Finding the best Dominion expansion for you can be tough, as there are many Dominion expansions to choose from. In this article we rank the Dominion expansions to help you choose which set you should get next.
Dominion Expansions Ranked
If you’re in a rush and just want to reference our ranking, here’s what we consider the best Dominion expansion:
- Dominion Prosperity
- Dominion Renaissance
- Dominion Empires
- Dominion Seaside
- Dominion Menagerie
- Dominion Adventures
- The other expansions
Read on if you want to learn why we ranked the Dominion expansions this way.
Dominion Prosperity is the best Dominion expansion. The expansion concerns extravagant riches for the high end Dominion player. Furthermore, it 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 our favorite Dominion expansion by a very wide margin.
Dominion Renaissance introduces Projects, which can completely change Dominion 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.
Dominion Empires reshapes Dominion with Landmarks, which change the scoring mechanisms. 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.
Dominion 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.
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.
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.)
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.
Dominion 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 some of our favorites, but keep in mind that they are best played in longer games.
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.
Dominion Dark Ages is a massive expansion that adds 500 new cards with lots of cool interactions. The Dark Ages theme involves a lot of bad things happening, giving bad cards to your opponents, and trashing and upgrading cards.
This expansion set contains some of the most creative cards of any expansion. One of our favorite cards is Rats, which let’s you trash a card from your deck and gain another Rats. What’s fun is that Rats is good initially, but backfires even quicker than you might imagine! Players have been known to end with a deck with literally nothing but Rats 😉
So there’s a lot going on and Dark Ages is complex in a good way. It’s also the highest value Dominion expansion with so many new Kingdom cards and other cards as well.
Dominion Intrigue is the only Dominion expansion that can functions as a standalone base game as well. So you don’t need the normal Dominion base game to play it, and you can play all the other expansions if you own Intrigue.
Many Dominion players own Intrigue instead of the normal Dominion base game, because Intrigue has slightly more interesting cards. They enable more interaction between players, and they offer the players choices between different effects.
The card Pawn, for example, lets a player choose two of the following effects: +1 card, +1 action, +1 buy or +1 purchasing power. This card thus gives the player much more room to maneuver than the more vanilla cards of the normal Dominion base game.
Dominion Intrigue is generally a solid expansion with lots of fun cards. We recommend it as a base game over the normal base game, and it’s also nice to have multiple base games if you ever want to play Dominion with more than 4 players.
Dominion Nocturne is the most popular expansion among Dominion world cup participants. This is largely because of the extra Night phase that happens after the buy phase, in which special Night cards can be played. This extra phase introduces a lot of room for micro optimizations in your turns, which is something that experiences players often enjoy.
The Nocturne expansion also adds strategic layers through hexes, boons and heirlooms. Hexes and Boons are one time bad and good events, and heirlooms partially replace the Estates in your starting deck.
So Dominion Nocturne is a great expansion to get, but we only recommend it for the more experienced Dominion players.
Dominion Cornucopia & Guilds are two expansions sold in a package edition. This is because both expansions are a little smaller that usual.
This expansion box also contains Coffers, which are money tokens that you can save until later turns. Coffers are one of the most successful mechanics in Dominion, which is why it’s also included in the later Renaissance expansion.
The main selling point of these expansion sets is variety. There are multiple cards that reward you for having different cards in your hand and deck. A fun example of this is Fairgrounds, which gives you two victory points per five differently named cards in your deck.
Dominion Hinterlands is another expansion that’s best appreciated by more experienced players. It adds a lot of cards that have an effect ‘When you gain this card…’. These cards require a lot of skill to play them optimally.
Also in general, the cards in this expansion set are sometimes quite complicated and can be a little wordy. This again leaves them best appreciated by experienced players.
A perfect illustration of this is the Jack of All Trades card, which reads:
Gain a Silver.
Look at the top card of your deck; you may discard it.
Draw until you have 5 cards in hand.
You may trash a non-Treasure card from your hand.
This is just a typical Hinterlands card. It’s wordy, it does a lot and it’s very hard to play perfectly. If you’re into that, you’ll love Hinterlands.
Dominion Alchemy is a solid expansion, albeit our least favorite one. Its main selling points is that it introduces Potions, which are a form of currency in addition to money. That’s to say, there are some cards that require Potions to buy, sometimes on top of some money.
What we do like about Alchemy is that introduces some of the most powerful cards in all of Dominion. These cards remain balanced because you need to buy Potions, and the draw your Potions before you can actually buy them. A good example of this is University, which gives you two actions and a card costing up to five. This is insanely strong, but it actually has a fair price at 2 money and a Potion.
Dominion Expansions Ranked - FAQ
Readers sometimes still have questions after reading our Dominion expansion ranking. In this section we try to answer these questions to give our readers the tools to choose their own best Dominion expansion.
Which Dominion Expansion Should I Buy First?
Dominion Seaside is the first Dominion expansion you should buy.
As we explain elaborately in our ranking above, it’s a very beginner friendly expansion, yet it contains some of the most interesting and powerful cards in all of Dominion. This balance between simplicity and strategic depth is splendid, especially for beginners.
Is Dominion Fun With 2 Players?
Yes, Dominion is very fun with 2 players! In fact, it’s sometimes better with 2 players because you don’t have to worry about the King Maker problem, or the game simply taking longer than you want.
And to keep Dominion fun with 2 players, we recommend getting one of the expansions we ranked highly in this article. Prosperity is especially great for 2 players because it forces both players to consider whether they want to empty out the Provinces or Colonies in the end game.
Can You Play Dominion Intrigue By Itself?
Yes! Dominion Intrigue is a stand alone game, which means that it can be played by itself.
A lot of people are confused about this because it’s branded as a ‘stand alone expansion’, and ‘expansion’ suggests that it’s not a stand alone. Some retailers also get this mixed messaging wrong and list Intrigue as an expansion that isn’t stand alone. But, in fact Intrigue is stand alone as it contains all the Victory Point cards and Treasure cards that the normal base game also contains.
How Did You Choose The Best Dominion Expansion?
After reading our ranking you may wonder how it came about. To choose the best Dominion expansion, there are three main questions we considered.
Is The Expansion Beginner Friendly?
If you’re buying your first Dominion expansion, it’s better to get one that is beginner friendly. This implies that the cards are all easy to understand and execute. So we’re looking for simple effects and not too wordy explanations.
How Interesting Are The Cards In The Expansion Pack?
Ideally you buy the Dominion expansion pack that adds the most interesting cards to your collection. Fortunately, most of the Dominion expansions add mostly well designed cards that make for interesting games. But, some of the expansions contain relatively many ‘duds’; cards that are either too situational or just too bad to play. These are the expansions that we want to avoid.
How Well Does The Expansion Combine With Other Dominion Sets?
For us the most important selection criterion for Dominion expansions is how well they combine with other sets. Dominion really thrives off the interactions that arise when you combine the cards of different expansions. We place heavy emphasis on this in our ranking, because this way adding one expansion can revitalize how new all your other sets feel.
How well an expansion combines with other sets partly depends on how interesting its cards are. But, what’s even more important is that the expansion changes the game play of Dominion more generally. As you read in our reviews, some Dominion expansions are able to alter the normal flow of the game by adding only a few cards.
We hope that our Dominion expansions ranked review helps you pick the best Dominion expansion for you.
If our recommendations and suggestions leave you with any unanswered questions, please reach out to us through our contact form. We would love to incorporate the answers to your questions in our ranking, so we can help future readers decide which Dominion to get even better.