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1
There's a bunch of subtle ones, too. Counts and Dukes are best buddies. A Procession of Cultists is really strong. A Fortress can defend you from Knights.

2
Simulation / Re: Simulation Challenge - Endgame Polish
« on: January 21, 2012, 04:48:42 am »
I was thinking the best way to play the endgame is to just run a minmax search over the next N turns and use the result of that to guide your decision. Of course, you can't do that with just XML.

3
Dominion Articles / Re: Archetype in Detail: The Combo Deck
« on: January 18, 2012, 05:57:36 pm »
Thanks for all the feedback, especially jomini's excellent analysis of Masquerade lock. I've incorporated most of it into the original post.

As to what I didn't:
jomini on Saboteur - The point of a Saboteur combo deck is to Sab literally everything, so things like Bureaucrat and Spy provide only incremental benefit. They're great in regular Sab decks, though.
jomini on Goons - Golem is great in a deck that wants to Goons consistently; in Goons combo it can be part of a strong draw engine but isn't so much better it needs to be mentioned separately. A draw deck with mass Highway and Goons is more of a Highway deck than a Goons deck.
Davio on Scrying Pool - Regular Scrying Pool decks are just strong draw-your-deck decks, not combo decks.
ecq/Davio on KC+Scheme - Saboteur is mentioned in the lock section. Most KC+Scheme decks aren't combo, I found two which are (three with Thief) but I'm sure there are more.

4
Dominion Articles / Archetype in Detail: The Combo Deck
« on: January 18, 2012, 04:07:23 am »
Introduction

The combo deck aims to set up a particular combination of cards which can either immediately win, lock the opponent out of the game, or quickly and consistently gain VPs. Unlike most other decks, combo decks completely neglect VPs until they are set up, then ignore everything else afterwards.

Building a combo deck nearly always requires strong trashing. Chapel is the best way to achieve this. Remake or Steward are decent. Bishop is good if your opponent is also Bishoping. Single-card trashers like Upgrade and Lookout are good enough only if the combo is extremely powerful and other potential decks are weak.

Ambassador has an interesting place in combo decks. It can be a good trasher, and decks set up to play multiple Ambassadors transition well into combo, but your opponent's Ambassadors can really shut you down. When trying to play combo on an Ambassador board, focus purely on an Ambassador strategy, and go for the combo cards if and when you win the Ambassador wars.

The Mega-Turn

Mega-Turn decks tend to rely on strong trashing to work. Failing that, strong draw such as Scrying Pool, Apothecary, Governor, Council Room, or Wharf can get you everything you need. Mega-turn decks can typically win from a 3-5 Province/Colony deficit if they have enough buys, but have difficulty winning 2-6 unless they use Goons.

Bridge

Playing 7 Bridges in a single turn lets you buy out the Province stack and win the game; 5 or 6 are enough when combined with other sources of money. Bridge decks require extra sources of actions and cards to play all their Bridges. Most Bridge deck rely on cards that help get a mega-turn: King's Court, Mining Village, or Native Village.

When building a Bridge deck, trashing is extremely valuable, and Silvers aren't very good. You might need one or two to build up the deck, but you want to trash them before you combo off. A sufficiently good draw engine can replace trashing, but will slow you down considerably. Never buy green cards before your combo turn. If you're going for a combo with lots of cards, be wary of your opponent sneaking a 3-pile ending.

Good support cards:
King's Court/Throne Room - These cards are immensely important to a Bridge deck. Bridge combo is the best strategy on most boards which include KC and trashers.
Scrying Pool - If you trash all your victory and treasure cards, Scrying Pool draws your entire deck.
Council Room/Governor-for-cards - The downsides of these cards don't matter if you end the game on a single turn.
Library - If you have enough sources of actions, you can play Bridges down to only a few cards, then draw a lot from Library.

Counters:
Cursing attacks are devastating to most of these decks, especially those relying on Scrying Pool. A combo deck that can set up a good actions/draw engine with Chapel before being cursed too heavily can fight through curses, though.
Discard attacks are very good against the Ironworks-Mining Village-Bridge deck, terrible against Scrying Pool or Library, and bad against most of the rest.
Masquerade is very good against these decks because they try to get rid of everything they don't want.

Sample decks:
2 Steward, 3 King's Court, 3 Bridge, 3 Laboratory, 2 Village - Trash heavily at the start; it's fine to spend your turn trashing instead of buying. A KC/Bridge turn can get you a lot of your support cards and allow you to win shortly afterwards. Your aim is to play KC->KC->3xBridge on a single turn, giving you +$9, +9 buys, and -9 cost so you can get all the Provinces or even Colonies.
Chapel, 3 Ironworks, 6 Mining Village, 3 Bridge, 3 Throne Room, 1 Smithy - Ironworks for Ironworks, then Ironworks for Mining Villages and a Smithy, then Ironworks for Bridges, all while trashing heavily. On the combo turn, play some MVs trashing them and Bridges, Ironworks for Nobles, play all the Bridges and buy a pile of Provinces. Sample game.
8 Native Village, 6 Bridge, 1 Silver, 7 Copper, 3 Estate - NV/Bridge is fast and doesn't require trashing. Sample game and article (credit to WanderingWinder).
Chapel, 2 Scrying Pool, 2 University, 7 Bridge, 6 Bazaar - Scrying Pool for your entire deck, play all the Bazaars, play all the Bridges. University isn't necessary, but it helps. Sample game.
10 Festival, 8 Goons, 7 King's Court, 6 Library, 4 Bridge, 1 Chapel, 1 Worker's Village - The overkill deck; good for gaining vast quantities of VP. Sample game (but it can be risky).

Highway

Unlike Bridge, Highway replaces itself, so a sufficiently trashed deck can play all of its Highways on a single turn without +actions or +cards. Highway needs extra buys to combo; Market or Grand Market are the best ways to accomplish this. Laboratory effects, especially Apothecary, can be used in place of trashing, at the cost of some speed. Highway decks can make fairly good use of Upgrade as a trasher; it cycles and after 4 Highways you can upgrade Copper or Estate into Highway.

When building a Highway deck, get a 2:1 ratio of Highways to Markets, then buy a few extra Markets before your combo turn, then buy all the Provinces.

Highway decks are resilient to discard and top-of-deck attacks (e.g. Rabble), but weak to Curses.

Good support cards:
University and Ironworks (after a Highway) can get you your Highways and Markets easily.
Festival+Library works well with a Highway deck as an alternative to Markets.

Counters:
Buying 5 Highways. Highway decks need at least 6 Highways to work well, and are slowed down slightly by their trashing. Buying 4 Highways will slow down the Highway deck slightly. In Colony games, getting 3 Highways can be enough to stop the combo.
Cursing attacks.
Gardens, Silk Road, or any other strategy that can quickly empty 2 piles and pick up a few Highways along the way.

Sample deck:
6 Highway, 4 Grand Market, 3 Border Village, 2 Steward, 1 Worker's Village, 2 Copper - Sample game.

Goons

Goons plays quite similarly to Bridge. The buy from each Goons gives you a point for each Goons, so the total points is proportional to the square of the number of Goons you play. This leads itself perfectly to mega-turn strategies. Goons decks have to be able to combo off with 3 cards in hand, as the opponent is very likely to be playing Goons of his own. You typically want to end the game on a 3-pile of Goons/Village/Estate.

Good support cards:
Watchtower - Goons decks buy a lot of copper on their critical turn, Watchtower means it won't clog up your deck and you can do it again next turn. Unnecessary if you can win the game in one turn.
Anything that's good with Bridges, except for Throne Room/King's Court, which don't double the VP gain of Goons. They're still not bad for building your draw engine and getting more buys.
Festival/Library draw engines are especially good against opposing Goons.
Apothecary - Helps get Goons faster, lets you combo off without trashing, goes through your deck after you spam Copper.
Worker's Village - The best Village to pair with Goons, it gives you more buys to use your Goons with.
Council Room/Margrave/Wharf - Card draw which gives +buy is also good with Goons.
Highway - A few Highways let you buy more useful cards with all your Goons buys instead of just copper, and can accelerate getting to your combo.

Counters:
Cursing attacks
Library/Watchtower - Goons decks will be playing Goons every turn, Library mitigates the damage.

Sample deck:
Chapel, 2 Scrying Pool, 6 Village, 7 Goons, Watchtower - This looks a lot like the Bridge deck, and for good reason. Scrying Pool negates the discard from enemy Goons by drawing your deck.

Copper

The Copper deck relies on Tactician, Counting House, Cellar, and lots of Copper to draw a huge pile of cards thanks to the interaction between CH and Cellar. A bunch of Coppersmiths make those Coppers valuable. Worker's Village helps play all these cards and get more coppers in the meantime. The deck is good against Mountebank, especially with more players. Copper works best in Colony games, which are a bit slower. Copper decks are very resilient to all attacks.

Sample deck:
6 Cellar, 3 Coppersmith, 4 Worker's Village, 2 Counting House, 2 Tactician, 22 Copper, 6 Curse - Sample game. I mistakenly bought a 4th Coppersmith over the 4th WV in the sample game.


The Lock

The Lock aims to stop your opponent from doing anything, or at least from doing much of use. It relies on consistently playing a lot of attacks or pseudo-attacks.

King's Court + Discard + Masquerade

Credit goes to jomini for most of the information about this combo.

Trash down to 2 King's court, 1 Goons, and 1 Masquerade, preferably using Chapel. Play KC on KC, use one of the KCs on Goons, then the other on Masquerades. The opponent has to pass you his remaining 3 cards, which you trash. You pass them nothing, as you've got nothing left in your hand, deck, or discard. Article and sample game. This works only in 2-player games, unless you specifically want to destroy the player to your left.

Village effects are a cheaper alternative to one King's Court. Goons, Militia, Ghost Ship, Margrave, and Outpost all work as the second piece of the combo; Cutpurse can occasionally work. Throne Room instead of King's Court gives you a softer lock, leaving the opponent with one card, but is easier to set up. The 2-card King's Court + Masquerade deck still trashes 3 cards per turn from the opponent's hand, which can be good enough in the absence of +buy cards, especially against an opponent who is trashing heavily.

Opposing Masquerades can be countered by having any one nonterminal (a card which gives at least +1 action) as your 5th card. You pass it to them when they Masquerade you, then pass their card back to them and buy a new nonterminal on your turn. Discard attacks can be beaten by any cantrip (a card which gives at least +1 card and +1 action); KC, KC, Courted Pearl Diver gets you your Goons and Masquerade back. Cursing attacks aren't a problem, you can just trash the curses with Masquerade.

Counters:
Moat - Stops the lock cold, though you'll still lose cards when you fail to draw Moat. Lighthouse works so long as you can play one every turn for the rest of the game; when you miss you're gone.
Discard attacks - Wrecks the vanilla combo, but can be stopped without much difficulty.
King's Court + Bridge - Faster than some versions of the lock.
Possession - Possess the locking player and steal his valuable cards with Masquerade.
Double Tactician - Double Tactician decks (see below) can withstand Goons/Masquerade, but lose if they ever miss a Tactician. Unless they have en extra source of +buys, they lose three cards for every two they gain, so they need to deplete 3 piles before running out of cards.
2 Tunnel - Doesn't beat Goons, but can gradually deplete the Golds, Coppers, and Curses and force a 3-pile ending against Militia.
Swindler - Can slow down the lock combo considerably, but doesn't stop it once it's in place.

Sample decks:
Village, Militia, King's Court, Masquerade - Cheaper than the 2 King's Court version, and no less effective. Any Village effect works.
2 King's Court, Outpost, Masquerade - This version isn't stopped by reactions; trash 3 cards on your regular turn and 3 on your Outpost turn.
2 King's Court, Goons, Pearl Diver, Masquerade - Beats discard attacks. Any card which gives +1 card/+1 action can be used in place of Pearl Diver. Still has difficulty against discard combined with Masquerade.
2 Throne Room, Minion, Outpost, Masquerade - Works without King's Court; can be faster because it doesn't need to hit $7.
King's Court, Masquerade, Haven - Trash down to KC+Masq and trash your opponent's deck. Slowly buy up 2 coppers and 2 Havens, comboing on the turns where your coppers are Havened. Buy an Estate. Each turn, Haven the Estate, then trash. Repeat to get 4 Havens and 2 Estates. Grind through the Coppers, Curses, and Estates until the game ends. Doesn't work if there's enough +buy for your opponent to fight through the trashing. Sample game (the opponent conceded).

Mass Saboteur/Thief

Mass Saboteur operates similarly to Bridge decks, except instead of winning you're trashing all the useful cards in your opponent's deck. Works best in a Colony game where the opponent is less likely to end the game before you can combo.

Good support cards:
Quarry - Makes it easier to buy your key cards, which are all actions.
Baron - Gets you to KC money faster.
Outpost - Lets you sabotage twice as much post-combo.
Minion - Prevents the opponent from hiding cards in his hand.

Counters:
Moat/Lighthouse - Stops Saboteur, can't be sabotaged, can easily be sabotaged into.
Island/Native Village/Haven - Hides points away where they can't be sabotaged.
Peddler - Sabotaging a peddler sucks, but peddlers alone aren't enough to beat the deck.
Minion - Forcing a discard gets rid of Scheme's benefits.
5-card decks - Saboteur does nothing against someone with no deck. Adding discard fixes this problem.

Sample deck:
4 King's Court, 3 Scheme, 2 Saboteur, 2 Mountebank (optional), 1 Outpost (optional), 2 Quarry (optional), 2 Silver, 7 copper, 3 estate - Play 4 KCs, courting each of your other actions, then play Outpost. Do it again on your Outpost turn. 12 Sabotages per turn is more or less impossible to recover from. Sample game.
2 Scrying Pool, 2 Haven, 5 Bazaar, 5 Saboteur, Outpost - Havens let you ensure you get Scrying Pool every turn, Scrying pool draws your deck. Bazaar gives you enough actions to play Saboteurs and enough money to buy more. Scrying Pool and Saboteur are the only necessary cards in this deck; everything else can be replaced. Credit to jomimi for the deck.
2 King's Court, 3 Scheme, 2 Thief, money - Uses Thief instead of Saboteur, but the principle is the same. If there's no actions which give +money, you can lock your opponent out of the game. Sample game credit to ecq.

Possession + Ambassador/Masquerade

Possession decks try to use Ambassadors on their opponent's Possessed turns to steal valuable cards from their opponent's deck. The obvious counter of "don't buy Ambassador" doesn't work, as the Possession player can simply Ambassador his Ambassadors. This deck is very slow, but brutal when it hits.

To make the deck work, you have to win the Ambassador wars by reducing your deck to a state where you can draw most if not all of your deck and Ambassador at least once every turn, cancelling out opposing Ambassadors and filling their deck with junk. Once that's done, you buy a Potion and some Possessions, then start Ambassadoring Ambassador and playing as many Possessions as you can each turn. On your Possession turns, steal and buy cards which help you buy more Possessions, Provinces, and Colonies. Avoid getting money, though stealing Potions might be worth it to keep your opponent off of Possessions.

Masquerade is basically a slightly worse version of Ambassador in this deck; it's more likely to hit Province but will never hit 2 Provinces. It's much worse if you've trashed all the junk in your deck.

Good support cards:
Inn - The "discard 2 cards" part of Inn doesn't matter that much when you don't care about money only want to play a few cards each turn. The on-buy effect is very useful, allowing you to get your engine running more easily.
Council Room/Governor - The +1 card to your opponent is amazing when you're going to be using it yourself.
Colony - Slower games make this combo easier to pull off in time.
Tactician - Tactician helps you get to 6P for Possession, you can afford to Tactician a Tactician hand after playing Possession a bunch, and Possessing a Tactician turn is awesome.
King's Court/Throne Room - Being able to get extra possessions using relatively cheap cards is great. KC-KC-Possession-Possession-Possession should cause a resignation.

Counters:
Chapel/Watchtower/Lighthouse+Possession - If you can fight through Ambassador, being able to Possess the combo player first and Ambassador his Possessions to you pretty much gives you the game.
Trash most of your money, buy Estates and Coppers - If you can't do anything, he can't do anything when possessing you. Only works if you can get a 3-pile ending before the Possession player takes enough of your greens. Diluting your deck reduces the risk of Ambassador colliding with important cards.

Sample decks:
8 Inn, 6 Council Room, 5 Possession, 3 Ambassador - Sample game. Includes one beautiful turn where I Ambassador 2 of his Provinces then buy another Province.
2 King's Court, 2 Scheme, Possession, 2 Ambassador, (any support cards) - KC->KC->(courted Scheme)->(courted Scheme)->(courted Possession) lets you Possess your opponent 3 times every turn. If you have enough support cards to reliably draw both your Ambassadors, so much the better.
2 Tactician, 2 Possession, 2 Ambassador, Crossroads, Chapel - After playing all your actions you can Tactician, so you can start with 10 cards each turn. Once you start greening heavily, buy more Crossroads so you can draw both your Possessions.

Honorable Mention: Pirate Ship

If there's no other cards which give +money, enough Pirate Ships can take all the money out of your opponent's deck and leave him stranded. However, Pirate Ship is a card which gives +money, and these games nearly always turn into a Ship mirror match. Buy villages.


The Consistent Deck

The consistent deck aims to get to a point where it can do the exact same thing every turn for the rest of the game. Unlike other combo decks, consistent decks need to be set up relatively early.

Bishop

Bishop decks trash everything except Bishop, some money, and one Province/Colony. Each turn they trash Province, buy Province. It's not difficult to build the deck using only Bishops for trashing, especially in 4-player, but Chapels make it faster. Bishop decks are very good against deck attacks (Saboteur, Swindler, Rabble, etc), as they have no deck to attack.

Counters:
Discard attacks - The deck can't function on 3 cards.
Cursers - The deck can't function on 6 cards either.
Masquerade - The deck needs all of its cards.

Sample decks:
Bishop, 2 Platinum, Copper, Colony  - Platinum, Gold, Silver as the money also works. 2 Platinums lets you trash Copper, buy Colony on your last turn for 5 more points than otherwise. With 2 Platinums you're safe from Masquerade. Sample game in which I buy a superfluous Lab because I can.
Bishop, Gold, 2 Silver, Province - Slightly worse than the above, but Colonies aren't available every game.
Bishop, 2 Platinum, Moat/2 Lighthouse, Colony - Immune to attacks. Watchtower is another option against curses. Laboratory or similar is an option against discard. Credit to petrie911.
Bishop, 2 Gold, 2 Lighthouse, Province - Immune to attacks, Province version. Play Lighthouses on alternating turns. Credit to jonts26.
Bishop, Outpost, Fishing Village, Market, Peddler - Each turn, Fishing Village, Market, Bishop a Peddler, Outpost, buy 2 Peddlers. On the Outpost turn, Market, Bishop Peddler, buy 2 Peddlers. Orange cards count as in play for the purpose of Peddler on both turns. Once the Peddlers run out you should be able to play enough Peddlers to start buying Markets, then with enough Markets you can play FV, 6 Market, Bishop Province, Outpost, buy Province. Any village can be used in place of Fishing Village, and Grand Market can substitute for Market. Most of the time you're not going to get down to 5 cards, here's a sample game where I play a close approximation of this deck.

Double Tactician

Double Tactician decks try to play a Tactician every turn, using non-treasure means of gaining money. This means they can draw 10 cards per turn. Pure Double Tactician is vulnerable to discard and cursing attacks, but adding some card draw negates this.

Good support cards:
Spice Merchant/Upgrade - These cards let you trash one card per turn without costing an action, preventing your deck from getting too large.
Laboratory or similar cards - Labs let you bounce back from discard, deal with cursing, and provide an alternative to trashing in finding your Tactician every turn.

Counters:
Possession

Sample decks:
2 Tactician, Black Market, Upgrade, 7 money - Black Market lets you play all your money before Tactician, even if you buy nothing from it. Sample game. Credit to Jack Rudd.
2 Tactician, Vault, 2 Spice Merchant, 4 Copper/Silver, 3 Estate - Each turn, you draw 10 of your 11 cards, Spice Merchant a copper (you have 2 Merchants so you're sure to draw one), Vault drawing two and discarding 8 cards, Tactician. Once you run out of coppers you aren't as consistent, but by that point you have 4 Provinces, so it doesn't matter. Sample game.

Island/Native Village

These decks buy a Province each turn, then set it aside so they don't have to draw it. Trashing down to 5-6 cards is required to get the deck to work.

Counters:
Discard attacks
Curse attacks
Bureaucrat - These decks can't function without their victory cards in hand.

Sample decks:
(Chapel), Hamlet, 2 Gold, Silver, Native Village, Province - Each turn, Hamlet discarding Province, Native Village setting Province aside, buy Province. It's 6 cards, so sometimes you won't draw the Hamlet. Buying a Lab reduces the odds of this happening. You'll need to set aside your trasher(s) on Native Village before starting. Sample game.
(Chapel), Ironworks, 2 Gold, Silver, Province, (Island) - Each turn, Ironworks for Island, draw the Island, play the Island on Province, buy Province. You'll need to Island your trasher(s) before starting. Has the downside of petering out when the Islands are depleted.

King's Court + Scheme

Courting a Scheme lets you play a particular action every turn. Most of the time this leads to a strong non-combo deck, but it's also good for combo. Using this with attacks is described in the lock section above.

Counters:
Minion - Forcing a discard gets rid of Scheme's benefits.

Sample deck:
King's Court, Scheme, Chancellor, 3 Stash (5 for Colony) - KC-Scheme lets you Chancellor every turn, Chancellor lets you get your Stashes every turn, Stashes let you get a Province every turn. Against discard attacks, place your Stashes in slots 6-8; you'll draw them off of Scheme. I'm not sure that this deck is better than vanilla Chancellor/Scheme, though. Sample game.
King's Court, Scheme, Herbalist, 5 Venture, Silver - Herbalist every turn lets you guarantee Venture, which guarantees $8. Rarely actually worth it; Ventures are reliable enough by themselves.

5
Dominion Articles / Re: Deck Archetypes
« on: January 17, 2012, 03:59:00 am »
I've edited the post to address most of the issues posted, the others I'm still thinking over. The purpose of this article is more to classify particular decks than provide strategy advice; I thought of it while thinking over ideas for a Dominion AI. I'll try to find sample games for the decks.

6
Dominion Articles / Deck Archetypes
« on: January 17, 2012, 12:18:01 am »
Introduction

I think Dominion decks can be classified into a number of basic strategies, or archetypes. A strategy will tend to play similarly to other strategies in its archetype, and significantly differently from strategies in different archetypes. Knowing what kind of deck you're trying to build is an important step in transitioning from a beginner player to an intermediate player.

There are 6 basic archetypes of deck, each with a number of different categories. I'll provide a brief overview of the key features of each archetype.

Basic glossary for terms I'll be using:
Greening - Buying green (victory) cards that don't contribute to your deck.
Fizzling - Running out of things to do on your turn before accomplishing something useful.
Lab - Cards which have an effect similar to Laboratory. Similarly for Market, Village, etc.
Mirror - A match in which both players are going for the same strategy.

1) Big Money

The Big Money deck buys mostly money, with one to three terminal actions. Sometimes it will add nonterminals like Laboratory or Market if it draws a $5, but it will rarely ever buy Villages. Big Money is possible to build every game, and is the correct strategy whenever no other strategies are strong enough. Big Money decks tend to like terminal draw, cards which give silver, and dislike mass trashing. Attacks are often the best terminals for a Big Money deck.

Strong cards:
Jack of All Trades - Big Money likes Silver more than any other deck, and Jack is one of the best Silver granters in the game. 2 Jacks, Silver, Gold, and Provinces is an extremely strong deck.
Envoy - Envoy is best when most cards in your deck are close to average quality (e.g. lots of Silvers), and you don't have many terminals to collide with.
Wharf - Another of the best card drawers in the game, Wharf is close to +4 cards +2 buy in a Big Money deck.
Masquerade - Masquerade lets you get rid of useless estates. Unlike other trashers, it doesn't slow you down on the turn you play it. It can double as a nice attack against heavy-trashing combo or action decks which are forced to pass you good cards.

Counters:
Good decks - Big Money's biggest weakness is that it's simply mediocre, and will usually lose to a well-constructed deck.
Cursing attacks - Curse attacks are extremely strong, and a deck that can play more Witches than Big Money will usually beat it. A Big Money deck with Curses has a hard time reaching $8.
Pirate Ship - Big Money gives the Pirate a lot of juicy targets, and BM benefits less than other decks from losing Coppers.
Discard attacks - Big Money usually needs 4 cards to get a Province.

1a) Big Money + trashing

Chapel, Remake, and Steward all let the BM deck get rid of its coppers and estates, leaving it with only good treasures, and letting it play its terminals more often. The disadvantage of this approach is that it loses steam faster when greening. BM with trashers is usually better than pure, money-only BM, but often worse than BM with strong terminals. Trashing cards usually help action decks more than BM, so be cautious playing BM on a board with good trashers. Trashers make you more resilient to cursing and discard attacks.

Counters:
Thief/Noble Brigand - This is one of the rare times when Thieves are actually good, and combined with a good action engine they can cripple trashing BM.
Deck attacks (Rabble, Spy, etc) - Getting one of the deck's key Golds can really hurt it.


2) Action decks

Action decks buy a whole lot of actions, then try to take big turns where they get a large benefit. There's a huge variety of different kinds of action decks, so I'll list them separately.

Strong cards:
Village effects (especially Fishing Village) - Most action chains do that much using only nonterminals, so cards which give extra actions are great.
Multi-card trashers (Chapel, Remake, Steward, Forge) - Action decks have less use for their coppers than Big Money, so getting rid of them is great.

2a) Deck Draw

Deck draw decks attempt to draw their entire deck every turn, then use all the money to buy a province or two. They tend to start greening later than most other decks, but green faster and suffer less for having the greens. These decks are looking for strong draw cards, nonterminal actions which give money, and at least one +buy. Strong trashers help a lot. Deck draw comes in two flavors. Hunting Parties, Alchemists, Laboratories, Governors, Apothecaries, Caravans and Stables can let you draw your deck without having to worry about being able to play your actions. Alternatively, a combination of +actions cards and +cards cards lets you draw your deck, albeit at higher risk of fizzling out than Labs. Strong Villages (Fishing Village, Farming Village) and Smithies (Torturer, Margrave, Wharf) make this more appealing.

Strong cards:
Forge - Forging an estate and 2 copper into an estate is kind of crap. Forging 3 estates and 5 copper into a gold is great.
Baron - Deck Draw makes him more likely to find an estate.
Shanty Town - In a pure Lab strategy, you can always play Town last as a 3-cost Lab.
Horn of Plenty - Drawing your deck should give you 5 or 6 unique cards, which means Horn can get another 5-cost or gold each turn.
Scrying Pool - With enough trashing to get rid of most of your non-actions, Scrying Pool can be insane.

Sample decks:
4-7 Hunting Party, 1 Gold, 1-3 Silver, 1 Baron, 7 Copper, 3 Estate - Hunting Party lets you draw all the relevant cards in your deck, including Baron and Estate, every turn. You can then buy Province/Party or even Province/Province.
Chapel, 6 Venture, Silver - Venture acts as a pseudo-action in this deck, effectively drawing all the useful cards in your deck and giving you enough money to buy a Province each turn.
Chapel, 6 Festival, 4 Library, 1-2 Gold, 1-2 Silver - Festival gives you actions while depleting cards in hand, Library draws you a whole pile of cards, Chapel makes sure Coppers and Estates don't clog everything up.

2b) Attack

Attack decks attempt to play multiple attacks each turn, or one attack consistently each turn. Attack decks can cripple your opponent, but ironically are themselves quite vulnerable to many attacks. Attack decks require Village effects to work, and combine very well with Village/Smithy style draw engines.

Strong cards:
Card draw attacks (Torturer, Margrave, Witch) - These let you avoid having to buy Smithies for your chain.
Saboteur - Saboteur can be devastating when played 3 times a turn, potentially wrecking an opponent's entire deck.
Possession - Although very difficult to get, Possession has a very strong effect. If you can reliably use 2 or more Possessions each turn, you're in a very good position. Ambassador and Masquerade let Possession decks come back from an otherwise unrecoverable point deficit.
Ambassador - Enough actions and card draw let you Ambassador away all your coppers and estates, leaving you with an efficient trimmed deck that can start Ambassadoring curses and your opponent with a big pile of junk.
Throne Room/King's Court - These are likely to have strong targets in an attack deck.
University - A lot of the strongest attacks, card draw, and villages cost 5, and University gets you these easily while also providing a valuable Village effect.

2c) Market

Market decks like to play lots of actions that cycle while giving money - Market, Grand Market, Peddler, Conspirator, or Highway. These decks tend to need strong trashing and/or Lab effects to stop them from fizzling out when they stop drawing their Markets. Market decks tend to focus on either getting a lot of Conspirators or a lot of Highways, though Highway decks can end up closer to the Combo archetype, and pure Market decks often end up in the Durdle archetype. Vineyard is one of the best reasons for playing a Market deck.

Strong cards:
Quarry - Quarries let you easily buy multiple Market effects on one turn when combined with your free +buys.
Ironworks - Ironworks lets you get Conspirators (or after a Highway, other Market effects).
Vineyard - Market decks buy large numbers of action cards.

Sample decks:
Chapel, 2 Ironworks, 3 Market, 5-10 Conspirator, 4 Silver - Chapel gets rid of the junk, Ironworks builds up the Conspirator count, Conspirators and Markets get the money.
3 Apothecary, 6 Market, 4 Caravan, 3 Farming Village, 3 Militia, 2 Quarry, 3 Silver, 3 Potion, 6 Vineyard, 7 Copper, 3 Estate, 2 Province

Counters:
Rush decks - Decks which aim for a 3-pile ending like it when you buy all the Conspirators
Cursers - Cursing attacks make fizzling more likely.

2d) Minion

The Minion deck is simple - buy as many Minions as possible, then play Minions for money into Minions for cards into etc into Province. Minions is the strongest strategy on a significant majority of boards which contain the card.

Strong cards:
Nonterminal actions which give money (Fishing Village, Festival, Lighthouse) - Don't buy Festival until you have 6 Minions or the pile is exhausted, though
Cellar/Warehouse - The card disadvantage of these cards doesn't matter if you're going to Minions for cards, and they help you keep Minioning after you start greening.
Trashers - Trashers let you play more minions for +$2 and less for cards.

Counters:
Lighthouse/Horse Traders - these stop Minion's attack while not being terrible by themselves.


3) Combo decks

Combo decks build up their decks to an extremely powerful level, and then win shortly after. Although rarely possible to build and highly vulnerable to attacks, they are very powerful when they work.

Strong Cards:
Multi-card trashers, especially Chapel - Combo decks nearly always need to trash all or nearly all of their coppers and estates to work.
King's Court - KC is essential for many combo decks, and useful to build the engine of many others.

3a) Bridge/Highway combo

Bridge decks build up a strong actions/cards engine, then play lots of Bridges and buy up all the Provinces (or Colonies). King's Court is usually involved. Highway/Market is a related deck that has a somewhat smoother setup. Sometimes you can get your mega-turn from Mining Villages or Native Villages.

Sample decks:
2 Steward, 3 King's Court, 3 Bridge, 3 Laboratory, 2 Village, 3 Silver - draw enough cards to play KC/KC/Bridge/Bridge/Bridge, win.
Chapel, 6 Highway, 7 Market, 1 Silver, 2 Quarry - Chapel gets rid of the junk. Quarries, Markets and Highways let you buy more Markets and Highways more cheaply. Eventually you play all your Highways and Markets and buy out the Provinces.
Chapel, 3 Ironworks, 7 Mining Village, 5 Bridge, 1 Smithy, (Nobles) - Play all your Mining Villages and Bridges in one big turn. After 2 Bridges, you can Ironworks for Nobles, which gives you +1 card +1 action.

Horn of Plenty
Adding a Horn of Plenty to a draw deck (2a) lets you get your engine pieces faster. Once you're set up, you can Horn for Horn buying Horn, then use the 3 Horns to get 3 more Horns, then use all 6 Horns for Provinces and win.

3b) Lock

Lock decks aim to prevent your opponent from doing anything useful. Masquerade, Saboteur, Possession+Ambassador, and in some cases Thief/Pirate Ship can all lock your opponent.

Sample decks:
2 King's Court, Goons, Masquerade - The classic Lock deck. Goons forces your opponent down to 3 cards, then Masquerade takes all 3 of those cards and trashes them. The opponent is left with nothing in hand and 3 fewer cards in the deck.
[some actions/cards engine], 2-4 Throne Room, 2-4 Saboteur - The deck Sabotages everything the opponents buy, preventing them from getting anything over $2 unless they're lucky enough to draw it right after buying it.

Counters:
Masquerade - If the combo deck needs every card in their deck, having one Masqueraded really hurts.
Lighthouse/Moat - Stopping your opponent from attacking you makes locking difficult, hopefully giving you enough time to get a Masquerade against 5-card lock or enough useful stuff against Saboteur.

3c) 5-card

5 card decks aim to get down to 5 cards, and get rid of their victory cards for benefit as soon as they get them. They tend to be very fast and consistent.

Sample decks:
Bishop, 2 Gold, Copper, Province - Each turn, Bishop a Province and buy a new one.
(Chapel), Hamlet, 2 Gold, Silver, Native Village, Province - Each turn, Hamlet discarding Province, Native Village setting Province aside, buy Province. It's 6 cards, so sometimes you won't draw the Hamlet. Buying a Lab reduces the odds of this happening.
2 Tactician, Secret Chamber, Spice Merchant, 4 Copper, 3 Estate - Play a Tactician every turn, using Secret Chamber for money. This deck has an extremely fast setup, especially Chamber/Tac off of a 5-2. There's a lot of possible variants to this strategy.

Counters:
Discard attacks - These decks can't function on 3 cards
Cursing attacks - The extra card really messes these decks up

3d) Governor

Governor decks buy a whole pile of Governors thanks to Governor-for-cards and Governor-for-Gold, then spend a turn getting a lot of Golds, then spend the next turn using Governor-for-cards and Governor-as-Remodel to trash all the Golds into Provinces and win.

Counters:
Horse Traders/Baron/Vault + Big Money - the extra cards and Silvers from opposing Governors make getting to $8 fairly easily. Governor decks have a hard time winning if their opponent can get 5 Provinces before they go off.


4) Rush

Rush decks try to win without Provinces before their opponent can get enough Provinces. Rush decks nearly always aim for a 3-pile ending. When playing rush decks, it is important to have a plan for which piles you're trying to empty.

Good cards:
Horse Traders - Rush decks buy lots of green cards and often coppers, and horse traders turns 2 greens and 2 coppers into exactly what you want, with an extra buy on top.
Crossroads - It'll draw you a lot of cards thanks to all your greens, and give you actions to play multiple Workshops or Horse Traders.

4a) Gardens/Silk Road

Decks with Gardens and/or Silk Road want to fill their deck with huge piles of junk. They enjoy +buys and Workshop effects, and are resilient against discard attacks and cursing. A Silk Road rush isn't strong enough by itself; you need another cheap VP card (Gardens, Tunnel, Great Hall) or a pile that's going to empty fast (Curses in a curse game, Fishing Villages in a game with 3+ players).

Good cards:
Workshop/Ironworks
Hamlet - You've got plenty of crap to discard for +buys, and it's a good 3rd pile to deplete after Gardens/Silk Road and Estate.
Woodcutter - A cheap source of +buy is good for Gardens.
Mountebank - Gardens decks don't mind Curses so much, and like the free Copper.
Secret Chamber - Secret Chamber lets you always have enough to buy a Gardens or Silk Road
Baron - You're going to be buying more estates than usual, Baron gaining Estate isn't bad, and the +buy is good.
Thief (4+ players) - Thief can get you a whole lot of copper very quickly, boosting your Gardens points.

Counters:
Buying their rush cards - Gardens/SR decks often have a hard time ending the game. A deck with 8 Gardens can beat a deck with 5 Provinces, but a deck with 5 Gardens will have a hard time beating a deck with 3 Gardens and 3 Provinces.
Combo decks - Rush decks don't buy Provinces, so combo decks don't have to worry about them getting 5 provinces before the combo turn.

4b) Duchy+Duke/Fairgrounds

Both of these strategies aim at getting green cards that are worth less than Provinces, but are easier to get. Their biggest downside is the difficulty in emptying 3 piles.

Good cards:
Discard attacks, especially Militia - Getting $5 from 3 cards is fairly easy, getting $8 is quite difficult.
Vault (especially for Fairgrounds) - Vault lets you guarantee $6.
Copper - Duke decks want an average of $5 per turn, or $1 per card. Copper gives you that.
Black Market (Fairgrounds only)

Counters:
Buying their rush cards - Same as for Gardens
Multiple Rabbles - Filling the top of their deck with green cards is easy against decks that buy a lot of greens, and with fewer useful cards it's harder to buy even cheap victory cards.

4c) Ill-Gotten Gains/Duchy

Buying out the IGGs empties two piles. Buying out Duchies empties the third. Conveniently, IGG makes it easy to buy Duchies because of the extra copper, but hard to buy Provinces because of the curse. In an IGG-Duchy mirror, you should buy a Duchy over the last IGG unless buying the last IGG causes you to win immediately.

Good cards:
Trash-for-benefit cards (Remake, Remodel, Salvager, etc) - the main benefit of IGG is the curse, but it still counts as $5 for trashers.

Counters:
Cursing attacks - If the curse pile empties faster than the IGG pile, buying the last few IGGs becomes entirely unattractive and the strategy falls apart.


5) Durdle

Durdle decks don't do anything useful, then they lose. They're typically built by new players.

Counters:
Big Money, even without any actions, beats all of these decks.

5a) Sampler Pack

The Sampler Pack consists of one of each card, with way too many terminals. They're the classic first-game-of-Dominion deck, and most players learn better quickly.

5b) The Magic Player

The Magic Player looks at Market and says "wow, a card that replaces itself and gives me $1. That's broken, I'll buy as many as possible". By the time he's got all the Markets his opponent has 4 Provinces. Any deck containing lots of nonterminals which don't do much falls into this category (you really don't want to play against a Magic Player who tries to build Pawn/Pearl Diver/Conspirator).

5c) Turbo Remodel

Turbo Remodel is any deck that tries to eventually upgrade a Copper into a Province. A typical Turbo Remodel turn will be "Village, Remodel Copper into Estate, Remodel Remodel into Gold, go". Upgrade, Remake, Expand and Develop are also commonly used. I spent ages when I was new trying to make this deck work, and 97% of the time it's too slow.

5d) The Trasher

The Trasher just realized that Chapel is awesome, and by logical extension, he should chapel everything. He Chapels coppers and estates while buying Silver, he Chapels Silver when buying Gold, runs out of steam after 3 Provinces, and loses to Big Money. This is a trap even experienced players sometimes fall for - just this morning I realized I'd trashed down to only 1 silver and had to embarrassedly buy a copper.


6) Oddball

Oddball decks rely on synergy between a particular set of cards, but don't have the explosive potential (or fragility) of combo decks. They're occasionally good enough to be worth building, but almost never worth transitioning into. Embargo will often hurt these decks a lot.

Ironworks + Great Hall/Island + Transmute
Great Hall's dual typing makes Ironworks work well with it. Alone this isn't very good, but when combined with Scout and/or Transmute you can end up with an interesting deck. Tribute is a good counter.

The Copper Deck
The full Copper Deck is actually a combo deck, consisting of Tactician, Counting House, Cellar, Coppersmith(s), Workers Village(s) and optionally Throne Room. Some combination of these cards, with possible Chancellor, can lead to an interesting non-combo deck.

Good Turbo Remodel
Peddler, Border Village, and Ill-Gotten Gains all have costs higher than their values. Haggler lets you get expensive cards cheaply. Forge lets you make good use of expensive cards. Throne room Develop, developing Border Village into Ill-Gotten Gains and Forge, developing Ill-Gotten Gains into Border Village gaining Ill-Gotten Gains and Throne Room is an amazing turn.

Pirate Ship
Pirate Ship has amazing self-synergy, where each Pirate Ship powers up your other Pirate Ships. Especially good in games with 3+ players, as Pirate Ships have a higher chance of hitting their mark, and in games with Village effects so you can play 2 Ships on one turn. Countered very effectively by strong action decks who love having their coppers trashed.

Two-card Synergy
These decks aim to exploit two cards which work together. They work best when you can reliably get them together thanks to trashing, draw, or simply buying a lot of each card. Examples include Chancellor/Stash and Tunnel/discard.

7
Dominion Articles / Re: Not Combos -- Cards that don't work well together
« on: January 16, 2012, 07:54:10 pm »
Simple stuff really -- cards that don't work quite as well together as they initially appear to, usually because of what is directly written on the card and ignored.


King's Court/Throne Room and Goons/Highway -- They have a "While in play" clause that means the +VP or -cost effects are not duplicated.  Still an ok combo, just not as insane as it could be.

King's Court/Goons is actually an amazing combo a lot of the time. King's Court makes massive engine decks fairly easy to set up, and KC-Goons gives you enough buys to take advantage of all the VP token gain from more Goons.

8
Game Reports / Re: Dear My Opponent: I am Sorry
« on: January 16, 2012, 01:29:52 am »
Headso's turn (possessed by Zakharov)
Headso plays an Ambassador.
... Headso reveals a Province.
... returning 2 copies to the supply.
... Zakharov gains a Province.
Headso plays 4 Coppers and 2 Silvers.
Headso buys a Province.
... Zakharov gains the Province.
(Headso draws: 2 Coppers, an Inn, and 2 Silvers.)

Sorry for stealing all your turns.

9
Dominion Articles / Re: Combo: King's Court/Scheme
« on: December 22, 2011, 03:32:34 am »
There's the hilarious King's Court - Scheme - Posession - Chapel mirror match, where both players trash all their money because each player plays more with their opponent's deck their own, and the game ends in a stalemate with both players refusing to buy cards.

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