on January 7, 2009
Dominion is a deceptively simple game which encompasses endless variation. The basic game contains the following major components:
1. 25 groups of action cards, victory cards, and money cards, in total over 250 cards.
2. Card storage and organizer box designed specifically for organizing the game components.
3. The Rules.
A game starts with each player holding an identical 10 card deck. As the game begins a group of 10 special action cards are selected from the 25 categories in the box. The rules outline specific selections for scenario play or you can design your own lay out. There is no banker or moderator; all players start entirely equal with access to the exact same cards.
During each player's turn they may take actions and purchase new cards from the communal decks. Each player has to balance the need to buy new cards and money with the purchase of victory points (which remain in the player's deck but don't help them until points are totaled.) The decision of when to stop building one's deck and start buying victory points is one of the most critical choices the player will make. Too early, and you'll find yourself bogged down with a deck full of moderate victory cards while other players' resources have increased to the point where they blow by you. If you wait too long, all of the good cards will have been bought out and you won't have anything to spend your resources on.
I have to be honest, when I first heard about Dominion I didn't understand why my wife and several of our friends were so worked up over the thing. It sounded terribly dry, particularly to a person like myself who has played collectable card games like magic the gathering for many years. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
Dominion has something for everyone, from the collectable card game nut, to the poker player, to the family looking for an alternative to trivial pursuit. Since everyone starts out with access to the same selection of cards and the same resources for advancement, everyone has an equal chance of victory. Because there are 10 different categories of action cards with each category having at least 10 cards in its pile, there is plenty of room for strategy as the game progresses and certain resources are bought up to the point of extinction.
The game is set up in such a way so that you can play cut throat games with lots of player-vs.-player actions or less interactive games where the victory is determined by who fields the most effective resource acquisition strategy. Those familiar with CCG drafting will feel right at home in this environment, while those with no card based gaming experience won't be at a disadvantage.
My only criticism of dominion (as has been said on several other forums) is that while the game is entirely self contained, I can easily see the cards (which are essential in exactly the numbers provided) wearing out or being lost. Because there are so many of them I recommend using card sleeves (available at most hobby stores from companies like rook and ultra pro.)
I started out one night thoroughly expecting to dislike this game and found myself 3 hours later wondering where the evening had gone. Dominion is completely addictive and doesn't loose its fun factor after the player has played multiple scenarios in one sitting.
Simply put, this is the best interactive casual game I've played in 32 years.
It's four years later and I still endorse this game without reservation. The basic set is still just as fun as when I played for the first time, while the addition of other optional sets have magnified the enjoyment.
on March 3, 2009
Ok, I have to start this review off by saying I had my reservations about this game. I absolutely love Euro strategy games like Puerto Rico, Agricola, Power Grid, Caylus, etc, but I'm not into card games. In fact, I pretty much hate card games.
This game was getting a lot of publicity on BoardGameGeek and everyone was raving about it so I decided that I should buy it to give it a shot. I'm glad I did.
The whole point of the game is to build your deck of cards and build up a collection of victory points. The reason this game shines is because it is a quick game that only takes about 30-40 minutes to play. It is also very fun because as you are building your deck of cards you aren't usually getting rid of the cards. If you spend some gold to buy a card that gold goes back into your discard pile and will eventually be shuffled for you to use again in another turn.
There are over 500 cards in this game with around 25 different action cards available so you can vary the game a lot depending on what cards are currently on the table. The only downside is that someone that has played the game a lot and knows a base strategy can usually beat a new player easily.
Overall this game is very addicting and short, which is a good thing. You can play multiple rounds of this game in an evening as opposed to one game of another typical Euro.
on August 8, 2010
I picked up a copy of Dominion hot off the presses after I played it a few times at GenCon 2008 after it was introduced. I was amazed by the uniqueness of drafting cards into your hand by the way of getting money cards and increasing the size of your deck. The fact there were so many combos available to make the 10 types of cards to buy in the box seemed to offer limitless play. But I quickly began to see the cracks in the game.
While there are a lot of cards you can use to make up the ones you can buy to make your deck, they end up being pretty similar and there will be some you use all the time and some you'll never want to use for personal tastes. There will quickly emerge strategies that if you just work to build up your money cards and skip the majority of action cards you'll win >75% of the time. This cuts down on the fun since if everyone takes this route there isn't much to the game, and if you are the only one to do this, you'll find yourself bored as people try to chain actions after more actions to find they still don't have enough money in hand to buy the top victory point cards. This is the crux of why my love for the game has faded.
I time and again find myself bored as the other players take their turn. Since there only a handful of cards that cause you to interact with other players, you essentially all play 3 or 4 solitaire games at the same table. I don't find this interesting and would rather play strategy games, even light ones, that have some level of interaction, even if it just watching where the other player moves.
I have even tried to renew my interest by trying the expansions that have followed almost every 6 or so months after the release of Dominion in 2008. Some expansions offer more to the game (Seaside is probably one of the best, avoid Alchemy) it still comes down to being bored while everyone plays their own solitaire game until the end when you tally your points.
I rated this game a 3/5 and not lower because there will be some, even many, who will not hold the same boredom with this game and will love it. This game is a great light game that plays quickly, teaches quickly, and offers a lot to casual players. For people who play a lot of board games, particularly deeper strategy or Euro games, or even like the Axis & Allies or even Risk type of player interaction, this game may wear thin faster than for others.
Even though I rated it a 3, I would recommend this as a great game for families and casual gamers. I'd also recommend Ticket to Ride (any of them, but Marklin and Europe are probably the best, USA being the first and simplest), Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan. These games are quick to learn, easy to play, and offer a good casual experience. For people looking for a little more depth and replayability, I'd recommend Pandemic (terrific cooperative game), Stone Age, Ra, Small World (one of my favorites), and Dixit (one of the best party games out there, the artwork is hands down the best). The rabbit hole of complexity and length goes as far as you are willing, but it is up to you to determine your needs of a game. Dominion is a great start, but if you've been playing other games it may be too thin to offer something for you.
on June 1, 2009
In the days of technology and scheduled events we struggle to find times to connect with our children. Dominion has helped us renew that connection. My wife and I plus both our sons (age 17 & 11) LOVE playing this game together. Whether you go in with a fine tuned strategy or just "make it up as you go along" the opportunity to enjoy the game and win is presented. We love that the entire game play lasts about 30-40 minutes, we don't always have an entire day to devote to a game, but we have a half hour after dinner to enjoy the company of our kids. they will be moving out soon enough and beginning their own families. Dominion is a game that everyone wants to set aside what they are doing and play together. When was the last time your kids begged to play a game with Mom and Dad?
on April 13, 2014
I initially received this ad a gift from a friend. We played Catan regularly and never imagined that Catan would be gathering dusty after our hundredth or so game of Dominion. The variability in the game is the key addictive component. Even more than Catan the game changes from one playing to the next. This increases exponentially as you buy expansions, which you likely will. You may even find yourself building a "Dominion box" to store your cards as I did (see customer uploaded images for my box).
on June 6, 2013
I highly recommend checking out videos on game play to see if a deck builder like Dominion is something you would like to play. The pro side of it are the cards and combinations are endless, if you like the game and mechanic, you WILL not run out of new cards as there are a lot of expansions. The con side of that is it will be expensive if you feel like you NEED to complete the set and collect every expansion.
When Dominion came out, it was received with high praise, I bought the original and liked playing it in the beginning. Eventually came an expansion, another expansion, and another. Dominion popped out faster than the rabbits in my yard. Soon our family was bored with it and I knew why. Dominion is a game where one builds a deck, plays a few cards, shuffles their deck, and race to the finish line type of game. Over time, it ended up being the same to us. Yes, there are the expansion, and the practically unlimited amount of combinations from all the expansions and choices you can make, also the combos you play, but even with all that, it was still losing it steam with our family.
There are still countless people who love the game and some that like us, the game outstayed it's welcome. In the end, I think we are more board game people than card game people. You have to think what is your favorite type of game, do you enjoy shuffling a lot, because in this game, you do that constantly. It's not a lot of shuffling like a full deck but it is constantly shuffling as you are playing, not at the end or between rounds, etc.
I ended selling my whole lot of Dominion and expansions but I'd still play it once in awhile if someone brought the game to a gathering, I just don't see it being played often if it is own by us. If Dominion sounds like it "may" be something you like but you want more interaction/confrontation, then try looking at Dominion Intrigue, it plays the same except the cards are more themed towards attacks/curses, etc.
Please click YES if my review have been helpful to you, it will encourage me to continue writing and updating my reviews, and leave a comment if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer if I can be of help.
on August 31, 2010
I will not waste time echoing the praise in other reviews. Trust me, the praise is well deserved. This is a great game that is easy to learn, yet very deep and fun. Honestly, it is as good as the reviews say.
What I do want to add, is that someone told me that this is one of the rare games that work just a well as a two-player game as a four-player game. If you do any gaming you know that many games will say something like 2-5 players, but playing with two people is a crippled version of the bigger experience. While we often game with friends, there are times where my wife and I want to play by ourselves at home. Usually as I said,you need to find games specifically designed for two-players (which are hard to find) and then of course they can not be enjoyed by larger groups.
This game lives up to the claim, it works just about as well with 2 as it does with more people. So if you are looking for an excellent, yet flexible game, give this a try.
on August 10, 2011
I am a closet nerd. I tricked my wife into thinking I was a cool guy, but I like nerdy things. She does not. But then I found this game! I used to be a hard core tournament Magic the Gathering player. My wife would never ever touch a game like Magic. Not to mention, the game became wildly expensive!
Dominion is like playing a game as deep as Magic the Gathering, but all you need to spend is $30 total for 2~4 people and you can explain the rules in about 5 minutes. I think that's a win-win-win situation right there.
That's really the appeal to the game. 1) deep strategy involved 2) cheap, since you just buy the game once instead of packs and packs of cards to 'collect' them. 3) uber ridiculously easy to teach new people to play.
If you are reading this, you heard about it somehow, or you found it because you saw that it's the most popular game right now. If the comparisons to Magic the Gathering scare you; do not fear. My wife loves this game. I've taught it to friends who never play board or card games and they loved it. Not only did they love it, but they vowed to buy it after 2 games. It is that addicting.
And once this base set wears out its welcome and you reach 'expert status' with the 25 cards it comes with? Dish out $30 dollars and get an expansion that will open up all sorts of possibilities. The designer purposely made the base set as simple as possible and once you 'figure out' the base set, it may seem 'boring', but seriously even just 1 expansion (out of the 4 or so that has been released) will change everything.
For reference, the games my wife and I also play are carcassone and settlers of catan (with friends of course). And while I love both of those games, Dominion is by far the most 'deep' game.
A few minor cons: they are cards. and you shuffle them....all....the.....time. You need to buy sleeves to protect them and when you do, they will not fit nicely in the box the game comes with.
you will want to get all the expansions...eventually: like i said, the base set is the simplest. after some point you will 'figure the cards out'. and then you read the text for a few expansion cards and see the limitless possibilities. and then you will need to shell out more money. (but like i said, no where near as bad as the 'collectible' card games!)
it isn't the most "social" of games out there. A game like Catan has a certain appeal. I can't count how many times i've laughed at "anyone got wood?" jokes during a game of Catan. It's fun to barter trades, argue where the robber will go, etc. Dominion doesn't have that. I will disagree with the other reviewers who say dominion is like every player is playing a solitaire game. That's like saying anyone playing Halo multiplayer without a mic is playing a solitaire game. You are indeed playing against each other. You do have to tell the other players what you are doing. and once you get passed being a beginner you will realize how important it is tomonitor what the other player/players are doing. From a pure 'game' standpoint, Dominion is far superior than Catan/Carcassone, not to mention the games go by much quicker.
If for some reason the 200+ 5 star ratings didn't convince you to buy this game yet, I urge you, please give this game a try. I wouldn't have ever thought i could play a game anywhere remotely close to Magic the gathering with my friends (who aren't closet nerds like i am!)....and then Dominion came along.
on September 26, 2009
Just got this game based on reviews at amazon and elsewhere. My wife and I have trouble playing game together (we both can handle losing, but it is tough when that means the winner is always your spouse !!!), but this one seems to appeal to both of us. Excellent game design with lots of variations based on which kingdom cards are in play. The first game took us about 1 1/2 hours including reading the rules and doing all the setup. Subsequent games take only about 1/2 hour, turns move quickly. The storage box is wonderfully designed making setup between games a cinch.
I disagree with one reviewer that says you should have a "house rule" to always have moat cards in play if you have attack cards in play; without moat cards the attack cards become more valuable, but can skew your strategy, you may focus too much on attack and forget to make progress toward your own win.
I am going to purchase the card protector sleeves, I can see this being a family favorite and I want to keep the cards in good shape.
Our other favorite games are:
** Acquire (a classic, still probably my favorite game of all time),
** Settlers of Catan (we have the extension to allow 6 to play)
** Ticket to Ride (get the 1910 expansion set, much more fun)
** Monopoly (still fun if played EXACTLY by the rules and is played quickly at the beginning to get the properties sold),
** Card games: Hand and Foot, Hearts, Oh Hell and Texas Holdem poker
** The Empire Builder series of "crayon" rail games (time consuming but fun - my extended family owns 7 different maps for this game. Hint: make a game board out of light plywood or foam board with rasied edges, get a piece of plexiglass cut to fit inside the edges, then put the map board under the plexiglass and use dry erase markers to play - makes a big difference - we also use this board for Catan so we don't accidentally move the numbers discs during play. When we have a "game weekend" we like to start one of these rail games each evening then play it on and off during the following day.
** Puerto Rico - we are still trying to get a handle on this game, lots of possible strategies and "resources", but very well designed turn play.
on October 31, 2009
I don't read board game news too much, but the little I do read has been buzzing about this game. I got it for my birthday and this past weekend provided me with time and people to play it with. It easily falls into my top games. Read on for more.
Dominion is a strategy card game built around the idea of deck building. The box claims a 30 minute playtime but I have experienced more around 45 minutes, which is still fairly quick in the strategy game category. I am sure that the more we play it this will go down to about what the box suggests. It is medieval in theme.
This card based game comes on with cards, 250 of them to be exact. They are simple to understand and fun to look at. Since we are dealing with only cards, and there is much shuffling that will happen I would expect them to hold up as well as any cards would, not too well. Card sleeves would be recommended to protect the cards if you think it will get lots of play. Based on the games I have played, I think it will.
The rules of Dominion are very simple and easy to learn and teach which make it one of Dominion's great strengths. After only playing two times I was able to teach an entirely new group the rules in about five minutes. Game set up is easy as well as each person begins with the same starting deck of ten cards.
Game play follows a quick three phase structure starting with the Action phase, where a player may play an action card that gives them bonuses during their turn and/or attacks the other players. Next is the Buy phase where players buy new cards from the supply of cards on the table to add to their decks. Last, players go through the Clean Up phase where they discard all the cards they used in their turn. Then play passes to the next person. This makes for short turns which help to keep everyone in the action.
From what I have seen, the strategy in Dominion is simple. Find a way to get as much money as you can in your hand so that you can buy huge quantities of victory points. How you get there, however, is extremely varied. The game comes with twenty five Kingdom decks (the different action card you use throughout the game) but you only use ten in a game. So the different combinations of these in different games will change the way you go about your strategy. Even though the strategy is fairly straight forward the depth is great.
This is easily Dominion's greatest strength which is very important in a game. It also means that you might end up replacing cards from wear sooner than you w