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Bonfire Synergies and Tactics

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Chris is me:

What does Bonfire do?
Bonfire trashes two cards from play. Usually these are Coppers, but it can be anything you play but don't want anymore - a trashing Action that has reached the limit of its usefulness, or perhaps a Potion, maybe some Ruins somebody gave you.
What makes it a unique and powerful trasher?
Bonfire makes your deck thin faster than almost any other trasher in Dominion. Instantly removing two cards from your deck before the end of the first shuffle is a very rare skill, and Bonfire does it easily. It's easy to underestimate how powerful this effect is, and to think Bonfire compares unfavorably to other trashers just because it can't nab Estates. Despite that, it's important to realize that Bonfire instantly improves the tempo of your deck, rather than waiting for the next shuffle to do so. And the faster you thin, the more quickly and more often you get to use the good cards you're filling your deck with. Nothing in the game (except Donate) trashes faster than Bonfire.
Another strength of Bonfire is its low opportunity cost. It only costs $3 and a Buy to play - and in most cases, you're paying for $2 of that $3 with the Coppers you intend to trash. Not competing for terminal space with early Actions is a huge plus, and basically only costing a Buy and $1 is also a bonus. How often do you gain cards anyway on turns you trash 2 Coppers with Stewart or Remake?
Finally, Bonfire can trash multiple times per shuffle, potentially. Usually you get thin so quickly that this doesn't matter, but other trashers are usually played every other turn until you get really thin. Bonfire can be bought on multiple consecutive turns, getting your Coppers cleaned out in 3-4 turns.

What are Bonfire's limitations?
The most obvious drawback of Bonfire is that you cannot trash any Estates with it (unless you Inherit them, but at that point you want to keep them anyway). This poses a limit on how thin you can get, and having three stop cards that don't even generate economy can be quite the bummer. Additionally, when using Bonfire as the only trashing mechanism, you have to buy it 4 times to get rid of all your Coppers. When you buy trashing Actions (or Donate), you only need to spend 1 Buy to trash down, though you'll usually spend multiple Actions on it.

Bonfire can certainly be used as the only trasher on the board, but it is best paired with another trasher as a way to speed up the process of thinning. Additionally, it helps to have some way to make up for the lost economy, such as a gainer.
How to use Bonfire: Synergies and Examples
You want to pair Bonfire with a good Action in most cases, that really enjoys being played early and frequently, in order to get the game off to a good start. Cards that trash Estates, gain useful cards, or provide early economy are perfect companions for Bonfire. Below are a few quick examples and case studies. The intent here isn't to produce an exhaustive list but to give you an idea of the kind of synergy you can seek out while experimenting with Bonfire.
Jack of All Trades
The synergy between Jack and Bonfire was one of the earliest discoveries revealing Bonfire's strength, and it is a powerful combo that makes for a strong money variant or a smooth transition into a more complex engine. The execution is simple - open Jack / Bonfire, then Bonfire until you're out of Coppers, playing Jack to trash Estates and gain Silvers. By Turn 5 or 6, you have a deck that's trashed down to Jack, 3-4 Silvers, and maybe a stray Copper - a good place to pivot toward a more traditional engine! Consider how even with Chapel, you would be lucky to have your deck cleaned out by turn 5 or 6, and you can see how this is lightning fast. Once you're done, you can get rid of the Jack and last Copper if you want (in the engine case), or you can just play a money strategy that can quickly green and win the Province split in a couple of turns.
Jack is basically an ideal partner for Bonfire, since it provides gaining / economy, trashes Estates, and even draws up to ensure you always have $3 and that you cycle the Jack very quickly. Other trashers and silver gainers like Remake and Amulet can work in a very similar fashion, albeit without the benefit of Jack's drawing.
Transmute is one of the worst cards in Dominion, but with just the addition of Bonfire it can actually do something. It's not particularly effective, but it's cute. Similar to Jack, it trashes Estates effectively but isn't very good at trashing other cards. Howveer, it gains Golds instead of Silvers when trashing Estates, making it a bigger economy boost in fewer stop cards than Jack. Bonfire minimizes the downsides of Transmute - it thins out Coppers so it can line up with Estates, it gets rid of that Potion that is probably useless to you after buying Transmute, and it can even dump the Transmute when you're done! The process is simple - buy one Potion and Bonfire whenever you can, buying the Transmute as soon as possible (unless you hit 3P, then Bonfire). It's not quite as fast as Jack since it doesn't draw and you have to grab a Potion first, but you end up with 3 Golds instead of 3-4 Silvers, which is really cool considering how bad Transmute normally is. You can then either play a money variant or pivot to engine.
Hermit at first glance looks like it behaves similarly to Jack, but Hermit Bonfire strategies take full advantage of its unrestricted $3-gaining and Bonfire's status as a thing you can buy that isn't a card in order to enable megaturn strategies. When you buy Bonfire, you probably didn't buy a card, so you get to trash Hermit for a Madman. When you play Hermit on a turn you would lose it, gain another Hermit instead of a Silver, and then Bonfire. You trash 2 Coppers and ideally an Estate, with the net gain of +1 Madman to your deck, ideal for enabling a megaturn later. If you want to gain a Silver instead, buy a component instead of Bonfire in order to keep the Hermit (though, try to avoid doing this until you're already mostly thin). You end up with less easy economy than the Jack strategy, but the Madmen tend to make up for it if you're going for something like a Bridge based strategy.
Other Trashers
Bonfire is neat with almost any other "heavy trasher" because it can ensure that you get to play that trasher by Turn 4! This is a huge deal, as anyone who's had their Chapel miss the second shuffle will tell you. Additionally, you can get your Turn 3 buy on Turn 5, which is just super fast. Later, you can use Bonfire to trash the Trasher itself. Even without specific synergy between the trasher and Bonfire, you'll probably end up buying Bonfire once or twice to accelerate. It's like rocket fuel for thinning! Special mention goes to things like Apprentice, Salvager, etc. that don't really like trashing Coppers anyway.
Not the strongest synergy, but fairly simple and effective. Baron loves Estates, Bonfire thins out all those Coppers so you're quickly spiking $5+ and multiple Buys. A Baron / Bonfire opening can be a powerful way to really quickly buy expensive engine components.
Ironworks, Engineer, etc.
Gainers are another strong synergy. Freeing yourself of the requirements of early economy to gain cards, you can use your Buys on Bonfire and still develop your deck quickly. If you run out of stuff to gain with the gainer, just trash it with Bonfire and be done with it. This allows you to get gainers even if their shelf life ends up being pretty short.

Bonfire is fast, like all Events. You get the benefit immediately. The lack of Estate trashing means Bonfire can't do everything, but even getting rid of seven junk cards can do wonders for a deck. Paired with any number of enablers to ensure you can get off the ground while you're trashing your Copper, Bonfire can give you momentum extremely quickly, which smart Dominion players will use to their advantage.


--- Quote from: Chris is me on September 07, 2017, 08:28:36 pm ---

What does Bonfire do?
Bonfire trashes two cards from play. Usually these are Coppers, but it can be anything you play but don't want anymore - a trashing Action that has reached the limit of its usefulness, or perhaps a Potion, maybe some Ruins somebody gave you.
--- End quote ---


You did the thing!

Chris is me:
I'm probably going to take the Transmute bit out, probably sliding an Amulet bit in its place or something.


--- Quote from: Chris is me on September 07, 2017, 09:56:28 pm ---I'm probably going to take the Transmute bit out, probably sliding an Amulet bit in its place or something.

--- End quote ---

Why?  The Transmute bit is interesting, and it highlights a little-used card, to boot.


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