Top critical review
324 people found this helpful
Starts out with a bang, but fades
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.