With a slew of expansions in its cadre, there was bound to be some cross-referencing going on in the Dominion universe, but designer Donald X. told me about a few secrets that bleed out even into other popular game series.

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is The Secret Life of Board Games, a series where i ask board game creators to reveal the Easter eggs they’ve tucked away in your favorite games. 2008’s Dominion is the quintessential deck building game. Designer Donald X Vaccarino told me a lot of fun little touches that the game’s artists added to the base game and its expansions. There are a lot of self-referential nods in the artwork. The village from the Village card shows up reflected in the Scrying Pool and on the Pillage card. The Victory points shield from the scoring carsd shows up in the Counting House and the City Quarter. Artwork for the Duchess and Duke cards is complementary. Each of these cards has a ruined version in the Dark Ages expansion. These three cards from the Seaside expansion form a panorama. As you’d expect, a good number of the people on the cards are named after friends, family, colleagues, and playtesters. All of the knights from the Dark Ages expansion are real people. The guy on the Navigator card is Dominion developer Dale Yu, and this woman on the Harem card is developer Valerie Putman. Uh… thanks, guys. The Pearl Diver card has Wei-Hwa Huang, who co-designed Roll for the Galaxy. He’s on there because he won a Dominion tournament. The guy on the Captain card is another tournament winner named Tobias, who goes by RTT on online forums. You can actually visit the building on the Church card – it’s the real-life Schwerin Cathedral in Germany. And this promo card has the faces of the Spiel des Jahres judges on the coins. Dominion artwork even references other board games – compare the City card with the cover of Carcassonne: The City, and the very Carcassonne-esque Walled Village. The Governor card coincided with the 10th anniversary of Puerto Rico, and the way it works is even a nod to that game. Did you discover any of those secrets in Dominion on your own? Are there any secrets that you’ve discovered that i haven’t covered? If so, let me know in the comments section below. Are you a board game developer with secrets that you’d like to share in your own board game, and you’re just dying to let the world know about them? Well if so, please get in touch! i’ll help you spill the beans. That’s it for this time. See you next time on The Secret Life of Board Games… or WILL i? (inept poofy smoke noises made by mouth) i’m still here. Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe, then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff! [Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]

Get Your Own Copy of Dominion

There are many deck-building games available now, but they all owe a debt to Dominion, the o.g. that pioneered and popularized the mechanic. To add this classic to your own board game collection, use the Amazon link below, and i’ll receive a small commission!