“You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted. ”
Let’s get this out-of-the-way ASAP:
I love card gaming.
I’ve had a national ranking playing both Magic the Gathering and WWE Raw Deal.
I love tearing through a case of cards pulling out all the rares to build my deck, while the commons are discarded to a pile for the fireplace, or to a box for a garage sale.
But that was when I was younger.
I didn’t own a house, or have a kid and I could blow hundreds on booster packs.
After college I tried to get back into MTG, but there were too many expansions, too many cards, and too little disposable income.
Looking to scratch that card gaming itch, I stumbled onto Dominion about two years ago. What really makes it different was that it’s not a CCG (collectible card game), but rather all the cards you need to play come with the game, and there’s no need to buy individual packs!
Dominion is considered the father of deck building games.
“What’s a ‘deck building’ game?” you ask.
Ok, so maybe you didn’t ask that, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
Instead of starting out with a pre-constructed deck like most card games, players start with a limited number of cards, and every time it’s your turn, you add a card to your deck from a pile of common cards. Since the common cards are available to both you and your opponent, in order to win you really have to build the most efficient deck for your play style. You don’t have to spend money and time ripping through individual packs of cards hoping for that über-rare so you can crush your opponent.
In Dominion you start with 10 cards. Every turn you draw 5 cards, and follow these easy steps: Play an action. Buy another card for your deck, or a victory point. Then discard the rest of your hand and draw 5 new cards.
Gameplay continues until 3 card piles have been depleted or there are no more cards of the highest victory points. When this happens, go through your deck and count your victory points. The winner is the one with the most points. I’m not sure why I had to tell you that. I don’t know of any games where second place is the winner…maybe Russian roulette.
There are 24 different action cards you get in the base set of Dominion, but you only play with 10 at a time. These 10 can be a set 10 recommended in the instruction manual, or randomly selected. Since you can create massive action card chains, each game is always different.
The biggest complaint is that Dominion lacks theme and interaction. While that IS true, it really is a fun game, and it’s very easy to teach to people who are not into gaming. If you’re looking for a little more depth in a deck building game I would recommend the following: Ascension, Nightfall, and Thunderstone. Reviews to be forthcoming for those.
Now you’ve read the review and head on over to your local hobby shop, or log on to the internet only to find…WHICH VERSION DO I BUY???
Relax, and take a deep breath. Even though there are 8 different versions, most are only expansions, and not needed to start. If you just dabble in gaming, I recommend the Dominion: Intrigue version. In my opinion, it’s the best base set and gives you the cards to either have a friendly game or one where you’re constantly one-upping your opponent by stealing his gold and adding negative cards to his deck.
If you’re no stranger to gaming, head right on over to Amazon and get the Dominion Big Box. It’s usually around $60 and has the original set, the Alchemy expansion, Prosperity expansion, 2 promos and a play mat.
Good luck and happy gaming!