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I bought Domaine back in 2005, when I hadn't been back into the "new gaming scene" that long. It looked great on BGG and it got good reviews. And when I first got it, I wasn't disappointed-- It has great production values, from the nicely sculpted plastic minis for the castles, knights, and walls, to the thick beautifully illustrated modular board and Ducats. The game set up is just beautiful to look at. The theme is great--castles and knights, and forming and fighting over domaines. And at first blush, I thought the game ran great--the simple turn structure of paying for and playing a single card; the elegant economy of income from controlling mines, the inflation built into the constructed deck, and the ability to sell cards and retrieve previously sold cards. It just all fit together.

I loved it. ...Or did I?! [DUN dun DAAAH, lightning bolt, thunder crash]

I've played the game almost a dozen times now (which is a lot for me), and I've come grudgingly to the conclusion that once you get past the pretty, the game itself just doesn't work.

There are many goals to work towards in Domaine--creating domaines, expanding domaines, controlling mines for income, building domain strength, "invading" opponents domains, and of course gaining Victory Points through domaine control of forests, city, and mine monopolies (controlling 3 or more of a certain kind). However there are really only two major tactics for achieving all these goals--domain creation and expansion, and domain fortification through the placing and manipulation of knights. (A domaine is "stronger" than an adjacent domaine if it contains more knights.) I believe that BOTH of these tactics are flawed.


First, domaine building. You create a domaine by surrounding one of your castles (and it's knight(s)) with walls. Once surrounded a domaine is formed. Once a domaine is formed it can then only be expanded, which is different than wall placement-- it needs a different card and it effectly costs less, as you are now expanding by board space and do not have to worry about the walls themselves. Also, the outer edges of the board count in creating a domaine as well as the walls of other domaines. This is very important in the beginning of the game, as it is an almost necessity to form at least one domaine early (you don't get any income until you have control of some mines), and the best way to make a quick domaine is to start at the edge of the board where you only need to lay a couple walls to form a domaine--as little as 3 if you're in a corner. But therein also lies the biggest flaw of Domaine.

I'll first construct an example that we can then examine. Let's say it's later in the game and most of the board has been walled off into domaines. There's only a couple castles left undomained. We'll say that one of them is Larry's castle. Larry hasn't had much luck--his opponents have beaten him to other areas of the board and he is in last place. Last place Larry is sitting there moping when the turn comes around to him and he drearily notices that he's one of only two guys left without a domaine. But wait, hold on, his eyes light up! There are only two castles left, and if he were to seperate them from each other--and because borders and other domaines can be used as walls--all he has to do is build walls between these last to castles, and two domaines will be formed, one for each of them! And because the board has lots of large, strangely shaped domaines*, he only needs to use two little wall segments (which he can easily do in one turn), running from that one domaine to that other one to seperate off the two castles and create the final two domaines!

[* domaines often grow in irregular patterns because you don't get size for points per se; you get points and income from certain specific spaces. It's not uncommon to have a wide, thin snaking domaine that stretches halfway across the board reaching mines and cities, but is only one space think. This isn't necessarily the best strategy as other opponents only need to expand "through" a space or two of this type of domaine to cut off large portions of it--if a section of a domaine is cut off from that domaine's caslte, it is no longer part of that domaine and the domaine holder loses control (and points) for the cut off section. It becomes a "neutral" domaine until someone else expands into it. On the other hand this is a Euro game with limited resources and time and so sometimes making domaines like this is the only viable option open to a player.]

Back to Larry, he's just made a domaine with only two walls!! and it happens to be a pretty big domaine--If you think about it, it's all the unused space on the board! There may be few mines on it, if any, because people have been specifically going for mines for income and monopolies and it might have few cities in it because those are 3 points apiece--another prime target for those big domaine controlers-- but you'd be surprised. I was surpised, multiple times, at how a bunch of leftover space that contains a few cities and maybe more than a few forest can add up to a dozen or more points. In fact, I've seen it literally catapult a Last place Larry all the way to first, and even to the target winning score! I am not kidding or exagerating. I've had a player in one of my Domaine games who was in last place get that "final leftover domaine" and go from last place to game-over, they-win, first place.

And, actually it gets worse. That example was Larry forming the second-to-last domain. Remember that other castle that Larry seperated from. That guy got the actual "final leftover domaine" and he didn't do anything. So now you can start to see situations where maybe Larry isn't in last place, he's doing okay, but he really needs to form his last domaine, but that would give that other guy the BIG "last leftover domaine" so he can't do it. But then, it doesn't matter; you can't really block people in Domaine, so if that other guy is just going to do it on his turn, anyway. The only real decision is if there is more than one place where the last two castles can be seperated that shifts points between the two. Either way, someone's getting points for nothing. Terrible.

Now, I can hear the Domaine fans now, "Well right, it happens, and now the players know about it, and experienced players will be watching for it; it's part of the strategy; and so on." Well, it's a good argument, and I gave it a chance, but it just isn't true. After experiencing this crappy, unfun, letdown of a game ending more than once, I started warning people about it. And, it doesn't work. I played a game with four seasoned gamers who I explicitly told about the "final leftover domaine" problem, and they all got it and it still happened!! And I've considered that maybe it just happens in 4-player games because each player only gets 3 castles and it's too easy for everybody to form domaines for all of their castles, but just this week I played a 2-player game (and most likely my last game ever of Domaine), where not only do you get 4 castles each, but you put 4 neutral castles out there, AND IT STILL HAPPENED!! In fact I think it happens more with experienced players because the game is going to go the distance without anyone really "running away with it," until of course that one guy gets the "final leftover domaine."

I think it's almost unavoidable because this is a limited time and resource Euro where each player is making tough decisions every turn. If you actively spend time watching and protecting against that "last leftover domaine," you're going to lose. Unless of course instead of protecting against it, your whole game plan centers around getting it. Which is in my opinion just not fun nor does it fit the spirit of the game. Which leads into my other more esoteric problem with the domain building.

Being able to create a whole domaine by connecting one guys perimeter with another guys perimeter with a couple feet of fence and getting credit for "controlling" all that is leftover doesn't simulate or even approximate the real world whatsover, which is why angling for it or even having to think about it sucks all the fun out of this game for me. In the real world, if a group of peoples are vying over control of the same land, the last guy out who hasn't yet walled off his domaine DOESN'T GAIN CONTROL OF THE REST OF THE WORLD! It makes no logical sense for the guy that got beat out to "get the rest." And it's more than just theme, it's a broken game mechanic.

Some people who have not played the game still may be doubting this, because a logical question is, "yeah, but usually isn't the 'leftover' stuff not worth that much?" And the answer is that yes, logically that makes sense, but remember this is a tight game--a player doesn't have time to get everything. They have to get control of a small domaine or two early and grow it how and when they can, and we haven't even considered time wasted "fighting" over domaines yet. That's why I think the appropriate real-world comparison is "the whole world." Three guys wall off and gain control of their couple thousand square miles of Europe with a lot of hard work, and a fourth guy gets the REST OF THE WORLD, and I mean gets credit for it all as if he "controlled" it the same way the other 3 guys control the thousand square miles. It really is ludicrous when you look at it that way.


Second, the whole system of knights and "battling" over formed domaines. There are cards that can be used to add knights to a players domaine and steal knights from other players domaines (called deserting), with the purpose being that the number of knights connected to a castle equates to that castle's domaine's "strength." A stronger domaine can expand into weaker domaines. Points are transient, and so when a player loses land from his domaine he loses points for the land he lost. It's a compact, nifty way of handling "fighting" over the land. And I think the mechanics themselves are not broken. But sadly they just don't work in the game.

Remember, a turn in Domaine consists of: Income, Play a card (or sell one), Draw a card. That's one card, no more no less. As I've already said, this is a manage your time and resources Euro, and every move is important. So, let's say you decide to go after that other guys domaine. It sounds like a viable plan--your taking points and income away from him and giving them to yourself. But first you have to get stronger. Everyone starts off the game with each of their castles having one attached knight, so everyone starts off at equal strength, and you have to have greater strength to expand into or "invade" another players domaine.

So, step one is to add another knight to one of your castles to strengthen it. ...And that's it. Remember, you can only play one card per turn. So, of course, all the other players get to see you do this and have time to react. So, let's say Larry over there thinks that you've added that knight to come after his domaine, so on his turn he adds a knight to the domaine next to the one that you fortified bringing the two domaines back to equal strength. Huh. Okay, so now next turn you play one of those Deserter cards that steals his knight and brings it over to your side giving you a two knight advantage over Larry (appropriately, the Deserter cards cost more). Back to Larry, if he has a Deserter card he can play it and steal back his knight and you're back to even again. Huh. Or, maybe he has an Alliance card that effectly sets up a non-reversable truce between two domaines where those two domaines can no longer expand into each other the rest of the game. Huh. So, that's a lot of turns and money for nothing. And worse, if this is more than a 2-player game, you and Larry have effectively been unproductive for a couple turns and fallen behind the rest.

Granted, there are other considerations and opportunities here. Knights must be placed in a chain with the rest of the knights and castle and must be place on clear spaces (or forest spaces for an extra charge), so you can aim at strengthening domaines where neighboring domaines don't have the room to grow. Also, you can strenghten a domaine that has multiple neighboring domaines to increase your attack possibilites, and of course there's always the chance that the opponent just doesn't have the cards to fight back. But in the end, to me anyway, it just seems like least risk, most reward to go after more territory, more mines, more cities, and save a Deserter or Alliance card to ward off any joker who tries to come after you. Bottom line, there's little incentive and not much fun in the land-battle part of Domaine.


So, the knight battling is risky and can easily be unproductive and is always slow. And, the domaine building is plain broken. What's left? Nothing really but pretty pieces and my disappointment. I really did love this game, but in the end, it just doesn't work. And I don't see how anyone can think it works. Unless I guess you don't mind the wacked out "final leftover domaine" that can let Last place Larry go from zero to hero through little to no effort on his own, and you don't mind the dismally boring land-grab through plodding knight placement.


I do still like a few things about Domaine. Besides the beautiful components, I really like the inflation built into the consructed deck and the simplicity of the income from mines and the ability to sell cards for money, as well as the mechanism for recycling those sold cards by allowing them to be selected instead of a card draw to finish a turn. And, I really do enjoy initially placing walls and carving out your first domaines. I almost feel like the board is too small. There should be enough room for there to be dead space that is never made part of any domaines. That's how the real world works. Even today, there are many parts of our world that lay maybe not unclaimed, but definitely uncontrolled.


I originally gave this game a 10. After the first couple games and the discovery of the "final leftover domaine," I dropped it to a 6.
My final rating: 4 - - a flawed, unfun game.

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Jon W
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I've played perhaps six times, but I've found the endgame battle very interesting, with one or two people trying to create a "neutral" area specifically so the effect you describe doesn't happen. I also think it enhances the long-term planning in the game, making it less tactical and more strategic, and requiring some spatial awareness that is unusual in most euros.

The knights I halfway agree with you on. They're more of a last resort kind of thing. I do like how you can use them to block someone in or out of an area.
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Richard Lea
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Maybe you could try playing Domaine's previous incarnation, Löwenherz, which I prefer and which uses auctions to acquire cards rather than drafting.

Anyway, isn't it the other players' duty to try and make sure that Larry doesn't get handed gifts like the ones you describe?
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Jon W
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One more thing just struck me, and that is how, as in many other games, "last place" might be an odd way to describe the Larry of your example. The goal of the game isn't to be leading in VPs until the final turn, it's to be leading after the final turn. So it's possible to play a waiting game (to some extent; obviously you need mines and can't simply do nothing), keeping strong defensive cards and exerting passive pressure through knights and territorial threats elsewhere.

Seems more like a feature than a bug to have a strategic alternative to the pure land grab, but then, I admit I haven't played it as much as you have.
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Domaine is not perfect for sure. But it can be a fun time in my experience with it.

And I agree with the knight critique and also its true that a large domaine can form accidently at the end as well. But even so, its a decent game IMHO.

My beef with Domaine is the cards draw can sometimes screw you over, my last game I desperately needed expansion cards and I didn't get any while the player next to me had many of them and happily expanded his domaine and easily won the game.

But with all this said, Domaine is a good game to me and I especially like the aesthetics as you said, they are great, with a nice board and I especially like the big thick money counters. The knights and castles are cool too.



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Keith Anderson
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When you said that you warned the seasoned gamers about the last domaine were you referring to seasoned Domaine gamers or just seasoned gamers? Knowing about the last domaine possibilities and knowing the game well enough to do something with that knowledge are two different things. Knowledge of other games will not necessarily help here.

As for the knights, the chance that the opponent can counterbalance your force is necessary to keep you from getting an advantage and then just moving through them turn after turn without resistance. However, since the opponent will not necessarily be able to counterbalance it remains a threat especially since ALL bordering opponents have to consider your force size.
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Good comments.

First, I'll make it clear that it is not impossible to have a good game of Domaine. I've had maybe 2 games that have played out to the end fun and un-broken as waddball has described. But more than not I've had the broken games.

I'd be interested to know what number of players people play this game with and whether they think it breaks more with 3 or 4. I thought it broke more with 4 but after my last play I'm not so sure.

waddball, as for the "last place" comment, I don't think this is like Power Grid where first doesn't mean first. The point of the game is to get and maintain domaines. It's not like Larry snuck out of last place through clever planning, he was handed first play by the virtues of the "final leftover domain" problem. I think that you could play this game and just hover and wait to try and pounce on the "last leftover domaine," I just think that it's not what this game should be about. And it's not reflective of any sort of realword scenario. I think the word in war games is called turtling, and usually it's frowned upon when the best strategy in a game is turtling.

Also, the seasoned players I was referring to were NOT seasoned Domaine players, but they got my point. And in fact we all saw the "final leftover domaine" coming 3 turns earlier. But what can you do. You can't all just stop expanding and just hole up.
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Brad Miller
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I've played Domaine quite a bit since it came out, mostly with three and four players. I've NEVER seen the "leftover domaine" move a player from last to first. By the time the leftovers hand someone a free domaine, there isn't much left to hand them. Of course, I've never seen a long, snaking, single width section either. I'd cut that off in a second...
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Miguel
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We've played a couple of games of Domaine, and I've also critiqued the game for the "final land grab" problem you mention. However, I would describe it a little differently than you...

Since every player has 3-4 castles, the last developed castle of any player could be the beneficiary of the big land grab. Unlike Power Grid, actual player standing has little to do with it (i.e. the player in last place has no particular advantage to get the big land grab). The problem in my mind is that the big land grab makes the hour that proceeds it somewhat irrelevant. Whoever gets that big lot wins, not who played well up to that point.

As we've played a few more times, we've all been weary of developing our last castle for this very reason... it takes you out of the running for the last land grab. I'd say this has improved the game, and made it less likely to have a blowout, but it's not a guarantee.

I still like the game, but I can't deny it's flaws.
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Jon W
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BoB3K wrote:
I think that you could play this game and just hover and wait to try and pounce on the "last leftover domaine," I just think that it's not what this game should be about. And it's not reflective of any sort of realword scenario. I think the word in war games is called turtling, and usually it's frowned upon when the best strategy in a game is turtling.

I'm not sure how to compare much about this game to the real world. I mean, if you start in a corner, and your left- and right-hand neighbors build their own fences and create your domaine for you, do you think that maps to a real world scenario? Yet that, or a close variation of it, happens all the time early in this game; it's a key to success, to utilize your neighbors builds. So I'm not sure what to think on that score.

I do think, though, that the game "should" be about whatever its rules define or allow.

My suspicion is that if you play this way, you'll find that your competitors will (a) create a central domaine earlier (there is a direct VP incentive to do so), and (b) find ways to make any large unclaimed lands either neutral or easy to cut apart.
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Keith Anderson
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While I enjoy the game as is, the last domaine formed can be game deciding. It can be either a factor in a very close game (annoying if that 'feels' wrong to the players) or a last to first major factor if the players allow the last domaines to be too large by a combination of having their own domaines be too small and/or allowing the last domaines to benefit from the shape of development (difficult for players to avoid and it might keep them from playing again).

Since the last domaine formed can be large and can decide a game and since that can be viewed as being a bug rather than a feature, most probably would, I'm wondering if this could be 'fixed' through variant. Perhaps placing a significant number of neutral castles (use tokens, quarters, hershey kisses) about the board would make it more difficult to get a last large domaine passively. The more neutral castles placed, the harder to form that last large domaine passively.

I'll try this soon. I'm thinking that I'll start with 9 neutral castles that are placed according to the following rules:
1) They are placed before player castles
2) Players take turns placing them
3) There must be only one per map section
4) They cannot touch each other by side or by corner
5) They follow the rules regarding land types that castles can be placed on.
6) Then player castles are placed normally except that player castles do not have to be any specific distance from neutral castles but must still obey the rules regarding the proximity to other player castles.
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Roy Thomson
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I have played three games of Domaine and have won once. With three plays under my belt, I guess I am disillusioned with it, as I definitely enjoy playing this game. My only gripe with this game so far; it doesn't last long enough.

Maybe with 7 more plays, I will find it broke as well. For now, I love it.
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Chris
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Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun, and Stars forever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.
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Thanks for the review. It was a good analysis of how the game produces an unenjoyable experience for you. I've always thought a great way to pick games is when even the negative comments make you want to play it. Based on the reviews and the comments others have made, I've upgraded Domaine from a 3 to a 2 on my wishlist. Generally, when a negative review is posted, it is responded by a lot of people saying "right on" as well as a healthy dose of fans of the game making counter points. There isn't really anyone else chiming in saying the leftover land grab makes Domaine broken and not fun to play. The consensus from the responders is that it exists, but doesn't take away their enjoyment of the game.

From the other comments, it appears there are ways to adjust play in order to take advantage of the last turn land grab and prevent other players from getting it. It sounds like it just doesn't fit what you think this game should be about, which is fine.

It's almost like a game group that thought collecting wheat is what Settlers of Catan is all about, and everyone competed furiously for wheat hexes. But, that wheat competition left all the other resources and good positions open to a player that didn't compete for wheat, and whoever didn't fight for the wheat kept winning. That game group could come to the conclusion that Settlers was broken, because wheat is just awesome, this game is about collecting wheat, and collecting resources other than wheat just doesn't match what you do in the real world when you settle an island. That game group should then reject settlers and look for something that better meets their expectations. But, many other players who don't have a hang up on non wheat resources can get a kick out of settlers.

I've never played Domaine, but based on your review and the discussion it generated, it looks like it has a lot of tough, interesting decisions and I think I'd like it.
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John Farrell
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This article completely mystifies me. I *know* there's going to be a final left-over domaine, so I make sure it's my castle that's in it. Most of my moves after creation of my first domaine have that goal in mind - in fact even in the initial castle placement I had that in mind.

Knight battling can be unproductive, but the other guys will do it if you don't. When you place knights you need to threaten multiple possible expansions. Ideally, you scare your opponents into placing knights in their domaines then you expand into unclaimed territory in a way that assists your plan to have the final left-over domaine.

When I first played the game I thought it was about creating domaines, when really it's about dividing up the whole board. You seem determined not to understand that?
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Friendless wrote:
When I first played the game I thought it was about creating domaines, when really it's about dividing up the whole board. You seem determined not to understand that?


So, you're saying that I'm determined to want a game called Domaines to be about creating and expanding domaines, instead of some sort of unintuitive (in relation to theme), almost meta-game-like turtlefest that more resembles the "whomever takes the last match wins game" --a completely abstract game that has nothing to do with the theme of creating, expanding, and exploiting land in a medieval setting, the theme which is presented throughout the game description and beautiful artwork and components of Domaine. Yeah, how crazy of me.

I own and play many an abstract game and I enjoy them. Domaine is not, nor was it meant to be an abstract. This game is not about dividing up a board. You seem determined not to undrestand that. ( )
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Jon W
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Dividing up the whole board is creating domaines.

I think this theme is nicely done for a euro, but it is a euro, so I don't think there's a ton of traction for the argument against this being abstract at its core.
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waddball wrote:
Dividing up the whole board is creating domaines.


No, creating domaines divides up the board. It sounds like nothing more than semantics, but there is a difference in causation.

To take it to extremes, if there were only two guys with two castles, and one walled off a little corner--let's say that it contained a single mine--so that he could start getting some income, he would by the rules give the other guy THE REST OF THE BOARD, and the game would end, he would lose. And that's just dumb. It kind of reminds me of Cathedral, which is a fantastic abstract that hinges on this very principal--you're trying to get space, but you can't leave too much for the other guy. It's a great game--it's also a complete absract. Domaine is not an abstract. In my extreme example, the two guys can never wall off anything less than half the board without giving the other guy a THE REST and the win. So, they have to go back and forth and stall and feign. And I think this is what you guys are implying is the "correct" way to play Domaine. I disagree. I would say that it is the "best" way to try and win Domaine based on it's broken rule-set.

And, honestly, I don't care if the world-champion of Domaine came on here and said that's the way he plays, and of course you have to play for the end domaine, and blah blah blah. If you ask me, Domaine is meant to be a game where you form small domaines first, and expand. The card-action selection and the mine-control economy all point to this. But, if you pick a strategy that works towards this, and not just turtling and biding time for the final land grab, you're going to lose.

And, here, I'll voice the next reply for you guys. "It sounds like you're just defending a losing strategy that you refuse to let go." Well, maybe I am, but I think it's more than strategy, it's the intent of the game. It's like if someone posted tomorrow that they've figured out that you can never lose Agricola if you take wood every turn. Who cares if it works, it would ruin the game.

And that's how I feel here. I don't care if there are viable strategies for Domaine, I don't want to play them, or Domaine. I also suspect that most people going into this game assume that it's not a complete abstract and that their strategy should be based on or at least have the feel of some sort of real-word strategy. I do know that all of the players that I've played with that played a game that ended or was decided by the "last leftover domaine" (which is more than half my games), save one were disappointed with the game and most gave the impression that they wouldn't be interested in playing it again. The save one, was a guy that knew domaine and knew about the "last leftover domain," and had been playing toward it. (He didn't mention it to anyone else, though. I guess he was more interested in the win than a fun game.)

I guess what I'm saying is that Domaine can still work as a gamers game for hardcore gamers. But if you like the theme and think it will be fun because of the theme and the thematic mechanics, you're probably going to be disappointed.
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John Farrell
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Yep, it's not the game you're looking for. Maybe you want something like Kings & Things. I find a lot of Euros are quite abstract with a very thin veneer of theme, and I like those games a lot. I do hear what you're saying about the theme suggesting a different sort of game, I just don't agree in this case... but I had a similar experience with Formidable Foes.
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Keith Anderson
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BoB3K wrote:
waddball wrote:
Dividing up the whole board is creating domaines.


No, creating domaines divides up the board. It sounds like nothing more than semantics, but there is a difference in causation.

To take it to extremes, if there were only two guys with two castles, and one walled off a little corner--let's say that it contained a single mine--so that he could start getting some income, he would by the rules give the other guy THE REST OF THE BOARD, and the game would end, he would lose. And that's just dumb. It kind of reminds me of Cathedral, which is a fantastic abstract that hinges on this very principal--you're trying to get space, but you can't leave too much for the other guy. It's a great game--it's also a complete absract. Domaine is not an abstract. In my extreme example, the two guys can never wall off anything less than half the board without giving the other guy a THE REST and the win. So, they have to go back and forth and stall and feign. And I think this is what you guys are implying is the "correct" way to play Domaine. I disagree. I would say that it is the "best" way to try and win Domaine based on it's broken rule-set.

And, honestly, I don't care if the world-champion of Domaine came on here and said that's the way he plays, and of course you have to play for the end domaine, and blah blah blah. If you ask me, Domaine is meant to be a game where you form small domaines first, and expand. The card-action selection and the mine-control economy all point to this. But, if you pick a strategy that works towards this, and not just turtling and biding time for the final land grab, you're going to lose.

And, here, I'll voice the next reply for you guys. "It sounds like you're just defending a losing strategy that you refuse to let go." Well, maybe I am, but I think it's more than strategy, it's the intent of the game. It's like if someone posted tomorrow that they've figured out that you can never lose Agricola if you take wood every turn. Who cares if it works, it would ruin the game.

And that's how I feel here. I don't care if there are viable strategies for Domaine, I don't want to play them, or Domaine. I also suspect that most people going into this game assume that it's not a complete abstract and that their strategy should be based on or at least have the feel of some sort of real-word strategy. I do know that all of the players that I've played with that played a game that ended or was decided by the "last leftover domaine" (which is more than half my games), save one were disappointed with the game and most gave the impression that they wouldn't be interested in playing it again. The save one, was a guy that knew domaine and knew about the "last leftover domain," and had been playing toward it. (He didn't mention it to anyone else, though. I guess he was more interested in the win than a fun game.)

I guess what I'm saying is that Domaine can still work as a gamers game for hardcore gamers. But if you like the theme and think it will be fun because of the theme and the thematic mechanics, you're probably going to be disappointed.


Its fine not to like it as games are mostly a matter of personal preference. But the game really is about forming domaines. Yes, the left over territory is a consideration but it is FAR from the only consideration. Without forming domaines, expanding domaines, getting resources, etc you cannot win.Just sitting around waiting for the last domaine would loose you every game.

By the way, in your extreme example the moving player would actually build his own domain by placing the walls about his opponent for a large win. Of course, this extreme example does not really work at all which is why the game is not designed that way.
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GamePlayer wrote:
Yes, the left over territory is a consideration but it is FAR from the only consideration. Without forming domaines, expanding domaines, getting resources, etc you cannot win.Just sitting around waiting for the last domaine would loose you every game.


I exaggerate to make a point. But I disagree from experience. There are other considerations that SHOULD outway turtling for leftover territory, but in a lot of games they DON'T. From personal experience I can say that you CAN win even though you've done terribly at forming domaines, expanding domaines and getting resources if you get the last leftover domaine. I've seen it happen... more than once.
 
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Jon W
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BoB3K wrote:
From personal experience I can say that you CAN win even though you've done terribly at forming domaines, expanding domaines and getting resources if you get the last leftover domaine. I've seen it happen... more than once.

But there are a lot of games that you CAN win despite poor play, if the other players cooperate, though if the game has any depth or subtlety at all, it may be hard to tell why. In your example here, if you get a massive leftover domaine and win, you haven't "done terribly at forming domaines, expanding domaines and getting resources"; in fact, quite the opposite.

If nothing else, this review has inspired me to break out Domaine again very soon.
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Windopaene wrote:
I've played Domaine quite a bit since it came out, mostly with three and four players. I've NEVER seen the "leftover domaine" move a player from last to first. By the time the leftovers hand someone a free domaine, there isn't much left to hand them. Of course, I've never seen a long, snaking, single width section either. I'd cut that off in a second...

This is my experience exactly. In particular I've never seen a left over domain worth hardly anything, much less a game winner. Sounds like you have some serious group think issues, BoB3K.

It looks like you guys are building the smallest possible Domains and focusing on expanding. This is an option, but (as appears to be your experience) gives a huge advantage to the last guy to form a Domain. The difference between creating a small Domain and a moderately sized Domain is really nothing more than a card or two.

Typically what I see is that the first player to build a Domain is at a disadvantage because the other players can easily build larger Domains using his walls. This disadvantage is balanced out, hopefully, by the benefits provided by the Domain. The middle Domains tend to be the largest but as land gets scooped up the last few Domains formed are often the smallest.

The notion of "turtling" is a misnomer. Players aren't turtling, they are continuously building walls. The longer it takes for the initial Domain to be completed, the larger all initial Domains will be.

Now whether or not the game works thematically for you is a matter of taste. But refusing to use tactics because they don't fit with your idea of theme does not mean the game is broken.

The Knight issue is also a matter of taste. In any conflict game getting bogged down in a war of attrition will diminish the power of the belligerents relative to the other players.
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rayito2702 wrote:
Sounds like you have some serious group think issues, BoB3K.


It kind of sounds like it doesn't it. Problem is I don't have a group. (Wish I did.) Other than the couple of games I've played with my wife, every game of this I've played has been with a different group of people. Some were veteran gamers, some were casual gamers, most were new to Domaine. And that's why I keep harping on this. This happens to almost all new people that play this game, in my experience. So, you could argue that it takes a couple games to "figure out" the "good strategy" for Domaine. Or, you could come to the conclusions that I have--that the "good strategies" are unintuitive and against the theme so much so that they appear broken.
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I just played Domaine and thought it was great. Four of us played and three were new to it. Being new to the game it was surprising to see the large domains sort of fall out during the play but once this was understood, you are forced to plan for it if you want to win. As others have said it's part of the stategy. Our first game went right to the wire as there was a sleaper who went for a last minute large domain which was occupied by two castles and his wall was twarted by the very last placement of a knight. Like most good games it takes a few plays to get into the nuances of the tactics and it's better to replay it with those that want to develop this skill.

 
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BakyoSan wrote:
a last minute large domain which was occupied by two castles


Just checking... you do know if it has two castles it's not a domain?
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