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



Donald X. Vaccarino


No. of Players:
2 - 4

G@mebox Star



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Well, now it is here: In my hand I am holding the first real expansion of the Dominion world. Other than with the last box, Dominion-Intrigue, you now need one of the former games to play Seaside. The reason for this is that the expansion misses all victory, money and curse cards, so you are forced to take them from the other boxes. For a moment I was a little bit disappointed, because I appreciated the concept of Intrigue. But on reflection probably HANS IM GLÜCK is right: most players who are interested in a Dominion-game will have acquired one of the other boxes by now. So there is no need for those players to buy another set of game components, and instead the new box is filled to its brink with new action cards! Still, some players might see this as a minor nuisance, because you do not need one single of the other action cards to play Dominion-Seaside. So let us hope, that HANS IM GLÜCK remains two-pronged in the future. Full Dominion games for the occasional gamer and real expansions for us harder fans.


After this thoughtful introduction let us have a look at the facts. From the outward appearance Seaside is very similar to the other boxes. By way of contrast the inside reveals something unexpected. Not only will you find the familiar set of cards (25 new action cards), you also discover 18 bigger player mats, 30 gold coins and 20 embargo markers. What the hell is that, you might think. Have we left the tried and tested game concept of collecting and playing cards? Do we now have to pay by coins? If these are your fears, I can calm you right away: the rules still basically remain the same (if you do not already know them, please have a look on the review of the basic game). But now you have a lot of cards with effects on the following rounds and three of them use player mats to help keeping track. And by the way, the coins and embargo markers look nice and give the game a somewhat nobler touch.

All in all you can find eight different action cards that have effects on a following round. These cards are called duration cards, because they both have instructions for the current and the upcoming round. Once played, they remain in play until the beginning of the next turn of the player who played it. Compared to the two other Dominion games, this alters the game flow enormously and opens the game for the strategic oriented player even more than the new cards included in Intrigue. A card that particularly demonstrates this, is the "Tactician". If this card is played, the player must discard all of his hand cards and his current turn ends. Then in the next turn he gets five additional cards, one more action and an additional possibility to buy, too. Another very interesting card is the "Outpost". This card enables the player to do another turn immediately after he finished his normal phase. The only difference from a normal turn is that he only gets three new hand cards. Other duration cards give the player normal benefits, like more money, more action or buying phases, as we know this from a lot of cards from the basic game already. But know, in contrast to the well known cards, the duration effect influences both, the current and the following turn of the player. Combinations of several duration cards are possible and so the turns of a player can become quite complex, if he managed to get a good hand. This results in a lot more planning of the turns ahead and action cards that sort the deck get a bigger importance.


Let us have a closer look on the player mats now. First of all we find a native village player mat, where you can send cards from your deck with the help of the "Native Village" card. Later, if you wish, you can use the same card to get all cards on the player mat back on your hand. If now you have used a "Scout" (from the Intrigue-box) or some other card that lets you see the first card from your deck, you can be quite sure, that the cards from the player mat will give you a great turn. Very interesting is also the player mat of the corresponding card "Pirate Ship". If this card is played all opponents have to draw two cards from their deck. If they have found money they must discard it and the player gets a coin on the pirate ship player mat. Later in the game he can use the "Pirate Ship" card to use the coins on the player mat as additional money for the buying phase without having to discard the coins. If you concentrate on this card, it is quite easy to get three or more coins, which can be a big advantage for buying the more expensive victory cards. Finally you can find an "Island". This is one of my favorite cards from Seaside. The island card is a combined action and victory card. If you play it, you can put it together with another card from your hand to the player mat where it remains until the end of the game. A very smart way to get rid of the disturbing victory cards without the need of discarding them. At the end you get all cards back and they count as normal cards in your deck.


Convinced by the game concept right from the beginning, I am taken aback that Donald X. Vaccarino still managed to produce an even better game with the new expansion Seaside. I am quite sure that this is the best set until now, being perfectly balanced with no unnecessary cards. As already indicated Seaside is a new tactical dimension in the Dominion world. Turns become more and more controllable without loosing the velocity of the basic game. For the first time you can also find a consequent theme in the Dominion world since all cards have to do with the Sea. Whether this is important for the game flow or not, at least it contributes to a great atmosphere. The "Treasure Map" card is the best proof of that. Only if you are able to find two "Treasure Map" cards in your hand, you will find the treasure and can use the card, really a kind of treasure hunt...

By the way, Seaside perfectly fits to the cards of the two other games. So there is no question if you should have it or not. If you like the game and you are fed up with the possible combinations of the two other games, you will find enough new cards to discover in the newest expansion. If you do not like Dominion already, I have to disappoint you. Seaside probably will not convince you from the opposite because it is founded on the well-known Dominion-principles. However, it takes the whole playing concept one step further towards perfection!

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany