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Review: Dominion: Seaside

5
Seaside: It’s Dominion…with bits!

[Editors note: The following is a Nemesis Review, featuring opinions from our in-house eurogamer, @Farmerlenny, and his deadly enemy the thematic space-loving @Futurewolfie.  Make sure to read both opinions to get a better overall picture of the game!]

Dominion: Seaside is the second expansion for Dominion. It is a straight expansion and does not include all of the bits you need to play; in order to use Seaside, you must have Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue.

How It Plays

The theme of Seaside is “your next turn.” Seaside introduces a new kind of action card, the “Action-Duration,” which produces some effect immediately and another (generally less powerful) effect on your next turn. So, for example, Fishing Village gives its player +2 actions and +1 coin on the turn it’s played and +1 action, +1 coin on the following turn. (Duration cards remain in front of a player during clean up; they are discarded at the end of the following turn.)

Seaside also introduces bits and player mats to Dominion, including mats for Pirate Ship, Native Village, and Island, and metal coins and embargo tokens that come into play with certain cards. Seaside also offers some of the nastiest attacks in the game: Sea Hag (a cost-4 cursing attack), Ghost Ship, and Ambassador. These are dangerous waters, but the spoils you can reap might make traversing them worth your while.

@FarmerLenny’s take:

Seaside, to me, is the least essential of the big-box expansions. While the concepts it introduces are interesting and sometimes fun to play with, they also seem to have more of a novelty factor than adding exciting new gameplay options. That being said, I still mix it in each time I play, but I would recommend its coming last in the buying order if you’re just starting out in the world of Dominion.

Island is my favorite card from the set. These others are good, too.

I do enjoy several of the cards in Seaside, and the duration actions add an interesting twist to the game (though they are harder for new players to remember the rules for—don’t clean them up right away!). My favorite card in Seaside is the new victory card, Island. Island is a Victory/Action card, and while worth 2 VPs, it allows its player to set it and another card aside for the remainder of the game. This is a great way to keep your deck lean and to keep your victory cards safe from would-be attackers.

I also like the Smugglers card. Smugglers allows its player to gain a card costing up to 6 that the player to their right gained last turn. Since buying is a form of gaining, there are  lots of options for this card. It keeps players on their toes as buying a gold on their turn may enable another player’s smuggler. Smugglers is by no means the most powerful card in the set, but I like the added tension it develops.

Another card I enjoy from Seaside is Ambassador. This card allows its player to reveal and return up to two cards from his hand to the supply, forcing each other player to gain a copy of it. It’s a good way to get rid of copper or curses and gum up your opponents’ decks in the process. (Of course, as is always the case in Dominion, what goes around comes around.)

Nasty attacks!

Pirate Ship is an interesting attack that allows a choice: either attack other players (similar to thief: each other player reveals two cards from their deck, trashing a treasure card of your choice) or get +X coins, where X equals the number of times the attack was successful. (You keep track of X using the provided metal coin bits, which have a great tactile feel, by the way.)

I said that Seaside is the least essential of the big-box Dominion expansions, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad set. The cards contained in the box are fun to play with, and they do add a sense of the roiling chaos of the deep blue sea to a mostly straightforward game. I just think Intrigue is the most essential expansion (adding many more victory options), and Prosperity adds replayability in a way that Seaside doesn’t. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in Seaside, but those on a tighter budget may want to start elsewhere.

@Futurewolfie’s take:

I think there’s a good reason why Seaside does not come as a standalone expansion when Intrigue does. Aside from the 6-player additional rules in Intrigue (or 8-player with 2 games without having to buy a superfluous copy of the original), Seaside is pretty intense by itself. There are plenty of tough attacks, from the Pirate Ship, to the Ghost Ship, the Sea Hag, and more. There are a few other memorable cards (mentioned by @FarmerLenny above) but for the most part, Seaside doesn’t really stand out as a whole.  The duration cards are an interesting variation on playing cards, but most of them don’t add a whole lot, and they’re just not as exiting as the Prosperity treasure cards or the complex choices of Intrigue. It’s also very easy to forget not to clear them off, and as most of the bonus comes in the next round, this can cost you pretty big. I’m certain that I’ve lost games because of my natural tendancy to clear everything in front of me.

These cards stick around from turn to turn.

Seaside is best mixed in with other sets. The coins and embargo tokens are pretty and shiny and fun to have.  The duration cards mix things up, and the new cards and variants on old cards just add more variety and replayability. If you love the ever-expanding world of Dominion, Seaside mixes well and is a worthy purchase; however, alone it is pretty intense and not as cohesive as Prosperity.

[Edit: the following was added by @Futurewolfie on December 4, 2012:]

Most of the time, my opinion on a game doesn’t change very much over time.  Maybe a slight decrease in value as a game begins to wear thin, or an increase as I find it works well coming again and again.  After several months and many more uses of Seaside, my opinion of the expansion has changed drastically.

The game has grown on me quite a bit.  While it’s not quite as exciting as Prosperity, it does add a whole wealth of ways to manipulate your deck, as well as the decks of other players.  From islands that let you stock up on cards over time to either get them out of your deck, or save them up for one epic game-ending-in-a-landslide hand, to duration cards that let you set up future turns, to attacks that add loads of bad cards to your opponents or cut down their hands, Seaside adds a large array of exciting, strategic options.  It is a bit “tougher” in this sense, since you can be affected easily, but there are plenty of ways to do well by yourself.

Seaside cards often SEEM like they should blast their way through your hand, but in actuality it’s more about patience, more about scheming and planning ahead, and when you realize that, the cards you can get are quite excellent and a lot of fun to use and play.  Seaside has become one of my favorite expansions (okay, I think at some point I have claimed all of the Dominion expansions as one of my favorites.  What can I say, it’s a great game with great additions), and sometimes I even prefer it to Prosperity, although certain players wont enjoy it as much.  I do know that I always look forward to the Seaside cards that get randomly mixed in to our Dominion setups.

Want another opinion? Check out the Dominion: Seaside review on The Board Game Family or Play Board Games’ Dominion: Seaside review.

Summary

  • Farmerlenny's Rating 9
  • Futurewolfie's Rating 9
  • User Ratings (2 Votes) 9
    Your Rating:
Summary

Pros

  • Fun cards
  • A sense of the roiling chaos of the sea
  • Interesting interactive cards
Futurewolfie says:

Pros

  • Lots of new cards that allow planning
  • Plenty of deck manipulation, both for your own deck and other players
  • Many new strategic options
  • Once you get the hang of it, it's quite fun to play
  • Shiny coins!

Cons:

  • Not as cohesive as other expansions
  • More novelty factor in many of the cards

Cons:

  • A bit tougher and more intense than other expansions
  • More learning curve than other expansions
9.0 Excellent

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion5 Comments

  1. I’m one of those with a tighter budget! I’ve got Intrigue on the wishlist for the next round of purchases. But I will probably only buy one more Dominion expansion after that. I was debating between Seaside and Prosperity. May just make the decision to go for the latter, now. Thanks for considering the practical side of this hobby…it is often over-looked! And good thoughts!

  2. I’m glad we could help. I feel the practical side of the hobby each month. I only receive so much allowance from our budget. 🙂

    Watch out for our Prosperity review next week–that might help sway you even more. (Spoiler alert: Prosperity is AWESOME.)

  3. Although I do agree that Intrigue is probably the more essential expansion, I would say that Seaside is more exciting and introduces some really neat cards. I was surprised to see a couple of my favorite cards missing from your summarizes. Some of them I especially enjoy because I like trying to make them work (much like certain cards from Intrigue: Baron, Bridge, Coppersmith, Scout, Duke, Upgrade, Nobles).

    Native Village – This card has lots of neat strategies, especially if you can get several of them quickly and have cards that let you manipulate what’s on top of your deck. Early on you can use it to get unwanted cards out of your deck (similar to the Island but harder to control) or set aside some coppers and then draw a bunch of them to get a big money hand. Later on you can use it to draw combos that you were trying to set up.

    Haven – Similar to the Native Village concept of setting aside a card from this hand to use for a stronger hand later but in a much more focused way. Each time you use it it effectively gives you -1 card from your current hand and +1 card to your next hand with the bonus of being able to pick what’s going into your next hand. Can be useful early to give you the boost to get to 5 or 6 money and later to set up nice combos.

    Salvager – Awesome trashing card, I love it early for getting rid of estates and later for making the jump to provinces. Hands down one of my favorites from this set.

    Outpost/Tactician – These are absolutely crazy cards to use and often shine or fizzle depending on what other cards are available. The Outpost provides two smaller turns (4 cards, 3 cards) and is fun with slim decks or ones with lots of card drawing. The Tactician is at the opposite end of the spectrum, sacrificing your current turn for a super double turn on your next go. Tactician is especially fun if you get some action cards that have +coins.

    Merchant Ship/Wharf – Very powerful duration cards but are both terminal actions so they can be tricky to use.

  4. You definitely picked some great cards to highlight. One of the nice things about Dominion is that different cards appeal to different people. It’s fun to see four players all approach the same set of cards from a totally different angle.

    The Island is also my favorite card in this set. Much like the Great Hall, Harem, and Nobles from Intrigue it adds some much needed victory path variety to the game.

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