Dominion is one of my favorite modern tabletop games. It’s the game that effectively birthed what came to be known as the deckbuilding genre, in which players all start with a small, weak deck of basic cards and add cards to their deck as the game goes on. Dominion’s popularity spawned many other deckbuilders, such as Ascension, Clank!, Star Realms, and the video game Slay the Spire.
The game has a simple set of base rules:
Action: You may play one action card from your hand. Cards have all sorts of different effects. Some cards, like the one above, allow you to play more action cards, draw more cards, or gain money.
Buy: During this step, you can play any Treasures you have in your hand. The Gold, pictured above, gives you three money. Then you can buy cards from off the table and add them to your deck.
Cleanup: Discard any remaining cards in your hand and draw a new hand of cards.
How do you win? Every game has a different set of cards on the table that you can buy and add to your deck. You can buy Actions and Treasures like those pictured above, but you can also buy Victory cards like this Province. Victory cards are the only cards that give you points at the end of the game — but you have to add them to your deck and they do nothing. If you clog your deck with cheap Victory cards too early, you’ll ruin your deck and be unable to buy anything else. But if you wait too long, your opponents will get too much of a head start and buy them all up before you can.
What makes it unique? One of my favorite parts of Dominion is that you put out a different set of cards to buy in every game, so that a strategy that worked in the previous round may not work in the next. There are many expansions with hundreds of cards, so the possibilities are nearly infinite!
Why is it such a great game? It’s very easy to teach people, but the strategy is interesting and deep, especially if you mix and match multiple expansions. Each game is fast, especially with experienced players, and changing the cards out each round makes it worthwhile to play over and over again.
What’s the drawback? If you collect every expansion of Dominion and try to store them all into the same box, you may hurt your back trying to pick it up.