More Official Animu’d Versions of Dominion

Dominion really is popular in Japan. Not only have they made an officially licensed Touhou version, now there’s one for Nitroplus and the anime Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls (licensed by Sentai and Crunchyroll in the US).

Unfortunately, they look like rethemed clones of existing cards, instead of cards with all original mechanics. I can’t read Japanese too well, but the last sample card on HobbySearch is clearly Oasis.  It seems Donald X. is fine with retheming Dominion, but doesn’t want to ruin his vision of mechanics and balance. As his planned expansions come to a close, I guess we’ll have to depend on fan cards to keep on exponentially increasing the games depth.

These are some really nifty collector’s items, though. And it’ll bring the joy (and addiction) of Dominion to an even wider audience. Also, finally Harem actually makes sense, as seen in the “STEINS;GATE ver.” here.

Master Merchant, Japan Does Dominion

Master Merchant (大商人) is a board game first sold at the 2011 Summer Comiket, just one more piece of, “No, Comiket isn’t just for porn.” Not only that, but it’s a board game that makes me go DO WANT.

Master Merchant is heavily influenced by Dominion, possibly my favorite tabletop game ever. Like Magic: the Gathering before it, Dominion created an entire genre: the “Deck Building Game,” or DBG. Unlike CCGs, with DBGs you ‘ll never spend your life savings on artificially-scarce chase rares. Instead of bringing a deck beforehand, you build your deck as you play. And instead of booster packs, all players draw from the same pool of cards, which changes every game. Dominion’s elegant gameplay won it the 2009 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), as well as many other awards. It’s also become huge in Japan, spawning everything from a licensed Touhou version to moe maid variants.

The same card, in classic Dominion and Touhou version. Superior?

Tanto Cuore, on the other hand, takes more liberties.

Master Merchant owes a lot to DBGs before it, but with real twists on the classic mechanics. First of all, there’s no random drawing from the deck, and no shuffling. Instead of drawing 5 random cards each turn, your draw your entire deck at once, and draw it all back from the discard once you run out. It’s really more of a “Hand Building Game,” in a sense. It gives the game a very different feel, since you can plan around your opponent’s moves with exact precision. For components, instead of huge piles of each Kingdom card, the most copies of any card is 4. That keeps print costs down, making it easier to release expansions (which hopefully they will). All in all, the mechanics seem to be much tighter and tactical. Although, they also risk making the game more solvable.

Luckily I won’t have to wait too long to see how they play out: it also has English subtitles on each card, alongside the Japanese. It’s still hard to import a copy, though. It’ll be sold at the Essen Game Fair 2011 in Germany, and hopefully get a wider international release after.