Category Archives: Communities

Dominion Dark Ages Estate Replacement Cards

Well, as the official storyline for the new Dominion: Dark Ages expansion game states, the good times are over (thematically, of course). For the context of this latest release in the wildly popular Dominion game series, you have moved out of your once-luxurious and now-pillaged castle and into your nice ravine. And, while you are now a beggar, you can at least dump trash anytime you please!

Ok, maybe things have taken a turn for the worst. And, that fits well with the themes of the new Dark Ages expansion. With cards like Rats, Pillage, and Graverobber, it is no wonder that this release focuses on the trash, trashing/upgrading, and obtaining cards by means of specific other cards. Even the nice, comfortable, humble Estates that each player began the game with in all previous games have now been replaced with the hybrid Shelter cards. And, since the new Shelter cards are present in every Dark Ages game, a discussion of how they compare to the previous bland Estates are in order.

But first, a review of the rules for each of the three Shelters is in order:

Hovel: Cost = 1 Coin. Card type = Reaction / Shelter. Rules = When you buy a Victory card, you may trash this from your hand.
Necropolis: Cost = 1 Coin. Card type = Action / Shelter. Rules = +2 Actions.
Overgrown Estate: Cost = 1 Coin. Card type = Victory / Shelter. Rules = 0 VP. When you trash this, +1 Card.

Before moving on, it should be noted that these cards are not in the Supply, and, although they have a cost, they cannot be purchased. The cost is primarily there in order to facilitate the value calculations due to trashing/upgrading interactions. A Shelter, for example, can be Remodeled into a card costing 3 Coin. Now, for a brief discussion of each of the new Estate-replacing cards.

First, let us examine Hovel. Thematically, this card goes well with the new set. Instead of starting in a nice Estate, you are stuck in a Hovel. What do you want to do if you live in a Hovel? Why, move out, of course! Hovel is not a Victory card, provides no benefit, and is basically a drag on your deck. Hence, this card is even worse than a starting Estate. But, the only scenario that is likely to warrant buying a victory card in order to trash it in the early game is if you open with a 5/2 split. If all 3 Shelters are in your hand with two Coppers, buying an Estate to trash the Hovel makes sense (if there are no good 2 Coin cards on the board). Otherwise, you will be trading purchasing power or engine components for a deck-clogging Victory card. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money, and once you land in a Hovel, it can be hard to pull a Jeffersons and move on up.

Second, let us examine Overgrown Estate. This card also fits with the riches-to-rags theme. The once immaculate Estate has now fallen into disrepair and is overgrown. Consequently, the 1 Victory Point (VP) that Estates award is lacking for the Overgrown Estate. Since it is a Victory card, however, it will still be of benefit for VP calculations with Silk Road. When you trash it, the +1 Card minimizes the impact of a Remodel on the current hand, and Upgrading it yields a 5-card hand. This Shelter will be a good target for early trashing, and is approximately equivalent to an Estate, IF it gets trashed.

Third, let us examine Necropolis. This card is strictly better than a starting Estate. Its +2 Actions function allows much more variability with openings. Indeed, more terminal action cards can be purchased initially without fear of drawing them dead. One of the primary ways this can influence a game is through the 3 Coin attacks (like Swindler and Ambassador). Drawing Necropolis with two Swindlers, playing them both, and swindling two of your opponent’s Coppers into Curses would likely mean victory.

Of course, these are just the beginning of possibilities and strategic implementations that can be formed with the new Dominion Dark Ages cards. As more games are played with the cards, more unique interactions will be discovered and skill will increase. Be sure to get your own game as soon as possible!

Dominion Dark Ages? Rats!

It won’t be long now until avid Dominion players across the globe will get what they have been waiting for: the official release of Dominion Dark Ages. This release, due out in late August of 2012, is a long-heralded mega-expansion. Where previous expansions consisted of usually 300 cards (for the full expansions) or 150 cards (for the small expansions). Dark Ages is behemoth, comparatively. Consisting of 500 cards, the expansion doesn’t even carry the common Treasure or Victory cards. That means all the cards are contributors to actual game play.

Indeed, numerous cards have already been previewed by Donald X. Vaccarino, the game’s designer. The fifteen previewed consist of three that cost 0 Coin (Madman, Ruined Market, Spoils), four that cost 1 Coin (Hovel, Necropolis, Overgrown Estate, Poor House), two that cost 2 Coin (Hermit, Squire), one that costs 3 Coin (Sage), two that cost 4 Coin (Feodum, Rats), and three that cost 5 Coin (Cultist, Graverobber, Pillage).

But, the previewed card that really captures one’s attention, both thematically and strategically, is the Rats card. In fact, Donald himself has named it his favorite card in the entire game. Before hitting some early strategy considerations, consider the thematic nature of the card.

Many cards have thematic elements to augment their play and highlight interactions among cards. This is particularly true within expansions. Take Dominion Seaside, for example. Most of the cards have a Nautical theme, and the interactions in the game mirror what would happen in real life (i.e. Ambassadors often bear “gifts”). Dark Ages is no exception to this Dominion rule. And, one of the most unique thematic cards is the Rats card.

The rules for Rats is as follows: +1 Card, +1 Action. Gain a Rats. Trash a card from your hand other than a Rats (or reveal a hand of all Rats). When you trash this, +1 Card.

Yikes! The rules play right into the theme. If you get a rat in real life, it isn’t long before you have an infestation. Let one little Rats card into your hand, and, before long, you could be overrun with them. To make matters worse, the Rats pile in Dominion Dark Ages breaks with convention to assist with this theme. A Rats pile has twenty cards in the Supply instead of just 10!

So, what are the strategy implications?

In order to keep from being overrun by Rats, you must have strong trashers. The Rats cards 4 Coin cost helps their use. So, Remake and Upgrade, if they are on the board, make taking that first Rats a viable option. Indeed, other strong trashers like Forge can also be of use. Forge two 4 Coin Rats cards into an 8 Coin Province! But, if your opponent has foolishly allowed a rat infestation in his deck, beware of playing a Bishop. That would serve as an exterminator for him, especially since Rats gives +1 Card upon trashing.

But, if you don’t have strong trashing cards in the game with Rats, they could quickly be equal to Curses (or even worse since they can multiply themselves). So, take stock of the cards available on any board where Rats is present prior to buying a single Rats. If there aren’t a lot of good-to-great trashers on it, don’t even buy one Rats. You might rue the day you do!

The Best Games for a LAN Party

Although many people may not have heard of LAN parties they have been around for quite some time. For those that have never heard of LAN gaming we will give a quick definition before we get into our list of games. LAN gaming is where two or more people connect their computers, generally laptops, to a local area network so they can play multi-player video games together.

The reason that you see so many people asking for a list of good LAN games is the problems that always seem to arise at a LAN party. When it comes to LAN gaming everyone has a different computer with different hardware and software. Some will have a newer computer while others have an older computer. For this reason it can be difficult to find a game, or games, that can be played by many people, with different computers, and different skill levels. Below is my list of great games for LAN parties, as always with lists of this type i am sure some people will disagree with my choices.

1. At the top of my list of best LAN games is any of the COD franchise. There are several reasons that i have chosen this game. First these are fun games to play with great graphics. Next, most people have played one or more of these iconic war games so there is not a huge learning curve for most players. Also there are many maps, weapons, games modes, and up to 32 people can play together. Another plus is that people that have their own copy of the game can join in the fun from off-site.

2. The next game on the list is Team Fortress 2. This game is fun to play. The only real downside is that everyone must download the game onto their individual computer and no one can join from off-site.

3. In the third position is Freelancer. One of the main reasons that i have chosen this game is that it has some of the best graphics and 32 people can play the game. It also has co-op and versus modes, any computer can handle the game and it is simple to learn. The only problem is that when large groups are playing it can become difficult to stay alive. When you die you are taken back to the start of the game, this can get boring after awhile.

4. Battlefield 2 is my next choice because it has huge maps, tons of vehicles and player kits, and it has good graphics. It is a fun game that can be played in co-op mode against bots or in versus mode. The number one advantage of this game is that up to 64 people can join into the carnage. The drawbacks are that older computers will not be able to handle the game due to the system requirements and it takes a long time to install the game.

5. The last of my best games is Dungeon Siege. This is a great game and is fun to play. It is easy to learn, the controls are mostly just point and click. It has good graphics with lots of different areas to explore. The system requirements are low so most machines should be able to handle this game.

Dominion Dark Ages Cometh

The deck-building game Dominion literally burst onto the gaming scene when it made its debut in October of 2008. Since then, there have been numerous releases. After the original Dominion game, these expansions followed: Intrigue (a standalone game), Seaside (expansion only), Alchemy (small release, expansion only), Prosperity (expansion only), Cornucopia (small release, expansion only), Hinterlands (expansion only), 5 mini-expansions consisting of one promotional addition each, a new Base Cards set, and now Dominion: Dark Ages.

Dominion: Dark Ages is a huge expansion containing 500 cards. And, since the last expansion (Hinterlands) was released some time ago, the anticipation for this release has continued to build among the acolytes of the game.

And, to add gasoline to the already feverish fire that has been ignited amongst the hardcore fans, Donald X. Vaccarino, the game’s creator, has decided to release previews of some of the components prior to the full game being released later this month at Gen Con and the World Masters Dominion Tournament.

The cards that have been previewed thus far are, in alphabetical order, Cultist, Hermit, Feodum, Graverobber, Madman, Poor House, Sage, Squire, and Ruined Market.

These are some preliminary thoughts on each card as well as a note about their function:

Cultist: this card is an Action – Attack – Looter card. Costing 5 Coins, its rules are: +2 Cards. Each other player gains a Ruins. You may play a Cultist from your hand. When you trash this, +3 Cards.

Hermit: this card is an Action card. Costing 2 Coins, its rules are: Look through your discard pile. You may trash a card from your discard pile or hand that is not a Treasure. Gain a card costing up to 3 Coins. When you discard this from play, if you did not buy any cards this turn, trash this and gain a Madman from the Madman pile.

Feodum: this card is a Victory card. Costing 4 Coins, its rules are: Worth 1 Victory Point for every 3 Silvers in your deck (rounded down). When you trash this, gain 3 Silvers.

Graverobber: this card is an Action card. Costing 5 Coins, its rules are: Choose one: Gain a card from the trash costing from 3 Coin to 6 Coin, putting it on top of your deck; or trash an Action card from your hand and gain a card costing up to 3 Coin more than it.

Madman: this card is an Action card. Costing 0 Coin, it must be obtained through the use of the Hermit card. Its rules are: +2 Actions. Return this to the Madman pile. If you do, +1 Card per card in your hand. (This is not in the Supply)

Poor House: this card is an Action card. Costing 1 Coin, its rules are: +4 Coin. Reveal your hand. -1 Coin per Treasure card in your hand, to a minimum of 0 Coin.

Sage: this card is an Action card. Costing 3 Coin, its rules are: +1 Action. Reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal one costing 3 Coin or more. Put that card into your hand and discard the rest.

Squire: this card is an Action card. Costing 2 Coin, its rules are: +1 Coin
Choose one: +2 Actions; or +2 Buys; or gain a Silver. When you trash this, gain an Attack card.

Ruined Market: this card is an Action – Ruins card. Costing 0 Coin, its rules are: +1 Buy.

Now for a few thoughts! The Ruins cards introduced with Dominion: Dark Ages will be mainly deck boggers. With the zero cost, they will be worthless for some trashing cards like Salvager and Apprentice. But, they are intended to be a negative card, similar to a Curse, so that is to be expected.

Squire is basically a cheaper Steward that does everything that a Steward card cannot. The ability to trash it and select any Attack card is potent indeed. The expensive (and hated) Possession card can be had easily through this card without having to even purchase the alternative Potion cost card.

Sage can serve to cycle the deck quicker, but the ability to snatch a card from the deck and be guaranteed an action to use to play it is formidable. Just imagine opening 5/2 with Mountebank in the Supply. You’d likely Curse and Copper the hound out of your opponents before they even have a chance to snag their own Mountebank!

The most interesting thing about Poor House is its cost. For the first time in all the expansions, there is now a card that costs just 1 Coin. This makes trashing Coppers when your opponent plays a Governor and elects the +2 Coin trash for a card in his hand a little more tricky. Sure, dumping Coppers is often a good move, but if you are forced to take a 1 Coin valued card every time, that could be just as bad.

The Hermit and Madman cards are obviously linked. Since the Madman pile is not considered “in the Supply,” it doesn’t count toward 3-pile endings. Interestingly, this card seems to synergize amazingly with Tactician. Imagine drawing the second 5 cards after playing the Tactician, then returning your Madman to its plie. That would give you 18 cards in hand after returning the Madman. Unbelievable!

Cultist sets up itself for chaining. You can basically play every Cultist you have in your hand due to its rules. Talk about crippling, imagine hitting your opponent with a Cultist chain and dumping the same number of Ruins on him. Brutal.

Feodum is the only Victory card revealed thus far. Since it counts each set of 3 Silvers as a Victory Point, it is similar to Vineyard. Only it is easier to accumulate large numbers of Silvers without 3-piling than it is to accumulate the same number of Action cards.

Graverobber is the card that everyone knew would be released eventually. It digs through the trash and lets you redeem cards from it. Trashing itself has now entered the strategic world of Dominion!