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Subject: Piemaster's Review of Dominion: Seaside rss

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Ian Taylor
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Overview

Note this is just a review of the expansion and will make little sense if you haven’t played the base game. For my review of the core game of Dominion, click here.

Seaside is either the first or second expansion for Dominion, depending on whether you count Intrigue (which was technically a standalone game). It adds 26 new kingdom cards to the game, making a running-total of 76 (not including promos) and, for those who care, increases the number of possible Kingdoms to about a trillion. As hinted at by the name, the cards mostly follow a coastal/nautical theme.

The expansion introduces a new mechanic to the game in the form of duration cards. There are actions that don’t get cleaned up at the end of the turn they are played, but instead stick around and have an additional effect next turn as well. The box also includes player mats for use with the cards Native Village, Pirate Ship and Island and also tokens to use with Embargo and the aforementioned Pirate Ship.


The Good

26 new kingdom cards… that’s a good thing obviously, expanding the Dominion universe by about fifty percent. But that would be a hollow accomplishment if the cards didn't deliver anything new or interesting. Fortunately they do. In spades! Intrigue picked up the Dominion football and made a bruising eight yard gain down the middle with it. Seaside then subbed in on second and two and hit the receiver with a Hail Mary pass down the sideline. The kingdom cards in Seaside are simply superb!

Let’s start with the new duration cards. These are all coloured orange, which makes them easily identifiable when you are cleaning up at the end of your turn. By allowing something you do this turn to directly affect next turn, the scope of what is possible in Dominion is significantly increased and interesting strategic choices are unveiled. For example, Tactician let’s you basically sacrifice this turn in exchange for making the next turn much better. Haven does the same on a smaller scale, letting you effectively bounce a card from this turn to next. Outpost let’s you take another ‘mini turn’ after the current one where you get only three cards. All have subtle strengths and weaknesses, comboing well with certain other existing cards while not working so well with others.

More than any other expansion released to date, Seaside seems to contain a lot of ‘iconic’ cards. Since Seaside there have been five more expansions, with another on the way soon, yet cards such as Ambassador, Fishing Village, Sea Hag and Wharf are must-buys in nearly every kingdom in which they appear. Meanwhile others such as Pirate Ship, Treasure Map, Treasury, Embargo and Smugglers are less powerful but seem to be firm favourites with new and casual players. Overall, Dominion does a good job of keeping all its cards useful in the right circumstances, without being overpowered, but Seaside seems to have less forgettable ‘average’ cards than any other expansion.

It is also worth mentioning that Seaside is the most thematic of the expansions so far and most of the cards in the set reflect the nautical theme somewhat. We have wharves and pirates and various ships and islands and explorers and navigators and so on. Dominion has never, and will never, be a highly thematic game, but this is the one expansion that actually gives a nice taste of the game lore. You’re expanding your dominion down to the coast and it actually feels like it! You may care about this, you may not, but personally I thought it was handled well.


The Bad

I really struggle to find fault with Seaside at all. If I had to find one, maybe I could say that some of the duration cards are a bit bland and uninteresting. Caravan, for example, gives you a card and an action this turn and a card next turn. It is basically Laboratory (from the base set, +2 cards, +1 action) just spread out over two turns. It is more likely to skip a shuffle than Laboratory, but costs one less to compensate. Likewise, Wharf effectively just gives you four cards and two Buys and Merchant Ship gives you four treasure both spread over two turns. Personally I would have preferred it if the new mechanic was used to do cool and interesting things across the two turns (and, to be fair, Tactician, Haven, Lighthouse and Outpost all do) rather than just spread out some rather vanilla resource gains. It’s a minor gripe. Anything bad I say about Seaside would be a minor gripe.

Can I find anything else? Well, the player mats aren't that useful. They provide a convenient place to keep Pirate Ship tokens, and cards set aside with Island and Native Village I guess, but they are hardly necessary and there’s a fair chance you won’t bother getting them out of the box after a while. Oh well, at least you’ll have 18 novelty Dominion coasters .


Verdict

I have extensively played every Dominion expansion up to and including Dark Ages and in my opinion this is the best of them. That doesn't necessarily mean it’s the first one you should buy. There is a lot to be said for grabbing Intrigue, as it represents the first logical step in increasing the complexity of Dominion. But if you do want to skip Intrigue and move straight onto Seaside I wouldn't blame you. It contains a myriad of unique and talismanic cards (although not Talisman ) that you will play with and love for years to come.

10/10
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Dave Kudzma
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Duration, for me, remains the best of the variations in the system. I also find that Seaside cards are very popular when included in the play set.
 
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Thomas Brendel
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Wharf is easily one of the strongest cards in the game.

Also, I imagine everyone probably has one particular card that they tend to buy more often than it deserves, and mine is easily Caravan. I'm trying to retrain myself to hold off on them unless there's a way to take advantage of the reduced cost, like picking them up for free with Ironworks or Talisman. But I don't know what to tell you, I love those camels.
 
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Ian Taylor
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Squidd wrote:
Wharf is easily one of the strongest cards in the game.

Also, I imagine everyone probably has one particular card that they tend to buy more often than it deserves, and mine is easily Caravan. I'm trying to retrain myself to hold off on them unless there's a way to take advantage of the reduced cost, like picking them up for free with Ironworks or Talisman. But I don't know what to tell you, I love those camels.

Yeah I like me some Caravans too. But I think the card I overbuy most is Tournament. I know it's a good card, but I'm pretty sure I go for it on boards I really shouldn't. Can't resist the opportunity to get a Followers and/or Trusty Steed. In Seaside I think my biggest guilty pleasure is Island, although admittedly there are usually far worse things to do with a spare $4 than grab another Island.
 
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Thomas Brendel
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What I generally do with Islands is waste too much effort trying to set them aside with Provinces, at a point when I'm probably only getting one more turn anyway.
 
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alexander stark
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locusshifter wrote:
Duration, for me, remains the best of the variations in the system. I also find that Seaside cards are very popular when included in the play set.

Has this expansion overpowered cards or not? I only have base game, and I'm planning to buy expansions, and duration cards I see too powerful. When I see that quote I don't know if I like a lots of games where players only go to duration cards over and over again, being a boring game in the future in my opinion.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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alexandermagno wrote:
locusshifter wrote:
Duration, for me, remains the best of the variations in the system. I also find that Seaside cards are very popular when included in the play set.

Has this expansion overpowered cards or not? I only have base game, and I'm planning to buy expansions, and duration cards I see too powerful. When I see that quote I don't know if I like a lots of games where players only go to duration cards over and over again, being a boring game in the future in my opinion.

I doubt you'll find players only going for durations cards. There are some awesome ones that players might always buy when they see them, but I've rarely seen a deck full of duration.
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Mark Judd
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alexandermagno wrote:
locusshifter wrote:
Duration, for me, remains the best of the variations in the system. I also find that Seaside cards are very popular when included in the play set.

Has this expansion overpowered cards or not? I only have base game, and I'm planning to buy expansions, and duration cards I see too powerful. When I see that quote I don't know if I like a lots of games where players only go to duration cards over and over again, being a boring game in the future in my opinion.
Duration cards are good and fun to play, but I wouldn't call them overpowered. In fact, all Dominion cards have been play-tested so much that I doubt any single Dominion card is overpowered.

Haven is just so-so. And you usually aren't going to build a great deck by buying a ton of $2 cards.

Lighthouse can be helpful against some attacks (especially ones that hand out Curses), but if there are no devastating attacks in the kingdom supply it can be skipped.

Fishing Village might be considered the best village, but if there are no actions in the kingdom supply that provide +2 or 3 cards it's not that great and can be skipped.

Caravan is a really good card, especially if you get a lot of them. But I've also lost multiple times when I've focused on Caravans while my opponent has avoided them and focused on other cards.

Merchant Ship tends to be one of the weaker $5 cards. It can help at times, but is by no means a "must buy" in most kingdoms.

Outpost isn't great at all unless you have build up a great engine, allowing you to draw and play several cards on your extra turn.

Tactician can be really good if you have some way to generate $ with actions, making the turn when you play Tactician be somewhat decent. Otherwise, it's a toss up.

Wharf can be really powerful with lots of villages, but if there are no villages in the kingdom supply then you will probably want to go with a different terminal action or only stick with no more than 2 Wharves.
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alexander stark
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Thanks for your answers. One more question.

When you play with multiple expansions, could it be cards that overcome other cards due to similar functions but lower prize? I don't want to see cards being considered obsolete because there are better options and nobody buy it, and if someone buy a obsolete card he/she won't win because he/she made a wrong buy.

When I buy expansions my wish is extend the gameplay with more options, not only a simple card replacement.
 
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The Compulsive Completist
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All of the dominion cards stand up on their own. For the most part they were all designed as one large game then broken down into expansions.
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Jeff Wolfe
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alexandermagno wrote:
Thanks for your answers. One more question.

When you play with multiple expansions, could it be cards that overcome other cards due to similar functions but lower prize? I don't want to see cards being considered obsolete because there are better options and nobody buy it, and if someone buy a obsolete card he/she won't win because he/she made a wrong buy.

When I buy expansions my wish is extend the gameplay with more options, not only a simple card replacement.
We always tested the prototypes together with the published cards, in part to make sure there was no power creep. For the large expansions, we also tested them standalone to make sure they worked standalone.
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alexander stark
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It's good to hear your answers. I have no doubts now. Thank you.

EDIT: sorry, but I can't see if there is balance between Smithy from Base game and Courtyard from Intrigue expansion. In what cases Smithy is a better buy than Courtyard when the two of them are in the same game when you use only Base + Intrigue cards?

In this page http://wiki.dominionstrategy.com/index.php/Courtyard says for example that Courtyard is better because you can select a card for the next turn you can't use in this turn (or you don't want to use in this turn) preparing your next hand, a good advantage in my opinion. It must be cost at least 3 coins. What am I missing?
 
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Bryan Doughty
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On average increasing your hand size by two cards is better than increasing it by one card (even if you get a little influence over the contents of your next hand).

Imagine a deck with many copies of either Courtyard or Smithy and many copies of a card such as Village. With such a deck you could play and draw many cards. The one with the Smithy will have a fair chance of drawing most of or even the entire deck. The one with the Courtyard, not so much. Courtyard, for the purpose of increasing hand size isn't any better than Moat which also cost 2 coin.

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OK, then I have to play a lot of games to realize the most suitable role for each card in each game. Thank you.
 
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Vid Dles
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alexandermagno wrote:
It's good to hear your answers. I have no doubts now. Thank you.

EDIT: sorry, but I can't see if there is balance between Smithy from Base game and Courtyard from Intrigue expansion. In what cases Smithy is a better buy than Courtyard when the two of them are in the same game when you use only Base + Intrigue cards?

In this page http://wiki.dominionstrategy.com/index.php/Courtyard says for example that Courtyard is better because you can select a card for the next turn you can't use in this turn (or you don't want to use in this turn) preparing your next hand, a good advantage in my opinion. It must be cost at least 3 coins. What am I missing?

Also, the article that you mentioned talked specifically about the advantages of the Courtyard in decks that are heavy on treasures and light on terminal actions. I agree completely that those kinds of decks really make the Courtyard shine. But, it also means that the very presence of a card with +2 actions or a card that interferes with treasure-heavy decks (which most attack cards do) will significantly reduce the relative value of the Courtyard.

Smithy, on the other hand, becomes even better when +2 action cards or attack cards are in play. Drawing (and keeping) three cards at a time is much better with villages than keeping two cards at a time--with multiples, a 3-card draw makes it far more likely that the chain reaction will continue. And, Smithy does a better job countering most attacks (it can cycle through curses faster, redraw cards that were discarded without having to place one back on your deck, etc).

So, if the Courtyard is available in a kingdom with no villages or attack cards, its value should not be underestimated. But, if villages and attack cards are present (which they are in most kingdoms), then the Courtyard is not as valuable, and you might be better off selecting other cards.
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