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 A Short Article on Self-Synergy

What is it?

For the purposes of this article, self-synergy can be any interaction of a card with a copy if itself.

What does it look like?

There's no limit here. It can be a workshop gaining a workshop. It can be a farmland trashing a farmland to gain a province. It can be a mandarin putting treasures on top of the deck so that you can buy another mandarin next turn. It can be repeated plays of an attack, perhaps by different players, that do more damage together.

Why is it important?

If there is one thing to take away from this article it is this: Self-synergy is important because it is always in the kingdom. At one time you could play Base Set Dominion and feel that the synergy between festival and library was important. Nowadays there are so many different Dominion cards that you might never play with festival and library in the same kingdom.

The consequence is that self-synergy should be very high on the list of things to learn when looking at new cards, no matter how exciting the synergy is between different cards.

The more complex concepts found in later expansions have self-synergy as an intrinsic part of the design, as seen with split piles, castles, and traveler cards. These cards require a lot of skill to play but a lot of that skill comes from an understanding of the self-synergy.


A number of well known combos, such as native village + bridge or ironworks + silk roads, are actually the combination of two strong self-synergies. If you can understand those self-synergies then you can start piecing together alternative combos in random kingdoms using different cards, tokens, and events.

Deck Building

This subject is really far too large to detail so here are a  few things to consider.

How good are the products of using a card on itself? (procession, upgrade)
Does the synergy increase greatly when you add many copies of a card to a deck ? (advisors)
Will adding more copies of a card reduce the effectiveness of each one? (chariot race)
Are completely new strategies created when you use enough copies of a card? (rebuild, horn of plenty)
Is the self-synergy strong enough to make the card a key pile that needs contesting? (minions)
Are there times when self-synergy vanishes entirely? (farmland)
Does self-synergy help some uses of a card and hinder others? (native village)
Can you interfere with an opponent's strategy by having copies of their key card? (wild hunt, lurker)

My mind has been opened. my mint has been opened i have only two coppers left someone help me please

This is such a great topic. I've had a fascination recently with cards with self-synergy for a while but never thought to lump them together into one concept. In particular I was looking into soft terminals (mostly trash-for-benefit and BM cards) and multiplicative payload (Bridge, Bridge Troll, Goons, Merchant Guild). Would love to see this topic expanded upon even more.

Nice article.

Although you don't often think about it, if you buy one copy of a card with a high degree of self-synergy, you're likely to buy a lot of them.

Take Silk Road, for example. Silk Road scores more points the more Silk Roads you have. So more often than not, you either want 0 or 8 Silk Roads in your deck. Taking 1 or 2 happens sometimes, but isn't really maximizing the card.

Some other examples of cards with self-synergy include Minion, Sauna/Avanto, Fool's Gold, Urchin, Cultist, Scrying Pool, Hunting Party, Herald, Wishing Well, King's Court and Alchemist. With these cards, more is usually better, particularly for the stronger cards on the list.

On the other hand of the spectrum, there are cards that are best in moderation. Gladiator is a good example of this. It's a strong card, but most decks only want 1. And, since the Fortune doubling is limited at once per turn, you usually want exactly one.

Some other example of these support cards include Outpost, Crossroads, Militia, Counterfeit, Ghost Ship, and Spice Merchant. The first copy of these cards is often good, but subsequent copies have diminishing returns.

The most obvious self-synergy is Treasure Map.

The king of self-synergy is Governor: the first gains you a Gold, the second draws it and the third remodels the Gold into a Province.

No matter how hard I squint, I can't quite make self-synergy a thing that Conspirator does, but getting the first Grand Market makes it easier to buy more of them. Playing Peddler reduces the cost of Peddler and gives you money to buy another Peddler.

If you get swindled into a second Loan, it can trash the first one. Likewise for many other trashers, and sometimes actually relevant when you buy a big Doctor and trash the one you picked up early.

You typically want to play half the copies of each of your duration cards every turn—most pronounced for Tactician—which feels a bit like self-synergy. Journey token cards similarly have sorta'-self-synergy due to the nature of the mechanism.

Play City Quarters, reveal City Quarters, draw City Quarters.

Emptying the City pile, which correlates with having many Cities, has synergy with City.

Baker lets you open Baker.

Navigator can skip your other Navigator and find good cards instead; Mill can discard a Mill; Explorer can fill up your deck with Silver, making it less likely that it will collide with your other Explorer(s)—but I'm not really impressed by any of this. Playing three Devil's Workshops lets you gain an Imp, guaranteed, but that feels like the wrong way of doing it.

Some cards handle self-collision well: Gear, Embassy, Vault, Horse Traders, Remake—but that's compensation for self-anti-synergy, not the addition of positive self-synergy.

Most "it's complicated" self-synergy is Magpie: you want a high treasure density to make them Labs, but you want a high Action/Victory density to gain lots of Magpies (which increases your Action density which makes them not-labs).

A pair of Stashes synergizes well with a second pair of Stashes, in that if you topdeck all 4 when you shuffle, you have a guaranteed Province hand. ("Pair" is not really the right unit of analysis here, but it's fun.)


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