Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Game Review: Dominion

As part of my 'crap my husband bought a ton of games for Christmas!' series, we have to come to the game that most geeks I know are hooked on.  I'm late to the party, since I inherited my geekiness from my husband and it's still being cultured and crafted.
Box front (image from wikipedia)

The first time I watched Dominion being played, I wasn't in the best of moods. We had friends over, it was the holidays and instead of being full of cheer, I was full of anxiety. I didn't actually play those first two games, because I convinced myself that I would rather crochet than play with a group of people.  That was my mistake, and once I started playing I was hooked.   Dominion is a deck building game (the original game has 500 cards, you aren't using all of them at once!) where you buy cards that give you abilities to buy more money and cards and ultimately Victory Points.  At the end of the game, the person with the most Victory Points wins. It's a pretty easy concept....

Except it isn't. Why? Because the decks that you play off of and build and use change every game. At the beginning of the game, someone randomly picks 10 cards. Those ten cards denote the Action Cards that you will be playing with that game. Different Action Cards mean a completely different game each time. It's awesome but can also be incredibly annoying when you end up not getting any Action Cards that you wanted to play with.  These Actions Cards are the reason that this game lends itself so well to expansion packs. The expansion packs (which we don't own...yet) are ways to add more and different Action Cards into play, which changes the game even more.  You can always fudge the rules a little and play the Action Cards that you like the most, but that seems to me, to take away from a lot of the fun of it.

It is a game of strategy, as you are constantly choosing how you want to build your deck and budget your actions and money.  Different cards get you different ablilities, and sometimes the card you need never seems to show up in your hand. Okay, that actually happened to me when I bought a card, and instead of putting it on my discard pile, I accidentally just put it back on IT'S pile that was next to my discard pile. I couldn't figure out why I never got it in my hand.  I lost that very close game, and have since then been much more careful about the Action Card decks being far away from my discard pile!

I had only played with my husband until he introduced me to the online site. I'm not sure I would suggest it for people who haven't played before, since being able to hold the cards, and see how game play works in person makes it a heck of a lot easier to work with a mostly text based game.  There is an option to play with images, but the text based really is easier.

The benefit of the online game is how fast it goes, since you aren't shuffling your deck constantly, or having to set up and tear down the game.  The people that play online were really really nice and incredibly helpful. No one got annoyed that I would play slowly as I attempted to read all of the cards.  I wised up after the first game, where I lost horribly, and switched to using the 'base' deck that has almost exclusively cards that I'd played with before.  The first woman that I played with said that she had gotten so good, by playing online, that her husband now refused to play the game in person with her. Consider this your warning!

Awesome bits about Dominion:

  • Global Domination!
  • Quick and easy to learn but
  • Always changing and presenting new challenges
  • Lends to expansion packs, and team play
  • An entire game, including setting up and tearing down, doesn't take more than an hour
  • Game is affordable considering it will last a long time. It's cheaper than a video game!k
  • I'm pretty sure my husband loves me a little more each time I want to play
Annoying bits about Dominion:
  • OMG there are so so so many cards. It takes awhile to set up and then you have to sort all of the cards out again to put them away.  I could see this set up being too timely for impatient people
  • Did I mention that this game has 500 cards?
  • Sleep deprivation from staying up all night
  • Your friends may make fun of your new addiction
  • My husband revels in turning me into a geek
  • I'm a little worried about getting spanked any time I try to play with people who are more experienced than me. I might remedy this by playing online more, but I don't want to ruin the dynamic that my husband and I have going. 
Expansion packs

There are a TON of them (8 on the wiki page) so I'll list some from the Amazon site.  Order away! 

Hopefully all those links should work and show you each of the different expansion packs. Check them out, especially if you're already a base pack expert.  If I completely bungled a brief explanation of the gameplay, maybe this wikipedia article will help. Actually, just come over to my place and we can just teach you! I'm always looking for more people to play with, and my husband is always looking for an excuse to put off doing work, and playing games instead.  

Next in our series: I think it's time to explore that hilarity that is Munchkin.  


  1. OMG there's a way to play it online?!? This could be bad. This could be very bad.
    Oooh, you can set up a private room to play with friends...that means you and I could play long distance!
    Whole worlds have opened up now!

  2. Emily--yeah...My husband keeps trying to get me to waste away the day playing it. I'm a little scared to because I KNOW I'll get instantly HOOKED. Actually...now I want to play again.


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