Skip to content

The Meeple Guild: Dominion popularizes deckbuilding mechanic

A game worthy of most collections
game dominion
Dominion is a game with many expansions.
YORKTON - Over the past few years The Meeple Guild has often referenced Dominion, yet we have not actually reviewed the game, so it is time we rectified that. 

The game debuted way back in 2008, from designer Donald X. Vaccarino. 

It’s unlikely even Vaccarino on a day where a designer dared dream big, would have foreseen exactly how big a success he had created. 

The game has gone through a raft load of expansions to the point I fear the shelf we have dedicated to the game might well break one day – I’m only partially joking. 

So what is Dominion exactly? 

In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards. In the center of the table is a selection of other cards the players can "buy" as they can afford them. Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end, explained the game entry at Board Game Geek. 

As you buy cards your small starting ‘deck’ grows, which is where the idea of deck building comes from. 

Whether strictly speaking Dominion was the first game to utilize the deckbuilder mechanic is unknown to this writer, but the game was the first hit deckbuilder, and Dominion is certainly the reason the mechanic has been used in a few dozen games since. 

Now you can get into an extended discussion / argument / donnybrook at the gaming table if you ask what the best deckbuilder is, although among The Meeple Guilders Dominion always filters to the top. 

The game shines because it has a very straightforward ruleset, at least for the base set. 

And, while subsequent expansions do add varying degrees of complexity, they don’t necessarily stack upon each other. 

Yes, you can mix sets, but we have not seen the need to do, because there is enough variety within the sets to change things up nicely. 

As you might expect, and this holds true for any game with multiple expansions, some are better than others, and again you will get extended debate as to which is which. 

We have them all, and some expansions just never get to the table because they fell flat on early plays, but as individuals we tend to be completists so of course we add each new one when it releases, Menagerie being the most recent in 2020. 

So Dominion is a sort of breakthrough game for the deckbuilder mechanic, and a game serious gamers need to at least give a try. 

The game is not perfect, at least if you like player interaction. The base set in particular is sort of each player doing their own thing – almost a solitaire feel – each pursuing the end goal in virtual isolation of other players. 

That does not stop table chatter, just not in-game interaction. 

Some expansions do create interaction depending which cards are in play, but it is still very much your own course to winning. 

The individuality won’t please all gamers, so be aware. 

Still, this is a game that would be top-10 to top-25 among all games for those in The Meeple Guild – think of it as a must-have.