Not Cardboard Children: THUNDERSTONE!

By Quintin Smith on May 14th, 2011 at 5:21 pm.

Hott!
This week I’ve been playing a card game called THUNDERSTONE! It has to be written like that, in all caps, and if you’re saying it you have to pronounce it in a voice like somebody who eats trumpets for every meal. THUNDERSTONE!

THUNDERSTONE! is a deck building game. Do you know what that is? Because it’s not like Magic: The Gathering or any of the other collectible card games where you’re expected to build a deck before the game starts. No. Deck building games are much, much friendlier. They’re where you construct a deck as you play, gradually bulking up your intial, runty booster-pack sized deck into a magnificent engine. Do you see? No? Alright, well you will, and you should. These games are a clever bit of design.

The game to kick-start the recent fashion for deck building games was Dominion, released in 2008. It looks like this-

In Dominion (and subsequent deck building games) stacks of different cards are laid out on the table. Players draw hands of cards from their decks, then take turns to play actions on those cards and “buy” cards from the centre of the table and shuffle these new cards back into their decks. Through this, you can slowly build a deck that screws over your opponents, or lets you buy better cards, or do more in one turn, and so on.

In the end, the player with the most Victory Point cards in their deck wins, with the problem that VP cards don’t do anything except clog up your deck.

The thrill in these games comes from watching your little baby deck evolve into something beautiful (or, occasionally, a tottering mutant that has you holding back tears each time you draw a hand). What does your deck need? What does it have too much of? Is there a way to turn these imbalances into advantages? And what are you trying to grow it into, ultimately?

Dominion went on to sweep award ceremonies and find a place on the lop-sided shelves of gamers the world over, as well it should have. It’s genius. Today the publishers are gearing up to release the fifth expansion, Dominion: Cornucopia, which brings me to another smart thing about Dominion’s design. By swapping in and out the card types available to players in the middle of the table, you get a different game every time. If you own just one of the core sets and a single expansion, you’re already dealing with tens of thousands of possible setups. Perfect.

But I haven’t bought Dominion. Not me. And I’ll tell you why.

Reading the logo on the box makes me feel like I’m eating soap. Just looking at it makes my nose run. And while nothing in the theme or art is anywhere near as repulsive, none of it excites me. Also, that logo appears on the back of all the cards. Twice.

Urgh. If there is a Hell, it’s teal, beige and navy blue.

As happy as I’d be to play an ASCII PC game or some eyeball-wrinkingly hideous PSX 3rd person adventure, I feel differently about board and card games. But that’s another article.

Lucky for me, there’s a great alternative to Dominion. THUNDERSTONE takes that cloudy, unsure-of-itself setting and replaces all of it with groups of adventurers racing one another in a distinctly bleak fantasy world. Here’s what it looks like-

When a game of THUNDERSTONE starts, your deck conists of militia men, daggers, iron rations and a couple of torches, and you’re facing down everything from abyssal terrors to endless swarms of insects. Oh, and diseases. THUNDERSTONE likes a good disease. Maybe you don’t like diseases. If THUNDERSTONE could respond to that, it would laugh in a voice like the falling pebbles and grit that come before a landslide.

Each turn you get two choices. Either you go into the dungeon and take a pop at a monster, or you go to the village and buy something within your price range.

Like Dominion, what’s available in the village is up to you, so it changes every game (as do the types of monsters in the dungeon). In the village you’ll find weapons, spells, items, mercenaries and guides, all of which will give you an edge in the dungeon, and – most importantly – you can recruit heroes. To begin with, your hero cards won’t be so hot. But the excellent thing about heroes is that as you kill monsters you’ll amass a tidy pile of experience points, and when you’re in the village you can use those points to level up your heroes. Whatever hero was in your hard goes back into the game’s box, and you insert the next level of that hero card into your discard pile, where they’ll sit with all the innate danger and patience of a discarded hypodermic needle before finally cropping up in one of your hands.

And ooh, oooh, a fully upgraded Hero is a card to be feared. Those thieves you’ve got? They’ll start knocking cards out of your opponents’ hands. That mage might let you transform your milita cards into even more heroes. And paying a visit to the Dungeon with a veteran warrior and a great weapon is like dropping monsters into a giant blender.

What to do about your opponents’ heroes? Well, there’s always the odd asshole card for sale in the village. Like this one:

But for my money it’s the monsters that are the star of the show, and I wish they’d start including a few more of them in the Thunder– I mean THUNDERSTONE expansion sets.

Look at that art. Beautiful. These are monsters that cry out for a beating. Which is lucky, as beating them and inserting them into your deck as glossy trophies is how you win the game. The bigger the monster, the more points it’s worth at the end, which also means there’s a balancing mechanic whereby the more a player kills, the more watered-down his deck will be. You can try and build a properly furious deck by only going for the best kills, but that’s a dangerous game.

What else to say? Ah, there’s also the fun ‘Light’ system. At any point in the game the dungeon hall is made up of three monsters, like you can see above, which represent your three targets. The one closest to the entrance only requires you to have a little light in your hand (from torches, lanterns, wizards, flaming swords, fireballs, magic gems, etc) to take him on. But the next monster requires two points of light, and the third and deepest monsters needs three light.

For each point of light you’re missing you suffer a penalty in combat, and there’s all kind of fun stuff to do with burning monsters who provide their own light, or evil monsters who darken their surroundings. One of the heroes is a blind monk who gets bonuses to combat when there’s no light, and I think there’s even one priest who converts surplus light into extra damage.

It’s this kind of thematic fluff that I love Thunderst– THUNDERSTONE for. The stuff that blows the dust off your imagination and gives it a kick. That time the Iron Golem who could only be hurt by heroes with a strength of nine sat in the dungeon entrance for the entire game. The plague-ridden zombie that your bard took on mano-a-mano with a cheap mace, only to come limping home with two disease cards. I love it.

About the only flaw I’m willing to accuse it of is that it’s not a game that benefits from plenty of players. It might work fine with as many as five players when you’re happy to sit and brood on your options, but way less so when you know what you want to do and have to wait for four other people to finish their turns, with the last of them almost certainly buying the card or killing the monster you’d been planning on picking up. On the flip side, the solitaire varient you’ll find in the manual is fun enough, and Thundersto THUNDERSTONE is one of my favourite two player games. So there you go.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, THUNDERSTONE: Dragonspire is the set to start with. It’s the standalone expansion the designers came out with that addresses some of the foibles of the original base set, and it’s altogether a more generous package. As always, FindYourGameStore.co.uk is ready to help.

Right, that’s altogether too much time spent writing about Thunderstone when I could have been playing. I mean THUNDERSTONE. Shit. I’m outta here.

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61 Comments »

  1. Gothnak says:

    My workmate and I have played this every single lunchtime for the last 3-4 months. He’s bought every add-on and it just never gets boring. I’ve played over 200 boardgames, own over 50 and this one is definitely the best 2 player game in an hour.

    Highly recommended!

    Now review Nightfall so i can see if it worth getting as well!

    • Quintin Smith says:

      From what I hear, Nightfall is fine but nothing stellar. Rune Age is the deck building game on my to-watch list, if only because it includes a co-operative mode. Anyone here spent some time with Nightfall?

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      One article a week isnt enough! Where else can I go that RPS trusts, to get more of this kind of thing? Id love to know whats widely considered the best card game to buy, for say two people. And whats the best boardgame for a family ranging from 12 to 30, with 3 to 6 players easily found.

      THUNDERSTONE does sound quite good. One thing I would like to know is how long this, or anything like it, takes to pick up? And if I play the solo version, will I get too good compared to other people that they wont want to play?

    • Temple to Tei says:

      If you don’t know it then boardgamegeek.com is the respository of games.
      It is searchable for such things as 2-player games and many many people will have done lists. The better ones will have explanations of WHY it is a good game.

      Find a game you are interested in on the site (the latest/hottest are down the left) – when you are on its page scroll down to where it says ‘Forums’ and choose the ‘Reviews’ filter. Well done you now have a world of conflicting and confusing reviews to read -for some reason boardgames do get wildy different opinions(see below for people’s opposing opinions on Thunderstone -one person’s random goodness is another person’s hated luck)

      There is a good ratio of good reviews out there and you will find that many people write long reviews explaining their points which helps you to form a decent opinion.
      Oh, above that are many many video reviews, though for some reason I never touch them, probably because people freak me out.
      There are some ‘professional’ reviewers that cover hundreds of games.
      Not least Tom Vassel at http://www.thedicetower.com/thedicetower/

      Trying not to bore you too much, I mean what is a ‘card’ game…. is Battlelore because it is card driven combat? Even this version of Thunderstone has a board to help and xp tokens :)

      My two fave 2 player card games are Settlers of Catan card version:
      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/278/catan-card-game
      (see, look at its score, but I love it -boardgames are at least individual as pc games I find)

      And Jambo
      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12002/jambo

      Rab covered Chaos in the Old World in an early Cardboard Children so there is always the LCG to try:
      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/47185/warhammer-invasion

    • EndelNurk says:

      I’ve only played Nightfall once, I’m afraid, @Quinns, but your analysis seems fair based on my experience. Nightfall is a lot less friendly to newcomers than Dominion and I see that as one of Dominion’s great strengths. Nightfall’s supply decks are built from cards picked by the players and so players who know little of the mechanics of the game stand a chance of ending up with terrible cards from the start. There is a chaining mechanic that works beautifully wherein one player plays one or more cards and then each other player is allowed to play one or more linked cards and resolve their cards before the first player gets his turn resolved. However, I would not say that this mechanic alone makes the game better than Dominion. More regular players at my game group complained about a lack of variety in the cards as well.

      The theme of Nightfall is also based around vampires, werewolves and the like. As Quinns says, the theme in Dominion is basically non-existent but I still prefer it to vampires which I simply find dull.

    • aircool says:

      Just read this and have rushed out (well, to a well known online retailer) and bought it. Sometimes you forget that there’s other games out there that don’t run on a PC :-))

  2. BaronWR says:

    And another game goes on the “To buy when I have some money” list. My hypothetical future children will curse the day you persuaded Daddy to put all his hypothetical future earnings towards pretty bits of cardboard.

  3. gorgol says:

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but is this a PC card game or a physical card game?

    • Whosi says:

      Physical.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      What Whosi said, once a week, on a Saturday, if we have been good, RPS throw some of us a bone and do a little piece on boardgames -in this case a boardgame that does not have a board but is all about cards.

      If you are in london some nice RPSers get together for the occaisional game night (ok one so far, but there were other alcohol nights) so feel free to come along to the next one -pretty sure Dominion hit the table last time around.

    • gorgol says:

      Awesome. I’d love to go to one of those nights but I live in Spain.

  4. SF Legend says:

    somebody who eats trumpets for every meal
    So Brian Blessed?

  5. Whosi says:

    Good review, and I agree, for two(three at most) Thunderstone is the way to go with deck building games. For three to six people Dominion shines(the Intrigue expansion introduces players five and six). From my experience it plays much faster.

    Also, if you are spending the game staring at the logo(and I’ll agree it’s cringe-inducing) you might want to consider turning your cards around so you can actually see what’s in your hand, it makes the game more fun to play.

  6. Ergates_Antius says:

    I wished I lived somewhere where were other people to play board/card games with.

    Rural living does have it’s advantages, but other gamers living near by isn’t one of them.

  7. lord_heman says:

    I have had a hard time selling my copy of this game, and I dunno if this is allowed in here, but I’ll take my chances:

    If you live in Copenhagen and are interested in this game, i have it for sale for 200,- DKK
    email me at lord_heman(at)hotmail.com for further contact information :)

    I apologize in advance, if I’m breaking any rules in here.

  8. misterk says:

    I’ve played thunderstone a few times and enjoyed it, but still prefer Dominion. One of the frustrations of thunderstone is that it can be quite clear that someone is going to win, but theres still a large part of the the game that needs to be played out. Dominion is just faster and more elegant.

  9. The Pink Ninja says:

    I’ve played one game of it and oh how I hated it. Dull dull dull, waiting turns and turns for the things you need to show up and the good chance those things will be out of stock before you can afford them or not all be in your hand when you need them.

    Damn annoying.

  10. RogB says:

    ‘Reading the logo on the box makes me feel like I’m eating soap. Just looking at it makes my nose run’

    +1. bleedin’ awful design :/

  11. jon_hill987 says:

    “not like Magic: The Gathering”

    This counts against it in my opinion as I love MTG.

    Sounds very interesting though, if someone invited my to play a game I would not make my excuses and leave.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Haha. The mark of quality.

    • bglamb says:

      While I agree that saying a game is like MTG would be a plus point, can you really mark a game down for *not* being like MTG?

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Not sure Quinns was using ‘not being MTG’ as a plus or minus point, it is just most people think of MTG when gamecards are mentioned. Being like MTG is a when an mmo is a bit like WOW -might as well play MTG/WOW.

      Deck building games are most definitely not like MTG
      (I like MTG, but only have the most old and basic of sets)

      Living-card games are the halfway point between the two I think, with FFG bringing out their LOTR version recently.
      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/77423/the-lord-of-the-rings-the-card-game

      [And in my day when asked to play a game one did not approve of the correct response is to slap the miscreant with a fish.
      Hence the need to always carry a fish with you when out socialising. Hence why I no longer socialise.]

    • Jake says:

      I like MT:G but I’ve always found it a hard game to play casually with friends due to balance issues and different people wanting to play it in different ways – like one guy who wants to build wacky decks while an other guy just wants to win (me). It does have amazing art though.

      I’ll check out THUNDERSTONE I think especially if it is good for 2 players, most board games seem best with more.

    • Lightbulb says:

      The problem with Magic is that its a gamer where money wins.

      I played competitive magic a little (2 guys in my play group qualified for the national championships and one of them won a pro-tour qualifier) so I play at a reasonably high level.

      If you want to play competitive magic you need to drop hundreds of pounds every few months (even if you play Limited formats you still need to practice drafting).

      ———-

      For the non-magic players: MTG is very expensive – to make the best decks costs quite a lot and you will walk all over causal players with these decks.

      Games with a fixed card pool avoid this issue since everything you need to play it included at no extra cost.

      So when he says not like MTG I believe Quinns means you need not buy £300 of boosters to be competitive. I cannot believe ANYONE would put this down as a BAD thing (except maybe the game makers! ;) ).

  12. Lajcik says:

    I’ve had the chance to play dominion and I have to say that the formula doesn’t work for me. The ‘build-your-deck-as-you-play’ flavor just doesn’t play as well as it sounds on paper. Theoretically you have the ability to adapt to the game as it plays by buying the cards you need and constructing your deck as you go along. In practice it’s more about luck than anything else because Dominion gives you too little control over your deck and gameplay. It’s too dumbed down from traditional CCGs.

    I don’t know if thunderstone suffers the same as dominion, i hope I get the chance to play it some time.

    On this topic – I’m really intrigued by the LCG format that fantasy flight games came up with (tho my first game is yet to arrive). It gives you all the fun of CCG minus the investment and randomness and from what I read it really delivers. The basic idea is that unlike CCG there are no boosters, no ultrarare expensive cards – you buy a set/expansion and you get 3 copies of all the cards there are to be had. You still get to construct and adapt your decks to match your opponent – you just don’t have to spend so much time and money on it. Check them out.

    But that’s just my opinion :)

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yeah, this is what I was wondering. The article gave me the desire to check it out, but got the bad feeling this game reintroduces randomness into battle card games in a big way. And that would be a no-no.

      Other than you, could someone else please speak a little more about this aspect?

    • lightstriker says:

      …Have either one of you actually ever played a real trading card game? Oo games of this sort are far, far less random then traditional TCGs. There’s certainly some randomness to it, but even really weak card-counters, or hell, card approximaters for that matter, should have a damn good idea what’s coming for them at all times. That’s like… the entire point.

    • Lajcik says:

      Yeah, I played MTG a lot and others to some degree. I still think that Dominion is more random and more luck dependent than CCGs. Dominion forces you to buy victory cards, cards that are completely useless, but are needed to win. Also, you can’t remove weak cards you start with and the combinations are pretty limited since there are only a few (8 or 10, cant remember) types cards that can be placed in the ‘store’ each game. This really narrows down the options and fun.

      CCGs (and LCGs) allow you to construct your deck from the grounds up, which allows you to offset the luck factor quite a lot with cards that help you get the ball rolling.

      But again – this is just my opinion.

    • JuJuCam says:

      As unlikely as it is that I would be able to change your mind, I would compel you to stick at Dominion until at least you understand the cards and the various strategies available. High level strategy involves polishing your deck to a high shine until every hand is basically predictable. And there certainly are methods of voluntarily trashing cards if you have the right cards in stock – one of the better known strategies uses the ‘Chapel’ card to cut the early game fat to a minimum. Victory points being useless except for victory lends an important balancing act to the game – the goal of any good strategy is to build a mammoth economy engine that will be able to afford high value VPs every hand, but if you go for them too early they will clog up your deck. I tend to get VP greedy and since I usually run with as lean and tight a deck as I can my early lunges undo me in the end.

      Basically don’t play a few rounds and feel like you know the whole game. There’s a subtle learning curve that can only be mounted with practice, and you’ll find an experienced player plays a completely different game to a newbie no matter their experience with board games or CCG’s. And again, every game is different.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’m far from an expert in Dominion (or even any good), but the problem game aspect is the most interesting thing. As in “These are the pieces available – how can I win with these pieces? And what approach will other people take to do the same?”. Fundamentally, it’s a novel problem generated randomly, thus demanding a slightly different solution. That’s just a very different thing from a traditional CCG.

      Trashing cards is mentioned above, which is true. But when there’s no card trashers, you have to weigh up different routes. How do you react when a witch is possible? Is it possible to really fuck someone up by going for a short game – prematurely ending the game by buying a load of cheap cards before the people building a big economy engine have got it rolling and/or got any VPs of note, etc. 4

      The strategy is about the shifting battlefield. That’s the core of the game. Either you solve the problem or you don’t.

      As a pure mechanics gonk, I find it a fascinating device of a way to combine balance with randomness. Has anyone – say – done an RTS mod for Starcraft 2 where it randomly generates what troops you’re able to buy at the start? Both teams have the same selection of units – so it’s fair – and turns the game into working out what you can do with what’s available.

      KG

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:

      I’m on my 2nd play through of plants vs zombies and at this stage it randomly selects what plants (cards) you have for each level. Which is good because it gets you playing in ways you previously wouldn’t of tried.

      Not site if this post has anything to do with this thread. Sorry

  13. BunnyPuncher says:

    Also see: Puzzle Strike.

  14. liq3 says:

    The complete lack of Puzzle Strike being mentioned saddens me. :(

    Edit: And BunnyPuncher ninja’s me like a pro!

  15. Temple to Tei says:

    Puzzle Strike description from Boardgamegeek
    ‘Puzzle Strike is a card game played with cardboard chips instead of cards that simulates a puzzle video game called puzzle fighter that, in-turn, simulates the fighting game street fighter that is emulated in puzzle fighter’

    Soooooo.
    Sorry, waiting for bid on ebay to close so just filling time browsing BGG.
    Hmmm, Red November (the boardgame) looks fun. Another co-op ‘we are all going to die’ game.
    Re-print in July.

  16. pakoito says:

    Wasn’t Ascension slightly better than this one?

  17. Temple to Tei says:

    This article just made me buy Memoir ’44.

    I read Quinn’s words -I understand the different versions. I decide to buy it.
    My fave store is out of stock of Dragonspire version (and the RFTG expansion I want).
    Ebay it! Oh, look cheap version of Memoir 44.
    So now the proud owner of (it turns out) a non-new Memoir 44 -at least I was outbid on Tannhauser.
    Oh well, Battelore is my fave so I should like this as well.

    And I’ll put Rune Age on my wishlist instead of Thunderstone.
    Yay for not-cardboard children :)

  18. Bob Moron says:

    While I’ve been enjoying Dominion since its release, I am definitely not a fan of Thunderstone.

    Thunderstone looks good, obviously MUCH better than Dominion (whose logo is a dreadful sight indeed), but I’ve always felt like it adds many rules and mechanics, putting the casual simplicity of Dominion aside, without really adding enough depth to compensate.

  19. Fuu says:

    I discovered Dominion recently and really like it. We have a game night every two weeks and with three or four players it’s great. You can play online (search for isotropic dominion), and clearly two player Dominion is more about who has the better strategy, with some luck thrown in. Three or four player involves more luck, I think.

    Being interested in the design aspect I was looking around for similar games and spotted THUNDERSTONE, but it didn’t stand out so much to me. I hope someone buys it soon so I can try it out – or does anyone know a good site to play it online?

  20. JuJuCam says:

    I haven’t played THUNDERSTONE but I will say that Dominion is a fantastic entry-level game for curious boardgamers. It’s one of those easy to learn, hard to master deals that just sucks you in. It’s easy to teach the basic rules and mechanics too, while still hinting at the hidden depths to be discovered. I’d prefer it to pretty much any commonly-cited gateway game to get people into boardgaming.

  21. Miles of the Machination says:

    The main thing that stopped me from buying Dominion was the eurogame dullness of the theme and the lack of player interaction. With a bunch of shiny cards and monster/light mechanics this sounds like just my style.

  22. malkav11 says:

    The thing I’ve noticed about Thunderstone is that while with Dominion pretty much any combination of available cards will work, the additional mechanics Thunderstone employs mean some combinations of cards are positively painful to deal with. Monsters that add darkness while your only light source is the default Torch card. Physical weapon immune monsters when you have no magical weapons. Etc.

    As such, this site, which intelligently randomizes game elements for more enjoyable combinations and can be tweaked based on the available game sets you have, is quite useful:
    http://asmor.com/scripts/tsrand/

  23. GC says:

    So is it less boring than Munchkin ?

    • Hallgrim says:

      Death is less boring than Munchkin. I’ve always considered the fact that the Munchkin series makes Steve Jackson drastically more money than his other endeavors proof that humanity is doomed.

  24. Kdansky says:

    I really have to throw this out: http://www.sirlingames.com/collections/puzzle-strike
    Puzzle Strike made by Sirlin Games (a tiny Indie game designer) is incredibly good. It uses poker chips instead of cards, and for once is not a fantasy RPG setting, but instead something like Puzzle Fighter. It is simulated Tetris based on Street Fighter, as a card game without cards, and as awesome as that sounds.

    As for THUNDERSTONE! I also want to point out in disgust that the retard Germans require translations, and therefore it is neigh impossible to buy the original language set in Switzerland. So I always have to buy shitty translations full of errors (I am considering printing proxies for Warhammer Invasion, because it would be more practical to play with cards that actually say what they do instead of having to remember all of them and using the orginal cards, which defeats the point of actually buying cards!), plus I cannot play it with the people here that do not speak much German. Which are quite a few, including my girl friend. Bah.

    Any one know of an online store that ships overseas and does not charge 50$ extra for it (like AEG themselves do)? I can wait a few extra days, but I’d rather not pay 100$ for every single board game I buy.

  25. Retconned says:

    I thought this was a PC-only site.

  26. Pobblepop says:

    Here’s two very boring men talking about Dominion and Thunderstone :-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk-K17hUl38&feature=related

    • Fuxalodapus says:

      Can barely hear the other guy. I want to see nerdraging.
      Dice Tower Thunderstone review for the lazy. My impression is that Thunderstone is to Dominion like Medal of Honor reboot is to Modern Warfare.

      Honestly, I’m sick of fantasy orcs & elves theme, so Dominion is more appealing to me.
      Also, Sirlin’s Yomi deserves a mention. Like fightin’ games, you’d think it’s all buttonmashing/luck at first, but after several plays the Yomi-ness and strategy comes through.
      You can play an online beta version, so it’s like a “PC game.”

  27. Jools says:

    I like Thunderstone quite a bit, but I find it’s a lot less fun for repeated plays or long sessions than Dominion. My group usually plays it every now and then as a break from other games, but we don’t pull it out as often as we do Dominion.

    The biggest problem, at least as far as we’ve experienced, is that Thunderstone can stall out pretty hard. It’s possible to get stuck in an early game rut because nobody can deal with any of the monsters and nobody is willing to make a suicidal run into the dungeon to clear one just so the next player can get a kill. Individual games also seem to go on much, much longer without actually having much more variety than Dominion. We’ve played a few games where the town becomes so depleted that there are no longer any interesting choices to be made.

    That said, I really do like Thunderstone and I enjoy playing it, but it feels like it adds enough to the Dominion formula to ruin some of the elegance and pick-up-and-play appeal that makes that game so good. We almost always end up playing three or four games of Dominion in a sitting because the individual games are fast and everyone wants to take a crack at a new set of cards and a new strategy, but with Thunderstone we’re usually pretty worn out by the end.

  28. NegativeZero says:

    What size are the cards? Something that irritated the heck out of me with Dominion was that the cards are a wierd size, slightly thinner and slightly taller than your average card game (eg Magic: The Gathering size). My games tend to get a fair amount of usage and we used to play over lunch, so in order to avoid everything getting all crusty, I wanted to put sleeves on them. Unfortunately the standard card sleeves you find around here weren’t tall enough and were too wide. I ended up having to import a bunch of sleeves, and when you’re getting enough to sleeve 1000 cards (game and expansion) it wasn’t particularly cheap. Having to repeat that cycle would definitely make me less interested in buying another one like it.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Sleeving Dominion cards seems like a wasted effort to me. Besides the fact that it seems like it would make shuffling annoying, I’d be happy to just buy another box if I ever managed to run a deck down to unplayability.

    • NegativeZero says:

      The thing is that certain types of cards in Dominion tend to be much more valuable than others, and thus get purchased and handled more often. The moats, for example, and the chapels. Generally after a game you’ll put the used cards back onto the top of a pile too, which tends to mean that the same cards eg treasure get used more as well.

      My board games group tends to be devious shits sometimes, and if the cards aren’t getting worn evenly you can guarantee they’ll start tracking which cards they’ve got coming based off how worn they are. Sleeving the cards makes this nearly impossible. It was also cheaper to sleeve the cards than to buy a new set. Doesn’t make it much harder to shuffle or anything, the game is tuned such that you’ll usually finish before your decks get big enough to become hard to handle.

      I have Race for the Galaxy plus its first two expansions all sleeved in heavier duty sleeves, and that does tend to get a bit fiddly. Generally have to break the draw deck into two piles because it gets too high to be stable. Dominion, not so much.

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