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Rafael Duarte
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Theme: Build a Kingdom. As monarch you try to gain as much land as you can to your kingdom.
Gameplay: This was the game that started the deck building mechanic, all players start the game with the same set of cards and from there they optimize the deck while playing buying cards from the common pool in the center.
Turns are very simple, in each round you can play an action card, buy a card and end then draw 5 new cards from your deck. The game is a big hit because there are multiple sets of matching cards but you only play with 10 of these sets, which makes of every game a different game with new challenges trying to find the best combination possible using the cards available. The objective is to have more victory points – which are awarded by green victory cards – at the end of the game.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

What I like:
- Every player start with the same conditions and opportunities.
- The mechanic is very simple but allow and encourage for very original cards and combos.
- Feeling of build something good and evolve.
- How attacks are resolved, attacking all opponents equally.
- Works well with less experienced players as with more experienced players.

What I don’t like:
- Setup time is too long. (even worst when playing with expansions)
- Sometimes the winning strategy is to just buying treasures and actions are not necessary in the deck.
- The player who starts the game have a good advantage, since most of the games will play an extra turn and it could be decisive.
- Watching other players having long turns where they draw action cards, play action cards, draw action cards…
- That many veteran players want to be kind of hipsters and say that this is a bad game just because it has become too mainstream.
( - Others say that it have no interactivity, I agree that it have a small amount of it, but it doesn’t bother me that much. But you are warned.)
Note: For me it is very hard to evaluate this game just like the base game cause I always play with expansions mixed in so I had to remember how it was in the beginning. Several of the negative points of the game are fixed while playing with expansions.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Components: 6
It is a collection of 500 cards of good quality, only the size of the cards could be more like the standard and the art could also be better. The rulebook is very well written and have detailed explanation of all available cards.
Complexity: 4
Fairly simple system, and the complexity comes from the way how the cards interact.
Strategy: 8
Strategy is essential in this game. Experienced players can see the common cards and soon decide what to buy for the next turns. Being both positive and negative as it requires great commitment to your intial strategy being hard to change afterwards if things are going wrong.
Tactics: 4
Most of the times the game will come to our turn as we expected and we do what was already planned. There are still scenarios where we need to respond to opponent actions. - Buy defense cards when opponent is buying attacks, buy Thief if the opponent is buying a lot of good treasures … -
Interactivity: 4
Just with attack cards we are able to directly interact with any player, other than that we can always win a race by the last card of a set. It is true that with some setups the game may seem almost a solo multiplayer.
Luck: 3
The worst and main element of luck is the fact that the first player will get a good advantage just because. Apart from that expect tha same luck as any other card game. But usually the player who built the better deck will win.
Worth the time: 9
With experienced players the game is very fast and very rewarding. Just the setup time is very boring.
Replayability: 8 (10 with expansions)
The fact that we have several cards and we play every game with only 10 cards provides a huge number of possible combinations making of each game a different one with new opportunities for combos. It’s the game I played more times. However playing with only with this box it can end and at some point is no longer necessary to improvise.
Fun: 9
This game is like a puzzle with multiple solutions in each game where you try to figure out the best way to use existing cards. In addition, players really feel they are winning power and improve throughout the game.
Gamedesign: 10
Despite several negative points for is a 10 for its originality and cause have started a new genre that is so much repeated now, and still managing to be the best of this kind (to me). The fact that the attacks affect all opponents instead of targeted attacks against only one player is one of the strengths in this game and should be repeated in more games.
Overall: 8 (10 for Dominion System)
Is the first box, the cards have the most basic system, and little interactivity. Also the cards are quite similar. It is a good box (best one) to start this game but the game has much more to offer.

Should you buy it?
Yes. Can please casual gamers and more experienced players, magic and ex-magic players, girls, boys… And is cheap if you think about the replayability on it. (price / hours of play)

This review was originally posted with a bunch of photos on
http://aboutboardgames.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/dominion/
(visit for better layout)



My blog:
http://aboutboardgames.wordpress.com/
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Tables
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I'm a bit surprised by the complaints about setup time. With three big boxes (base+Seaside+Hinterlands), my housemate and I are able to go from the end of one game to starting the other (including packdown and setup) in less than 5 minutes. It's one of the quickest games I own to set up. Power Grid is probably the only one that's faster. 7 Wonders, Pandemic, BSG, Shadows over Camelot... all much longer games to set up.

And it's incredibly rare for the winning strategy to just be money+vps. I think someone (one of the better online players) did a little research on their stats, and found they'd bought at least 2 actions in all of their last 50 games, and at least 5 in about 85%. However, I agree this is more of an issue with just the base game.
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Kent Pritchett
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I have only played this once and I thought it was a decent game. I will play it again and I can see why people like it. I am glad I did not buy it though as it felt a little flat to me. Besides some of the points above it seemed to have no theme whatsoever. I did not feel like i was building a kingdom but just playing and buying cards to earn points. I much prefer to play RftG or Glory to Rome. Having said that with some more plays I could warm up to it. But I would say try it several times before you buy it.
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Len
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For setup time, try some of the iPhone and android apps for card selecttion to select cards for the game. Set up time gets shorter with practice!
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Pater Absurdus
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rafa_str wrote:

...What I don’t like:
- Setup time is too long. (even worst when playing with expansions)
- Sometimes the winning strategy is to just buying treasures and actions are not necessary in the deck.
- The player who starts the game have a good advantage, since most of the games will play an extra turn and it could be decisive.


Thanks for posting the review!

YMMV but in my experience the set up time is not bad at all. It is not as fast as Quarriors! or Citadels but is much faster than a lot of other games.

I have found it a very rare for a set up to be so poor that buying no actions at all is the best course of action. But you are right, that is possible.

The start player advantage exists but is not generally a deciding factor, at least IMHO.

Happy Gaming,
Redward
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Joseph Betz
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I don't think the setup time is really that bad but it depends on the person whos game it is and how well that have it organized.I played with someone who had the base game,and the next 3 expansions to come out and the promo cards.He shuffled 1 of each card from all the sets and was able to find each set of cards quickly because his set was well organized.If somone does not have their sets organized well i can see that it would take a little longer but still imagine it would not be that bad.
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Ryan Tullis
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I second the notion to download the Dominion Shuffler app. In fact, set up for me is fairly enjoyable because it's like opening up a Christmas present as I watch the supply options and combos change as I lay out the cards. Now, packing it up on the other hand, that's a huge drag. Hopefully, we'll still be talking about the last game as we do it, so it makes the process a little less painful.

And the vanilla box of Dominion can wear itself fairly thin. I think adding just one expansion makes a difference, as they begin adding new mechanics to play with. I was amazed after adding Seaside into the mix. The amount of new options it adds is staggering.

Overall a solid review, by the way. I enjoyed it.
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Michael Roberts
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Would anyone have a link to this "Dominion Shuffler" app? Much appreciated, sounds like a great helper.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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rafa_str wrote:
Luck: 3
The worst and main element of luck is the fact that the first player will get a good advantage just because. Apart from that expect tha same luck as any other card game. But usually the player who built the better deck will win.


While it is easy to notice that the worst mark given by this reviewer is for the Luck factor, the following explanation contradicts itself.

If the player that built the best deck will usually win, there is no way you should ever expect this game to have the same amount of luck as any other card game.

War is entirely luck-based. Uno is primarily luck-based. While Cribbage and Poker are highly skill-based, your odds of getting any particular card from the deck are identical for each card in the deck and never any different from your opponents'. In Dominion, you can only ever draw a card from your deck that you put in it, which is never dependant upon luck; or that an opponent put into you deck for you, which is completely deliberate.

If luck played more than a minor role in the game, a far more experienced and skilled player would only have a slightly better win ratio than a novice or casual player.

Furthermore, first-player advantage is often a detriment, as that player sets the pace and all others can respond whereas the first player has no way of knowing what an opponent is planning before the initial round or two. There is a balancing factor in the rules, which may or may not be to the individual's liking, but I lost two games last night due to it. Also, how is this a real problem? Chess has a first player. Checkers has a first player. Any non-simultaneous game has a first player and I'm sure your gaming experiences aren't completely limited to RoboRally. A first player is to be expected. If you want to see a game with a definite advantage based on seating position, see Puerto Rico (which is, nonetheless, an awesome game).
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Tables
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The results do show that the first player has an advantage, a pretty significant one in fact - almost as big as the first turn advantage in Chess, although not quite. For example, I win an average of 73% of my games as first player, but only 59% as second player. I think that's a little more extreme than the average, which is about a 10% increased chance of winning if you moved from second to first seat.
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Pater Absurdus
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I Eat Tables wrote:
The results do show that the first player has an advantage, a pretty significant one in fact - almost as big as the first turn advantage in Chess, although not quite. For example, I win an average of 73% of my games as first player, but only 59% as second player. I think that's a little more extreme than the average, which is about a 10% increased chance of winning if you moved from second to first seat.


Is this primarily in 2 player games? If it is then that may effect how impactful the first player advantage is.
 
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Edward
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This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.

It's not really a first player advantage so much as it is a second player disadvantage. By that I mean, in a 3p or 4p game, it's P3 and P4 that have a lowered chance of winning (as opposed to P1 or P2 having a higher chance of winning).
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Pater Absurdus
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theory wrote:
This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.


So games with highly skilled players that are closely matched are more likely to be determined by player order? That makes more sense than what I was saying about player number. good point.

~Redward
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Rafael Duarte
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Thanks for all your comments guys. I like to discuss and explain my thoughts. I'll try to explain my point here.

Setup Time:
Yes i use an iphone app for card selection but is still long setup. The first game is OK, but if you wanna play a second game it drags out. Have add time to separate again your deck + Put kingdom piles on box again + determine next cards (it's a minor problem using an app) + take out the new cards. I don't know how you can be so fast doing it.
And i also use an home made box where i can insert ALL dominion cards without it i cant imagine the pain of searching for different expansions on different boxes.
Still i have to admit that if you own just the base box (and my review was about that) maybe I've exaggerated on setup time. I almost don't remember when i had just the base game.

Luck factor:
Here the luck as any other card game is on the draw order, and sometimes it cab have a huge impact if you run well or don't. I said the player with better deck usually wins but when you play with skill and experienced players all of them are building a good deck and afterwards the luck is increased. Everyone played very well but someone won because of a good draw.

1st player advantage:
As said it's a bigger problem if all players are experienced and play well. Anyway i fell it as a big advantage on my game. Is very frustrating to finish the game with +8 gold to use but game ended cause the first, 2nd 3rd player bought the last province. Also is better to be 2nd than 3rd and 3rd than 4th. I would like to have some rule like in Ascension: Deckbuilding Game where all players have the same number of turns and all players have equal opportunity to gain more points.
Is true that the last player have a little advantage of knowing what others are going on. But is a very little advantage compared to the opportunity of buying one more province / colony.
In my games (all players with +80 games played) is a fight to decide who goes first, and we all feel it as a big advantage.

Hope I've clarified my point.

Notes:
Michael Roberts
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There are many randomizer apps. For computer go to : http://www.hiwiller.com/dominion/ or http://www.dominiondeck.com/ Fot iOs just seaarch on Appstore for "dominion" and you'll find some.

Dennison Milenkaya
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Not sure if it is clear that low value on luck factor means i found it with low luck. A 3 is a game with kind of low luck. In my scale Chess would be a game with luck value of 0, and Chutes and Ladders a value of 10.
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Dennison Milenkaya
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rafa_str wrote:

Dennison Milenkaya
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Not sure if it is clear that low value on luck factor means i found it with low luck. A 3 is a game with kind of low luck. In my scale Chess would be a game with luck value of 0, and Chutes and Ladders a value of 10.


Aha! This makes more sense. Dude! You inverted your scale!

See, if you are saying that the game gets a low score in the luck department, you are saying that you'd like a lot of luck in the game. Check out how you rated every other factor in your review. Higher numbers indicate a preference, right? This seems evident based on your ratings and accompanying comments for Complexity, Strategy, Tactics, Worth the Time?, and Fun and you spell it out in the Overall section.

If you follow the same scale, a rating of 3 is pretty poor. If you are basing the rating for Luck on something other than how much you like the game's implementation of that feature on a scale of 0 (abhor) to 10 (adore), then you should have said so! But mostly, it's just going to look weird. So, based on your established scale in every other factor, would you consider the amount of luck in the game to be a 3 (don't like) or something much higher like 9 (just enough to keep things interesting)?

If you are going to try to assign a rating value based on quantifiable elements (no luck at all = 0; entirely luck-based = 10), then it doesn't fit with your ratings for all other features that you rated, which were all scored highly based on how much you like that feature in this game.
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Rafael Duarte
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Yep, I understand your logic. I just found it to be more intuitive that way. With your method if I scale a game with 9 i'm afraid readers could think of that as a high luck factor instead. If more people complain and found it counter-intuitive i can invert it.
So my 3 becomes a 7 for you.

All other features are rated as how much the game fits in it. For example the complexity part scales it as objective as possible of how complex the game is, not how much i like the complexity level on it. Cause i can prefer more complex games and others may prefer less complex games.

(i'll explain it also on "About My Reviews" page on my blog)
 
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theory wrote:
This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.

It's not really a first player advantage so much as it is a second player disadvantage. By that I mean, in a 3p or 4p game, it's P3 and P4 that have a lowered chance of winning (as opposed to P1 or P2 having a higher chance of winning).


Yep. In a sudden death game, player order has a large effect. To get around this, we allow everyone to have an equal number of turns (and you can buy provinces even if the pile is exhausted).

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The Compulsive Completist
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TedW wrote:
theory wrote:
This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.

It's not really a first player advantage so much as it is a second player disadvantage. By that I mean, in a 3p or 4p game, it's P3 and P4 that have a lowered chance of winning (as opposed to P1 or P2 having a higher chance of winning).


Yep. Is a sudden death game, player order has a large effect. To get around this, we allow everyone to have an equal number of turns (and you can buy provinces even if the pile is exhausted).

shake

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suPUR DUEper
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You are a Steelers fan right? Why in overtime does the team that wins the toss always choose to take the ball? Or why in hockey and soccer shootouts do they always allow each team to have the same number of shots? Ditto college football?
 
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The Compulsive Completist
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All of those follow the rules. So do I.
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Mark Judd
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TedW wrote:
theory wrote:
This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.

It's not really a first player advantage so much as it is a second player disadvantage. By that I mean, in a 3p or 4p game, it's P3 and P4 that have a lowered chance of winning (as opposed to P1 or P2 having a higher chance of winning).


Yep. In a sudden death game, player order has a large effect. To get around this, we allow everyone to have an equal number of turns (and you can buy provinces even if the pile is exhausted).


This is why it is suggested in the rules that the player that loses goes first in the next game, or the one who wins goes last, or something like that. Yes, there is a slight advantage to going first and possibly having one more turn. But there are ways to balance out that advantage over the long run.

And in my opinion, it is SO much more gratifying to win a multi-player game when I play last and possibly have one less turn! I see it as a challenge to try and overcome the disadvantage and have occasionally been known to gloat when I achieve that victory.
 
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Hockey Mask wrote:
All of those follow the rules. So do I.


Uh, no. Each of those games has a set of rules that have been tweaked, tailored, and adapted over time to meet the needs of the people partaking in the sport

American League has the DH; National League does not
Pro Football rules are different than college
Soccer allows field sizes to vary.
Wiffle ball has invisible men on second and third.

I just don't like playing a race game where early players get head starts (especially where the fix is pretty obvious).


 
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The Compulsive Completist
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If DX tweaks his game perhaps I'll play differently. As of now, it ain't broke.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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TedW wrote:
theory wrote:
This is true primarily at high levels of play. The turn order advantage only comes when both of you are starting to push the limits of how efficient you can make your deck given the Kingdom in play.

It's not really a first player advantage so much as it is a second player disadvantage. By that I mean, in a 3p or 4p game, it's P3 and P4 that have a lowered chance of winning (as opposed to P1 or P2 having a higher chance of winning).


Yep. In a sudden death game, player order has a large effect. To get around this, we allow everyone to have an equal number of turns (and you can buy provinces even if the pile is exhausted).



I would not play a single game of Dominion with those rules. I don't want to keep track of phantom cards. I'll just play by the real rules.
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Yeah, it is pretty tough in a four player game when player two drains the Provinces and players 3 and 4 have to lay down their cards and see if they can buy any VP cards.

 
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