Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Gregg Miller
Booster Draft In A Box!
Gregg Explains: Dominion
Dominion was a real treat once I got the groove of things, and I think anyone who loves Collectible/Tradable Card Games for their deck building aspects can really get into this interesting take on a game mechanic.
We played a quick game between Matt “The Favorite”, Dave “You’re On Maps”, Stacey “Why’s Your Face”, and me “The Explainer”. Matt and Dave had played this before, while Stacey and I were learning Dominion’s rules. After a few rounds, I was starting to pick up some of the more interesting synergies, and I was learning that I’d be hard pressed to call any one card useless. It’s all about what you draw, and how you bring your deck together.
I’ve heard from others, both during the game and after telling people I tried it, that Dominion is kind of like playing “multi-player solitaire”. In a way, that is very true, but I would probably say this game is more like a complicated booster draft game, without actually playing the deck you build after the draft section of the tournament.
The point of the game is to have a deck that has the most victory points in it when the end condition triggers. The game ends when a certain number of card stacks are depleted, or when all the victory point card stacks are depleted. Each turn flows with you taking a single action, putting in any money cards you’ve got in play, then making a purchase. Once you’re done, you discard any remaining cards, re-draw up to your hand size of five, and play continues.
Actions vary from the ability to upgrade something in your deck or hand for something different or better, to just taking an action that hinders everyone else. Depending on things you’ve bought in previous turns, you can end up with interesting synergies that allow you to draw through your entire deck, and swap out cards that are not advantageous at the moment, for something better.
Money and resource cards come in usually two ways. It’s either a face-value card like a Copper or Silver that is worth resources, or other Action cards you played will generate money into your pool for the buy phase. Any money you have left over at the end of the turn is gone, so it’s pretty much use it or lose it. Usually you get to buy one card to add to your deck. However, there are actions that can give you additional purchases, making either many tiny purchases, or bulk massive acquisitions.
Now, how this seems to be more of a complicated booster draft game, is that all possible cards you can have in your deck are presented to everyone in the middle of the play area. So, everyone knows how many of each card is left, who’s buying what. It turns into a game of trying to second-guess what your opponents are going to do to pull ahead. One strategy is to take all the cards the upgrade lesser cards into better things, effectively keeping a lean, but more efficient deck that cycles quickly, and powerfully. Another strategy is loading up on the Attack card actions that more directly interact with the hands and resources of your opponents. Then there’s the question of actually buying the last card in its stack, thus bringing the game ever closer to being finished.
I played only a basic game, but afterwards, I browsed through the rest of the unused cards that were kept in the box. Dominion is incredibly deep, especially when you start considering the possible strategies you want to use, and how to counter what everyone else may try to do. Further expansions give even more breadth and depth to the game and greatly enhance the experience.