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Status as of May 2016: I won't be updating this FAQ anymore, since I improved and expanded it into a document called Complete Rules for Dominion and All Its Expansions, which is now more complete. Anyone else can edit this FAQ of course.
This FAQ lays out all the rules of Dominion pertaining to all released expansions including Adventures. The rules are stated very concisely and the effort has been to include everything – also rules that are implied but not explicitly stated in the official rules – so that any rules question is answered. However, reading the actual official rule books first is probably still a good idea. Also check out the Dominion FAQ for quick answers to common questions, general information about the game and expansions, and strategy questions.
Official rulings given by the designer Donald X. Vaccarino in forums on BGG and dominionstrategy.com are also included here. There are links to posts by Donald; some of these are just examples and explanations, others are rulings that aren't mentioned in the rule books.
Table of Contents
1. Reading a card
A card's name (e.g. Copper, Duchy, Village) is written on the top of the card. "Differently named cards" means cards with different names. "Naming a card" also refers to this name. "Duplicate cards" are cards with the same name, and a "copy of a card" is a card with the same name. The Knight and Ruins piles are special in that the piles contain differently named cards.
An Event's name is also written on the top of the card.
A card's cost is in the lower left corner. Cards (such as Bridge and Highway) can cause a card to have another cost than the printed cost at periods during the game.
An Event's cost is in the upper left corner.
A card's types (e.g. Action, Treasure, Victory) are written on the bottom of the card. As an example, an Action card is a card that has the type "Action", regardless of whether that card also has other types.
Note: A card with several types has a frame of mixed color. However, Actions that are also another type are usually only the color of the other type. The exception is Action-Victory and Action-Shelter, to make it clear that these cards can be played as Actions.
Text and symbols in the middle of the card are the card's abilities, which usually come into effect when the card is played. See 16. Terms used on cards and 9. Card abilities.
Treasure cards have their coin worth (e.g. ) in the middle of the card (although not those from the Base Cards expansion), and also in both upper corners. Victory and Curse cards have their victory point worth (e.g. 6 ) in the middle of the card (but those from the Base Cards expansion have it in the lower right corner instead).
Events also have their abilities in the middle of the card, below the picture. These come into effect when the Event is bought. See 18.4 Events
Each player starts with a deck of 7 Coppers and 3 Estates.
Place separate piles of these cards face-up on the table:
If playing with two players, use 8 cards instead of 12 in all Victory piles.
Some cards have special set-up rules (Black Market, Trade Route, Young Witch, Knight, Rats, Baker, Port). These are written on the cards, or in their own section below (under 21. Clarifications and errata).
The players shuffle their deck and place it face-down, and draw 5 cards from it as their opening hand.
3. Your turn
You start your turn with 1 Action and 1 Buy. This means you can play one Action card in the Action Phase, and buy one card in the Buy phase. Your turn consists of the Action phase, the Buy phase and the Clean-up phase.
A – Action phase
You may play an Action card from your hand. Follow the instructions on the card. See 8. Playing a card.
After you have fully resolved an Action card, you may play another Action card, but only if you have an unused Action remaining. (Some cards give more Actions.)
B – Buy phase
First, you may play as many Treasure cards as you like from your hand, in any order. For each card, follow the instructions on the card. Treasures produce coins, but may also do other things. See 8. Playing a card.
After you have played your Treasure cards, you may buy a card by using (paying) any of the coins you have produced this turn. The card can cost no more than the unused coins you have left, but may cost less. A card costing 0 coins can be bought even when you have no coins.
You may only buy a card that is available in the Supply (see 4). You then gain it*, see 12. Gaining a card.
(*More accurately, you gain the copy of it which is currently on top of the Supply pile. See also Talisman under 21. Clarifications and errata.)
If you have more Buys, you may buy more cards, for the unused coins you have left. (Some cards give more Buys.)
Also see 18.2 Coin tokens, 18.3 Overpaying and 18.4 Events.
C – Clean-up phase
Discard all the cards in your play area and all the cards left in your hand. Discard these cards in any order, but when you discard your hand, discard it all at once (link). The order in which you discard the cards in your play area can matter for abilities (see 9.1) that trigger on discard. See 13. Discarding cards.
Then draw a new hand of 5 cards from your deck. See 14. Moving cards from your deck.
If other players have cards in their play area in your Clean-up phase, they are discarded now too. See Duplicate in the Adventures rule book. (Duration cards are of course only discarded if their effects have been resolved, see 17. Duration cards.)
The Black Market deck is not in the Supply. Prizes, Spoils, Madman and Mercenary are not in the Supply. The cards that Travellers can be upgraded into are not in the Supply. Shelters are not in the Supply. Events are not in the Supply. Young Witch's Bane card is an 11th Kingdom card and so is in the Supply.
5. Play area/"in play"
The play area is the place on the table in front of you where you place your played card. Your deck, your discard pile, your hand, set-aside cards and your Tavern mat are not in your play area. Cards in your play area are in play until they are moved from there, usually when discarded during Clean-up.
6. Open information
Open information to all players: The number of cards in your hand, the top card in your discard pile, the number of cards in all Supply piles, the cards in Trash. Also the cards you have set aside face-up and on your Tavern mat, the number of cards you have set aside face-down, and your tokens and Coin tokens.
Open information to you only: The cards in your hand, the cards you have set aside face-down, the number of cards in your deck (not in your discard). If a card ability lets you count your discard pile, you're allowed to look through it.
7. Game end
The game ends at the end of a player's turn if either the pile of Provinces is empty, the pile of Colonies is empty (if playing with Colonies) or any 3 Supply piles are empty (4 Supply piles in a 5-6 player game). Any extra turns (e.g. from Possession, Outpost or Mission) after this one are not played.
Your discard pile, your hand, any cards you have in play (such as Durations), and any cards you've set aside (link), are put in your deck before counting victory points. Cards on your Tavern mat also count as being in your Deck. Add the tokens on your player mat. If several players are tied for victory points, the tied player who had the fewest turns wins. Any extra turns during the game are not counted.
8. Playing a card (Action or Treasure)
Certain cards (like Golem, Throne Room and Venture) let you play other cards. Playing these other cards are then part of resolving the first card. These cards should also be placed in the play area when played, if possible (see 20. The "lose track" rule).
9. Card abilities
9.1 Different abilities, and the dividing line
A card's ability is the set of instructions (or effects) that are triggered when you play the card. Some abilities on certain cards aren't triggered when you play it; these are always found beneath a dividing line (link, link). The ability above the line is triggered when you play the card, the other ability is triggered at other times. For instance, Reaction cards have an ability that only apply to reacting with the card, see 11. Reaction cards. Other examples: Alchemist lets you do something when you discard it from play. Embargo says what happens when a player buys a card from a certain Supply pile. Goons has an ability that triggers when the card is in play and you buy a card. (Harem is missing the dividing line for aesthetic reasons.) See also 19. Timing rules.
9.2 Playing a card multiple times
Throne Room, King's Court, Procession, Counterfeit, Royal Carriage and Disciple let you play a card multiple times. Only the ability that's triggered when you play the card (i.e. above the dividing line), is triggered multiple times.
9.3 Setting up a later ability
Some cards, when you play them, set up an ability to trigger later (like Scheme, Possession and Duration cards). When played with Throne Room, King's Court, Procession, Royal Carriage or Disciple they set up that ability multiple times (link). (The German versions of Duration cards have a dividing line between the immediate ability and the next turn ability, which is strictly wrong, since these effects are set up when you play the card; link)
10. Resolving card abilities
10.1 Effects are immediate
Effects that produce things like Actions, Buys and coins (see 16. Terms used on cards), do this immediately when they are resolved, and the amount produced doesn't change if the card is subsequently moved somewhere else (like to the Trash or to discard) or other conditions are changed. The same goes for effects that do something based on certain conditions (e.g. playing a City, which lets you draw a number of cards), and effects that set up later abilities (see 9.3).
10.2 Do as much as you can
You may trigger an ability (such as playing a card) even though you're not able to carry out all the instructions. Likewise, if there's a choice between several options, you can pick any option, even one you're not able to carry out fully. But when the ability is giving you a non-optional instruction, you must do as much of it as you can. (For instance, draw as many cards as you can even though you can't draw the full amount instructed to; or gain the cards you can even though you can't gain all the cards instructed to). See also 12. Gaining a card, second paragraph.
10.3 Effects contingent on other effects
Effects contingent on other effects don't happen if you didn't do the first effect. For instance, if you're not able to trash two cards with Trading Post, you don't get a Silver, because the instruction says "if you do". Feast's second instruction, on the other hand, is not contingent on the first. So even if you can't trash Feast (because it's already trashed), you gain a card.
If an effect refers to a card that isn't defined, then that effect can't be carried out. For instance, if you're not able to trash a card with Remodel or Upgrade, then you can't gain a card. A "gained card" that wasn't gained after all (due to a when-would-gain ability like Trader's or Possession's, see 19.2), is similarly not defined (link, link, link).
10.4 Abilities are cumulative
If multiple cards with the same while-in-play ability are in play, the abilities are cumulative. For instance, if two Hoards are in play and you buy a Victory card, you gain two Golds. (But see 9.2).
10.5 Atomicity of abilities
Once an ability is triggered, resolve all its effects, even if the condition that triggered the ability changes in the meantime, see 19.5 Resolving several concurrent abilities.
This also applies if the card changes, as in a Band of Misfits that leaves play or an Inherited (with Inheritance) Estate that stops being yours: Trashing a Band of Misfits being another card will trigger the when-trash ability of the other card (link), the same applies to discarding it and when-discard abilities; trashing an Inherited Estate will trigger the when-trash ability of the card with the Estate token (link); playing a Band of Misfits as another card will resolve the rest of the play ability even if it reverts to being just Band of Misfists in the middle (link); playing an Inherited Estate as e.g. Feast will similarly resolve all of Feast's ability. However, Transmute looks at the type of the Estate when it's no longer yours (link), and Procession looks at the cost of the Band of Misfits when it's no longer the card you chose (Dark Ages rule book).
An effect can't be carried out if it refers to a card that isn't defined (see 10.3 Effects contingent on other effects), and a card can't be moved if it's not where it's expected to be (see 20. The "lose track" rule).
If the resolution of an ability triggers another ability, resolve this other ability before continuing. (An example is found in the Dark Ages rule book regarding trashing, p. 5.) But if two abilities are triggered at the same time, they each must be resolved separately.
11. Reaction cards
11.1 The Reaction ability
Reaction cards have an ability that you may resolve if certain conditions are met, as described on the card. You can react with a Reaction card even when it's not your turn. Resolving the Reaction ability does not count as playing the card. See also 10. Resolving card abilities.
Some Reaction cards are also Action cards. The Action ability is triggered when playing the card as normal, and is separate from the Reaction ability.
11.2 Revealing Reactions
The Reaction ability is most often resolved by revealing the card. See 15. Revealing or looking at cards. For Reactions to other players playing a card, such as an Attack card, see 19.3 When a player plays a card, and also 19.8 – Steps of playing a card. You can resolve a Reaction when another player plays an Attack card, even if the card doesn't affect you (such as a Minion that doesn't cause you to discard or a Pirate Ship that is just used for +coins).
11.3 Resolving Reactions and timing
Most Reaction abilities first have an optional effect which you do in order to resolve the rest of the ability. This can be revealing it, setting it aside, trashing it or discarding it. This effect is part of resolving it, so you immediately resolve the rest of its ability. Multiple Reactions (and also other abilities) can trigger at the same time. See 19.4 Timing of several concurrent abilities and 19.5 Resolving several concurrent abilities. This means that when a Witch is played, the first player resolves his Reactions (including e.g. revealing them), then the next player, etc. It also means you can reveal Secret Chamber and draw a Moat, and after completely resolving Secret Chamber, reveal the Moat (link).
11.4 A Reaction in your hand can be resolved several times
As long as something allows you to resolve (e.g. by revealing) a Reaction card in your hand, you can do so even if you already resolved that card for the same thing (link, link, link). Each time is treated as a separate ability. See 19.4 Timing of several concurrent abilities.
12. Gaining a card
When you gain a card, it's always taken from the Supply and placed face-up in your discard pile, unless an instruction specifically tells you to gain it from somewhere else than Supply and/or place it somewhere else than your discard (link, link).
When instructed to gain an non-specified card, you must choose an available card in the Supply (see 4). For instance when instructed to gain a card costing up to (3 coins), you must choose an available card as long as there is one of that cost (0 to 3 coins). However, when instructed to gain a card out of a specified set of cards (Smugglers), you may choose to gain a card that's impossible to gain (link).
When gaining from a pile of differently named cards (Knight, Ruins) only the top card can be gained. (So you can't gain a copy of a card, e.g. with Talisman or Ambassador, if that card isn't currently on the top of the pile.) After gaining it, turn the new top card face-up.
When gaining from the Trash, all players can see the gained card.
Buying a card results in gaining it. In this case, gaining happens after buying (link).
12.1 Returning a card to Supply
Only a card that has a Supply pile (even if empty; see 4) can be returned to Supply. When returning to a pile of differently named cards (Knight, Ruins), first turn the current top card face-down, then return the card to the top, face-up.
13. Discarding cards
Discard cards by placing them face-up in your discard pile. When discarding several cards at once, you don't need to show the cards to the other players. You can put these cards in any order when you discard them, but they are discarded all at once, before resolving any triggered abilities (this matters for cards like Tunnel, link). You need to show how many cards you are discarding if an instruction on a card is contingent on this number.
See also 3. Your turn – C – Clean-up phase.
14. Moving cards from your deck
When you draw cards from your deck, each card is added to your hand as you draw it, and you may look at it (link).
The following applies to drawing, revealing, looking at, trashing, setting aside or discarding cards from your deck:
15. Revealing or looking at cards
When you reveal cards, you show them to all players and then return them to where they came from. When you look at cards, you look at them without showing them to the other players.
This does not count as the cards moving anywhere; the cards are still in the same place when you're revealing/looking at them (link). (So for instance, cards revealed from your hand don't leave your hand.)
However, when resolving an instruction to reveal or look at cards from your deck, they are set aside (face-down if you're looking at cards) until you've finished revealing/looking at all the cards (link). You then return them to where they came from (unless instructed otherwise). See 14. Moving cards from your deck.
16. Terms used on cards
"Reveal", "Look at" – See 15. Revealing or looking at cards.
"Set aside" – When setting aside a card, place it face-up on the table outside of your play area (unless instructed otherwise). This card is not in play (see 5).
"Discard" – Unless otherwise specified, cards are discarded from your hand. See 13. Discarding cards.
"Trash" – When trashing a card, place it face-up in the Trash pile. When one instruction tells you to trash several cards, they are trashed all at once, before resolving any triggered abilities. See 19.4 Timing of several concurrent abilities.
"Gain" – See 12. Gaining a card.
"Return to Supply" – See 12.1 Returning a card to Supply.
"+2 Actions" (example) – You get 2 more available Actions this turn. These Actions may be used to play more Action cards, after you have fully resolved the current Action card.
"+2 Cards" or "draw 2 cards" (example) – You immediately draw 2 cards from your deck. See 14. Moving cards from your deck.
"+" (or on Treasure cards: "" or "worth ") (example) – 3 coins are produced. These can be used in the Buy phase.
"+1 Buy" (example) – A Buy is produced. This can be used in the Buy phase to buy an additional card.
"+1 " (example) – You get 1 (victory point) token, which you put on your player mat.
"Pass" – You pass a card to another player by giving it to him face-down so that no other players can see it. This card is not considered to be trashed, discarded or gained.
"Cards cost 2 coins less" (example) – This applies to all cards in the game (Supply, all players' cards, Trash, etc). It does not apply to Events.
"Exchange" – You exchange a Traveller card by returning it and taking the new card (the card you exchange the Traveller for), putting it in your Discard. You can only exchange if you're able to both return the Traveller card to its proper pile (not the Black Market deck, link) and take the new card from its proper pile (link). This is not considered as gaining a card. Also see the entry on Band of Misfits and Inheritance below.
"Call" – You call a Reserve card by moving it from your Tavern mat to your play area. This is not playing it. You can only call it if it's on your Tavern mat. Also see 19.5 Resolving several concurrent abilities.
"Any number", or "Up to x" – This includes zero (link).
17. Duration cards (from Seaside and Adventures)
17.1 Setting up later effects
When you play a Duration card, it sets up effects to trigger later, usually after your current turn. See 9.3 Setting up a later ability. When you get to the Clean-up phase, leave the card in play instead of discarding it if the effects haven't been resolved yet at that point (link). Usually a Duration will be discarded in the Clean-up of your next turn.
17.2 Playing a Duration card multiple times
If you use a card to play a Duration multiple times, leave the other card in play with the Duration. As of now this pertains to Throne Room, King's Court, Procession, Royal Carriage and Disciple. Only cards that directly played a Duration stay in play. For instance if you play a Throne Room on a Throne Room, and play that Throne Room on a Duration and then on another Duration, only the second Throne Room stays in play since that was the card that directly played the two Durations. (link, link)
The card, e.g. Throne Room, stays in play as long as it caused the Duration to set up a future ability an extra time this turn, even if it wasn't the Throne Room that caused it the first time. This is always the case when Royal Carriage plays a Duration. Also see the entry on Band of Misfits below. If you use Throne Room to play a Gear or a Haven, only leave the Throne Room in play if you set aside cards both times.
17.3 When do you discard a Duration?
Durations set up an ability to trigger after your current turn. By previous rules, a Throne Room that didn't cause a Duration to set up a future ability several times (such as a Gear where you only set aside cards once), didn't stay in play. But by current rules, a Throne Room always stays in play as long as the Duration does. This changes a description in the 1st-edition Dark Ages rule book about Procession played on a Duration: The Procession doesn't stay in play.
The following only applies to the old rules and the 1st edition of Outpost: If you play a Throne Room on an Outpost, or play two Outposts, leave both cards in play, since both plays cause you to draw only 3 cards in Clean-up (and drawing a new hand comes after discarding, so Outpost effects aren't resolved yet), and furthermore you're given an extra turn both times. (The number of consecutive turns is only checked when the extra turn ability is resolved.) (link, link, link.)
The following only applies to the 1st edition of Outpost: In rare cases a Duration is first done resolving in another player's Clean-up phase, so you discard it then. (This is similar to how Duplicate can be discarded in another player's Clean-up, see the Adventures rule book.) If you play two Outposts, one is discarded in the Clean-up of your extra turn, and the other is discarded in the following Clean-up, which is that of the next player. If you play Throne Room and Outpost, both stay in play until the next player's Clean-up (link).
18. Potions, Coin tokens, overpaying, Events and player tokens
18.1 Potions (from Alchemy)
When you play a Potion, it produces a (instead of coins, like other Treasures do). A is used in the Buy phase to buy a card with in its cost.
A cost of just is equivalent to zero coins and 1 . A cost of for instance is equivalent to 3 coins and zero . So "up to " means a cost where the number of coins is no more than 3 and the number of is no more than zero.
"Costing exactly 1 coin more" means "having the same cost plus 1 coin". (This applies to e.g. Upgrade, Remake and Develop.)
18.2 Coin tokens (from Guilds)
When you get a Coin token, you put it in a pile in your play area, and keep it until you want to spend it.
Any Coin tokens can be spent in the Buy phase before buying any cards, each one giving you +1 coin. Spent Coin tokens are immediately returned to the general supply.
18.3 Overpaying (from Guilds)
When you buy a card where the cost is followed by a "+", you can overpay for it, and you will then get an effect as specified on the card. (So this is a when-buy ability (19.8).) To overpay, you must spend more than the cost of the card. The cost of the card (for any effect that refers to costs of cards) is not affected by the "+" or what you actually paid for it.
18.4 Events (from Adventures)
In your Buy phase, instead of buying a card, you can buy an Event. This does not count as buying a card, and it will not get you a card, just the immediate effect of the Event.
"Once per turn"/"Once per game" on an Event card means that you can only buy the Event once per turn/game.
18.5 Player tokens (from Adventures)
The rules for the different tokens are given on the cards or Events that let you place them or use them, except for the -1 Card token and the -1 coin token; the rules for those tokens are given on the tokens themselves.
Tokens that are placed on Supply piles, may be placed on an empty Supply pile.
When you play a card from a pile with one of your tokens, you get the bonus first, before any when-play ability of another card is triggered (link).
The -1 Card token is in effect when it's been placed on your deck. It's not removed when you reveal or look at cards from your deck, only when you would draw a card.
The -1 coin token is in effect when you've been instructed to take it. It's only removed when you actually get 1 coin or more.
19. Timing rules
See 9. Card abilities.
An ability that is triggered when something occurs (such as when you gain a card), is always resolved after that thing has occurred (so you have already gained the card when the ability is resolved).
19.2 "When would"
An ability that is triggered when something would occur (such as when you would gain a card), is resolved before that thing actually occurs (before you gain the card). Note however that this ability can only trigger if the thing would have otherwise occurred, i.e. if it would have occurred if no when-would abilities had interfered (so you cannot for instance trigger a when-would-gain ability when "trying" to gain a card that's not available in Supply; link). See also 19.8 – Steps of gaining a card.
19.3 When a player plays another card
An ability that is triggered when a player plays another card (such as an Attack card), is resolved after the card is placed in the play area, but before any of the card instructions are resolved.
19.4 Timing of several concurrent abilities
When an ability affects several players at the same time, the effect is resolved in turn order starting with the current player.
When multiple abilities trigger at the same time, first the current player resolves all his abilities, and then each player in turn does. Optional abilities (currently only including other players' Reactions) are resolved by the player who has the choice to resolve it. Other triggered abilities are resolved by the player who triggered it (link, link).
Between turns, the player who last had a turn is considered to be the current player (link).
When a player has several concurrent abilities to resolve, he chooses which to resolve first. After resolving it, he chooses witch to resolve next, etc (link).
When a Duration (see 17) was played by a card such as Throne Room, the later abilities of the two (or more) plays don't have to be resolved right after each other. Other abilities occuring at the same time can be resolved in between. (link.)
19.5 Resolving several concurrent abilities
When several abilities are triggered at the same time, resolve all of them (in a certain order, see 19.4), even if the condition that triggered an ability changes before that ability is resolved (link). See also 10.5 Atomicity of abilities.
While resolving concurrent abilities, if a condition changes so that another ability also can be triggered at this point, it will be triggered. For instance, when resolving abilities that triggered when an Attack was played, if you resolve Secret Chamber and draw a Moat (which you didn't have in your hand when starting to resolve the abilities), the Moat's Reaction ability is triggered and you may resolve it at any point between, or after, the other abilities that were triggered. Also, when resolving start-of-turn abilities, if you put a Reserve card on your Tavern mat that may be called at the start of your turn, you may call it at any point between, or after, the other abilities that were triggered at start of this turn (link).
When resolving several concurrent abilities, resolve each in full before starting the next, even if an ability itself consists of several effects. E.g. if you buy a card which has two Embargo tokens and you have a Haggler in play, Embargo's ability (gain two Curses) must be resolved in full before or after Haggler's ability (gain a card). (link) (This only applies to the 1st edition of Embargo.)
19.6 Abilities with several effects for each player
An ability like "each player does A and based on that B happens" means that each player does A and then B happens for that player, before the next player starts with A (link). (See Thief, Spy, Swindler, Saboteur, Jester, etc.) This timing usually only matters for the sake of tactical decisions.
19.7 Several instructions in one sentence
"Do A and B" means "do A, then do B". A and B are two effects that are resolved after each other. Similarly "gain A and B" means "gain A, then gain B." Examples: "Set this and another card aside" (Island), "he gains a Curse and a Copper" (Mountebank, link), "gains a Curse and discards down to 3 cards in hand" (Followers, link).
"Do X twice" or "gain two X" also means that two effects are resolved after each other. Examples: "Gain two Coppers" (Cache, link), "gain two cards" (Stone Mason), and also Remake (link), Throne Room.
Discarding several cards is done all at once (see 13), and so is trashing several cards (see 16 – "Trash").
19.8 Steps of playing, gaining and buying a card
Steps of playing a card
1. The card is announced and placed in the play area.
Steps of gaining a card
1. When-would-gain abilities are triggered.
If a when-would-gain ability cancels the gain, the process stops after step 1. This also applies if the gain is replaced with another gain – such as with Possession or Trader – in which case we start on step 1 again for the new gain. See 10.3 Effects contingent on other effects.
Steps of buying a card
1. The card is bought.
20. The "lose track" rule
This rule is found in the Dark Ages rule book. See also here for its pre-Dark Ages significance.
An ability (see 9. Card abilities) that refers to a card, always expects that card to be in a certain location. This is the case until the ability is fully resolved. If the card is moved from that location by another ability, the first ability loses track of it. An ability cannot move a card if it has lost track of it. For instance if an ability refers to a played card, it expects the card to be in play. (A card that has been played expects to find itself in play; link, link.) If an ability refers to a gained card, it expects the card to be where the gaining effect put it (link). If an ability moves a card, it subsequently expects the card to be where it moved it.
Example 1: When you play Throne Room on Mining Village, and trash the Mining Village the first time Throne Room plays it, then when Throne Room plays it the second time, the Mining Village should normally be placed in the play area (see 8). But Throne Room expects it to already be in the play area. Since it's not there, Throne Room has lost track of it and can't move it. Therefore it stays in the trash (which means it can't be trashed again when played this time).
Example 2: You Develop a card costing 4 coins into an Inn (and another card costing 3). The Inn is gained to the top of your deck, and you have a Watchtower in your hand. You can now resolve Inn's when-gain ability and Watchtower's Reaction ability in any order. If you do Inn's first, the Inn is shuffled into your deck. Watchtower has now lost track of the Inn (it's expected to be on top of your deck), so you can't reveal Watchtower to move the Inn to the top of your deck. (link)
A simpler example here.
An ability loses track of a card if it’s on top of a deck or a discard pile and gets covered up. A card that is moved from the expected location and then moved back again, is nevertheless lost track of (link).
Also see the entry on Watchtower below.
Note that a card that has been lost track of can still be played; it just can't be moved.
21. Clarifications and errata
Band of Misfits
Coin of the Realm
Horn of Plenty
Mine, Moneylender, Throne Room, Graverobber
Outpost (1st edition)
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