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Weekly Design Contest / Weekly Design Contest #150: Half!
« on: April 25, 2022, 12:31:11 pm »
In honor of my son's upcoming half-birthday (which is also the first time he's excited about a half-birthday), here's this week's contest.

Design a card or landscape that contains the word or concept of "half" (or its equivalent). Sample card: Bishop.

Other rules and suggestions (adapted from 4est's previous contests):
"Per $2 it costs", "Divided by 2," "halved", etc. are all acceptable wordings.
I will accept heirlooms, artifacts, split piles, non-Supply cards etc., as part of your submission, but keep things to no more than two cards/landscapes.
Don't make me squint. Eliminate unnecessary words and complexity where possible.

Judgement Details:
Entries and revisions must be submitted by just after 5 pm UTC on Tuesday, May 3. I'll try to have results posted the next day.
Entries will be judged on ingenuity, balance, simplicity, and creative/appropriate use of the concept of "half."

Judging has been completed, here:

You're playing a 2-player game with Importer as the only Liaison and Island Folk as the only source of extra turns. That means that you'll get an extra turn once in the game. When should you take the extra turn, and what factors should influence this decision?

My initial impulse is that in most games you should take the extra turn immediately, because there's a benefit to getting more of the key cards sooner (including Province as potentially among those key cards).

Rules Questions / Playing Diadem on another players' turn
« on: December 30, 2021, 10:44:22 am »
If I play a Diadem when it is not my turn (via, say, Sheepdog reacting to another player's Witch as Way of the Mouse as Black Market), how many coins do I get? Should I be tracking actions on other players' turns? Presumably I start with 1 Action, as usual.

Caravan Guard says that "(+1 Action has no effect if it's not your turn.)" Is that simply general guidance because, in the scenario I just described, playing Caravan Guards via its reaction would increase the coins I subsequently get from Diadem?

It would be great to have an option "don't ask me again to discard this card from Exile."  My victory cards can stay there!

Dominion General Discussion / Menagerie rule book is up!
« on: March 17, 2020, 11:59:00 am »
Get the rules here:

This set looks awesome.  Particular highlights not yet revealed: Way of the Seal gives you the effect of Royal Seal! And Cavalry: it's like Villa on gain, but for Cards rather than Actions. I'm sure it will be similarly mind-bending (and hopefully just as fun). Thanks, Donald, for helping us to get through these quarantined times.

Variants and Fan Cards / Peon, a poor man's Nobles
« on: February 13, 2020, 11:23:05 am »
Choose either: +2 Cards; or +2 Actions, +$1.

Inspired by Nobles and Pawn. I like Pawn but it offers too many options that need to be tracked (all of the choices but +1 Card), which makes it slow down in-person games too much.

Because this card has only two options, it should be easy to rotate it sideways to distinguish whether it was played for cards or actions. You're cant draw cards with Peon alone, but you can do so by combining it with either a Smithy-variant or a drawing Village, and its flexibility helps to avoid duds.

Variants and Fan Cards / Garrison - an attacking village
« on: February 12, 2020, 03:41:07 pm »
Action - Attack
+1 Card
+2 Actions
Each other player with 5 or more cards in hand discards a card.

A village that attacks needs the attack part to be weak and generally not to stack. Garrison's attack intentionally doesn't mimic Urchin ("down to 4 cards") for uniqueness and to avoid negating the disadvantages of Governor/Council Room too easily. As with all hand-size attacks, it becomes less important to get one in 3+ player games because your opponents will often be attacked by a different player anyway.

Original version:
(Same as current)

Isolated Village
+2 Actions
Choose one: +1 Card, or you may trash a non-Copper card from your hand.

Inspired by Hermit and Hideout. Even though this card offers choices, it doesn’t require additional tracking like a card that offers variable Actions, Buys, or Coins, because the +1 Card is received right away.  This is particularly useful to avoid slowing down in-person games.  This card seems simple enough that it could conceivably fit in the base set or Intrigue. Replacement for Bureaucrat in Dominion: Third Edition? ;D

Original version:
(Same as current)

Variants and Fan Cards / Replacement for Royal Seal in Prosperity
« on: September 26, 2019, 12:46:39 pm »
Scribe’s Seal
Produces $2
While this is in play, when you gain an Action card, you may put that card onto your deck.
Royal Seal’s effect is useful, but at $5 it faces too much competition.  You’d rather get that key $5 than get Royal Seal and hope its effect lets you topdeck that key $5 later.  I envisioned a replacement for Royal Seal that costs $4, but hopefully isn’t going to be an auto-buy (or have the pile empty too often).  Another consideration in making Silver with a benefit for $4 is to avoid powering up treasure heavy strategies too much, which, like Patron, this should accomplish.

I know that Donald X. hasn't even revised Seaside yet, but I can dream that we'll someday get revised versions of Seaside and Prosperity as well. Base 2e and Intrigue 2e are some of my favorite Dominion sets. If only Harbinger had cost $2!

Original version:
(Same as current)

Variants and Fan Cards / Sea Hag replacement for Seaside
« on: September 24, 2019, 11:12:17 am »
Ocean Hag
Action - Duration - Attack
Each other player gains a Curse. At the start of your next turn, you may trash a non-Victory card from your hand, for +1 Card.
Donald X has commented that there are two reasons that if he ever updates Seaside, he’d likely replace Sea Hag with a different cursing attack.  First, players don’t like attacks that don’t provide any benefit. Second, Seaside has two <$5 cards that can junk your opponent (Ambassador), which is too many, and Ambassador is more unique.
Here I’ve envisioned its replacement.  The Ocean Hag happens to be a perfect counter to a Sea Hag because it can trash curses from Sea Hag right away, even though this wouldn't matter much in practice as someone probably wouldn't own both.  Like Ambassador, it can give junk to your opponent while getting rid of yours.  But, unlike Ambassador, the fact that it’s a $5 duration and gives junk that runs out (Curses) should keep it from being too powerful.

Dominion doesn't have trashers limited to non-Victory cards.  That's probably because, unless a junker is present, the most commonly trashed cards are Treasures and Victory cards, so saying Treasure is simpler.  Because Ocean Hag is a junker, it's a great candidate to be limited to non-Victory cards. This also should keep the power level of the card in check, relative to the original.
Original version:
Ocean Hag
Action - Duration - Attack
Each other player gains a Curse. At the start of your next turn, you may trash a card from your hand, for +1 Card.

It appears that Dominion Online will continue to exist and be provided by ShuffleIT in 2020 and 2021. That's great news, and hopefully gives ShuffleIT more incentive to invest in better development of and communication about their product.

Quote from: jsh
I don't know everything that's going to happen, but this was posted in Discord today:

"StefToday at 11:54 AM
I just signed a new contract with RGG! will continue in 2020 and 2021."

Variants and Fan Cards / Nocturne simplified, without Hexes or duds
« on: March 08, 2019, 11:17:15 am »
Nocturne has a lot of interesting cards but as Donald X mentions it’s too complex in large part because it requires reading too many cards. Specifically, Hexes and Fool are too slow to resolve, and there are too many Boon cards given that some are not that interesting. In addition, some cards could use boosts in power. Thus, the following proposed changes.

Fool and Bard are cut.  Sacred Grove now comes with Lucky Coin (and maybe Sacred Grove gets a theme change to “Bard”).

Cobbler gives +Action as well. So it now reads “At the start of your next turn, +1 Action and gain a card to your hand costing up to $4.”  Cobbler could use a slight boost in power, and giving +Action in addition to gaining a $4 to hand makes it more flexible.

Raider gives +Buy as well. So it now reads, “At the start of your next turn, +$3 and +1 Buy.”  By the time your deck hits $6 to afford Raider, you often don’t need more coins right away. This means that all of those extra coins from Raider are less likely to go to waste. 

Remove the hexes. Instead:
Vampire causes Fear.  That is, each opponent with at least 5 cards in hand discards an Action or Treasure (or reveals they can't). Vampire is an easy attack to get hit with multiple times because it’s a Night card, is strong and is a trasher (so it tends to be bought early). So I wanted Vampire to be an attack that is quick to resolve and doesn’t stack with itself.

Skulk causes Bad Omens. That is, each opponent puts their deck into their discard pile, looks through it and puts 2 Coppers from it onto their deck (or reveals they can't). Bad Omens is wordy and time-consuming to resolve, so it needs to go on a card that is otherwise very simple.

Leprechaun causes Greed instead of giving a hex. That is, you gain a Copper onto your deck. Leprechaun needs to punish you in a way that you can’t be confident won’t hurt at all, so that there’s a downside to getting that sweet, sweet Gold (okay, gaining Gold isn’t that great, but don’t tell Leprechaun that!). Greed is a great Hex for this because Copper almost never runs out, it fits the theme that the angry Leprechaun punishes you for taking Gold by forcing Copper on you, and the original name of Greed is themed perfectly.

Tormentor causes Plague (gain a curse to hand) if you have an Imp in play, and gains an Imp if you have no Imp in play. Making Tormentor a better Imp gainer and less frequent attack fits with my early take on it.  Tormentor was a weak card to begin with, so that it becomes a better Imp gainer and an irregular cursing attack still leaves it at a reasonable power level. Tormentor would now read "If you have an Imp in play, each other player gains a Curse to their hand. Otherwise, gain an Imp from its pile."

Werewolf causes Haunting. That is, if it's your Night phase, each other player with at least 4 cards in hand puts one of them onto their deck.  Werewolf wants an attack that you can stack at least twice, but that’s quick to resolve. And because Werewolf has +3 cards, this reduces the odds of ending up as locked down by its attack as happens with Ghost Ship. Taken directly from my earlier thread on the topic.


Variants and Fan Cards / Werewolf without Hexes
« on: December 11, 2018, 07:11:16 pm »
Hexes are one of Nocturne's most complex mechanics. Here, I've tried to envision Werewolf as a simpler, haunting card without Hexes. I'm sorry, Courtier! Dame Josephine disclaims any involvement in this post. 

Werewolf (Variant)
If it's your Night phase, each other player with at least 4 cards in hand puts one of them onto their deck. Otherwise, +3 Cards.

With the addition of Renaissance, we now have a cornucopia of simple, interesting Dominion cards. So I’ve tried to update how I introduce beginners to the game by creating my own versions of Base, Intrigue, and Seaside that take advantage of cards from across the Dominion sets. For total beginners, I’d probably play a game or two with just “Base” set cards, and then start to add cards from one of the other “sets.” After a few games, I’d plan to randomize among all three “sets.”

I am trying to make the sets simpler without decreasing how interesting they are. For example, 1e Base is simpler than 2e Base, but for the wrong reason: it’s less interesting. This is related to a few things, including less trashing, the higher number of terminal actions, and having weak cards that skilled players almost never buy.

A high-level overview of my changes: All three sets could use more +Actions, particularly Intrigue. Seaside could use more +Buy and more draw. Intrigue and Seaside have some overly punishing or slow to resolve attacks that should get replaced. Overly punishing attacks extend the game, which tends to be a negative for beginners.  Some cards have simpler equivalents and can be replaced by them. There are also a few weak or uninteresting cards to replace.

Base set (2e):
Remove: Bureaucrat, Library, Sentry, Cellar, Harbinger
Add: Hoard, Scholar, Junk Dealer, Warehouse

Intrigue (2e):
Remove: Mining Village, Pawn, Wishing Well, Torturer, Swindler, Harem
Add: Farming Village, Crossroads, Market Square, Old Witch, Jester, City

Remove: Warehouse, Treasury, Merchant Ship, Sea Hag, Pirate Ship, Ambassador, Explorer, Navigator, Pearl Diver
Add: Dungeon, Hireling, Cargo Ship, Soothsayer, Distant Lands, Remake, Enchantress, Worker’s Village, Research

Detailed explanations of changes follow.


Bureaucrat: replaced by Hoard which is a better (and non-terminal) treasure gainer, and doesn't have Bureaucrat's attack which slows down play.
Cellar: replaced by Warehouse (getting to draw before discarding makes Warehouse simpler to decide on how to play).
Sentry: replaced by simpler Junk Dealer.
Library: replaced by simpler (to resolve) Scholar.
Harbinger: a relatively weak card that takes a long time to look through the discard pile and resolve. Cut without replacement.


Pawn: replaced by Crossroads to add more +Actions. Crossroads is a natural fit in Intrigue and Pawn is complex to play and track because of the six different options.
Wishing Well: For beginners, it can be frustrating/time-consuming trying to remember what cards they’ve seen this shuffle for Wishing Well. Replaced by Market Square to add another +Buy now that Pawn has been removed. It also adds another gold gainer, which is a popular effect. 
Mining Village: replaced by simpler Farming Village. Farming Village also has a useful combo in the set with Courtyard.
Harem: weak card, plus I dislike the flavor and I wouldn't want anyone to dislike Dominion because they feel similarly. Replaced by City to add more +Actions and provide a counterpart to Poacher from Base.
Torturer: replaced by Old Witch, which is less oppressive and requires fewer decisions.
Swindler: replaced by Jester, which hurts opponents less and helps you more. Jester can be overpowered in 4-player games, but it doesn’t seem worse than 4-player games with Swindler ending in very few turns on three-piles.

Warehouse: with Warehouse moving to Base, Dungeon is a natural replacement.
Treasury: replaced by Hireling, which has an easier to remember duration effect, and adds more draw.
Pirate Ship: replaced by Distant Lands which is a simpler card utilizing a mat. Distant Lands mentions the Tavern mat, but stays on it and doesn’t do anything, so it has the same mechanics as Island but with an extra (and, frankly, unnecessary) keyword. Seaside still has three attacks even without Pirate Ship.
Merchant Ship: replaced by more interesting Cargo Ship.
Sea Hag: replaced by Soothsayer which helps you and hurts your opponents less, which leads to shorter games.
Explorer: Soothsayer added a gold-gainer, so Explorer is cut without replacement.
Ambassador: slows games down too much; replaced by Remake, a strong trasher. Also add Enchantress to add an interesting attack (in place of Ambassador) and add more draw.   
Navigator: not interesting enough or strong enough, needing to order 5 cards can also be too much when you have actions remaining in your turn.  Replaced by Worker’s Village which adds more +Actions and more +Buy.
Pearl Diver: doesn't impact the game enough. Replaced by Research, which is an interesting duration card, and adds trashing and draw.  Seaside has five $2s, so having one fewer isn’t a problem. 

A few concluding thoughts: Even people who have played several games of Dominion before but play infrequently may benefit from reducing the number of mechanics. I own all of the sets but Alchemy and Nocturne, and the variety of mechanics can be overwhelming. That's true not just in a single game, but over time as well (playing only cards from two sets at a time avoids having, say, travelers, VP tokens, Ruins, and coffers in the same game, but can be an overwhelming amount to learn on an ongoing basis).

Once various randomizer websites/apps get updated for Renaissance, it will be straightforward to create a customized randomizer option for these “sets.” In the meantime, it’s few enough cards that I can shuffle all of the randomizers together and do it that way. Thoughts?

Judgment matches have been pioneered by SamE. See his thread and judgment match rules

One conceptual flaw with judgment matches is that they are not necessarily transitive. Minion beat Groundskeeper in judgment match #1 (that was a relatively small sample, but let’s suppose that it wasn’t). Minion might lose a judgment match to Soothsayer, because Soothsayer as a junker is well-positioned vs. Minion. If that happened, would it mean that Groundskeeper is going to lose a judgment match to Soothsayer? Not necessarily!  The more recent judgment matches seem to recognize this issue, and are comparing cards with more similar functions (Advisor v Alchemist, for example), which may help to mitigate this.

There’s also an issue with the way judgment matches are counted. If players agree that a card is favored, the board is counted as a win for that card. If they don’t agree, the board is played out and the winner of the game gets the point. But even if players can accurately assign a board as favoring one card as opposed to another in the judgment match, that doesn’t mean anything about the magnitude of the amount one card would be favored. Assigning a full point to the agreed-on favored card is equivalent to assuming that if the game were played out, there’s no chance that the less favored option would win.

Consider a hypothetical “Silly Smithy”: it’s like regular Smithy, but when you play it you roll a 100-sided die. If it comes up 100, +$1. This card is nearly always going to be favored over Smithy (one exception I can think of: if Smithy is the Obelisk pile, which probably shouldn't be allowed in a judgment match at all). So a judgment match will give it a nearly perfect win over Smithy. However, its advantage in actual play is very minor. If you played all of the games out, “Silly Smithy” would have only a very small advantage vs. for Smithy. A ranking system should rate Smithy and “Silly Smithy” about the same. And if you played "Silly Smithy" in a judgment match against any non-Smithy card, it would achieve essentially the same result as Smithy.

This leads to my constructive proposal for how to measure card strength, taken from this thread: If two very good (and similarly good) players play a match where they are and aren't allowed to gain a card, respectively, how big of an advantage will the player who can gain the card have.

Ideally the players play an infinite number of games (varying who is and isn't allowed to gain the card, as well as starting player), play equally well on average regardless of whether they're allowed to gain the card, and that the player who can gain the card doesn't rely on the fact that their opponent isn't allowed to gain the card. An actual cage match will be an approximation to that ideal.

This measure also more closely approximates real games of Dominion than a judgment match. In a judgment match, when the best strategy would have both players gaining both Minion and Groundskeeper, you’ve required two changes for a judgment match: one player doesn’t gain Minion, and the other player doesn’t gain Groundskeeper. In comparison, this measure of card strength only requires one player not to gain one card, as if one player (perhaps inexplicably) decided to ignore that card.

Lastly, even this measure of card strength will not tell you how to be a better Dominion player. To do that, you need to understand why a card is strong or weak, on what types of boards you should or shouldn’t gain it, and how to play a strategy involving that card. Putting cards in order of strength is fun, but it’s never going to tell you that. 

Dominion Articles / Fishing Village article on the main blog
« on: April 10, 2018, 08:04:28 pm »
Here is the Fishing Village article on the main Dominion strategy blog:

Fishing Village is a very strong card, strong enough to enable decks that wouldn’t work with most other villages, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t draw a card. Most of the time drawing a card is better than getting the $1, except for in the very beginning of the game, making Fishing Village one of the few villages it can be OK to open with. To compensate for the fact that Fishing Village doesn’t draw a card, it’s usually best when paired with stronger sources of draw; +3 cards or more.

Most villages give you +2 Actions when you play them, and while it’s true that one play of Fishing Village will net you 3 Actions, the more relevant comparison is that it gives you the “village effect” on two consecutive turns. The important thing here is that it doesn’t actually increase the number of terminal actions you can play in one turn, but rather you only have to draw the card one time to get the benefit for two turns.

The reason Fishing Village is so powerful is that duration-Fishing-Villages give you actions at the start of your turn, which is by far the best time to get actions. You don’t need to worry about drawing villages to kick off your turn as long as you have some in play. For this reason, in many decks it can be good to “stagger” your Fishing Villages, meaning that you want to have roughly the same number of duration-Fishing-Villages out at the start of each of your turns, instead of having a bunch on one turn and then only one or two on the next. Decks constructed and played this way are usually very reliable when other engine decks could have issues.

Some comments:
The article makes it seem like you always need a source of +Actions to kick off. Getting actions at the start of your turn is particularly useful when your draw card is terminal. If your source of draw is non-terminal then it’s typically less important to have +Actions at the start of your turn. And because Fishing Village is such a strong source of +Actions, it supports using terminal draw even if non-terminal draw is also available.

The following is poorly phrased:
Most of the time drawing a card is better than getting the $1, except for in the very beginning of the game, making Fishing Village one of the few villages it can be OK to open with.

The reason it’s okay to open Fishing Village is that it gives $1 for two consecutive turns. If Fishing Village only gave $1 on the first turn you played it, it would not be a decent opener.

Lastly, an explanation that I find useful is that the turn after you play Fishing Village, you start an extra action and an extra $1, which is like if you started the turn by playing a Bazaar, which is a good $5 card.

Dominion Articles / Cultist article on main blog (and comments)
« on: April 02, 2018, 06:42:47 pm »
Here is the Cultist article on the main Dominion strategy blog:

Cultist junks decks faster than any card in the game, and dealing with the onslaught of Ruins is extremely difficult, making Cultist a very strong card.

Cultist’s abilities strongly incentivize building a “Cultist stack”, a deck that buys primarily Cultists and no other Actions. First, playing a Cultist does not let you play other Actions after, except for other copies of Cultist. This pushes you to have lots of copies of Cultists to chain the draw and attack and not have a lot of copies of other Action cards, which you would not be able to play if you drew them. Second, while playing a village would enable playing Actions other than Cultist, it’s usually hard to reliably start your turn with a village in hand in a strong junking game. This further disincentives including Actions other than Cultist. Third, the game could end quickly on piles (Cultists, Ruins, and something else, like Duchies). This reduces the amount of time you have to to build a more comprehensive deck.

Night cards, Treasures, and Events cannot be drawn dead, and some of these cards can push against adhering to a pure Cultist stack strategy. For example, Ghost Town or Save can help you consistently start your turn with a village; a reserved Coin of the Realm can allow you to play Actions drawn dead; Lost Arts can give Cultist an Action token. Even so, Cultist’s potent ability to chain the drawing of cards and dealing out junk remains powerful.

Sometimes Ruins can be cleaned out or ignored. Strong trashing can allow a recovery from the Ruins deluge and enable you either to transition from a Cultist stack to a controlled engine with Cultist as a source of draw or to build a different engine entirely. Additionally, unlike Curses, Ruins are are worth 0 VP and are themselves Actions. That means building decks that rely on Vineyards or Gardens to score is more viable in the presence of Ruins than other type of junk. However, transitioning from Cultist into a Village-based engine can be difficult to pull off, and viable alternative VP is not always available, making it necessary to play a Cultist stack instead.

Finally, while the on-trash benefit is rarely a good reason to buy Cultist if you are not going to buy it for its primary abilities, it can be an added benefit in kingdoms where trashing plays a role.

Some comments:
A “Cultist stack” may not buy “primarily” Cultists even in the early game - on a 3/4 opening, you’ll probably buy as many Silvers as Cultists early in most games. I’d define building a Cultist stack as buying Cultist whenever possible unless the ruins pile is empty or nearly empty, and often not buying other actions.

Third, the game could end quickly on piles (Cultists, Ruins, and something else, like Duchies).

The Cultist pile running is only likely to happen if multiple players get Cultist. If only one player gets Cultists, it would likely take too long to empty the Cultist pile. Not buying Cultist usually means you’ll get crushed by the ruins, but if there’s a reasonable plan not to get it, piles won’t run as quickly as this suggests.

Two typos with repeated words: “to to” in second paragraph and “are are” in the fourth paragraph.

Dominion Articles / Chapel article on main blog (and comments)
« on: March 29, 2018, 02:42:19 pm »
Here is the Chapel article on the main Dominion Strategy blog.

Chapel is the second-fastest way in Dominion to purge your bad cards (only surpassed by Donate), and with a cost of $2, can be bought in the opening along with another fairly good card. Trashing cards in Dominion is really, really good; you almost always want to trash your ten starting cards and any junk your opponent gives you in order to play your best cards more frequently and make your deck more consistent. Even in the face of the most powerful junking attacks in the game, you shouldn’t have a problem staying on top of your deck with Chapel on your side.

If you want a Chapel, you want to open with it and hopefully see it on turn 3 or 4; in almost every case, you’ll want to play the Chapel and trash your entire hand. Even if you’re just trashing Coppers and no Estates, this is almost always the best play because with these four cards out of the way, you’ll be able to line up your Chapel with the rest of your starting cards more quickly. The main exception to this is if you drew the other card you opened with — though this problem can be sidestepped by opening with a strong cantrip, which also reduces the odds of not seeing your Chapel before turn 5. The brief tempo loss you take from sacrificing a whole turn just to trash four cards will quickly become worth it when you’re playing lots of good cards each turn because you don’t have bad cards to get in the way.

After playing your Chapel for the first time, you may want to be a bit more judicious about keeping a Copper or two around — make sure you think about having enough money in your deck to buy what you want each turn, as long as drawing your last one or two Coppers isn’t a huge pain — you may even find yourself planning one or two turns ahead, which is a luxury you’ll get much sooner with the trim deck Chapel gives you.

Some comments on this article:
The first paragraph should link to the article “Why Trashing is Good” (also on the same blog) for readers who want a longer discussion of this topic. The phrase “you shouldn’t have a problem staying on top of your deck” should say something more explicit like “keeping your deck clear of bad cards.”
Stating that it is “almost always the best play” to trash all four cards with Chapel when you draw it on turn 3 or 4 is immediately contradicted by stating that you shouldn’t do that if you have the other card you opened with in hand. A better way to state this is that when you draw Chapel on turn 3 or 4 you almost always want to use it to trash all of the Coppers and Estates that you can.

This article refers to a “cantrip” - but that’s a term that most readers won’t know. “Card that gives +1 Card and at least +1 Action (such as Market)” would be a better way to put this. 

The article discusses how you may want to keep “a Copper or two” around. The key number of Coppers to avoid going below is typically 3, if you haven’t yet bought a Silver or other gainer, or 1 (if you've already bought a Silver).

Bureaucrat, Revised
Action - Attack, $4
+$1. Gain a Silver. Each other player with 5 or more cards in hand puts a card from their hand onto their deck.

When you play Bureaucrat on an opponent with a 5-card hand, the attack is guaranteed to hit. However, when the attack hits it is weaker, because it gives a choice of which card to put back, and because it can’t reduce an opponent below 4 cards in hand. Instead of improving your economy on what is typically the next turn by putting the Silver it gains onto your deck, it now gives $1 this turn. That makes it simpler and generally stronger, particularly in an action-heavy deck that didn’t want the Silver on top in the first place.

It’s like Ironworks that you always use to gain Silver, plus a weak attack that sometimes helps your opponent. Ironwork’s strength is due to being able to gain Actions and its flexibility, not because $1, gain a Silver is particularly strong. So I'd still expect this version to be pretty weak at $4, and it's possible it should cost $3 instead.

Variants and Fan Cards / Transmute, Revised
« on: March 23, 2018, 04:29:44 pm »
Transmute, Revised
Action, P
Trash a card from your hand.
If it is an…
Action card, gain a Duchy
Treasure card, gain an Action costing up to $4 more than it.
Victory card, gain a Gold
When you buy this, +1 Buy.

The two changes are: adding “When you buy this, +1 Buy” (so that it’s easier to buy), and gaining an Action costing up to $4 more than a trashed treasure (instead of gaining a Transmute). It can turn your Potion into a Prince!

I saw someone else propose “when you buy this, +1 Buy” to make Transmute easier to gain. It’s commonly recognized that Transmute turning Treasures into Transmutes is a key flaw in the card. I’ve seen multiple solutions to that, including “gain an action costing up to $4” or “gain an Action” - I chose something in between these power levels. It still doesn't seem like a strong card, but this version should have a reasonable probability to get bought even on boards where it is the only Potion-cost card.

Philosopher’s Stone, Revised
Treasure, $3P
+1 Buy.
Worth $1 per differently-named Action card you have in play, to a maximum of $5.

This version substantially reduces the amount of counting required. It has synergy with action-heavy decks to fit the theme of Alchemy. It also seems strong enough to be worth going for on a reasonable percentage of boards even if it’s the only potion-cost card. 

Variants and Fan Cards / Possession, Revised
« on: March 20, 2018, 01:27:14 pm »
Possession, Revised Action, $6P
If this is the first time you played Possession this turn, for each card the player to your right gained in their most recent turn, you may gain a card that costs the same or less.

The problem with Donald X’s original suggestion is that it still allows for stalemates when both players can play multiple Possessions per turn. Thus, the once per turn restriction. I also added “you may” so that you don’t need to gain coppers or the like if you don’t want them for your deck.

Possession II: Action, $6P
For each card the player to your right gained in their most recent turn, gain a card that costs the same or less.

Variants and Fan Cards / Rebuild as a Remodel variant
« on: March 15, 2018, 10:35:04 pm »
Revised Rebuild
$5 Action
Trash a card from your hand. If it is a Curse, Ruins, Shelter, or Victory card, gain a card costing up to $3 more than it. Otherwise, gain a card costing up to $2 more than it.

Vagrant’s cousin and a slightly better Remodel. It might be a bit too weak in games with Shelters because you don't have starting Estates to convert to cards that cost $5.

Inspired by the following exchange:

Any card that lets you almost entirely bypass building up your deck is going to be bad for the game. Either it's too weak to consider, or it's strong enough and makes games boring. And that's pretty much Rebuild's entire concept: play it a lot and gain Provinces.
On the other hand, Expand is fine, and not even considered that great a card. Despite working on things other than Victories.

Ways in which Expand is weaker:
  • Costs more
  • Terminal
  • Works from hand, not from deck
Is there really no way Rebuild could be saved by playing around with one or more of those?

For more on the problems with Rebuild, see Donald X's comments:

In retrospect the card is clearly too powerful for how interesting it is. Which is to say, the most powerful cards should make for lots of interesting gameplay and different situations; Chapel for example may be strong, but the games play out differently depending on the rest of the cards. With Rebuild the rest of the cards are too unlikely to get involved in your Rebuild deck.

For casual players it probably isn't a problem, unless one of them reads online about how to use Rebuild. For serious players you will probably have more fun just not playing with Rebuild after you've had the experience. I would rather that not be the case, but well at least there are 34 other kingdom cards in Dark Ages.

Variants and Fan Cards / A stronger, more interesting Tormentor
« on: November 20, 2017, 03:32:31 pm »
Types: Action, Attack, Doom
Cost: $5
+$2. If you have no other cards in play, gain an Imp from its pile. Otherwise, each other player receives the next Hex.

Tormentor is weak, and not particularly interesting, especially compared to Skulk (Skulk has a lot of interesting interactions, such as Changeling or trash for benefit). Gaining an Imp is often better than a Hex, but after the very early stages of the game it’s not practical to have no other cards in play (particularly if you’re building the kind of deck that likes Imp), so you’ll just be Hexing your opponent. The attack part of Tormentor is rather weak. Multiple Tormentors stack, but there are lots of strong $5 cards so there will usually be better things to do than to aim to play multiple Tormentors each turn.

My suggested change is to make Tormentor more likely to gain Imps. This makes it more interesting because it's likely to add more Imps to your deck over the course of a game, which means that you'll need to add additional actions besides Tormentor to your deck to take full advantage of the Imps. It probably also makes the card stronger because gaining an Imp tends to be better than giving out a Hex.

Revised Tormentor
Types: Action, Attack, Doom
Cost: $5
If you have an Imp in play, each other player receives the next Hex. Otherwise, gain an Imp from its pile. (Updated with better wording thanks to LastFootnote!)


Variants and Fan Cards / A more interesting Bard
« on: November 17, 2017, 05:11:57 am »
Types: Action, Fate
+$2. Receive a Boon.

Bard seems both weak and boring. Bard is boring because there are two more interesting terminal actions that also give coin(s) and a Boon (Tracker and Sacred Grove). Making it cost $3 instead of $4 would increase its power, but it would still be boring.

tastor suggested allowing Bard to choose one of the top two boons to receive. The basic idea seems good, though you'd probably want to discard the Boon not chosen. However, this change might make Bard too strong. A weaker alternative would be: "Look at the top card of the Boon deck. You may discard it. Then receive a Boon."

A bigger change to Bard would be to make it a source of +2 Actions (thematic with Wandering Minstrel). Nocturne could use another source of +Actions, because Cursed Village has bad synergy with the Night cards, and Conclave is hard to get many extra +Actions out of. A non-terminal action that gained a Boon on each play would take too long to resolve, so maybe something like:

Revised Bard
Types: Action, Fate
+$1. +2 Actions. If you do not have any other Bards in play (besides this), receive a Boon.

Another alternative is to make the card more like Crossroads as a limited +Actions effect (and in wording as well, as suggested by GendoIkari). Something like:

Alternate Bard
Types: Action, Fate
+$1. Receive a Boon. If this is the first time you played a Bard this turn, +2 Actions.

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