It’s such a relief to play a game and have fun almost immediately. It got a little heavy in the Dice Vice column last month and while that’s definitely ok, I’m glad that this month’s game was easy and quick. Though I must say that it is hilarious to me how excited I was to pick up on the game so easily. The rules took only about 10 minutes to explain and I understood those rules almost immediately? This is what heaven feels like, my friends.
What is this game, you ask? Dominion! The name sounds really intimidating and if you judge by my boyfriend’s card collection, with all the expansion packs and toolbox-turned-carrying-case, it looks that way. But in reality, it’s quick and easy to pick up.
The point of the game is to get more Victory points than your opponents before one stack of victory points cards runs out. You do this by collecting three types of cards: Action, Treasure, and Victory. Action cards grant you certain abilities, and get placed in your hand to be used during later rounds, Treasure cards are money, and Victory cards give you points to win the game. The whole point is to get as many points and exert your dominion over the land. Get it?
For a two player game, each player starts with three Victory cards, and five Treasure cards; the amount of cards differ if more people are playing. These cards will be your base hand for the game. As it continues you’ll add Action cards, and more Treasure and Victory cards into your hand. Each round you deal out five cards and use them to take actions, buy more cards, and then discard or cleanup. Then you deal out five more cards; you shuffle the discards back into your hand when you need more cards.
So now you’ve heard of the three phases to each turn: action, buy, cleanup. You can remember them if you can remember your ABCs…which is something I’m assuming we all have down pat. First you take your Action cards that you have bought in a previous round and lay one down. Generally each round you get one Action and one Buy, but some cards, like the village card, grant you more of these. A village card gives you another card and the ability to lay down more two action cards. Cards like these are really great because you can get a string of moves going and make a lot of treasure each round.
Once you’ve laid out your Action card and noted if there are any bonuses associated with it, you can buy cards from the center rows. The cards list how much treasure they cost and when you buy them they go into your cleanup or discard pile. Action or Treasure cards that you buy can’t be used in that round, but rather you have to wait until they get reshuffled back into your hand.
The final type of card that you can buy during the Buy phase are the Victory cards. These cards do nothing for you other than to give you Victory points at the end, so while you need to have them you may not want to start buying them early. They don’t help you at all during the Action or Buy phases; they’re just nothing cards in your hand. Plus the Province cards cost eight treasure and since you only have five cards in your hand, it may take a bit to get there.
Once the Province cards are all gone, the game ends. All players count up their Victory point cards and the person with the most points wins!
I really enjoyed this game and while laying it all out here makes it seem slightly more complicated, it’s not hard to follow along. I did really feel like I needed a win this month in my board gaming so it was great to play this game. 2-4 people can play and while you are certainly competing to win, there’s not a ton of interaction between the players. A few cards, like the Militia Action card, allow you to “attack” the other player by making her or him discard three cards from their hand but mostly each player is on her own. Setup, rules, and game play probably took a grand total of an hour. An hour! The Game from Hell aka Terra Mystica took three times that and made me cry a little.
Dominion was a nice change from a super complex game. If you’re looking for a fun, easy to learn game, check this one want. It probably won’t make you cry—isn’t that truly all we want in a game?