(This question is for people who have knowledge about the process of game translation.)

In Dominion each card (and event, landmark, project, ...) has some text on it explaining what it does and to what and how it reacts. The original language of the game is english but I am german so I have the german translations of Dominion.

What I noticed when I read the cards and the corresponding Dominion Strategy Wiki pages was that some cards have got some slight but game changing alterations when they were translated. Like a card which can attack other players if you choose one of two options, but in the german translation it attacks every time no matter the choice you made (Minion).

There is even a whole page dedicated to (german) translation errors in Dominion: Übersetzungsfehler. The page also lists fixes for each translation error and you can see how easy it would have been to fix them (in a review for example).

I always thought that people who translate games must be super sensitive when they translate rules (as opposed to the lore of a game) in order to avoid alterations to a carefully balanced and play tested game.

So my question is: Why are there so many easily avoidable game changing translation errors in Dominion?


A comment pointed out that translations are hard. My question can be understood as: Why is the translation so hard so that so easily avoidable mistakes happen?

Also I don't know how big of a problem this is for other games so I asked specifically about Dominion.

  • 1
    Without an answer from the manufacturer, any answer will be speculative. But I assume they used a translator without the required experience. But I like the fact, that the community provides us with a fix. Also I always try to get the game in the original language because the translations usually suck. The only exception I know of is the dutch translation of Munchkin, which has a few jewels. Jan 31, 2020 at 15:26
  • 1
    Translations can be hard and have caused problems for even major international companies
    – Joe W
    Jan 31, 2020 at 15:28
  • I hope for an answer of someone who has some knowledge about the process of game translation
    – Marv
    Jan 31, 2020 at 15:28
  • @JoeW yeah, but why is it hard? That is my question: why is the translation so hard so that so easily avoidable mistakes happen?
    – Marv
    Jan 31, 2020 at 15:39
  • 2
    closed as opinion-based? why though? the answer clearly shows that this question can be answered ... or at least comment some hints on how I can improve this question ...
    – Marv
    Jan 31, 2020 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


Sorry that this is not strictly an answer to the question, but it is too long to be a comment and it does give some information about where to find more.

From the late 1990s to the mid 2010s I was a frequent participant in the Spielbox discussion forum. During that time we had a couple of threads about that topic. This is a link to the oldest one from the archive (the site has since then moved to a new URL, but old threads are archived): Eurogames-Spiele nicht mehr kaufen.
Unfortunately the search engine will ignore "dominion" because of too many hits :-(
If you search for "Übersetzung" and restrict it to "Nur im ersten Beitrag der Themen", you will get 207 hits in the Archiv of Spieleforum. Several of them are specific to issues in one particular game, but often some people with insight (working for the publisher or translators) gave answers.

What I do remember from those discussions was different publishers have different approaches - some hire professional translators (sometimes translators with little or no ties to gaming, which is considered a big problem in the gaming comunity, because they lack the knowledge of particular or usual gaming terminology), sometimes games are translated by gamers with good English knowledge.

On a few occasions some of the latter stated something like:

I just got a pdf of the original language rules and had one(!) week to translate it. I didn't even get a copy of the game so that I could have played it at least once as I would have preferred. I know that the translation is not good, but it is the best that was possible under these circumstances

So if there is a short answer to your question, it is quite trivial: time pressure.

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