#76 – Dominion: Adventures [Expansion]

Box.jpg

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. You’re not sure which, but at least you’ve narrowed it down. You are rich with life experiences, but have had trouble trading them for goods and services. It’s time to seek your fortune, or anyone’s really, whoever’s is closest. To the west there’s a land of milk and honey, full of giant bees and monstrous cows. To the east, a land of eggs and licorice. To the north, treacherous swamps; to the south, loyal jungles. But all of them have been thoroughly pillaged. You’ve heard legends though of a fifth direction, as yet unspoiled, with its treasures conveniently gathered into troves. You have your sword and your trail mix, handed down from your father, and his father before him. You’ve recruited some recruits and hired some hirelings; you’ve shined your armor and distressed a damsel. You put up a sign saying “Gone Adventuring.” Then you put up another sign, saying “Beware of Dog,” in case people get any ideas. You’re ready. You saddle up your trusty steed, and head florst.

Base price: $45. (Generally around $30 – 35 in practice.)
2 – 4 players.
Play time: ~30-45 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)

So we’re super in the home stretch, now. Finished up all the “regular” expansions, now moving on to the “occasional” expansions (and finally the second edition upgrade packs, though being real I was pretty excited about being done before those came out).

We’re now on Dominion: Adventures, sort of a “best of” Dominion expansion with a bit of everything — more of Seaside‘s Duration cards, more cards that trash things a la Dark Ages (including a specific card, Ratcatcher, that should remind you of something), and a whole bunch of cards you’ve never seen or tried before, from Reserve cards to the eventually-impressive Traveler cards. Ready to explore another expansion?

Contents

Setup

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. So, this is a similarly massive Dominion expansion, adding in 30 sets of Kingdom cards:

kingdom-cards

Including an entirely new type of card, which I’ll cover in Gameplay.

Anyways, set aside the base cards (CopperSilverGold, Potion, 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.

Grab your randomizer cards and choose 10:

randomizer-cards

And then, before we get set up, you should be aware of a few things, starting with Event Cards:

events

You CAN shuffle them in with the randomizers and flip at least one if you want to play with Events (but no more than two), or you can just shuffle them together and flip two. I’m not totally sure why you’d shuffle them in with the randomizer cards, but hey, you do you.

If you pick either the Page or the Peasant, you’ve picked Traveler cards, so you’ll need to make sure you set their upgrades close by (but not in the Supply):

traveler-cards

Now, once you’ve done all that, you should have the Supply ready:

supply

This is probably the best photo of the Supply that I think I’ve taken. It’s so organized!

But you’re not quite done. There are still a few things that need taken out, namely these tokens and the Tavern Mats:

Give each player a set in their chosen color. Once you’ve done that, each player should take their deck of 10 cards, shuffle it, and deal themselves 5. If you’ve done everything correctly (and, to be fair, there’s a lot more than usual), your play area should look like this:

setup

Gameplay

If you don’t know what a deckbuilder is, please see my Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue reviews for a brief (ish) explanation.

Now that you’ve done that, we can talk about Adventures. So, as promised, there’s new stuff. As you might guess, those brown cards are something special, namely Reserve Cards:

reserve-cards

Basically, they can be placed on your Tavern Mat during your turn if you play them and then called later on a subsequent turn (provided you meet their criteria) for a special effect, usually. They’re pretty useful since you can rely on them happening later in the game, rather than needing to think about them now.

Either way, 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 (which may go to your Tavern Mat, a la Coin of the Realm) and then buy one card from the Supply (the Kingdom cards + Treasure cards + Victory cards + Curses), 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’d guess, since there are so many different types of cards. Generally, Action cards will have some effects (in addition to extra text, if necessary):

  • +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.

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.

New to Adventures as well are Tokens:

tokens

These tokens allow for a variety of things. For the circle tokens, the + and – things are relatively obvious in their intent, but certain cards let you place those tokens on Action card stacks in the Supply, meaning whenever you play that card, you get that bonus effect. As you might imagine, that’s pretty good. The picture tokens are (left to right): Inheritance, which is an Event card that allows you to turn Estates into any 4-cost-or-less Action card, Journey (hence the boot), which is used for a few cards, and the Trashing token, which lets you trash a card from your hand whenever you gain a card from its pile. Those are handy to have around, as well.

After the Action Phase comes your Buy Phase, in which you play Treasure cards to accumulate money, and then spend that money to either purchase cards from the Supply or activate Event cards. Treasure cards can be Coin of the Realm (value 1), Copper (value 1), Relic (value 2), Treasure Trove (value 2), Silver (value 2), or Gold (value 3), and you should also count +Coins you got during the Action Phase. If you played Storyteller during the Action Phase and spent money then, you cannot re-spend that money now, as you might guess. Unless you got +Buys in the Action Phase, you can only buy one card. Note that you can spend money on Events to gain their effects, but only as long as you have Buys.

Now, the Clean-Up Phase. As mentioned previously, discard every card (actions, treasures, etc.) in front of you from play (except for Durations that are still in effect) 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. But how does the game end?

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 always:

  • 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 Adventures in particular, I think it matters even less if you have more players since there’s no real shortage of Event Cards, and those are just an extra thing to buy. Sure, it makes Champion a bit better (since there are likely to be more Attacks if there are more players), but other than that I can’t really think of anything in particular that more players would help or hurt (other than generally kind of slowing the game down as the number of players increases, from my experience).

Strategy

There are a ton of cards in Adventures (especially counting Events), so apologies in advance for a lightweight approach to strategy. As always, if you’re looking to go deep, I recommend the DominionStrategy wiki.

  • Royal Carriage can enable some awesome combos. Since you can keep Royal Carriage on your Tavern Mat, you can just call it whenever you want to repeat an action card you just played, like, say, Intrigue‘s Bridge. If you manage to get them all out, who needs King’s Court x2 + Bridge x3? You can just make it work with Royal Carriage x7 Bridge x1! That gives you enough +Buys to buy nine Provinces for free. As you might imagine, this will draw the ire of your co-players, but hey their loss. You can imagine how this could also be helpful for other cards.
  • With the Journey Token, Throne Room, Disciple, and Royal Carriage are also awesome. You can double-play any card that flips your Journey token to instantly gain a huge benefit, which is pretty nice.
  • The Champion is awesome, but you really only need one. The Hero lets you gain any Treasure, which, if you’re playing a Platinum game, is pretty good, but the Champion’s ability to block any attack + effectively un-terminal terminal actions is great. The only reason you’d want more than one Champion is if you had the Diadem from Cornucopia (money for leftover +Actions), but that seems like a longshot case.
  • Magpie is just really good. I’ve found that it’s a great card to have since it’s a +1 Card +1 Action that could potentially get you a top-decked Treasure or gain a copy of itself. It’s even better if you can either turn your Estates into it (via the Inheritance Event) or add tokens to it (via Teacher or other cards).
  • Don’t forget to play Distant Lands. It’s worth 0VP if you do forget, so make sure you play it before the end of the game. Naturally, you’ll want cards with +Actions so that this isn’t the only thing you can do each turn.
  • Be careful with Reserve Cards. There’s a whole amount of strategy as to when to play them and when to call them (since if they sit on your Tavern Mat you can’t play them again until you call them), so try to make sure you’re thinking through when you want to use them and when you want to hold them. There are tradeoffs and they’re specific to each card.
  • Hireling is kind of preposterous. +1 Card forever is a lot for me. I get why it’s not always good (for 6 money you can buy a lot), but if you start getting a bunch of those (or Throne Room them or something), they can be pretty intense.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I’m a fan of this set’s theme. I like the sort-of-fantastical elements it adds to the game, and I’m also impressed that it seems to be doing a lot better job with gender diversity in the cards than other sets (though it helps that the Page line is all one person, despite being five cards).
  • Traveler cards are a really cool idea. I like the progression effect — it gives you a sense of accomplishment (and I think both Teacher and Champion definitely make you feel like you earned it). The Champion is obviously my favorite, though — so cool!
  • Event cards add a lot of new ways to play with old expansions. I like that you can “upgrade” old Kingdom Card sets you like with Events to make them more interesting or unique, and often it’s really cool to have them.
  • More Duration cards are always welcome. They’re just good cards. Or at least a good type of cards.
  • I like the idea of Reserve cards, though I haven’t played that much with them. I think they’re interesting and open up a wide variety of strategies. I’ll have to play more often with them to really cement my opinion on them, but I’m always down to add more types of cards. Change things up.

Mehs

  • This expansion adds a lot of complexity to setup, teardown, and play. You’re moving tokens around, trying to remember which tokens can be added places, and adding all of that in with the Tavern Mat and Events can be a lot of things to keep track of, especially in conjuction with other expansions. I’m hoping that future expansions don’t add too much additional complexity, because this is kind of a lot.

Cons

  • The cards are lower quality. You can feel the difference, and it’s a bit frustrating.
  • The tokens are … pretty bad. They’re like, not even centered completely. They feel cheap, they look cheap, and they seem nothing like the nice coin tokens from Guilds and Prosperity or the Debt tokens (spoiler) from Empires. …why?

Overall: 8.25 / 10

in-progress

Overall, Adventures is a solid set! I like the cards (and hate the tokens, but hey what can you do) and try to include them a lot (or at least Magpie + the Page cards) when I’m playing with other sets. Generally, I’d say this, like Alchemy and Empires, should be an expansion you pick up when you’re pretty much spent on Dominion expansions. It adds a lot of stuff, but also a lot of complexity. That said, it’s a great expansion, and if you’re looking for ways to improve Dominion, this’ll definitely do that.

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