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Best card game: Dominion

Probably my favorite board/card game of all.

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Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Board Game Geek rating: 7.7/10.0 (73rd).

Dominion is a “deck-building” game. Players start with 10 cards: seven “treasure cards,” worth one coin each, and three “victory” cards, worth one victory point each. As with San Juan, the point of the game is to generate victory points, which is done by buying up victory cards with treasure cards. But as with the best card games, the direct route isn’t always the smartest route. You can buy victory cards directly, or you can buy more valuable treasure cards and then use those to buy victory cards. Or you can buy “action” cards which help you in more intricate ways and enable even bigger purchases of victory cards.

The game has a medieval theme, but at its core it’s one of the most abstract of the games on this list, and all the better for it. The one downside is that it helps to familiarize oneself with the wide array of available action cards, which can take a few rounds, especially if one is playing with any one of the number of available expansion packs. But the game is available online or on Android for free, in case you want practice getting to know the cards first.

Buy at Amazon: Dominion ($28.74); Dominion: Intrigue ($28.74); Dominion: Seaside ($34.35); Dominion: Alchemy ($23.58); Dominion: Prosperity ($36.94); Dominion: Guilds and Cornucopia ($30.19); Dominion: Hinterlands ($34.23); Dominion: Dark Ages ($28.27); Dominion: Adventures ($30.02); Dominion: Empires ($34.33); Dominion: Nocturne ($37.72); Dominion: Renaissance ($53.29).

Play online: Dominion Online (free).

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