Timewaster Tuesday: Dominion, The Original Game

My newest obsession (and trust me when I say that’s quite an understatement) is a good old card game. But seriously, this isn’t your average card game. I’m talking about the deck-building adventure that is Dominion.

This game has literally taken over my apartment at school. Granted, we are a bunch of nerds, and we tend to obsess, but man, have we figured out ways to break this game … My friends describes Dominion as “interactive, competitive Magic: The Gathering deck building.” That description is pretty close, but for those of you who may not be familiar with it, let’s get a closer look
Basic Rules

Dominion is a German strategy card game. It was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, and published by Rio Grande Games. It’s for 2-4 players, but we’ve played up to 6 without too much trouble.

There are 3 main types of cards: Action, Victory, and Treasure.

In the middle of the table, you set up the treasure and victory cards in ascending order. Below that, put curses (which are -1 victory point!) and the trash card, which is where anyting trashed will go.

Today’s photos are courtesy of Flickr since Dawn’s camera is having issues. citoki0815 also enjoys Dominion.

Then, select 10 supply cards. The game comes with a few suggested sets of ten, or you can check out some online forums for recommendations. If you’re really stuck, there’s a neat Android app and a website[http://www.hiwiller.com/dominion/] that will make a random set for you.

Then the game begins! One at a time, each player goes through their turn, playing actions, buying cards, and expanding their territory. The game ends when any three supply piles runs out or when the supply of Provinces runs out. When you finish, everyone sorts out their decks and counts victory points, and whoever has the most, wins!

Action – Buy – Clean-up

The basic turn-play follows three simple steps:

1. Action phase: You play one action card, if you have any in your hand. If the card gives you +Action, you can continue to play actions until you run out.

2. Buy phase: You get one buy to spend all the treasure in your hand. Sometimes action cards will give you +Buy or +Coin, so watch for those and use them!

3. Clean-up phase: Everything in play and everything in your hand gets discarded, and you draw yourself a fresh hand of five cards. When your deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and that becomes your new deck.

negatendo and friends enjoying a game

Some Cool Cards

Throne Room: Choose and Action card in your hand. Play it twice. Oh the power of Throne Room. Stack these with themselves or other cards for some pretty nice action-filled turns.

Cellar: +1 Action. Discard any number of cards. +1 Card per card discarded. This is a “free action” card, which means that after you play it you still have another action. It also is a nice way to go through your deck faster, especially when victory cards start to clog it up.

Attack Cards: There are a few of these, and they attack other players. Thieves steal treasures, Witches deliver curses, and Spies reveal cards from everyone’s deck.

Moat: +2 Cards. When another player plays an Attack card, you may reveal this from your hand. If you do you are unaffected by the attack. This card ends up being pretty useful in a deck full of Thieves and Witches!

Remodel: Trash a card from your hand. Gain a card costing up to 2 more than the trashed card. This lets you trade one card out for a more expensive card. It’s a slow way to expand property, but effective in keeping your deck size down.

My Favorite Decks

Chapel deck: The Chapel is an action card that lets you trash up to four cards from your hand. So the basis of a Chapel deck is to trash everything. Of course, you need to upgrade your money from Copper to Silver to Gold, first, but your hand should consist solely of Gold, Provinces and one Chapel at the end. Watch out for thieves though!

Money deck: The purpose of this deck is just to have as much money as possible. That way you’ll have a good chance of pulling enough in a hand to buy a Province.

+Card/+Action deck: Village, Laboratory, Market – all these cards are fabulous because they give you extra cards and actions, which help you shuffle through your deck faster. The more cards you’re holding, the better chance you’ll be able to afford those Provinces
Garden deck: Gardens are a victory card that is sometimes in the game, and each gives you one point per ten cards in your deck. In this deck, you want to build up actions that give you +Buy so you can make your deck grow and expand, utilizing your Gardens to their full potential.

Tips and Tricks

Before you make your first buy, read all the cards on the table and develop a strategy. I hate noticing a great way to play halfway through a game, when it’s too late to switch up my play style.

Don’t get too caught up on money. Gold seems pretty and shiny, but you might be better off investing in a Dutchy (3 victory points) in the long run.

Watch the supply piles. If the game is getting close to ending, you might want to grab extra victory points instead of actions you’ll never get to use.

Be careful to watch the order in which you play your actions. A Smithy gives you +3 Cards, but no actions, so if you don’t play a Village (+2 actions +1 card) first, you might not get to use the cards you draw.

Victory points are important, but they also tend to clog up your deck, since they don’t do anything until the end of the game. Find ways to get around them.

Did you notice this one is in another language?


There are four Dominion expansions, and be sure to check back for posts on each. I wasn’t kidding when I said this game is my new obsession!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. GeekInsight
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 11:42:12

    Dominion is fantastic. We recently got Intrigue and have been in love with those cards. It really adds a lot of variation and strategy.


  2. Avalyn
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 13:17:28

    My husband is always having his friends over and playing this. They have yet to invite me to play with them though!


  3. Tony
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 15:34:25

    That’s hilarious! I just learned how to play this past weekend too! It’s an interesting game. I will have to play a few different scenerios to see if I will ‘love it’ though. It always amazes me how an intricate game like Dominion can be made from just pure creativity. Thanks for the post.


  4. GN
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 15:57:46

    Ooh! My sister and I have been addicted to this game since a friend brought it over right after Christmas (then conveniently forgot to bring it home with him…)

    When it’s just the two of us, we like to try and draw it out a bit by playing until we hit the end of the Duchy pile and the end of the Province pile.


  5. Jeff Jordan
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 18:00:35

    Yeah we just played it Friday night for the first time. How funny. So far I like it. I need to experiemnt with the different scenarios though.


  6. Eleni
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 18:31:34

    Awesome! My little brother got Dominion for Christmas and we spent a lot of time over the holiday break playing. I got hooked. So when I came home, I had to order the game for myself. And it just so happens that my boyfriend who has been in a little station in Antarctica for the past three months started playing it there! It’s everywhere!

    But I’ve never played with any of the expansions. I was looking at them on Amazon and trying to decide which ones to get, if any. I look forward to your analysis of each of them 🙂


  7. Brenda
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 00:49:31

    This is my new favorite game. I’m trying recruit others to love it as much as I do so I can play. I have played the prosperity expansion set and it’s pretty fun too. Great game, thanks for sharing.


  8. Julie
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 01:31:04

    I just learned and liked it once I got the hang of it… we just had a a party to share with some friends, it was fun! (fyi, don’t try to teach this game to 8 people at once, ha!)


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