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Subject: My first taste of Dominion Prosperity rss

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Eric Foldenauer
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Feel free to skip the italicized first part of this detailing my eagerness to get my hands on this expansion. The true session report starts after 'game one'. I didn't do a turn by turn snapshot of each of our 3 games, but I hope I captured the general feel of how they went.

I have been drooling over getting Prosperity for a week now. I didn't attend GenCon, but my friend Jeremiah did. When I heard that limited copies of Prosperity were going to be available for sale, I asked him to acquire a copy for me. He kindly agreed, but when I figured out he was heading down only for the weekend, the phrase 'limited copies' blared like a warning klaxon in my brain. Jeremiah sensed my concerns (possibly through his auditory canal as my vocal cords vibrated my internal alert notification system), and offered to have a friend acquire the copy on his behalf for me. Yay for friends who sympathize with nerdy obsessions! By Saturday morning, I saw a Facebook post from his friend notifying Jeremiah that the acquisition mission (how is it possible that those two words rhyme?) had been successful.

This news pleased me. In fact, I believe my exact written response was, "I think I love you [total stranger]." So after my remiaining weekend of social activities with friends, childcare, and playing Tannhauser, I ventured over to BGG and saw the rules for Prosperity were now posted online. This was Sunday night around midnight. Magnus, my two month old child was (finally) swaddled and asleep next to me. I had to be up for work in 6 hours. Given my choices, I picked the clear, smart choice and eschewed most of my sleep in favor of devouring the rules, much to the detriment of my work productivity the next day. If I dreamed at all that night, there were King's Courts and Bishops involved.

On Monday, I gave Jeremiah a few hours to sleep off his return plane trip, then sent a text over to arrange for pickup. This was when I learned that he had been unable to fit the game on his carry-on, so he sent it back with Sandor, a friend of his whom I had met and gamed with a couple of times. I then asked how I should pay, and learned that Josh, the person acquiring the game was still owed the money. This led to an afternoon of getting a paypal address to send money to Josh and tracking down Sandor's contact info to arrange for a pickup. At this point, work completely fell to the wayside as OCD officially took over. After 'work', I made a trip to Best Buy, and heard back from Sandor once I got home. We coordinated a meeting. It turned out that he lived right behind the same Best Buy I was just at, and if I had waited ten more minutes before leaving 'work', I would have saved myself a second trip.

All in all, it was a fair amount of work to feed my addiction, but it wasn't over yet. Now I had the cards and needed someone to break them in with. Although Jeremiah sympathized with my addiction, he has not been the biggest fan of Dominion. To play the game, I needed to coordinate with my friend Mya, my go to Dominion companion (and the person who introduced me to the game). Monday night was already shot, and we had non-gaming company Tuesday (the nerve!). Tentatively Mya and I settled on Wednesday night to break the cards in. We normally play Dominion once or twice a week over our lunch break as we work within a couple miles of each other, but we both agreed we needed more than a lunch hour to spend some quality time getting to know the new cards. So Wednesday night it was (although we still met for lunch to play Dominion, just without Prosperity involved).

Mya arrived around 8:00 right as I was explaining the rules to my wife, who was hoping to play as well (she ended up on a few errands, so this was not to be tonight). It turned out Mya did not share quite the eagerness I did for the new expansion and had not read the rules like I had, so I backltracked a bit and got her up to speed. We decided to use the suggested setups to try out the cards (which I had not read what they were, and, unfortunately, they did not contain the right cards to try out some of the combos I had thought about in my head) Megan left for errands right before we got the first game set up, leaving Magnus strapped to me in the baby sling.

We managed to get three games in. Having a baby attached to me who needed to be fed between games made it a little rough to concentrate, especially at first (for the only game I won, of course), but we made it through. As I expected, Prosperity plays noticably different from the other games due to the new treasure (platinum); the new Victory card (Colony and now three methods to end the game); the ability to get victory point tokens (with bishop, monument, or goons); and, of course, with the multitude of treasure cards to work with and how they function (8 of them). How one person managed to squeeze 15 games in at GenCon is amazing to me. Each game took a good 35 minutes and it was just 2 player. I can't imagine sitting through 15 multiplayer games and still having enough brain power left to identify the liquid dripping from my lips.


Game one:
Beginners: Bank, Counting House, Expand, Goons, Monument, Rabble, Royal Seal, Venture, Watchtower, Worker's Village

This was the only game I won, and right up to the counting of VPs, I was sure I had lost. I started with a 5/2 split (which I dubbed 'the Mya', at this point, as she seems to start this way frequently... even though she didn't have a single game start that way for her tonight. OK, it's a dumb name. Having a squirmy baby slung to one's stomach is not conducive to witty banter.) I decided to start with a purchase of Royal Seal. Mya started with 4 and grabbed a worker's village. My 2nd turn was null (It seems to me that with Prosperity, even with the cards being generally more expensive, having two coin is almost never of any use, so the 4/3 coin start might be a more favorable start. Mya's 2nd turn netted her a silver. What followed was a series of turns where I purchased without much of a focus beyond getting money, just trying out different cards. I managed to get a copy of Expand pretty quickly after purchases of silver, worker's village, and more royal seals. I also grabbed a monument, a watchtower, one or two additional worker's villages, and even some platinums after a while. Mya stuck mainly with getting goons, rabble, and worker's village. Goons in particular, was quite frustrating to my money needy deck. I think I vocalized one or two expletives when my hand looked particularly nice. She was also trying to work something out with Counting House that never really got going. Banks were the card that seemed to work best for her, allowing money to accumulate quickly once she had a number of them in place.

The game ended when I depleted the province deck. I had managed to acquire more VP tokens and that's what saved my game. There really wasn't a focused strategy on either of our parts, but we both felt it was fun. I feel I pulled the win because Mya was fiddling around more than I was. Between the two of us, we managed to purchase at least one of each of the ten cards, save venture.

Magnus became quite vocal at this point, and we had to break for a feeding. Then we were on to round two, as suggested in the rules:

Friendly Interactive:
Bishop, City, Contraband, Forge, Hoard, Peddler, Royal Seal, Trade Route, Vault (although, accidentally, I think we played Venture instead), Worker's Village

This game was particularly exciting to me as I wanted to try out the Bishop (also, Magnus was now in his rocker and we were able to keep him calm through some casual sharing of foot rocking and bottle holding). I started with a 3/4 split and got silver and a bishop. Mya started with a worker's village and then a silver. Mya, between city and worker's village, found herself quickly getting peddler to be affordable. Rather than wait for them to get really cheap with multiple buys available, she started picking them up as soon as they were affordable. I found myself getting a couple more bishops, one or two worker's village, some royal seals, venture... Again, no focused strategy, just a glossy eyed wonder at trying out various cards. Between the two of us, multiple actions and multiple buys decimated the peddler pile quickly, which made the cities more valuable. Mya spent her time just building up series of actions coupled with money to straight up focus on buying colonies (and some provinces). I used bishop to chisel away at my estates and at my coppers. What I didn't really think about was how much I was helping Mya streamline her deck along with me since the bishop allows her to trash too. More often than not, I ended up trashing a forge or a VP card to increase my VP tokens and decrease my deck size. In the end, I was rushing the game along while Mya was steadily snagging more and more colonies. I thought I had a fair shot at winning when I grabbed the last colony to end the game. After all, I had over thirty VP tokens gathered. Alas, I had but two colonies, a few estates I had acquired with the intent of processing with the bishop, and a duchy. Most of my provinces were trashed in favor of getting colonies (reducing card clutter).

During this game, I found that the Hoard is a fun card that makes buying any VP tempting to get the matching gold. Being able to trash unwanted cards between forge and bishop made it even harder to turn down. We both ignored trade routes until all 4 VP piles had maxed out the value of the card, then they were quite handy coupled with multi-action cards.

Mya cleaned my clock by about 20 points using a more standard strategy of acquiring enough money to buy the most expensive VP card to my VP token building one. I would have done better, I think, had I not trashed so many victory cards in favor of buying them outright. Of the cards in this set, we did not really give contraband a decent try.

Magnus stayed in the rocker between these games, but would eventually end up back in the sling during our final game:

Big Actions:
City, Expand, Grand Market, King's Court, Loan, Mint, Quarry, Rabble, Talisman, Vault

We were both tired and agreed this would be the last game of the night. Loan and mint were both cards I was interested in trying out. This turned out to be my undoing. I started by grabbing loan and a quary on my first two turns. I believe Mya grabbed silver both times. I basically alternated between quarry purchases and loan purchases, trashing copper as I acquired more loans. Early on, I was able to snag an expand card. I was really hoping to get this working with king's court and just start a chain of VP upgrades to cycle through provinces and end up with colonies. But, impatient to rid myself of coppers, I found myself with a hand of of 3 coppers and 1 quarry. I chose that exact moment to buy a mint, throwing out all but one copper (which would stick with me until the bitter end). I was left with a quarry, an expand, a mint, and a number of loans. Needless to say, it took a long time for me to build up to something worthwhile. Mya, on the other hand, was just merrily moving along buying provinces and eventually colonies. Combos of grand market and city prevailed for her. My hand petered around for a while, gradually buying quarrys and managing to sneak a few grand markets along with some cities and two king's courts, due to quarry's effect. My expand and king's courts never wound up in the same hand, so my conversion from estate to province/colony went even more ponderously slow.

And then, a miracle happened. Well not really a miracle, but an unintended combo asserted itself. I found myself with a king's throne and a grand market. I played that combo and drew the same combo again, and played them again. With all the quarrys I had in play and all the buys the grand markets got me, I suddenly had full access to any action card (now six cost and below discounted to zero cost due to 3 quarrys in play) and I had 7 buys plus 19 coin. I ended up purchasing a colony, a province, and cleaning out the stack of remaining grand markets. Two turns later, it happened again and I cleaned out the city cards after getting another colony. My deck went from pathetic to hugely powerful in the blink of an eye, and without a single gold or platinum (Mya had 5 platinums by this point and could have ended the game quicker by purchasing estates instead of platinums). But, by the time we got to me being a contender, Mya stopped toying and finished me off. By game end, I had managed to rack up 58 points. Mya managed about another 15-20 points above that with her game ending purchase of a colony and a province.

Of the cards available this time, we did not purchase a talisman. Rabble was also ignored this time through.

All in all, we agreed that more time needed to be spent with the expansion by itself. Personally, I am enjoying the new cards and interactions. Mya is still reserving her official judgment of the new cards. One of the problems I had with alchemy, is that it never seemed to matter much which card you bought as they all seemed to play well off each other. Prosperity requires a fair amount of thinking to pick the best card combos to win the game. There are so many paths to victory in this new expansion, that a general grabbing of whatever was affordable at the time will not typically be a winning strategy.(and I have many plays yet to go before I start really feeling how these cards interact best with each other).
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Mya
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Nice report. Just to clarify one point, on our last play it was combos of City and Vault that were running my deck. I foolishly didn't buy a Grand Market until late in the game, after getting several hands of 20 coins and no +Buys. If I had picked up even one Grand Market earlier, I would have thrashed you that much quicker.

I'm enjoying Prosperity so far. I'll be interested to see how effectively it combines with other sets.
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Eric Foldenauer
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Thanks! tis my first session report. It was hard to put togther the details of that last game at 1:00 in the morning falling asleep while typing.
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Freelance Police
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Loved the stuff in italics. Reads like a journal entry in Arkham Horror. Wish more people would submit session reports like this!
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Megan Foldenauer
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Action shot!
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