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I'm having a hard time figuring out when Chancellor is useful. Forcing a reshuffle of the deck just seems of little use to me, at least relative to the other actions I could buy with 3 coins.

I've seen a few suggestions that Chancellor is useful when paired with cards in some of the other expansions, but can you help me see how it could be useful in the base game?

Chancellor card

+2 Gold. You may immediately put your deck into your discard pile. (Cost 3)

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You mention other actions you could buy with 3 coins. But even if there is no other kingdom card costing exactly 3 coins, there is always silver. And if you have run out of actions it is better to have a silver on hand than a chancellor. – kasperd Apr 25 at 18:08
up vote 14 down vote accepted

You just need to gain a clearer picture of the circumstances in which forcing a reshuffle of the deck is useful. Imagine that:

  • You have drawn a lot of the useful cards from your deck, and few of your victory cards. Obviously reshuffling will save you from the inevitable victory-card-heavy hands.

  • You have just bought a powerful card, that you want a chance to draw again immediately. Or if you have just played one or more of your best cards, that you want a chance to draw again immediately. Why wait to cycle through the whole rest of your deck, before you get that chance?

  • The Chancellor defends against the Bureaucrat, the Spy, or any other situation where you know the top card of your deck is not something you especially want to be part of your next hand.

So there are circumstances when it's better to reshuffle your deck. (Though of course, there are equal and opposite cases where it's definitely better not to reshuffle your deck, so you have to be on the ball if you're going to play with the Chancellor, he's not a card you want to just automatically play any time!)

Obviously he has a big downside, in that he takes up an Action. But, if you weren't going to spend that Action on anything else, he's all upside compared to a Silver. Early in the game, before your deck is filled with good Action cards that you really want to play, and when you have a clear idea of the total composition of your deck, the Chancellor is probably just plain better than a Silver. And never underestimate the power of getting off to a good start in the early game!

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There's a cool analysis of Chancellor here: – lilserf Feb 26 '11 at 21:44

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