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I am going to get a Dominion expansion (probably intrigue based on its popularity) but in the meantime I'm curious about what I can do with just the basic set. I know it was designed for 2-4, but I don't see any real solid reason why it can't go to at least 5. I'm perfectly fine with adding any sort of house rules.

The game ends when the provinces or gone or 3 stock piles are exhausted. I figure you could counteract running out of kingdom card piles by possibly adding a few more kingdom cards. To combat the number of provinces we could just add some regular playing cards at the bottom, since they won't go through shuffling too much. My games are pretty relaxed and fun oriented, so some little hacks like that would be fine if they let more people join in.

Does anyone with experience with playing Dominion with 5+ players, with or without expansions? Any other strategies to making it possible for an extra player or two to join in? How will the game change with more people and is there anything I should keep in mind to make things run smoothly?

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up vote 27 down vote accepted

To play with more than 4 players, the rules for Intrigue (link - page 7) give the following guidelines:

  • Provinces = players x 3
  • Curses = (players - 1) x 10
  • Exhaust 4 Kingdom piles (instead of 3) to end the game. Province pile still ends the game on its own.

Of course you'll need 3 more Estates per player at the beginning of the game, but for the Coppers you'll just have fewer in the supply. All other rules are the same as in a 3- or 4-player game.

Keep in mind that more players can make a game feel slower, and can make some cards (especially attack cards) more powerful than in a smaller game. Also, Intrigue is the only "expansion" that comes with the common (Copper, Silver, Gold, Estate, Duchy, Province, Curse) cards, but once you have it you can use those to boost your supply. Until then I recommend using a few unused Kingdom cards to fill in the blanks. Between the Base set, Seaside and Alchemy I found I had at least fifteen blank cards, which my wife lovingly inscribed with appropriate verbiage to reduce our need for unused Kingdom cards.

EDIT: For awhile now Rio Grande Games has had a set of just the Base Cards for sale.

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The primary mechanism when playing with 5 or 6 players using an expansion is just that you get 3 more Provinces per additional person playing (15 with 5, 18 with 6). Putting a dummy card in (I recommend a kingdom card you're not using if you can remember - that way the card backs don't give away any info) will probably do most of what you need.

The other rule is that you have to exhaust FOUR kingdom piles with 5 or 6 players. You can do that whether you've got the expansion or not.

All in all, you don't need an expansion to play with 6 players. You just need 6 additional Provinces, and to play until 4 piles are gone.

Edit: aslum points out that you also need 3 more Estates per extra player, and that technically you need more Curses as well. The Curses and Estates will only matter, however, if you have Kingdom cards in play that promote buying or otherwise gaining from those piles.

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The best house rule I've played with for large numbers of players is the simultaneous turns rule. Here, more than one player (up to all players) take their turns simultaneously. If any play has an attack card, he announces it, waits for all others players to be ready. (they can do as much or as little of their turns as they'd like, without knowing the attack card). Then the attack is resolved, and play continues of people have buys or actions left. It's fun and allows dominion to scale quite well.

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@Neal: Because you don't know if you'll draw any attacks. If I play a Village, then a Smithy, I'll draw three additional cards while still having an action left. I can't guarantee the cards I draw won't include an attack, despite not starting the turn with one. – Powerlord Dec 27 '10 at 22:02
@lilserf: I think we're debating the variation. @Powerlord: I think you're missing something here. If you draw an attack, then want to use it, you call 'attack', wait for everyone to be 'ready' then execute the attack. If someone didn't use all their actions or draws they then continue after the attack, so there can be multiple attacks per turn from the same or different people. – Neal Tibrewala Dec 28 '10 at 9:22
@Andrew: Actually, Dominion rules say that cards played are not put into the discard pile until the turn ends. This prevents playing cards twice. – Neal Tibrewala Dec 29 '10 at 1:42
I want to thumbs up this answer for the unique ideas involved.... but I don't think it provides a good answer to the question. – Tuxhedoh Jan 17 '11 at 16:00
Thinking about how Posession would work with this variant makes my brain hurt... – Chris Dodd Jun 13 '11 at 18:57

We found that adding 2 additional kingdom card supplies per additional player over 4 also helps to balance the game out more. Use the standard rules for a 3 or 4 player except that you add additional kingdom cards. You will need 3 estates per player but we found that the blank cards provided in the sets can be used for extra estates.

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Welcome to B&CG! – Pat Ludwig Apr 19 '12 at 6:22

what i do to play with five or more is double the supply and make it so 6 piles are gone instead of the normal 3 are gone and double victory points cards like estates, duches, Providence card. the rules are still the same but at least everyone has fun. i play with at least 10 people at my local game shop and i also have all the expansion plus an app on my phone with tells me to pick me out which cards to play with i do the app twice to give me more cards to play with. is you want to leave a comment to my answer an i can tell you more

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