A lot has been written about the best ways to play Dominion and other card games. Most advice boils down to one thing: Be strategic! As simple as it sounds, this is easier said than done. So how can you be more strategic in your game?
First, a disclaimer… …this article will give you some ideas on how you can improve your strategy but I am not an expert player nor do I claim that these are foolproof strategies for every situation.
In addition, there are many different ways that people approach playing any given boardgame so what works for me may not work for everyone else which is why we have forums where players discuss their experiences and share tips with each other instead of just posting rules or walkthroughs all over the internet….but enough preaching, let's get into sharing my own personal thoughts on becoming a better strategist when playing Dominion!
1) Know what cards do before buying them
This should be pretty self-explanatory. Before you have any chance of winning, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules of the Kingdom(s) you're playing with. Know all of the cards and what they do and how they interact. If you're stuck reading the descriptions mid-game, you're at quite a disadvantage.
2) Know how much money everyone has at all times
This seems like common sense advice when playing pretty much any boardgame, but especially one where money matters quite often such as Dominion and its offshoots because not knowing who has lots of cash lying around could mean serious trouble down the road for yourself should they decide to buy an expensive Victory card while you don't have the money necessary to fight back.
3) Know what cards your opponents have been targeting -- try and guess their strategy
This is more applicable when you're playing with against two or more people. The reason is, if your opponent seems to be picking and choosing specific cards but doesn't seem interested in any other type of card then they probably have something planned out that involves one or more of the specific cards they've been targeting thus far. If you can figure out what their strategy is, this should help give you an idea as to what kind of things might happen down the road so it's always good to know what's going on with everyone else before making plans for yourself.
4) Know how each card could be used against you -- try and guess how others will use it against YOU
This sorta goes hand in hand with #3 above where I mentioned knowing which opponents were targeting certain types of cards because there are usually only a few ways most (if not all) Dominion/Carcassonne style boardgames work… …there are usually quite a few "attack" types (cards like Goons or Witch ) wherein these attack type actions either make your opponents discard stuff from their hands or force them into drawing unwanted junk at random just so those attack type actions can succeed while almost all defense-related action types allow players some measure of control over whether they want to block said attacks by putting up defenses such as Moat. In addition many Kingdoms contain "trash" variants wherein players get monetary bonuses whenever junk gets trashed from play (e. g., Salvager).
5) Don't panic when someone gets ahead early on in the game… …but do something about it ASAP!
This is one piece of advice I see repeated frequently online whenever discussions regarding strategies arise and for good reason too because getting hit hard mid-game by a player who got lucky with lots of treasure cards early on isn't fun especially if there's not much you can do at that point aside from hoping others gang up against said person later down the road (at least until next game). In addition, rushing things just makes matters worse since drawing extra Action Cards could result in wasted turns trying different options only for nothing worthwhile popping up thus wasting precious time better spent buying Provinces or Colonies instead.
6) Know your deck inside and out… …and how combos work within it
This seems like common sense advice but knowing exactly what each card you have does can easily make all the difference between winning or losing especially if an opportunity arises where you need something specific done right then. Keep track of any potential combos that may be activated by certain combinations such as gaining multiple Actions from Duration cards along with another Action Card in order to optimize the number of Treasure Cards (and additional Buys) you have in your hand per turn.
7) Keep track of how close you are to winning and when it's time for everyone else to get serious
This is another one I'm sure you've heard repeated countless times before but there's a very good reason why this piece of advice gets mentioned so often. Once someone knows they're in the lead (or damn near) then they can either hang back and let the others duke it out while sipping their coffee or try and take them down with all guns blazing depending on just how impressive said lead appears from where said player sits on things. Either way, this gives other players who may still be in contention an idea about what needs doing ASAP because if nothing gets done soon enough then any hopes for catching up will have already fallen flat along with any chances of victory….unless something happens during your turn though don't count on miracles happening more than once per game normally speaking!
8) Have fun doing all this strategizing… …because winning isn't everything!
One thing many boardgame enthusiasts will tell you is that the journey is more important than the destination which in this case means knowing your own limits and giving yourself a fighting chance to win without stressing out too much about it since there's always tomorrow (and next time) when you can try again. However if someone keeps on winning all of the games then chances are they might end up getting bored with things quickly because even though strategy matters, everyone has different ones so as long as everyone is having fun playing then that's what really counts at least in my book!
Well, that concludes my thoughts on how to become a better strategist while playing Dominion but feel free to share some tips of your own below so others can benefit from whatever advice you would like to offer!