Dominion – Prosperity Card Game Review

Your ship has come in and your alchemical labs have borne fruit. Your Dominion is finally entering a new age in Dominion: Prosperity, an expansion for the hit card game. Use your new-found wealth to clobber your disagreeable neighbors into submission. Hire your goons and build your banks, quarries, vaults and counting houses to take control of the economy. Use your financial strength to prove that whoever has the gold does indeed make the rules!

Dominion: Prosperity is the fourth expansion for the hit deck-building card game that has taken the gaming world by storm since its debut in 2008. Being an expansion set, it requires either the base Dominion game or a standalone expansion such as Intrigue to play. This review focuses on the Prosperity expansion. If you want to know more about how the base game is played, please read our Dominion review.

Dominion: Prosperity is another expansion set that introduces a new theme and new mechanics to the game. As the name implies, this set is all about wealth and gold and shiny things. It therefore won’t surprise you that there are a lot of new Treasure cards in the set, as well as cards that manipulate or are affected by the amount of Coins you have. The new mechanics include the ability to earn Victory Point tokens during the course of the game, and effects that depend on the cards that are “in play”.

Lets talk about the Treasure cards first. There are a whopping 9 new Treasure cards in this set! And what’s more: Gold is no longer the most expensive Treasure. There is a new Platinum card that costs 9 Coins and is worth 5 Coins when buying stuff. It would be boring if all the new Treasure cards just provided Coin bonuses, but thankfully they have pretty interesting effects as well.

Examples of these Treasure cards include the Contraband card that provides 3 Coins worth and an extra Buy for only a cost of 5 Coins. It does however have the disadvantage that another player gets to choose a card that you are not allowed to buy. There is also the Royal Seal card that provides only 2 Coins for the same 5 cost, but with the advantage that all the cards you buy this turn go on top of your deck instead of the discard pile.

As mentioned earlier, one of the new mechanics is the introduction of Victory Point tokens. Previously, the only way you can earn Victory Points was to buy Victory cards and then add their values up at the end of the game. The problem with that is that you are filling your deck with cards that will clog up your hand and don’t provide any immediate benefits.

Things are different now that you have Action cards that provide immediate Victory Points in addition to having other beneficial effects. For example, the 4-cost Monument card gives you an extra 2 Coins to spend in addition to 1 Victory Point token each time you use it. There is also the Goons card that in addition to providing lots of benefits including extra buys and coins, lets you earn 1 Victory Point for each card you buy this turn.

Another new mechanic explored in Dominion: Prosperity is the focus on the “in play” status of your cards. There are a number of cards that provide additional benefits and effects after they have been played but before they are discarded. An example is the Hoard Treasure card that while it is “in play”, allows you to gain a Gold card for each Victory card you buy. Similarly, while the Quarry card is in play, all Action cards you buy cost 2 less Coins. The Mint card on the other hand has an opposite negative effect, forcing you to trash all the Treasure cards that you have in play when you buy it. This basically means all the cards used to buy the Mint gets trashed.

One more thing to note is that the game economy has been drastically altered in this expansion. Not only are there new Treasure cards that are more expensive and provide more Coins, there are also a lot of really expensive cards. The most expensive and important of these is the Colony Victory card that costs 11 Coins and is worth 10 Victory Points. Provinces aren’t the most expensive Victory card anymore. There are also quite a few action cards that cost between 7 and 8 Coins, but they come with powerful effects that are worth every Coin you spend on them.

Due to the new expensive cards, the economy in Dominion has changed pretty substantially, and games may take longer now that you need to amass more gold to buy those big cards. In addition, games are now less likely to finish due to all the Provinces being bought, again changing how the game is played. In all, Dominion: Prosperity is a step in the right direction, injecting new life (and funds) into the game and forcing us to change our strategies and keeping us on our toes. So get a copy of Prosperity as well as either the base game or Intrigue, and start letting the money roll in!

Complexity: 3.0/5.0

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Old Maid is a Simple Card Game

One of the first card games I ever played, and one of the simplest games, was Old Maid. (War is probably simpler, but that’s another story.)

For those who have never played Old Maid, here are the rules using a store-bought deck of Old Maid cards. This deck consists of multiple pairs of matching cards and one Old Maid card.

One player shuffles the cards and deals them one at a time around the circle of players until all of the cards have been dealt. It doesn’t matter if some players have more cards than others. Each player looks at his cards and removes any matching pairs of cards, placing them face-up on the table.

Then the players take turns playing, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the circle. On your turn, take a card, unseen, from the first player to your right who has cards left to play. If that card matches a card in your hand, place that pair of cards on the pile of matches. If you run out of cards, you stop taking turns. You simply observe for the rest of the game.

Keep playing until the last pair of cards has been matched. The player left holding the Old Maid loses the game.

You can play Old Maid with a standard deck of playing cards. Just add a Joker, which takes the place of the Old Maid.

You can shorten the game if you remove cards from the deck. A store-bought Old Maid deck is usually smaller than a deck of playing cards. So you could remove the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s.

You can also control the length of the game based on how you match cards. If you match by rank and color (the Six of Clubs matches only the Six of Spades), the game is longer. If you match by rank alone (the Six of Clubs matches either the Six of Spades or the Six of Diamonds or the Six of Hearts), the game is shorter. And if you match by rank and opposite-color (the Six of Clubs matches either the Six of Diamonds or the Six of Hearts), the game is an in-between length.

You can also play without the Joker. You can remove a Queen from the deck so that the unmatched Queen becomes the Old Maid, or you can remove a King so that the unmatched King becomes the Old Bachelor. Or you can remove some other card. You can even remove a card so that the players don’t see which card has been removed.

You can remove specific multiple cards. You can remove a King, a Queen, and a Jack.

Or you can remove multiple cards without the players seeing them. For instance, remove five random cards. If there are no pairs in these cards, there are five Old Maids. If there is one pair, there are three Old Maids. If there are two pairs, there is just one Old Maid. Nobody knows which cards are Old Maids or how many Old Maids there are.

However you play, Old Maid is still a game of random selection. You select a card randomly from another player. There is some skill involved in matching cards, but not as much skill as is used in most other card games.

So how about a change in the rules? How about playing Old Maid so that on your turn you pass a card to another player?

The new rules are as follows. The cards are dealt as in Old Maid. Each player still looks at her cards and removes any matching pairs of cards, placing them face-up on the table. And the players take turns playing, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the circle. But before regular turns begin, the dealer picks a card from his hand and places it face-down on the table near the player to his left.

On your turn, look at the card that was passed to you. If that card matches a card in your hand, place that pair of cards face-up on the pile of matches. Otherwise, place the passed card back face-down on the table. Pick a card from your hand and lay it face-down by the first player to your left who has cards left to play. Then pick up the card that was passed to you and put it in your hand.

The rest of the game is played just like Old Maid. The player who ends up with the Old Maid loses the game. But there is more room for strategy. You can keep track of the cards that you passed and the cards that were matched. You can use that knowledge to help you choose which card to pass.

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