Dominion Basics (Part 3 of 5): Dominion Deck Types
This Strategy-Note was written by openCards user Dukat and was published first on "The Continuing Committee (trekcc.org)" at Mar 28th, 2013.
This article is part of the article serie "Dominion Basics" from "Dukat (Andreas Rheinländer)". Also see:
- Previous "Dominion Basics" (# 2): "Dominion Basics (Part 2 of 5): Play and Draw Engines".
This article will deal with typical Dominion decks as well as some of the more sophisticated and challenging ones.
The Dominion is an affiliation that is different from most others: their personnel are divided into three very different groups – Jem'Hadar, Vorta and Founders. The first two articles of the basic series have dealt with all three of them in general, now it comes to building decks that gain advantage from this diversity.
The first part of this article will deal with typical Dominion decks. The second will depict not so typical decks that allow a player to experiment with other aspects of the game. The third will deal with some very special deck types that are hard to play, but highly interesting because of certain advantages unique to them. The last (and smallest) part of this article will deal with a particular aspect of deck building that might seem trivial, but is most important for a Dominion player: how to use Q's Tent cards in Dominion decks.
I. Typical Dominion Decks
There are three kinds of typical decks. The most important one is what I call "standard mixed hierarchy". It contains Jem'Hadar, Vorta and Founders. The second kind is the "Jem'Hadar-only"-type (with the specialty of what I call 'Jem'Hadar mass breeding') and the third form is the so-called Founder-only deck.
A) Standard Mixed Hierarchy
This deck is the most common one among all Dominion decks. It reflects the events seen on the show, consists of all three personnel types and therefore does not lack any skills while it also gives the best chance of solving missions fast and efficiently. In addition to that, this deck is the most flexible kind of Dominion deck.
Building one …
A lot of people have asked me how I start building a Dominion deck. I'd like to give an idea of the process here. So before beginning to further depict the first deck type, I'd like to give an inside in my draft phase.
As explained earlier, every Dominion deck (except for the rare Founder-only deck) uses Jem'Hadar. The first step in building a deck is the simple question: what is the deck supposed to do? Solving? Battle? Infiltration? I will discuss all of those aspects in later articles, so let's assume I know what the deck is supposed to do. After that, I think about the number of cards I need to achieve that goal.
It might seem bizarre to decide the deck size FIRST and then building it. A lot of players have an idea and then try to build it, leaving the deck size a random number, but by PLANNING the deck size, in accordance with “card flow” rules already mentioned in the previous article, one can avoid putting lots and lots of cards into a deck (because they all seem to fit) and then sitting in front of a very big deck, removing all “unnecessary” cards afterwards.
So, before anything else, I think about the deck size I need.
I then perforn some calculations. Let's say I know I need 40 cards for let's say a battle deck. I then add the appropriate number of Jem'Hadar / Young Jem'Hadar. The amount of non-Jem'Hadar cards in a deck should always be 25% or less to guarantee a good deck flow (see article no. 2 of the Basic Article Series). In a 100 card deck, that means, of course, about 25 cards. In the case at hand, if I want to include 40 non-Jem'Hadar cards, I need a deck of about 160 cards size.
That may sound odd since I stated that a Dominion deck should be between 60 and 120 cards. In some cases, a bigger deck size is justified – especially in interactive decks. In this case, a certain part of the draw and play “flow” can be sacrificed to achieve a "higher" goal because highly interactive decks aim at blocking or locking out an opponent. When they do that successfully, there is no need to be very fast (since the opponent won't be able to do anything anyways).
After I have found out about the required deck size, I begin to include the appropriate personnel and non-personnel cards. I would like to emphasize to always include enough Masaka Transformations (rule of thumb: at least 1 for each 20 cards of deck size). In Dominion decks, a bad hand can be devastating – therefore it might (more or less) become necessary to replenish the hand to have a fresh start. In some games, I do so each turn.
(Note 1: The trick here is to convert a card draw into Obelisk of Masaka using Tribunal of Q to get Q the Referee to get the obelisk and then initiate the gametext on Obelisk of Masaka to download and use a Masaka Transformations from deck. Total cost = no card play, 1 card draw. A Masaka Transformations which is drawn should be, itself, Masaka'd under the deck in order to convert it to a card draw and then continue the cycle rather than wasting a card play.)
After this little insight, let's get back to the standard mixed hierarchy deck.
Since the goal is to create a deck that lacks no skills and primarily serves the purpose of solving missions, it should consist of the following:
- each Founder at least one time, at least three copies of the Founder Leader (she has the special download for Shape-Shift which allows to chose any Founder at any time, therefore granting access to virtually any skill during a mission attempt; and, if necessary, to download Leyton Founder to download Flight of the Intruder to return all Founders to hand)
- at least 5 or 6 Vorta, namely (minimum requirement): Weyoun, Luaran, Tholun, Gelnon
- some copies of Deyos
- some copies of Dominion Hierarchy
- one or two copies of Security Sacrifice and Jem'Hadar Sacrifice
- at least two copies of Amat'igan
- some copies of Emergency Transport Unit
The rest of the deck should be done in accordance to what I depicted so far about deck building. From now on, I will describe what must be included in a deck and leave out the comment that the rest follows the known rules established so far in this article series.
The second kind of deck among the common ones is the Jem'Hadar-only deck. It might be surprising to hear that such a deck mainly serves the purpose of solving missions. The core to such a deck is to breed Jem'Hadar like Tribbles, and this is how it works:
The basis are 4 key aspects.
- playing Young Jem'Hadar for free and exchanging them for universal Jem’Hadar from hand
- downloading a support personnel Jem’Hadar each turn (Assign Support Personnel, Dominion War Efforts)
- drawing cards by using Deyos’s special skill
- drawing cards (or downloading certain cards) using Obedience Brings Victory
Such a deck requires a lot of seed cards, but makes it possible to play up to 5 Jem’Hadar per turn (drawing up to 7 cards per turn):
- (three seeded Jem Hadar Birthing Chambers allowing three Young Jem’Hadar to play for free each turn)
- + (one unique Jem’Hadar as normal card play per turn) = 4 card draws
- + (downloading one Jem’Hadar support personnel) = 5 card draws
- + (drawing two cards using Obedience Brings Victory) = 7 card draws
To compensate for the lack of certain skills (SCIENCE, MEDICAL) use the appropriate equipment cards (Science Kit, Medical Kit)
b) Not So Standard
What was mentioned above can be brought to a whole new level by using one additional card: the Second Edition backward-compatible Keevan. I explained the way he works in the previous article.
Since my opponent also draws cards, I can use him to fill my opponent’s hand. In such a deck, it is necessary to use Scorched Hand. When the opponent has reached the 13th card in hand, Scorched Hand should be downloaded forcing the opponent to draw new cards (giving him half the hand he had before AND destroying all plans of what he thought he could play next turn).
c) Universal to unique ratio in Jem’Hadar only decks
In any Jem’Hadar deck, the key to a good draw flow is the right ratio of universal to unique Jem’Hadar. There are a lot of very good unique Jem’Hadar like Ixtana'Rax, Kudak'Etan (due to his special download), Goran'Agar and others.
Since it is planned to play one of them as a card play while 2 or 3 universal Jem’Hadar are supposed to be exchanged at the end of the turn, a certain ratio is need to assure not to have too many unique Jem’Hadar in hand. One would think that the ratio of unique to universal should be 1 to 3. It is not. My experience has shown me that it should not be more than 1 to 4. The effect of not playing a unique Jem’Hadar is not as bad as having too many unique Jemmies in hand, and therefore lacking universal Jem’Hadar to exchange for Young Jem’Hadar, when it comes to the “card flow”.
This deck type is based on using only Founders as well as all of their “special” cards like Shape-Shift, Flight of the Intruder and others.
One of the advantages of using only Founders is that they can report them, without spending a card play or even using a “free play” engine, regardless of quadrant: you just need equipment somewhere in play. Such an equipment card can then be exchanged with a Founder from hand using In the Bag.
Due to the very delicate nature of the requirements for building such a deck, some general as well as some specific aspects will be discussed in future articles.
II. Not So Typical Dominion Deck
A) Dominion Merchants
This type of deck hasn’t seen many games. It’s hard to play, but it is fun, and it offers some unique game play aspects!
What is it based on?
The idea is to use Establish Trade Route in the Alpha and Gamma Quadrant. This objective allows any mission with a point box to be attempted by any affiliation. To solve such a mission, it requires Greed, Acquisition, a freighter or transport and CUNNING.
There are two Dominion personnel with those skills: Hanok and Inglatu. The latter is a universal personnel with both skills and therefore the perfect personnel to be inserted in such a deck – multiple times. He is the backbone of such a deck. I included him at least 10 times. There is no way to play Inglatu for free - normally, therefore he needs to be played as a card play.
Another important card is Dr. Farek who needs to be downloaded using Assign Mission Specialists at the beginning of the game. Also, such a deck needs SOME Jem’Hadar – universal only. They make sure that the point requisition of any mission can be boosted using Victory Is Life. This way, each mission’s points can be increased by 10.
Another way to boost the deck is by including 1st Rule of Acquisition in the seed deck, downloading Grand Nagus Gint in turn 1 and playing him on a ship using Temporal Micro-Wormhole in turn 2. He and Hanok both carry a special download for any one Rule card which would most logically be the 62nd Rule of Acquisition to boost mission values additionally.
Such a deck is more streamlined than a normal Dominion deck because it includes only two kind of personnel: Inglatu (and Hanok and maybe Gint) as well as Young Jem’Hadar and universal Jem’Hadar. Due to the lack of Vorta and Founders, it’s also harder to play. Nonetheless, due to the easier construction and the “angle” that differs much from the common Dominion deck, it’s also more fun to play.
The advantage is that: instead of choosing space missions based on skills that are sometimes hard to get by using Jem’Hadar only, the goal is to keep all copies of Inglatu alive as long as possible. The margin for error is bigger since it is absolutely clear which personnel is needed for what. However, it is easier to make in game choices (such as which personnel live and which die), since the focus is clear and simple.
b) Dominion / U.S.S. Equinox
One might ask: Dominion and the U.S.S. Equinox?
This deck is based on the following:
One Equinox is seeded at Caretaker's Array along with a copy of Home Away From Home seeded on it.
In addition to that seed Aftermath II and Changeling Research II as well as Assign Support Personnel and Quark's Isolinear Rods.
In turn 1, Assign Support Personnel downloads any one Non-Aligned Support personnel (like Ty Kajada). Using Quark's Isolinear Rods, B'Elanna Torres is downloaded to hand and then played for free on Equinox in turn 2.
The ship then moves to the Gamma Quadrant using the two mission IIs.
The entire deck shall contain Non-Aligned (or Federation / Non-Aligned Dual) Delta personnel with a staffing icon – so that they can all play for free on the Equinox using Home Away From Home. This incident says “while not in Alpha Quadrant” – which means the Delta Qudrant, the Gamma Quadrant, and the Mirror Quadrant.
These Delta skill monsters are a perfect addition to a Jem’Hadar deck. It’s best to include only Jem’Hadar / Young Jem’Hadar (or only Founders) and the above mentioned Non-Aligned Delta staffing icon personnel cards to keep the deck streamlined.
This type of deck construction works best as a mission solver. If one wants to alter this deck, a U.S.S. Voyager can be seeded as well as a Treaty: Federation/Dominion (utilizing Open Diplomatic Relations). This treaty also allows one to use the wide variety of Federation mission specialists (and there is a very wide variety). However, this also means losing the ability to attack anyone who dares to enter the Gamma Quadrant (except Borg, the Federation hate the Borg).
This deck type works best when using three or four Gamma Quadrant mission (and the two obligatory Delta missions) to play a little bit of solitaire in the Gamma Quadrant. Since the combination of Victory Is Life, mission specialists and high point Federation Gamma Quadrant missions allows one to gain 45 or 50 points from each mission, a “normal” 3 mission win is possible, even with You Are a Monument in play.
Also, such a solitaire game qualifies, nay almost requires one to seed at least one copy of Cytherians under one’s own mission. When doing so, some copies of No Way Out should be added (as well as White Deprivation) to gain additional bonus points letting your own Jem’Hadar get killed. This way, even with You Are A Monument in play, a two mission win in the Gamma Quadrant is possible (two missions: 50 points each + 15 points from Cytherians + some high Integrity Jem’Hadar being killed).
Note 2: Anyone who utilizes this strategy must always be aware of In the Zone.
III. Special Deck Types
This section deals with deck types that are not classified by being common or uncommon, but rather quite unusual or difficult to play – but with certain advantages.
A) Dominion in the Delta and / or Mirror Quadrant
The Equinox deck, as it has been said above, qualifies also as a Mirror Quadrant deck (due to Home Away From Home). However, sometimes, it can be useful to play the Dominion in the Delta or the Mirror Quadrant in another way (the “normal” way).
Why is that?
First of all, due to Subjugate Planet and all the universal Jem’Hadar personnel that can be played using Young Jem’Hadar regardless of quadrant, the Dominion can use any planet mission it wants and since the Mirror Quadrant consist of planet missions only, this is the perfect combination.
In addition to that, one can use Fed Terran personnel and a Fed / Dom Treaty to make up a good match for a battle deck (because the Terran Empire can fire at will).
Also, Jem’Hadar and Non-Aligned Delta personnel can be combined in a nice way: the Delta personnel play for free (one way or the other, e.g. Talaxians and Ocampa) and the Jem’Hadar come into play for free also (as discussed earlier). This way, a player can chose to use card plays (over the entire course of the game) for something else (e.g. “bother” cards like Gaps in Normal Space).
Also, Establish Dominion Foothold can increase any mission’s points in any quadrant other than the Gamma Quadrant (and download a Remote Supply Depot at which to play equipment for free as well as download five different equipment cards). This would work as follows: chose a 40 point (or 35 point, if using Victory Is Life) mission as the first one that is intended to be solved. Seed Establish Dominion Foothold there. That way, when solved, Dead End can be passed.
This deck type is not easy to play, but offers several advantages:
- Delta / Mirror skill monsters and Jem’Hadar can be combined.
- If another player plays in the same quadrant, the Dominion player always has the advantage (even against a Hirogen player).
Especially if a player tries to capture / steal or otherwise abduct Jem’Hadar, the Dominion player just has to pull out White Deprivation.
No matter the circumstances, the Jem’Hadar will be forced to attack causing the player who tried to steal them a lot of trouble.
B) Alpha Quadrant Only / Construct Depot Only
a) Alpha Quadrant Standard Build
What advantage, in general, is there in playing in the Alpha Quadrant only?
First of all, the Alpha Quadrant has a lot of missions that can easily be solved by the Dominion (whilst the Gamma Quadrant needs Subjugate Planet or is otherwise not suited for being solved easily) like Clash at Chin'toka or Find Hidden Base.
Second of all, there is Ultimatum which allows a player to get their hands on a Dominion facility to play Equipment cards for free (plus the two equipment cards that are downloaded). As a bonus, this Incident allows the gaining of bonus points from destroying other vessels (which you were planning to do anyway). In addition to that, most opponents will play in the Alpha Quadrant and therefore … you will never have trouble finding something to shoot at.
An Alpha-only deck always needs the following:
- a Neutral Outpost (or any other appropriate facility)
- Q the Referee / Defend Homeworld
- Assign Support Personnel
- Temporal Micro-Wormhole
- (Assign Mission Specialists to get personnel that allows one to staff bigger ships)
In turn 1, download any Dominion ship. Download a Jem’Hadar support personnel who has ENGINEER. Fly to any Dominion-icon mission and use Ultimatum.
In turn 2, download Deyos to your ship using Temporal Micro-Wormhole and Defend Homeworld.
This way, there is no need to have a mission in the Gamma Quadrant to start a Dominion deck.
This covers Alpha-only decks in general. Now we come to the specialty decks…
b) Construct Depot-only decks
What about it?
Construct Depot is one of the most interesting missions in the game:
It is the ONLY mission that cannot be solved by your opponent because it has no other “side”. Since it is universal, it can be seeded 6 times.
It is only one of the few missions in the entire game of First Edition which requires any representative of a specific species.
One of these missions gives you 30 points, but when you have 6 space missions, you will definitely need 140 points, so how does one achieve that?
Construct Depot can be pushed quite well: at least one Navigation mission specialist gives another 5 points and Victory Is Life adds another 5, making it 40 points. So, you need to complete four of these missions if you do not use ANY other bonus point cards or 3 if you do (more on that, see below).
3 x 40 = 120 points, so there are another 20 points to cover.
Since most players use space and planet dilemmas, seeding six Construct Depot missions forces them to mis-seed at least two (likely more) planet dilemmas. In addition to that, since all missions are identical, your opponent does not have any chance of guessing which mission you will attempt first.
To further boost your points, use Establish Dominion Foothold, leaving only 10 additional points to be acquired. Those 10 points can be achieved using Jem'Hadar Strike Force and / or killing your own Jem’Hadar using No Way Out and / or destroying an opponent’s ship to discover bonus points using Ultimatum.
Now one could say: Construct Depot needs a Vorta and one Temporal Micro-Wormhole has already been used to get Deyos into play to draw cards. But there is a simple solution: Luaran. One can download (or play) an Enhanced Attack Ship at your Alpha Quadrant Mission and then she can be played at such a ship, ignoring Quadrant Reporting Restrictions; including five or six copies of her in the deck will suffice.
Since all your missions are space missions, there is another advantage: it is a reason for using Dominion holograms.
(There will be an entire paragraph on Dominion holograms in one of the following articles.)
(Note 3: If you are afraid of Balancing Act, you can, as a preemptive strike, seed one Altonian Brain Teaser under each mission which prevents you, in addition to that, from scoring ANY (other) negative bonus points.)
This section will deal with an innocent card that I haven’t seen often on the table: Friction.
You have learned about Jem’Hadar only decks (or those decks consisting mostly of Jem’Hadar). It is always recommended to include Friction in such a deck. In addition to “just” forcing your opponent to get personnel into play “stopped”, this has tremendous consequences on how you build your deck. Since your opponent can’t even move their personnel on the turn when they enter play, you can focus your entire deck on stalling your opponent. Dilemmas should be chosen appropriately, and also you should use missions that can be solved quickly. Adding cards like The Whale Probe make sure that your opponent will do everything he or she does, but at half speed.
d) Treaty decks
For the first time in this article series, you will read a very clear statement:
Except for the ones mentioned above (and one other exception) treaty decks do not work well with the Dominion.
I have tried playing Dominion treaty decks in dozens of combinations. None of them proved strong (and fast enough) to be worth the hassle. As it has been pointed out on several occasions, the Dominion are very unique in their ways. They need a lot of seed cards for themselves. That makes it virtually impossible to combine them with anyone else because other affiliations need a bunch of seed cards as well.
However, I mentioned one exception. This exception is the Bajorans. Combining them with the Dominion requires only three seed cards: Open Diplomatic Relations, Treaty: Bajoran/Dominion and Bajoran Resistance Cell.
Stock in deck all of the Bajoran Resistance personnel cards (including several copies of Gantt) – and nothing else. All the Resistance Bajorans report for free to any planet and once you have two of them in play, you can download Espionage: Bajoran on Dominion (or any other Bajoran espionage card working with your missions like Espionage: Bajoran on Cardassian) to draw two cards each turn. They boost your skill pool and those personnel cards have the ability to report for duty without the use of any facility to any planet in ANY quadrant (just like universal Jem’Hadar report to any place in any quadrant using Young Jem’Hadar who report for free to a Jem'Hadar Birthing Chamber).
IV. Q’s Tent in Dominion decks
Now we arrive at the last part of this article.
The relation between the Dominion and Q's Tent is a special one. A lot of people use Q’s Tent cards in their decks to chose cards from that side deck. They stock a dozen or more copies of them in the draw deck to get their hands on specific cards.
Here is another very clear statement:
Using Q’s Tent cards in the draw deck of a Dominion deck is NOT necessary. In fact, it damages the “card flow” that I spoke of in the previous article.
First of all, all cards that a Dominion player needs, can be downloaded:
Deyos using Defend Homeworld; support personnel Jem’Hadar using Assign Support Personnel/Dominion War Efforts; Equipment using Ultimatum, Establish Dominion Foothold, or Equipment Replicator; Founders using Shape Shift; all SECURITY personnel (a skill that more than 2/3 of all Dominion personnel have) using Homefront; Ref-cards using Q the Referee/Tribunal of Q; and ships using Spacedoor. Certain necessary equipment can even be seeded using the Primary Supply Depot. There is no necessity for downloading any other cards. As such, Q’s Tent should be used to stock everything that will be downloaded during the game.
(Note 4: Ref-cards should be stored in the deck since they do not interfere with the “card flow” due to Tribunal of Q and Q The Referee “recycling” mechanics.)
Therefore, there is no need to stock any Q’s Tent cards in the draw deck. This has been tested for several years and even though it might seem unusual for a moment, it is a proven and tested deck building strategy. Depending on the specifics of the deck, Q's Tent: Civil War might be an option to further tighten the draw deck, mostly it reduces the chance of having two ref cards to cycle in hand at the same time.
The next two articles will deal with several other basic aspects of building and playing Dominion decks.
After that, advanced game play aspects will be discussed.