Sunday, February 21, 2016


My Dominion Storage System

Dominion takes the concept of building a deck and makes it into a game. Way cooler an invention then figuring out how to slice bread.


Rio Grande Games


Donald Vaccarino

Elevator Pitch:

Each game of Dominion is a puzzle:  Which cards should you buy, and in which frequency to make the most efficient deck possible.  Then when to switch to buying victory cards which are worthless in your deck, but do make you win.

Personal Impression:

Most of my Boston gaming life, and a good deal of my social circle, can be traced directly to my first game of Dominion.  Which means that I would really be thankful for Dominion even if I didn’t like it, but  Dominion is my favorite game.  I have always loved building decks and Donald Vaccarino built a game that revolves around it, which is incredibly elegant yet dynamic.  Cards that are worthless in one setup, can be incredible in the next.  With expansions there are trillions of game setups that can be used, yet the game has and needs no errata.  There have been many copycats of Dominion, but playing them mostly makes me wonder why I’m not playing Dominion instead.  I don’t get to play it as much as I used to, but I’m always happy to play.  In fact, I run periodic tournaments for it, which are mostly an excuses to play a full day’s worth of Dominion.

*Conveniently named Periodic Dominion Tournaments

Good for People who Grew up Playing:

Magic or other collectible card games.  
Ease of Learning:

The basic rules of Dominion are pretty straightforward, though the timing of when you do things can be a little confusing if you haven’t played similar games before.  Most of the complexity is in what cards you use (you pick 10 kingdom cards to play with each game), so you can choose how difficult you want the game to be.  There is the added difficulty that after you learn how cards work, you will likely be using at least some different ones in the next game.

Fidgety Index

How much do you like shuffling?  If the answer is constantly you are in luck.  Expansions add some more little shiny things to play with.

Universal Theme:

As much as I like remodeling villages into mines, Dominion is one of those theme in name only games.  Reading the thematic text in the rule books, though is highly amusing.

Player Count and Length:

2-6 though I wouldn’t recommend 6.  It varies depending on cards used and player’s analysis paralysis tendencies.  Let’s say 20-45 minutes with perhaps another 10 minutes to setup and take down the cards.


I am morally obligated to buy every Dominion card ever made.  Your god may not require such an obligation, but still having an expansion or two will greatly increase replay-ability and strategic depth.  The base games is not as well balanced as future sets, which allows for some boring strategies to prevail.  Basically any expansion fixes this problem.

Intrigue:  The first expansion and the only one to include all the base cards, which allows it to be playable out of the box.  When combined with the base set it allows for up to 6 players if you want (you don’t).  It adds interactivity which is good, but some of that comes in crippling attacks, which can be less enjoyable.  It also introduces cards with multiple choices.  

Seaside: Seaside provides cards that affect the current turn as well as the next, called duration cards.  Once you understand the duration mechanic, the cards are simple to use.   If you are going to get one expansion, this is the one I’d recommend.

Alchemy:  The most controversial expansion, Alchemy is a mini-expansion that provides another currency called potions. It features some powerful game changing cards, though the changes aren’t always fun.

Prosperity:  Essentially, Dominion on steroids.   Prosperity lets you do insane things as you go for platinum and colonies.  It is great fun, though you will probably appreciate it more if you play some other sets first.

Cornucopia:  A mini-expansion that encourages variety, so it’s good if you are the type of player who likes to try everything.

Hinterlands: Has cards that have an effect when acquired.  This originally was going to be a starter set, so the cards are on the more basic side.

Dark Ages:  The last expansion designed before Donald Vaccarino was done.  It is filled with cards that change into other cards or have trash or upgrade related effects.  And Rats.  A huge set and a fairly complex one, so including them can slow the game down dramatically even for experienced players.

Guilds:  Designed before Dark Ages, but released after, guilds is a mini set that features cards you can overpay for and cards that let you save up money.  It is fun, but the fact that you can pay any number for specific cards greatly increases the amount of options.

Adventures:  The first after Donald Vaccarino decided he wasn’t actually done making Dominion Expansions.  Donald originally planned on making Dominion spinoffs, but mostly gave up on that idea.  Instead he threw everything in here.  This is the kitchen sink expansion.  Fun, but probably not for a new player.

Base Cards:  The money and victory cards of dominion with alternate art.  These allow multiple games to be played by different groups simultaneously, or for the expansions to be played without first acquiring the Original set or Intrigue.

Promos: A half a dozen or so other kingdom cards.  I especially like the black market, though it is a pain to setup.

Spin Offs:

There are hundreds of deck buildings game now.  With few exceptions, when these other games, I wonder why I'm not just playing Dominion.

Introducing the Game to New Gamers: 

Choose a simple set that has a little of everything.  Try the crazy strategy you always wanted to try rather than the most efficient.  Avoid buying devastating attack cards.  Buy cards your opponents aren’t to show how they work.  Try not to end the game before opponents’ decks can get going.


Once upon a time there was a website named isotropic.  It was free and glorious and I spent countless hours playing thousands of games there.  Then it went away and was replaced by something less free and far less wonderful.  To give you an idea of the problems, in the current app, which has been years in the making, you have to purchase in-game currency to buy expansions, but the units of the in-game currency you can buy do not match expansion prices, forcing you t overpay already ridiculous prices.  Of course if the product was good,  I'd pay whatever the cost.  It is not, it is terrible, lacking standard features like ability to play offline.   Thus ended my online play of Dominion.  There are some knock off apps (Android has a pretty good one) to hold you over until the Dominion license reverts to someone who knows what they are doing.  


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