A mechanical kick in the pants. Draft cards to build an efficiency engine to hit the magical 8+ coins per hand and then start buying the big victory points... the rub being that once you start buying VPs they will clog up your machine and make it run all choppy.
Other than committing to a strategy the game really comes down to timing the switch from deck building to buying VPs. Come in too soon and you bloat the machine with crap. Come in too late and you're behind the curve and will lose, maddeningly, by something as stupid as a single card-buy.
It's fascinating to watch the different solutions grind away at the problem and to see who had the most efficient engine—and best timing—at the end.
The only knock is for the flaccid theme, which is, perhaps, thankfully thin, given how mechanical the game is and how fast it plays with experienced players. (It's not unusual for your turn to come back around before you're done shuffling from the last one.) A narrative layer would probably just slow everything down.
That said, I like to think of it as scratch-building a Ferrari and then seeing how much cocaine I can hide in the gas tank while still getting it across the border. And then maybe something about fire-breathing pimps.
It's a nice little card game that is light and fun. You start with a small amount of cards and build your deck throughout the game. I like deck building and I like that there is a lot of variety and different things you can try out. A bit of a themeless optimization game, though.
Played it twice at EQ, once with 3, and once with 4 - both times it was the basic set up.
I really think this game has more in common with Fluxx than MTG, but definitely elements of both. That said, I really liked the games I played, and was left wanting to try out another strategy. I could see going with a bunch of two player games in a row and having a good time.
On the other hand, it's only a glob of good mechanics. Not enough "heart" to the game if you know what I mean... MTG decks, wheter competitive of themed have lots of heart, while Dominion left me a little cold in that department. Maybe more plays with differing cards might change that.
It took me a lot of games of Dominion to really appreciate it. It doesn't present well -- kind of like Race for the Galaxy -- so I can see where the hate comes from. I don't begrudge anyone who won't play it a second time.