What's Eric Playing?

#60 – Dominion: Hinterlands [Expansion]

The world is big and your kingdom small. Small when compared to the world, that is; it’s moderate-sized when compared to other kingdoms. But in a big world like this one – big when compared to smaller worlds anyway, if such things exist; it’s moderate-sized when compared to worlds of roughly the same size, and a little small when compared to worlds just a little larger – well, to make a long story short – short when compared to longer stories anyway – it is time to stretch your borders. You’ve heard of far-off places – exotic countries, where they have pancakes but not waffles, where the people wear the wrong number of shirts, and don’t even have a word for the look two people give each other when they each hope that the other will do something that they both want done but which neither of them wants to do. It is to these lands that you now turn your gaze.

Base price: $45.
2-4 players.
Play time: ~30-45 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)

Y’know, I consoled myself a bit by telling myself that I’d only be reviewing a Dominion expansion every four weeks, though it seems with all the Kickstarter previews / reviews / etc. that I’m actually doing these closer to every other week.

Oh well. Good thing I like Dominion.

Hinterlands is the next up in my near-chronological breakdown of Dominion expansions, this time focusing entirely on “what happens when you gain cards?” as you explore lands outside of your traditional domain in an attempt to add them to your traditional domain. Dominion is as Dominion does. Will these distant lands give you the means to crush your opponents?

Contents

Setup

So! Setup. We’re back to the big expansions, so there are a whopping 26 different sets in Hinterlands:

By this point you should basically have this memorized, but, set aside the base cards (CopperSilverGold, EstateDuchyProvince, Curse), then give three Estates and seven Coppers to every player to form their starting deck and set the base cards up like so:

In keeping with all games of Dominion, you should remove certain amounts of cards, depending on your player count:

At this point, I’d almost insist that you just use Randominion or a similar app (we’ve covered like, four expansions, at this point), but, if you still insist on not using any of those, shuffle the randomizer cards:

Deal ten out, and take the ten Kingdom Card sets that match those randomizers. Lay them out with the Base Cards to form the Supply:

Each player should then shuffle their provided deck and draw 5 cards. If your setup looks like this, then you’re ready to begin:

You should also try to arrange your starting hands dramatically. I don’t make the rules.

Gameplay

If you don’t know what a deckbuilder is, I describe it in detail in my Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue reviews. If you do, then I’ll briefly describe how to play Dominion and how Hinterlands changes that up.

Similar to Cornucopia, Hinterlands doesn’t add any crazy new card types (unless you count Treasure – Reaction, which … honestly, I’d allow). Hinterlands’s shtick is all about cards that provide benefits when you gain cards (as in, add them to your discard pile from the Supply, either through a card effect or through your Buy Phase). These include cards like Duchess, which lets you gain it whenever you gain (or buy) a Duchy; Noble Brigand, which attacks other players when you buy it, or Ill-Gotten Gains, which “rewards” all other players with a Curse when you purchase it. Weirdly enough, you can buy a card without gaining it, as there are cards (like Hinterlands’s Trader) that allow you to buy a card and then immediately gain an entirely different card instead (allowing you to get Noble Brigand’s on-buy effect, for instance, without actually having to have it in your deck).

Cards sure are weird! But there are also more, weirder cards. I’ll talk about a few I’ve played with in Strategy.

As with every other expansion / instance of Dominion, your turn has two phases: the Action Phase and the Buy Phase. During the Action Phase, you can play one Action card. During the Buy Phase, you can reveal and play Treasure Cards and then buy one card from the Supply (the Kingdom cards + Treasure cards + Victory cards + … Curses, if you feel that you must (or you have a Trader in your hand and can turn it into a cheap Silver), provided you can pay its cost (bottom-left number).

All cards have a title (top), a cost (bottom-left), and their type or types (bottom-center), but their effects are different, otherwise the game would probably be fairly dry. Generally, along with some potential explanatory text, Action cards will have some effects:

If you have no +Action cards, you only get to play one Action card before your Action Phase ends. Action cards that lack a +Action are generally referred to as terminal Actions, and you generally will see a reasonable number of those in every set.

After the Action Phase comes your Buy Phase, in which you play Treasure cards to accumulate money, and then spend that money on cards from the Supply. Treasure cards can be Fool’s Gold (value 1, sometimes value 4!), Ill-Gotten Gains (value 1), Copper (value 1), Silver (value 2), Cache (value 3) or Gold (value 3), and you should also count +Coins you got during the Action Phase. As usual, unless you got +Buys in the Action Phase, you can only buy one card.

Now, the Clean-Up Phase. As mentioned previously, discard everything (actions, treasures, etc.) in front of you from play and discard any cards left in your hand, and then the next player takes their turn and so on / so forth until the game ends. Which, is:

GAME END

There are two possible ways to end Dominion:

Note that the second case includes Coppers, Silvers, Golds, Curses, Duchies, and Estates, as well as the normal Kingdom cards. Now, count how many Victory points you have among your cards, and whoever has the most points wins!

Player Count Differences

In this one, no really specific ones in particular, though some strategies (like gaining all the Fool’s Golds) are a bit less viable if there are more players (since they’re likely to gain at least a couple). It does boost the efficacy of Tunnel (if you discard Tunnel outside of your Clean-Up Phase, reveal it to gain a Gold), since there’s a chance there will be more discard attacks if you’ve got multiple opponents.

Ill-Gotten Gains will still likely torch the Curse pile regardless of how many other players you have, though having it in a game with Ambassador could be lethal.

Strategy

There are definitely some interesting ones.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

Mehs

Cons

Overall: 8.75 / 10

In case you were wondering, this was a 36-35-35 game.

Dominion: Hinterlands isn’t quite my favorite expansion, but it’s very close. I love the variety of the cards (and will usually use at least one Hinterlands card per game if we’re playing mixed games, or at least suggest Hinterlands if we’re trying to pick expansions), I love the variety of strategies, and I think it really revitalizes Dominion enough that I usually try to include at least one Hinterlands card whenever I mix sets for my Dominion games. This isn’t to say any of the expansions before now were bad; I think they offered really interesting changes to the base game (introducing Colonies, adding Durations, …Intrigue!), but Hinterlands is the first (large, at least) expansion that really adds a ton of variety into the game (Cornucopia is smaller, so it’s less impactful in that regard, in my opinion). I’d say this is a fantastic Dominion expansion, and certainly one of my favorites.