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Dominion» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dominion: Impressions After Five Sessions rss

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Kevin Brown
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Dominion is a deck building card game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino. Players start the game with a small preset deck of resource cards and take turns using these resources to buy Victory Point cards & various 'action' cards that allow them to do more things each turn (buying more than one card per turn, drawing more cards, gaining extra resources, etc). Each player's goal is to use their small initial pile of cards to grow their deck into a engine that can efficiently gobble-up the most Victory Point cards.


Resource Cards


Victory Point Cards


Action Cards


The cards themselves are laid out very nicely and are easy to read & understand. The artwork isn't outstanding, but not terrible (and has climbed-up a few notches in the various expansions), and the card stock thickness / sturdiness is at least as good as what you'll find in collectible card games.

If you've played a draft game of Magic: the Gathering before, Dominion feels very much like the drafting portion of that experience turned into a game in it's own right. If you haven't played Magic: the Gathering before, or any other collectible / living card game, though, Dominion drops a lot of the complex mechanics & concepts that are typical of such games in order to be more accessible. Just about anyone can learn how to play Dominion in under 10 minutes.

Session length per game is quite short; none of the five games I played went over twenty minutes. Set-up time is also quite short if you do a bit of prep work (making sure the cards are all kept sorted via whatever means you prefer), and table space needed for the game is pretty minimal.



The game does more or less exactly what it sets out to do, creating an effective self contained experience out of deck building & card drafting, and if you really enjoy either of those things in isolation or the idea of building a sort of economic engine out of cards, odds are that you'll get a lot out of Dominion. Moving on to my subjective impression, though: I'm afraid I don't have a lot of fun playing Dominion.

It's really just one mechanic that gets me: 'trashing' your hand. At the end of every turn, each player discards their entire hand.

Now, it's an important part of the game, it was implemented very purposefully and a lot of other players really enjoy that mechanic, but for whatever reason it's a real turn off for me (probably a conceptual bias that's crept into my skull from playing different CCGs). I like to have a mitt full of cards in my hand at almost all times when I'm playing a card game.

I also found the amount of shuffling that Dominion requires you to do to be a little bit of a nuisance, though you do eventually become accustomed to it and, really, it's more a limitation of the medium than a choice that the designer made.


To put in not so many words: Dominion is a really neat, really fast, really easy to get into game that I just personally don't happen to like. In terms of bang for your buck & overall cohesiveness, it's (at the least) an 8-10 out of 10. In terms of my experience & bias, it's a 4 out of 10.

This will probably be a really good buy for most people - I would just caution old CCG veterans like myself to play a few games and see how they like to feel of it before picking it up.
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Chris Stanton
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Kevin R Brown wrote:


It's really just one mechanic that gets me: 'trashing' your hand. At the end of every turn, each player discards their entire hand.

Now, it's an important part of the game, it was implemented very purposefully and a lot of other players really enjoy that mechanic, but for whatever reason it's a real turn off for me (probably a conceptual bias that's crept into my skull from playing different CCGs). I like to have a mitt full of cards in my hand at almost all times when I'm playing a card game.

This will probably be a really good buy for most people - I would just caution old CCG veterans like myself to play a few games and see how they like to feel of it before picking it up.


I'm from a CCG background & I don't have any problem with the discard & draw mechanism. You get to draw up a hand then so you do always have 5 cards in hand (well- mostly). A lot of the CCGs (and a few other card games), discarding the right stuff is a key skill (I'm particularly thinking of certain LOTR decktypes)
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Toc13 wrote:
Kevin R Brown wrote:


It's really just one mechanic that gets me: 'trashing' your hand. At the end of every turn, each player discards their entire hand.

Now, it's an important part of the game, it was implemented very purposefully and a lot of other players really enjoy that mechanic, but for whatever reason it's a real turn off for me (probably a conceptual bias that's crept into my skull from playing different CCGs). I like to have a mitt full of cards in my hand at almost all times when I'm playing a card game.

This will probably be a really good buy for most people - I would just caution old CCG veterans like myself to play a few games and see how they like to feel of it before picking it up.


I'm from a CCG background & I don't have any problem with the discard & draw mechanism. You get to draw up a hand then so you do always have 5 cards in hand (well- mostly). A lot of the CCGs (and a few other card games), discarding the right stuff is a key skill (I'm particularly thinking of certain LOTR decktypes)


I agree with you. I would think Kevin would like it more than any CCG because the rules dictate you have a "mitt full of cards" a lot more often in Dominion than in most CCGs. With the number of +cards options and cards like Haven, you can end up with a handful several times.
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howl hollow howl
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Ignoring the lack of theme and inability to inject personality into the deckbuilding process that I have in other games, I had two issues with Dominion compared to other CCGs that both have to do with retaining cards in hand across turns.

The first is card management. Do I play this card now, or is there a later time I can use it better? In the case of 7th Sea, that may be your fourth card play this turn, leaving you one card down going into the next hand and vulnerable to boarding.

The second is bluff. Did my opponent put card X in his deck, and, if so, is it in his hand now? Dominion eliminates the first, and makes the second completely random.*

I found the Dominion experience to be far, far short of the CCG experience. As an exercise in building an efficient engine, it does a good job of boiling that aspect to its essence. But that's just a speck to me.

* My experience is with the base set only; that was enough.
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Dave wrote:
Ignoring the lack of theme and inability to inject personality into the deckbuilding process that I have in other games, I had two issues with Dominion compared to other CCGs that both have to do with retaining cards in hand across turns.

The first is card management. Do I play this card now, or is there a later time I can use it better? In the case of 7th Sea, that may be your fourth card play this turn, leaving you one card down going into the next hand and vulnerable to boarding.

The second is bluff. Did my opponent put card X in his deck, and, if so, is it in his hand now? Dominion eliminates the first, and makes the second completely random.*

I found the Dominion experience to be far, far short of the CCG experience. As an exercise in building an efficient engine, it does a good job of boiling that aspect to its essence. But that's just a speck to me.

* My experience is with the base set only; that was enough.


You forgot to mention that by playing Dominion instead of a CCG you can actually afford food, clothes and lodging and maybe take your kids on vacation. Not so much when playing a CCG.wow

With most CCGs there are so many cards that the second is purely shot-in-the-dark guesswork which isn't any better than random for me.
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Kevin Brown
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Quote:
You forgot to mention that by playing Dominion instead of a CCG you can actually afford food, clothes and lodging and maybe take your kids on vacation. Not so much when playing a CCG.

With most CCGs there are so many cards that the second is purely shot-in-the-dark guesswork which isn't any better than random for me.


Well, playing Limited format in (for example) Magic: the Gathering, while plenty more expensive than Dominion, isn't that expensive. $20~ dollars every two weeks or so.

It's when you play Constructed that things get really hairy.


Living card games aren't that much more expensive than Dominion at all.


Like I said in the review, it's just bias on my part, but I'm so used to being able to hang onto the cards that are in my hand from turn to turn that being forced to 'trash' them wound-up leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. Nobody else had a problem with that aspect at all, so I'm in the minority, but I can't honestly say that Dominion was a fun experience for me.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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UlyZed wrote:
Kevin R Brown wrote:

Well, playing Limited format in (for example) Magic: the Gathering, while plenty more expensive than Dominion, isn't that expensive. $20~ dollars every two weeks or so.


I guess...

if playing once a fortnight is enough for you


Yeah but even his figures leads to a $500 year investment. That's the black money hole of CCGs. I know because I've played over two dozen of them but none the past five years. LCGs are an improvement but they are still a lot more expansive than Dominion especially if you are looking for a play set of the rares each month.
 
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Max Maloney
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Kevin R Brown wrote:
Like I said in the review, it's just bias on my part, but I'm so used to being able to hang onto the cards that are in my hand from turn to turn that being forced to 'trash' them wound-up leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. Nobody else had a problem with that aspect at all, so I'm in the minority, but I can't honestly say that Dominion was a fun experience for me.

Ironically, this reminds me of people who play Magic and can't stand to play cards that draw 2 and discard 1. "I don't want to discard any of these!" You just have to let go of that bias by realizing it's an irrational one and then you can move on to appreciate the game (be it Magic or Dominion).

I came from a CCG background as well. My Dominion experience went something like this:

After first play: Interesting. I can see why people talk about this game. It's very unique.

Next 5-10 plays: Meh. Is this all there is to it? It seems a little boring and repetitive.

Around a dozen plays: Hmm, this is getting more fun suddenly. I think I'm seeing elements I didn't notice at first.

Two dozen plays: Whoa, this game rules!

Since then I go up and down on how much like it, but I do always enjoy it. If you already own it, or have friends that want to play with you, I'd recommend you keep an open mind and play some more.
 
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Kevin R Brown wrote:
....but I can't honestly say that Dominion was a fun experience for me.


Yah, Dominion gets that alot...
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Rick Teverbaugh
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markgravitygood wrote:
Kevin R Brown wrote:
....but I can't honestly say that Dominion was a fun experience for me.


Yah, Dominion gets that alot...


But it gets the opposite even more. Thankfully.
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Kevin Brown
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Quote:
Ironically, this reminds me of people who play Magic and can't stand to play cards that draw 2 and discard 1. "I don't want to discard any of these!" You just have to let go of that bias by realizing it's an irrational one and then you can move on to appreciate the game (be it Magic or Dominion).


...What? Drawing 2 and discarding 1 is awesome in Magic: the Gathering.


What isn't awesome is getting Wheel of Fortune'd at the end of every turn, which is what effectively happens at the end of each turn in Dominion. I mean, what, you just can't accept that not everyone is going to find that fun, even if most people do?
 
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tim meyer
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The great thing about Dominion for me is its range of playability. I can quickly teach this game to gamers and non-gamers alike and both can quickly become competitive at it and enjoy it. I would not say the same thing about say, Star Wars CCG.
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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Kevin R Brown wrote:
What isn't awesome is getting Wheel of Fortune'd at the end of every turn, which is what effectively happens at the end of each turn in Dominion. I mean, what, you just can't accept that not everyone is going to find that fun, even if most people do?

Discarding your hand every turn is a fundamental mechanism of Dominion. If you treat it like an attack instead of building your strategy around it, I can see where it would make the game less fun for you.
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Max Maloney
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Kevin R Brown wrote:
What isn't awesome is getting Wheel of Fortune'd at the end of every turn, which is what effectively happens at the end of each turn in Dominion. I mean, what, you just can't accept that not everyone is going to find that fun, even if most people do?

That was a major leap of defensiveness.

All I meant is that many people start Magic not liking a "draw/discard" mechanic because it is natural to dislike discarding cards you haven't used. This is a common feeling among new Magic players. It reminds me of the way you feel about Dominion.

Frankly, if you're good at playing Dominion, you're very rarely discarding anything you need anyway. You use what you need and discard anything left over and draw fresh goodness.

Mostly I was just saying I wasn't sure about the game after five plays either. But I liked it more later. And I too came from CCGs. I certainly wouldn't say you should rush out and buy the game, but if it's in your play group or you already did buy it, you may find yourself warming to it.
 
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Ben Ford
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If you feel like you are being Wheel of Fortuned every turn, you are probably buying too many terminal actions. You shouldn't consistently have cards left in your hand that you weren't able to play.
 
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Cracky McCracken
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I'm thinking of picking up Dominion so i've been reading reviews of it.

This is the second review, (out of the first two i've read) that claim Magic is too expensive to play.

What the hell are you talking about? Buy a few decks and start playing. It's not that expensive. I still have decks from 15 years ago that work just fine. You can spend as much or as little on any aspect of this hobby as you wish.

Hobbies cost money. Period.

 
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