At present I only own the Dominion Base set and my girlfriend and I have only played the game a few times. I figure we'll stick to the starter layout for a few more games but after that I'm curious what are some fun initial setups for 2-person play?

As I noted in comments below I'm looking for multiple setups which will be well suited for a fun two person game. By fun I mean multiple strategies and some interaction. I'm playing with my girlfriend, when we've played random setups we have had fun but have found many that aren't as engaging as others. Cards such as Council Room (which some don't like) at least engaged the other player during a turn.

I am open to buying expansions in the future but initially I'm looking for suggestions to have fun with just the base set.

7 Answers 7


Since random setups have already been recommended, let me suggest a couple of individual card combos that can form the core of an interesting set.

Option 1: Core strategies in the base set. Choose 2 of these, and fill in the rest of the cards randomly.

  • Woodcutter/Workshop + Gardens (+ Cellar): obvious gardens path
  • Throne Roome + Remodel/Mine: TR helps the fact that these strategies are slow on their own
  • Chapel: trash as fast as possible and race for provinces
  • Witch/Militia (interesting both with and without Moats): slow down your opponent with attacks
  • Smithy/Moneylender: accelerate the early game to 5+ coin hands

Option 2: Interesting card interactions in the base set. Choose one and fill in the rest randomly.

  • Witch + Gardens strategy cards: do you curse your opponent and make his/her Gardens more valuable?
  • Militia + Library: you can attack to slow down your opponent, but if he/she has a Library in hand then the attack is mostly wasted. Do you go for offense or defense?
  • Chapel + Thief: if you trash your starting cards to accelerate your deck, you will be more vulnerable to having your few (and good) treasure cards stolen.

Finally, if player interaction is a really important criterion for you, you should seriously consider adding the Intrigue expansion. Not only is it built around the theme of interaction, but it also has lots of cards that combo well with base set cards to create interesting strategies (Duke/Duchy, Gardens/Bridge, Gardens/Ironworks, etc.).


I and a friend recently developed a set specifically for two players.

The principles we started from were:

  1. The game should be fast.
  2. No extra reasons to wait for the other player to shuffle.
  3. Multiple action granting cards make turns take too long

So here's what we came up with: Cellar, Chancellor, Market, Moat, Remodel, Smithy, Throne Room, Witch, Woodcutter, Workshop

The set has a Witch as the sole attack card, but with both the Moat and Remodel, she is more than balanced. The Witch doesn't require the other player to have a hand when played except to check if they have a moat, so if they're shuffling just set the curse aside and if they draw a moat, put it back. The Throne Room is the only way to get multiple actions (when used with either the Cellar or the Market).

I've play tested it several times and I think it's a very flexible, fun set. I like that there are multiple strategies and that you have to be able to react to how your opponent is playing.

I hope you enjoy it, and don't forget to use only eight of each victory card in the stacks when playing two-player.

Oh, and here's the set on Dominion Deck Builder, if you use that: http://dominiondeck.com/games/duel-set-made-two-players


I find most setups usually work equally well with different numbers of players, especially in the base set. Make some yourself, try an online randomizer, or look for highly rated games with just the base. Its hard to go wrong whatever you do.

Oh, but if you want to keep your relationship together you might want to leave out the witch and the militia. :D

  • 2
    I feel that's a bit harsh, LBT: I too find myself stymied by the question. Why NOT just play some random games, work out which cards you (as a couple) enjoy or don't enjoy, and whittle it down from there? Plus Council Room might be a GREAT card for a couple, as you get to help the other player have fun, instead of trying to cripple their game, as with the Witch and Militia that CJD cites. Some couples will prefer a cooperative style game, and there's nothing wrong with that! Feb 13, 2011 at 22:25
  • We will play some random hands but as we don't have a lot of opportunities to play games and at least from what I've seen and experienced the two player Dominion is a pretty long game (1-1.5hrs?) we won't get a lot of plays in. So rather than random setups that might not be fun especially for a two player game I'm looking for some setups which are fun and competitive. Last time we played (from the stating setup) we both played militias occasionally. Feb 13, 2011 at 23:30
  • 1
    If your dominion games are taking an hour each, either you haven't played enough, you are playing really slowly, or you are doing something wrong. A quick online game between experienced players can take 3 minutes.
    – rrenaud
    Feb 14, 2011 at 2:26
  • I think 3 minutes is a little unrealistic, but my 3 player games rarely go over a half-hour is we know the cards well. You mileage will vary, but 1-1.5 hours if you've play a few games seems a little excessive. With 2 players you are supposed to use 8 provinces, which should speed things up if you like. :D Feb 14, 2011 at 3:13
  • we are following all the rules - so yes, 8 provinces (and 8 duchies, gardens when we use them, and estates) but the games are certainly not anywhere near 30 minutes Feb 14, 2011 at 3:24

We have probably 6 different dominion games and have lumped them all together.

Randomizing is the most fun with a twist I developed. I separated all the cards (that we enjoy using) into their different categories like defense, attack, added cards, trashing cards, multiple actions and finally miscellaneous. From there we pick how many cards from which categories to use then pick randomly from the various stacks.


Sorry to add another non-answer, but I'd say that if you play several games in a row with the exact same set of cards, you'll quickly tire of it. Especially with the base set, most 10 card sets will have one or two best strategies, but often not much beyond that. Pretty soon, you're both just going to be going after the same strategy each time.

You'll learn the specific strategy of how to play those 10 cards well, but you won't really be learning the game the way you should, and will be slow to pick up on new strategies when you start mixing it up.

  • Sure. But as I said I'm looking for setups which will be fun for a two player game (note the plural). Tonight we played two random games which were both enjoyable but certain combinations of cards didn't really shine in a two player context. I'm looking for suggested setups that will lend themselves to multiple strategies and to a fun game night. By fun I mean both players engaged and some interaction. The last game we played had little interaction which wasn't as fun as rounds with interaction. Feb 14, 2011 at 7:06
  • @Shannon Ah, you do have more qualifications than you mentioned previously. Could you edit your question examples of what you want and don't want in a card set? Specific or general is fine. That way we can get cracking on some more specific recommendations for what will and won't work. :D Feb 15, 2011 at 0:58

Recently played

Adventurer, Bureaucrat, Cellar, Chapel, Throne Room, Festival, Workshop, Remodel, Laboratory, Smithy

a couple of times and found it was seemed to work particularly well, kind of like the recommended beginner set ups. It has decent cards for a number of different strategies (Cellar/Remodel for a dense small hand), Festival for chaining actions (though maybe Workshop should be replaced with Village). Throne room is nice with most of the cards present, Bureaucrat provides a mild offensive.


Personally I like to have people learn the value of chapel early, so a subset of moat+militia, cellar/village, remodel, council room could be good in my opinion (depending on how much you like chapel/militia which). One setup that is nice could be most of these plus workshop, spy/woodcutter/moneylender. The importance is to vary the game. See which cards neither of you played and replace them with others (if you don't play them either, test replacing the ones you always play to change the dynamic).

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