Review: Dominare – build your own conspiracy

Dominare - packaging

His parents spent their entire lives in the swamp. Robinson, named after the only one book laying at home on the shelf, was the first to venture out. When he first set sail in a boat outside onto the canal and saw disappearing frog mud sculpture – a sign of their district – in the distance, his heart was pounding for life. An unknown world opened in front of him and he felt like a discoverer, who enters the land, where no one entered before.

His dream was quickly disturbed by a ship filled with people. They began to shout at him, letting him know he is in their route and should get out of the way. Everyone rushed incomprehensibly somewhere. When the last particles of mist left him, a fascinating sight stretched before him. So this was Tempest, his home town, which his eyes accustomed to the eternal swamp twilight saw for the first time. He knew there were many adventures waiting for him.

But now we must leave Robinson. We float a little higher and see the city from a bird’s eye view, which our hero did not fantasize even in his wildest dreams. Flying machines were still beyond human imagination at that time. Now carefully and quickly look around, because the dark world of intrigue and money will very quickly pull us back into its clutching streets..

Dominare - game is ready

Now we will spend the next few tens of minutes there in a power struggle. State of the Tempest (authors are Mark Wootton and John Zinser) is home to board game, which is published by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). These specialists on deck-building games such as Smash Up (review) or Nightfall (review) made a real board game with board, tokens and everything. And how does it look like?

Dominare is the second game in a series, set in this crazy city place. On the way to your goal, set by the author , to rule over the city, you will be accompanied by illustrations of Deeny Thomas, Kali Fitzgerald, Hal Mangold and also Jim Pinto.

The game is hidden in a rather large box, that is made of solid cardboard. It is no wonder, if the inside must withhold so many annoying people. Thise city is literally teeming with this kind. You can see them, when you closely look at the huge detailed map, which attracts you first in this box.

Dominare - game is ready

Board is two-sided and based on a specified number of players it has more or less districts. Whole city is connected with channels, you can get anywhere on them. Each area of color is then divided into several blocks. Over the government of these houses will you compete and so you can dominate the whole area or even the city in the end.

On the right side of the map, there is a scale for each of the districts in city. They indicate value of those sites in victory points and their starting positions are carefully circled, so preparation is quick and easy.

In addition, for good experience, there have to be some card in (agents, districts, but also events – a total of 140, 95 of them are the most important agents), colored cubes of influence in colors of all the players, tokens for tracking victory points of town parts and 74 coins chips in three values.

Dominare - game is ready

Agents are specific and have a lot of symbols and text on their cards. In addition to belonging to a faction, there is also a line with symbols specifying power of their voice (influence), income, and above all exposure – how far from discovering your conspiracy is. Characters also have some traits, that takes them into the social strata of the city (such plebeian) and also a text describing their abilities.

And that’s all Dominare brings to us. In addition there are relatively long rules, that can drive you away, but actually half of their space is taken up by a story from the world. AEG gives a lot of emphasis on atmospheric value of their games, that’s for sure.

Before players start the game, they must first choose board side, where the battle will take place. This is done easily based on number of opponents. You can, however, use whichever side you want. Change is done to reduce (2-4 players on a big board) or increase (5-6 players on a small board) number of conflicts. During your first matches, you will definitely play in the recommended layout.

Dominare - game in progress

Each of the fighters for the throne of Tempest chooses a color and takes all influence cubes (one of them is put on scoring section and other one on exposure scale) and one reference card with an overview of the basic turn. Everyone will have eight random agent cards to choose from in the beginning. He can keep only three of them and must return the rest.

Starting point values for all districts must be marked by neutral blocks. Other agents and event cards are shuffled and put aside, as well as coins, which create a bank near the board. No money for the start is given out. Game can begin.

During the game, you are fighting for power in individual blocks, hence districts. Each game is divided into seven seasons, during which can happen a lot. In each of the seven years, you reveal one agent, who works for you, and lay it openly in front of you. This is the very first activity to be carried out in any season.

Dominare - game in progress

Thereby you are each round creating progressively your conspiracy, where you include people from the city. It’s good to play agents in a way, they have something in common (trait) with their neighbors, because it brings you bonuses in later phase of the round. These figures have abilities, when played from your hand and then you can use their other skills during future rounds. In addition, you get a reward for their play, but you also have to shift on exposure scale.

Only then based on the level of exposure, starting player for the round is chosen. Following section contains accidental events with one or more news. These come into effect based on which season are you currently in (it has to be at least same number for event to happen). At the same time, you also move victory points value for some districts up and down based on this card.

Last two phases are more complicated and players must take their turns, always starting from the current starting player and then clockwise. In the section entitled Canvassing, not only income for characters involved in the conspiracy awaits you, but also influencing blocks on the board. Each character has its own specific values for both these actions stated on his card.

Dominare - cards

While finances are added to your private account (table), cubes can be distributed to home district of the character in an amount corresponding to his/her influence. Your fame may spread through blocks to neighborhood. Values of individual influence can increase, if you have in a conspiracy multiple characters side by side with the same characteristics – for example, two clergies. There are also options to be improved or you have to turn agent cards – deactivate it as the price for an event.

Most complicated is the last action phase, where all players have two actions to spend, but they will be choosing from eight different activities. In addition to ordinary income money and influence, you reveal new agent cards or replacement one already present. You can also especially benefit from the ability of districts (only if you control it = you have most blocks there) and agents. But you can only use those skills, that match level of the agent (his position from the left). You should keep stronger people longer in your hands.

During the game, you are able to once draw up a new free agents. This will happen in the third season. Game ends after the season with number seven, when all players record their victory poins gained for control of individual districts, bonus points for agents, but even a small area on the map can bring you some bonus. Then you have to subtract points for exposure and who has the most points in the end is the winner.

Dominare - cards

Dominare is an excellent majority game, that is thought out in detail and provides a truly rich gaming experience. Basic system of collecting agents in your conspiracy is simple, but round has more to offer during process of the phase and options you need to learn first.

Battle for supremacy is exciting, because during the game, value of individual districts varies. In addition players are attacked by unforeseen events from the outside. Rivals are fighting with each other using only the blocks on the map, which are moved and replaced. At one point, there are never two colors at the same place, but influence of the pairs always cancels each other, leaving only the party, that was stronger.

Much more interesting and atmospheric perspective is done by hilarious concept is exposure. It indicates, how much your is your party seen affecting ilegally the public opinion. The more openly they you do it with the help of influential people, the more negatively are people perceiving you. And ultimately, it’s costing you valuable victory points in a power struggle. And it’s all in terms of mechanisms really excellently converted into reality.

Dominare - cards

This creates a challenging tactical game and it corresponds to the time required. At the end of the seventh season, you will have quite more than one hour of playing on your watch. The time will pass quickly, as the game keeps you constantly on the lookout for something. Players activate their agents in the longest stage step by step depending on their level, which chases away boredom.

Since the game board is two-sided, ot includes options for all players. In two players, its fairly easygoing affair, that is more about optimizing and good game play, than fighting for positions. As more and more players are involved, you start to drag for individual districts and the game becomes even more interesting. However, thanks to interesting ideas, Dominare remains fun even in two.

The game also features the same excellent processing. From the board, through illustrations to layout of information on the cards. Yet it takes a lot of space on the table, so get ready for a bit of oppression, if you have a smaller table as we do.

Dominare - cards

Dominare is really well prepared and will be enjoyed by all the thoughtful players. Opponents of luck in games can get rid of events and keep only the development of districts values. Rules also offer options and variations everyone can choose from and alter gaming experience a little. And it makes Dominare really pleasing thing to play. We are going to return happily to the Tempest city. Would you try it too?

Designerjim pinto
ArtistThomas Deeny, Andrew Hepworth, Jeff Himmelman
PublisherAlderac Entertainment Group
Year Published
# of Players2 - 6
User Suggested # of Players Best with 6 players
Recommended with 3, 4 players
(19 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(5 voters)
Language DependenceExtensive use of text - massive conversion needed to be playable
(12 voters)
CategoryEconomic, Political, Renaissance
MechanicArea Majority / Influence, Card Drafting, Hand Management, Simultaneous Action Selection
ExpansionDominare: Promo Cards
FamilyMechanism: Tableau Building, Setting: Tempest Shared World
Primary NameDominare

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Dominare – build your own conspiracy
Final word
Dominare is excellent majority game, where you are trying to control the city through influential people. You add them to your conspiracy, but the larger authority they have, the more are your efforts visible on the outside. This concept is perfectly done in this game and is base for the whole experience. Moreover, you have to watch out for district values, which are changing throughout the game based on random events. If you want, random incidents might get in your way and their effect is based on your progress in the match. That lowers its random influence and affects everyone. But do not forget members of your group, whose abilities can also make a difference. On top of the immediate gain and revenue each round, they add also their skills into your fight. Match intensity amongst players can be adjusted by selecting appropriate side for number of players. The more enemies on smaller area, the harder, tougher (and more fun) experience you will have. Dominare can please lovers of peaceful tactical games, as well as merciless fighters for every inch of space. Whole game is nicely balanced and you won't even mind the little longer playing time. So do not hesitate and build your own conspiracy!
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
two-sided game board playable in all numbers
interaction intensity can be set
game is dominated by a majority principle
great concept of secret influence (exposure)
you build your own conspiracy every round
wide action options (but not so wide for game to become too difficult)
district values are changing
events can be left out
Cons
longer game time
4
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