remake of Löwenherz
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An intriguing new game of domain building by the creator of The Settlers of Catan.
The king shall return...
But before he does, the realm falls into anarchy and chaos. The lords of the kingdom struggle to improve their place and standing. New borders are drawn, and expanded through strength of arms and subtle maneuver. Each duke seeks to establish a claim over the most valuable parts of the kingdom before the king finally returns...
In the dark of the Middle Ages, control of the land was the key to wealth and power. Can you control enough territory to become the most prestigious duke before the kings return?
With the love for detail that has distinguished all of his designs, Klaus Teuber has created a game that is easy to learn, yet offers enough strategic depth to draw players back again and again. Are you clever enough to control the land, marshal your wealth, and seize the power and prestige of your own Domaine?
- 4 Board Edge Pieces
- 9 Land Tiles
- 60 Action Cards
- 60 Knight Figures
- 16 Castles
- 100 Border Markers
- 47 Gold Ducat Tokens
- 4 Crest Tokens
- 1 King Token
- 1 Rulebook
Average Rating: 4.4 in 15 reviews
Hats off to Herr Teuber, who keeps getting it right. O.K., I've only played it a couple times, but Domaine is a great game. It is hands-down better than other games chosen by Games Magazine in the 2004 Buyers Guide in the Advanced Strategy category. It is leaps and bounds ahead of New England, the Game of the Year, which I find to be merely mediocre. I hope this brief review can do this great game justice.
The rules are simple. The rule book is a mere 4 pages long, much of which is pictures. Each turn a player may sell a card, or pay to play a card. Take the action on the card you played to expand or protect one of your domaines. Draw to replenish your hand. That is it. To be completely honest I wasn't expecting much after reading the rules. What a pleasant surprise I was in for.
Players must make hard choices. You have to predict what your opponents will do and try to use that to your advantage. There is never enough time or money to do everything you want to do. There is quite a bit of conflict and a screw your opponent factor, as players compete for mines to gain money, and villages and forests for victory points.
I love games that offer the choice of screwing your opponent or solidifying your position. Now that makes for a great game.
Is it as good Puerto Rico or Settlers or Princes of Florence? (I do not hesitate to put Domaine in such company). There is much more conflict in Domaine, which turns off some players, but it is certainly up there in some rarified air. Only time will tell if it takes its rightful place in the gaming community. Domaine makes me wish I had played Lowenhertz, the original version of this game. I plan to buy it just to see what I've been missing.
Lowenherz is Klaus Teuber's best design to date. Better than Adel Verpflichtet, and better than Settlers. There are agonizing choices to be made every turn! The mechanic of forcing four players to choose among three options each turn, with two players having to duke it out to perform one of the choices, works very well. The balance among the various strategies (going for gold, choosing a politics card, building walls, building up a knight force, expanding one's territory) is remarkable -- each of these is valuable in its own way, and choosing how much one of them is worth to you at any given point in the game is not easy! I'll play this game over and over and over -- it's just loads of fun!
Allthough I have nothing new to add to the previous reviewers, I still want to express my enthousiasm for this game, because it simply deserves it. The game is just brilliant. Even if it would only have been a 'place a few pieces on the board' type of game (like Medina) it's my guess it still would have been a nice, abstract game.
Klaus Teuber however, has managed to mix a good abstract game mechanism with a completely other mechanism, wich is highly responsible for a lot of interaction between the players: trading the actions. If you want to do something, you'll have to pay for it. This way, you don't only have to keep focussed on what's going on on the board, you also have to make sure you have enough money in order to execute your strategical plans. I think this can be frustrating at times, especcially when you can't afford yourself to make a certain 'now watch me what I figured out here' move on the board, due to the lack of money (wich is needed to buy your desperately wanted action ) but on the other hand: every player has this problem, so it is a matter of balance and timing. That is what makes this game to a great game.
Money is equal to power, but if you use it wrong, you'll destroy your options. Control your greede, but control it to much, and you will find yourself wonderering why the other player(s) do exactly the thing you had planned to do, instead of you :)
A great, great game, thanks to its diverse elements.
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Noble families vie for control of a medieval kingdom in this updated version of Lowenherz (see December 2001 GAMES). You start with several knights and castles on the board. Boundary walls around castles, including the board's edge, define their domains. You score victory points for towns, forests, and mines within your domains. Cards govern the available actions: placing boundaries, recruiting knights, increasing your domain at the expense of a neighbor's that has fewer knights, forging peace treaties with troublesome neighbors, and stealing opponents' knights. Each card offers one or two actions, which you must pay to initiate. You raise cash only by selling cards to the Chancery, but then competitors can use these cards to replenish their hands.
The fantastic mechanisms produce a deep and difficult strategic contest, but beware of surprise dashes to victory when the final domain is formed.
This magnificent variant on the ancient game of go includes negotiations! There are no conflicts as long as players in turn choose different available Actions. Negotiation commences if two players compete--e.g., "Here's 20 ducats, if the Action's mine." If negotiations fail, or if more than two compete, whoever secretly offers the most money wins. Actions allow you to get money, place fences (you score for surrounding territory that includes one of your castles), expand (even into enemy regions), or place a Knight. Only adjacent regions with more Knights can encroach upon yours. Highest score after the final Action wins. This game is a sadly overlooked masterpiece.