Dominion (Card Game)

Collectible card game DominionDominion is a card game like no other I’ve played before. It’s produced by Rio Grande Games and fits into the genre of collectible card games, similar to phenomenally popular games like Magic: the Gathering. The craze of playing, trading and competing with MtG decks completely was ignored by passed me by when I was younger – so the systems in place in Dominion were both new and refreshing to me when I started playing it a while back.

Dominion has a very simple game mechanic behind it; and you win by buying the most victory points before one of the two end conditions are met.

Every player has a separate deck of cards dealt to them, one that they can expand by buying cards from a communal market place in the centre. Each 5 card hand you deal from your own deck enables you to play one card and buy another.

Very simple and easy to remember.

The complications and strategy arise from how the purchased cards affect your future goes. You can simply buy more money, so in future hands you’re likely to have a few higher valued currency cards among your 5 dealt cards. Or you could attempt to increase the number of actions you can play per hand. How about increasing the number of purchases you can make, so instead of just buying 1 card each go you buy several?

Dominion strategies

The simplicity of its dynamic also gives Dominion vast levels of complexity too. Although on a specific hand you may not have many  (sometimes any) options, on the long run there are countless routes to victory.

Dominion strategies range from the very simple ‘buy cards at random’ approach, to very complicated methods of purchasing similar cards in groups while the currency cards in your hand equal certain proportions of the deck… (or something!).

One thing you must be aware of is ‘deck inflation’, or ‘deck bloat’, basically a term referring to the following fact; the more cards you buy, the less money you’ll have in each subsequent hand (on average)… unless you’re buying currency cards. In section 2 of this short article, it explains why you may even want to turn down free money cards!

It’s a great game and can be played with up to 6 people using the Intrigue expansion packs; it has quick game flow and you’re usually constantly busy with one task or another. A good quality in any game, who wants to be sat there doing nothing after all!

Dominion, playing again and again

8 different cards from the Intrigue expansion pack
8 different cards from the Intrigue expansion pack
(Click to view bigger)

With over 500 cards you get quite a lot in the box too. Although you don’t even use half the cards at any one time, so the choice of cards to buy every game will change. Meaning your golden strategy you discovered last game may just be the worst possible method this time.

Re-playability, although possibly not an actual word, is definitely a quality that helps games stand out from the seemingly endless number being produced these days. Dominion can be played several times in a row using different combinations of cards and you’ll feel like you’re playing a completely different game each time.

Needless to say that Dominion has also picked up a Spiel des Jahres award in 2009 too, recognising its brilliance as a card game.

For a bit more reading; check out this link if you’re interested in how games are designed in general, or how Donald Vaccarino came up with the idea of Dominion

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