John Doe
United States
Virginia
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So TLDR; I bought the Dominion Big Box on a whim after watching some reviews, I found myself enthralled by the online version of the game, and I ordered the Big box to hopefully play with some friends.

At first I felt like the game had infinite possibilities and combos etc.

Then reality sunk in (unfortunately ) and I had to accept that alot of the cards in the game are just never played because they are inferior to the OP staples.

But every game I have played with the bots is the same story with them buying the same power cards, and avoiding the weak cards.

I mean if a bot player is not touching 7/10 of the base set cards then maybe their is a design problem with these said cards...

So I learned how to play, have played for maybe 3-4 hours versus bots, I feel like the gameplay is growing old on me....

The base game also seems somewhat badly balanced (Cards are either Overpowered or horribly useless and never bought by experienced players)

Now from what I read Alchemy is almost universally considered a terrible expansion, however prosperity is considered one of the better ones...

If I was to buy all the expansions, would this increase the replay value of the game?

In the base set alone, their are several cards that newcomers would think are useful, but in reality are terrible, and no self respecting player would buy these (esp when even just buying big money is better then these wastes of cardboards =/)

On the other side of the spectrum, their are cards that are extremely good like witch,militia,chapel,Laboratory, etc.

I unboxed Prosperity however I have kept alchemy sealed because according too many posts on here its widely considered the worst expansion for dominion balancewise and potions don't mix well with other sets.

Is it possible my boredom is simply due to facing AI's? (which get boring to face in most multiplayer games, in my opinion)

Also, would you reccomend I play/try alchemy, or is it better to just pretend it does not exist?
 
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The bots are terrible opponents. In addition, the deepest games of Dominion are usually 2p, with 3p also having some interesting moments and 4p usually being like you describe - a rush to get power cards and thence to victory points. Also, the base set does tend to favour a very narrow set of strategies, while adding an expansion or two does a lot to change the nature of the game - regardless of which expansion it is.

In fact, it can be said that there is a board where every card can shine, although for some of these cards it's a much more limited range than others. If you ask the real experts, they will say that no card is a "must buy" or "must ignore", and it always "depends on the board" - but I'd add it "depends on the game". If you look at the board, determine which cards must be bought, and then blindly grab them, you will almost always lose to someone who directly responds to and actively disrupts your strategy (Embargo and Swindler are two cards that pretty much guarantee that this will happen, but they're not the only ones that work).

As for which expansions are good and which are bad, I understand some of the reasons why Alchemy is slightly less favoured. Potions as a second currency can be a little awkward, and most Alchemy cards are only good if there's a little backup for them (and Possession, while actually one of the weaker cards in the game, is also one of the most annoying to play against). Interestingly, Alchemy and Prosperity make for a good contrast because Alchemy in general focuses on Action cards (Scrying Pool and Golem both want you to have lots of good Action cards in your deck, University gains them for you, Vineyards wants lots of them regardless of how good they are) while Prosperity is much more about Treasure (although it has some really good Action cards in it).

I would say that you should try all the cards you have, but if you play with potion-cost cards from Alchemy you always have to keep in mind the opportunity cost of going for them - you have to buy the Potion first, which means you're not buying another 3-4 cost card, which means that the card you buy with the Potion has to be worth not having that other card in your deck.
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As for the potion-cost cards not playing well with cards from other sets, maybe a little. But I can easily name half a dozen pairings of Alchemy cards with cards from other sets where the mere presence of that potion-cost card changes your decisions regarding the other. For example:

Philosopher's Stone + Herbalist + Mountebank (Pros) - sure Mountebank is a great deck-junking attack, but Phil Stone means you *want* a bloated deck, and Herbalist makes it work even better.

Scrying Pool or Vineyards + Cultist (DA) - similarly, Cultist gives your opponents Ruins, which are Action cards that are usually little better than Curses. But Scrying Pool will skip past them like nobody's business, while Vineyards will score you points for having so many of them (and only costs a single Potion, great if that's the only card worth anything in your hand).

Scrying Pool + Inn (Hinterlands) - gain an Inn, shuffle as many Action cards as you like from your discard into your deck, then use Scrying Pool to draw them all up. Then tactically play your Inns to keep your deck full of more Action cards to draw.

Possession + any of the coin token cards from Guilds - normally it's nice to hold onto a few coin tokens to spend when you need to make up the difference between the cash you have and the thing you want to buy, but they're one of the few things a Possession player can actually make use of to mess with your position. And yet if you're going to buy one for yourself, it would be pretty handy to have a couple of coin tokens spare in case you draw your Potion with not enough cash!
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Josh Chen
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Try playing anyone with a 4000+ rating. I get schooled on goko a lot when I play them. I hover around 2500-3000 rating. There are definitely great details and nuances that I haven't pick up yet.
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Jacek Wieszaczewski
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Wrocław
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All-cards-Dominion (currently 205 cards, should be 206 some time this year) has a huge replay value. Even though many people play it a lot (and compter simulations have been used to aid research) the game is far from being "solved". Playing human opponents is way more interesting than playing bots, and they often find uses for cards bots ignore. The game gets more strategic with less players. I wouldn't play with more than 3 and play 2-player 99% of the time.

Alchemy: it is good. But it was released way too early, which hurt it. Alchemy is complicated, to appreciate it you should be an experienced player. IMO you should add Alchemy to your mix at the end, together with Dark Ages, Guilds and Black Market promo card.
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Tables
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Firstly, let me address a few concerns you have.

The Dominion Online Bots are not good opponents. Their AI is generally quite simplistic, and with the base game especially it tends to mean they do go for the easy to use cards, rather than more complicated but more powerful combos. They do the latter occasionally, but rarely pull it off well, making those card combos look weak, not strong.

As such, the game is in fact pretty well balanced. Naturally there are some cards which are stronger than others, but that's unavoidable - and actually the earlier cards are a little less well balanced than the later ones with the base set and Intrigue having a disproportionate number of the weakest cards but also some of the strongest. Even then, it's not incredibly clear cut, and often combos involving the weakest cards can beat out the strongest cards on their own. A number of Dominion fans actually have joked about how over all expansions, the weakest* 5 coin card (Counting House) is a counter to the strongest* one (Mountebank).

Dominion is probably the single game I've played that expands best. Expansions only add a little complexity but massively affect variety of the game. You don't need all of them - One expansion is enough to add longevity while two or three expansions is ample, and the big box pretty much gets you there (it gives you one and a half).
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Dale Stephenson
United States
Buford
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Dominion (with expansions) has more replay value than any other game I own. I endorse the remarks made already in this thread with one exception, the bad mouthing of multi-player games. My favorite number of players is three, but I would rather play with 4 than 2. With more players the strategies and strength of cards can differ from the well-analyzed two-player game, and you'll see less games where all players are adopting the same exact strategy. High-variance strategies have more value when your base chance of winning is lower, so I get to try things sitting in the fourth seat that would never make sense in a two-player game. The biggest downside to more players is just waiting longer to take your turn.
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Amunra93 wrote:
If I was to buy all the expansions, would this increase the replay value of the game?

There is tremendous replay value in getting all of the expansions. However, keep in mind that you are paying for all of it. Around $230 to $335 for online discounted and list price respectively. At that price some folks would rather just buy 3 to 8 other games instead, and forgo about half the expansions. Another thing to work out is you'll need to find a way to carry all of those cards if you go to other venues for board gaming.

Amunra93 wrote:
In the base set alone, their are several cards that newcomers would think are useful, but in reality are terrible, and no self respecting player would buy these (esp when even just buying big money is better then these wastes of cardboards =/)

On the other side of the spectrum, their are cards that are extremely good like witch,militia,chapel,Laboratory, etc.
Here's one thing I've learned... EVERY SINGLE CARD IN DOMINION has at least one moment where it shines. Even the lowest ranked ones on where mucho analysis is done, such as DominionStrategy.com. However, there may only be one out of 10,000 game situations, but they do exist.

Even with the great cards, sometimes you're forced to forgo some of them, especially if there are too many of them. For one given set, there can be 3 to 4 different ways to go about winning, but you'll only have time or the means to do one of them.

Amunra93 wrote:
I unboxed Prosperity however I have kept alchemy sealed because according too many posts on here its widely considered the worst expansion for dominion balancewise and potions don't mix well with other sets.

The potion currency itself is truly unique, and it forces you to plan out whether or not it'd be worth swapping in a Potion in lieu of the usual $4 Kingdom card, or otherwise (there's always) Silver. The action cards can also make you think differently. Some of the cards in Alchemy are unique, and are worth trying out as a curious Dominion player.

Vineyards can score more than Provinces ever can, and even vs. other alternate Victory cards! (8 to 9pts apiece!). I've had a lot of fun with Golem, especially if there weren't any branch action cards (+2 or more actions).

Otherwise, Apprentice and Herbalist are fun cards that don't require potions.


Amunra93 wrote:
Is it possible my boredom is simply due to facing AI's? (which get boring to face in most multiplayer games, in my opinion)
Tradeoffs as always. When playing vs. AI, you have the luxury of doing it on the road from your phone, or on a computer. They won't get impatient if you take too long playing out much of your deck, and taking a minute to decide what you'd like to buy. OTOH, you can usually trounce them. With IRL players, pick your opponents appropriately. If it's no fun for you and others to get the floor moped with (e.g. you, 30pts, 34pts, vs. the good people at 75pts and 82pts), or to be crushing opponents with impunity (e.g. ... see previous parenthesis, but reverse the scores), then find others, or be willing to teach/be taught.

The one thing I enjoy about AI games is it lets me try wacky strategies that may not be as feasible vs. humans (too swingy, crazy, not serious enough)

Amunra93 wrote:
Also, would you reccomend I play/try alchemy, or is it better to just pretend it does not exist?
I'd give it a try. What have you got to lose? Especially since you already paid for it as part of the Dom Big Box. Some Dom fans are making it out to be a Curse, plague, or blight upon the Dominion series, but I can only understand to a certain point. Believe it or not, there are also plenty of people who (have legit claims) to say that Dominion itself ain't worth it either. However, if find otherwise, let our opinions be tied to ourselves and ourselves only then.
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Oskar 10101
Netherlands
Den Haag
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Each expansion seems to add something different. As does Alchemy, it has several great (nasty) cards. The fact that it scored lowest says just that, it scored lowest, that doesn't make it bad (looking at the scales it is around a 7 out of 10, is that bad ?).
AI is only as good as the programming behind it. Personally like 2-3P real players best.


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Richard Anderson
Scotland
Edinburgh
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conmanau wrote:
... the deepest games of Dominion are usually 2p, with 3p also having some interesting moments and 4p usually being like you describe - a rush to get power cards and thence to victory points.


I have played 100s of games of Dominion face to face and online. Lately I find I enjoy 5-player games best. 4-piles to end the game changes things considerably and a popular single card gets divided 10 between 5 should everyone go for it, making things much more challenging. In this enviroment alternate strategies tend to do much better in my experience.
 
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