Dominion – Seaside Card Game Review

It’s been a long time coming, but your Dominion has finally expanded to reach the ocean shore in Dominion: Seaside, an expansion for the hit card game. There’s plenty of territory beyond the shore though, with islands and native villages ripe for the picking. So recruit explorers, navigators, merchant ships and ambassadors. Confront pirates, deal with smugglers and find buried treasure in your quest to expand your Dominion beyond the sea!

Dominion: Seaside is the second expansion for the deck-building card game that has been hugely popular since its debut in 2008. Being an expansion set, it requires either the base Dominion game or the standalone expansion Intrigue to play. This review focuses on the Seaside expansion. If you want to know more about how the base game is played, please read our Dominion review.

Dominion: Seaside is another thematic expansion set, following the underhanded and covert theme in Intrigue. In Seaside, the cards are based loosely around the naval and oceanic themes, with card effects representing the ideas of exploration, colonization, pirates and treasure maps. A new card type – Duration cards – is also introduced in this set, changing the way games are played.

These Duration cards are the biggest new concept introduced in the Seaside expansion. These orange-colored action cards have persistent effects, providing you with benefits until your next turn. They include the Merchant Ship that provides you with 2 coins when you play it, and another 2 coins on your next turn. There is also the Caravan that provides you with an extra card immediately as well as on your next turn. However, the most interesting Duration cards would have to be the Lighthouse and the Tactician. While giving you an extra action and an extra coin immediately and on your next turn, the Lighthouse also makes you immune to all Attack cards while it is in play! With the Tactician, you can discard your hand in order to have 10 cards, 2 buys and 2 actions on your next turn. Now that’s planning ahead!

Other new concepts are also introduced in Seaside, introducing new physical tokens and items to liven up the game. There is the Embargo card that lets you place embargo tokens onto a card pile. When any player buys a card from that pile, they also have to gain a Curse card. If you use the Pirate Ship, you get to plunder treasure from your opponents, and gain beautifully-crafted coin tokens for each successful plunder. Also introduced is a separate playmat signifying a Native Village. When you play the Native Village card, you are able to set cards aside onto the playmat ready for you to use later in the game. Other cards such as the Haven and Island also allow you to set cards aside for later use.

There are also plenty of cards in Seaside that fit the naval theme. The Explorer lets you gain a Gold if you have a Province in hand. And if you manage to have 2 Treasure Map cards in your hand at the same time, you find buried treasure and gain 4 Gold cards! And what naval story is complete without the ever-present Smugglers? These guys let you gain a copy of the card that the previous player gained last turn. Looks like treasure and loot is one of the major focuses of this set!

The Dominion series seems to be moving in the right direction, adding new themes and new concepts and mechanics with each expansion. The naval and pirate theme is lighthearted and fun, and is a welcome change of pace after the darker subterfuge themes in Intrigue. Seaside also adds something not seen before in this deck-building game: physical objects. It’s nice to play with the extra items such as embargo tokens and pirate coins, rather than just focusing on drawing and shuffling cards.

It also looks like the game is still going strong with no signs of slowing down, with a new Alchemy expansion being released in early 2010, and another expansion titled Prosperity scheduled to be released in late 2010. If you already play Dominion, getting Dominion: Seaside will add excitement as you throw in the new cards and concepts into the mix. If you have yet to try the game, get a copy of Seaside as well as either the base game or Intrigue and start conquering!

Complexity: 2.5/5.0

Playing Time: 30 to 45 minutes

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