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jaybeez

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Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« on: April 10, 2017, 03:18:41 pm »
+2

I want to try some new games, and I'm looking for some recommendations.

Let me start by saying that Dominion is my favorite game of all time, by far.  It has everything I loved about Magic back when I played that (around 1993-1995) and nothing about Magic that I didn't like.  I love that the rules are so simple.  I love that the game's skill and luck components are well-balanced (at least I think they are).  I love that all the resources available to you over the course of the game are right there in front of you at the start of the game--nothing is hidden, no prior knowledge is required to formulate your plan.  I love that it's a little bit different every time you play.  Most of all, I love the building aspect of the game, the way you can lovingly craft your deck and see your plan come to fruition.  And the way you combine cards in novel ways, and all the different kinds of fun combos and interactions that facilitates, I find the that very enjoyable.  I guess what I'm saying is that the creative aspect of the game is what has really held my interest over the years.

So I'm interested in games that feature:
- relatively simple rule set
- some degree of variance (doesn't have to be a lot, but I generally don't like zero-variance games that much)
- a building process that features some creative input from the player

If it helps, here's some of my other likes/dislikes when it comes to games.

Games I like:

7 Wonders - I like that this accommodates 5 or more players.  I like that you're combining elements in novel ways and building.  But I do feel that your strategic decisions are influenced by luck to a great degree, perhaps more than I'd like.  It just doesn't feel like you can really formulate a complete plan at the start of the game and then follow that all the way to the end like you can with Dominion.

Merchants & Marauders - a little on the complex side for me, and I've only played this a couple times, but I like it so far.  I like that you can pursue either the merchant or pirate tracks, or you can also blend them to some degree, they're not rigidly defined.  I like games that use maps (see below).  I like how the building works, as you have to balance trading and raiding to get capital against paying for upgrades and repairs, and banking your gold.  Reminds me of Dominion, how you formulate your plan, but then based on your draws you have to improvise along the way and sometimes that means changing your plan a little, sometimes a lot.

Carcassonne - simple and breezy, great party game.  Rules can be taught very quickly, but has enough depth to keep it interesting.  I also love watching the map come together over the course of the game, something about maps just really resonates with me.

Star Realms - I like it for all the same reasons I like Dominion, I just don't like it nearly as much.  I think the fact that you get new cards from the ever-changing Trade Board rather than from a predefined and (mostly) static Supply is a negative for me.  But hey, it's a fun game.

Games I don't like:

Flashpoint - something about the cooperative play style turns me off.  I prefer to compete against other players, not against a set of criteria that can feel somewhat arbitrary.

Settlers of Catan - not bad as a party game but I hate the political aspect.

Race for the Galaxy - I feel like I should like this game, because it has a lot of the elements of Dominion that I enjoy.  I just can't seem to wrap my head around it though, I've played it a bunch of times and still feel completely lost every time I play it.  Maybe it's too deep/complex for me?  I'm not sure.

Anyway, I'd love to hear any suggestions any of you may have, based on this info.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 03:22:44 pm by jaybeez »
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Awaclus

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2017, 03:29:15 pm »
+3

As far as simple games that require creativity are concerned, Hanabi immediately comes to mind.

ThetaSigma12

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2017, 04:51:43 pm »
0

Well, I love Dominion so here are some other games I suggest:

Time Barons
This is a real gem. It's a 2-4 player game with cooperative/free-for-all modes. It has so much going for it. It's simple to learn yet complex enough that it's very replayable. You can win passively by drawing a lot of cards and gaining a lot of followers, or aggressively by destroying your opponent's sites and followers. Its biggest downside might be luck-of-the-draw, it can be heavy in some games. It's similar to Dominion in the way you can build "engines", getting the right cards out to start unstoppable combos.

Smash Up
Another of my favorites, very diverse and replayable. This one suffers a bit on the simplicity side with later expansions, but hey. The base set is pretty easy to pick up though. It's not very creative I guess, but it can be when trying to pick the right factions.
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Watno

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2017, 05:01:57 pm »
+2

Innovation, Glory to Rome, Greed, Fairy Tale
Through the Ages, Agricola, Terra Mystica if it doesn't need to be quite as simple.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 06:06:52 pm by Watno »
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markusin

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2017, 07:47:33 pm »
0

Splendor (2-4 players) might fit the bill. Quite simple to learn. I've heard it be described as a "semi-filler".

It's a game where you pick up currency (gems) of various colours to buy cards that fill your tableau. Each card on your tableau discounts future card purchases (think of it like buying treasure in Dominion). More expensive cards provide more points towards the victory condition, but otherwise don't provide any more benefit than cheaper cards.
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Donald X.

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2017, 08:37:03 pm »
+15

maybe the guy who made Dominion made some other good games

did you think of that
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pacovf

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2017, 09:03:20 pm »
+1

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popsofctown

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2017, 09:36:11 pm »
0

MAGE KNIGHTS
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AndrewisFTTW

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2017, 10:33:38 pm »
0

maybe the guy who made Dominion made some other good games

did you think of that

who dat
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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 01:07:24 am »
0

maybe the guy who made Dominion made some other good games

did you think of that

Kingdom Builder is my second favorite game for quite some time now. Even without expansions
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Kuildeous

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 08:28:19 am »
+1

Yes, Kingdom Builder is a nice strategy game. It has replayability factors as well. The combination of different goals will have you adopting vastly differing strategies from game to game, but the card draws will force you to employ some clever tactics.

For deck-building, I suggest Mystic Vale. It has the same negative of drawing from the middle that Star Realms has (I guess; not familiar with Star Realms), but you choose from nine cards. There is another set of cards that you can buy from with more advanced "currency." What makes Mystic Vale especially interesting is that you always have 20 cards in your deck. You improve the cards rather than the deck. The push-your-luck factor is pretty nice too. It doesn't have as variability as Dominion though. Getting the expansion will help stave off potential stagnation. I've yet to really run into stagnation with this game, but I can see where it can happen.

I may suggest Roll for the Galaxy. I like it better than Race. Since you're not a fan of Race, I suggest you play with someone else's copy of Roll. It is very similar to Race, but you can mitigate the luck factor a bit better by reassigning dice. I like that mechanism. Perhaps Roll is missing the part about Race that turned sour for you.

Gauntlet of Fools is a goofy "dungeon crawl" with a push-your-luck element. You choose the best combination of adventurer and weapon, but the best ones will be fought over by players. To win an adventurer and his weapon, you have to bid using daring handicaps. So that adventurer combination may be way overpowered, but when he's juggling with one hand tied behind his back while  hopping on one foot, he may do worse than the gimpiest of adventurers.

Room 25 has a cooperative aspect, but you can play competitive mode where you have four prisoners versus two guards. The issue being that nobody knows who is who (not even the guards know who the other may be). You're trapped in a high-tech maze and need to find Room 25. Not knowing what the other rooms are, you want to gingerly peek through doorways to see if they're safe, but a guard could lie about what he saw. Action economy is intentionally stunted, so you're racing against the clock. You can make clever use of combining the push action with a move action to propel someone through two spaces in one turn. Of course, that's assuming you trust the person to push you through the right door.

Sushi Go has a hand-drafting element. It's far simpler than 7 Wonders, which makes it a pretty good time filler. I've not played Sushi Go Party, but I understand it has additional cards that you swap in and out like modules. Plenty of screw-you moments as you see that someone is trying to get big points by getting three of a kind, and you keep denying him those cards.

Since you like maps, you could give Trains a try. The cardplay is pretty much a clone of Dominion. Their provinces don't score as many points, which is probably done intentionally in an attempt to place more focus on the game board. In Trains, you also use your cards to place pieces on a map. The inclusion of the board is a nice touch, but there are only two maps in the base game. The variability is lower in Trains since it's like playing just the base game of Dominion (somehow feels smaller). I like the idea, though I've never fully warmed up to Trains. I hear the expansion adds quite a bit.

I second Splendor. It's simple but engaging. The expansion sounds quite promising.

I really dig Evo. I've not played the new edition, and that's likely the version you would find out there. The original might be more accessible now that there's a new edition. The original is fun in that your dinosaurs control portions of the map, but as the climate changes, portions of the map become inhospitable to your dinosaurs. Your furry dinosaurs might be able to survive the mountains a little easier than your competitors, but when the earth tilts too far away from the sun, then no  amount of fur can save them. Likewise, the beaches may burn up your dinosaurs regardless of parasols (yeah, they used parasols to indicate heat tolerance; that's my one big gripe). I really like the bidding mechanism for evolutions. This game is fun for me because you can adjust your play style based on the changing world.

And speaking of changing, Primordial Soup does this as well on a much smaller scale. You're living in a puddle. You can evolve your amoebas to process food more efficiently, to fight against the currents, or to eat other amoebas.

I am sure you may have already seen Power Grid, but if not, go check it out. Bidding, network-building, and screwing over your competitors by buying resources out from under them. I've only played the Power Grid card game once, but I liked it. It removes the map, but it still works out.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2017, 09:29:38 am »
+2

Temporum. Play Temporum.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2017, 04:27:57 pm »
0

maybe the guy who made Dominion made some other good games

did you think of that

jaybeez, you should definitely take a look at Kingdom Builder and Greed. Neither of them have quite the same feel of building up something that you plan from the start of the game, but they're close.

In Kingdom Builder, you know from the start of the game which abilities and scoring conditions are available, but which abilities you can actually get can be somewhat up to the luck of the draw. You may get cut off from an ability you really wanted, or multiple opponents may take all the copies of that ability, or maybe you just can't get there from here. But still it has that feeling of building up your abilities over the course of the game. It's just much more tactical, in my experience.

Greed is a drafting game, like 7 Wonders. So by the time you've played one turn per player, you've seen all the cards that are in that game and hopefully have a plan. Lots of cool card combos, like Dominion. Most of the cards you play go into your tableau, giving you that building-up feel. I haven't played 7 Wonders, but if you like both that and Dominion, you'll probably really like Greed.

Temporum is fun, but whether or not you can build up abilities is almost completely down to luck. Many of the cards you play stick around and give you abilities for the rest of the game. If you get those, they can push you toward a particular combo strategy. But over half the cards are one-shots, which are stronger up-front, but don't give you that feeling of building up. So it's sort of a mixed bag in that department.

I wouldn't say that any of Donald X.'s other published games really have that building-up mechanic, but they all have a lot of fun variety. So you may like them anyway. Infiltration is a push-your-luck game where you reveal the map as you go, though it's probably quite hard to find a copy these days. I really enjoy Gauntlet of Fools and Piña Pirata as fun time fillers for gamer groups and casual groups, respectively. I don't personally love Nefarious (at least without the expansion), but you might. It's definitely a game where you decide on a strategy and then see how it pans out.

As for non-Donald X. games…

Splendor feels like there's almost nothing to it. It's just really dry. Thanks for mentioning the upcoming expansion(s) though, Kuildeous. I did some research and they seem like they might add the right kind of mechanics to actually make the game feel like a game.

I like Roll for the Galaxy significantly better than Race for the Galaxy. Or rather I hate it significantly less. It doesn't have all the arcane icons that Race for the Galaxy uses, but I still don't really enjoy playing it much.

The only deck-building game I own apart from Dominion is Paperback, which is basically a Scrabble deck-builder. Your cards have letters on them and you try to make the best words from each hand you draw. Some cards have abilities, etc. It's solid.

I play Small World quite a bit; you can plan ahead a fair bit in that game, though you don't really build up throughout.
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Awaclus

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2017, 06:35:21 pm »
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I had a lot of fun with Splendor but it gets really boring after 40-50 games or something like that. It's not too bad for the price, but I think there are better options.

scott_pilgrim

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2017, 07:27:27 pm »
0

I really dig Evo. I've not played the new edition, and that's likely the version you would find out there. The original might be more accessible now that there's a new edition. The original is fun in that your dinosaurs control portions of the map, but as the climate changes, portions of the map become inhospitable to your dinosaurs. Your furry dinosaurs might be able to survive the mountains a little easier than your competitors, but when the earth tilts too far away from the sun, then no  amount of fur can save them. Likewise, the beaches may burn up your dinosaurs regardless of parasols (yeah, they used parasols to indicate heat tolerance; that's my one big gripe). I really like the bidding mechanism for evolutions. This game is fun for me because you can adjust your play style based on the changing world.

Years ago I played Evo once or twice (the old version), and I really, really liked it, so I bought the new version (I couldn't find the old version).  The new version has incredible artwork (compared to mediocre art in the old version) and a few minor rule changes I think.  For example, turn order in the old version is determined by tail genes which you can bid on; in the new version, there are no tail genes and turn order is determined by how many dinos each player has on the board.  This is nice because it gives you some negative feedback, but I also thought it was pretty cool for turn order to be determined by something that you bid on, so I can't decide whether it's an improvement or not.  I think the other things can be house-ruled to the old version if you prefer (like I seem to remember in the new version your bids get locked in weirdly somehow*, but I never play that way).  There's also a special gene that lets you go whenever you want in the turn order, which we always take out because it seems super OP (though is it really 6 VP OP? I don't know...).

I've played Evo maybe ~10 times and I still like it a lot, though not nearly as much as I used to.  The main issues that I have with it are 1. direct conflict (you can try to kill other players' dinos if they get in your way), which leads to limited but still present political situations, 2. random chance when fighting dinos (somehow just rolling a die to determine the outcome of a fight makes it feel too random to me) and also drawing cards, and 3. bidding seems a little too simplistic, in that I think you only occasionally ever want to bid more than 1 and almost never more than 2**.  I suppose you could fix this by just tripling scoring or something like that (so that you're effectively only bidding in "one third of a VP" increments compared to what you're used to).  There's also a variant where for n players you only put out n-1 genes, so maybe the increased competition makes bidding more interesting.

By the way, parasols in the new version are replaced by, uh, thermoregulatory layers?  Something like that.  They're great because no one knows what they're called.  (But at least they look a lot more realistic than parasols.)

*Thinking about it some more I think what it is is that if you get outbid, you have to switch to another gene (you cannot just bid more on the same gene).  I'm not sure what the point of that rule is.

**Assuming you don't have those things that decrease the amount you pay by 1.
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markusin

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2017, 08:35:49 pm »
0

I had a lot of fun with Splendor but it gets really boring after 40-50 games or something like that. It's not too bad for the price, but I think there are better options.

I got Splendor as a way to hopefully ease people that casually come over into trying out board games. Kind of like an ice breaker game. I am happy to hear about a Splendor expansion however. It can use more dimensions of gameplay. Something like 7 Wonders easily trounces it in perceived depth.
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jaybeez

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2017, 12:46:45 pm »
0

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful comments.  Looks like there's a whole bunch of games I need to try out!

Confidential to Donald: yes, I did think of that, but I neglected to mention that in the first post, sorry.
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trivialknot

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2017, 08:21:16 pm »
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My second favorite deck-building game is Eminent Domain.  (Star Realms is third.)  Most deck-builders I've tried are more or less imitating Dominion, but Eminent Domain is the only one I've felt does something truly different.

In the game you discover planets, settle/conquer planets, produce and sell goods, and research new technologies.  There are different cards in your deck to perform each of the actions, and the more you perform an action the more of those cards you put in your deck. You do build up your deck a bit, but it's more about balancing your deck and smoothly pivoting between strategies.

Unlike Dominion or Star Realms, the tech is always fixed, although which ones are available depends on what planets you get.


I also recommend Temporum.  It's like Dominion in that it has a variable setup.  But it's more tactical and less strategic.  I find it relatively easy to teach.
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DG

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Re: Game recommendations for a Dominion fan
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2017, 09:35:50 pm »
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There are a lot of games out there where you can build varied economies rather than do proper engine building. Card games like San Juan and Port Royal come in small box and can do that sort of thing for a casual group. There are a lot of big box games that do the economic strategy thing too and Power Grid sets the gold standard there. Caverna is the one I'd recommend from the Agricola-Le Havre family. Steamworks is a game where you do actually build engines and use them to build more engines but that's a brain burner.

Codenames seems like a party game but is actually good enough to please a casual gaming group. Via Nebula is newish game that looks like it could become a gateway game so I'll mention that too.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 09:42:55 pm by DG »
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