Any Dominion players here?

I just picked up the game and there’s a couple of issues I’m not clear on.

I’ve played it a bit. What’re your questions?

1. I assume you mean the board game, right?

  1. What issues/questions do you have?

I seem to be finding many of the answers to some questions spread out through the rulebooks. I have to say this game could have been designed better.

Anyway, I’m still confused about the Gardens cards. Are they treated like the other normal Victory cards (Estates, Duchies, Provinces) and just included as part of the basic set-up? Or are they treated as Action cards and are optional for set-up (and count against the ten set limit)?

What’s the reason for having a cost on Curse cards? Is there any reason why anyone would every want to buy a curse (even at a cost of zero)? I’m assuming if you play a Witch action, you take the Curses from the supply not out of your hand.

What’s the purpose of the Randomizer cards? The only other mention that’s made of them is that they can be used for a random set-up or as placeholders for an empty pile, They can be used for those purposes, I suppose, but there’s no need for them for either purpose.

I’m wondering if some of these cards have a bigger role in the expansions.

I have the original (linked by Mahaloth), but it doesn’t have the cards you are describing. Are you playing with Intrigue? Or one of the others?

I don’t own the game but I’ve played it a few times and seen some of those cards in action. Let’s see if I can answer some of your questions.

They are treated as Action cards and are optional and count against the limit.

Not 100% sure but IIRC some cards that remove cards from your deck refer to the cost of the card. So you might use a card that says “destroy a card to gain the card’s value + 2 gold” or something. Witch takes Curses from the supply, true.

There are situations where you need to trash a card to gain a more valuable card and you might want to obtain some low-cost cards for this purpose. But coppers also have a zero cost and a small but positive value. Curses are purely a negative.

No, I have the original game (the one that Mahaloth linked to) and it definitely has these cards.

Actually, Dominion stands out among board/card games as being amazingly tightly designed, once you get a handle on it. The game has no errata. None. To a veteran nerd like me, this is mind boggling.

Gardens are not basic cards, they can be one of the 10 just like the others. During setup at least, the fact that Gardens is a victory card just means that it gets 12 (or 8 in a two player game) cards instead of 10 like actions do.

You are allowed to buy a Curse if you really want to, but you almost never would. Still, once in a while it matters. For example, maybe you are pretty sure you are winning by two or three points or so, but your opponent will probably be able to pull ahead if he gets another turn. You got a bad draw, so you can’t afford any good cards this turn. But then you notice that two piles are empty, and there’s only one Curse left in the pile. You can buy the last curse and end the game. It’s super rare, but I’ve actually won games that way.

More realistically, they have a cost because everything has a cost. If you play, say, Remodel, then you can trash a 0-cost Curse to get a 2-cost Estate or something.

Most people just use them to randomize the 10 cards. They’re there if you find them convenient. If you don’t, ignore them.

Yes, they do. For example, in one of the expansions there is a card called Swindler. When you play it, each of your opponents flips up the top card of their deck and trashes it, and then you choose something of exactly the same cost to give them to replace it. So if they flip up a copper, which costs 0, you can give them a curse which also costs 0.

Maybe I used the wrong term. I’m probably thinking more of development rather than design. I agree the gameplay appears tight. But even with a short exposure to the game, I can see things where they made bad choices.

The box is poorly designed. The box is big but the contents barely fit inside it. The card holder has empty slots that aren’t used for any cards. It stores the cards sideways when the information on the cards is at the top and bottom. It also stores the cards upright with nothing supporting them. If you put weight on the box lid (and a lot of people store games in a stack) the weight will bear down on the cards and bend them.

I’ve already mentioned the apparent absence of rules for the gardens and randomizer cards.

It was a bad idea to use the same icon for cost and value. It makes it far too easy to confuse the two terms, which are not interchangeable.

They shouldn’t have used shorthand terms on the cards. The play involves the cards - put the information on them. The Village card shouldn’t say just “+1 Card +2 Actions”. It should say “Draw another card from your Deck to your Hand. You may take two more Actions.”

Sure, this stuff was obvious to the people who made the game. And I’m sure it quickly becomes obvious to players after they’ve played it a few times. But Rio Grande should have known that a lot of board games are going to be sold to people like me who will be learning the rules as we play the game. That would be a lot simpler if we could see things on the cards in our hand, rather than have to constantly keep looking things up in the rulebook.

That’s a good point. I hadn’t considered that you could get rid of curses by trashing them and they would need to have a nominal point value.

Then why have randomizer cards for the victory cards, which aren’t part of the ten card set-up? If you want to randomize the ten cards for your supply, you could just as easily do it by drawing a card from each of the supply decks and randomly selecting ten of those. Why have a second deck that does the same thing?

As I said above, having a deck of thirty-two cards that serves no purpose is poor design.

That said, I read a review of the game by somebody who said he played the game a lot and ended up having problems with the cards getting worn out and damaged. Maybe the randomizer cards are just an unofficial set of spares.

This hasn’t been a problem for me. The sides of the box should support the weight of anything you put on top of the box, unless its significantly heavy and smaller than the width of the box. But then, you probably shouldn’t be stacking something like that on top of a cardboard box. If you’re just putting other board games on top, it shouldn’t damage anything.

And I’ve found that the set up is pretty good for quickly finding the right stacks of cards, and putting them back when the game is over. I haven’t had any problem getting them to fit in the box. I am glad I got the later printing that included the strip of paper telling you which slot should hold which cards. The first editions didn’t have that, and it was a bit of a hassle, finding the right cards for your game.

Gardens are explained on page six of the rules. I don’t think they actually explain the randomizer deck, but once you’ve played the presets a few times, it’s purpose shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. Still, probably ought to have been mentioned.

I agree with you on that one. They didn’t need to print the value on the card’s upper corners: the big, honking number in the middle of the card is clear enough, and less likely to be mistaken as a cost.

What’s hard to understand about “+1 card, +2 actions”? Once you understand the basic concept of, “Every turn, you get one buy and one action, unless modified by other cards,” pretty much everything on the cards should be self explanatory. There’s only a couple occasions where it’s unclear how two cards might interact, where you’d need to refer to the rules. I’d generally hold up Dominion as a model of clear and easy to understand game design.

I think that’s just an artifact of the printing process. The cards are printed out on large sheets. The sheet for the randomizers are the same on the face side as the sheets for the regular cards. Rather than sorting out and throwing away the randomizers for the victory cards, they just threw them in the box with the rest of the set punched out of that particular sheet.

I don’t think that would be particularly easy. Having a randomizer deck means there’s just one stack of cards you need to grab out of the box to set up your game. Taking one from each stack, and then putting them back properly when you’re done, would be a pain in the ass. This is exacerbated if you start mixing and matching the different expansions, where you’re potentially pulling around a hundred different cards out of half a dozen different boxes.

They don’t work as spares, because they have a different card back than the regular cards. Take a look: the randomizers have a blue border. The one part of the game that I agree is poorly designed is that the backs of the randomizers are not easily distinguishable from the backs of the regular cards. They should have used an entirely different pattern for them.

Can anyone give me an example of a card where cost and value are not the same thing?

During development and initial release, the idea was that you’d use the blue-backed cards to mark empty piles. That’s why there’s copies for the basic cards. As it turned out, people found it more convenient to use those cards as randomizers instead. If I recall, Intrigue doesn’t include them for the basic cards, but I’m not 100% sure on that since we opened that set so long ago.

I think they’re talking about how, for example, Gold has a cost of 6 and a “value” of 3.

When I explain the game, I emphasize that the symbol means “coins*”. Copper gives you one coin when you play it. Gold gives you three coins when you play it. Market doesn’t give you a copper, it gives you a coin. Cards have a cost, but they don’t have a “value”, they just do whatever is printed on them when you play them.
As far as using shorthand, it’s actually a GOOD practice to do it the way they did. The four basic actions (+card, +action, +buy, and +coin) always work the same way. By explaining the rule once in the manual, and then using a shorthand on the card, you can instantly see and recognize that a card has one or more of those elements and you know how it will work without having to read the card and make sure there’s no subtle change in wording. It emphasizes consistency.

Okay, now I get it. It never even crossed my mind to confuse the coins added by a played card with the cost of acquiring it.

FAQ here:

I’m one of the few people in my game group that is meh on this - most either love or hate it.


As someone who has played approximately 2 billion games in person and online of Dominion, I’m happy to help out.

The thing to keep in mind is Dominion has it is own logic. It takes a little getting used to, but it isn’t complicated, and once you figure out the logic, everything makes sense. There are no loopholes, contradictions, or overrides. Every card you just simply do what it says. For a game as complex as Dominion it is an amazing achievement.

I’ll grant you the box is not terribly convenient. I have my cards in index/recipe card boxes to make them easier to transport and store. I would surmise that the box design had more to do with getting sales than utility though. It is easier to get people to spend $45 on a big box than a small one regardless of contents.

As mentioned the garden has rules right under the garden section in the rulebook. Really every card in Dominion has rules right there in the rulebook. You should almost never have to rely on anything else.

The randomizing isn’t the rule book (though I thought it was mentioned) because it isn’t a rule. You can pick your kingdom cards however you like. Shuffling the random cards are just a popular method.

Another thing worth mentioning is Donald hadn’t designed 25 cards when the first set game out. He had designed seven full sets. Each set gets a bit more complicated as there is only so many cards you can have that are both simple and interesting. Yet every card is fully explained right there on the card. To do this you need to rely on some shorthand. You might think there is plenty of room on the cards to fully right out everything in the base set. There is certainly not such room in all the future sets. Cost and money also aren’t always as separated as they are in base set. A lot of hat doesn’t make sense to you probably will after you play with more of the cards.

Again there are 175 or so cards in the works, so purposes aren’t going to always be clear in the first set of 25. Curses have values, because it is important for interacting with remodel as well as numerous cards from future sets.

The randomizers have a few useful purposes. My main use at the moment is to make playing black market (a promo card) easier.

Sorry, I was smoking crack last night and got it confused with Similar name and cover.

Carry on while I check into rehab.

And Mayfair and Rio Grande are similar companies. I wasn’t familiar with Domaine but I can see how easy it would be to confuse the two games.

As I said, I’m sure it quickly becomes routine when you’ve played the game a few times. But when you’re learning the game you’re not going to immediately remember whether “+1 card” means “draw another card from your deck” or “play another card from your hand” or “take another card from the supply” - any of which would be a reasonable interpretation.

I also have to keep remembering which things like cards and actions and buys are mandatory and which are optional. Does “+2 actions” mean I have to play two more actions if I have them in my hand or does it mean I can play two more actions if I want to?

Small points, perhaps, but problems that could have been easily avoided. I think some game designers focus too much effort on making their game elegant and forget about also working on making it accessible.

Keep in mind I’m not trashing Dominion. It looks like an excellent game and I’m sure I’ll be playing it and buying the sequels. It just the right now I’m dealing with the “out of the box” problems and it’s annoying because I can see how some of these problems could have been avoided.