Comparing Dominion Card Rankings: $3

Every year or so, the Dominion community (led by Qvist) produces a democratic ranking of Dominion cards.  As the results are being released, I thought I’d compare my rankings to the community rankings and comment on the cards for which my ranking differs substantially.  Today I’ll look at cards costing between $3.  Previously: $0-$2.

First, here is my full ranking of $3 cards:

  • Ambassador
  • Steward
  • Bonfire
  • Fishing Village
  • Black Market
  • Masquerade
  • Urchin
  • Swindler
  • Amulet
  • Village
  • Forager
  • Ferry
  • Menagerie
  • Gladiator
  • Gear
  • Hermit
  • Ghost Town
  • Enchantress
  • Lookout
  • Dungeon
  • Watchtower
  • Catapult
  • Plan
  • Wishing Well
  • Shanty Town
  • Loan
  • Changeling
  • Merchant
  • Expedition
  • Chariot Race
  • Warehouse
  • Scheme
  • Oasis
  • Doctor
  • Market Square
  • Farmers’ Market
  • Leprechaun
  • Night Watchman
  • Guide
  • Vassal
  • Develop
  • Smugglers
  • Workshop
  • Trade Route
  • Caravan Guard
  • Secret Cave
  • Storeroom
  • Oracle
  • Sage
  • Tunnel
  • Fortune Teller
  • Harbinger
  • Banquet
  • Masterpiece
  • Fool
  •  

    And here are the cards that I ranked most differently from the community.  I’ve ignored a few of the high variance, middle-of-the-list items that I don’t really have anything interesting to say about (none of them diverged majorly from the community list).  Feel free to dispute any of these with me.

    Card Ben’s Ranking Discussion
    +29 Gladiator is definitely tricky to rank.  On its own, it’s not that great.  You would probably rarely buy it if it didn’t happen to be on top of one of the best cards in the game.  And that factors into my ranking.  I buy Gladiator quite a bit, but it’s mainly to dig for a Fortune.

    If there were ever Gladiators around later in the game, they’d probably get picked up as payload, since they’re more likely to make $3 later in the game.  But as it is, Gladiator is a little awkward. I still get one almost every time it’s on the board, which is why it ranks so high for me.

    -9 The list of terminal draw cards that I would choose over Oracle includes almost all draw cards in Dominion.  Oracle is probably better than I’m giving it credit for, but I’ve never found the spying to do much, the draw is weak, and by my “how often do I buy it” metric, Oracle ranks pretty low.
    -9 It’s likely that I simply underrated this card.  In my Dominion play, I’ve been trying to tighten up my buy order to get the engine up and running faster.  I often don’t find what I feel like is a good time to add reliability aids like Scheme, though I’ve been starting to learn how important reliability can be, even if it comes at the expense of adding payload.  I think Scheme was a victim of the ways I’ve been trying to learn to play the game.
    -8 Chariot Race always feels like one of those casino games where the house has a huge edge.  It seems like you should win the Chariot Race way more than you actually do, but the loss-on-a-tie comes back to bite you so many times.

    Sure you can occasionally catch your opponent with Copper on top and rack up a bunch of points, and every once in a blue moon you’ll have an opponent who is playing a slog against your engine.  But in practice, I’d estimate that I win less than 25% of my Chariot Races.  To me +1 Card, +1 Action, +$0.25, +0.25 VP is not a real great $3 card.

    -8 Smugglers seems to be getting a little weaker each time a new expansion comes out.  First, it was Events and Travellers, then debt cost cards, split piles, and Castles, now Spirits and Wishes.  Smugglers still ends up being pretty decent in most games, but it’s a bigger crapshoot than ever.  (though Changeling is a nice combo)
    +7 I’m surprised the community ranked Black Market as low as they did.  A lot of Black Market’s power comes from setting up the Black Market deck in the right way.  And I think ShuffleIt has got the setup down.  Their deck is big enough that whatever you’re missing from the board will almost always be present in the Black Market in multiples.  And it doesn’t include cards that don’t make sense to include, e.g. no Potion-cost cards on a board that doesn’t already have one in the kingdom.  Playing online, Black Market is a must-buy on almost any board.
    +7 Bonfire openings are among the best in Dominion, guaranteeing that your opening buy will not miss the shuffle, and I’ll admit that Bonfire openings play a big role in my ranking.  After the first shuffle, Bonfire is still pretty good, still one of the best Copper trashers in the game.

    I probably buy Bonfire on 90% or more of boards that have it.  Maybe it’s a bit bold to put it at #3, but it’s easily top 10 to me.

    -7 I might have Gear a little low at #15, but I feel like the community rank is too high for me.  Gear enables strong money strategies, and there was a Triple Gear obsession for a little while, but we’ve since confirmed that all kinds of engines can easily beat straight Gear-Big Money.  While Gear is really versatile and is at home in all types of decks, I feel like the community ranking might still be carrying over some of the “unstoppable Big Money strategy” reputation that it had for a while.
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