Dominion from Rio Grande Games

All you need to know to play this game is A B C. Simple as that. Dominion from Rio Grande Games is a simple card game that has the potential to get extremely complicated. There are 5 different types of cards: Treasure, Action, Victory, Attack and Curse. Using these cards, you create your own "dominion" (otherwise known as your deck). The object of the game is to utilize the resources allocated in your dominion to gain the most victory cards.

The game is laid out with 10 different sets of Kingdom cards, as well as Treasure cards (Copper, Silver, and Gold), Victory cards (Estate, Duchy, and Province) and Curse cards. Your Kingdom cards are those selected from your collection of cards to put into play. Kingdom cards can be purchased and played during your turn. Each game you play can be different depending on what cards you choose to lay out. One of the reasons this game is so great is that you never play the same game twice! Changing one Kingdom card can completely change the strategy and outcome of the game. Kingdom cards can be chosen at random or strategically.

So how do your ABC’s come into play?  Each player starts off with 7 Coppers (worth 1 monies) and three Estates (worth 1 victory point). At each turn, each player must move through three phases: Action, Buy, and Clean. Each card has a different action and effect on your turn.

A: Action Phase. Play an action card. (Action cards are purchased from the selection of Kingdom cards.) Your turn will go according to what your action card specifies; your action card can give you more actions, give you more money, allow you to draw more cards etc. In some instances action cards can also be attack cards. Attack cards are used if you are feeling especially nasty and would like to take your opponents treasure cards, give them curse cards, remove cards from their hand etc (essentially "attacking" the other players). Because you do not have any action cards on your first move, your first play will start off at the buy stage.

B: Buy Phase. Using the collective treasure you have (some treasure will come from your deck and some may come from action cards), each player is given one buy, meaning he can purchase one thing from the Kingdom card selection or he can buy more money. If your action card gives you additional buys you may purchase more than one thing. No matter how much treasure you have, you can only purchase one card unless you action card says otherwise. (Each player always has one buy, if your action card says +2 Buys, you now have three buys).

C: Clean Phase. When you have completed your buy, all of your cards used on that turn go into your discard pile. This includes the cards you just purchased, the cards played, and the remaining cards in your hand. The discard pile can only be used when the pile you draw from is depleted. Discarding your cards completes your turn and you draw five more cards (essentially starting off with a brand new hand).

Easy right? Yes, however, when someone plays an action card that gives them more action, things can get complicated. +Actions are great when you have a plan. Action card after action card can be played if permitted. There is no limit to how many action cards you can play as long as you have cards to permit additional actions. One person can play all the action cards in their deck and accumulate 30 treasures – but their turn would have lasted half a century. However, if you can do this and have more action cards to play – DO IT, use everything on the table to your advantage.

Although the point of the game is to gain the most victory points, victory points are useless at the start of the game because they cannot be used. You do not want to fill your hand with cards you can’t use. One mistake many people make is to buy as many victory cards as they can as soon as possible. However, with every draw you only get five cards, you are handicapped if you have a hand of 3 victory cards and 2 treasure or action cards in your hand. The trick is to accumulate enough treasure to buy the larger victory cards such as the Province, this ONE card is worth SIX victory points. So instead of having six Estate (worth 1 victory point) cards in your deck you simply have one Province card. Needless to say the Province card is highly coveted (and very expensive). Having few cards with high value is much preferred to having lots of cards of little value. Curse cards are negative points, they count against you at the end of the game. 1 curse card = -1 victory card.

The game ends when all of the Province cards are gone or when three sets of Kingdom cards are gone. When you notice the Kingdom cards are going fast or the Province cards are almost gone – now is the time to stock up on victory cards because the game is about to end. At this point, you want to buy any victory cards you can afford (however, at any point in the game, if you can afford to buy a Province – DO IT!). When the game ends, organize your deck, total your victory cards, subtract your curse cards, and declare a winner!

Expansion packs are also available. Expansion packs are great for re-vamping your pool of Kingdom cards or raising the stakes. The Prosperity expansion pack includes treasures that are worth up to 5 monies, called a Platinum card. Prosperity also includes the ever so coveted Colony card. This card is worth 10, yes, 10 victory points!

Grab your friends, change up the game, and rule your Dominion!


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Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine

(Artwork by Marilyn Robertson)

Starting out as an art teacher in the U.K, artist Marilyn Robertson has become a household name with work that can be recognized by many worldwide. For Marilyn Robertson, experimentation is the key to her success. Her career as an artist began as an art teacher, her career as a business woman began by selling hand-painted greeting cards at craft fairs and then through her own business Paper Kite.

Marilyn not only ventured into the field of freelance design but also textile design, expanding her artistic talents to knit wear and lingerie. Marilyn’s greeting card designs have now been critically acclaimed and published worldwide by some of the world’s largest greeting card publishers in the U.S, England and Germany. Marilyn’s work has been featured internationally on greeting cards, textiles, stationary, ceramics, and knit kits! Still Marilyn’s greatest claim to fame is her art paintings. With her trademark style Marilyn creates coveted paintings that join harmony, dramatic colors and the delicate fluidity of life.

(Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson)

This year Clairefontaine and designer Marilyn Robertson came together to put a whole new meaning to the term "Feline Fancy." Implementing her trademark style, Robertson and Clairefontaine put the luxurious life of cats on paper. Clairefontaine "Catitudes" notebooks feature Robertson’s cover designs and include 90g acid-free Clairefontaine paper. These notebooks are simple, sophisticated and are a perfect gift for cat lovers!

Click here to learn more about Marilyn Robertson

(Catitudes Notebooks by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine)


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Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris

Established in 1998, Les Cakes de Bertrand is a inspiring story of humble beginnings and unpredictable business ventures. Dietician and avid cook, Didier Bertrand, began selling his signature savory cakes in the Port Royal Food Market in Paris, France in 1997. Not long after that, Bertrand met French designer Adolphe Besnard and the two joined forces to create what is today Les Cakes de Bertrand. The two opened a cake shop in Paris selling Bertrand’s savory cakes and chocolate bars. What set them apart? The packaging. Inspired by Besnard’s grandmother’s collection of old postcards, each creation was wrapped in eloquently designed packaging that would soon become the defining look of Les Cakes de Bertrand. Known for is modern design with a vintage flair, Les Cakes de Bertrand flourished.

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Notebook – Eloise)

As the company began to grow Les Cakes de Bertrand entered into a new realm of retail, accessories! A delightful yet shocking surprise, Bertrand and Besnard ventured in to the fashion world. The signature Les Cakes de Bertrand designs were placed on handbags, wallets, pins, jewelry, soaps, perfumes, clothing, and handheld mirrors. Recently, Les Cakes de Bertrand partnered with the famed Clairefontaine to create a line of special limited edition products! Some of the notebooks and a correspondence set from the limited edition line can be found at Writer’s Bloc.

Les Cakes de Bertrand no longer sells cakes, but now has several boutiques in France that showcase their beautiful accessories. Their boutiques in themselves are a masterpiece, perfectly furnished with unique furniture and trinkets that make the store warm and inviting. If I ever have the opportunity to visit France, a stop at Les Cakes de Bertrand is a must!

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris Correspondence Set)

(Information gathered from: Les Cakes de Bertrand and Retro To Go)

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Karol’s Wish List

Working at Writer’s Bloc I get to see all of the wonderful merchandise that comes in and out of our store. New shipment day is always exciting, you never know what you’re going to get but it is exciting nonetheless. Every time I venture into one of our stock rooms I find something new; a new notebook, a new pen, or a new clever little doodad that would make my life so much easier (or way more interesting). After many trips into our stock rooms and many peeks at our new shipments, I have compiled a wish list. Things I will buy in the near future or things I wouldn’t mind receiving as a gift (hint hint). They are as follows:

LAMY AL Star Fountain Pen – Purple

The main reason for my attraction to this pen is the color. The beautiful deep striking purple combined with the silver steel nib makes for a very attractive pen. Another thing I love about this pen is that it is high quality for a reasonable price. I am not yet skilled enough in the the art of writing with a fountain pen to invest in a $100-$200 fountain pen. But at $36.50 I can get a high quality fountain pen that will last. Are you a lefty? The LAMY AL-Star pen in purple is also available with a left handed nib!

J. Herbin Glass Pen

Before working at Writer’s Bloc, I had no idea that glass pens even existed. I have had the privilege of testing the J. Herbin glass pen, and it is hands-down one of the niftiest pens I have ever used. The spiral tip acts as a reservoir for ink which allows you to write several sentences before having to re-dip your pen! J. Herbin Glass pens come in several different colors and designs that are sure to complement your most avid writer.

Quo Vadis Habana Journal

The Habana Journals have always been one of my favorites. They are simple, practical, and sophisticated. The paper quality is fantastic and the elastic closure and inside pocket are great features. This is just a classic notebook that can switch seamlessly from school to work. I have been mostly drawn towards the Taupe color which has been discontinued. However, the Habana Journal is also available in Black, Red, Anise Green and Raspberry with both blank or lined pages.

Bob’s Your Uncle Open Sesame Book

If you are like me, you have several different email accounts and dozens of logins and passwords for this and that. After a while you begin to forget the logins and passwords you don’t use on a daily basis. The Bob’s Your Uncle Open Sesame book is our saving grace! You’ll never have to set up multiple usernames and passwords for the same site because you forgot the one you already set up!  Keep all your login information in one place and in alphabetical order! This notebook is a convenient size for easy storage in an inconspicuous area and keeps all your logins safe and organized! 

Rhodia Webnotebook – Large, Lined 

We carry an array of high quality journals at Writer’s Bloc, but one of my new favorites is the Rhodia Webnotebook. This journal contains the acclaimed ivory colored 90g Rhodia paper. The one aspect of this journal that really draws me to it is the cover. The cover is extremely smooth and sturdy. The elastic closure and ribbon keeps the journal neat and organized. And if you are like me, you like to stick separate notes, lists, or keepsakes in your journal. The Rhodia Webnotebook comes with a pocket in the back for people like us!

What’s on your wish list?

(PS – Since writing this post I was very excited to receive the LAMY AL-Star as a graduation gift!! It pays to write wish lists!)


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Best Sellers from Clairefontaine

New to Clairefontaine notepads and not sure where to start? Here is a list of our best selling Clairefontaine products that can help guide you to your perfect notebook!

Of the plethora of Clairefontaine notepads we carry at Writer’s Bloc, the #1 best seller is the large Clairefontaine wire-bound French ruled notebook. Even though French ruled paper is used daily by students in France and elsewhere, it is not widely available in the USA and many people have never heard of it. It has a unique line/grid system that can be used to format essays and practice handwriting and calligraphy. You can learn more about it here: What is French Ruled Paper? Clairefontaine French ruled paper can be found in both large and medium size wire-bound notebooks as well as in other styles of notebooks.

The Clairefontaine Multiple Subject medium size notebook is another one of our best sellers. In addition to sections of pages being defined by different colors of paper, tabs cut into the pages also help keep you and your work organized. The high quality graph paper is ideal for writing and drawing and is great for students, artists and anyone looking for a great organizing tool! Also available in large and small sizes.

If you are looking for a pocket-sized notebook try our best selling small staple-bound Clairefontaine notebook. These little gems are ideal for those who like to keep a notebook with them at all times since they are conveniently sized and will slip right into your pocket or purse. These notebooks also make for great party favors, throw them into goody bags or prize baskets and give your guests the gift of quality paper! Available individually or in a set of 10.

Another one of our best selling Clairefontaine notebooks is the classic Clairefontaine Basics cloth-bound large lined notebook. This notebook has a sewn binding so it opens flat, pages do not fall out, and there is no spiral wire to get in the way when you write! An added bonus is an elastic to keep the notebook securely closed. Available with Red, Black, Tan or Green covers.

What’s your favorite Clairefontaine notebook?


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