Dominion: Seaside is the 2nd expansion to the innovative and multi-award-winning Dominion. Unlike the first expansion Dominion: Intrigue, it does not contain the full components to allow a game to be played out-of-the-box. You need some of the cards from the base game or from Intrigue. I have written about and posted photos of Dominion before, this being my first impression of the game. I never was a very big fan of Dominion. It is a likeable game, but I don't play it anywhere near as often as I play Race of the Galaxy, another popular card game. Intrigue, with more "mess up your opponents" cards, never quite intrigued me. However Seaside interested me because of its new concept of cards that can affect your next turn.
I won't describe again how Dominion works. I'll just briefly explain the "next turn" concept. Some cards have effects on your current turn and your next turn, e.g. giving you extra actions, or cards, or money. Such cards are called Duration cards, and after you play them, they stay on the table instead of getting discarded to your discard pile, so that they remind you to do something on your next turn. There is one very interesting Duration card called the Tactician, which allows you to draw 5 more cards on your next turn, provided you discard your hand in your current turn. Less than half of the cards in this expansion are Duration cards. There are many other cards which have various special powers which are not Duration cards. E.g. the Island card allows you to set it and another card aside for the rest of the game. This is pretty handy for removing victory point cards from circulation, so that your deck is more efficient. And I guess it is also useful for removing cards in games where you don't have other cards that allow you to Trash cards.
The game comes with some mats, metal tokens and metal coins, which are used for specific cards. These components are quite nice, especially the coins. They are only used as reminders / aids, but they are done quite well.
So far I have only played 2 games, only with Seaside cards. The Duration concept is interesting. In some cases it allows you to plan or prepare better for your next turn. I find that sometimes the tricky thing about whether to play a Duration card is whether you want to sacrifice the current turn (by not playing another regular action card which may be more powerful in the current turn) so that you can have a better next turn.
Another effect of the Duration cards is you spread out your discard deck a little. I have been thinking about this for a while, and still am not sure how big an impact this is. Since your played Duration cards (and sometimes some action cards that are played with them) stay on the table and do not go to your discard deck until the end of your next turn, when you need to shuffle your discard deck, you may have some such cards still in front of you that do not go back into the deck to be reshuffled. You know these cards won't come up in the next cycle that you run through your deck. You know what the cards remaining in your deck are. This information can help you plan what to do during the next cycle through your deck. I have not come up with a strategy that makes use of this feature, but I'm sure there are such strategies to be explored.
One fun card is the Treasure Map. If you have two such cards in your hand, you can Trash both and gain four Gold cards at the top of your draw deck. The Treasure Map costs $4 each, which means you are investing $8 (likely over two turns) and hoping to be lucky enough to draw both the cards on a later turn, to earn back four Gold cards, which would otherwise cost $24. I thought this was fun, and decided to give it a go. I knew I should do this early, before my deck grew too large. I only bought two such cards, and I was lucky to draw both on the same turn soon afterwards. It was a great feeling, like winning the lottery. Woohoo! Yeah... cheap thrills...
Michelle tried to do the same in the same game after seeing me strike jackpot. I thought it would be hard by then, because our decks had grown larger. However Michelle used a Haven card (which allows you to set aside one card to be used for your next turn) to set aside one Treasure Map card, and then she drew the other Treasure Map card on her next turn. Now that was one smart move I hadn't though of.
Both our games went quite quick, since we already knew the Dominion system quite well from previous plays on BSW. We both had the same victory points in both games, and I only won because Michelle had one turn more in both cases. So the games were very close. They were exciting races to grab as many Province cards as possible. We still haven't explored strategies around depleting 3 stacks of cards to end the game. I wonder whether these are too much harder to do when only playing with 2 players.
Michelle's summary of Seaside: "It's the same". That's quite true to an extent - since the core gameplay doesn't change, despite some new twists. I think some of the cards are quite interesting. There are more fun powers compared to the base game.
People who love Dominion will most likely buy Seaside. People who don't like Dominion most likely won't. I'm in between, and for me Seaside was a good buy. One of the reasons I bought it was I hoped it'll allow me to get more plays out of Dominion. Let's wait and see whether this happens. Having more types of cards also mean more variety. I am more keen to play Dominion now, I just need to convince Michelle to play more of this. She is nowadays more keen about At the Gates of Loyang.