A card game produced by Rio Grande Games in '08, it has quickly penetrated /tg/'s defenses and laid siege our hearts. It's a deck-building game in which the players compete to gather the most valuable deck of cards, representing a Kingdom.
So how does it work?
I hear you ask...
The game is played with ten stacks of cards in the middle of the play area (Called Kingdom Cards) and a separate group of 7 card stacks known as the "supply", Each stack in the "Kingdom cards" is multiples of one kind of card e.g. one stack will be of smithy while another stack will be Militia and so on. The supply has 3 stacks of treasure cards of various values (1, 2 and 3)and 3 stacks of "Victory" cards ("estate", "Duchy" and "province" and 1 pile of "Curse" cards.
All players have a starting deck of 10 cards (7 "copper" and 3 "Estate")which they shuffle and place face down in front of them. Each player then draws five cards as their hand.
Choose who goes first randomly. They get to do three things in their turn, Action (play an action card), Buy (Self explanatory) and Cleanup (Discard all used and unused cards in your hand then draw 5 more from your deck). This is done in this EXACT order, if you buy you can't go back and do an action.
Play then moves clockwise to the next player.
That doesn't sound that complicated... or fun
And you'd be right, but wait, what about those "kingdom cards" in the middle?
With the money you have in your starting hands you can buy kingdom cards for the amount printed on them. These are action cards that provide bonuses when you get round to playing them.
Let me show you...
Timmy here has got a starting hand of 5 "copper" (lucky but not unheard of) and decides that he is going to spend all 5 gold on a "market". A "market" is an action card that states "+1 card, +1 Action, +1 Buy and +1 gold". Timmy has to put this card, faceup, into his discard because he has just bought it along with the five "copper" cards he just used to buy it. He now draws the other five cards left in his deck...
He now has no deck so he shuffles his discard pile and places it face down. He now has a new draw deck to draw cards from.
Play comes back round to Timmy who now has just two measly "copper" and three "Estate" cards in his hand. He can't do any actions as he hasn't got an action card so he goes straight to the buy phase. He has a single buy so he purchases a "moat" action card. (Draw two cards plus stop dickery by opponents) Timmy discards his played and unplayed cards and draws 5 new cards. He now has 4 copper and his nice shiny new market card he bought last turn.
Play goes round to him again and He has an action card to play, his market. He now gets to draw another card from his deck (+1 card, in this example another copper) he can now take another action but he has no other action cards in his hand to play so he moves to his buy phase, Timmy has two buys thanks to his market (+1 buy). Using his five gold he buys another market. He has one gold left from the market card he played (+1 gold) but nothing in the game costs 1 gold in the starting box, so he uses his second buy to take an extra copper, for free, from the copper pile in the supply. The extra gold is unused and lost.
Several turns later Timmy has bought and played several markets in one turn and bought all the markets to frustrate the other players.
Timmy has inadvertently become a Munchkin.
The game ends when either all the province cards are taken from the supply or three separate "Kingdom cards" stacks are depleted. With Timmy having used the endless gold he has accumulated to buy up all the duchies and provinces he could in the "victory" cards pile. Only Victory and curse cards are counted towards winning. Timmy has a final game score of 34.
His nearest opponent (Who couldn't get enough gold at any given time because he was too slow off the mark to get the good cards) has 12. The other players scores are equally dismal.
The other players will shout obscenities at Timmy (especially as he played his innumerable "Market" cards and took three times as long as everyone else to take his turn) and leave...
before promptly returning for a rematch...
Over and over again. Because it is that fucking good.
There are many expansions (all based on themes) for this game, they all require the main box to play but are interchangeable between the various sets. Because the game only ever uses ten of the "Kingdom cards" piles the game doesn't get bogged down in thousands of different cards in play like certain other games (Talisman and Arkham Horror, I'm looking Right at you) and the game plays in about 30 mins to an hour (Depending on number of players) This particular writer recommends more than 2 players.
Dominion Base Set: 500 cards which includes all the "supply" cards needed to play any of the expansions. The vanilla game.
Base Cards: A little box containing only the "supply" cards needed to play any of the expansions on their own without the need to buy the original base set. Fancier card art and more of the more powerful "supply" cards that came with later expansions.
Intrigue: 25 new sets of cards with some cards being more than one type (i.e. Harem, which is both a victory and a treasure card) as well as having some giving you choices (either an action or a buy for example). Intrigue also brought in more player interaction than the base set allowing more competitive players to attempt to dick over their mates during play.
Seaside: 26 sets this time and a whole new mechanic, duration, was added. Certain orange cards had duration which gave you benefits on this turn and then some smaller benefits at the start of your next turn. Also added in cards that gave the ability to take cards out of your deck during play and store them to one side till the end of the game, thus streamlining decks.
Alchemy: A small expansion of 12 sets with a focus on action cards. Also added in the Potion treasure card which was needed to play any of the cards from this expansion. Not wildly popular.
Prosperity: 25 sets which focus on big spending. Lots of high cost cards with many effects. Also introduced the Platinum and Colony supply cards which were just higher value treasure and victory point cards respectively. Also notable for the introduction of victory point tokens.
Cornucopia: A small set like Alchemy with 13 sets of cards. The main mechanic here is to reward diversity in a players deck or hand. This set was the best one for improving deck engines.
Hinterlands: Another big set of 26. Card design here focused on effects that allow players to gain additional cards when specific conditions were met. One of the more popular sets.
Dark Ages: The biggest expansion with 35 new sets. This expansion also made changes both to the initial set of a game with new starting hand cards and a focus on cards dealing with the trash pile (the place where all cards discarded from every players decks go).
Guilds: Small set of 13 which added in the overpaying mechanic which allowed players extra benefits from paying over and above the cost of a card when initially buying it.
Adventures: 26 sets which had a mix of cards, some of which revisited the duration mechanic from seaside and added in the reserve mechanic. Cards with reserve could be placed in reserve (duh) and played when needed.
Empires: The latest expansion: At time of writing not yet released but with the title probably bigger more expensive cards with powerful effects.
That's all well and good but is it value for money?
Oh you want proof? I bought this game in a brick and mortar shop in Edinburgh for £35 and got 500 cards. 500. how much is a booster pack for Magic: the gathering? The first expansion I had looked at cost £30 and gave an additional 300. Each expansion adds similar amounts and with the mix and match way of building the starting sets for the game means endless replay value.
Seriously buy this fucking game.
You are dicking around on 1d4chan, so I am going to assume you play more board games then is healthy or sane. So for people who think about it too much...
Balance is all over the place, and generally it comes down to being first to spot the combo. Also initial hands, but that really depends on the board. This is all great... until you have played a bunch. Then it really just comes down to luck of the draw... which is why you get expansions to distract you from the fact the core of the game never changes.
It is a great game to play a few dozen times, but remember that it won't actually ever get better.
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