Dominion Alchemy was published in May of 2010. It is the 4th release in the line of Dominion games, the second release to require either the original base game or the Intrigue expansion to play a full game, and is the first small expansion to be released. So, it is required that one either purchase one of the first two games or get the later-released base cards only set (see below) to use in conjunction with it.
Prior to the release of Alchemy, the Envoy, Black Market, and Stash promotional cards were released, and a fourth and fifth promotional cards (Walled Village and Governor, respectively) were published in 2011 after its release (see here for the full list of Dominion promotional cards).
The entire series of Dominion games has been designed so that each expansion game adds themes or additional game play concepts to the core principles introduced in the original game and around which it revolves and expands. Dominion Alchemy’s significant contribution is the introduction of a new card cost into the game (the Potion). Also, this expansion focuses on and emphasizes the creation of decks with large numbers of action cards. As always, the the original Dominion game is probably the best one to get if you aren’t already very familiar with the game, but Alchemy can be a starting point as well. See the Buy Dominion page for more on what themes and play concepts are introduced by each expansion set.
Dominion Alchemy Narrative
Oftentimes, game publishers will set the context for their games by releasing a narrative that introduces the thematic “environment” for game play. Each Dominion game or expansion has such a narrative. The original Dominion Alchemy storyline from RioGrandeGames.com reads as follows:
There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it’s all in the name of progress. They’re looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn’t think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway? Well that will all be sorted out. They’re also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can’t be dissolved! Now that’s progress.
Dominion Alchemy Card List
The Dominion Alchemy expansion comes with 150 cards; all the cards you need to play the game are NOT included. To play with it, you need the base Dominion game, or a standalone expansion to Dominion (Dominion: Intrigue). Those provide the basic cards you need to play (Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards), as well as the full rules for setup and game play. Dominion Alchemy can also be combined with any other expansions you have. There are 122 Kingdom cards, 12 Randomizer cards, and 16 Potion cards.
In alphabetical order, the Kingdom cards included in the Dominion Alchemy game are: Alchemist, Apothecary, Apprentice, Familiar, Golem, Herbalist, Philosopher’s Stone, Possession, Scrying Pool, Transmute, University, and Vineyard.
For card images, how each card functions, and a more detailed Dominion Alchemy card list, go here: Dominion Alchemy Cards List
Recommended Dominion Alchemy Kingdom Sets
Each game that is played centers around building your deck from the (usually) 10 stacks of Kingdom cards. Prior to a new expansion being released, all the cards go through an extensive play-testing trial. This culls out cards that are too powerful, useless for much of anything, too “swingy” (meaning that their presence or use causes the game to swing inordinately for or against a player), or that prove to be detrimental to the game in some way. Also, this play testing is vital in determining the best price point for each of the cards.
With each of the releases, a rules booklet is released to clarify exactly how the cards may be used and played (download Dominion Alchemy rules below). Also included in the rules are recommended Kingdom sets. The sets are recommended to highlight specific card interactions and themes and strategies. The recommended sets involving Dominion Alchemy are as follows:
Recommended Sets, Dominion Alchemy & Original Dominion
Forbidden Arts: Apprentice, Familiar, Possession, University, Cellar, Council Room, Gardens, Laboratory, Thief, and Throne Room
Potion Mixers: Alchemist, Apothecary, Golem, Herbalist, Transmute, Cellar, Chancellor, Festival, Militia, and Smithy
Chemistry Lesson: Alchemist, Golem, Philosopher’s Stone, University, Bureaucrat, Market, Moat, Remodel, Witch, and Woodcutter
Recommended Sets, Dominion Alchemy & Dominion Intrigue
Servants: Golem, Possession, Scrying Pool, Transmute, Vineyard, Conspirator, Great Hall, Minion, Pawn, and Steward
Secret Research: Familiar, Herbalist, Philosopher’s Stone, University, Bridge, Masquerade, Minion, Nobles, Shanty Town, and Torturer
Pools, Tools, and Fools: Apothecary, Apprentice, Golem, Scrying Pool, Baron, Coppersmith, Ironworks, Nobles, Trading Post, and Wishing Well
Dominion Alchemy Rules
You can download all of the rules to the original Dominion game here: Dominion Alchemy Rules. This rules set provides instructions for properly playing each card.
Buy Dominion Alchemy
When Dominion was first released, there were no options. You could buy the game or not. There were no expansions. There was no confusion. Now, however, there are many options available. It is generally considered best to buy and learn the first released game prior to moving on to subsequent ones. You can do that directly here: Dominion Base Game. If you aren’t sure, or if you just want more information prior to deciding on which boxed sets you want to get, this page will help walk you through the process and give you a better grasp of what you get with each one: Buy Dominion.
Also, with the release of the expansion-only boxed sets, a new artistic rendering has been applied to the common cards that are present in every Dominion game. They are also available on the above-linked page for those familiar with Dominion already and who wish to buy an expansion set to play as a stand-alone game.
Dominion Alchemy: Conclusion
The Dominion Alchemy expansion game is a great addition to an already all-around fantastic game. The additional Kingdom cards increase the possible card combinations and further ensure that the game is virtually always different. With all the expansions, there are millions upon millions of possible game combinations. Since every card is different, every card interacts with the others in varying ways. The initial analysis strategic component is important! But, the game is interactive, and how you play is affected by what your opponent(s) does(do), so your ability to adjust and implement mid-game tactics is equally important!
The bottom line is that Dominion Alchemy adds great new thematic and strategic elements as well as an additional card cost to the overall game. It makes the game an even better choice for families, friends, and the über-competitive alike. Because of the variability, every game presents a unique challenge, an opportunity to improve and learn something new, and a guarantee of a good time.