Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kingdom Building

This past Monday was our 13th anniversary--it honestly feels like much longer than that. Anyways, for our anniversary, my mom got us two new boardgames, and I will be spending this post talking about one of them: Dominion. When I was at Magfest I saw dozens of boxes of this game hanging around the tabletop gaming area. The only game close to rivaling the number of Dominion games was Settlers of Catan. Magfest ran tournaments with both of these games. Intrigued, my husband and I snagged a copy on Sunday morning to give it a try. Sadly, we only got the game roughly set up and got to play through maybe two rounds before we had to pack up because of a panel I wanted to attend. I had hoped we could sneak back down to tabletop and play through it after the panel, but that didn't end up happening.

Victory Cards
What little we got to sample of Dominion of Magfest was enough to sell us on the game. My mom likes tabletop games so I shared info on the game with her, and that's how we ended up with it for our anniversary. Dominion is a deck building card game, and it has nothing to do with armies and destroying the other players. Looking at the box, I'd honestly expected a card game variation of Risk or something like that. Rather than build armies, your goal is to build a kingdom made out of Estates, Duchies, and Provinces. You use money in the form of Copper, Silver, and Gold Treasure Cards to purchase the kingdom building cards (called Victory Cards in the game), more Treasure Cards, and Kingdom Cards. Buying the Victory Cards and Treasure Cards have obvious value--you need one to win the game and the other increases your purchasing power.
Treasure Cards

The Kingdom Cards are where the game gets really interesting in my opinion. There are 25 different Kingdom Cards that come with Dominion. For each game, you get to pick 10 Kingdom Cards to play with. Most of the Kingdom Cards allow you to perform actions on your turn--I think the Gardens are the only exception to this (Gardens add to your Victory Point pool). Some cards allow you to "attack" other players, and there is one card that functions as a defensive reaction and will protect you from "attacks" (the Moat card). I put attack in quotes because you don't attack other players in Dominion directly. Most attack cards give you a bonus of some kind and then have a side effect that adversely affects the other players. For instance, the Bureaucrat is an attack action card. If you play this card on your turn, you get to place an extra silver card on top of your deck. For the attack part of the card, other players have to take a Victory card (an Estate, Duchy, or Province card) and put it on top of their deck if they have one in their hand. In this case, you're just guaranteeing at least one card in your next draw will be a Silver and other players' next draw a Victory card in their next draw--Victory cards are pretty useless during actual game play.

25 Kingdom Cards--Pick 10 to play with
Another thing I found interesting about Dominion is the game mechanics. I've played other deck building games before, but this was the first where you build your deck as you play. Each player starts the game with a deck of 10 cards: 3 Estates and 7 Copper. On their turn, each player then plays actions to theoretically gain some advantage in the game and purchases cards (their choice of Victory cards, Treasure cards, or any one of the 10 Kingdom Cards selected for that game) to add to their deck. All players gain cards from a shared pool which include all the Victory cards, Treasure cards, and Kingdom cards used in that game. The game ends when all Province cards are purchased or when any three Kingdom cards are bought out. Once the game ends, all players pull the Victory cards out of their deck and count up the points. The one with the most points wins.

I absolutely love this game. With all the different Kingdom cards to choose from there are tons of different game combinations you can put together to play with. I really like games that have high replayability like that. It's worth noting that I usually lose this game; out of the nearly 20 times I've played it in the last week, I've only won once. My kids kick the snot out of me at this game most of the time. I still love it. =P

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