I can’t stop making people play Dominion. I bought it for my parents, and there’s a good chance that anyone who comes into my apartment will walk out of it knowing how to play. Like my very accommodating out-of-town friends I was recently hosting for a bachelorette party. In short, it’s my latest favorite table top game. My boyfriend and I promptly bought it after learning how to play it at the 2009 Gen Con last year, the biggest board game convention in North America.
Dominion is a card deck-building game. You start with ten cards and pad your deck with goodies throughout the game. The three general categories of cards are treasure cards, victory point cards, and action cards. There are a few other subcategories, but you get the idea. The objective is to be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. The catch is that you can only play with 5 random cards from your deck at any given time. So if you start buying up victory point cards at the beginning of the game, there’s a good chance your 5 cards will be filled with victory point cards you can’t do anything with.
Each game of Dominion can be drastically different depending on what set of 10 types of Kingdom cards you choose to play with. You can choose from 25 types if you have the base game, and more if you get expansion packs and promo decks. What I love about Dominion is the delicate balance of strategies. I find I have to adjust my playing style frequently based on what cards are available to buy and what other players are doing.
Another selling point is that it’s a relatively light game. A gamer’s game perhaps, but it’s easy to learn and pick up, and it plays through quickly. It’s made for two to four players, though I enjoy it most with four. I like the added challenge of trying to keep track of how many victory points three opponents have purchased. That’s just too easy with only one opponent.
There are two things about the game that I’m not so hot on. First, the logo art, especially on that turquoise color on the back of the cards. It’s just hard to read and ugly, especially compared to the beautiful art on the other side.
Second, there’s a lot of shuffling. I don’t mind so much, but it gets tiring, and the turns go so fast that often everyone is frantically shuffling their cards so they can get their next 5. Especially in the beginning when everyone’s decks are still skimpy. One way to get around this? Homemade chipsets. You still need to mix up the chips, but that’s done quickly with a grab bag.
Publisher: Several, but mine is from Rio Grande Games.
Number of players: It’s listed as 2-4. I’m curious if anyone’s tried it with 5, as I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible.
Playing time: About 30-40 minutes.