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Dominion: A Journey Through Deck Building

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Dominion, the successful board game, finally got a digital version for computers and smartphones on February 1st. Check out below everything about the game: its rules, the physical board game, digital version, and more!

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Dominion, the successful board game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, has become a true gem in the strategy game scene. Released by Rio Grande Games in 2008, Dominion quickly conquered the hearts of players with its innovative deck building approach.

In this article, we'll explore the creation, evolution, rules, and components of this game, which still captivates players around the world - I played it and checked it out with my very own eyes!


History and Creation

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Donald X. Vaccarino, a talented game designer, created Dominion as a game that combines strategy elements and deck building. It was created as an answer to the search for an exciting and dynamic experience, in which players could build their own paths to victory.

The process of creating Dominion started way before its official release, in 2008. Vaccarino spent many years refining the game's mechanics, testing ideas, and adjusting elements to guarantee proper balance. His dedication resulted in a game that offers rich strategic options and an exciting game experience.

Release and Reception

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In 2008, Dominion was released by Rio Grande Games, a renowned publishing company in the board game scene. Its release was met with a warm, exciting reception by most players and critics. The innovation regarding its deck building concept attracted the attention of the game community, and Dominion soon became a huge financial success.

Expansions and Evolution

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One of Dominion's unique traits is how it can constantly evolve through expansions. Throughout the years, they've released several expansions, and each introduced new cards, mechanics, and strategies to the base game. This not only keeps the game experience fresh, but also offers players an infinite array of possibilities and challenges.

Extra Content - Expansions

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We were provided with two codes relating to the Intrigue and Plunder expansions. Both add several new cards, with 15 Kingdom cards for Intrigue and an insane 85 cards for Plunder (40 Kingdom Cards, 15 Loots, 15 Events and 15 Traits).

Playing with extra content is an experience in itself, as it introduces several new mechanics and strategies to win the game. In the Intrigue expansion we find several Victory Cards with abilities that help to obtain new States and Provinces, speeding up the game in some matches. In addition, in the Plunder expansion, as it has an additional variety of cards, we have new possibilities with events that trigger situations when used, for example, the Event Card Bury that makes you return a card from the discard pile to your deck, which improves several card draw combos with +1 action.

The expansions have themes that end up giving a new look to the game. All cards in the Plunder Expansion are pirate-themed, so their fine art composes ports, fishermen, pirates plundering or others acting in a sneaky way, always representing and consistent with the effect of the card.

Intrigue addresses a more conspiratorial theme and characters acting behind the scenes. It's common for rogue arts, masked balls, powerful people being betrayed behind their backs, places with secret passages. All of this is done to introduce players to a scenario that strengthens the player's imagination and emerges into the game's universe.


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If you do not want certain cards to be used in the match, at any time outside of a match you can access the Collection menu through the Extras menu on the main screen, select the expansion that has the card and ban it until the time you see fit. This type of option is extremely interesting to be able to shape the game the way you and your friends want to play, making no game the same as another.

Game Rules

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Dominion is known for its simple rules, but also for its strategic depth.

Players start with a basic set of Treasure and Victory cards. During each turn, they draw new cards to add to their deck, and like so build an efficient strategy to get Victory points.

The game ends when the pile of Victory cards is exhausted, and the player with the most points is declared the winner.


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Dominion's game box has all the essential components to give players an immersive experience:

  • 1. Cards: they are the core of the game, and include Treasure, Action, and Victory cards.

  • 2. Player Mats or Scoreboard: this is where you'll mark down your score during the match.

  • 3. Score Tokens: these mark your Victory points.

  • 4. Coin Tokens: these represent the amount of money players have during the game.

  • 5. Rule Book: this is a thorough guide that explains the rules of the game and provides strategic guidance.

    How to Play

    Setup and Goal

  • 1. Initial Cards: each player gets a set of 10 initial cards (7 Copper cards and 3 Estate cards) and shuffles them into a deck.

  • 2. Victory and Treasure Cards: Victory and Treasure cards are organized into stacks, which are then placed at the center of the board.

    Dominion's goal is to get the highest number of Victory points until the end of the match.

    Game Turn

  • 1. Draw: At first, the player draws five cards from their own deck.

  • 2. Play Actions: if they draw Action cards, they'll be able to play them according to their instructions.

  • 3. Draw New Cards: the player draws a new hand of five cards, including the Actions that were played.

    Types of Cards

  • 1. Treasure: represented by coins, they are used to draw other cards.

  • 2. Action: they offer special effects by allowing extra actions or modifying the game state.

  • 3. Victory: these don't have an effect during the game, but they give you points at the end.

    Game Phases

  • 1. Draw Phase: spend your coins to draw cards from the center stack. Place them in your discard pile.

  • 2. Clean Up Phase: discard all the cards you played and your current hand. Shuffle what was discarded to build a new deck if you need to.

    End of the Game

    The game ends when all three Victory card piles are exhausted or when the Province card pile is exhausted. Players count their Victory points by adding the value on Victory cards. The player with most points wins.


    Digital Version - Steam

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    Released on February 1st, Dominion has been receiving countless positive reviews on steam. Besides its computer version, the game is also available for smartphones through the Apple Store or Google Play, and, considering there is cross-play support, players can play with their friends that play on different platforms.

    There are 4 game modes:

  • New Game: this mode allows us to play matches against the AI, which has 4 difficulties (very easy, easy, medium, and hard). We can also play with local players if we select the "Guest" option. If we do it, a warning will be shown on the screen when it is each player's turn, and the game will go on as usual. Additionally, we can also select an expansion, previously bought on digital stores (Steam, Google Play, or Apple Store) to play.

    We can customize how we'll play each expansion in our way!

  • Tutorial: teaches all the main game rules. Its mechanics, turn phases, how deck building works, actions, and when the game ends.

  • Online Game> besides playing against the AI or local players, we can play against anyone in the world through the online system. We can enter lobbies that were previously created by other players, create a private lobby of our own just for guests, or even look up quick play matches.

  • Dailies: this mode starts a match against the AI, and we can select its difficulty by clicking on its icon. There isn't a real reward for doing the dailies, but they are counted. They also don't affect the reward system integrated in the game.

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    Additionally, when we explore the game's settings, we can access further information, such as user profile, the exclusive reward system in the game (at the moment this article was written, it isn't connected to Steam's reward system), stats of the online matches you played, friend list, collection, basic rules (including a link to an instruction video), and each expansion.

    Pros and Cons of the Digital Version

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    Dominion has several mechanics and dynamics; no match is the same, which forces the player to adapt their strategy according to the cards that end up on the board.

    As it has several game modes, anyone who's interested can have fun against the AI, their local friends, or even online.

    The game has a reward system (even if it isn't shown very clearly) for those who enjoy challenges and want all their games on "100% completion".

    For those who enjoy a board game, Dominion can be an excellent choice on Steam to play with their friends, or even just to face the AI on the highest difficulty setting.


    The soundtrack eventually becomes a bit boring because it lacks variation.

    The lack of rewards per victory may be a factor that will displease more competitive players.


    For those who want more game options, they'll have to buy the expansions at the store, considering we can't get the new cards only by playing or doing the daily quests.

    Final Words

    Dominion isn't just a game, but rather a strategic experience that has evolved throughout the years, and has kept itself relevant and exciting. Donald X. Vaccarino brought innovation to the world of board games by providing its players with the unique opportunity to build their own paths to victory, and now it has expanded its universe to the digital world.

    With its continuous expansions and dedicated fan base, Dominion is still an outstanding work of art in the board game scene, challenging and entertaining entire generations of players.

    If you liked this article, also check out our other articles about board games!link outside website