The aim of Dominion is to win.
Winning is achieved by having the most Victory points.
Despite being a card game, this comes in a rather large box so that each deck of cards can be compartmentalised into labelled slots. Very tidy.
The game involves 16 types of cards, stacked in their own piles, 10 of which are action cards, 3 are treasure cards and 3 are Victory Point cards (VP cards). There are a goodly number of different action card decks in the box, with more in the expansions, meaning that each game can have a different set of 10 action decks. The rules provide a set menu of suggested permutations but any combination can be played.
Each player has their own personal deck comprising of 3 Victory Point cards (1 VP each) and 7 copper cards (value of 1 each). This deck is shuffled and five are drawn into the hand. Despite being the objective of the game, Victory Point cards have no playable use, care needs to be taken to make sure that too many Victory Points cards aren’t acquired too quickly – a VP hand can do nothing.
Each turn a player may spend their treasure cards (if any in their five card hand) to buy one extra card into their deck. All cards played (including treasure cards) go into the player’s own discard pile (unless otherwise directed) and are eventually reshuffled into their own growing deck. They may also play an action card (once purchased, shuffled and drawn into the hand). Action cards may allow extra actions, extra hands to be drawn, add to the monetary value already in the hand, and cause other player’s grievance.
Extra treasure cards may be bought – with silver having a value of 2 and gold at 3, but only taking 1 card to do so (a hand full of coppers is valued at 5 and many cards cost 6+). Copper cards cost nothing and can be acquired if the player cannot afford anything.
Extra victory cards may also be bought with VP values of 1, 3 and 6 (which costs 8).
The game ends when either all of three card types have been purchased or all the VP 6 cards are gone.
The Victory Points are counted and the player with the most wins.
There are numerous expansions which add extra action cards and greater value treasure and VP cards.