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Other Games / Hades
« on: December 18, 2020, 11:17:59 pm »
I'm surprised that nobody's started a topic for Hades yet. It's absolutely my GOTY for 2020. I've been playing since Early Access but it started great and only got greater as it went to release. The action is fun and different every game as you pick a different weapon and get various upgrades that can take the way you fight in entirely different directions. The action takes all the fun watching a character develop in a 30-hour grind of a game like Torchlight or Diablo--and compresses ALL THAT FUN into just 30 minutes, an incredible arc of watching Zagreus get awesome. I don't think I ever can play another ARPG with slow grinding knowing that Hades is there to be played. And when your build is firing--you FEEL LIKE A GOD, dashing around, stabbing ghosts, throwing lightning, it's amazing.

Then there's the other great thing about the game, which is the story and the framing. Hades is a roguelike, but there's a progressing story that unfolds. There's not a lot of branching to it--you can sometimes choose what subplot happens first, but you can't close anything off. But the characters are a lot of fun, with great personalities brought out through incredible art and voice acting. The interpretations of the familiar Olympians are fun, the interpretations of the less-known Chthonic gods are fun, and the ultimate story of why Zagreus is trying to escape from the underworld is a neat original story that all makes sense in retrospect.

TLDR: Hades is great, you should try it.

I've created Geminion: a variant of Dominion to play with my 5-year-old. She seems to like it (enough to request it) so I thought I'd share with the Dominion fans here. My estimate of kid-appropriate ages is from about 5 (should be at least OK at adding small numbers; the game helps with that skill) to maybe 8, or whatever point the math + reading + dexterity skills are good enough to play real Dominion.

There's a real game in here adults can think about, although it's not tremendously deep and you'll probably go through the 4 or so reasonable strategies pretty quickly and decide which one you like.

The instructions and downloadable/printable PDF are here:

If you have suggestions, or interesting experiences, let me know.

Other Games / Loot Box Clicker (a new idle game, by me)
« on: May 28, 2018, 05:18:28 pm »
Howdy everyone,

I recently published a new idle/incremental game that I've been working on for a few weeks, Loot Box Clicker:

The goal is to let you enjoy those endorphins you get from of opening up a chest with possible TREASURE INSIDE, without any exploitative payment system (or game, for that matter) getting in the way. There are a handful of whimsical touches. In fact pretty much everything is either incrementing numbers or whimsy.

For anyone into this kind of thing, I hope you enjoy it.

Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Cultural references in Nocturne
« on: October 27, 2017, 11:42:31 pm »
On one of the preview threads, there was a little bit of discussion about missing cultural references on the previewed cards. As it turns out I have lot of interest in folktales, mythology, and the fantasy literature and games that have spring from those sources; so I thought I'd give a crack to examining the previewed cards, the underlying folklore/mythology/culture that's being referenced, and how it interacts with what the card does.

Overall, this set seems meant to evoke a mysterious, menacing setting where the nights are long, frightened people in the country and city alike lock their doors tightly, and strange creatures and spirits prowl. There are bright spots and defenders of goodness (Blessed Village, Faithful Hound, presumably Guardian) but overall the atmosphere is of aggression and malice.

Feel free to discuss, of course. If there's demand, I'll discuss the rest of the cards when they're available.

Devil's Workshop: There's a saying "idle hands are the devil's workshop", a somewhat puritanical warning that people who aren't kept busy by labor or schooling are likely to create mischief or otherwise do bad things in their idle time. This card takes the metaphor literally. The effect ties into the saying nicely: if you've been idle (gaining nothing) you get a very nice reward, a Gold.

Imp: An expression for a "little devil". In both D&D and the broader popular imagination, a small and weak but unambiguously evil creature. Creating them at the Devil's Workshop is apt.

No particular reference here; this is just a bandit who comes at night, attacks your town, runs off with the good stuff. The effect is pleasantly resonant with Pillage, which hey, is what raiders do.

Ghost Town: An expression for an abandoned town; in this case, the town looks to be literally haunted by ghosts in addition to just uninhabited. The card works like a delayed Village, so we have the "little settlements = bonus actions" flavor continued here.

Crypt: A crypt is a large burial chamber, suitable for burying the wealthy dead with some of their worldly wealth, which can be looted later. A common D&D trope is looting crypts for their treasure (and fighting the undead within, of course).

Shepherd: No particular reference here; shepherds are the kind of simple folk that might be the victims of these various creatures, or telling stories about them. They herd their sheep in Pastures, of course.

Pooka: One of the trickier ones here. A pooka is a Celtic faerie or spirit, not associated with any one myth in particular. Like several of the fey, they could be good or evil. They're animal shapeshifters, which is why the illustration here has bunny ears. The Pooka made an appearance in Changeling: the Dreaming, where they were specifically cast as fun-loving animal shapeshifter tricksters. One common faerie trick is to provide a gift with strings attached--this comes out as the Cursed Gold heirloom here. I'm not aware of any legend tying cursed treasure to pooka in particular.

Cemetery: In a world where the dead can come back to life, a cemetery has particular importance, of course. A ghost is the general term for the incorporeal spirit of someone who's died but who remains to haunt the world. Ghosts might want to cause harm to the living, they might want revenge or to fulfill an unaccomplished task, or they might just want company. There are a lot of folktales, stories, and media about ghosts that only appear in a mirror, a mirror being used as a way to see into the spirit world, or spirits which are trapped in a mirror. The latter is the case with Haunted Mirror: you have come into possession of a mirror with such a ghost trapped inside it, and when you break the mirror, it escapes and helps you.

Faithful Hound: No particular reference here. Just an ordinary, friendly, loyal dog that helps protect you from the various lurking dangers.

Blessed Village: No particular reference; this particular village is favored by the local nature spirits and prospers as a result.

Will-O'-Wisp: Most broadly, this is a strange light that appears over the water, usually in a swamp. They're sometimes thought of as either the spirits of the dead, or spirits in their own right. Either way, they're elusive and definitely impossible to catch. Following one out into the swamp is a recipe for not coming back. However, in this case, the swamp is friendly and the wisp actually helps you.

Idol: An idol is just an object of religious worship; in the mythic world where spirits are real, the spirit or minor deity in the idol can either bring good luck to you or bad luck to your enemies.

Druid: Historically, druids were the priest/magistrates of the ancient Celts. In the popular imagination (and as a D&D character class), they wield the magic of nature--communicating with or controlling plants and animals, shapeshifting, calling the elements. This Druid references that by letting you choose which of the nature-oriented Boons to use.

Fool: In the popular imagination, fools are often considered lucky--think Jack and the Beanstalk, who makes a series of poor decisions (buying "magic beans", climbing up into the sky castle) but ends up prospering anyway. Likewise, this Fool can get Lost in the Woods, which lets you throw away something of value to hopefully get something even better. This particular fool has a Lucky Coin which seems to bring him the wealth he needs without working for it.

Werewolf: A werewolf is a person who sometimes turns into a wolf. Depending on the setting, this is usually at night and under the full moon, and often the werewolf is extraordinarily dangerous, bestial and lacks self-control in this state. This Werewolf reflects the folklore well; he's a helpful citizen by day and a dangerous menace by night.

Skulk: No particular reference. You sneak around, steal some gold, and cause trouble for everyone else.

Cursed Village: This is, of course, the opposite of the Blessed Village. Rather than attracting the notice of beneficial spirits, it's received the attention of hostile ones, and you get in trouble just for setting foot there. The good news is that you can channel some of that dark power into a huge draw if you set it up right.

Leprechaun: The folklore of this Irish faerie far exceeds the scant mythology. Leprechauns are cobblers by trade (hence the illustration) and own pots of gold that can be found at "the end of the rainbow". But they're ill-natured--anywhere from mischievous to downright malicious--and trying to get their gold usually ends up in trouble. Likewise, if you capture a leprechaun, it will grant wishes if you let it go free; but these wishes are likely to be granted in a malicious manner that keeps to the letter of the wish while perverting its spirit. This card reflects the folklore REALLY WELL in that you get Gold, but at the price of trouble--unless you're very lucky (the number 7 is considered lucky) in which case the faerie actually grants your wish.

Exorcist: This is a little bit of a counterintuitive card. An exorcist is a priest who performs exorcisms, which drive out demons or evil spirits from a person they're possessing. (This is a real-world rite occasionally performed by Catholic priests, among others.) The most famous relevant fiction is, of course, The Exorcist. However, the card allows you to gain Spirits by sacrificing other cards rather than vice versa. At least it allows you to rid yourself of that Cursed Gold.

Pixie: The third Celtic faerie we've seen, pixies are supposed to be tiny trickster spirits, often winged. They are capricious but not necessarily evil. In this case, the pixie seems to have played a trick by turning the guy who found it into a goat. There's nothing mythical about goats, they just eat everything.

Vampire: No card or creature here has more legends built around it than vampires. Bram Stoker's Dracula didn't invent the idea, but it laid the foundation for most modern tropes. More modern examples are Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, White Wolf's Vampire: the Masquerade RPG, and of course the unfortunate Twilight series. Vampires attack and drink the blood of the living (giving out Hexes), and can charm the unwary into helping them (I think this is what the gainer effect is referring to). They can also shapeshift into wolves or bats, so this Vampire spends half her time as a bat.   

Necromancer: Most broadly, a necromancer is a wizard who specializes in death magic. Depending on the setting, this might include speaking to the dead, interacting with ghosts, etc--but in this case, the necromancer is raising the dead to as zombie servants. These particular servants represent other Dominion cards (Apprentice, Stonemason, Spy) who aren't quite as effective as reanimated corpses as they were in life.

Here it is:

I don't think anything will shock longtime Dominion or Donald X. fans, but it's an interesting read about game design. My favorite section was the considerations about what makes a good expansion.

General Discussion / Logic Riddles
« on: April 29, 2015, 12:15:18 am »
I enjoy collecting good logic riddles, and I thought some of y'all forumites might enjoy them as well.

No "lateral thinking" here--there's no hiding bad assumptions in the problem description or flavor and no tricking your way around them.

I'll start with what I think is my very favorite:

An evil overlord has captured you and, as evil overlords are wont to do, he forces you to play a game to win your freedom.

The overlord shows you a turntable with four bowls on it, one at each compass point. You are blindfolded and the bowls are set to some unknown orientation: some face up, others face down. Each round of the game works like this: You put your hands above two of the compass points. The overlord then rotates the turntable in any way he wishes (but always stopping at the compass points; there are only four possible orientations for it). You then lower your hands onto the bowls that are now beneath your hands and are allowed to flip both, one, or neither of them. If all four of the bowls are now in the same orientation--either all face up or all face down--the overlord announces your victory, you immediately win and go free. Otherwise you play another round; however, after 10 rounds, if you still haven't won, the overlord will send you to a horrible fate. The overlord wants this to happen, of course, so he will use his ability to rotate the turntable to thwart you if possible.

What strategy can you use to guarantee victory?

Hint 0: A solution exists.
Hint 1: 10 rounds is far more than necessary. In the worst case, you can do it in 7 rounds. As the faithful, perspicacious, and virtuous followers of this thread have noticed, my original clue was incorrect.
Hint 2: You don't need to realize that you've won to win.
Hint 3: Amazingly, the solution also works if the bowls are replaced with coins, and you are wearing gloves so you can't determine heads from tails.
Hint 4: How must the bowls be oriented in order to force a victory on your next move? How can you cause that situation to exist?

As a postscript, Hint 3 is one of my favorite hints of any riddle, because at first glance it only seems to make the problem harder.

Other Games / Star Realms
« on: September 05, 2014, 12:32:47 pm »
I picked up the PC/Android version of Star Realms recently and have been enjoying it a lot.

I describe Star Realms as "the game Ascension wants to be"; it uses the rotating-supply popularized by that game. However, there's only one currency for acquiring cards. Combat power is used either to attack your opponent's hit points ("Authority") or to destroy Bases, which are cards with a comparatively smaller effect but stay in play providing that effect every turn until destroyed.

Star Realms cards have four factions. The factions have a blunt, mechanical purpose which is pretty cool: most cards have an "ally power", which is an additional ability that kicks in only if you have another card of that faction in play. This is cool in play because often you'll have a choice between purchasing a card which is better in the abstract, and one which will activate the ally powers of the cards you already have. (Yes, it sucks when your ally cards don't come up together; it's like drawing your Throne Room without your big action.) The power of the cards ramps up quickly, and the game is fast; a tabletop game probably takes 15-20 minutes and a game vs. the AI can be done in 5 or 10.

Star Realms is clearly designed as a 2-player game; the tabletop version (which is inexpensive, $15 list) only has starting decks for two players. Multiplayer formats exist that echo multiplayer formats of Magic (two-headed giant, emperor, attack-left, free-for-all) but I have not tried them.

The app is, in my experience (PC and Android tablet) high-quality and free to try out, and the tutorial is pretty good. The free version lets you play against an easy AI. A $5 purchase unlocks both PC and mobile versions, which is classy.

Star Realms isn't Dominion. In particular, the huge ornate combos, surprising tactical maneuvers, and subtle surprising interactions we know and love aren't there. However, it's a good game in its own right, worth thinking about, and you can actually play it on your devices which is nice. I find it much more satisfying than Ascension because it's not so reliant on luck to put together a deck of cards that make sense together; I had been waiting-and-hoping for Ascension to finally come out on Android because I'd heard good things about the iPad implementation, but now I don't care.

General Discussion / Story about engagement, marraige, and Dominion
« on: June 25, 2014, 09:59:48 pm »
First off, congratulations to shark_bait and Robz for your recent engagements and marriages. Those announcements reminded me of a story from about two years ago.

It was August of 2012, and I was engaged to be married in September. I was going to GenCon with a friend; my then-fiancee is a gamer, but she couldn't make it that year, so we made a sort of bachelor party out of it.

At the time, Funsockets/Goko Dominion was scheduled to launch, and Isotropic to be taken down, at GenCon. I had been in the Goko beta and had an idea of the sort of problems to expect. As the convention went on, I felt an increasing sense of dread that I was going into the wrong commitment; not with respect to my marriage, but entirely to my online Dominion experience. (I was playing a lot more then than I do now, hitting the high 30s/low 40s on Iso.) I took that as a very good sign; after all, my instincts knew what dread and cold feet felt like, and I wasn't experiencing them at all with respect to the decision that was actually going to affect my life.

Anyway, the launch was as much of a disaster as I had expected, and my wedding went off successfully; almost two years later, marriage is so far so good. I avoided Goko in revulsion and disgust until MakingFun bought it. At that point I was tired of no Dominion, so I went ahead and bought in. Between the improvements they made and the awesome Goko Salvager, it's pretty tolerable--I feel like a nobleman in a political marriage, kept apart from my love but with time and work it can at least be satisfactory.

Dominion General Discussion / Prince
« on: June 12, 2014, 01:47:36 pm »
Action -$8

You may set this aside. If you do, set aside an Action card from your hand costing up to $4. At the start of each of your turns, you may play that Action, setting it aside again when you discard it from play. (Stop playing it if you fail to set it aside on a turn you play it.)

Source: I'm at Origins.

Dominion: Guilds Previews / Strategy impressions after three games
« on: June 14, 2013, 01:46:01 am »
I'm at Origins and got three Guilds games in at the Rio Grande booth. Here are my initial strategy impressions.

Coins: Having one coin producer in your deck is a good boon. Not shockingly powerful, but you'll notice that you just don't tend to draw the wrong cards. Having many coin producers is much less important and there are almost certainly better things to buy.

Butcher: Possibly the best card in the set. Don't fall into the mental trap of thinking that the 2 coins you get should be put right back into the remodel. Ideally you keep or spend those coins while performing an equal cost remodel, like Curse-Copper, Estate-Candlestick Maker, or last shuffle $5 action-Duchy.

Plaza: People wonder how this compares to other $4 villages. Well, the first one you buy is the best $4 village, and after that it is the worst. Discarding a treasure is an expensive way into get a coin! It will work nicely with draw-up-to if those cards happen to be present but won't be a dominant strategy without something else.

Baker: You know how novices, after the Village Idiot phase, try buying a bunch of Markets, but that deck is just too slow? Baker lets you fall into the same trap. Like Plaza, the first one is good, after that they drop off significantly and you need to find something else to do with $5, like toss in a coin and get Gold.

Candlestick Maker: This is a good $2. Not at the Hamlet level, but usually better than say Pawn I think, even if you have several. The coin is helpful, the buy can be too. It's only one coin, though, so don't go crazy.

Merchant Guild: I'm not really an engine player and it's difficult for me to imagine the sort of board on which this is viable. By itself, it's expensive and clunky. I can't see picking it up unless you happen to need the buy anyway--maybe a Highway engine?

Masterpiece: Rarely will you buy more than one in a game. Turns those early freak $7 or $8 hands into a Silver bonanza rather than a disappointing Gold; lets you green a bit earlier. Good protection from Saboteur/Knights/other trashing attacks. Barring Feodum, this is just an opportunity that you exploit, not a cornerstone of your strategy.

Doctor: Lookout is the key card to compare Doctor to, and thanks to being terminal, I think the comparison is usually unfavorable. I saw it overbought several times and each time was happy that my opponent had done so rather than just buying an expensive card.

Herald: Although I bought several, I don't think I exploited them particularly well. I think Herald's home is an engine that runs lean on villages. Otherwise it's an expensive cantrip. The ability to topdeck village + draw, though, does synergize well with the sort of decks Herald wants to be in.

Taxman: I think this is the other contender for best card of the set. It really is a $4 Mine and compares favorably to Moneylender thanks to the attack. I think it's always a decent opening, but really shines if there is a good $2 so that CCCET is not wasted. Upgrading Silver to Gold is risky unless there is a good chance your opponent has a Silver to nail.

Advisor: I think this is a bad card and in particular a terrible opening. So many times you will wish you had bought Silver. Think of a Caravan that always skips your best cards. I can only see this working out in a deck with good sifting (Warehouse?) that is desperate for hand size increase.

Soothsayer: This is an good card. You know how Marauder is good? Well, Soothsayer gives worse junk and gives you real gold. The tiny hitch is the Council Room effect, of course, and don't bother trying to combo it with Militia. If the opponent has good trashing and a use for big hands, Soothsayer might be skippable.

Journeyman: Although this card was available, I rarely saw it purchased. I think it's worse than Catacombs. You'll buy it if you need draw bad enough to pay $5 to draw three.

Stonecutter: Similar to Masterpiece, this is a big deal in that it let's you turn $7 into two good cards. And a Stonecutter, though, so what good is that? Late game, cracking Gold into two Duchies is dynamite. It doesn't really help you lose the real dross, though.

Edit: corrected Market Square -> Merchant Guild. Oops.

Dominion: Guilds Previews / Curser speculation
« on: June 04, 2013, 01:22:50 am »
It seems likely that Guilds will have a curse-giver available. Based only on Baker, here's my guess:

$5 - Action
Choose one: +1 Action, or gain a coin token.
Each other player may discard one coin token. Any player who does not gains a Curse.

I don't think this is quite as powerful as Witch/Mountebank (I don't think a Coin is worth quite $2, and the Curse is conditional) but I think it's playable. And it provides coins itself, so there's no awkwardness of a card that refers to coins with no coin-givers in the Kingdom.

Other Games / Gauntlet of Fools: GenCon playtest report
« on: August 21, 2012, 11:47:23 pm »
I had the opportunity to playtest DXV's Gauntlet of Fools at GenCon.

Gauntlet of Fools can easily and wholly be described: It's like the second half of Galaxy Trucker, the part where you let the cruel universe attack your ship and everything goes to hell. It is silly and funny and the joy comes from watching your plans, and your unfortunate companions', fall apart.

For every player, you deal a character and a weapon, which are paired (no mixing and matching). Defense and special abilities are built into the character; offense and other special abilities are on the weapon. The characters and weapons are wildly unbalanced, of course. The bidding the trickiest part of the game--you can steal a character someone else wanted if you are willing to make more "boasts" (handicaps of various forms) than they were. Most special powers of both characters and weapons are limited-use per game to 2-4 uses or so.

Once everyone has a character, they all go through the dungeon. As far as I can tell, the interaction from this point is 2% watching your opponents to see what sort of chances you might need to take with your limited resources and 98% laughing at your opponents when they fail to kill monsters and get hurt. You have to roll dice to kill monsters and sometimes you will roll stupidly low while your undeserving opponents roll high. The encounter deck is tuned so that sooner or later you will need to spend your limited resources to not take damage and eventually the cruel world will get through and you will killed. So you'll need to bring a sense of gallows humor to the game.

I went right back to the hotel after playing and backed the Kickstarter, because the game will work for me and my groups; is fun and silly and will not overstay its welcome. If your group enjoys adult beverages, those will definitely enhance the fun. It may lend itself to amusing and interesting simulations, since I know there are a bunch of folks here who like those and it will probably be reasonably tractable, but I wouldn't count on to make its debut anytime soon.

Dominion General Discussion / Dark Ages card nicknames and taglines
« on: August 17, 2012, 05:14:31 pm »
"I have Altared the Copper. Pray I do not Alter it further."

Bandito Campito

Rene Deathcart



Dominion: Dark Ages Previews / Dark Ages initial report
« on: August 16, 2012, 08:26:19 pm »
Edit: I have now played with all cards at least once; more details below.

I'm here at GenCon, and my friend & roommate bought Dark Ages, and we've been playing 2p.

1. Dark Ages is awesome.
2. Wandering Minstrel is an awesome card. I predict that it will be the most popular $4 village. It cycles your deck, and if you're playing a deck that has villages, you want those Actions! WM + anything that has draw will help you get to your good actions, especially terminals, fast.
3. Catacombs is a great card. It's like Navigator that does everything you want.
4. Squire is a power $2, even if you can't turn it into an attack by trashing. +$1 and gain a Silver is strong.
5. In a 2p game, I played a Feodum deck with great success: the support was Armory, Squire, and Rebuild.
6. Altar is not necessarily a power card, but it is fairly priced.
7. Necropolis in your deck does not wildly change the how-many-terminals-can-I-have calculus. I think I benefited once in three games. I benefited from the Overgrown Estate's TfB and Hovel's self-trash in every game.
8. After playing several games with Pillage and Bandit Camp, I am still having a lot of trouble evaluating them and Spoils.

I am going off to play some more games now. Wish me luck!

P.S. Rene Deathcart

Dominion: Dark Ages Previews / Spoiler of Chapel/Smithy/Festival Ruins
« on: August 08, 2012, 09:02:50 pm »
I like to think I spend a lot of time here... but I don't get it. Please, someone, explain the joke?  :-[

Edit: I was referring to

Dominion General Discussion / Determining what's important: key cards
« on: August 01, 2012, 10:16:40 pm »
In the extensive discussion of the ratings of cards, one of the most important topics that comes up is: What makes one card "better" than another? Is it the probability that it will serve any function during a game? Is it the probability that it will be make a big impact on the game? Is it the degree of the impact it makes?

I propose introducing the idea of a "key card": a Kingdom card that was important to its deck. For the purposes of analysis, I'll define below a mechanical way of determining key cards. One important note is that a deck can have multiple key cards. For example, in a Duke/HT game, both Duke and Horse Traders will be key cards. (Conversely, in a BOM game, a deck may have no key cards.)

My imagined uses of this "key card" idea are: first, looking at the overall statistics, we can rank cards as a fraction of (times it appears as a key card in the winning deck) / (times it appears in the Kingdom). Therefore, we can rank cards by how often they are an important part of the winning strategy. Second, for an individual player, we can rank cards in the same way, for both wins and losses. Therefore a player can see what cards they tend to succeed and fail with.

A Kingdom card is a key card if it meets ANY of the following criteria:

1. The player voluntarily gained at least 4 of the card.
2. The player voluntarily gained at least 2 of the card, and not more copies of any other Kingdom card.
3. The player did not voluntarily gain any card of equal or greater value first.
4. The player gained the card on Turn 1 or 2.

Note that none of the rules require that the card stay in the deck--if it is trashed, passed, or returned to the supply, the gain is what counts.

Rule 4 is to ensure that cards like Courtyard, Chapel, Masquerade, and Ambassador can count as key cards in, say, a Silver/Chapel opening where the Kingdom card is typically bought second.

For the purposes of Rule 3, Peddler is a $0 card. (If Peddler is indeed an important card in a deck, Rule 1 or 2 should cover it.)

For Black Market, I propose the guideline that every card purchased using a Black Market counts as a Black Market for Rules 1 and 2.

To test whether these rules are good, I examined a few of my recent games. I have called out the key cards in the winner's deck and, to differentiate this from the naive method of simply examining what was gained, cards that were gained but not key cards. I have chosen my most recent games as of today, leaving out only ones that were resigned.
Baron and Fool's Gold. Not Herbalist.
Cartographer only. My opponent brain farted his Golden Deck; if he had not, he would have won and it would have been Lookout and Bishop.
Bridge, Festival, Embargo, Vineyard. Not Noble Brigand. Embargo looks a little off here, but they kept my opponent's Pirate Ships in check, provided cash, and provided a cheap pile to destroy. Vineyard was not a big deal, but if my opponent had gone for Provinces, it might have become one.
Jack of all Trades, Laboratory, Bank; not Nobles
Smithy and Farmlands; not Grand Market or Explorer. I absolutely agree that Farmlands was critical here; note the 1-point victory margin.
Remake, Mountebank, and Worker's Village; not Market, Scheme, Steward, Cellar, or Militia. The omission of Scheme is my biggest concern, but otherwise I agree.
Jack of All Trades only, unsurprisingly; not Haggler, Forge, Tunnel.
Gardens, Oasis, Minion; not Apprentice, Lighthouse. Gardens is a weird choice here because my opponent meant to buy Island instead, and I still lost horribly. Minion and Oasis, definitely.
Fool's Gold, Festival. The 5/2 split was good to me.
Trading Post, Hamlet, Goons, Crossroads, Mining Village. Not Swindler, Trade Route, Royal Seal. The rules work well here, with the possible exception of Crossroads, which I attacked to end the game.

Variants and Fan Cards / Lumber Mill -- a self-comboing Woodcutter
« on: July 15, 2012, 06:59:52 pm »
I had this idea in the shower this morning, so I'm posting before I talk myself out of it.

Lumber Mill
$4 - Action
+$1 for every Lumber Mill you have already played this turn.
Choose 1: +1 Card +1 Action; or +$2 +1 Buy.

The Cantrip effect is a consolation prize; $4 is very expensive for an effect that's hard to make as good as Peddler. But if you manage to draw a few with some Villages, the cash can stack up, and the Buys help you make use of it.


Dominion General Discussion / With my Dominion Time Machine...
« on: June 27, 2012, 08:20:23 pm »
With my Dominion Time Machine, I would make the following changes, which are really startlingly few:

  • Reword Throne Room to include "you may," like King's Court
  • Change Masquerade so that the passing only happens if every player has at least one card in hand
  • Change Possession so that it can work no more than once per turn
  • Reduce the cost of Familiar to $2P
  • Remove the attack from Scrying Pool

Throne Room is just for consistency and clarity.

Masquerade removes the possibility of unbreakable pins, but doesn't otherwise change the card.

The other changes have a little more balance flavor, I suppose:

Familiar is "obviously" too strong at $2P, just as Chapel is too strong at $2. Like Chapel's low cost, this makes broadens the availability of the power card; the change would make it much less likely that you can't buy one on T3/4. The number of times where the extra $1 could be leveraged into improving a useful purchase is tiny, although I suppose that Woodcutter/Potion would be a decent opening.

I don't hate Possession, but if it's viable and there's a threat of multiple Possessions per turn, then too many times the solution is to make your deck terrible. This is an interesting direction for the game to take, but it can make the game take so unexpectedly long that I think it's worth changing.

Finally, I grant myself the chance to poke at one peeve that might not be justified: the change to Scrying Pool is to increase the speed of Scrying Pool turns, which are a peeve of mine. I hate Tournament more, but at least it's fast.

Dominion General Discussion / Hilarious Dominion "review" at BGG
« on: June 23, 2012, 09:44:55 am »
I'm 99.8% confident this "deconstruction" of Dominion as a Marxist allegory is tongue-in-cheek.

Game Reports / World's most hardworking Duchess
« on: June 15, 2012, 10:31:47 pm »
Duchess was the Bane on this board where I opted for Jester/Duchess with a 5/2 start. Is Duchess a lousy bane? Maybe so, but in my opponent's four uses of Young Witch, I held that Duchess all four times--silly luck.

Dominion Isotropic / During the Isotropic downtime...
« on: June 08, 2012, 08:49:25 pm »
I got a good chunk of the way through The Hidden Reality, which is interesting but not fantastic, and learned how to throw playing cards while watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix.

(edit to correct book title)

Game Reports / Unusual game featuring Chancellor and Pirate Ship
« on: June 04, 2012, 11:56:50 pm »

On a 5/2 opening with no remarkable 5s, I went Royal Seal and was caught off-guard when my opponent went Pirate Ship/Scheme. The only non-Treasure cash was Chancellor and Pirate Ship. I planned to use Remake to get Chancellors, but when that looked to be too unreliable to hit $8, I used Remake to switch over to Pirate Ships myself! The Chancellors plus thin deck plus villages helped me switch gears fast enough to pull out $4 pirates fast and steal the victory.

Goko Dominion Online / Live report from Origins
« on: June 01, 2012, 05:44:48 pm »
Howdy folks. I had the chance to play several games at Origins today. I'll report as much as I can remember. If you have additional questions, I can try to answer them or investigate further tomorrow.

Overall, I would say that the state of the game is "needs work, but has potential." I talked with the developers and they seemed competent, friendly, and receptive to my (several) suggestions.

The app is HTML5. I played it on a demo iPad--much easier than it would be on Isotropic, although I'd prefer the interface of Iso on PC.

The interface is generally competent and I didn't notice any gameplay errors at all; Throne Room correctly stayed out when modifying a Lighthouse.

The app offers both arranged tables and "quickplay". I strongly advocated for the ability to create random sets that were unknown to all players before (as it is now, the host always chooses the set; he has a "randomize" button, but there's no guarantee he's used it). Alarmingly, there was also no way to randomize start player. I advocated for that as well.

Some players expressed concern that the layout would not handle big turns well. I didn't have any deck-drawing megaturns, but it seems to shrink what I had nicely to fit the available area.

I signed up for the beta--the folks suggested that the beta was still quite some time out, so I'm not buying booze for Isotropic's wake just yet.

I can't think of what else to say about it, but I can answer questions eventually--right now I'm off to eat and play some more games. Hawaii was pretty good, even though I got spanked.

Game Reports / 4p over-the-board game with competing power combos
« on: May 31, 2012, 12:31:32 am »
This is a game I played the other night with 4 players. How would you tackle this board? Colonies and Platinums are active.

$2: Fool's Gold
$3: Oasis, Wishing Well
$4: Spice Merchant, Remodel
$5: Festival, Library, Venture
$7: Expand
$8: Peddler

At a quick glance, there are two big opportunities here, which everyone spotted: Fool's Gold and Peddler. Peddler looks particularly enticing because of the chance for Expand into a Colony, and because it will suffer less than FG if several opponents choose the same path. I drew 3/4 in the fourth seat. P1 and P3 both got 5/2 splits and opened Venture/Fool's Gold; almost certainly a mistake over Festival/FG, I think. I opened Silver/Spice Merchant and almost immediately kicked myself as P2 opened Oasis/Spice Merchant.

Although the Silver buy seemed like a horrible idea at the time, I'm not sure it was; P2 did get more Peddlers, but had to buy more Oases than Festivals early on, and wasn't able to hit Festival/Library often enough. With Spice Merchant eliminating his coppers, he eventually found himself dead-playing Library without any good cards to draw with it!

In the midgame P1 and P3 pursued the remaining FG while P2 and I went for the Peddlers. I belatedly got some Oases to drop Peddler prices as did P1, and all four of us picked up a few Festivals and Libraries to try to make that combo hit. P2 won the Peddler split 5/4 (P3 picking up an errant one). I went for an Expand and immediately began turning my Peddlers to Colonies. P2 had some $10-$12 turns and used them to buy Festivals and Libraries, which just seemed to not quite work out. P1 and P3 floundered a little, eventually getting up to Platinum but thinning with Spice Merchant too late to get the FG megaturns they needed.

With FG and Peddler exhausted, I looked for the last pile to deplete, and started buying Oasis with my scrap money after using Expand. Helped slightly by the somewhat-inexperienced P3, I was able to exhaust that pile before P2 could Expand more than one of his Peddlers into a Colony. He still got second, with the FG players not too far behind; they had been picking up provinces and the odd colony since the end started looming.

I'm not sure there is a moral to the story and it would have gone very different in two-player, but this was a pretty memorable game.

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