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And lo, after the release of Cornucopia, Dominionaters rejoiced at the capricious card Tournament, and said unto Donald X: ďOh, great Donald X, we want more like this!Ē  And yea, Donald X bestowed upon his chosen people the Knights.

Obviously Iím being sarcastic here - quite a lot of people detest the ďfirst come, first serveĒ nature of the Prizes, which seems to undermine the equality of opportunity that, for most, is the defining feature of Dominion, at least when comparing it to games like Magic: The Gathering.  But the Knights are at once like and unlike Tournament.  Yes, they all have different bonuses, some better than others, but at the end of the day you only get them for one reason - to trash the shit out of your opponentís deck - and really, they all do this equally well.  But some are more equal than others, naturally.

What do Knights do?

Playing a Knight forces each opponent to reveal the top two cards of their deck, and trash a moderately costed card from those two, if there are any.  Each Knight also has an individual bonus and a cute unique name.  These bonuses vary in usefulness, and the usefulness of each will vary depending on the kingdom.  And if a Knight trashes another Knight, the first Knight is also trashed.

How is this different from Saboteur?

Well, if youíve spent more than five minutes on this forum, youíre probably aware that Saboteur kind of sucks as a card.  It does absolutely nothing for the player, and more often than not will trip on Silvers, and at the very worst will simply give your opponentís deck a good cycling.  Knights fix all of those problems, but at a cost, since we canít have cards that are strictly better than one another at the same price.  Saboteur and Knights have different purposes, and both can shine in certain instances.  But letís look at how they differ.

Each Knight does something for the player, some more actively than others.  Knights only flip over two cards, so they wonít turn over your opponentís entire deck like Saboteur can.  So if your opponent has mainly cheap cards, Saboteur can sometimes be better, since it will seek out the expensive cards like a missile.  But most decks feature a fair amount of expensive cards, so Saboteur ends up being a lot like Knights a lot of the time.  But Knights also donít let your opponent take a consolation prize - Duchies are no longer un-Rebuilt into Estates - theyíre simply destroyed.  That can really hurt in the endgame.

So how do I play with Knights?

That really depends on the board, and it depends also on how your opponent plays them.  Knights are one of those cards that can force you into a mirror, because allowing your opponent to win the Knights race can be extremely detrimental to you.  Compare to other races - if you lose the Fool's Gold race you can still come back by turning your Fool's Golds in to real Golds, or by trying a different strategy.  But when you lose the Knights race, you not only are being hurt more severely than you're causing hurt, but inevitably you will lose all your Knights while your opponent retains a few.  Such a situation can almost force you into a pin, particularly in the context of an engine, where your opponent can play his four remaining Knights every turn, ensuring you just don't have a deck.  But not all Knights games will devolve into this race, and you may often ignore them altogether.  Their bonuses can be helpful, but aren't usually game-changing.

Generally you want to go for Knights when a few conditions appear - if you can play them often, if there isn't a viable cheap (or extremely expensive) strategy, and if the top Knight is desirable.

How do I know which Knight is desirable?

That depends on the kingdom, silly.  Sir Bailey (+1 Card, +1 Action) is never a bad investment, since he's essentially a zero-space card.  Dame Molly (+2 Actions) and Sir Michael (each other player discards down to 3) are usually strong, but with lots of Villages or a better discard Attack (respectively), they're more middling.  The others are far more dependent on the Kingdom.  Dame Natalie (gain a card costing up to $3) is a good Knight to get if you're losing the Knights race, as she can help fill your deck with Silver, which is usually better to have trashed than a more important card.  The two that are least useful are Sir Vander (when trashed, gain a Gold) and Dame Josephine (2 VP), as the former simply gives you a consolation prize when knocked off his horse by another Knight, and the latter might, in rare instances, be a tie-breaker - neither of actually do anything for you when played aside from their Knight Attack, which makes them even more equivalent to Saboteur.  Dame Josephine is a little less desirable than Sir Vander, because it's highly likely that your Knights are going to end up trashed to your opponent's Knights, so that 2 VP usually won't even end up added to your total anyway.

But certain of the Knights will be especially useful in different Kingdoms.  Dame Natalie is excellent with Feodum, Sir Martin (+2 Buys) can be Workshopped and goes excellently with Fool's Gold, and Dame Anna (trash up to 2 cards) can be a life-saver if she's the only trasher on the board.  So make sure you take a look at what else is in the kingdom before deciding to pass on the Knights or dive into them pell-mell.

What goes well with Knights?

Highway (and sometimes Bridge).  Two Highways means that your Knights can now trash Provinces.  Three Highways means that your Knights no longer trash other Knights, so you donít have to worry about losing them.  Just donít play too many - itíll look pretty silly when Provinces cost $2, and youíre only cycling your opponentís deck for him.

Knights are also best when played often, so any card or combo that allows for that is awesome, whether it be Scheme, Sage, an engine, or whatever else you can come up with.

Saboteur also paradoxically does well on Knights boards, as it can safely trash your opponentís Knights - even just hitting one with Saboteur makes it worth having bought one.  Also, Knights can clear out everything costing from $3-$6 in your opponentís deck, leaving only more expensive cards, like Provinces, for the Saboteurs to find.

Graverobber (and sometimes Rogue) goes excellently with the Knights.  Since they're trashing left and right and sometimes getting trashed themselves, Graverobber can pick them right back up or scoop up their leavings, and in the endgame can turn them into Provinces if necessary.

How do I counter Knights, or, when should I not get them?

Fortress.  This card makes Knights not just pointless, but usually helpful to your opponents.  Revealing and trashing a Fortress puts it into your opponentís hand.  Thatís not something you really ever want to do.  Maybe you can combo this with playing multiple Pillages per turn, but I doubt that.

When there are more powerful Attacks, like Cursers, Looters or discarding Attacks, youíll probably want to go with those over Knights.

If you find yourself in a situation where youíve lost the Knights split (or just didnít go for Knights in the first place), fill your deck with junk.  Knights canít do anything to Coppers and Estates, and trashing superfluous Silvers doesnít hurt too much.  This is one instance where having Dame Natalie would be nice - she can fill you up on Silver, until she inevitably succumbs to your foes.

Tunnel is also a decent deterrent - when itís revealed with another $3-$6 card, youíll naturally want to trash the other, discarding the Tunnel for a Gold.  Also beware of playing Highway (or Bridge) before a Knight when Tunnelís around, because then Tunnel automatically gets discarded, even if itís the only $3-$6 card around.  Likewise Market Square is a good deterrent ("Oh, you trashed my Silver?  Well, I'll just get three Golds to replace it.  Thanks!").  Beggar also does well, as it ensures that Knights will trash a trivial card, and gives you an extra Silver to boot.  Or you could reveal a Secret Chamber, so that your opponent just discards your top-decked Estates for you.

Any strategy that revolves around cheap cards will kick chivalric butt.  Poor House and Fool's Gold can't be trashed by Knights, and offer up insane amounts of money to recompense the loss of other cards.  And once you've gotten Provinces with them, those Provinces aren't effected either.  In a similar vein, the $7 and $8* cost cards are also immune, so don't be surprised if your opponent ignores Knights in favor of Banks or Peddlers.  Spoils, Madmen, Mercenaries and Prizes are also handily resistant to the Knights' Attack.

Works well with:
Highway (Bridge)

Conflicts with:
Highway (Bridge)
against junking Attacks
against discard Attacks
against Fortress
against Silver floods
against most Reaction cards
against expensive or cheap strategies

I'm pretty sure the best ones are going to be whichever ones go with whatever's on the board. If there's no trashing on the board, then the trashing knight is amazing. If there aren't any villages, Dame Molly's a clear winner; but if Fishing Village is on the board, then Dame Molly is probably the worst of all of them. And so on. I think Sir Bailey is the only one that works well on pretty much any board. Maybe he's the best.

The gainer knight isn't so bad if there's a spammable $3. In a money game, that's silver. In an engine game, that's Village or Hamlet or Sage or Scheme or Wishing Well or something like that. In an engine game without spammable $3-cost components yeah, that knight sucks.

I's rare that an engine really does have *everything* it needs in ample supply, usually at least something is missing or difficult to get (or at least costs $5 and thus conflicts with getting knights). And that'll determine which knights are best, usually.

Okay counters to knights are also gainers like ironworks, horn of plenty, etc. If you just gain back stuff that knights trash, that's just as good as playing knights yourself - if piles don't run out. It's risky.

Also stuff that costs $7 or more is good vs knights - platinum especially. In a colony game, your plats are safe, and duchies don't matter.

I think other things besides Fortress that have on-trash benefits are good as counters too. If a knight trashes a cultist, you lost a cultist true, but you start your turn with an 8-card hand - that's almost as good as having played a tactician! (And generally, the 'cost' of playing a tactician is losing a turn, here you lose a 5-cost card instead, about the same value as a mid-game turn). Catacombs being trashed lets you get another card instead (so its' as if it got saboteured instead of knighted). With Market Square you can regain golds in exchange for whatever knights trash. OK, hunting grounds sucks, not that. But in general cards with on-trash benefits.

Is it really true that if knights are out, you have to buy all of them? I doubt BM+Knights is all that great? Or is it? I'd usually aim for a smaller number to play regularly, re-buying if they get destroyed. If the opponent spends time buying up lots of knights, then they probably don't have an engine going because they're buying knights instead of engine components.

If you just aim to buy all the knights, I think you'll lose to someone who spends more time on their engine, and picks and chooses to buy just the knights that fit best with the engine (because you're buying whichever one is on top and just leaving them a choice). I think if Dame Josephine is the top knight I'd never buy that one, I'd wait 'till my opponent got her and buy whatever's next.

"Buy all of them" seems like generally bad advice to me.  That's 8 terminals, 1 cantrip and a village.  Many of their benefits are not so great in a terminal-filled deck -- Anna will run out of things to trash, Destry is terminal draw (again, bad with a terminal-filled deck).  Many others have benefits that aren't really benefits in a deck (Natalie is just VP, Martin is only useful if you can make use of the buys, Michael only further attacks and Vander is only good when trashed).

The "buy all of them" mentality might be something that players fall into due to groupthink.  In that case, multiple knights trash each other so your deck is not left chock full of terminals.  I think you only want lots of them if the board has a strong engine to play multiples of them every turn, in which case letting the opponent get them all actually might mean that your deck gets totally killed.

As for the categories, I think most should be in the "board dependent" category.

Michael isn't "always good" -- there may be other, better discard attacks on the board, and even if there aren't, discard attacks don't always hurt a lot.

I would say that Molly is not "especially useful when she's the only Village".  The problem is that, if she is the only village, you are far less likely to build an engine that relies on +action.  Therefore Molly herself is less useful as a village.  I think she is often good, but not always.  A single disappearing village isn't always useful.  It can be nice to have, but remember -- that's just a Necropolis.  It is OK, but not "load up on 8 terminals" OK.

And Bailey doesn't even provide a real bonus, he's just a cantrip.  That means he never hurts, but he's not necessarily good. :P

I agree that Dame Sylvia is usually good. :)

Dame Natalie  -- gaining Silvers is great ESPECIALLY when your deck is getting destroyed.  If your opponent's Knights are trashing Silver, they aren't trashing your better cards!  You do mention this a bit in the "counters" section.  Overall her ability is not amazing, but it's not "forgetable" either!

For the "what goes well" section -- no mention of King's Court?  But most things go well with KC. :P

I might also mention Graverobber and Rogue.  Those two cards are great when there is good stuff in the trash, and Knights can make that happen.

For counters, I think Fool's Gold is a great one.  They can't be trashed by Knights and they are a viable way to get to Provinces which also cannot be trashed by Knights (without cost reducers).


--- Quote from: ftl on February 13, 2013, 10:39:19 pm --- I think if Dame Josephine is the top knight I'd never buy that one, I'd wait 'till my opponent got her and buy whatever's next.

--- End quote ---

Well, if I had $5 and Hovel in hand I might.

Someone already pointed out that cards with cost P ignore Knight attacks and are good counters.

It would be a good idea to discuss if it is worth buying the Knight on top of the pile even if it is the bonus that you don't want. In general I think that one should look at Knights as a $3-$6 trashing attack, and the extra bonus is just icing on the cake. It shouldn't usually be a reason to buy a Knight when you wouldn't want one otherwise.


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