The award-winning card game Dominion is back with another expansion called Dominion: Alchemy. A new resource type – potions – is added to the mix, and your battles against fellow land-grabbing monarchs has just become more complicated. With the power of Alchemy in your hands, you are now able to access new powers such as possession, transmutation and golem-making. Things just got a whole lot more explosive in your quest for Dominion!
Dominion has been a best-selling card game since its debut in 2008 and winning the prestigious Spiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis awards the year after. It has acquired more and more fans every time an expansion was released. We’ve had the chance to submerge ourselves in a bit of Intrigue and had a few naval battles on the Seaside, and now we get to dabble in some Alchemy.
The gameplay is shaken up when a new treasure resource is added to the mix, and powerful cards are introduced that can manipulate your decks to a greater degree, and even manipulate other players’ actions! If you want to know more about how the base game is played, please read our Dominion review. This review focuses on the Dominion: Alchemy expansion, which requires either the base Dominion game or the standalone Intrigue expansion to play.
As the name implies, Alchemy introduces cards that revolve around alchemical powers and mysterious experiments. More importantly, these powerful cards need more than good old coin to buy. They need a new resource: potions. Not only will you need enough coin in your hand to buy these cards (the most expensive of which cost 6 coins), but you need to have a potion card in hand as well. Interestingly enough, there are still no cards that cost 7 coins as of this expansion.
Since potions cost 4 coins apiece, and you are still limited to a base draw of 5 cards a turn, the old cost structure of the game will have to be thrown out the window. You will have to develop a new strategy on how much coin and how many potions you want to buy. It all depends on how heavily you want to focus on potions and the powerful new Alchemy cards.
So what are these new cards? Only some of the most game-changing cards to be introduced into the game. One example is the Vineyard card which costs just one potion. Each Vineyard is worth 1 Victory Point for every 3 action cards in your deck. Now you can’t laugh at those action-heavy decks because they have become a great way to produce cool abilities as well as earn VPs! You may ask why there are vineyards in the Alchemy expansion. How else will the alchemists get their inspiration and motivation?
There are also powerful deck-management cards such as Transmute. This card lets you turn any victory card in your hand into gold, or any action into a Duchy, or any treasure into another Transmute. There is also the Golem card that lets you go through your deck and play the first 2 actions you see. And there’s the Herbalist who lets you place a treasure card you just used back onto the top of your deck ready for your next turn. Plenty of fun to go around!
The star of Dominion: Alchemy will have to be the Possession card. Costing a hefty 6 coins and 1 potion, this card basically lets you take control of another player! You get to use their hand and play their actions, and any card that you gain from this possession goes to you and not them. There’s also the Philosopher’s Stone card which is worth 1 coin for every 5 cards in your deck.
Some people have complained that this expansion has slowed down the game unnecessarily, especially with cards like the Philosopher’s Stone that make you keep counting the cards in your deck, or the Possession card that doubles the length of your turn. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, as turns go by so fast as it is anyway, that the game seems like a speed and reflex game. Either way, Dominion: Alchemy has managed to inject lots of new flavor and new mechanics into the game, keeping it fresh and explosive!
Playing Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Number of Players: 2 to 4 players (up to 6 with the Intrigue expansion)