When playing Dominion, how do you go about organizing all of the various cards and sets while maintaining a priority to getting games started quickly?
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For card selection, I highly recommend the iDominion iPhone app. Lets you specify which sets to include, blacklist individual cards, require Reactions if there are Attacks, and even re-roll one card of the 10 if you just hate the Smithy. There's also a "lite" free version.
I have all of my cards (Dominion, Intrigue, Seaside, and Alchemy) in two collectible-card-game "long boxes", sorted by set and by name. (Mine are sleeved as well, but that's not required). Use one of the many dividers on BoardGameGeek to assist in locating cards.
It's easy to have one person take each box and pull out the cards you need, and for others to chip in parceling out the gold, VPs and starting decks as they're pulled from the boxes.
You can divide up the work this way with the original boxes, but card boxes take up a LOT less table space and the ordering of cards in the original boxes can be highly confusing.
Fine the way it is?
I don't feel that Dominion's out-of-the-box card storage, setup, or clean-up need any improvement. The box comes with clearly labeled and organized trays: cards are grouped by type (kingdom, victory point, etc.) and then alphabetically. I have basic and two expansion sets and keep everything in the original boxes. It might be a little big if you were flying, but to go over to a friend's house via car it's hardly cumbersome. Plus, once the game's set up the boxes don't have to take up table space. Put them on the ground or on another table or stack them on top of each other.
All the ideas for divide and conquer during setup and cleanup make perfect sense. I assume that almost all play groups do this without even thinking about it.
Several answers have mentioned an iPhone app for selecting Kingdom cards. This strikes me as a solution in search of a problem, and I'm curious why the app is so popular. lilserf explains it's capabilities well, but why is an app easier than the randomizer cards designed expressly for this purpose? What's easier than selecting 10 cards at random from a deck? I can do that before the app even loads. In fact, the old-school method is probably quicker because each card can be handed to someone as it's selected so the deck can be retrieved. Natural division of labor.
If you like to play with cards from all the expansions then shuffle and store the randomizer decks together; otherwise, pick a few from each expansion set based on what kind of game you want. If you pull a card that folks don't like (Smithy for example) just draw another. If you all hate it, remove the card from your randomizer deck. If you're playing with black market, the unselected randomizer cards are the black market deck.
As for tailoring to ensure games with attack cards also have reactions, that undermines some of the charm of the game: learning to adapt to any situation that comes up. Prohibiting something a priori is doing your group a dis-service.
We do a bit of houserulery and slowly change the game between each session. At the end of a game each player will pick one kingdom to remove, and then we'll split the randomisers about equally and everyone picks a kingdom to replace the ones they've removed. We wait to pick the replacements until everyone has selected the ones that are going away, and generally try and keep the various costs between 2-5 in play. After a 3 player game whomever came in third gets to remove and replace 2 kingdoms. In a two player, both player removes two. This way there are four new cards each time.
Mine is similar to Michael Mrozek, but up until recently, we'd had 5-6 people on average playing, and we've had 8 show up before at once (we split into two games then).
We used to divide responsibilities like this:
Now, two of our usual players left, leaving us with 3-5 at any given time. Plus, we now have Prosperity. We handle this by having the people pulling cards out of two sets instead of just one, alternating between the two pulling cards.
I find Dominion setup much faster than many (most?) board games, but generally we have:
It takes maybe three minutes and we're ready to go