You are a king of a wonderful vast country. Your army is strong, the soil fertile, the sky blue and the bird are singing. But you are not satisfied, no, you want to be the richest, most respected, most successful ruler in the whole area.
What you get for your money:
Well you get a lot of cards, 130 money, 48 victory point, 252 kingdom, 30 curse, 33 location and 7 blank cards and the rules.
How do you play the game:
This is a pretty well known game so I’ll keep it short. This is a deck builder, which means you start with a small deck of cards and during the game you try to build a bigger, better and a more efficient deck to eventually generate more victory points and win the game.
In a single game you will have ten decks, 10 action cards per deck, of different kingdom cards on the table for everyone to buy.
You start the game with 7 copper (money with value 1) and 3 estate cards (points with value 1). Not very spectacular. You draw five cards from your deck and in your turn you, first, may play an action card, then buy one new card and lastly, you must put the used cards and the cards in your hand on your discard pile and draw five new card. When the draw deck is empty, you shuffle your discard pile and that’s your new draw deck.
The different action cards you can buy will give you more options. They give you more money. Some give you the ability to buy more than one kingdom card if you want to. With others you can play more kingdom cards in your turn or draw additional cards from your deck and these cards will give you even more abilities and more things to do.
So by buying more money and more action cards you build a more powerful and more efficient deck and gradually you can then buy victory points to grab the win.
Don’t expect a great thematic experience. You only feel a tiny bit like a medieval ruler because of the card titles and illustrations. Often, the actions written on the cards, the +1 money or +2 cards, don’t correspond with the title and illustrations or you have think real hard, make up a not so obvious story to make a thematic connection. I would say thirty, forty percent of the cards feels a bit thematic, the rest just doesn’t. This deck builder is more about the mechanism than about a very strong theme.
The game is very straightforward and very quick. Very easy to teach and very easy to play. There are only a few rules and everything you really need to know is written or depicted on the cards.
This game offers a lot of replay value. There are 25 kingdoms and you only use 10 every game.
Every time you play, you can try a different setup and you can try different ways to build a better deck. An efficient engine of cards that eventually gives you infinite possibilities in your turn.
You need victory points, but buying them will clutter your deck with cards you can’t use for anything. Too much victory point cards shall ensure that your brilliant engine willfalter before the game has even started. So you need to choose the right moment to start buying these points. That’s an interesting mechanism.
However when another person starts buying the big scoring Provinces (6 points), you’d better do that too, because the game ends when the Province deck (12 cards) is empty.
In Dominion you need to buy the right cards and the right combination of cards to give yourself more possibilities in your turn, more actions and more money. The choices that you have to make aren’t that difficult, but you have to make a lot of them and it’s interesting challenge to build a well functioning deck.
So the solid mechanisms give you a lot of choices, but the pace of the games remains high. It also plays just as good with two as it does with four players.
When you choose to play with Kingdom cards like the Witch, the Thief or the Spy, the game becomes more interactive. Your opponents must take curse cards (-1 point), you can steal cards from an opponent or look at another player’s hand. The game can be a bit interactive this way. It’s not very spectacular, but it’s something.
Of course there is luck of the draw, but you can mitigate that by buying more of the same cards, or buying cards that give you the draw more cards ability, for instance.
Dominion is not a swan, not an ugly duckling either, it’s just not very remarkable. The small pictures on the cards are, sometimes, quite nice, but as a whole it looks a bit bland.
Quality of the components
You shuffle your cards very, very much. So, the card quality must be good, right? Shuffling equals damaging your cards. In this game, the card quality is not bad, but not phenomenal either, just average.
I like this game. I don’t play this game because of the theme, but it has solid mechanisms, so I think it’s a very enjoyable experience.
Dominion is located in the lighter segment of deck builders. I think it’s a good game when you are in that ‘I don’t want to think’ mood or you don’t have much time and you still want a full game experience.
That brings me to a major asset of the game. It’s the pace and the playtime. It’s over in half an hour and you don’t have to wait long before it’s your turn again. You are always busy and that’s exiting. Then you can grab some new kingdom cards (or not) and start a new game.
I can play this game with everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike and that’s another plus.
It started the whole deck building genre and it’s still a good one to start with yourself, when it comes to deck builders or games in general.