Date of Review: November 24th

Current Personal Ranking: #1

Time to play (in my experience): 20-80 minutes, average is about 35 minutes, probably.

Difficulty Level: 2 (5-10 minutes to teach, 90 minutes or less to play)

Age Level: It always depends on the “gaming ability” of kids, but I’ve played this game with kids as young as 6. 8 or 9 might be as low as I would normally go.

Type of Game: Deck-Building. This means that you start out with your own deck of cards (in this case, 10) that are very basic and not very good. From there, you obtain cards from a central pool that go into your deck. Over the course of the game your deck gets better and you can do more things and obtain even better cards.

Game Setting: Medieval Europe.

Brief overview of how to play: This game is as simple as “A, B, C, D”. A--you may play one action card out into your play area. B--you may buy one card from the central pool. C--you clean-up your area by putting all the played cards and all the remaining cards in you hand into your own discard pile. D--draw five cards from the next turn. If you don’t have enough cards in your deck to draw, you shuffle up your discard pile and that becomes your deck. 

How many players does it play?: 2-4.

Ideal number: 3. 2 players is fun, too, but 3 players I think is the “sweet spot”. 4 players can run just a little long.

How do you win?: Acquire the most points through land cards by the end of the game (they are green). 

Why do I love/recommend this game?

1) Variability. Every game is different (and sometimes very different), because you play with 10 piles of kingdom cards (of usually ten cards each, or eight with 2 players). The game comes with 25 different kingdom cards, meaning that you will never play with everything in the box in one game. It’s brilliant. I recommend playing the "First Game" set of cards (listed in the rulebook) for your first game (obviously), then maybe playing through the rest of the recommended sets. But my favorite way to play is simply dealing out 10 random cards and seeing how the game plays. So much fun!

2) Easy to teach. See above--it is as easy as A-B-C-D. Now each Kingdom card does different things (see below), but they tell you quite clearly what do do, and you just follow what the card tells you to do.

      

(here are a few examples of the cards. You just follow along what it says to do when you play the card. For instance, the Smithy allow you to draw three cards from your own deck. The Market does a bunch of things, including allowing you to play another card, and to buy an additional card. The Chancellor, well, that wouldn't make sense why you would want to do such a thing until you actually play the game...)

3) Fast to play. Once you get the hang of the game, the games can go really fast. It’s pretty easy to whip out a 2 player game in 20 minutes or so. Sometimes combos can get a little crazy and long, which might be a little boring for the other players, but even so, turns don’t last more than a minute or 2.

4) Fun combos. I have had so many “ah ha” moments while playing “Dominion”. Sometimes I’ll look at a card and say, well, what advantage would that be? And then I see the card interacting with another card, and I’m amazed! Sometimes this happens literally as I am playing the card down in front of me.

5) Delicate balance of when to move into the “end game”. One of the especially clever things about this game is that the land cards that win you the game are just clutter in your hand during the game. So you have to figure out when do you stop building your deck for cool combos and money and start collecting land cards.

6) Great expansion sets. Many games have what are called “expansions.” So, if you love a particular game, you can expand it by adding more to it to increase variability. With Dominion, I think that you need at least one expansion set to make the game shine. In the Dominion expansions, they are basically just more cards that you can mix in so that games are even more different from one another. I own all but two of the expansions.

Is there anything offensive about this game? Anything at all that could be remotely offensive to others?: Barely. The opposite of the land cards that give you positive points are called “curse” cards and they give you negative points. There is a witch card that gives out curse cards, and if someone is offended by something like the witchery in “Harry Potter”, then one might find not like that. Of course, a family could always choose just never to play with the witch card. There are other cards in expansion sets that might be (very) moderately offensive (there is a “Harem” card in the “Intrigue” set), but again, you could always choose to omit these cards from play. The cards are never worse than a “PG” and maybe even “G” (I mean, there is a witch in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” for instance) Nothing in the game play itself is ever immoral that I can see.  Also, because Dominion practically requires one expansion, there might be some question about Jesus’ command to live simply. That’s all that I can think of that might be remotely offensive

Final Word: This is my favorite game. I love that it can play so differently every time with the random set up of the cards. I recommend buying one expansion (at least) after you’ve played the basic game for a little while. It really makes the game even more awesome.

Amazon.com price at time of writing: $28.08. Full size expansions average $29.20

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