From DominionStrategy Wiki
Revision as of 00:11, 13 September 2013 by Werothegreat (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
Type Small Expansion
Icon Alchemy icon.png
Cards 150
122 (12 sets)
Release May 2010
Official Rulebook PDF

Dominion: Alchemy, is the third expansion to Base Dominion by Donald X. Vaccarino, released in 2010 by publisher Rio Grande Games. The box contains 12 Kingdom cards, and 1 basic card. The main themes of the set are PotionsPotion.jpg and Actions, featuring the only cards in the game with P in their cost, and many cards encouraging decks filled with Action cards.


Card List

Basic Supply Cards

$4 PotionPotion.jpg

  • Potion is included in the Supply whenever at least one of the Kingdom Cards included in the game has P in its cost.

Kingdom Cards

$2 HerbalistHerbalist.jpg
$5 ApprenticeApprentice.jpg
P TransmuteTransmute.jpg, VineyardVineyard.jpg
$2P ApothecaryApothecary.jpg, Scrying PoolScrying Pool.jpg, UniversityUniversity.jpg
$3P AlchemistAlchemist.jpg, FamiliarFamiliar.jpg, Philosopher's StonePhilosopher's Stone.jpg
$4P GolemGolem.jpg
$6P PossessionPossession.jpg

Flavor text

There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. It's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think where you would put all the lead or what you will do with the lead. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress.

Alchemy Theme

Game designer Donald X. offered some insight into some themes of the set here.

  • 12 Potion-related: Apprentice cares if it's in the cost and Herbalist can put a Potion on your deck for reuse, so, the whole set.
  • 5 Actions theme: Transmute, Vineyard, Scrying Pool, University, Golem
  • 10 Useful in multiples: Everything but Herbalist and Possession

Impact of Alchemy

Due to the Actions theme of this set, most of these cards are excellent for engines. That said, the awkwardness of the Potion cost can discourage some players from pursuing strategies with Alchemy cards.


  • VineyardVineyard.jpg - Not an engine part, but greatly rewards engine players, as engine decks tend to consist of mostly Actions
  • ApothecaryApothecary.jpg - Clears out CopperCopper.jpgs and Potions from the top of your deck, making your engine more efficient
  • Scrying PoolScrying Pool.jpg - The ultimate engine card, one of these can draw your entire deck in the right circumstances
  • UniversityUniversity.jpg - Good for quickly gaining engine pieces, though it becomes much less useful in the endgame, barring Vineyards
  • AlchemistAlchemist.jpg - A LaboratoryLaboratory.jpg that can be SchemeScheme.jpgd every turn - an engine unto itself
  • FamiliarFamiliar.jpg - A cantrip Curser
  • GolemGolem.jpg - A Throne RoomThrone Room.jpg variant that seeks out Actions to play in your deck
  • ApprenticeApprentice.jpg - An excellent trasher; trashing and non-terminal card draw are always good for an engine


The addition of the Potion cost has notable effects:

  • Slightly longer games if all players go for Potion-based strategies
  • Potion strategies can be easily thwarted by trashing Attacks or EmbargoEmbargo.jpg - if your Potion is trashed, or the Potion-cost card is Embargoed, you may have to change your strategy
  • Interesting interactions with cost-caring cards


Secret History

At first there were just a bunch of cards. One day I decided, okay, these are the main set, these are the first expansion, these are the second expansion. I divided everything up based on mechanical themes. This much, you know.

Then I made some other games. My friends just wanted to play Dominion though. Okay; I could make some more expansions. I made a 3rd, then a 4th, then a 5th. That's where things stood when I showed the game to Jay at Origins. During development of the main set I made some more cards, and reconfigured everything I had into 8 smaller sets. Then I rereconfigured them into 6 large sets. The original 2nd set ended up as two full sets (it had two themes and I split them up). The original 5th set ended up 6th.

After we finished working on Seaside, we moved on to the 3rd set. We finished that up, or so we thought, and were soon to begin work on the 4th set.

Meanwhile, people were clamoring for smaller sets. And when I say people I don't mean players, although maybe they were too; I mean, some of the publishers of the game wanted smaller sets. They talked to Jay and Jay talked to me; maybe we should do some small sets here too. Not that we wouldn't keep doing the large ones. But you know. Give the people something that's not the full price of the main game. And the ideal timing would be, next. It would squeeze ahead of the now-misnumbered 3rd expansion.

Since we had just finished the set that was due, shortly before it was due, there wasn't much time. In order to have something that was as polished as possible, as soon as possible, it had to be a subset of one of the existing large sets. Only the 6th set leant itself to this. It had a theme that was just the right size and could stand by itself, and a sub-theme that could be expanded for another small set. And the set was missing some cards, due to stealing them for earlier sets, so it didn't feel like I was breaking up something finished.

So I broke up the 6th set. The Potions part went into this set, Alchemy. I did actually get some advance warning, and started working on it before Essen; then at Essen we worked out that it was in fact going to happen, and that I could have it ready about when they wanted it, although not quite that fast. I demanded an extra month, and then when the time came I got 10 more days, although that last stretch was just spent working on the rulebook and deciding which Herbalist to use.

In its original 5th-set form, Alchemy was 20 cards (7 with potion in the cost). It went down to 16 when everything did, and up to 25 (but unfinished) when I went to 6 sets. When I broke it up, at first it was 10 cards plus Potion, but the number of printed cards was going to be 100 or 150, so it went up to 12 cards plus Potion, since going up was way better than going down.

Two cards in the set do not have Potion in the cost (besides Potion itself). In games using lots of cards from Alchemy, you will not always have a card at any particular cost. The most important cost is $5. So the set has a $5. Then it has a $2 because it's nice to have one of those. At $3 and $4 you have Silver and Potion, and if there are a lot of Alchemy cards then people will be pulled in that direction anyway (though obviously sometimes some other start will be better).

"Has a potion in its cost" is not actually a huge connection functionally, so I supplemented the main theme with a "cares about actions" sub-theme.

When I came up with Dominion, I figured it would have multiple resources. When I actually made it, I went with one resource, because it was simpler. I could always add another resource in an expansion. With Alchemy I finally got around to doing that. Originally I was thinking it would be Reagents or Mandrake or something. I didn't find a good enough picture to use for such a card, so I went with Potions. That's how these decisions get made.

The second copy of Dominion was Kelly Bailey's (cheepicus on these forums). He renamed some of the cards, redid all the graphics, changed a few cards, and added some of his own. He took most of the cards from all of the expansions I had, but did not take the cards with Potion in the cost from Alchemy. He figured, he was shuffling everything together, and some games he would just turn over one card with Potion in the cost. Do you buy Potion just to get that one card? He thought not.

So I always knew this was an issue. The cards had to be worth buying multiple copies of. They had to be compelling. With just one out, you had to still consider buying Potion to get it. So that's why the set has so many +1 action cards, and then a victory card and a treasure; it's all stuff you want as much of as you can get.

And what, if you want you can just guarantee that you always have a few of them at once - say, once you've dealt out 8 cards from your randomizer deck, if you have any Alchemy cards, make sure the next two are also from Alchemy (by digging for them), and if you don't, make sure the next two also aren't Alchemy cards. Put the cards you skip over back on top of the randomizer deck. This way you see everything just as often as you would have (in the long run), but the Alchemy cards end up clumped together. Or if, like me, you don't manage to carry every expansion to the place you're playing, you can just specifically play with 3 cards from Alchemy on the nights that you bring it. Or whatever. There are lots of ways to manage this. I realize some BGG people are hung up on this point and well it's not hard. If you don't want to just see one card with potion in the cost out, and also want to see Alchemy cards as often as everything else, determined randomly, you can do it.

Recommended Sets of 10

Alchemy & Dominion

  • Forbidden Arts: Apprentice, Familiar, Possession, University, Cellar, Council Room, Gardens, Laboratory, Thief, and Throne Room
  • Potion Mixers: Alchemist, Apothecary, Golem, Herbalist, Transmute, Cellar, Chancellor, Festival, Militia, and Smithy
  • Chemistry Lesson: Alchemist, Golem, Philosopher's Stone, University, Bureaucrat, Market, Moat, Remodel, Witch, and Woodcutter

Alchemy & Intrigue

  • Servants: Golem, Possession, Scrying Pool, Transmute, Vineyard, Conspirator, Great Hall, Minion, Pawn, and Steward
  • Secret Research: Familiar, Herbalist, Philosopher's Stone, University, Bridge, Masquerade, Minion, Nobles, Shanty Town, and Torturer
  • Pools, Tools, and Fools: Apothecary, Apprentice, Golem, Scrying Pool, Baron, Coppersmith, Ironworks, Nobles, Trading Post, and Wishing Well

Alchemy & Dark Ages

  • Infestations: Armory, Cultist, Feodum, Market Square, Rats, Wandering Minstrel, Apprentice, Scrying Pool, Transmute, Vineyard
  • Lamentations: Beggar, Catacombs, Counterfeit, Forager, Ironmonger, Pillage, Apothecary, Golem, Herbalist, University

Dominion Products
Sets DominionIntrigueSeasideAlchemyProsperityCornucopiaHinterlandsDark AgesGuildsAdventures • EmpiresNocturneRenaissanceMenageriePromo
Collections Big BoxSpecial Edition (German) • Guilds & CornucopiaAlchemy & Cornucopia (Japanese, German)
Accessories Base CardsUpdate PacksPlay Mat • Base Cards MatCollectors CaseDominion Chest
Personal tools