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Posted by admin On March - 25 - 2011

Some may start by saying its a card game, mainly because it’s composed of cards, but its not really just cards… it’s more like a fast paced race to build up your treasury using an expansion of means of attacks and actions to eventually build up a kingdom of Estates, Duchies and Providences. The “Monarch” with the biggest kingdom in the end, is crowned winner!!! Now really how can that be just a card game? The really wild thing about this fabulous game is that there is a randomizer deck that you pick 10 cards from before you start, so you have a new game every time you play! Meaning you have to formulate a new strategy at the beginning of each game. So if you’re into strategy games as I am, this is a must have for you .

Summarizing those long Instruction Manuals: Game play is as simple as ABC! You start the game with 10 cards that consist of 7 copper and 3 Estates. Copper allows you to purchase cards to add to your deck, and Estates count as 1 point each at the end of the game, but also add fluff to your hand because you can’t play them.

You shuffle your deck and pull 5 cards to your hand. Lets say below is what you got. Now onto the ABC’s.

A is the Action phase: If you have any actions cards in your hand you may play one first. At the start of the game you have no action cards.

Remember when I said there was a randomizer deck? Well The actual base game of Dominion comes with a bunch of cards to make up a game, but you only use 10 of them. So lets set up a mock board.

B is the Buy phase: After playing any actions, if available, you may now buy a card from the supplies to build up your deck. In your current hand you have 4 coppers, so you can buy one item costing up to 4 (the prices are in the bottom left corners. Lets say I buy a Village for 3 coppers, I have one copper left but since I only get one buy per turn, its not used.

C is the Clean up phase: After playing actions and buying cards now its time to clean up! Put all cards played and bought in a discard pile and draw 5 new cards. Since you had 4 coppers and 1 Estate card last round you will now have 3 Coppers and 2 Estates. Every one else plays their first turn and then you get to play your new hand. Once you are out of cards in your deck (which happens at the end of the second round since you started with 10 cards) you shuffle your discard pile to make your new deck. Now you might have actions in your hand or more valuable currency, or even Victory point cards.

Actions can allow you to attack other members, protect yourself against attacks, draw additional cards, play extra actions, have multiple buys, etc. If you plan your card purchases wisely, you can end up with awesome hands allowing for really nifty combos. Buying higher valued currency such as slivers and gold allow you to buy higher costing cards, or if you have additional buys, more cards!! And finally, Victory point cards (Estates, Duchys, Providences, and in this set up, also Gardens) are the only things that matter at the end of the game, this is where your points come from. But purchasing these cards in balance is imperative because they add to your hand but don’t actually do anything until the end.

Final Thoughts: The hardest part about this game, I would say, is learning the cards. Once you have the cards memorized, which usually happens within playing the first 3 or 4 games, the plays can get wicked fast and really cool. When I play with family and friends, we usually play 2 to 5 games in under an hour, depending on how quickly someone comes up with an unstoppable deck.

This is really a great deck building game to have in your collection. Unlike many deck building games such as Magic, you don’t have to go out and buy expensive cards to make a cool deck. Everyone in the game of Dominion starts out with the same exact hand, and has the same exact choices of cards to “buy.” Winning is all about who comes up with the best strategy of cards for that particular set up.

Downfalls – the box, it’s too freggin’ big! If you want to bring it to a friends house with expansions, its ridiculous!  Although, i’ve seen many fantastic DIY fixes on BGG for this problem. The artwork is also a downfall, it’s not consistent. Some cards are really well done, others are terrible.

Lastly,  once you’ve over played the base set, which is bound to happen.. there are quite a few really awesome expansions that are neat on their own or can be mixed with the base and other expansions. Some of the expansions have different Mechanics, which i’ll break out and review in the future, but they are very easily learned.

One last tidbit of information, once you have all the expansions, and want to mix the randomizers together, it is such a bummer to separate them out afterward. Well… if you have an iPhone, there is an app called “Dominion Kingdom Deck” – it handles the task of picking your 10 kingdom cards for a game of Dominion! You can toggle which Dominion games you want to mix together, and instantaneously have your new game!… and… it’s a FREE download! How cool is that? Check it!

Final Final Thoughts:
Quality: 3/5
Fun: 4. 5/5
Substance: 4/5
Re-playability: 5/5