J’s Show and Tell: Dominion

dominionThis weekend, while hanging out with friends, I was introduced to a new (to me) card game: Dominion.  I’ll be honest: I’m normally not one for card games.  It seems like every male friend I’ve ever had has had a love affair with Magic: the Gathering, and while I do know how to play, it’s never really drawn me in… and perhaps that has kept me from giving games like this a chance.

However, I’m really glad I was surrounded by people who were into Dominion and thus didn’t give me a chance to turn up my nose. I had more fun playing this than any board game I’ve tried in the last few years.

Dominion is what is called a deck-building game.  You start out with just a few cards in your “deck.”  At the end of each hand, you discard all your remaining cards.  When you’ve gone through all your cards, you shuffle your discard pile and start over.  However, in the meantime you will have bought new cards, so each time you shuffle your deck will have become larger and larger.

The ultimate goal is to buy as many cards with “Victory Points” as you can – at the end of the game, all the points are added up to see who wins.  But in the meantime you can use a few different strategies to gain the money you need to buy those cards.

My strategy?  The one that seemed the most appealing and fun – I figured I probably wouldn’t win, but I would attempt to mess up everyone else’s attempts as much as possible.  My favorite card (and I had many duplicates thereof) was one that required everyone to immediately discard one of their own cards.  Since you only get four cards in a hand, this was a Big Deal, and I enjoyed the grumbling.

No, I didn’t ultimately win – but I had fun!

Oh, one cool bit that I forgot to mention: this game has a TON of cards, and you only use a small portion of them in any individual game – so each time you play you’ll get an all-new combination of cards, including some that you might not have seen before.  I want to play it again just to see what I get next time.

Apparently Dominion, released in 2008, has already had quite a lot of popularity, and the inevitable expansion packs and spinoffs.  My hosts this weekend owned the original, as well as Dominion: Intrigue, which can either be played alone or as an expansion.  Apparently there are other expansions which can’t be played alone.  Again, though, even the original has quite a bit of replay value.

If you’re looking for a new game to try for your next geek gathering, I highly recommend Dominion.  Even this card-game-skeptic is an instant fan.

And you know what’s funny?  I went back to the last time I reviewed a board game, almost exactly a year ago, and saw that someone recommended Dominion way back then.   Now, granted, I’m not in a big group of people trying new games very often anymore, but still!  Clearly you guys know what you’re talking about, and if you care to throw any more recommendations my way, I’ll do my best to stop being a hermit and try some out.

Grab a copy of Dominion – and its expansions – on Amazon.

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