Monthly Archives: April 2010

Best of Dominion, Part II

Next, an Intriguing update! My favorite 10 cards from Dominion: Intrigue.

10: Harem
As I said about the Adventurer before, anything in the 6 slot makes games more interesting. Also, Intrigue introduces the split cards- victory points, and some other type. The Harem, while technically a coin or point worse than either Gold or a Duchy, has the awesome benefit of being useful for both purchases and points. A real mid-game card here- early game you want gold, and late game you might want Duchies instead, Harems make you judge the length of the game, and are also a fun purchase.

9: Masquerade
I’m not sure that the Masquerade is actually a good card, but it’s a fun card. Getting rid of your coppers, estates, or occasionally curses is always good, and making everyone else make weird decisions is always fun. (And I’ve had Masquerade plays where I’ve been passed something really useful, like a silver or an action card.) It screws with your opponents (sometimes) and isn’t even attack.

8: Ironworks
I’m a sucker for the Workshop, and the Ironworks is like that but cooler- take an action card to do more stuff, or take Silver to get extra money to spend (and if the Great Hall is in play, or Seaside’s Island, you’ve got great choices for a victory card to take.) Lots of choices here, and ones that come with extra benefits.

7: Minion
Cards that give a choice are always interesting, and the Minion is always solid. Money is always useful, and the Minion’s doesn’t take an action, but it can also let you cycle your hand while potentially hosing everyone else. The Minion is especially fun if you have multiples- play the first one to get money, then play the next to get a whole new hand.

6: Tribute
The potent but unreliable Tribute. You’re going to get something good, but it’s not necessarily what you want- potentially +4 coins, +4 actions, or +4 cards, or some mix. (Probably the best possible outcome is to flip a Harem and a Great Hall, for 4 cards, 2 coins, and 2 actions.) Or you could flip 2 curses and get nothing. The Tribute makes for interesting planning- if you have other, obviously useful actions, do you play those instead for the guaranteed benefit, or play Tribute, hoping to flip extra actions?

5: Secret Chamber
This is a pretty interesting defense- it lets you tinker with your hand and deck in response to an Attack. It doesn’t nullify it like the Moat, but it may be enough to completely defang it. Militia? Draw some victory cards and discard them. Thief or Pirate Ship? Put some victory cards on top of your deck where they’re be discarded. Minion? Put your best cards on top so you’ll still have them. With so many attacks that involve your hand or top of your deck, this is almost always going to be useful in both damage control and setting you up for your turn. Maybe not against the Witch, but you still get a consolation prize of improving your hand.
Also, the ability is pretty good, guaranteeing you at least a 4 coin turn no matter what.

4: Nobles
Nobles are a great card- extra actions, or extra cards, and victory points to boot. I’m a big fan of any card that gives a choice- and both the choices offered by the Nobles are great ones.

3: Baron
The Baron is one of those cards that changes the way you play completely. The Baron turns Estates from almost worthless cards to something you want in your hand, since he turns them into a 4-coin money stick. The Baron often allows for big buys early on, and encourages players to hang onto or even acquire new estates, which are both big paradigm changers.

2: Swindler
As much as people complain about the Swindler (and it’s more annoying companion, the Saboteur)- this is one of the more interesting mechanics in Intrigue- messing with other people’s decks. The Swindler is probably the more useful of the two since it also gives the player a benefit, and doesn’t cost a whopping 5 coins. Once the thrill of turning people’s coppers into curses wears off (and trust me, it never wears off), you still get to mess with people’s combos. While it takes away the sanctity of the player’s deck, it makes the game less like competitive solitaire, which is always a good thing.

1: Bridge
The most iconic and abusable card in Intrigue for me is the Bridge, which often completely shatters the pricing paradigm, especially when comboed with extra actions, multiple bridges, or even just more buys. 4 coins to get 2 Silvers? 2 Bridges and 10 coins to get a Province and a Gold? Good all the way through the game to pick up power cards both high priced and low. At worst it’s a +2 coin card. At best you’re playing something insane like 4 of them in one turn and 20 coins to buy 5 provinces.

Honorable Mentions: The Duke, which changes the Duchy paradigm, the Torturer, who sometimes sees players choosing to take curses rather than discard, but is simply too similar to the witch, the Pawn, who is useful in almost every deck, the underrated Scout, who pulls victory cards out of your deck and combos amazingly with the special ones, and the Conspirator, who is really cool and potent if you’re taking lots of actions.

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Best of Dominion, Part I

If you were trapped on a desert island with only 30 Dominion cards, which ones would you choose?

I’m a huge fan of Dominion, especially the expansions. This is quite possibly one of the most addictive games I’ve come across in a long time, and I love how every game is different. So really, narrowing down the cardpool isn’t a practical idea, though sometimes I’d want to take out some of the less interesting cards. On the other hand, those boxes are pretty big. A ‘best of’ set would make bringing Dominion to boardgame night easier.

Whether or not it’s a good idea, it’s worth thinking about the cards I enjoy coming up in games the most. So without further ado, my 10 most favorite cards from Dominion:

10: Remodel
Remodeling is one of those mechanics you gotta have in the game, and Remodel is more interesting than Upgrade, the Intrigue counterpart. It lets you trash curses, coppers, estates, and pull all sorts of fun tricks, like turning gold into provinces (or provinces into provinces to speed endgame.)

9: Festival
It was a toss-up in the 5 point utility slot between Festival and Market. Ultimately, I think +2 action cards provide a lot of value to the game, making actions more interesting and valuable.

8: Mine
Another solid 5 point card, the Mine is a personal favorite, because it lets me get higher tier money without having to buy it, and makes early silver purchases turn into gold. A useful card, and one that makes interesting decisions if you have it, and say a +2 coin card in your hand and can only play one or the other.

7: Smithy
The Smithy’s just a good, all around card. Nothing too fancy, but it combos well with extra action cards, and gets you a big effect for your buck.

6: Bureaucrat
Aha, an attack! Bureaucrat is a delicious double whammy, giving you useful silvers into your deck, and hosing your opponents by slowing down their game, potentially turn after turn.

5: Village
Another simple but effective card, the Village (and all its variants) are some of my favorite cards. The original remains cool enough to justify repeated usage.

4: Adventurer
The neat thing about the Adventurer is that it makes the 6-buy slot more interesting. Gold or Adventurer? With enough actions (and enough silver and gold in your deck), the Adventurer can be worth lots of money, and deck-churning, but you never know for sure, a risky proposition!

3: Gardens
As a 4-slot alternate victory point card, Gardens often significantly change the flavor of any game they show up in, making it a race to pack your deck as big as possible. Any card that dramatically alters the game so much deserves a slot by that virtue alone.

2: Witch
Speaking of game changers. You remember that first time you played with the Witch and struggled just to get positive points? I’m sure you’ve gotten better at playing around her, but the Witch is and remains one of the nastier attacks in the game.

1: Throne Room
Useless by itself, amazing with combos- sort of the way dominion cards should be. Rarely a game changer, but often so potent you’ll want these in your deck. Also a card that gets better the longer the game goes on- you don’t want to draw just a throne room.

Almost made it:
Here’s some cards that are interesting, but not quite interesting enough: The Moat (later defenses are more interesting) Chancellor (some people like it quite a bit, but it’s difficult to see the utility) Library (funky effect, often useful, quite expensive though), and the Thief (kind of fun, but also annoying- we’re trying to play Dominion over here!)

Up next- my favorite 10 cards from Intrigue!

Walking Tentacles, Walking Eyes

I was interviewed on the Walking Eye Podcast, about Escape from Tentacle City. There’s some really good discussion about the game near the end.