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Subject: Why Dominion did not deliver for me rss

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Warning: this review turned out to be some sort of hybrid between a strategy guide and a review. Having some idea what Dominion is about is a prerequisite to understanding it, so if you’re entirely new to Dominion, please go read another review that explains the principles of the game first.

I’ve always loved card games. I used to play tons of Magic, I’m a big fan of Race for the Galaxy, and reading up on Dominion I was soon convinced that there was a good chance I was going to love it to bits.

However, it turns out I was wrong. I did like it a lot the first 10 plays. Then my fervor peaked, and slowly started dying. By the 30 play threshold I would no longer suggest it, though I’ll willingly play if my wife suggests it. That may seem like a lot of plays, but given the weight/length of a game of Dominion, it really isn’t.

Where’s the meat?

My biggest beef with Dominion - excuse the pun - is the lack of substance. The most important decision you’re going to make during a game of Dominion is taken before the first turn: which of the available Kingdom cards am I going to play? Once you’ve worked that out -and once you’re more familiar with the cards, that won’t take long – there aren’t really that many meaningful decisions to be taken. Each hand kind of plays itself until the game is over.

The first ten games were fun because I was still getting to know the cards, and figuring out relative strengths and interactions. Once every card was used a couple times, for me the game was no longer very interesting.

King for a day...

Let me elaborate on that. First one needs to understand what Dominion is about at its core, and that is cramming Victory cards in your deck the value of which is higher than that of your opponents’ Victory cards. That is all: it’s not about chaining actions, it’s not about getting multiple buys, it’s not about drawing your entire deck every turn (though that does help accomplish your goal). In order to get those Victory cards in your deck in the most efficient way, you need to draw a hand worth 8 coin as many turns as possible, as fast as possible. That’s what you’re trying to do.

Once I reached this conclusion, I re-evaluated the Kingdom cards, which was a sobering experience: many Kingdom cards are in my opinion simply not worth buying. Arguably, you could simply get silver and gold and not bother with any Kingdom cards. Though a carefully selected Kingdom card or two will certainly enhance this ‘strategy’, this will probably be a better approach than going nuts with Kingdom cards. More often than not, people doing this will end up having not enough coin to get sufficient Victory points to win the game.

So which cards are worthwhile, and which are usually a waste of time?

To determine that, I use the Silver benchmark. Basically, I’m asking myself whether a given card is more worthwhile than a Silver. Why Silver, you ask? Because, if I have 6 or 7 coin to spend, I will almost always buy a Gold (excepting the occasional Adventurer or a Duchy if the game is almost over). If I have 8 or more, I will ALWAYS buy a province. Anything less than 6? Any card purchased must be better than a silver. This is a test which, once you start thinking about it, not many cards will pass any given time. Usually, just getting the Silver is the optimal play.

So which cards pass the Silver test, as far as I’m concerned?

Basically, the cards that either improve my deck or increase my buying power and are better than a Silver most of the times I draw them.

Improving the deck usually means thinning it down so the good stuff comes around faster, and is a very powerful way to win. The following cards pass my Silver test regularly: Chapel, Remodel, Moneylender (in order of power). Note that the Mine seems to work similarly, but in my experience it’s too slow to be worth the trouble.

Sidenote: the Witch can also be good because it does the next best thing, which is polluting your opponents’ decks. It is pretty expensive, but if there’s going to be a Cursing contest, you might as well get most of those Curses in someone else’s deck.

Increasing buying power better than a Silver does is not that easy as it sounds: cards such as the Woodcutter, Chancellor, Militia, Market and even Festival are often not as good a buy as a Silver. This is because they don’t give more buying power than a Silver, so basically you just take the burden of having to spend an action to get your 2 coin, in order to get any additional advantage the card happens to offer – which many times you won’t be able to use. My advice? Resist temptation: just get a Silver; unless you really really need the added bonus.

Another way to increase your buying power is by getting more cards. There are a number of cards that allow you to draw cards, but you should be careful with these as you only have 1 action to spend. For example, playing Smithy, then drawing a combination of Victory and Kingdom cards (whichever they are) is a waste of time. Buying one Kingdom card that doesn’t give actions is fine, as long as it passes the Silver test. Buying more is dangerous. You could also buy cards that grant you additional actions, but this is a dangerous course as you’re spending a lot of time for a potentially unstable deck.

Which card-drawing cards pass my Silver test regularly? Library, Smithy, Council Room, Cellar. In specific circumstances, I might use the Laboratory though I found 2 extra cards is not really enough.

Wrap-up

The conclusion is that I will always be looking for the same cards to come up, and disregard the rest. I could divert from this, but I’d just feel like I was playing sub-optimally just for the sake of doing so, which kinda goes against the grain for me. I am convinced that you don’t need more than 3 Kingdom cards to end up with a winning deck – though I regularly go over this number. All this I found disappointing.

I hope this will turn out an interesting read offering a different perspective to someone out there. It would be nice if this turned into an interesting discussion, so feel free to comment; but please, keep it courteous.
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G. Gambill
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How have you found the remodel useful? I have long since disregarded this card as relatively worthless. Otherwise, a very good review that raises some valid points. I too have come to many of the conclusions you have, but my wife ADORES the game, and I'm always willing to play I find it light, fun, and just engaging enough to always be a good time (with the mix of cards), though not my first choice.

My friend is a big Magic fan as well, and this game fell flat for him. I sometimes wonder if that is the common thread in the people who find the game disappointing. I didn't have that game to compare this to, so my expectations were different. I looked at it as a light, fun, filler. It seems to me that from the two big Magic fans I have spoken with, their expectations were so HIGH for this game, that it just set them up, maybe, for disappointment. Do you think there may be something to this?
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Julie Taylor
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An interesting read indeed. I'm glad that I'm slightly more simple-minded than you because I'm still enjoying it 60 plays in. My question is, have you tried it on BSW? That's where I do the bulk of mine (although we do have the physical game as well) and I'm often surprised by the creativity involved in how different people use those Kingdom cards. A lot of them I never would have seen the value in if others hadn't shown me with a good ass-kickin'. It seems to me that it's the different combinations of how the cards work together that make it interesting.

I do look forward to trying your silver test. If you're right I'll curse you for ruining a good game for me...-1 to you
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James Casey
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I've not played as much as you (maybe 20 odd games now?), so I might end up where you are soon, I'm not sure. I like the "Silver test", I think I subconsciously apply it, though in every game you should buy *some* actions, otherwise the action phase of your turn goes to waste. Also, the presence of a card like the Thief can muddy the test, since the money from cards like the Workshop or Woodcutter are Thief-proof, whereas a Silver might well end up benefiting another player.

I do think your post makes it seem like you are in the "multi-player solitaire" camp, with the idea that you just pick your strategy and let the game play itself out. If your play group all subscribes to that theory, I think it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; you all set your engines running to get to 8 coins, and whoever gets there first wins.

However, I've had a number of games where getting to 8 coins is never going to happen on a consistent basis, and the game is won by the person who realises this first, gets ahead on VP then empties the shortest piles to end the game. I had one particularly memorable game that came down to a race between the traditional "get to 8 coins" strategy, and another player who had panicked the rest of the table into clearing the Estates and Duchies. I think I lost on the turn before I had just scraped 8 coins to buy one more Province which would have won me the game.

Certainly I have had some humdrum games which kind of go by the book, but since a game doesn't take that long, its forgotten by the time you are into the next game. I suspect that after too long though, even the "different" games like the "race" I described might become familiar. But hopefully the expansion will be out by then
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ggambill wrote:
How have you found the remodel useful? I have long since disregarded this card as relatively worthless. Otherwise, a very good review that raises some valid points. I too have come to many of the conclusions you have, but my wife ADORES the game, and I'm always willing to play I find it light, fun, and just engaging enough to always be a good time (with the mix of cards), though not my first choice.

My friend is a big Magic fan as well, and this game fell flat for him. I sometimes wonder if that is the common thread in the people who find the game disappointing. I didn't have that game to compare this to, so my expectations were different. I looked at it as a light, fun, filler. It seems to me that from the two big Magic fans I have spoken with, their expectations were so HIGH for this game, that it just set them up, maybe, for disappointment. Do you think there may be something to this?


High expectations can definitely ruin a game, but in this case it's more the 'lightness' that keeps me from replaying it than anything else. It's just a bit too fluffy to my tastes, I need some meat to keep me occupied.

About Remodel, I think it can be very useful. You can change practically anything into more Remodels - prime targets are Estates early game, turning junk into useful cards. Remodels themselves can be turned into Gold. Gold can be turned into Provinces. And finally, Provinces can be turned into other Provinces - a particularly evil trick.

1Wif wrote:
An interesting read indeed. I'm glad that I'm slightly more simple-minded than you because I'm still enjoying it 60 plays in. My question is, have you tried it on BSW? That's where I do the bulk of mine (although we do have the physical game as well) and I'm often surprised by the creativity involved in how different people use those Kingdom cards. A lot of them I never would have seen the value in if others hadn't shown me with a good ass-kickin'. It seems to me that it's the different combinations of how the cards work together that make it interesting.

I do look forward to trying your silver test. If you're right I'll curse you for ruining a good game for me...-1 to you


I have not tried BSW yet, but I hear it's pretty good - which I can imagine, not having to shuffle will make the games fly by. I don't think this article has the power to ruin your enjoyment for Dominion, but on the off-chance it does, let me know and I'll take it down to prevent hurting any more innocent passers-by! *Chapels out the Curse card and a bunch of Estates & Coppers*
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Stormparkiet wrote:
I am convinced that you don’t need more than 3 Kingdom cards to end up with a winning deck though I regularly go over this number. All this I found disappointing.


I just got Dominion and have played it only 20 times or so (2-player), but I came to the similar conclusion. At first, when we played we were all about the combos. Over time, we realized that the combos eventually needed to result in treasure. Slowly, our decks changed to eventually containing only 3-5 Kingdom cards, and our buying strategy was similar to the "silver test" described in the original post. It may be that this was the result of the assortment of Kingdom cards or the mindset of the players. No doubt I will continue to play, testing this theory.
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waferthinninja wrote:
I've not played as much as you (maybe 20 odd games now?), so I might end up where you are soon, I'm not sure. I like the "Silver test", I think I subconsciously apply it, though in every game you should buy *some* actions, otherwise the action phase of your turn goes to waste. Also, the presence of a card like the Thief can muddy the test, since the money from cards like the Workshop or Woodcutter are Thief-proof, whereas a Silver might well end up benefiting another player.


Some interesting points you make. I don't really agree that you should always buy something. Sometimes the best play is no buy at all. I never buy Coppers.

Quote:
I do think your post makes it seem like you are in the "multi-player solitaire" camp, with the idea that you just pick your strategy and let the game play itself out. If your play group all subscribes to that theory, I think it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; you all set your engines running to get to 8 coins, and whoever gets there first wins.

However, I've had a number of games where getting to 8 coins is never going to happen on a consistent basis, and the game is won by the person who realises this first, gets ahead on VP then empties the shortest piles to end the game. I had one particularly memorable game that came down to a race between the traditional "get to 8 coins" strategy, and another player who had panicked the rest of the table into clearing the Estates and Duchies. I think I lost on the turn before I had just scraped 8 coins to buy one more Province which would have won me the game.

Certainly I have had some humdrum games which kind of go by the book, but since a game doesn't take that long, its forgotten by the time you are into the next game. I suspect that after too long though, even the "different" games like the "race" I described might become familiar. But hopefully the expansion will be out by then


You remind me of an important piece of information I forgot to mention: the bulk of my games were 2-player, so my comments may have less merit in the context of a 3 or 4-player game. Certainly, the 'race' effect you mention will be less important in a 2-player I think, excepting the occasional cursing contest.

And without this effect, Provinces are vastly superior to Estates and Duchies as they are worth more points and - more importantly - clog your deck less.

Thanks for your comments!
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James Casey
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Stormparkiet wrote:
waferthinninja wrote:
I've not played as much as you (maybe 20 odd games now?), so I might end up where you are soon, I'm not sure. I like the "Silver test", I think I subconsciously apply it, though in every game you should buy *some* actions, otherwise the action phase of your turn goes to waste. Also, the presence of a card like the Thief can muddy the test, since the money from cards like the Workshop or Woodcutter are Thief-proof, whereas a Silver might well end up benefiting another player.


Some interesting points you make. I don't really agree that you should always buy something. Sometimes the best play is no buy at all. I never buy Coppers.


No, nor do I. I think you misread - you should always buy some *actions*. Its okay for the Buy to go to waste - as you say between a Copper or Nothing, Nothing is usually the more appealing option!
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John Brier
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Stormparkiet wrote:
First one needs to understand what Dominion is about at its core, and that is cramming Victory cards in your deck the value of which is higher than that of your opponents’ Victory cards. That is all: it’s not about chaining actions, it’s not about getting multiple buys, it’s not about drawing your entire deck every turn (though that does help accomplish your goal). In order to get those Victory cards in your deck in the most efficient way, you need to draw a hand worth 8 coin as many turns as possible, as fast as possible. That’s what you’re trying to do.


agreed

Quote:
Once I reached this conclusion, I re-evaluated the Kingdom cards, which was a sobering experience: many Kingdom cards are in my opinion simply not worth buying.


I disagree. After 400+ plays I find the Chancellor is the only card I almost never buy, although I'm not convinced it's garbage just yet- I'd like to try to incorporate it sometime into a deck.

Quote:
Arguably, you could simply get silver and gold and not bother with any Kingdom cards.


You'd win against novices who are obsessed with buying as many kingdom cards as possible and don't truly understand the game. You'd lose to an experienced player


Quote:
Though a carefully selected Kingdom card or two will certainly enhance this ‘strategy’, this will probably be a better approach than going nuts with Kingdom cards. More often than not, people doing this will end up having not enough coin to get sufficient Victory points to win the game.


Like I said, you've been beating up on novices.

Quote:
So which cards are worthwhile, and which are usually a waste of time?

To determine that, I use the Silver benchmark. Basically, I’m asking myself whether a given card is more worthwhile than a Silver.


A solid principle thumbsup

Quote:
Improving the deck usually means thinning it down so the good stuff comes around faster, and is a very powerful way to win.


agreed

Quote:
The following cards pass my Silver test regularly: Chapel, Remodel, Moneylender (in order of power). Note that the Mine seems to work similarly, but in my experience it’s too slow to be worth the trouble.


If the other cards you mention aren't available, the Mine is a strong option if purchased early. As you say yourself it is a strong strategy to make your deck lean, and if Mine is the only available way to get rid of coppers...

Quote:
Increasing buying power better than a Silver does is not that easy as it sounds: cards such as the Woodcutter, Chancellor, Militia, Market and even Festival are often not as good a buy as a Silver. This is because they don’t give more buying power than a Silver, so basically you just take the burden of having to spend an action to get your 2 coin, in order to get any additional advantage the card happens to offer which many times you won’t be able to use.


About the Festival you're just not making sense. Any card that would give you +2 coin, + 1 action would be at least as good as a Silver*. Festival gives you that plus another action and + 1 Buy. Vastly superior to a Silver.

Spending an action is only a "burden" if you don't have an action to spend. Only a novice, however, sets himself up to consistently draw more kingdom cards than he can use.

*I guess if you drew the kingdom card as a result of another kingdom card, but had no more actions, it would be useless. But this is only a worthy concern if you have a deck that is draw heavy without being action heavy.

Quote:
Buying one Kingdom card that doesn’t give actions is fine, as long as it passes the Silver test. Buying more is dangerous. You could also buy cards that grant you additional actions, but this is a dangerous course as you’re spending a lot of time for a potentially unstable deck.


Unstable?

Quote:
Which card-drawing cards pass my Silver test regularly? Library, Smithy, Council Room, Cellar. In specific circumstances, I might use the Laboratory though I found 2 extra cards is not really enough.


What??!? I find the Laboratory to be the second best Kingdom card in the game after Chapel. The fact that it gives you an extra action makes it better than the rest you mention. Laboratory is the best card at searching your deck for more actions to play, and it piggybacks on itself which makes it even better (i.e. if you bump into another Laboratory, you just keep going, as opposed to having Village+Smithy where if you draw the Smithy first you're screwed)

Quote:
The conclusion is that I will always be looking for the same cards to come up, and disregard the rest. I could divert from this, but I’d just feel like I was playing sub-optimally just for the sake of doing so, which kinda goes against the grain for me.


My conclusion is that you've had an epiphany that many intermediate players get to- the object of the game is to get Provinces, not Kingdom cards. Obviously you'll beat players that haven't understood this yet.

I agree with your general point that for many strategies, you'll only want a handful of Kingdom cards. But that doesn't mean that all of a sudden the game isn't interesting- choosing which cards to buy is a decision that I have found surprisingly varied with different setups of cards. Also, there ARE strategies that use a lot of kingdom cards that will beat your newly discovered money intensive strategy.

My only "beef" with Dominion is that almost always when the Chapel comes up it is part of the dominant strategy. Otherwise I find all the cards to be quite balanced, unlike Puerto Rico for example where there is a hierarchy of useless, marginally useful, and awesome buildings.

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Dan Manfredini wrote:


I just got Dominion and have played it only 20 times or so (2-player), but I came to the similar conclusion. At first, when we played we were all about the combos. Over time, we realized that the combos eventually needed to result in treasure. Slowly, our decks changed to eventually containing only 3-5 Kingdom cards, and our buying strategy was similar to the "silver test" described in the original post. It may be that this was the result of the assortment of Kingdom cards or the mindset of the players. No doubt I will continue to play, testing this theory.


Excellent point. When you first start playing and learn about the potential to chain together actions, I think some new players fall in love with this approach and see the goal of each turn as making it possible to play as many cards as they can. SO they go through the motions... playing 6, 7, then 8 cards with a gleefull smile on their face, but when the dust settles, they buy a Duchy or a 5 cost Kingdom card.

Meanwhile, across the table, the experienced player is playing the 1 or two Kingdom cards he needs to hit the covted 8 mark in treasure and buys Province card (again).

Chaining actions can be fun and on the surface it looks like something is being done... but it's simply spinning one's wheel unless it results in serious coin to buy provinces (or maybe Gold).

Brian
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G. Gambill
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I agree with what Brian says in principle. I have often had games like this where players can string together 6-10+ cards before their turn is over, and, often, end up with 6 or 7 treasure, but often several buys. There is no doubt that this leads to a deck bloated with coppers and other cards, and it's not very efficient, but it is, in fact, fun! I still stick to my assertion that it was the players initial expectations that seem to determine the enjoyment/satisfaction people get from this game. No one has addressed the Magic the Gathering question I posed. Has anyone else found a similar pattern? I really think that when fans of this game heard that this was a "deck building" game, they got REALLY excited that it would feel and play like MtG. When they discovered it didn't, they were inherently disappointed it seems. I, having never played MtG before playing this game, had no such notions and so I think I took it more for what it was. I could be wrong, but I would love to hear if others feel or noticed this effect. This is not a slam on MtG fans, just a connection I saw.
This, BTW, has been great fun. No one has gotten hot under the collar, and everyone has made great points to consider. (I REALLY need to review the remodel card, for example. The whole use a remodel to somehow gain a provence has me confused, but very interested!). This thread is in the best spirit of the geek! Disagreeing and debating without being disagreeable. Thanks for the tips and other points to consider everyone!
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Gil Hova
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Out of curiosity, do you play this game with many different people, or do you tend to play with the same folks?
 
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Quote:

My conclusion is that you've had an epiphany that many intermediate players get to- the object of the game is to get Provinces, not Kingdom cards. Obviously you'll beat players that haven't understood this yet.

I agree with your general point that for many strategies, you'll only want a handful of Kingdom cards. But that doesn't mean that all of a sudden the game isn't interesting- choosing which cards to buy is a decision that I have found surprisingly varied with different setups of cards. Also, there ARE strategies that use a lot of kingdom cards that will beat your newly discovered money intensive strategy.


Agreed.

Ever since my wife and I played our 5th game we have played with a third player... an imaginary person who only buys provinces, gold, silver (whichever he can afford) and Duchy when buying a gold makes no sense.

By doing this we very quickly learnt that for most (not all) sets of kingdom cards the only kingdom cards worth buying are chapel and witch (those dominate) with perhaps a lab or celler or adventurer...

When we play against novice players we naturally win until they copy us. Fine.

The game is still interesting, however, in trying to discover when another unusual strategy is better (e.g. chapel/village/workshop/gardens combo).
There is also some interest in questions within the chapel strategy... 1 chapel or 2? when to switch from buying gold to province? Do I chapel away an extra copper or buy a silver instead?
I am in agreement with OP that the game could be more interesting if: strategy alterations are not so minor they are dominated by luck, and it there were more cards better than silver. I've played a few games where we have adjusted the rules to have all treasure cards cost 2 more than face value... you buy more kingdom cards then.
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After 70+ games, these are the false statements I keep coming across:

Never Buy Coppers:
Not true. There are two circumstances in which I'll buy coppers - if I'm going for a Gardens deck, in which case I will use my extra Buys to gather up coppers and/or Estates, or if we're in the mid-game and I'll be going through my deck once or twice more, then I'll buy coppers if I'm buying up VPs to try to decrease the odds of drawing one of those VP cards.

Card X is Worthless:
No single card is worthless. Every card has been one I've both sought and ignored, whether it's the Chapel, Adventurer, Village, Chancellor... they're all situational, all dependent on the tableau.

Card Y is All-Powerful:
A purely subjective opinion that, again, depends on the tableau. Laboratories and Villages both add cards and actions, both vital to drawing your entire deck (a goal for most players.) However, either of those cards I might consider useless if I can buy Festivals and Council Rooms instead. Chapels are nice, too, but if there's no Witch in play I'll pretty much ignore Chapels, again unless there's no other way to remove unwanted coppers after buying silvers and gold. I personally love Throne Rooms but again I'll ignore them depending on what else is out there. No one card is perfect by itself (but I didn't always believe that, either.)

Dominion is Multi-player Solitaire:
A statement that's repeated often enough to convince people it's true, but it's certainly not. Yes, some tableaus are more interactive than others and yes, there's no way to burn your opponent's Village to the Ground, but there are other games that include direct conflict and if direct conflict is what you're after then play those games instead. Dominion's interaction is variable, subtle and reactive instead of proactive.

The Game Plays Itself:
This statement is said by those who believe that the act of playing the cards should be the most important part of the game. In fact it's the buying of cards that is more important than anything else. It's not very often that you'll draw a hand where you'll have to decide how to best play it out, but it IS every turn that will depend on how well you've balanced the kingdom cards you've purchased.

Everyone loves Dominion:
No. A lot of people love it initially. It's accessible enough to introduce it to spouses and girlfriends and they take to it like blue on a Smurf. After dozens of plays some tire of it, but those dozens of plays still mean that they've played Dominion more often than some of the games they undoubtedly rate higher, oftentimes by some orders of magnitude. But for some they see it in the Top 10 list and therefore believe it should contain certain mechanics or elements due to its position. Others have heard it compared to MtG and again assume there's a lot of direct attacks and effects you play on your opponent. That's not Dominion.

To repeat what's been said over and over by those defending Dominion (and more than likely any other game on this site), not everybody likes the same thing. Not liking Dominion, Puerto Rico, Princes of Florence, Race for the Galaxy or Monopoly is okay... lots of other people DO like those games and there are reasons that might not make sense to your or I, but they do.
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If everyone is buying Silvers but you are buying Militias you will generally devastate their plans because they'll be throwing away those Silvers, while you essentially get to keep yours.

The game does seem to go through phases with people/groups. First everyone buys all the Kingdom cards. Then they move on to buying as few Kingdom cards as possible. Then they move on to really thinking about both the tableau of Kingdom cards and what their opponents are doing and the game takes on an entirely different aspect (if they stay with it that long; I'm sure a lot of people don't).

Decks that draw a lot of cards will generally beat treasure decks because the treasure decks become too slow. Try that the next time there is an opportunity and there are some significant +card cards on the tableau. In fact, in another statistical thread, the OP was showing how the fastest way to a gold is a smithy/silver combination (21% of the time you'll have a gold by the third turn), faster than a silver/silver combination (which was 16% if I recall correctly).

So assess, act, assess, and act again. The game is an awesome game for me, even after 100+ plays.
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I agree with your overall assessment of the game (most important decision made at start of game, hand plays itself, etc), but not with your strategy.

I often don't buy a Province the first time I hit 8 coins. I play mostly 2ers.

Market, Festival, and Laboratories are almost always better than Silver. Mine is often better than a Silver also. Most setups require a winning deck with much more than 3 kingdom cards.

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I will always be looking for the same cards to come up, and disregard the rest. I could divert from this, but I’d just feel like I was playing sub-optimally just for the sake of doing so, which kinda goes against the grain for me.

Yes, that is what it would boil down to eventually, but you haven't reached that point yet. I don't think you are remotely close to playing optimally (except in setups where the optimal deck is a money-draw one).
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someotherguy wrote:
I also suspect, too, that some cards are essentially worthless, and Cellar is on my short list of suspects.


Cellar is an excellent card, especially in conjunction with extra-draw cards.

I posit that if everyone ranked the cards from most useful to least that no one's list would look anywhere close to another's.
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ggambill wrote:
No one has addressed the Magic the Gathering question I posed. Has anyone else found a similar pattern? I really think that when fans of this game heard that this was a "deck building" game, they got REALLY excited that it would feel and play like MtG. When they discovered it didn't, they were inherently disappointed it seems. I, having never played MtG before playing this game, had no such notions and so I think I took it more for what it javascript://was. I could be wrong, but I would love to hear if others feel or noticed this effect.


I am a long time MtG player, started with alpha and came out at Fallen Empire, and reinserted myself in Kamigawa cycle. (that's all the MtG jumbo I'll spew out for this posting. ). Indeed when I first heard about Dominion, the MtG instinct kicked right in and I dreamed of a MtG like deck building game. Now in hindsight, I think it was a wrong mentality to have as it's virtually impossible to jam the depth and thrills of a highly polished and over a decade long game series into such a single offering. (Although in retrospect, some of the issues people have with Dominion also hounded the initial release of MtG alpha and beta).

I wasn't dissatisfied with Dominion after 30+ plays now, all of them are 3 player games incidentally. MtG has its downfalls ... serious money involved, having to re-learn the meta-game once every 6 month, the need for competitive players, does not play with 3, extremely high learning curve ... etc. (hmm ... this starts to sound like ASL devil, which I love and own too many modules than I care to admit ninja ). In contrast, Dominion just plays well, fast, and is easy to hook people around me into.

Dominion is a euro game in card style (I recall some other posting said that if Dominion cards were tiles we would have been saved from all these MtG references) ... I imagine Ricard himself telling the designer: "Don't refer to my Magic, or I'll bury you alive with a single copy of every Magic card ever made ... or better yet, task you with errata them all!" In essence if I view Dominion as an engine building euro game (which it is) I find myself enjoy it immensely. In contrast, MtG has alot more tactics, strategy, complexity and theme involved. For example, one can hardly expect a novice to pilot an expert-built MtG deck (especially the BU archetype) without the deck builder showing the ropes first. Incidentally I often did this with my ex-g/f who would then gleefully trash me with new found glory, especially if there are angels involved ... robot.

So I guess you can say Dominion has more "auto-pilot" and is a much lighter game, thus may leave you with a craving for meatier games after many plays. But hey, isn't that like how I would often play Nexus Op in 1 hour, yet anticipate with excitement and dread about the next 8 hr TI3 session?

Sorry about my long winded two-cents commentary/reminiscence.
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I'm way behind you in number of plays (maybe fifteen), so it feels a bit odd to comment.

My experience so far is different from yours. I still find good use for a lot of cards -- there aren't any that I consider dead, although some I like more than others. In fact, my favorite thing about Dominion is that the values of the cards change so dramatically based both on what other cards are available and on the strategies of my opponents. I never play on autopilot, and credit some of my wins to reacting appropriately to moves my opponents made, even in games with no attacks.

I also think that some of your assertions are overstated. For example:

Quote:
For example, playing Smithy, then drawing a combination of Victory and Kingdom cards (whichever they are) is a waste of time.


It's true that drawing Kingdom cards when you're out of actions can be a waste (or worse, if they are really powerful). It's flat-out wrong, however, to say that drawing victory points is a waste of time. If you didn't draw them at the cost of your action, you'd be drawing them as part of your next hand.

There is definitely a danger in mixing Kingdom cards that provide Actions and Kingdom cards that do stuff, e.g. drawing cards. You can get a hand with card-drawing and then draw your powerful actions or you can get a hand with lots of action-enhancement and have a bunch of unspent actions at the end. So far, however, it seems to me that if you buy them in proper balance the payoff is positive.

It's definitely true, however, that there's an easy trap of wanting to buy Kingdom cards when just money would be a better investment. Back in my Magic days I wrote an article called, "The Danger of Cool Things" and Dominion is a great example of how a player can focus on the cool stuff they're going to do when the best play is relatively boring. So far, however, I just think it's a question of degree.
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I'd mirror the comment that this is an excellent discussion thread - just the sort that the geek really benefits from. I've only played a handful of games so there's no way I could usefully contribute to the discussion. However, just one very brief observation: in my experience (with owning something shy of 500 boardgames - not a lot compared with some but still a huge amount of choice) any game that get 30+ plays, even ones that are reasonably quick, has done its job and given the buyer a solid return for their money.
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Thanks for the great write-up and the discussion it has encouraged.

I'm happy to hold for now. If I can play it first and love it - I'll buy it. Even if it is only good for 30 odd plays before it gets a little one dimensional, that would represent good value for me.

Get back people...I bolded, underlined and italiced that 'if'.
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I've only played about 20 games so far, but I find that you must constantly reevaluate the composition of your deck. Although the game does tend to be a race for 8 coins in your hand, it sure helps when you can manage to have 16 coins in your hand and buy two province cards in one turn. That can only happen through purchasing the right combination of treasure and kingdom cards.Until I figure out exactly what that right combination is for all of the possible sets of kingdom cards, I think the game will hold my interest.

If I happen to change my mind after another 20 games, then Dominion will still be one of the best game purchases I've made for a while. I have tons of "better" games that collect dust on the shelf because I have a hard time finding people who want to play. But so far everyone has enjoyed Dominion.
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First of all, thanks to all who contributed to this interesting discussion. I could not have hoped for a more constructive, thought-provoking result than this.

I'm not going to reply to every individual remark, but I'd like to first state that I in fact do not regret having purchased Dominion. If you think it looks interesting, I'd recommend you pick up a copy, if only because Dominion certainly is a refreshingly innovative design, and it's highly playable due to the short playing time.

As to the 'playability' of cards discussion - certainly, I could be far from the truth. As I will keep playing Dominion from time to time, I'll experiment and see if more cards turn out to be worthwhile (better than Silver) than the pool I currently trust. I'm also thinking about launching some polls to see what cards people would buy in specific setups if I can find the time for it. That should be interesting.
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I agree that around 20-30 plays you reach some kind of better understanding of the game. But I think you word it wrong. The Silver test is fine, as a general rule of thumb, but the fact remains that the 'worth' of a silver is both subject to you chosen strategy and the kingdom cards in play. If there is fr. ex. a thief among the cards, a Silver is worth less than in a game without one.

Secondly, if you think you have found a winning strategy, try to find ways to beat your own. I'm sure you will find one. I haven't found a single Dominion strategy I couldn't beat after a bit of thinking.

Thirdly, how is it possible that you chose 1 strategy in the beginning and no-one of your opponents adapts his/hers to cope with yours? That's a beginner's fault, IMO. In the beginning you should keep your options open, based on what's on the table, look at all possible strategies and determine what your opponents are playing and then chose what your strategy will be.

Grtz,
Jeroen, also a belgian.
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I've noticed that in a game that there are generally 3-4 cards that are bought almost exclusively, and that there tend to be at least 2 that are never bought.

At the same time I think that adds a challenge to find the "balanced" 10 card set.

This game is pretty light, but we enjoy it. It seems like Kingsburg x2.
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