Saying “No Thanks” to Dominion

After reading my review of Dominion it would be hard to imagine that recently when people have suggested it, I have shrugged and said something along the lines of “If everyone else wants to, I guess” and yet that is exactly what has happened.

You can go reread my review if you want but all you need to know is that I called Dominion “The Best New Game I Played in 2008” and some will now feel that I am going back on that statement. In truth, I still believe in what I said and I will try to explain why but first I want to explain why I have not been too interested in playing the game recently.

The main reason I fear is a simple case of quantity. I have played more games of Dominion than any of the other members of my group. This means I have seen more of the possible combinations of kingdom cards and experienced most of the “wow that’s a neat combo” moments that can be experienced in the game. No matter how cool a game is, playing it too much or too often can result in a certain amount of burnout and I guess I have to admit that to some degree I have burned out on Dominion.

Another reason that I have said “no thanks” recently is that there are expansions on the horizon. In just a few weeks my copies of the promo cards will be in and then at some point close to my birthday Dominion: Intrigue will be coming out.

A lot of times with games I like to set them aside to make them feel that much fresher when the expansions hit the shelves. This was certainly the case with Arkham Horror but I have to admit has not been the case with Race for the Galaxy. I can’t exactly pinpoint why Race has not been benched while other games have but I suspect it has something to do with the game’s overall quality and the fact that it feels more competitive than Dominion.

The final reason I have not played Dominion when the option has been presented is, in my mind, the most interesting one. There are different games I seek out in different situations and Dominion currently has a problem fitting into the right gaps. To me Dominion is a light social game that is fun and quick but not excessively deep. (On the other hand, going back to my previous paragraph, Race is fun and quick but is, in my opinion, a deeper game.)

Games that lack depth are good at times but I generally would rather play them when the group is larger rather than smaller. With small groups I would prefer a more in-depth game and Dominion is, as I said, not something I grab when I am looking for depth. Dominion for me has the feel of a game that should be played when five or six friends need something to do for a couple hours, possibly after having played a large involved game.

This is not to say that I see Dominion as a filler game but it does lean in that direction. Essentially, I feel Dominion would work better if the rules accommodated more than four players. Thankfully, with the expansion this will indeed be the case as Intrigue will permit games of up to six players. I think that not only will addition of more kingdom cards aid in Dominion seeing more play but support for more players will help as well.

The reason I do not think I need to go back on my statement of Dominion being the “best” is that when I wrote that review I was taking expansions into account. Essentially one of the reasons I felt and still feel Dominion is so great is that it is so easily expanded with no risk of hurting the current game.

While Race was first played by me in 2008 and is still being heavily played and Dominion is not, I still see Dominion as a slightly more amazing game partly because it is so open to new players and again is so easy to expand. While Race is being expanded as well unlike Dominion there are risks with expanding Race.

I wonder if others have had similar experiences when it comes to Dominion. I know that the community is very split on the game. Some love it and will defend it forever while others revile it and think that its high rank on BGG is based on ignorance. I have been thinking a lot about the BGG ranks lately and I honestly don’t know if any of the high ranking games deserve the rank they have but I can’t really come up with any other games that deserve the rank more.

In conclusion, if you agree or disagree with what I have to say here, I would love to hear about it.


    A bit of info about the Dominion expansion can be found here:

    Matt Says:

    I’ve always liked Dominion, both from a player’s perspective and from a design perspective. As a player it’s pretty easy to pick up and play and have a good time with it, even if I get crushed. I think it has some deep thought during game play such as thinking how your deck is being built as the game progresses and how that effects your ability to grab current and future VPs. With how many different combinations can be placed on the table in one game it makes each game a challenge to figure out the best was to construct your deck. All the while you are at the mercy of the deck itself determining how much money you have to work with from turn to turn. It’s an interesting dance that develops throughout play.

    From a design perspective the expandability, the ease of learning the game, and the ability to see a lot of play without becoming too automatic (because of different combinations and learning to master the deck building aspect) makes it in my mind a good example of how the end product of a game should be.

    With that said, no matter what game you play, with enough play I think there is a level where you can burn out on it. I don’t see it as a bad reflection of the game itself because I think that feeling is universal to all games. There is a difference of being burnt out and not being interested in a game after playing it a few times because it can’t hold your attention.

    Now the ranking comment, well I think that can be an article in itself. I’m sure that rankings aren’t always as unbiased as we would like them to be. Also our tastes aren’t always going to line up with what they said is the best. Agricola is a good example of that, as it’s a good solid game but there isn’t anything in there that says “Wow that’s something new or awesome I’ve not seen before”. Games like Race and Dominion I have said that and that makes me feel like they are better games. But that’s because innovation (that is successful) has more weight as a factor of what makes one game better then the other, but that’s probably not something that is heavy in that ranking.