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The Virtues of Living in a Small Apartment

In Empires, the tenth and latest expansion to the game Dominion (one of my favorite games), there is a Landmark called Wall that changes the rules of the game to penalize every player by a point for every extra card in their deck beyond the 15th.

Wall

If you’ve played Dominion before, you probably recognize that this makes any cards that trash cards from your deck super valuable, like Chapel:

Chapel

And people wonder why religious conservatives support Trump… ­čśŤ

Chapel is already widely considered the strongest card in the game for its cost, because trashing the relatively bad initial cards can dramatically increase the average value of your deck. But with Wall, it becomes even more important to cut down on the low-value cards, since they actually start hurting you.

There are other types of trashing cards that give you some sort of benefit depending on what you trash. A classic from the Seaside expansion is Salvager:

Salvager

Salvager isn’t quite as powerful as Chapel when playing with Wall, but it does let you keep your deck lean as you keep improving┬ácards. These so-called “trash-for-benefit” cards tend to make it even more reasonable to exchange your best non-victory cards in the late game, since this way, you get some added value out of them, and with Wall, an extra point from not having them in your deck anymore.

Events, another new innovation from the last two Dominion expansions, also allow you to improve your deck in some way without adding cards, which is more valuable when playing with Wall. If there aren’t any Events or trashers, though, playing Wall becomes especially interesting. Every player who doesn’t sit on their hands will be losing points to it, but it’s still not enough to offset those 6-point Provinces or 3-point Duchies, so perhaps your strategies might look similar on the surface.

With Wall, though, you are forced to consider tradeoffs in a different way: maybe it isn’t worth the 1-point loss to buy anything if you only have $3 or $4, even as early as the mid-game. Estates (which only give 1 point) are now completely useless, so you might as well ignore them. In other words, your standards for what is worth buying go up, as your calculation is no longer about whether a card would improve your deck, but whether it would improve your deck by enough.

Why do I bring up the strategy around this one particular card in Dominion? Well, I’ve realized that living in a relatively small apartment has very much the same feel, and we’ve found ourselves adapting all of these strategies from time to time. Yes, this is another post where I derive life lessons from a board game.

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