Dominion is a card game that has achieved a lot of fame and fans in a short period of time. Donald X. Vaccarino designed Dominion, and Rio Grande Games publishes the game and its supplements. Once I bought and played the basic game, I knew it was the card game for me, and I immediately bought all of the Dominion expansions that were available. I’ve played several thousands games online at Brettspielwelt, too. As you’ve probably guess by now, I’m going to give Dominion a positive review.
Dominion is a deck-building card game, but it is NOT a collectible card game. I make the distinction because when most people think of deck building games, they think of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering. I could never figure out Magic: The Gathering, not really. I could play the game, but I was never able to win a match with anyone, not even the beginners I played with. I have somewhat better luck with Dominion though.
The players’ cards represent a kingdom. At the beginning of the game, the kingdom is pretty paltry. All players have seven gold pieces and three provinces. The gold pieces can be used to buy more treasure cards, or they can be used to buy different sized victory cards, of which the provinces are the smallest. But there’s also a third option, and that’s the meat and potatoes of Dominion: the action cards.
The base game comes with 25 different cards, but you choose only 10 of them for each match. You can choose these randomly, or you can choose one of the suggested sets from the rulebook. Most of the expansions for the game also include 25 new cards, but some of the expansions are more like mini-expansions, and they contain 12 or 13 new cards.
The action cards allow you to do things on your turn. They might give you extra actions to take, or allow you to draw more cards, or provide you with more gold to spend. Some action cards combine especially well with some other action cards, which is where the fun in Dominion comes in–figuring out which combinations of cards to buy and have in your deck.
The victory cards, on the other hand, generally don’t allow you to do anything at all, but you can’t win without them. The victory cards determine how many points you have at the end of a match, so you can’t win a game without buying them. But the more victory cards you buy, the less you’re able to accomplish in a round, because they just take up space in your five card hand. They don’t allow you to buy anything, and you can’t take any actions with them.
I played Dominion for the first time with some buddies who I’ve gamed with for years, and they loved the game just as much as I did, and all of us are pretty finicky when it comes to playing new games. The packaging and artwork on the game are excellent, and there’s enough strategy to keep thinking players happy. In fact, unless you have at least a basic grasp of Dominion strategy, you won’t have much of a chance against a competent player. It’s just not that random a game.