Rio Grande Games
MSRP: $44.95
Components: Rule booklet; cards; card-sorting tray; box.
# of Players: For two to four players
Age Rating: 8 and up
Playing Time: 30+ minutes.
ISBN: None
UPC: 6-551320-03704
ICv2 Stars: 4.5 out of 5

Dominion, a card game-board game hybrid, has been gaining converts since 2008.  In Dominion, players attempt to build an awesome deck.  As in many collectible card games, deck building is the whole point: unlike those same CCGs, deck building is the fun part.

Players each start with 10 cards -- seven copper and three one-point estates.  Players shuffle these ten cards together to form the draw deck, and draw five cards from the top. Copper is used to buy more cards -- things like Markets, Militia and Villages -- that make the Dominion prosper and grow.  Once purchased, a card is added to the discard pile, along with the cards that were used to purchase it, and these are shuffled together into the new draw pile when the draw pile is exhausted.  Some cards allow players to take extra actions during their turn; some allow additional cards to be drawn; some do several things at once.  In the basic game, there are ten stacks of cards available for purchase.  Once three of those stacks run out, the game is over and the players total their victory points.

The Estate cards are the victory points of the game.  They also act as a balance, tying up useful space with cards that serve no purpose until the end game.  As players are able to obtain other holdings they add more victory points, but also add more slot-filling endgame cards to the player’s draw deck.

Dominion is amazingly simple to learn.  Luck plays a strong hand in this game, but all players are under the same limitations, maintaining balance initially.  A game moves pretty quickly once the players have a couple of turns under their belts, and replay value is very strong; the initial card set can be replaced by ten other stacks from more than 25 different included.  Dominion is an outstanding game, and will collect numerous awards in the coming year.

-- Bill Bodden