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Subject: Dominion Review – Advanced slot machines rss

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Eric Flood
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All right. Here we go. This review will likely get interesting responses. Before I begin, let's all try to keep it civil. If you ask an intelligent question in a decent fashion, I'll be happy to reply. Otherwise, you will be summarily ignored by me.

Let's start with a quick history. It can be skipped, but it shows clearly the bias about the game I had going in. I make no secret that bias.

I first heard of Dominion about a year ago, after the Gathering – people clamored about some secret game. Details were revealed as Essen approached, and the game was released. As I predicted, many of those RftG fans about me swiftly descended upon the game, playing it all the time. I successfully avoided it for many moons, knowing the game was not for me, until about a month ago when I broke down and tried it. I got it into my mind about two weeks ago that I wanted to play it some more times, simply so I could write a review of the game. Some friends who love Dominion were at first ecstatic that I wished to play further, until I revealed my purposes.

This, then, is that review.


Components

Well...it's a box full of cards. They're nice cards. The descriptions on the cards are readable and well-worded. The art is mostly good (what is up with that Uriah Heep character in the Festival?). The money should be different colors, but it's easy to avoid confusion.



Rules/Gameplay

I have not read the rulebook. I glanced at it, it looks sufficient and quick.

The gameplay itself is where things go awry for me. You have an action and a buy. You take an action if you have a card giving you one, and you buy something if you have the money to buy something available. All cards in your hand are discarded. You then draw five cards to your hand. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The cards allow you to do various things such as gain further actions, gain more buys, and gain more cards. Ideally, you are looking to combo your cards to be able to draw cards that gain you more actions and more cards, so you can draw more money, as well as gain additional buys, so you can buy more things with all that money. You want to throw away inefficient moneys and low-scoring points that simply clog up your hand.

I liken this to playing Advanced Slot Machines. You see what probabilities you have for the varying levels of payout in different machines, choose a few of them, then pull the lever. Some times they spin to nothing useful (4 VP and a copper), sometimes you get the jackpot (where you combo out your entire deck). Even if you manage to hit the jackpot on more than one occasion, you'll still wind up with hands where you get no payout.

The problem is that you have no control over what happens, once the cards are in your deck. You're just spinning the wheels and seeing what pops up. It's nearly mindless.

I forced the game upon my g/f, who loves more difficult games, usually having a similar taste to myself. We finished, and she declared it one of the most boring games she's ever played. I tried to get her to play it further; she refused. She's not on BGG, she's not directly aware of the hype (aside from many people around her playing the game constantly). I had similar reactions from other gamer friends who aren't on BGG, but whose favorite games are Railways of the World and Agricola.



Fun/Randomness/Luck

A word on randomness. I tend to hate randomness in a game, and it must be a very fun game or a very short game to make me want to play it again.

A word on “fun.” By fun, I am referring to how enjoyable the game is in the time that it takes to play. Some games would be fun if the game took half an hour, but since they take 3, they are no longer any fun. Some games are so fun, they would continue being fun for 3x as long as it takes to play. Sometimes this is characterized by the desire to play again immediately.


As indicated above, this game brings very little fun to the table for me and my main gaming friends. There is just nothing very interesting going on here.

It is an incredibly random game. You're trying to influence that randomness by setting up your deck properly, but the game is based off random elements of which you can do absolutely nothing about. It simply doesn't get much more random than this.

*note* 5 stars on fun is if you finish and immediately want to play another game - something which probably won't happen with games longer than an hour. 5 Randomness is simply rolling dice, 0 randomness is entirely predetermined, 1/2 is no randomness, but not a pure labyrinth either.

Fun:
Randomness:

Plays Best With...

The game has some minor interaction with the attack cards, as well as the elimination of the various stacks. These elements are more prevalent with more players than less, and it depends to what degree you want those elements in a game. It's probably better to have more players than less, simply for these purposes, but not by much.

Another note: 5 stars means the game plays best with this, all other stars are relative amounts.

2:
3:
4:

Conclusions

I can easily see the draw of this game over the crowd here. It's a game that does not require very much thought, and can be played in between your favorite television episodes. It's a game that feels almost as passive as simply watching some television episode, but not as intellectually stimulating as some of the best shows. It's certainly a better use of your time than American Idol, though!

The game gives one a random sense of rewards for their actions. It's very much like a slot machine. When it pays out, you have a natural instinct to feel pleased. You have made the right decision by playing this exact slot machine, and here's the proof. It requires no real effort, it just kind of happens sometimes, and you can feel good about it because your actions directly led to this result, random effects notwithstanding. If you're happy enough with these base responses and don't delve too deeply into the mechanisms causing them, you will likely enjoy this game.

If, however, you require more direct control over the course of the game, and don't enjoy feeling pleasure at essentially random events, this game is not for you (or me!).

One of the chief oft-lauded aspects of the game is its “massive variability/replayability,” since you only use 10 out of the 25 cards available. This is frankly ridiculous, and I'm getting fed up with this mindset. The cards presented will change the game considerably, certainly. It's very much so a self-imposed variability, because the game itself is eminently unplayable with simply 10-cards. It will wear out swiftly, in less than 20 plays, I'd bet. So more cards are presented to overshadow the problems present with a static set of cards. Games that feature this “variability” are often compensating for a serious problem, and this is no exception. If we look at a game like Chicago Express, we easily see the variability built into the system. There is no need to have 10 starting locations that can change from game to game to “keep it interesting,” the game as is, with its “variability” built in, is interesting all by itself, and depends upon the player dynamics to keep the game from being a static exercise each game.

Then there is the problem of some cards simply being better than others. If there is a village in play, you can be assured it will be the first stack to disappear. Some cards are just rarely used, you might take one of them if the cards present themselves in a certain combination, but you will never have the need for 5. There can simply be a race to grab as many of the best card as you can while it's still there, a race which the first player will inherently have an advantage at.

The start player will also have an advantage at winning the game, simply due to the game ending when someone grabs the last 6-point victory card. It's a huge last-turn swing of points, in a game where the victorious player can wield 32 points. That this is not addressed at all in the base game is terrible.

Ultimately, I find Dominion to be a tiresome game-of-the-month which will likely fade to obscurity in a few years' time (much like San Juan). It has a great deal of problems, and the only redeeming aspect is the random feel-good rewards one gains on occasion, if you're happy to receive such a response without further thought. I will be avoiding it as much as I can in the future, although I'm sure I won't escape the odd game. I'll simply let the endorphins kick in.


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Chris Linneman
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Thank you for putting my feelings about this game into such a well-worded and concise review. I don't believe it's as random as you say--an experienced player will beat a newbie 9/10--but its appeal to the "gambling instinct" is certainly responsible for its success. It will breed expansion upon expansion as players get tired of the basic cards. With such repetitive and mindless gameplay, new cards are the only way the game will stay front and centre in people's minds and on their game tables. I do think it's a decent filler and appeals to non-gamers nicely. For me though, it's nothing more than that.
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David desJardins
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I just never will understand the mindset that something that appeals to others and not you is a "problem".

You make specific, objectively testable predictions about the long-term success of the game. I think those will be shown to be wrong, over time.
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Eric Flood
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I just never will understand the mindset that something that appeals to others and not you is a "problem".


It is a "problem" when so many around me are enraptured, and I am subsequently compelled to play this instead of an arguably better game.

Quote:
You make specific, objectively testable predictions about the long-term success of the game. I think those will be shown to be wrong, over time.


I certainly have no gift of prescience, nor claim to have such powers. I may prove right; I may prove wrong. It is inconsequential to my case.
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David desJardins
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blueatheart wrote:
I certainly have no gift of prescience, nor claim to have such powers. I may prove right; I may prove wrong. It is inconsequential to my case.


It seems to me a good way to test whether your analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the game is valid.
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Andrew Hardin
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blueatheart wrote:

It is a "problem" when so many around me are enraptured, and I am subsequently compelled to play this instead of an arguably better game.


I feel that way about Carcassone and E&T. But it seems most people don't share my view on the matter.

As it stands you have a passionate dislike for this game. Fair enough. Your review literally says 'I hate this game and I wish to insult it however I might'. I don't find it brainless. I enjoy the randomness because I can study the randomness. Some games are designed to be deterministic and are fun for that reason (I am a huge 18XX fan). But random does not by itself mean bad. Random is bad when your choices can't affect the outcome in any meaningful way. And yet the best players at Dominion win much more often than the worst. There are whole classes of games with highly random components that reward good play.

I once had a Tichu game where my team was up 990 to 210. Our opponents went Grand Tichu, 1-2. 990 to 510. Then it became 995 to 605. Then it went 990 - 710. Then they went Grand Tichu 1-2, 1010-990.

After that day I started to hate Tichu. I hated it for years because that kind of randomness pissed me off. One day I finally let it go and though I am not the passionate Tichu fan I once was I have learned to enjoy the game despite the random component.

- Lex
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Dan Schaeffer
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blueatheart wrote:
It is an incredibly random game. You're trying to influence that randomness by setting up your deck properly, but the game is based off random elements of which you can do absolutely nothing about. It simply doesn't get much more random than this.


First point of disagreement. In fact, your second sentence is nearly self-contradictory. Yes, you have a random (or preset) selection of 10 cards to choose from, and the specific five cards you get into your hand on any draw is random. But as you note, you try to -- and do -- influence that randomness by making choices about your cards. You're playing the probabilities, and trying to put cards into your deck that will maximize your scoring opportunities within the randomness of a 5-card draw.

Quote:
I can easily see the draw of this game over the crowd here. It's a game that does not require very much thought, and can be played in between your favorite television episodes.


You may not have intended this, but it comes off as a tremendously snobby slam on the BGG crowd. "It's easy to see why you all like this game so much, as it doesn't require you to think."

Quote:
The game gives one a random sense of rewards for their actions. It's very much like a slot machine. When it pays out, you have a natural instinct to feel pleased. You have made the right decision by playing this exact slot machine, and here's the proof. It requires no real effort, it just kind of happens sometimes, and you can feel good about it because your actions directly led to this result, random effects notwithstanding. If you're happy enough with these base responses and don't delve too deeply into the mechanisms causing them, you will likely enjoy this game.


Again, I disagree. You're not just pulling a lever on a random slot machine and hoping your cards come out right. If you need a slots analogy, you're pulling a lever on a machine where you've set up the reels and you know the algorithm for selecting the reels, and you've done your best to maximize the odds that each pull will be beneficial.

Quote:
One of the chief oft-lauded aspects of the game is its “massive variability/replayability,” since you only use 10 out of the 25 cards available. This is frankly ridiculous, and I'm getting fed up with this mindset. The cards presented will change the game considerably, certainly. It's very much so a self-imposed variability, because the game itself is eminently unplayable with simply 10-cards. It will wear out swiftly, in less than 20 plays, I'd bet. So more cards are presented to overshadow the problems present with a static set of cards. Games that feature this “variability” are often compensating for a serious problem, and this is no exception. If we look at a game like Chicago Express, we easily see the variability built into the system. There is no need to have 10 starting locations that can change from game to game to “keep it interesting,” the game as is, with its “variability” built in, is interesting all by itself, and depends upon the player dynamics to keep the game from being a static exercise each game.


I don't see your point here. If you're saying that a completely different game, with totally different structure, mechanics, goals, and outcomes, has a different form of variability that keeps it interesting... well, that's true, but essentially meaningless. Variability is "built into the [Dominion] system" precisely because it's designed to use 10 cards at a time out of 25 (or 27 now and 52 soon). The point is not where in the game design the variability comes from; it's whether the game design includes enough variability to make the game replayable.

Quote:
Then there is the problem of some cards simply being better than others. If there is a village in play, you can be assured it will be the first stack to disappear. Some cards are just rarely used, you might take one of them if the cards present themselves in a certain combination, but you will never have the need for 5. There can simply be a race to grab as many of the best card as you can while it's still there, a race which the first player will inherently have an advantage at.


There are approximately 14.7 billion separate threads on BGG concerning which cards are better, worse, dominant, useless, evil, saintly, sadistic, must-have, must-never-have, and so on. I can distill all of these threads into a single message: All the cards are all of the above, and the other guy is dead wrong.

Quote:
The start player will also have an advantage at winning the game, simply due to the game ending when someone grabs the last 6-point victory card. It's a huge last-turn swing of points, in a game where the victorious player can wield 32 points. That this is not addressed at all in the base game is terrible.


There are another 14.7 billion threads on this issue. I think you'll find that everybody in those threads agrees: the other guy is dead wrong.

Sorry you don't like the game.
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Eric Flood
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Brian's nemesis! We meet at last.


Golux13 wrote:
Yes, you have a random (or preset) selection of 10 cards to choose from, and the specific five cards you get into your hand on any draw is random. But as you note, you try to -- and do -- influence that randomness by making choices about your cards. You're playing the probabilities, and trying to put cards into your deck that will maximize your scoring opportunities within the randomness of a 5-card draw.


Yep. You're trying to pick the proper arrangement of slot machines for maximum payout.

Quote:
Quote:
I can easily see the draw of this game over the crowd here. It's a game that does not require very much thought, and can be played in between your favorite television episodes.


You may not have intended this, but it comes off as a tremendously snobby slam on the BGG crowd. "It's easy to see why you all like this game so much, as it doesn't require you to think."


High level thinking is something many people do not seem to enjoy in their off-time. If you hear a complaint that a game is too hard, this is what they are saying.

Quote:
Again, I disagree. You're not just pulling a lever on a random slot machine and hoping your cards come out right. If you need a slots analogy, you're pulling a lever on a machine where you've set up the reels and you know the algorithm for selecting the reels, and you've done your best to maximize the odds that each pull will be beneficial.


Yeah, that's a bit of a misspeak on my part. It's not a simple slot machine; it's Advanced Slot Machines. You choose the arrangement of slot machines that yields the highest payout.

Quote:
I don't see your point here. If you're saying that a completely different game, with totally different structure, mechanics, goals, and outcomes, has a different form of variability that keeps it interesting... well, that's true, but essentially meaningless. Variability is "built into the [Dominion] system" precisely because it's designed to use 10 cards at a time out of 25 (or 27 now and 52 soon). The point is not where in the game design the variability comes from; it's whether the game design includes enough variability to make the game replayable.


What I'm saying is that the proper way of looking at a game is to look at how it plays in each instance. So we look at the 10 cards that popped up. Can we imagine playing with those exact 10 cards for 30 games? Will the game and its decisions still be interesting after such a time? If not, then something is wrong. Each card over 10 is essentially an expansion to the game itself. The "variability" is equivalent to the added variety of a Power Grid map. The base game needs to stand on its merits alone.

Quote:
There are approximately 14.7 billion separate threads on BGG concerning which cards are better, worse, dominant, useless, evil, saintly, sadistic, must-have, must-never-have, and so on. I can distill all of these threads into a single message: All the cards are all of the above, and the other guy is dead wrong.


Sure. I'm no expert, nor have I tried to figure out what combinations of cards work best in what circumstances sufficiently.

Quote:
There are another 14.7 billion threads on this issue. I think you'll find that everybody in those threads agrees: the other guy is dead wrong.


I'm willing to admit a potential of incorrectness here. However, with such a game, each single turn is important to your victory. Having an excess of them can make a large difference that is unjust.

Quote:
Sorry you don't like the game.


Me too.
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David desJardins
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blueatheart wrote:
What I'm saying is that the proper way of looking at a game is to look at how it plays in each instance. So we look at the 10 cards that popped up. Can we imagine playing with those exact 10 cards for 30 games? Will the game and its decisions still be interesting after such a time? If not, then something is wrong.


I dealt out a bridge hand once. Played it out, making six spades. Then I played it again, we still made six spades. By the tenth time we played that same hand, it was getting really boring. Bridge is broken.
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Les Marshall
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I'd say Golux13 is correct and the original poster quite wrong on the issue of randomness. In fact, for me, there simply isn't enough randomness.

You know precisely what is drafted into your deck and a pretty good idea what is in other peoples decks. Thus with every purchase opportunity you can seek to either counter their attack potentials (like buying moats) or simply compete with them in gaining the same cards and offsetting any advantage they may have. The randomness here is more like betting red/black on the roulette table than pulling a slot machine lever.

In either case, the game is still far more like playing multi-handed solitaire which is my real objection. I am hoping that further expansions will increase player interaction (same with RftG) or I will likley be divesting myself of the game.

As to the OP's criticism of BGG users are not seeking games with much thought, I disagree. Many of the games require a great deal of thought to be played well. My problem is that games with mechanics that reward cost/plus analyis in a predictable fashion do not appeal to me any longer.

For instance, Dominion provides you with almost all the information about what cards are available, when they run out, who drafts which cards and exactly when the game is ending or very close to ending. Those who have given great thought to the cards, their effects, ratios of decks and can remember who has what will do very well.

I would find Dominion far more entertaining if the deck contents where not such public knowledge and if there were perhaps an endgame card in the victory point stacks or some other way to introduce uncertainty as to the endgame. Then, decisions carry risk and outcomes are far more of an educated guess. But that is merely a personal preference.

The game itself is quite well designed and represents something a little fresh to the genre.
 
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Les Marshall
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DaviddesJ wrote:
blueatheart wrote:
What I'm saying is that the proper way of looking at a game is to look at how it plays in each instance. So we look at the 10 cards that popped up. Can we imagine playing with those exact 10 cards for 30 games? Will the game and its decisions still be interesting after such a time? If not, then something is wrong.


I dealt out a bridge hand once. Played it out, making six spades. Then I played it again, we still made six spades. By the tenth time we played that same hand, it was getting really boring. Bridge is broken.


Sitting around speaking in code while min/maxing the cards isn't broken just frightfully boring.zombie
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David desJardins
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Rulesjd wrote:
I would find Dominion far more entertaining if the deck contents where not such public knowledge and if there were perhaps an endgame card in the victory point stacks or some other way to introduce uncertainty as to the endgame. Then, decisions carry risk and outcomes are far more of an educated guess. But that is merely a personal preference.


You could try the Dominion-dice variant. First, play a game of Dominion according to the standard rules. At the end, roll a die. If you roll 1 through 4, then the high score wins. But if you roll 5 or 6, then the low score wins.

Makes the game much more of an educated guess. Guess wrong about whether you want more or less points, you have only yourself to blame.
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David F
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I agree with all your points, and in fact think you missed out on several other Dominion flaws. That said, your "advanced slot machines" analogy was explored a long time ago by somebody who likened Dominion to video poker. I can't find the review anymore, but it was one of the earliest Dominion reviews.
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Drew Spencer
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So... I pretty much disagree with you 100%.

Since you started off with a bit of history, I suppose I should too. I was surprised to see you write a review of Dominion, since the last time I talked to you about it you had never played it and indicated that you never wanted to. It would have been helpful to let people know that you feel this way about ALL card games, so that people who think that Tichu, for example, is not just randomness, would know that you're coming from a completely different place than they are. That is a point of taste which you are entitled to, but there are some things you say here which I happen to think are actually wrong, and since I crave attention, I will point them out in the hopes that people will give me thumbs and geek gold for it.

Your main point seems to be the lack of control over how well you will do. This point is drawn too readily from the lack of decision-making during the action part of your game. The decision-making comes during the buy phase, in which you must choose between basically fifteen different options (excluding buying Copper, Estate, or Curse, but including not buying anything) per buy. The comparison to choosing a slot machine is not totally incorrect, but it would be more accurate to say that you choose one feature of a slot machine per turn, then run that machine upon reshuffle, then choose your features again one at a time, then run it again. Provided enough choices each time and provided the choices are actually interesting, then that, to me, sounds like a pretty cool game. If you disagree, then that's just a matter of taste. Again, you're entitled to that, but I've played both Dominion and Chicago Express and I can say that I like both, but Dominion I like better across the board.

Then there's this...

blueatheart wrote:
Then there is the problem of some cards simply being better than others. If there is a village in play, you can be assured it will be the first stack to disappear. Some cards are just rarely used, you might take one of them if the cards present themselves in a certain combination, but you will never have the need for 5. There can simply be a race to grab as many of the best card as you can while it's still there, a race which the first player will inherently have an advantage at.


If you're playing games in which Village is quickly bought up, then you're probably not playing against very experienced players. Village seems overpowered at first, because its utility is obvious. I bought it a whole lot when I first started playing, now I buy it about as much as every other cost-3 card (except Chancellor, which may admittedly be underpowered). The claims of overpowered and underpowered cards almost never go without a serious challenge from the most experienced Dominion players, who should be the most informed.

blueatheart wrote:
The start player will also have an advantage at winning the game, simply due to the game ending when someone grabs the last 6-point victory card. It's a huge last-turn swing of points, in a game where the victorious player can wield 32 points. That this is not addressed at all in the base game is terrible.


I find it fascinating that people just declare this is true, when they can't actually know. There's only one way to know if it is, in fact, true, and that's to run a bunch of games with the standard rules, then run a bunch of games with an equal-turns variant, and then do some simple statistics to see if there's a significant difference in the number of times the first player wins. You could also garner from this how often the first player will win in a standard game and whether any late player advantage would exist (as some have alleged) in an equal-turns variant game. As far as I know, there's only one group of people who have done anything like this, and that's the game designer and his play-testers. They went with the rules as written.

blueatheart wrote:
Ultimately, I find Dominion to be a tiresome game-of-the-month which will likely fade to obscurity in a few years' time (much like San Juan). It has a great deal of problems, and the only redeeming aspect is the random feel-good rewards one gains on occasion, if you're happy to receive such a response without further thought. I will be avoiding it as much as I can in the future, although I'm sure I won't escape the odd game. I'll simply let the endorphins kick in.


Well, maybe. I suppose time will tell if your predictions are right. How about we agree that if they are, I'll admit that I was wrong, but if they aren't, you'll admit that you were wrong?

Anyway, don't take any of this personally. I have fun gaming with you. I learned pretty quickly what kind of games to suggest playing with you and what kind of games not to. Oh well. I like most of your favorite games too, when I'm in that sort of mood, so it's all good.
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David desJardins
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banyan wrote:
As far as I know, there's only one group of people who have done anything like this, and that's the game designer and his play-testers. They went with the rules as written.


Just to be clear, the designer has said the same thing as the reviewer, going first is a substantial advantage. He doesn't deny that, he just chose to make it part of the game.

Everyone I know plays with equal turns, which almost completely "solves" the problem without changing the game much.
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Totally respect your opinion. I've definitely posted a couple of reviews myself that differed from the popular opinion. If you don't like the game, don't waste your time playing it.

HOWEVER, may I suggest that you and others are looking at the game from the wrong angle. I really don't consider this a game of hand management and card play. By your second game, hand play is almost automatic. This game is about building and streamlining a deck - NOT about clever card play. This game is all about the buying and trashing of cards. I don't think any of us Dominion fans ever claim that there is true card play involved (in the traditional sense, at least.)

I think many people need to shift their perspective a bit to understand why the rest of us actually enjoy this so much. It'll also help you see that there is a ton of depth and strategy if you just look at it the right way. But again, if you find it boring, don't play it.

If it's any consolation, I sold away my copy of El Grande due to complete and utter boredom and I think Carcassonne and Settlers are big 'ol stinky pieces of crap....
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Eric Flood
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banyan wrote:
So... I pretty much disagree with you 100%.

Since you started off with a bit of history, I suppose I should too. I was surprised to see you write a review of Dominion, since the last time I talked to you about it you had never played it and indicated that you never wanted to. It would have been helpful to let people know that you feel this way about ALL card games, so that people who think that Tichu, for example, is not just randomness, would know that you're coming from a completely different place than they are.


VERY true! I do dislike probably ALL card games (I haven't played all card games, but I imagine I wouldn't like the ones I haven't tried either). I tried to disclose my bias at the top, but this didn't make it in. I did try to give the game a fair shot, however, and I did find it more pleasing than I imagined; I have subsequently called the origin of that pleasure to be from the random payouts.

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Your main point seems to be the lack of control over how well you will do. This point is drawn too readily from the lack of decision-making during the action part of your game. The decision-making comes during the buy phase, in which you must choose between basically fifteen different options (excluding buying Copper, Estate, or Curse, but including not buying anything) per buy. The comparison to choosing a slot machine is not totally incorrect, but it would be more accurate to say that you choose one feature of a slot machine per turn, then run that machine upon reshuffle, then choose your features again one at a time, then run it again. Provided enough choices each time and provided the choices are actually interesting, then that, to me, sounds like a pretty cool game. If you disagree, then that's just a matter of taste. Again, you're entitled to that, but I've played both Dominion and Chicago Express and I can say that I like both, but Dominion I like better across the board.


I actually wanted to say that taking victory point cards which hurt your hand later is indeed interesting. I forgot. The others are generally you trying to pick out which slot machine will interact best with the others to gain optimal profit.

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The claims of overpowered and underpowered cards almost never go without a serious challenge from the most experienced Dominion players, who should be the most informed.


Both this and the next item are really just nitpicks for me. They might be bigger problems if there weren't others overshadowing these.

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I find it fascinating that people just declare this is true, when they can't actually know.


I've played many games where this end-early rule is instated. Sometimes it can be okay, with sufficient interaction between players. But in a mostly-solo game, it seems a poor choice. Again, more of a nitpick in light of the other issues I have.

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Well, maybe. I suppose time will tell if your predictions are right. How about we agree that if they are, I'll admit that I was wrong, but if they aren't, you'll admit that you were wrong?


Perhaps there is no right and wrong here, just varying opinions and preferences. Actually, upon further reflection, it depends somewhat upon the stream of expansions that the game generates in the future.

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Anyway, don't take any of this personally.


Of course I won't!

Thanks for the input.
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Eric Flood
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e9martin wrote:
HOWEVER, may I suggest that you and others are looking at the game from the wrong angle. I really don't consider this a game of hand management and card play. By your second game, hand play is almost automatic. This game is about building and streamlining a deck - NOT about clever card play. This game is all about the buying and trashing of cards. I don't think any of us Dominion fans ever claim that there is true card play involved (in the traditional sense, at least.)


I certainly don't feel it's a game of hand management, but of deck efficiency. I'm not sure who would argue for the former.
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Trey Chambers
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If you think randomness is a bigger factor than skill in this game, then you are either a moron or you don't understand the game AT ALL.

Randomness is more of a factor in MOST GAMES than it is in this one. I'm talking great games that require a lot of strategy, but randomness is still a much bigger factor. Any game that uses dice at some point for starters. I couldn't even list 10 strategy games where randomness is LESS of a factor.

Your success in this game wholly depends about how YOU choose to build YOUR deck while adapting to what the other players are doing. Luck is very, very minimal.
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Andrew Hardin
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blueatheart wrote:
e9martin wrote:
HOWEVER, may I suggest that you and others are looking at the game from the wrong angle. I really don't consider this a game of hand management and card play. By your second game, hand play is almost automatic. This game is about building and streamlining a deck - NOT about clever card play. This game is all about the buying and trashing of cards. I don't think any of us Dominion fans ever claim that there is true card play involved (in the traditional sense, at least.)


I certainly don't feel it's a game of hand management, but of deck efficiency. I'm not sure who would argue for the former.


I can see the complaint 'I just let the hand play out'. And that is true most of the time. A well designed deck tends to be that way. There are some marginal cases that pop up and a few cards that require some hand management thinking. But not many.

The intellectual side of this game is focused mostly on the 'what kind of deck design am I going for'. You can expend a lot of useful (or useless) energy on answering that question.

I agree with the Video Poker analogy better than the Slots. Slots is random without any control over the result. Video Poker is random with control. Both of them are horrible games and I feel sorry for people who give money to a casino regularly to play them. But really the best analogy would be a gambling game where you were allowed to pick your cards before you played and the winner was the person who did a better job.

- Lex
 
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Ivan Kolev
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blueatheart wrote:
VERY true! I do dislike probably ALL card games (I haven't played all card games, but I imagine I wouldn't like the ones I haven't tried either).

There's a simple test you can make to verify if a game is too random and doesn't require a lot of thinking. Find someone who's good at it and play at least a dozen games. If you lose more than 80% of them, then maybe (i.e. obviously ;) ) you were wrong. Try that for Dominion.
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Eric Flood
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ikolev wrote:
blueatheart wrote:
VERY true! I do dislike probably ALL card games (I haven't played all card games, but I imagine I wouldn't like the ones I haven't tried either).

There's a simple test you can make to verify if a game is too random and doesn't require a lot of thinking. Find someone who's good at it and play at least a dozen games. If you lose more than 80% of them, then maybe (i.e. obviously ) you were wrong. Try that for Dominion.


As with most games, I have a large winning ratio in Dominion, to date. Amongst players far more experienced than I.
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Ivan Kolev
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blueatheart wrote:
As with most games, I have a large winning ratio in Dominion, to date. Amongst players far more experienced than I.

This sounds like a challenge to your opponents in this argument ;)

I've only played a few games and my impression was that as with most card games, although they look very random, the good players win over 3/4 (or more) of the games against new players. If you are right, and you indeed have about 50% win ratio against good players, and you play *with minimum thinking*, then I'd have to agree with you.

Unless, of course, you are extremely clever (or maybe experienced in similar games of card combining, like Magic or RftG) and are able to find the best tactics with minimum thinking :) That could bias your opinion about the game being random and not requiring enough thinking.

(edit: added the last paragraph)
 
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David desJardins
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ikolev wrote:
If you are right, and you indeed have about 50% win ratio against good players, and you play *with minimum thinking*, then I'd have to agree with you.


He didn't say that. He said against experienced players.

If he's constantly winning most of hte games he plays, of all sorts, there is, by definition, a skill imbalance with his opponents.
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Alex G

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I wrote a negative (mostly) review of Dominion, and I agree it isn't fun. I'm not sure it's that random, though, at least unless you have highly skilled players matched evenly -- in which case it obviously is about luck in most cases, since it's a card game with some luck elements. My wife and I are decent (not BSW-100s of plays decent), and it's a rather boring but not super-luckish game. I agree that the hype is a little weird -- since at least some of the better strategy (the chapel is good, thin your deck, buy efficient, etc.) seems, well, semi-obvious to those who have a grasp of probability.
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