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Dominion General Discussion / Favorite Dominion Expansions - 2017 Edition
« on: January 23, 2017, 11:17:19 am »
It has been a while since I saw this topic occurring, so in the light of Empires and the Second Edition Cards, I feel it is time again, to discuss our favorite Dominion Expansions.

I start with my personal list, sorted from bottom (least great) to top (amazing). As with all of these lists, it is highly subjective and based on personal taste. So do not feel bad, if you think, I mistreated your favorite expansion, but write your own list, and point out what you think is awesome about it.

So, here’s my take (quite long, but we have a lot of expansions by now ;) ):

11. Alchemy

Not much to say about it which has not been said before. It is a shame though. I really liked the Potion Concept and the Art is definitely in the upper third of Dominion.  But the cards kill it for me – weak (Transmute, Philosopher’s Stone), annoying (Scrying Pool, Familiar, Possession), bland (University, Herbalist) or wheel-spinning (Alchemist, Golem, Scrying Pool & Familiar again). And there is Apprentice & Vineyard, which are pretty cool, but do not save the expansion. Clearly bottom of the list

10. Empires

I really have not warmed up to this expansion yet. What I played in the ShuffleIT Beta confirmed my thoughts when I first saw the cards: Complicated, overpowered and occasionally boring. I can see the appeal in bending the rules of Dominion, as far as possible.  But while in theory Landmarks sounded great, in practice they make the game far too unpredictable for non-expert players. I think there is a reason why strategic discussions in this forum died down – with Landmarks being present, it is near impossible to provide general advice anymore that is not contradicted by at least 1 landmark. Since they are handled like events in the ShIT implementation, they also show up far too often for my taste. (Compare this to Colonies or Shelters!)

Then there is the Power Creep. I know, it does not really matter in Dominion, but it just feels so uninspired: +6 Card, double your money, +3 Action Village, $2 Silver, $6 Money, trash as many cards as you like, 500 ways to earn VP, return to your action phase, Cantrip Warehouse, Action/ Treasure Throne Room, … -- this reminds me of one of those fan mods, that give you all the super weapons in the first 5 minutes of play. The whacky art (imo partially worse than the Seaside art) makes it even LOOK like a fan expansion. And then there are a couple of cards that sit on the uncomfortable spot between being potentially helpful, but not really so much (Settlers, Farmer’s Market, Chariot Race, Wild Hunt, Castles, etc.).

Not a fan, though I can see the appeal for super expert players. Number 10.

9. Seaside

One more vote against the trend, but I never quite liked Seaside. The Duration mechanic is awesome, but I feel Adventures explores its full potential way better. Then you have a few dud cards and two of the nastiest attacks in Dominion (Sea Hag and Ghost Ship). There are definitely nice cards (Ambassador, Fishing Village, Lookout, Tactician, Salvager, Wharf), but when setting up a kingdom for a board game night recently, I realized how narrow the space for interesting kingdoms is with Seaside only. Maybe my views are also shaped negatively by grinding through the MF campaign with Seaside, under constant attack of hag, or ghost ship, or both. Contrary to popular opinion, I found the art mostly ok, and I dig the Orange of the duration cards. Still, only number 9.

8. Guilds

Guilds is a very ok expansion that felt like a matching end point for Dominion at its time. There is hardly anything controversial about it, it is just nice small expansion with a little twist. While it does no wonders, I am always happy when one of the Coin tokens pop up, Baker changes the start setup, or Merchant Guild seems a reasonable route to go. Guild cards are a good expansion to any kingdom, though they can hardly exist on their own.

I think it speaks of the quality of Dominion’s design that this perfectly fine and average expansion sits in the lower end of this list.

7. Hinterlands

Also known as the expansion that everyone forgets. Which is not fair: From my perspective, Hinterlands has plenty of fun and interesting cards, which increase the overall quality of every kingdom. Scheme, Jack, Tunnel, Highway, Crossroads, Spice Merchants, Fool’s Gold are all iconic Dominion Cards that invite experimentation with your deck. I also like the art of this set a lot, it’s colorful and friendly and sells the flavor of being in distant lands.

It guess, what it lacks, is the one defining thing that you can put your finger on. Most cards feel like outtakes of other sets, smart takes on existing concepts, but in themselves pretty bland. It is the ‘If you liked Dominion until Cornucopia, here is more’ expansion, a god stuff deck with a lot of slightly above average cards that do not blow your mind. I like it, for what it is, so it’s my number 7.

6. Cornucopia

My favorite small expansion! With only 13 cards (+ Prizes) it has an absolutely amazing hit ration: Hamlet. Tournament. Remake. Young Witch. Horn of Plenty. Fairgrounds. Hunting Party. All of these not only change the way you play significantly, they are also just fun to play out. And the focus on deck variety makes it a nice addition for newcomers with little plan how to build your deck. 

5. Prosperity

Initially I wanted to rate it way lower, as on first glance, it follows the same patterns that I complained about with Empires: Here’s your Market with 2 Money instead of 1. Here’s your three-times Throne Room. Here’s Remodel with up to 3 coins. Here’s an overpowered attack that gives money, buy and victory points.

But there are quite a few things different with this expansion, pulling it into the top five. First of all, I think the power increase is way better balanced via the costs than in Empires. In Prosperity, it takes quite some time & smart moves until you reach the point that you can actually gain the power cards. When you reach them, you feel you earned them. Compare this to the Debt cards which come free and usually pay themselves back within a few turns, due to their raw power.

Then, there are Colonies and Platinum, which also help to counterbalance some of the crazier power effects. They also make games inherently more interesting, as they broaden the opportunities and ways to pursue victory. They also make juicy engines viable – there is little more satisfying than purchasing multiple colonies in one turn.

And finally the filler cards are awesome. Usually, when you have a favorite card and you do really remember where it came from, it is Prosperity. Loan, Watchtower, Bishop, City, Mountebank,  Peddler – these are usually not the cards that come to your mind, when you think of prosperity, but here they happily sit along classic favorites, like Kings Court, Goons or Bank. Top 5 material, without doubt.

4. Base – Second Edition

I love how base expresses all the core aspects of Dominion and is still fun to play to this day. I admire how the Second Edition managed to do the impossible: Create simple, yet fun and powerful cards, even after a few hundred cards have already been designed. I love Vassal for instance.

With the revision, I feel this set is one of the most polished pieces of Dominion you can get your hands on. It is easy to explain, has little text to read and still offers plenty of opportunities and room for strategy. And its cards are a great fit to any kingdom. Number 4, definitely.

3. Dark Ages

I love trashing, so it is no surprise, that this expansion made it to the top 3. Still, I think Dark Ages is far more than ‘the Trashing expansion’.

First of all, it is the most on-topic expansion that you can think of. There are so many little easter eggs hidden in the mechanics, in the card art, or in the card names. Think of Rats, Pillage / Village, Hermit / Madmen, Squire, etc. There’s not a single card that feels out of place, neither in naming, nor in mechanic (well, maybe Storeroom).  The art fits great as well, making this the Dominion expansion which best captures the essence of its theme.

Then there are the cards: Throw in a Dark Ages card into any kingdom and you will see this game transform, but very differently than with any other expansion. The great thing about Dark Ages is that it lets other Expansions shine, while it usually does not create dominant strategies on its own. Ok, there are Cultist and Rebuild, but even these create at least a tough challenge to beat.

And last but not least there are shelters, which again, fundamentally altered the way how Dominion is played, without breaking it. To me, this earns it a place on the podium.

2. Adventures

If Empires is the fan movie, Adventures is the Magnum Opus. It is the best of all previous Dominion Expansion, but taken to a new level. First, the cards: They are amazing from a Design Perspective! I am not even talking about the crazy stuff, like Travellers and Tokens. What I really love about Adventures, is how there are so many ‘simple’ cards with such a huge impact:  Take Port, Magpie, Treasure Trove, Raze. All of these feel, as if they could have been part of the first Dominion expansion. They are so familiar, so obvious, but it still feels awesome, when you play them.

This expansion is definitely on the power creep side of the rainbow. Hireling, Coin of the Realm, Royal Carriage are game changer, without doubt. Still, from my personal perspective, these somehow feel ok. Maybe it is, because these cards are basically more reliable versions of cards that existed for a long time – take a few Caravans, Fishing Villages or Throne Rooms and you have basically the same level of power. The traveler line is insane in some regards, but it needs time to set up, has chance to fail and thus feels appropriately introduced when you reach the crazy end.

Clearly, and hardly surprising anyone, Events is what raises this expansion to a top level. Events were the missing pieces that no one realized were missing, until they were introduced. I will not go into detail, because I think everyone knows by now how much of a positive game changer this addition was. Adventures is my personal number 2.

1. Intrigue – Second Edition

My pick for number one is a mix of various feelings. Clearly, there is a bit of love for the underdog. I heard so many bad things about the ‘worst’ big Dominion expansion that I was utterly surprised how good it was, when I finally picked it up, despite the duds that were in the initial release.

First of all, I love the Victory / Action Card subtheme. There are so many cute tricks you can do with these that I always felt a bit sad that it was not explored even further. Also, the set (as an initial beginner set) is so straightforward with its descriptions that it is easy to play with anyone you meet. It is so much easier, to setup a game with Intrigue, than going through the motions of explaining someone Seaside’s duration mechanics or the lengthy texts of Empires.

Then, there are so many ‘Swiss Army Knife’ card of Dominion in this expansion that I simply do not understand people’s disdain for it. I mean, a lot of these have not lost their appeal after 9 expansions. Masquerade, Baron, Bridge, Duke, Steward, Courtyard, Torturer, Ironworks, Conspirator … There are so many staple Dominion cards coming from this expansion that I wonder, if people simply forgot about their origin. I would not want to miss them in my random kingdom.

My fondness for this expansion was always a bit troubled though. While I dig the Scout meme (and I definitely think, Scout deserves a place in the Dominion canon), playing with the duds was no fun, particularly when Saboteur was around.

With the new edition, I feel, this expansion has really earned its position in my favor. Most of the duds are gone and the set gained a few of the most interesting cards in recent times. Replace, Patrol, Lurker and Courtier are easily my favorites, but I like Secret Passage, Mill and Diplomat quite a lot too. Add to this the new, beautiful and diversified Art, and there you have it: Intrigue, Second Edition, clearly my favorite Expansion!

Dominion Strategy Wiki Feedback / Visual Card List + List Overview
« on: January 06, 2017, 09:55:35 am »
I wanted to show a (non-gamer) artist friend the beauty of the Dominion Card Art in an visual overview of all Dominion cards ever released, but there was no such page in the Wiki that covered all expansions at once (or at least I could not find it). So I needed to refer him to this Pinterest picture instead:

It was quite surprising, that such a page did not exist, given that the majority of the work has already been done for the individual expansions (via the {{CardImage|Card Name}} tag). It should be no big deal to copy & paste the according lines to a single page? I would create this page on my own, but I am not sure whether there is a reasoning behind it that I do not know (i.e. protection from card piracy).

I also have one more request: It would be really nice, if there would be an Overview Page for the multiple non-expansion specific lists that exist on the Wiki by now. Topics like the List of Illustrators, the List of cards (in other languages), the Glossary, the Who Is Who, the List of Cards, .. are really hard to find when you do not know, they exist. Call it 'Lists & other Articles' and put the link on the Main page, i.e. in the 'Community' section below the Isotropic Article Link.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Singleplayer Features
« on: August 30, 2016, 06:19:43 pm »
Have there been any news on the Features of the Singleplayer Part of Dominion 2017? Are these comparable to the Implementation of Making Fun / Goko, or will there be more or less to play around with?

There are couple of things that come to my mind
- Will the Campaigns be kept, or better: revised / extended? At the moment they feel like the opposite of what makes Dominion great. I would even pay to see a string of curated boards with Default Dominion Rules, utilizing cards from all sets, instead of repeating one Set over and over again.
- Will there be improving bots, that adapt their difficulty based on the skill of the player? Would also be nice in a Campaign.
- Will there be any kind of Achievements, Rankings, or other ways to compare with your friends / other Players, when playing only against Bots? Or is this limited to the Online Mode? As meaningless as it is, I have a weak spot for the Casual Ranking and I would love to see that extended.
- Any plans for fun offline Achievements or other intersting long-term goals?

Thanks in advance

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