[TT] Introduction to Deck-Building Games

Welcome to Tabletop Tuesday, something new I’m trying here at Kill Ten Rats. For most of this year, I will be gradually discussing the game Dominion, which is the trope maker for deck-building games. This is rich territory for discussion, with quite a few mechanics and expansions, and you know I can spend a whole post talking about one card.

In case you have never played one, deck-building games are second cousins to collectible card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokémon. The big difference is that you buy your cards within the game, not between games. There is a fixed pool of cards in front of you, and you start with a small pool of resources. You use those resources to buy cards, which get shuffled into your deck. You now have more resources and abilities for the next time you go through your deck. Repeat unto victory.

The ideal of a deck-building game is to capture everything good about collectible card games without the soul- and wallet-crushing pay-to-win business model. You still get to customize your deck and strategy, but everyone has equal access to all the cards. Deck-building is an excellent model of controlled randomization: you do not know exactly what you are getting, but the degree of variation is mathematically knowable and limited by the size of the deck. Controlling and manipulating probability is a key skill in effective play. Deck-building games can mix strategy, tactics, and execution as well as the best real time strategy games, minus the need for good reaction times.

Next week, we will talk about the rules of Dominion and the base game as it was launched.

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “[TT] Introduction to Deck-Building Games”

  1. I have found my enjoyment of deck-building games is in inverse proportion to how important trashing is as a strategy. Thunderstone and Puzzle Strike are my favourite deck building games, and in them trashing is often impossible.

  2. I thought MMORPGers would be more interested in cooperative boardgames. At least I am.

      1. We have Forbidden Island, I like it a lot more than Desert. I am always looking for awesome cooperative games for my family to play. We enjoy working together a lot more than working against each other.

  3. My GF wants Forbidden Desert as well but since it seems similar to Pandemic (same designer, highly recommended) I went for Eldritch Horror first (arrived today, will give it a try tomorrow or so). Defenders of the Realm seems to be another similar game to Forbidden Desert and Pandemic in terms of mechanics but with a fantasy theme.

    A couple of games that might interest MMORPGers but are Overlord vs team of heroes are Descent (2nd edition, tactical dungeon crawl fantasy) and Level 7: Omega Protocol (tactical several sci-fi marines vs aliens controlled by 1 player).

    I’m getting more satisfaction of board games cooperation and interaction than MMORPGs to be truthful.

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