Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Donald X. Vaccarino


No. of Players:
2 - 4

G@mebox Star
Spiel des Jahres 2009



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

One of this year's most advertised and most expected games was Dominion which was to be published HANS IM GLÜCK. A new game concept and a promising design should help the game to be one of the highlights of the SPIEL 08 convention in Essen. So, I was anxious to test the game and to see if it could live up to the high expectations. Adopting some ideas of traditional trading card games like Magic - The Gathering, the game concentrates on building a powerful deck of cards. But unlike trading card games, Dominion does not have the danger of getting lost in collecting and trading the cards since everything is included in the gamebox.

Uncommon for a card game, Dominion comes in a huge box. But this has a good reason. The game has 25 different card types that can be arranged upright and separated in the box, so you can always find your cards easily and fast. This supersedes the reorganizing of the cards at the beginning of each game. Because you are normally only playing with 10 different action card types this is really a big help. Next to the practical facet I am sure that this new method of keeping the cards sorted combined with the nice sight of the sorted cards in the box also makes a score with most players.


At the beginning of the game the players only get some money and victory cards into their hand. All in all the players get ten cards from which each player takes the first five cards into his hand. A combination of ten different action card piles, three different money card piles and three different victory card piles are placed separated and sorted by type on the table.

In his turn the player can buy one new card from the open card piles, normally either another money card or an action card that gives him more abilities in the later turns. All cards, the money cards he spent, the new bought card and all cards left on the hand, go to the player's own discard pile. Finally he takes the next five cards for his next turn. If there are no more cards left in the drawing pile, he shuffles his deck from the discard pile and takes the rest of the cards from this new drawing stack. So the players play with their own, increasing decks and like in trading card games, since they always take the discarded cards back into their hand. However, here in Dominion the building of the deck is part of the game!

In the later rounds there is also an action phase before the buying phase in which the players can play action cards (very often buildings) that give them more abilities in their turns. Although all cards have a positive effect for the player, it is very important to find the right mixture of cards. So it is quite essential to choose those new cards in the action and the buying phase that can be combined with the cards a player already possesses.

So for an example a special building can bring the player one more action, one additional buying phase and two more gold to spent in your turn. In the additional action phase the player could choose another building card that allows him to take a new building for four gold, in the regular and the additional buying phase he could buy two more cards and he would have more money to spend in this phase, too. Some buildings allow the players to exchange cards from their hand with cards on the table and others will also do harm to the opponents. The game comes with a lot of different buildings and actions, so that you can increase the complexity gradually.


To win the game, the players have to collect special victory cards. There are three different kinds of these cards: Statley Homes are worth one, Duchies two and Provinces three victory points. It is extremely important to find the right moment to begin collecting these cards. As every other card in the game, a player can take these cards in the action and buying phase, but you also sort them into your deck and thus shuffle them with the other cards. Finally those cards find their way to a players hand, too. But during the game you can do nothing with these cards in the hand and they block other cards, because your hand is limited to five cards all over the game (apart from some special action cards). So in the early phase it is not very clever to possess too many of the victory cards, but if a player starts too late to collect the cards, he probably won't have a chance in the end. To be honest, I normally miss the right point in time, because I am too much fascinated by the possible actions with rest of the cards.

My first playtesting was at the SPIEL convention in Essen, and we choose a game with the recommended starter deck. Me and the other players had a lot of fun at the beginning, but soon we wished to have more possibilities, especially to influence the decks of the other players. This wish was satisfied when I took another of the recommended decks and the result was a much more tactical game. The 24 different action cards guarantee a wide variety of game variations (remember that the players always only play with ten different types). So every player can find his favorite deck after some time. Dominion is a fast game once the players have learned the cards. It can be easily played in about 30-60 minutes, and it is quite astonishing how much game depth the game develops in such a short time.

At the HANS IM GLÜCK booth on the convention in Essen they said that people either love the game or hate it. I think they were right. It is really not easy to find the right words to judge the game due to the innovative approach the game offers. In my personal view the game is one of the best card games since KOSMOS The Settlers of Catan - The Cardgame, but I also can imagine that a lot of players might not like the game concept too much. The variety of cards might be a little bit confusing at the beginning, and this might discourage a lot of players. Even the ten cards in play have to be read and the possible moves must be understood until a player finally finds his way into the game. But once a player got into the play, the moves are easy enough and a fast-pacing game develops that can surely live to high expectations it evoked.

G@mebox Special
Nobles & Townspeople Expansion

With the Dominion-boom still gathering momentum, I thought that the time has come to give the game a somewhat new twist. Thus, I have created a small expansion with some cards which can be used to increase player interactivity in your games of Dominion, and all you need to do is to print those cards out, glue them to blank Dominion-cards and add them to your game.

Depending on the number of blank cards you have available, you should print each of the cards included in my Nobles & Townspeople expansion two or three times. Then prepare a normal setup for a game of Dominion, but add an eleventh pile of Kingdom cards which includes all Nobles & Townspeople cards plus two cards of each unused kind of "Action -Attack" cards (you might prefer to add four cards of each kind if you just own the basic game). Shuffle the newly created Nobles & Townspeople deck, turn the two top cards over and place the two revealed cards and the deck next to the other ten decks of Kingdom cards.

During his turn a player may purchase one of the two revealed cards from the Nobles & Townspeople deck following the normal purchase rules, but he is not allowed to purchase more than one card. If a card is purchased, it is replaced at the end of the player's turn so that the following player again can chose between two cards.

If the current player does not purchase one of the two cards, he may either leave the cards available for the following player, or he may decide to put one or both cards back below the deck. In the latter case a corresponding number of new cards is revealed by the end of the player's turn so that the following player once again has two cards available.

While it is true that the game gets a bit more unstable, my playtesting rounds were quite fond of the increased player interaction. Comparable to the Black Market promo card, more then ten types of cards can be used in Dominion if you use the Nobles & Townspeople rules, and so you have more variety in your games of Dominion

Please note that this is a freely available tribute to Dominion. All rights concerning the game of Dominion are reserved to the game's author and the publishers. At this place I would like to thank RIO GRANDE GAMES and HANS IM GLÜCK SPIELE for their kind permission to display these cards here.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany