Grab ye land while you can!
Back in March I attended a small convention with my husband to promote the games that we publish. None of our demo games got off the ground that day, but as a result we were able to play our first game of the card game Dominion.
I had heard/read several positive things about this game before playing it, and I was extremely happy to give it a shot. After our first round, my husband and I both came away very excited. Several weeks later, we purchased the game from our local game store, and have had quite a few fun sessions since.
Before playing, we like to set the area up with some of our comforts. The most important thing to have is an episode of Coast to Coast AM streaming off the laptop. We like to listen to the older episodes with Art Bell. This adds a nice atmosphere to our evenings. We also like to gather some yummy snacks: hummus and warm pita bread, cookies, popcorn, anything that we can eat easily while we play (usually with soda or coffee to wash it down).
In the game, you play a noble that is trying to gain land rights after the death of a king. Throughout the game, you are constantly purchasing new land and assets (the cards) to build up your dominion (your deck). The winner is the person who has the most victory points at the end of the game. The turns in this game go extremely fast, especially with only two people. Once Clint and I got into the groove things started to really pick up. Because the basic game doesn’t involve much player interaction, it always interesting to see who is going to have the most victory points in the end. There are 3 basic forms of victory points (VP), estates (worth 1 VP), duchies (worth 3 VP), and provinces (worth 6 VP). Each VP card ranges in cost from 2 treasure to 8 treasure. Throughout the game, you are trying to get enough treasure in your hand that you can grab those precious VP cards.
The designer of the game did a great job of making sure the turn sequence was simple. The turn sequence is as simple as A,B,C,D. A is for Action. On each turn you get 1 Action. Depending on which card you play, you can end up with more. Ultimately the more Actions that you can get in a turn the better, because you might be able to get more money in your hand.
Money is important for the second phase of your turn. B is for Buy. Much like your Action phase, you get 1 Buy a turn, that is unless you have a card in your hand that gives you addition opportunities to buy. Buying is good! Buying allows you to purchase more action cards as well as VP. Even if you have additional buys, but you don’t have the funding to purchase anything, you can pick up a copper piece for FREE! More money in your deck means more chances to get those precious VP. There are several cards that allow you have extra Buys.
C is for clean up. During the Clean Up phase you are placing all of the cards that you used during your Action phase and Buy Phase and placing them into your discard pile. Finally D is for discard/draw. All of the cards that you have left in your hand are placed in your discard pile, and you draw 5 new cards from your deck. If you do not have 5 cards in your deck, you shuffle your discard pile
In the rules, there are suggestions of which cards to use, for which type of game you want to play. There is a basic set for those learning the game, there is a money rich set, which floods the field with money, and various others. You can also randomize the cards that you’re playing with. Doing this can cause some interesting combinations in play. Especially, when you get used to playing with a certain card, and then that card is no longer in the sequence. It forces you to rethink your strategy in the deck building process. Much of the game’s replay appeal comes from the desire to keep refining your strategy from game to game and building more and more efficient decks.
The awesome thing about this game is that it is intended to last about 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the number of players. Our games have typically lasted about 30 minutes, allowing us to play several games in an evening.
Ultimately, this game provides hours and hours of replay without causing much of an issue. If you do get bored with the basic set, you can purchase one of the expansion sets and add even more cards into the mix. The plus side of having the expansion is that it allows for 6-8 players instead of the 2-4 in the basic set. The basic set runs about $45, and it’s $45 well spent! We have a game we can both agree on, and we’ve enjoyed several relaxing evenings together.