Game Night: Dominion

It was Sunday night, and after a weekend of projects, Cally and I wanted to play a board game.

We started with Beowulf, then switched to Dominion.  Beowulf is a tile and character placement game that makes you use math and solve the ever-changing puzzle on the board.

Dominion is a great deck-building game with a good amount of strategy and just a bit of luck.  It is great to have games on the shelf with lots of replayability, and Dominion is one of the best for that.

Beowulf Math is Traded for Dominion Tactics

Beowulf is a great game to practice quick math skills.

For those of you who haven’t played Beowulf, it is a great game that is often one that travels with us, since it is so easy to teach and the games are so quick.

It engages your mind to find the best placement of tiles for the most advantageous points for you and the most disadvantageous for your opponents! 

It’s fun and we knocked out a quick game before switching to Dominion.

Our Collection of Dominion big boxes: Plunder, Renaissance, Prosperity, Intrigue, Seaside, Allies, and the base set of Dominion.

Dominion is a game with the most replayability.

We still have a couple unopened Dominion expansions, but we like to play with the opened sets until we are familiar with most of the cards.

If you don’t know Dominion, I can say it is easy to learn, easy to teach, and you can play multiple games in a short period of time.

It is best with two or three players, but for people who know the game, four can play quickly too.

Since it is a deckbuilding game, and each of the 14 expansions has 20 or more new card options, plus new mechanics, there are over 20 quadrillion combinations of cards that could be available for each game!

That is one reason there is more replayability in Dominion than any other game we have played.

Patterns emerge when devising strategies for Dominion.

Even though there are so many possibilities with card components of each game, there are far fewer strategies.

The most common, easily learned strategy is to just buy money, upgrade your money from copper to silver to gold and even platinum if you are playing with that.  

This often works, since you end up with a hand that is mostly money and you can purchase victory points quickly.  It is even more effective if there are ways for you to get rid of filler cards, like copper or even silver, once you have better currency in the deck.  

Buying money is not always the best strategy though, and can be beaten lots of times with different card combinations that multiply buying power.

A fun one is to build a deck that lets you draw more cards.

This is usually a combination of at least two types of cards; ones that can increase your actions per turn, and ones that allow you to draw more cards.

These decks are fun, because if you tune them right, you can play the whole deck each turn and get lots of buying power.  If played poorly, they can really slow down the game though and aggravate other players.

Even though the variety of tactics aren’t endless, their permutations seem to be.

Although patterns appear in multiple games, no two games are alike, even when you use the same starting cards!

How do people feel about attack cards in Dominion?

With the variety of offensive cards, if any of those appear in your chosen ten for the game, you can style a deck around attacking your opponents.

This can be a fun one for the attacker and frustrating for the others, although the best defense against offense cards is offense, just as the saying goes.

Generally if another player takes an attack card, you can match them and offset the effects, or if you are lucky to have defensive cards in play, then you can use those to keep the theme of your deck consistent.

Buy low and sneak a win.

A rarely used tactic is the rush, which involves buying lots of lower level victory points before the others build up their decks to be able to buy the expensive ones.

If you can manage to empty three piles and trigger the endgame before others start buying the big victory points, the little ones can win.

The best way to figure out strategies is to learn from mistakes.

Usually, when we play, Cally wants to replay any combinations of starting cards until she can win with it.

She analyzes the cards and modifies her strategy successfully, so she doesn’t lose twice in a row.  

Of course, it is often the case that she wins on the first try and doesn’t insist on playing that combination of cards again!

This is the basic Dominion set with one of our favorite expansions…Prosperity!

Setting up randomized Dominion games with the base set, four expansions, and a 2nd edition upgrade pack.

On this Sunday night, we were using an app that randomizes your card selection for setup and can include any, some or all of the cards you have.

I selected the Dominion base set, Intrigue, Prosperity, the Prosperity upgrade pack, Seaside, and Allies.  

That gave us more than 100 card stacks that could be randomized and we ended up with some cool combinations.  We re-randomized each time and each of us would veto a card if it seemed like it wouldn’t work or we just didn’t like it.  

After about an hour and a half, we had played four games and were tied!

We had to play a fifth game, so we randomized again and ended up with a highly improbable tie.  Technically in this game, you lose a tie if you were the first to play, since the other player achieved the same points in fewer rounds.

However, that didn’t matter, since Cally ended the game and I started it, and we both had exactly 50 victory points!  

We have a competitive family, but it still seemed like a perfect ending to the weekend, so we both accepted the tie and another fun game night starring Dominion.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Do you have an epic Dominion game that you remember?  
  2. Did you immediately take a picture of the cards or save it in an app so you could play it again?
  3. What other games have you played that have great replayability?

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