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August 14, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

"You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion!" Dominion is an award winning game that combines the staples of Eurogaming with the addictive nature of collectable card games.

The game puts you in the position of a young lord, who is dedicated to growing his kingdom by making clever strategic desicions. With 6 expansions in addition to the base set of cards, a seventh, which breaks many rules of the game that fans had thought unbreakable, is set to be released at GenCon 2012 in just a few days. Now might be the best time to get in to widely loved game with nearly endless permutations of basic rules and strategy...

The rules (.pdf warning) are fairly straightforward: your kingdom is represented by your deck of cards. This deck starts out relatively weak, and grows in power as you purchase cards for it each turn. Cards come in a few basic varieties. Victory Cards are how you win the game, with their tally representing your score at the end of a game, however they are otherwise dead weight in your hand. Treasure cards give you the funds to purchase other cards. Actions are cards that do something apart from giving points or providing money - often allowing you to draw extra cards, or perhaps attacking an opponent by forcing them to discard cards in their hand, or forcing them to pick up curse cards, which are also dead weight, but have the added penalty of subtracting victory points at the end of a game.

Each turn starts with a player drawing a hand of five cards from their deck. There are then three phases that they go through on each turn. They may start by playing any actions in their hand, they may then play any treasure in their deck to buy a single card from the board of cards available, they then discard any cards remaining in their hand or that they have played this turn and draw a new five card hand from their deck. If the player's deck is depleted, then they reshuffle their discard pile to become their new deck. Play continues until any three piles of cards are depleted, or the most valuable victory cards (called Provinces) are depleted. Players then count up their total victory points, and the player with the greatest total is the winner.

If that has you scratching your head, then there are video tutorials online.

What may seem like a simple game at first becomes more complicated as each board of cards is drawn randomly from the total number of cards available in a player's set, leading to a nearly endless number of games that can take place. Each expansion to the base game is themed differently...
  • The Base Game. Card List.
  • Intrigue, where cards focus on offering players multiple choices, and introducing more complicated victory cards that also have other effects. Card List.
  • Seaside, where cards have effects that persist to the player's next turn. Card List.
  • Alchemy, which introduces a new type of resource called the potion, and which focuses on action cards. Card List.
  • Prosperity, which introduces more expensive treasures and more valuable victory cards, and focuses on generating lots and lots of money. Card List.
  • Cornucopia, which tries to introduce more variety in to player decks. Card List.
  • Hinterlands, which focuses on cards that give effects when gained. Card List.
The upcoming expansion, Dark Ages, focuses on the creative destruction of cards in your deck. Previews have been released over the past week or so and are available at: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.

Although Rio Grande has tolerated unliscensed online versions of the game in the past, the unliscensed iPad app has recently been pulled (with an official one due out this week). The free, unofficial online home of dominion, Isotropic will be sticking around for at least a few more days, with an official version eventually launching at GoKo. This game will be free to play for the base game, with a (yet unknown) price being assigned to subsequent expansions.

If you want to brush up on your game, it may be worth heading over to Dominion Strategy, which has a dedicated community of theorists. Articles examine, the complexity found in even the beginner's board, best card lists, and the economics of various strategies. Dominion Deck will allow you to browse cards at your leisure, and put together hypothetical games from all currently released cards.

Various members of the community also have Dominion-type-stuff online, like videos of online games, a beginner's guide to strategy, and a glossary of common terms.

And if you're fuming after your opponent King's Courts a Witch, then there are always Dominion Comix to help you relax.
posted by codacorolla (153 comments total) 97 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rio Grande makes some excellent games. Haven't played this one, but it looks great.
posted by resurrexit at 8:56 AM on August 14, 2012


We have a weekly Dominion lunch-game at work. It's a lot of fun, but can be a little exhausting.

Also, tl;dr: it's basically like Settlers of Catan on PCP, crack, and four different kinds of steroids.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:56 AM on August 14, 2012


I have played Dominion, and it was a lot of fun! There were enough of us there that we formed two tables, playing separate games at the same time.

The other table had serious strategy going on.

My table, two of us were just stockpiling Harem cards because it made us giggle. (Served as a winning strategy on occasion, too.)
posted by rewil at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2012


I'm always on the lookout for new board games, particularly of the eurogame variety, so thanks for this. I have a feeling that this may become a new gaming obsession for me, and I've barely even begun to look at all of the thinks you've provided.
posted by asnider at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2012


This is a very solid article, though the end is sloppy. "King's Courts a Witch," indeed! When every child knows that the ideal lock is 2 King's Courts, 2 Schemes, and a Pirate Ship. Then you just King's Court the King's Court, use the multiplicative effects on the Schemes to draw 6 cards (and also put the "lock" hand back on top of your deck so that you get exactly the same cards next turn) and use the Pirate Ship three times to trash your opponents deck.

(P.S. If anyone wants to challenge me to dominion online, I'm on there relatively frequently and itching from game withdrawal.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:59 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dominion contains none of the "addictive nature of collectable card games", other than having now quite a few expansion card sets. What it does combine is the deck-building aspect of CCGs, though in Dominion's case it happens during the game instead of before the game. It has also spawned an industry of Dominion-clone games, which add more theme and/or story and/or mechanics to the deckbuilding.
posted by Windopaene at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


resurrexit: Rio Grande makes some excellent games.

You may have already meant this, but to make it non-ambiguous: Rio Grande publishes some great games. They are nearly always designed by independent designers. Dominion was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino.

Incidentally, Board Game Geek is your one-stop database and community site for all things tabletop gaming.
posted by gilrain at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dominion is a pretty great game and this is a pretty great post about it.
posted by Perplexity at 9:02 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dominion definitely has some interesting mechanics. I tried it once, though, and the play was pretty dry. I felt like there wasn't enough interaction between players; in our particular game, it was more like competitive solitaire. Still, I hold out hope that it can get more interesting.
posted by Edgewise at 9:03 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a bunch of Euros that are on the threshold of Catan-style mainstreaming. Carcassone is already there, I think, and Dominion's close. The one I suspect could be the next mainstream-big game is 7 Wonders, which is fast to play, easy to pick up, and just relentlessly addictive.

(Interested in finding new eurogames? Boardgamegeek is absolutely the place to go.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2012


Dominion contains none of the "addictive nature of collectable card games"

Exactly. It does however contain the PITA factor of organizing and cleaning up a game that is 100% card based and moderately complex. The fun factor is worth it but man you end up sorting everything in between games.

Oh and fuck the Gardens card, I call BS.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I played Dominion once, and got trounced by BlueJae's six year old. My only consolation is that all the other adults playing got trounced as well. I enjoyed the game a lot, but I got way into the fiction of building a kingdom, without thinking enough of what the cards actually did in order to win effectively, a mistake the aforementioned six year old didn't make.

So damn you for making me want to play again so badly. Maybe this time I'll play my two year old, and fare slightly better.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, tl;dr: it's basically like Settlers of Catan on PCP, crack, and four different kinds of steroids.

It really isn't anything like Settlers. It's a deck building game, unlike Settlers, and there's no board. In the base game there are no ways to directly harm an opponent (unlike the robber in Settlers). There's no trading cards between players. In the base game there's only one kind of "thing that gives you points to win" (i.e. land cards as opposed to Settlers, which counts various things towards victory, such as longest road).

So pretty much nothing like Settlers except that the winner is determined by a point score (as opposed to, say, elimination of the other players).
posted by jedicus at 9:05 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, jedicus, in my mind Settlers and Dominion shared enough similarity to make the comparison. Thank you for correcting me on the details.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:08 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dominion is one of those games that I enjoy, and yet I'm terrible at it. I don't think I've ever won a game. Strategies like this are just not in my nature.

It's also one of those games that we have to heavily house-rule to prevent people from getting so mad that they tip the table. When we randomly draw our deck, we are often tossing out cards that lead to endless 'chaining' (cards that give both more cards and more actions - there's nothing worse than a player who shuffles their deck twice in one turn to produce 5 gold) and we often require that if we randomly draw certain attack cards, we also have to have one of the blue cards which can block or mitigate attacks.

I felt like there wasn't enough interaction between players; in our particular game, it was more like competitive solitaire.

The expansions add a lot of attack cards that can create nice interaction.
posted by muddgirl at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the base game there are no ways to directly harm an opponent

Nitpick (and maybe I'm missing something in your comparison): But my base game has a Witch and Militia card, both of which are 'aggressive' to opponents. Isn't there a Thief card as well?
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:10 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This game is AMAZING. My boyfriend and I have probably spent hundreds of hours playing this over the last few years. No two games are alike (thanks to the multitude of card combinations), and the expansions are well-thought out. One small card switch - perhaps taking out the Witch and putting in the Garden card - can completely change the game and force everyone to rethink their strategy. It's great.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:11 AM on August 14, 2012


There's a bunch of Euros that are on the threshold of Catan-style mainstreaming. Carcassone is already there, I think, and Dominion's close. The one I suspect could be the next mainstream-big game is 7 Wonders, which is fast to play, easy to pick up, and just relentlessly addictive.

Carcassonne was there a long time ago, somewhere between the 13th and 52nd expansion/variation. (I still love it, though nobody seems to play my preferred variant, Hunters and Gatherers.)

Ticket to Ride is probably my preferred "get somebody into Eurogames" gateway drug right now. But maybe I just like trains.

I wish I could find a more "hardcore" gaming group around here. I haven't been to play stuff like Puerto Rico or Power Grid or Tigris & Euphrates in ages. My friends just want to play Settlers or Bohnanza over and over.
posted by kmz at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2012


I'm pretty bored with Settlers. You haven't lived until you've conquered Tigris and Euphrates or Ra, which are both pretty interesting longform strategy games. Puerto Rico also has a place in my heart, if only because I won handily on a corn monoculture strategy that was intended to be a joke.

Whoever said something about competitive solitaire is close to right, you can play in a way where you interact with no-one -- but it's not nearly as bad as Pandemic, wherein you can find yourself merely being someone's cardholder.
posted by sibboleth at 9:15 AM on August 14, 2012


For those who want a game similar -- at least in as much as they are both non-collectible card, but deep, games -- may I humbly point you toward Race for the Galaxy? It is simply wonderful.

And for those who are still a bit confused and find themselves thinking of Magic: The Gathering, riddle me this: what if you could play games as deep and satisfying as Magic, but without the need to continuously collect, buy new cards, and keep up with the metagame? Yep, that's what we're talking about. You buy the game, you own the game. There are sometimes expansions, if the base game gets stale (this will take hundreds of plays, at least).
posted by gilrain at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2012


Dominion is a decent game, but comparing it to a CCG is just wrong because all the deckbuilding happens in-game rather than before it. Dominion's core mechanic, when you get down to cases, is that it is a competitive puzzle-solving game, and the puzzle is always "given this set of resources - e.g. the randomly selected ten action/point cards - how do I most efficiently get the most points?"

Given that this is the game - rather than the endless chains that people love to play but often don't do enough to help you out - the game can be counterintuitive. New players often fail to understand the need to winnow your deck as you go (if you can) or the need to buy more expensive/powerful money to make your economic engine more efficient.

If all of this sounds dry - well, that's the downside of Dominion. It's not as bad as Agricola is (Agricola sucks so much) because at least the variety it presents is genuine. But after a lot of plays it has a sameyness to the gameplay, and the expansions have not quite fixed that issue.
posted by mightygodking at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also anyone tried Race for the Galaxy yet?
posted by sibboleth at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2012


I made a FPP to the unlicensed free iOS version some months back, with explication of rules, but it got pulled. I hope some people managed to grab it before it was pulled because it's really a nice rendition of the game, I've had a lot of fun with it, and it's greatly helped my strategy.
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2012


David Sirlin (a fighting game designer) built a board game quite similar to Dominion called Puzzle Strike, which is meant to simulate Puzzle Fighter, just as his game Yomi is meant to simulate a traditional fighting game.

Not only does it have the deck-building aspect, but it also is asymmetric (all the characters have different abilities) with a neat gem-building/destroying/attacking mechanic that will be familiar to Puzzle Fighter players. The asymmetry really makes it much better for me than Dominion.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2012


I like Dominion, but I enjoyed it more before everyone I knew had played a hojillion games, because like muddgirl above, the strategies are not in my nature - I like to have fun and have different cards and pootle along building up my deck, and then I end up getting trounced by someone who has streamlined their deck so they can draw the whole thing every turn and chain ninety-seven action cards, and then I get bored. I think I like Seaside and Prosperity best of the expansions, and Dark Ages looks batshit enough that it might be fun.

7 Wonders is pretty ace, it's nice to have a game of medium complexity which scales nicely to seven players without every round taking an age, and the expansion lets you try some high-risk, high-payoff strategies if you can get them to work out. I like that I've seen victories from players trying almost every strategy.

I think this sums up my thoughts on Carcasonne - just say no. Unless it's the catapult expansion, which is so insane it's worth playing once.
posted by penguinliz at 9:19 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also anyone tried Race for the Galaxy yet?

Race is a fun game but excels as a draft game, where you take the entire deck of cards and draft it in hands so everybody gets their own, sorta-optimized deck to play from.
posted by mightygodking at 9:19 AM on August 14, 2012


mightygodking: Agricola sucks so much

Mods, kindly escort this person out of the thread. They are confused.

No, but seriously, Agricola is great. A little overhyped for a few years, there? Yep. It's a wonderful game, though. And it's complexity is greatly exaggerated. I introduced my parents to eurogames using it, and although that first game took about three hours, they loved it and nag me to play, now. It's just not as hard to grasp as people think.
posted by gilrain at 9:20 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have Race for the Galaxy, sibboleth. It's basically Puerto Rico in card game form, as in, it was actually designed to be that until Seyfarth made his own Puerto Rico card game, San Juan. In fact, it's very similar to San Juan, but with more options (which is good, San Juan is kind of simplistic in my opinion). But this makes RftG a bit difficult to pick up for new players, and truthfully I haven't found a good way to teach it yet.

mightygodking: It's not as bad as Agricola is (Agricola sucks so much)

IT DOES NOT.
posted by JHarris at 9:21 AM on August 14, 2012


I might also mention that David Sirlin wrote Playing to Win, which should be required reading for everyone who plays games against other real live humans. He is neat.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2012


No, but seriously, Agricola is great. A little overhyped for a few years, there? Yep. It's a wonderful game, though. And it's complexity is greatly exaggerated.

Oh, I don't think Agricola is shitty because it's complex. I think it's shitty because it is wildly non-interactive beyond a slight bit of worker placement, because the way the scoring system is set up means that everybody is always trying to do the same thing every game, because the job cards promise variability but don't really deliver, and because it is a game about fucking farming.
posted by mightygodking at 9:23 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll be playing the heck out of Dominion at GenCon in a couple of days. I got my own copty there a couple of years ago.

It's a lot of fun. When I brought it home to my family, my (then) nine-year-old just role played with her cards. "I visit the Village, and we have a Festival, and then I go see the Woodcutter, and then I get some gold."
posted by Gelatin at 9:24 AM on August 14, 2012


Ticket to Ride is probably my preferred "get somebody into Eurogames" gateway drug right now. But maybe I just like trains.

We own this but have never been able to play it--just as we get it set up and ready to go, one of the kids wakes up and is like OOOOHHH DELICIOUS TRAINS AND CARDS AND AND

Speaking of which, what's the set-up time like on Dominion? That's something that needs to be factored into playing time, like how recipes do it: (1) prep time and (2) cooking time. Don't just say 30 minutes, tell me what's in that 30 minutes or what's antecedent to it.
posted by resurrexit at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this sums up my thoughts on Carcasonne - just say no.

Carcasonne is a great game for 4 drunk adults who don't play with Fields and just want to make a pretty city. But I do agree that Survive! is probably a much much better introductory 'Euro game'.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2012


Speaking of which, what's the set-up time like on Dominion?

Reasonably quick - you just take the stacks of cards out of the box and set them up. The teardown time, on the other hand, can be a bit long if you aren't good at breaking down your final decks back into their constituent piles.
posted by mightygodking at 9:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bought this game two years ago and still haven't taken the time to learn it. I think it's time.

I've also noticed on the shelves of my comic book shop that there appears to be a sudden proliferation of these type of "like a CCG but everything you need is in the box" games. That seems like a good trend to me (but not my wallet).
posted by jbickers at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2012


I like that this thread is sort've shifting towards a discussion of how to play games like these, and how to get new people on board. Whenever we try to add new people to the gaming group I'm always torn between giving them rudimentary strategy lessons (which I worry they may lean heavily on) and letting them flail around (with the risk that they will not enjoy the game).

Dominion set up is take your master deck, randomly select the 10 cards you'll be able to buy, split up the money and estates into decks, and go.
posted by sibboleth at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2012


Dominion is indeed a great time. Part of its appeal is how it more or less demands that you create your own house rules after a few plays---one group's game can be wildly different from another based on what cards you include.

For those interested in other Eurogames: Carcassone is great, but the iPad version is, IMHO, a little better than the board game version because it can expand in any direction. Ticket to Ride is accessible and addictive. Lost Cities is a brilliant little 2-player experience. Settlers of Catan is good fun with the right group. Puerto Rico is the biggest, most complex, and longest to play, but super rewarding for its lack of luck.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:30 AM on August 14, 2012


I love Dominion, but the card set-up/tear-down is tedious. We will play the hell out of an iPad version.

Ascension, already available for iOS, is similar in many ways and also very good.
posted by nev at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dominion is a fun game, but its is very mechanistic. I'm pretty sure a good enough mathmatician could model the absolutely optimum strategy for any given set of cards with enough effort. It might be quite the model, but I'm sure it could be done. The only randomness comes from your shuffling, so it's possible to, if you get a good feel for the game, destroy nearly every time you play if your opponents don't have as good a feel for it. Great for people who like their boardgames board/card games competative, less great for people who who are more wanting a fun time with friends. YMMV.
posted by Caduceus at 9:33 AM on August 14, 2012


It's weird about Carcasonne, it's a nice game, it's popular, but it's very difficult to make myself want to play it. Because there's so much you can do to really screw over opponents, against really sharp players you have to be careful because a single tile placement can make it entirely impossible to reclaim one of your meeple. You can shut someone the hell down that way, but it feels mean to do it.

I think that people who don't like Agricola haven't had it taught to them right. I always open up my teaching of the game in this order:

1. I explain the object of the game, which is to build up your farm through 14 rounds in a number of categories. You're better off to spread your efforts over many categories than one; players who diversify do better than players who stick with only sheep, or grain. At the end of the game, every empty space of your farmyard is a point off your score. there are three things you can do with those spaces: build rooms, build pastures/stables, and plow fields. That tells them the goal of the game and gives them something to aim for.

2. Then I explain about food and harvests which is essential to the game. If you don't have the food you need at harvest you have to take a begging card for EACH food you're short, which is -3 points, a deadly penalty in Agricola. Do everything in your power to prevent that from happening! That allows them to keep their head above water during the game, and leads to the next point.

3. If you expand your house, you can gain more family members, and get extra turns in during the game. You also get 3 points for each family member. It's one of the best things you can do. But it also means you take on greater food liability. This is the central tension of the game: you want more family members to take more actions, but you must use some of those actions to ensure that you get more food.

From there I get to "building" spaces that collect resources through the game, Major Improvements (hopefully I'm teaching the Family game, it's hard to teach the full game on the first try), Starting Player, crops and animals. That's most of the basics.

I explain extra things during the first game as they come up, and I'm sure to remind the player that it's very hard to do well in a game on your first play, and don't worry if you've forgotten about some of the things I've said, as the purpose isn't to teach you EVERYTHING about the game beforehand but to give them a "scaffold," (Scott Nicholson's term) on which to hang the knowledge they acquire through doing and observing in their first play.

Even with all this, it's hard to really make good use of your farmland in your first game. I will offer advice to the player on his turn if he wants it, as in: "Since it's your first game, could I offer some advice?" That tends to help them out a lot, I find.
posted by JHarris at 9:37 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Been meaning to play Dominion for a while, now. Thanks for the post and goad.

Just introduced my family to Catan. Bwahahahaha!
posted by doctornemo at 9:37 AM on August 14, 2012


I love Dominion, but the card set-up/tear-down is tedious.

Agreed. Dominion games on the table generally take us about 30-40 minutes. Games on the Isotropic site, 5~10 minutes. When the computer is doing all the housekeeping for you, it goes really fast. I only hope the official site is as good.

Sometimes it's not about the win, it's about really messing with your friends' strategies. There is nothing sweeter than using Possession to waste their perfect hand. Bonus if you can do it to buy a Province for yourself.
posted by xedrik at 9:38 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fair warning for anyone who wants to get into this: Mensans fucking love this game. I have never been to a games night or game-friendly gathering that didn't have at least two tables of this going on for hours.

So, take from that what ye will.

(Also, I second the recommendation of Ascension.)
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM on August 14, 2012


Heh. Dominion came up *so much* during a recent dice/boardgame session that it was a lock for the next time we play, whenever that is.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:39 AM on August 14, 2012


Dominion is a fun game, but its is very mechanistic. I'm pretty sure a good enough mathmatician could model the absolutely optimum strategy for any given set of cards with enough effort.

Given the sheer number of possible card combinations (especially when you start introducing all the expansions), I imagine that it'd be pretty hard to come up with an "absolutely optimum" strategy for every combination. But really, when you're sitting down to play games, if you invite 3 casual players and one person who tries to figure out mathematically-optimum strategies, that's going to be a problem for almost any game.
posted by Katrel at 9:42 AM on August 14, 2012


I enjoyed Dominion, but the people I would play with play it a lot more (lunch at work), so I am so far behind it's no fun playing it. Also, I am sick of games with a set turn order.

Tigris & Euphrates is awesome. But I rarely have the brains to actually play it.
posted by jeather at 9:43 AM on August 14, 2012


mightygodking, be my best friend as I fucking HATE Agricola. (Shepherd: "But it's a game about whatever-century farming!" Me: "PRECISELY.")

We play Dominion so much in our household--we have all the expansions--that we easily find it's a gateway game drug for people who aren't inclined. Then those people get the expansions and introduce more people. I think that's great as I often rarely have the patience Shepherd does for explaining games to people.

Also, he's helping out with the beta testing for the official app. The AI has soundly kicked his ass because the app uses nearly all of the expansions for games.
posted by Kitteh at 9:43 AM on August 14, 2012


Ascension, already available for iOS, is similar in many ways and also very good.

Ascension is... problematic. I like it on iOS, where it takes five minutes to play a game, because five minutes is about as much thought as a game of Ascension is generally worth. But tabletop, its problems rapidly become apparent.

For people who don't know the game: Ascension is a deckbuilder like Dominion, where there are basically two currencies rather than one: money, which you use to buy heroes (additional cards in your deck with special powers, which are worth some victory points as well) and "swords" which you use to kill monsters (which get you a lot of victory points). Rather than having a set number of piles of randomly selected cards, instead there is one big deck of cards which has both heroes and monsters in it, and there is a tableau of six cards at any given time that you can buy and/or fight.

The problems are:

1.) The random delivery of resources (cards) means that players can be rewarded unrelated to their skill at the game, since I can buy a card and then, when I have no money left, reveal a totally awesome card that you then snag. (This is particularly concerning given the presence in the game of the Mechana artifacts, which are cards that don't do too much - other than be the most efficient way to buy VPs straight-up.)

2.) Problem #1 means that players are actually disincentivized to buy awesome cards, which is exactly contrary to what the game is supposed to do.

3.) The dual-currency system can make the game frustrating because if you've bought a lot of cards that make money, and a lot of monsters show up and clog the tableau of what you can buy/fight, you are effectively just sitting there for turns doing nothing.
posted by mightygodking at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thirding Ascension, which has a great iOS port as well. It's like Dominion except with a constantly changing selection of buy cards.

Also, if you dig the deck builders, but are burned out on Dominion, Nightfall (battling vampires and werewolves!) and Eminent Domain (take over the galaxy in faux 4x style) are both really great.

And, slightly off topic, if you're looking for lighter fare for newer players lately Mrs. eyeballkid and I have been playing King of Tokyo (battling b-movie monsters!) and Divinare (battling psychics!).
posted by eyeballkid at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


In case anyone else is wondering (like I was) what a eurogame is, wikipedia has a nice concise definition.
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2012


Nitpick (and maybe I'm missing something in your comparison): But my base game has a Witch and Militia card, both of which are 'aggressive' to opponents.

That's a fair point. We never play with those, so I forgot about them. Anyway, the fundamental distinction is that Dominion is a deck building game and Settlers has a card trading mechanic and a board.
posted by jedicus at 9:47 AM on August 14, 2012


Part of its appeal is how it more or less demands that you create your own house rules after a few plays

I am not familiar with this aspect of Dominion. Explain?

The setup time

I think it's shitty because it is wildly non-interactive beyond a slight bit of worker placement, because the way the scoring system is set up means that everybody is always trying to do the same thing every game, because the job cards promise variability but don't really deliver, and because it is a game about fucking farming.

Yes, it's a game about fucking farming. Have a little empathy. There are all kinds of games that seek to model all kinds of experiences. Truthfully, I've gotten SICK TO DEATH of games where you pretend to be "planeswalkers," or demigods, or wizards, lately, they are too removed from reality to really understand them. I love games about farming. At the very least you can pretend to be something that actually existed, or existed, rather than some bullshit fantasy man.

And the fact that everyone is trying to do the same things in Agricola is the game's greatest strength, because there's a lot of things that help you in an indirect way if you show a bit of ingenuity. It gives weight to the fight for starting player, and it also forces you to apply some strategy to your choices, and to observe what the other players are doing and try to do something else. To read what resources will be in great demand and which ones will just pile up turn after turn, and use that to your advantage.

Wood hard to get (this happens frequently)? Go for clay and build a cooking improvement early, then snatch up animals and cook 'em right of the space. If a LOT of clay builds up them renovate and build your house out of that. Even if all the good spaces get taken you can usually find something real and positive to do, like plow a field, take a grain or get a couple Reed maybe. (Reed is a resource I find many players overlook their first games.) It's ALL important eventually, and it doesn't really matter if you get it on turn one or turn four so long as you GET IT, so get whatever it is you know you'll need when you can, and when you really must get a certain thing soon, take Starting Player to be sure you get it.
posted by JHarris at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's weird about Carcasonne, it's a nice game, it's popular, but it's very difficult to make myself want to play it. Because there's so much you can do to really screw over opponents, against really sharp players you have to be careful because a single tile placement can make it entirely impossible to reclaim one of your meeple. You can shut someone the hell down that way, but it feels mean to do it.

Bah. My wife and I ratfuck each other all the time when we play. The moderating factor on that is that it's hard to make a move that both screws your opponent and scores the most points possible (or sets up future points) with a given tile placement at the same time. So, there is some defense to be played in the game, but if you concentrate only on that you're not really going to do so well, and more so as the number of players increases and you have fewer turns to waste.
posted by LionIndex at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not mentioned (or I missed it):

I am not a mathematician, but given that there are 25 possible Kingdom cards in the base set, from which you choose 10 for each game, there are 3.3 million possible different games just from the base set. I think.

(Though not all of them would be fun or significantly different from each other: I once wondered what it would be like to play a game with all the most expensive cards using the expansions; very boring for a while, I expect)
posted by brentajones at 9:54 AM on August 14, 2012


Also, if you read the definition of eurogame that zarq linked to, you'll see that mightygodking's complaints about Agricola are pretty much textbook complaints about eurogames as defined. It's like complaining about Blackjack because it relies on luck and appears to have no theme.
posted by gilrain at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a note, the demonstration picture on the wikipedia page for Dominion was taken at a metafilter meetup and includes ignignokt, grobstein, Bizarro, my boyfriend and my hands.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:59 AM on August 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


For a game to play with people I think Dominion has too much luck and is too simple for my tastes. It is too easy to get about as good as you are going to get and it seems like a good player will lose to a pretty good player a lot of the time based on luck. The decisions that you make aren't terribly interesting and are very similar to one another. It has a bad housekeeping to strategy ratio. Electronically I think it is much better. The house keeping is non existent and because of how simple it is creating decent AI opponents isn't too hard. In this form it provides a good way to kill five to ten minutes.
posted by I Foody at 10:04 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


you'll see that mightygodking's complaints about Agricola are pretty much textbook complaints about eurogames as defined

Look, I own and enjoy plenty of eurogames. I don't really care that Agricola is about farming - its theme is just the shit icing on the manure cake. My problem with Agricola is that it is basically non-interactive and generally non-variable.

Agricola's main method of interacting with other players is a light smattering of worker-placement (e.g. each player places their worker in a centrally available grid to get a bonus, which other players cannot then select). Now, worker-placement can be a brutally interactive and wildly strategic game mechanic. Caylus, for example (which is the euroiest euro you'll ever euro) is entirely about worker placement and I love Caylus to death despite it having about 1/10th as much theme as Agricola does, because when you play Caylus every worker you place is both advancing your own strategy and denying other people their own. But Agricola is mostly about managing your own board/farm away from the other players. Watching people play Agricola is an exercise in watching four people each staring down at their own board in silence, because the entire game is multiplayer solitaire.

As for variability, JHarris argues that the fact that everybody needs to do the same thing gives the game heft. I disagree; I find it does exactly the opposite, because everybody eventually does the same thing anyway, just on different turns. The job cards provide the illusion of variety without providing the substance - there is far more variability in Power Grid, for example, where people's starting cities and moves will dictate a different game and different strategies every time (and that is before you get into the expansion maps!).

I understand people like Agricola, and I understand that it provides a comprehensive introduction to advanced gaming. Well and good. But there are so many other games that do so much of what it does so much better and more elegantly (and which are hardly less teachable than Agricola is) that I don't see the argument for it.
posted by mightygodking at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I understand the wild popularity of Dominion unless it's all those CCG people who loved everything about the game style except that first 'C' (except I'd count myself among them, and Dominion doesn't make it into my top 10 GBGs).

Seems to me to be a (as someone else said) mechanistic exercise of figuring out the best card combos (sometimes with game-breaking possibilities), mixed with poker-style contingency planning. It's fine. The theme seems like barest window dressing to me so all that's left is the math.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:12 AM on August 14, 2012


(Shepherd: "But it's a game about whatever-century farming!" Me: "PRECISELY.")

I really must emphasize: if you let the theme turn you off of a game before you even play it, you are depriving yourself of some of the best games out there. If you let yourself unwind enough to simply be a 14th century farmer instead of Dark Sephiroth Elminster Raistlin the Almighty sometimes, you might find that being a farmer is actually a lot more interesting. This is one of my favorite things about eurogames, in fact.

For a game to play with people I think Dominion has too much luck and is too simple for my tastes. It is too easy to get about as good as you are going to get and it seems like a good player will lose to a pretty good player a lot of the time based on luck.

I thought that until I played a lot of the free iOS version. There's a whole lot in Dominion that appears useless in your first few games, but turns out to be incredibly important in the right circumstances. Gardens alone, if they're in play, change the game radically from deck reduction to deck expansion; suddenly cards that give you miscellaneous extra buys you may never utilize will give you a tenth of a point times however many Gardens you have every time you play them. Witches, especially when played early, can be devastating.

The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?
posted by JHarris at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


mightygodking: I love Caylus to death despite it having about 1/10th as much theme as Agricola does, because when you play Caylus every worker you place is both advancing your own strategy and denying other people their own.

I also love Caylus to death, and I do prefer it over Agricola... but I have a harder time getting people to play it with me, so I play Agricola more.

I wonder how you can deny that every worker you place in Agricola is also advancing your strategy and denying others. It does. That's how the worker placement genre works, as you know. Every turn in Agricola (and pretty much any worker placement game), I and others are trying to deny valuable placements to others while still advancing our own strategy. I'm staring at other people's boards as often as my own, trying to figure out how best to deny them points.

Now, for the first few games, yes, most people will just happily build up their farms. Then, when they get tired of losing, they realize that there's a lot more to it than playing fun farm solitaire. I'm not trying to argue you out of disliking Agricola, but your reasons seem bizarre... especially if you generally like other worker placement games.
posted by gilrain at 10:16 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Feast is rarely a good card but it can be useful if there is no village and or spy but there is a with festival, market or laboratory. Feast can be helpful to prevent getting a deck that is too dense in action cards.
posted by I Foody at 10:17 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?

No extra buys on the board. Add in a King's Court to get three "free" cards in a turn. Get a Mint without trashing any treasures.

For example.
posted by brentajones at 10:18 AM on August 14, 2012


I'm surprised Donald X. Vaccarino's new game Kingdom Builder hasn't been brought up yet - at first blush it seems totally unlike Dominion, but I actually think they have a lot in common as far as general gameplay-approach (assess what's on the table, make a plan, execute that plan as best as you're able, working with the pseudo-random lot you're given)

Also, to mightygodking, I'd strongly suggest checking out the Agricola I Deck.
posted by soplerfo at 10:18 AM on August 14, 2012


Also, tl;dr: it's basically like Settlers of Catan on PCP, crack, and four different kinds of steroids.

yeah, as said above, it's nothing like Settlers. I love Dominion and I love Setters. But Settlers really is about spacial relationships and probabilities - more like Ticket to Ride in the network-layout or Power-Grid. Whereas Dominion is much more of a card game, with some building aspect ala Citadels, Race to the Galaxy.

The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?

It's a good way to get five-cost cards when you keep turning up 4s, also pretty killer in combination with workshop (free cards up to 4) or throne room (turn one feast into two markets or festivals - is throne room in the basic game?).

In the base game there are no ways to directly harm an opponent (unlike the robber in Settlers).

There is militia (discard down to 3), also is spy in the basic game? pretty evil. But yeah, the real evil (swindler, witch in a no-trash game) comes in the expansions.

99% of the Dominion I've played is on Brettspielwelt - great interface for Dominion. Number one reason to play Dominion online -- NO SHUFFLING. The shuffling every turn or so is such a PITA that I swear it's really a computer game masquerading as a card game.
posted by jb at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2012


The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?

If the board has few other (or no other) 4-cost cards worth getting for your strategy, and several 5-costs that are, Feast can be rather useful in making a 4-buy turn worthwhile. That it trashes itself is actually nice in that context, since it means it won't clog up future draws.

Similarly, if your first two hands are a 3/4 split for buys, and there's a 5-cost you really want, buying a feast with the 4 guarantees you one of them soon. Again: that it trashes itself is a benefit.

Or conversely, you could buy it for the trashing, pick up a +action 5-cost with it, and use that to try to run down three piles without clogging up your hands too much. Not necessarily the most efficient way of doing that, but given what cards are out not necessarily the least, either.

There are probably some other uses or combinations, but those are the two situations I've seen it used usefully.
posted by cjelli at 10:25 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


No extra buys on the board. Add in a King's Court to get three "free" cards in a turn. Get a Mint without trashing any treasures.

Yeah, but both King's Court and Mint aren't in the base set. Where you could use King's Court on a Feast, you could also use it on a much better card, maybe one that lets you get cards without trashing itself like Workshop. Although admittedly, Feast does let you get cards that are more valuable than Workshop. (Of course Workshop might not be in play that time out, but it seems weak when a given card is only valuable when this other card that's always better isn't around.)
posted by JHarris at 10:27 AM on August 14, 2012


Race for the Galaxy is great.

Given that this is the game - rather than the endless chains that people love to play but often don't do enough to help you out - the game can be counterintuitive.

Chains are the REASON I play Dominion. It is more fun than winning.

also, if you get a wicked chain happening, then yes, you will win. When you can buy 2-3 provinces in a turn or even a couple of colonies. that's pretty devastating.
posted by jb at 10:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


jb Both Spy and Witch are base game cards. Mwa-ha-ha.
posted by JHarris at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2012


The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?

Feast is situationally good, in my experience. For example, I decided to rush Minions in a recent game and didn't want to waste my second turn with a silver that would just slow down my deck, hence Feast, which lets me gain two minions on the turn it comes up (or turns an otherwise dead hand in to a hand that gains Minion, and nearly guarantees that the next hand before reshuffle is a 5 buy hand).

In a game where Minions are on the board you pretty much need to buy most of them to have a decent shot at a consistent Minion chain, and you pretty much need to make sure that the rest of your deck is maybe 1 or 2 good terminals and maybe 1 or 2 silvers.

Feast gave me the upper hand in getting the majority of Minions, which then let me do consistent minion chains to buy a province almost every turn. I think I could've played it better, but I still ended up winning by 20 points.
posted by codacorolla at 10:30 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


and because it is a game about fucking farming.

That is a feature, not a bug.

Content of games do matter. I love Race for the Galaxy, but I can't play Puerto Rico because of the colonial/slave-trading context. I've slaughter fantasy races happily in Small World, but re-creating real historical genocides just gives me a stomachache.

In a game where Minions are on the board you pretty much need to buy most of them to have a decent shot at a consistent Minion chain, and you pretty much need to make sure that the rest of your deck is maybe 1 or 2 good terminals and maybe 1 or 2 silvers.

Minions work well either as a) a deck mostly of minions, or a deck of minions combined with other action+ and coin+ cards. They don't work well if you are relying on coin-cards for your money, since you'll be flipping them out of your hand. But with a few villages and/or some festivals, they can be awesome.
posted by jb at 10:33 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're looking for the most useless card in the base set, then I think its hard to look any further than Chancellor. Even his card art makes me mad!
posted by codacorolla at 10:37 AM on August 14, 2012


The measure by which I judge Dominion strategies is: how does it do against Basic Strategy. Let me explain.

If you played Dominion without getting any Kingdom cards at all, you could still eventually trigger the game ending condition, just by buying Treasure cards and eventually Provinces. I call this "Basic Strategy": if you have at least three coins in a turn, buy the best Treasure card you can afford. If you have at least eight coins in a turn, buy Province instead.

In many cases Basic Strategy is surprisingly strong play. Those Silvers quickly add up into Golds, and from there Provinces. If you can get half the Provinces then chances are you've won: it takes two Duckies to equal a Province, and six Prostates. It's not an exciting way to win but it works surprisingly often. Against certain sets of Kingdom cards it can even be the optimal strategy. Add in Chapel to trash your opening Estates and Coppers and it's even better.

You can chain together epic sequences of cards with Village and Festival, but it takes time to build up those action cards, time that a Basic Strategy player will be using to work towards Provinces.
posted by JHarris at 10:37 AM on August 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because there's so much you can do to really screw over opponents, against really sharp players you have to be careful because a single tile placement can make it entirely impossible to reclaim one of your meeple.

Most non-tile counters just can't do this conciously (I play against computers almost daily, and I haven't memorised the tiles). The evil potential is just no where near that of Settlers, which is the game with the most evil potential that I have ever seen. Ticket to Ride can be bad in the original, unless you have a "no blocking" house rule (which always means "no unnecessary/conscious blocking).
posted by jb at 10:38 AM on August 14, 2012


There's a bunch of Euros that are on the threshold of Catan-style mainstreaming. Carcassone is already there, I think, and Dominion's close. The one I suspect could be the next mainstream-big game is 7 Wonders, which is fast to play, easy to pick up, and just relentlessly addictive.

I think Carcassone is already there and has been for a while. Dominion is on the cusp.

I think Ticket to Ride is the other big one that has gone mainstream, probably because the mechanics are ultra simple and it's ridiculously easy to learn but, IMO, difficult to master.
posted by asnider at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2012


If you're looking for the most useless card in the base set, then I think its hard to look any further than Chancellor. Even his card art makes me mad!

Chancellor is hella-useless. At least Bureaucrat will give you a silver and annoy anyone with Nobles.

Chancellors exist solely so that you can turn silvers into them with a Swindler.
posted by jb at 10:40 AM on August 14, 2012


Yeah, I mean that you ideally should have about 1/3rd of your deck be minions, with maybe terminals to end the chain (if cantrips aren't on the board) and maybe money to pad it out (which guarantees you're hitting 8 if you're lacking in good cantrips or terminals). Minions have to be your priority buy until the pile is gone, though, unless your opponent isn't aware of how powerful they are and is leaving the pile to you. A feast in your opening hands is a good way of getting a leg up.
posted by codacorolla at 10:40 AM on August 14, 2012


jb, why in the world would you ever have a no blocking rule in Ticket to Ride? Evil blocking is 1/2 the fun!

I played Dominion (and Ticket to Ride) for the first time with some random Mefites at PAX East this year and had great fun. Must do it again next time!
posted by Wretch729 at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2012


Most non-tile counters just can't do this conciously

One doesn't have to memorize tiles. A tile inventory is right there on the back of the rulebook, and all the tiles are visible. I guess I'm a more hard-core eurogamer than I thought.
posted by muddgirl at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2012


...all the played tiles are visible. Although now that I think about it, non-randomized tiles really would help my 'drunkenly build the prettiest kingdom' house ruleset.
posted by muddgirl at 10:42 AM on August 14, 2012


The evil potential is just no where near that of Settlers, which is the game with the most evil potential that I have ever seen.

Sometimes Settlers of Catan is lost before the first turn, yes.

Ticket to Ride can be bad in the original, unless you have a "no blocking" house rule (which always means "no unnecessary/conscious blocking).

I find blocking in ToR is usually bad. Most of us play ToR by building up epic hands before placing the first train, until you have all the cards you need to complete a route, then laying them out in consecutive turns. Done right and the other players won't be able to know where you're going to, and every turn you play trains to block is, ultimately, that many fewer trains you have to make your objectives. You only have 45 trains to place, and ultimately each train you get on the board is a card you've drawn and the other players are in the same circumstance, so really Ticket to Ride is a race to make as many tickets as you can before the other players get down to 2 trains left.

If someone consciously plays to block you from a route, they've just wasted trains and cards they probably should have used to make their own tickets; if they've made all their tickets, then they should have drawn more.
posted by JHarris at 10:45 AM on August 14, 2012


Also anyone tried Race for the Galaxy yet?

I've played it once. The biggest issue for me is that there's quite a bit of a learning curve with all the icons with different meanings on the cards. I hadn't entirely mastered the meaning of all the icons within one game. I'm sure it's more enjoyable once everyone grasps the meanings of all the different icons, but I haven't played it since. Not that I'd be opposed to playing it again, but it hasn't come up again in my gaming group since (at least the times I've been there) and I didn't care for it enough to strongly advocate for it over other games we had.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:45 AM on August 14, 2012


I played Dominion (and Ticket to Ride) for the first time with some random Mefites at PAX East this year and had great fun.

God, am I the only Metafilter member board gamer who ever goes to DragonCon?
posted by JHarris at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


DevilsAdvocate, it may help to play San Juan first. It's incredibly like Race For The Galaxy Lite.
posted by JHarris at 10:47 AM on August 14, 2012


I have played San Juan. Liked it better than Race for the Galaxy (admittedly, a tentative judgment based on only a single play of RftG), not as much as Puerto Rico.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:50 AM on August 14, 2012


JHarris: DevilsAdvocate, it may help to play San Juan first. It's incredibly like Race For The Galaxy Lite.

That helps with the game concepts, but not the iconography of RttG. It's true that internalizing the iconography such that you can play smoothly without holding up others by referring to the manual takes a few games. I think it's worth it, but it's a valid complaint.
posted by gilrain at 10:51 AM on August 14, 2012


If someone consciously plays to block you from a route, they've just wasted trains and cards they probably should have used to make their own tickets; if they've made all their tickets, then they should have drawn more.

I've seen people win on more than one occasion by completing their initial two or three tickets and then building the longest train (without bothering to pick up more tickets). Not coincidentally, their giant train tends to block a lot of other players, especially when you're playing with fewer than 4 and can only use one of lines on the double-line areas.
posted by asnider at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you like Dominion and enjoy dice, try Quarriors.
posted by jesirose at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an anecdote, my main gaming partner is my girlfriend. We were both excited to play Race to the Gaslaxy for the first time, after it came in the mail. I loved it immediately, despite having to refer to the manual for icons and whatnot. However, she felt intimidated and sort of dim while playing and disliked the experience.

I encouraged her to play it again, and it went a tiny bit more smoothly, but she still felt a little down on it as a whole. I dropped it and considered trading it away. Then, a few game nights later, she said she "could" play it again, "if you want to". I jumped at the opportunity, she liked it much better, and now it's in the usual lineup.

It's one of those games. Now, if your group already has too many games, too little time, it's entirely possible it won't be worth that curve.
posted by gilrain at 10:55 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone consciously plays to block you from a route, they've just wasted trains and cards they probably should have used to make their own tickets; if they've made all their tickets, then they should have drawn more.

Agree with you that deliberate blocking is generally a bad strategy (it usually only harms one other player, thus helps all the other players at least as much as it helps you; exceptions being in a two-player game, or a game which has essentially become a contest between you and one other player).

Disagree about always needing to draw more routes if you've completed your existing ones; if I'm down to about 8 trains and believe I'm winning, I find it's often best to just play trains anywhere as fast as I can to bring the game to an end before anyone else can catch up.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:57 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That can work too DevilsAdvocate, I didn't mention it to cut down on a bit of verbiage. If you've managed to play most of your cards and have made all your tickets, then there's a good chance the other players are still working on their routes, and you can force them out with plenty of unmade routes if you can end the game early.
posted by JHarris at 11:01 AM on August 14, 2012


You can chain together epic sequences of cards with Village and Festival, but it takes time to build up those action cards, time that a Basic Strategy player will be using to work towards Provinces.

This comes into play surprisingly often during games with my group. One player in our group will usually stay pretty light on action cards, and focus mainly on treasures/provinces, with some action cards to support that. In the meantime, I'm putting together epic chains of villages, markets, and nobles. And when it pays off, it pays off great (sometimes with 2 provinces), but oftentimes, I get stomped by him focusing on simpler strategies.

It reminds me a lot of the whole "Timmy/Johnny/Spike" concept from MtG, in that he focuses on winning efficiently, while I focus on insane action combos that are cool (and fun*), but that don't necessarily put me in the best place for victory, unless they work exactly right.
posted by Katrel at 11:05 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


One doesn't have to memorize tiles. A tile inventory is right there on the back of the rulebook, and all the tiles are visible. I guess I'm a more hard-core eurogamer than I thought.

I play a lot of the iOS version, which shows you when a card is going to be creating a blocked/unfillable spot -- I actually will NOT place a card there when playing bots (need a handicap), and because unfinished cities displease me aesthetically.

But yeah, I purposely have never looked at the tile inventory and don't count out the played tiles -- sometimes it's obvious, like when 5 cloisters have been played, you can tell a friend, "I don't think there are any/many more cloisters," but I don't check because I like not knowing.


If someone consciously plays to block you from a route, they've just wasted trains and cards they probably should have used to make their own tickets; if they've made all their tickets, then they should have drawn more.


Unless a strategically placed two-train blocks someone from a clear route they are building, or stops them getting longest train (in the station-versions). My second game (which was Europe, I was on my way to winning, but had left a really obvious blocking spot (near Rostov, I believe - that little two-green one) and another player was able to grab it and longest train, and he won. I've learned to be more devious and careful about my route-construction since.
posted by jb at 11:06 AM on August 14, 2012


jb, why in the world would you ever have a no blocking rule in Ticket to Ride? Evil blocking is 1/2 the fun!

Some people like to fight, I like to build. Like I said, I even avoid blocking when playing bots in Carccassone, because I dislike incomplete cities. I don't mind games that are less interaction - it's like we're both building structures and the competition is just how awesome a structure is that you can build.
posted by jb at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with those 'epic chains of villages, markets, and nobles' is that it annoys the piss out of everyone else at the table when one person's turn takes 10 minutes and two shuffles. ESPECIALLY when they end up losing.
posted by muddgirl at 11:17 AM on August 14, 2012


I don't mind games that are less interaction - it's like we're both building structures and the competition is just how awesome a structure is that you can build.

You might enjoy Palazzo and/or Alhambra.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:19 AM on August 14, 2012


You might enjoy Palazzo and/or Alhambra.

I've played Alhambra - is that the palace building game? I remember it being a bit boring and frustrating.

Thing is, whether you like a game can seem arbitrary. I love citadels, though I'm terrible (finally won after playing 10+ times, usually ending with 4 cards in my city when the ending condition is 8). Don't care so much for Alhambra, which would look to be very similar but has just some little differences that totally changes the experience. I'm also quite good at Race for the Galaxy, while being terrible at Citadels, and again, they look so similar in game-play.

one game that I found I was weirdly good at: 7 Wonders. I won the first 2-3 times I ever played it, and that against people who have played it a fair number of times before.
posted by jb at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2012


Unless a strategically placed two-train blocks someone from a clear route they are building, or stops them getting longest train (in the station-versions).

That's why, when you play your trains, you generally go from smallest, less-specific routes to longest. It's a lot harder to block someone by claiming a route with six reds than two of any.
posted by JHarris at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2012


The problem with those 'epic chains of villages, markets, and nobles' is that it annoys the piss out of everyone else at the table when one person's turn takes 10 minutes and two shuffles. ESPECIALLY when they end up losing.

Yeah, I'm the reason that our group has a "No Golems" rule now. >.>
posted by Katrel at 11:34 AM on August 14, 2012


one game that I found I was weirdly good at: 7 Wonders. I won the first 2-3 times I ever played it, and that against people who have played it a fair number of times before.

Just the opposite for me: I've played 7 Wonders close to a dozen times—some against an experienced group, some against novices—and have yet to win a single game. And I still think it's a great game, so that's saying something.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 AM on August 14, 2012


At least Bureaucrat will give you a silver and annoy anyone with Nobles.

In a game with Gardens, Bureaucrat can be awesome, as is any card that gives you more cards or Buys.
posted by JHarris at 11:36 AM on August 14, 2012


We just bought Kingdom Builder this past weekend. We've only played it once so far and it seems very reminscient of Settlers.

Of course, I had had a lot to drink that night so I may be misinterpreting the game very widely.
posted by Kitteh at 11:37 AM on August 14, 2012


At my last job, we played a LOT of Dominion. Like, a lot a lot. And we got bored, so we went looking for other games. 7 Wonders held us for a long time, but then we found... Thunderstone, an excellent extension of the deckbuilding concept into FRPG territory.

And, yes, whenever we played, it was always "Thunder... Thunder... THUNDERSTONE!"
posted by hanov3r at 11:45 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate you all SO HARD right now for reawakening the beast within me that WANTS to play these types of games, but has the boredom threshold of an eight week old Labrad--- SQUIRREL!

Is there an iPad-based game I can play that will really "get me started"? I have and enjoy Carcassone, but I've realized reading this thread that I'm playing it in the "solitaire" mode, not in the normal mode against the AI, so, I can try that at no incremental cost. But is there CW that says, Play THIS and become addicted?
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:07 PM on August 14, 2012


Yes indeed, and bringing tabletop games to tablets is sparking a renaissance in the hobby! You see, people want to play games together on their futuristic tablets, but a lot of the games suck. And it turns out, there is a gold mine of already-designed and vetted-as-successful games which happen to be uniquely suited for tablets: tabletop games!

This is a good editorial on how tabletop games on tablets are selling like gangbusters and boosting sales of the physical copies, based around an interview with the Days of Wonder (publisher of Ticket to Ride) CEO.
posted by gilrain at 12:15 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you like Dominion and enjoy dice, try Quarriors.

oh god this entire thread is just designed to drive me insane isn't it

ISN'T IT
posted by mightygodking at 12:17 PM on August 14, 2012


OneMonkeysUncle - Carcassonne can be played regular style against bots, or against other human beings online (turn based, bit slow). You can also get the river and Inns and Cathedrals as expansions.

Ticket-to-Ride is now available for iPad in several versions (original USA, 1910, Mega-Game, also Europe, Switzerland, and Asia too), and plays very well. Again, you can play bots or people (online via the game centre).

I don't think they are addictive, though. I mean 1-2 hours a day playing Carcassonne is just normal, right? right? (I need to go play again).
posted by jb at 12:19 PM on August 14, 2012


OneMonkeysUncle: Is there an iPad-based game I can play that will really "get me started"?

Yes. Grab the iOS version of "Ticket to Ride". The AI is very good, but forgiving, and it's a great intro to the game.

Also, search the store for games by Reiner Knizia. I recommend Kingdoms and Medici, but there are other great adaptations of his board games.

Lastly, grab Bang!, an almost perfect adaptation of an Italian 'spaghetti Western' board game.
posted by hanov3r at 12:21 PM on August 14, 2012


I also quite like playing Settlers on the iPad, too. And the non-offical Dominion app still works on my iPad. But I mostly play against the AI.
posted by Kitteh at 12:22 PM on August 14, 2012


Kitteh - is that non-official Dominion clone still available anywhere? (I would happily buy an official one, but they haven't come out with one).

I have the settlers for ipod, but I don't especially like the AI or the graphics, which are far too busy -- I don't need 3d trees or mountains, I can get that green=wood, grey=iron. There's a knock-off website based settlers which I continue to play because the graphics are so much simpler and cleaner.
posted by jb at 12:31 PM on August 14, 2012


As far as I know the non-official one is still available. I'm playing it, a couple we are friends with are playing it against each other, so unless something happened a few hours ago, it's still out there. Shepherd is part of the beta testing for the official one, which is due to launch fairly soon (I think; not sure).


Wait...my version of Settlers isn't 3D!! I mostly just turn off the dialogue and music, which I find wildly distracting.
posted by Kitteh at 12:45 PM on August 14, 2012


no, not completely 3d. Just annoyingly designed - all cartoony, with bad colours.
posted by jb at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2012


Whew.
posted by Kitteh at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2012


Official iOS Dominion is apparently coming soon
posted by soplerfo at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2012


On playing to block meeple retrieval in Carcasonne:
Most non-tile counters just can't do this conciously

It's not that hard. In practice, you don't have to make it impossible to reclaim meeple but tie them up for a long while. You can do that simply by surrounding a space needed to complete a claimed city or road with other tiles, so that only a specific type will fit. It could come up immediately, or it might not show up for a long while, and even if takes its time it might show up in a different player's turn. When you play against people who do this all the time it biases strategy towards small, easily completable structures. And some of those structures will be cities, so it makes farmers correspondingly more valuable (which are the only workers you can't reclaim, anyway).
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2012


The only card in the base game I've yet to understand how to use is Feast. I mean, WTF?

"Silver and whatever 4" is usually a pretty good opening for a 3/4 start, when there is a good strong 5 around (and there usually are). Originally there was a noticeable power increase from 4 to 5, so a Feast essentially bumped you up into the next card power band.
posted by fleacircus at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2012


not soon enough . Also, it seems only for ipad? I can't find any news on whether it will be available for ipod as well.
posted by jb at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2012


soplerfo: "Kingdom Builder"

Some coworkers and I started playing Kingdom Builder at lunch when we started to get bored with Dominion (though that was after several years of playing Dominion 3-4 times a week.)

Maybe we just didn't stick with it long enough (played maybe 20 times total), but it seems to me that the game suffers because (a) the board layouts aren't quite random enough, and (b) the Kingdom Builder cards (the ones that give you extra points in addition to the three points per castle) are too imbalanced.

For (a), it turns out there are actually many different board layouts, but that where they are on the board and how they're rotated doesn't matter all that much. The only important thing is how many total castles are on the board (some boards have an extra castle instead of an action tile space) and maybe whether they're close enough that you can race for the castles without worrying about getting action tiles right away.

For (b), the problem is that some of the special goals net a (relatively) small number of points no matter how much you commit to that strategy, and others giving you a great number of points even if you just sort of add that strategy in opportunistically. I forget exactly which ones, but I think I remember Citizens being sort of hard to get anything out of, and whichever one involved having at least one occupant in every latitude being pretty easy to get on most boards and fairly lucrative.

There is still a lot to think about, but I think Dominion beats Kingdom Builder in the balance of power between randomness and skilled play -- probably because Dominion has so many cards with so many mechanics, especially with the later expansions (we stopped playing Dominion right around the release of Hinterlands.)

The last several months we've just been playing Tichu, which is a totally different type of game with the benefit of much less setup time. But if I had to switch back, I would probably pick up Dominion again, unless Kingdom Builder has had some interesting expansions.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2012


This game is awesome fun, and very fast paced once you get the hang of it (which, admittedly, took a few games). I happen to have done of the illustrations for Dark Ages.
posted by polywomp at 3:25 PM on August 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


edgewise: Yes, sometimes it's not very interactive, but Dominion becomes radically different depending on which ten cards the group is playing with at the time. Since you want a very interactive game, get the Prosperity expansion and put the following cards on the table:

City and Trade Route get better as the game goes on, but when you improve them, you improve all copies of them, including those owned by other players.

Bishop and Vault are "Friendly Interactions"-- you get an awesome benefit, but at the cost of giving your opponents a smaller benefit.

Mountebank and Rabble are "Attacks" which interfere with your opponents.

Watchtower is a good defensive card. You'll need it for those attacks.

Contraband gives you massive money, but when you use it, your opponent guesses the card you want the most and gets to forbid you from buying it.
posted by matt_arnold at 3:28 PM on August 14, 2012


polywomp: I happen to have done of the illustrations for Dark Ages.

That's pretty fucking cool! Well done!

I'm curious, did you work solely with Rio Grande people, or do you consult with the designer as well...? Was this your first board/card game illustration job?
posted by gilrain at 3:31 PM on August 14, 2012


We play Dominion all the time. I've got all the sets, but we really don't like Seaside so we don't play with those cards. Alchemy gets left out all the time also.

To make it easier to set up, we use a iOS app called Dominion Vault. It lets you pick the sets you own and generates a random set of 10 cards. You can choose settings to force +action cards, require reaction cards or veto cards. It great for getting a game set up.
posted by rsclark at 5:08 PM on August 14, 2012


I don't know, tonycpsu, I kind of love the simple difficulty of Kingdom Builder. I feel that while Dominion is a puzzle that moves around slightly as you play it, Kingdom Builder is also a puzzle, but one with more of pvp action (and perhaps a bit more randomness). I enjoy both games. Dominion is probably "better" but KB has pulled in more of my non-gamers friends, which I quite enjoy.
posted by soplerfo at 5:18 PM on August 14, 2012


Part of its appeal is how it more or less demands that you create your own house rules after a few plays

I am not familiar with this aspect of Dominion. Explain?

Dominion ships with about 25 different kinds of card, but a game is played with only 8 kinds. So in any game, the initial decision about what set to use determines what kind of game it is, and it can be *very* different.

Anyone played this new ultra-customizable Risk?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:26 PM on August 14, 2012


Curating the card draw can be good, but I also encourage folks to really try some of those oddball displays, particularly when blending in expansions (Prosperity is the best). I'm friends with the developers of this game, so don't want to interject too much. I'm just glad it is getting the recognition it deserves.
posted by meinvt at 5:31 PM on August 14, 2012


ThatFuzzyBastard, Dominion is played with 10 Kingdom card types, not eight. You're right about the rest though.
posted by JHarris at 5:51 PM on August 14, 2012


Anyone played this new ultra-customizable Risk?

No, but I really, really want to. While I'm no longer a huge fan of Risk, I have fond memories of playing the game and I hope that long-lasting effects of actions taken in each subsequent game will make Risk: Legacy into something quite unique and awesome after a few plays.

I, too, would like to hear from anyone who has played it a few times.
posted by asnider at 5:53 PM on August 14, 2012


I don't think I have anything to say about Dominion that hasn't already been said in here, but I have a few things to say about Resident Evil: Deck Building Game. The most important things are:

- It is Dominion basically but with zombies! Of the Capcom variety, which is to say sort of weird and mutanty.

- It is somewhat poorly manufactured! The card slots in the box don't actually really hold the cards correctly, which is kind of terrible. You will beg to be putting away Dominion after a go-around with that shitty plastic molding. I ended up chucking the box and storing the 250 or so cards in the base set in a little baseball card box instead with separator labels in between.

- The typesetting and card design is pretty terrible! Insofar as it's pretty darned consistent with that of the actual games. Too-small typewriter font that is hard to read, bad contrast in many cases, samey designs from card to card, mixed bag of recycled art assets from various recent games so everything's got kind of a lame-o CGI cut-and-paste look to it.

- It is sort of badly balanced! The game tries to mix incentives to take risks with incentives to not which can create a very slowly opening game and weird late game situations that suddenly go from dull dull dull to a sort of breakneck race for the win, and it doesn't feel like it functions quite like it should. And it's ostensibly competitive but with very few interactional elements that make the competition interesting (which is sort of a fair comparison to Dominion itself).

But! It's also pretty cheap and pretty neat as an exploration of some Dominion tweaks. The interesting differences between RE:DBG and Dominion are:

1. In addition to Dominion-style action cards, you also have weapon cards. Various sorts of guns, some knife/melee cards, a couple other oddities like a longbow.

2. Instead of coin cards for buying, you have combination gold/ammo cards that both pay for card buys and power weapons.

3. Instead of buying Victory cards and diluting your deck with them, you earn victory points by killing monsters and those just attach to your character card and which cause them to level up.

4. You have a character! Every player plays a different RE character, each with a different max starting health and different abilities that they get to use once they level up. You start at level 0, and can level up to 1 and then 2 based on how many victory points you've earned. Special abilities include card manipulation stuff, bonus damage (or lowered ammo requirements) for specific weapon types, etc.

5. The mansion deck! You get victory points by killing monsters; you kill monsters by grabbing your weapons, kicking open another door in the mansion and trying to murder whatever comes through. If you do, you get the card and maybe level up; if you don't, it does some damage to you and maybe gets up to additional mischief for certain nasties. You get one "explore" a turn (just like you get one buy and one action) and you have to lay out your weapons before seeing what card is hiding in the mansion deck.

And so it makes for a neat twist on how Dominion tends to feel. The need to have a mix of action and weapon cards in your deck makes tight deck construction a little harder, but that's mitigated a bit by the fact that victory cards don't dilute your deck in this version.

Whether or not to explore the mansion is a question of what your draw was like (did you get both a decent weapon or two and the ammo needed to use them?) and the state of the Mansion deck (early in the game there are many weak zombies that might go down to a handgun and a knife, later in the game the odds of pulling something nastier go up as players thin out the easy pickings in their quest for victory points and character levels).

Character specific strengths can become points of antagonism; I broke my buddy's heart by buying a fancy special handgun that turned up when he was playing as the handgun expert character, so screwjobs are a little more possible and obvious here than in vanilla Dominion where you can really only attack someone's perceived build strategy, not their really obvious points of investment.

But probably the most fun I've had with it was after I played the aforementioned handgun screwjob game with three friends and they were kind of ehhhhhh about it but then we spent an hour talking about how to turn it into a co-op game. Which we did by modifying a couple rules and actually had a lot of tense "maybe we won't all die!" fun with it. (Short version: we made it so that players could contribute their own weapons or ammo to the armaments being used on an Explore outing, but also introduced a coin-flip every player's turn that determined whether they were required to Explore even if they didn't want to. Thus the tension: you draw five ammo cards and no guns, coin comes up heads, you HAVE to kick that door down. Suddenly other players are looking at their hands and trying to figure out what they can spare to try and give you a reasonable chance of survival, knowing that they don't get to draw back up before their turn comes around so whatever they fire this time to help you out won't be there when and if they're obliged to kick the door down themselves. It's terrifying! It'd be fun to see it baked in to a game intentionally.)

All in all, it's more a curiosity than a shoo-in, but as a sort of dorky way to play with the RE franchise I kind of love it.
posted by cortex at 6:12 PM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I happen to have done of the illustrations for Dark Ages.

Great work. I think this is the most beautiful expansion so far.
posted by codacorolla at 6:31 PM on August 14, 2012


Love Dominion. Particularly Intrigue (arguably better than the original) and Seaside. Not convinced Prosperity or Alchemy are really worth it, though.

Played Ascension recently and liked its newness, but also felt a little frustrated. After a very long game, the scores ended up being such a tight spread (between 73 - and 83 between 6 players) that I ended up feeling like the whole thing was a little less than rewarding. I'd like to think that skill over 4 hours or so would end up with a more distinct winner and loser.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:19 PM on August 14, 2012


Risk legacy is pretty awesome. I suck at it, but it's tons of fun, especially if you can get the same group together for all 15 games.
posted by soplerfo at 7:36 PM on August 14, 2012


Chancellor is a way, if your best cards have already been seen this run through of the deck, to get back to them faster. Special use maybe, you're not going to want more than one or two of them, but it has its place. It takes a lot of presence of mind to use correctly though.

Originally there was a noticeable power increase from 4 to 5, so a Feast essentially bumped you up into the next card power band.

Yeah, but you get it a turn later. Get a Silver instead. You'll have a good chance of being able to buy that 5-coin Action card with it, and you get to use the Silver again later.
posted by JHarris at 9:03 PM on August 14, 2012


Risk legacy is pretty awesome. I suck at it, but it's tons of fun, especially if you can get the same group together for all 15 games.

Is there much replayability after you've run through all 15 games?
posted by asnider at 9:12 PM on August 14, 2012


Yeah, but you get it a turn later. Get a Silver instead. You'll have a good chance of being able to buy that 5-coin Action card with it, and you get to use the Silver again later.
posted by JHarris at 12:03 AM on August 15 [+] [!]


Unless you are running a money light hand, in which case the silver is just annoying weight.

And you can get a silver when you have 3, so it's still worth it moving up to the five value. Feast isn't a very powerful card, but it's not a useless one.
posted by jb at 9:25 PM on August 14, 2012


There's a single-player version of Dominion called Androminion for Android. Really clunky text-based interface, and you can only play against the AI, but its a useful time-killer, and arguably more fun than Angry Birds or whatever people are playing on their phones now.
posted by destrius at 9:49 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but you get it a turn later. Get a Silver instead. You'll have a good chance of being able to buy that 5-coin Action card with it, and you get to use the Silver again later.

Except when that turn rolls around, the Feast player gains that 5 with an Action, and so has a Buy available for other things. You could even buy a Silver and there'd still be a difference—you got to see what other people did before you made that choice (maybe you want a Moat instead). Another fairly common use for Feast is when you're playing a deck that can absorb some Action cards but is struggling to get to 5. You get Feasts late, so that the last time through your deck you are doing "Feast a Duchy, buy an Estate" type turns.
posted by fleacircus at 10:49 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I was thinking about making a post about how Netrunner, widely regarded as awesome by game critics, failed in the market due to the network effects of CCGs. Largely prompted by the the Netrunner reboot scheduled for release at GenCon. But since this post already got a bit of a schill alert on meta, I'll just share it in this thread instead.

HEY GUYS, THEY'RE RERELASING NETRUNNER!
posted by pwnguin at 11:30 PM on August 14, 2012


Is there much replayability after you've run through all 15 games?
Nope! Well, I can't say that for certain, as we're only on game 11, but my understanding is that it's only intended for 15 plays. A big part of the game is getting to certain points where you get to open up sealed envelopes that contain cards/pieces/information that completely changes the game. After 15 games, all of the envelopes will likely have been opened and the game loses a bit of its charm. That said, I have friends who have bought and played through the game multiple times. I'm not sure if I'm really up for that, but I'll certainly play through the remaining 4 games on our current set - it's been a lot of fun.
posted by soplerfo at 5:29 AM on August 15, 2012


HEY GUYS, THEY'RE RERELASING NETRUNNER!

Black ice!
posted by cortex at 7:24 AM on August 15, 2012


I just tried the official Dominion online - and, for some inexplicable reason, it was all text based, with no explanations of what the cards did (I've played 1000+ games, but no, I haven't memorized every single expansion). I hated it.

Back to Brettspielwelt for me.
posted by jb at 7:35 AM on August 15, 2012


(The strategy I refer to as "Basic Strategy" above goes by "Big Money" on Board Game Geek, it appears.)
posted by JHarris at 7:43 AM on August 15, 2012


Big Money is one of the most interesting parts of the game, in my opinion. I have a friend who plays nothing but Big Money, and he's like a litmus test if a strategy is good, or if it's just cute. Being able to outpace Big Money is what you should be judging an initial read of the board by: if I do this, then is it any faster than just loading up on treasure and greening at a decent breakpoint? This article from DS is a fascinating look at how one can best a mathematically perfect big money strategy...

On the flip side, sometimes it just makes sense to run Big Money. My first reaction for every board is to try to combo, but occasionally you hit a really dead board and whatever your highest treasure is is just the best option.
posted by codacorolla at 8:13 AM on August 15, 2012


The thing that I think makes Dominion so special among similar games is the ridiculous amount of play-testing that's gone into each card, and into making each of those cards fit into a cohesive expansion set. There are misfires (many people think Possession is a silly card that adds nothing to the game, and I think Mountebank is a bit too powerful of an attack on most boards) but overall the game play is balanced, with very few instances of "first person to buy this particular overly-powerful card automatically wins the game."

I do think there's been some inflation in terms of how powerful the cards at each price level are with newer expansions, but since everyone has an equal opportunity to buy those cards, it doesn't ruin the game.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:21 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Responding to mightygodking's latest comment on Agricola, above, which I missed:

It's okay to not like Agricola. But when you give reasons for not liking it that are manifestly not true, I get the feeling that it's the kind of thing you don't like because of a misunderstanding somewhere, which leads me to want to explain it.

Agricola does not have a "light smattering" of worker placement, it's a major part of the game, just as much as it is in Caylus. You do have your individual board that other players cannot directly effect, but so do many eurogames, including and especially Puerto Rico, and anyway the interaction comes mostly through opportunity and resource denial than direct attack. And while all the players are competing for the same resources and opportunites each game and that leads to the central tension of play, what players want them for varies greatly according to their held Occupation and Minor Improvement cards, which really drive the game. It sounds a bit like you've only played the Family game, you should only do that with newbies or kids.

Caylus, on the other hand, is disliked by some, like Scott Nicholson of Board Games With Scott, because it has more "no brainer" decisions, obvious moves to make. While I don't agree with him on that and like Caylus a lot, I don't think it's perfect. I think the game doesn't vary nearly as much as Agricola does; the random elements of setup, the order of the first six buildings and turn order, aren't enough to make the game feel much different each game. If all the players make the same decisions the game ends up going about the same, while Agricola players have different options available because of the Occupations and Minor Improvements.
posted by JHarris at 8:42 AM on August 15, 2012


I just tried the official Dominion online - and, for some inexplicable reason, it was all text based, with no explanations of what the cards did (I've played 1000+ games, but no, I haven't memorized every single expansion). I hated it.

If you're talking about isotropic, you just have to mouseover either the card picture or the name of the card (either in your hand, or in the supply). Alternately, you can click the button right below the curses, which looks like a box with an arrow pointing out of it. That'll give you a pop-up window with description text for all of the cards, if you want a continuous reference. Once you get past that hurdle, I've found that the interface works surprisingly well. I'm definitely going to miss it when it's gone.
posted by Katrel at 9:04 AM on August 15, 2012


Dominion is fun, but my family prefers Thunderstone.
posted by feersum endjinn at 9:55 AM on August 15, 2012


A spoiler image of the full Dark Ages card set has been released.
posted by codacorolla at 8:45 PM on August 15, 2012


That's not the full set. There are more than 25 card types in the set this time, and we've even seen some cards (like Shelters) in the previews that aren't in that image.
posted by JHarris at 7:11 AM on August 16, 2012


gilrain, I just worked with Rio Grande and supplied only the illustration. It's not my first card game: I have done a bunch for Call of Cthulhu as well.
posted by polywomp at 4:18 PM on August 16, 2012


"It's not my first card game: I have done a bunch for Call of Cthulhu as well."
Like Arkham Horror or that dueling one they do?
posted by edbles at 1:52 PM on August 17, 2012


The Call of Cthulhu card game, but I would love to work on an Arkham Horror expansion.
posted by polywomp at 8:16 AM on August 18, 2012


Sorry to say that it looks like the official digital release is going very poorly. At least Isotropic is still up. Can't say I'm happy with the 15 dollar price point, but I also understand that digital content offers direct competition for printed content.
posted by codacorolla at 2:10 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gah! $15 for a purely virtual expansion?! Terrible.
posted by JHarris at 11:59 PM on August 21, 2012


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