Best Stuff Day 1: Dominion
Before we get to the ensuing geekiness, a quick word: If anyone wants to contribute an “All the Best Stuff 2010″ logo that’s better than the one I hacked together in MSPaint at 1:30am, I would not turn it down.
With that out of the way: Board game geeks, if you have not yet experienced Dominion, you are sorely missing out. Though not technically a board game — play is completely card-based — Dominion is probably the best semi-casual game I’ve come across so far. Don’t get me wrong, as there’s plenty of depth to be found in the strategies. But there’s enough randomness involved that even folks who hate strategizing will still win from time to time, and that experienced players will fall into traps.
The mechanics are simple, in one of those irresistibly elegant ways. The game comes with a wide variety of action cards, 10 sets of which will be in play in any given round, along with the currency cards and victory points. You start the game with seven coppers and three victory points in your deck, and in each turn you take five of these cards into your hand. Turns consist of two phases: First, you play any action cards you have. Then, you use whatever money you have in your hand to buy more action cards, money or victory points. Once you’ve gone through your starting 10 cards, you reshuffle them with your new purchases, and the process repeats.
Where Dominion really excels, though, is with the variety. Since some friends of mine happen to own every expansion (including the brand new Prosperity set and some special-order-only cards), the amounts of card types that can be drawn from is pretty staggering, and since only 10 types are in play at any given time, the variety is almost endless. This means you can’t use the same strategy two rounds in a row, and things never get stale. Add in the fact that each round only takes about 20 minutes total, and you’ve got massive “just one more game” potential.