I've now been playing Dominion for a little over 3 years and have 4 of the expansions and one promo card (and of course the core).
I still very much enjoy Dominion, but have found that it's not nearly as tight as I first felt it was.
The following review builds on my review of the core Dominion set, and assumes having read it, and/or familiarity with the core game.
|Case in point.|
As with most poor options in strategy games, these won't break the game. They're just dead weight that rarely get taken outside of the most niche builds, which require the stars aligning and people choosing to follow them.
Over-DeliverThere are quite a few cards that, in the wrong environment however, are poor for the game.
|Built as defensive, but much better|
for streamlining, and dirt-cheap.
You won't always have the options that allow you to do this, but it's a clear, strong strategy if you do. Getting a strong card early and streamlining your deck means that you can quickly go to playing said strong card far more often, and it becomes stronger the more often you're able to play it. Particularly with the ability to cycle cards, you can potentially build a deck so you're more likely than not to get a single card you want in your deck each turn. There's nothing wrong with this mechanic, but it is a preface for the next.
Some cards are over-powered, and the above already advantageous strategy makes them moreso. Occasionally they're over-powered in combos, or overpowered because they're undercosted so you can get them earlier than you should with a bit of luck, but mostly they're just cards that, by being bought at all, early in the game, break the game by virtue of being played frequently. They're just bad for the game environment.
The worst offenders are ones that allow you to clog your opponent's hand or deck. There are ways of blocking attacks or getting rid of chaff, but rarely efficiently, and all variants require a bit of luck in drawing the countering option at the right time. Furthermore, more often than not, you've got no answer to attacks since no defensive card is in the set. Attack cards outnumber defensive cards around 4:1, so chances are very high of drawing attack cards with no direct response, and many defensive cards don't outright stop the attack.
|Not the worst, but certainly frustrating.|
Not only are attack cards some of the most powerful, but they have an unfortunate side-effect of becoming more powerful, since they affect more players.
So, we've already begun to house-rule that any set of cards that includes 2+ attack cards needs at least one reaction (defensive) card. Unlike our previous house rules, which were about making the game more fun (the sort of house rule I believe in), this was about decreasing the potential for abuse and problems. We're getting to the point where we're talking about any set with any attack cards requiring a reaction card, even.
|Unhealthily tasty in fried rice. |
Annoying in email or games.
Stop doing that!
|Again, case in point.|
These all become exacerbated with various means of force multiplication for some simple but nasty combos.
But I don't want to.So, I've been criticizing, or just plain complaining, for a while now. But at the end of the day I still like Dominion, am still getting better at it, and still want more. Despite its shortcomings, it's stille easily in my top-10 list. Some details on expansions below. Each expansion focuses on a different theme.
IntrigueIntrigue introduces dual-type cards (victory & action cards, for instance), and expands the game to accommodate more than four players. (Both Intrigue and Dominion are effectively starter games, as each has a full set of core resources.)
|I really like these mechanics,|
and really dislike this illustration.
I originally really disliked the set, but as I've experienced it more, I've realized that they were trying a bunch of new things in reaction to the first set, and that the outliers were really heavily influencing the tone. This set heavily favors large action pools, which I'd really enjoy except for all of the unpleasant actions that it translates to. I think that, while the cards are more interesting than the core set, it really isn't a good starting place, because the cards can be very frustrating to relatively inexperienced players. However, you can get some pretty cool, streamlined decks from weird builds here.
|It kinda' makes you feel bad playing it,|
though not as bad as seeing it played on you.
My least favorite of the expansions. The Sabateur is one of the reasons why, but hardly the only one. I would mostly recommend this if you prefer a fight in your card games, rather than a "race"-style who can build the best combo deck that most of Dominion focuses on.
|A pretty typical Duration.|
This expansion introduces several variations on the concept of persistent effects. I think it changes the overall feel and pace of the game the least, with the biggest thing usually being you know your next turn can be stronger without spending actions. Because of this, it means that it's probably about the most middling of the expansions I've played. Nothing epic, nothing terrible. Basically a more nuanced version of the core set.
Nice, but hardly essential.
|One of my favorites. Also, that priest|
looks like some Lovecraftian baddie.
|Pretty representative, both in being a weird|
money card and having no upper limit.
Flawed, but still one I highly recommend.
|Reward for variety rather than quantity |
is a lot more nuanced and fun IMHO.
I and my group consider this the best of the expansions we've played: it's cheap, encourages variety, and works well with any other set. Definitely my recommended first buy after the core.