Dominion (Unofficial)


Some of you will be aware of this release last month. It is an unofficial release of. Despite being a free app, there was a bit of controversy around its release by no means because it was without notice and without formal endorsement of the rights holders of the property. Because it was unofficial I was not going to review the game. For reference, Donald X. Vaccarino is the physical game’s creator’s name.

At first there was some confusion because the unofficial free app that used the art and the IP of an existing game. There were a number of concerns that this was simply a rip off of a legitimate game. However, according to this post by Jay Tummelson from Rio Grande Games (the property holders):

Just to clarify things on this issue if I can at this point. Over the past two years, RGG has been approached by a number of people asking to do a “casual” and free app for Dominion. In such cases, we have usually said yes with the stipulation that once the “official” Dominion app became available that the free app would be removed. Cory is one of those who asked and, as with others, we gave him permission to develop a free Dominion app, which I understand he has finished. I admit some surprise as it has been months since we last spoke and I had assumed he had decided not to complete the app. In any case, as long as it is free, it is allowed, at least for a few weeks until the licensed app becomes available.

So for the sake of this website, I’m happy to make a quick review about this game but not list it as an official review. Clearly that honour should be reserved for the actual official release and I’d hate to have two versions of Dominion trying to compete for the top 20 spots.


It’s very clear from this game that it’s a no-frills option. This is Dominion pared down to its absolute basics. It’s only the base game (which is fair enough) and it doesn’t really have many good features that support and intelligent and engaging user interface. That being said, for an independent app it is great. It’s whetted my appetite for a real Dominion game, one that helps immerse me into the experience rather than skims the surface.

Now considering that we have a promise of Dominion in several weeks time, this might be the perfect opportunity to ground yourself in the game before the real deal hits. If you’ve never played before you may be hampered by a sufficient tutorial and in depth explanatory rulesets.

One of the advantages of this is that a number of people have already been offering some reasonably intelligent methods of bettering the design. Indeed, one of my favourite variables is the fact that you can affect the colour of the treasure cards to reflect their actual colour (copper is copper coloured, silver is silver coloured, and gold is gold coloured); it always puzzled me why they didn’t just pursue this option from the very beginning.

I won’t give a scored verdict for the reasons I already specified.

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  1. aaronsullivan

    This app is very successful, in my opinion. I think it deserves more than such a light touch of a review, honestly. Overall, it plays Dominion and it plays it well enough to currently be the most addictive iOS experience my wife and I are enjoying right now.

    The best part is that a play through goes smoothly without needless interruptions. It’s easy to get the information you need when you need it to make decisions and opportunities for accidental actions are mostly slim.

    Two places where I’d like to see improvements:
    1. It would be nice to be able to pause an AI action to see what card was bought or even skip by faster than waiting or trying to pick it out while it smoothly transitions to the AI hand.
    2. When picking cards out of your hand (for instance, to discard as a result of an attack) you CAN make an accidental choice without recourse.

    The AI isn’t good with every selection of cards, but I was initially surprised at how good it was. Couldn’t make a game work online, either, and I don’t think there’s an easy way to match up with my wife in a game. As a one player experience, however, this does the job and makes us want to play the real game more to try out some of the expansions we haven’t fully explored yet.

    I’m awaiting the official version and expect it to be more fully featured, but this sure makes the wait easy.

  2. soaring

    The app definitely requires some graphic polishing.. but overall it is already great! Actually owners of the title shall be grateful! I have check it after yours short review and it took me completely for few hours. And I am going to buy original card/board version definitely and I am more then curious about addons and official app!

  3. Batpete

    Been playing this for a week. I am addicted. I have the card game with all the expansions. I can’t wait for the official release and hopefully will include options to purchase the expansions.

    Great game!

  4. Bart

    I just read the interview with Jay that was linked to above – I have a HUGE amount of respect for the guy after reading that and I will DEFINATELY being buying his official version.
    Ater playing the free fan version I went out and bought the real board game too.

    You have to support a guy who is supporting his fans / players like this.

  5. Jeff

    Having played a ton of dominion it was slightly refreshing to come back to the base game and play some. But this game is horribly gimped out of the gate by the lack of expansions.

    I hope the official game shows up soon along with the expansions.

  6. Caryn

    I have this app on my iPad and love it. I showed my neighbor but now it is unavailable. What is the latest? I got her hooked on the game now and she wants to play on her iPad.

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