Dominate is a lot of points. Similar to Colony, when it’s available, you’ll find that almost all of the time it’s the source of VP that you want to be going for, simply because of how many points you can score. Most other strategies struggle to score enough points to compete with a player who goes for Dominates, particularly just Provinces. With just two Dominates, you’ve scored the same number of points as a player who had to put five Provinces in their deck, and it’s quite easy to overcome the VP deficit from six Provinces with just two Dominates and a few Duchies.

The big difference between Dominate and Colony is that you don’t have a baked-in way to hit $14 — you need some support. Just drawing five cards and getting a bunch of Golds isn’t going to cut it here, you need some form of +Cards to have a shot of getting Dominate in enough time to win the game with it. Cantrips or terminal draw cards can work for this, but without at least something for support you may not be able to make Dominate happen.

That said, most of the time you can find a way to hit $14, and the reward is huge when you manage to get there.

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9 Responses to Dominate

  1. deathsushi says:

    I dig this Adam (great name BTW).

    I’d love a little more analysis here. Do different strategies or deck archetypes become dominant when Dominate is on the board? Does it warp the typical openings at all, or does it just create the imperative that you must “Do your engine but even more good than before”?

    • adamhorton1 says:

      Well I’m not the biggest fan of using the E-word (engine) because I don’t think it’s descriptive — the idea is that you want to make $14 on a turn, so yeah if Dominate’s around and you can do that (+Cards really help), usually you want to go for it.

      Saying anything specific about deck archetypes gets a lot harder because it depends so much on the specific kingdom — I think it would be difficult to really get into that without making the article much longer. Sure, something more in-depth could be written that focuses on how easy or hard it is to hit $14 to buy Dominate, but the scope of this particular article was to keep it short and explain why Dominate is so powerful (it has been ranked highly in recent polls, so I think and explanation like this would be valuable).

  2. Jomini says:

    No, the actual big difference is that Dominate still depletes the province pile. The province pile is worth 60% of the Colony pile so you can opt for a 6:2 or 7:1 colony split and still win if you build a megaturn or some other engine.

    Dominate not only gives massive points, it also burns a higher percentage of the total points in game. Coming from behind is much harder.

    This is made worse by the fact that Dominate is only $2 and a +buy away from a double province turn. If I am up by $3 and there are 2 colonies left, you go buy a Prov and we dance unless you jump all the way to $22. With Dominate you sacrifice VP to pile faster. This makes endgames vastly different.

    Lastly, Dominate cannot be gained except through paying cash – no Remodel family, no cost reducers, and even some safety from shenanigans like Possession/Masq or Kc/Swindler. It also evades on-buy mucking like Contraband, Swamp hag, and Haunted woods while it is positively amazing with Mission.

    • adamhorton1 says:

      The worthwhile comparison to make when evaluating strategies depends on how many players there are in the game: If there are 3 or more, then you have to consider how much weaker your strategy is when contested, versus other available options. If there are two players, you only need to compare your strategy uncontested versus other available options — or at least consider how easy it is for an opponent to contest you without losing too much pace.

      In the case of Dominate, the fact that the Province pile is contested is explicitly called out in the article. Once you build a deck that can do good stuff, the decision of double Province vs. Dominate is one that you make considering the tons of other options, while the decision you make about whether or not to build a deck that is capable of doing good stuff is based largely on the fact that Dominate is so good and gives so many points, especially with a lack of +Buy available.

      • Jomini says:

        You wrote a lot in that reply that said nothing.

        Of course three player varies more. Which is again the primary difference between Dominate and Colony – in 3er Colony has a built in alternate way to get in the top score – pile the provinces late while your opponents split the colonies. In contrast 3 player Dominate offers no such luxury, in fact it pretty much toasts the alternative of pile the duchies and take the final province. 4 player becomes a degenerate quickly (e.g. two side-by side mirrors). Nothing about the player count changes the fact that Dominate is a massive increase in total VP, but that it concentrates the VP heavily into the province pile. It could cost $18 and would play virtually the same on the vast majority of boards.

        Plat being out there is nice for building up to high cash and high cash density. But I frequently ignore platinum on colony or colony/Dominate boards. There are far too many ways to build coin with kingdom cards to make Plat that essential. Be it Grand Markets (which compare very favorably when you include the draw-cost of plats), gold-gainers, kingdom treasures (e.g. Bank, Hop), or strong action-cash (e.g. Bazaar or Fishing Village).

        When it comes to playing Dominate effectively, the biggest challenge is not how to get to $14 with golds (basically everyone who has played 100 games of Dominion figured that out somewhere). Build an engine, get some terminal draw, use power sifting (e.g. Forum) … these are all trivial and something players know how to do well already. What is complicated about Dominate is end game. When do you double province (sacrificing 3 VP and doubling up on stop cards)? When do you mill a province with a Remodel (removing 9 VP from the total)? When can you go for the megaturn (e.g. Bridge, Hop)? These are the non-trivial decision points in the game. Getting to $14 is just about any half-decent colony strategy + one more gold.

        This is complicated, sure, but this is also what anyone who actually reads these articles is going to actually be helped by. If the point of the article is to explain “why Dominate is so powerful” you are doing a disservice to your readers. It is powerful not because it gives a lot of VP – tons of things can do that (Castles, Fairgrounds, Colonies, Gardens, Vineyards) – but because it does so by depleting the other major point pile in most games and it does so with a game ending pile. On basically any other alt-VP setup you can dip into the provinces to make up for a bad point split.

        With Dominate, losing the Dominate split 5:3 means you need 18 VP from somewhere else, i.e. a 7:1 duchy split. Ignoring it completely means you need to make up 105 VP (assuming you can score a province for 6 of those). Hitting 99 VP is hard. That is the entire Colony pile + 6 Duchies + an estate. That is maxed out Duchy/Duke + 11 other VP from somewhere. That is a 130 cards Gardens deck or a 39 action Vineyards run. Even a lot of you other chip sources find it hard to compete – Bishop needs to chomp on 24 golds, getting 104 plays of Monument or worse Chariot race is freakishly hard even with multipliers like Outpost and and Kc. About the only thing competitive with Dominate in the long run is multiple Goons.

        Worse it is very hard to rush your way out of Dominate. Take something like Gardens. If you average 3 cards gained per turn you typically end with ~40 cards in a rush. That gives you something like 45 VP, which is beat handily by just 3 Dominates. Averaging 2 cards per turn gives the Dominate player 15 turns to get there – far too easy. Averaging 2.5 still gives 12 turns which may be too slow. Even something like an Igg rush is looking at ~18 turns and scoring around 34 VP.

        This is the real magic of Dominate. It is a lot of highly concentrated points that build up very quickly. Only the strongest alternatives compete and it shifts the game dramatically towards a reliable engine that hits a Dominate + one engine sustaining card each turn followed by a highly complicated end-game. Everything else is window dressing.

        • @jomini: Your last three paragraphs are just the first sentence of this article. Dominate is a lot of points.

          • Jomini says:

            No Dominate is not a just lot of points. Dominate is a lot of points contingent on one pile. Colonies are also a lot of points, yet you can beat them in the long run because they:
            a. clog your deck faster than Dominate
            b. leave more points on the board as you approach end game.
            c. have trouble emptying the pile as the deck falters

            Dominate is idioitically space efficient, 50% better than colonies. Even with attacks it is harder to slow Dominate than Colonies. If you do go for a megaturn, 8 Provs, a Colony, and 4 Duchies is enough to come from behind – the colony points do not deplete the points in the other pile. Dominate does. And lastly if attack a Colony deck, getting them down to $10 buys me a complete turn before game ends. With a lot of VP-setups this can have very substantial point gains (e.g. Monument + Tr + Oupost can get over 15 VP a turn), Dominate players can (and should) swap to straight province buys when they are ahead to run the game out sooner.

            This is why Dominate *plays differently* than colonies (or Castles or Bm/Fairgrounds). In a typical dominion setup, 60% of the VP is in Prov deck (ignoring starting estates for easy math). In a colony game 50% is in the Colony deck. In a typical Fairgrounds deck 3/8ths in the prov pile and 3/8ths in the Fairs. With Dlands 3/7ths of the VP are in the Prov pile. And so on. For, literally, every other source of VP in the game, the prov pile is <60% of total VP and often 75% of the VP in the game. This number bumps up over 80% pretty easily if you lack the ability to go absolutely gonzo with gains on your final turn to mass duchies and estates. Even if you add in solid Alt-VP, like Fairs or Dlands, it is still going to at least 60% of the VP in the prov pile. You are pretty safe assuming that upwards of 90% of the points in a Dominate game will come out of the Prov pile. Controlling the Prov pile, therefore, becomes utterly clutch to controlling the game in way that no other alt-VP cares about.

            The cost is the least informative aspect of Dominate. It could cost $12 or $18 and play much the same – that much VP in one pile would still drive players to it regularly. Costing it at $14 makes it much more challenging to manage the end game – do you take an extra turn to be able to two-province with a Silver/+buy or just Dominate a turn sooner? But regardless of the cost, having that many points concentrated in one pile makes it very hard to ignore.

            • I guess I’m trying to figure out what you’re getting at then. How does someone take that information into a game of Dominion and have a better chance of winning the game with it?

              • Jomini says:

                Well, for a start it drastically limits the build time for a megaturn.

                Suppose I want to go Hop megaturn against a single Colony engine (Hop is the only +gain, getting to 11 uniques is challenging but not impossible). I can let them single Colony for 6 turns and pile out on 8 provinces and 2 colonies for 68 VP. If I want to play the same mojo against Dominate, I am limited to 11 gains. 3 Dominates + a duchy buy/milled province/they buy a Hop is game over. That is vastly less time, at least a full turn less and more likely two. Bridge, Troll, Mason/Capital … any mega turn approach has to be significantly faster because this is not just another big stack of VP – it eats into the ones your megaturn hopes to score.

                Next up it radically increases the utility of $16/+1 buy. Milling is reasonably board limited, but it again massively accelerates the end game. With a very small investment in your options (often literally a silver-in-being like Iw or Squire) you can suddenly poison late game choices very much like milling.

                Most drastically this shows up with Amb – because your VP come out of the province pile you can Amb a prov to mill it (-9 VP for your opponent) and pushing the game toward end. Basically all Dominate games have “Milling” in play for rapid game end.

                Lastly, and most commonly it drastically warps the end game dancing. Suppose I whiff on the 6th prov and come up with $12 (bottom decked silver). If I buy the province I am down 9. If you hit a Dominate next I now need to hit 3 duchies and a final Dominate to catch up – in that order before you buy a prov.

                If I buy the duchy and then you Dominate, well then I need to buy two Dominates before you buy a prov. That is vastly easier (still unlikely) before you hit a province. Two turns of whiffs vs three is pretty large.

                Even more better is often to just buy something for reliability. If I whiff, and buy something like a Dungeon, then I need you to whiff for a single turn. In most every other setup, it is better to dance on the VP than to buy reliability.

                Dominate completely changes that. A 5:3 split is not at most four of the next best VP card, it is 10. Worse, 4:3 split is not where you have oodles of time to green up and draw me into dancing; I can opt for a 4.4 : 3 split that still needs a 7:1 split.

                Dominate does not add a new source of points to augment your score, it juices an old one. The recoveries that good players typically perform when they know they will lose a split are all but impossible. The end game is so in favor of Dominate that there is basically no point where you would buy Duchy but not buy Estate.

                Dominate drastically increases the importance of tempo and virtually every game has built in end game acceleration. The province pile is overwhelmingly powerful and it is a good first order approximation to pretend all other green are Estates.

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