iOS has always been a great place to play card and board games digitally, provided the game selection available was to your taste. I've made bunch of great discoveries over the years by trying out titles like Root and Lords of Waterdeep, but what I always secretly wanted all this time was a way to play Dominion on the go.
Thankfully, it seems like I'll be getting exactly what I've been waiting for soon, as Temple Gates Games is currently finishing up a digital version of Dominion for mobile and PC. In a certain way, I already have it, as this version of the game is already in open beta and you can play it right now. If you have any interest at all in Dominion or deck-building games, you should sign up right away.
Why? Well, Dominion--for the unfamiliar--is the granddaddy of all deck-building games. Without it, you wouldn't have Ascension or 7 Wonders or Shards of Infinity. Heck, I think it's safe to say that Dominion's "build your deck as you play" gameplay even played a critical role in the explosion of card-based roguelike video games like Slay the Spire.
The premise of the game is that you are a medieval ruler who is looking to expand their kingdom. This kingdom is represented by your deck of cards, which starts out as a meager mount of estates and coins. Each turn you can spend those coins to add things to your deck, some of which help enable you to purchase even more valuable cards, or simply purchase land and place it under your control. Your end goal is to acquire more valuable lands than every other player, which takes a lot of strategic thinking both to optimize your deck so that you can buy lands often while also outpacing your opponents' ability to do so.
The thing that makes Dominion so special to me is its specific brand of competitive play. Each game challenges you to analyze a random or semi-random pool of cards and puzzle out the best combinations of cards you can put together given the constraints of your own deck and hand draws. Occasionally, this involves trying to directly sabotage other players using attack cards, but most of the time it's a competition to see who can identify and execute on the most effective strategy in the fewest turns possible. No other deck-builder captures the purity of this design than the original game, though I'm also sure it helps that Dominion has had a whopping 13 expansions added to it over the years to keep things exciting and varied.
The prospect of owning 14 distinct boxes of cards to play a single card game is largely impractical though, so being able to pack all of the 4,000+ cards that create the one of the richest and most varied deck-building experiences onto your phone screen with virtually no loading times or readability issues is nice. Since getting into the beta back in May, I've had one or more games going almost nonstop and am still seeing cards I haven't played with yet or witnessing strategies I had never encountered across my years of board game nights with friends. In short, this is a very, very promising beta.
The only thing I'll note about the game right now is that the beta automatically gives free access to every Dominion expansion available. The official release of the game won't quite be so generous. It will be free-to-play with the base set of the game being available by default, while offering expansions as individual in-app purchases.
It seems there is some time before Dominion officially releases for iOS, as Temple Gates Games hasn't quite announced a release date. Provided they don't do anything to screw it up though, the final version of this game will be up there with some of the best digital board games available on mobile. Until then, I'm happy to keep enjoying the beta and indulging in this immensely satisfying card game, one quick turn at a time.