Monday, May 19, 2014

Dominion Online --- Flash Ryview

Dominion Online, by Rio Grande Games.

Dominion is a deck building game originally published in 2008, with numerous expansions following in the subsequent years. The online version (which I am reviewing) came out in 2013.

I personally own the physically base game and 2 expansions. The game centers building a deck full of treasure cards, action cards, and victory cards. You use the treasure cards to purchase new cards, and you're trying to finish the game with the most victory cards (in end game, all other cards are essentially worthless).

Like most board or card games, the online version has the potential to be much more streamlined and fast to play. Most games in this style take a long time to physically play due complexity of setup. And being able to play against bots largely decreases the playtime of your opponents, therefore speeding along the game for the human player. Unfortunately, Dominion Online is weighed down by lag and a frustrating campaign, both of which sour the experience.

In general, this is a very good port of the game. The full base game is free, and the expansions are available to buy, which offers a nice way to let casual players get into the game while letting hardcore players and enthusiasts support the developer and enhance their experience. The gameplay functions well. The cards are laid out just as they are in real life and your hand is displayed in a nice, easy to maneuver fashion.

Nothing says "Dominion" like 3 coppers and 2 estates

However, as I mentioned, there's quite a bit of lag. I don't have a state of the art machine, but I have a fairly powerful desktop computer, and this game should not really required any sort of advanced hardware to play. It's a very simple game. There's no reason for any sort of delay. But without fail, every time I play I'm left sitting after I click a command, waiting for the game to respond. It's very frustrating and it definitely diminishes the experience. I do want to say that this is still a wonderful way to just sit down and play the game, and having a little bit of delay is better than setting up all the stacks and shuffling every few rounds. But it's so close to being a near perfect experience that the lag is that much more annoying.

There are multiple modes, including bot play, multiplayer, and a campaign. Multiplayer allows for online matchmaking in both "casual" and "professional" styles. The bot play is a nice way to play a quick match but you aren't allowed to choose your own cards, it seems to always be randomized. The campaign is pretty interesting at first glance, and if you wanted to play through its entirety it would be a very robust, full experience. However, the difficulty is extremely steep and even as a fairly consistent Dominion player in real life it seems a bit insurmountable to me. I think it would be nice if there were at least different difficulty settings or a longer period in the beginning of the campaign for easy difficulty before ramping up to what I would describe as "professional asshole".

"Oh, you want to beat the 4th level? You'd better hope you get lucky and that your computer opponent has a cyber heart attack"

So, there are a few problems with the game, but if I step back and look at it for what it is (which is a port of a fantastic card game), I really like what I see. It creates a quick, easy way to play an extremely fun game, and sitting through a bit of lag is still faster than pulling out the box and setting the game up. And if you live alone or have no one to usually play against, this offers a priceless way to play Dominion. So, I'd recommend it to any Dominion fan and anyone who wants to pick up a new, exciting card game experience. But, when possible, I'd still say you should play the real thing every once in awhile.


Time Value
Money Value
Final Score

Let me know what you think of Dominion Online!

Until next time,


Pictures courtesy of Rio Grande Games

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