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Subject: The History (and demise) of deck building games rss

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Albert Jones
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I should clarify that the title was a little misleading, as this is the history of deck builders, from my perspective, not globally. However, if your entry to deck building was Dominion, stick around, this is for you.

Deck-builder # 1 Dominion

Dominion (2008) was, and probably is, a very good gateway game. The fact it lacks theme is one of the reasons it is a good gateway game. The theme on the box and the cards is a familiar middle-ages theme that everyone has knowledge of the archetypes and knows what to expect. It also gives it a little light sophistication by being vague associated with History and England in the minds of many. The lack of magic also keeps the game out of the 'weird' or 'fantastical' category for many, that might make it seem too childish to new, adult gamers. Finally, the theme does help explain some of the cards, somewhat, such as the Witch, who gives curses, and the Moat, that gives protection. Sure, why the village gives you cards and actions is a mystery, but that is not really important. That is because the theme being light means it can help, a very little, with understanding some of the cards, but mostly, the theme stays out of the way. You don't have to know anything about the middle ages to do well or understand the game. The theme never gets in the way of the basic mechanics, keeping them front and center to the experience.

The second reason Dominion is a good gate-way game is because it has very simple mechanics (at heart) that scale up in complexity as you play. When you start you have 7 coins and 3 points - very easy to understand. In the first few rounds, you have an Action, a Buy, and you Collect 5 new cards (Discarding your old ones) = ABC(D). It is literally as easy as ABC...D. But, as you buy cards, they enter your hands, often well spread out at first, slowly and you can see their effects in isolation and get to know how they work in their most basic sense. As you continue to play, you start to see cards fitting together, or not, in combos and strategy starts to enter your decision making. At this point the game usually ends, with you losing, but you know what to do next time, and the game was short, so you play again.

As you continue in your journey of the original box, you start to see a little more complexity. The game unfolds as you see new cards, new combinations, and new strategies. You try deck thinning to get your actions played more quickly; you try deck filling to mitigate collecting a lot of the lower point cards; you try going mostly for money, mostly for actions and all kinds of variations on these themes. Finally, you discover that the length of the game can also be controlled (somewhat) and it starts to factor into your strategies. This simple game has now become a somewhat complex game, but by scaffolding you through various zones of proximal development, with one complexity almost naturally leading to your discovery of the next, all leading from the very simple core mechanics of ABC.

You've played the base game a lot, and you realize that it is really full of simple cards that do simple things. You want more, so you buy Dominion: Intrigue (2009). This game adds some more complex cards. There are cards that work better at certain strategies and poorly at others. There is a little more depth here as you discover these new cards. However, the shortening or lengthening of the game complexity is still the same, many of the cards are really just variations on similar themes as the first game (ie/+3 cards becomes +4 cards and everyone else gets +1). You find some new combinations, but there is really just a little more complexity, no added depth.

You persevere and buy Dominion: Seaside (2009) with cards that wait or carry through rounds, or Dominion: Prosperity (2010) where there is a new currency and a new point card (plus cards that help you get tonnes of money - who doesn't love tonnes of money), or Dominion: Alchemy (2010) where there is magic now, and things start to get a little esoteric. All of these expansions add a little bit of complexity, but it isn't really new complexities that inform new strategic depth like the base game did. It is often just complexities for complexities sake. Each one leaves you feeling unfulfilled. The first game ramped up and ramped up, and now things have plateaued. Unconsciously, you are looking for the next level of strategic depth and all you are getting is more complexity - like an addict you need to get more and more to achieve the same high the first hit gave you.

Eventually, you sort of stop playing Dominion (well some of you did, other kept on buying). It sits on your shelf, with a series of expansion on top of it (or beside) and you look for the next deck builder. For me, that was Quarriors! (2011). A bag of dice building game, with the similar platter of things to buy in the center of the table, but, this time you kill your opponents for points. It is okay, but it has way too much reading involved. The lack of theme here is a detriment because you have played Dominion, you are experienced, you almost need something to get in the way of the mechanics or the game is too simple. The theme lets you down, looking at the iconography on the dice hurts your eyes, the game is derivative and too samey, and you move on.

The next place you go is Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (2012). Now I personally went in for the Marvel genre, love the X-men movies, read some of the comics as a kid, saw the cartoons. This game has theme! It draws you back in. Sure its combos and starting with dross and trying to make a killer deck, but you are fighting, saving lives, collecting your favourite super heroes (like you did as a kid), and generally having fun doing it. The game has some twists and turns, and it adds some new depth through different psuedo-campaigns against various super villains, analogous to boss at the end of a video game level. You like the game, but, its hard to set up, hard to keep organized, a bit fiddley to keep track of the rules and agendas of the campaigns, and the art is repetitive, the cards hard to read and overall, it doesn't ramp up. The first game is an easier boss, but what you see there is really what you see in the last game. Sure you find new combos, but you have been finding new combos in tonnes of Dominion expansions for a few years now, new combos isn't enough. Sure you are killing bad guys, working cooperatively, mostly, but it just isn't different enough from those first plays to the last. Dominion had you struggling with ABC at first and left you ending the game early so your opponents gold wouldn't cycle through to buy that last province. There was an arch to the Dominion strategic depth, that is again being replaced by complexity and minor changes, and some pretty cool themes, rather than new strategic depth.

That brings us to Trains: Rising Sun (2014) - I skipped to the upgraded version on this one. That is a jump of two years! What happened in-between? Thunderstone (2009) happened, but the theme is too Dungeons and Dragons, a theme that still has a certain body odour flavour to the women in my life; Ascension: Deckbuilding Game (2010) which I'll admit I know very little about, but it seems to have inspired the middle of the table row buying being not a static set for each game, adding some tactical/reactionary play to the mix; Mage Knight Board Game (2011) that I have mostly seen people talk about playing solo because it is so long (probably a 'great' game, but NOT the next level up from Dominion); and Trains (2012), the game that added a board to deck-building, so that it could be 'same-old' Dominion, but with the twist of a new place to think about, strategize over and learn. Trains is the next evolution, in my gaming tastes, of the deck-builder because it adds new depth. You start by buying rails and stations, and doing all the things you already know how to do in Dominion (while learning the quirks of a new system). New depth is added as you have to start thinking about starting locations in future games, about the meta-game of blocking (or making the appearance of about to block), completing routes, and the tactical interaction on the board, that doesn't often feel as physical when you are simply discarding cards. Not to mention some fairly good thematic elements to keep you entertained.

While on the theme of deck-builders, I would like to give a quick shout-out to Friday (2011), who did things differently by doing this single player. This is an awesome game for what it is (which is a small, portable way to kill 20-30 minutes playing a scaled down deck-builder with some interesting choices, cute thematic elements). It is almost more of a puzzle game than a deck-builder, as the deck thinning and building is a process you learn how to master and control, which you can then usually repeat ad nauseum. For the price point, the 8-18 games it takes you to figure out the system is well worth the money.

Puzzle Strike (2010) is a neat looking game, but doesn't seem to have captured people's attention. A Few Acres of Snow(2011)is the famously broken board game that captured a lot of attention, first good, and then later much more infamously. DC Comics Deck-Building Game (2012) is Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game theme mixed with Ascension: Deckbuilding Game mechanics. It is for me emblematic of the hybridization and derivative designing that is so common place in media in general. So often 'new' things are marketed as a mixture of A and B. It doesn't mean the game isn't fun, nor in some small ways unique, but it is probably not going to give you the same growth experience that Dominion was able to give you. It expects a certain vocabulary and experience with the genre and tries to wow you with twists, sometimes overt, sometimes subtle. These games are friendly, familiar and fun, but they aren't going to give you the scaffolding of depth and experience that a game like Dominion once gave you.

Arctic Scavengers (2009) is one game that I almost thought had that potential. Tom Vassel was excited by the story-telling of the game. It flew under a lot of radars, but it still sits on board game store shelves, mostly as a reprint with an expansion Arctic Scavengers: Base Game+HQ+Recon (2015). This is a game that I considered buying for a long time, and still might, but I fear its time has passed already. Story-telling is one area that board gaming has really progressed and seems to be continuing to progress in recent years. It is a new area of board gaming for me, so I'll leave that to another post, and maybe Arctic Scavengers will fit in that post.

Star Realms (2014) is another game that is simple, which is a good place to start, but probably has some depth to it. There are the combos, and maybe more. Although, with the price point and time scale, maybe more isn't needed? And I know I have left out many more like Core Worlds (2011) and Eminent Domain (2011) and For the Crown (First edition) (2011) and Copycat (2012) and Fantastiqa (2012), but look at all those dates! They are all over 5 years old now. It appears deck-builders peeked in 2011/2012.

Finally, has the age of deck-builders come to an end? Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building. Has deck-building become just a small sub-theme of uber-games that encompass every mechanic they can to fulfill the addiction of over-satisfied gamers who have played it all and now want it all? Well, Orléans (2014) would argue that it hasn't. I'll admit that I haven't investigated this game too much. I am waiting to see if it has legs, which it seems it may not have? Dice isn't really a novelty, but it feels like they were trying to build the 'perfect' deck-builder, in a manner similar to Terra Mystica (2012) being a 'perfect' old-style Euro (German) board game. What I mean by 'perfect' is not in terms of fun or even mass appeal, but in terms of design, accessibility and scaling of depth. A game thaT is somewhat intuitive in its design, strategies and ideas for how to play; strategies develop within the first game you play, yet, as you play more games, you discover more and more areas you can control, manipulate and affect. You don't have to control them, and you can have fun not knowing about them, but there is more to the game as you explore - rather than more tacked on that you have to do each turn or complexity added to the game.

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Ender Wiggins
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and his geeklist Deck-building Games: Your favourites and why.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Ldayjones wrote:
Finally, has the age of deck-builders come to an end? Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building.


Great Western Trail
Clank
Innis
Mystic Vale
Tyrants of the Underdark
Automobiles

All 2016 games that just come to top of mind. I think you've been misinformed about the death of deck-building.
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Jason
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LDayJones wrote:
Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building.


Sure, there's no deck-building if you ignore Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle on that list. Also, Mystic Vale, in the honorable mentions, is a twist on deck-building.

There were also a bunch of deck-builders released in 2016. The following were stand outs for me, but I'm sure there's more:
Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure ranked 225
Tyrants of the Underdark ranked 530
Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game ranked 1,184 despite the bad art

Not sure how much Arkham Horror: The Card Game counts for a deck-builder, but it has a little bit of deck upgrading and bad things can result in the deck getting worse. The core gameplay is mostly running through a pre-built deck though.

It seems like deck building is alive and well in 2016, and I'm sure it will continue to be in 2017.
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Steve C
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Rumors of deckbuilders demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Clank is awesome, by the way.
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Alexandre Santos
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Aeon's End is another deck-builder that gathered a lot of attention and praise. I think you are burned out or fatigued of deck-builders more than a general decline in the genre
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Albert Jones
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Thunkd wrote:
Ldayjones wrote:
Finally, has the age of deck-builders come to an end? Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building.


Great Western Trail
Clank
Innis
Mystic Vale
Tyrants of the Underdark
Automobiles

All 2016 games that just come to top of mind. I think you've been misinformed about the death of deck-building.


While I will grant you that I am not overly familiar with Clank!, though have heard of it, and have heard rather mixed reviews of Great Western Trail, I will challenge your inclusion of Inis. Looking at its BGG entry, the mechanics are:
Area Control / Area Influence
Area Movement
Card Drafting
Deck / Pool Building
Hand Management
Memory
Tile Placement.
That isn't really a deck-builder, but a game that has a tonne of mechanics, with deck-building within it. Few people would call Trajan a set-collection game rather than a rondel mechanic, or mini-game or some other description of the main mechanic, rather than a sub-mechanic. Looking at the description: "Careful drafting, hand management, bluffing (especially once players understand the importance of passing their turn), good timing, and a precise understanding of the balance of power are the keys to victory." I do not see deck management in there?

All that defensiveness aside, I am willing to admit to a little personal fatigue, however I did start the piece by stating it was my "personal history" with deckbuilders. And I will defend my position by saying that other than Inis, which isn't really a deck-builder, and Mystic Vale, which I haven't yet played, I have not heard these games being shouted from the rooftops, they aren't making the "Top games of 2016" lists, nor any of the Dice Tower lists.

However, I will try to keep an open mind in the comments. I have to expect a little push back with such a provocative title.
 
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Albert Jones
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AlexFS wrote:
Aeon's End is another deck-builder that gathered a lot of attention and praise. I think you are burned out or fatigued of deck-builders more than a general decline in the genre


I checked this game out and a) it has gain some notoriety as being rather innovative, worthy of awards and a deck-builder and b) it actually looks pretty interesting. I'll do a little investigating and maybe deck-builders make a come back for me.

I still haven't seen any listed for 2013-2015 (other than re-implementations or reprints)?
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I'm really critical of deckbuilding as a mechanism, specifically the 1 deck and a market row design. I acknowledge Dominion as a brilliant design given the customizability of its market and how the very goal is straightforward which only gives into frustration with all its copycats that don't understand what makes Dominion work. When you throw in garbage like combat and multiple resources what you're doing is removing agency from the player. I'm at the mercy of two random elements; the market and my draw. My turn isn't planned or strategic, I'm just making the best use of what's available with the probability of what I can draw and that sucks.

I do like it when games customize deckbuilding to suit their needs. Concordia is like a deckbuilder in reverse. Instead of trimming your deck to be as efficient as possible you're trying to hold out for as long as you can while reaping rewards from your opponent's plays. Instead of constantly discarding and reshuffling, the shuffle is an important element to getting around the board but basically costs you a whole turn. It's brilliant.
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Ldayjones wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
Ldayjones wrote:
Finally, has the age of deck-builders come to an end? Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building.


Great Western Trail
Clank
Innis
Mystic Vale
Tyrants of the Underdark
Automobiles

All 2016 games that just come to top of mind. I think you've been misinformed about the death of deck-building.


While I will grant you that I am not overly familiar with Clank!, though have heard of it, and have heard rather mixed reviews of Great Western Trail, I will challenge your inclusion of Inis. Looking at its BGG entry, the mechanics are:
Area Control / Area Influence
Area Movement
Card Drafting
Deck / Pool Building
Hand Management
Memory
Tile Placement.
That isn't really a deck-builder, but a game that has a tonne of mechanics, with deck-building within it. Few people would call Trajan a set-collection game rather than a rondel mechanic, or mini-game or some other description of the main mechanic, rather than a sub-mechanic. Looking at the description: "Careful drafting, hand management, bluffing (especially once players understand the importance of passing their turn), good timing, and a precise understanding of the balance of power are the keys to victory." I do not see deck management in there?

All that defensiveness aside, I am willing to admit to a little personal fatigue, however I did start the piece by stating it was my "personal history" with deckbuilders. And I will defend my position by saying that other than Inis, which isn't really a deck-builder, and Mystic Vale, which I haven't yet played, I have not heard these games being shouted from the rooftops, they aren't making the "Top games of 2016" lists, nor any of the Dice Tower lists.

However, I will try to keep an open mind in the comments. I have to expect a little push back with such a provocative title.


Clank! Was certainly in many reviewers' top 10's for 2016 so it was not under the radar.

Mystic Vale really is a deck builder with a different implementation of the mechanic.

Tyrants of the Underdark is a great game that suffered from to high a price point

Aeon's End is also a great combination of Deck Building and Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Look at 2017 and we already have two deck builders that are pretty well regarded...Hero Realms and Vikings Gone Wild, plus a Clank! Expansion.

It is true that we don't have the flood of deck builders we had 8 years ago, but the ones coming out now are just more innovative....
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Stephen Hall
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Dominion is widely considered the first deckbuilder. However, if you are interested in exploring older games with some similar ideas (sort of proto-deckbuilding), StarCraft: The Board Game had a very slight element of deckbuilding (among a hot mess of other mechanics). And long before that, Monad had a kind of hand-building mechanic.
 
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Ldayjones wrote:
All that defensiveness aside, I am willing to admit to a little personal fatigue, however I did start the piece by stating it was my "personal history" with deckbuilders. And I will defend my position by saying that other than Inis, which isn't really a deck-builder, and Mystic Vale, which I haven't yet played, I have not heard these games being shouted from the rooftops, they aren't making the "Top games of 2016" lists, nor any of the Dice Tower lists.

However, I will try to keep an open mind in the comments. I have to expect a little push back with such a provocative title.

When you make a declaration in strong terms, you have to expect pushback. And you left yourself wide open to an easy narrative because there have been two very popular games from 2016 (Aeon's End and Clank) that you didn't even mention in your original post. And mentioning that they don't make any Dice Tower lists is just asking for trouble (as you're only pulling from a single group of reviewers' preference).

Even if this is your personal history, it seems that your history ended back in 2015. And it's 2017 now. And your title didn't have any limiters, so you made a pretty broad and not-so-accurate statement. Good read, though!
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One thing that's gotten me to not want to bother buying DBG.... too many freaking cards. For some, lugging, storing, and sleeving (yes, am aware that not all of these are required of DBG owners, but still a common theme none of the less) 500 to 5,000+ cards can become a chore on its own Much like how gamers like to organize their games via bags and plano boxes, paint minis, etc. I am of the opinion that many DBG are MUCH better off being digitally implemented.


That said, I'll still play them on other people's copies, including helping out with setup and tear down.
 
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Ldayjones wrote:
Looking through the best games of 2016 (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/12/game-on-the-best-boar......) there is a lot of 'card drafting similar to 7 wonders' (2010), but no deck-building.

The arstechnica crew's personal list is hardly a definitive survey of the state of the hobby. IDK, maybe they just weren't feeling deckbuilding much this year?
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jaybeethree wrote:
I'm really critical of deckbuilding as a mechanism, specifically the 1 deck and a market row design. I acknowledge Dominion as a brilliant design given the customizability of its market and how the very goal is straightforward which only gives into frustration with all its copycats that don't understand what makes Dominion work. When you throw in garbage like combat and multiple resources what you're doing is removing agency from the player. I'm at the mercy of two random elements; the market and my draw. My turn isn't planned or strategic, I'm just making the best use of what's available with the probability of what I can draw and that sucks.
While there are many wild remarks concerning Dominion, there are definitely ones that come from solid gamers who have provided "legit reasons" why they'd prefer other DBG, or just simply other games altogether.

jaybeethree wrote:
I do like it when games customize deckbuilding to suit their needs. Concordia is like a deckbuilder in reverse. Instead of trimming your deck to be as efficient as possible you're trying to hold out for as long as you can while reaping rewards from your opponent's plays. Instead of constantly discarding and reshuffling, the shuffle is an important element to getting around the board but basically costs you a whole turn. It's brilliant.
As it's not always possible to trim your deck in Dominion, I'm wondering just how your games play out?
 
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Don't forget about Millennium Blades which is a deck builder on crack. Love this game
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Akado wrote:
Rumors of deckbuilders demise have been greatly exaggerated.


Yep. While I'll agree some of the Dominion expansions are complex (eg. Intrigue, Guilds, Alchemy, Dark Ages), they're no more complex than any Ameritrash game. Once you hit Adventures and Empire's Event cards, the game takes on a whole new strategy. AEG's Thunderstone is in its 3rd version, and currently being KS'ed. It's not even on the market so can't be said to be declining.

I'm not sure what the term is, either "upkeep deckbuilding" or "upkeep deck customization", but PACG, AH:LCG, and Gloomhaven have mechanics where you start with a character deck, purchase or acquire cards, and swap out the less efficient cards from your deck. Given that AH:LCG has only been on the market for a few months, and Gloomhaven isn't even on the market, we, again, have games that show deckbuilding isn't declining, though not everyone will agree this is deckbuilding in the sense of Dominion, Thunderstone, etc.

Also, on the designer forum, there's some talk about "reverse deckbuilding" where you put cards into your opponent's decks. AFAIK, Marvel Legendary is the only game that does this, but not in a strategic sense.

I see deckbuilding as a subset of "deck customization", and, as long as game designers find creative ways to change the cards in player decks, there will always be some form of this mechanic. I would argue that there are even more *good* deckbuilding games on the market today than their predecessors, the CCG. Then again, CCG's had their "demise" (good riddence, Wyvern!), so this may happen to deckbuilders as well. Though, frankly, I'd say the current crop of deckbuilders certainly beats the CCG's us card-floppers suffered through (where'd I put that Bad Sushi card, anyway??).
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Forbidden Stars has deck building involved as a core part of the combat strategy.

Gloomhaven which is the #1 hotness right now has light deck building elements as part of the game.

Deck building is far from dead it has just evolved to be included with other mechanics in games.
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ackmondual wrote:
jaybeethree wrote:
I'm really critical of deckbuilding as a mechanism, specifically the 1 deck and a market row design. I acknowledge Dominion as a brilliant design given the customizability of its market and how the very goal is straightforward which only gives into frustration with all its copycats that don't understand what makes Dominion work. When you throw in garbage like combat and multiple resources what you're doing is removing agency from the player. I'm at the mercy of two random elements; the market and my draw. My turn isn't planned or strategic, I'm just making the best use of what's available with the probability of what I can draw and that sucks.
While there are many wild remarks concerning Dominion, there are definitely ones that come from solid gamers who have provided "legit reasons" why they'd prefer other DBG, or just simply other games altogether.

jaybeethree wrote:
I do like it when games customize deckbuilding to suit their needs. Concordia is like a deckbuilder in reverse. Instead of trimming your deck to be as efficient as possible you're trying to hold out for as long as you can while reaping rewards from your opponent's plays. Instead of constantly discarding and reshuffling, the shuffle is an important element to getting around the board but basically costs you a whole turn. It's brilliant.
As it's not always possible to trim your deck in Dominion, I'm wondering just how your games play out?


I can't account for the dozen expansions that change up Dominion, but the core design is trashing garbage cards for better cards. It's deckbuilding's unique tenant.
 
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Quote:

Each one leaves you feeling unfulfilled. The first game ramped up and ramped up, and now things have plateaued. Unconsciously, you are looking for the next level of strategic depth and all you are getting is more complexity - like an addict you need to get more and more to achieve the same high the first hit gave you.


Quote:

to fulfill the addiction of over-satisfied gamers who have played it all and now want it all?



I often feel this way about my gaming habit in general. This leads me to ask myself what it is about gaming that I'm really interested in. Is it really the games themselves that I have an interest in? Well, yes, to a certain degree. But I think if I'm honest with myself, it isn't the games themselves that keep my interest in the hobby. What keeps me coming back is the expectation of enjoying the game with people. It's the social interaction with people that I care about that keeps me interested in the hobby. And yes, the games make for an excellent facilitator to achieving enjoyable social interaction.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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Agricola, Sekigahara, Concordia, Innovation, COOKIE!!! (and Guinness)
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SANJURO: You're all tough, then? GAMBLER: What? Kill me if you can! SANJURO: It'll hurt.
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Just personally, for me:

I picked up Aeon's End (avg rating 8.15) and liked it quite a bit.
I got Great Western Trail (8.28) but haven't played it yet.

I'm interested in Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure (8.06)

I'm also interested in Tyrants of the Underdark (7.99) which a buddy said was great.

I think deck building is alive and quite well.

To the OP: You may "have heard rather mixed reviews of Great Western Trail" but with a rating of 8.28 and ranked 47th I'd tend to think you just hit some grumpy reviewers.
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Stephen Hall
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Msmith10000 wrote:
Forbidden Stars has deck building involved as a core part of the combat strategy.


If I'm not mistaken (I haven't played Forbidden Stars), I believe this is based on the StarCraft system.
 
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Albert Jones
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skutsch wrote:
Just personally, for me:

I picked up Aeon's End (avg rating 8.15) and liked it quite a bit.
I got Great Western Trail (8.28) but haven't played it yet.

I'm interested in Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure (8.06)

I'm also interested in Tyrants of the Underdark (7.99) which a buddy said was great.

I think deck building is alive and quite well.

To the OP: You may "have heard rather mixed reviews of Great Western Trail" but with a rating of 8.28 and ranked 47th I'd tend to think you just hit some grumpy reviewers.


You may have a point there about GET. I'll have to give it a rethink. I thank you for supporting your arguments with evidence. I have been politely told off for only citing two reviewers for 2016, but have yet to have one person provide a review including the games in my first reply. That being said, I'll freely admit that a big part of this post was to explore why I loved Dominion and gave up on the genre by 2015. It died for me, and I was hoping to figure out why, as it appeared to me it had waned everywhere. Still waiting for any examples from 2013-2015, maybe there was a hiatus? I'll check out some of these 2016 games. I know Kickstarter has had deck builders, but that is still a relatively niche market for most games published there, with some very notible exceptions. Thanks for the ideas, I feel like I am learning a lot here.
 
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John Smith
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I suspect Dominion will be my fave for a while yet, there is a purity to it that for me marks it out as a classic!

I think you may be calling time on deckbuilding a little early.



For 2016, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is an outstanding, family gateway game in my book. I have not played it but Hands in the Sea is getting some rave reviews.

Valley of the Kings is not old yet, out in 2014 and had two more standalone expansions. I really like this one.

Paperback was interesting, another from 2014. Baseball Highlights 2045, from 2015, is another.
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Arnaldo Horta Jr
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We seem to be evolving past the standard deck builders. We have Tyrants of the Underdsrk which adds area control. Clank! Which adds the board, push your luck elements and more positional play. Vikings Gone Wild combines deck building and tableau building. I suspect that we will get even more games that have deck building as one mechanic supporting others.

I don't like some of the popular deck builders (Ascension...BLECH) and yet this is my favorite mechanic..especially when it is combined with others.

For the Crown, anyone?
 
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Albert Jones
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blackmeeple wrote:
I suspect Dominion will be my fave for a while yet, there is a purity to it that for me marks it out as a classic!

I think you may be calling time on deckbuilding a little early.



For 2016, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is an outstanding, family gateway game in my book. I have not played it but Hands in the Sea is getting some rave reviews.

Valley of the Kings is not old yet, out in 2014 and had two more standalone expansions. I really like this one.

Paperback was interesting, another from 2014. Baseball Highlights 2045, from 2015, is another.


Blackmeeple, you may be right, I think I called the end a little early. I felt a little like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle was on the outside, but you are right, it is a good little family gateway game and deserves to fit in the genre comfortably. But Paperback! I was inches from buying this when it came out, and it was all the talk of the town for a little while. More and more it is seeming it is just me that left deck-builders, not deck-builders leaving board gaming as a stand-alone genre.
 
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