Friday, 13 March 2009

Dominion on BSW

It was only after my 20th game of Dominion that I started to like the game more. And this happened after I started playing it on BSW. By being able to play it quickly and not needing to spend time shuffling and reshuffling my cards, I am now starting to appreciate the game more.

My early impression of the game was it seemed like just another economic / engine-building Eurogame where you spend the first half of the game building your economy / engine, and the second half using that engine to generate victory points. Now I am starting to appreciate the deck-building fun in this game. I realise that the most interesting decisions are actually in the early game, and in the buying. Every turn when you draw your 5 cards from your deck, the decision on what action card to play is usually quite trivial. In fact, sometimes there is no decision to be made, e.g. when you only draw one action card, and it is something that only has benefits and no harm. Now I realise that the most interesting decision is in choosing what cards to buy, not what cards to use, and most of this happens in the early game.

In my early games, I often felt helpless towards the second half of the game, when I saw my opponents happily buying up the Provinces. Even when I myself was the one buying up the Provinces, I felt there wasn't much that my opponents could have done. I wasn't very happy with that. Now I realise that by the time the game reaches this stage, you are already at the end game, and this stage is just the execution of a plan that has been made earlier. How good your deck is is determined by how you built it at the early stages of the game. So complaining about your deck by then is already too late. You should have done a better job of building your deck earlier, and not complain about the game being poor, not allowing a catch-up mechanism, having too much luck, etc.

Sometimes you need to respond to what your opponents are doing too. Michelle loves using the Witch card on me, so if we play with a set that has the Witch, I usually need to buy some myself, or buy Moats. And sometimes the interaction is not just about those interactive (attack) cards. You also need to see your opponents' strategies, and decide whether you can come up with an even more efficient strategy to either grab more victory points, or to end the game quickly while you are still ahead in victory points.

Analysing the 10 types of available action cards of a game is also interesting, and this is of course something done at the start of the game. Now that I am more familiar with the game and with the possible synergies between cards, this aspect of the game is becoming more interesting. Again, this is something that happens at the early stage of the game.

It does seem that Dominion is interesting mostly in the first half, and the second half is just execution or follow-up of the decisions that have been made in the first half. What's good about playing on BSW is you can play so quickly, the second half flies by without you feeling bored. There are still decisions that need to be made in the second half. The game is not really that clear cut that you can draw a clear line between the first and second halves. It is a gradual transition.

I look forward to playing more on BSW.


Cecrow said...

I'm curious whether this online play would be a good learning environment? I've never played the game. I've found that, sometimes, these online environments don't stoop to helping new players figure out the rules.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

BSW is a good place to learn to play the game better, after you've learnt the basic rules. One disadvantage about BSW is the user interface can be a little confusing for new users. The interface for Dominion itself is alright though, mostly quite intuitive. I'm not sure whether BSW has the rules for Dominion, because I had already learned the rules when I started playing there. If they don't, the rules are available from Rio Grande Games. BSW has at least a simple guide to the user interface for its games. I assume it has one for Dominion, but I'm not 100% sure as I never looked it up.

So far I've only played against my wife on BSW, and have not tried playing with the experts on BSW. I don't feel I'm playing Dominion well enough to be able to play with the regulars.

Mr P said...

I really like your blog. At the moment my favorite game is Settlers of Cattan - I also like Risk but can't get anyone to play it with me.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Mr P, Thanks, and hope you'll find some games here that you enjoy.