Dominion Seaside was published in October of 2009 and is the third overall game release in the Dominion series (following the original game and Intrigue). It is the second expansion to the first base game, but it is the first release that does not carry a full complement of base cards. Both of the previous releases have all the common cards necessary to play a full game, but Dominion Seaside does not. Thus, 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 Seaside, the Envoy and Black Market promotional cards were released, and a third promotional card, Stash, was released in February 2010 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 Seaside’s primary new theme is the focus on cards that have a duration, affecting both the present turn and the next turn. The the original Dominion game is probably the best one to get if you aren’t already very familiar with the game, but Seaside 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 Seaside 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 Seaside storyline from RioGrandeGames.com reads as follows:
All you ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. And someone who knows how to steer ships using stars. You finally got some of those rivers you’d wanted, and they led to the sea. These are dangerous, pirate-infested waters, and you cautiously send rat-infested ships across them, to establish lucrative trade at far-off merchant-infested ports. First, you will take over some islands, as a foothold. The natives seem friendly enough, crying their peace cries, and giving you spears and poison darts before you are even close enough to accept them properly. When you finally reach those ports you will conquer them, and from there you will look for more rivers. One day, all the rivers will be yours.
Dominion Seaside Card List
The Dominion Seaside expansion comes with 300 cards; all the cards you need to play the game are NOT included (this expansion lacks the basic treasure cards, victory cards, curses, and a trash card). There are 262 Kingdom cards, 26 Randomizer cards, and 12 blank cards (11 original design and 1 randomizer).
In alphabetical order, the Kingdom cards included in the Dominion Seaside game are: Ambassador, Bazaar, Caravan, Cutpurse, Embargo, Explorer, Fishing Village, Ghost Ship, Haven, Island, Lighthouse, Lookout, Merchant Ship, Native Village, Navigator, Outpost, Pearl Diver, Pirate Ship, Salvager, Sea Hag, Smugglers, Tactician, Treasure Map, Treasury, Warehouse, and Wharf.
Additionally, due to cards with special functions, the expansion also comes with 15 embargo tokens and 25 coins. 18 player mats are also included (3 for each player, up to six) for use with the Island, Pirate Ship, and Native Village cards.
For card images, how each card functions, and a more detailed Dominion Seaside card list, go here: Dominion Seaside Cards List
Recommended Dominion Seaside 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 Seaside 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 Seaside are as follows:
Recommended Sets, Dominion Seaside Only
High Seas: Bazaar, Caravan, Embargo, Explorer, Haven, Island, Lookout, Pirate Ship, Smugglers, Wharf
Buried Treasure: Ambassador, Cutpurse, Fishing Village, Lighthouse, Outpost, Pearl Diver, Tactician, Treasure Map, Warehouse, Wharf
Shipwrecks: Ghost Ship, Merchant Ship, Native Village, Navigator, Pearl Diver, Salvager, Sea Hag, Smugglers, Treasury, Warehouse
Recommended Sets, Dominion Seaside AND Original Dominion
Reach for Tomorrow: Adventurer, Cellar, Council Room, Cutpurse, Ghost Ship, Lookout, Sea Hag, Spy, Treasure Map, Village
Repetition: Caravan, Chancellor, Explorer, Festival, Militia, Outpost, Pearl Diver, Pirate Ship, Treasury, Workshop
Give and Take: Ambassador, Fishing Village, Haven, Island, Library, Market, Moneylender, Salvager, Smugglers, Witch
Dominion Seaside Rules
You can download all of the rules to the original Dominion game here: Dominion Seaside Rules. This rules set provides instructions for properly playing each card.
Buy Dominion Seaside
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 Seaside: Conclusion
The Dominion Seaside expansion game is a great addition to an already all-around fantastic game. The additional Kingdom cards increase the possible card combinations and further ensures 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 Seaside adds great new thematic and strategic elements 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.