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!
— From the instruction manual
A 2008 Board Game
designed by Donald X. Vaccarino. It is part of the Euro Game
genre (focusing on competition for resources), and is extremely
The game has a (loose) premise; You are a freshly-crowned monarch, leader of a tiny kingdom with a handful of resources. Your parents never made much fuss about expansion, but we wouldn't have a proper game if you felt the same way, or if you were the only upstart monarch.
The game is entirely card-based. Compared often to a CCG
, each player has a private deck of cards that represent their dominion
—the resources, income, and employees that they have access to. Players expand this dominion by purchasing cards from stacks at the center of the table. But each of these cards is in limited supply, and players with more buying power will obviously get them first.
Every player starts with 7 Copper cards (1 coin each) and 3 Estate cards (1 victory point each). A turn has three steps:
1. Play an A
uy a card from a stack by playing coin cards
lean-up; discard all the cards you've played and draw 5 cards for your next turn.
When you can't draw any more cards, you shuffle your discard pile to make a new deck. When 3 of the stacks of cards run dry, the game ends, and players count up all the victory point cards they've bought. The game can also end if all of the province cards (the highest-ranking victory cards) have been taken.
The meat of the game, however, is in the cards available to you. Every game contains the basic treasure cards (1, 2, and 3 coins) and victory cards (1, 3, and 6 points), but the other 10 purchasable cards (kingdom cards) can be chosen randomly or by player vote. They can range from giving extra buys or draws, to attacking opponents, to manipulating your deck and more.
The base game comes with 25 cards, and the game already has 8 expansions note
The game is so popular because despite the simple turn flow, there are numerous things to consider and many card effects to take into account. The most basic considerations are straightforward; victory points are useful at the end of the game, but during play they clog up your hand and deck, reducing your options. Action cards are helpful, but buying power must be purchased too, in the form of coins, and victory points are expensive, so where do you focus your money in each phase of the game?
Another element of this game praised often is the heavy playtesting that has gone into it—every card cost and effect is well thought out and tested, so the game is very finely balanced. And there are well over 200 different cards.
Not to be confused with Dominions
This Board Game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Ambadassador: The Ambassador card, if you're the one using it. If you're on the receiving end of its attack, it's more Ass in Ambassador.
- Art Evolution: An odd example—as the game's expansions have gone on, the artists they've hired have gotten progressively better and more detailed. Comparing the art of Intrigue to Prosperity and Cornucopia is a large leap.
- Art Shift: While most of the cards have an art style reminiscent of paintings, a few cards (Shanty Town, Navigator, and Harem in particular) use a cartoonish art style.
- Awesome, but Impractical:
- The Prize cards are five unique cards with a very difficult condition for gaining them. They're sometimes worth going for, but frequently by the time you've managed to get one, the game is almost over.
- The same applies to very expensive action or treasure cards: they are bought late in the game, not only after obtaining enough money but also after buying higher priority cards, so the window for using them before the game ends tends to be short.
- Cards with a potion cost (one potion plus a certain amount of money, from the Alchemy expansion) can fall into this. Every potion represents passing up, at the very least, a silver, meaning that you are overspecializing your treasure pool towards buying a few specific cards instead of accumulating normal treasures to buy more and more expensive normal cards.
- Brainwashed: The power of the Possession card.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Averted by the way the game is setup—everyone has access to identical resources from the beginning. There are some cards that invoke this with their effects, however.
- Boring, but Practical: Cards from the base game tend to be much simpler than those from the expansions, but have more direct effects.
- For a more specific example, the basic treasures. +Coins with no additional effect sounds boring, but you can't do much without them.
- Curse: Each Curse card in your deck at the end of the game costs you 1 victory point. Technically, every game has Curse cards available, but they generally don't come into play unless some other card lets players inflict them on their opponents.
- Discard and Draw: Cellar. Warehouse is "Draw then Discard."
- Expansion Pack: Each with a different theme
- Extra Turn: Several variations—Tactician, Possession, and Outpost each give you one in different ways. See the trope page.
- Flavor Text: The rulebook for each expansion begins with a brief drily humorous description of the realm's current situation, fitting the expansion's theme. For example, the "Intrigue" rulebook begins:
- Genre Launch: Of "deckbuilding games"—certainly there are many elements of other games in its mechanics, but the specific way Dominion turned the act of deckbuilding into a gameplay focus quickly popularized the genre.
- Jack of All Trades: The Jack of all Trades card of course—a mid-cost card that gives you numerous small benefits when played.
- Meta Game: Debatable. Because a large point is that the cards vary for each game, strategies tend to fall into general categories, rather than specific moves.
- This article argues that there are five such broad categories, although it does admit that there is a lot of overlap between them.
- Not the Intended Use: Chapel (meant to be used on curses, it can also be used to prune your deck of your weak starting cards)
- A meta example is the blank cards the game comes with. They literally had no intended use, they were just included since they get printed anyway. Fans realized they could be used to mark blank piles well, and could be used to work custom cards into the game.
- There's also the blue deck—one copy of every card in the game, but with a different backing. Originally intended to mark when a pile runs out, they did this job very badly. But shuffling them and drawing ten turns out to be an easy way to randomize which piles are used. They can also be used to form the deck for the promo card Black Market.
- The promo card Black Market lets the player buy cards that are not part of the current game's 10-card kingdom. However, it also has the side effect of letting the player play treasure cards during the action phase—something they're normally not allowed to do. This makes certain other cards very powerful, and arguably turns the card Tactician into a gamebreaker.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Bureaucrat card which forces other players to put a card useless for play on the top of their deck, ensuring it will quickly return to their hand.
- Sadistic Choice: The Torturer card makes you choose whether to discard cards or take a Curse.
- Sequel Escalation: Several expansions escalate existing mechanics or introduce new ones.
- Intrigue introduces the Harem card: the first card that provides both money and victory points.
- Prosperity introduces new money and victory cards worth 5 coins and 10 points, respectively, whereas the base game only goes as high as 3 coins or 6 points.
- Swarm of Rats: The Rats card. It can trash your bad cards, but unless you're careful, they'll overrun your deck. This is because when you play one, you must take another Rats, and Rats cannot trash themselves. There also twice as many of these as normal in the supply.