Review: Dominion Board Game (Base Set) – Discover the Excitement

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Dominion Boards Games Strengths Revealed in a Review

Review of the board game Dominion finds a great deal of strengths. If you are new to board games beyond Monopoly, you may not know about Dominion; however, if you are into board games, this is one of the “standard games” for any collection. At $31.00 on Amazon, it is not a “cheap game,” but it is not a bank breaker either. That is, unless you go for the expansions, which we will discuss in a later article. Rio Grande Games has one of the best games for serious gamers, and casual players alike in this must have game.

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Expansions for the Board Game Dominion

Strategy – Dominion Board Game

The story of the game is the game’s only weakness: You are a noble who wants to control the kingdom. Boring, right? Well, even with a story that we have heard time and time again, we see Dominion has a strong presence as you start to build in the expansions. With each different expansion comes a different story adaptation. One of which is called “Intrigue” – really adds to the “screw your neighbor vibe” of the game.

While this story is mundane, the cards build upon it – which gives it depth. The cards save the story element of Dominion. The reason is that each time you play, the story is different because the cards are different. This results in a story score of 8.5 out of 10.

Artwork – Dominion Board Game

Getting the story section out of the way, Dominion has some of the best art out there for a fantasy/historical period board game. Each card is painstakingly designed by artists, giving this deck creation game the feeling of art collecting. Except for the “victory point cards” which are cards with a simple shield and points on them, each card is a work of art. Since the game is made up entirely of cards, this means that they are all the art. This gives Dominion an excellent art score of 9.5 out of 10.

Mechanics – Board Game Dominion

Dominion’s mechanics are at the heart of the game. The basic concept of the game is that you “buy” cards (in-game, you do not have to buy the expansions to keep up with the game), to build a deck. Everyone playing has the option to buy the same cards, which eliminates the Magic/Pokémon “pay to play” problem. Once you have cards, the rules for your turn change based on the cards you draw, having kind of Flux feel to it.

“Intrigue” – really adds to the “screw your neighbor vibe” of the game.

The only drawback of this model is that when you use a card randomizer (which you can get for your phone) or shuffle one of each card and deal out the ten cards of the game, you can have a “less exciting game” without “engine” cards. While the game is still fun and playable, this can make a game long and drawn out. However, this rarely happens. If it does, the players can agree to trade out a “less fun” card for a “more fun” card, which makes each game unique. This results in a mechanics score of 9 out of 10.

Strategy – Board Game Dominion

Strategy for Dominion is challenging to discuss because each game is different. While there are broken combos with any randomized game, Rio Grande seems to have flushed most of these out in beta testing. The more expansions you add, the more chance you have of a killer combo coming up. On the other hand, since it is randomized, you may never see the combo again. Dominion tests a player’s ability to “work with what one has,” and this gives the game an amazing 10 out of 10 rating for strategy. If you teach a college class in logic, tactics, or strategy – this may be a game you can use to help students develop this skill.

Novelty – Dominion Board Game

In a world of card games, deck building games, and dark ages type games, Dominion stands well above the rest. The one reason it may not have reached “Magic” fame is that the pay to play strategy does not work – you have to be good at it. This means people who “buy wins” tend to pout when faced with a fair match. If you are like me, this is a bonus. Dominion is novel because it is different every time. While the goal is the same, you will rarely play the same game again with the same cards. This gives Dominion a novelty score of 9 out of 10.

Dominion Review Summary

Overall, Dominion is a must have game. If you and your friends like to play games, this is one you have to have in your collection. After learning the play pattern of actions/ buy/ cleanup, you pretty much know the basics of the game. After that, the strategy is based on the cards in play. Since the mechanics are relatively simple and expressed on the card, most people can pick it up within 10 minutes.

There is an added bonus: This game is safe for work as there is no racist, sexist, or homophobic undertones to set off people on either side of the aisle. This game has an excellent score of 46 out of 50. It is recommended that if you do not have it, buy it. If you have it, get the expansions because they add to the fun.

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

NRN • New Right Network
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