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rinkworks

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The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« on: September 21, 2011, 01:08:19 pm »
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Highly subjective lists of the most and least fun Dominion cards to play with.  To clarify, these aren't the cards that are that make for the most fun games, and absolutely have nothing to do with using great strategy.  They're the cards I find most fun to actually play (or, in some cases, getting them played on you) in the moment.  Heavy factors are (1) how inherently enjoyable the physical manipulation of the cards is, and (2) how the card contributes to the suspense/risk/reward of the game that makes Dominion so addicting in the first place.

I should also note that this list is about how fun the cards are to play in person rather than online.  With online play, the physical manipulation of the cards doesn't come into play, and instead the fiddliness of a card has more to do with how many decisions (that is, mouse clicks) you need to make to play it.  I'm not looking at that here.


Most Fun Cards

Honorary Mentions:  All the Duration cards except Tactician and Outpost.  I enjoy the extra flavor and card manipulation that these cards add to the game, but none of them do that in a substantially unique way except maybe Haven.  So they all get a collective honorable mention.

14. Minion

Executing a Minion chain is a pretty satisfying thing to try to keep together, because you never know what each new hand is going to bring you.  I'm ranking it a bit low on the list, though, because Minions are usually obligatory whenever they turn up in the kingdom.  The repetition makes them a little less fun than they'd otherwise be.

13. Pearl Diver

The weakness of the card distracts from how neat it is to play.  You get to look under your deck?  Possibly move the bottom card to the top?  It's a bit of deck manipulation that no other Dominion card lets you do.

12. Masquerade

Getting to pass cards around the table is kind of fun.  Feels a bit more like Hearts than Dominion, but that's why it's cool -- it's something you don't usually get to do in the game.  The only disappointment is that most of the time you're just passing copies of the same thing around the table.

11. Tribute

You never know what you're going to turn up.  That wreaks havoc on a planned strategy, but the unknown makes it fun to play, whether you're actually playing it or getting it played on you.

10. Native Village

Lots of interesting things you can do here.  The shuffling of cards on and off the mat is interesting card manipulation, and stockpiling goodies for later use has a wealth of enticing possibilities.

9. Tournament

The race angle of Tournament frustrates me a little, but otherwise I love it for all the reasons I love both the #1 and #4 entries on this list.

8. Jester

A running theme of this list, which is starting to become clear, is the anticipation of the unknown.  When you play Jester, you never know what's going to happen.  You might curse all your opponents, or you might come away with a Grand Market or a Peddler or some other juicy nugget.  Sometimes it hits Silver all around, but the risk/reward possibilities are hard for me to pass up.

7. Golem

The randomness adds a lot here.  If you've planned your deck properly, you can avoid nasty surprises like drawing Remake-Remake -- in which case the only question is which goodies do you get to have?  An extra element of intrigue is present when you're using your last action and still have terminals in your hand.  Will you get to play them afterward, or not?

The only thing that brings this card down a bit in the rankings is that it's really disappointing in a deck without a lot of actions, or with actions that can draw your whole deck on their own.  Then you probably shouldn't have a Golem in your deck in the first place, but that's no fun.

Honorary mentions on this list are all (but one -- see the next list) of the other deck-scourers, like Library and particularly Adventurer.

6. Smugglers

Few things in Dominion are so sadistically satisfying as watching your opponent think hard about how to put together a chain of actions that just manages to scrape together enough for a Gold, and then just slapping down a Smugglers to get one too.

5. King's Court

A staggering percentage of the coolest things you can do in Dominion begin with "King's Court, King's Court...."  But the card loses fun points when it shows up, especially in multiples, in hands without any other actions.

4. Treasure Map

These can be frustrating on the wrong board, but I probably go for them more often than I should anyway, just because it's such a rush when they hit.  Four Golds, right on top of the deck!  Certainly they're better with enablers, though.  I prefer enablers that let you directly reposition the cards, though -- like Warehouse, Haven, and Courtyard -- rather than something like Chapel, which merely increases the odds of activating them as a side-effect.

3. Grand Market

Great for similar reasons as my #2 pick, the difference being that it's the acquisition, rather than the activation, that makes the cool little sub-game.

2. Conspirator

Trying to make these activated is a fun little sub-game you can play on every turn.  When they do fire, it's fun drawing the sequence of cards you can get out of a Conspirator chain and seeing how long you can make it last.  The knowledge that you're racking up a princely sum in the process helps too.

1. Black Market

For me, every play of Black Market is an adventure.  You never know what goodies might turn up in the Black Market, except that you do know that probably whatever you turn up won't be available to anyone else -- even you -- again in the whole game.  (Of course this assumes that you play with a copy of EVERY unused card, from all expansions, which I do).  Will there be something good?  Will you have enough to buy it?

It also helps that Black Market + Fairgrounds is possibly my favorite combo in the game, because then not only do you get to have the adventure of playing Black Market, but you get rewarded for pulling lots of stuff out of it.  (Even without Black Market, though, Fairgrounds is one of my most fun cards; the only reason it's not in this list is because you don't really "play" it -- it just shapes the nature of the games it's in, which makes it ineligible for this list.)



Least Fun Cards

6. Tactician

I thought hard about this one and even considered it for my "Best" list.  Because the actual playing of a Tactician hand is a lot of fun.  But playing the Tactician card itself means throwing away the rest of your hand and then, while you're waiting for your opponents to take their turns, you can't even look at and anticipate all the goodies you'll have to work with.  The delayed gratification is just a bit too delayed.  And it's awful when someone ends the game before you get to play that second turn.

5. Hunting Party

As previously mentioned, I enjoy the deck-scouring process in cards like Adventurer and Golem.  Here, though, that tiny little extra bit of mental processing required to tell if a card is unique or one to skip (especially when you have a large hand size, common with Hunting Party) ruins the therapeutic aspect.

4. Sea Hag

The "discard the top card" aspect of Sea Hag is important for game balance reasons, but it still feels like unnecessary fiddliness.

3. Mountebank

Getting attacked by Mountebank wreaks harm enough on your deck, but the process of reaching across the table to not one but two different supply piles is insult to injury.

2. Ambassador

Great strategic card, obviously, but the physical manipulation of the cards is awkward.  When I play it, there always seems to be a tiny bit of disorientation around the table about what's happening.  Unless everyone is paying strict attention (and they might not be, as they may be thinking out their next turns instead, which is fine), then there always seem to have to be some clarification about what's going on.  Did I return one copy or two?  Of what?  Or, no, wait, you're just revealing a card for me to gain?

Additionally, if I'm returning one or two cards, I always feel silly putting them directly in the pile that other players will be grabbing from, so I feel like I should pass out what I've got.  But the number of cards I'm returning is often not the same number as the number of my opponents, so either the cards don't all get passed out, or I still have to return something to the supply.

Whereas less finicky card manipulation can be therapeutic (like shuffling, drawing, clean-up, etc) this just seems awkward.

1. Saboteur

While not as bad as Ambassador in terms of card manipulation, getting Saboteured is about as fiddly as getting Mountebanked.  Worse, the goodies in your deck get broken down.  It might be a weak attack in theory, but for me it's the only official card I actively dislike.  It's the only attack I find to be actually demoralizing.
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Zaphod

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2011, 02:54:56 pm »
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Possession would be at the top of my least fun list.  I've yet to play a game in veto mode where it made the cut.  Its mere presence in the game often forces players to make their hands less interesting, for fear of being possessed.  The difficulty of drawing 6 coin with a potion makes it more likely that only one person plays it, so some Possession games are about as much fun as dental surgery.

Hunting Party and Tactician are both a lot of fun, I think.  HP is a great way to find that one card you really want to play.  Tactician makes it easier to draw two cards together, making it nice for King's Court decks.  Strong deck trashing cards, especially Forge, become much more powerful with Tactician.

I absolutely agree that Saboteur is not a fun card.  It's incredibly annoying getting Saboteured repeatedly, and sometimes it can disrupt your entire game plan, but in most sets, your opponent buying Saboteur means you will win the game.  So, it would make my least fun list, but not at #1.

Tournament and Black Market could make both lists for me, for the same reason: one person gains a powerful card that the other person has no chance to get.  More than once, I've gained a Followers and my opponent has immediately resigned.

I think Remake is fun, because it dumps the trash from your hand, then it can be used to improve your good cards into great cards.  Sometimes I'll get two of them.

Wharf would make my top 10 to be sure.  Obviously, it's better with Villages, and it King's Courts very well, but it's a powerful card in almost any set.
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DStu

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2011, 03:13:37 pm »
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Minion I don't like so much. You are right that the Minionchain is fun, but in Mirror-Minionmatches, you usually only get 5 of them, and with no support this often lets get you sort of 3 Provinces and than the games stalls.

My favourite card atm is Quarry I think. Usually it not a great buy, but the kingdoms that support it (many Market-type cards) it really explodes, while nevertheless you can stand there with your deck that could buy 5 Labs the last turn and now it can't afford a Province (with basically the same cards in hand).
AND I really like preparing the board for 3-pile endings, which is really fun with Quarry (Might I push this stack down to 5 or is it already to much, so that my opponent may finish in his turn?)
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ftl

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 03:20:44 pm »
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Least fun card - Hamlet.

On isotropic, Hamlet plus either Minion or Library make for very powerful decks which take an endless number of clicks to get anything done.

Most fun card - Library. It's very rewarding when you've set up your deck just right for your library to draw you six or seven cards in one play, and better yet, you get to pick and choose which actions to keep, so you can do it more than once!
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Anchen

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 03:23:57 pm »
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I've played mostly on isotropic and probably have played <15 games of dominion with the actual cards as I got introduced, then learned about isotropic, and friends don't play it enough in person.  I sadly recognize the cards far better by the images on isotropic than their actual card art as a result heh.  I also haven't gotten to play a lot of the cards in person to get a feel for how "annoying" they are when handled in person, although I can see how things like hunting party would be annoying in person but awesome and easy button click online.  Your list also seems a lot more tailored toward more than 2p games I am guessing given how you talk about passing cards around (masquerade) instead of directly about an opponent.

Cards I think would be unfun that I didn't see:

Torturer, especially if it is a multiplayer game and several people are grabbing torturers.  Who needs to chain torturers when you have everybody torturing each other.  And if someone does get off a torturer chain (or a militia followed by a torturer attack) things just get super bogged down.  A lot more so than saboteur I can see torturer making people hate dominion.

Fun:
Tactician I think is fun in figuring out how to make use of it.  As you said it is not THAt good if you don't have any prep for it and can slow you down losing a turn, especially if you were already going to be drawing a ton of your deck every turn.  But it also sets up things like village/action combos, absurd king's court combos, and allows cute tricks like ending a money generating action chain (buncha grand markets, minions, conspirator chain, etc, with a deck involving little treasure, discard hand, still buy stuff).


Unsure:
I actually don't mind possession but many people hate the card.  One thing against possession, along with outpost (if they have a strong draw set up so their outpost turn is still strong) and long action chains that take some thought or consideration (scrying pool is a culprit) is that when it takes a long time to get back to your turn the game can seem boring.

Where does swindler fit in your list as well?  It is a card definitely of the unknown variety like jester.  Flipping their estate and replacing it with estate is not too interesting.  Flipping their minion or witch and turning into a duchy can be massively game changing.
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rinkworks

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 03:25:20 pm »
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Hunting Party and Tactician are both a lot of fun, I think.

I actually agree.  I love boards with those cards and almost always buy them.  In those two cases, I'm really just complaining about the manual process of playing them.

Navigator is another card I forgot to include but would make that same list for the same reason.  I actually like the card quite a bit.  But the necessity of having to draw 5 cards and keep them separate from my hand means I either have to hold my cards awkwardly or temporarily lay my hand down entirely (picking it up again while I'm processing the Navigator cards if what's in my hand might impact what I do with them!).  Come to think of it, Lookout has that same issue.
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Anchen

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 03:28:55 pm »
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Hunting Party and Tactician are both a lot of fun, I think.

I actually agree.  I love boards with those cards and almost always buy them.  In those two cases, I'm really just complaining about the manual process of playing them.

Navigator is another card I forgot to include but would make that same list for the same reason.  I actually like the card quite a bit.  But the necessity of having to draw 5 cards and keep them separate from my hand means I either have to hold my cards awkwardly or temporarily lay my hand down entirely (picking it up again while I'm processing the Navigator cards if what's in my hand might impact what I do with them!).  Come to think of it, Lookout has that same issue.

Some of these I don't think I'd mind too much, maybe cause I have played other card games (magic primarily) where these kind of operations are fairly common.  Although I freely admit I haven't done them with actual dominion cards.  There's quite a few cards that involve looking at some number of cards on top of your deck and choosing among them or something.
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rinkworks

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2011, 03:35:29 pm »
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Your list also seems a lot more tailored toward more than 2p games I am guessing...

I play a roughly equal share of 2p and 3p games in person.  I wasn't really conscious of whether one or the other was more dominant in my thoughts when I wrote that post.

Quote
Where does swindler fit in your list as well?

As with Jester, I love the anticipation part of it.  Unlike Jester, the percentage of times it's interesting is a bit small.  Wishing Well was almost on my worst list for the same reason.  Good card, I like playing it, and it's exciting when it hits -- but it misses too often to be something I'm particularly looking forward to playing when I see it pop up in my hand.

--

On the subject of live vs. online play, I agree that Hamlet is a bad one online, as is Pawn, Spy, Scrying Pool, and Mining Village.  Grand Market, too.  For an online worst list, all those would make it, and many of the ones I listed (e.g., Hunting Party) would not.  But in person, Pawn and Hamlet are smooth, and Spy has a little bit of social engagement that more than compensates for all the individual decisions.  It's really quite remarkable how different the two experiences are.
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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2011, 04:40:20 pm »
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My favorite card to play is Venture.  I love actually getting a Venture chain going, as it's really satisfying.  Rewards my trashing OCD quite nicely.  Jester is another fun one to play for aforementioned reasons.

The only card I cannot stand is Pirate Ship, which turns every game in to the same thing (I primarily play with groups of 3 or more; it's a little less obnoxious in 2p games).  Tournament's a close second, but it's more because I suck with them than I hate the concept.  Getting hit by a Torturer chain is no fun but it's always hilarious watching your opponents struggle when you pull it off.
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ChaosRed

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2011, 05:33:29 pm »
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My favorite card is Chapel. It is the first card I saw that I reacted harshly to at first, then read the article on this site about the card and have used the card whenever its available and often win with it. The thing I love about dense decks the most is I can actually count cards when decks are dense. I feel its a huge advantage.

Another favorite card of mine is the Steward. I am not sure why the card gets dissed by some, I love its utility, I can find use for it early in the game and late in the game. Later in the game, in a dense deck, I'll usually know whether to take the +2$ or +2 cards (most often its +2 cards).

My least favorite card is the Chancellor, so much so I want to build a trigger in my fan expansion for having an empty discard pile. I know there are times a reshuffle is useful (dense decks especially), but it comes up so rarely in games I actually bought the card.

Another card I dislike is the Saboteur...which seems random, negative and slows the game down without really adding any kind of intriguing strategy.

I also dislike Platinum, Colonies and Potions. I feel all of these ruin some of the game's elegant design.

I am fond of Masquerade, Ambassador, and I also like Harem...I have won a few games by buying Harem and I sometimes thinks its an underrated card. 2VP that converts to coins, is just a good value a lot of the time, especially if the VP balance is tight.
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Taco Lobster

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2011, 06:15:28 pm »
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I'd like to put in a vote for Masquerade if, for no other reason, then because everytime it gets played, someone sings the line from Phantom of the Opera.

I also have a fondness for Wishing Well, particularly when following the advice of naming what you hope to get rather than what you expect to get.

One last card that I find fun is Treasury, which I hated for the longest time.  I recently played a game where I opened 2/5, and Treasury was the best 5 on the board.  I took it, and started accumulating Treasuries and extra buys, used those to build my deck, and then watched the Treasury get busted every time I bought a green card.  It seemed like a cute model of a king's treasury, which could be used to fund day to day expenses, but would be upset by a significant expense (i.e., a green card).
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ftl

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2011, 07:44:40 pm »
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I'd like to put in a vote for Masquerade if, for no other reason, then because everytime it gets played, someone sings the line from Phantom of the Opera.

THIS

A HUNDRED TIMES THIS

Where "someone" usually means "me".

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2011, 08:25:00 pm »
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I like Scout! Maybe because I like underdogs.
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Markov Chain

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2011, 08:45:37 pm »
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The only card I cannot stand is Pirate Ship, which turns every game in to the same thing (I primarily play with groups of 3 or more; it's a little less obnoxious in 2p games).

I have the same problem with it, playing regularly with 4.  Pirate Ship dominates the play, and there is often no way around it; too often, the game is just a contest to see who gets four coins first.  Most other cards that can change the game are optional; you can choose to ignore Gardens while everyone else goes for them, and try to gain enough Provinces to win when the Gardens are split.

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2011, 02:30:10 am »
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you can choose to ignore Gardens while everyone else goes for them, and try to gain enough Provinces to win when the Gardens are split.

Good luck with that!
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Fangz

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2011, 03:51:15 am »
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Most fun?

Menagerie. Seeing a neat 5 card hand, all different, is like winning a mini-lottery. Seeing it again after drawing three cards is like winning a lottery again. And unlike certain other cards, you aren't punished if you fail.

Most unfun?

Possession.
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fencingmonkey

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2011, 04:29:51 pm »
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I'll second Menagerie as a super-fun card. Drawing Menagerie/Menagerie/3 unique cards just fires all of the pleasure centers in my brain.

For me, Tournament is a super unfun card, but that's more because it makes the game about the race rather than how the physical manipulation of it works.

I do get a kick out of playing any village-style card if I'm playing with a real deck, because I'll lay cards over the ones I've played to track how many actions I've got left, and if I get a chain going I build up a lovely pyramid in front of me.

Another fun one to play is Watchtower, especially vs. Mountebank. Revealing it is basically considered an obscene gesture in my group.
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rinkworks

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2011, 04:43:40 pm »
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I'll second Menagerie as a super-fun card. Drawing Menagerie/Menagerie/3 unique cards just fires all of the pleasure centers in my brain.

In a Black Market/Fairgrounds game I played once, I started a turn with King's Court/Menagerie and managed to draw 9 cards.  That ruled.
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meshuggah42

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2011, 05:16:43 pm »
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I think the worst card in IRL games is Philosopher's Stone.
All that counting just kills the entire dynamic of the game.
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Davio

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2011, 05:49:04 am »
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I like Smithy for its simplicity.

It's the (Action) card with the least amount of text, it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not.
Every time I see this in a live game I get a warm nostalgic feeling.
Seeing that good old trusty Smithy on the board is almost like coming home.

I dislike most variance inducing cards like Swindler, Saboteur and Jester.
I also dislike cards which are so good it becomes a race to get them and tilts the balance too much in favor of whoever gets them first: Goons, Grand Market and Torturer fit this bill.
Last, but not least, I often veto cards which take a long time to resolve, like Spy, Scrying Pool and Possession.
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Euphemism

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2011, 07:54:25 pm »
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I'd like to put in a vote for Masquerade if, for no other reason, then because everytime it gets played, someone sings the line from Phantom of the Opera.

Da de-da de-da da-de....

Last physical game of dominion I had. Every time it was played :D. The only player that didn't do that didn't buy any masquerades, either.

Wait, there's actually a line that goes with that?

Masquerade is both fun and useful. But my favourite card (on Isotropic) is Hunting Party. Oh look, my hunting party finds... another hunting party!
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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2011, 08:54:51 pm »
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I third the motion on Masquerade. It's funny every time. We also do the same thing with village (Y-M-C-A!)
While I hardly see it used anymore, but when Adventurer works, it is awesome, especially a TR/KC Adventurer with multiple buys. Pretty much anything with TR/KC is awesome. (Montebank is devasting with a KC)
Least fun card to play with is Sabateur. I always end up apologizing for trashing Provinces when I use it, and no one feels bad when they do it to me. Moral of the story; not fun.
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meshuggah42

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2011, 03:15:02 pm »
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Least fun card to play with is Sabateur. I always end up apologizing for trashing Provinces when I use it, and no one feels bad when they do it to me. Moral of the story; not fun.

Not too long ago I played a game IRL that involved Saboteur, but the setup had no trashing availabilities, and it had Mountebank. It was at that point that one of my friends declared that if anyone buys Saboteur here, he'll stand up and walk away because even those few $3+ cards will get trashed and it would get even more painful to play (imagine hands like: Curse, Curse, Estate, Estate, Copper...). At one time I had $5 in hand, and said out loud: "I buy Saboteur". He stood up, slamming down his cards but luckily I was quick enough to withdraw my buy, saying that I was just checking on his vow. :)
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MasterAir

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2011, 11:13:59 am »
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Least Favourites: Treasure Map and Swindler.
Both far too random and swingy for my liking.
Possession (which I almost forgot cos it's pretty much omitted from play in my group) isn't very fun either.

Most favourite: Gooooooooooooooons.  I like Outpost, but can never get it to work well.  Native village is pretty good fun too.
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CMiner

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Re: The Most/Least Fun Dominion Cards
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2011, 11:46:52 am »
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Most fun, I'd pick maybe vineyard and hoard off the top of my head.

Spotting and taking advantage of a good vineyard kingdom is great.  And hoard is wonderful in and of itself, but especially when you add in any of the cheap VP's, and/or watchtower.

Least fun?  Easy.  Minion and Possession.

I have two problems with Minion.  One, in large numbers its dominant to all but a handful of other strategies, so you have to contest your opponent for it lest they get too many of them.  But more importantly, I always seem to have horrible, horrible luck with them.  Anytime an opponent goes for the discard option, I go from a good (or even decent) 5 card hand to a bad 4 card hand.  Very frustrating.

Possession, imo, turns a 2 player game into a 1 player game, especially when it can stack.  Yes there are ways to defend against it, and yes its expensive.  But its also unfun.
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