#68 – Dominion: Guilds [Expansion]

Box.jpg

Jobs, everyone’s worried about jobs. Whatever happened to tilling the fields in obscurity? The economy is just a trick, like stealing someone’s nose, but lately people seem to have seen through it, like when you realize someone hasn’t really stolen your nose. So now everyone’s joining a guild, learning a craft, and working on a masterpiece – a painting so beautiful it blinds you, or a cheese grater so amazing that you never eat cheese again. The only people left tilling the fields are the ones doing it ironically. The guilds cover everything – ironic tilling, butchering, baking, candlestick making, shoemaking, cheesemaking, cheese destruction. Your advisor is convinced that somehow, control of the stonecutters is key to world domination. Very well. You will have stone handled so expertly that the world trembles before you.

Base price: $??? (Now usually sold with Cornucopia for $45.)
2-4 players.
Play time: ~30-45 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy Guilds + Cornucopia on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?) 

We’re in the home stretch! (Or, we were, until Dominion + Intrigue: Second Edition came out, but I’ll probably just try to get those done as one thing later. Actually, that reminds me, Intrigue won’t be standalone moving forward — I should update that post.)  Anyways, there’s only Adventures, Empires, and Alchemy after this (and the Second Editions), which isn’t all that much. Should be exciting!

Anyways, in Dominion: Guilds, the world is starting to change. All these guilds are popping up offering people jobs and hope (which, to be fair, after Dark Ages and all those rats, shelters, and ruins, seems like a pretty good deal). Naturally, you want to get in on that action and the new sources of income these guilds can provide. Can you leverage their expertise to build a grand dominion?

Contents

Setup

You should already know this drill by heart — I’ve done it for all the Dominions. Let’s start by looking at all the new cards Guilds adds:

Kingdom Cards.jpg

Set aside the base cards (CopperSilverGold, EstateDuchyProvince, Curse), and then set them up:

  • For 2 players:
    • Use 8 Estate, Duchy, Province, and any other Victory (green) cards.
    • Use 10 Curse cards.
  • For 3 players:
    • Use all 12 Estate, Duchy, Province, and any other Victory (green) cards.
    • Use 20 Curse cards.
  • For 4 Players:
    • Use 12 Estate, Duchy, Province, and any other Victory (green) cards.
    • Use all 30 Curse cards.

Now, handle your randomizer cards (or your trusty Randominion app or other — do you use other apps? Let me know in the comments.):

Randomizer Cards.jpg

Flip 10, and set up your Supply:

Supply 2.jpg

Give each player three Estates and seven Coppers, and you’re just about ready to start. The only thing missing is that if you’re playing with the Baker:

Baker.jpg

You’re going to want to give each player a coin token:

Coin Tokens.jpg

That might change up your strategy a pretty large amount, since, well, it’s extra money. Either way, we can talk about that in Gameplay. If your play area looks like this, then, well, you’re ready to start:

Setup.jpg

Gameplay

If you don’t know what a deckbuilder is, I describe it in detail in my Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue reviews. As of this point, I have to assume that you know (or now know) what a deckbuilder is, or you just want to be a bit confused. Guilds is a small expansion that focuses on only a couple things, so this won’t be a big difference from, say, Cornucopia, which is part of why I assume they’re paired instead of, say, Alchemy.

As with all expansions / instances 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’re trying a more golf-themed strategy), 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, as you might imagine would be a thing in a game with hundreds of different types of cards. Generally, along with some explanatory text, Action cards will have some effects:

  • +X Card[s]: Draw X extra cards into your hand.
  • +X Action[s]: You may play X additional Action cards during the current Action Phase.
  • +X Buy[s]: You may buy X additional cards during your Buy Phase, provided you have the money to pay for all the cards you buy.
  • +X Coin[s]: You have X additional money to spend during your Buy Phase. Some cards will give you a Coin Token, which is essentially a persistent version of this, since Coin Tokens don’t disappear between turns.

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 Masterpiece (value 1), Copper (value 1), Silver (value 2), or Gold (value 3), and you should also count +Coins you got during the Action Phase. If you have earned Coin Tokens from cards, you can also spend them here to gain a +1 to your money per Coin Token you spend. As usual, unless you got +Buys in the Action Phase, you can only buy one card.

Here’s the interesting thing about Guilds, though — it introduces a concept called overpaying, which you’ll see on some cards:

Overpay Cards.jpg

See that X+ on the price? It means you are totally allowed to pay more than the stated amount, and if you do, you might get some sort of bonus. For Masterpiece, for instance, you gain a Silver per money you overpay, meaning if you pay 10 for a Masterpiece, you also gain 7 Silvers, which hey might be useful to you. Note that overpaying doesn’t affect the cost or value of the card — you can’t trash a Masterpiece you spent 7 on and gain a card costing up to 9 with whatever cards let you do that sort of thing, since Masterpiece costs 3. The + is just a reminder that you can overpay for it.

Now, the Clean-Up Phase. As mentioned previously, discard everything except unused Coin Tokens (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:

  • The Province pile is exhausted (there are no more Province cards).
  • Any three piles in the Supply are exhausted.

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

As usual:

  • You use different numbers of Victory, and Curse cards.
  • There are additional turns that are taken between your turn, and you get fewer of a specific Kingdom card on average since they don’t (generally) scale with player count and you might be competing with multiple players to get them.

For Guilds specifically, there don’t seem to be any cards that would be different in games with multiple players, in my opinion. So, not a whole lot to say here. I guess it might be worse to have more players playing Soothsayers and hitting you with Curses in between your turns, especially since this set has no Reaction?

Either way, check in with me again for Adventures?

Strategy

Naturally, I have a bit more to say here, so I’ll do what I can.

  • Coin Tokens are great. Not only are they money you can spend at any point, but it’s also money that can’t be taken from you (currently, though that’d be an AWFUL card since it’d depend so much on Tokens in play). Opponent plays Taxman and forces you to discard a Treasure? Doesn’t matter; your deck is almost completely Bakers and you get a Province’s worth of Coin Tokens every turn.
  • Overpaying is also great, sometimes. There are some great synergies that can result from overpaying for the right card at the right time, so be mindful of where you can actually do some good by spending more than you intended. For instance:
  • Masterpiece works GREAT with cards that highly value Silver, like Dark Ages’ Feodum. I actually played a game that basically went to hell once all the players figured that out. Someone dropped 11 money on a Masterpiece, gained 8 Silvers, and started buying Feodums like a crazy person. To be fair, the Silver pile got depleted and they ended up winning, so all’s well that ends well?
  • Some cards are better if you know the cards in your deck. Take Doctor, for instance — if you have a good idea of what cards you’re about to draw, you won’t look silly if you use Doctor and get no matches. This might also be helpful if you’re using more Dark Ages cards and trying to synergize trashing unhelpful cards (or cards that provide a benefit when trashed, like Rats). It’s also very helpful if you get lucky and draw into, for instance, all three Estates and can trash them all in one fell swoop.
  • Again, don’t underestimate Coin Tokens. Cards like Baker (especially if infused with Throne Room or King’s Court) can really add a lot of untouchable income to your deck as well as fill in the gaps when you have one of those terrible 7-money turns and can’t quite buy a Province. Generally getting Coin Tokens regularly is a good way to be successful with Guilds.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker. Heh. I’m a huge fan of the flavor  of this expansion. Just like it a lot.
  • I also really like going back to Coin Tokens. I feel like we didn’t get enough of them in previous sets, so I’m glad we’re doing something with them in Guilds. Plus, they’re very useful in the right circumstances (like VP Tokens), so I’m always a fan of switching it up.
  • Baker adds a lot to the game. Sort of like how Empires mixes up those starting hands, Baker giving every player a Coin Token to start means you might be able to, with some drawing fortune, have a 6 / 2 (5 + coin) opening, meaning you could buy a Gold turn 1 or turn 2. Generally, I just end up buying out the Bakers if possible, but that’s more a strategy note than a Pro.
  • I like Masterpiece a lot as well. I just think it’s a cool idea for a card and continues adding a lot of quality to Silvers. It’s great if you’re trying to get a lot of money and can draw a lot of cards. If you aren’t trying to do that, well, then don’t buy it?
  • Great thematic expansion. Overpaying and Coin Tokens are super cool, so I’m glad there’s a small expansion that mostly revolves around it. I would have been cool with this even being a large expansion, I like it so much.

Mehs

  • I would have liked to see an alt-VP card that you could overpay for. I’m not sure how it’d work, but it’d’ve been nice to see some sort of Victory Card within the theme of Guilds, since I like it so much.

Cons

  • No Reaction card. Kind of disappointed by this, but not 100% sure why. Just kind of figured that every set needed one.
  • I wish this set had been larger. Like I said in the pros, it’s such a cool theme that it’s a bit sad that there’s not more to it. I would have liked to see this mechanic expanded on. Maybe in the future (or if there’s a Guilds: Second Edition).

Overall: 8.5 / 10

In Progress.jpg

I mean, when one of your major complaints is that you wish there had been more cards with this theme, that generally means you’re a pretty big fan of the expansion, and I am. I generally try to throw Baker into other games to see how it changes the game, as well as a few of the other Guilds cards that I regularly use when combining sets. I wouldn’t call this super impactful since it’s a smaller expansion (and unlike Alchemy it doesn’t include cards like Possession), but I enjoy it. I’d recommend picking up the Guilds / Cornucopia pack to get both, since I like both a lot, but that’s your call. Either way, a great theme and some fun flavor make Guilds a fantastic little expansion.

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