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1
Dominion: Renaissance Previews / Secret History discussion thread
« on: November 09, 2018, 04:07:05 am »
Since you can't discuss it in that thread. http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=19203.0

2
The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Dominion: Renaissance
« on: November 09, 2018, 04:06:04 am »
Going into work on this set, I had two plans. First, to see what I could do with States. States showed up in Nocturne, just as a way to deal with tracking for a few effects; I had put no work into trying to see what I could do with them, and well probably I could do something with them. Second, to try to do more with the coin tokens from Guilds. They were popular and it seemed like maybe I could actually do more with them.

Along the way I added a third goal: to make a set that was much simpler than the last few sets. The expansions naturally get more complex as you go along, since you run out of new simple things to do. I felt like things had gotten too complex though, and wanted to swing things back the other direction as much as possible. So the set intentionally has a bunch of off-theme cards, which is to say, cards that don't involve any of the new mechanics; and I limited myself to text that would fit with the large font, and for the landscape cards, text that would fit with the large font on two lines (then Innovation needed three during layout due to the expansion symbol). And the set tried to stay simple in other ways too.

Initially I did two things with States: I had ones that one player could have, and ones that every player got a copy of. The ones that every player got could turn over; one side would have a rule that let you upgrade it. We liked these a lot.

One of the two-sided States was a lot like the Journey token from Adventures - it was, some cards flipped it over, but when it flipped over one way nothing happened, and the other way gave you +1 Action. So some cards essentially had +1 Action half the time you played them. This was cool. But wait: maybe I could just have +1 Action tokens, to go with the +$1 tokens. And I switched to that and it was even better.

So... +1 Buy tokens? I had them in the set for a bit there. And there was a 4th mat, unrelated to the others. In the end I felt like, we were eating up so much table space with mats, and hey what about being simpler. So there are just Coffers and Villagers. And they got those names and notation and then since we were updating Guilds for reprinting it got the Coffers mat too.

The other two-sided States, they were good times, but did not go well with the idea of a simpler expansion. Here, read this extra card, now turn it over. They turned into Projects: you pay to put a cube on a card, and now you have that ability. This is not only simpler - no second side to read, no text to explain how to upgrade it - it also means only one card per Project, rather than six (for six players) per two-sided State. So I could fit way more of them into the set, hooray.

The one-sided States persisted, but somewhere along the way I realized I should use a different name for them, to clarify that only one player got them. So they are Artifacts. The Artifacts were tricky; you want them to move around but not every turn, and they want to be attractive but not have the game hinge on them. I thought there might be 8; there are 5, and I struggled to get those.

Coffers tokens were also problematic; when you have a giant pile of those tokens, it's pretty demoralizing for the other players, and sometimes it's even a good strategy. So only one card gives +2 Coffers each time it's played, and some only sometimes produce +Coffers, and some do it when-gained. Villagers tokens had no issues. Go ahead and get a bunch if you want.

So, I think that covers it: Coffers, Villagers, Artifacts, Projects, and cards that do none of those things.

It turned out Ben King had been working on a Dominion program as a fun project, and he programmed in Renaissance and we playtested it some there. Thanks Ben! He also wrote some bots to demonstrate how powerful some particular cards were.

* Cards *

Acting Troupe: Here you go, some villagers. At first this gave +5 Villagers. Too many.

Border Guard: For a while this had no Artifacts. I wanted more Artifacts and saw that I could add one here, which was Lantern. Then I needed to put another Artifact somewhere and saw that this could have two Artifacts, so it got Horn.

Cargo Ship: The concept debuted on a 2-sided State, limited to Treasures. The first version as a card set aside all gains, and doled them out at one per turn, like Archive. Then it was just one card, and that was better but weak - it cost $5. I tried it with +2 Coffers, then just lowered it to costing $4 and then $3.

Ducat: A late card. I needed a $2, and a +1 Buy card. Matt suggested making it a Treasure and there it is. It didn't change, but it did get argued about. Adam felt like it was "strictly better" than Candlestick Maker. I am pretty sure it isn't. What feels better is when you trash a Copper with it... which effectively costs you $3. But any which way, one is a Treasure and one an Action, and various things make those categories matter. It and Candlestick Maker are more similar than most pairs of cards, and well, twelfth expansion, trying to have simple cards, no regrets.

Experiment: We tried several versions of this. After a bit as a Smithy (based on another card that died), it switched to a Lab, because that way there's usually no tracking (it uses an Action but gives +1 Action, so when it vanishes your play area still tells you the whole story, yes unless you Throne it or something). For a bit they both went to the same place - e.g. if you used Sculptor to gain Experiment, both Experiments went to your hand. That was too confusing for how often it came up. There was a version that was two different cards, the first gained you a copy of the second (the second being non-supply); there was a version that was three one-shot Labs instead of two; there was one that was like Border Village, it got you a cheaper card instead of another Experiment. In the end it's two one-shot Labs, which it was early on, but with a better wording.

Flag Bearer: Originally you took the Flag when you played it. Well at some point maybe you are drawing your decks and you just pass it back and forth. That isn't so great. I briefly tried only getting the Flag if Flag Bearer was your first play of the turn; then if you're drawing your decks it just sits there on the player who got lucky. Also bad. Changing it to when-gain/trash fixed it up every which way; anyone could take it on their turn, so it's not "those two are fighting over that, let them," and yet the cost varies (maybe this turn you have $5) and gets higher over time (how many of these Flag Bearers can my deck really handle).

Hideout: One of the first cards in the set, and it never changed.

Improve: Ben and Steveie requested I make a new card that gave you card progression reminiscent of Procession. At first it cost $4, and triggered when discarding a card from play. It shifted to the start of Clean-up in order to avoid having it be possible for every effect in Dominion to happen in the middle of discarding your cards.

Inventor: One of the 2-sided State cards was a Workshop that could get you a Scheme-a-turn that turned into Citadel (but it worked on Treasures too). For some reason I added a Bridge effect to it, while it still used a State. Then I decided the State needed a different card, but kept the Workshop plus Bridge card sans States. We also tried it at $5 with the bottom part of Silk Merchant, but that was too helpful. Inventor does mega-turns, and ideally you don't always have just what you need there.

Lackeys: Originally it was +2 Cards, turn over your thing that gets you +1 Action half the time. It went straight from that to the final version.

Mountain Village: The last card added. An early village with a negative Artifact didn't work out; then I made a new village with two Artifacts that also didn't work out. I decided the move was to just try to have a cool village, and not care about the Artifact being tacked-on, and this was the stand-out from the things I tried. At first you got an Artifact if your discard pile was empty; then I tried giving you the Artifact and +1 Card, and finally moved the Artifact to Recruiter (not what it did, but just, having an Artifact) (and of course Recruiter didn't keep it).

Patron: The first version had a two-sided State (it was a Cathedral that turned into a Cargo Ship for Treasures if you trashed a $5+ card). When those went away, I preserved the top and added the reaction. I fiddled with the wording some, to try to make it clear, but the idea stayed the same.

Priest: This started out giving you an Artifact if you trashed a card costing $3 or more; the Artifact had you draw a card each time you trashed a card. Sometimes the Artifact felt really important, and it sucked to have to eat your deck to fight over it. I tried changing the condition to "if you trashed a card that hadn't been trashed yet," then dropped the Artifact, and switched to getting a bonus per trash right on the card. The bonus was +$2 first, but I also tried +1 Coffers for comparison. It gets rid of some tracking but I liked +$2 better.

Old Witch: For a while the set's Witch was "Choose one: +3 Cards; or take the Evil Eye; or each other player gains a Curse." The Evil Eye was an Artifact that had you Curse the other players whenever gaining VP. We had fun with it for a while. Going for Evil Eye early and hard didn't work, but when someone did take the Evil Eye at a reasonable time, they would suddenly hand out so many Curses. Another issue was, wait, if you Moat this, they can't take the Artifact from you? Matt suggested it not being an Attack, which would have had a certain something - Young Witch has a built-in Moat, Old Witch is un-Moat-able. In the end I gave up on it and replaced it with this, the Witch that only temporarily gives you Curses.

Recruiter: I tried trashing a card for +Coffers, and for a mix of +Coffers and +Villagers. It turned out to be too good of a strategy by itself - just madly convert your cards into tokens. But +Villagers by itself wouldn't have that problem, so I made that card and it was great. A kind of inverse Apprentice. Then at the last minute it got an Artifact, in order to not have the Artifact on Mountain Village. Then at the very last minute I moved the Artifact to Border Guard. We'd been happy with Recruiter, and this way I avoided having another card with multiple mechanics.

Research: Gradually, the set developed an at-first unintentional trash-for-benefit theme - cards that do something when gained or trashed, plus nice ways to trash them. So when I was filling the last few slots, I tried to get in some more of that. This is like Apprentice, but you get the cards next turn, and since they're set aside you have to have cards left to set aside for it.

Scepter: A way to replay actions was an old idea. Well Royal Carriage does it but you know, as a card you played. Royal Carriage happened, but this did not, because what if this game there's no card with +1 Action? You couldn't play your after-the-fact Throne Room. A fix is to make it a Treasure, and that card tried out for Nocturne. Well first it was a Night card, and both the Night and Treasure actually returned you to your Action phase, so that most effects would be meaningful. I didn't feel like it was adding much, and changed it to a Treasure that didn't change phases, which meant that many cards were now no good with it. Which I liked; it made it more of a combo card. It was a poor fit for a set with a lot of Night cards though. It made a list of cards to try in the next set, and when the time came, we tried it again, and then I made it both weaker when strong and stronger when weak, by changing it from always making $1, to either making $2 or replaying a card.

Scholar: This never changed. A poster child for the set being simple.

Sculptor: One of the first cards in the set. It used the "+1 Action every other time" thing like Lackeys, then switched to +1 Villager, and that's that.

Seer: At first it got you cards costing $2 or less, but that was too strong early on. Then $2 or $3, then $2-$4.

Silk Merchant: Briefly this was like a Pawn when gained/trashed, only with tokens in place of +$1 and +1 Action. I always like the idea of a when-gain that can draw cards, but it never survives, for the same reason: in the default situation, you don't want the cards. And then the triggered +1 Buy was problematic. So, no choice, it just gives you the other two.

Spices: Briefly there was a treasure that gave you your choice of a mix of 2 tokens when you played it - Coffers, Villagers, or the +Buy mat. Then, a treasure worth $2 that gave you +2 Coffers and +1 Buy mat token when gained; this was somewhat inspired by a card of Matt's. Then I got rid of the +Buy mat, but moved the +Buy to the top of the card.

Swashbuckler: An early poster child for the 2-sided States gave +3 Cards and added a token to the State (or took it if you didn't have it); when one side got 3 tokens it flipped over and gave you +3 Villagers, and when the other side got 3 tokens it flipped over and got you +3 Coffers and 3 Golds. It was called Jungle Explorer, and the state was Base Camp / Ancient Ruins. When the 2-sided States died, I tried to capture at least some of the spirit of the card, and this is how I did it.

Treasurer: Initially this couldn't get stuff from the trash. That change gave it combos and was great. Late in the going I wanted to try to have more Artifacts and squeezed the Key onto this. It didn't need it to be good enough; it was just a place that I could reasonably fit an Artifact.

Villain: I tried a few different Militias before getting here. When it got close to what it is, there were versions that looked for cards costing $3+ or $5+, versions that made you discard all copies of what you discarded, and versions that only attacked if you had enough Coffers tokens.

* Projects *

Academy: Unchanged, though there were many unrelated cards called Academy.

Barracks: One of the first Projects, and it never changed.

Canal: Unchanged. A lot of these ideas were just fine from the get-go.

Capitalism: There was a thing that made your Silvers be Peddlers in your Action phase, then a thing that tried making your Treasures into Actions. It just isn't useful often enough. Once I hit on this, it was a question, should it be "+$ amounts" or specific ones, e.g. "+$2 or +$3." We tried it both ways.

Cathedral: This started as the front of a 2-sided State, that turned over if you trashed a card costing $5+. Once it became a Project, it didn't change.

Citadel: This also started as part of a 2-sided State, though it was the harder-to-get 2nd side. It originally replayed your first play each turn, which could be Action, Treasure or Night; this was just too confusing though, everyone just mentally thought it only worked on Actions. Spelling it out was poor, so, it just works on Actions. So much for the sneaky Throne Room for Night cards.

City Gate: The last Project. Unchanged.

Crop Rotation: This was $5 and "discard an Action," then $5 and "Victory," then the final version.

Exploration: At first this gave +2 Coffers. Ben demonstrated that it was too strong with a bot.

Fair: Another early Project that never changed.

Guildhall: Unchanged.

Fleet: This started and ended at $5, but went up to $8 in the middle. I messed with the wording so that the turn order would be natural.

Innovation: This started at $5.

Pageant: This cost $2 at first, but a Project can't cost $2 (unless it has a penalty) - you just automatically buy it sometimes.

Piazza: Unchanged. Werothegreat suggested doing a one-card Golem Project; Matt pitched it as a Vassal; there it is.

Road Network: Unchanged.

Sewers: Unchanged.

Silos: Unchanged.

Sinister Plot: Early on I had a Duration card that sat there accumulating Coffers tokens until you popped it. There were a few versions. It's no fun seeing a giant pile of tokens on the other side of the table, so these died. Then I brought it back as the same thing but for +Cards. Somehow way more tolerable. So one day, you'd have a big turn. This was in the set for a while. Then I turned it into a Project, which only takes one card instead of eleven. As a Project there's the concern of, can we all keep our tokens separate, and well, we always managed.

Star Chart: We tried several versions of a card that gained you a card each time you shuffled. It had problems every which way. This was a better fit for "thing to do when you shuffle."

* Outtakes *

As I mentioned, there was a 4th mat I don't really want to talk about. I don't know if I'll try to put it into an expansion someday, or how that will go, but, I might.

For a long time there was a Worker's Village for $2 that came with an Artifact that made you discard a Copper each turn. We had fun with it; you're happy to buy it as long as you aren't the last one to get one, and when you're the current last one to get one, well, time to load up on these. Sometimes someone would be stuck with it and suffer. And sometimes you could brush off the penalty. We enjoyed the various ways it played, but it had a big problem: a casual player might just buy it, let's see what this does, and be screwed. It was worse than buying a Curse (sometimes), but disguised. So we tried having it give each other player "+1 Card, discard a card" at the start of your turn; this slows down the game too much and the tracking is poor, guess who has no incentive to remember this, yes it's the guy who has it. Then there was making you gain Coppers, but sometimes that's actually good, and sometimes easy to cope with. Then there was, your choice of discarding Copper or gaining Copper. This was just way too minor, it didn't delay you buying this village at all. In the end there is no negative Artifact; the village that got this slot is Mountain Village.

There was a village that was, cantrip, +1 Villager; man it's fine, you can argue about, does it need to cost $5, but it's nice. The village that's always there when you need it. But really, the experience it gives is the villager experience, and other cards are giving us that experience. Another village just came with +2 Villagers; we already have that experience too. Another village converted +$ to +Coffers for your next card played. Large amounts of +Coffers are trouble.

The +Buy mat debuted with +$2, discard cards for +$1 each, +1 Buy token. Ahead of Spices and Ducat, there was a treasure that just gave you your choice of 2 tokens when played, between Coffers, Villagers, and +Buy.

Here's one that trashes itself for +5 Coffers if your opponent has a Silver in hand; when gained, it gave them a Silver. It was nuts, oops.

I tried a few cards that gave the other players a negative State when gained. They were cantrips that sometimes gave you stuff. The State made players put a played Copper on their deck for next turn. An early Witch had a one-use Moat State. A concept that hadn't worked in Nocturne either.

I mentioned some of the 2-sided States above. Another one simulated the +Buy mat. At first it was a +Buy mat that could upgrade to a +Card mat; then I had a card that just gave you the State on either side, and it couldn't flip - you locked in what it was, and what it was was your choice of a +Buy mat or a +1/2 Coffers mat (two tokens for +$1).

One of the 2-sided states was Scheme / Citadel. Different kingdom cards tried producing that state - a Workshop, a Remodel, a Vault.

There was also a duration cantrip giving +$2 next turn, that had a 2-sided State where the 2nd side had you draw a card per Duration at the start of each turn. It upgraded all your Durations. Then the States died, but I had a Project that did that, and I had the duration cantrip with no associated State. Both left in a purge of low-rated cards.

A prominent outtake gave you your choice of a Silver or one of two Artifacts. Initially one of the Artifacts gave you +1 Card +1 Action for gaining a card in your action phase, while the other made Silvers get +$1 (after briefly giving them +1 Coffers). Adam figured out that you could just crush people with this and no other cards. For a while I kept trying to make that happen in my own games; no-one quite managed to pursue the boring strategy, and the card kept seeming reasonable. Finally I saw it be broken. Then we went through a variety of Artifacts, trying to find a version of the card to preserve. The second Artifact usually let you topdeck gained cards. Billy and I heavily analyzed the situation - what exactly could you do to make this kind of an Artifact-giver work. I made a new card with two Artifacts, a village, abandoning the Silver-gainer. Finally I gave up on that too. I replaced one of the Artifacts with a Project - going to 5 Artifacts, 20 Projects, surely the set was always like that, you can't be telling me once there were 19 Projects - and the last Artifact tried out for both the village and Recruiter before ending up on Border Guard. Which does have two Artifacts... but having to get lucky (or to have trashed down) to get one helps it out, and the Artifacts nicely distinguish themselves.

There was a card called Patron that put a token on each of two non-Victory piles with no token (non-Victory because of Trade Route). When you gained a card from one of those piles, you took the token. The idea was that you could put one on whatever you were buying, plus one somewhere else, and for a little while there were safe options - I'll start with Curse, then Copper. But eventually you'd be sharing. Of course with +Buy you could just give yourself both tokens. Interesting concept; too powerful and not actually enough fun.

One card gave +2 Coffers, then went back to your hand if you had <= 3 tokens. "+$2, return to hand" was an old card, that made it out in mutated form as Diadem. One issue is tracking the $; this version solved that. It still had the issue of tracking the actions used - and had to have that issue, since the whole point was getting to replay it if you had another action. That wasn't great, but also it was too strong. On its way out I tried just rewarding you if your next play was an Action card, without moving itself or using up the action.

I tried a card that let you put two tokens on a Project. The effect is pointless or nuts, and makes the rules more complex.

Prior to Villain, there was an attack that had your opponents discard a card they had 2+ copies of in hand (an idea from Cornucopia); there was "each other player discards a copy of the most recently gained Treasure"; there was "if you have 5+ Coffers tokens, they discard down to 1 then draw 3." There was "they discard an Action, if they did they get +1 Coffers"; that looks like, why did I try that, but the idea was to be a simpler way of implementing an Enchantress that turned a card play into "+1 Action +1 Coffers." There was "Each other player with 5+ cards puts one on the bottom of their deck"; it's uh, it hasn't been done yet is what it is. And there was "they reveal their hand and discard all copies of one card in it," which bled into Villain.

I had a Band of Misfits variant that played a card from another player's hand (leaving it there). It wasn't as interesting as it sounded.

There was a cantrip that had you name a card, reveal the top 4, and discard the non-matches. It seemed cute and innocuous, but was secretly strong and also slow. Then I tried it just discarding Coppers and Estates. I tried a cantrip that got you the top card if it was Copper or Estate - oh right, that's a lot like Will-o'-Wisp. Then I got you all of the Coppers and Estates from the top 3, and from there we move to the cards that feel like versions of Seer.

Some stuff tried to mess with how many tokens you had. I tried doubling your Coffers tokens; somehow that's here in the outtakes section. I tried "Choose one: +1 Coffers, or +$1 per Coffers token." Then a choice between +1 Coffers, or a Warehouse for a card per token. Then, this one had some charm, +1 Coffers, you may gain a card costing $1 per token. There was a treasure that, when trashed, gave +1 Coffers per 2 tokens you had; yes you empty the pile and have an insane pile of tokens.

In Guilds I tested both "+$1 per card gained in the previous turn" and "+1 Coffers per," and I revisted the +Coffers one here, just making sure.

Here's a card that rewards you for having exactly one Treasure in hand, that's pretty random.

One of the things that tried to use Artifacts was a Treasure that gave you one Artifact if you gained a Treasure, another if you gained a Victory card. Another let you trash an incoming gained card to take one of two Artifacts or get +1 Coffers. An Artifact also messed with that a bunch, trying to let you trash an incoming card. It seemed appropriate for the trash-for-benefit theme that crept into the set, but kept being too weak or too strong. One of the cards was a village that said "If the next card you play this turn is a Treasure, take the thing or the thing." That trigger condition seemed promising for a while, though it limits what the Artifacts can be (mostly they want to be usable the turn you get them, and this confines that to the buy phase). There was a village that gave you an Artifact if you had 5+ Action cards in hand; you never remember that by the time you can do it. There were other Artifact-producing villages that were barely tried: one that had a choice, +2 Actions or toy; one that made your next draw like Catacombs except that's too hard to communicate; one that was a village and also had +1 Villager, and wanted you to gain a card no-one had gained yet to take an Artifact (you can turn the top card of each pile sideways to track that none have been gained yet, and man that doesn't fly today); another had a choice of Card/Coffers/Villager and always gave +2 Actions, and you got the toy for gaining a Gold. And the flurry of Artifacts that tried out for these cards included: Royal Seal; Treasures cost $2 less; each turn gain a Silver; each turn gain a copy of a Treasure you have in play; when you gain a card +$1; when you gain an Action or Victory card may gain a cheaper Treasure; Academy. A hard-to-get one gave you an Action card each turn.

On the quest for Ducat, there was a card that gave you +1 Buy per Treasure you discarded when gaining it (super +Buy cards are always trouble); and there was a card that Remodel'd to the same cost when you gained it and cost $2, which meant that on the 2/5 I drew in what was probably the only game with it, I went, buy that, turn three Estates into that, huh.

Projects, I have outtakes there too.
- A straight +$1 per turn. It's similar to Canal, isn't it. It ended up on Key.
- Save a card for next turn. I didn't like that you had to remember it when it wasn't doing much for you, and would save an Estate for a while.
- Scheme. The gameplay wasn't great and it wasn't popular.
- That +1 Card per Duration card in play thing I already mentioned. Later it had a +$1 option for if there were no Durations.
- May remove cube to trash or topdeck a gained card. This isn't what Projects were about.
- In your turns, Duchies are also Actions with "something." I tried a few things.
- At the start of your turn, +2 Cards; at the start of your Buy phase, discard 2 cards. Powerful, fun, too hard to remember.
- May discard Action for +1 Villager. Counterpart to Pageant.
- In your Action phase, Silvers are Peddlers. It was fun briefly.
- In your Action phase, Treasures are Actions. Without any special ability added on. Not useful very often.
- When you buy a card for <= $4, gain an extra copy. So many Projects tried to do Workshop, often just being too fast to empty piles.
- When you buy an Action you don't have a copy of in play, gain an extra copy. Another one.
- Every turn, Workshop. As if.
- When you gain a card costing $5+, gain one for <= $4. One issue is that many of these can even work twice in a turn.
- When shuffle, may first gain card costing <= $4. So this cut down on how often you got to do it, and seemed cool, but there were huge issues.
- After shuffle, may gain card onto deck costing <= $4. Another one. See some versions made us wait for a player to shuffle, which sucks hard.
- Once per turn, when shuffle, first gain card for <= $2. But the other versions had hopeless card interactions, where you'd e.g. empty a pile instantly.
- Before you shuffle, may set aside Supply card for <= $4, and gain it afterwards. A last gasp for both Workshops and shuffle-Workshops.
- When drawing your hand, +1 Card per card you gained that turn. I did Road Network instead.
- When you play an Action that doesn't give +Actions, +1 Card afterwards. Hard to communicate, and what was I thinking really.
- Buy phase, +$3; your hand is just 4 cards. Looked interesting; was too strong, was too hard to remember.
- Buy phase, +1 Action +1 Buy +$1, your hand is just 4 cards. Trying to fix that up.
- Buy phase, +$5, -$1 per card in hand. Man I don't remember all of these. Probably just in one game.
- Start of turn, look at top 3, put them back in any order. Not meaningful enough.
- Buy phase, may trash hand Silver for hand Gold. Makes the game too much about the boring cards.
- Start of turn, look at top, may discard it. This was endlessly on lists, but I don't remember actually trying it.
- Each turn you don't buy anything, +3 Cards in next hand. A direction to consider more; hey in the end there's Exploration.
- If <= 3 cards in play at start of Clean-up, +3 Cards in next hand. I liked it until it turned out to be strong with just money.
- When you trash non-Copper, +1 Coffers. This game, we all get a big pile of tokens.
- When you gain a Treasure, you may trash a card/Treasure from hand. Let's just have a boring game of buying Treasures now.
- When you play a Treasure, +$1. A problem even though it cost $8.
- When gain card in Action phase, +1 Action, and if it's not the first one, +1 Card. Trying to recreate the fun of a dead Artifact that made Workshops cantrips.
- When gain card for <= $4 in Action phase, +1 Card and +1 Action. And so on, for four versions of this premise.
- When you gain a Treasure, +1 Villager. Don't you mean Action?
- When gain copy of card previous player gained, +1 Coffers. Did not play well. The remaining ones were late attempts to fill up the last slots.
- Instead of trashing a hand card, may gain Silver, and vice-versa. That looks cool, doesn't it. Rules issues.
- Start of turn, may trash hand Silver/Gold for +2/3 Cards. Not a highlight of my options at this point.
- At end of Buy phase, if spent <= $4, +1 Coffers. I guess, helped contribute to Exploration happening? Exploration and City Gate were the last two.
- When gain a card, look at top, may discard it. Not a great matching of trigger and effect.
- Start of turn, reveal top, +1 Card if Treasure. Some people liked this one. A runner-up.
- Start of turn, may reveal no-Treasure hand to gain Gold. I mean it's useful when you build a deck that crushes your enemies already.
- When drawing hand, +2 Cards, discard 2 cards. Good times, crazy power level.

* Phew *

And there you have it.

3
Projects are abilities everyone can have. They go in your randomizer deck or special sideways deck, like Events and Landmarks. You only play with 2 max between these and Events and Landmarks, unless you prefer to have more, I can't stop you. Each player gets two wooden cubes, that's right we've at last moved into wood, and if you buy a Project - using a buy in your Buy phase - you put one of your unused cubes on it and then have that ability for the rest of the game. You only get two cubes, even if you preferred having more than two Projects out at once. Everyone can put a cube on the same Project, there's room for all. There are twenty Projects. Here are six of them.



So, Fair, you pay your $4, you put a cube on Fair, every turn from now on you have +1 Buy. Get it?

Silos lets you Cellar away Coppers at the start of your turn, could be a pip.

Citadel repeats your first Action each turn. You are going places once you have one of these.

Star Chart lets you pick your top card every time you shuffle. It seems like that could come in handy. Yes you get to look at the cards, you don't have to pick from the backs.

Sewers means every trasher you have can trash an extra card. It also works when you play a one-shot like Acting Troupe, or lose a card to Swindler or something. It can be sneaky.

And finally Innovation makes your first bought/gained Action each turn leap into play and immediately do something. Not all things are useful to play in your Buy phase (and there isn't always a Workshop available), but it turns out a lot of things are (and sometimes, there's a Workshop).

That's it for previews! You'll be able to play with the previewed cards online all through the weekend; then they'll vanish until the street date for the physical set. Which is when you'll also get to see the rest of the cards. And when is that? Well the current guess is... late October. Very late October. So late in October that it's almost not October. Man. A month away. But at least RGG has a lot of confidence in that estimate. The rulebook will show up online around then as usual, and once people have the cards I'll post a Secret History.

4
Artifacts are abilities only one player can have. When you take the Flag, you take it from whoever had it, if someone had it. So, they go back and forth. They're like Lost in the Woods (from Nocturne); hey could I do more with that kind of thing, I thought, and I could. There are five Artifacts total, and here are three of them and their parent cards.



Flag Bearer comes with a Flag. If someone takes it away from you, just buy another one. How many Flag Bearers can your deck tolerate, anyway? Well you can also trash them to get the Flag, so that won't always be an issue.

Swashbuckler is trickier. All that stuff after the colon only happens if you have cards in your discard pile - which is harder than it sounds. Part of it is, you draw the three cards before checking. The Coffers tokens don't have to have come from Swashbuckler specifically, so sometimes that helps, but you still need a discard pile at least once to get the Treasure Chest.

Treasurer can put you down a Treasure, up a Treasure, or even on Treasures. And the Key is like a Treasury. So it's sure to be a card you treasure.

5
Coffers are like Villagers but for coins. Bam. Also Coffers appeared already in Guilds, though it wasn't called that until the later printing. It's money you can save for later. You can only cash in the tokens before buying cards; they make +$1 each. Guilds originally said "take a coin token"; this set says "+1 Coffers."



Villain has +2 Coffers, there you go, it's that easy. It makes the other players discard something good, except early on they'll have Estates and later on Provinces. But you know, in the middle there, it demands a good card.

Ducat is the Coffers treasure. If you have a Copper in hand when you get it, it essentially upgrades the Copper into a kind of save-able Copper.

Silk Merchant spills out tokens both coming and going. You may even get use out of it in the middle.

6
Villagers are like Coffers but for Actions. I guess that explanation would have been simpler tomorrow. +1 Villager means you add a token to the Villagers side of your Coffers / Villagers mat. You can remove the token for +1 Action in your Action phase. It's a +1 Action you can save. The actual tokens are coins, but don't be fooled, they do double duty. I will tell you now, it's so nice just using one type of token. So anyway, Villagers.



Acting Troupe gets right to the point: 4 tokens, it's gone. How much of a village is that exactly; what decks are possible when this is the only village-like thing? As always I leave those questions to you.

Sculptor is that rare animal, a Workshop that gains cards directly to your hand. Watch out. If you gain an Action you won't necessarily be able to play it that turn... but wait, you might have Villagers from previous plays of Sculptor. They thought of everything.

Recruiter can let you really go nuts getting Villagers. Don't go too nuts; you don't need a giant pile of Villagers sitting there.

If you missed yesterday's preview, I am here to tell you that you can try these cards right now at dominion.games. If you did catch yesterday's preview, I'm just wasting your time now.

7
Dominion, that's what you're trying to achieve. This time in the Renaissance!

Renaissance has four themes: Villagers, Coffers, Artifacts, Projects. And we'll be seeing them in that order over the next 4 days. But in fact half the kingdom cards in the set don't fit any of those themes. And today, here are some of those. Like last time we will have the preview cards playable at dominion.games, and to have plenty of variety there I'm previewing 5 cards today. You read them already, but this paragraph still has to pretend you haven't, so, here they are:



Mountain Village gets back a card from your discard pile instead of drawing you a card. Or draws you a card if it can't, you aren't hurt there. It does some tricks; the first one you'll see is, one Mountain Village in your hand gets back all the Mountain Villages in your discard pile.

Priest is a trasher, and rewards you for further trashing. Play Priest, get +$2, trash a Copper. Play a second Priest, get +$2, trash a Copper, get a +$2 bonus from the first Priest. Play a third Priest, get +$2, trash a Silver (you ran out of Coppers), get +$2 from the first Priest and +$2 from the second Priest. See how it goes? Try to have enough stuff to feed them.

Seer draws cards costing from $2 to $4. Those aren't your best cards but hey, you could get three of them.

Scholar makes the cards go round. It's a poster child for simplicity; this set goes the extra mile to be simpler than the previous few.

Experiment is a one-shot Lab, but you get two of them.

Again, dominion.games, you can try out the cards right now (yes unless you are reading this from the future). Click on the thing that looks like it will do that, and it will.

8
Dominion: Renaissance Previews / Teaser
« on: September 21, 2018, 04:31:04 pm »
Prepare to be teased.

Renaissance has:
- 25 kingdom cards, 25 sideways cards, 12 wooden cubes, 6 playmats, and 35 tokens
- three Treasures, two Attacks, two Duration cards, and one Reaction
- fifteen uses for tokens
- sixteen uses of "trash"
- a card with a word in quotation marks on it
- a card with only 3 words on it; a card with only 4 words on it
- three ways to play Actions in your Buy phase
- a way to take a turn after the game would otherwise be over
- a trasher you can't turn off
- something that cares about shuffling

9
Rules Questions / Anything needed for Empires?
« on: September 19, 2018, 06:59:41 pm »
There's another printing of Empires coming up, so it's my chance to squeeze in some rulebook fix I've forgotten about.

So, is there anything?

10
The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Dominion: Nocturne
« on: November 24, 2017, 05:30:45 pm »
While working on Empires, I tried out Boons. They were in the set for a while, but there was only so much space in the set, and something had to go. Boons were a nice chunk to remove and out they went. In July 2015, I put them in a file for some hypothetical future expansion, referred to as Boonies. A couple other cards went with them.

In August 2015 I invited Bryan L. Doughty to help playtest Dominion: Empires and the 2nd editions. That all worked out.

In August 2016, Bryan had some time on his hands, and decided to get in some games with the cards in the Boons file. And he posted a report on those games and what he thought of the cards.

Well if someone was going to be playing them, maybe I could work on them a little, make sure the testing was accomplishing something. And I worked on them a little. I tweaked the Boons and the cards that used them. I thought about what else I could do and tried some of that out. Bryan showed up a week later and was surprised at how much had happened. And then he was gone; people sometimes find other things to do with their time besides playtest my stuff. His name is not even in the credits, and the prominent names in the rest of our story are Matt Engel and Billy Martin. But Bryan got the ball rolling and then the damage had been done; I was working on a Dominion expansion. It accumulated mechanics and cards and before I knew it I was writing a Secret History for it.

Dave Goldthorpe is another name not in the credits, so let's give him his moment. He did not playtest. He did suggest names for things though, including a few cards plus the name Nocturne. He will also show up in the story for Fool.

Gradually the set acquired two themes: "spooky" and Celtic mythology. It seemed okay to go for both at once; they overlap a little. Mechanically the set tries to be more for typical Dominion players, rather than experts; the previous set, Empires, is heavily aimed at experts, and well I like the sets to be different.

* The Five Main Mechanics *

The set has five main mechanics, let's check 'em out.

Boons: The first thing in the set, leftover from Empires. It was an old idea waiting for its day, and then it got its day and then I cut it. The Boons required 24 extra cards at the time, and Empires as published only managed to fit in 24 kingdom cards, what with having Landmarks and Events. It would have been 22. And Empires wanted to do plenty of things with its other mechanics too. Something had to go, and the Boons felt the least like the rest of the set, and required extra space.

The idea was to have 12 different ones, and there were always 12. At first there were two copies of each, in the end there's one. Some Boons went the distance while others were tweaked or replaced; I'll get to that. What you can do with a mechanic varies with the rest of the set; in Empires one Boon gave +1 VP, and here one gives you a Will-o'-Wisp.

Originally the top Boon was revealed; you'd know what was coming up. One day Matt Engel suggested having a choice of 3, and initially I liked that, and for a while it worked like that. One day I tried a card that gave you a random one, and I liked it a lot better, and in the end I switched it back to random only you don't even get to know what's coming. It's much faster; there's no first player advantage; it takes less table space.

A big issue with Boons was making sure they didn't make the game too slow. There were cards that gave +Cards and gave you a Boon; they did not work out. The cantrip that gave you a Boon is gone. Even the Treasure only gives you a Boon half the time (in multiples).

Night: The second mechanic in the set. It was an old idea to try adding a phase. I put it after the Buy phase because that sounded more interesting than the other options. I let you play any number of Night cards because I couldn't really have Night villages; you'd need the Night village to show up with the other Night card. It endlessly would not. It could still have been that you could just play one Night card, but letting you play multiples meant you could load up on those cards if you wanted, and played into part of what's special about them, that you don't draw them dead.

At first it wasn't clear what I'd get out of Night, and the first couple cards didn't do anything fancy with the idea. Then I hit on having them care about what happened in the turn. This lets you do really novel things that would otherwise be a lot more complicated; Horn of Plenty is an example among older cards. Later on Billy Martin suggested doing Night cards that went straight to your hand when you gained them; you could immediately play them. This was similar to a few cards already in the set, but sleeker and more worth doing more of. And then a bunch of Night cards ended up being Duration cards; that wasn't intended as a theme, but you are limited as to what's useful to get in the Night phase, and Night-Duration cards get around that.

For a while Night cards all said "(Night is after the Buy phase)" on them. You were going to have to look in the rulebook anyway to figure out Night cards, so in the end I dropped it.

Extra Cards: The intention was always to do a set with no tokens; a 500-card set with non-supply cards, like Dark Ages. It gradually got more and more of these, and the set was squeezed down to 33 kingdom cards to make room for them.

Heirlooms: Matt suggested having a card that caused a starting Copper to be replaced by some non-supply card (that's my memory anyway; Matt thinks I just saw it in his homemade cards). He had tried it where the two cards interacted in some way. It sounded good. I thought I would try one, maybe have two or three if it worked out, possibly interacting or possibly not. In the end there are the full seven. There were times when I only had six good ones, but how do you just do six. And while only a couple of the cards directly interact with the heirlooms they are paired with, some of them interact in a more subtle way.

Originally they had the setup spelled out, then they had "Heirloom: Lucky Coin," then Billy suggested having it on its own banner. The yellow banner helps you spot these cards in time to do the setup before people are playing.

Hexes: I did not just leap to having a negative version of Boons. It was an obvious thing to try but in no way felt essential. I finally tried it many months into work on the set, after a particular card kind of wanted them. We enjoyed the craziness of them and there they are. They were tweaked a bunch but over a much shorter time span than the Boons. There is a lot of variance to a typical normal attack like Militia (maybe I have two Estates in hand while someone else goes from $8 to $6); there is more variance when the attack itself is random. They try to limit the amount of variance somewhat, but of course some hurt more than others.

Speed was still an issue here, but also oppression, just how much the attacks could hurt you. So the cards use various tricks to try to limit the damage.

* 33 Kingdom Cards and Their Close Friends *

Heirlooms are paired with the cards that provide them below, in case the stories go together at all, and a few other cards are paired with what they go with, while some cards used by multiple things are in another section. Just keep calm and keep looking for your card.

Bard: The simplest Fate card. I didn't have it immediately, but one day it was time to get simple. Some versions had an heirloom paired with it, since they glommed onto simple cards, but in the end it doesn't have one.

Blessed Village: A late card. Empires had had a Woodcutter that gave you a Boon when you gained it or trashed it. We all liked it a lot. It came under fire in Nocturne when you no longer knew what the Boon would be. One day it was one of the cards least able to cling to existence, and went. Then later still a village slot was freed up, see Ghost Town for details. I needed a new village. I tried a lot of crazy scaling villages, seeing if I could find something cool but fair. There were some cool things but not so much fair things. Finally I tried this, the most obvious idea but because I'd killed the Woodcutter I didn't go straight to it. It was great though. It's okay that you don't know what the Boon is; it's something, and you probably wanted a village anyway. You had not so much wanted the Woodcutter.

Cemetery / Haunted Mirror: Hinterlands tried and failed to get a when-gain trasher. Guilds managed it via having the card's ability also be trashing. Cemetery manages it by not doing anything else, it's just VP. I was pretty thrilled with this when I thought of it, and then it played great, hooray.

For a while a card called Doomed Miner provided another way to get Ghost. The Miner would die in a cave-in, was the idea. The card itself didn't work out though. It was +$2, gain 2 Silvers, reveal top, if it's Silver this turns into Ghost. Matt complained that his group didn't like how hard it was to get Ghost (then for a bit it put the Ghost into your hand). And I realized I rarely bought it. So the Doomed Miner died, and it seemed like it would be nice if some other card got you a Ghost. I tried a few things, and one problem was, there weren't very many Ghosts. You didn't get very many with Exorcist, so there weren't very many; space was limited, even with 500 cards. So the new thing had to not make very many Ghosts. And well an Heirloom was perfect, it caps out at one per player. There were a couple quick versions of it and then it locked in. And got paired with Cemetery because of the Ghost angle and wanting to be on a trasher.

Changeling: For a while this was just the top, a sleek simple classic card. We liked it but Matt's group not so much. I tried putting the gained card on your deck, but I like to go light on that as it's easy to forget and a more complex concept. Then I thought of the bottom as a way to hit the flavor harder; your Skulk is swapped at birth for a Changeling.

Cobbler: The initial idea was for Tracker. Instead of putting cards on your deck, it could set them aside to go into your next hand. It sounded cool and it was, but it was also nuts. So then it just worked on one card per turn. That's way simpler if you just gain a card and do that with it. So, Tracker went back to being Tracker, and another Workshop in the set took this concept. Its other concept was more complex and it seemed like it could be shaved off. So now it was a Workshop that set aside a card for next turn. Matt suggested that it could just gain you a card next turn, even simpler, and mostly better, as you know what your hand is then. And then it needed a buff and became a Night card. The final card does not look much like the premise, but there's a thread stretching back to it.

Conclave: I liked the idea so much on Imp that I tried it out on a village too. There was a version that did the "you may play a card you don't have a copy of in play" thing twice, then the version that made it out, which lets the second card be a repeat.

Crypt: A late card, though the set had a history of Night cards that imitated Scheme. There was a card that put all copies of one card onto your deck, then one that put any two cards on your deck. Then I tried saving a treasure for next turn as resources on a Night card with other stuff going on, then made it its own card. Finally I hit on letting you go nuts with it.

Cursed Village: For a while there was another Library+Village thing that seemed okay. I guess it wasn't quite there. When I wanted to try a card that hexed you when you got it, I thought of this Library+Village thing, and liked it better than the other one. There was the question of, is it okay that discard Hexes miss or mostly miss. We tried Cursed Village setting aside the Hex for your next hand, but it was too easy to forget; people are better at remembering things they actually want to happen. It could have been that Hexes had categories so that Cursed Village always hit one that mattered, but there's no space for that on the little diagonal bar, it would have to be in the text box or something. In the end I decided it was okay if the Hex missed sometimes; it makes the card a little less scary to buy.

Den of Sin: I tried a few forms of scaling next-turn card-drawing Night cards. One that was in the set for a while was a Coppersmith variant, as I liked to think of it - name a card, per copy of it you have in play you set aside a card from your deck, next turn you get the cards. Early on you pick Copper mostly. Eventually you might pick the card itself, or something else. Sometimes we liked this and sometimes we didn't. It would seem fair and then seem crazy. As crazy started seeming to be the winner, the card got less attractive. I made a few versions of it but did not hit on a great version. Then I scrapped it for this. It feels like the other card is part of the story though. The fix was to always give you +2 Cards, not a scaling number. And it goes to your hand, which one of the versions of the other one tried.

Devil's Workshop: One of the first Night cards, somehow going the distance with no changes. It was a poster child for Night all through work on the set.

Druid: One of the original Fate cards was gain a Silver, receive a Boon but don't discard it unless your top card is Silver; when it was the only Fate card, the Boon might stay the same all game. When the Boons switched to being choice-of-3, this card switched to being choice-of-3. When the Boons switched to being random, this card got setup to stay a choice of 3. And it sat on the list of cards that might get cut for a while, and then I replaced "gain a Silver" with "+1 Buy" and suddenly I liked it a lot more.

Exorcist: An early Night card, but pared down. It sounded cool to do a Remodel that gained one of three non-supply cards. This set could have the cards, and could give them other uses too. I had the idea before I had any of the cards; then I slotted Ghost (tweaked from an Empires outtake) into the $4 slot, and made Will-o'-Wisp to be a card a Boon gave you. Imp came last and then I could try Exorcist. At first it could trash cards from play too. It could only trash non-Duration cards because of tracking issues, but then we had trouble remembering that so then it could only trash Treasures from play. It was too powerful and cutting that part was key. And simplified it, hooray. It ended up a Night card that doesn't need to be a Night card, but I decided I preferred that to switching it to an Action.

Faithful Hound: A late card. There had been an heirloom that you set aside for your next hand when you discarded it. It was not obvious that it worked in clean-up. I fiddled with it and then replaced it. And then brought back the concept, sans the clean-up part, on this card. It has been some years since Tunnel, we are ready for something else to care about discarding it.

Fool / Lucky Coin / Lost in the Woods: One of the first cards in the set, just after starting work on it as its own set. At first it gave you the next three Boons in any order. Then when it was a choice of three, it gave you all three. Then it was back to three random ones. But this basic functionality, get three Boons, was there for a while and did not really change much.

But wait. One game I was in was so very slow, because it was all casual players who bought up Fools, and we had a Throne and they Throned it and turns took forever. And I vowed that day to stop Fool from being Throned. I tried various things, including bonuses if you Throned it but which weren't getting Boons. In the end though I decided maybe I could pair it with Lucky Coin and the Silvers you gained would slow down how often you played Fool enough to avoid problems.

But wait. While testing recommended sets, Matt had a game that was awful, that had Fool and Golem. And I remembered, man, didn't I vow something here? I sprang into action trying a pile of different versions of Fool, various ways to stop it from being Throned. One version had a card the Fools went on, and Lucky Coin brought them back. This was a funny thing because anyone told how this worked would immediately say "oh that doesn't work, you'll lose track of which Fools are yours." It always worked perfectly; you just have yours face you. Everyone has their own chair you see. Anyway that was one of the versions. And Dave Goldthorpe suggested, instead there could be one card that moved around, he called it Foolish, and that card stopped you from playing Fools. And Destry Miller said, what if that card gave you a benefit while you had it? And I made it Lost in the Woods, with a discard clause so that you could discard a dead Fool to it, and a Boon because that's what you came here for right, you bought Fool to get Boons. And they all lived happily ever after.

Lucky Coin was one of the first Heirlooms, bopping around from card to card. It ended up here to slow down the Boonage and then maybe didn't have to stay but I didn't want to keep testing late changes so here it is still on Fool. It uh gains you Silvers, it was a simple idea and didn't need tweaking.

Ghost Town: Early on the set had a village that went into your next hand. It was pretty sweet. And, separately, I had a Night card that was a village for your next turn. That was cool too; at first it had a Duchess-like rider that let you get it when you trashed an Action, but that didn't come up enough so I slimmed it down to the sleek basic effect. And then Billy suggested combining the two cards and here we are. It was a better way to implement the village - no setting it aside - and spiced up the Night card.

Guardian: Early on the set had a village that went into your next hand. I just told you about that. It was great so I thought I should try a second card like that, and the obvious concept was a Moat. At first it was a pure Reaction that was set aside for your next hand when you got it, and came with a Gold; then the Gold idea went on Skulk, and Guardian changed to be a Night card that gave you a Boon next turn, and went to your hand when gained. The Boon was too slow (since playing Guardian doesn't use up an Action), so now it just gives you +$1.

Idol: I wanted a Treasure that gave Boons, but didn't want to slow the game down too much. So it gives you one every other time, and Curses the other times. It also does the nice trick of being a Cursing attack that doesn't always run out the Curses.

Leprechaun: The initial idea here was a card that gave you a Boon someone else picked. Then it was a random Boon, and then became the impetus for changing the Boons to be random. You can blame it all on the Leprechaun. Originally it cost $5, and gave you a Gold and a warped Boon and had the Wish clause. There was talk of the random Boon somehow being mandatory, so that a few of them could end up hurting you. But you know what would really hurt? Something that always hurt. So Leprechaun also was the impetus behind the Hexes. And it gave you a Hex and well. Good times. At first it always hexed you, but I liked it better exempting you if you got the Wish.

Monastery: One of the first Night cards was a trasher. It wasn't very interesting. Then I thought of this one and it went the distance. It calls out Copper like that because I need to avoid hitting Duration cards in play (or Thrones that played them), and "Treasures" does the trick; but really, while in some situations you'd trash another Treasure, mostly you want to trash Copper, and it's simpler to just stop there. You can trash that other Treasure from your hand if you must.

Necromancer / Zombies: This card came from the name. I had a list of names that fit the flavor of the set, and in some conversation thought, hey Necromancer could play cards from the trash. For a while it was a Band of Misfits, it became the card. You played it as something in the trash. That was way more confusing but seemed the only way to do it. And it had this looming problem of how best to stop infinite loops, plus sometimes a tracking issue (how many of these did I play as Markets?). Matt suggested turning the cards in the trash face down for the turn to both track what you'd done and stop infinite loops; this solved those problems, but also turned out to open the door to changing it to play the cards outright, rather than being Band of Misfits. This fixes some poor rules situations and also has better flavor; it plays the Zombies, it doesn't become a Zombie. Not working on Duration cards was a late change; there's no tracking there, which is awful.

There were always three Zombies. At first they were Night cards, and Necromancer could also play Night cards, but that was more confusing than it was worth. For the first test they were Woodcutter, Smithy, Remodel. It was clear that one wanted to be a cantrip, so you could play Necromancer as that if you couldn't do better, and one wanted to provide a way to get things into the trash, a way that wasn't too generous and yet might get good cards there. In the end two do that: Zombie Mason may randomly hit a good Action, and Zombie Apprentice just flat out does it, but doesn't get people to immediately trash their good Actions - though, if you have a bunch of Necromancers...

Night Watchman: Messing with the top of your deck was one of the things Night cards could do, so here was one doing it. At first it said "when you gain or play this," then it switched to being gained to your hand after Billy suggested that.

Pixie: One of the early Fate cards was an attack. Eventually it got "Receive the same Boon twice." That part was fun and kept the card around for too long. It was also problematic; what if there's no trashing this game, and I get The Flame's Gift twice and you don't? When I got sick of having the attack endlessly played (a Militia-family attack), I changed it to non-attack interaction, where you got the Boon 3 times once any Provinces had been gained. People had liked the doubled Boon more when you could pick the Boon, and some versions messed with getting some choice into the mix. It seemed like playtesters would never be happy with it now, and I killed it, then brought it back as Pixie (after it first only gave you the Boon once). You get a choice of Boons in that you can just let the revealed Boon slide and keep the Pixie. And that's all it does, I mean it's a cantrip but there's no attack.

And then, aha, pairing Pixie with Goat means that The Flame's Gift is never as big of a prize; we all have a trasher. Goat was not an early Heirloom, but was an obvious one to try once it turned out I would be stuck making seven of them. It of course worked fine. It cost $4 for a while, but dropped to $2 to dodge War and Knight-family attacks.

Pooka / Cursed Gold: The +Cards version of Moneylender was an idea that had been sitting around. It was in Empires for a while, first as +3 Cards with another ability, and then +3 Cards and a Boon. While those didn't make the cut, the basic idea seemed worth keeping in mind, and went into the Boonies file when I made it. It appears here at +4 Cards, with an Heirloom that it can't trash. It's a simple but subtle card.

Cursed Gold was an early star of the Heirlooms. It never changed. It can cost $4 because you are happy to lose it to Knights.

Raider: One of the early cards that led the charge of "look what a Night card can do." For maybe a day it hit players with 4 or more cards in hand; then it stayed unchanged until very late, when it went from $5 to $6.

Sacred Grove: At first this gave +3 Cards, I had not learned that lesson yet. And the other players could opt for a Silver instead of the Boon if they wanted; concern over, hey aren't a couple of the Boons useless when it's not your turn? There were a few variants trying to deal well with that situation, before I decided, man it's fine, sometimes the Sacred Grove is piggy. It's explicitly piggy so people don't wonder what happens with those Boons.

Secret Cave / Magic Lamp: Secret Cave came from testing cards out for the Sauna / Avanto promo. You're doing less this turn because you're in the Sauna; that was the angle. We liked it and I put it in the file when something else became Sauna. Here it is in Nocturne. As a Sauna it said "if you don't buy anything this turn," and I changed it to discarding 3 cards.

Matt suggested having an heirloom that turned into something if you had 6 different Action cards in play. I tweaked it to requiring uniques but allowing other cards; pairing it with Secret Cave meant it would almost always be possible to do it (Secret Cave draws you a 6th card; Copper Silver Gold, Magic Lamp itself, and some other Action or Treasure card). At first it was a Treasure Chest that made an Artifact (Harem but twice as big, an Empires split pile outtake); then it made a Genie that gave you stuff, then it made three Wishes. For a while it was a Night card and double-Heirloomed - you replaced two Coppers with a Silver and a Magic Lamp (so as to still make $7 over your first two turns, although you could get a $6/$1 opening). In the end it's a Treasure so that they're all Treasures and there are seven and all that. It used to not let you play more Coppers after it and now it lets you and I decided I could live with that.

Shepherd / Pasture: This idea had been messed with in different forms over the years. This version always had the same ability text, but gained the Heirloom and then went from $5 to $4.

I think the only change to Pasture was that once it cost $4. Some of the Heirlooms dropped below $3 to dodge War and some Knight-family attacks.

Skulk: The idea of a weak card that comes with Gold came from Guardian. I very briefly tried it on a Night card that Hexed, but that was too strong. So it's an Action that gives you +1 Buy. And you get a Gold with it! How could that be, someone out there is still wondering. Well uh. Like, what if the Hex is Poverty. That's a good Hex. Then Skulk was Militia, but instead of +$2 you got +1 Buy. Sometimes you really need the +1 Buy, I see that, but when you don't, man, +$2 is a lot more than +$0. Skulk is at its best when you have a way to Remodel it or something.

Tormentor: When I made the Hexes, I made a card that just gave +$2 and handed out a Hex, to test them out. This card seemed fine, but space was tight, and did we really need both Bard and it, and other Hex-giving cards quickly crowded it out. I briefly tried a version that tried to do the Tracker trick of being a combo with Hexes, but it wasn't much of a combo with them. Then later on I was considering, are there ways to get a little more use out of the Spirits, and made this, a card that only gives you an Imp if it's alone. It could have been first play or only card in play; the latter is simpler but is messed up by Duration cards. The Imp is good, it felt like not playing nice with Duration cards was okay. The "no other cards" mechanic had been on another card earlier with a less sexy bonus. And then one late change to the set was having Tormentor not Hex them if you got the Imp; previously you got both, yeeha. The idea behind the change was just to get the order of effects better on the card; you want to reach for the Imp right away, while the other players want to reach for the Hex. It can't delay the Imp, but if the Imp is first then it's more awkward to phrase if you get both. But you know, once you are getting an Imp, you are happy, you don't need to Hex people too. And they're happy not to get Hexed; it's win-win.

Tracker: One day I had the idea of having Fate cards that were combos with Boons. Looking through the Boons at the time, there were three areas the Fate card could potentially interact with: gaining cards, discarding cards, and the top of your deck. I tried gaining cards first, and we liked it so I tried the other two too; the discarding cards one survives as Faithful Hound, while the top of your deck one died. The gaining cards combo was Royal Seal's ability to put gained cards on your deck; you get The Swamp's Gift for example, and can put the Wisp on your deck. Briefly it tried being a twist on Royal Seal, where you also got a copy of the card from your discard pile onto your deck, but that didn't come up enough to be worth the text. And I tried letting you put the card anywhere in your deck; that didn't come up often enough either.

Tracker started out giving +2 Cards +1 Buy and a Boon on top, for $5. We had many long games with it. Eventually I came to my senses; it was simply not reasonable to put card-drawing on Fate cards. I tried out not always giving you the Boon, then dropped it down to +$1 for $2. Then I tried some variations that twisted the Royal Seal part again, to set aside cards for next turn instead of putting them on your deck, but in the end it was back to Royal Seal and +$1 for $2.

Pouch initially was the Heirloom worth $0. Just +1 Buy. That seemed like a nice change of pace to sometimes have, and some of us did like it, so there. Matt's group did not enjoy the slower games so much, and eventually I gave in and made it make $1. When Pouch made $0, it was important that it went on a card costing $2. It was on another one that didn't work out, then on the $2 Tracker. Which is a nice fit because +1 Buy is also a combo with Tracker's Royal Seal ability.

Tragic Hero: I tried several cards as ways to get another use for Ghost into the set (with Haunted Mirror being the one that stuck). One of them looked like this with no +Buy and Ghost instead of a Treasure. It was fun but you got too many Ghosts. You get a Ghost and it hits another Tragic Hero and that turns it into another Ghost. I played around with wordings that made that not happen but then Haunted Mirror took over. Late in the going I had a card I wasn't confident in, and I looked for what could replace it. I tried this, only gaining Gold, and it immediately worked out. Matt suggested that it could gain any Treasure and that worked out too.

Vampire / Bat: The idea was to have a vampire that turned into a bat. There were some other flavor things to maybe hit on, but that was the starting point. There were several versions of each card. Vampire always hexed, but played around with different resources, before landing on "gain an Action." In the end that failed for the reason that it usually does - being crazy with expensive Actions. So it became "gain a $5" and then "other than Vampire" after a game with Matt's group where Alex went crazy for Vampires. The order of abilities shifted some, as everything wants to be first.

Bat started out an Action, but people demanded that it be a Night card too. For a while it was a Duration card, that drew you a card if it didn't turn back. That made it not so bad to have late-game Bats stuck in your deck. Mostly Bat could trash a card, and whether or not you got your Vampire back depended on what you trashed. Later it could trash two cards and cared about how many, settling on "at least one." It didn't want to automatically turn back, but didn't want that to be difficult either.

Werewolf: When Night debuted, I figured there would be a bunch of Action - Night cards. I had one early on but it turned into a pure Night card and then died. When it stopped being Action - Night, there was a vacancy, and why not have a Werewolf? I mean there's your Action - Night card. At first it was phrased like Crown, then it was tweaked to what it is, which is maybe slightly simpler. I realized it would be neat to have it interact with Silver, but did not manage it.

* Other Cards Plus Boons & Hexes *

Ghost: This started out in Empires, costing $10 minus $2 per Silver you had in play. Space for villages is often tight, and it left with the Boons. I changed it to a Night card, which has a certain something and also drops the need to say "other than a Ghost." And you can't buy it so there's no special cost. The Night version went the distance. That is going to be the story of the Spirits.

Imp: The same as the first version, except for how many copies there are, which I fiddled with as the set ran out of space.

Will-o'-wisp: The same as the first version tried. This was designed specifically to work well as something a Boon gave you, but knowing that Exorcist would also give it to you. And Exorcist was behind Ghost getting that slot and then the design of Imp. And the costs of the three cards were picked to give Exorcist a simpler wording. It was all about Exorcist and well Exorcist came through for me.

Wish: Magic Lamp gave out an Artifact first ($4 and 4 VP), then a Genie who could make $6's for you, then three Wishes which naturally make $6's. It's what the Genie had done and it sounded good for the card name. Then Leprechaun got Wish to give Wish more to do.

Boons: The goal was always to have 12 Boons that were reasonably close in power level. Obv. they vary with the circumstance. They also wanted to be simple, you do not want to spend a while poring over them. Because of Idol, it seemed bad if any were just dead in the Buy phase. It would have been nice to have them all work for the other players for Sacred Grove, but that was too much to ask. Too much I say.

Empires had had +1 VP; this set got a Will-o'-Wisp. There were several versions of Sky, trying to be hard enough but not too hard. The Moon's Gift started out also letting you flip your deck; it lost that when you got to choose your Boon, then didn't get it back somehow. I tried different versions of the basic +'s, trying to get the best mix and then to also keep Idol happy.

There was a Remodel, it was too good. There was discard X cards, gain a card for X+$2, also strong. There was "each other player gains a Copper"; it wasn't great to have an Attack in there. I tried out a Bridge and a twist on Bridge. I tried "+$2, put a card from your hand on your deck" and a Haven. I tried "draw up to 6." In Empires some tried gaining a copy of a card.

At one point when you could choose your Boon from 3, it started to seem bad that Boons people didn't want would pile up. A few Boons tried to fix that, refresh Boons somehow. One replaced the Boons and then gave you a random one.

Hexes: I was trying for a variety of effects, while keeping power level as close as I could given that. Which is not so close but you know. Sometimes a Hex missed a lot and I tried to fix those; sometimes a Hex was devastating and there's less of that. And some Hexes tried to be novel, by handing out cards that track effects, or tracking an effect via a revealed hand. One tried revealing your top card to track the effect, but various takes on that did not work out.

Greed started out just giving out Copper, while Plague gave out Curse and +1 Card. The bonus on Plague was too relevant, and they got closer by putting the Copper on your deck and the Curse into your hand with no +1 Card.

There were multiple versions of the discard attacks, with Poverty leaving and then coming back. One tried to have you discard a copy of your top card, which missed too much. At one point I tried "discard an Action" and "discard a Treasure," at Billy's suggestion. They take way way more words than that and were not great. Billy suggested putting Minion in but I didn't enjoy it and so in the end there's Fear, also Billy's suggestion. Haunting started out having them choose to put a card on their deck or discard down to 3; then it didn't have the "if they have 4 or more cards in hand" clause and I thought I could get away with that but decided in the end that I could not.

Famine started out discarding the $3-$6 cards. "Action" is simpler. Originally the other cards went back on top, but letting you order the top ends up helping you too often. Bad Omens started out like Fortune Teller.

One trashing attack dug for a Treasure other than Copper and trashed it. Locusts started out as "reveal top, trash if <= $6, gain Curse if <= $2." Then it trashed the top, gave you a cheaper card sharing a type with it, and gave you a Curse if you couldn't gain anything. It hurt too much losing e.g. a Village to gain a Curse; the final version can eat Curses but that's a joyous moment for someone. War started out as a Knight attack, reveal top two and trash one for $3-$6. Now it misses less and hurts less.

Early versions of Delusion played around with limiting the order you could play cards. It sometimes ate your turn and usually did nothing. Then it was Contraband, but Matt's group complained about the time period in the game where you name Province. Envious made cards cost more (which has rules issues), then made you discard cards to buy cards. In place of Misery there was Confused, which made you discard a card after each Action card you played. And Confused and Envious both stuck around until you met a condition, they could last turn after turn. For the biggest hunk of that you could get rid of them by gaining a Treasure; sometimes you would spend your turn buying a Copper to end the madness. The Contraband Deluded was tracked by having your hand revealed; in the end Deluded and Envious are on the same card, so as to use a card.

* More Outtakes *

Dismantle was here for a while, moving over from Empires with the Boons. Now it is a promo. Adam Horton suggested it. I tried one of Matt's cards that was a Throne Room that also Schemed the card. I liked it on paper but it couldn't compete with other $5's. Destry suggested a card that didn't work out but which I may try to fix up someday, so it will remain a mystery, as will a few of my own outtakes.

One of the original Fate cards had other players either discard down to 3 or put a card from their hand on their deck, their choice. I'd tried that in Adventures and it hadn't made the cut, and it didn't here either. It was around for a while though, and got paired with "receive a Boon twice" so that it was constantly played. Another trashed a card and gave you the same Boon once per $1 the card cost; that one died in Empires.

A bunch of cards tried to be a good Night Remodel. I tried ones that cared about other cards gained or trashed that turn - e.g., trash a card from your hand, then for each card you trashed this turn, gain a card costing up to $2 more than it. If your guess is that Billy would gain 6 Provinces in one turn with that, you'd be right. Then I tried one that cared about the number of cards in your hand, and some more that just had you discard cards. For a long time the set had "trash a card from your hand, discard X cards, gain a card costing up to $X more than the trashed card." It looked innocent at $3, people liked it and it didn't make waves. Then it was $5, now it is gone. I also tried one that could Remodel cards in your discard pile.

The first Night trasher just trashed a card from your hand and a card from play, with a Scheme clause to handle Durations. There were more interesting things to do, so it did not last.

An old old card had you discard a card to draw a card per $1 it cost. Apprentice without the trashing. It continued to not work out here. Another old card, from Cornucopia, drew the uniques from your top 5. That also did not magically turn out to have been fine all along. Another old idea was a card that gave you card selection based on how many cards you had in play.

One of the combo cards for Boons was +1 Card +1 Action, receive a Boon, name a type, reveal the top card of your deck, get it if it matches. It's poor to put the naming after the Boon; you forget about it, the Boon is too exciting. What killed it though was just being a cantrip that gave out Boons; even at $6, it slowed down games too much. I switched the type-naming to just hitting Treasure and Night cards, no choice, but that wasn't enough.

I tried a Night card that let you buy a card for half price. It looks pretty but is dull. I tried a few variations on it, including a Treasure that gave you half as much $ as you had - half a Fortune. That looked pretty too.

An early Night attack gained you a copy of a card/Action you had in play, and discarded Actions from their top 3 cards. It was interesting as a card you didn't want right away. Once I had Changeling they felt like they were in competition. Changeling was sleek and perfect, so it won. Then I grafted another ability onto Changeling to make it more exciting and less sleek and perfect.

There was a card worth 2 VP that was also +1 Card +1 Action +$1 if you had no cards in play other than copies of it. There were a few variations; it stopped being an anti-combo with Duration cards, it gave you a little something instead of nothing. Player interest varied but it was not a star and also ate up 2 extra cards due to being a Victory card. I needed the space, something had to go. The concept is vaguely preserved on Tormentor.

I tried a terminal that got another copy of itself from your discard pile to your hand. But wait, you say. Yes well. It had no value without a village, and with a village you still didn't just get the combo all the time. It seemed cute for a bit. Then there was a version that gave you something for getting a copy back, so it was a combo without a village.

There was an attack that tried to cash in on the joy of Chariot Race. If their card cost more than yours, they discarded it and gained a Curse. Then it just cared about their card to speed it up, and then I had better attacks.

In an interactive slot, I tried a card that cared about the number of empty piles, like City, but that just changed instead of getting better. It didn't change often enough and just wasn't very interesting. You didn't have incentive to empty the piles for it. Then it was a Workshop too to get those piles empty, and then it died.

There was a Night card that had you look at the top 6 cards, discard one per card you had in play, and set the rest aside for next turn. It's a relative of Tactician. It always seemed different enough from Tactician to me, and like an interesting option. But it's a narrow card, and they face a harder journey to making it into a set. There were people who thought it was a dud, and eventually I took it out. Billy kept trying to get me to bring it back, and well here it is in the outtakes section.

For a long time there was a Night attack that Cursed the other players if you had exactly 3 of anything in play. Early on it would probably be 3 Coppers, but it could be something else. There were different resources on it, but the longest running version was an Armory - gain a card onto your deck costing up to $4. It seemed cool and for a while seemed reasonable. After some game where it seemed strong, I realized that we were endlessly seeing it in games with Heirlooms, and thus not 7 Coppers. We played some more games with no Heirlooms and it seemed obviously too strong. I tried a bunch of variations on it quickly and then killed it.

A couple cards tried to draw cards at Night. It's fun if there's another Night card, not too exciting if there isn't. I don't have the market research to tell me, but suspect that for a lot of players there would be a lot of games with no other Night card (due to mixing expansions together rather than playing them alone or in pairs).

Before Changeling, some other cards tried out for that name. One was a choose-one that could turn into a cheaper card in your hand; one revealed your top card and could turn into it and be played. It was never quite there, and the tangentially related Night version was way better.

The card that left for Cursed Village was draw up to 7, may discard 2 for +2 Actions. It was fine? Cursed Village was just similar and better.

After I had Hexes I thought, can I make a card that combos with them. I made a village that had other players put gains/discards on their decks - it turned Witches into Sea Hags, Militias into Ghost Ships. It didn't actually attack by itself though. It wasn't actually much of a combo with the hexes, and in regular games seemed to just so rarely mean anything.

There was a Workshop that could gain a copy of a card in the trash costing up to $6, and put a card costing up to $4 into the trash when you gained it. So at first it would be a Workshop for just that one thing, but if you got another copy, or someone else did, or something got trashed somehow, then it would upgrade. We had some fun with it. Maybe there is more to this concept; I can think about it again if and when. What happened was, it was strong, then I put Cobbler's ability onto it to spice it up (while cutting +$2), then cut the rest to simplify it.

Relatively late, I had room for a village, and tried a bunch of villages. Most of them scaled in some way. You drew a card when you trashed a card; you drew a card for next turn when you gained a card. There were some fun games seeing those cards go nuts. One village didn't fit this mold; it was trying to be good with Night cards, and gave +$1 per treasure in your next two plays, then just +$1 if either was a treasure. So, essentially if you didn't get village value from it, it gave you $ instead. It just wasn't very interesting.

There are only two Heirloom outtakes of note. Bribe could be given to another player to stop an attack. We had fun doing it, but I can't have both an attack with a choice and a Moat with a cost, or you will have the situation where the choice gets made while someone's shuffling and now it informs their decision about the cost. Or to avoid that you do things in slow-mo which is no good either. Attacks with a choice already exist - e.g. Minion - so I can't do a Moat with a cost. So Bribe did not survive.

The other one turned into Faithful Hound. At first if you discarded it you set it aside for next turn, and this even worked if you discarded it in clean-up. I didn't like that most players wouldn't get that from reading the card. Then there were versions that didn't work in clean-up, and then I had Haunted Mirror competing for that slot. And the ability ended up on Faithful Hound instead.

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Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Previews #5: Exorcist, Pixie, Vampire
« on: October 27, 2017, 03:00:09 am »
And now, something extra! Yes it's the last Nocturne preview.

The 5th theme of this set is extra cards. And you've been seeing them all week, there were too many to just save them for today. But here are some more of these things. And more cards for the previous themes; they're all interconnected.



Exorcist at last explains what Spirit is all about. It turns cards into Spirits. There are three Spirits and you've seen them all: Will-o'-Wisp, Imp, Ghost. So Exorcist can turn an Estate into a Wisp, a Silver into an Imp, and so on. And Wisp can draw Imp, and Imp can play Wisp, and Ghost can hit Wisps and Imps; if you get a bunch of Spirits they are a card-drawing package.



Pixie is another Fate card and has another Heirloom. It gives you a Boon twice, but just once, and it hangs around until the Boon is good enough. One of the Boons is The Flame's Gift, which trashes, but it's not super-unfair if Pixie hits that in a game with no other trashers, because there's always another trasher: Goat. It eats anything. And you sell its milk or something.



Of course there had to be a Vampire, and of course it turns into a Bat. That's what they do. Well vampires do tons of things, but that's one of them, and you can only capture so much in a Dominion card. Vampire gains you cards and Hexes people, while Bat is a trasher, and has to feed to turn back.

The online version will have all the preview cards through the weekend (and then won't have them again until the physical version comes out). The physical version is now expected to ship from RGG on November 13 (so stores will have it a few days later).

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Your punishment today: a preview. See it's all about your own perspective on it.

Nocturne has Hexes. Hexes are another 12-card deck of landscape-style instructions. These ones are bad though. You get an effect like "each other player receives the next Hex," and then you turn over just one Hex, just one okay, and they all get that Hex. Of course sometimes you Hex yourself instead.



Some examples. Greed puts a Copper on your deck; War trashes something that wasn't great but probably wasn't worthless; and Envy makes you Envious. Okay so what's that then. Envious makes your Silvers and Golds suck for one turn (well one Buy phase, because you can play Treasures ahead of your Buy phase with e.g. Storyteller, and not necessarily just one, because you can get another Buy phase with e.g. Villa - this game is full of edge cases). Envious is a State, a way of tracking special information about players. It sits in front of you and then it doesn't. It's too hard to remember without the card there to remind you. So there's a card, hooray.



Werewolf is an Action-Night card. During the day he's just a Smithy, but at Night, he shows his vicious side. In your Action phase you can play Werewolf and draw 3 cards; in your Night phase you can play Werewolf and Hex everyone. Okay? It doesn't feel tricky to me but I am making sure here. As with Boons, a word on the card needs to tell you to shuffle up the Hexes, and that word is Doom. That makes Werewolf an Action - Night - Attack - Doom card. The Courtiers all like Dame Josephine, but they like Werewolves too.



Skulk costs $4, is all upside, and comes with a Gold, wait what? Somehow, having a Skulk in your deck weighs down the Gold sufficiently to make this all okay.



Cursed Village Hexes you when you gain it. Maybe you will get lucky there and just have to discard some cards or something. But probably it will hurt; that's the way it goes when your village is cursed. Once you have it it's a Village with "draw to 6" instead of +1 Card; that's pretty spiffy, but it has some quirks to learn about the hard way.

I only showed off three hexes, but the online version... you're way ahead of me. Stef has been getting the cards up fast; they will probably be playable online within half an hour.

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Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Previews #3: Blessed Village, Idol, Druid
« on: October 25, 2017, 03:00:06 am »
My gift for you today: a preview.

Nocturne has Boons. It's a deck of 12 landscape-style cards that give small beneficial effects. You play a card that says "receive a Boon" or some such, and turn over the top Boon and see what you get. You shuffle the cards when needed, they don't run out.



Okay here are some examples. The Sea's Gift, The Sun's Gift, The Swamp's Gift - they are all nature giving you stuff. The Swamp's Gift gives you another non-supply card, so here's that: Will-o'-Wisp.



It's a handy little thing, and who knows, maybe the Swamp will give you one. So anyway. You somehow get a boon, it's the Sea's Gift, so you draw a card; it's that easy.



Blessed Village gives you a Boon when you gain it. You can save the Boon for next turn and well some of them are still handy at the end of your Buy phase, but not all of them. The Sea's Gift for example is one you probably save. That word Fate at the bottom just means, shuffle the Boons for this game. See they all have it.



Idol alternates giving you Boons and Cursing the other players. It's that rare thing, a Cursing attack that doesn't just run out the Curses. Of course some games you get four and are playing them every turn. But not every game.



Druid gives you a choice of three Boons. It's just those three all game. Maybe this game Druid is your choice of, oh, those three Boons. Well that's a Wisp-making machine, that's pretty nice. And it can also draw you a card or order your deck, if those are important or the Wisps are gone. And there's the +Buy, sometimes you need that.

I only showed off three Boons, but of course the online version will have all twelve this week, so that the cards work correctly.

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Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Previews #2: Shepherd, Pooka, Cemetery
« on: October 24, 2017, 03:02:40 am »
I have this preview from my father, who had it from his father, who had it from his father. Who won it in a cat's cradle contest, if you must know.

Seven cards in Nocturne come with an Heirloom. Let's see one.



That yellow band means, everyone replaces a starting Copper with the listed card. In a game with Shepherd, you have 3 Estates, 6 Coppers, and a Pasture. In a game with Shepherd, Pooka, and Cemetery (they're coming in a second), you start with 3 Estates, 4 Coppers, a Pasture, a Cursed Gold, and a Haunted Mirror. See how it works?

Shepherd can draw lots of cards if you have a bunch of Victory cards. Pasture meanwhile is a Victory card that rewards you for holding onto those Estates, or getting more of them.



Pooka lets you trade a Treasure you didn't want for +4 Cards, that seems completely innocent. It can't trash Cursed Gold but everyone has their limits. And as it happens you have some Cursed Gold. It's a Treasure worth $3 but you get Cursed each time you use it. Do you buy that great card turn one and get a Curse with it? I can't make that decision for you.



Cemetery trashes cards when you gain it, that's pretty sweet. I will just tell you now, it is great to gain it with a Workshop or something. It means everyone has a Haunted Mirror, which gives you a little sub-game to play to get a Ghost. And there's Ghost, another Spirit. It comes out at Night, finds an Action, and does it twice on your next turn.

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It's always the same dream. I'm working in a factory, making giant marshmallows. When I wake up, I have an extra pillow. And also it's time to post a Dominion preview. Or am I still dreaming? Well I'll just get the preview posted, and worry about that later.

Nocturne has five themes, and there are five weekdays, so that's all going to work out neatly. Today: Night.

Night is a new phase. It comes after the Buy phase, and in it you can play any number of Night cards. That's all there is to it. We get right to the point here in Dominion-land.



One trick Night cards can do is, they can care about what happened during the turn. Devil's Workshop is an example: it cares how many cards you gained this turn. You can skip buying stuff to get a Gold from it; you can try to get multiple cards so that Devil's Workshop gets you an Imp.

Nocturne is a 500-card set. There are 33 kingdom cards, which take a lot of space, but still leave space for a bunch of other things. One of those things is Imp. It's a nifty Lab variant that only lets you play an Action you don't have in play. However diverse your deck is puts a limit on how many Imps you want. It says "Spirit" on the bottom and well we will figure out what that's there for later. You can't buy an Imp, you can just get one from Devil's Workshop, or maybe some other ways.



Raider also cares about your turn. Anything you have in play becomes fair game for your opponents to discard. Early on you just want to make sure you hit something; later you may try to make Raider hit harder by say not playing that Copper you drew. Raider is a Duration card and well that is a thing about Night cards; some of the game's resources only make sense during the day part of the turn, and Duration lets Night cards provide those resources. Nocturne didn't start out planning to have a Duration card theme but there are several of them.



Ghost Town does another trick: it goes straight to your hand. Since the Buy phase is ahead of the Night phase, you can buy it and play it the same turn. There are several of these. Do you think you'll need a village next turn? Here you go.

LastFootnote will be posting additional one-card previews at forum.dominionstrategy.com each day; they will show up in the morning, USA time.

Finally, online Dominion (https://dominion.games/) will have the preview cards (both the ones I preview and the ones LastFootnote does), at around 6 pm UTC each day. To play with them, pick the special matchmaking option that mentions Nocturne. You will get eight random cards plus two of the four previewed cards (my three and LF's one); later in the week you will get six random cards plus four previewed cards (two from that day, two from earlier days). This will last through the weekend and then disappear; the full set will show up online when the physical set hits stores.

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Dominion General Discussion / Counterfeit copies of 2E
« on: September 06, 2017, 01:09:58 am »
Jay writes:

Quote
We have recently learned that counterfeit copies of the game are being distributed via Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon service.  We have purchased confirmed counterfeit copies of the game from the following third-party retailers on Amazon:

FastnBest LLC
Daily Deals Shop (NO TAX)
Tax Free Tech
Speedybuyllc

Of course, more may show up and we will continue to monitor this situation. If you bought a counterfeit version of the Dominion 2nd edition game, we encourage you to return it to Amazon for a refund – and hope you will buy another from a reputable retailer. Of course, most sellers are selling legit games, including, of course, Amazon itself. For those who are uncertain if the game they bought is a counterfeit, there are two obvious differences. The counterfeit game has a VERY badly made plastic inlay with crumpled in the plastic and the artists names on the cards are not white, but tend toward orange and red. If your game has this, it is counterfeit.

Jay at Rio Grande Games
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1843723/counterfeit-dominion-2nd-edition

I think this has just been going on for a week or so. They have only seen this for Dominion 2E. I believe the cards are also bendy.

18
Adventures Previews / Adventures 2E is out
« on: August 03, 2017, 02:46:37 am »
The new printing of Adventures started shipping a month ago. So some places will have it; I know Amazon in particular does.

As with other second editions it has improved fonts and layout and stuff. Of course the special interest here is regular, non-bendy cards.

19
Advertisements / Dominion T-shirts
« on: July 25, 2017, 02:02:21 am »
There are Dominion T-shirts. Someone wanted to make them and we didn't have to do anything. You may be thinking, sweet, what Marcel-André Casasola-Merkle art do they have, and well they have none of that, they have the logo and the VP symbol. That was what they wanted; I couldn't tell you why.

Anyway they wanted us to mention these things in places like this and it was easy so I said okay. I have not clicked on these links; I'm holding out for sweet art. That may not be the best salesmanship here but well, that's what you get with me.

https://cottonbureau.com/products/dominion
https://cottonbureau.com/products/dominion-crest

20
Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire!
Would not we shatter it to bits - and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!


I can't trace exactly how it happened, but over time, I gradually built up an interest in revising the main set and Intrigue. The reasons piled up.

- It would be nice to have the prettier Base Cards in the main set.
- We could have a playmat for the trash.
- I could improve the rulebooks.
- I could improve card wordings.
- Hey I could actually replace some cards with better ones.

We couldn't replace cards without providing them separately. We could do that though, we could provide them separately. A small box with just the new cards. Two mini-expansions (that would go out of print when demand for them fell off).

In June 2015 I decided to go for it. I started thinking about it and talking about it with playtesters; I didn't actually test any new cards until July. Empires was still going on but that was fine, I would test Empires cards and slip in the new main set / Intrigue cards. Later of course it got to be the focus. Initially I was going to replace five cards and add one (there's space due to taking out the randomizer-backed base cards). I eventually came around to replacing six (and adding one) instead.

My goal with the replacements was to increase the number of decks to build, the number of things to do, while keeping things simple. Simplicity is tough with so many expansions but man I am pretty pleased with the complexity level of the new main set cards. The Intrigue cards are more complex but still pretty reasonable. There was the additional goal of just fixing any other problems I could fix, whatever problems there were, but the main goal was to have more things you could do.

Normally these posts just talk about new stuff, but today I also get to talk about the old stuff. Why did I replace cards? Right, to make the sets better. The main set and Intrigue have the most duds - the most cards that experienced players rarely buy, that usually aren't worth considering. Or, in the case of some main set cards, that just didn't add much to the game, didn't give you things to do. Seaside is 3rd but much better by this metric; after Seaside there just aren't many duds to speak of in any one expansion. I have big plans to fix wordings in every pre-Empires set, but only Dominion and Intrigue are getting new cards.

If I redid the main set from scratch, more things would change. For example I might do a draw-first Cellar like Warehouse because that's simpler. There are rules things: for example I might change how Reactions work. But I was just replacing six cards, adding one, and keeping the game compatible with all the expansions.

Actually, there's one rules change: the exact way it tells you to deal with shuffling is different. It now says, when you have to do something with more cards than are left, shuffle your discard pile, put it under your deck, then do the thing (or, put the remaining cards on top of the shuffled cards, same difference). This has no functional difference though (except with the promo Stash, which will get a wording to fix this when reprinted), and was already how some people did it. I changed that (from "do the thing with the remaining cards, then shuffle to get the rest") to clarify tricky situations like, what if I trash Overgrown Estate with Lookout - is the card I draw one of the ones I'm looking at, or what? "Do the thing with the remaining cards" worked a lot better when the thing was always "draw." The rulings haven't changed but now it's easier to see what happens. It's also easier to remember how many cards you have left to draw after playing your Smithy and shuffling (though I personally was already putting the 1-2 cards on the Smithy while shuffling so I'd remember).

In the end it seemed reasonable to also change three cards functionally in a very mild way. Moneylender, Mine, and Throne Room all should say "you may." It keeps you honest. You play Moneylender for some exotic reason (like making Peddler cheaper) but don't want to trash a Copper (that you do have in hand). You can get away with cheating. The card should either make you reveal that you have no Copper, or be optional so that it's legal to not trash the Copper (and being optional is simpler/shorter and so preferred). This essentially never comes up for Moneylender and Mine. It does come up with Throne Room once in a while though. It was a question, should the mini-expansions include these changes. In the end it seemed like, that's such a poor product - buying Moneylender etc. again just for "you may." I didn't want to be selling that to people extra, that didn't seem like an option. The options were not making the changes, or including the changes in the set but not the mini-expansion. I went with the latter and well I hope everyone is okay with that.

A similar thing came up for one Intrigue card, Masquerade. You can potentially lock your opponent out of cards (in a 2-player game) with certain combinations - for example, King's Court, Masquerade, Militia. Every turn you play out the rest of your deck, Militia them, King's Court a Masquerade, and they pass you three cards that you trash, while you don't pass them any. It is not an especially common situation, and most players who don't read up on these things in forums probably don't know about it. Still it has a fix - having Masquerade not include players with no cards in hand - and here was my chance to do it. I went for it. Again this is not part of the mini-expansion.

The plan was to update the base cards in both sets, but Jay started thinking, why not shift Intrigue to a regular expansion? Since Base Cards is a product now, you can just buy Base Cards and whatever expansion; it doesn't have to be Intrigue. People who want 5-6 player support can buy Base Cards; people who don't want it don't have to pay extra to have it included in Intrigue.

So all together the changes are:
- Six cards dropped
- Seven cards added
- Three cards changed very mildly ("you may") / one card changed mildly
- Base cards improved with art / base cards dropped
- Other cards changed to have better phrasings (that are functionally the same).
- Rulebooks improved
- A trash playmat in the main set

The base cards are actually better than the Base Cards product ones (which will be updated to match); they have art but reinstate the big symbol (but smaller). In some cases the art had to be nudged down to fit the symbol nicely. Platinum (in Prosperity) will actually get new art; there was no nice way to put the coin on or above the pyramid.

Card text will change for all sets prior to Empires (which already has these changes, so you can go see how you like them there right now). The different kinds of changes:
- Some wordings are improved to be clearer / simpler.
- We now use "they" instead of "he."
- A bigger font is used on cards that can use it.
- +Cards etc. in the body of the text are in bold.
- Layout will be more consistent and have better text centering etc.

A very small number of other cards may have changes. I don't have a complete list (and won't until all the work is done); the idea is to only do this when the wording gets a lot better and the change almost never comes up. It's not all the stuff I would change if only; it's really confined to nice improvements that only matter in exotic corner cases.

And Possession will change to also give you tokens, but that's already errata to handle Debt tokens. And Pirate Ship will have a wording that makes it clear it doesn't interact with Guilds coin tokens.

* Dominion Drop-outs *

Adventurer: This was the 6th card cut. My playtesters were pretty sure they didn't need to see more of it, and then I played some games with it, and man, it was not good. For casual players, it costs $6, Gold costs $6, if you want Adventurer you often want Gold first, maybe you never get around to Adventurer. Expert players will instead cite, it draws two cards and only gets Treasures, Smithy is cheaper, draws three, and can get Actions too.

Chancellor: This is both confusing and weak. The ability is totally worth having, if you can spare an action to play it; but the odds are that something else is a better use of your action and so much for that. One trick is, a $3 terminal action is actually competing with $5 terminal actions. I mean they both use up an action. So being cheaper isn't enough; you'd rather get Silver now and wait and get the $5. There is still room for terminal actions that cost $3, but Chancellor, not so much.

Feast: Feast is fine but really dull. It just adds nothing to the game; you consider buying it, but whether you do or not, your deck ends up whatever it was going to be anyway. Feast just doesn't change anything. I always point out, if I open Silver/Silver and you open Silver/Feast, and on turn three I draw 3 Coppers and Silver and buy a $5, and on turn three you draw 3 Coppers and Feast, trash Feast for that $5 and buy Silver, at that point our decks are the same. Okay so you can Workshop them and you can Throne Room them. The Workshop thing is fine but not enough to feel like I have to have the card. The Throne Room / Feast combo is the number one rules question in Dominion. Man let's just get rid of that.

Spy: This is both weak and slow. Make one decision per player; now play another Spy and make another decision per player. These days I prefer Spies to look more like Rabble and Fortune Teller: no +1 Action, no decision. I thought I would replace Spy with something like Rabble, but as you can see I didn't. Dominion itself is joining the ranks of the later expansions, that go lighter on attacks and heavier on non-attack interaction.

Thief: This is one of the weakest cards in the game. I mean you knew going into this that some of these cards were going to have to be some of the weakest cards, that was a reason for replacing them, but well Thief is way down there. New players are scared of it, maybe it will eat all of their Treasures and shut them out. Then you realize you aren't choosing to gain the Coppers and in fact are happy to lose them. Then you stop buying Thief. It ends up sometimes useful in games where you actually want Copper (e.g. multiplayer Gardens games), or games where your opponent is relying on Treasure but trashed their Coppers, or sometimes with special Treasures in expansions. But uh, most games it just sits there. I could do better. You can argue that Thief provides a certain learning experience, that there's real gameplay in learning that the card is weak the hard way; but other cards can provide learning experiences that leave the cards contributing more once they're figured out.

Woodcutter: Woodcutter is fine, it's totally fine. It's just, the main set had six vanilla cards, and did it need six? Cards that do things are more interesting. I felt like five would be enough. The card to take out wanted to be one of the +Buy cards, since I thought having three of those was better than having four (even if all three cost $5, which is what happened). Market is way more beloved so Woodcutter was the card to cut.

* Dominion New Arrivals *

Artisan: For a while this was, cost $5, discard down to 2 cards in hand, gain a card costing up to $5. The idea was that the ability was strong enough that it was worth jumping through hoops for. But in games without combos, it wasn't very good, and when you did have the combos, Library was better. I gave it +$1 and still wasn't impressed. Meanwhile I had had a card in Empires (gain a Gold to your hand, put a card from your hand on your deck, each other player gets +1 VP) that hadn't worked out but had seemed promising, and I tried versions of it with different penalties. Finally one day I realized that costing $6 would be more fun than having a (second) penalty. Which means the set still has a card for $6, hooray.

Bandit: This of course replaces Thief. You gain a Gold so that it's always doing something useful. It doesn't trash Coppers, so it both doesn't have that huge penalty, and can't threaten new players with eating all of their Treasures.

Harbinger: One day I thought, do I have any published cards that are really different from everything else in the set, that I could make new very simple versions of? I found two good candidates: Scavenger (from Dark Ages) and Herald (from Guilds). The Scavenger part I liked was getting a card from your discard pile; so Harbinger does that, with +1 Card +1 Action instead of +$2, and without the Chancellor part (phew). This was called Courier for a while, but people complained about there being both Courier and Courtier.

Merchant: A card that rewards you for having some Silvers. I tried something that gave the +$1 on having an Action in play (and another version that wanted an Action in hand), and that was nice, but I didn't want something too much like Conspirator. So, Silver. Then for a long time it said "the next time" instead of "the first time." "First" is simpler except with Black Market, Storyteller, and Villa. Simpler is better and people with just the main set do not have those cards (a promo, a card from the 9th expansion, a card from the 10th expansion).

Poacher: This is in a player interaction slot, vacated by Spy. I thought of having some vanilla bonuses with the penalty of discarding a card per empty pile. The vanilla bonuses had to be essentially fair at the price of the card, since you might never empty a pile until the game was over. So really it required a vanilla card I hadn't made yet. Well there was one of those, and it was +1 Card +1 Action +$1 for $4. So there it is. Avoiding making that card all these years finally paid off.

Sentry: One goal was to have another trasher in the main set; another was to have a cantrip $5. This card just came from combining those things. It's a mini-Cartographer that can also trash.

Vassal: This is the new Herald. Herald is +1 Card +1 Action, so Vassal is +$2; a mirror image of what I did for Harbinger. Originally it left the card on top, but discarding it is usually better and made the text simpler.

* Intrigue Drop-outs *

Coppersmith: The 6th card dropped. I wanted to drop the same number of cards as with Dominion, and had only picked five. My playtesters leaned towards Coppersmith. I had a new Coppersmith-like concept to try - which didn't work out. Coppersmith is an interesting dud, there are games where it's useful. They aren't common though. I used to use it as an example of how a not-so-good card would still be better than a main set dud; I could improve the main set by replacing say Feast with Coppersmith. But when the time came, Coppersmith didn't make it either. It's fun to win with a card that you can only rarely win with, but very few Dominion cards should be trying to fill that role (and enough still are).

Great Hall: For new players, maybe Great Hall is reasonable; it does nothing, but it can be interesting considering Upgrading Estates into them, or getting them for Conspirators or something, and then uh well later on they are better than Estates at least. There are more good things to Upgrade Estates into now though, or power up Conspirators with; Great Hall was not competing there. A card that did something would be more interesting.

Saboteur: Long ago my pick for worst card relative to its cost. It's got three huge problems: some people hate that it's an attack that doesn't otherwise help you; it's weak; and it's crazy wordy. On top of that some people just don't like trashing attacks, and the set already has Swindler. Some people do like them, but did I mention that the set has Swindler?

Scout: People often cite this as the weakest card in the game. I dunno, there are different metrics. There's "how often do I get it," there's "how sad am I when you give me one with Ambassador." You know. I'd rather your Ambassador gave me a Scout than a Thief. In all-Intrigue games, Scout gets to draw you some Harems and Nobles and Great Halls. New players like it; it's all upside, right? It is pretty weak though. And I could preserve the premise on its replacement.

Secret Chamber: People don't cite this one anywhere near as often as Scout or Thief, but I actually get it even less often. The reaction is confusing and rarely useful; the top part is a fine ability but very weak, it wants to come with more stuff.

Tribute: This isn't that good, but is better than most of these cards. It's not popular though. Hosing Nobles / Harem / Great Hall is not great. Some people feel like it's attacking them, since it can flip over good cards; I think it tends to help as much as hurt, but so what, I don't need people to feel bad over a non-attack. I'll say it for everyone: it wasn't the greatest card in the world; it was just Tribute.

* Intrigue New Arrivals *

Courtier: I wanted yet another card that was good with Nobles / Harem / Mill. Counting types was a way to trigger off of those cards, but would also work with Attacks, Reactions, Durations, and other things. In a few cases you can get to three, and one card takes you to four (Dame Josephine). To stop it from going crazy when it gets to three, there are two strong options and two weaker ones. All four get used though.

Diplomat: I needed a new Reaction. As with Secret Chamber it sounded nice to have the top deal with some Attacks while the bottom dealt with others (though it didn't end up like that). The top originally only gave +1 Action as the bonus for a small hand; that was still a nice bonus, but one day I thought of giving you +2 Actions and that seemed fun. Some games that's your Village, and you go for combos that will make it work, or else hope they attack you. The bottom originally gave a Silver when you gained or trashed a card. You had to discard it, so you couldn't gain the pile instantly (a once-per-turn approach was another option). I realized that discarding Reactions was not great, due to issues with early versions of Charm in Empires. Once-per-turn would have been okay but it got me thinking about, could I do better than this Silver thing. I had always wanted a Reaction that gave you a new hand when attacked, and tried a version of that, then tweaked it into what you see. When they attack, you use the ability (unless your hand is too good), and while you end up with just 4 cards in hand, on your turn you play Diplomat and are back to 5, with the +2 Actions.

Lurker: I needed a new $2, since my new Reaction was going to cost $4. I also needed an interactive card to replace Tribute. Somehow I hit on this half-Workshop. Trashing from the Supply never worked before (except on Salt the Earth and Gladiator, from around the same time period), but this time it did. The card originally didn't have +1 Action but needed that; one nice thing is, now you can just play two Lurkers to get whatever you want. The player interaction is great. Some people will put good stuff in the trash despite the risk that you'll get to it first; some will refuse, but still get a Lurker to try to leech off of you. Good cards find their way into the trash other ways for you too - Intrigue itself has Swindler, Upgrade, Replace, and Mining Village.

Mill: This of course replaces Great Hall. It's a Great Hall that does something. And that something also replaces Secret Chamber. Originally it was the same - discard X cards for +$X - but the tracking is simpler if the amount is always $0 or $2 (bump the card up from the line of played cards if it made the $2). I first tried it without the VP, before realizing it was a good candidate for the new Great Hall.

Patrol: This replaces Scout. Pretty directly really; it can also get Curses, and instead of +1 Action it's +3 Cards, and it costs $5 instead of $4. For a while it gave +1 Action and +$1 per different type in your top 3 cards, and only Scouted 3 deep; then it gave a fixed +1 Action +$2, but I didn't like having both that and Minion; then I tried giving you an Attack a Reaction and a Victory card, rather than all the Victory cards and Curses; then I tried looking at 4 cards and taking the Victory/Curse cards plus two more.

Replace: An attack, so ostensibly replacing Saboteur. A Remodel that gave bonuses based on what was trashed/gained was an old idea. Prior to that I had a bonus based on the types of the first card you bought; that was fun but the delay in-between playing it and it doing something was poor. Making it a Remodel fixed that. I tried different bonuses for the three types, but it was too wordy. I tried giving you a copy of the card if it was an Action or Treasure; that was too strong. The Cursing part stayed constant. It's cool that it's a Witch that doesn't hit for a while - unless they are willing to gain an Estate to hit you, or this is one of those games with Nobles or Harem or Mill.

Secret Passage: I had been thinking about trying to get in another Wishing Well combo, but it's tricky, because Wishing Well draws a card prior to the wish. Changing the top card just isn't enough. I thought of this and it was love at first sight. It does lots of neat little tricks. When it can't do those tricks, it's still useful, just for putting bad cards on the bottom of your deck (where you hope they miss a shuffle).

* Other Outtakes *

I tried to make a new Saboteur. There were several variations on "each other player trashes their top card, and gains a cheaper card they choose that shares a type with it." That attack preserves the ability to downgrade Provinces, and is much simpler. But it's just so very weak (whether looking at one or two cards). The main good outcome is turning Silver into Copper; that actually hurts. When you hit an Action, it's not meaningless but it just doesn't matter much. And then late in the game nothing matters but Victory cards. Anyway I still gave it a lot of chances in different forms.

I also tried to make a new Spy. Spies are just so weak. I tried it on Harbinger; man, so much text, messing up my classic simple card, and for nothing. I tried a Spy with "+1 Action +$3, discard 2 cards" as its resources. I also tried combining Saboteur and Spy - the non-trashed cards went back on top. It was even weaker than the other Saboteurs.

A couple similar cards tried to reward you for having more cards in hand than someone else. You play that Lab and then aha, play this and get a bonus. In practice it was too hard to get the bonus. I made the base good and the bonus large and still it was rarely worth getting.

A couple cards tried to be a better Coppersmith. I had a Treasure from Empires that seemed perfect - name a card, worth $1 per copy of it you have in play. If you name Copper, it's the Treasure version of Coppersmith; but if you have a bunch of Villages in play or something, okay, name that. And you never completely whiff, since you can name itself to just get $1. But uh. It has to cost at least $5 and was just never worth it. It looked classic but that wasn't enough.

In the Artisan slot, I tried a reusable Feast. It was Feast but you could either trash it or discard down to one card. You know, I kind of liked it, but "better Feast" wasn't such a claim to fame, and being strictly better than a dead card might still bug some people, and then I had a better idea.

* And That's That *

There are always people who don't like whatever change; sorry guys. To me this move does not feel risky. The main set and Intrigue are getting better. And if you just want the new cards, they're available separately.

Given that I've posted this, the new main set and Intrigue and the two Update Packs all must be in stores or on their way there. There's no precise schedule for changing the other sets; it will come up as they go out of print. The Big Box will also change, as will the Base Cards product. I don't know the schedules there either. Again other sets won't be getting new cards, just improved wordings and layout.

21
The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of the Empires Cards
« on: June 11, 2016, 12:20:40 am »
One evening on a vacation, I paced around, the only one awake, thinking about what the future could possibly hold for Dominion. Was there anything great left to do? I jotted down some notes, then typed it all up when I got home.

Of the stuff I came up with, a few things went together, to make a kind of Prosperity sequel. It would have more VP tokens, those seemed like they had a lot more life in them than just those 3 Prosperity cards. Some "bonus" cards of some sort would award VP at the end of the game, like Kingdom Builder scoring methods. There would be giant expensive cards that you could pay for later. There would be cards that effectively didn't cost a Buy to buy. Special treasures could be a focus again. And there were three or so other ideas that did not actually make it. I like to tell the whole story, but who knows, I might need that stuff someday. Anyway you can only fit so much stuff in an expansion.

Initially the big thing I wanted out of VP tokens was, cards you trash for VP based on the game state. So, they would count things that conventional Victory cards can't, like how many Actions you managed to get into play at once. So I tried several of those and well in the end there's Emporium (which just checks a threshold) and Triumph (an Event). The original concepts didn't work out, but there are a zillion ways to make VP in this set so it was not much of a loss. A key thing was to try to avoid "golden decks" - where you just make points every turn without pushing the game towards ending. So most of the VP token stuff is tied to gaining cards, or trashing cards, or will run out some other way.

I didn't try the "bonus" cards for a while. When I finally got to them, they initially didn't matter enough, but it was easy to make them matter more and that all worked out. I made more and more of them and in the end there are 21. It could have been 20 Landmarks, 12 Events, 2 blanks, but I had the extra cards so in they went.

I had Debt from the start (and it had been in the ideas file for years). The first version though was a word on cards, "Debt," that meant you didn't need the $ to buy the card, but went into Debt. The Debt tokens worked the same way as they do now. One day I thought of using a symbol, and the cards changed to things like "When you gain this during your turn, take [red coin with a 10 on it]." They were like that for a while, before finally I put the symbol into the cost. With Debt a significant concern was that you could just buy the card turn one, and if that was good it seemed like the game could be too scripted. So the big Debt cards always tried to not be good turn one, although it took a while to really get there. Originally the cards could all be bought with $0, and in the end some have $ costs too.

And cards that gave you +1 Buy when bought, I made a couple and then it seemed like, that was plenty.

One day Jeff Boschen complained that one of the Debt cards (an earlier version of City Quarter) was dominating games, that in particular you could always get all the copies you needed, even in a 2-player game. And I thought, hmmm, I could have piles that were only 5 cards. And then from there went immediately to, wait, 5 cards, then 5 of another card. And I tried some cards like that and it seemed pretty cool. You get to tie together the cards somehow. A big issue was making sure you would get through the top 5 often enough; not necessarily every game, but you know, not as some rare thing. So three are cheap cantrips, and Gladiator eats its own pile for you.

I had no plans to have any Duration cards in this set, then somehow tried one, and then a couple more. The original one didn't make it but there are two Duration cards. The objection all these years was the amount of rulebook space Duration cards took in Seaside, but in Adventures that rulebook space was small enough to not seem so bad to repeat.

Dominion is a medieval game; ancient Rome is not medieval. I remained wishy-washy on that issue, not quite wanting to go full-on ancient Rome. In the end the set is called Empires and has a bunch of Roman things. Roman empires were around for a while in various forms, extending into medieval times, so there.

Late in the going, Scott Colcord took it upon himself to get all of the recommended sets played. The recommended sets don't always get much attention and well these ones did make it to a table or two.

Empires started out as a kind of Prosperity sequel. And ended up as one; it has super-spendy cards (though you can pay for them later), more Treasures than other non-Prosperity sets, VP tokens, even a Treasure that makes $6 and an Event that gets you 15 VP. One of Prosperity's less-obvious themes is player interaction; it ups the non-attack interaction to cope with having fewer attacks (which in turn was to make sure Colony was reachable in enough games). Empires has that too. There are again only three attacks, but the 3 Gathering cards are all interactive, plus Chariot Race and Gladiator, plus Castles in that way VP piles can be; the split piles cause more competition for cards; and then some of the Events are interactive and many Landmarks are, and those don't even take up space in the usual 10 Kingdom cards.

On to the cards!

*** Kingdom cards ***

Archive: When I thought of it, I had to try it, and it worked, so there it is. A Duration card!

Capital: This started as an action that gave +$2 and gave all cards "debt" for the turn, for $3. It was neat but scary. The final version costs more, doesn't use an action, and doesn't give any net $ - you are just borrowing.

Castles: There was an old idea in the file, a pile of Victory cards with different sizes. One day we needed a promo (which became Summon) and Matt Engel decided to try this out. He made 8 cards for it, including Small Castle and King's Castle, and converting Opulent Castle from an old outtake from Hinterlands (there a straight action). He also had a vanilla treasure-victory card ($2 and 1 VP). I thought it was important to have a cheap one that rewarded you for loading up on them, and made Humble Castle for the first one. Small Castle trashes itself or another Castle, so Crumbling Castle is something nice to trash, and Haunted Castle isn't so bad there either. Sprawling Castle and Grand Castle interact with some of the other cards and are also nice for people not going for Castles.

Mostly the cards didn't change after the second version; they just worked out. There were a couple cards in the Haunted Castle slot. I tried a Castle that shuffled cards from discard into deck, after an old outtake; I tried a one-time Cursing one (like Ill-Gotten Gains). Haunted Castle couldn't work at weird times (such as when gaining it with Saboteur) and so ended up saying "on your turn," to be as friendly as possible (still works with Small Castle) while shutting out weirdness.

Catapult / Rocks: I tried to come up with flavor that would be good for split piles. The main thing to do was one thing that leads to another thing somehow (rather than one card changing into another, like some cards in the past). But one idea on the list was a Catapult and Rocks and well, who can resist naming a card Rocks. Catapult initially gave the Cursing bonus on cards costing $4 or more, but at one point I lowered the cards to costing $2 and $3, and then kept Catapult working on $3's when I switched it back to costing $3 itself.

Rocks started out with "when gain/trash, +2 Cards, may trash 2 cards from hand." It wasn't everything I wanted and I replaced that with gaining Silver to your hand, then your choice of hand or deck top. Then to avoid confusion it took the destination choice away and based it on the phase, so you weren't all, wait if I put Silver in my hand after buying Rocks, can I play the Silver?

Chariot Race: The question here was what to do with the other player's card. If you leave it on top, Chariot Race has the same competition all turn, although your own card varies. If you discard it or put it on the bottom, it feels too much like an attack. It went back and forth but ended up leaving the card on top.

Charm: This started out as a Treasure worth $2 that made cards you buy come with different cards at the same cost. We did crazy things with that for a while, then finally I looked at ways to weaken it. I tried several variations in rapid succession, that limited you to one gain per turn. There was one that gave you a $5 if you had at least $5 when you played it. The best was a Reaction version - a Treasure worth $2 and a Buy, can discard when gaining a card to gain a different card with the same cost. Discarding it gives you the potential to get loops, where you redraw it repeatedly; Dave Goldthorpe found some of these. So now it's a choose-one. It doesn't get to be a pretty yellow/blue card, but is pretty similar.

City Quarter: One of the first Debt cards was +3 Cards +1 Action, for some large amount of Debt that I tweaked some. It was an interesting card to consider. It's two Laboratories in one card; that's different in various small ways from actually having two Labs. In the end it seemed too strong too early. I tried a version that either drew 3 cards or got two Treasures from your discard pile, that cost more up front. I tried a giant Pawn briefly. Then, a Village that had you draw a card the next 2 times you played an Action; it addressed early power level some but had tracking issues, especially in multiples. Finally it turned into the published card. It can go nuts, but you have to set it up; you do not want it turn one.

Crown: The first version was an Action that played an Action or Treasure twice. You really want it to be a Treasure too, so you don't draw it dead off of card-drawing. So, an Action - Treasure card! It always seemed like that would be too confusing, but here was one that was no trouble. It's something how popular it is even in games where you are almost always using it as Throne Room.

Encampment / Plunder: The idea to Encampment was to go back to the pile, that was the neat part; Plunder can get uncovered but then re-covered. Encampment is a card that's not shabby to play as a one-shot you only paid $2 for. At first you had to have Plunder to keep it; that sometimes worked well, sometimes not so well. To improve the card it changed to also letting you reveal Gold; it flirted with just referring to Treasures costing $6 or more (with a $6 Plunder), but naming the cards is simpler. Later on Encampment changed to being set aside, only going to the pile at the end of the turn, which sometimes stops you from buying it back (but lets you buy the Plunder), but was done as a precaution against recursion that helps you remember you got those extra Actions this turn. Plus it neatly solved the issue of clearly having it be that Overlord as Encampment goes to the Overlord pile, not the Encampment pile.

Plunder meanwhile started out as a treasure giving +1 Buy, and +$1 per Buy you have. It had been its own pile and had seemed cool for a while, but it dominated games, you buy them up as a combo with each other. It's like Bridge but different in lots of ways and in the end stronger. Even the half-pile version bugged me, and finally I replaced it with a straight treasure version of Monument. It cost $6 first but then seemed like it could be $5. I had already tried a similar card in the set that could sometimes go on your deck when discarded from play, but left that part out for this version.

Enchantress: A late card, replacing another attack. I quickly tweaked the resources and the wording, but the premise worked immediately.

Engineer: For a while there was a different Workshop: Gain a card costing up to $4, get +1 VP per empty pile. It seemed reasonable and then I had one too many games that were dominated by it. I tried a lot of replacements, man, like ten other cards, mostly very briefly. Engineer stood out. However it had the issue of being able to trash it to gain something plus another Engineer, to run out the pile. Dame Josephine suggested having it cost Debt, which fixed that problem while taking no space on the card.

Farmers' Market: At first you got the VP and trashed it at the same time you got the +$4. That was too big of a pay-off, so I separated out the VP. Before Farmers' Market I briefly tried an Explorer variant that increased in $ ala Farmers' Market.

Forum: This started at $2 with +2 Cards instead of +3. There were several possible ways to do "when buy +buy" to try to not empty piles too quickly; the solution here was, a more powerful card costing $5.

Gladiator / Fortune: Some split piles were having trouble getting to the 2nd card often enough. For Fortune I made a card that specifically eats its half-pile. A single Gladiator purchase can do the trick. The card was inspired by Chariot Race, trying to be another way to do that kind of thing, since we liked Chariot Race.

Fortune started as its own pile. It was a Debt card back when they could all be bought with no $. The first version was $10; in the end it's $16, with $8 up front please. That's how good double your $ is, taking into account that sometimes it helps pay for itself. And originally you could use multiple Fortunes in a turn and well doubling doublers is always trouble (Throning a Throne isn't actually doubling a doubler, person who thinks of that; however King's Court on King's Court is). There were "discard your hand" versions, but in the end it got a harsh clause to limit you to one doubling per turn. When Fortune became a split pile card, it got the when-gain ability to tie in to Gladiator.

Groundskeeper: First this cost $2 and let you pay $1 extra when buying a card to get +1 VP. It was nuts. It shifted to only working on Victory cards and then to costing $5 up front and none later.

Legionary: The first version had the other players "discard a card then draw up to 3" each time you played a Silver. So you got the full effect only if you played three Silvers. I quickly ran through a few variants before settling on, reveal a Gold to have them discard down to 2 then draw (an attack from Dark Ages that had been too annoying, but that one was cheaper and didn't require revealing a Gold). But then for a while it instead triggered on playing a Gold; for some reason I thought that might be better. It wasn't and it's back to revealing a Gold.

Overlord: Around when I found the good forms of Royal Blacksmith and City Quarter, I thought of trying a bigger Band of Misfits with Debt. It was preceded by related cards - Trash a non-Treasure, gain an Action for up to $7 and play it; then +1 Action, gain an Action for up to $6/$5 and play it. Gaining the card is so much simpler but just madly rushes the game end. Overlord costs 8 Debt but doesn't obviously lock itself out from being worthwhile turn one; somehow it all works out here.

Patrician / Emporium: Patrician started as its own pile. It never changed except to become half of a pile. I liked it as a full pile but it was a good fit for half of a pile. Originally it got to interact with Debt cards, since they had high $ costs, but I still liked the card when it stopped doing that.

Emporium started out as a village you could trash for +VP based on how many Action cards you had in play. I tried a few sizes. I liked that whole idea of cashing in cards for VP, but you don't so much want to do it until your last turn of the game, which is not great, and making it fair when it's good can mean making it weak most of the time. I fixed up the concept by making it a threshold; you either get VP or don't, and can't get more with more Actions. Patrician is a combo with it both ways (finds it, helps reach the threshold), which is cute. The threshold was 6 Actions for a while; one day Matt said, why not 5.

Royal Blacksmith: One of the first Debt cards was +5 Cards, you may put your deck into your discard pile. It cost $10 at first, but varied. For a while it seemed like one of the more reasonable Debt cards. It wasn't good immediately, when your deck had mostly Coppers. Or was it? Gradually I got disenchanted with the deck-flipping; it was there to make you less sad to draw at the bottom of your deck, but sometimes meant you got it in every hand when you weren't actually drawing your whole deck. You zoomed to victory or didn't, depending on where it was in your deck. Then I got focused on wanting the big Debt cards to really not be good right away. I replaced the flipping with "discard the Coppers" and well there it is.

Sacrifice: The first version was identical except you only got +2 Actions when trashing an Action, and it cost $3. For a while it seemed good but you sure weren't too interested in trashing Actions to it. It's nice to have that option sometimes be meaningful.

Settlers / Bustling Village: This pile started with the flavor of the card names; nice names for a split pile, with the additional nice idea of having a village that wasn't available right away. It was trouble finding a good card to go in the top slot here; some cards left us just never getting to the village. In the end I used a card Matt made for a homemade set. It was perfect.

I tried a few different bonuses on Bustling Village. There was +$1 per Settlers in play; get your top card if it's an Action per Settlers; there was +VP based on the cards in your hand. Then I tried getting a Settlers from your discard pile and I liked that one. Then Settlers became Matt's card and I like how that ends up, where you play Bustling Village to get Settlers and then Settlers to get Copper.

Temple: At first it didn't have the when-gain ability (or put VP on the pile, don't be silly). When I thought of having VP tokens on piles, I added that part, and it all worked out.

Villa: Originally this just gave +1 Buy when you bought it. One day I thought of having a card that let you play an Action when you bought it, and after a few quick iterations it landed here, as the Village you buy to help out that same turn. For a while it was played when you bought it, but that has some tricky interactions, which were resolved by putting it into your hand instead, and giving you +1 Action to play it with.

Wild Hunt: This started out being trashed to get the VP. You don't want to trash your Smithy. I changed it to gaining an Estate (trying to make sure you couldn't make VP forever this way) and it was much better.

*** Events ***

I used every good Event idea that I had in Adventures. Still, why not try to make more? VP tokens helped a lot, and I ended up with 13 new Events.

Advance: This never changed.

Annex: Late in the going, I had Events that handed out Estate, Province, Curse, Copper, Silver, and Gold (*checks other Events*... huh he's right); where was Duchy? This finally makes good use of an ability I'd tried in a few forms in previous sets, especially Hinterlands.

Banquet: This started as a Treasure for $3 that was worth $1 and came with a Copper and a $5 (then, a Copper and a non-VP $5). I liked it like that, but changing it to an Event saved a slot and made it less fast at running out piles.

Conquest: This never changed.

Delve: This was an idea from Adventures that I never got around to trying there. It's the only one of those I tried, and it worked great.

Dominate: This never changed. Which is funny for an Event costing $14. The idea was to have a next step after Colony, and I could simulate it with an Event rather than spend 12 cards on it.

Donate: This started out costing $8. It was too swingy, and I fixed it by making it 8 debt. Now we can all figure out a plan for when to get it and it doesn't come down to draws, you can just always get it. At first it happened in Clean-up, but I had to move it to between turns due to Possession.

Ritual: I tried an Event that gave you a Curse in exchange for +1 VP per 2 Actions in play. It was a dud, then I tried trashing a card for VP, and there it is.

Salt the Earth: Trashing directly from the Supply tried out for Dark Ages - and cards were phrased to account for the possibility of it - but didn't pass the audition. This approach worked immediately though.

Tax: This started as an Action that gave +$2 and put two Debt tokens on a pile. Then it got a Setup rule that made piles start with Debt. It was hard squeezing everything into the set, and one trick was to turn this into an Event.

Triumph: This started out as an Action for $5 that gave +1 Card +1 Action +$1, and came with +1 VP per card you'd gained that turn (yes, looking a bit like Emporium). It was fun going nuts with it and so I tried variations - a Woodcutter version; one that gave +1 VP per 2 cards gained. Then I made it a Victory card worth 1 VP, that gave +1 VP per card gained that turn. That version was nice. But some games it's just sitting out, you don't have the combos. Space was limited and it could just be an Event. So there it is.

Wedding: This had a bonus I decided would have to wait for some future expansion I hope to put off making for a while. I replaced that part with +1 VP.

Windfall: This started out costing $6. It's a hard condition to meet so I felt like I could be just a little more generous.

*** Landmarks ***

Originally the Landmarks were all "when scoring" except it took a while for me to add the actual words "when scoring" to them. The first "6 VP per player" cards started with 12 VP, and I tried a few at "4 VP per player."

Aqueduct: This started out putting 5 VP on each Treasure pile. I liked that but you only have so many VP tokens. I played around with how to cut down on tokens and ended up with 8 each on Silver and Gold.

Arena: No changes.

Bandit Fort: First it gave 8 VP if you had no Silver and no Gold. It's more fun to punish each one, so you can get a few Silvers and Golds and then see if you can get rid of them later.

Basilica: An earlier version was, when you buy a card, you may pay $3 to take 2 VP.

Baths: No changes except that business about 12 VP turning into 6 VP per player.

Battlefield: No changes except. This was the first one of these 6 VP per player cards, paving the way for more of them, plus other Landmarks that weren't "when scoring." It was controversial, shouldn't they all be "when scoring," but well they worked great.

Colonnade: It was 1 VP when buying an Action you had in play, then 2 VP, then 2 VP with a limited supply of VP.

Defiled Shrine: It triggered on gaining a Curse, but it was not entertaining in games with Witches, so now you have to buy the Curse. The "non-Gathering" thing was a late change to deal with poor interactions between this and the cards that put VP on their own piles. It's kind of weird to have that type there just for this one thing, but it also ties the cards together. That's what I said when insisting on that change, and people's reactions to the Gathering cards has borne that out; they really are tied together.

Fountain: Stef Meijer suggested this one. It was one of the first Landmarks and so started out weaker, at 8 VP for 10 Coppers.

Keep: Some versions gave you the points if you didn't have the fewest copies of a Treasure. It's the same in 2-player but was more political in multiplayer. I went back and forth on whether tying got you the VP, again with an eye towards reducing politics.

Labyrinth: No changes. Well in the initial version of the art, you couldn't do the maze; I got the artist to erase a bit of wall so you could do it.

Mountain Pass: At first it was when the first Province was bought, the buyer bid first, no limit, and the prize was 10 VP. Since the correct bid might be infinity, there's a limit, and hey why not the total number of Debt tokens included. Gain felt better than buy; between turns dealt with Possession, man, that card. And eventually I lowered it to 8 VP to reduce the chance that you run out of Debt tokens.

Museum: The initial idea was to reward you for having cards other players didn't. It was too political, and ended up as a straight Fairgrounds variant.

Obelisk: Originally it could be any Kingdom card. I already knew from some Adventures playtesting that many people don't know that term. I used it anyway, then replaced it with Action.

Orchard: This started out giving a flat bonus of 5 VP if you had at least 3 copies of each card you had any copies of; then it was 10 VP if you had at least 2 of everything you had any of. It was too hard to go for, so it switched to giving VP per card you had 3 copies of, first 5 VP then a more reasonable 4 VP.

Palace: Originally it was 2 VP per set.

Tomb: This one just worked.

Tower: Originally any pile counted; it was slightly more interesting to not reward Victory cards, a thing Matt pushed for.

Triumphal Arch: It started at 2 VP per copy of your 2nd-most copious Action; Matt argued for bumping it up.

Wall: First it was 8 VP if you had no more than 15 cards; then -1 VP per 2 cards in your deck; then the version you know and love. Inspired by that Adventures Victory card outtake that rewarded you for having a small deck (itself inspired by a conversation on BGG, where I talked about possible future Victory cards, and decided inverse-Gardens wouldn't be fresh enough, and David argued otherwise).

Wolf Den: Never changed, though there were related cards that didn't work out.

*** Outtakes ***

This time around I'm putting the outtakes in list form instead of paragraph form. I'm skipping some stuff mentioned above, and a few things that seem like I could maybe fix them up if I have to make more cards someday.

Regular card outtakes:
- The first card in the file is a Witch variant that gives you +1 VP if the Curses have run out. That sounded nifty enough that it hung around for most of testing, though later versions triggered on buying a card. If you somehow got +1 Buy and then played it and bought two things, yeeha. Eventually the trigger started to seem bad, and then the whole card fell apart. And I replaced it with Enchantress, hooray, a happy ending.
- Village, you may trash this for +1 VP per 2 Actions in play;
- and +2 Cards, you may trash this for +1 VP per 2 cards in your hand. I liked the idea of cards you cashed in for VP, but well, you would generally like to hold onto the card until the last minute, and we've already had that experience with Mining Village. They seemed like a good direction and then I fiddled with them and then they died.
- Right and a third one, a treasure worth $1, may trash it to pay any amount of $ for +VP. That one you cashed in of course, since you didn't want the big Copper. There were a couple versions; they were dominating and didn't seem worth pursuing.
- I tried several cards that cost a lot but let you go into Debt, that tried to look impressive and in the end were too impressive. First up, a new extra-turn card. I also had double your $ in Fortune, and I felt like, double your $, with +1 Buy, was like an extra turn but way way faster to resolve.
- One of the most significant outtakes was a treasure that gave +1 Buy and produced $1 per Buy you had. So by default it made $2 and a Buy. But with other sources of +Buys it made more $. You could just play multiple copies of it and build up. If you think about it, it's like Bridge, but gives you the $ up front to divide how you want, instead of assigning $1 per purchase. It turns out that's strong. For a long time the card seemed on the edge of acceptable; gradually I got sick of it. I put it in the Plunder slot and then killed it.
- There was a Witch that gave everyone else a Curse and +1 VP. It seemed cute; it's like giving them a Ruined Village, but they end up ahead a VP if they trash the Curse. So do you still even want to give them these Curses? Yes, you still do, but not as much as usual. I still like the idea but well it wasn't popular. Tower can give you that "Curses are just blank" feeling.
- A Knight-like attack trashed from the Supply if it missed. I decided Salt the Earth was enough of that. Yes and Gladiator.
- A couple attacks played around with playing cards you bought that turn; then I had a village that let you play a card from your hand when you gained it, and then I figured out how to do Villa.
- I tried a Reaction that gave you +VP when attacked. Man. You load up on them and then hope they attack you. Even at once per round I wasn't happy with it.
- I tried giving other players VP as a penalty. It's not pretty-looking but was around for a while.
- +1 Action, get the Silvers and another card from the top 4. Also you got +1 VP per Silver in play when you gained it (then, +1 VP per 2 Silvers, then no VP). The top was crazy. I thought the bottom would survive somewhere in some form but it did not.
- Here's a Venture variant, discard N cards to play the treasures from your top N cards. I have a very vague memory of trying this.
- There was a card that made each card you bought come with a Silver. For a while I thought there would be a sub-theme of cards doing things when you bought other cards. Also I thought there would be a sub-theme of making Silver more exciting.
- Treasure, name a card, worth $1 per copy of it you have in play (cost $5). A super-Coppersmith; if you name Copper it's a Coppersmith treasure, but you can name something else instead. It looked classic and got a lot of chances.
- Treasure version of King's Court, with debt. A dud.
- A cantrip super-Remodel (up to +$4) that had you take debt equal to the amount you Remodel'd up. Debt and Remodels are a poor combination, but I tried it multiple times anyway.
- Mine 3 times, with a Debt cost. Then, trash a treasure to gain a treasure to hand - the same if you went Copper to Platinum, but usually weaker. It thought it had a shot, and spent some time in split piles.
- Remodel 3 times, with a Debt cost. Debt? That's okay, I'm not going to be buying any more cards.
- In the same vein as Farmers' Market, I tried a Warehouse. You draw N cards then discard N, N being the number of tokens on the pile. And could optionally trash it to take the VP. Farmers' Market made the concept work.
- There were a bunch of treasures I tried briefly for split pile slots. A treasure version of Vault. A treasure that gained you a copy of a treasure in play. A treasure that played the Coppers from your 3 top cards. A treasure that made cards the previous player had gained cheaper. A treasure (worth $2) you could put on your deck ala Treasury. A treasure worth $1 per other differently named treasure you had in play. A treasure that let you trash a card when gaining or trashing it. A treasure you cashed in for two $3's when you played it (that one goes back to Prosperity). A double Harem - $4 and 4 VP for $10. You know it wouldn't have been embarassing, but when its pile died I didn't miss it.
- There was a bigger Wharf with Debt cost - +3 Cards this turn and next.
- Here's a Wishing Well where you just need to get the type right, not the card name. Man I don't remember trying this. And next to it a version that could get 2 cards if they both matched.
- There were cards called Barbarian, don't think there weren't. Here's one where they name a card, then trash their top card if it costs $3+ and isn't what they named. Then immediately a version where they revealed two cards; revealing one has worked on a few attacks but tends to be too random. My memory is this attack just never hits.
- I tried another permanent duration; +$2 each turn with the first Action card you play, with a Debt cost. It was in the running for a big debt slot, it seemed potentially balanceable but was not as fun as the competition.
- I tried a few things in the Settlers slot, maybe not all in the file, but here's a 2-card Cartographer.
- Each other player reveals 2 cards from their hand, trashes one you choose, gains a replacement to their hand with the same cost, also your choice. Attacks are hard.
- Ah yes, so many cards tried out for Engineer's slot. Here's an Expand with on-use Debt that tried to dodge Remodel/Debt issues by doing something different if you had any Debt. A +$1 Remodel that had you draw 2 cards when you gained or trashed it; I still like the idea of a Remodel that does something when gained/trashed. A +$1 Remodel that, when trashed, gave you a $5. Yowza. Another one of these, gaining you a copy of a card in play with some limits to try not to go nuts. Another one with different limits, man. Okay here are 3 that involve putting VP on the pile. One is just a Workshop that accumulates VP you can trash it to get; one counts down, it's reset to 5 VP when a copy is gained, and when played gains a card for the number of VP on the pile and then gives you a VP from the pile, that was fun to try; and a Workshop that adds or takes VP based on how much the card you gained cost. Finally, the one that held the slot for the longest out of these, a Workshop that turns into Remodel if a pile is empty. That seemed okay and like I could live with it if I couldn't do better, but I like Engineer better.

Landmarks outtakes:
- 1 VP per card costing $4 wasn't very interesting;
- ditto 1 VP per card costing $6+.
- 2 VP per Attack seemed okay for a while but didn't survive. I then tried 2 VP per card with 2+ types. It feels like Obelisk covers "this random pile is worth points."
- 10 VP if you have at least 3 Curses; not the best way to use Curses.
- 5 VP if the game ended on your turn; that looks interesting but isn't really and could cause a stalemate.
- -1 VP per Duchy -2 VP per Province; what is there to say.
- If the Provinces are empty, 2 VP per Estate; that's a classic thing that didn't work out in Victory card form or here either.
- In a similar vein, 1 VP per empty Supply pile per Province you have.
- When "1 VP per $6" didn't work out I tried "take 2 VP from here when you gain Gold."
- There's one that gave you 2 VP for shuffling; it just doesn't make a difference.
- One gave +1 VP for starting your Buy phase with 6+ cards in hand.
- I tried a few versions of "At the start of your turn, you may gain a Copper, to take 2 VP from here." It's kind of interesting, but some players just always take the Copper, and sometimes you forget to take the Copper and are unhappy. I tried it with Curse; I tried it triggering on buying Treasures.
- When any player buys a Victory card, each player may discard a Victory card for +1 VP. Random and not so meaningful.
- When you buy a Victory card, reveal hand for +1 VP per Victory card. Grand Castles everywhere.
- -1 VP per copy you have after the first of each card. Then, -1 VP per copy after the 2nd. Then non-Victory cards only. The card to do was Wolf Den but I wasn't there yet.
- Reveal a hand of no duplicates at turn start to take 2 VP. Very easy to forget.
- At start of buy phase, if more Actions in play than VP tokens, +2 VP. You want more and more Actions. Not bad, except wait, it's no good in a game with any other way to make VP tokens, and I was making a whole expansion of those.

Events outtakes:
- Pick your next hand. It turns out that's pretty good and also repetitive.
- A couple versions of, Expand your top card.
- Summon! It always was hoping to be a promo but was in the set for a bit.
- A Scheme variant. It's tricky to make it useful and not automatic.
- A Moat-in-advance. It's tricky to make it useful and not stop people from buying attacks.
- Various versions of, the player to your left gains an Estate and you get +3 VP. I couldn't give everyone an Estate and didn't want anything political.
- A few versions of a hot potato - you pay to give it to the player to your left, and it punishes whoever has it (the Event, sitting in front of them). Again politics was an issue, but also it just wasn't creating good times.
- A few Haggler variants that were too hard to get value out of.
- A few versions of, trash a card, get VP if the trash didn't have it yet (phrased to not be Fortress tricks).
- It seemed like I could do "make anything a Nobles/Harem" and it would be reasonable. Pay $6, gain a card costing up to $4, get +2 VP. I could make it be worth doing, but entertainment-wise it was a dud.
- I tried giving Duchy an ability. It had to be a buy phase ability but that was fine; I tried +1 Buy +$1 (but +2 Buys because you bought the Event). Discard a Duchy, get that stuff, cost $0. It sounded interesting and was supposed to make me consider getting a Duchy for the +Buy. It did sometimes, but didn't add enough to make the grade.
- Trying to make other giant Events like Donate and Dominate, I briefly tried "gain all Actions from a pile" and "gain the trash."

22
Empires Previews / Empires Previews #5: Events
« on: May 13, 2016, 12:09:39 pm »
Empires brings back Events. They were fun but I did everything I could think of to do with them in Adventures. But well, this set had new stuff; maybe that new stuff would allow for more Events? In fact of thirteen new Events, nine involve either VP tokens or Debt or both



Triumph has both a Debt cost and a VP token payout. It's like a Victory card that rewards you for getting a lot of cards in one turn, and is represented in your deck with an Estate that you can maybe get rid of. The Debt cost helps you afford it after buying other cards; and hey, if you don't think you're getting another turn, why not go out in Debt and up a few points.

Windfall is one of the four Events that don't involve tokens. If you can manage to get your whole deck into play / your hand / the trash, you can get three Golds for cheap. It's a mini-game.

Dominate is like a new Victory card above Colony - $14 for 15 VP. But instead of a pile, it's just this Event; and you use Provinces for the Victory card, so buying Provinces also runs out the Dominates.

That's it for previews, not counting today's other preview, which is a doozy. We currently expect the set out on May 25, which I believe is when it ships not when it's in stores. I will post the Secret History around when people start to get the actual cards.

23
Empires Previews / Empires Previews #4: Landmarks
« on: May 12, 2016, 12:23:35 pm »
At last, Landmarks. And five of them because why not. There are twenty-one of them so there are still plenty you haven't seen.



Landmarks are landscape-style like Events. You can shuffle them into the randomizer deck, and flip over cards until you have ten kingdom cards, using Events and Landmarks if they show up; if using this method I recommend having a max of two total Landmarks/Events. Or, you can shuffle Landmarks and Events into a separate randomizer deck and just always play with one or two of them. Or whatever else you think of; we like to leave that up to you.

Landmarks change the scoring for the game. Some just change it at the end; some use VP tokens to score during the game. You don't buy Landmarks like you do Events; they just sit there, telling you how you could be making points, if only.

Fountain is a simple one. At the end of the game, if you have 10+ Coppers, you get 15 VP. Bam. If you don't, you don't get anything; if you have 20+ Coppers, sorry, still just 15 VP. Okay? So, you decide: do you want the VP enough to have the Coppers? If you do, you probably don't want the extra Coppers until later, but you don't want to wait until it's too late. Sometimes you may even try to trash your starting Coppers and then buy them back later.

Battlefield is one of several Landmarks that gets 6 VP per player and then doles it out somehow in 2 VP increments. Battlefield gives it out with Victory cards; the first however many Victory cards are worth extra. Should you buy up Estates for the bonus VP, planning to immediately trash them? As usual, it depends on the board.

Wolf Den is a negative Landmark. At the end of the game, each lonely card dings you. For extra fun, pair with attacks that trash cards, or ways to hand out cards to other players. That first Duchy loses a little something.

Tomb works during the game but has no limit, beyond what you're able to trash. There's no guarantee that you can trash cards in a particular game, but that won't come up too often; it spices up trashers, Remodels, one-shots, and some other random cards like Hovel or Knights or Gladiator.

Keep is the area control Landmark. Each kind of Treasure is a little battle, including normal ones like Copper and special ones like Rocks. Whatever else you are doing this game, you would also like to win these battles.

24
Empires Previews / Empires Previews #3: VP Tokens
« on: May 11, 2016, 12:24:11 pm »
One major theme of Empires is VP tokens and well here is some of that. VP tokens appeared in Prosperity, originally just on Monument, but on Bishop and Goons too by the time the set was released. They haven't been used since because well you have to include the tokens. But we included the tokens so we were set. In fact there are three denominations of tokens this time: 1 VP, 2 VP, and 5 VP. The 2 VP ones are the same size as 1 VP but a different color; the 5 VP ones are bigger. That was what we could manage so that's what we did.



Groundskeeper is pretty basic; all VP cards you gain under her watch come with extra VP. That applies to both bought and otherwise gained cards, which can sometimes be exciting. They're cumulative; you can play a line of four Groundskeepers, buy an Estate and get +4 VP.

Temple is more exotic. The basic function of the card both gives you VP and puts VP on the pile - sitting right there on the Temples. And then someone buying a Temple takes that VP. So playing Temple is a VP now for you, and a VP later for someone, could be you or someone else. Temple has this weird word "Gathering" on the bottom, I should say something there. Well uh. It groups together a few cards that put VP on their piles, and lets another card refer to them (in a "let's not mess this up" way). So that's that.

Chariot Race is a funny one. You get a card (the one you reveal) and an Action no matter what; you also get +$1 and +1 VP if your card is costlier than theirs. Their card is the same all turn usually, so after the first Chariot Race you will know what your other Chariot Races are up against.

There was a lot you could do with VP tokens, and I did a lot with them. Nine of the kingdom card piles use them, and then there are all those Landmarks and Events. But those stories are for another day. Well more specifically, tomorrow and the next day, and then later when the Secret History goes up.

25
Empires Previews / Release date
« on: May 10, 2016, 02:59:43 pm »
Currently: May 25th.

It was delayed a week, as reported by Jay on BGG.

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