Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let's Talk Boardgames: Dominion

In a non-40k feature, I'd like to review some of the board games that I play. The first up for review is Dominion.

Dominion is a card game in which you seek to build up your kingdom through your choices. All players begin with the same cards, the choices you make in your first and subsequent turns will ensure that everyone takes a different strategy.

In the game there are resource cards, victory card and action cards. Every game has the same resource cards, but different action cards. The set comes with 25 action cards, and you only use ten per game. That's quite a lot of different combinations.

The action cards are the heart of the game. If you played Magic: The Gathering, consider the resource your lands and the actions your creatures and spells. Of course, actions don't win you the game. In order to win you need to have victory cards. These victory cards do nothing for you during the game (except for in the expansion, more on that later) but are the only things that count at the end of the game. So the objective is not to get the thickest deck imaginable (though there is a card for that) but to balance resources, victory and actions.

The rules are fairly simple and the strategy is deep. There's luck involved but building your deck properly will keep the luck factor to a minimum. The games play in about 30 minutes and creates the "just one more game" feeling.

There are no direct attack cards. There are cards that affect other players, but when such exist they affect all other players. This way no one feels singled out. There are also ways to defend yourself. Attack cards don't deal damage or kick you out of the game, they generally consist of messing with your hand or giving you negative cards. Of course, a relentlessly attacking player might be neglecting his victory building...

Dominion can appeal to the non-gamer as much as the gamer. My wife plays it and enjoys it, though I think for introducing this game Dominion: Intrigue (the expansion) is a better introduction. Intrigue is far more interactive, but I'll cover that in another review. But therein lies one of Dominion's flaws: too many games just end up with four people playing solitaire together. Dominion technically has multiple victory routes, but most games end up going down the same path. The expansions Intrigue and Seaside (I have not played Seaside but I have seen the cards) fix this problem, as my games of Intrigue have all gone extremely differently, far more so than Dominion.

I highly recommend this game. As a former Magic player, this game gives me that same fix but much cheaper. It's deep enough for hardcore gamers and accessible enough for non-gamers. There's plenty of replayability as you only use 2/5 of the action cards that come with it per game (plus you can mix and match expansions for even more variety).

Next time I do this, I'll review the expansion, Intrigue.

1 comment:

  1. I picked this game up over the summer, and have to agree with you. It's a great game because it's both simple to pick up and learn, while being really hard to master. The replayability due to both the expansions and the fact that you don't use most of the cards in any particular game is great.

    I'm not sure how much of a response you're getting on this series, but I know I'm going to go read them all right now! Thanks...


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