Most CCGs revolve around the principle of building your deck first, then playing the game. The smash hit Dominion, on the other hand, reverses this - and that's why it's the perfect card game for the YouTube era.
If you've ever played a Collectible Card Game like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or any of the myriad others that have popped up over the years, you know that part of the battle is won or lost before the first cards are ever laid on the field - you need to build your deck first. For many, constructing a deck is a veritable minigame in and of itself.
Which might explain why Donald X. Vaccarino's Dominion, which revolves entirely around the process of building a deck in-game, is so entertaining. As Allen Varney argues in this week's issue of The Escapist, perhaps it's even more compelling because it touches into an idea central to the age of YouTube and digital media: People have grown accustomed to constructing their own entertainment instead of having it fed to them in a complete package.
Dominion's approach plays to one of the major cultural forces of our time: unbundling. The newspaper, a patchwork of content with only a few articles that interest any given reader, has given way to aggregator sites and build-your-own RSS feeds. TV networks are weakening against on-demand viewing and ... YouTube. The act of unbundling, of fine-tuning your engagement with the material, encourages a unique, involving, creative experience.
Dominion seems to have taken the tabletop world by storm, and, Varney argues, the best thing to do in order to understand the phenomenon is to watch a video review (on YouTube, natch), and then go out and buy the game yourself. That is, of course, as long as you can stand a game that might wear thin "after a mere 230 plays."
Though really, is it honestly that surprising? Base-building in RTS can be entertaining all on its own, and that's practically the same thing.
Read all about the conception of Dominion in Allen Varney's "Dominion Over All," in Issue 213 of The Escapist.