[Editors note: The following is a Nemesis Review, featuring opinions from our in-house thematic-loving @futurewolfie and his ferocious opponent, the stodgy euro-loving @Farmerlenny. Make sure to read both opinions to get a better overall picture of the game!]
How It Plays
Prosperity, as might be gathered by its name, adds cards that greatly increase your wealth. New cards in the supply increase your ability to purchase in terms of treasure and number of buys quickly and easily. In addition, you’ll find a series of new treasure cards that have additional effects beyond just treasure—even though they are still played as treasure cards, not action cards. The new supply cards tend to fall in the more expensive area, and some of them extend even as much as costing eight treasure, and they are well worth the cost.
Prosperity also adds new point tokens. These shiny metal trinkets are worth points like victory cards, but pile up next to your deck, not inside it. Finally, Prosperity adds two new basic card piles. These new cards—Platinum and Colony—extend the treasure and victory point set. Platinum is a treasure card that costs nine to purchase but is worth five treasure, while the Colony is a ten-point victory card that costs eleven.
Prosperity really lives up to its name. When you play you will feel rich, ridiculously rich, and a delightful feeling it is. If you haven’t played Prosperity, the idea of an action card costing as much as a Province might sound ridiculous. But when an average turn nets you about 14-15 treasure and two to three buys, you will see how it all comes together. Colony is the cheapest cost-per-point card available, so even though the game still ends when Provinces run out, you’ll find yourself scrambling to net the extra four points per card at only three extra cost. And those Platinum cards go so far with purchasing power, especially when you realize that a single Platinum card in hand allows you to buy the more expensive cards from the original Dominion or Intrigue.
Prosperity really builds on the “you are super rich!” theme and as a result offers less… shall we say… meanness than other sets, especially Seaside. There are only a few attack cards added, although a few other cards adding some player interaction, but it’s mostly about making yourself super, super rich. Some may be disappointed to hear that, desiring more player interaction, while some may be happy to hear that there won’t be too many hard feelings after a round of Prosperity.
That being said, once you get used to playing Prosperity, be cautious introducing it to new players. While they are likely to enjoy the new elements, it is easy to forget that Prosperity’s “rich” gameplay requires thinking about the game in a slightly new way. It is easier for a new player, thinking too much along the lines of the original Dominion, to fall very far behind and get discouraged. Ten points is a lot to fall behind by, and the amount of money coming into play can result in huge gaps.
Prosperity is definitely one of my favorite Dominion expansions. It’s got the same ease of play, consistent terminology, and variety of cards that marks the original game. It expands and offers new strategies, new types of cards, and plenty of money. I highly recommend adding this to your Dominion collection.
I love Prosperity. The theme is carried through in each of the cards, and you do feel like the sun is shining on your empire throughout the whole game. It is easier to buy things, easier to get victory points, easier to be lulled into inaction.
But don’t forget to be on your guard! Prosperity may not have as many attack cards as other sets, but the attacks it has are nasty. Mountebank causes other players to either discard a curse or gain a curse and a copper. Goons forces other players to discard down to three cards, but gives its player the added bonus of an extra buy, +2 coins, and a VP token per card bought.
Then there are the more subtle cards that are not to be trifled with. Peddler, for example, is one of my favorites. It costs eight, but it costs two less during the buy phase per action card played. If you play your cards right, you can acquire them for free—and this after buying your colonies. Peddler is also great for trashing for VPs. The Bishop allows you to trash a card for 1/2 its cost in VPs. Because the Peddler’s cost only decreases during the buy phase, you can net four VPs for a card you bought for free—not too shabby. And let’s not forget its interaction with my favorite card, the Swindler. In earlier sets, hitting a Province was fairly safe, as the only card you could replace it with was another Province. No longer! Swindling provinces for peddlers is very gratifying (though your friends might not remain so after the game). I love the variety of uses that Peddler offers.
In addition to attack cards (which hurt everyone else and generally benefit you), there are also several cards that help everyone. One of my favorite cards in the set is Bishop, which allows every other player to trash a card (cursing in a Bishop game is typically not as powerful, which makes sense thematically). Bishop also gives its player the benefit of +1 coin and +1 VP. It requires the player to trash a card, but then gives him +X VPs, where X equals half the cost of the card trashed. (If this sounds like a great way to filter out your estates early on for no net loss, you are absolutely right.)
There’s also Vault, which is like Intrigue’s Secret Chamber on steroids. You draw two cards first, then can discard any number of cards for +1 coin. However, it also gives each other player the opportunity to discard two cards to draw one. This may not seem that helpful, but it has been over and over again.
Then there are the new cost 7 cards for those pesky hands where you have more treasure than gold costs, but not as much as a province costs. These cost-7 cards are expensive, but generally worth the price. King’s Court is like Throne Room, only you play the second action three times instead of two. This may not seem worth a jump in cost by three, but let me assure you, it is. There’s Forge to let you quickly and easily get better cards into your deck and Expand, which is like Remodel but which lets you jump to a new card that costs up to three more rather than up to two more. (It’s like Mine that allows you to upgrade your green cards, too!)
Perhaps the biggest addition in Prosperity, however, is treasure cards that do something. There’s Hoard, which costs 6 (like a gold) and is only worth 2, but it generates a gold whenever a VP card is bought. (This encourages the early purchase of VP cards.) There’s the Signet Ring, which is worth 2 and allows you to place any cards purchased that turn on top of your deck. And then there’s Contraband, which costs a mere 5 coins but which is worth 3 like a gold with the added benefit of a buy. The catch? The player on your left names a card you can’t buy. (Contraband is a harsh mistress.)
Even though I still maintain that Intrigue is the most essential expansion to Dominion, I get most excited talking about the new cards in Prosperity. However, Prosperity is the kind of set that will spoil you. Once you experience its shinies, you might think that it should always be this easy to buy cards, or that you should always play with the new basic cards. Prosperity has its charms, but so do the other sets. (I follow the advice offered in the rules, setting out the colony and platinum cards randomly.) And while buying cards is easier in Prosperity, it doesn’t make the game any easier; it just changes what’s important. The strategy changes (especially when the colony and platinum cards are set out), which adds oodles of replayability. I might suggest buying Intrigue first, but make Prosperity a close second. It’s that good.