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My girlfriend and I are a bit late to getting Dominion but so far are really enjoying it - we have the base set and just bought Intrigue. We don't have a lot of time to play (and so far at least have only played Dominion two player against ourselves) so I'm looking for some general "meta game" advice to maximize our fun when we do get a chance to play.

At the moment the one technique which we have adopted that is fun for us is to do the following:

  • we use the randomizer cards for the set we are playing with (since we just got Intrigue we still want to play with just it a bunch of times before we mix the sets) and deal out 10 cards to play with

  • we then reserve the remaining 15 cards and when we finish the first game, instead of reshuffling the randomizers we simply deal off the next 10 cards.

This insures that when we play two games back to back we experience two completely different games and play with 20 different cards.

Are there any other similar meta-game techniques people have to add to the enjoyment of playing Dominion - especially techniques for players who don't get a lot of time to play boardgames?

We don't have any of the Promo cards though I've thought about trying to get the Black Market card as playing with that would similarly allow us to experience a greater variety of card interactions (albiet with introducing more randomness to the game)

(I'm open to making this a wiki if people think that is the best format for this type of question)

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This rather presupposes that not getting the same card in two consecutive games is a good thing. One of my problems with Dominion is that sometimes I'm just starting to get a handle on a good way to use a particular cards... and then the game ends. So I quite like Adam's suggestion below, because it creates the possibility of playing with similar card combos repeatedly (at least until you're totally bored of them)! –  thesunneversets Jun 26 '11 at 3:24
    
Yes. Hence my question. We do like playing this way to get to see all of the cards but also realize that it isn't the only way we might play. We do however enjoy the variation between games - it is good to alternate strategies and to try different approaches. –  Shannon John Clark Jun 26 '11 at 16:52
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6 Answers

We've used a mixture of user-selected and randomly selected cards. One scheme that's worked: each player gets to pick one card they don't want in the next game (this is done first), and then two cards they do want in the deck. The remaining 2 cards are selected at random. (This was for a 4-player game; in a two-player game I'd experiment with 1 or 2 banned cards and 2 or 3 selected cards).

The purpose of this method is to give each player the ability to tailor the deck to include a couple of kingdom cards they think might be synergistic, enabling them to try out a new strategy. Also, as the latter players select their cards they're able to try out counters and other means of blocking what they think the other player's strategies might be.

Once you become experienced and comfortable with the cards and the potential interactions this method turns into a meta-game that may detract from the fun, but early on, while you're still learning the ins-and-outs of a new set of cards, it's an easy way to design decks to test out specific theories--and the random cards that are still in each game provide a mechanism for random learning and discovery.

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thanks - we might experiment with something like this to get a mix of chosen & random cards - definitely a good alternative approach we'll try. –  Shannon John Clark Jun 24 '11 at 21:50
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My group usually uses a randomizer app.

When we are trying to make sure that we see every card over a couple of play sessions, we select the new kingdom cards by replacing cards that were bought in the previous game while leaving in cards that were not bought. This gets some variety into the set while encouraging us to find ways to use seemingly less useful cards.

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hmm I hadn't thought about this twist - perhaps we'll try keeping any card we either didn't buy or only bought one of (i.e. both players didn't try playing with it). –  Shannon John Clark Jun 25 '11 at 16:36
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Have you worked through all the suggested combinations in the rules booklets yet? Each of those sets ups has a certain play style and generally plays quite well. When playing random games, cards may not show a lot of synergy between them. This makes it more challenging to play, but also can slow down the game if your lacking cards that give extra actions, or have a lot of similar cards. Even for random games, the group I play with tends to make adjustments in the cards on the table to make the game more exciting for us.

The group I play with also doesn't play games heavy on attack cards back to back. Attack cards can be really frustrating when you keep getting hit by them, and if that's what the game degenerates into, I personally don't enjoy it as much. There is more tension in the room during those games, and we like to alternate games like that, with card sets that allow you to build up easily.

Finally, try playing the game with three or four people. Dominion plays a little slower, but it also gives more variety with what's going on.

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as I noted playing with 3 or 4 people isn't really an option for us - we play at home, after work when it is just the two of us. Yes, playing Dominion with multiple players is a different game but it isn't one we get to play that way very often. We have played some of the suggested combinations but frankly we enjoy the aspect of the game of trying to figure out on the fly cards that will work well together - we enjoy the randomness. –  Shannon John Clark Jul 1 '11 at 21:18
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Here's what we do:

When we clean up, we store the last set of ten cards and start with that as the base for the next game. At the end of each game, the losers each pick a card to replace. If it's just two players we'll usually both pick a card and a card to replace it with. Collusion is TOTALLY allowed, and we tend to be rather relaxed about it. We usually try and swap in a couple of new cards at the end of the game even if it is the last one for the evening. It doesn't matter if a different group of people will be playing next time either.

This method keeps the game play fresh, and allows for small changes to suit a particular groups playstyle, and makes setup faster. When we first started we kept our choices secret or made the "winningest" player pick first so the lower placed players could base their picks off of that, but my group is fairly fairly relaxed, and we've found it's usually more fun if the "loserest" tells people what he'd like to see (as far as playstyle).

We do occasionally pick a set and try and get more of the cards from that set.

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I like the way "veto mode" works over on Isotropic. With n players 10+n cards are randomly selected, and then each player chooses 1 to remove before the game starts. You could obviously adapt this for vetoing additional cards per person and combine it with randomizers or other methods of selecting the starting cards.

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My house rule for multiple games is to remove every pile that was used (i.e., had at least one card gained from it) and leave in everything no one touched during the game for the next round. It helps keep people from getting into a rut, and ensures that cards that are eclipsed by a dominant combo (or groupthink) get a chance to get used.

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