is just so many that it was almost always worth giving your opponents the extra cards.

If you want to be brutal, you'd build a Village + Council Room engine that would draw your whole deck and include a single copy of Militia to knock all your opponents' hands back down to size.

The value of Silvers in a player's deck is relative to what they are trying to do. If they are trying to build their own Action-oriented strategy, Silvers may only clog that down in favor of some middling buying power.

If they're trying to go big money with Golds, the Silvers can be very frustrating. If Pirate Ship is available, they may be trying to avoid any coins as I pointed out last card so throw a couple of those into your Embassy engine and benefit from those metal heavy decks.



Fool's Gold

If this is the first time you played a Fool's Gold this turn, this is worth $1, otherwise it's worth $4. When another player gains a Province, you may trash this from your hand. If you do, gain a Gold, putting it on your deck.

I had to step away for a minute after I read this card, for fear of being the fool that bites into this nugget only to break a tooth. Is it really fool's gold if the fool finds himself filthy rich in the long run? Am I being paranoid worrying that I think this card is too good to be true? (Just like real fool's gold).

The cost to buy is definitely right to buy early and often; in fact you're going to have to buy often to get the real value out of it. It costs 2 more than a copper for the guaranteed $1 that it will produce when played, but after that first one, the value jumps to beyond Gold.

If you play 2 of them you got $5 for your investment of $4; not bad, maybe even a little more balanced in that it takes two cards together to make that 5. If you play 3 of them you get $9 for your investment of $6; it's getting better the more you play.

To pull this off with any consistency you're going to want a lot of them but buying only one a turn is really slow and you're probably going to have a lot of unspent coins left over. You may want some cards that give you extra buys or gains per turn to get these in multiples. You'll also want to thin your deck of non-fool's gold or non-engine cards, but that's true of accumulating straight up Gold as well.

For the second effect, I'll need to play it see how it feels. For Fool's gold to work you need to draw multiples so is trashing some worth it for more reliable Gold? It's an option, though, and I love options.

If buying these cards makes me a fool, than slap my ass and call me Bozo, I'm running it! Honk! Honk!


Haggler

While this is in play, when you buy a card, gain a card costing less than it that is not a Victory card.

Haggler is a nice take on the set's theme, setting you up to gain more cards when buying. This one will rely heavily on the given Kingdom card pool and your strategy, but it's going to have to be a good one because a $5 dead end card is going to have to pull its own weight.

Oh, wait, didn't I just read about a $2 card that I want to buy in multiples? Hopefully there's a Throne Room out there to really turbo this up.


Highway

+1 Card, +1 Action. While this is in play, cards cost $1 less, but not less than $0.

Bridge was one of my favorite cards to abuse with multiple Buys, because every card got the discount. If you could combo together a few bridges with the 2 or 3 extra Buys, you could gain a lot of high cost cards in one turn at a significant discount.

Highway differs a bit in that it is a free card and doesn't have any extra Buys built in. That seems like a fair trade, and one I'm willing to try out when it comes up on the board.

Note that it won't combo with Throne Room effects because of the different wording, but the FAQ states that it does still affect the cost of cards everywhere, so if you play a card like Feast, you could gain a normally 6 cost card instead of 5. Ding!


Ill-Gotten Gains

When you play this, you may gain a Copper, putting it into your hand. When you gain this, each other player gains a Curse.

Ha! I knew this was a great name for a Dominion Treasure card. When the game was first released I posted a fan boy card named this, but my version was probably broken. $5 is quite expensive for a Copper but all your opponents gain a Curse as soon as you buy it.

When you play it, you do get to basically draw a new card in to your hand in the form of gaining a Copper, so Ill-Gotten Gains is virtually worth $2 when played. But, the price of business is adding Coppers to your deck.

It will probably be best when in a combo with cards that rely on your having a large deck at the end of the game or cards that enhance a Copper strategy similar to the cards I mentioned in Cache above.


Inn

+2 Cards, +2 Actions. Discard 2 cards. When you gain this, look through your discard pile (including this), reveal any number of Action cards from it, and shuffle them into your deck.

Here's another card I like in the same class as Embassy. It's more than free to play, digging two cards deep and netting you 2 more Actions. When you buy the card, because of its gain effect, you immediately add the +2 cards to your next hand, so you'll get to draw your next 6 cards instead of the next 5 with Inn being the 7th card that just gave you two free Actions for that turn.

You'll have to discard 2 cards, but that's fine in a game where you're putting dead Victory cards in your hand. Combo this with Tunnel revealed below and you'll be flying high (spoiler in a spoiler: I peeked at Tunnel below).

Getting as many uses out of your good Actions is optimal, and this card lets you put recently gained or played ones on top of your deck (in addition to itself). This was the hidden power of Chancelor, it let you get to your recent buys and recycle into your good cards quicker. Inn seems a lot more efficient letting you pick and choose. 5 stars all around.


Jack of all Trades

Gain a Silver. Look at the top card of your deck; discard it or put it back. Draw until you have 5 cards in hand. You may trash a card from your hand that is not a Treasure.

There's a lot going on here, they should call this card Jack of... oh, uh, yeah. Anyway, let's go down the list. Gain a Silver isn't bad for $4, but this is a dead end Action so you'll want a plan to eventually get more value out of this Action or you can just be happy that you're getting middling value for you Treasure cards.

Next you get to smooth out your next draw by getting a peek at it, which is decent in a game where you put useless Victory cards in your deck.

Draw until you have 5 cards in hand- Bingo! I love me some Library action; this isn't 7 cards but drawing to X is always decent. Note that these kind of drawing effects are sneaky answers to someone playing discard effects; in essence, their discard effects become a positive, allowing you to cycle away dead Victory cards and replace them with new draws from Jack or Library.

I've mentioned somewhere before that trashing cards is good, right? You can't cull out your Coppers, but you can get rid of the Estates and Curses. Jack seems to be a very good answer card to lots of Attacks in addition to being plain old all around useful.


Mandarin

+$3, Put a card from your hand on top of your deck. When you gain this, put all Treasures you have in play on top of your deck in any order.

Mandarin provides the same number of Coins as a Gold for the cost of $5, but it's a dead end Action and it has a drawback of not only getting rid of a card from your hand, it puts it on top to be drawn later.

Normally if you had to discard you could just do it with dead Victory cards, but if you do that here you're screwing yourself for next turn. You'll probably want cards that use the top card of your deck like Lookout, Wishing Well or Native Village.

The instant effect when you gain it will work best later in the game if you have some Golds to take advantage of; that kind of makes its lower cost seem to conflict with that later game usefulness, though. I'll have to play with it to see if it's worth all of that.


Margrave

+3 Cards, +1 Buy. Each other player draws a card, then discards down to 3 cards in hand.

This is an Attack I can build an engine around. Remember how I talked about building an Action and card drawing chain with Council Room and including a single Militia to knock their hand back down?

This also fits perfectly in a build with lots of Village type effects. It draws you 3 cards to keep the engine going and it gives you an extra Buy to take advantage of all the cards you're drawing while hampering your opponents' own hands.

Granted, they do get more choices to craft a better 3 card hand than normal, but 3 cards is still less than 5. Note that Jack of all Trades is a great counter card to this one.


Noble Brigand

+$1. When you buy this or play it, each other player reveals the top 2 cards of his deck, trashes a revealed Silver or Gold you choose, and discards the rest. If he didn't reveal a Treasure, he gains a Copper. You gain the trashed cards.

There's a lot of debate already going on about this card being strictly better than Thief for the same cost; some of it hinting that Thief was a mistake and this is the upgrade. David actually signed on to try and answer that, but I have a few answers of my own.

First of all, some cards are just going to be strictly better than others, there's no getting around that. For there to be good cards, there has to be bad card or how else would you discover through your exploration of the game what is good and what is bad?

Second of all, Dominion is different in that you don't have access to every card ever printed when you build your deck. So sometimes you'll have Thief and sometimes you'll have Noble Brigand.

Enough of that; Noble Brigand is strictly better than Thief. You actually want to steal Silver and Gold from your opponents. If they don't have a Silver or Gold to steal, never fear, you'll still get to cause their deck harm by adding low valued Coppers to it. This is one nasty Attack.


Nomad Camp

+1 Buy, +$2. When you gain this, put it on top of your deck.

It's a Workshop that you get to use immediately on your next draw after you buy it for the cost of $1 more. Workshop appealed to me when I first started playing the game as my initial idea at strategy was, "it's a deck building game, so cards that help you build your deck faster are better".

Silly, n00b 2008 me, you'll soon learn that quality is better than quantity unless you're working with cards like Gardens. Oh, and by the way, n00b 2008 me, you'll want to buy more Chapels and Chancellors.

Back on topic, what I have learned is that Woodcutter is good with cards like Gardens and now Fool's Gold, because splitting up your Buying power with a huge draw and Action engine means you'll be amassing lots of small cost cards.

Woodcutter and Nomad Camp do have a place in a good draw and Action engine in providing you an extra Buy to take advantage of all the Treasure you draw.

They also have a place in a no-Treasure deck that is trying to counter a Pirate Ship or Noble Brigand strategy. Sometimes you build an all Action deck to take advantage of the of cards that count how many Actions you've played like Conspirator.


Oasis

+1 Card, +1 Action, +$1. Discard a card.

This looks like a free card at first, because it has +1 Card and +1 Action, but you have to discard a card so it's not as abusable in multiples like Treasury or Market. This makes sense, because it costs so much less at $3.

You'll probably be discarding dead Victories anyway, so it may still be decent in multiples, just not abusive- the more I think about the more I want to see it in practice, since digging deep into your deck and cycling dead cards is good.

If only there were some cards that had effects when discarded to really make this one sing (Tunnel spoiler again).


Oracle

Each player (including you) reveals the top 2 cards of his deck, and you choose one: either he discards them, or he puts them back on top in an order he chooses. +2 Cards

I am the biggest critic of Spy from the original set. It does nothing for me. The top card of their deck was random before I played Spy and the top card of their deck is still random after even if I discard that card I peeked at.

Yes, Spy was a free card that took virtually no space in my deck, but I felt like I was wasting a Buy when I could have bought something that actually does something useful. But there are players who love it, even if its effect seems purely psychological to me.

Oracle is not even a free card, in that it is a dead end Action. I guess it draws two cards, so it's OK in a draw and Action engine. It will let you smooth your draws, but doesn't give you much wiggle room because you have to do 2 cards; no 1 here and 1 there option.

There will be some Kingdom card pools where this is your only choice for card draw and I will concede there is some psychological advantage in screwing with your opponents' deck so I probably will play with this card at some point; but I don't have to like it.

I'm probably bitter about past forum arguments I had about Spy, so my opinion is probably skewed; if you think Oracle is the next coming, by all means, have at it!


Scheme

+1 Card, +1 Action. At the start of Clean-up this turn, you may choose an Action card you have in play. If you discard it from play this turn, put it on your deck.

Now this is a Free Card that manipulates the top of my deck that I can get behind. It's cheap, it's free to play and it virtually takes no space in my deck letting me get to the meaty cards faster.

Not only does it dig for those meaty cards, it ensures that I will draw at least one of them next turn! Consider me a schemer and a dreamer.


Spice Merchant

You may trash a Treasure from your hand. If you do, choose one: +2 Cards and +1 Action; or +$2 and +1 Buy.

Anyone that plays any kind of game recognizes that options are a good thing. Normally you buy a card and it does one thing for you. Cards that give you options like Spice Merchant are, well, spicy!

Anyone who has played Laboratory knows it's a great draw and Action engine card. It can run the engine all by itself. Spice Merchant is cheap enough to always be bought on your first two turns even if you get a $3-$4 spilt. I did say before that a draw and Action engine benefited from some extra Buys, and this card will give that to you when you need it.

But, and there is a big but, you have to fuel it with Treasure cards. This is great early game when you have lots of Copper to spare, so Spice Merchant won't be able to maintain an engine on its own for very long.

It is a great way to kickstart one though, and eventually upgrade to more reliable cards. Trashing that copper from your deck is definitely worth it early game. You could always combine this with Cache or Ill-Gotten Gains for some mid-late game fuel.


Stables

You may discard a Treasure. If you do, +3 Cards and +1 Action.

I like this card; if there's no trashing cards available, it's an awesome way to cycle through your Coppers to draw lots of cards. After that it's a free card with some potent drawing ability. I don't know if there's anything not to like about Stables.

Even if you only have a Gold in hand to discard to it makes for a very interesting dilemma- is a Gold in hand worth 3 in the bush? I want to find out.



Trader

Trash a card from your hand. Gain a number of Silvers equal to its cost in coins. When you would gain a card, you may reveal this from your hand. If you do, instead, gain a Silver.

I had to double check the FAQ on this one. If you trash an Estate, you'll get 2 Silver cards; if you trash a Gold card, you'll get 6 Silver cards. If I'm going with Gardens, I can see using this to amass as many cards as possible, and Silver isn't too shabby to amass.

You can always cull a Copper from your deck with no gain of Silvers. There's a lot of potential here for making a large deck. Trashing your starting cards is always good, and I think 2 Silvers are better for your deck than 1 Estate. It's painfully slow to get rid of Coppers with, but Trader obviously has other options and uses.

The Reaction part is pretty sweet versus a Curse you or Copper you to death strategy. Hugs are better than drugs and Silvers are better than Curses.

The following cards are Victory cards, so they have 12 copies with the normal back, 1 with the randomizer back:


Farmland

2 VP (large shield). When you buy this, trash a card from your hand. Gain a card costing exactly $2 more than the trashed card.

A Victory card with an effect relevant to the set's theme. Note that this is only when you buy Farmland, not when you gain it through another effect. I like the built in Remodel effect; trashing bad cards from your deck for more useful ones is always a plus.

If it's super late game you can use this to trash an Action or Treasure card for another Victory card. That's not too shabby.


Silk Road

Worth 1 VP for every 4 Victory cards in your deck (round down).

I liked Gardens because it makes you play in a different way than you normally would; I like Silk Roads for the same reasons and it feels like it will be better than other Garden variants like Duke.

With Gardens you'd glutton up your deck with whatever cards and it counted as 1 VP for every 10 cards total in your deck. Silk Roads specializes in Victory cards and makes for some interesting math.

Cards that gain or let you buy more than one card a turn will obviously be great with Silk Road, but now you have to concentrate on a certain type like Vineyard did.

I don't want to figure out the optimal numbers right now on how it compares to Gardens' 1 VP for every 10 cards, I want to play it and figure it out on the fly instead!


Tunnel

2 VP (large shield). When you discard this other than during a Clean-up phase, you may reveal it. If you do, gain a Gold.

That is some very good value on a Victory card, 2VP for $3. The Reaction ability is really good considering you can do it in reaction to your own or your opponents' discard effects. It gives you an alternative path to acquiring Golds the old fashioned way by buying them.

A lot of the card like Embassy that help you filter out your hand make this a fun little combo. $3 is a steal for this card and I'll go mole all day long to play it.




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