Finding the best Dominion expansion for you can be tough, as there are many expansions to choose from. In this article we ranked all the Dominion expansions to help you choose which one you should get next.
To avoid that this ranking merely reflects our personal preferences, we base our recommendations on which expansion adds the most to the game. In case of a tie between two expansions, we recommend which expansion you should buy first.
✔ Enables super quick games
✔ Platinum and Colonies deepen the strategy of all your games – including those with other expansions
Prosperity concerns extravagant riches for the high end Dominion player. The expansion adds multiple valuable treasure cards, most notably Platinum, which grants a player 5 purchasing power. Furthermore, Prosperity contains several action cards that cost six or seven purchasing power, and Colonies, which are worth 10 victory points.
Colonies and Platinum are game changing additions, because they make games longer and strategically deeper. This is especially important for new players who may have trouble dealing with the Big Money problem in Dominion. But it also allows experienced players to set up more powerful combo’s than ever before. Even still, players always have to consider whether they want to buy Colonies and play the long game, or buy Provinces and ‘rush’ down their opponent. Platinum and Colonies by themselves add an extra level of strategy to any Dominion game. That is why Prosperity combines very well with all the other expansions.
On top of Platinum and Colonies, Prosperity contains great action and treasure cards. Most notably, Prosperity contains Forgery and Mint, which are some of the strongest trashing cards in the game. These cards are great because they are only effective when a skilled player properly plans how to use them, and they can backfire completely when used incautiously. And one of the biggest upsides of these cards is that they are so powerful that they can potentially speed up games a lot. That’s why you can play Dominion within 15 minutes with Prosperity, which is not really possible with any of the other expansions. All these factors make Prosperity the best Dominion expansion.
✔ Projects increase replay value a lot
✔ Adds Coffers and Villagers
Renaissance introduces Projects, which can completely change the game strategically. For example, if you pay 8 to activate the Citadel project, the first action card you play in a turn is automatically replayed. This dramatically increases the power of some action cards and may lead you to play a completely different strategy than you would otherwise. The projects also combine well with the other expansions and therefore we think that projects add a lot of replay value to Dominion.
Furthermore, Renaissance distinguishes itself from other deck building games by bringing back Coffers and introduces Villagers. Coffers are physical coins that you can save up to spend in future turns, and Villagers are action tokens that serve the same purpose. It is strictly better to get +1 Villager than +1 action, or +1 Coffer than +1 Purchasing power, because Villagers and Coffers can be saved to spend whenever you need them (including during the same turn that you get them). Especially villagers add an extra dimension to games because they can allow for ultra crazy combo’s.
✔ Landmarks completely reshape the game
✔ Debt is a fun new mechanic
Empires reshapes Dominion with Landmarks, which change the scoring mechanisms of Dominion. Landmarks thus reshape the game in a fundamental way. For example, buying a lot of Silver and Gold is generally a strong backbone of any strategy. But, if Bandit Fort is in the game, each Silver and Gold count as negative two victory points. Thus, players must somehow get rid of their Silver and Gold before the game ends, or find other strategies to build their deck altogether.
In addition to Landmarks, Empires introduces the Debt mechanic. Debt is rather straightforward; some cards can be bought with Debt, which means that you don’t have to pay for them now, but you’ll incur a debt that you need to pay off before you can buy anything else again. To us, the Debt mechanic is fun at times, but nothing revolutionary.
Truthfully, Empires is a fantastic Dominion expansion, and it could just as well be the second best Dominion expansion. We ultimately decided to place Renaissance above it, because Projects mostly fulfill the same role as Landmarks, and we generally just like the cards of Renaissance slightly better. But, this decision is completely subjective and we can’t be mad at anyone who prefers Empires!
✔ Great card quality
✔ Introduces Durability cards
Seaside introduces durability cards: cards that stay in play to do something on the next turn. They are generally fun and easy to understand. For example, Wharf gives you +2 cards and +1 buy the turn you play it, as well as in your next turn. (Note that because durability cards stay in play for one turn after you play them, you draw them less often.
Seaside also introduces three mats: the native village mat, the island mat and the Pirate ship mat. These mats are only a minor part of the expansion, because all of them only relate to one card each. Pirate Ship mat and the Island mats are easy and fun. The Native Village enables big combo’s but takes way long to play because players that play it quickly get way too many micro-decisions to take in their turn.
Seaside is one of the best Dominion expansions, because it has the best average card quality. It just adds so many fun cards, such as Treasure Map. Once you find two treasure maps in your hand at the same time, you get 4 Gold cards on top of your deck. Treasure Map is one of the best designed cards in all of Dominion because good players can really increase their odds of finding the treasure maps sooner.
Another great card is Embargo. If you play it you can put an Embargo on any card so that players that gain that card also gain a curse. This allows players to mess with each others’ strategies, which is generally hard to do in Dominion.
Seaside is fantastic and probably the first expansion you should buy. It adds so many great cards while making the least changes to the game. (Renaissance’s projects, Empires’ Landmarks and Prosperity’s Colonies all change the game strategically more than Seaside’s cards do.)
✔ More interaction
✔ Great for advanced players
The biggest introduction of Menagerie is Exile. Exile is a mechanic that advanced players enjoy, as it enables powerful strategies but it’s hard to use. If you exile a card it’s out of your deck, but there are ways to bring it back. Additionally, exiled victory cards still count towards your victory points. A straightforward way to use this mechanic is to exile your victory cards, so they don’t clog up your deck. But there are also ways to exile powerful cards straight from the supply, and then bring these cards back to your deck. This can for example be done with Way of the Camel, which exiles a Gold straight from the supply.
Way of the Camel is also an example of a Way card. Way cards are also appreciated primarily by advanced players, because they introduce more decision points and ways (pun intended) to fine tune your strategy. To use a Way card a player must play an action card and then choose to forgo the normal effect of the action card, to instead play the effect of the Way card. The Way cards are always available to all players and can be used indefinitely.
The other notable additions of Menagerie are Horses, which function like single use cards that draw an extra card. Players can stack horses in their deck to build up to a mega turn, or just sprinkle in horses for some extra cards here and there. And, the Menagerie expansion also adds some strong reactive cards. Reaction cards enable more interaction between players and this has been somewhat missing in other Dominion sets.
We think Menagerie is a great expansion, especially for more advanced Dominion players. The Way and Exile mechanics are very hard to master, which is why we don’t recommend Menagerie as your first expansion. But if you’re an experienced player then its complexity makes Menagerie an expansion with a lot of deep strategic thinking and replay value.
✔ Introduces Events
✔ Upgrade cards
Adventures its most prominent addition are the Traveler cards. Traveler cards upgrade to a stronger form every time they are played. For example, after playing the Page it turns into a Treasure Hunter. After subsequent plays it turns to a warrior, a hero and eventually a Champion.
The Traveler cards are fun to play with and we appreciate how well they fit into the Adventures theme. They do require long games to reach their ultimate form though. Therefore when we play with Travelers we always include the Colonies from the Prosperity expansion.
The other big introduction of the Adventures expansion are Events. Each game is played with one or two events that are available at all times to all players. Players can trigger the events by paying for them. For example, you can trigger The Expedition event by paying 3 to get 2 extra cards during your following turn.
Events are a very natural and fun addition to Dominion, which is why more events were added in the later expansions. In our opinion the Events added in these later expansions are more interesting, but the Adventures Events are still solid.
Since all Dominion expansion sets are at least of good quality we want to give a shout-out to all expansions that didn’t make it in our list of the best Dominion expansions.
First and foremost we want to mention Dark Ages. We actually think this expansion pack is great, because it adds 500(!) new cards and lots of cool combo’s. So there’s a lot going on and Dark Ages is complex in a good way. But in our opinion the set doesn’t have as much coherence as the expansions in the list.
Big Box: Intrigue and the Base Game
The Dominion Big Box contains the base game and the Intrigue expansion. Intrigue is the first expansion we bought. It’s a comfortable continuation of the base set that adds cards that give players a choice between different effects. We still often recommend Intrigue to players that like Dominion and want an expansion that isn’t too complicated or adds a lot of tokens and extra elements. But, if we’re being honest, Intrigue has the same weakness as the Dominion base game: it’s solid, but the later expansions are just more interesting.
Nocturne is another Dominion expansion that tries to add complexity, but in our opinion it overshot its goal. Especially the new Night phase that happens after the Buy phase, complicates the game too much and really disrupts the normal flow of the game. We know that Nocturne is the most popular expansion among world cup competitors, but for the average player it’s a bit too much.
Hinterlands and Cornucopia are both fine, but not great. Hinterlands has something going for it with the ‘when you gain this…’ effects, but overall it feels like these expansions rely too much on the old game mechanics without adding something new. The same thing can be said about Guilds, which adds Coffers, but since Coffers are now included in Renaissance as well, there’s no real reason to buy Guilds anymore.
Finally there is Alchemy. We don’t have much to say about it, since it is clearly the least popular expansion. It adds Potions to the game, which are a new type of currency. To us Potions make the game much more complex without actually adding new experiences or strategies to the game.