On Dominion

This post is not about the excellent game from Illwinter (which I'm sure I will cover in a later post) but on the excellent tabletop card game Dominion!

This is not a collectible card game, one purchase nets you everything you need to play. It is a game about deck building. Everyone starts with the same 10 cards, and attempts to acquire the most victory points.There are lots of descriptions of play available for perusal.

It is an open game. All of the available cards are face up on the table, and everyone can see each of your plays. The only hidden information is what you are holding in your hand, and the card order in your deck and discard pile. This effectively means it is your own fault when you lose the game.

There are 10 supply piles of cards to purchase used in the game, and there are 25 available in the box. We played four or five times last night with 3 players who had never played before (each game takes about a half hour) and selecting randomly did not get to try out all the different kind of cards. What's more, is that the card's value changes within the game based on what other cards are available. No witches makes the chapel useless.

There, replayability, without gouging your players. I'm not surprised that this isn't the model that WotC follows for its planned expansions. There is nothing wrong with card games as the long history of mankind has show us.

The other entertaining aspect is how your deck building plans immediately get trashed as soon as someone else starts buying cards. It is so difficult to stay on track and not react to the plays of other players.

It's a different game every time you sit down to play. We had a lot of fun and I'm sharing so that everyone can check it out. I imagine we'll play it for another week or two before heading into one of the expansions.


  1. I picked it up sometime last spring/summer, and we've played it a lot. It's a good, well designed, and fun game. I haven't picked up any of the expansion packs, but then I don't really see the need to. The 'use 10 out of 25' feature really adds to the game (and we usually do random draws as well).

    And I like how some cards, as you mentioned, gain or lose value depending on what else is out there.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I think we're greedy. We haven't even finished our first night, and everyone was asking about expansions. 10 out of 25 is great, won't 10 out of 51 be better? Also, we occasionally have more than 4 people, so the expansion will allow us to do that.

    I think (since I'm the one buying) that I'll time my purchase to when the strategy gets predictable. We're still in that new phase, where it's just fun to play to see what happens, and not that phase where we're all weighing decimal percentage odds to maximize the speed of our strategy. Cause that happens with us.

  3. We've played with up to 6 just using the base set, and it actually didn't really affect anything. There are fewer estates to buy, but then nobody really buys estates if they can help it. :D

  4. From the FAQ:
    3.9 How does the game work with different number of players, and what is the minimum/maximum number?

    Dominion is created for 2-4 players, and it works well with all these numbers. The difference is that with more players the downtime is slightly more pronounced and the attack cards usually have a larger effect on the game. Also, the advantage of being earlier in the player order is much more pronounced in games with a larger number of players.

    Intrigue offers a way to add a 5th and a 6th player, but playing with more than 4 players increases downtime significantly. Other issues can arise with a larger number of players: the 6th player has a disadvantage in winning the game; and cards which benefit when any player reveals a certain card from the top of their deck (eg. Thief and Seaside's Pirate Ship) tend to be quite powerful. Even though the gameplay mechanics do not restrict the maximum number of players, 6 is officially considered to be the top number of players one should choose to include in a single Dominion game. Playing with 7 or 8 players is possible when combining Dominion with Intrigue, but it is expected that the players will split between two separate games. Note that, with two tables, you can speed up setup time for the second game simply by having each group of players switch tables

  5. Chapel is a game-changing card whether Witch is out or not! Imagine having a deck with 5 labs, a chapel, and 3 gold. No copper, no estates. You get a province every turn. The only card that counters the maximum efficiency chapel strategy is thief, because losing one of your gold destroys your chances of winning.

    The only other combo that beats a chapel-efficiency deck is the workshop/gardens combo, because it wins too quickly. Run out workshop and gardens, get at least a copper every turn if nothing else, and then run out a third pile (estates is most common). It wins before a Chapel-type deck can get small enough to draw all the Provinces.


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