Thursday, January 6, 2011
Game Changers: Dominion
Incredible variety, intricate customization, and elegant simplicity. No game I've played before strikes this balance quite so well...
Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards: 7 copper and 3 points cards. Each turn you draw 5 cards, buy a card for yourself, and then add that card to your discard pile. When you run out of cards, you shuffle your own personal deck (now containing the cards you bought) and continue playing. Treasure cards help you buy stuff. Action cards do special effects. Points cards do nothing but clog up your deck...but they also win you the game at the end.
The Crazy Fun
Dominion has two base sets: Dominion and Intrigue. You can buy either one or both. Each comes with 25 different special cards in addition to stacks of basic points and money cards. Each special card comes with 10 copies. Each game you play, you choose 10 unique cards and set out a stack of 10 for each of these cards. Between the base sets and all the expansion there are over 100 unique cards and an incredible amount of unique set ups that are fun to play. Every game set up can be a little different.
The Amazing Elegance
Despite all its wondrous variety, Dominion stays simple. Draw 5 cards, play what you can, buy something you can afford. This recent Christmas, I taught family members (casual gamers) to play in a matter of minutes. They loved Dominion and had no trouble understanding how to play despite the available cards changing every single game.
The Real Game Changers
Each expansion to the game seems to magically give Dominion more variety without increasing it's complexity at all. No matter what the specific cards do, it's always draw 5, play cards, buy something. It's also the only board game I've played that's enjoyable as single player entertainment. As the owner of Dominion, I have spent hours glancing over the cards trying to determine interesting set ups to play. This is fun by itself, but then of course I get the reward of actually playing these set ups with friends later.
If you're going to buy Dominion, shell out the extra cash and get at least one expansion to go with it. When you get that expansion, get Seaside or Prosperity. The base game is fun for a bit, but these two expansions inject a healthy dose of flavor and fun.
Please leave a comment and let me know about games that have changed your perception on gaming. Also, get the skinny on a video game changer, Heavy Rain, with our friends at Growing Up Gamers