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Why Games Work: Deck Building as Action Selection

Dominion is a great game. There, I’ve said it.

Now that I’ve said that, I’ll ask you to understand that I don’t like it. It’s not the mechanism itself, but the fruit of the labors that I dislike. Dominion asks you to collect cards. Based on the cards you play, you can collect more cards or get points which slow down your collecting of cards. That, in a very small nutshell is what Dominion does. And it does it very well through multiple expansions.

However, it’s the goal which defies my expectations of theme and story. The collection of cards is a mechanism, but the mechanism itself feels hollow and empty unless it can be used as a tool to accomplish a greater goal.

Rather than listen to me drone on about how multiple games have expanded deck-building into a viable aspect of a game’s overall design, let me link you, dear reader, to a blog post from an author who goes into great detail how this works.

The Secret of Great Games – Tyrants of the Underdark & Deckbuilding