What is Dominion?
Dominion is widely recognised as the granddaddy of deck building games.
It was first published (lack of research) number of years ago before games like DC Deck Building Game was a glint in their creators’ eyes. Although a quick peek over on Boardgamegeek tells me that there are plenty of arguments about what was the first deckbuilder, it’s safe to say that Dominion has been very influential.
The game sees players, as with any game like this, start with a pretty weak deck of cards available to them.
The game is then spent building up this deck with increasingly more powerful cards, as players battle to create the strongest kingdom.
I guess if there is one weakness that can be leveled at deck building games, it’s that by their very nature they are all similar to play. The themes may change (superheros, sci-fi etc) but the mechanics are the same – a weak hand is built up to become a strong one.
Players acquire new cards using a currency, and try to offload weak cards over the course of the game.
Dominion follows this exactly, but then it would. The differences arise in the theme, and in the sheer number of cards you get in the box (I think there are close to a quarter of a million cards, at the last count*).
Dominion is a medieval-themed game which sees players fighting to build a kingdom. Cards consist of money (copper, silver and gold), victory points and action cards.
The action cards are themed – Woodcutter, Market, Cellar, Moat, etcm with each having an effect on the game – allowing a player to draw another card, giving them a financial boost for the turn, or affecting opponents in some way.
The game finishes when a set number of action card decks have been used up. Players then count their victory points to see who is victorious.
The theme is fairly loose (aren’t they always – I’m looking at you DC Deck Building Game), but for me the strength lies in the replay-ability.
To begin a game of Dominion, there are certain cards which must be in play – a trash pile, the money, and victory points.
Ten sets of action cards are then chosen to form the basis of the game. These can be done at random, or simply by which decks the players like, or there are a few suggestions in the instruction manual.
As there are a quarter of a million cards in the box*, this means that there are plenty of combinations to choose from. No two games needs to be the same.
Players may wish to lean heavily on action cards decks which allow opponents to affect each other a little more, to create a more combative game, or to remove this element entirely, perhaps for younger players.
If players do get bored of the base set, there are loads of expansions available for the game too, giving it new life.
Does it work with two players?
Dominion is playable by 2-5 players and I think two or three players is probably the best range. I’ve not tried with five, but would expect it to become a little slow.
I recommend it for two players. It’s easy to set up, fairly quick to play and has plenty of depth and variety to it that will keep players coming back.
Check out the game’s official site, here.
*there aren’t really. But seriously, there are A LOT of cards.