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Our English-speaking friends surprised us in a game of Dominion when buying cards with no treasure cards on their hands. In the German booklet, a treasure card is explicitly required to perform a buy (emphasis mine):

Um eine Karte zu kaufen, legt der Spieler eine oder mehrere Geldkarten aus seiner Hand offen auf den Tisch.

A literal translation of the above would be:

“In order to buy a card, the player plays one or more treasure cards from his hand to the table."

However, the English booklet contains the following phrase (emphasis mine):

The player may play some or all of the treasure cards from his hand to his play area [...]

Given the English rule book, I wasn't able to prove their move illegal.

So, can I buy a card without any treasure cards on my hand?

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By treasure card do you mean gold/silver/bronze? – Joe W Mar 1 at 12:23
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@Joe W: every card that says "Treasure" at the bottom. This includes, but is not limited to the three you named (if you count expansion packs) – blubb Mar 1 at 12:27
    
I will post an answer later when I have time but the text at the bottom of the card is just there to help you know what you can play when. Since some types of cards are limited to how many you can play during a given turn they need to label all of them. In order to buy a card you just need the money and that can come from action cards instead of treasure cards. – Joe W Mar 1 at 12:31
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If you couldn't buy a free copper without treasure, it could be possible for someone to lose all their treasure (say they discarded down to one gold, then were forced to discard that gold) and be stuck in a situation where it's impossible to progress. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Mar 1 at 16:47
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@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Using Dominion terminology, I bet you mean "say they trashed down to one gold / to trash that gold". :) – Adama Mar 1 at 17:56
up vote 22 down vote accepted

Short answer: yes, its possible and it has been officially acknowledged that the German rules are wrong.

Long answer: as you have already quoted from the base game rules (emphasis mine)

The cost of a card is in its lower left corner. The player may play some or all of the Treasure cards from his hand to his play area and add to their value the coins provided by Action cards played this turn.

Your total available money come from played treasures and action cards. An additional example for a leftover buy:

If he wants to use all 6 coins to buy one card, he can buy a Copper (for free) with his second Buy or not buy a second card. Players do not have to use any or all of their Buys.

This example makes clear that you can buy cards for free, thus you are not required to play any treasure cards.

The English rules are the original ones and take precedence over any translation. Furthermore, Hans im Glück, the German Publisher, have officially - and indirectly - acknowledged that this phrase in the rules is wrong. From their "Regelfragen" Rules Questions page

Kauf

Zitat aus der Regel: "Um eine Karte zu kaufen, legt der Spieler eine der mehrere Geldkarten aus seiner Hand offen auf dem Tisch aus. Zu diesen Geldkarten kann er das virtuelle Geld auf seinen zuvor usgelegten Aktionskarten hinzu zählen."

Dies bedeutet nicht, dass es nötig ist Geldkarten auszulegen um die Boni durch virtuelles Geld nutzen zu können. Es können auch Käufe ohne eine einzige ausgelegte Geldkarte durchgeführt werden.

Karten die 0 Kosten, können immer gekauft werden, solange der dafür nötige "Kauf" vorhanden ist.

Which roughly translates to:

This does not mean that Treasure Cards must be played in order to be able to use the virtual money. Purchases without playing any Treasure Cards may be carried out in this way.

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3  
"Dies bedeutet nicht, dass[...]" And again wrong... exactly thats what it means! ... They simply had to admit they did a mistake isntead of justifying why the written rules are translated correctly... so sad.... – Zaibis Mar 1 at 12:58
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Thanks for the link to the authorative answer. The term "virtuelles Geld" (virtual money on action cards) is really misleading, IMHO. – blubb Mar 1 at 13:01

The German translation is wrong. If you already have enough coins from action cards (or if the card you're buying costs 0 coins) you don't have to play a treasure card from your hand in order to buy a card.

The English rules summary (right hand side) says it best:

The player may use any combination of Treasure cards from his hand and coins shown on Action cards played this turn.

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