Dominion by Rio Grande Games
Author: Donals X. Vaccarino, Development: Valerie Putman & Dale Yu, Illustration & Layout: Matthias Catrein
In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards. In the center of the table is a selection of other cards the players can “buy” as they can afford them. Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.
From the back of the box: You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.”
But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents would be delighted.
I really love this game. The variety of cards makes it a different game each time you play and the competition is really with yourself. Everyone begins the game with the same set of cards. What choices can you make to build a bigger, better kingdom than the other players? And you have to be careful, since sometimes there are thieves, spies or witches out to spoil your plans.
This is a fairly quick game usually, lasting 30 to 45 minutes with our group. The basic rules are simple enough, too, and there are clear explanations on each of the cards. I wish you could play with more than 4 players, though, sice we often have 5 or 6 players on game night.
In my opinion, this is a must-have game.