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Dominion: Seaside» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Don't let Prosperity obscure this gem rss

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Duncan
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After having played extensively with Dominion Seaside cards on the isotropic online dominion server and with the five seaside cards available on BSW I thought I had fully developed my opinion on this second expansion to one of my favourite games. I always saw it as ‘just a bunch of cards’ nothing as stand out as the potions of alchemy or the big money and high cost cards of prosperity. Somehow after I bought the physical set, I saw I had ignored all the best points of this expansion.
The first thing that will catch anyone’s eye is the (currently) Seaside-unique duration cards; these orange cards are quite hard to miss. These are the dominant part of Seaside’s mechanic-theme of preparing for the next turn. For a while I had viewed these as just 8 more kingdom cards, it took some very deliberate selection of cards to set up some games which showed how these give rise to some very particular strategies and how good some of these cards are in certain favourable combinations.
What also struck me, but only after quite long reflection, is that Seaside, of all the dominion expansions so far must surely be the most focused thematically. By this I don’t just mean the nautical theme of the card names, but also the dominance of one the one mechanic theme of preparing for the later turns, especially the next turn. The other expansions all have a very wide approach or just add a number of little things to Dominion’s mechanics. The way I see it, I can justify 19 of the 26 kingdom cards add to this relatively narrow mechanical theme.
The best way to get my further thoughts across is card by card:

Ambassador The ambassador has what are currently very much unique effects. No other card published allows the return of players’ cards to the supply pile, the ability to control what goes into your opponents’ decks is immensely powerful. The Ambassador/Possession combo has made for some of the nastiest games I’ve played, but generally this card is right at home in, but not limited to, any games where the curses are flying around.

Bazaar A member of that increasingly rare group of cards which have no effect outside +cards, + coins, + actions or + buys. Without wanting to do some heavy analysis to prove it, I would suggest that this is overpriced: it costs 2 more than a village with the only difference being the +1 coin? Compare also the worker’s village, which costs 4 and gives a buy rather than a coin. And one other minor criticism (it is really quite immaterial): I really think that thematically, a card called ‘Bazaar’ needs to give +buy.

Caravan The first of the duration cards (alphabetically), a fairly versatile card, and surely good value-a cheap laboratory that spreads itself over 2 turns. Anything that lets you draw cards before starting your action phase is good.

Cutpurse This is supposed to be a nasty card to have in the early game, especially in a 3 or 4 player game as it can severely limit your opponent’s ability to buy in the early turns of the game. I can see exactly how this works in theory but can’t claim to have ever experienced it in a game.

Embargo This is rather a specialised card, I have always found it rare to use as a main part of a strategy. I can see very specific set ups in which it could make excellent support for a strategy. The lasting effect one the entire game makes this a possibly risky card to use for those who play very casually, rather experienced players who play often and know all the cards very well. I do think the use of the embargo token placed on the supply pile is a slight inelegant inconvenience but I can’t think of a better way to do this.

Explorer This is somewhat outmoded in games featuring the newer colonies, but in a standard dominion game with provinces, this is often an excellent way to make your deck better and better. The icing on top is that it can give you a silver in hand whenever you play it. It you are playing anything but a very thin deck this is often an excellent card to buy a few of.

Fishing Village Yet another village, and one that, in essence plays itself twice- once this turn and once at the start of the next – all for the price of the original village, making a very good value card. Admittedly +1 coin is generally not as good as +1 card but as long as you have something to draw with after player some of these, a very good card in any situation where you want to being playing plenty of actions.

Ghost Ship Possibly the worst attack to be hit with that isn’t ever going to give you a curse. To the ‘new player’ this might look just as bad as the militia but never underestimate the fact the cards are replaced on the deck rather than discarded and will have to be redrawn. While there are a great many times, you’re more than happy to be hit by a militia (it can also be an excuse to show off your provinces) unless you have a moat or lighthouse, being hit by a ghost ship is not good.

Haven Not a very exciting card most of the time, but often worth buying if there’s nothing else or you have a spare buy and 2 coins. It can be good to put aside a treasure you don’t have the buys to use or an action best left for the next turn but often I just want to use things this turn and don’t put anything worth much under the haven.

Island Not only does being action-victory card mean excellent interaction with the Iron works and scout or, the island is a very good way to earn points and thins out your deck at the same time. Because you only need play it once, it isn’t heinously disadvantageous to use when actions are thin on the ground and you also need not worry too much about giving too much to opponents’ tributes, if you are playing these when you can.

Lighthouse I don’t think Dominion will ever have much defence from attacks, but in general, more is always welcome. The lighthouse is still inferior to the moat in many ways – it has to be played for its defence to be used, and it is not selective of what it blocks – if I have a library village, moat and 2 victory cards in hands (or similar) and am hit by a militia a I do not reveal the moat to defend myself from the attack. However, a stack of lighthouses and a library make part some solid combinations in some situations.

Lookout An excellent card to thin your deck sometimes and other times a waste of space not worth a second thought. If you can use lookouts early and latter get rid of them all good and well but if they are still in your deck later in the game they are just getting in the way as by playing them you are often forced to trash something you really don’t want to. I appreciate having some cards that need to be thought more carefully than others.

Merchant Ship Often an excellent way to get some serious money to spend, whether in a tight game where you can play very few actions or in an action rich game where you play several the duration nature is its main advantage giving its coins over two turns. That said all too often I find there are other things costing 5 I would rather be buying.

Native Village Yes indeed, there are two villages in seaside. This one can be very effective with the right handling. Generally this is useful for storing up cards for some really big turn or making certain key moves in a future turn, but it can also be manipulated to thin out ones’ deck all the while still giving you an abundance of actions to work with.

Navigator To be honest I have not used this card much at all, there have always seemed to be better options. Forcing myself to think about it I can see a great many uses for playing these interlaced into bigger chains of actions. If this card let you discard some of the cards and stack the other son your deck it would a) be a far more obvious card to buy and use but b)be completely different so I shouldn’t even mention it.

OutpostWe move on now to a card that is blatantly useful – have an extra (although smaller) turn after this one? Yes please! Cunningly the card has been worded some a certain type of player can’t spend the rest of the game having their extra turn but nevertheless, except in those situations where you outpost turn is likely to only allow you buy something small, that your deck doesn’t actually benefit from, Outposts are good. Combine them with plenty of actions and a Library (or failing that, a Watchtower) or Tactician and you can achieve seriously big turns (guaranteed to annoy any opponent who did something else).

Pearl Diver Fairly mundane, you can sometimes use pearl divers to good effect and sometimes not so much, generally I would categorise this as one of those cards you buy when you can’t get anything else.

Pirate Ship One of the most effective ways to win without using much actual treasure cards,, Sting you opposition and in later turns play these for vast amounts of cash – it simply keeps on giving. The only other comment I feel needs to be made is that by this point the nautical theme is wearing a bit thin – the pirate ship, the ghostship and the merchant ship – it soon becomes a bit stupid ( sort of like have all those villages which also have similar effects to make things worse).

Salvager +buys are rare among the cards for dominion that often anything offering it is a viable card to buy; salvager is the card I see most typical of this, although there are occasions where the trash a card for coin is exploited maximally-the peddler being a prime target for the salvaging.

Sea Hag A nasty attack because it not only gives a curse but puts it straight into the deck to get in the attacked player’s way 1 shuffle early. Not always a winning card because despite that it doesn’t give you, the player of the card anything, a reason I hate the other card like this: the saboteur.

Smugglers A card I’ve enjoyed using on many an occasion, as an early game card, it lets you cash in on opponent’s good drawing to get early golds too and can be used later in the game to get extra copies of cards you don’t mind playing chains of –laboratories, festivals, bazaars or simply more gold. Just rely on the fact that a half decent opponent will generally be buying stuff you’re only happy to have a copy of gratis.

Tactician Quite apart from having some of my favourite art work in all of dominion, this is a somewhat special card. First and foremost it essentially gives you the chance to double a turn or maybe squaring the effectiveness of a turn would be a more appropriate description. It does require some special handling that you don’t completely waste your preceding turn for this but it’s almost invariably worth it. On top of that, many of my favourite power combinations involve tactician in a crucial role: tactician and black market, allowing you to play all your treasure before discarding for the tactician, tactician and outpost giving you a big turn directly after you ‘actual turn’ tactician, golem and some big draw card allowing you to play the tactician via the golem then redraw some cards and keep on going. All of these are feasible to happen occasionally although you could easily make some enormous optimisations based on the same basic combinations.

Treasure Map Not at all unsatisfying when you pull the treasure map trick off successfully, but just as often as the treasure map is good it’s an annoyance – taking up vital space in your hand individually, never in usable pairs. I said earlier I appreciate cards which have many useful situations and many useless situations that players looking to win really have to be wary of, Treasure Map is no doubt another of them.

Treasury The first, but not the last published card involving returning cards to the top of your deck during clean-up. Thinking to add money to their pool by stacking enormous amounts of treasuries on top of their deck is something I know many to do, but the major disadvantage is that this is only possible if you did not buy victory card this turn, of course with the right deck you can still cycle through many treasuries each turn having used them fully earlier in the game but I have always found there to be more often than not other, more viable builds than an all-out treasury deck.

Warehouse A good tool deck cycling, the warehouse also makes it easier to play with lots of victory cards in your deck opening new ways to play aiming to win without a province fixation.

Wharf Alphabetical order was clearly a good idea for this list because I get to save(well, one of) the best for last. It’s the two cards at the start of your next turn that make this a really card, a player’s best option so often.

So what am I saying?
I suppose it all sums up to this: don’t let prosperity make you overlook seaside. I think that was my problem, but having had the chance to isolate seaside there are o many enormously fun cards in there.
The final word has to go to my greatest wish for dominion in the future: more durations. I know it has been stated by the designer that there are no more planned, by I hope they do some more planning and plan some. Eight of them is increasingly becoming too few and I can see a great deal more could be taken from this mechanic before it became old and tired and players like myself wanted something completely new.
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Arthur
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spacewolf009 wrote:
Ghost Ship Possibly the worst attack to be hit with that isn’t ever going to give you a curse. To the ‘new player’ this might look just as bad as the militia but never underestimate the fact the cards are replaced on the deck rather than discarded and will have to be redrawn. While there are a great many times, you’re more than happy to be hit by a militia (it can also be an excuse to show off your provinces) unless you have a moat or lighthouse, being hit by a ghost ship is not good.
Getting attacked by a Ghost Ship can be a good thing: if you have a hand of 5 gold in a no-colony-game, it's a boon.
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Duncan
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Yes, that was a generalisation, there is an exception to every 'rule' when it comes to dominion.
 
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