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Subject: Dominion or How I Discovered BrettSpielWelt and Forever Hated a Game rss

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Donnie Darko
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Flashback. Christmas morn, 2008. I awoke to a package lovingly wrapped by my younger sister. First off I figured it would have been a new bible, or something of the sort, but I was surprised to see a package too large to fit the idea. Things switched to Harry Potter mode. Maybe the first five years on Bluray. Hmmm…too spendy. Never mind the guessing; I just tore it open. To my surprise there was a box with the word, “Dominon” scrawled across it. She had randomly picked it out from an unlikely hobby store a few days before. Although rather random of her I was actually quite glad for the spontaneous moment.

Opening the box proved to be a little disappointing. You are given a piece of plastic and a bunch of cards. As a casual gamer there have been many of times that I’ve spent playing simple card games around a table at church camp. Rather it be spit, mau, spoons, or any other variety of common game, I’ve always been a fan of cards and games with simple mechanics but for some reason I wasn’t expecting this.

Putting my slight disappointment aside I started to read through the instructions and was taken back to those good old times at camp. It is simplistic, has a fast pace (when played correctly), all making it easy to latch in new players. Dominion, as it would turn out, was an addictive substance.

To start out you are given a small deck of ten cards containing three victory points and seven coins. Starting off you draw a hand of five cards and on your turn use any coin in your hand to purchase a new card from one of the card piles, which falls into the categories of coin, victory points, and action cards.

Anything you purchase, and the coin used to do so, all fall into your discard pile to be used again when your deck runs out. With subsequent turns you get to use an action and buy a card. That’s about it. Wash, rinse, and repeat. When the largest victory point pile, or three of any other piles, has been depleted players count up their cards and the game ends.

It’s a simple combination that kept us playing for a very long time on our first day and just about every weekend afterward.

As somebody who is by far a more avid video game player than a board gamer I’ve become accustom to something turning old hat pretty quickly. Gears of War? Been there. Motorstorm? Done that. Super Ultimate Street Fighter Alpha 6 Second Strike. Psah, that’s so last week.

Unlike video games though I’ve been rather fortunate to in a group where games don’t ever seem to lose their replay value. How many times have we played Settlers of Catan in the past year? I don’t know, but I’m fairly certain that there aren’t enough fingers and toes between all of our extended families to count.

It’s great to know that all I have to do is call somebody up and ask them if they want to play just about any game from the closet and I can safely know that fun is to be had. Sadly though for every time that somebody wants to play there seems to be an equal amount of time when somebody is struck by the tyranny of the urgent and simply can’t find time to fit a game in.

Even our love for Dominion eventually fell aside due to busyness. It is for times such as these that I found myself in a weird position, stuck in a land that magically fuses video with board and game with game – a place simply know as ComputerBoardGamia.

My earliest ventures into this world found me sticking mainly to Carcassone and Settlers, but my addiction to Dominion grew I looked for online outlets to play as well. This is where BrettSpielWelt came in and left a bit of distaste for the game in my mouth.

At this point I had owned the game for about two months and played each weekend, but after one game online my eyes were opened up. All I had to do to win was buy as much coin as I could each turn. There wasn’t even a need for other cards. Get lots and lots of silver and gold in your hand, drain out the victory points, all the while your opponent is dabbling in other cards far too much.

The very thing for which I had loved, simplicity and speed had been stripped down too bare. It was too simple. Too fast. Games lasted minutes, muzzled only by the slowness of my opponent. A game that I had consistently loved for so many hours had cheated on me. Taken my heart and thrown it to the ground, laughing as she watched it scream, thrashing about in a pile of dirt and blood. In that moment, oh how I hated you Dominion!

Then suddenly something snapped. I had just discovered something that the rest of my group had never seen and it was up to me to make sure that nobody ever did find out, for why should my friends suffer the same fate. To this day nobody has seemed to cash in on the obvious. It’s not that they are naïve, or unintelligent. They are just trapped in a box, forever destined to focus on action cards. Oh how I wish I could be trapped in that box too.

Alas, I can not. Does this make me hate Dominion still? In some ways, yes, while in other ways, no. For the yes’s, I feel as if the game is far too simple once you crack the code of the coin, making this a game that I will almost never play on a competitive level. For the no’s, I can say that there is fun to be had if you make sure to pull the punches and indeed have fun.

In fact, if there was ever a case to be built against this game it would not be against the concept in it of it’s self but against those who choose to drive home the simplest method of victory. So, take it or leave it, but beware, once take this easy path it is very hard to get off it.
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Andrew Hardin
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I agree completely. My experience has been similar. I don't play online anymore, I just play with friends FtF. The game needs expansions something fierce.

However, if you want to play Big Money you will lose against me. My decks often contain less than 5 Action Cards but they are very focused cards.

- Lex
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Donnie Darko
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The only time I don't play with lots of coins is when I play with something that gives a card draw and an action, such as having three labs or something similar. In the end though it produces the same result - lots of money, buy lots of cards.

I agree though on wanting to play face to face. If I have the game I want to play it on a table, or table like object. The only exception at the moment for me is playing PowerGrid, as I don't own the game yet and am just learning it.
 
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Andrew Hardin
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I probably value Silver less than you do. I don't want more than a couple of Silver. But Gold I buy as often as I can.

Treasure is important. You must have it to win. You don't win the game by collecting Action Cards. You win the game by collecting Action Cards that give you enough Coin to buy VP.

I consider Big Money to be the baseline. If your approach can't beat Big Money then your approach is wrong. Once I adjusted all my strategies to at least beat Big Money I began to buy fewer Action Cards and more Coin and VP.

But the main deck is +Action, +Card, +Buy, +Coin. These are the basic effects needed to make the game run. What is needed is more complex cards that do other things.

I personally think the Festival and Village are 'crutch' cards. Bad players rely upon them to win. I use them when available but don't care if they are not in the game. I win more when they are not. But after 100 plays online I play when I feel like. Still a great game. 100 plays is a lot.

- Lex
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Ian Kelly
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What Lex said. Big Money is a solid strategy, but it has lots of room for improvement. For example, buying just a single Chancellor and using it to shuffle at every opportunity will get the deck to 4 Provinces half a turn faster on average (but adding 2 Chancellors will slow it down). And of course buying a single aggressively-played Chapel is a huge improvement over vanilla Big Money.
 
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Donnie Darko
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I would have to say that I value silver about the same as you. Sure, I'll take it if it is the best option at the time, but for the most part it has to be gold.

I will also have to agree with you on the festival card. The second I saw that I decided it was a trump card. The only time we've ever played it was when we were dealing out random cards.

Maybe in the future they will give us cards that drastically shake up how the game strategy, but then again maybe that will make it worse. At this point I really don't know how I feel about anything related to the game as a whole. I just get this weird feeling as if it was fast-tracked though play testing and came out kinda broken.
 
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Andrew Hardin
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Peristarkawan wrote:
What Lex said. Big Money is a solid strategy, but it has lots of room for improvement. For example, buying just a single Chancellor and using it to shuffle at every opportunity will get the deck to 4 Provinces half a turn faster on average (but adding 2 Chancellors will slow it down). And of course buying a single aggressively-played Chapel is a huge improvement over vanilla Big Money.


Be interesting to see your data on the Chancellor. The data I have seen shows the card tends to do better in practice with a percentage of games that really suffer from bad luck. Some games you can't buy the Chancellor in the right spot. But Big Money with the Chancellor alone is still not even close to optimal.

The Chancellor has a very interesting quirk. It is the only card in the game that I can see that can currently produce a 4 Province buy within 8 turns. That is so rare that getting it would be notable but the Card could potentially buy 12 Provinces by turn 16. I suspect we will never see that in actual play.

- Lex

 
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Andrew Hardin
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wonderflex wrote:
I would have to say that I value silver about the same as you. Sure, I'll take it if it is the best option at the time, but for the most part it has to be gold.

I will also have to agree with you on the festival card. The second I saw that I decided it was a trump card. The only time we've ever played it was when we were dealing out random cards.

Maybe in the future they will give us cards that drastically shake up how the game strategy, but then again maybe that will make it worse. At this point I really don't know how I feel about anything related to the game as a whole. I just get this weird feeling as if it was fast-tracked though play testing and came out kinda broken.


The game is better than that. The guys I play with FtF can and would all beat Big Money easily. They just stopped buying tons of Action Cards awhile back.

My opinion of the Festival has gone down as I play. It is still a very nice card but it is no longer the absolute monster I once thought it was. If somebody takes the time to buy too many they will probably lose in one of our games.

- Lex
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Ian Kelly
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LexH wrote:
Be interesting to see your data on the Chancellor.


It's based on single-player simulations of various simple strategies that I've been running recently. The metric used is the number of turns it takes to buy four provinces. I'll probably start a thread on it some time soon, but some highlights are:

* Big Money takes about 16.85 turns on average.
* Buying a single Chancellor and always using the discard power takes about 16.3 turns on average.
* Buying additional Chancellors adds about 1.1 turn per extra Chancellor bought, apparently due to the opportunity cost of buying them and the redundancy of drawing multiple Chancellors in the same hand.
* Buying a single Chancellor and optimally using the discard power (such that the coin density of the deck is at least as great after shuffling as it was to begin with) takes about 15.8 turns.
* Buying a single Chapel and aggressively trashing Coppers and Estates takes about 14.9 turns.
* Buying a Chapel and a Laboratory (not necessarily on a 5-2 split) takes about 14.2 turns.
* A Chapel and 2 Laboratories takes about 14 turns.
* Buying more than 2 Laboratories with a Chapel doesn't seem to have any appreciable effect one way or the other.
* Buying four Provinces before turn 10 is extremely rare, even with the Chancellor strategy.
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David desJardins
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wonderflex wrote:
I had just discovered something that the rest of my group had never seen and it was up to me to make sure that nobody ever did find out, for why should my friends suffer the same fate.


You would learn more if you tried playing better, maybe your approach would work for a while, then the other players would learn to copy it, eventually they would learn some of the ways to do better, and you wouldn't think the game so simple after all.
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Donnie Darko
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DaviddesJ wrote:
wonderflex wrote:
I had just discovered something that the rest of my group had never seen and it was up to me to make sure that nobody ever did find out, for why should my friends suffer the same fate.


You would learn more if you tried playing better, maybe your approach would work for a while, then the other players would learn to copy it, eventually they would learn some of the ways to do better, and you wouldn't think the game so simple after all.


I'm going with a simple, "no," to this. I think it's going to just reside in the relm of, "I like this game some and I find it shallow. Others love it and find it deep." This is the pizza of the board game world - most will want tomato sauce, and a choice few will want alfredo. It doesn't mean that I'm missing out by sticking mostly to alfredo, nor do I belive any missing out by sticking with the norm.

Besides, reading other reviews I think there is more than enough people who actually hate this game worse than me to balance out those who love it.
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Mad Scientist Philip von Doomula
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wonderflex wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
wonderflex wrote:
I had just discovered something that the rest of my group had never seen and it was up to me to make sure that nobody ever did find out, for why should my friends suffer the same fate.


You would learn more if you tried playing better, maybe your approach would work for a while, then the other players would learn to copy it, eventually they would learn some of the ways to do better, and you wouldn't think the game so simple after all.


I'm going with a simple, "no," to this. I think it's going to just reside in the relm of, "I like this game some and I find it shallow. Others love it and find it deep." This is the pizza of the board game world - most will want tomato sauce, and a choice few will want alfredo. It doesn't mean that I'm missing out by sticking mostly to alfredo, nor do I belive any missing out by sticking with the norm.

Besides, reading other reviews I think there is more than enough people who actually hate this game worse than me to balance out those who love it.


KUDOS!
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Donnie Darko
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Thanks fellow hatta'
 
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Stephen Schaefer
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I see someone's still on the "Silver is overpowered" point in the continuum. Don't worry, it will get better.
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David desJardins
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wonderflex wrote:
I'm going with a simple, "no," to this. I think it's going to just reside in the relm of, "I like this game some and I find it shallow. Others love it and find it deep." This is the pizza of the board game world - most will want tomato sauce, and a choice few will want alfredo. It doesn't mean that I'm missing out by sticking mostly to alfredo, nor do I belive any missing out by sticking with the norm.


It's an objective fact that if you played your "alfredo" strategy enough, against other skilled players, eventually you would find yourself consistently losing, and so you would have to conclude that it's not as good as you think it is.

That doesn't mean you have to like the game any more than you do now. It just means your strategic insights aren't as accurate as you think they are.
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Tony Chen
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a game that I will almost never play on a competitive level

You are right. You never will.
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Donnie Darko
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DaviddesJ wrote:
wonderflex wrote:
I'm going with a simple, "no," to this. I think it's going to just reside in the relm of, "I like this game some and I find it shallow. Others love it and find it deep." This is the pizza of the board game world - most will want tomato sauce, and a choice few will want alfredo. It doesn't mean that I'm missing out by sticking mostly to alfredo, nor do I belive any missing out by sticking with the norm.


It's an objective fact that if you played your "alfredo" strategy enough, against other skilled players, eventually you would find yourself consistently losing, and so you would have to conclude that it's not as good as you think it is.

That doesn't mean you have to like the game any more than you do now. It just means your strategic insights aren't as accurate as you think they are.


Oh, don't worry, I dont think that they strategy I laid before you is the best, nor the only. It is on the other hand a super easy way to win when playing against the majority of people you are going to face in a regular day of playing. The group I game with is about 7 highschool students and a few college age follk who play even less games than I can manage to not play.

It's this ease of being a big fish in small pond, or even a medium size fish in a medium sized pond, that just annoys me to death. If all I do is grab gold will I beat you. Prolly, "not". If all I do is grab gold will I beat every person I come across in my group, plus alot of the people on BrettSpielWelt, more than likely, "yes." Could we argue this until everybody on the thread is blue in the fingers, even more a, "yes."

By the way, Alfredo is refering to those who dislike this game, not those who play big money. Tomato sauce is for those who are okay with seeing through the legitimate faults in an otherwise fun game.
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Donnie Darko
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
Quote:
a game that I will almost never play on a competitive level

You are right. You never will.


Well no duh. I live in Oregon for crying out loud. One: gambling is illegal. Two: nobody plays competitive around here; we're too laid back for that. Three: even if I did and somehow managed to win something I wouldn’t go bragging about it; it's Dominion for crying out loud. I would be more proud of my 5th place three on three intramural basketball trophy then I would of any sort of accomplishment in a card game; including poker.
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Ian Kelly
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wonderflex wrote:
One: gambling is illegal.


Irrelevant. A Dominion tournament is no more a form of gambling than, say, a basketball tournament. Unless Oregon law actually defines gambling in terms of the rather arbitrary measure of whether the game uses cards or not.

Quote:
Two: nobody plays competitive around here; we're too laid back for that. Three: even if I did and somehow managed to win something I wouldn’t go bragging about it; it's Dominion for crying out loud. I would be more proud of my 5th place three on three intramural basketball trophy then I would of any sort of accomplishment in a card game; including poker.


I don't see why a basketball accomplishment is automatically the more respectable, although it is certainly a reflection of the values of society. Why does the basketball team always get more recognition than the chess team, even when the former places 4th in the division, and the latter places 1st?

And if "nobody plays competitive around here" then what exactly you were doing in a basketball competition? whistle
 
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Thijs Lauwbierkoffie
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Online boardgaming is one thing I will never do again, it killed almost Mr Jack for me, one of my favourite games.

Board/card games need to be played around the table. eye contact, talking and laughter are crucial for my game enjoyment.
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Donnie Darko
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Peristarkawan wrote:
wonderflex wrote:
One: gambling is illegal.


Irrelevant. A Dominion tournament is no more a form of gambling than, say, a basketball tournament. Unless Oregon law actually defines gambling in terms of the rather arbitrary measure of whether the game uses cards or not.

Quote:
Two: nobody plays competitive around here; we're too laid back for that. Three: even if I did and somehow managed to win something I wouldn’t go bragging about it; it's Dominion for crying out loud. I would be more proud of my 5th place three on three intramural basketball trophy then I would of any sort of accomplishment in a card game; including poker.


I don't see why a basketball accomplishment is automatically the more respectable, although it is certainly a reflection of the values of society. Why does the basketball team always get more recognition than the chess team, even when the former places 4th in the division, and the latter places 1st?

And if "nobody plays competitive around here" then what exactly you were doing in a basketball competition? :whistle:


Sorry about that, I should have been more clear. We are laid back and don't play board games on a competitive level. We are WAY competitive when it comes to sports. They don't say that Autzen stadium in collegiate play for nothing.

And as to why basketball get's more cred than chess I can never fully explain without offending somebody on an intelectuall level, but the jist of it seems to follow the rules of nature. Female animals like strong, athletic, healthy and agile male animals. Male animals like female animals. Male animals show off what is strong, athletic, healthy and agile about themselves to show. Ipso facto men hide their mental accomplishments if they want to show off to women and let the men around them know that they are better suited for life.

Does that mean that it's better to be athletic than smart - oh heck no. Does that mean that I'd rather be seen as athletic and smart - oh heck yes. But in most cases, if I'd rather be seen as athletic or good at Dominion I'd choose the prior.
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David desJardins
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wonderflex wrote:
It's this ease of being a big fish in small pond, or even a medium size fish in a medium sized pond, that just annoys me to death. If all I do is grab gold will I beat you. Prolly, "not". If all I do is grab gold will I beat every person I come across in my group, plus alot of the people on BrettSpielWelt, more than likely, "yes."


So your argument is that Dominion is actually too deep for an apparently light game? That it's too hard for most people to play well?

I can sort of see that. Although for me it's not a problem.
 
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David desJardins
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wonderflex wrote:
Female animals like strong, athletic, healthy and agile male animals.


I think you're dating the wrong female animals.
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Donnie Darko
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DaviddesJ wrote:
wonderflex wrote:
Female animals like strong, athletic, healthy and agile male animals.


I think you're dating the wrong female animals.


Na, I'm married to the right one. I didn't win her over with the strength though. I had a broken wrist down wrist with metal in it at the time.
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Tony Chen
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What are we talking about again?

Your review was just factually wrong.

I am not into competitive Dominion either, but I don't pretend that I have broken the game, when I haven't.

Post your BSW record.
 
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