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Dominion: Alchemy - Board Game Box Shot

Dominion: Alchemy

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Dominion Alchemy title

There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress.

This is the 3rd addition to Dominion. It adds new Kingdom cards and can also be combined with any other Dominion expansions you have.

We hope you enjoy this expanding world of Dominion!

You will need Dominion, or Dominion: Intrigue to play this game.

Dominion: Alchemy contents
images © Rio Grande Games

User Reviews (11)

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45 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Don't forget your potions ...”

I actually really love most of the actions in this set. It seems to change things up to offer more winning strategies. Most of these games feel like provinces just aren’t as important as they were before. Perhaps this is mostly due to the limited number of cards, so the vineyard shows up fairly often. After more plays I may decide that it might tilt too much in that direction and wish for province strategies again.

Aside from that, I really don’t enjoy the new potion mechanic. Now setup is a little more difficult. You now have to decide if you want Alchemy or not, so you can enforce the 3-5 card rule, but even that you really decide how many you want up front. Some of the online tools and even iphone apps help mitigate this, but it is just another hassle. On top of that, it almost feels like you have to buy a potion. In a gardens game, if you don’t go for gardens you can still slow down those players by buying a few of them to slow them down. However, you can’t stop the vineyard players unless you first buy a potion. I have also seen in other games that I just needed to end the game and the closest stack to running out required a potion and nobody else wanted it to end, so I get stuck. It would be nice if the actions could have been adjusted to work out without needing the potion at all.

The interesting actions have me giving this a good rating, but the potions made me drop it a little.

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Critic - Level 4
Advanced Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
45 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Dominion Tries Its Hand at Stage Magic”

In contemplating the impact of Alchemy, the third expansion for Dominion and the first “half-sized” set with only 12 new Kingdom cards, I can’t help recalling Penn and Teller’s scene in Fantasia 2000: “It’s your kid’s birthday, and you just shelled out 50 bucks to watch a guy pull a mangy rabbit out of a flea-bitten hat… You think it must be some kind of trick. And you know what? You’d be right!… This is what real magicians laughingly refer to as ‘stage magic’… ALL ARE ILLUUUUUSIONS.”

That’s kind of the feel I get from playing with this set. The main addition this set brings to the game is the use of a new Treasure card called Potion, and most of the cards in this set require a potion as at least part of the cost to buy. In effect, it creates the new tension of having enough potions to get the cool powers on the Alchemy cards, but not so much that it undermines the actual money you need to buy other cards, particularly victory points.

The cards themselves are a mixed bag, mostly good powers, but also, nearly all of them grant extra actions. So playing with this set pretty much ensures players will be playing a lot of cards on their turn. The one card people are most likely to grumble about is Possession, which allows you to control the next player’s turn and steal a lot of his benefits for yourself, then giving him another, regular turn.

I know a lot of this sounds like I’m down on the set; I actually like playing with the set, especially when we get in the mood for doing some power-chaining, and most of the cards do really cool things. It’s just that the idea behind the potion gives the illusion of a whole new avenue for gameplay, when the reality is it just kind of forks some of the cards off a little bit to the side.

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I play blue
Football Fan
Advanced Reviewer
44 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“What had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people”

What Is It About? – An Overview of the Expansion
The third Dominion expansion, Alchemy conjures up a more mystical aura to your expanding kingdom. This set introduces a new Treasure type, the Potion, that is a secondary cost for the cards and is added to the basic set-up.

What Do I Get? – The Components in the Box
As the smallest set, only 150 cards are included, making up only 12 unique Kingdom cards and 16 Potions. As a dependent expansion, it will need the basic cards (Victory, Coins, Curses, and Trash) of a base set. This is the first of the expansions to be in a smaller box.

What Does it Add? – Impacts to the Base Game
In one of the more dramatic changes to the core mechanics, Potions add a new cost structure. Ten of the 12 new Kingdom sets include a Potion cost, along with the standard Coin cost. In order to buy these cards, a Potion must be played alongside the standard coin Treasure cards. Since the starting decks are not altered, a Potion must be gained before any cards with a Potion in the cost can be purchased. And a card with a Potion cannot be the target of an Remodel or an Upgrade unless the Trashed card also has a Potion in its cost. Likewise, a Feast will not bring any card with a Potion into your deck, even if the card is well under a 5-Coin cost.

The balance of the cards are the standard mix of a couple new Attack cards, a new Victory card, and another Treasure card (this one giving Coins). A sub-theme of the expansion is revealing cards and looking for Action cards. Golem allows you to reveal the first 2 Action cards from your deck and play them in any order. Vineyard, similar to Gardens, awards VPs for the number of Action cards in your deck at the end of the game.

What Is the Target Audience? – Who Should Get This
This expansion is for those wanting a little more magic in their basic game; for those that want to change up the game with even more complexity, exploring cards that are a little more involved. Completists will of course want it in their collection, though may consider it as a lower priority over other expansions.

The casual gamer might want to avoid this given the added layer of needing Potions in the Treasure mix. It also makes a random mix a little more complex during set up, looking for a decent ratio of Potion to non-Potion costed cards.

What Do I Think? – Final Thoughts
On the one hand, I enjoy some of the cards more than other expansions. Philosopher’s Stone is an amazing coin generator, especially as your deck gets clogged with Victory cards. But on the other hand, the practicality of counting your discard and deck becomes cumbersome. Possession is one of the most interactive cards literally allowing you to control your opponent. But given the method it is implemented, makes it one of the most complicated cards.

The Potion price of the cards makes it difficult to mix in with many expansions. Purchasing these cards can slow you down and get a bit gimmicky. Certain combinations seem to gum up the works and make a simple “Big Money” strategy more effective at being a dominant strategy. This set also lacks many +Buy cards. Only Herbalist and (by extension of an extra turn) Possession give the ability to get a second buy, which leaves a lot of cards on the table turn after turn.

In the greater hierarchy, I would place this last of all expansions (behind Intrigue). This set contains some very unique cards, that I really enjoy. Unfortunately, the drawback is that it just doesn’t play nicely in the overall system. Mix too few Alchemy cards and the Potion becomes a relatively expensive card. Mix too many and the card interactions may not work. For example, in a mostly Alchemy mix, the University is only ever able to pick up the Apprentice (or overpay for Herbalist). But in an expensive setup, it can bring in a lot of high-powered cards that cost only Coins. It was an interesting idea that I want to work but falls short.

What Else? – Other Expansion Reviews
Dominion (base game)

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Marquis / Marchioness
Advanced Reviewer
Professional Advisor Beta 1.0 Tester
42 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“A great twist on a good game”

I love this expansion for what the cards add. The great mechanic that the game adds is a new TYPE of treasure card, potions, which you must purchase in order to purchase many of the alchemy cards. The alchemy cards are very powerful, but this is due to the additional cost, making them slower and more difficult to acquire.

The major downside to this game is that it is not as much fun when you mix all of the Dominion expansions together. You typically end up with 1-2 alchemy cards when you do this, and it makes the worth of purchasing potions decrease so dramatically that it can defeat the purpose of having alchemy cards in the game. Alternatively, this can affect strategy as somebody has to really want the alchemy card(s) in order to buy the potions!

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42 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“10 out of 12 ain't bad”

If you haven’t played the other Dominion sets, go play them first before trying Alchemy. Otherwise, read on:
I really like the curveballs that the Potion mechanic and the cards in this set add to the game. A lot of people aren’t fans, and I’m not personally sure why. There are two cards in it that I would recommend against playing with: Possession and Philosopher’s Stone. Possession slows the game down a lot, even when playing online, and Philosopher’s Stone requires you to go through your entire deck counting money cards, which an online engine can automate for you, but when playing in person is a PAIN IN THE BUTT.
However, you’ve got cool cards like the Alchemist, Transmute, Familiar, etc., which all add another interesting dynamic to the game.
I do not regret adding this to my collection at all.

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Intermediate Grader
Critic - Level 1
43 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Dangerous but Interesting”

Dominion: Alchemy adds a whole new treasure card called potions. While this is hard to manage, it adds an extra dimension and objective to vanilla Dominion.

I agree with the assumption that you need to use 3+ action cards that cost potions to purchase, as any less than that make potions almost worthless. However, when played fairly, numerous potion cards in one’s deck can pave the way to victory.

That being said, only two to three players at most (I usually play 4-player games) even attempt to go for the potion cards, which can cause a stalemate if they want to finish the game, and others don’t. This happens because picking a potion card and enough money is sometimes impossible.

I like the addition of a new treasure card, and while I usually won’t rush to buy the potion cards in any game; numerous people I play with like it. If it keeps them playing, then I will gladly use it.

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Knight-errant Beta 1.0 Tester
Intermediate Reviewer
The Big Cheese 2012
43 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“This set is so underrated.”

When it comes to Dominion, this is one of my favorite sets. The ability to cycle through your deck super fast is really exciting, and it doesn’t take that much time since you don’t need a ton of cards to pull it off. I love the mechanic of adding the potion to the treasure options. I have seen games where people forgo the potion and all of the options in that game and do fine. I have also seen it ruin someone’s deck to not get the potion and cards it can buy. There is nothing more exciting than busting out a Golem to throw around some serious action weight. Also, scrying pool and apothecary make cycling through the deck quick, and it feels like you are playing an old school magic the gathering blue deck. My favorite card in probably all of dominion is the Apprentice. What a great way to trash cards! It makes the game so much more fluid since you can have a totally different early game strategy from late game strategy. I don’t think any other card truly gives that option. All and all, this is a totally misunderstood set. It is awesome!

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44 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Misunderstood expansion = it being used less”

This by far is the expansion that is less used in my dominion collection. The concept is good – but the cards are ‘weaker’ than other cards in different sets – and you have to invest in ‘potions’ on top of that to get them.

I would only bring this set in with a few experienced Dominion players and would play with at least 3 action cards from it – just to make the potion that much more attractive.

I’ve yet to get the newest expansions, but I am hoping they will have new cards with potion as a buying cost.

Only buy this set once you have played multiple games with the other expansions.

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Gamer - Level 1
43 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“I really like this expansion, even if many don't.”

I really like the dynamic of having an alternate currency type (potions) that are orthogonal to the original currency (money). It increases the strategy options and makes you commit one way or another.

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Amateur Reviewer
43 of 69 gamers found this helpful

Tried this expansion some times, and I think it’s quite an useless one. Most cards that require Alchemy aren’t just worth buying. I always won sticking to “classic” cards.
Adding types of cost to Dominion is pretty much complicating something that doesn’t need it.
If you are thinking about buying a Dominion expansion, just forget about this one and get Cornucopia or Intrigue instead.

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3 Beta 1.0 Tester
43 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“Requires Dedication”

There’s a reason why the rules recommend having at least three of these cards in the supply if you play with them at all. These cards are powerful additions to the game, but they almost force you to commit to them early and hard. Having to buy a potion means it’s impossible to get any of these cards on the first cycle through your deck.

While fun if it’s the only expansion you play, I feel this set does not have the same synergy that you get from the base and Intrigue decks.


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