Note: I haven't even tried to play a game yet. I have just now gotten to that point.
I thought it might be useful for the developers to see what this looks like from the viewpoint of a more casual user. I missed the Isotropic era, was frustrated by early Goku, then MF, but several months ago started being able to play on my iPad and then my phone. The last couple of months I played it daily, almost always against bots, going through the campaign (up to the paid part) and then going back to favorite game setups. I've played Dominion IRL for a few years, seen a few cards from the early expansions when playing with friends, played with family mostly during holidays with a base set we own, but never seeing most of the cards or newer mechanisms. I've also read posts on BGG over the years.
So today, I've got a brand-new computer and decided to try this out. First stop was to search google for Dominion, and the hits were for the old game. Going there I get the message about MF losing the contract but no link to find my way to the new site. So I googled ShuffleIT (I knew that was the new company) and got this forum. Luckily there's a link to the game in the announcement post. Yeah! I found it! It's hard to find, though, unless you are already deep in the Dominion ecosystem.
The background artwork is very nice and looks like a Dominion box. I like that a lot.
But, other than the art and the URL, no indication that I had found the game I was looking for: the message was simply that my browser was not supported. I'm on a brand new computer, so I was using MS Edge. Thank you for providing the link to Chrome, which I downloaded. But for anyone not already familiar with Dominion, there's nothing to let them know they should bother.
So, in the new Chrome browser, I find the proper url again. Finally, I'm in the right place, with the right browser.
However, I'm met with an unfriendly login/register screen, no welcome text explaining what the user would be logging in to, no explanation of what Dominion is. If I didn't already know I would have left without signing up. This is another point where newcomers could be sold on giving it a try - or not.
I tried logging in with what I thought was my old MF login, and that didn't work. No such user existed. No link back to the login for another try, either - I had to go back in my browser and then forward again to reset it. I tried with a different password or two, then tried to register for a new account and got a message that my username was reserved. Okay...
Eventually I found an email in my spam folder from Shuffleit. Followed that link, and with a few more frustrating errors where it wanted me to try fixing the passwords, I gave up and went back to the login page. This time it took my info, in spite of the previous error messages. Somewhere in there -I can't remember for sure where - I was directed to Discord for help, started to set up an account, and decided that it wasn't where I should be anyway (I knew about this forum).
Now I'm finally logged in!
...what a disappointment. There's a row of black boxes marching across the top, with labels that leave me scratching my head. I'm not familiar with the term "table" although it's not hard to figure that one out. "Familiar Cards" made sense once I clicked on it, even if many of the cards weren't familiar even in the base set. I like that you can turn individual cards on or off. I'd like it better if I could easily read the text on the cards - if I tap on my laptop trackpad, it's a left click that toggles between color and gray, but I have to physically depress the right corner of the trackpad to do a right click. (Oh how I miss my mac!) There's no way to get that information via the touch screen, no combination of keys and clicks or long clicks that seem to work. I don't care much about turning individual cards on and off but I sure would like to easily see what they do.
For that matter, I see no reason why that text should be hidden. Why not show the whole card and let me scroll up and down? There are several new cards, and I'd like to see which ones give extra money or buys or whatever. It's just nice to see that information all out there at once. You get to do that with real life games.
I have no idea what most of the Options do, and you're not helping me out with explanations either. Maybe it will be more clear after I start a game. Meanwhile, they look like some sort of advanced settings
Oh yeah, how do I start a game? I'm guessing that "New Table" will do it, whatever that does. Or do I pick one of those match options on the top row of the big empty gray box that shows up under "Matching"? What's a bot, what's a good match, what's a quick match? Are there real people out there too? (I know the answers to some of these questions, but that's only because I found this forum when I had a long wait with my phone last week.)
Basically, I have no idea what I should do next. If I didn't already know, I have no idea what this game is. I have no idea how to play it, no idea how to learn. Yes, I know that there is virtue in simply jumping in and flailing around but I suspect most people won't want to when there are lots of other options available on other sites.
That said, personally I love Dominion and I really hope this all works out - soon. But my initial impression is that the developers did this only for the people who are already heavily invested in the game, to the point of being bored with learning the initial cards and mechanisms, and that a casual newbie would not be welcome even if they stuck around trying to figure it out. On top of that, I won't be able to kill time on my phone waiting for my kid to finish practice, or waiting for my coffee, as I need to be on the "big" computer to play. I do hope mobile becomes available soon.
That was a lot, but I have high hopes for this project. I was very excited to hear about the new developers. I'm not looking for a way to play all the latest most complicated variations. I just want a good experience for players like myself who don't want to be overwhelmed right off the bat.
Now for my first game! I'll let you know how it goes. :-)