Playing the role of a monarch expanding his or her empire, you and other players will attempt to build card decks, buy cards and try to become more powerful as play progresses. The decks that you have at your disposal make up your dominion, and through victory points and resources you will be able to secure your standing as a powerful monarch. Developed by Valerie Putman and Dale Yu and published by Rio Grande Games, Dominion is a card game that hinges on how much players can stack their decks together. Dominion can be played by 2 to 4 players around the ages of 8 and up.
Dominion contains 500 cards. 130 of them are Treasure Cards colored in yellow, 48 Victory Cards colored in green, 30 Curse Cards colored in purple (which aren’t normally used in basic games), 32 Randomizer Cards colored in blue, 1 Trash Card and 7 blank cards. There are 252 Kingdom Cards which are divided into 24 Action Cards per pile.
The Treasure Cards are divided into Gold, Silver and Copper values. The Victory Cards are divided into Estate, Duchy and Province categories. The Trash Card serves as a placeholder where players will discard the cards they don’t want while playing the game.
How to Play Dominion
To set up a game of Dominion each player will take 7 Copper Cards and then place the remaining Copper Cards along with all Silver Cards and Gold Cards in the Supply, placed in face-up piles. Each player then takes 3 Estate Cards and will then place 12 of each in the Supply in 3 or 4-player game. In a 2-player game only 8 of these cards each will be placed in the Supply. Each player will have 10 cards total to start. Each player will shuffle their 10-card decks and will place them face-down next to them. After this they will draw 5 cards from their decks, which will make up their starting hands.
10 sets of 25 Kingdom Cards each will be placed next to the Treasure, Victory and Trash Cards when the game begins. Players will take turns picking 10 Kingdom Cards and will place 10 of each set face-up in separate piles on the table. The only exception to this are cards that read “Gardens”, which are either 12 card sets in a 3 or 4-player game, or just 8 card sets in a 2-player game.
Though players can play with any cards they wish, it is recommended that for the first game of Dominion they play with the following Kingdom Cards: Cellar, Market, Militia, Mine, Moat, Remodel, Smithy, Village, Woodcutter and Workshop.
The player who goes first will be randomly chosen. When numerous games are played the player who is at the left of the winner of the last game typically goes first. Play goes in clockwise order. A player takes his or her turn in as many as 3 phases. The first phase is the Action Phase where the player can play an Action Card is he or she has one to play. However, this is optional and it’s preferred that players hold on to Action Cards as long as possible so that they will be able to do more things later on in the game.
Action Cards that are played are placed face-up on the table, and the player who puts the card down must follow the instructions that are on the played card. One example of an action a player can do would be to immediately draw an X number of cards from his or her deck, shuffle and then form a new deck, or being granted the ability to buy 1 more card with Copper, Silver or Gold.
Speaking of buying cards, players must pay the exact cost of a card in order to obtain it. The Buying Phase would be the second phase of a player’s turn. The third phase of a turn would be the Clean-Up Phase where all cards that a player owns, whether played or unplayed, must be sent to the discard pile. The player then draws 5 brand new cards and ends his or her turn.
A game of Dominion officially ends when either the Supply pile of Province Cards becomes completely empty, or when any 3 Supply piles empty. Once either scenario occurs all players will count the Victory Points that they have secured in their stacked decks. Whoever accumulates the most Victory Points in his or her stacked deck at the end of the game will be declared the winner.
It should be noted that there are various expansion packs that complement the original set of 500 Dominion Cards, which adds to the variety of gameplay. Standing on its own, however, Dominion contains a ton of unique value for the family or groups of friends, and after playing a few games it will be easy to remember how this card game is played. While there is some strategy involved when playing Dominion, expert players are not required to have a fun time. Dominion is a card game worth looking into when searching for a new challenge in a card game.