Josh
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So I have been doing some real digging on this, and I've developed some opinions, but still have questions and am of course open to corrections. Here is the intent:

To find a DBG that I can add to my collection. I own Quarriors and like it, but it's pretty light(both a strength and weakness).

Here is what I've found and my thoughts:

Dominion:The flagship of the genre. There's a ton of expansions for it. Some of them add interactivity but there are a couple things that concern me.
1)Not a LOT of interaction, you're mostly working on your efficiency engine.

2)Art/Theme I know people have heard this one forever, but the 'it's just numbers on numbers grind' aspect concerns me.

3)VPcards=deadspace. No one likes having cards that do nothing in their hand. Sometimes these can be a mechanic, but in Dominion you start out with a handful of them. It seems this slows the game and introduces that uncomfortable 'wasted turn' feeling that can hurt an otherwise good game.

4)The 'perfect path' trick. Those that know the cards have a huge advantage that is a given, but once everyone knows the cards there is a sense that we are all shooting for the exact same thing because the win goal, the starting conditions, and the elements to get there are all exactly the same for each person. It seems luck actually increases at this level, since the path is obvious, which draw gets you further faster becomes decisive.

Tanto Coure:Seems to be Dominion with 100% better art on some cards and 1000% more awkward on others.

Resident Evil: I will admit I passed up on this. Zombies and Res Evil in general are a worn theme for me. The Art seemed cluttered and I just couldn't be fussed to learn more. Am I making a Big Mistake?

Thunderstone Advance: This seems to have a solid theme going for it, recruit heroes to fight monsters. I worry about a couple things too:

1)The interaction, is there really ANY?(aside from killing the same monsters and mutual loss at the end)

2)The Variety:With the stable 'always there' cards and only 4 heroes per game providing the basis for everything else you do, how fresh is each game?

3)Limited Turns:Only fighting, OR buying on a turn seems like it might slow the game/lead to frustration where a bad hand can hurt twice as much if you want to buy but get no money, or want to fight but get no fight.

Ascension:Combines fighting and buying from Thunderstone in a single event. The random card draws mean there is less overall planning and more tactical response required(not a bad thing!)

1)The Art is a thing for some folks, I can see that. But those VP chips sure seem cool.

2)There doesn't' seem to be as much interactivity among cards as with Thunderstone. I could be wrong(please tell me if I am!)

Legendary:Looks to be Ascension and Thunderstone's Lovechild. I've been really digging away at this one, because I *want* to like it, but I'm just not sold.

1)The theme really isn't there, You could paste Ascension pictures over top of the cards and it would still play the same 'military/buy influence/fight'

2)It's not co-op, at all, nor is it really heroic. You're trying to maximize your points at the expense of your fellows, pushing it just to the brink without letting the mastermind 'win' Player interaction is pretty much down to how best to hurt other players, except in the situations where you need to survive as a group.

3)I like the buy/fight at the same time(like ascension!) mechanic, letting you fee like you get more done.

4)I worry about the complexity of the game being impacted by its own randomness. Maybe this is mitigated by the lack of variety in the cards(which I consider a minus) since a hero deck will have only 20 different cards in it(4 per hero 5 heroes) with 5 of 20 being extra rare and the others per-character seeming to be variations on a basic theme. It just seems that the complexity they want(which I think is a good thing!) might be hindered by trying to set something up and having to wait/pray for what you want to show up. (Take 2 nick furies, then wait through another 15 draws before you see a third)

Puzzle StrikeThis one I am going to get, this thread is mostly about what OTHER one I should get since I feel this is unique enough to be its own niche. Here I want to put what sold me on this so peopel can see what I liked/valued in it.

1)Asymmetrical player powers: This is huge to me. I don't know another DBG that does this and I think it makes a huge difference. Even two experienced players will never look at the same bank of cards/chips and see the same thing. Their choice of characters will help shape their strategies(though from what I have played not dominate them) I feel this is something so many DBGs overlook(or avoid due to the extreme play testing requirements perhaps?) I think this keeps a game 'fresh' long long after a similar game lacking this.

2)Interaction:It's a direct head to head game, and while that isn't required the amount of interaction both in 2P and in multi-player games is huge. In addition to crashing a lot of the chips directly affect your opponents in a variety of ways.

3)Deck(bag?) Interaction:bonus actions, bonus actions of specific colors, (actions having colors!) drawing chips, There is a definite feel of 'combo' to the way chips interact in your own bag. I don't just draw a hand and cough it onto the table, I have to(an can!) think about it, and work with it.

4)Buying stuff: Buying+actions is good. Mandatory Buy with a 'wound' being the 0 buy? Also good. No limit to number of things bought? amazing! I find this mechanic helps avoid the 'must buy all the expensive things! mentality (Quarriors was known for this before its 2nd expansion)

5)Wounds in general:they're a currency in addition to being a hindrance. chips and players not only buy them off, but sometimes require having them to buy off in the first place just to fuel other actions.

Long post is long. I hope it has been helpful both to those looking to comment and for those looking to make up their own minds about some games in this genre. Please discuss below, leave your thoughts on my observations, or answers to my questions, or questions of your own below

 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Have you tried eminent domain yet? Or any others where deck building is part of it but not the whole thing?
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Josh
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I have Mage Knight, so yes But I'm looking specifically at a DBG at this point.
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Shadrach wrote:
I have Mage Knight, so yes :) But I'm looking specifically at a DBG at this point.


Yes, but Eminent Domain and Core Worlds are Deck Builders as well that depart from Dominion's model by quite a bit. Have you looked at either of those?
 
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I have looked at both. Eminent Domain seems more hand management, so won't be in the right niche(I'm big on having different types of games)

Core Worlds, the theme didn't really stand out to me significantly? I could be wrong in that, but it didn't strike me as a 'This is a deck building game' If I am wrong might you enlighten me as to what makes it different/better than the others listed?
 
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Eminent Domain is my favorite of the deckbuilders. I got a first print run copy (with the bonus planet cards available in the BGG store), and it seems to be the perfect size.* Every game is different enough to still be interesting after dozens of plays, but the game is not overwhelmed by too many cards.

Nightfall was another deckbuilder that I was enjoying, until the sheer number of expansion cards became overwhelming. I was not playing the dozens of games a week that would make such a large card pool worthwhile.

Both have interesting mechanics that make the turns much more interactive than first generation DBGs.



*I've played without the extra planet cards, and it seems like having the extra cards makes a nice difference.
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I haven't played any deckbuilders except Dominion, so I'll just comment on your points about it. I think I'm somewhere between beginner and intermediate level player (something like 20 games using cards and 300 online).

1. Interaction. Around 15% of all Dominion cards are Attack cards, made to hurt your opponents. So usually there's one or two of them in the set used in the game. And those are important cards - they can block some strategies, but also can slow down your opponent so that you can finish some big plan. There are also interaction cards that don't directly attack opponents but mess with them in other way, also the fact all players use a common card pool leads to interaction and decisions like "How much do I go off my best plan and buy a key card too early to be safe from opponents buying all copies of it" or "Do I use what I have now or build a bigger machine but give opponents more time to end the game before I score". Of course building your own engine is the most important thing, but you can never ignore what your opponent is doing.

2. Art/Theme: can't really comment on it as I'm not very much into game art and themes - for me the cards are readable and look nice, some pictures I like more, some less.

3. Dead cards. They serve an important role - slowing down the leader. Starting dead cards also are useful - your beginning deck is your two first hands and having a 7/3 money/dead cards split creates difference between possible starting hands. One of the expansions changes those 3 dead cards into cards that are not great, but at least allow you to do something with them, so the problem is a bit fixed.

4. Solving the game. Of course it is theoretically possible. But I guess this would require research comparable to those that allowed to solve chess and write software which beats best human players. I don't think anyone will fund such research. Dominion, with a large online play community, was analyzed really deeply, including bots written to play some scenarios thousands of times to check the optimal strategy. Best players have really a lot of experience (as it takes 5 to 10 minutes to play a game online, so there are people with close to or over 10 000 games logged), but still noone is near even partial solutions and I don't think we'll get there anytime soon. Currently even top level players quite often don't agree on general optimal strategy on a given board, let alone tweaking it to perfection.
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Shadrach wrote:
I have Mage Knight, so yes But I'm looking specifically at a DBG at this point.


A thing that strikes me is that the games you name are all strictly engine-building, except maybe Ascension (never played, researched some time ago).

And then you talk of interaction
Did you look at Nightfall? You attack each other...
Another one could be Rune Age, but I feel that it has too little engine-building for what you are looking for.
If you know them, can you comment?

About those that you found...

Dominion - I played a bit but surely there are people more competent that can help you. However... You "charge" a spring, then you let it go, until it stops; the points in your deck are what make it stop, and what wins you the game.
Tanto cuore - Dominion with maids (no never played )
Thunderstone - Dominion with leveling up, and two currencies
Resident Evil - Dominion with two currencies, spending one of which entails luck (= fighting zombies); also, here your engine simply keeps going (I like this better than Dominion, but maybe it is not a good fit for you)
Legendary - I am actually interested in this one, but never played. Looking forward to some opinions myself.



Edit: ninja'd on every point.
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Josh
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K____ wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
I have Mage Knight, so yes But I'm looking specifically at a DBG at this point.


A thing that strikes me is that the games you name are all strictly engine-building, except maybe Ascension (never played, researched some time ago).

And then you talk of interaction
Did you look at Nightfall? You attack each other...
Another one could be Rune Age, but I feel that it has too little engine-building for what you are looking for.
If you know them, can you comment?

About those that you found...

Dominion - I played a bit but surely there are people more competent that can help you. However... You "charge" a spring, then you let it go, until it stops; the points in your deck are what make it stop, and what wins you the game.
Tanto cuore - Dominion with maids (no never played )
Thunderstone - Dominion with leveling up, and two currencies
Resident Evil - Dominion with two currencies, spending one of which entails luck (= fighting zombies); also, here your engine simply keeps going (I like this better than Dominion, but maybe it is not a good fit for you)
Legendary - I am actually interested in this one, but never played. Looking forward to some opinions myself.



Edit: ninja'd on every point.


I forgot to mention Nightfall. The Theme (Vampires, Werewolves, again.) left me so cold I wouldn't touch it ^^

Rune Age I hadn't seen. From the reviews I poked at though it looks to be a neat half-formed idea. I also know FFG's 'releasing half a game so you buy more' LCG practices well enough to want to avoid it >.>
 
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Shadrach wrote:
Rune Age I hadn't seen. From the reviews I poked at though it looks to be a neat half-formed idea. I also know FFG's 'releasing half a game so you buy more' LCG practices well enough to want to avoid it >.>

Rune Age has a lot less expansions (1) than most of the other games mentioned here.
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David P
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It sounds like Puzzle Strike is what you want. I love Puzzle Strike, but I also love Dominion. I'd disagree that strategy is obvious in Dominion. In the base set, maybe that's true. With Intrigue and the expansions, though, there's a lot more judgment involved. True, there's not as much interaction as in Puzzle Strike, but there's a lot more interaction than in Race for the Galaxy, which I also enjoy. I don't think you'd like Thunderstone Advance, and I haven't played the others.
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Jeff Hinrickson
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Nobody kill me for saying London it's kind of a deck builder - sort of.

Actually more drafting.
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Matt Brown
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jjloc wrote:
Nobody kill me for saying London it's kind of a deck builder - sort of.

Actually more drafting.


It's much more in the tradition of San Juan type of games.

Trains

It's Dominion with route building.

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Shadrach wrote:
Rune Age I hadn't seen. From the reviews I poked at though it looks to be a neat half-formed idea. I also know FFG's 'releasing half a game so you buy more' LCG practices well enough to want to avoid it >.>


I see that early bad press is still doing damage

Well, as I said I don't know that it would have been a good fit, and this is not to push it at all costs, but something compells me to speak

Rune Age is absolutely not half formed (all right, my opinion...)
The base game is "bare". It has not a superfluous card. Nor includes cards for "variety's" sake.
But everything you need to play is included in the game; you don't need a ton of cards because the variety is not in the cards, but in how you manage your deck and your hand, and when you decide to attack or defend. Or bluff, sometimes.
It is not really an engine-building, I was courious if it would have been "inside" the requirements.
To me saying it has not enough cards is like saying chess has not enough pieces. All right chess in another order of magnitude, but I hope you are understanding what I am trying to say

urbanus wrote:
Rune Age has a lot less expansions (1) than most of the other games mentioned here.


That's right.
I feared the expansion would have ruined the game. Maybe this says something about me more than about the game.
Still I will purchase it when it will be availablein Italian, because it could be really nice (and I want the new modes of play!)
But, well the point is that to me the expansion doesn't feel necessary, just icing on top.

Ok, I'm finished and I hope to not have bored all of you too much.
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Legendary and Ascension are my favourite DBGs.

many of your assumptions are on the mark, I find Dominion to be pretty samey and if you run into someone that knows the cards you are done for.

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Shadrach wrote:
Thunderstone Advance: This seems to have a solid theme going for it, recruit heroes to fight monsters. I worry about a couple things too:

1)The interaction, is there really ANY?(aside from killing the same monsters and mutual loss at the end)

2)The Variety:With the stable 'always there' cards and only 4 heroes per game providing the basis for everything else you do, how fresh is each game?

3)Limited Turns:Only fighting, OR buying on a turn seems like it might slow the game/lead to frustration where a bad hand can hurt twice as much if you want to buy but get no money, or want to fight but get no fight.


I have Thunderstone Advance so I will answer those questions and leave the other games for those more knowledgeable.

1) There is some interaction, depending on the cards that are used. First off, in every game, there is a limited number of each card, which is most prominent in the heroes. So there is a race going on to get the cards you want first. The heroes have three levels to them, there are 6 level one, 4 level two, and only 2 level threes of each hero. So the interaction is a little indirect, but you can mess with people by taking the higher level heroes first.

And as mentioned, specific cards mess with the other players. In the base game, there is a monster group worth negative points when defeated, which you can place in any player's discard pile. There are also a couple of thief heroes that force the other players to discard a card from their deck so you can use its gold value. And one of the level three thieves lets you take a hero from another players hand and use it on that turn, which you then send to their discard pile.

There aren't too many overall that directly effect others, so unless you specifically choose them, they won't be around every game. I'm not sure how many expansion cards have similar effects.

2) There are only three 'always there' cards, and no one buys those, so they can be pretty much ignored. From the base game, you use 4 heroes, of which there are 11 total. And you use 8 different village cards out of 19 total (of which you can have at most 3 weapons, 3 spells, 3 villagers, and 3 items). You use 3 monster sets out of 9 (1 out of 3 of each level), and use 1 boss out of the three provided. Different cards interact in different ways, so the variety is quite good. Each expansion adds 7 more heroes, 11 more village cards, 6 more monster sets, and 3 more bosses. And if you are so inclined, you can still buy the older Thunderstone sets and add those in. Variety will not be a problem.

3) There are two more options available beyond fight and buy, both of which help when you have bad hands as you mention. One option is to rest, which allows you to permanently remove one card from your hand and discard the rest. The other option is to prepare, which lets you discard any cards from your hand and draw back up to 6. So if you know you want to fight, and you only have 3 good fighting cards out of the 6, you can discard the 3 you don't like and draw 3 more, so that you can hopefully fight next turn.
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Click on Mage Wars on the hotness list. As long as 2p is ok, you can't go wrong.
 
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Thanks for all the info. I am curious because I haven't been able to find it. How much interaction with your opponent is there in Ascension? Are you both just building decks to buy/beat things as fast as you can, or are there cards that target your opponent directly as well?
 
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Josh Rea wrote:
I forgot to mention Nightfall. The Theme (Vampires, Werewolves, again.) left me so cold I wouldn't touch it ^^


You should realy give nightfall a 2nd look! In all the games in your OP you mentioned player interaction and Nightfall does that better then any one of them. From the start of the game where you draft the card pool to the end of the game where you try beat each other to a pulp you have to constantly adept to what you opponent is doing in order to win. What creatures does my opponent have? What colors can I link of from my opponent? What colors can my opponent link of from my cards? If your looking for interaction in a DBG Nightfall HAS to be considered!


Just dont play it with more then 3 players It turns from a 1st class boxing match to a chaotic bar fight.
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