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Topics - kieranmillar

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Dominion Articles / The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« on: December 28, 2018, 04:07:44 pm »
I love Dominion. It's my favourite board game by a significant margin, so I've spent some time ooh-ing and aah-ing over its design and that of particular cards. So I figured, why not write about what I think is so brilliant about the design of some of the cards. At first this was gonna be the top 5, but then when looking through the list of cards I simply had to include more, and found it hard to pare the list of best designed cards down below 20. Even leaving it at 20, there are still more cards I could gush about but I have to stop somewhere. I am sure you will be outraged that the list ends up not containing a card that you were certain I would include.

Note that this is not a power ranking, although obviously the power of the card factors into its design. It is also not a list of my favourite cards. This list is merely my opinion on what I believe constitutes a well-designed Dominion card and how these cards achieve this.

I'll be posting them in batches of 5 cards whenever I find the time. I have already compiled the list but the write-ups are kinda the whole point and it takes time.

#20 - Baker

While Baker itself is a fairly basic and average card, it's setup bonus is a really good idea. Baker manipulates the kingdom in a very profound way, and doesn't even need to be bought or played in order to have an impact! Dominion lives and dies on its variety, it is a game that benefits from as many cards as possible providing interesting ways to deal with the kingdom when they are present, and this rather simple-seeming effect on Baker really makes itself a big deal without getting in the way of other cards being able to do their own thing. I also think it was absolutely the correct card to put this concept on, Baker already uses coffers and is otherwise a very forgettable card, but the bonus helps elevate it to being a memorable standout of its expansion. It also has the side bonus of being an excellent way to introduce Coffers to players new to the concept.

#19 - Lackeys

I think Lackeys' particular combination of effects is absolutely pitch-perfect. It is just two very simple concepts on their own, but this particular combination has some really interesting implications that I find a lot of fun. The on-gain villagers are quite strong so it is very tempting to gain the card just for them but then Lackeys is in your deck just begging you to spend the villagers on it for that sweet little bit of extra draw. This then throws you into a quandary. Do you keep buying Lackeys, just so you can keep playing your Lackeys? It can be hard to assess where the right sweet spot is for getting more Lackeys, which for such a cheap card with a simple combination of basic effects is really pulling its weight.

#18 - Guide

It was Guide that got me sitting up and thinking "hot damn, Dominion has really got its act together" when I first got to play Adventures. How many times has Dominion tried and failed to get the concept of avoiding bad end-of-turn draws to work? Navigator is just bad, Cartographer feels lacklustre in practice, and all of these cards get worse in the fun engine decks where you're drawing everything. Not so with Guide, that just so beautifully sidesteps the issue by sitting around waiting until you actually get the bad hand and then throws it away. Guide is the sort of card that's really easy to get wrong. But the way that the card itself goes out of your deck until you use it, then has a natural cool-down period until you find and play it again, and stacks so wonderfully and sensibly with multiple copies of itself just works so well. Guide makes you feel like it was your smart preparation and forward planning that helped you avoid a bad hand rather than luck, and that feels great.

#17 - Tomb

When Adventures reintroduced Duration cards and people were musing about a "Prosperity sequel" the one thing I knew I wanted to see a comeback more than anything else was VP tokens. Bishop and Monument were always a crowd-pleaser and it was such a shame that so little was done with them in Prosperity. It was like Donald X read my mind because along came Empires and not only gave me everything I ever wanted, but massively exceeded all of my expectations. I think Tomb is the best representation of this. Dominion sticks out from many other deckbuilders because of its love of trashing, and Tomb just sits there and forces you to re-evaluate the trashing cards, encouraging you to go all in and make decks whose contents vary wildly in the course of the game. The only reason why this is not rated more highly is because it has the chance to be completely useless, and that's always sad, but the fun this card brings more than makes up for it.

#16 - Cathedral

Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.

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Dominion Videos and Streams / kieranmillar's Rated Games
« on: November 05, 2018, 06:26:12 pm »
Hey all,

I decided I wanted to record some of my Dominion games, so here's the first one. I got into Dominion back in the day of WanderingWinder's quick games, so wanted to try and replicate that here. I wasn't really prepared for the new world of live commentary, and in hindsight said little of interest and played a bit too quickly. I didn't even properly look over the kingdom before starting this match!

I have no planned schedule for these as I play on an irregular basis as it is. Any feedback appreciated! I hope you enjoy.


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Dominion General Discussion / Silk Road
« on: August 19, 2017, 04:17:49 am »
I was looking through all of the cards and events and something occured to me. I can't remember ever buying Silk Road. I think I've bought every other card, including stuff like Harvest, more often in games than Silk Road.

I've not been around anywhere nearly as long as others here, so have simply played less games involving this card, but it just intuitively feels weak to me. Help me out here, what am I missing?

When it comes to Alternative VP I find that it really needs to be worth 3VP or more by the end of the game to be worth picking up. If it's only worth 2VP, getting 2 of them is the same points and cards as a duchy and an estate, except it was a bit more expensive. Now with a card like Gardens, even when trashing early I find a solid engine can get back up to 30 cards naturally, but with Silk Road you need 12 VP cards, which is an entire pile and a half. That's an enormous amount in practice. Even with something like Nobles on the board it can be difficult.

I've thought it might be good in games where there are lots of gains available, but typically in those games you three pile before there is any chance to reasonably gain any amount of victory cards and you're more likely to be better served by a few Estates or an Estate pile-out.

So when is it good? Or has it just failed to keep up with a world that increasingly sees games with a larger proportion of good engine cards?

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Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Tooting my own horn
« on: June 07, 2017, 05:45:47 pm »
Well... no one else is going to toot it....



Never thought I'd hit the top 20, but here we are!

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Dominion General Discussion / Archive as your primary draw
« on: September 07, 2016, 06:01:46 pm »
Let's talk about my favourite Empires card, Archive!

I've played about 3 games with it so far (I don't get to play all that often) and it's been super interesting to me to see how decks turn out when using this card. We all know that non-terminal draw is super good, and Archive appears to be no exception, but it's very unique in how it does it and how your deck ends up playing. To me it has hints of Forum, Lookout and Haven all in one. I've never played Adventures so can't comment on comparisons with Gear.

Rather than ask when this card is good for your deck, it's probably easier to ask when it isn't good. I feel like you wouldn't want to play Archive under the same scenarios when you wouldn't want to play Lookout or Haven, times when you want to play every card in your deck and can't take the risk on having key cards be stored away for an extra turn. Would having an Archive draw 3 Wandering Minstrels make you happy or would it be the death of this turn and the next one? Given Archive costs 5, you'd likely just never buy one in the first place, too much good competition at that price point.

But not every engine is super strong, right? Sometimes there's no trashing, or no other decent source of draw. The latter case is particularly interesting, as with only a small number of Archives it's really easy to "draw" your deck, except most of it is actually sitting aside on the table underneath your Archives and Crowns/Thrones. If you play a lot of them on one turn, you end up with this cool effect of having almost no cards left, followed by a really strong turn, and then suddenly your deck is back to being massive and your turns throughout the game play totally differently from each other. I mentioned Forum earlier because when you play lots of them you end up reaching through your whole deck and can find and play your key card, it feels like super strong filtering even though all the cards you skipped are heading straight for your hand on your next few turns. I initially thought it would be tough to play a key card often in an Archive deck because of the fear it would be set aside by your Archives all the time, but it's really not as big an issue, just pull it into your hand straight away and you might even play it again next turn because you deck is super thin for a turn.

I'm still undecided if it's a good idea to play loads of Archives all at once though. The super good turn you have the turn after you play a load is amazing, but then two turns later you shuffle and your deck is enormous and the sudden shift to having these comparatively much worse turns is pretty jarring. Maybe getting some generally all-round good turns by playing one Archive a turn is better. If an Archive finds another Archive and two mediocre cards, is it better to pull that Archive now, or wait until next turn? I just don't know!

Perhaps Archive is the ultimate card for a Good Stuff Deck. You're not planning on playing your cards every turn but once every 2 or 3 turns is fine. Its easy to draw while avoiding terminal collision, or to match two cards together like Legionary/Gold, or Treasure Maps (barring the nightmare scenario of both being drawn by the same Archive). Yet you're also not hurt by getting some spares if you want to play them more often, and so you can end up having pretty good turns a lot of the time without needing very many support components at all. Archive essentially does sifting and draw at the same time.

A small side note, my first Empires game also had Castles and they rock with Archive. Especially Opulent Castle. Just wait to pull all of your victory cards into the same hand as Opulent Castle, and then discard them all for two coin each. I might even buy a Secret Chamber if one was available with Archive, having multiple types of income stream in your deck works fine with archive, on one turn you pull your treasures, and then on the next you pull your junk to trash/discard for benefit.

I don't really know where I'm going with this post. I just wanted to talk about Archive. Hooray Archive!

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