Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ultimate Empire From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rocks The CCG With "The Dominion!"

The Good: Some great and intriguing images, Great use of material, Powerful cards for players, No significant rule changes.
The Bad: Nothing earthshattering in this expansion, Impractical use of shapeshifters
The Basics: While the Dominion make great villains, the specificity of this set, along with some minor game mechanic issues make it a set less popular than it deserves to be.

On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the show hit its stride when it evolved past the conflict of the local Bajorans and Cardassians and began to unravel the mysteries of the Dominion. In the show's second season (reviewed here!), the Dominion is a mystery alluded to and often on the periphery of the Federation exploration into the Gamma Quadrant. And when the mystery reveals itself, the result is bad news and open war for the Alpha Quadrant!

This makes the Dominion the perfect subject for an expansion set of gaming cards in the Star Trek CCG. While some of the Mission cards in the prior set hinted at the Dominion, the affiliation is finally introduced properly in "The Dominion," a series of gaming cards that was available exclusively in 9 card packs in boxes of thirty packs.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "The Dominion" set was the sixth full expansion set of cards sold in boxes created by Decipher to continue the Customizable Card Game. Players saw the game as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The players got to use characters, vessels, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked. Collectors saw this as another thing to collect to show their love of Star Trek and while the cards have very different images from the trading card releases, many collectors were turned off by how small the images were and how much space on each card was given to game-related text.

"The Dominion" is a 134 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine involving the villainous Dominion, the anti-Federation that existed in the Gamma Quadrant! The set consists of 40 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, 50 rares, and four preview cards that are effectively Ultra Rare cards with the most popular characters and scenarios being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. This set offers a new opportunity for fans and collectors to collect some of the most interesting and significant recurring characters in the franchise.

The 134 card set features 3 Artifacts (cards featuring unique devices, for example, the Croden's Key), 11 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 5 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like a Dominion PADD or Ketracel White), 11 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like espionage committed by the Dominion on the Federation), 7 Facilities (cards that illustrate originating locations of major races, in this case mostly locations belonging to the Dominion), 7 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like a character suddenly shape-shifting), 12 Missions (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 7 Objectives (long-standing goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, like subjugating a planet), 62 Personnel (5 Bajoran, 1 Borg, 7 Cardassian, 32 Dominion, 6 Federation, 4 Klingon, 4 Non-Aligned, and 3 Romulan characters mostly from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and 9 Ship cards (2 Cardassian, 2 Dominion, 3 Federation, 1 Klingon and 1 Romulan). This set introduces the Dominion, which offered an intriguing alternate affiliation and its appearance did not alter gameplay significantly.


At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The starting purpose of the game is to get 100 points, points most often are derived from completing missions by thwarting dilemmas using the unique attributes of your ship and crew. "The Dominion" set continues the game with the thirteen types of cards introduced and revised with the "Deep Space Nine" expansion set. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent.

"The Dominion" does not add any new card types, but it does offer the Dominion Affiliation and it introduces the idea of shapeshifters who have infiltrated opponent decks. Because of the nature of the insidious villains in the Dominion, who were known to impersonate other characters, the game needed to incorporate the use of Founders who infiltrate the opposing player's hand. This is problematic only in that it requires the players accept cards they know do not belong in their crew. This makes for a weird suspension of disbelief issue that buggers some players. Players have to imagine that cards that clearly are working against them are normal cards in their hand. This has some impact on how easy it is to play the game.

This is a very complex customizable card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the thematic complexity of the Star Trek universe. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the mid-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game.

Anyone who has played the initial game will have no problem incorporating the new cards into their deck, outside executing the use of the infiltrators. "The Dominion" is a fan favorite because it offers a lot of options, though aspects like the infiltrating Founders work better in game theory than actual play.

Rule Changes

The basic rules for the Star Trek CCG were revised in the "Deep Space Nine" expansion and are covered in my review here!.

The rule supplement that comes in the box is one of the shortest, which makes sense because there is expansion simply added a new Affiliation, it did not bring on any truly new content or gameplay alterations. The rules supplement simply clarifies that infiltator Personnel must be played by opposing player as if they did not know the true alignment of the cards before them.

There are also minor clarifications specific to Dominion characters, like dictating what happens to Jem'Hadar personnel when they lack Ketracel White or a Founder is killed in proximity to them!


Players, collectors and fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from episodes featuring the Dominion. "The Dominion" is a wonderful set for anyone who seriously likes the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but casual fans will likely be disappointed by the lack of principle characters in the set. Indeed, not since the CCG bomb "Q-Continuum" (reviewed here!) has a set been released that lacks primary series stars represented in the cards. That said, the appearance of significant supplemental characters like Weyoun, Kai Winn and Garak is bound to thrill the die-hard fans.

Then there are the preview cards, which seem to be inserted approximately, making each effectively an Ultra Rare. The preview cards are all white border, distinguishing them from the future releases, which have the standard black borders. The preview cards are Seven Of Nine, Admiral Riker, Captain Kirk and Worf, Son Of Mogh and they may be the highlights - the Seven Of Nine card certainly is popular, even though she appears as a full Borg in the image!.

My preference goes to the U.S.S. Defiant, the rare of the prior set's preview card. This offers a practical way to get a powerful ship and the image looks good and the card is a powerful asset to players!


"The Dominion" is an easy set for collectors outside of the four ultra rare cards, which averaged one in every box, effectively making what could have been a two-box set into a four box set with a lot left over.

While Decipher did not overproduce the "The Dominion" product, much of the set was dumped as collectors simply tore through cases looking for the Ultra Rares (they still retail $25 - $50/ea. in the secondary market!). The cards come in packs of 9 cards that feature one rare (or Ultra Rare), three uncommon and five common cards. This means that even with a box of thirty packs collectors should be able to assemble even 2 - 3 common sets and usually one uncommon set. A full master set takes about four boxes and that would leave collectors with a lot to sell off!

"The Dominion" cards were never reprinted, though they were re-released in the "Second Anthology" set.


This set has some wonderful images, but its lack of easily recognizable characters for the masses makes it a very esoteric set. Players will enjoy the chance to branch out with the new affiliation - yet be frustrated by the game mechanic of the Founder infiltrators, collectors will enjoy the images that cannot be found anywhere else, but investors will be wary by the volatility of the interest in this set. This set oscillates greatly year to year in the secondary market.

Fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are much more likely to enjoy this set than general fans of the Star Trek franchise or players who just like playing this game.

This set culls material from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, most notably the following seasons reviewed at:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Three
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Four
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Five
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Six

This set was preceded by "Deep Space Nine" (link above) and followed by the Star Trek CCG expansion "Blaze Of Glory," reviewed here!

This is a set of cards I proudly sell in my online store!  Be sure to check out my current inventory by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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