Everything on a card is mandatory unless it says otherwise. In the case of the big 4 actions, you just have to remember that the mandatory thing for all of them is to take what’s listed, but it’s never mandatory to spend what’s listed. If it says +1 card, you have to take the card but you don’t have to spend (play) it. If it says +1 coin you have to take the coin (virtually speaking since there’s no physical coin) but you don’t have to spend it.
I will concede that “action” is an overloaded word. When a card says “+ X actions”, it possibly could say “+ X action points”. You have to take the action point, but you don’t have to SPEND the action point to play an action card.
The distinction matters in a card from the most recent expansion. It’s a treasure that, when played, gives you a coin for each unspent action you have left.
As an aside, Vaccarino has made an interesting decision for the rulebooks. There are actually more rules to Dominion than the rulebook actually bothers explaining. A rule only makes it into the rulebook when cards start to require it. For example, there’s a rule that during the buy phase you have to play all the treasure cards you want to before you buy anything. In the base game this rule doesn’t matter so they don’t bother mentioning it.
That’s not true. I’ve used the example of the village card which says only “+1 card +2 actions”. The card is mandatory. The action is not. There’s nothing in the system about action points.
I can see the theory of explaining the rules on an “as needed” basis. But it doesn’t work here as a reality.
If this were a game where you were reacting to events, this could work - you could learn the rules as the events occurred. But this is a game where the player is immediately being asked to make decisions. And you need to understand what the alternatives are before you make the decisions. This is a game where you need to grasp the whole system not deal with it one piece at a time.
To make an analogy, compare Monopoly and Chess. If I’m teaching you Monopoly, I can tell you that you’re going to be rolling the dice and moving your piece to a square. And if you land on Reading Railroad, I can then explain to you what that square means. You don’t need to be told at this point what Community Chest and Virginia Avenue and Free Parking means because they have no effect on you at this point. You can learn Monopoly as you go along.
However, you can’t learn Chess that way. I can’t tell you what a piece does as you move it. To play the game, you need to understand how all the pieces move before you pick which one to move and you need to know what you’re trying to do before you decide where your going to move. Chess is not a game you can learn as you go - you need to learn if before you can go.
I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending or anything, but I’ve taught this game (or watched it taught) to dozens of people, and this is the first time I’ve heard of anyone being confused on those points.
Admittedly, I’ve never had to learn the game cold - I was taught it by someone who had played the game several times already, and maybe that makes the difference, but I really don’t think these are flaws in the game’s presentation.
Also, I think you’re misunderstanding Chipacabra. He’s talking about adding additional rules from later expansions, not about leaving out rules necessary to understand the basic set. Also, I have no idea where he got “action points” from - maybe it’s from one of the more recent expansions. There’s nothing about that in the first three or four sets that I’ve seen.
I said that they COULD be called action points, not that they are called action points. What I said is absolutely correct: When a card says +action you MUST gain an action, but you don’t have to SPEND the action on playing an action card. In this game, an action is a resource that you gain and spend during your turn, and an action is not the same as an action card.
My point about not mentioning rules that don’t matter is that they really don’t matter. If they had included the rule that you have to play all your treasure before you buy anything, people would wonder why they bother mentioning it since none of the cards in the basic set are affected by that rule at all.
In the base game, it just doesn’t matter if you play two copper and buy a card, then play your gold and buy another card (assuming you have the +buy of course.) When a set came out that had cards that DO need that rule, they added it to that rulebook, and from that point on you have to pay attention to the order you do things in the buy phase.
Edit: If you play one of the online implementations, either on dominion.isotropic.org or on brettspielwelt, then the interface will keep track of how many actions you have left to spend. It makes it visually clear that the actions you are gaining from, say, village are a resource that you gain and then can later optionally spend. Like I said, the term ‘action points’ is not the game term, but it’s mechanically identical and for some gamers it’s a more clear distinction between “action points” and “action cards” than between “actions” and “action cards.”
As I’ve said, I’m teaching myself the game out of the box. Which is probably the way most people learn how to play the game. Learning how to play from somebody who already knows is a different thing entirely.
I don’t want to give the impression I’m hopelessly lost here. The first time I read the rules, there were probably twenty things I wasn’t sure about. So I read the rules again and that cleared several of them up. A third reading cleared up more. I’ve gone through the rules four or five times - along with the posts here which answered my remaining questions - and I feel I understand the game at this point.
So it’s hardly impossible to teach yourself the game as it exists. I’m just pointed out it could have been easier.
Most people I know buy a game because they’ve played it at someone elses house, and know they like it a lot and want to have it available themselves. It would never occur to me to spend that kind of money on a game I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like. How on earth “most” people would get it into their heads to just buy the game cold, I can’t even imagine.
So, as it happens, someone brought dominion to a game night some years ago, and got me addicted. I’ve since bought the game, and have in turn spread the addiction to several others. And so it goes.
I’m considered a good teacher when it comes to games, and so it has fallen to me to explain dominion to upwards of a dozen people at this point. No one has ever been confused about what +card or +action means. It has been my experience that after a single game, there is no more I can teach them, which is one of the big things I love about dominion.
Games are a social thing. If you’re learning it cold, from a box, who are you going to play with?
Seriously, I play games with family and friends and in that circle there’s rarely duplicate games. Why buy a game if somebody already has it? I like games and often introduce new ones. And as the person bringing in the game, I’m expected to be the person to explain the rules to others.
As for why people like me would buy a game cold it’s because we’re looking to try something new. Why keep playing the same group of games over and over just because they’re familiar? And Dominion, in particular, has a good reputation (in places like BoardGameGeek and the Games 100 list and the Spiel des Jahres awards) so people like me give it a try.
And let me repeat - again - that I’m not saying Dominion is a failure of game design. I’m just it could have been better.
But your claim that “most” people learn games like you do, and that Rio Grande should have anticipated this, is just not true. Your way is quite rare. Nothing wrong with it, but there is no way to design for it, since everybodys brain is different.
Ok, I don’t exactly have a real cite or anything, but here goes…
I read your description of how you think people learn games, and though, “That’s a bit peculiar. Never would have occured to me to do it that way.”
I asked my boyfriend, who plays even more boardgames than I do, and his reaction was, “That’s a bit backwards.”.
Then I saw you question and decided to ask around. I phoned up seven of my boardgaming friends. One didn’t pick up, but the others answered with variations of “That’s strange,” and “That sounds needlessly difficult.”
So I phoned on of the people who get the weekly gaming club together in my city, and he said “Well, some people do it that way, but why would you?”
I then phoned the other chapter of the same club (or one of the people who goes regulalry - the club itself has no phonenumber, it’s not that organized) and got the answer “Why on earth would anyone do it that way?”.
So there you have it - a plural of anecdotes, no data.
FWIW, I’m friends with a couple who are professional board game designers. Every month they have a board game night for about a dozen people or so. It’s pretty common for someone to bring a hot new game that’s been getting a lot of good reviews, but which no one there has played yet. We learn the game out of the box right there. And when there’s someone at the table who knows a game we’re about to play, it’s usually because they learned it out of the box a few game nights earlier.
No, they are the cards with a blue border on the back. For all non-victory kingdom cards, you will find that you have 11 cards. Ten of these are identical to be used in the game, one has the blue border. You might have to look closely, however. (Victory kingdom cards will have 12 rather than 10 used).
The blank white cards are there mostly as replacements for ruined cards. (However, when my daughter spilled water all over our game, ruining cards from all 10 piles in the game, Rio Grande was gracious enough to replace the cards for a nominal fee)
Play a few games with the suggestions. There are random selections that can make the game drag on, and to get one of those early could easily turn someone off the game. Have fun! It’s a great game.
My girlfriend and I have played more games of “Dominion” than anything else in my collection. It’s an excellent two player game; just make sure to follow these two special rules for playing head-to-head:
[li]Only play with eight copies of each victory card instead of all twelve. That goes for the basic victory cards (Estate, Duchy, Province) as well as all Kingdom cards of type Victory (Gardens, Great Hall (from Intrigue), etc.)[/li][li]Only play with ten copies of curse, instead of all thirty.[/li][/ul]
Our first game we accidentally played with all thirty curses, and by the end of the game I’d put practically all of them into her deck. It’s a wonder she ever played with me again.