Dominion Guilds has been released as the final planned expansion in the hugely popular Dominion series. It is the ninth overall release, and it is a relatively small expansion. It requires either the original base game or the Intrigue expansion to play a full game. So, a new acolyte to the game should either purchase one of the first two games, the Big Box, or get the later-released base cards only set (see below) to use in conjunction with it.
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. This expansion is no exception. First off, Guilds introduces an expansion to the concept of coin tokens. The coin tokens were introduced in the Seaside and Prosperity expansions, but Guilds greatly expands on the specific instances of use in those games and makes them available for any desired use after you obtain them. They are functional money that can be tapped at need. Secondly, the concept of overpay is developed. There are cards in this expansion that you can get more out of by overpaying for them. Obviously, these two new game mechanics are synergistic. You get extra coin tokens that you can cash in to overpay. A third, minor them is the “name a card” aspect of certain cards. The fourth and fifth themes are fairly unimportant to actual game play: bald people on the cards and wordy cards.
Dominion Guilds is supposed to be the last expansion in the game. In fact, creator Donald X. Vaccarino has stated that there are some good reasons to stop at 9 total expansions. But, he’s also stated, “…It’s likely that at some point the publishers will want another expansion and, well, I like to be friendly. So I can’t guarantee that Guilds is the end of the line, but you can at least think of it as a dividing point between regular expansions and occasional expansions.”
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 Guilds can be a starting point as well once it is released. See the Buy Dominion page for more on what themes and play concepts are introduced by each expansion set.
Dominion Guilds 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 Guilds storyline from RioGrandeGames.com is as follows:
Jobs, everyone’s worried about jobs. Whatever happened to tilling the fields in obscurity? The economy is just a trick, like stealing someone’s nose, but lately people seem to have seen through it, like when you realize someone hasn’t really stolen your nose. So now everyone’s joining a guild, learning a craft, and working on a masterpiece – a painting so beautiful it blinds you, or a cheese grater so amazing that you never eat cheese again. The only people left tilling the fields are the ones doing it ironically. The guilds cover everything – ironic tilling, butchering, baking, candlestick making, shoemaking, cheesemaking, cheese destruction. Your advisor is convinced that somehow, control of the stonecutters is key to world domination. Very well. You will have stone handled so expertly that the world trembles before you.
Dominion Guilds Card List
The Dominion Guilds expansion comes with 150 cards like the Cornucopia and Alchemy expansions before it. But, 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, for example). 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 (or, you can purchase the later-released Base Cards pack – see below). Dominion Guilds can be combined with any other expansions you have. This expansion consists of 130 Kingdom cards, 13 Randomizers, and 7 blank cards.
In alphabetical order, the Kingdom cards included in the Dominion Guilds game are: Advisor, Baker, Butcher, Candlestick Maker, Doctor, Herald, Journeyman, Masterpiece, Merchant Guild, Plaza, Soothsayer, Stonemason, Taxman.
For card images, how each card functions, and a more detailed Dominion Guilds card list, go here: Dominion Guilds Cards List
Recommended Dominion Guilds 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 deemed 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 Guilds rules below). Also included in the rules are recommended Kingdom sets. The sets are recommended to highlight specific card interactions, themes, and strategies. The recommended sets involving Dominion Guilds are as follows:
Recommended Sets, Dominion Guilds & Original Dominion
Arts and Crafts: Stonemason, Advisor, Baker, Journeyman, Merchant Guild / Laboratory, Cellar, Workshop, Festival, Moneylender
Clean Living: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker, Doctor, Soothsayer / Militia, Thief, Moneylender, Gardens, Village
Gilding the Lily: Plaza, Masterpiece, Candlestick Maker, Taxman, Herald / Library, Remodel, Adventurer, Market, Chancellor
Recommended Sets, Dominion Guilds & Dominion Intrigue
Name That Card: Baker, Doctor, Plaza, Advisor, Masterpiece / Courtyard, Wishing Well, Harem, Tribute, Nobles
Tricks of the Trade: Stonemason, Herald, Soothsayer, Journeyman, Butcher / Great Hall, Nobles, Conspirator, Masquerade, Coppersmith
Decisions, Decisions: Merchant Guild, Candlestick Maker, Masterpiece, Taxman, Butcher / Bridge, Pawn, Mining Village, Upgrade, Duke
Dominion Guilds Rules
You can download all of the rules to the Dominion Guilds game here: Dominion Guilds Rules. This rules set provides instructions for properly playing each card.
Buy Dominion Guilds
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 (9 total games/expansions). 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 Guilds: Conclusion
The Dominion Guilds expansion game is a fantastic capstone to the planned-release games. It is the most skill-based expansion. The best players will almost always crush the weaker ones in this expansion. Luck is minimized further with this expansion, so it is a great addition to an already all-around fantastic game. The new Kingdom cards have again increased the possible card combinations to an even more mind-numbing degree and further ensure that the game is virtually always different (if you are playing with a plurality of expansions). The ease of learning coupled with the ability to truly match wits and succeed with applied brain power make this game a favorite with kids and grandparents alike. With all the expansions, there are millions upon millions of possible game combinations, and 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 Guilds is, at least for now, the magnum opus of to one of the truly magnificent, well-conceived, and brilliant game series of all time. It will make 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. Good luck!