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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.

Game Play:
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.

Note:
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.
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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.
1515 comments| 319 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
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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.

Summary:

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.

Components:

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.

Rules:

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.

Depth/Strategy:

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.

Re-playability:

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
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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.
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on October 5, 2016
We have played close to 100 games with this set. My one criticism is that it seems to favor certain cards and several cards are never used, leading to this being a gateway set to the expansion sets. Well, lo and behold, they are making a new edition that removes the duds and replaced them with better cards. GET THE SECOND EDITION but don't miss out on the game, Dominion is a lot of fun.
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on July 18, 2016
If you are into any sort of card or board games at all (and even if you are not), this is a game to add to the collection! This game is simply addicting! I first found out about this game by going to a friend's house and just had to have a set of my own. With all of the expansions this game has, there is no end to the replay value of this game. This game is the BASIC set and only comes with the basic 25 kingdom cards and the other required cards (treasure cards and victory cards). This set alone is a great way to get introduced to the game and there are no difficult mechanics to learn with this set. This game is a deck building game. This means that each player (2-4 for just this set) starts with the same 10 cards and buys cards to build their deck. Each player then uses their deck to purchase victory cards that give them victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins. This game has a small learning curve, but once players understand how to play, the confusion will only come from some cards in expansions. Dominion makes it easy to understand the cards as you just follow their instructions from top to bottom when the card is played. If there is any confusion on a card, the instruction manuals explain very well how each card functions. This base set is a great starting point for those wanting to get into the game and the possibilities are endless when expansions are purchased. I would recommend this to anyone willing to learn a game and warn those of you that do: you will purchase all of the expansions before long. If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know by clicking the "yes" button below.
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on May 27, 2014
My wife and I are always looking for different games to play. We love playing board games, both competitive and cooperative styles. I came across Dominion, but I wasn't sure if it would be fun for us. After reading all of the positive reviews for Dominion, we finally decided to give it a try.

Upon opening the box, all of the cards have slots to place them in alphabetical order, with a cardboard tile that sits in the middle showing what cards are where. The organization of this game is excellent.

Instructions were good to get us started. They even provide an example of the first couple rounds of play in a two-person game, which helped us understand how to play Dominion. There are descriptions of all of the cards included, and they recommend certain sets of cards for your first play, as well as for various styles of gameplay. Otherwise, the randomizer cards certainly offer some interesting combinations of cards when you want to mix things up.

Gameplay is very easy, once you learn Dominion. But it all comes down to strategy. What cards do you buy? How do you combine them? Do you buy actions, more money, or points? With each game, the strategy varies with the different action cards you play with. And Dominion certainly provides quite a few action cards so the games are never the same. Strategies also can change when more players are involved, especially once someone starts taking advantage of the "Action - Attack" cards in the set to attack the other players at the table.

Dominion is a great game that doesn't take long to play. (It takes us maybe 30 minutes or so to play.) Now we're looking at the expansions to see how they can enhance an already-great game. We highly recommend Dominion, not just for experienced gamers, but also for introducing new players into the world of euro-style games. If you know the game already, it should be fairly simple to teach others how to play, even if they don't really play games much.
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on December 26, 2010
As an extensive board, RPG and card gamer since birth, I have had opportunities to play a ton of games. Some I have played a lot (AD&D, WH40K, M:TG - quite literally tens of thousands of hours of that life sapper), some I have tossed asunder after a round or two. Overall, though, I found that I always come back to the same games when the new stuff drifts into the dusty recesses of my shelves. Magic: the Gathering was the one that kept resurrecting itself until after more than a DECADE playing it, I retired from competitive play and then from any play at all. That said, I still miss certain aspects of the game. Obviously the competitive nature of it was tantamount to its attractiveness - you versus another where you were taking his life away; but the STRATEGY of construction and deck testing was the best part of the game. At the highest levels of MtG, the Pro Tour, players spend what amounts to overtime each week (40 hours of labor or more!) constructing, dissecting, testing, discussing and refining their customized decks to determine the strongest ones. With the internet, they yammer endlessly about mana curve and and broken cards with other top players throughout the world. It is a JOB, but it is a fun job. Within the arena of construction can be found the base addiction to the game, always looking for another combination that could create a deck so powerful the Wizards of the Coast had no choice but to ban a component card or errata away the potency for tourney play. The quest for the unbeatable deck...rages on even today nearly reaching two decades and tens of thousands of different cards.

Enter a wife and two wonderful children (actually second wife, MtG may have been a contributing factor in the disappearance of the first /grin). Gaming time drops to near zero... My wife is an adamant non-player. We played poker a lot back before the kiddos, and some low-strat board games. After the kids, we no longer had time to play decent strategy games - most of which required a lot of preparation or extensive attention for several hours to really feel like you'd done it justice. Two items that were simply out of stock for newly-parents. I still checked up on the world of board games, salivating over Settlers of Catan and Agricola and Carcassone... Then I saw Dominion popping up with incredible reviews - so I took a flyer and bought it to play on holiday with my venerable opponent - my brother, a single dad who had a very similar history. We played it to death once the kids went down for the night, while my wife chit chatted with us and paid a little attention to the game. Endlessly we played, shuffling cards over and over, and we found the strategic intricacies to be incredibly deep. Thanks to the shifting of the available cards each game, no two games were the same - basic strategies emerged for every card and for combinations of those cards, but the improvisational-deck-building-mechanic was incredibly addictive. My wife watched, but did not bite. The holiday ended, and I moped that I would no longer have the time or the opponents to play the game to which I was now deeply addicted. Then DW surprised me and said she would play it with me as a Christmas gift. Her revelation to me was that games that required strategy seemed too "brainy" for her - that it would require so much thinking as to ruin the fun nature of playing - whereas in Hold 'em, it was less what you had than knowing what your opponent had and a little clevage could throw him off his game. I nursed game one along so that she got a feel for the mechanics, and she won. I certainly did not give 100%, because a win for her meant the potential of a game two for me. She won game two - this time a little less passivity on my part. Then game three...and the night was over, but my addiction had been satiated for a day. Today, she ASKED to play again. She ASKED to play a high-strategy game. I'm setting the hook to pull in a lunker.

Dominion can bridge the non-gamer gap - the basics are simple enough that nearly anyone can play. The depth of the game is deep enough to whet the appetites of all but the most intense miniatures players or historical war gamers. The Magic playing friends will absolutely love the draft-style construction, and the casual gamers will appreciate that a game takes only 30 minutes in most circumstances after a couple learning games. Dominion is really fun with two players, but adding up to two more increases the fun-quotient. Rio Grande has released several expansions which seem to add even more depth and breadth to the mix - Intrigue can be merged with the base set to allow for games of up to EIGHT players; which would seem to get very hairy, but no less fun. I very heartily suggest Dominion for those who are looking for a strategy game with the convenience of a card game without forgetting that card drawing will diminish strategy - since you are building your deck on the fly, refining it leads to the odds and probability factor that you see in games like MtG. The prices here at Amazon are amazing - if you feel like a spending spree, they've recently offered a base set + a couple expansions for a great price, with a bonus of a card mat to help the layout of the game - it seems well worth it if you are fairly confident you want to give this game a go.

I don't think I could be happier with this purchase.
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on August 26, 2015
Coming from Magic The Gathering (MtG), I was looking for game that 3-4 (family) can play together. This looks "promising". This is my first review, after two games.
The rules is simple to learn and remember for my nine year old, my six year old after 2 games still need reminder. A sheet outlining the steps, included in package would have been a plus - instead, I printed my own.
The box is great looking. Probably the game box I've bought. Unfortunately, not as much thought put into "content".
Family spent first 15-20 minutes putting cards into sleeves - YAY!
Box came with some kind of molder plastic "divider" to hold cards in some wacky order, or lack of. Of course, dividers not set for card sleeves. I tossed divider and made my own out of cardboard - ugly looking, but does the job. Would have liked to get some "Dominion dividers" - am sure cheaper to make cardboard dividers than the molded plastic ones.
The cards (~500 I think) are visually "simple" - compared to MtG, they are downright primitive.
For price charged, RG Games can certainly improve on this product.

EASE to LEARN: 4/5
GAME PLAY: 5/5
BOX CONTENT: 3/5
VALUE: 4/5
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