Well, here it is, the hottest game out right now. Dominion captivates players by its simplicity and keeps them coming back because there are consistently new depths to the game to explore.
Dominion is a game that completely revolves around the cards in play. Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards, 7 copper (worth one treasure each) and 3 estates (worth 1 victory point each). Then they all draw 5 cards.
On each players turn, he or she may play one action card and may purchase one card to add to their deck. Following that, they discard their ENTIRE hand and draw 5 new cards. No waiting to establish your deadly combo here, your deck gives you what you get each turn and that’s it.
Those purchases are of course where the heart of the game truly lies. You have to be efficient with your purchases and add to your deck only those cards which will help you on the road to victory. Any chaff added only slows down the engine, grinding the machine to a screeching halt.
The end game is simple; whoever has the most victory point cards at the end wins. There are 3 (sometimes 4) cards that generate victory points. The estates you start with and can purchase for 2 treasure (1 point each), a duchy which costs 5 treasure (3 points) and the coveted province, which costs 8 treasure (worth 6 points). Then there is the garden card, potentially one of the 10 random cards available for purchase, costing 4 treasure and netting you one point for each 10 cards in your deck. This generates a different strategy whereby you might want a thicker deck in an effort to increase the value of your gardens. There is also the curse card, bestowed by the undefended witch of the opponent. This one generates -1 points. Not something you’re truly interested in.
How am I supposed to buy a card costing 8 when I only start with 7 treasure in my deck you ask? Well, it’s easy, as you can also spend your one purchase buying better treasure cards. Silver costs 3 treasure and in turn is worth 2 when it is in your hand. Gold costs 6 treasure and is worth 3 when you draw it. The more treasure in your hand, the better cards you can buy. You want to have more efficient treasure cards than your opponents in order to do well.
The action cards are what make one game different from the next. Each game can be setup according to a prescribed set of cards or drawn out randomly in order create a game that is different from the last. With 25 cards to draw from, and only 10 included, that makes a lot of possible permutations of the game. Of course, an expansion is coming, so there will soon be more.
While I’d love to go through my interpretations of each card, I’ll leave that to you to discover. The game plays quick enough that you can get several games completed in a session, and taking away the discovery is a little like cheating you out of a wonderful gift. Suffice it to say that everyone has an opinion on which cards are better than others, and no game can completely balance that. Each card breaks the rules in some way (drawing extra cards, taking extra actions, buying more cards, affecting the hands of your opponents, protecting your hand, etc). Finding the combinations of cards that work best is quite a bit of fun, and with the short game play time you can always experiment with a new strategy to see how well it works and go from there.
The cards that come with the game are high quality and look like they’d stand up for some time. This is important, because you shuffle them a LOT. I haven’t sleeved mine yet, but I plan too, I just need to get the right ones. Make sure you buy ones that fit the cards.
The game is also available for free play on BSW. I’m not on there, but I gather that there are quite a few people who are that have played several hundred games. Don’t expect to beat these guys anytime soon. Once you’ve played through that often, it becomes second nature to recognize patterns and combos, and take advantage of them.
I’m a fan of the game and I like to pick it up pretty frequently. It’s a great filler for times when you’re waiting for one or 2 people to arrive, or at the end of the night before time is up. If you finish fast, you can always play again. I’d rate it an 8.5 out of ten.