Does Dominion Suck?

In catching up on my blog/post reading today, I came across two negative reviews of Dominion that stuck out to me.  It was a bit interesting that they were posted back-to-back on BGG, and that they actually touched on slightly different issues with this top 10 ranked game.  Here they are, if you’re interested:

Philip’s review is an excellent and rather comprehensive review that touches on several flaws that he sees in the game.  What most of his complaint boiled down to was that there was no real strategy involved in playing your hand of cards, and that the only choice on each turn was what to buy.  Some of the many commentors to the article pointed out that Dominion is not supposed to be a “card-playing” game, but rather that it’s whole point is to be a “deck-building” game.  I see both sides of this argument, but in general I think that the lack of any real “card-playing” depth makes the game a little too thin for me.

Philip also points out several other things, such as absence of real theme, boring cards and art, and an overreliance on luck, that I also tend to agree with.  But some of this other qualms don’t bother me too much, and I definitely don’t agree with his 4/10 rating.  But I too am surprised at its top 10 ranking.

Camron then made an observation that playing the game many times on BSW ruined it for him.  Mainly, it was because he came to realize that there may be a “one, true strategy” for the game, which would be to almost exclusively buy higher-value treasure and VP cards.  This also touches on Philip’s concern over real strategy options as well, and I’ve heard others aound BGG and the internet mention it also in the past.  To be honest, I haven’t played the game enough to comment, but this worries me more than anything else, and I’ll probably put this theory to the test the next time I play the game.

Of course, getting the game to the table is proving to be an issue.  Back when Dominion was released and as Game of the Month! for December 2008, it saw 18 plays over 6 nights for my game group.  But after that, it almost totally disappeared.  It’s fallen completely off of everyone’s radar, and on the three nights that I’ve brought it lately, no one at all (including me) has suggested getting it to the table.  While it’s a solid game (that I currently rate a 7 on the BGG scale), there’s just nothing inspiring enough about the game to push somebody to be its champion, so it instead gets no love at all.  Instead, our group continues its love affair with Race for the Galaxy, which only seems to build in intensity over time.  Of course, I really need to get in more games of that as well…      


  1. Britt

    Im glad that you posted this.
    I had a conversation with Carol on exactly the same topic last week, on the drive home from Game Night. I like Dominion, and Carol and I played several hands of Dominion several weeks ago, but it is never our first choice of play. Likewise, when I’ve brought Dominion o Hypermind, it sits idly in the bottom of my crate.

    I want to like Dominion. It’s quick. It’s easy. One doesn’t have to memorize a hundred different card combos to play. It should be a more inspiring game, but…it just does not.

    Perhaps future expansions will change this.

  2. Chris Norwood

    We’ll see about the expansions.  I understand why they’re packaging them like they are, but I just don’t know how many people (around here, anyway) that will be interested enough to pay another $50 for a full-size, big box expansion.  It would have made a lot more sense to me to have sold “booster” packs of 10-15 sets of kingdom cards for $15-$20, rather than forcing people to re-buy all the treasure and VP cards as well.  But that’s me, and I’m obviously not one of the multitude that sent it to #6 on BGG.

  3. Britt

    I agree completely.

  4. I agree with the reviews. While I too was initially caught up in the hype and seriously contemplated a purchase, playing multiple games over BSW made me realize there was nothing much to the game.
    What cards to play was extremely straightforward and what I deemed as ‘auto-pilot’ after awhile. You basically aim to do that which will reap you a high-value purchase most turns.
    In terms of the decking building aspect, I agree with the reviews that it boils down to buying a province whenever possible, and if not the 1-3 superior action cards available each game.
    It quickly fell off the charts for me and the inconvenince of shuffling in a face-to-face game totally put me off a purchase.
    I can see how the simple mechanics would be appealing to casual or non-gamers but it doesn’t appeal to me.

  5. Chris Ingersoll

    Oddly, I’m told that the game is gaining a following amongst Magic judges for unwinding after a big event.

    I have no idea why, personally.

    Towards the end of December I definitely picked up on the “just buy gold & VPs” plan (Alton was especially good at implementing this) and played it much less as its time as GotM wound down.

    It is a fun game, and it is a good game. But it is also a simple game that borders on being able to be played on auto-pilot. I think that’s why we tend to ignore it as a group.

  6. Alton

    I liked Dominion at first… however after a couple of dozen plays and a dozen plus wins the simple auto-pilot of Gold and VP in the game provided no challenge for me… I rather play Race for the Galaxy, which I play about a dozen games a week and but win only twenty to twenty-five percent of my games… because the game always provides a challenge and I feel like I’m actively flying (playing) the game and not using an auto-pilot to play for me.

  7. Bryan

    Dominion actually grew on me after an initial bad first impression. I think the first impression was due to my opponent being obsessed with combos (and Village in particular.) His turns took freaking forever, so most of Dominion was spent waiting for my turn. I’ve since grown to like the game quite a bit, though I’m not enamored with it. Like others have said, once I started buying up almost nothing but money and VPs, it lost a bit of its luster. I also rate the game a 7.

  8. Phil

    I am actually the person who wrote the first review mentioned. Thank you for the acknowledgment. Very well written blog article and you have just received a new reader.

  9. Chris Norwood

    It’s great to have you around, Phil! 

Comments are closed.