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Dominion: A Review
Dominion, a eurogame designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, was an instant hit when it came out in 2008. Although it had a typical *yawn* medieval development theme, this theme was tied in to a set of excellent card game mechanics. Want to set another player back on their path to winning? Play a Witch card, cursing them with -1 victory points. Need to do more on your turn? Then clearly it's time to play a bustling Village card.
Dominion is a personal favorite of mine due to the fact that both my hardcore gamer friends and non-gamers like it. A game of Dominion rarely lasts more than half an hour, and it's fast-moving card playing action. I'll take a look at what Dominion is about below and share some of my thoughts on the game.
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Dominion comes with 500 cards, but the storage solution is so elegant it's not daunting at all. 250 of those cards are 25 different Kingdom cards in sets of 10, which form the bulk of your playing. The rest are coins cards in denominations of 1, 2, and 3 coins (copper, silver, and gold), victory cards in 1, 5, and 8 point increments (estate, duchy, province), curses (-1 victory point), and blue-backed randomizers. Cards, cards, and more cards is what makes up Dominion, and the box comes with a clever insert that organizes them perfectly.
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- Play one or more action cards
- Buy one or more cards
- Discard your entire hand
- Draw a new hand of five cards
The only cards that can be played are action cards, but those cards may be used to do other things. For instance, the Militia action card is an attack card that does two things: Militia forces every other player to discard down to three cards, and it is +2 coins, giving you two virtual coins to spend this turn along with whatever is in your hand.
There's a rhythm to Dominion. Turns can be a bit slow while everyone is getting up to speed on the current set of ten kingdom cards or if they're first learning the rules. But then, watch out! Turns go very quickly, with little downtime. Even when it's not your turn, the actions of other plays may impact you.
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Usually there is one big decision to be made per game and then several seat-of-your-pants decisions. At game start, you'll likely make the big decision of a general card strategy for your hand, say, emphasizing Chapels and Gold cards, or Village/Laboratory. As the game progresses, each hand draw presents a set of smaller decisions of which cards to play and in what order.
Interaction varies. There are several attack cards, which provide player interaction. You can also choose a deck with no attack cards and have a game of "multiplayer solitaire," which isn't always a bad thing, either.
The victory card mechanic is useful in keeping anyone from getting too far ahead at any time. In the Dominion card game, victory cards may give points, but they do nothing while the game is still going other than clog your deck with useless cards — they can't be played.
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The Dominion card game has an awful lot going for it. It's quick to play, easy to learn and has nearly endless replayability options — 3,268,760, to be exact. Dominion works well with children as young as eight, in my experience, and both gamers and non-gamers alike seem to enjoy it. I highly recommend Dominion.