• Pet Peeve: Sore Dominion Losers

    Correction: I should have realized this myself, but Donald Vaccarino is the creator of the Dominion board game. The iOS version I played was developed by Hammer Technology. It’s also, unfortunately, no longer available for download because the “official” client from Goku was launched summer 2012.

    Screenshot of Dominion on iPad
    Credit: Screenshot by Michelle A. Hoyle
    Image: Dominion on the iPad

    Photo of  many angry birds
    Credit: Photo by Newtown graffiti under a
    CC BY 2.0 License

    Image: It makes me so angry!

    A few Christmases back, a good friend “helpfully” gifted us with the original Dominion game. I say “helpfully” because Dominion is deck building game, although not in the sense of a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering. Dominion’s base set includes treasure cards, action cards, and victory cards. You purchase these cards primarily with the treasure coin cards, trying to acquire more victory cards than your opponent. Action cards can act on other players, give you additional spending power, give you more cards, or increase your maximum number of permissible purchases.

    With randomness in its favour, Dominion is enjoyable to play repeatedly and quick once you’re familiar with the various action cards. It even plays well with only two players. Numerous expansions are available with different action card themes you can mix and match. We have them all, much to our bank account’s detriment. Thank you, “friend”. (-:

    There have been some extremely excellent board game adaptations for Apple’s iPhones and iPads, including Dominion publisher Rio Grande Games’ Carcassonne tile-building game and Days of Wonder’s Small World. Although some of these aren’t too bad for setup time, it’s nice to not need a big table and to start playing immediately. It’s also nice to play whenever you have the urge. I was therefore quite keen to see a Dominion application and finally there was one: Dominion by Donald X. Vaccarino. Hurrah!

    Vaccarino’s version is unofficial but released with Rio Grande’s (RGG) approval. They apparently, according to a Board Game Geek posting from an RGG employee , permit this for casual/free versions with the proviso those games be removed when an official version is released. Very nice! As a result, Vaccarino’s version is able to use the name and card artwork. It’s not as polished as Carcassonne for the iPad in terms of user experience but it’s generally OK with some niggly annoyances here and there, like it’s prone to crashing between games.

    In addition to a tutorial mode and offline mode to play against your choice of a number of AI opponents, it also features a two-player real-time networked playing mode. You can either invite someone specific to play with you or use the somewhat clunky Game Center-powered matching service to find someone else wanting to play. Once matched, the experience is fairly intuitive. You drag cards you to play onto the “table” and drag cards from the tableaux to buy them. It’s not too dissimilar to playing with real cards, although much quicker, making it somewhat harder to see what’s happened sometimes.

    Although the website allows you to retrieve some play history on a given player by name, this isn’t built into the game. Basically, it’s just a listing on matches completed and the final score. Indeed, there aren’t even in-game leaderboards, despite the use of Game Center. This lack of history leads to some very unsporting player behaviour. My play history reveals I’ve lost more games than I’ve won. What it doesn’t show is how many games I’ve started but not finished because I used the “quit game” option to terminate the current match. I’ve lost more games than I’ve won because it’s annoyingly common for players you’re trouncing to quit rather than lose. To be fair, the reverse also happens, where someone beating you decides there’s insufficient challenge and quits, but that feels a lot rarer.

    If you’re a player who quits mid-game, I have two words for you: please don’t. Just because I’m not sitting across a real table from you doesn’t make it any less rude or disrespectful to just up and quit because you’re losing. Or are you the kind of person who would kick over the table and take your toy soldiers home too? If you are that person, please don’t ruin my gaming pleasure and waste my time with your snivelly, immature behaviour. Go play in the sewer with the other rats–even if you are winning. That is all.


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