From all posts read on Dominion (ie. this), I see a stress on money. I must say that I played only 14 times, but I consistently lose: I try all the times to build a balanced deck , with lot of actions (especially those that give other actions), also attacks. I never focus too much in buying Silver or Gold, but maybe that's the problem.

So, it's not buying Silver and Gold the biggest mistake in Dominion strategy?

  • 1
    It is bad, but not the worst
    – Hippolippo
    Apr 18, 2018 at 18:42

5 Answers 5


I don't know about the biggest - you could buy curses instead - but yes, this is definitely a big mistake and one of the most common.

Buying only silver and gold (aka "big money") is actually a reasonably strong strategy. It's not amazing, it's pretty easy to beat, but it'll tend to win over beginner players and it's definitely way better than buying basically only kingdom cards.

You say you build balanced decks, with a lot of actions. That's not balanced. Money is one of the things that needs to be balanced; you need a decent amount of it along with the actions you get. (You also mention lots of attacks. While those can serve a purpose, making it harder for your opponents to buy provinces doesn't help much if you've already made it really hard for yourself.)

It might help to think a bit about the expected value of cards. Silver or gold in your hand is worth 2 or 3, clearly. An action that draws you three cards, in a deck with basically just copper and actions, is probably going to end up being worth only 1 or maybe 2 coin on average - you'll draw other actions and a little copper. In a deck with a ton of silver and a bit of gold it might be worth say 4 coin on average! And all that silver and gold you've bought is reliably worth 2 and 3 coin on average.

Another thing you can think about is what it'd take to get a province. Stuff your deck with silver and gold, and you'll get one with two gold and a silver, or one gold two silver and a copper; that's something that can happen fairly easily especially if you trash copper and estates. Stuff your deck with actions and you'll probably need a much more perfect combination. How often are you going to get two village-ish cards that give +1 card +2 actions, along with several actions that each give +2 coin?

And finally, silver only costs 3 and gold only costs six. Most of the time, an action that reliably nets you two coin will cost more than 3, especially when you keep in mind you can't play unlimited actions unless you also invest coin and turns and cards buying a lot of actions that grant +actions. Same idea applies to gold. So not only is the silver and gold often worth more to you, but you'll be able to buy it earlier and more frequently than the kingdom cards that'd be worth the same amount. Sure, you'd get there eventually, but the other players who bought silver and gold are going to get the provinces before you do.

So bottom line, yes, ignoring silver and gold is a huge mistake. Buy money - and only buy actions if you think they're better than the money would be.

  • There might also be action cards which allow receiving or upgrading money, then it might be possible to not buy money (but get it nevertheless). Nov 8, 2015 at 12:09
  • @PaŭloEbermann I think if the best you can say is "it's possible but not optimal to get treasure without buying it" or maybe "in some specific cases, you only need treasure initially to bootstrap into actions that'll give you treasure/coin", that only makes this more convincing.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 8, 2015 at 18:37
  • Check out different strategies here: wiki.dominionstrategy.com/index.php/Strategy Nov 10, 2015 at 20:25
  • @neverendingqs Can you explain what specifically that has to do with my answer? There's tons of stuff out there about strategy; linking to a big page full of all kinds of things makes it a little hard to understand your point.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:30
  • How much money to buy really depends on the strategy you're going with. For example, if I want to go for a rush with Gardens + Workshop or Woodcutter, I might not even opt to buy any money. Nov 10, 2015 at 20:41

The generic answer is "depending on the kingdom". I will present to you both views on your question. A pro-money and an against-money.


Probably a common newbie mistake in Dominion is that they buy a lot of terminal action cards, e.g., Woodcutter, Workshop, Smithy, without being able to play them. Therefore, these actions cards collide together and by not having any treasures with them, which do not require actions to be played, cannot get past $3-$4 per turn.

You always need some money in the beginning, even in kingdoms which favor treasure-less strategies, to get started with. Some kingdoms may as well favor decks with a lot of treasures, for example the presence of the Throne Room. If you have Gardens on the table, or even Dukes (from Dominion: Intrigue), you can even benefit from Copper, as well!

Against money

If you're just playing the base game, you won't find many examples of kingdoms that favor treasure-less strategies. Such kingdoms usually have cheap engine components and treasures, especially Silver, are a liability. Other kingdoms may offer you Victory Points through cheap alt-VP kingdom cards, like Vineyard (from Dominion: Alchemy) or Victory Point chips (from Dominion: Prosperity).

Here are some examples to try with expansions. I will not tell you the exact strategy, you can either find it on your own or just read it online.

  1. Try the "Infestations" recommended set from Dark Ages & Alchemy, with Rats and Vineyard.
  2. Try the "Servants" set from Alchemy & Intrigue, with Steward, Scrying Pool and Conspirator. Plus, some Vineyards to spice things up.
  3. Try together a Steward and some Minion(s) from Intrigue.
  • 2
    So I think this is all true, but you've presented it in a way which makes no-treasure strategies seem more common than they really are. Yes, it depends on the kingdom, but by far it's more common to need a fair amount of treasure. And although you mentioned this within the pro-money strategy section, even no-treasure strategies are actually some-treasture-then-not-much-treasure strategies, which is pretty far from the OP's basically-no-treasure strategy.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 7, 2015 at 18:15

The hardest thing to get balanced in a Dominion hand is the number of action cards to the number of actions.

If you never gain an action card, you will end up with one action wasted on each turn because you had no action card. That is a little bit unbalanced, but it is very easy to build a deck which gives you much more unbalanced hands.

One possible strategy

If you during the game gain only a single action card and it is one which does not give you any extra actions, then that will be slightly more balanced. You'll often have a wasted action, but every once in a while, you'll draw the action card and be able to use it.

Taking that strategy further

But this only allow you to gain a single action card during a game. As soon as you have gained two such action cards, you can get hands where you have shifted the balance too far. You will sometimes have a hand with two action cards and only one action. If the action cards are some that draws extra cards such as two Smithy cards, then the risk of this happening is even higher.

You can try to counterbalance this by buying the Village from the original game or one of the variants from the later extensions. But you'll get more unbalanced hands as now you will often have a hand with a Village and only a single other action card to play or none at all.

Even if your deck overall is balanced in number of +2 Actions cards to action cards with no extra actions, the individual hands will not be balanced. If you take this strategy you need to ensure that the action cards you do buy are valuable enough to justify the unbalance that they inevitably will cause.

Another possible strategy

If you only gain action cards which say +1 Action, you will keep the slight imbalance between actions and action cards you would have with no action cards at all. This means you will always have the needed action to play any action card on hand, and you will always end your turn with one wasted action.

This strategy is likely going to beat the strategy of buying 0 or only 1 action card during a game. In particular if the choice is between buying a +1 Action cards of cost 5 and buying a silver, the +1 Action card is likely a better strategy.

Beware of cost 3 and cost 4 cards with no extra actions

There are many action cards at cost 3 and 4 which will give you two coin and something else, but no extra action. The something else may look compelling enough to make you believe that this card is more valuable than a silver. But often that something else is not valuable enough to justify the risk of having the card on hand with no actions left. The Chancellor is one example of a card I would avoid.

Any strategy can be undermined by some combination of kingdom cards

Whatever strategic advice you read about Dominion, you should expect that some kingdom card exists, which will undermine that advice.

A strategy of only buying Silver, Gold, and Province can often beat beginners. But that strategy becomes a lot less efficient if the Pirate Ship is in the game.


Actually, if you play the First Game for the base set with the recommended set up, a winning strategy involves buying very little money. However, it does involve using Mine and Remodel to turn your starting copper and estates into silver/gold/village/market.

There is a good article about it here http://dominionstrategy.com/2012/07/30/building-the-first-game-engine/

You pretty much always want cards which get you money. Once you have silver and gold in your deck, cards which draw cards get a lot better. This doesn't mean you have to buy the money though, if a Mine is available, then upgrading your starting copper to silver/gold while buying smithy and village can be the best strategy.

The key thing for a mostly buying kingdom card strategy to work, is getting enough +actions, +cards, and having a decent amount of total money in your deck. You'll be drawing your entire deck most turns, so you want to be able to buy 2 provinces each time that happens, otherwise you'd be better off just playing money and buying 1 province!


It depends on the card mix. I remember a game where I could play the Band of Misfits as a Chapel and a Poor House (nice because I could keep my target hand secret until actually being able to play it). And there was also a King's Court in play. So I eventually got rid of everything except of one King's Court and a Band of Misfits that was then played as Poor House mostly (the King's Court being in play also implies that the highest property was the rather expensive Colony).

So any money card in your hand reduced the value of a triple Poor House by 3. I overstocked on Misfits in that game, though, and was lucky that my opponent did not just buy out the Poor Houses in time and thus stop my Misfits from being usable as such.

At any rate: any strategy involving multiple Poor Houses is going to suffer from spurious money in your hand.

And cheap money is going to hold up your game later. The Marauder is a rather strong card since it gets you good throwaway money (Spoils) while slowing down the other's play and not bogging you down in cheap money (particularly when Platinum is also in play) in the end game.

The problem with avoiding money too much is that you don't get your game into gears early on, and of course with grabbing money too much is that you may get bogged down in the end game with cheap money. Of course it helps to refrain from adding money into your shopping cart when having spent most on other items.

I knew a player who was fond of the Woodcutter since its additional buy allowed her to get an extra Copper with every purchase. Uh, don't do that.

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