Thursday, July 8, 2010

2.20: Dominion!

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend.  We spent time with friends and family, went to the beach, set some explosives on fire, and played 1000 boardgames.  Or ten.  Biggest hit of the weekend, Dominion; I personally got in three plays of the game, but it hit the table far more than that.  We also played a 4+ hour game of Shogun, in which I took second; Danny, despite having no money and no income on the last turn, was able to hold onto his empire and take the win.  

An interesting piece of information--last year I played a total of 105 games (not different games, total games played).  As of today, I've played 86 games this year--looks like I'm on track to beat last year by 50%.

Dominion was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and published in the US by Rio Grande Games in 2008.  Since then it has won a number of awards, including the Spiel des Jahres in 2009.  A number of standalone games which can be combined with the original have been released since, as well as a number of expansion cards.  It is a card game with a first-of-its-kind mechanic--everyone starts with the same 10 cards, and during the course of the game you purchase cards for your deck, which provide you with additional abilities on future turns.

Turns generally go quickly, especially at the beginning of the game.  On a basic turn has three parts:  Play an action card, buy a new card, and clean-up.

Action cards provide a number of abilities during the game, allowing you to draw extra cards, discard cards, use extra action cards (useful, because otherwise you are only able to use one a turn), give you extra money or the ability to buy more than one card, and so on.  There are also "Attack" cards, which make your opponents fall in love with you--that is, if they enjoy having to discard cards from their hand or lose money from their deck.

The buy phase of the turn is just that--you buy one card, unless you've played an action card that allows you to purchase more.  Adding any treasure cards from your hand to any money provided by your action card(s), you may purchase any of the 16 or so cards on the table--Green cards provide victory points(1, 3, and 6 points), but do nothing else, so purchasing them means you'll end up with dead space in your hand, but you need these to win.  Gold colored cards are Treasure cards (values 1, 2, and 3), and provide you with more money in your deck, and purchasing the larger value cards means you can afford more expensive cards more often.  The action cards, as stated above, do a variety of things; there are generally 10 of these in the game, but which ones are in can be changed, altering the game drastically.  Any cards purchase go directly into your discard pile--once you've gone through your deck, you shuffle your discards and these cards will become available to you.

Lastly, clean-up.  This is simple--discard everything in your hand, any cards played in front of you, and draw 5 new cards.

I've played this game 10 times since I received it in June (Father's day, for reference); that doesn't include the number of times family and friends have played it.  This game is highly replayable, due to the fact that the ten cards chosen for the game can be different every time; with 25 different cards provided in this game...that's a lot of possible combinations, and I don't feel like doing the math.  Plus, some of those combinations would be ridiculous.  The only bad thing I can say about this is that some of the card combinations don't suit my play preference:  I'd usually prefer to "build an engine," gaining cards with a goal in mind, and some of the combinations urge players to race for Victory cards, ignoring all else.  A minor quibble, admittedly, and I have found that some of these "races" are quite interesting.  Perhaps adaptablilty is the best course of action.

I do also have to commend Rio Grande games on their storage tray--there is a specified location for each set of cards to be stored vertically on the long edge, and the larger groups of cards are also arranged around the tray such that the box remains mostly balanced.  The tray is also set high enough that the cards are within short distance of the box top, and thus tilting the box doesn't result in cards splaying everywhere in the box. 

I'm looking forward to trying the Dominion expansions--two of the three expansions currently out are stand-along games, but can be combined with the original, providing even more combinations for the game.  My wife's interest in the game only enhances my own interest.

Well, we're gearing up for HomeCon!  ComicCon and GenCon are around the corner, Origins just passed, and unless I hit it big in Vegas I'm not going to BGG.Con--so we're throwing our own mini-convention.  It's still month's away, but we've finally set a date and are now getting things in order.  Looking forward to seeing a number of friends, eating really unhealthy food, and not sleeping for four days.  And since I decided on this year's theme for HomeCon, here's the tentative logo.  In case you are wondering, yes, that's my house...minus the towers.  The dragon really is there, he just hangs out above our house.  Makes it hard to keep pets, but he keeps the sales people away.


  1. Yesterday I announced the Play-in-Public Campaign and today I got a positive response. You are a leader in our gaming community, so I wanted to call your attention to it here:

    Thanks for taking the time to review!

    Note: I don't expect you to approve this comment since it is not relevant to this post, I just didn't know how better to contact you!

  2. Kevin, I noticed the announcement yesterday, and was pondering a way to promote this. Thanks for contacting me.