Dominion is a wonderful game of deck-building, or constructing a small efficient engine out of a deck of cards. For some though, the term deck-building induces facial micro-expressions so powerful you don’t have to be Cal Lightman to sense the revulsion. Well, for both loathers and lovers of deck-building, two new games have hit the shelves that herald the next generation and are worth at least 10 or more trys: Eminent Domain (designer Seth Jaffe, publisher Tasty Minstrel Games) and A Few Acres of Snow (designer Martin Wallace, publisher Treefrog Games). Both of these games use deck-building as a single mechanic within a multi-faceted game experience.
In Eminent Domain, players are attempting to colonize or attack planets in order to expand their space empire. A large empire alone can win you the game, or you can use the planets to produce and trade resources, or acquire advanced technologies. In addition to deck-building, Eminent Domain combines role-selection (a la Puerto Rico, Glory to Rome, and Race for the Galaxy) with tableau development (a la Race for the Galaxy and 7 Wonders). I’ve played this puppy too many times to count and I still want more. Beware though, the role-selection aspect of the game throws many people off, so if that is a new element for you, approach Eminent Domain with extreme caution.
A Few Acres of Snow takes deck-building in a slightly different direction by combining it with area control in a region of North America during the time of the French-Indian War. Deck-building is accomplished in a standard fashion, by buying cards, but settling territories on the map also leads to the acquisition of territory cards, which often junk up your deck the same way Dominion property cards do. You’ll be using your cards during the game to collect money, develop territories, and, oh yeah, siege and raid opponent occupied locations. A Few Acres is 2-player only, and it has a certain cigar-smoking distinguished feel about it, like a chess duel. Oh, and the box art is stunning, you could face this baby out in your art gallery!