I’m still in denial that the next Dominion expansion isn’t going to be called Dominion: Bestiary. My guess is that the top brass at Rio Grande altered the laws of time and space to change it to:
Dominion: Hinterlands is the newest expansion for the Dominion system. It was only three years ago, at Spiel 2008, that Dominion premiered and rocked the world of gaming, introducing this brand new genre now known as deck-building. Six expansions later (Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy, Prosperity, Cornucopia, and now Hinterlands), it’s still going strong. Designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Rio Grande Games, Hinterlands is a big box expansion that includes 26 new kingdom cards. The theme of this expansion is things you can do when you gain cards.
As is my tradition with the Dominion overviews, I’m going to go through every card and give some initial thoughts. I make no promises as to the quality of my assumptions.
- Border Village (cost 6): The Village for this set give you an extra card and two actions when you play it, exactly like the base game Village. What makes it cost twice as much is the gain power – when you gain a copy, you can also gain another card costing less than the Border Village. So basically, you’re paying 6 for a Village (normally cost of 3) and something that would typically cost you 5, for a savings of $2 and having the equivalent of two buys. Seems useful.
- Cache (cost 5): This is a treasure, worth $3. It’s $1 cheaper than a Gold – what gives? Well, you’re gaining two Coppers when you get the Cache. Newer players to the game may see that as a good deal – hey, you’re getting three treasures for the price of one! But more experienced players may be leery about getting more Coppers in their hand. I can imagine that this would work well with a Coppersmith strategy.
- Cartographer (cost 5): This action gives you a card and an action. You also get to look at the top 4 cards of your deck, discard however many you want, and put the rest back in any order. Nice for cleaning out some useless stuff, but I feel like I’ve seen this before. I just can’t think of it – it’s probably just a variation on another card in another set.
- Crossroads (cost 2): When you play the Crossroads, you reveal your hand. For each victory card you have, you get another card. Plus, if this is your first Crossroads on this turn, you get three more actions. A nice cheap card that might get you some good stuff. I like it.
- Develop (cost 3): You’ll be able to trash a card from your hand and gain two cards in return – one that costs 1 more, and one the costs 1 less. The gained cards go on top of your deck. This is a variation on the remodel/upgrade style cards, and if you like those, you’ll probably like this, particularly if gaining cards with another gain action.
- Duchess (cost 2): This card gives you $2 to spend. In addition, every player gets to look at the top card of their deck and either discard it or put it back. You can also get this card for free when you gain a Duchy (but only if the Duchess is in play). Another cheap card, but you have to know that it might help your opponents as well.
- Embassy (cost 5): Playing this card gives you five extra cards, which you follow by discarding three (the three don’t have to come from the cards you just drew). That’s very nice, but when you gain the card, everyone else gets a Silver. That could be a problem, and would probably make me hesitate about acquiring the card.
- Farmland (cost 6): This is a victory card, worth 2 VP. When you buy the farmland (buy, not gain), you trash a card from your hand and gain another card that costs exactly 2 more than the trashed card. It’s like a Duchy and a Remodel rolled into one.
- Fool’s Gold (cost 2): This is both a treasure card and a reaction. On the treasure side, the first one you play in a turn is worth $1. All others you play in that same turn are worth $4. This means that if you have three, they’re collectively worth $9. That in itself is a reason to get a bunch of them. But on the reaction side, you can trash Fool’s Gold when another player gains a Province. You can then gain a Gold, which goes right on top of your deck. At a cost of 2, I predict that these cards will go VERY FAST when in the game.
- Haggler (cost 5): You get an extra $2 to spend. But it also gets you a free card. If Haggler is in play, you’ll gain a card (not a victory card) costing less than something else you’re buying. That’s kind of a cool thematic link – buy a Province, and I’ll throw in this Gold for free. Could be pretty awesome.
- Highway (cost 5): You get one card and one action. While the Highway is in play, all cards cost 1 less. You could play a bunch of highways and stack the discounts, so you could potentially get something for free. However, the price can’t go less than 0. I think that sounds like a good deal, particularly if you get a bunch of these. It’s less valuable if you just have one – basically a Market without an extra buy.
- Ill-Gotten Gain (cost 5): Another treasure, this one worth $1. When you play it, you may gain a Copper into your hand, but you don’t have to. I would imagine that the reason people would get this card is the gain power: when you gain it, everyone else gets a curse. So, not a very valuable treasure, but it can do some immediate damage to your opponents. This is not an attack, so it can’t be blocked by cards like the Moat.
- Inn (cost 5): You draw two cards, you get two extra actions, and you can discard two cards. When you gain the Inn, you can look through your discard pile and reveal any number of actions, which you can then shuffle into your deck. This card seems like it will slow down the game, but it will be really nice to take some action cards back into your deck without having to worry about extra superfluous cards.
- Jack of all Trades (cost 4): A bunch of actions with this one. First, gain a Silver. Next, look at the top card of your deck and discard it or put it back. Then, draw up to five cards in your hand. Finally, you may trash a card from your hand as long as it’s not a treasure. Seems useful, particularly if you have extra actions to blow through.
- Mandarin (cost 5): An extra $3 to spend, plus you put a card from your hand on top of your deck. The gain power here is that you put all treasures you currently have in play on top of your deck in any order. So the money you just used to buy the Mandarin will be in your next hand. Could be nice.
- Margrave (cost 5): This gets you three extra cards and an extra buy. All other players draw a card, then discard down to three cards in their hand. It’s like the Militia and Council Room in one delicious card.
- Noble Brigand (cost 4): You get an extra dollar to spend. When you buy or play the card, the other players reveal their top two cards and trashes a Silver or Gold, your choice (and you keep it). If they didn’t reveal a treasure, they gain a Copper. This seems to be an improved Thief, without the problem of accidentally depriving an opponent of a worthless Copper (and the possibility of giving them another one).
- Nomad Camp (cost 4): Here, you get a buy and $2 to spend. When you gain it, it goes on top of your deck, so that’ll nice to have. I like being able to use cards immediately.
- Oasis (cost 3): Nothing too special here – draw a card, get another action, have another dollar to spend. You also have to discard a card. Pretty harmless, could be helpful.
- Oracle (cost 3): Everyone (you too) reveals the top 2 cards of their deck. You can either choose for them to discard the cards, or you can choose to put them back on top of their deck. After this, you draw two cards, so you might draw the cards you just replaced. It’s an attack sort of similar to the Spy, I guess.
- Scheme (cost 3): You get a card and an action. At the start of your clean-up phase, you choose an action you put in play, and put it on top of your deck (as long as you were going to discard it anyway). This would be good to recycle some actions.
- Silk Road (cost 4): This victory card is worth one point for every four victory cards in your deck. I’m a big fan of the Gardens strategy, so I can imagine that I’d be all about trying this one out. Particularly if you’ve got victory cards with actions so they’re not clogging up your deck.
- Spice Merchant (cost 4): If you trash a treasure from your hand, you can choose between getting two cards and an action, or $2 and a buy. Trashing a treasure is apparently optional. I was going to say something snarky about “why would you play it then”, but then I realized that sometimes you can do things based on the actions you have in play. This card would be a great way to dump some Coppers, or even those Ill-Gotten Gains you just picked up so others would get cursed.
- Stables (cost 5): If you discard a treasure (there’s that optional action again), you can draw three cards and get one action. This is weird – it costs one more than the spice merchant, but it seems very similar. You discard instead of trash, making it more useful in the long run.
- Trader (cost 4): Trash a card from your hand, and gain a number of Silvers equal to its cost in coins. So if you trash Ill-Gotten Gains, you get FIVE SILVERS. You could also trash a Silver for three Silvers, which is kind of awesome. This card is also a reaction, allowing you to reveal it when you would gain a card and gain a Silver instead. This would be a great defense against people handing out Curses or Coppers. I like it.
- Tunnel (cost 3): This is a victory card, worth two points. It’s also a reaction. If you discard it for any reason other than normal clean up (someone forced you to reduce your hand size, for example), you can reveal it and gain a Gold. I like this one too.
So that’s the 26 new cards in Hinterlands. I keep bringing up other cards that seem to be tweaked by cards in this set. For the most part, they seem to be improvements. I like the gain abilities, and I have a feeling they’ll serve to speed up the game. It will be interesting to see how everything works when I get a chance to play. Thanks for reading!