Dominion Strategy: World Board Gaming Championship – Intrigue

By Brian Durkin
The World Boardgaming Championship takes place all this week in Lancaster, PA. I hope to see you at the Lancaster Host Resort for some gaming. If you would like to know more about this event, check out the Boardgame Players Association website for information about the WBC.
The Dominion tournament at WBC continues to draw huge crowds as one of the most popular events for non-collectible card games. If you plan on playing in this event, you need to learn the format ahead of time. This single elimination tournament will only use Kingdom cards from Intrigue for the first two rounds, so your survival depends on your ability to play with these cards. What cards should you look out for in this format?
10. Tribute
Limited only to the Intrigue expansion, this card earns a higher ranking than usual. The potential Kingdom set up could benefit a player from adding this card to his or her deck with all the split action cards in Intrigue. If players begin to build Scout decks or buy Nobles just as a Draw/Action engine, Tribute will feel like a Grand Market. This card depends on a lot going right and might not deserve a spot on the list compared to other cards; however, in this format you should reconsider its power level. 

9. Pawn
Almost every deck will benefit from a Pawn. The biggest advantage comes from how the modes keep this card relevant regardless of the game state. Early on it helps draw cards and or provide actions, but later in the game it can provide an extra buy if you really start producing a lot of money. Do not over extend on purchasing this card. Playing several Pawns in a row just tortures everyone for wasting time, because you still will just end on one terminal. Unlike Ascension not every card adds points to your score.
8. Torturer
Smithy is good. Smithy is better when all your opponents must discard two cards or take Curses. This terminal can do a lot of damage. Torturer does not give your opponents any good options unless they possess trash effects. Torturer’s power level diminishes in this format because of several cards deal with Curses. Do not avoid a Curse strategy. Certain boards will allow this to succeed; however, even a mediocre card like Upgrade can mitigate the power of Torturer. Actions that trash make Torturer essentially just a Smithy, so seek out cards that provide multiple actions. Multiple actions allow for more card drawing and you distribute more Curses. More than one Torturer can create a situation where most trash effects cannot keep up.
Shanty Town
7. Shanty Town
Need to juice up the power of Torturer, Shanty Town does the trick. This card screams, “Combo with me!” Shanty Town’s presence on the board boosts many other cards, such as Conspirator. This set provides an incredible amount of good terminal actions, so Shanty Town will really take your deck to the next level. Of course many times you will not draw off of the first Shanty Town. Who cares? No real loss when you now can play two Torturers. The next card on the list can even help set up Shanty Town’s additional bonus.
6. Courtyard
This card will benefit every player. In decks without multiple actions, it allows you to put a terminal action card on top for next turn instead of discarding it with no effect. In Shanty Town combo decks you can set up what you need. Courtyard digs three cards deep to find more actions if you already earned extra actions. You want to find these powerful actions as soon as possible and Courtyard makes that happen. A great complement to any deck considering four of the top five game warping cards for an Intrigue game include terminal actions.
5. Swindler
Swindling first will put you far ahead of your competition. It enables better purchasing power and probably floods your opponents’ decks with Curses. Although many cards in Intrigue minimizing the effect of Curses, Swindler does not need to hit a Copper in order to do damage. Sometimes taking away a player’s Torturer to give him or her a Duke will solidify your lead. Only one other attack card surpasses Swindler on this list, but first you must remember the most powerful ability when playing Dominion.
Trading Post
4. Trading Post
Trashing cards out of your deck enables all degenerate decks and combos. No other effect with accelerate your deck’s power level like removing the lower quality cards. Trading Post removes two bad cards from your deck and allows you to acquire a good card, not to forget the fact that this does not count as your buy for the turn. With one play you can trash two Coppers, gain a Silver, and buy a Swindler. Not bad. Trading Post diminishes the power of cards like Torturer and next card on the list.
3. Masquerade
It sends a bad card to your neighbor. It draws you cards. It trashes. Enough said. It creates another reason why Torturer does not make the top five cards. Masquerade even competes with Courtyard’s ability to smooth out your draw. Masquerade changes every game it appears because even a card like Swindler now does not do as much damage. Masquerade still cannot protect you from one attack card.
2. Minion
Ever play against a Minion deck before? If you said yes, did you want to kill yourself after watching your opponent destroy your hand and proceed to play four more copies of this card? If you said yes then you know you need to pilot the Minion deck as oppose to feel its wrath. No other card self combos as well as this attack. You play several copies for money and then use your last copy to refill your hand. Look out for cards like Mining Village and Bridge because they synergize well with Minion. Most Minion decks need  trashing to reach crazy levels of power.
1. Steward
Nothing trashes better than this card. At a cost of three, you do not fall behind when someone opens with five Copper and beats everyone to Trading Post. Trashing two cards at a time helps fight any player distributing Curses. After you finish trashing all the bad cards, it still provides a relevant effect of either drawing cards or giving you two dollars. You need to build a deck around this card every time it hits the board.
What cards do you love to add to your Steward decks? Do you think you would build a different strategy if Steward appeared on the table? What other cards shine when playing with only Intrigue cards? Do you think a Duke strategy can work or will most players race for Provinces?
Let us know what you think.

**Special Thanks to Vishu Doshi for his input on this list.

Additional Information

For more information about Intrigue check the product page on
Interested in purchasing a copy of Intrigue? Try the following links.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. Many gamers know how to play this game and enjoy playing with anyone.

Ascension Strategy: Knowing the Deck

By Brian Durkin

The only monsters with the Fate effect.
In a game of Texas Hold ‘Em you have two hearts and two more hearts come out on the flop. Assuming no one else holds any hearts, what are your chances of making your flush by the river? You must learn the answer to these types of questions in order to improve your poker game. The same concept applies to all card games. Predicting what cards most likely will show up in the center row can give you a big advantage in Ascension, but what cards should you pay attention to?
Monster Mash
If you play with Chronicle of the Godslayer, Return of the Fallen, and the suggested amount of promos (1 Vedah, Sage of Swords, 2 Pathwarden, 2 Deep Drone, 2 Rat King, 1 Kythis, the Gatekeeper) the center deck will equal 125 cards. Fort-eight of that 125 will consist of monsters; monsters make up approximately 38 percent of the deck. A continuous run of monster cards hitting the center row will normally prove rarer than cards you can acquire, but it can happen. Gauge how many tokens will remain after the current onslaught of monsters. This will help you decide when to convert to power and start dashing for honor tokens versus waiting for those key constructs to appear, because the game may never last that long. A large supply of monsters early on will shorten the length of the game and hurt any player gaining the majority of their points from cards in their deck instead of tokens. Besides knowing the distribution of card types, you pay attention to specific card effects.

Destiny Draw

Return of the Fallen adds cards with the new keyword fate. Learn these cards and what each fate effect does. Askara of Fate allowing you to draw an extra card could change what you can acquire or defeat. Be careful not to lay down your entire hand because you could draw a Temple Librarian off of Askara of Fate and now you cannot use it.

The two heroes with Fate and
the two constructs with Fate.

Same goes for Arbiter of Fate. Playing Militia just to play it could cost you the opportunity of banishing it out of your hand. Stone Circle usually will help you decide which card in the center row to banish with an effect, because your opponents could use their Mystic before you with an effect to draw extra cards. Keep in mind that when acquiring constructs you might put one of them into your hand if Reclamax comes out.

All of the fore mentioned heroes and constructs typically promote accelerating the center row. The more cards that come out of the center deck, the better your chances to hit one of these fate effects. Ravenous Gorph’s fate effect helps this strategy; however, be mindful that his appearance could foil your plans on acquiring or defeating a particular card. If you need certain cards to stay in the center row for a while as you build up to acquire or defeat them, try not to accelerate the board too much. Monster effects like Mephit and Mistake of Creation give opponents the opportunity to banish the card they know you want. Another way to block players from the cards they want also involves a monster card: Rat King. The Giant Rat tokens force players to keep some power in their decks. The rats possess the potential to derail a player’s plans to acquire or defeat cards on the board. Try to evaluate how devastating a Rat King will affect your turn and plan accordingly.
How Many Times Will This Stuff Matter?
Including the Rat King as a card with fate, this effect only constitutes about ten percent of the deck. Some people might argue that planning around these cards will hurt you rather than help because the odds of hitting them do not justify expecting to see them. I say you should never expect to hit a ten percent chance event all the time, but you should stay aware of the possibility. Planning for Reclamax might accelerate you so much that you can catch up to your opponents, or put you so far ahead that no one can catch you. Acquiring cards in the right order can prevent the Rat King for disabling your ability to acquire the most important cards for your deck. The lesson: know the odds of certain special events happening, whether or not your want them to happen, and what you will do about it when they happen.
Today’s Challenge
Snapshot of your opening hand and center row
for Today’s Challenge
You go first in a two player game opening with two Militia and three Apprentice.
The center row consists of the following cards:

Mechana Initiate
Hectic Scribe
Wolf Shaman
Battery Monk
Arbiter of Fate
Rat King
Would you banish a card out of your hand with Arbiter’s fate effect (you do not know what your opponent decided yet)? What cards would your acquire and which Giant Rat(s) would you defeat? How does your opponent’s potential opening hand affect how you play out your turn? How does the probability of cards remaining in the deck affect your decisions?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can purchase Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Alternate Universes – Ascension

Ascension Video Coverage: Brian vs. Paul and the Power of Path Warden

by Brian Durkin

Path Warden is a recent Games Day Promo

The following videos cover a game of Ascension between Brian Durkin and Paul Durkin. This game ends up demonstrating the power level of Path Warden, the importance of controlling the center row, and what can happen when you make mistakes banishing the wrong cards. The video below covers the first half of the game. Enjoy.
Video Coverage Part I – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Wielding a deck with such high card quality, Paul really pushed ahead of me. Can I redeem myself by acquiring a few big Mechana Constructs? Check out the conclusion in the second part below.


Video Coverage Part II – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Thanks for tuning in. Did you agree or disagree with the players’ moves? Did you agree or disagree with my comments in the videos? How would you play certain game states that appeared in the video? What did you think of the video coverage?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can preorder Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:

Gary Games – Ascension: Return of the Fallen Preorder

If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Alternate Universes – Ascension

Video Credits:
 Shot, edited, narrated, and produced by Brian Durkin
 Music sampling “Oscar Wilde” by Company of Thieves
You can find more information about that band here: Company of Thieves
Interested in purchasing their music? Try iTunes or the band’s store: Company of Thieves Store