[TT] Dominion: Intrigue

While you could play most of forever using the base set of Dominion, it now has a lot of expansions. The first of them is an expandalone, which contains a second set of the base cards so you could play without the base set or play 5- to 6-player games. (They now sell the base cards separately as well.) Intrigue cards have with more flexibility than the original game.
Continue reading [TT] Dominion: Intrigue

[TT] Gamer Games

We pause in the festival of Dominion for a general reflection on the audience for a game. Like most people in my generation, my wife plays games at times but would not characterize herself as a gamer. She knows who Mario is but not Master Chief. She plays Dominion with me and enjoys it.

We have also played Android: Netrunner, which she did not enjoy. She gave it a few chances, she tried several options, but no. This is a gamer game, not something for a general audience. She would play again if I asked her to, but she would not have fun. It is a particular sort of fun for a particular sort of person.

A gamer friend noticed that I had Android: Netrunner and was quite keen to learn the game. He enjoyed it. His fiancée watched a bit of the game and concurred with my wife: she would not refuse to play, but it did not look like fun. My gamer friend also has the Game of Thrones card game, which is from the same publisher and has some similarities. The two of them had played that one, and the fiancée had the same reaction, hence the recognition that she would not enjoy Android: Netrunner. I presume I would enjoy the Game of Thrones card game and my wife would not.

I will refer to some things as bad games or not meaningfully games at all. Candyland and Craps are non-games: no choices, just randomization. Monopoly is a bad game, intentionally designed to be a bad experience, and I may come back around to its major design flaws. Other games are for particular audiences or purposes. They can be good, but not for everyone. We should celebrate games like Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, and Plants vs. Zombies for being accessible to non-gamers and still of great interest and enjoyment to gamers.

: Zubon

[TT] Dominion: The End

Dominion ends when three stacks are empty or the last Province is bought. Whoever has the most victory points when that happens wins.

At some point, you are suddenly in the late game. In my Dominion games, the first purchase of a Province is often heralded with a cry of “first blood!” Throughout the game, victory point cards are worthless clutter in your deck, making your average hand worse. When the game ends, victory points are all that matters. All at once, it does not matter how many Gold you have, how awesome your combo is, or how you were going to buy four Provinces next turn. There is not a next turn anymore. Add up your victory points and see who won.
Continue reading [TT] Dominion: The End

[TT] Dominion: The Village Trap

The Village trap is the opposite of Big Money. It is the tendency to buy too many actions, to hope for big but unlikely combos, and to look for the awesome instead of the effective.

Did you know that there is a five-card combo that will win the game in one turn? Do you want to guess the odds of buying, drawing, and playing that combo before someone else wins the game?
Continue reading [TT] Dominion: The Village Trap

[TT] Dominion: Big Money

Big Money is the benchmark strategy for Dominion. Understanding that means you are no longer a newbie. Big Money is the baseline against which all other strategies are measured. Big Money is also very dull, and moving away from it has been one of the more important design goals of Dominion’s expansions.

Big Money is a simple strategy: unless you can buy a Province, buy a Gold or a Silver. That’s it. Continue reading [TT] Dominion: Big Money

[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