So Dominion has its 73rd expansion out today, the small-box Alchemy release. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the game has become a phenomenon. To commemorate that deckbuilding milestone, I wanted to take this week’s column to talk a bit about Thunderstone, the Dominion-like game that AEG released last year.
I must say that my first concern when I approached Thunderstone was whether it was just a pale imitation of Dominion. I mean, it’s pretty hard to draw the line between when something is purely derivative and when it’s been clearly influenced by another game, but is still imbued with its own creative energy.
Personally, I think that Thunderstone falls squarely on the right side of the equation. It doesn’t use the same mechanics as Dominion. Rather, it matches Dominion most in the style of play: building decks in order to gain victory points. Sure, that seemed original when Dominion came out (and it was and is), but that’s meta-rules, sort of like: collecting resources to exchange for victory points. If anything, it speaks to how much Dominion innovated the field.
With that said, I’m going to talk a little about what Thunderstone is and the ways that I think it improved the Dominion style of play … and the ways in which I think it didn’t.