How to Play Dominion
Dominion is a strategy card game which can be played in 30 minutes, allowing for multiple replays throughout a gaming night. Each player begins with the exact same hand of cards, but each player's strategy quickly diverts. The game won numerous awards in 2008 and 2009 upon its release and has been rated among the Top 10 board games among all categories with a number of prominent games sites and publications. Because Dominion has a high replay value, it's become a popular online card game to play.
To set up Dominion, you'll need to separate out three denominations of Treasure Cards, one Curse Card, and three types of Victory Cards. Victory cards usually have no value during the game, but they are essential to winning the game at its conclusion.
You'll also need to set up 10 decks of Kingdom Cards. These cards tend to be action cards. Kingdom cards have titles like "Moneylender", "Chapel", "Throne Room", "Thief", "Spy", "Feast", "Village", or "Chancellor". Each expansion has a new selection of Kingdom cards and these can be mixed and matched from games. Some Dominion groups choose the 10 types of Kingdom cards, while others draw them at random. This selection of Kingdom cards has a major effect on game strategy, because certain cards allow for you to build up resources more quickly, while others are there to stymie what other players are doing.
One you have a deck of cards and community card stacks set up, you begin play. Determine who goes first, then take turns drawing five cards from the community deck of cards. Each player's turn includes a draw phase (draw 5 cards), an action phase, a buy phase, and a cleanup phase.
In the action phase, you take any actions you want that round. Each player only has one action per turn, though certain cards add extra actions. Pay close attention. In your buy phase, you can use whatever coinage you have in your hand to buy kingdom cards, curses, or victory cards. Some cards allow for additional purchases, so play attention to these.
Once you finished with these two phases, you move on to the cleanup phase. You'll discard any action cards or buy cards you use, then the turn moves to the person at your left.
Ending the Dominion Game
The game ends in Dominion when one of two things happen. First, the game ends if the highest-value Victory card stack is reduced to zero. Second, the game ends if any three other card stacks are exhausted.
Build your deck so you can have 8 coins of purchasing power in your hand as often as possible. This means getting gold coins in your deck or cards which give you additional actions (like drawing more cards) or other benefits. If you get too many of the wrong sorts of cards, you'll end up diluting your hand and making it much less likely you'll draw maximum buying potential.
A thick deck of cards means you won't see your most advantageous cards as often in the game, so many players consider it essential to maintain a thin deck of cards during game play. Beginning players tend to collect a lot of copper pieces cards in the early stages of the game, because this gives them additional money resources to buy good items and cards. But if your card hand gets too money copper coin cards in it, this tends to hurt your ability to activate your best cards in the middle and late-game scenarios. Finding a way to translate your coppers into silver and gold coins means you'll draw more cards with buying power, giving you a better chance of buying the high-value cards.
Deciding when to go for victory points is also a part of your deck strategy. It's a common mistake to start collecting victory cards early in the game, but if you have a bunch of small-value Victory Cards in your hand, these once again clog up your deck and creates an inefficient deck in the middle stage of the game. If you can build a deck that lets you buy a lot high point-value Victory Cards late in the game, you'll be able to accumulate victory points in rapid fashion late in the game.
Winning Strategy Tips for Dominion
One reason Dominion is so popular is because it allows for divergent strategies. Some Dominion players prefer to go with a high volume of low point-value Victory Cards. If this strategy is employed, you must learn how to end the game as quickly as possible. The game ends when you exhaust three card decks (of 10 each), so you'll need to target the same cards over and over. If your opponent or opponents take the build-and-build strategy where they are trying to limit their Victory Cards until they have major buying resources, then if you can end the game before they can build momentum, you'll still win.
The worst strategy is to try to split the difference by stuffing your deck with a few low-cost Victory Points, but trying to build a deck in the middle of the game which allows you to buy high-value Victory Cards later. If you're playing in a group of people, this assures you'll fall between two proverbial chairs, since you won't have as many Victory Points as those who are stashing points and trying to end the game, but you likely won't be able to build up your resources as well as any opponent who builds a high-value deck from the beginning.
That's why the Dominion strategy game is so popular, though: you have many strategy options. Whichever you choose to employ, be sure you know how to execute the strategy properly. Know when it's better for you to keep the game going and when it's better for you to end the game quickly. And of course, keep track of everyone's victory point total at all times.
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