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Subject: Dominion: Empires - Thoughts after the first few playthroughs rss

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Jason Stahr
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I have been a Dominion fan for many years now; I have accumulated all but two of the expansions personally, but have played through every expansion, from the sluggish and somewhat confused Cornucopia, to the well-crafted and creative Seaside. I have devoted many a free evening to deck building and trying to beat my teenage son (who has a knack for acquiring lots of money rather quickly). Empires, with all of my anticipation, turns out to be an excellent addition to the Dominion family with great cards, interesting conventions, and well-manufactured game components (metal tokens).

The artwork, of course, is above reproach. The images and attention to detail is awesome, making these as worthy as any cards to be in the deck-building genre.

But, it is the additional conventions that make Empires stand out. There's nothing earth-shattering in mechanics for most of the cards, but then you get to Debt. Debt is a convention that is broached in Empires that allows one to purchase cards without money, by taking Debt tokens (copper octagons). Once these tokens are in front of a player, that player cannot purchase anything else until the tokens have been paid off during a player's subsequent Buy phase and available money.

Some of the cards available with Debt are powerful as well, such as Overlord, which mimics the capabilities of any card in the Supply. Another one is Royal Blacksmith which allows a player to draw an additional five cards, then discarding the coppers. This card quickly became a favorite of mine, allowing me to double my Hand and burn through Coppers quickly. And, anyone who has played Dominion understands how fast Coppers (and Estates) bog down your playability.

Another game mechanic that was introduced was split decks. There are several cards that are split, five and five (instead of one deck of ten), between two different cards: Settlers/Bustling Village, or Catapult/Rocks. So, after five cards, you have an additional card available - almost like having a Supply of eleven decks instead of ten.

But, as if those weren't enough new things coming your way, Empires added Castles, a Victory card deck for the Supply made of several different types of Castles - each with different capabilities. For instance, starting at a cost of "3", the Humble Castle is worth one money, and is also worth one Victory Point per Castle owned at the end of the game; further, at the cost of "8", the Sprawling Castle is worth four VPs, and awards the player either a Duchy or three Estates when it is gained.

Lastly, Events and Landmarks are the final elements that are noteworthy. Events were introduced in other expansions, and follow the same mechanics here: instead of purchasing a card during one's Buy phase, the player can purchase the use of an Event. But, Landmarks are different and add further victory conditions to the game. I found that Landmarks helped us morph our strategies as the game progressed, by trying to hit other VP targets instead of swarming after Provinces or Colonies exclusively.

In conclusion, Empires is a welcome expansion to the Dominion universe! I foresee great replayability, especially when combining those elements of Empires with others from other expansions. I went into the game already a fan of the franchise, and was not disappointed at all!

My vote: five stars! Well done.
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stahrj wrote:
Another one is Royal Blacksmith which allows a player to draw an additional five cards, then discarding the coppers. This card quickly became a favorite of mine, allowing me to double my Hand and burn through Coppers quickly. And, anyone who has played Dominion understands how fast Coppers (and Estates) bog down your playability.


The requirement to Discard Coppers is a penalty, not a benefit. Are you confusing Discard with Trash?
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Joseph Hall
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You seem to be misinterpreting Royal Blacksmith. It doesn't let you trash Copper. It discards any Copper you drew. This isn't "burning through Coppers;" it's making you draw fewer cards if you still have Copper in your deck.
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Jason Stahr
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Oh, no. I was only discarding, not trashing. And, I didn't see discarding coppers as a punishment - at least not in our most recent game. We were playing a very high-income game and I was using it to get Coppers out of the way to make way for Silvers, Golds, etc.
But, point taken.
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David desJardins
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stahrj wrote:
Oh, no. I was only discarding, not trashing. And, I didn't see discarding coppers as a punishment - at least not in our most recent game. We were playing a very high-income game and I was using it to get Coppers out of the way to make way for Silvers, Golds, etc.
But, point taken.


If you've got 1 Gold and 2 Silver and 3 Copper in your hand, then discarding the Copper doesn't get you any more Silver or Gold. It just means you only have $7 to spend instead of $10.
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Jason Stahr
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That is true, too.

I mentioned that my Son had a knack for acquiring money ... not me.modest
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Maarten Robinson
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We played our first game last night (empires ...that is) and it was certainly 5/5 or ***** ... We played the basic introduction set and it worked well. I wasn't watching her province buying and she wasn't looking at my growing pile of counters ...nor my castles ... I won by a short whisker ... 64 to 59 ... thank you.
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Casual Tryhard
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DaviddesJ wrote:
[q="stahrj"]If you've got 1 Gold and 2 Silver and 3 Copper in your hand, then discarding the Copper doesn't get you any more Silver or Gold. It just means you only have $7 to spend instead of $10.


Sure, but that's not the point. A copper you draw and discard is a copper that you don't have in your subsequent hand.

The Blacksmith will function either more as card-draw or more as deck-filtering depending on what stage of the game you're in.
 
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David desJardins
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Hexprone wrote:
Sure, but that's not the point. A copper you draw and discard is a copper that you don't have in your subsequent hand.


You're misunderstanding something. The cards you draw after playing the Royal Blacksmith (and discarding the Copper) are exactly as likely to be Copper as if you had never played the Royal Blacksmith.
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Perhaps a more concrete example will help.

Turn 1. Buy Silver.
Turn 2. Buy Royal Blacksmith. Pay off 4 Debt. You have 4 Debt left.
Turn 3. You draw a Royal Blacksmith and 4 Coppers.

Will you play the Royal Blacksmith so that you might draw that Silver and get the Copper out of the way?
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K Neumann
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It's just a matter of getting through your deck quicker. If coppers get in your way this is one way, not a permanent solution, to get to the cards you want to have. Haven't been able to buy this expansion yet, but definitely at the top of my list.
 
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