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Day 07/27/2009

Dominion

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Readers are advised that this review is based on the “Cosmic Poker” criteria, which appear elsewhere in this blog. I will put in green the characteristics which are favorable for Cosmic Poker, Red for those unfavorable, and yellow for those that are mixed.

  • Luck and Uncertainty: High: Players are drawing cards from a deck they construct during the course of the game, and typically there is a large uncertainty in this. Expert players with the right mix can reduce this a lot but typically it is quite high.
  • Politics: Low: There is very little “picking on someone”
  • Variety: Very High: Every game is played with a different combination of 10 special cards that players are purchasing. The variety this gives is extremely large.
  • Hidden Information: Little: Despite the fact there are cards, the hidden information is low – since it won’t in general change your play if you know what is in your opponent’s hands. It does certainly happen, but often I play with open hands for beginners and the game isn’t that different.
  • Downtime: Low: The game moves typically moves so fast that it has very little downtime.

This is my favorite game from recent years. If it has a fault it is that it can be a bit like several simultaneous solitaire games, but that in itself isn’t bad, and it more often than not I pay a lot of attention to what my opponents are doing. The new expansion “Intrigue” can be played as a stand alone game or as an expansion to the original, and I look forward to a lot more of them.

Small World

Designer: Philippe Keyaerts

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Readers are advised that this review is based on the “Cosmic Poker” criteria, which appear elsewhere in this blog. I will put in green the characteristics which are favorable for Cosmic Poker, Red for those unfavorable, and yellow for those that are mixed.

  • Luck and Uncertainty: Low: There is some small amount of luck in each turn, and in which armies come up for the draft, but there is very little.
  • Politics: High: Players have a lot of latitude for picking on other players. A key question to ask yourself when evaluating the politics in a game – how much am I rewarded for laying low and not drawing attention to myself?
  • Variety: High: Each army has special powers, and is combined with a special attribute for the current game only. It is a system that provides an exciting amount of variety each game.
  • Hidden Information: None
  • Downtime: High: This will vary from group to group of course, but the stage is set for high downtime with the very low amount of luck and hidden information, and that was certainly true in my group with some players wandering off and reading during other player’s turns.

This games mechanics are similar to the excellent “History of the World”, but the game is much shorter and has a very clever and effective bidding system which introduces a large amount of variety into each game. The flavor of the game is fun and the components are top notch. If you like games with a low amount of luck and hidden information and have a playgroup disciplined enough to either move fairly fast or be really involved in other players turns, you will love this game.