A new digital version of deckbuilding classic Dominion is in the works for PC and mobile, featuring an impressive neural network-powered AI opponent that can apparently learn cards before they’ve even been created.
The latest port of Donald X. Vaccarino’s highly influential card game - which won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres prize in 2008 for its pioneering of the deckbuilding genre - is in development from publisher Rio Grande Games and studio Temple Gates Games, which previously brought Race for the Galaxy, Roll for the Galaxy and Shards of Infinity to digital platforms.
The new app’s flagship feature is the latest evolution of the AI system created by researcher Keldon Jones for Race for the Galaxy. The new AI is trained by a neural network based on AlphaZero, the algorithm created by AI company DeepMind to master chess, shogi and Go by simulating millions of possible game results. Temple Gates claims that Dominion will be the first widely available commercial use of AlphaZero.
The developer says that the Dominion AI won’t just study the many possible combinations of the more than 500 cards that already exist in the game - claimed to be more than 66 sextillion (or 66 billion trillions) variations - but has been designed to analyse the makeup of Dominion cards themselves. That means it doesn’t just know cards already released for the original game and its 13 expansions, but can even predict and learn “cards which have yet to be designed”, a press release stated.
In Dominion, each player starts with a small deck of identical cards, which they gradually expand and customise by acquiring new cards from a central market of 10 cards picked from the game’s broad library. As players shuffle the new cards into their deck, they gradually increase their available abilities and income of both currency - required to purchase more expensive and powerful cards - and the victory points required to win.
A digital version of Dominion has previously been made available to play online as an official browser-based app, with a mobile app released for iPad and Android several years ago but since pulled from both stores. Several unofficial fan-made adaptations have also been released over the years.
Temple Gates Games’ upcoming Dominion app will be released on iOS, Android and PC via Steam. The app will support cross-platform play in asynchronous and real-time online multiplayer, as well as pass-and-play local matches and single-player games against the AI.
The app will offer Dominion’s base set for free, with all 13 expansions available at launch. Prices for the individual expansions will range from $5 to $10. A limited beta for the upcoming app is available now, with sign-ups possible via the Temple Gates website.