I need a break from playing Final Fantasy XIII-2
, so I'm going to write about something only somewhat related to video games: my recent ventures into tabletop gaming. Specifically, how I recently discovered my love for Dominion
. There's also an official iOS version due out
in a few weeks, so that makes it even more relevant.
I realize that for those who are already into the tabletop scene, Dominion isn't new; it came out in 2008 and gained popularity rather quickly by winning all sorts of awards for being awesome. If you're like me, however, and know very little about this niche genre of games, I'm writing this for you.
Dominion is a deck-building game from Rio Grande Games played by either two, three, or four people. There are apparently expansions that allow up to six players, but I haven't been brave enough to venture out into that world quite yet. Each person represents a kingdom that is trying to accumulate the most Victory Points before the game ends. Victory Points are acquired when you purchase Victory Cards that represent your ever-expanding kingdom. For instance, picking up a Province adds a staggering six Victory Points to your total. Players also amass Treasure and Action Cards to use for purchasing the Victory Cards.
A two-player game can be finished fairly quickly in 20 – 30 minutes if everyone is familiar with the rules. I assume that a three or four-player match can be completed just as quickly, but I don't have enough friends to find out. The game is fairly easy to learn, so a new player will be hollering out actions, dishing curses, and buying treasure like a pro in no time. Don't let the simplicity fool you though, there's still a ton of depth in the strategies you use to win.
I think the game appeals to me so much because it kind of reminds me of Civilization with less war, or maybe even a little bit of Sim City. I've always loved world-building video games, and Dominion has managed to bring that to the physical world on a table with a simple deck of cards.
I don't really remember what prompted me to buy Dominion, but whatever it was deserves a medal. It's been a big hit at my house for me and my girlfriend, which makes it that much sweeter because I actually get to play the game fairly often. She's not huge into geek culture, so you might be able to convince your non-geek friends to play if you also decide to dive into the world of Dominion.
I only own the base game that comes with 500 cards, but there are several expansions available, with more planned. Each game plays different than the one before because you can rotate different card types in and out as you like, changing strategies in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
The first time I played Dominion, I thought it would work wonderfully as an asynchronous game on a smartphone like Words with Friends. I don't know if the iOS version will be played that way, but I'll take it regardless.
If after reading through this article you feel like picking Dominion up, be warned, I feel like it might be the gateway drug to the world of tabletop gaming. There's already a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer staring out from the counter ready to play when my girlfriend and I get some free time to learn it. I had to stop myself from buying the new Penny-Arcade deck-building game because I don't want to start a backlog of tabletop games to go along with my video game stack
I've already created. If I'm not careful, I might find myself in some dark alley rolling 20-sided dice for initiative down the road.
Read more of my ramblings over at Grouvee.
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