Buyer’s Guide: The Best Dominion Expansions in 2018

Are you into strategy games and have recently discovered Dominion? If so, and you’re wanting to learn more, Dominion is a strategy deck-building game that has sold millions of...
dominion game
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Are you into strategy games and have recently discovered Dominion? If so, and you’re wanting to learn more, Dominion is a strategy deck-building game that has sold millions of units worldwide in the last decade. The game mechanics were developed in 2006, then it was demoed in 2007 and Dominion was finally officially released in 2008. And it’s been sweeping the world of deck building games ever since.

When it comes to picking the best Dominion game expansions, you may be wondering if you need additional expansions or sets to be able to use one expansion. In short, the answer yes and no. With the mechanics of Dominion, the expansion pack will state whether it’s an expansion that requires the standalone core game, and another standalone set, or if you only need the core mechanics of the game.

The Best Dominion Expansions Compared

Image
Top Pick
Dominion: 2nd Edition Board Game
Rio Grande Games Dominion Adventures Game
Rio Grande Games Dominion Empires Game
Expansion
Dominion: 2nd Edition Board Game
Rio Grande Games Dominion Adventures Game
Rio Grande Games Dominion Empires Game
Type
Standalone
Expansion
Expansion
Number of Cards
500
400
300
Rating
Price
$30.04
$31.24
$36.97
Top Pick
Image
Dominion: 2nd Edition Board Game
Expansion
Dominion: 2nd Edition Board Game
Type
Standalone
Number of Cards
500
Rating
Price
$30.04
Find on Amazon
Image
Rio Grande Games Dominion Adventures Game
Expansion
Rio Grande Games Dominion Adventures Game
Type
Expansion
Number of Cards
400
Rating
Price
$31.24
Find on Amazon
Image
Rio Grande Games Dominion Empires Game
Expansion
Rio Grande Games Dominion Empires Game
Type
Expansion
Number of Cards
300
Rating
Price
$36.97
Find on Amazon

In 2012, a replacement set was released, which featured 250 cards composed of Curse cards, Victory cards, and Treasure cards. Unfortunately, there were no Kingdom cards updated and used within this set. Total, there are 10 expansion sets, with two standalone types and one replacement deck that has been released.

Of course, the games way better and more strategic when you add more expansions into the mix. The more cards, the more options you have to reign supreme over your enemies. For those that want to invest in the deck building game, the most natural order of getting the expansions is through the order in which they were released. Those that are more experienced tend to skip over the Alchemy expansion, though, and tuck it away for later.

Expansions that were released after the replacement deck in 2012 are much more in-depth than previous decks, and the creator himself recommended getting the newest one first depending on who is playing and the play style of those in the group. If you’re someone that likes to do your research (and you’re here, aren’t you?) you should ultimately look at the objective of the game versus what each expansion offers.

Let’s take a quick peek at what each expansion does offer, so you can decide where you want to go from here with your research and your purchase.

Seaside – this expansion primarily focuses on duration cards, which occur in between each of the turns. Because of this play style, there are many people who prefer this expansion over others, even though there are a few “dud” cards. The older the expansion, the more dud cards you’ll find. This is probably a good reason why the creator Donald X. has suggested going with the newest first.

Intrigue – the Intrigue expansion offers the most natural experience of the game, and it primarily focuses on interactions and choices made for the cards. Depending on the edition you purchase, you may find there are multiple dude cards or other cards added into the mix.

Alchemy – the use of a different currency is probably the main reason why there are people that say you should leave this expansion for later. While the expansion does introduce potions into the mix, the games become much longer because of the exaggerated action chains. Those that are brand new to the game and need a little bit of warming up to the concept should seek out another expansion before diving head first into this one.

Hinterlands – This expansion is one that adds a very simple action, making it great for beginners. When you gain or buy a card, there is an action that occurs.

Prosperity – Prosperity is known as one of the better expansions, simply because it adds Platinums and colonies. There are expensive cards that are within this set, and some of them are obnoxiously outrageous.

Cornucopia & Guilds – these were initially sold as two separate expansions. The first primarily focuses on incentivizing having a variety of cards in your deck, while the latter introduces the concept of token coins where you can spend money further down the line.

There are three others you should know about, including Empires, Adventures, and Nocturne. Adventures allows you to reintroduce the idea of duration cards, but with tokens and reserve cards. There are also travel and event cards, making the new version of your game much more complex than before. With this set, you end up getting 20 event cards and 30 kingdoms. For the Empire expansion, you’re still able to have the Event concept, but you get tokens and you have the capability of getting debt. There are even landmarks and split piles. Like the Adventures set, the Empires one is also complex – these sets aren’t the best for beginners.

The latest expansion (Nocturne) boasts a horror theme and came out in November of 2017. There are a ton of extra cards, including 33 very new Kingdoms, and even Night cards. Because of the large size of this chaotic expansion, it may not be great for beginners.

Getting into Dominion (Source)

The Best Dominion Expansions Reviews

Now that you know the overall landscape, let’s take a look at the three best Dominion expansions in order. If you’re someone that can only get one right now, and you want to get to know the game and the experience, we think the first choice on our list of reviews is the best to go with.

Dominion 2nd Edition (Base Game)

 

 

One of the best you could invest in, whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced player, the base game 2nd edition came out in 2016 and is for 2-4 players. While recommended for ages 14 and up, if you want to start your kids young, that’s up to you! The play time of this game is 30 minutes, and boasts a number of features including better artwork, better rules, and even updated cards.

Being a wide improvement over the original base game, you’re able to understand the cards a bit better now that feedback has been received and the game has been played millions of times. There are a number of benefits to buying this base game over the original. If you do have the original, you don’t have to re-buy this, but you may want to purchase the expansion pack of this game to use with your original.

The Advantages of this Product

  • Streamlined descriptions and card rules
  • Better and updated artwork
  • Can use with any expansion, just like the original
  • When buying, this box has everything you need to get started
  • Cards are great quality and flat

The Disadvantages of this Product

  • Unfortunately, the trash mat isn’t the highest quality. Some of the edges may stick up a tiny bit, and it doesn’t lay the flattest or the smoothest
  • Composed of a thin cardboard, and isn’t as thick as the Adventures or Seaside expansion

 

Cards included in the Second Edition

 

If you’re looking for a quality update to your first edition, and want better artwork with amended cards, we think this is a great investment.

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Dominion Adventures Expansion

Next on our list, we had to include the adventures expansion. As we mentioned before, the Adventures set is quite complex, but if you’re someone who is all about strategy and soaking up knowledge of deck building games, this expansion of Dominion is for you. There’s quite a few interesting features in Adventures, including 30 brand new Kingdom cards, six different mats, 60 tokens, and even 20 Event cards.

As we mentioned already, Adventures is the expansion where the Duration mechanic that was loved in Seaside comes back, and the tokens allow you to get a bit versatile and modify the Kingdom cards within the piles. There are also Traveler and Event cards, making the game and your potential strategy that much more powerful. Even though it’s a fun set once you learn, it’s still quite complex.

The Advantages of this Product

  • The addition of many new cards that make the game extremely fun, and add interesting interactions
  • There are some that are so complicated, it’s weird – in the best way possible, depending on your play style, of course

The Disadvantages of this Product

  • Unfortunately, this isn’t a standalone expansion, and you must own the base edition
  • If you do not own the base edition, you must have Intrigue as the primary expansion, and then add this one into the mix
  • Cards bend a tad more than other expansion as many have mentioned
  • Tokens seem a bit cheaper in quality than previous expansions

If you’re looking for a game that adds a bit more complexity to an already fantastic game, you’ll want to check out Adventures. It’s a great challenge that will last for years to come!

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Dominion Empires Expansion

 

 

A very well-received game with scores of rave reviews, it’s no secret why Empires is one of the better expansions that Dominion has to offer. For starters, it expands the game in a way where it doesn’t overload the complexity of the game. There are fantastic Landmark cards within the game that allow your strategy to grow far beyond what other expansions have allowed.

Even though it’s quite a comprehensive expansion, there are fantastic mechanics introduced within this expansion, including Events, Victory tokens, debt, split piles, gathering, and much more.

The Advantages of this Product

  • There are new mechanics include in this expansion, including split piles, debt, concepts, landmarks, and more
  • Has good trashers, and mechanics that are super fun

The Disadvantages of this Product

  • May still be a bit too comprehensive for some that are brand new to the game
  • Card stock isn’t the best compared to original editions
  • 24 randomizer cards – the negativity of this one is merely a personal preference
  • Since it’s a bit large and over the top for newbies, you may want to purchase the Prosperity expansion before diving head first into the Empires expansion – not really a disadvantage, but a stepping stone before taking on the big one

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Let’s take a look at some expansions that don’t have glowing reviews like as the aforementioned.

Dominion Expansions That Are Often Avoided

While there are a handful of fantastic expansions that you should invest in for a wide, complex, strategic and fun experience, there are surely some that you’re better off avoiding. Unfortunately, the Dark Ages expansion has a lot of bad cards in the mix where there could have been a mixture of better cards that already existed in other expansions.

Maybe when Dominion’s Dark Ages expansion was newly released it was a fine game, but unfortunately, with others that have come out, it just doesn’t stand a chance against them. While this is merely a general preference, and a personal one at that, there may be better expansions to start off with before taking on older and maybe not-so-great additions to your set.

It’s worth mentioning that the Dark Ages expansion is one that isn’t standalone, and uses cards like bad ones (Ruins), while including replacement cards with Estates and Shelters. While it’s a hefty set (500 cards), it doesn’t act alone. This expansion can have up to 6 players.

There are also some that believe the Seaside expansion is the worst due to it’s balancing issues with the duration cards. While an intriguing addition to the game, it could have been executed better. While it still boils down to personal preference, it’s worth researching more for those that aren’t so lenient with their game style.

Now that you’ve seen the best dominion expansions ranked, as well as the worst, it’s up to you to get a feel for the theme of each expansion, as well as the general strategies that can be played out with each expansion. Finding your niche of strategy and matching it with expansions that will do well can really amp up your game and help you conquer.

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Instead of constantly gaming and not working, I've decided to try and work in the world of gaming. While I don't design games, or write for them, I test accessories and gaming products out and bring quality content directly to you – in an unbiased fashion.

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