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Subject: Piemaster's Review of Dominion: Hinterlands rss

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Ian Taylor
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Overview

Note this is just a review of the expansion and will make little sense if you haven’t played the base game. For my review of the core game of Dominion, click here.

Hinterlands is the sixth expansion to Dominion. It is a large expansion, with 26 new kingdom cards, which are extremely varied and don’t really have a strong theme. Okay, so no Dominion expansions are particularly thematic (except Seaside and maybe Alchemy), but Hinterlands is especially vague. Mechanically there is a sort-of theme running through the cards which is something like “cards that have additional effects when you buy or gain them, or when you gain something else, or when your opponent does something in particular or… something”. But even this rather woolly mission statement only applies to about half the cards, the rest are a bit all over the place to be honest.

Let’s try again. Hinterlands is a Dominion expansion that contains 26 new cards. Let’s just leave it at that.


The Good

As I have reviewed the Dominion expansions I have had increasing trouble finding something original to say about each of them and have tried to focus on what makes that individual expansion unique. With Hinterlands nothing really makes it unique. Imagine you ran a Dominion card design contest and then picked the 26 cards that you considered the best and made an expansion from them. You would end up with 26 good cards. A players’ expansion. Something that aficionados of the game would look at and say “wow, some of those cards are cool” and buy it, but people new to the game would look at with a puzzled expression and then go and buy Prosperity or Seaside instead. That is what Hinterlands feels like. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a solid expansion of the Dominion universe that will enrich your games.

The cards in Hinterlands facilitate some interesting interactions. For example, in a game I once played with Hinterlands cards I had a turn towards the end where I played Haggler and six additional money. I purchased a Province, then used the ability of Haggler to gain a Border Village, then the ability on Border Village to gain a Duchy and finally the ability on Duchess to gain a Duchess. Four cards for the price of one, not bad! Hinterlands also contains some excellent skill test cards that are not everything they first seem. There are cards that look mediocre that are actually great (Jack of All Trades, Ill Gotten Gains), cards that look great but are actually mediocre (Tunnel, Nomad Camp), cards that are usually bad but are sometimes great (Develop, Cache) and cards that enable ridiculous combos or locks (Scheme, Inn, Highway). Of course, this is true for most Dominion expansions but it seems far more so with Hinterlands. There you go, I’ve finally found the theme - it’s the aficionado skill-testing expansion.


The Bad

Like most other Dominion expansions, everything bad is relative. There is not a single expansion I wouldn’t want in my collection, so I can only really mention the things that I feel could have been better or that other expansions did a better job of. I have already mentioned that abstract and haphazard nature of this expansion, which personally I don’t really consider a negative point, but it might put other people off compared to the more ‘sexy’ expansions. In fact I would go as far to say that if you are new to Dominion and looking to buy your first expansion there is really no reason to make it Hinterlands. I could find a reason to recommend Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy, Prosperity or Cornucopia, depending on what you like, but Hinterlands is more an expansion for people who already have a few and just want more cool stuff.

I guess I could also pick holes in a few individual cards. Duchess, despite the quirky interaction with Duchy, is terrible. You will frequently find yourself turning these down even when offered them for free. At the other end of the scale, Ill Gotten Gains is so good that it frequently takes over games and leads to rather bland, formulaic slogs. But these are minor complaints. Overall there is very little filler in Hinterlands.


Verdict

This is kind of a tough expansion to rate. There is nothing about it that jumps out and says ‘wow’, but on the other hand there is very little to dislike about it either. If you love Dominion, these cards will be a worthy addition to your card pool. If you don’t, then this expansion will likely do little to change your mind. If you’re new to the game, then other expansions may be more suitable to your needs, but if you do decide on Hinterlands I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

8/10
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Aron D
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Nice review! I agree with your point about it not being a great first expansion for new players. Intrigue was the first set I bought after having played the base set with a family member. So I was looking to add another set to my collection and was trying to decide between seaside and hinterlands and despite seaside getting better reviews, I went with Hinterlands. The reason I did this was because I read in a couple spots that Hinterlands interacted really well with Intrigue (the only set I own). While that is likely true the complexity of some of the cards has been a major flop with my wife. She hasn't played nearly as much as I have and the cards just aren't fun to her. I enjoy them more as I can see some of the value in them but even so the lack of a theme makes the cards a little less exciting. So I agree Hinterlands should largely be an expansion after you have a couple of the others.
 
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Jeremy Carlson
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These are the types of reviews I like. Skip the rules crap, and get to what you like and disliked about the game.

I actually really like the good points you wrote. I don't care about the theme in Dominion or any of its expansions. I want good cards that play well together and keeps everything balanced. Seems to nail it on the head with what you are saying.

Nice review sir!
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Darren Price
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Great review!
 
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