— The Cornucopia is a symbol of abundance and nourishment and it is appropriate as the title of the newest expansion for dominion.
For those who are unfamiliar with the deck building card game Dominion, it is suggested first reading a story about the series in an earlier Rick’s Rec Room. This story will just be about the newest expansion for that game.
This is from the game’s introduction on the back of the box for this expansion by Rio Grande Games. “Autumn. It seemed like the summer would never end, but that fortune teller was right. It's over. Autumn, the time of the harvest. Agriculture has advanced significantly in recent years, ever since the discovery of the maxim, "leaves of three, let it be." Autumn, a time of celebration. The peasants have spent a hard week scything hay in the fields, but tonight the festivities begin, starting with a sumptuous banquet of roast hay. Then, the annual nose-stealing competition. Then you have two jesters, one who always lies, one who always tells the truth, both hilariously. Then, they fight to the death! This celebration will truly have something for everyone.
This is the fifth addition to the game of Dominion. It adds 13 new Kingdom cards to Dominion, plus fiveunique cards. The central theme is variety; there are cards that reward you for having a variety of cards in your deck, in your hand, and in play, as well cards that help you get that variety.”
“Well what I like about Cornucopia is that it promotes variety,” said game designer Donald X. Vaccarino. “It's fun to build a deck with a bunch of different cards in it, and nice that now you can do that as a legitimate strategy. And I was pleased to be able to squeeze five extra cards into a small set, via the Prizes. The best cards in the set are close for me. I'm tentatively going with Tournament as my favorite. That seems lame because it's like the poster child for the set, but well, win Prizes, foil other people's Tournaments, what's not to like? I like Jester a lot: getting actions that I didn't really want, but hey, free action; getting a pile of cards at once; giving the other guy a copy of an action that's no good in multiples.”
As he said, variety is the key. This makes viable as a winning strategy the most enjoyable way to play Dominion: get many different Kingdom cards in your deck and work on combos. Before, a more stagnant strategy of getting a couple of different Kingdom cards and then buy treasure and victory cards was often the most efficient way to win.
Cornucopia is actually a small set, much like Alchemy from the year before. “A large expansion is more satisfying in general - you can play it by itself, and for any given person it's more likely to have some cards they really like, while if there's a card they hate it makes less of a difference if you decide not to play with it,” said Vaccarino.
Dominion is such a strong game that it has created a board game niche of deck-building products. But the game appears to be entering the home stretch of new cards, though certainly not the home stretch of popular game play.
“I am not planning any expansions after the last original expansion, which is number eight,” said Vaccarino. “When the game was published there were six, but Alchemy was split up and then I had to add a small expansion in order to keep alternating. In the long run there are problems with continuing to make expansions. The number of cards you can make for a game is proportional to the product of the complexity of the game and the amount of space you use for card text. Dominion is a very simple game, so it's all down to the card text. The main body of people who play Dominion do not want to see the cards get more and more complex, but that's all they can do.”
So will Dominion die from a creative standpoint?
The way out is to add stuff to the game - a board or whatever,” said Vaccarino. “These approaches run into problems for expansions, but are fine for standalone games. So that's the direction I see Dominion going in the long run - stuff like Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers, where you have the same basic system with a twist, rather than continuing to expand the original.”
But with the number of cards already released and three more expansions virtually assured, Dominion will have a secure spot on tabletops for years and years to come.