Dominion is our favorite deck building game, but it’s not perfect. It suffers from the ‘Big Money problem’. Fortunately, Dominion Prosperity solves this problem, which is why it’s the best Dominion expansion. The way in which Prosperity solves the Big money is also rather ironic: by introducing even bigger money.
Big Money Strategy
For the unacquainted, Big Money is a strategy in Dominion. It consists of buying a Province when you have 8 purchasing power or more, gold when you have 6-7 purchasing power, silver when you have 3-5 purchasing power, and nothing otherwise.
Big Money is a no-fun-allowed strategy that is infamous for the cold efficiency with which it wrecks new players. Although Big Money is never the optimal strategy in a kingdom, it is usually quite strong and it takes a good player to beat it. Therefore, Big Money can ruin many games for new or casual players.
Beating Big Money with Prosperity
Fortunately Big Money loses much of its power in Dominion Prosperity. The Prosperity expansion introduces a set of very expensive cards, including a Platinum treasure card that costs 9 and is worth 5, and most importantly the Colony, which costs 11 and is worth 10 Victory Points.
Big Money relies on buying the majority of the Provinces quickly. Normally in Dominion, if you buy the majority of the Provinces, you are likely to win. But, in Dominion Prosperity, buying the majority of the Provinces often isn’t enough to win, because your opponents can counter by buying the Colonies, which are worth a lot more points than your Provinces.
New problem: Bigger Money?
The natural evolution for the Big Money strategy in Dominion Prosperity is to buy Platinum with 6-10 purchasing power and Colonies with > 10. We might call this the ‘Bigger Money’ strategy. Is Bigger Money equally as oppressive as Big Money?
The answer is no, because it actually takes Bigger Money a lot of time to buy the majority of the Colonies. This extra time gives end game strategies that are based on action cards the time that they need to get out of control. For example, the combination of Peddler with Expand can often start gaining more than 3 Colonies per turn. Bigger Money simply cannot keep up with than kind of velocity.
In every Prosperity game the players need to decide whether they want to go for Provinces or for Colonies. This is never a trivial decision, as the feasibility of buying a lot of Colonies depends on the kingdom. It depends on the available end game strategies, as well as the availability of strong combinations of attack cards. This extra layer of strategic depth is the main reason that Prosperity ranks number one in our list of the best Dominion expansions.