The deck-building game Dominion literally burst onto the gaming scene when it made its debut in October of 2008. Since then, there have been numerous releases. After the original Dominion game, these expansions followed: Intrigue (a standalone game), Seaside (expansion only), Alchemy (small release, expansion only), Prosperity (expansion only), Cornucopia (small release, expansion only), Hinterlands (expansion only), 5 mini-expansions consisting of one promotional addition each, a new Base Cards set, and now Dominion: Dark Ages.
Dominion: Dark Ages is a huge expansion containing 500 cards. And, since the last expansion (Hinterlands) was released some time ago, the anticipation for this release has continued to build among the acolytes of the game.
And, to add gasoline to the already feverish fire that has been ignited amongst the hardcore fans, Donald X. Vaccarino, the game’s creator, has decided to release previews of some of the components prior to the full game being released later this month at Gen Con and the World Masters Dominion Tournament.
The cards that have been previewed thus far are, in alphabetical order, Cultist, Hermit, Feodum, Graverobber, Madman, Poor House, Sage, Squire, and Ruined Market.
These are some preliminary thoughts on each card as well as a note about their function:
Cultist: this card is an Action – Attack – Looter card. Costing 5 Coins, its rules are: +2 Cards. Each other player gains a Ruins. You may play a Cultist from your hand. When you trash this, +3 Cards.
Hermit: this card is an Action card. Costing 2 Coins, its rules are: Look through your discard pile. You may trash a card from your discard pile or hand that is not a Treasure. Gain a card costing up to 3 Coins. When you discard this from play, if you did not buy any cards this turn, trash this and gain a Madman from the Madman pile.
Feodum: this card is a Victory card. Costing 4 Coins, its rules are: Worth 1 Victory Point for every 3 Silvers in your deck (rounded down). When you trash this, gain 3 Silvers.
Graverobber: this card is an Action card. Costing 5 Coins, its rules are: Choose one: Gain a card from the trash costing from 3 Coin to 6 Coin, putting it on top of your deck; or trash an Action card from your hand and gain a card costing up to 3 Coin more than it.
Madman: this card is an Action card. Costing 0 Coin, it must be obtained through the use of the Hermit card. Its rules are: +2 Actions. Return this to the Madman pile. If you do, +1 Card per card in your hand. (This is not in the Supply)
Poor House: this card is an Action card. Costing 1 Coin, its rules are: +4 Coin. Reveal your hand. -1 Coin per Treasure card in your hand, to a minimum of 0 Coin.
Sage: this card is an Action card. Costing 3 Coin, its rules are: +1 Action. Reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal one costing 3 Coin or more. Put that card into your hand and discard the rest.
Squire: this card is an Action card. Costing 2 Coin, its rules are: +1 Coin
Choose one: +2 Actions; or +2 Buys; or gain a Silver. When you trash this, gain an Attack card.
Ruined Market: this card is an Action – Ruins card. Costing 0 Coin, its rules are: +1 Buy.
Now for a few thoughts! The Ruins cards introduced with Dominion: Dark Ages will be mainly deck boggers. With the zero cost, they will be worthless for some trashing cards like Salvager and Apprentice. But, they are intended to be a negative card, similar to a Curse, so that is to be expected.
Squire is basically a cheaper Steward that does everything that a Steward card cannot. The ability to trash it and select any Attack card is potent indeed. The expensive (and hated) Possession card can be had easily through this card without having to even purchase the alternative Potion cost card.
Sage can serve to cycle the deck quicker, but the ability to snatch a card from the deck and be guaranteed an action to use to play it is formidable. Just imagine opening 5/2 with Mountebank in the Supply. You’d likely Curse and Copper the hound out of your opponents before they even have a chance to snag their own Mountebank!
The most interesting thing about Poor House is its cost. For the first time in all the expansions, there is now a card that costs just 1 Coin. This makes trashing Coppers when your opponent plays a Governor and elects the +2 Coin trash for a card in his hand a little more tricky. Sure, dumping Coppers is often a good move, but if you are forced to take a 1 Coin valued card every time, that could be just as bad.
The Hermit and Madman cards are obviously linked. Since the Madman pile is not considered “in the Supply,” it doesn’t count toward 3-pile endings. Interestingly, this card seems to synergize amazingly with Tactician. Imagine drawing the second 5 cards after playing the Tactician, then returning your Madman to its plie. That would give you 18 cards in hand after returning the Madman. Unbelievable!
Cultist sets up itself for chaining. You can basically play every Cultist you have in your hand due to its rules. Talk about crippling, imagine hitting your opponent with a Cultist chain and dumping the same number of Ruins on him. Brutal.
Feodum is the only Victory card revealed thus far. Since it counts each set of 3 Silvers as a Victory Point, it is similar to Vineyard. Only it is easier to accumulate large numbers of Silvers without 3-piling than it is to accumulate the same number of Action cards.