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I've been playing Dominion with the base + Intrigue sets for a while now, and one of the cards that I have trouble wrapping my mind around is the Coppersmith.

In theory, it seems like a great card - it allows you to make all of your Coppers into Silvers, and in some cases - even Gold. However, I have yet to build a deck during a game that manages to use it effectively. Usually, in order to pull one or two of those with a nice amount of coppers, I need to create a deck that relies heavily on +cards/+actions chains, and the Coppersmith only begins to affect the game too late for it to be of any use.

So... how can this card be effectively used?

(Coppersmith)Copper produces an extra (1) this turn. (4)Action

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8 Answers 8

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Coppersmith is a terminal action, therefore you have to design your deck to accomodate it. (By terminal action, I mean it is an action that does not give +Actions). As others have noted, Coppersmith is a card used to give you an early start. By managing your deck, you can extend that advantage well into the mid game.

Here is a chart showing how 1 coppersmith can accelerate your early game. I've compared it to Smithy, and "Big Money" (A base strategy of buying only silver/gold/provinces which is actually fairly strong)

                    Chance of Having (once during the two turns)
Turn 1-2 purchases   $6      $7     $8       Notes
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coppersmith+Treasure 50.91%   0.00%  21.21% # 1 in 792 that 2 golds can be bought
Smithy+Silver        42.60%  19.39%   2.12% #Not possible with a 5/2 copper split
2 Silver             33.59%   8.84%   0.00% #Not possible with a 5/2 copper split

This shows a few things

  • you have a vastly higher chance of affording a province.
  • The coppersmith gives you a 70% higher chance of being able to afford a gold than "Big Money"
  • The coppersmith works with a 5/2 copper split on the first 2 turns, while the other two do not.
  • Coppersmith will not give you possibly annoying $5 and $7 hands.

Is buying a province on turn 3 a good move? Maybe not, but it could be. My point is that if you buy coppersmith, you stand a higher chance of getting an early gold. This advantage will carry over to future turns. Coppersmith will help you hit the financial high points of $6 and $8 more often, while avoiding $5 and especially $7.

Every set of 10 cards in Dominion is different. Coppersmith won't always be a great card, but it can be used to great effect. Try playing it with wishing well!

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2  
A single coppersmith basically turns coppers into silvers for a turn. Unless you play multiple coppersmiths per turn, or you can more easily draw coppers into your hand than silvers (apothecary, wishing well, counting house), you are much better off buying a silver. –  rrenaud Nov 8 '10 at 6:52
    
@Rob - I've included the odds for Big money to get $6 or more during turns 3-4. As you can see, having a Coppersmith+copper gives a 70% higher chance of entering turn 5 with a gold. Gold leads to more gold. More gold leads to provinces. Therefore I believe this strategy will beat big money (on average). –  Pat Ludwig Nov 8 '10 at 9:34
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I am pretty certain your analysis is wrong. How does Coppersmith + Silver hit $7? Without Coppersmith or Silver, you are maxed at 5. With Silver but without Coppersmith, you will hit $6 at most. With Coppersmith, you will always hit an even amount of $. With Coppersmith + Silver, you again will always hit an even amount of money. So how does Coppersmith + Silver ever generate $7? –  rrenaud Nov 8 '10 at 16:26
    
@Rob - that's a good question, pulling up my google spreadsheet. It is entirely possible that my 3:30AM analysis was flawed. Yes, last night I was completely affected by this -> xkcd.com/386 –  Pat Ludwig Nov 8 '10 at 17:01
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Why buy a Coppersmith + Copper? Coppersmith + Silver would be better for the opening two turns, that way your treasure is worth 2 coin, with or without the Coppersmith. –  keithjgrant Nov 8 '10 at 18:12

Coppersmith + Countinghouse + a card that gives extra actions (Village,Shanty, etc) is pretty ridiculous, especially if you also have something that gives extra buys.

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Seems like what they call in Magic design a "skill-testing" card to me. For the price of this card, you could have bought a Silver instead. A Silver will be better than a Coppersmith in your hand unless you have, what, 3 Coppers? Crucially, a Silver won't cost you an action.

Sure, there are probably some scenarios people can come up with where you draw a ton of cards including Coppers, and extra actions, and Coppersmiths, and you generate a fortune. However! If you can assemble that kind of drawing power, you could probably have assembled a different, better kind of deck instead. Simply put, the Coppersmith is going to pay off once in a blue moon, when you draw Coppersmith plus four Copper in the same hand and buy yourself a Province. The rest of the time it seems more likely to sit around and clog up your deck.

Do yourself a favour and buy a Silver instead!

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The trick here is realizing that 3 Coppers in hand is going to be very common for your second time through the deck (turns 3 & 4), and maybe even once after that. This provides a big boost in spending power in those early crucial turns so you can start affording Golds by turn three. Only then does this become worse than a Silver, and should be trashed once it has served that purpose. –  keithjgrant Nov 19 '10 at 19:24
    
@keithjgrant: but it's not a BIG boost in spending power; supposing your hand, instead of being 3 Coppers and a Coppersmith (plus something else), is 3 Coppers plus the Silver you bought instead of a Coppersmith (plus something else). You now have a spending power of 5 instead of a spending power of 6; but, potentially, a useful extra action. And you don't even have to worry about how to trash the Coppersmith "once it has served its purpose". Any advantage of the Coppersmith just seems way too marginal in any normal series of draws. –  thesunneversets Nov 19 '10 at 19:49
    
@thesunneversets You wouldn't have an action in your scenario, since you've purchased the Silver instead of an Action card. –  Allen Gould Jul 13 '11 at 20:14
    
@Allen: I mean that if you draw into a Silver, it doesn't cost your action for the turn to get 2 extra buying power. Whereas if you draw the Coppersmith and a different Action card you want to play, you have to not play the other Action if you need the cash bonus from Coppersmith. (I guess the Coppersmith is good if you can draw dozens of cards in your turn somehow, including many Coppers, but if you can draw dozens of cards in your turn you should be able to do something better with them than Coppersmith!) –  thesunneversets Jul 13 '11 at 22:24
    
@thesunneversets In this scenario (first few turns), the action isn't going to be an issue, since we'll have purchased either the Silver OR the Coppersmith. (I suppose that if you have a 3/4 draw, you could spend 3 for an action and 4 for the Coppersmith, but that seems counterproductive: I'd assume people could go Silver and Coppersmith if you're going for that strategy.) –  Allen Gould Jul 15 '11 at 15:08

Not mentioned thus far, but an important aspect of this card: it stacks. You need extra actions, of course - City, Laboratory, Worker's Village, etc. - but playing two Coppersmiths in a turn can be very strong.

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In addition to the odds laid out by Pat Ludwig, there are some cards that will make Coppersmith more or less useful.

Cards that could make Coppersmith more useful. Actions are terminal unless otherwise noted:

  • Adventurer (B) - Flip cards from the top of your deck until you've revealed two Treasure cards. Put the Treasure cards in your hand, discard all other cards. Discard all other flipped cards. Only useful if you have two or more actions.
  • Apothecary (A) - Draw a card, then flip the next 4 cards. Put any Copper or Potion cards you flipped in your hand, discard all other cards you flipped. Also has +1 action.
  • Counting House (P) - Take any number of Coppers from your discard pile and put them in your hand. Only useful if you have two or more actions.
  • Golem (A) - Flip cards until you get two action cards, then play them in either order. Useful if you manage to get Coppersmith with one of the other actions mentioned here.
  • King's Court (P) - Increase the value of each Copper by 3 when used with Coppersmith.
  • Throne Room (I) - Increase the value of each Copper by 2 when used with Coppersmith.
  • Any cards with +Cards and +Actions, such as Village (B), Laboratory (B), Market (I), Bazaar (S), Caravan (S), Haven (S), Alchemist (A), City (P), Grand Market (P), etc... provided you have the Coppersmith in your hand already.

Cards that could make Coppersmith less useful:

  • Loan (P) [Treasure] - Flip cards from the top of your deck until you flip over a Treasure card, then trash or discard that card. Discard all other flipped cards.
  • Pirate Ship (S) - Other players' attacks can cause treasure cards to be trashed.
  • Swindler (I) - Other players' attacks can cause next card to be trashed. If it was Copper, you'll likely be given a Curse back.
  • Thief (B) - Other players' attacks can cause treasure cards to be trashed or stolen (attacker's choice).

Cards that could help or hurt:

  • Venture (P) [Treasure] - Flip cards from the top of your deck until you flip over a Treasure card, then immediately play it. Discard all other flipped cards.
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Good list! I'd add Apothecary (non-terminal) as well on the plus side. –  Pat Ludwig Nov 8 '10 at 21:58
    
@Pat: Whoops, I always forget about Alchemy cards... we tend not to use them. –  Powerlord Nov 8 '10 at 22:06

I think the only circumstance where a Coppersmith will be likely to be better than a silver is if you're stuffing your deck with lots of copper, playing a lot of +Buy cards and using all the spare buys to get copper. A Gardens / Council Room kind of strategy might appreciate a Coppersmith or two. I've never seen anyone put lots of Laboratory together with +Buys for Gardens and copper, but if someone did that, then that could work with Coppersmith.

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Like the idea but disagree that it's the "only circumstance" where it will work, as others have pointed out. –  Drew Hoskins Nov 8 '10 at 18:54

I think that you should basically ignore the coppersmith unless there is a really good way to draw a lot of coppers and still have actions left. It only pays off if you have more than 2 coppers in hand. In practice, this means I will only consider it if there is a tactician or apothecary. In my opinion, coppersmith is the worst 4 cost card in the game.

Here's why: It's only sometimes better than silver early, and late game, it's much worse.

Assume a standard 5 card hand, with a deck of mostly coppers, some estates, and a coppersmith: If you buy a coppersmith instead of a silver early game, it will give you likely anywhere from +1 to +4 coins. If it gives you +4 coins (meaning you have $8), it's probably not better than +3 or, since an early gold is almost always better than an early province. If it had been a silver, you'd still hit $6, and you can still buy that valuable $6. If it gives you +3, that's pretty nice, you can get an early gold or other useful 6 cost card, and no other card could fill it's particular role. If it gives you +2, you were better off with buying a silver, since the silver does just as well there, and is much better late game.

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The power of this card is in the early game. Buy it on your first or second turn to get some extra buying power early on before you have a more Silver- and Gold-heavy deck. This can get you a Gold as early as your third or fourth turn.

You'll probably want to try to trash it later, since it provides little benefit after mid-game or so.

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How does this help you trash Copper? –  keithjgrant Nov 8 '10 at 5:29
    
Doh. That'll teach me. Removed my erroneous comment. –  lilserf Nov 8 '10 at 12:49

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