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Schneau

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Deck-Building Games
« on: September 01, 2019, 01:44:30 pm »
+3

Dominion is my favorite game -- the only one I've rated 10 on Board Game Geek. I expect many of you feel similarly about it. I've always wanted to find another deck building game that is great, but none that I've played come close to Dominion. For me, one of the biggest flaws of most other deck-builders is that they have variable supplies -- when one player buys a card, it gets replaced by a random card from a deck, meaning it can be somewhat random whether you or one of your opponents gets a good card that comes out. I love that in Dominion, if you buy a card, your opponent can as well, because of the fixed supply.

So, I'm wondering if any of you have any recommendations. Here are my ratings and short thoughts on deckbuilders I've played:

Dominion - 10
Besides the fixed supply described above, I also love:
- Limited actions/buys and the ability to draw your deck if you play things right.
- Variable end game conditions.

Clank! In Space! - 8.1
Pretty good game here, though a lot of it is in the board in addition to the cards.

Mystic Vale - 7.8
The card modifying mechanic is interesting, but I didn't find it gripping.

Star/Hero Realms - 7.6
This is my favorite of it and similar games like Ascension and Shards of Infinity, partly because of its simplicity and partly because it does the race interaction well.

Ascension - 7.5
Only played once, thought it was fine.

Shards of Infinity 7.2
Not quite as good as Star Realms.

A Few Acres of Snow - 6.4
Only played once, didn't have a great time.

Legendary - 4.9
Only played once, didn't have a great time, not into the theme.

Thunderstone - 4.4
Really didn't like this one much at all.
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popsofctown

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 03:05:33 am »
0

whatever the current edition of puzzle strike is buy now, it's probably a pretty solid game.  I'd guess that it's better than all these nondominion entries.

Puzzle Strike does NOT have a variable supply, and I agree that makes for a good first step for it.

Mage Knights is technically a deckbuilder but the difference in gameplay between "each time you reshuffle that represents a round" versus that not being the case is obviously a big difference. 

It's a good game on its own merits.

I was even less impressed with A Few Acres than you were.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2019, 09:24:20 am »
0

For me, one of the biggest flaws of most other deck-builders is that they have variable supplies

I agree with you, but itís interesting how this flaw is considered a merit by many other people. Iíve seen people shrug at Dominion, but they love the variable supply. It makes me wonder if the divide is between people who plan their endgame in advance and people who wing it with whatever theyíre given.

Games like Clank and Ascension scratch that latter itch. I really enjoy Clank even though I canít plan ahead as well as with Dominion. Maybe itís because the fallback cards are usually pretty good. Thereís probably not quite as much synergy to maximize in Clank, so you donít feel like youíre getting screwed. Conversely, in Ascension, you need to maximize that synergy, and if you buy a faction card in the hopes of scoring big with it, you may be disappointed when you never see that faction ever again.

You can see that difference between my wife and me. I love Dominion and will work out several strategies for my deck in the long run. She prefers the randomness of Ascension, which I cannot bank on. But we both dig Clank! and Mystic Vale. The latter perhaps because crafting the card is a really neat mechanic. I suppose that one could combine the card crafting with the static supply of Dominion, though I feel like this game works better with a variable supply.

Another deck builder thatís almost as fun as Dominion (or could be) is Trains. Of course, thatís because it is almost Dominion. If you take the Dominion base set and change the names and a few numbers then you get the basis of Trains. What Trains adds is an area-control aspect. Itís okay. Itís not great, and you could probably win while ignoring the board entirely. The ďProvincesĒ are devalued, so thereís some incentive to focus on the board. The downside is that focusing on the board usually adds junk to your deck, which is usually less fun. But hey, at least itís voluntary junking, as opposed to the Witch or Sea Hag.

I felt Marvel Legendary was a really weak theme, but part of that is also that they make it competitive within a cooperative framework. Considering that the loser can tank the game so that nobody wins, this seems like a horrible concept for a superhero game. It was their first Legendary, so mistakes were made. I played the Aliens Legendary, and I felt this was a much more solid game. Each player has a role, so they have cards they may favor over others. I think itís also fully cooperative with none of the competitive. Iíve not played any other Legendary game yet. I heard that Firefly is pretty poor and that Big Trouble in Little China is really good. Or was it the other way around? Obviously I just need to play both and find out for myself.
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jonts26

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2019, 10:14:18 am »
+1

Another very common feature of other deckbuilders that I hate is that most cards give points and stronger cards are also worth more points. You don't get any of the interesting decisions around greening or whatever the equivalent is.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2019, 11:22:07 am »
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Another very common feature of other deckbuilders that I hate is that most cards give points and stronger cards are also worth more points. You don't get any of the interesting decisions around greening or whatever the equivalent is.

Thatís a good point. Most deck-builders donít have the equivalent of Province (except for Trains, which as I pointed out is Dominion+board).

So there is generally not a risk/reward decision to make in those games. You go for the biggest points, which often gives you the biggest effect as well. Dominion has the risk of clogging your deck.

Clank! has some of that going for it. It has a Province-like card that you can buy which clogs your deck. Aside from those, there are plenty of gems worth lots of points that donít clog your deck because you draw a card when you play them, thus ensuring that you have the same number of cards without the junking effect of Province. But those kinds of cards do have a risk associated with themómainly that by purchasing that high-value card, you add more clank, which is more dangerous for you. Depending on how well youíve been managing your clank, this might only be a mere inconvenience.

I know that Legendary has some obstacles that have a cost of adding wounds to your deck. But thatís cooperative, so itís not quite the same.

Oh yeah, and DC has a deckbuilder. I only played it once, and I canít fully remember how it goes. I remember feeling like itís at least more thematic than Marvel Legendary, but I couldnít tell you why right now.
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Chappy7

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2019, 06:19:39 pm »
0

My friend wanted me to play the cooperative Harry Potter deck builder with them.  I played the first two books then stopped.  It just pales compared to Dominion.  You don't have any control over your deck! You're lucky to trash a few cards throughout the whole game.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2019, 10:38:23 am »
0

My friend wanted me to play the cooperative Harry Potter deck builder with them.  I played the first two books then stopped.  It just pales compared to Dominion.  You don't have any control over your deck! You're lucky to trash a few cards throughout the whole game.

Oh yeah, I forgot that one. Iíve only played the first two books as well. It looks like you get quite a bit added on book 4, so I wonder if that improves the gameplay. Like perhaps the first 3 books are designed to teach how the game works.

But there is indeed little control within those 2 books. And as I recall, the common pool of cards doesnít really have a way to wipe clean if everything is out of reach or undesirable. I think Legendary is the same way. In a cooperative game, this can be especially annoying. Itís also annoying in a competitive game because you have the game of chicken going on. If you break the trend and take one of the undesirable cards, then this gives everyone else a chance to get the new card if itís good.

Which of course is less of a problem with set purchases like Dominion. It could still be a factor with Knights, and I honestly donít know much about the last 2 or 3 expansions but probably something in there too. Itís a really small factor.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2019, 11:13:08 am »
0

My least favorite thing about a few other deck builders is the "your whole hand is automatically played" mechanic. If I remember right; Thunderstone, Clank, and Legendary all use it; though I could be misremembering some. It's just so confusing. Start if your turn, you lay your hand on the table, face up; then add up all the stuff you have. And some things care about other things that are in your hand, so there's confusing rules about how they interact with each other.

Even if you don't have a limited action system like Dominion; it's just so much more natural to simply play cards from your hand one at a time.
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popsofctown

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2019, 02:13:45 pm »
+1

I should mention War of Omens as a digital deckbuilder that a lot of people on this forum dig.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2019, 03:49:45 pm »
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My least favorite thing about a few other deck builders is the "your whole hand is automatically played" mechanic. If I remember right; Thunderstone, Clank, and Legendary all use it; though I could be misremembering some. It's just so confusing. Start if your turn, you lay your hand on the table, face up; then add up all the stuff you have. And some things care about other things that are in your hand, so there's confusing rules about how they interact with each other.

Even if you don't have a limited action system like Dominion; it's just so much more natural to simply play cards from your hand one at a time.

Iím generally okay with this mechanic, but it can get really weird when you spend $3 of your $5 on a purchase, which triggers drawing 2 cards, which gives you $4 more so that you can spend another $5 on another purchase, which triggers drawing another card, which gives you $4 so you have $5 left over for another purchase. If thereís a good way to track that, then fine. I know that in Clank! it can get a little bit hectic because you are basically tracking 3 currencies: skill, movement, and fight. You might move some of your movement, fight a monster, and gain more movement. Or gain skill. Or whatever. Itís small enough that it doesnít bother me, but it can turn into a hot mess.

Generally, the people who dislike Dominion that I mention dislike the set kingdom also dislike the structured action/buy phases. They donít like that you canít play more than one action in a standard turn. I guess when youíre used to Clank! or Ascension where you simply dump your cards on the table, then Dominion can feel constrictive. I dunno. Itís like how chess has very specific rules for each piece. They canít all be queens.
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ipofanes

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2019, 07:05:38 am »
0

Another very common feature of other deckbuilders that I hate is that most cards give points and stronger cards are also worth more points. You don't get any of the interesting decisions around greening or whatever the equivalent is.

Thatís a good point. Most deck-builders donít have the equivalent of Province (except for Trains, which as I pointed out is Dominion+board).

Clank! has some of that going for it. It has a Province-like card that you can buy which clogs your deck.

I love the mechanic there because of its theme. You slow down as you drag your treasures over the uneven cave floor.
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Schneau

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2019, 03:27:59 pm »
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Thanks for all the thoughts!

I had considered getting the Hogwarts Battle deck builder, but when I looked closer, it seemed like there wasn't much meat there. Has anyone played all 7 years? Does it get any better?

Also, has anyone played The Quest for El Dorado? It looked very interesting based on a review I saw.
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Watno

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2019, 04:37:29 am »
+1

In my opinion, the main flaw of most non-dominion deck builders is not having limited actions and way too little draw cards
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LostPhoenix

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2019, 03:32:54 pm »
+1


Also, has anyone played The Quest for El Dorado? It looked very interesting based on a review I saw.

The Quest for El Dorado is the only deckbuilder I have played other than Dominion. I enjoyed it - though I feel it's more suited to casual players. The race between the players is exciting, and there is a decent amount of player interaction. Nobody's going to accuse this of being multiplayer solitaire.

Replayability seems low, because the supply is the exact same in every game. The game board is different every time, though this doesn't lead to much of a change in strategy. You'll be asking yourself, "Is green or yellow more important this game?" Don't expect to build a finely-tuned draw engine either - in the vast majority of games, you will play exactly 4 or 5 cards each turn. it's kind of like you're playing a more interesting game of big money with some extra currencies thrown in. There is an element of deciding where to move your character, though specific movement is mostly automatic and will be determined by which cards you've bought.
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2019, 04:18:51 am »
+1

I also was not impressed by Thunderstone, and I heard good things about it.

I highly recommend Edge of Darkness. A new Kickstarter is coming up for it this month. It's technically not a deck builder, but feels like Dominion but also very different. It is by the guy who made Mystic Vale, but it plays nothing like Mystic Vale.
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Chappy7

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2019, 12:29:56 pm »
0

I grew up playing thunderstone (before Dominion) and I actually liked it a lot.  Since I've gotten into Dominion I've hardly played it though, so who knows what I'd think about it now that I've been enlightened by Dominion.

I loved how thematic it was. I also felt like I could trash enough cards usually, which was an improvement from most deck-builders.  I liked the fact that you have to pick to go the the village or dungeon.  The main issue was there was almost literally no draw cards, so you are at the mercy of RNG to give you a good hand of 6. 
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Kuildeous

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2019, 01:28:31 pm »
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I recall Thunderstone had a mechanic you could invoke when you received a crap hand. I cannot remember it though. This was back in original Thunderstone. I understand itís gone through some changes, but I certainly canít speak to that.

I did like how thematic Thunderstone was, and the rules were okay. It had a lot of currencies to track though. You needed to pay attention to the car cost, sure, but also the strength required when attaching a weapon, how much light you produce, and your combat total. It had a lot of moving parts, and I canít fault someone if they feel that this produced more bloat than good. I was okay with it, but it certainly did weigh the game down more.

That being said, I liked the ability of training characters. You didnít have to start from the beginning though. You could wait until all the level 1s were gone and then start recruiting the level 2s.

While the rules for the original were not really elegant, the game was dripping with theme. It felt like a dungeon crawl, which was fun but also could get as tedious during the bad parts of a dungeon crawl. Iíd be interested in play the new version to see what all was streamlined. While I enjoy Thunderstone, I think Clank! scratches that itch better.
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Chappy7

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Re: Deck-Building Games
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2019, 12:30:22 pm »
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I recall Thunderstone had a mechanic you could invoke when you received a crap hand. I cannot remember it though. This was back in original Thunderstone. I understand itís gone through some changes, but I certainly canít speak to that.

I did like how thematic Thunderstone was, and the rules were okay. It had a lot of currencies to track though. You needed to pay attention to the car cost, sure, but also the strength required when attaching a weapon, how much light you produce, and your combat total. It had a lot of moving parts, and I canít fault someone if they feel that this produced more bloat than good. I was okay with it, but it certainly did weigh the game down more.

That being said, I liked the ability of training characters. You didnít have to start from the beginning though. You could wait until all the level 1s were gone and then start recruiting the level 2s.

While the rules for the original were not really elegant, the game was dripping with theme. It felt like a dungeon crawl, which was fun but also could get as tedious during the bad parts of a dungeon crawl. Iíd be interested in play the new version to see what all was streamlined. While I enjoy Thunderstone, I think Clank! scratches that itch better.

Yeah you can take a whole turn to trash a card from your hand.  Not a great turn, but better than nothing.  I liked the rule, although I wish it let you trash 2 cards.  Agreed, leveling up heroes was way fun.  Some of the heroes were painfully unbalanced though.  We house ruled a lot of them.
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