We’ve written before about some of our favorite geeky games for a perfect game night, so I thought I would throw another into the pot. My new board game obsession is Dominion, a game that involves deck-building on the fly.

The basic mechanics are simple; everyone starts with an identical (small) deck and continues to build it throughout the game by purchasing cards out of a set on the table. Whereas there are similarities to CCGs (collectible card games like Magic: The Gatherings) it comes without the burden of having to maintain (and pay for!) your own deck.

Though I think what makes it a great game is the massive replay value – because every time you play you pick at random a set of ten “Kingdom” cards that you use to build your deck. The base set of Dominion has 25 of those cards, and so the number of possible permutations is 25 choose 10, or 3,268,760. There are also three expansion packs with more cards – Intrigue (25), Seaside (26), and Alchemy (12) – so if we add those we get 88 choose 10 or 4,513,667,845,896. 4 trillion unique gameplay setups is pretty impressive. And what makes that particularly interesting is that the set of cards can seriously impact strategy, which means you have to think on your feet.

And if you just want to try it out, Dominion is one of the games available on Brettspielwelt – which now has a website in English, very helpful!

[Dominion by Rio Grande Games]

Fun game. I was introduced to it at Gen Con this year.

Intrigue is not an expansion but another base game. It can be combined with the base game or the 3 expansions (you forgot to mention Prosperity)!

Intrigue is not an expansion but another base game. It can be combined with the base game or the 3 expansions (you forgot to mention Prosperity)!

Prosperity isn't out yet, right? Though I probably should have mentioned it was coming. :) I'm eager to play it!

I love your blog, but sorry but you need a math lesson:

After looking up the game and seeing that order does matter then you must use permutations, but the formal for that is (n!/((n-k)!), I think you used the formal for combinations (n!/(k!*(n-k)!). So there are 11,861,676,288,000 ways to get the traditional Kingdom cards, and 16,379,197,879,187,400,000 ways to pick the expansion Kingdom cards…

And as I have never played this game, so I do not know how the other cards are used but if they are all given out too or taken in unknown (and are different); then that adds even more "starting" games.

Actually order doesn't matter. :)

(Though it wouldn't have surprised me at all if my math was wrong.)

Actually order doesn’t matter. :)

(Though it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if my math was wrong.)

YES! Dominion is an awesome game – my best friend introduced me to it last year and I loved it so much she bought it for me for Christmas. I actually have Intrigue, but I've played the base game and Seaside too. It's pricey, but it's worth it – the game is never the same way twice, and the strategy that wins one game will lose another.

I’m a little surprised I’ve not seen a mention of Thunderstone on this page yet. It is a game in the same vein as Dominion, in that you are building a deck of cards as the game progresses – however, instead of purchasing property and chain-playing Great Halls and Laboratories, you construct your deck out of heroes, spells and weapons and you obtain points by slaying the monsters which appear inside a dungeon beneath one of the local villages. It also has a lower potential for combo abuse, in my opinion. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve met the developer, either… :P

In other words, I’d recommend it.