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Subject: I'd pay 20c a card ... in fact I did rss

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Andrew Rae
New Zealand
Wellington
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I had just heard that Dominion had finally hit the New Zealand shelves after many months of perilous waiting. At least it was months this time rather than years, after all I still can’t buy a copy of Pandemic year and I imagine I will be off it by the time I can. Still knowing it was here was good so I rocked up to my local …. who didn’t have a copy. Fortunately I managed to sneak one from over the hill in a coup for my birthday gaming and before I knew it I was away with my very own copy. It is slightly painful that I was paying more than $90 for a card game, but that is what it costs to buy from a FLGS in this country and I like FLGS. And heck there are 500 cards after all.



I’ve played a few times now in different company and I’m enjoying the concept of sequential games, much as I did with Agricola’s solo formula. The vagaries of luck can foil you in a single game, but you can slowly prize the hand of fate from around your neck over a series of game and that is compelling. Dominion is also more light hearted to my mind than other euros, if indeed it is a euro. In the same way that you cannot possibly take yourself seriously in a game of Citadels, the fantasy theme can almost give you an out to play with freedom and impunity. That is the impression I get anyway as the picture below shows.



Dominion seems inspired by Collectable card games, where a player starts with ten cards, many of them currency and purchases new cards each turn to add to their deck. Each game you build a deck of somewhere around 40 cards, taking hands of five cards at a time and using the actions and cash they contain to purchase more cards. Some cards allow you to take more than five cards on your turn, to play multiple action cards, or ultimately to buy point scoring cards.


Your deck is like an points engine, where you build up capacity. You get yourself higher value currency cards, extra action cards and pickup cards and eventually there is a point where you decide to start buying the point cards. Buying point cards too early is silly because if your engine is not big enough to see you to the end of the game then those point cards (which are also part of your deck and useless in your hand) just get in the way. The game is one of timing and engineering rewarding you for planning and judgement.

The game is just cards, not coins, no meeples, just cards. Actually it is cards and an insert, perhaps the most important insert in the gaming world since it organisers your cards for you. The cards have pretty standard fantasy art, nothing that particularly stood out for me. Some of my favourite fantasy art is in Blue Moon and even Mission Red planet (maybe Sci Fi rather than fantasy but I won’t quibble with myself), and this doesn’t really compare, but like Citadels it is functional and ambient, so I have nothing to complain about. It seems to me that art is something that must be of a requisite quality in today’s market to survive, but it is increasingly difficult to make it a selling point of your game. Anyway the cards look like they will last and they are presentable. It has the bonus of looking more substantial with that big box and insert too.



All in all Dominion takes my fancy and the last number of cards, and future variant cards will ensure some replayability. I admit to a certain amount of autopilot, but in a game that goes really quickly that is to be expected.

All in all a novel mechanic and a fine addition to my collection. It fits comfortably in 30 minutes and much shorter for regulars. Its basically a filer, but with intriguing depth. Enjoy.
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Joey McNabb
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Nice review. It makes me glad that I went ahead and ordered a copy! Thanks!


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Matt
New Zealand
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Nice review, Andy. Will have to catch up for a game sometime soon... I'm intrigued to see how the most calculating of all my friends plays Dominion
 
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Andrew Rae
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Calculating as in computational, not calculating as in manipulative and evil right.
 
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Louise McCully
New Zealand
Auckland
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The second printing of Pandemic has already arrived in the country, I picked up mine about a week & a half ago. Unless it's already sold out again.
 
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Matthew Chua
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The autopilot is what does the game in for me. Maybe at US$20 I would get it to fill a niche in my collection but unlikely at US$30 with the cost of sleeving the 500 cards.
 
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Blake Thurston
Canada
Victoria
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soojin wrote:
The autopilot is what does the game in for me. Maybe at US$20 I would get it to fill a niche in my collection but unlikely at US$30 with the cost of sleeving the 500 cards.


The only situations that are truly autopilot are:
1. If you have 8 coin, buy a province (unless this will deplete the pile and you know you wouldn't win)
2. If you have 6 coin, buy a gold (unless Adventurer is in play in which case you may decide it is the better choice)

All the rest of the coin amounts you have choices (except perhaps 0 and 1) and that is what makes the strategy of the game. The fact is that you have to make good choices in these situations to get the chance at the 2 autopilot moves listed above.
 
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tim
United States
hudsonville
Michigan
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soojin wrote:
The autopilot is what does the game in for me. Maybe at US$20 I would get it to fill a niche in my collection but unlikely at US$30 with the cost of sleeving the 500 cards.
If you think this game plays on autopilot then you haven't played it enough. Yes often which cards you should play and in what order is autopilot. But which cards to buy and when to buy them constantly changes. Depending on which cards are in the game, what your opponents are doing, and what your draw is the real decisions in this game and where its won or lost are in the buys.

I'm so sick of hearing the complaint about wearing out the cards. The cards are good stock with a good finish. If you play this game enough that you would need to sleeve it or buy another copy because you've worn out the cards then you've definitely gotten your money's worth out of the game. Especially now with the announcement that expansions will contain replacements for the cards that are going to get the most wear there really is no requirement to sleeve unless you want to. Sleeving has other advantages like making it easier to shuffle or make it simple to add in your own cards but it is not the requirement some incessantly claim.
 
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