A while ago while reading, I read about the King’s Court-King’s Court-Goons-Goons-Masquerade combo it was stated to be very powerful, and I was wondering why it was considered as such.
The combo is what is known as a "pin", although the biggest problem with it has been somewhat fixed in the 2nd version of Intrigue, which changed how Masquerade works.
For reference, the three cards are (using their 1st edition wordings):
King's Court: You may choose an Action card in your hand. Play it three times.
Goons: +1 Buy. +$2. Each other player discards down to 3 cards in hand. While this is in play, when you buy a card, +1VP.
Masquerade: +2 Cards. Each player passes a card from his hand to the left at once. Then you may trash a card from your hand.
This only works in two-player games. First, you get yourself to a point where your deck consists solely of 2xKing's Court, 1xGoons, 1xMasquerade. Then:
Play a King's Court Choose King's Court Play King's Court (1st time) Choose Goons Play Goons 3 times (opponent discards down to 3 cards) Play King's Court (2nd time) Choose Masquerade Play Masquerade (1st time) You have no cards to pass Opponent passes you a card Trash the card Play Masquerade (2nd time) You have no cards to pass Opponent passes you a card Trash the card Play Masquerade (3rd time) You have no cards to pass Opponent passes you a card Trash the card
Note that playing Goons means they only have 3 cards in hand when you play the Masquerade, so you wind up trashing all of the cards they are holding and they start their turn with an empty hand. At some point, you end up trashing your opponent's entire deck, leaving them unable to do anything but purchase Coppers and Curses. You can choose to push the game to end by buying a couple of Estates (which will net you Goons points, and you can then pass the Estate to the opponent, get it passed back, and trash it) or just leave your opponent powerless and incredibly annoyed.
One thing to note is that Masquerade was updated for second edition Intrigue. Originally, if you had no cards in hand when it was time to pass cards; you simply didn’t pass one, but you still received one. In the new edition wording, if you don’t have a card to pass, then you don’t receive one either.
On first edition, the idea was that you could use this combo to lock an opponent out of the game completely. It worked like this:
You use Masquerade’s trashing to rid your deck of all of your starting cards. You make it so that you are able to draw and play every card in your deck... this works whether your deck is nothing but the 4 mentioned cards, or if it also contains several cards such as Laboratory or Village.
When you only have those 4 mentioned cards left, you play them. KC #1 lets you play KC #2 three times. The first time you play Goons (or Militia). This leaves your opponent with 3 cards in hand. The second time, you play your Masquerade. This leaves you with 0 cards in hand, or in your deck, or in your discard. So you pass nothing and get a card from your opponent. Trash that card no matter what it is. Then Masquerade is played a second time; do it again. Then repeat for the third time.
The final result is that your opponent had 0 cards in hand, and 3 fewer cards in their deck.
On their turn, they can’t do anything except purchase a Curse or Copper if they wish. On your turn, you do it all again.
This completely locks them out of the game. They can’t do anything at all for the rest of the game; and unless there was already an empty pile, they can’t end the game by buying Coppers and Curses. Eventually, they will have 0 cards in their deck, while you have a good deck and lots of VP from all the Goons you used.