Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dominion: Guilds Review

Reviewing expansions takes a bit of a different format for me.  I assume that you have some familiarity with the base game, either having played it, or at least heard about it.  With that in mind, let's take a look at Dominion Guilds

Each Dominion set has a general theme/mechanic.  Seaside had durations, Prosperity had a lot of treasure, Dark Ages had trashing, and Guilds introduces Coin tokens, as well as overpaying.  Guilds is the expansion that offers the most options when buying cards, and makes deck construction even more challenging.  Coin tokens are gained through several different cards.  They stay in front of you, and you can use any number on a turn to increase your buying power.  I really like coin tokens since they almost always eliminate that $7 hand.

If you don't want to read all my thoughts on cards, go ahead and skip down to the end now.

  • Advisor (Cost 4)  +1 action, reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. The player to your left picks one for you to discard, add the other 2 to your hand.  I like the card, maybe a bit more than I should.  It's a better and worse version of Envoy.  The action really helps to build a stable engine.  You're never going to get the best card, but sometimes your opponent doesn't know what the best card for you to lose is.  Advisor isn't amazing, but it's solid.
  • Baker (5) +1 card, +1 action, +1 coin token.  At the start of the game, each player gets a coin token.  Baker shifts the entire game at the start.  Now you can have a 4/4, a 5/3, or a 6/2 opening depending on what you draw and how you want to spend the token, if you even want to spend it to start.  The card itself is interesting, on a similar level to Market(base).  It's important to remember that Bakers don't give you money, just the coin token.  They're flexible, but most of the time you'll spend the coin tokens that turn.  
  • Butcher (5) Take 2 coin tokens.  You may trash a card.  Then gain a card equal to the value of the trashed card plus any coin tokens you wish to spend.  At worst, Butcher is a Remodel(base), but it's so much more flexible than that.  My favorite Butcher moment is Butchering a Doctor, adding 5 coin tokens, and making a Province.
  • Candlestick Maker (2) +1 action, +1 buy, gain a coin token.  At worst, Candlestick Maker is a copper that also gives you a bonus buy.  At best, it's a coin on a future turn that may just be enough to win the game.  I think CM is one of the best 2 cost cards in the game now, and it fits in to most decks.
  • Doctor (3+) Name a card. Reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. Trash the matches. Put the rest back on top in any order.  When you buy this, you may overpay. For each $1 you overpaid, look at the top card of your deck; trash it, discard it, or put it back.  I rarely overpay by more than 1 for the Doctor, making it a 4 cost, with a nice set up ability.  It's also a perfectly good card at $3.  The Doctor is great for getting rid of curses, estates, copper, and even those pesky Rats from Dark Ages.  It's controlled deck thinning, and it gives you the advantage of clearing up your next hand, or at least part of it.
  • Herald (4+) +1 Card, +1 Action. Reveal the top card of your deck. If it is an action, play it.  When you buy it, for each $1 you overpay, you may put a card from your discard pile on top of your deck.  First off, the card text alone is worth a buy at 4, even 5.  The overpay is the best in the set in my opinion.  Overpaying on Herald sets up your next hand, which is a great thing.  Heralds themselves build an action engine better than any other card.
  • Journeyman (5) Name a card. Reveal cards from your deck until you reveal 3 cards that aren't the named card. Put those cards in your hand, discard the rest.  Essentially, this is a Smithy(base) where you control 1 card you don't get.
  • Masterpiece (3+) Worth $1.  When you buy this, you gain a silver for each $1 you overpay.  Masterpiece is a tricky balance.  It's never worth buying at $3 since it's just a copper. At $4 or $5 it's great for added silver, but you have to weigh the benefit of silver over another 4 or 5.
  • Merchant Guild (5) +1 Buy, +$1.  When you buy a card, gain a coin token.  Merchant Guild is a nice bonus card, but it's tricky to build a deck around it.  I would love to add Merchant Guild to a Goons (Prosperity) and Gardens (base) game.
  • Plaza (4) +1 Card, +2 Actions. You may discard a treasure card from your hand. If you do, gain a coin token.  Plaza is a Village with potential for more.  If you have $7 in your hand, you go down to $6, and get a coin later.  To me, there's now downside to Plaza other than that it's not the best $4 in the world.  
    • Soothsayer (5) Gain a Gold.  Each other player gains a curse.  Each player who gains a curse, draws a card.  Gaining a gold is a great card.  Add in giving other players a curse and Soothsayer is a good card. 
    • Stonemason (2+) Trash a card from your hand. Gain 2 cards each costing less than the trashed card.  When you buy a Stonemason, you may overpay.  Then you gain 2 action cards each costing the amount you overpaid.  I'm not the biggest fan of Stonemason, but I acknowledge the usefulness of the card.  The card is all about timing, and maybe some luck.  The action part of the card is good on its own.  Add in the overpay when buying, and you have a solid 2 cost.
    • Taxman (4) Trash a treasure card.  Each player with 5+ cards in hand must discard a copy of that treasure card from their hand.  Gain a treasure card costing up to $3 more than the card you trashed and put it on top of your deck..  Essentially, this is an attacking version of Mine(base) with delayed gratification.  Playing against Taxman can be trying since it usually feels like the other player picks the one card you have to keep.  I like Taxman better than Mine.

    Some of my favorite cards in this set, in no particular order, are Butcher, Candlestick Maker and Herald.  I enjoy all of the cards in different ways.  Masterpiece is probably my least favorite card in Guilds.

    Here's the big question, where does Guilds rate overall?  Well, I really do like it.  The set is not friendly to new players, since it offers more choices with what to buy and how to spend those coin tokens.  The idea of overpaying is great to have, but also a challenge to figure out.

    If I was telling you what expansion(s) to get for Dominion, I wouldn't say Guilds first.  I think I'd buy Guilds before I bought Cornucopia, Hinterlands and Alchemy.  

    Want to buy Dominion: Guilds and support BoBG?

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