Board Game Fridays: Beating Goons

Board Game Fridays: Dominion

(about board game fridays)

The inaugural post! Dominion! This week I'll illustrate how I have a habit of getting baited into buying new cards for the sake of playing with new cards, and why this is generally not an optimal strategy.

Unfortunately, this may be a recurring theme since I've not played much Dominion since Cornicopia and Hinterlands came out ... however, regardless of my own performance, I will cover the winning strategies.

Game 1 (out of 1)

Number of Players: 6

Kingdom setup:

  • (2) Hamlet
  • (3) Smuggler
  • (4) Quarry
  • (4) Remodel
  • (4) Scout
  • (4) Ironworks
  • (4) Remake
  • (5) Mint
  • (6) Goons
  • (6) Grand Market
  • (9) Platinum
  • (11) Colony

My Starting Hands: 5/2

Opening Play: Mint (5), Hamlet (2)

My Strategy:

First off, I would advise against buying Mint on the first turn in general. I've done this multiple times (and seen others as well) and it never ends well for any of us. The idea I had in my head went something like this: dump most of my copper with a first turn mint, obtain remakes, remake my estates into silvers, remake / mint/ silver my way to dutchies then to minting golds and beyond.

The hamlets would be cheap sifters to provide me with extra buys/actions to fuel my remakes and mints. Early silvers provide flexibility since they are the only three cost card available that would help me get to remakes reliably and I can mint them. If the kingdom cards were different, I might have skipped silvers entirely and gone currency-less; in fact, it's what I should have done in this game ...

The Winning Strategy:

Do you guys see the power cards here? Goons and Grand Markets. What did four other players at my table play? Some variation of Goons (Quarry Goons / Grand Market goons). For the record the last player played a 5/2 Mint/Copper. The winner was Grand Market + Quarry + Goons, although just mass Quarry Goons seemed pretty bad ass too. Needless to say, I got clobbered by Goons every turn, which denied me a full hand almost every turn (which is just death to an upgrade scheme deck like mine).

Retrospect - How I should have tried beat Goons in this game:

Remakes are just too slow to begin with vs. the pile depleting buying spree power of Goons, and as I mentioned earlier, Goons also kills upgrade decks by reducing handsize. I'm not going to say that Goons was unstoppable though, since I still believe that the 5/2 Mint/Hamlet opening was viable for this game.

Instead of a early remakes, I should have gone for the other power card at the table first, Ironworks. Ironworks have largely been devalued by our group as of late and probably for good reason; and in this game it was completely ignored. However, consider this. Ironworks has great power this game because the other (4) cards were the Remakes I was coveting, the Scouts, more Ironworks, and even Quarries.

Even in the face of Goons, one ironworks would have allowed me more ironworks, allowing me to build up (4) cost cards at a much higher rate and allowing me to bypass the silver based (3) stage. In turn, without currency I could have remade my Mint into a Grand Market right away. With my low econ buys, I could have stacked up on estates which wouldn't have hurt too much because I can afford a little more junk as discard fodder for the Goons, not to mention the use of Ironworked Scouts on these Estates to help replenish my hand. The ultimate payoff though would have been mass ironworks to remakes, with plenty of (4) cards to fuel Remakes for dutchies. Any 3 card hand with one remake and 2 other (4)s would have been double dutchy turn.

The end game which I did not see at the time: 4 players on Goons = empty stack. Ironwork engine = empty stack of Ironworks. Hamlets went early = third empty stack. The Remakes of Ironworks and other Ironwork collected (4) cards to dutchies would have been a fourth stack. Potentially I could have used the quick speed of empty piles (thanks to Goon and Ironworks) to end the game with a dutchy rush before the massive Goons / Quarry / Market coinage engine of the other players take effect.

Lesson Learned:

Don't be an idiot, play Goons.


  1. Last Place here. Winning be damned, if the chance presents itself, I will try Mint on the first turn every time until it works. So there's that grain of salt to go with my advice.

    How I could have tried to beat Goons (with this group):
    I didn't really ignore Ironworks like Ken did, I just hate the card, so I didn't buy it. But for our insane Mint decks, it's absolutely the right call. But I would play it slightly differently. It took everybody at the table a long time to get to Grand Markets, and it didn't have to be that way. Ironworks to get Quarries and Remodels. Ironworks gets you (4) cost cards, Remodel lets you turn them into Grand Markets (and turn Estates into Quarries/Ironworks/Remodels). Quarries help you simply buy the Grand Markets. You can pick up some Hamlets with your weaker hands. If I you can get to even one Grand Market early enough, it will build on itself very fast (especially with your Quarries), and it's easy enough to run away with the game.

    But note:
    Once it becomes an obvious Ironworks game, with 6 players, it's gonna go fast. So the real strategy? Ironworks and Quarries early. And then play Goons. C'mon, obviously.