Friday, March 23, 2012

Board Game Spotlight: Dominion

Oh Dominion, how I love thee. Let me count the ways, 1 Province, 3 Duchys, 5 Estates and....damn 8 Curses!

Domion is not technically a board game, it's a card game for 2-4 players (and up to 8 players, if you have both 2 base games). I was introduced to it by my friend Evan about 3 years ago. Since then, I have tried to share this awesome game with anyone who will play it. My friend Nikki is now hooked as well and we've spent many an evening playing cards and drink wine and eating's our things.

The brilliant thing about Domion is that the play time is pretty short, usually under an hour, it's quick to set up/clean up and with all the cards available, the replay value is practically limitless. But I get ahead of myself. I should probably tell you WHAT Dominion is!

Dominion is a designer card game created by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Rio Grande Games. In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards (consisting of treasure cards and a few victory cards). In the center of the table is a selection of other cards the players can "buy" as they can afford them. These include additional treasure and victory cards, as well as Kingdom cards that allow you do draw additional cards, take additional actions, buy more than one item per turn, or attact other plays (not physically, of course, but by forcing them to discard cards, draw -1VP Curses or "destroying" cards in their hand.). Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.

Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The base game comes with 500 cards. You select 10 of the 25 Kingdom card types to include in any given play, which leads to immense variety.
This game is all about stradegy, when it comes to building an deck. The goal of the game, other than to have fun, is to have the most victory points at the end of the game. But there's a catch. 90% of the victory cards you purchase (1VP Estates, 3VP Duchey, 6VP Province and 10VP Colonies from an expansion) serve no purpose during the actual game. Buying too many victory cards early in the game, will clog your hand (you only draw 5 cards, initally, per tern) and prevent you from having enough money or actions to buy more victory cards. The best strategy, IMO, is to buy lots of action cards, and additional money throughout 80% of the game (with a few victory points here and there), and the buy a shit ton of Victory points during the home stretch.

One of my favorite aspects of the game, is the theme that runs through each of the cards an their expansions. The designer of the game puts together wonderful artwort on each card that represents the theme of the expansion or something symbolic to the nature of the card. It's similar in design to Magic cards...but I feel the art and the cards are more in tune with each other in this game.

Currently the game has 2 Base sets, Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue, that provide Kingdom, Victory and Treasure cards (500 cards in each box!). There are also a number of expansion, both large and small, that add new kingdom cards into the mix. The large expansions (typically which add 300 additional cards) are Seaside, Prosperity and most recently Hinterlands. The small expansions (150 additional cards) are Alchemy and Cornucopia. I have all but one expansion ^_^! August of 2012 will bring another large expansion, Dark Ages, and a small expansion, The Guilds, will be released in the spring of 2013. I can't wait!!!

Wikipedia has a great breakdown of each expansion and how it affects your hand:

Dominion  - The origional game
Intrigue - Decisions among multiple possible effects; victory cards with an in-game effect.
Seaside - Effects that persist to the player's next turn.
Alchemy - Introduces the Potion, an alternate card cost; emphasizes the creation of decks with large numbers of Action cards.
Prosperity - With a focus on big money it introduces the high value treasure and victory cards as well as victory point tokens, and expensive cards.
Cornucopia - Variety in player decks.
Hinterlands - Cards that have an effect when purchased or otherwise gained.

Be sure to check out this and many other awesome board game at the FORGE con in Lexington, May 25-27, and get your game on!!

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