When the action cards on board are lacking in gaining money additions, what's your strategy in purchasing money vs action cards in the early rounds? More money, or look for actions that drill through your deck (+X cards and + actions?)?


  • Here's an example of an engine buying built on a board with few +$ actions. It should get you started.
    – Geronimoo
    Aug 27, 2012 at 7:55

2 Answers 2


The answer, of course, is it depends. It depends on what's out there and where your deck is going. As a general rule of thumb, buy more money than you think you'll need. It's rare to draw a hand full of silvers mutter a curse under your breath. On your first turns, you should open by buying treasure or a money-producing cards unless you have a very good reason to do otherwise.

There's two issues tied up in this: making sure you have enough money to buy more/bigger cards later, and keeping the odds low of "collisions" of terminal actions so you can only use one. Buying a balance of action cards and treasure cards helps with both, but how much to buy depends on the specific action cards you're getting.

I try to create an overall strategy for the particular kingdom deck, and then try to get that deck working as quickly as possible. If you want several $3 or $4 card in your final deck, sure start buying them, but make sure you build the buying power to get the more expensive cards you want. Especially if you'll have extra buys (from Market, Goons, etc.) it's easy to pick up the small cards later. However, without Silver you might not get the big ones in time.

Some illustrative examples:

Village is a terrible buy before you have other actions. The point of village is to play 2 actions after it; if you only play one action after it having a silver would have been better. In most cases, I don't buy Village until I have a couple of terminal actions already. Great Hall is even worse, the only reason to buy a Great Hall early on is if you're going for a combo that it helps (e.g. Conspirator), but even then a first turn silver will probably help you more.

A card like Watchtower, on the other hand, can speed up your opening with it's card draw, and it mitigates the harm from collision with the ability to topdeck new buys, so Watchtower could work with another terminal or with money.

If there's a $5 or $6 card that you want to get ASAP (Witch, Mountebank, Goons), it might make sense to open Silver/Silver, though a Smithy or Watchtower could be just as effective. And an early Gold will help you buy those more expensive actions (and more Gold) for the rest of the game.

Caravan comes to mind as a card that doesn't produce money but I'll usually buy it whenever I hit $4 until there aren't any left.

Chapel is a great card and is most effective when bought before the first shuffle, but it needs to be paired with something that produces money so you can get rid of those coppers fast, which means Silver if nothing else is available. (This one probably has a lot of exceptions, Chapel/$5 attack card could be good, or Chapel/Wharf would be nice.)

  • I think your watchtower example is misleading. terminal action collisions involving watchtower are negated by the fact that you still get to use its reaction ability to put whatever you buy on top of your deck. whether top decking a card is better than $1/$2 is context specific. Otherwise great answer.
    – Colin D
    Aug 3, 2012 at 14:00
  • @ColinD Good point, edits made. Aug 3, 2012 at 17:38

While it is OK to grab some actions on the first two hands before the first shuffle, I try to maintain 1:2 to 2:3 ratio of actions to treasures afterwards (I would lean towards more aggresive 1:2 with the trashers like Chapel or Moneylender that will quickly weed out most of the pennies). Of course, for every strategy rule there will be tons of exceptions, depending on the particular cards on the table (Workshop+Gardens usually mean that you are going to stuff your deck with useless greens pretty quickly, and only after that go for silvers with these Workshops). But I guess your reason for asking this question is that you kept finding yourself with three actions in hand of which only one is playable, and two-three money in the end. And the answer to that is, "Learn to control your action shopping spree, and buy silver more often with $4 or even $5 in hand".

My understanding is that there are relatively few card combinations that reliably beat the Big Money strategy, especially with the more basic cards (I mostly play Basic + Intrigue with the friends). That is, in say a three-players game, Big Money could produce 30% of the wins, but consistent stupid choices of actions could produce as low as 15% winning probability. To get up to 35-40%, you would need to fine-tune your buying strategies for nearly every round of the game (it's too late to buy a Chapel when there are 3 Provinces left; or to buy a Witch when there are 5 Curses left; Village is useless unless your actions comprise about 40% of your deck; etc.).

  • 1
    "It's too late to buy a Chapel when there are 3 Provinces left"... I would say it's too late to buy a Chapel if you've already shuffled ;). It will never be as effective as it is the very beginning. Oct 26, 2012 at 8:23

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