Limiting the number of silver and gold cards available in Dominion

One of the interesting aspects of Dominion is how you have to plan which kingdom cards you're going to get while they're still there. If there's 2 attack cards available and somebody's snagged all the moats, you're going to be in trouble. Victory cards are obviously in limited supply as well. The basic treasures, copper, silver, and gold however, are pretty much unlimited, at least that's what I've found in my games. We've never even come close to running out of any of them, even with 5 players. There's 60 copper, 40 silver, and 30 gold.

Then I had the idea of limiting the treasures, like all the other cards. Not very restrictively, but enough to come into affect if multiple people are playing big money. Maybe 8 silver per person and 5 gold per person. They're silver and gold, they should be rare!

Has anybody ever played this way before? Do you think it would have a huge difference on the game? Do 8 silver and 5 gold per person seem like good ratios?

• This sounds like you want to change the rules to solve an issue your group is having. But I'm wondering: what issue are you trying to solve exactly? Is it just "these cards are weird special cases and I don't like that" or is it "too many people are playing Big Money?" Or something else? Feb 28, 2011 at 19:18
• @Mag actually we aren't having any issues, I was just curious. I like to ask questions about why rules are certain ways because I end up learning a TON about the game's mechanics, how it really was designed to work, and why. :) Mar 1, 2011 at 0:44
• That's a cool idea, actually. I know I enjoyed thinking through this hypothetical and formulating my opinion on how it would affect the game! Mar 1, 2011 at 2:52

Personally, I don't think this seems like a good idea. The game is balanced around the availability of these treasures.

The Kingdom piles change from game to game, so the only reliable element for your deck is treasure at 3 and 6 coins respectively.

The first player to buy a Gold already has a statistical advantage in Dominion, but this would enhance that advantage even further, since late-peaking players might not be able to GET any Gold.

It seems to me that, depending on how MUCH you limit, this change would have one of two effects:

• No effect, because there's still more Silver and Gold than your players buy anyway. In many of the games my group plays 5 Gold per player would seldom run out, for example.

• An overly punishing effect. You got 6 coins this turn, but there are no decent 5-cost Kingdom cards and the Gold is gone! You just got screwed.

You say "This would create a little more competition in getting treasures into your deck" but when I play Dominion I'm always competing to get treasures into my deck. If an opponent lands 2 or 3 Gold before I get one, I know I'm in trouble and had better pull off something amazing if I'm going to have a chance. Making the piles run out won't make me any more competitive, it'll just harm everybody later. I'm already always keeping other players' treasure levels in mind, because that determines how soon the Provinces may run out and whether I can even count on being able to afford Provinces or should just go for Duchies.

If the intent of this change is merely to discourage players from playing Big Money, I don't think this is the way to do it. Big Money is not an optimal strategy and will lose frequently to even relatively simple Action-based strategies once players figure them out. Play the base set a few times buying one Smithy or Laboratory+Chapel and see how long they keep playing Big Money!

It also feels like this change would bog down the middle-to-end game of every game as you would be unable to keep the treasure and victory levels of your decks balanced. Even if everybody got exactly the same amount of Gold during the build-up, your decks will all get slower and slower as you start buying the Provinces, since you won't be able to offset those with more Gold.

All in all, the game was definitely designed so that Treasure is not expected to run out - the Intrigue rules even say "these cards are intended to be in abundant enough supply to not run out". I think there are good reasons why Silver and Gold are effectively unlimited, and I don't think limiting those piles would make for much more fun in the long run. Experienced players will already be competing for Gold regardless of the supply, and will already be tracking their opponents' treasure levels to adjust their strategy.

This would create a little more competition in getting treasures into your deck before they run out. You'd think this would make big money more attractive as you'd want to limit the other player's treasure supply, but as you often buy gold when you have 6 regardless of strategy I don't think it would have a huge impact. You'd be able to play big money at the beginning, but would later be forced to look at kingdom cards to keep improving your deck's power (if there's any good ones left!)

Overall I think it would make the game more interesting by challenging the assumption that treasure if always available and making you take that and other player's treasure levels into account. You'd be racing to get treasure as well as good kingdom cards at the same time.

I think 8 and 5 per person wouldn't mess with the game too much as treasures are a huge part of any deck, but would make the game a little more interesting as you'd have to consider other options if they ran out. If you just wanted a slight impact, 8 and 5 would probably be good. If you wanted to change the game even more and make actions that produce money and give +cards even more important, you could try limiting down further.

I'd probably leave the copper at 60, because I'd rather keep the strategies that make the otherwise weakest card in the game more powerful for variety's sake. Plus, copper should be more plentiful anyway. I'd also say depleting a treasure pile does NOT count toward game end, just like in the normal game.

(Once I've tried this a few times I'll report back again :)

• Interestingly, even though Vaccarino intended these piles to not run out, the Intrigue rules DO say that if by some chance one of them does run out, it does count toward the end of the game! Feb 28, 2011 at 16:07