Dominion - The Game That Started it All

I think that anyone who plays board games as an adult likely had that redefining moment, where they realize that board games don’t have to be those cookie cutter games that we play as a child. 
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great children’s games out there, personally I was a big fan of connect 4 and Clue but I also remember hating Monopoly. In our house no one really seemed to know all the rules and we always seemed to stop play right after the hotels came out. Even then I remember being interested in board games, always asking someone if they wanted to play something, but when I played my first couple of games as an adult, it was different. My mind was blown away by what board games can do, thematically and mechanically. For me, the game that started my love of board games as an adult was Dominion, even to this day Cody and I will still play Dominion, in fact we just bought the Seaside expansion.

Why Dominion? While some may see it as a very basic deck building game (which it is) it has so many possibilities. For anyone who hasn't played it, Dominion is a 2 to 4 player light deck building gaming with a total game length of about 30 minutes. It plays well with new gamers who don't want anything too intense but it is also a great classic to pull off the shelf and play with people who game all the time. It is easy to set up, and plays very differently every time that you play - probably one of my favorite parts. The theme of the game is to build a kingdom better than your opponents, and this is done by buying cards, money, and victory points, the more cards you buy the more actions and buys you get, the more money you buy the more expensive cards you can buy, etc, etc. The game ends when you run out of Providences or when you run out of three other cards.

Each game is played with a the same basic setup, money cards (coppers, silvers, and golds), victory point cards (estates, duchies, and Providences), but the other 10 cards are up to you and this is the cool part. You can play cards that allow you to play more cards, or pick up, or buy more cards but if you like to play a game that is a little more mean you can play cards that make your opponent lose cards, take a curse (- 1 victory points at the end of the game), or permanently discard a card. Pick one of the suggested sets, pick your favorites, or use the randomizer cards to make a completely new combination. No matter what cards you choose its always a good time, and for someone with a whole lot of AP (analysis paralysis) I don't often find myself struggling to make a decision because no matter what happens your cards will always be useful.

Curious about the last game Cody and I played? To try out our new expansion, we picked 10 cards randomly from both the original and the Seaside and ended up with this combination:
- The money lender
- Remodel
- The pirate ship
- The native village
- Woodcutter
- Navigator
- Explorer
- Sea Hag
- Merchant Ship, and
- Gardens

While this wasn't one of my favorite combinations, it was an interesting one. None of the cards worked super well together, in the sense that none of them gave extra actions or allowed us to pick up cards and have large turns where 5 or 6 cards could be played at a time. Instead we had to rely on getting more gold to allow us to buy more things, and taking other routes to victory, mostly because our hands were so full of curse cards. For that reason, this game was a bit of an outlier, instead of running out of Providences and ending the game that way, we ran out of three other cards - Sea hags (it was a mean game full of curses), curses, and native villages. Cody's strategy for this game was a bit of a random selection of cards and to give me as many curses as possible, where as mine was my usual - buy as many gardens as possible and then get as large a deck as possible (for every 10 cards you have, you get one victory point - per garden). Who was the winner you ask? While, I stomped Cody... 70 victory points to 15 victory points - I bought a lot of victory points and gave a number of curses.

Perhaps there are better deck building games out there, and there are definitely others in our collection, but for me this one will always hold a special place in our collection.

What do you think of Dominion? What is the game that started it all for you?

 We are also considering a live stream of Dominion in the coming weeks. If you are interested.

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