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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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Empires Previews / Empires Previews #2: Split Piles
« on: May 10, 2016, 11:59:38 am »
Today, six cards, but only three piles.

So how do these work exactly? The top cards are paired with the bottom ones. Each pile has 5 copies of the first (cheaper) card, then 5 copies of the second (more expensive) card. You can only buy/gain the card on top; if you want the other card, you have to dig it out. There are special randomizers for these piles, that list both cards and have art showing both things. You will see those when the set comes out; the six actual cards will have to do for today. And uh some things in the game care about stats for a pile, and well they go by the randomizer, which usually matches the top card. Young Witch can have Gladiator/Fortune as its bane (and then both cards will do the trick), Training lets you put your +$1 token on the Catapult/Rocks pile (and then both cards give +$1), and so on.

Gladiator has a cute interaction with the player to your left. If you manage to show a card they don't have, you get +$1, hooray, but you also eat a Gladiator from the pile. That way you are likely to eventually uncover Fortune. Which doubles your money, yeeha. And may come with some Golds; a reward for the players with Gladiators. If you were wondering how much doubling your money was worth, well, about $16, but you don't need it all in advance. And it's not cumulative because even at ~$16 that was too much. It can help pay for itself, I will just point out that part.

Settlers lets you get back a Copper; try not to draw it right after shuffling. And Bustling Village gets back a Settlers which gets back a Copper. And it gives you +3 Actions; that's just how Bustling it is.

At long last, we have the Dominion Catapult. Well it's been a great run guys. And it doesn't even let you throw something at the board. Catapult hurts the other players based on what you throw I mean trash; if you trash a Treasure they discard, if you trash a card for $3+ they get Cursed, and if a card has both attributes they both discard and get a Curse, yeeha. It's like a rodeo in here. As it happens Rocks is a Treasure costing $4, and does something useful when gained or trashed; it's just the perfect thing to Catapult. And it's called Rocks! I couldn't help myself.

Empires Previews / Empires Previews #1: Debt
« on: May 09, 2016, 12:04:33 pm »
You can feel it in the night, like an approaching storm. You hear its distant laughter on the wind; you catch a glimpse of it in the window of a passing train. There's no mistaking it. It's another Dominion expansion. And if you had any doubt remaining, I'm here with some previews for it.

As with last time around, there will be individual previews here each day by different people.

There are too many set themes to have a day with no theme. So the cards the other people preview will include some random stuff, while I will stick with the themes, which I will just get you ready for now: Debt, split piles, VP tokens, Landmarks, Events.

Okay so Debt.

That reddish hexagon means you don't pay for City Quarter or Royal Blacksmith up front. Instead you take some tokens that say how much you owe. While you have the tokens, you can't buy cards or Events. Those are the only things you can't do; you can still play cards, including the one that got you into Debt if you draw that one; you can still trash cards and get attacked and win the game and so on. You can pay off Debt tokens in your Buy phase, before and/or after buying cards, at $1 per token. So, you have $4, you buy City Quarter, you get 8 Debt, you pay off 4 of it immediately, you have 4 debt left. In your next Buy phase, if you had $6, you could pay off the rest of your Debt and then have $2 left to spend. Get it? It's pretty simple. The one tricky thing is how these things work when cards compare costs. There it works like Potion: apples and oranges. A reddish hexagon with an 8 isn't more or less than $3. There's a rulebook, okay? It covers all the tricky things. And uh why a hexagon, why that color? The physical tokens are reddish hexagons.

So City Quarter is one of these things, it costs $8 but you don't need any $ up front. You can buy it with $0 and a leftover Buy. But you'll be paying it off before you buy more things and well I went over that already. So uh City Quarter. It looks snazzy. You could draw so many cards. And it's a Village too, which helps you play those cards you had to have to draw those other cards.

Royal Blacksmith also costs 8 Debt and draws a lot of cards. It doesn't let you keep the Coppers and well you may want to do something about that. I like to show off at least a few simple cards, and Royal Blacksmith and City Quarter are both pretty simple, other than wondering about that red hexagon.

Most cards and Events that use Debt use it in a cost. Capital is one that does something different. It's a Treasure that loans you $6. It's a nice hunk of change, but you have to pay it all back. At least there's no interest. And hey maybe you aren't getting another turn anyway.

So there you have it, Debt. And there's another preview today and then I'll have split piles tomorrow.

Empires Previews / Teasers!
« on: May 06, 2016, 10:43:16 am »
Dominion: Empires has:

- 76 pieces of card art.
- 60 VP symbols.
- 16 red hexagons.
- 10 uses of "Setup."
- 2 Duration cards.
- 2 ways to trash cards from the Supply.
- An Action-Treasure card.
- An Event costing $14.
- A way to double your money.
- A way to bid.

Let's Discuss ... / Let's Discuss Adventures Cards: Ferry
« on: February 16, 2016, 06:26:53 pm »
I guess everyone gets a turn starting these threads. I missed that it was my turn. But I waited n days and when no-one else left the island it was obvious.

Ferry: Event, $3
Move your -$2 cost token to an Action Supply pile (cards from that pile cost $2 less on your turns, but not less than $0).

You just erase the cost in the corner, and write in a cheaper one, and no-one can stop you.

- With a 3/4 or 4/3, do you just always open this? But I mean, always?
- Is it all that with Workshops?
- Is it worth it sometimes to move the counter later?
- Does it do other cute tricks? Uh, Band of Misfits? I will just tell you, the combo I really like is Artificer.
- Is this bad for the game? I mean, it isn't, but you know, I can still ask that.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / The Dominion online 2017 thread
« on: February 01, 2016, 07:09:19 pm »
People may have questions or just want to say stuff and well here is a place.

We are not renewing the contract with MF and will have someone else as yet to be specified.

Like it says in the title! I have no collected data on the automatch problem, but if you have any, here's a place for it where no-one's mad about anything.

Really, if you have any data, you otter post it! I didn't even set that up, I'm a natural. Anyway anywhere you post it is fine but if you want a dedicated thread there's this one or the other one. Or you can make your own thread; we're all friends here.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Dominion: Adventures
« on: April 23, 2015, 03:34:01 pm »
At some point, you've gotta call it a day. I mean what about the people with storage solutions? And well. As I have said repeatedly, there are good reasons to switch from expansions to spin-offs. You run out of simple things to do. You already have endless variety with 8 expansions. There are things you can do in spin-offs that you can't do in expansions.

All that still stands. But I made a spin-off, and then took the Dominion part out; it's Kingdom Builder. And I made another spin-off, and took the Dominion part out; it's Temporum. At some point it was clear: even if I managed to make some spin-offs, I wasn't just going to crank out an endless series of them. So eventually I would make another Dominion expansion. The publishers and fans would want it, and I wouldn't be able to say, here's another spin-off instead. And one day in May 2014, I had nothing else going on, and it seemed like, well, maybe it's time to see what's left to do. And there was stuff to do, so I did it.

Some people talk about a "treasure chest" expansion - more cards for each existing expansion. It doesn't really work. It's not much of a product if it requires you to own the other sets, so everything you'd need has to be included. Including all that stuff is not great - so much for VP tokens, coin tokens, stuff that costs Potion, stuff handing out Ruins. At the same time some mechanics just don't scream out their expansion - "choose one" for example shows up in a bunch of sets, it doesn't just say, oh this is an Intrigue card. In fact of all of the mechanics in the expansions, the only one that seemed satisfying to revisit and which didn't require components (except rulebook space) was duration cards.

So, how about some new duration cards? There was plenty left to do there, and some of those cards could even be simple. So I made some up.

Another source of early inspiration was the idea of someday making an online-only promo. It would have to be something you simply couldn't do physically. I came up with an obvious card idea I liked - a card which, each time you played it, gained +1 of something of your choice. Gradually individual copies of the card would become distinct and more powerful. Later I realized, wait, I could do something like that physically, by having piles of cards to upgrade into. And that sounded cool. So, new duration cards, this upgrading thing, okay, a starting point. And I had my lists of old ideas never tried, and tried a few promising ones.

Initially I was thinking of the set as a full-on Seaside sequel. And what else did Seaside have? It had mats and tokens. I looked at what the possibilities were for these components. For mats one thing stood out: a mat you put cards on, where they would wait until you were ready to use them. I had done one of those in Dark Ages, and it had been great, but hadn't made the set because you know, it needed the mat. For tokens, again connected to the online-only card concept, I thought, what about modifying cards? I couldn't modify individual cards, but I could modify piles - your cards from that pile are better. It had to be just your cards, because people are stingy. So, 6 copies of each token, in 6 colors to handle 6 players.

So I made cards for the mat, initially the Castle mat, and cards that produced tokens, initially one-shot kingdom cards (plus a few other kinds of uses for tokens). And a good time was had by all.

I was playtesting irl, but it seemed good to also have some external playtesters. My old playtesters mostly just played online, which wouldn't be possible this time, but a few had physical copies. So I let some of them know. I also looked on for people who might playtest. I already had Matthew Engel, who had playtested Prince. Now there were two things I wanted out of new people: playing ability, and owning the physical game. As it happened there had recently been a tournament, and there was a thread talking about a meet-up in Chicago. I looked for people who did well in the tournament who also said they had a copy of the game in the Chicago thread, and invited three people. So somehow, being willing to go to Chicago upped your chances of me asking you to playtest.

Wei-Hwa Huang alerted Doug Zongker to the existence of the new set, and Doug offered to program the set on isotropic for us. This was fantastic; you get way more testing done online, since it goes so fast and you can do it whenever. Since we could play online, I invited a few more people from dominionstrategy, this time based just on playing ability.

The mat worked great, the tokens were exciting, the new duration cards compelling. One day, real-life playtester Kevin White said, man the tokens took a while to get. You buy the one-shot, eventually shuffle it in and draw it, then play it and finally you have the token. Couldn't they be faster? Now they could have just been when-gain one-shots, a concept I tried out previously in Hinterlands. But if you trash a card when you gain it, well, why have the card? It's not doing anything except limiting how many times you can do this. You could just buy the token directly. That immediately sounded awesome. And then, if you can buy tokens directly, why not pay for other things? And thus the set got Events. And I needed new kingdom cards to replace the ones that turned into Events, and I needed more Events so there would be lots of Events.

Initially I had no flavor concept beyond, maybe it's Seaside-ish. Later I had to actually focus the set's flavor. I tried a "castle" theme, because of the Castle mat, but it just felt like generic Dominion. Then I tried Adventures and well these stories aren't all interesting. I changed the Castle mat to a Tavern mat to tie in with adventures in its mild way. And I made some cards specifically to pursue the Adventures flavor. Dominion doesn't have a lot of "top-down" cards but it did get a few this time.

The set ballooned. With 20 Events and 8 upgrades eating up 60 cards, the options are to have fewer kingdom cards than usual, or more. I'm weak; I went for more. So the final set is 400 cards plus the mats and tokens.

Let's hear about those cards.

* Kingdom Cards *

Amulet: I tried a couple choose-one duration cards and quickly settled on this one.

Artificer: I had versions of this in Cornucopia and Dark Ages. It was never quite there. This version's trick is putting the gained card on top of your deck. Earlier it went to your hand but that was cwazy. Some versions let you optionally put the card on your deck, but it was simpler and worth it to be forced to.

Bridge Troll: Seaside had an attack that made cards cost $1 more on other players' turns. It died because it would have been the only duration card to go away other than at the end of your own turn. I figured out a fix for it and used it on Lighthouse but the cost increaser had already turned into Cutpurse. So, new duration cards, time to try that concept out again. It was a one-shot, then a non-one-shot, then a non-one-shot that was non-cumulative. It increased costs by $2 and then just $1. It was getting to be a mess and was still scary. Finally it just cost everyone else $1 via the token, turning into Cutpurse again. Only, it's the Cutpurse that never misses. Increasing costs had a certain charm but man the world does not need to be subjected to it. The upside of the card meanwhile had various forms before settling on Bridge. It's two turns of Bridge, but instead of getting +$1, you make the others lose $1. It worked with Thrones originally but it was too much. Kent Bunn insisted this card be called Bridge Troll (it was Highwayman). When I put in the Adventures theme, okay, Bridge Troll it was.

Caravan Guard: This came out of looking specifically to see if I'd missed some corner of possibilities for Durations. This is a Duration that's a round faster if you get attacked. The phrasing was an issue; what if you play it on someone else's turn and have a +$1 token on the pile? I decided that playing the card was just way simpler than simulating playing it, and in the end it got some explanatory text.

Coin of the Realm: One of the first Reserve cards was the classic concept of a Village that's there for you when you really need it. At first it was an Action. The tracking was kind of tricky, and at the same time it was tricky getting it to a good place relative to Village and Fishing Village. Loquacious playtester Matthew Engel suggested making it a treasure. It's nicely distinct from other villages, and the tracking is not bad - while you do need to remember if you put it on the mat this turn in your Buy phase, that's just for the amount of time between putting it down and buying a card. This also makes it a strange exotic card; it's a village that doesn't work the turn you play it (barring certain combos).

Distant Lands: How about a VP-Reserve card? It's a VP card that isn't worth anything unless you manage to play it once. A simple concept that just immediately worked.

Dungeon: An early card, just trying to do a good basic thing that the Seaside Duration cards hadn't covered.

Duplicate: Originally this cost $5. It didn't need to and so there it is at $4.

Gear: I tried a village that had you draw two cards, picking one to have this turn and one for next turn. I liked that part but had too many villages. I tried it on a Reserve card that set aside the top 2 cards of your deck until you wanted them, but if they were duds you'd let them sit there all game and that wasn't the fun part of the concept. I changed it to draw four, pick two for this turn; that was crazy at $5. Then it was draw 3, save however many you want for next turn, still at $5; still crazy. In its current shrunk form it was still a card to watch. It doesn't look like much, just +2 Cards something something, but it's got some tricks up its sleeve.

Giant: This came about because I wanted a card called Giant. Some kind of slow attack. I already had the Journey token so I used it to make an attack that only hits every other time. At first it didn't do anything on the face down turn, but I eventually nudged it up. Giants don't have a flavor tie-in with Curses, but it gives them out just to make sure that the attack doesn't miss.

Guide: One of the first Reserve cards, just covering easy ground. Originally it gave +$2, but making it +1 Card +1 Action meant it not only saved a future hand from being bad, it didn't make your current hand bad either.

Haunted Woods: I wanted more Swamp Hag-style attacks and came up with this take on the Rabble family. It never changed.

Hireling: What about a Duration card that never goes away? I playtested a version of this in Alchemy. It seemed fine but needed a playmat so it didn't happen (I did Alchemist instead). Here it was going to go on the Tavern mat, but Matthew pointed out it could just be a Duration card. It started out conservatively costing $7.

Lost City: A late card. I wanted to try a card that gave you your -$1 token as a penalty when you bought it. That penalty didn't seem significant enough here (and ended up on Ball). I considered the -1 Card token instead, and it was like, letting everyone else draw is like that but way more fun.

Magpie: Wei-Hwa Huang visited us early on, and in a discussion of an old version of Peasant, commented on the possibility of doing them something like Rats. I immediately latched onto the idea of doing a new Rats. A friendly Rats. Now the beauty of Rats is that it helps you but then starts to hurt you. Magpie just hurts itself. It's not Rats, it's a different thing. It does give you more Magpies though. I tried a few different versions and preferred this one.

Messenger: The initial card didn't have the Chancellor ability and always gave out cards when bought. Matthew suggested the Chancellor part to make the top less boring, for the people who complained about that. Meanwhile other people complained about the card emptying piles too rapidly; the first-buy-only part on the bottom slowed that down.

Miser: I was looking for more things to do with tokens, and made a thing that either gave you a token or gave +$1 per token, but made you put a token back when you got the card. The penalty was cool but it didn't need it, and we're not made out of tokens, so I used Coppers, thus making it also a way to get rid of Coppers. In the end it is like the friendly version of Pirate Ship; you get rid of your own treasures instead of theirs. I tried something very similar in Seaside back when, but turned it into Pirate Ship.

Page / Peasant: Okay so. As explained in the intro, the topic came up, maybe over lunch, man I don't remember, of someday doing an online-only promo. It would necessarily be something that couldn't exist in a physical expansion, so as not to enrage people. I went for the low-hanging fruit of, there could be a card that added +1 of something to itself when you played it. That sounded good, I filed the idea away.

But one day it came up for some reason, and I thought, hmmmm. I could simulate that in a physical card, by having piles of unique cards. You start out with say +1 Card +1 Action for $2. When you play it (wait, when you discard it from play), you upgrade it into your choice of cards from the $3 pile, which are all worth about $3. They wouldn't need to be adding +1 of something each time, but at the same time they could mostly be vanilla cards. Village wasn't just Village here, it was a thing you picked to upgrade into, then upgraded away from later. You have to stop eventually and I figured four piles was enough. So you got a Peasant, and he turned into a Worker, then a Craftsman, then an Artisan, then a Master. And mostly they were vanilla cards, they had to be simple for multiple reasons.

I tried it and it was fun. It had issues though. Originally you got to pick the upgrade. You'd play three of these guys at different levels and then stare at the options. Oh man. So painful with less-frequent Dominion players. So I changed it to, we shuffle the piles, there's no choice. If you had to take the top one and put yours back on the bottom, it was kind of clumsy resolving it. If you put yours back on top, you would have slow decisions again, based on the order you upgraded guys. The upgrade thing was cool but the cards themselves were not too exciting. You would build this deck where they were a lot of your village/+buy/+cards, they did it all, and you would never know what your cards did and it would slow down games. It had seemed so cool, but was it really worth preserving?

I decided to make it a fixed four cards. You could learn them much faster; they could be more exciting although they still couldn't be too wordy, since the upgrading part took space. It still seemed like a cool thing, so I did two sequences: one is just a hero getting better, while the other tells a little story. They took up a lot of space in the set so I didn't make a third. The new version was way better, all problems solved, hooray. I picked names for the cards first, then picked abilities to go with the names, then polished them and in some cases replaced them as we tested them.

Page got the +1 Card / +1 Action of the initial Peasant; Peasant complements it with +$1 +1 Buy. It was +$2 at first (no buy) but that was cwazy. Soldier briefly was a mix of Militia and Ghost Ship; then Soldier and Warrior handed out the -1 Card and -$1 tokens respectively. Later on I had two other attacks using those and decided it would be more fun if these cards did something else. So Soldier is a Militia variant with variable money and Warrior is a Knight variant with variable attack depth.

Fugitive was an old old card, from the 2nd expansion before it split into Seaside and Hinterlands, that didn't exist previously because it was too strong at $4. Disciple for a while was another old old card that wouldn't fit a particular cost without a bonus or penalty or something, "+1 Action, look at top 4, take one discard the rest." But later I had Raze and was messing with possible ways to make it harder to get to Teacher, and didn't have the room for that ability on Disciple and didn't want it as much anymore. So I tried something else, then put on the Throne Room plus gain, an old concept I'd never gotten around to trying. That was great, so when I got the space for the old ability back I didn't switch back.

Treasure Hunter was another very old card, which had had various forms in different sets and never quite made it; there were always players saying, is this fun thing really as good as it gets. Such is human perversity. Here at last was a place for it where the casual players who liked it could enjoy it while not taking up too much room for the haters. Hero was just a simple compelling thing I could do; various cards have tried non-limited "gain a treasure" and "gain an action" and well having to buy a Page and play it multiple times sufficiently delays the ability.

Champion started out being a Moat that gave +$3 and +3 Actions. I wanted a Moat on that line of cards and it was the only place I could have it, the other cards all had upgrading text. It seemed dull for the top card. I got the idea of making it a permanent Moat, that Moated from your deck, but the tracking was wonky. So I made it a Duration card like Hireling and then the only issue was what it could do for you besides Moating. Infinite actions was just an obvious thing, trying to look more exciting than a straight +1 per turn like Hireling's.

Teacher wasn't a Reserve card originally. It got that to slow it down a little. Once you start giving out +1 tokens, your deck explodes.

Port: It's two Villages! One of the first ideas that went into the set. Eventually Billy Martin argued that there should be 12 of them, so that they'd split evenly in 2-player games if the players both wanted them. We had the space and there they are, 12 Ports.

Ranger: One of the simple things to do with a token was just to use it to make something work at a different speed. With the easiest speed being half speed. Originally this only gave +1 Buy when you got the token face up, but it got the +Buy full time to be slightly simpler, and costs $4 instead of the original $3 because now it doesn't compare poorly to Smithy.

Ratcatcher: While some other trashers were not working out, I put in this simple one. I tried a couple sizes - at one point it drew you a card when trashing - but quickly settled on the final version.

Raze: For a while we tried a card in the Apprentice / Salvager family that gave you a mix of +1's of your choice for trashing a card. It was cwazy, today's word of the day. I dropped +Cards from it and it was still cwazy. We kept giving it chances but I also tried some alternatives. Raze copied the earlier Disciple but based on the size of the trashed card. The mix of +1's thing let you trash itself, so I put that on Raze, and I liked everything about Raze so it got the slot.

Relic: Somewhat late in the going, I tried to steer a few of the remaining slots towards particular card names. Relic started out as a treasure that gave you a bonus based on the card types you had in play. First it just counted types, but that went too far; then it cared about specific types: it attacked if you had an Attack in play, gave +$1 if you had a Duration card, and gave +1 Buy if you had a Reserve card or Reaction card. The varying functionality was cute, but quick, what did it do again? Only the Attack part was memorable. While I like the idea of needing a dude to wield the Relic, I ended up simplifying it down to just always attacking. Then it could be a Treasure - Attack, so it is.

Royal Carriage: A Dark Ages outtake. We always liked it, but it needed a mat. It has a mat here and well that's pretty much the story. I briefly had a bad wording that could let you go infinite, and fixing it made it even more like the Dark Ages version.

Storyteller: I tried paying $ for cards long ago, in Prosperity. Prosperity at the time had a few ways to pay $ for things. It didn't work out then, and in fact I dropped that sub-theme. In the intervening years I have done that type of thing as discarding cards or treasures, because it's simpler. A couple things in this set approached being something like Storyteller, and one day it congealed. I tried a few different sizes of it, including a Reserve version, before settling on this one.

Swamp Hag: One of the first cards in the set. The attack was always the same, except for precise phrasing vs. things like Outpost. At first it gave +$1 on both turns, then +1 Card; now it's +$3 next turn.

Transmogrify: I tried a Reserve Remodel, that Remodel'd a card just as you were gaining it. It had a certain something but didn't seem like the ideal approach. I changed it into a start-of-turn Remodel to hand for $6, then dropped it to a smaller +$1 Remodel, but gave it +1 Action and made it cheaper.

Treasure Trove: This was another case where I wanted to use a particular name. I also liked the idea of the set having three Treasures. Another Treasure Trove didn't work out. I tried one that gave you a copy of another Treasure you had in play; then tweaked that into always giving you a Gold and a Copper.

Wine Merchant: Originally it didn't give +1 Buy. I tried letting you get it back for having any unspent money, but upped it to needing $2.

* Events *

There are twenty Events. Some people no doubt have already complained that the set has six blanks. Couldn't that have been six more Events? Man. You got twenty. I didn't have a pile of great ones I cut to put in the blanks. You have to stop working on the expansions at some point and let them get released. Anyway let's hear about these Events.

Alms: Late in the going, an Event wasn't seeming too hot, we never bought it. I needed a replacement and tried this. First it just gained you a card costing up to $4, no limits, because what, why not try that. As you can see instead it is a more sane thing that just means, you're never doing worse than a $4.

Ball: A simple concept. The -$1 token wasn't there until late. The very first version Chancellor'd, but that was cwazy.

Bonfire: An obvious one. The first version trashed one card from your hand or from play; trashing from your hand is just too automatic though.

Borrow: I reworded it a few times, but it always did the same thing.

Expedition: Another obvious one. It always seems cute to draw extra cards for your hand at end-of-turn, but there is the issue of that sucking vs. Militias, and of remembering it. An Event is the perfect way to do it.

Ferry: One of the ones that started out as a one-shot Kingdom card. For a long time it worked only on Kingdom cards (it's not too interesting if you can put it on Province), but that term just didn't mean anything to too many people, so now it only works on Actions.

Inheritance: Another one that was initially a one-shot Kingdom card. The big thing to muck with here was what exactly you could put the counter on. At one point Treasures worked; I tried letting it go on VP cards. VP cards were too automatic, and then it was simpler not to allow Treasures. There was also the question of when exactly the Estates were yours; some versions didn't work for when-buy abilities.

Lost Arts: Initially a one-shot Kingdom card. An early star of the set. Initially the tokens weren't counter-limited; you could get multiple +1 Action tokens and +$1 tokens and -$2 cost tokens. I lowered it down to just two and then just one. You get the experience with one and I don't need to cost the cards for crazier situations.

Mission: This one seems a little more complex, but it had no issues.

Pathfinding: I didn't do Kingdom cards for +1 Card and +1 Buy; I felt like +$1 and +1 Action were enough. When I was doing them as Events though it seemed like, why not. Pathfinding started out cheaper; adding +1 Card to something turns out to be pretty good.

Pilgrimage: Originally it didn't say "once per turn." It was too attractive to pay $8 and 2 Buys for.

Plan: This started out as an Action card that was "+2 Cards, move the token." You would move the token to whatever you were going to buy that turn. It's better as an Event; you actually plan.

Quest: At first you didn't discard the cards, you just needed to have them. You needed 6 in hand or 10-12 in play. It went nuts with +Buys.

Raid: I wanted an attacking Event, but I didn't want it to be too similar to an existing Attack, or too painful to have hanging over your head the whole game. The -1 Card token seemed like a good fit and there it is.

Save: Originally you could do this more than once a turn. You could spend $1 per VP card per turn just keeping them out of your deck. Which is neat but wasn't really the idea.

Scouting Party: An easy early one.

Seaway: I had a version that worked on any pile but only gave you a card if it was cheap enough. It was just simpler to tie the token to the gaining. So, you can't put +1 Buy on expensive cards, except of course all the ways that you can, this is Dominion.

Trade: Initially the limit wasn't there, it was any number of cards. That was cwazy.

Training: Originally a one-shot Kingdom card. Well I covered this under Lost Arts.

Travelling Fair: An easy one with no issues.

* Outtakes *

I tried some old ideas that it seemed time to try. For a while there was a card that trashed another card for a mix of +1's equal to its cost. Then it didn't include +Card. Then I tried a mix of +Cards and +Actions, and then a straight, trash for +Buys card. Maybe there is something there, but not in this expansion. There was "Discard X Silvers, +2X Cards." It somewhat survives as Storyteller. I tried a Throne Room that replays a card in play. It's dead unless there's a card giving +1 Action or better. That seemed insurmountable. Then I tried it again briefly in the Disciple slot. I had a draw-up-to-7 card that let you discard cards first. It was totally fine but we rarely bought it and other stuff seemed more worth doing. Near the beginning there was a super-Lookout - +3 Cards +1 Action, trash a card, discard a card, put a card from your hand on your deck. It was beloved and also cwazy. I watered it down some and then got rid of it.

I tried a few old cards that seemed like they should get another chance, but which then failed again. One was an Expand that hit the top of your deck, and could put the gained card back there. It always seemed reasonable to me, but no-one liked it. Intrigue had had gain a Silver to hand, reveal the top card of your deck, if it's Silver trash this. I tried a new version here: +$2, Gain 2 Silvers, reveal top, if it's Silver trash this and gain a Duchy. It was the kind of thing that casual players might turn out to adore but which playtesters tend not to. In some sense it lives on as Treasure Trove.

I tried an Action-Victory card that was cost $5, trash a card from your hand, worth 13 VP minus 1 VP per 2 cards in your deck. "What huh," I hear you say. We had some fun playing around with it but it was too hard making it be fair but not awful both in 2-player games and 4-player games. Some versions could trash cards from supply piles, an old concept that has never worked out. When I was giving up on this, I tried a Victory card that was worth 1 VP per Estate or Gold you had, whichever was less. This was an old idea that I planned to try if I ever needed another VP card. It's uh not awful. It had no special joy though. Briefly I tried an Action-Victory card that put a card on your mat, and was worth VP based on the number of cards there. It just didn't give a new-enough experience; there's Island. It sounded like it would be a strategy but it usually wasn't, it was usually Island but maybe not worth the 2 VP. I tried a VP card that rewarded you for having the most of something, and stopped the game from ending until its pile was empty; man, who has the time to empty an extra pile these days. I tried a VP card that wanted you to have 3+ of as many cards as possible; it wasn't the same as Fairgrounds but didn't have a good new feeling. I tried 1 VP per copy you have of the Action card you have the 2nd most copies of - you want a lot of two things. Man there isn't much to say about any of these. I tried a bunch of Victory cards, and in the end there's just Distant Lands, which I had for most of the time, but I like it so hooray.

A Moat that worked from the Tavern mat did not work out; I did do Champion though. There was a Reserve card that let you put cards on the Tavern mat when you gained them; just putting all of your VP on the Tavern mat was not really good times. I had a Reserve card that gave +1 Buy; it sounds totally worth having but it didn't work out. If it's just +1 Buy it's not enough; if it's more, you call it when you don't even care about the +1 Buy. I had the Reserve Remodel-on-gain that turned into Transmogrify.

I tried a few versions of a Thief variant as a Duration card. They trash a Treasure other than Copper from play when they buy a card. It didn't work out. Then I tried a discard Attack that hit them at the start of their Buy phase. It's kind of interesting; it punishes you for not playing Actions, and also hurts a draw-your-whole-deck thing that ends up with its 7 Coppers. But uh in practice it was a dud.

In the Amulet slot, I tried a Duration card that gave the other players a bonus of your choice at the start of their intervening turns - +1 Action or +$1. I liked it in theory.

I tried a Treasure - Duration. To not be wonky with cards like Counterfeit, it had to have an "if this is in play" clause on the next turn's +$2. That looks weird though. So then it had the penalty of leaving play if someone bought a Province, which gave the "if this is in play" part meaning. Then it got a bonus instead, you could discard it from play to Moat one Attack. And well. It was a dud, it showed up at the bottom of people's lists of cards sorted by how much they liked them. I did better Treasures.

Another Duration card that was around for a while gave out Golds to people who bought the right type of card. You named a type, you know, and it worked for you on two turns but only on one turn for them. It's fun naming the type, trying to make it hard on the other players. I liked the friendly interaction. But in multiples it just scripted games; you did what the card told you to.

I tried a drastically simpler variation on the Peasant concept, where playing a card got you a token, or you traded in the card and 3 tokens for a particular card costing $5, different each game. It was fine but didn't seem worth the tokens.

When I introduced the -1 Card token, it was on a card that just gave +$2 and gave out the token and cost $3. It was somewhat like Fortune Teller; only, as with Bridge Troll being a Cutpurse that never misses, it was a Fortune Teller that never missed. It moved to Soldier and then I did Relic instead.

I very briefly tried several other tokens that went on piles. There was adding "Gain a Silver" to a card, adding conventional trashing (rather than Plan's when-buy approach), there was "comes with a cheaper card" and "trash it and get an action costing $1 more." I tried "worth 1 VP;" it just didn't play well. You have to charge a lot for it and then it's just a Province that doesn't go in your deck that you can only buy one of.

Turning a card into a Witch has a certain charm but I never tried it, I wanted to go light on Witches. "Draw plus discard" makes you worry about timing more than an ideal amount. "Play it twice and trash it" sounded interesting but didn't play nice with too much of the set. Stuff like "+1 Card the first time you play one of these each turn" just doesn't translate well to a token; the tokens want to be small and clear. I considered shared tokens that modified piles, but people are stingy.

There was an Event that shuffled all but 5 cards from your discard pile into your deck. A version of a concept that never worked in Hinterlands, unless you count Inn. It was no good but I added Chancellor to it, Matthew's suggestion; Chancellor had been another dud Event that had died much earlier. So then that was in the set for a while, being an obvious dud, and then Alms replaced it, hooray.

I tried an Event that attacked you if you didn't buy it. It just drained $1 each turn (it did give +1 Buy) or else trashed your top card, giving you a cheaper card of the same type or a Curse. It seemed like a neat direction to go in but well. We have an established game here, established fans, and they are not so fond of attacks that they want the game hitting them every turn. It was pretty oppressive.

I had an Event that moved a +$2 cost token that affected everyone. Man I think we got in one game of that. And we tried an Event that moved everyone's -$2 cost token at once; it was okay, in a pinch I could have used it. I tried a Salvager - +1 Buy, trash an Action for +$1 per $1 it cost (only, the Event itself cost $2). You use that on the last turn of the game and that's it. I tried a variant of Quest that required trashing but gained Duchies, that was also just used on your last turn.

Phew. Well there were an endless number of cards and also an endless number of outtakes, and now you know about them.

Adventures Previews / Previews #5 - Lost Arts, Borrow, Inheritance
« on: April 03, 2015, 09:51:17 am »
Here at last are tokens. They are used some by non-Events too, but today, three more Events. I like to have all of the cards in one preview have the same orientation.

Lost Arts produces a +1 Action token, which modifies a pile so that those cards give you personally +1 Action. Each player has their own token. Say you put the token on Smithy; for you, Smithy is +1 Action +3 Cards, but for everyone else, it's still +3 Cards (unless they also put their token on Smithy). For example. So uh there's probably something good you can do with that. That Smithy example doesn't sound half-bad. The token on Smithy affects all of the Smithies you have, and any Smithies you get later; it's just a different card for you. It's like a giant pile of Villages that are always there when you need them for a particular action, for a one-time payment of $6 and a Buy. You are probably wondering, is there also a +1 Buy token, a +1 Card token, a +$1 token? Yes, of course there are those too.

Borrow shows off a minus. There are just -1 Card and -$1; -1 Action and -1 Buy would be no fun. Borrow gives you an extra +$1 this turn, but you'll draw one less card the next time you draw cards, that's what that -1 Card thing is about. You get one less card the next time you'd draw any cards, any which way; for Borrow though that's probably when you draw your next hand. So, four cards that turn instead of five, and well make sure it's worth it. You don't want an endless spiral of debt, where you Borrow turn after turn. -$1 meanwhile (not pictured - well neither one is pictured, but you know what I mean) just reduces how many coins you make by $1 the next time you make any. The minus tokens are used on a few cards each, sometimes to give to yourself and sometimes to make other players take them.

Inheritance is maybe the strangest thing in Adventures. Your Estates turn into another card. Again that's Estates you already have, and any new ones you buy. You put the token on say a Village; now your Estates are cards that cost $2 and are worth 1 VP and are Action-Victory cards and can be played for +1 Card +2 Actions. It is a great feeling when you're staring at your hand and it sucks and then you remember, oh yeah, these Estates are Villages, this hand is awesome. You actually set aside a card with the token, rather than just putting it on a pile, because Dominion has crazy stuff like the Knights from Dark Ages. Lost Arts can give all of the Knights +1 Action for you, but when your Inheritance is Sir Martins, your Estates are all Sir Martin, they aren't any other Knights. And if that's not clear, there's a lengthy FAQ.

That's it for previews, except for the other preview for today, if you haven't seen that one yet. Go see it (if it's not up yet this may take a while). Okay so. That's it for previews. You've seen 20 cards out of 58; there are still 17 more kingdom cards, 14 more Events, 7 more things that Page and Peasant turn into, and 2 mysterious tokens. No doubt someone will post the rest of the set once people have it. We are expecting the set out April 18th and well someone will keep us posted if that changes.

Adventures Previews / Previews #4 - Expedition, Trade, Mission
« on: April 02, 2015, 10:01:30 am »
Adventures has 30 Kingdom cards. It also has 20 Events. It's high time we looked at some of those. Man, they're sideways.

An Event is something you can buy in your Buy phase that isn't a card. You pay your $, you use up a Buy, and something happens. They don't take up Kingdom card slots; you shuffle them into your randomizer deck, but when you deal out cards, keep going until you have 10 Kingdom cards. I recommend stopping at two Events, but it's up to you.

Expedition is an example of a very simple Event. You get two more cards in your next hand. Maybe you'd rather have Silver; it's hard to say, man I don't even know you. Sometimes though I bet you'll want the cards. So, to be clear here: with Expedition in the game, you can, in your Buy phase, pay $3 and use up a Buy, to make that thing happen, the extra 2 cards for your next hand. If you had $6 and 2 Buys, you could go on two Expeditions, and have 4 extra cards in your next hand. Or buy a Silver and one Expedition. And so on. Expedition itself just sits on the table with the kingdom cards, reminding you that you can do this this game.

Trade, still somewhat simple, has you turning one or two cards into Silvers. It costs $5, but well, trashing two cards and getting two Silvers, maybe that's worth it. It only trashes from your hand, so you won't be doing much Trading turn one.

Finally we have Mission, a trickier one. You get an extra turn, but, this seems like some kind of joke, you can't buy cards on that turn. What good is it then? Well. There are things you can do. You can gain cards without buying them, such as with Remodels and Workshops. You can play Duration cards, setting them up for your next turn. You can get Reserve cards onto your mat. You can play Attacks, it can be that kind of Mission. You can trash cards; you can just be getting through your deck to get back to your good cards; you can turn that Hero into a Champion. And hey you can buy other Events, that's not buying a card. That may seem weird - what do we call that rectangular object then - but you didn't buy a card, you bought an Event, a thing that happened once and didn't come with a card, and so that doesn't trigger Swamp Hag and it's not cheaper due to Bridge and so on. Event cards give you something to buy; that thing is not a card. There will be a rulebook and it will say stuff just like this.

Adventures Previews / Previews #3 - Amulet, Swamp Hag, Hireling
« on: April 01, 2015, 09:46:28 am »
Those of you who have been wanting more Duration cards, here they are at last. There was lots left to do with them, and I could get in some nice simple cards this way, and well people wanted them. If you aren't familiar with them, they are simply cards that do something on future turns. They stay in play until they are done doing everything they have to do; that's the only tricky part.

Amulet is a basic Duration card. It gives you a choice on both turns, that's its special thing. Amulet is super-flexible; it gets rid of garbage, provides money for the same turn, and gets Silvers for later.

Swamp Hag showcases a type of Attack made possible by Duration cards. It makes the other players have worse turns. In this case, anything they buy will be cursed. Two Swamp Hags? Two Curses. It can be grim in multiplayer. They can just choose not to buy anything in order to dodge the Curses and well you will be happy with that too. Try to avoid playing Swamp Hag and Outpost in the same turn; that Swamp Hag doesn't end up Cursing anyone.

Hireling is a Duration card that lasts forever. You put it out, and then that's that, you have an extra card on every turn for the rest of the game. That seems good. They're cumulative of course; with three of them out, you'll get three extra cards each turn. You get the card at the start of your turn, rather than when drawing your hand, which means it doesn't suck vs. Militias. $6 may seem cheap for this ability and well there's playtesting, you know, the costs aren't just random.

Adventures introduces Reserve cards. They go on a Tavern mat. They hang out there, turn after turn, waiting until you are ready for them. "Calling" one means moving it from your mat to your in-play area; then it gets discarded normally that turn, to eventually be drawn again and go back on the mat. Wait let's go over this again. You play it, just doing the part above the line, putting it on your mat. Later, you move it off the mat into play, just doing the part it says there, whatever it says for whenever it says. Okay.

Guide can give you a new hand at the start of your turn. You just skip right past a bad hand, or a Militia'd hand, or a hand that doesn't have that Hero you need to upgrade. With multiple Guides on your mat, you can keep going until you run out or find that good hand.

Duplicate duplicates something. That name just tells the whole story. You buy a Lab; you Duplicate it, two Labs. You gain a Gold from Hero; you Duplicate it, two Golds. Whatever you are getting, you probably want more of them. Late in the game, Duplicate Duchies.

Coin of the Realm is a weird one. When you play it it makes $1 and goes on your mat. On some future turn, you call it to get to play more Actions. So it's a village that you can't (normally) use the turn you play it. And it's a village that just waits until you need it. You draw your two Heroes together, play one, call the Coin, and play the other one. You can also use Hero to gain a Coin. Will the other Reserve cards all be combos with Hero? *checks...* No. Not all of them.

Adventures Previews / Previews #1 - Lost City, Magpie, Hero
« on: March 30, 2015, 10:05:19 am »
It's a new Dominion expansion! Some of you knew it was inevitable; some of you hoped it would happen; some of you were glad it wasn't going to. It's happening though, I am so sure of it that I am previewing cards from it.

Adventures has a ton of cards, so I am previewing three a day. Each day but today the cards will fit a theme, showing off a different functional aspect of the set - Reserve, Duration, Events, tokens. That leaves today to show off some cards that don't fit those themes.

I like to lead with a simple card, to prove that the set has some. Lost City is a vanilla card on top, that makes the other players draw a card when you get one. You really don't want them to have that good turn, but then you may really want some Lost Cities.

Recent studies show that magpies do not especially collect shiny objects. These are folklore magpies though, which still do. Magpie might find you a treasure, or perhaps just reveal another Magpie. Over time a single Magpie can turn into a whole flock of them. There are just ten Magpies in the pile; they're not Rats with wings.

Finally we have Hero. This one is somewhat enigmatic. The top is straightforward, you get +$2 and gain a Treasure, any Treasure in the game. Usually Gold but you never know, could be Platinum or something more exotic. And then when you discard it from play, you can exchange it for a Champion. And wait, this isn't in the Supply. How do you get one? Well I'll tell you. You just need to discard a Warrior from play; then you can exchange the Warrior for a Hero. Warrior isn't in the Supply either though - you get one by exchanging a Treasure Hunter for it. I suppose it's obvious that you get a Treasure Hunter by exchanging a Page for it. But that's it, that's all the turtles there are; you buy a Page, and it turns into a Treasure Hunter, then a Warrior, then a Hero, then a Champion. Page costs $2, so the actual cost of Hero is, $2, plus playing those other cards once each. I somehow fit two of these cycles into Adventures - there's also a Peasant who becomes a Soldier, but then a Fugitive, but then a Disciple, and finally a Teacher. It's two little life stories, played out in cards that gradually get better for you. What exactly the other cards do will remain a mystery until the set is out; there is just too much to preview.

But wait, there's more! [wait that's here] is also going to have a preview each day this week - single card previews, a different previewer each time. The set has 58 uh things; even at 4 a day, it will be below average for what % of it was previewed. No doubt these other previews will be crossposted here, just as these are crossposted there. I am mentioning them here anyway.

Adventures Previews / Teasers!
« on: March 27, 2015, 09:17:46 am »
Previews start Monday! As a special treat for the weekend, here are some teasers - bits of information about the expansion that don't actually tell you any cards. I will not be further explaining this stuff! Well not until after the set is out, and by then it shouldn't need much explanation.

Some things you will find in Dominion: Adventures:

- 22 dividing lines
- 8 big arrows
- 7 cards with 3 types
- 3 treasures, including an attack and a village
- 2 12-card piles, including a victory card worth 0 VP the turn you buy it
- +$3, +$4, and +$5
- a card that gives the 2nd player an advantage
- a card you can play when it isn't your turn
- a card that draws you 5 cards when Throned
- word counts: Supply: 15; Game: 4; Turn: 31; Token: 16.

Feedback / Bot trap
« on: March 19, 2015, 06:11:15 am »
There was just a spam post in the rules forum and it reminded me of the bot trap concept and maybe you will want to do this if spam bots ever start to be an issue.

You limit 0-post posters to only posting in one specific subforum. You say which forum it is in the index and ToS and wherever else. It's, you know, an Introductions forum or something. Posting there makes you a 1-post poster who no longer has that limitation.

Then spam bots fail to know that they have to post in that forum and so fail to post at all and that's that.

Feedback / Plz turn off img in sigs
« on: September 21, 2014, 05:56:13 pm »
It's just that imgs in sigs make forums suck to read. We've all been there, it's not worth it.

Forum Games / TownLaunch
« on: March 19, 2014, 04:23:39 am »
A guy who we will call Kevin was at one point a regular at a game night I went to. We talked about making a game for devices. One idea was to make something like a citybuilder but as a little puzzle game. I came up with something and we tried it and well a few of us enjoyed it but it didn't seem like we should pursue it; it didn't seem like it would end up having broad enough appeal. I am sharing it for no good reason in this semi-public place.

It has no art or anything. It's just a bunch of haphazard levels with no frills. There is no button to rotate your board relative to the terrain, someone will immediately want that. It is playable though. It's an abstract game of figuring out the best way to arrange some shapes.

What you are doing is, you are placing buildings on a grid, to get a score. You can place multiple copies of a building and can rotate them by clicking, before or after dragging. You drag a building to the grid (or move it on the grid, or drag it off the grid to get rid of it). There is no passage of time or anything. There is no cost system beyond the space the buildings occupy.

The basic deal is that Houses require Farms and Factories, and then Offices require Houses. So three types of things all connect to Houses. And there are alternate varieties of the main buildings, and buildings can care about other stuff. When you have everything aligned, you will get a nonzero score. Your goal is to have such a high score that you get four stars. Four stars represents either the most points one of four or so people were able to get, or else a smaller but high number in cases where someone beat that score after the last time the program was updated. Anyway it will be hard, you will not just immediately get four stars, it will seem impossible.

Buildings have a number, but your score is just the Offices (or similar); the other numbers just uh get you there. On level one:

Farm: Worth 1 per connected Farm, counting itself.
Factory: Worth 1 per adjacent building (not diagonally okay).
House: Worth the minimum of the points of Farms or Factories next to it (if there are two Farms, add them together, etc.).
Office: Adds the values of adjacent Houses.

So just plop down one of each with the House touching the rest and you've got points. Then figure out what to actually do. Later buildings:

Orchard: Like a Farm but worth 1 per adjacent grass or water square (board edges don't help it).
Pasture: Like a Farm but worth 1 per connected grass.

Mill: Like a Factory but worth a flat 8.

Mansion: A House but gets double value from Farms (plus Orchard, Pasture).
Ranch: A House but gets double value from Factories (plus Mill).

Embassy: Like an Office but counts Houses (and Mansions/Ranches) even if it's not adjacent to them.

Bank: All buildings adjacent to Bank are adjacent to each other, look out. Think of it as "road."
Bridge: The two buildings pointed to are connected (but not other buildings adjacent to the long sides, even the ends). Can go over water. It seems intermittently buggy score-wise and so I would save these levels for last.

The two colors of grass are the same okay. Water is an obstacle. The black square lowers all buildings with a clear path to it by one. It shades areas in case that helps.

There appear to be 34 levels. Like I said they are just haphazard, added to see the new buildings and test out the idea. The first few levels have mostly the same stuff and mess with obstacles, which turned out not to be too interesting; then there's a patch where it goes through combinations of some new buildings, and well you can just skip to whatever level, don't feel like you have to go in order. The level names are just whatever Kevin typed in. Some levels are larger; smaller is better. I don't know the formula for stars beyond four meaning you hit the high score.

From my experience the way to get maximal enjoyment from this is, play some levels and post your best scores, and then other people will post their even better scores, and then you will try to outdo them. Of course you may be able to do better than the score that gets you 4 stars; I know you can for some of them.

Variants and Fan Cards / Sets of 25
« on: February 14, 2013, 02:41:11 am »
So you pick 25 Dominion cards that you have, and then play with those 25 as if they were a standalone - you play games using a random 10 out of those 25. You pick the 25 with some theme in mind, although if your theme is just "stuff I like" that's fine. Here are some examples.

Interaction Mix

2: Duchess, Embargo, Fool's Gold
3: Forager, Masquerade, Smugglers, Swindler, Trade Route, Watchtower
4: Bishop, Gardens, Noble Brigand, Throne Room, Tournament
5: City, Council Room, Cultist, Embassy, Governor, Graverobber, Jester, Knights, Tribute, Vault
6: Border Village

This one just focuses on player interaction. It's bound to be a pip, so I put it first.

Top o' the Deck Mix

2: Beggar, Courtyard, Herbalist, Vagrant
3: Lookout, Swindler, Watchtower, Wishing Well
4: Armory, Bureaucrat, Ironmonger, Nomad Camp, Scavenger, Scout, Spy, Walled Village, Wandering Minstrel
5: Ghost Ship, Graverobber, Knights, Mandarin, Mystic, Royal Seal, Stash, Treasury

Lots of cards interact with deck tops, and sometimes they naturally work together.

Hand Theme

2: Beggar, Crossroads, Hamlet
3: Hermit, Menagerie, Oasis, Tunnel, Warehouse, Watchtower
4: Fortress, Horse Traders, Remake, Tournament, Young Witch
5: Count, Embassy, Explorer, Horn of Plenty, Inn, Library, Mine, Pillage, Rabble
6: Hunting Grounds
8: Peddler

Cornucopia tried on a hand theme, but abandoned it because it's just invisible. The cards played well together though, so here's the kind of thing you can get with that theme.


2: Courtyard, Embargo
3: Loan, Market Square, Wishing Well
4: Militia, Monument, Remodel, Spice Merchant, Spy, Trader
5: Apprentice, Count, Duke, Ill-Gotten Gains, Laboratory, Library, Merchant Ship, Rogue, Royal Seal, Upgrade, Vault, Venture
6: Fairgrounds, Hoard

Do you need a Village for a fun game? This set tries to argue otherwise. There was a lot of room for varying this one, since hey, most cards aren't Villages.

Big Alchemy

P: Vineyard, Transmute, Apothecary, Scrying Pool, University, Alchemist, Familiar, Philosopher's Stone, Golem, Possession
2: Cellar, Herbalist
3: Great Hall
4: Conspirator, Coppersmith, Ironworks, Procession, Wandering Minstrel
5: Apprentice, Haggler, Horn of Plenty, Inn, Jester, Library, Stables

Alchemy was once a large set. What might it look like as one? This isn't trying to look like the original large Alchemy, but rather just to push Alchemy's themes with the additional cards.

I didn't say as much about outtakes for the main set back when; it was material edited into a W. Eric Martin article on BGN, and anyway there were cards that might get fixed up for later sets. And I didn't say as much about the non-outtakes in the first secret history as I might have, because, how much did people really need to hear?

I made 10 cards. I don't remember what they all were. I wasn't preserving everything back then. One was Witch and one was a discard attack. Mine was in there. I had "+1 card +1 action +$1," "+2 actions," and "+1 buy," although nothing said "+1" like that, it was all written out. I had some kind of card-drawing, probably the next-turn one listed below. The first evening we just played the same 10 cards, but they weren't really the same because I tweaked the costs after each game. You mark the piles with dice indicating the current cost.

I made 10 more cards. Some were variations on what I'd had the first time. Some covered obvious territory I hadn't yet. After that I made more cards at whatever rate, eventually dividing everything into a 25-card main set and two 15-card expansions.

I am going to look at the cards in the order they appear in the oldest files. Some of the slots got filled in by other cards after stuff died or changed though; I wasn't saving every image. So, "Dungeon" isn't the first action card I made an image for. And attacks got their own page because they were printed on pink paper, and similarly victory and treasure and reaction cards had separate pages initially, so those cards aren't in the right order either.

I am only doing the first four pages because I want to lead a balanced life. There are six and half pages total, with the cards I'm not doing almost all being ones you know from Intrigue or later anyway.

Page 1:

"Dungeon:" I have talked about this a few times recently. "Trash a card from your hand, discard a card, +3 Cards." It cost $3, then $4. It was a staple trasher that dropped through the cracks. I bumped it to Intrigue and then Dark Ages and then it seemed like I'd covered this ground already.

Village: The first version cost $5 and just said "you may play two more actions." Over the first couple weeks I lowered it to $4, then $3, then added +1 Card, reasoning, part of why it sucked was that drawing Village meant you had fewer cards in hand to be those two actions. Sir Destry bought a lot of Villages early on and it was a month before he won his first game.

Market: Similarly Market cost $5 and let you buy an extra card, and I realized that Market in hand meant less money, so I made it +$1 +1 Buy. At the same time the first game had had "+1 Card +1 Action +$1," and eventually they merged. "+1 Buy" got terminology when it turned out I'd be doing more of those than just Market. I tried on "+1 Purchase" and then "+1 Build." Woodcutter is called Woodcutter because, +1 Build.

Smithy: Initially I was scared of such card-drawing. I had "draw 2 extra cards at end of turn" (as Laboratory). I came around to the beauty of straight card-drawing, and did the simplest one.

Mine: This is the card from the first game that changed the least. It explicitly turned Copper into Silver and Silver into Gold, and now looks at cost.

Chapel: Your Estates are worth points, surely you don't want to trash those. Okay I guess they are dead cards and you sure aren't buying them, but Coppers, they do something. It was a week or two before I said, man, I am just going to try trashing everything. Not long after that I found the 5-card deck - not the Remodel one, the Witch one. Chapel, Silver, Throne Room, Witch. I play Throne Witch every turn (paying $2 since Witch required you to pay $1 to play it). There were something like 45 Curses and the pile did not scale with the number of players, so this deck was not shabby.

Laboratory: This was probably from after the second batch of cards. I don't remember multiple versions. The "+1 Card +1 Action +$1" card was an early star, and after Village got its +1 Card and became a "free" +1 Action, it was like, why not a free +1 Card.

Throne Room: It cost $3 for forever. You could open Feast / Throne Room, some people enjoyed that. You could get it with "Stonecutter," that was significant. Okay I am only going to do 4 pages, so I will not make it to Stonecutter. Stonecutter was "Gain a card costing up to $3, if it's an action play it." You Stonecutter up Throne Rooms and Villages and Woodcutters (once that was around) and then buy "Towers" to rake in points.

"Stables:" The first Workshop-type thing I tried was "Gain an Estate," then "Gain a card costing up to $2." It was trying to be Monument but it would take a while to get there. Then it was "Gain a card costing up to $2. When you discard or trash this, +1 Card." Those of you marvelling at how main set cards anticipate Tunnel and Dark Ages: those were things that had just been around forever. Before the little Workshops, this slot started out as "When you buy an action this turn, play it;" then I tried out "+1 Buy, cards cost $1 less this turn." That seemed scary, but I brought it back in Alchemy (the original large 5th expansion) as the Bridge you know.

Page 2:

"Vault:" First Vault was "your victory cards are also coppers this turn." Then it became the top half of Secret Chamber. That cost $4, then $3, then became Secret Chamber.

Feast: As told elsewhere, Feast started out as a one-use Gold - "+1 Action +$3, trash this." It was strong and turned into Feast.

Trading Post: Started out as a way to trade a card for another of the same cost. Well that's awful. I thought of trading specifically for Silver and that's what it does. People would talk about melding treasure or victory cards - turn two Coppers into a Silver, turn three Estates into a Duchy - but that simple concept required way too many words. I could just turn two things into Silver specifically though and hey sometimes it would be two Coppers.

Workshop: This started out as a deliberate attempt to make a card to support a money-free deck. It was "+1 Action, -1 Buy, gain a card costing up to $3." I was the only one who liked it or could make it work.

Remodel: There's no story here, this was an obvious card that worked well early on.

Cellar: First I tried "+2 Cards +1 Action, put 2 cards from your hand on your deck." It was way too slow. Then I did Cellar but without the +1 Action.

"Highway:" This was "+2 Cards +$2," for $5. It was a solid card that I eventually decided not to do. It seemed strong and it's too easy to compare to other things. It had no special charm.

"Spare Room:" This is Pawn.

"Mining Village:" This version was switched - "+$2, may trash for +1 Card +2 Actions." These days tons of cards are "+$2, do something." Back then, that was not such a thing - cards tried to be good enough via their new ability. So Mining Village was a lonely "+$2" card. Yes Highway also says it but you know.

Page 3:

"Knight:" "Trash the top card of each other player's deck," for $4. I have previously told the story of the games this could trap you in. For a while though it was the standard, several cards were Knight with a bonus. Including of course the Knights. Knight itself started more expensive but I quickly lowered it to $4. At $4 you could buy it when you were losing and desperate; at $5 you would just get a Duchy.

Witch: The first version cost $3 and did not give +2 Cards. Then it cost $4, then $5, then $5 but you had to pay $1 to use it. Then just $5, then with +1 Card, then +2 Cards, with the Curse pile changing to scaling somewhere in there.

Thief: There was a discard attack in this slot first. I tried just making each other player discard one or two cards; it's broken as soon as multiple players buy them or you can chain them. Then I tried out Thief close to how you know it, but with the top cards being put back if they weren't trashed. Militias as you know them didn't arrive until after I showed the game to RGG.

"Wizard:" "+1 Card, each other player gains a Confusion," for $3. Confusion was a blank card. It had a hypnotic spiral on it, and when people were like, "I don't get it," I'd turn the spiral. Confusion stayed in the game for a while, and some other cards used them, but once the game was getting published it wasn't worth the 30 cards.

"Baron:" "Reveal the top card of each other player's deck. Trash those victory cards. Gain the trashed cards." For $6. Why not an attack that just hits victory cards? Within a few months it would change to $4, "each other player reveals the top 3 and trashes a victory card, gaining a cheaper card." Stealing Duchies survived in the game for a while; now you have to play Rogue twice. The best victory-card-trasher I ever had was "Mob" from Prosperity, which dug for one, trashed it, and gave them the next cheapest plus an Estate (or just an Estate if it didn't find one, making it useful in the early game). It is not really anything anyone needs in the game though. I eventually tried attacks that only hit actions; the problem is, I can make that dead by having a boring deck. So in the end there are cards that only trash treasures, and trashers that don't care about type.

Harem: Originally it cost $5, then $6. My version has no art, just a giant 2 coins and 2 crowns (my VP symbol).

"Tower:" This is Vineyard only for $4. I ended up swapping it with Gardens (originally from Alchemy and costing $P) because Gardens is in some sense easier.

Moat: Originally reactions were played when you reacted. Moat stopped one turn of attacks and drew you a card. It was useless on your own turn. Then I made another reaction that stopped all attacks for one round, and then I combined them.

"Battlements:" This reaction drew you two cards if you were attacked (after that it would be in play - so, dead or a Lab). Then it changed to, either play normally for +2 Cards, or play when attacked for +2 Cards. This died when I changed how reactions worked, because it was cumulative; then I brought it back as Horse Traders.

Page 4:

"Plague:" "Trash this, each other player gains a Confusion and a Curse," for $3. In some ways a precursor of Ill-Gotten Gains. Not shabby.

Great Hall: The first version is the same as the last; in-between it cost $4 for a bit after I beat people up with Upgrade / Great Hall (Upgrade had cost $4, which was the actual problem).

"Courtyard:" "When you gain this or play this, look at the top 3 cards of your deck, and discard any number of them," for $2. Did not work out. Previously the name had been on "Discard an Action card, gain a copy of it" for $3. After those the name went on $6, "play 2 actions from the supply each costing $3 or less." You know, you google up some art, but the card doesn't work out, and it's like, something else can be a courtyard.

Outpost: This version made your next turn's hand 2 cards smaller then this turn's, which meant you could take a 3rd turn with just one card and then any further turns you'd have no cards.

"Library:" "Look at the top 5, play one of those Actions, discard the rest first," for $3. It died for being uninteresting. Then I made a new version for Prosperity: "+1 action, look at top 5, put one in your hand, discard the rest." It cost $4 and was broken. At first it seemed like it might be fun broken, we all have crazy decks and aren't we having a good time? No, whoever got more copies of it won. I tried various fixes over the years to follow.

"Servant's Room:" $2, "Choose a card in your hand. Trash it; or discard it and +1 card; or trash it and gain a card with equal cost, in your hand." It was trying to be a follow-up to Pawn. I remembered the bad Trading Post and thought hey maybe it just needs more bad options. It didn't see much play and then turned into "choose one: +2 of something" which then turned into Steward.

Moneylender: The published version; I can't remember another version.

"Tax Collector:" This turned into Cutpurse. "Cards cost $1 less this turn and then $1 more until your next turn," for $3. There was no duration type or color, but I did have the rule that cards stayed out until the end of the turn they finished doing things. Multiplayer with multiple people playing Tax Collectors would have odd shifts in costs. I play it. On your turn you play another one; you break even. On the next player's turn they are hit by two at once. The 4th player plays one and so is only being hit by one total. On my turn mine goes away but the other two are hitting me.

"Caravan:" Only it's Merchant Ship. This replaced "+$2 +2 Actions" for $4. I can't do "+1 Action +$2 something something" for less than $5 (without a penalty), because you just automatically buy it over Silver in most games.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Other Secret History of the Prosperity Cards
« on: October 30, 2012, 02:22:44 pm »
Okay for those of you who were sad not to have the normal style of Secret History, here are the Prosperity cards again, with the individual cards addressed invididually. I am omitting the outtakes and intro; man you've got the original Secret History for that stuff. I am not trying to add any material, just re-sort it, so most of this text is just lifted from the previous version of the Secret History.

Bank: I stole this from Alchemy, where it originally cost $4+P. I wanted something else really simple and classic-seeming. It had been a good fit for Alchemy, since it counts Potions even if you don't end up spending them. Alchemy was years off though, years I say, and Prosperity needed a card now. Then when Alchemy got bumped up, I didn't steal this card back, because it required a little more of the Prosperity rules than I was comfortable with putting out ahead of Prosperity.

Bishop: When Prosperity got delayed, I got extra time to make changes. I decided, why not take out the worst card? At the same time I wanted more cards that used the VP tokens, so they'd seem less gratuitous. I tried a few different cards in this slot and liked Bishop the best.

City: Didn't change from the first version, except for wording. The idea for this card came from the Seaside outtake that cared about the trash, and of course Trade Route. I needed cards in the set that interacted with other players but weren't attacks, so I could have fewer attacks overall (so that Colony would usually be reachable) but still have enough interaction. One thing to do is to look at shared data - the piles. Trade Route cares if a pile isn't full; this cares if a pile is empty. Those were just the two simplest things to check.

Contraband: Another card that didn't change from the first version, except for a wording tweak.

Counting House: My wife came up with this card. Her version got you back all of the Silvers, which was crazy. Women! The Coppers version worked out, and just left getting a good wording.

Expand: Originally cost $6. I missed this the first time so there you go, this wasn't all for nothing. It cost $6 briefly but is $7 in the oldest file with it.

Forge: Originally cost $5, then $6. The "in coins" clause was added late, to simplify Alchemy interactions.

Goons: The art originally submitted for Pawn was not what we wanted for Pawn. We saved it for a future card. It looked like an attack; it had two guys bugging a third guy, so maybe a "choose two." I went with "+$2. Choose two: +1 Action; each other player discards down to 3 cards in hand; take a 1 VP token; gain a Silver. (The choices must be different.)" This card was popular. It had issues though, as pointed out by Wei-Hwa Huang and Bill Barksdale. It was political - someone would play it ahead of you, and then you could pick the discard option or not based on how well that one player was doing (since no-one else would be discarding). With +1 Action making it easy on your deck, it got bought up by everyone, so that you were having to discard constantly. I tried several other versions with different options in different combinations. I tried another card that I thought would work for a while but was just too strong, and finally ended up in a weaker form in another set (that set is Cornucopia and that card is Followers). Finally the Goons you know stuck. Again it squeezes in another use for those VP tokens.

Grand Market: Originally it cost $7 and was "+1 Card +1 Action +$2." People sure complained about it not having +1 Buy. "How is it a Grand Market?" they'd say. So I added +1 Buy, and then later took the anti-Copper clause from another card.

Hoard: Started out at $5. It was too strong, although it took a long time to get changed.

King's Court: Originally it cost $5, then $6. Of course Throne Room originally cost $3. King's Court got "you may" at the last minute. Throne Room should say "you may," because what if you want to play it for some reason (making Peddler cheaper for example) but don't want to play the only other action in your hand (a card-trasher of some kind say)? The card doesn't keep you honest, like (most) other cards do. And "you may" is a lot less text than "or reveals a hand with no actions," which would also look weird. Anyway it's too late for Throne Room. Should King's Court match Throne Room, or have the fix? It matched until near the end. Man, why not use the fix? That's what I think.

Loan: The original card said "when you spend this, trash another treasure spent with it." All of the Prosperity treasures originally had "when you spend this" phrasings. They caused some confusion - what if a treasure worth $2 has such a rule, and you spend $1 on something and $1 on something else? I eventually reworded them all as "when you play this" or "while this is in play." Loan didn't work like that and died. Then later I brought it back by having it look for a treasure in your deck.

Mint: At one point, the expansions were all 20 cards. Do you count Platinum and Colony? Initially I did. Later I decided not to, and added two cards to Prosperity - Wishing Well and Mint. Wishing Well as you know migrated to Intrigue, but Mint hung around. Originally it did nothing when you bought it. I took that "penalty" from Mountebank. Mint had been too weak and Mountebank too strong, and moving the "penalty" addressed both of those problems. Plus it seems more natural here.

Monument: Originally you tracked VP with Coppers from the supply. You set aside a Copper; at the end of the game it was worth 1 VP. Also the first tested version did not have +$2. It got that in order to be playable. After Seaside it was clear this would use tokens, so I rephrased it, and eventually added more VP token cards so it wouldn't be lonely. Late in the going I realized it could be phrased as "+1 VP" rather than "Take a VP token."

Mountebank: Originally it had the Mint "penalty" and no discarding clause. It was too powerful and left the set. Later I brought it back without the "penalty" (yes it is not really a penalty), then added the Curse-Moating. Briefly you just revealed the Curse (rather than discard it), but I decided that was more hosing than I wanted.

Peddler: The first version was "This costs $2 less per Action played this turn." It came from the ruins of an expansion that only ever existed in 16-card form. That expansion had two themes, one of which was "weird stuff with costs." That was not a good theme. I mean some of the cards were cool but you don't want a bunch of that in one place. Peddler and the Grand Market penalty made it into Prosperity. Late in development I changed Peddler to only change cost during buy phases. This meant now you could Remodel it into Platinum and so forth. The change was for two reasons. First, the Remodel combos are fun and well why not try them out. Second, it made it less confusing. People were always trying to Remodel it and then having to be reminded that no, you played two Peddlers and a Remodel, now it only costs $2. And then, close to the end, I tweaked it to count action cards in play, rather than actions played this turn, so there was nothing to remember.

Quarry: This started out as an action, "+$2. Action cards cost $1 less this turn." It was in Seaside; this was a better home for it. It left the set at some point, then I brought it back as a treasure, which made it a lot sexier.

Rabble: Originally you also revealed your own top 3 cards, discarding the Victory cards. There are two reasons that changed. First, it made the card defend against itself too well, which makes it get played more, which makes the game more oppressive. Second, the card was wordy, and didn't need that extra text to be good enough.

Royal Seal: Originally it was "when you spend this," which is more confusing. When I got rid of those, this one got its "while this is in play" functionality. For a while it triggered on buying, but in the end it triggered on gaining, to line it up with Watchtower.

Talisman: Originally this worked on victory cards; you only need to see so many games of Talisman/Gardens to give up on that. Also it cost $5 and only worked on one card per turn, via a "when you spend this" wording.

Trade Route: This started in the original 4th expansion, and migrated here in the great diaspora of interactive cards. The first version in the 4th expansion was "+1 Card +1 Buy +$1. If anyone got a Province this game, +1 Card." I fixed that up to a less-well-worded version of the card you know when I moved it to Prosperity. Late in the going it got a wording that used tokens and mentioned setup.

Vault: The main set once had a card called Vault that was just "Discard any number of cards. +$1 per card discarded." The top half of Secret Chamber. It cost $4 and then $3 and then it was Secret Chamber. Actually the oldest version was like "victory cards are also coppers this turn," but discarding cards is more flexible and way less confusing. Anyway the original mechanic was just not that good, as evidenced by Secret Chamber getting an additional ability and only costing $2 and still being nothing special. But tack on +2 Cards and you've got a monster. For a long time it had no penalty, but it was just too good.

Venture: This replaced some other treasure midway through development, but never changed. I thought of doing a "when you play this" treasure that drew you a card, and well you'd be sad if the card wasn't a treasure, so it always is.

Watchtower: This showed up late in development, after another card left. Dale complained that the set had no reaction, and this was one I'd been meaning to try. The first version, which lasted only a couple days, also let you put the card into your hand. Destry pointed out the Ironworks combo and so much for that.

Worker's Village: Nothing about this card changed except for where the apostrophe is. I previously had a card that was "+1 Card +1 Action +1 Buy," but it's not exactly fair to say that this is a version of that.

Platinum: This always cost $9 and made $5. $4 is not enough. You have to get to $11 for Colonies; that doesn't just happen. I bet that $5 surprised a lot of people.

Colony: This always cost $11. Originally it made 8 VP. At the time Province was worth 5 VP. When Province went up to 6 VP, I changed this to 9 VP. It stayed like that for a while. 9 VP seemed like a good spot for making both Colony and Province viable in Colony games. In development, Valerie and Dale really wanted it to be worth 10 VP. 1 - 3 - 6 - 10! Except, the 1 and 3 there really don't mean much; Estate and Duchy are not bargains. For a while I said, sure, maybe 9 VP isn't the right value, but you know, it sure has seemed good in testing so far. And it had. It had seemed just fine. I finally tested it at 10 VP anyway though. And well, it usually didn't make a difference in who won, and it made counting scores easier, and it looks prettier. And attacks and rush strategies already push you away from Colony; it's fine if some games you really don't want to stop at Provinces. So 10 VP it is.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of the Dark Ages Cards
« on: August 23, 2012, 03:15:40 pm »
When I showed Dominion off to RGG, I had five expansions. They were: Intrigue; Seaside and Hinterlands combined; Prosperity; "War;" and a large version of Alchemy with a touch of Cornucopia.

War was interaction-themed. Different ways for players to interact. Its cards included versions of Swindler, Trade Route, Tribute, Council Room, and Smugglers. Council Room kept the same name when I moved it to the main set; now you know how it got that name.

War was my favorite expansion, but the problem was, every expansion needed interactive non-attack cards. Every expansion needed a certain percentage of interactive cards, and attacks slow the game down, whereas non-attack interactive cards may not, and may even speed it up. So I had to spread them around. I made War more attack-themed and gave each other set at least one non-attack interactive card. Man do I need an acronym for that? Maybe I am done saying it.

During work on the main set, I briefly tried rearranging everything into 16-card expansions, and at that time I had an expansion that was top-of-your-deck themed. This theme was no good; it's fine for making some cards that play well with each other, but since I do that kind of thing in every set, the theme is invisible. So I broke that one up, and War ended up taking a few of those cards, thinking maybe it would end up with a mild top-of-your-deck subtheme, which fit with some of the attacks. In the end it only kept Armory. Those of you noting that Dark Ages is the 7th expansion, and that in the Secret History for Dominion I say that Adventurer came from the 7th expansion: that 7th expansion was the top-of-deck one. Ditto for Shanty Town.

Around the time I was working in earnest on Cornucopia, I realized I had to decide what to do about the sizes of the last two large sets. The main set and Intrigue were standalones, and so 500 cards; Seaside and Prosperity had playmats and metal tokens. Hinterlands and Dark Ages did not have such things. Could they just be cheaper or what? I did not know yet if that was okay. However, I could dodge the issue for one of the sets by making it a standalone, and it seemed good to do another standalone anyway. I picked Hinterlands for that and worked to keep that set from getting too complex. And then what could Dark Ages have? And of course I realized that it could just have more cards; it could be 500 cards rather than 300. This would let me do some stuff that might not seem worth the space otherwise, like having a new kind of penalty card or cards that turned into other cards. So I expanded the expansion.

The original interactive theme was gone, and the attack theme was not going to cut it. Joe Dominion just doesn't want a heavy attack environment, that's what I think. And anyone who does can rig it themselves by including more attacks on the table. I figured attacks could still be a minor sub-theme, but slowly the cards that worked with attacks left, until Squire is all that remains (yes plus Beggar but that doesn't count). And as I mentioned, the top-of-deck theme was never going to amount to much.

I filled the void with an upgrading theme and a trash theme. Lots of cards turn cards into other cards, or themselves into other cards, and then a bunch of cards care if they're trashed, and a few care about the trash other ways. And of course the stuff I did with the extra 200 cards amounted to various minor themes too.

War was an unacceptable theme for Hans im Gluck, and I knew this basically from the day they took on Dominion. So way back when I knew I would be retheming the set. Dark Ages, there's a theme. It could be the poor to Prosperity's rich. Then when Alchemy became a small set, it looked like this set, though originally 4th, would be the last Dominion set, and that seemed cool too, going out with the Dark Ages (then Guilds got bumped to after it due to the basic cards product, which is also why Hinterlands wasn't a standalone).

Two cards from the original 2007 version of the set remain basically intact - Altar and Band of Misfits. The Knights were in the original set in a different form, and there was a "+1 card +1 action" trasher which can claim to be an ancestor of Rats and Junk Dealer. The other 16 cards went elsewhere or didn't survive, being replaced by 31 new cards, some themselves from other sets but many new to this one. And of course I added those other cards, the Ruins and Shelters and things. The original war flavor and interaction theme are gone, replaced by the Dark Ages, upgrading, and the trash. The original set was my favorite and it turns out the final set is still my favorite. I liked the original for the interaction between players, and I like the final version for the interactions between cards. It is the crazy combos set.

Let's check out the cards!

Altar: This is identical to the original version from 2007 except for name. Originally it was Foundry, then Tinker. I called it Altar so you could sacrifice Cultists to it. No, don't thank me; it's what I'm here for.

Armory: The lone survivor (here) from the failed small expansion with a top-of-your-deck theme. It's a straightforward card that never changed.

Band of Misfits: This has the same base functionality as it originally did in 2007; only the exact wording and what happens in the confusing cases has changed. For a while this left the set, because I didn't think I could get a good enough wording, but finally I decided to go for it. If you use it as Feast you trash it; if you use it as a duration card it stays out. Okay?

Bandit Camp: I started out trying "+1 card, +1 action, gain a Silver." It was a very basic card I hadn't done yet. It was kind of weak. I tried it with the Fool's Gold reaction on the bottom. Then the set needed another village, so I changed it to "+1 card, +2 actions, gain a Silver." At that point people would complain that gaining Silver was at cross-purposes to having a village - the Silver reduces your chance of drawing your actions together. I thought it was fine though; some people won't see that, and if you are a more serious player who does see that, well, does it stop you from buying the card? I think not. And anyway some of the cards have to be simple.

When I was looking for things to do with Spoils, I saw this card, and thought hey, try changing that Silver to Spoils. And that worked out, and somehow people stopped complaining. The one-shot Gold does not water down your village-ing capabilities as much as the Silver did.

Beggar: I had the reaction on the original card, with "gain a Silver" as the top. Long ago I had had a straight "gain a Silver" action for $2, and it wasn't good enough, but it seemed like a reaction might prop it up sufficiently. Then it got "+$1" for good measure. And well the card was fine, if not exciting. Then I decided to change Squire, as told in its story, and it took the cheap Silver-gaining, leaving me to replace the top here. Three Coppers seemed flavorful and interesting.

Catacombs: This started out in Hinterlands. Hinterlands had plenty of card-drawing though, so I moved it here. It seemed like an okay candidate for a when-trashed ability, so I gave it one. It mirrors Border Village.

Count: The premise was a card with two choose one's, one bad and one good. The bad ones were easy. The good ones initially had "+2 Cards +2 Actions," then "trash up to 4 cards from your hand," in place of "trash your hand," and the card had a dividing line and a "you can't buy this unless you have an action in play" restriction. This was a way to stop you from getting it turn one, and was kind of nice otherwise. It was just way too much text though. So I made the Chapel a little harder to use, moved the bad choice to before the good choice so it would only trash 3 cards normally (or 4 and you gain a Copper), and there you have it.

Counterfeit: I tried out a Throne for treasures in Prosperity. It seemed like a classic thing, but it wasn't as popular as I'd hoped, so I dropped it. I rescued it here by having it trash the treasure you Throne, which makes it double as a way to get rid of Coppers, and hey I threw in +$1 and +1 Buy for good measure. Theory of suggested the name.

Cultist: Attacks need to produce resources of some sort; I know from Saboteur and Sea Hag that people don't like it when they don't (yes the Knights don't all, but most do). And well I have gone through all of the simple options. So Cultist had a tricky problem to solve: it had to have resources I'd already given out, and not be too powerful, but not look too weak. Initially it gave +2 Cards and said "each other player gains a Ruins. If he can't, he gains a Curse." It could potentially give out 20 bad cards to each opponent. It was like that for a while, but in the end I decided that getting Curses and Ruins at the same time was something to save for when it came up out of the randomizer, rather than something to build into one nightmare card.

I tried "Cultists cost $1 less this turn," trying to play into the flavor, but that just never did anything. I gave it a sweet when-trashed ability, but some games you can't trash it; it still needed more than +2 Cards. Finally I thought of letting you play another Cultist.

Death Cart: This card exists to provide a way to give yourself Ruins. So that people don't just hate it, it gives you a use for the Ruins it comes with, a use so good that you almost feel like coming with Ruins is a plus. This has a when-gain ability, like those Hinterlands cards. My initial plan was to do these here and there in the sets after Hinterlands, back when Hinterlands was half of the 2nd expansion. That didn't work out, seeing as how Hinterlands is 6th, but well here's another when-gain card anyway.

Feodum: At last, the victory card that counts treasures that you've been waiting for. As explained in the preview, it only counts Silvers in order to be more different from Gardens and not just favor the kind of deck you already wanted. Making it a Silver piņata seemed cool and the card was just like that from the beginning.

Forager: I wanted cards that cared about the trash. There were not a lot of reasonable things to do. If cards care too much, people end up spreading the trash out on the table, and well how big is your table anyway. This mechanic worked fine though. Taking a cue from Trade Route, it cares about the variety of treasures that are in the trash. This normally only goes up, but can go down due to cards that steal from the trash, and that's fun too. The card originally cost $2, so that you could use it to buy two more of them right away, but that turned out to be too strong. An early version I don't remember says "Trash a card from your hand. +$1 per different treasure in the trash, +1 Card per different victory card in the trash," with no +Action/+Buy.

Fortress: Originally this also went back to your hand if you revealed it from your deck. In the end that seemed way too wonky. Without that it ends up just being a village in games without ways to usefully trash it, but well it is pretty cool when you are trashing it. Or someone else is. For a long time the card was called Walled Village, but then I needed that name for the Carcassonne promo.

Graverobber: It's obvious that you could make a card that gets cards from the trash. What's not obbvious is that it will end up looking like this. There was just a straight line that led from the idea to the final card though. It had to provide a way to get good cards into the trash, so that it wouldn't just stare at an empty trash, or a trash full of Coppers and Estates. So, it's a Remodel. Furthermore it's a Remodel that likes to trash actions that cost $5, which is just the kind of thing you're happy getting from the trash. In games where Provinces end up trashed, such as via other Remodels, it's way too good to be able to gain them with Graverobbers, so you can't. It also can't get cheap cards, which was to stop you from getting Madman (a combo we first suffered through for a while). I later changed Madman to not go to the trash, but kept Graverobber at $3 to $6, because that makes things a little easier - you keep one pile of real trash and one pile of good trash - and it meant I could safely do other non-supply $0* cards in the future without worrying about Graverobber, if somehow that comes up.

Hermit / Madman: I quickly tried four variations on the top before settling on what it has. The premise was to let you trash cards that weren't in your hand; it had to also hit them in your hand so you didn't curse your luck on drawing those opening Estates / Shelters too often. Some of the versions trashed cards from the supply, a mechanic I'd first tried on a Seaside outtake, but it hadn't worked then and didn't work this time. And originally it trashed cards from your deck, but your discard pile gives you a similar selection faster.

I tried the bottom on another card that didn't survive, then put it here. Originally I thought I would have several cards that upgraded into specific non-supply cards, but each one both requires 10 extra cards to handle it, and gives me a card with a ton of text on it. So there are only two. The premise originally came from thinking about Pirate Ship, at a point when it was too late to change it. I realized that I could have made it that Pirate Ship either attacked or upgraded, and it upgraded into a Retired Pirate that made money. This change wouldn't have addressed any problems, it was just a cute thing I could have done, if I'd thought of it in time and had been welling to give up a card slot for it. So after that I planned on one day doing such cards. "If you didn't buy anything" was an obvious simple trigger, and a nice fit for a Hermit. If he doesn't go into town often enough, he goes mad.

Madman started as an Intrigue card for $5. At first it was +2 Actions, +3 Cards, trash this; then I moved it to the large version of Alchemy, which at the time was planning on having a hand-related sub-theme, and changed it from +3 Cards to doubling your hand size, because hey, that's cool. Then of course I moved it to Cornucopia when Alchemy ended up being small and Cornucopia took on the hand theme. Then Cornucopia lost that theme, but this card left first; it was too strong. What would happen was Bill Barksdale would be losing, and moaning about it, and he'd buy a Madman, because what other chance did he have, ugh, ugh, ugh. And then he'd buy two more. And he'd have a turn where he played all three and drew his deck and bought out the Provinces. It seemed like a card still worth doing; it just had to be harder to get them. And so it is.

Madman originally was trashed. I switched it to going back to the pile as part of my ruthless weeding out of the Graverobber / Madman combo.

Hunting Grounds: The bottom started out on a victory card worth 3 VP. It was a defense vs. Knights, and cute with Remodels, but not really so worth doing. So I dropped that card, then brought the bottom back with a simple action top. I see from my files that I briefly tried it at $5 with "+3 Cards +1 Buy" before going to the +4 Cards version.

Ironmonger: This was briefly in Hinterlands long ago. I forget why I dropped it. When I put it here, initially you always discarded the card. Some people hate flipping over their good cards though, so I tried a version where you could keep the card if you wanted, and as you can see that worked out.

Junk Dealer: This was a relatively late addition. I wanted another +1 Card +1 Action thing for $5. I tried a version of this that only gave you the +$1 if the trash had at least 10 cards in it, then 5, and then I just gave you the +$1.

Knights: How about a pile where every card is different? To keep from being too much to remember, they could be variations on a theme. Thus was my thinking back when, and the 2007 version of the set had a pile of Knights. They each had "Each other player trashes the top card of his deck," which was my standard trashing attack in those days, plus a bonus that varied by Knight. At that time kingdom card piles were 12 cards, and exactly 12 people had played Dominion when I made the first version of the expansion, so I had a Knight for each of them.

When the top-card-trashing attacks all died their deserved deaths, I had to find a way to fix up the Knights. I settled on trashing cards in the range $3-$6. I tried other ranges, man, don't think I didn't. If the lower limit is $4, you always buy Silver over $4's, which makes the game less fun. If the top limit is $5, you always buy Gold over $5's, which makes the game less fun. $3-$6 is the range that does not actually stop you from building a deck with actions, while not helping your opponents by trashing junk, and not being so swingy as to trash Provinces. I could have gone $3-$7 but decided to let the $7's be excitingly immune to Knights.

The Knights slowed down the game, and needed some penalty to mildly keep them in check. They still slow down the game, but you know, not quite as much. They are for the people who like this kind of thing, and well some people adore them, slower game and all. Some people are all, my cards, my precious cards, and well there are plenty of other cards in the set for those guys. Sometimes someone else's cool fun thing trashes your cards, that's just the way it is. Anyway where was I. A penalty. I let them Moat each other, which was okay, and also tried letting any attack Moat them. I think Bill Barksdale suggested having them kill each other. It's a good penalty because it means if people go heavy into Knights, they kill each other off and then there are not as many of them.

The 12-card pile had a few abilities that have not survived. There were a few that scaled with the number of players in a way that I sometimes am okay with but which wasn't great. Like, +$1 per treasure trashed. There was one that attacked the turn you got it: the Hinterlands Knight. And all of the original resource abilities were weaker - it was +1 Card etc. rather than +2 Cards etc. The Knights needed to be better, and improving the bonuses was more fun than improving the attack.

The Knights are still all named after real people, so hey let's meet them! Some of them are even illustrated on the cards, although two declined, two are small children, and some of the remaining six resemble the actual person more than others.

Dame Josephine / Dame Natalie / Dame Sylvia: My wife and daughters.

Dame Molly / Sir Destry: Two friends who were in the first game of Dominion, along with me and Dame Josephine. For you Prosperity fans, Dame Molly is the one who suggested "spendy" as an expansion theme.

Sir Martin / Dame Anna: A friend who would have been in that game, but he'd moved away some months earlier, and his girlfriend.

Sir Bailey: Dame Molly's boyfriend, and the second person to have a copy of Dominion. He was also the first person to make homemade cards, if mine don't count, and he made Courtyard.

Sir Vander / Sir Michael: My e-friend who suffered through endless conversations about Dominion but did not playtest much, and another e-friend who playtested a bunch.

Marauder: Originally it gave you a Silver; now you get a Spoils.

Market Square: Once Intrigue had the top half. By the time I was working on Intrigue for publication, it didn't seem worth a slot. I brought it back here because I needed a simple top for the reaction. Before that I tried the reaction paired with Fool's Gold's top.

Originally the reaction was, you could trash this to gain a Gold when one of your cards was trashed. Time has shown that gaining a Gold is not as awesome as it looks (btw spoilers), and I eventually got around to testing the stronger version that made it into the set.

The reaction also dates back to Intrigue. I had a reaction that let you gain a copy of a card of yours that was trashed. To be good enough it had to give you Gold instead.

Mystic: This is a late card, from a point where I had a couple slots to fill, and wanted $5's that didn't use up your action. I made a list of cards to try, and we tried them, and this one stood out. It's just Wishing Well with +$2 instead of +1 Card. Only, as with Highway vs. Bridge, that change means that various combos that don't work with Wishing Well actually work with Mystic.

Pillage: Discarding a card the attacker picks was a basic thing I hadn't done yet. It's so rude that the card is a one-shot. Originally it gained two cards costing up to $4 each, but that was too good. Now you get Spoils.

Poor House: This started in Prosperity. At the time I thought having a few anti-theme cards in a set would be cool. It turns out it's not; it just makes those cards less likely to be played when playing with kingdom cards heavy on whatever expansion. So Poor House moved to Hinterlands, and while it seemed fine there, one day it seemed like, why isn't this in Dark Ages.

The original card got you +$5 if you had no treasure in hand. Sir Bailey suggested changing it so that you got varying amounts of money depending on how close you came to no treasures. Then for a long time it cost $2, but Sir Martin suggested having it cost $1 for flavor reasons. It makes a functional difference in various situations and that's cool too.

Procession: There was an ancestor of this card in the original large Alchemy. It was, play an action from your hand, trash it, gain an action costing up to +$2 or +Potion, play it. So you could go, play a Moneylender, trash it, gain a Golem, play the Golem. It was crazy and confusing but had a certain something.

Another Throne variant in Dark Ages didn't work out, and I thought of that old card and made this one. It does not go so crazy but can still facilitate a cool transforming engine.

Rats: Here it is, my favorite Dominion card. Your kingdom, overrun with rats! And somehow this will work out for you! There had been a card back when that was "+1 card +1 action, trash this or a card from your hand." It had cost $2 and was crazy. When I thought of making an action that gave you copies of itself, I brought it back as the action. Of course it can't trash copies of itself, because then it would be crazy again. There were a few versions of this that tried different ways to balance the card, and to address the issue of, what if I just buy one Rats when they're all but sold out, to get a good trasher with no penalty. Some versions had a penalty if you couldn't gain a Rats. In the end the key was making Rats a 20-card pile, and giving you a bonus for trashing it.

Rebuild: A late addition. I had an empty slot, and noticed that all of the large expansions gave you answers to the question, how do I deal with these dead victory cards? Intrigue has victory cards that aren't dead; Seaside lets you set them aside with Island, and, if you're crafty, Native Village; Prosperity has VP tokens; Hinterlands pushes card filtering. So I tried this out. Originally it didn't give +1 Action, but that version could not compete.

Rogue: Back when, Intrigue had a card called Bandit: "Each other player reveals the top 2 cards of his deck and trashes one. Gain one of the trashed cards." For $4. So, like a Thief that can steal anything, although the attacked player got to pick what to lose. Like Thief, Bandit would helpfully eat Coppers for your opponents, but at least it threatened to take Provinces later. I tweaked it into a card that cost $5, looked at the top 3 cards, and only trashed stuff costing from $3 to $6. Then I took it out of the set. It was slowing games down and did not have that certain something.

A few years later, I made a new version as what Urchin turned into. It looked at the top two now, still trashing something for from $3 to $6. This was in the set for a while, then got upped to taking any $3-$6 card from the trash, not just one that was just trashed. But one day I got too fed up with it. The problem was, it was the kind of attack you might feel like buying to fight itself, only you couldn't - you had to buy Urchins and get them to upgrade, which can take a while when you start on it later. Bandit was normally just a thorn in your side, but some games it would get played a ton and take your stuff and you couldn't even get in on it.

So, I replaced what Urchin turned into with Mercenary, and made this new Bandit, now a Rogue. He only trashes or gains, not both at once, and he can't trash if there's anything to gain. He does make +$2 though, which makes all the difference. Some games there is stuff in the trash right away, like Hermits, and the Rogue never gets to trash cards, but well that's the kindler gentler Dark Ages that people prefer.

Sage: The initial version was +1 Action, name a card, draw the next card that you haven't named for Sages yet this turn. So with multiple Sages it would get more selective. I pared that down to just drawing you a $3+.

Scavenger: At one point I thought I might push doing stuff with the discard pile as a subtheme. I didn't really, although a few cards care about it. Scavenger lets you pick a card from your discard pile to draw. To make sure there is something, it lets you put your deck there first. Originally you had to put your deck into your discard pile; Wei-Hwa Huang argued for making it optional, to get rid of certain cases where you were sad to do it. And as a result you can set up multiple cards with it, if you play multiple Scavengers and only flip the first time.

Squire: The first version of this, from way back when, was the not-so-similar-looking "+1 card +1 action, you may play an attack or buy a Silver." It was a village that only played attacks, or a +buy that only worked on Silver. When it turned out that I wouldn't be doing more cards that let you buy cards in the action phase, due to Black Market being confusing, I dropped buying Silvers (at that point "buy a Treasure") and added, "when trashed, gain an attack." Now the card was just a blank cycler in games with no attacks. For a while I thought that was okay, but people sure complained about it. I made it, "when trashed, gain an attack or silver," but of course some games there's no way to trash it either.

I liked the bottom, so the solution was to give it a spiffy top that you would always be happy with. And there it is, a counterpart to Steward. It took "gain a Silver" from Beggar and well that worked out too.

Storeroom: This was an old idea that I had briefly tried and forgotten about long ago. I wanted a card-filterer to help dig through your Ruins and saw this on a list and thought hey, let's try that again.

Urchin: I wanted an attack that learned how to be a better attack. The initial attack had to be weak, and it had to have +1 card +1 action, making it need to be even weaker. "Discard down to 4" was an obvious candidate and worked out immediately. It can hurt, but is often inoffensive.

Originally it turned into an earlier version of Rogue, as told in that story. When that didn't work out I tried Mercenary. It's a bigger discard-based attack, so you can feel like your Urchin got better at that kind of thing. Otherwise it was a card I'd tried as a regular kingdom card in the set but which had been too good. It's still pretty snazzy if your Urchins hit right away. It's a Steward that does all three things!

Vagrant: It's a Lab where the extra card is always bad. Actually that would be more powerful but slower; it doesn't guarantee you a bad card, it just can't do better. Sometimes you're happy with blank cards to discard to something, and when you aren't, at least it can clear a bad card out of the way of your next draw. It's not going to be a star, but some cards that cost $2 have to really look like they're just a $2.

Wandering Minstrel: In Cornucopia I tried out a card that was +$2, name a type, dig for it, leave the first match on top. It would have been "strictly better" than Chancellor at $3 (since you could name a type that wasn't in your deck), and I didn't want to charge $4 for it or give it an awful condition specifically to make it worse than Chancellor (a card not famous for being strong). So I dropped it. I turned it into a village in Guilds, then moved it to Dark Ages, where I made it always dig for actions, with no choice. That card was a bit too strong and also slowed down games more than an ideal amount. So now it just looks at the top 3 cards and leaves the actions on top.

I haven't covered a few of the extras, so let's do those:

Ruins: Back when, the main set had Confusion - a blank card - and an attack that gave it out. Confusion just wasn't worth the 30 or 50 extra cards it required. It plays so much like Curse. When I decided to make Dark Ages 500 cards, I of course thought of Confusion. Confusion still wasn't worth doing though. But what about more interesting penalty cards? They wouldn't need to be all the same even. And well there they are, the Ruins. It was always those five. Some people argued that Ruined Village was more funny than worth printing; it's easily the worst one, and in a multiplayer game someone just randomly got handed it while someone else got Abandoned Mine. But I thought that wasn't so bad, and felt that it was important that it be very easy to learn the Ruins. Four are +1's and then there's Survivors. Bam.

I needed a rule for putting out the pile, and so put "Looter" on the bottom of the relevant kingdom cards. It seemed like it would be confusing if the Ruins pile wasn't in the supply, so it is; that meant the top card had to be visible, so that for example if I name it for Contraband we know that that's what you'd be buying (and you can't). This means you have to carefully deal them out in turn order and well that was as good as it got.

Shelters: Tom Lehmann suggested replacing starting Estates with something else, to make the environment feel more Dark Ages-y. I thought this was a great idea. Ruins obv. doesn't work, because some people would make out, unless we picked specific ones. And Curse isn't very interesting. But I could just make up three new cards, which is what I did. Necropolis shakes up early turns, since you can stomach more in the way of terminal actions; Overgrown Estate gives you a little prize if you crack it open eventually; and Hovel tempts you into buying a victory card when you might not have.

Hovel is the only one that changed. Originally it was an action you could trash by discarding your hand. It turned out that trashing it turn 1-2 usually seemed like the correct play, even if you drew it with four Coppers. So that was no good. Hovel as printed has nice flavor going for it; you move out of your old Hovel and into a nice Duchy.

Spoils: One day looking through my ideas file I decided it was time to try out "card that makes a one-shot Gold." The first version was just that: cost $3, you gain a Spoils. It seemed cute but was weak, so I gave it +1 Action. At that point it still seemed weak, but people bought it anyway.

I knew some people would be all, where are the other cards that make Spoils? And I was not possibly giving them another way to get Madmen or Mercenaries. So I thought, maybe three cards total could make Spoils. So I went looking for something else to stick Spoils on. It ended up on Marauder, Pillage, and Bandit Camp.

Then the original card died, because it just didn't have much going for it at that point.

You originally trashed Spoils, and could get them from the trash. It seemed simpler if they returned to the pile. It drops some words from the three cards that give them out, and matches Madman. Forager can still put a Spoils in the trash, it just doesn't get that handed to it for nothing.

On to the endless outtakes.

- The reaction part of Trader started here, first by itself, and then for a while as a treasure-reaction worth $1. The top half of Inn started here too, for $4 (it was fine, I just needed someplace to put the bottom half of Inn). There was also a similar card here later, "+2 Cards +1 Action, discard a card," for $4, which ended up being too good. Spice Merchant without the Woodcutter option was here, but didn't exactly lead to Spice Merchant. Fool's Gold was in here at one point, in addition to the bottom being tried on Bandit Camp. Cartographer started here; it was a simple card that seemed perfect for Hinterlands, at the time a standalone.

- Swindler, Trade Route, Tribute, and Council Room started here. Council Room originally cost $4; Tribute didn't say "differently named" and revealed the top card of each adjacent player; Swindler didn't give +$2 and instead gave them a card for $2 less than the trashed card; and Trade Route was "+1 Card +1 Buy +$1, if a Province has been gained this game, +1 Card." Smugglers had its roots in a card here that was "+$2, cards gained on the previous turn cost $1 less this turn." I tried a victory card with the Horse Traders reaction here. Hunting Party and Spy were briefly in this set before getting whisked away.

- Vineyard was in the set for a while, sometimes with a reaction. Masquerade visited. Monument was here for a bit, after leaving Prosperity and before returning to it. The card that ended up being Horn of Plenty was here for a while after leaving Intrigue. When it was here it was some version of, "+2 Actions +1 Buy, while this is in play, when you play an action +$1."

- There was an attack that gave out Confusions and doubled as a Moat. There was an attack that was +1 Card +1 Action, name a type, each other player reveals their top card and trashes it if it matches. I tried a weaker version that only hit $3-$6's before killing it.

- For a long time there was an attack which in its best form was "+$2, they trash the top card of their deck and gain a cheaper card that shares a type with it, or a Ruins if they can't." I liked it. Eventually I decided though that there was enough hatred of trashing attacks out there that I should just stick with the Knights (plus Rogue, but it's only a fractional attack).

- There was an attack, gain an Estate, they gain a Curse, for $3. It dominated games too much. I replaced it with Marauder, and used the Estate/Curse thing on Followers.

- There was a trashing attack that could only trash cards that didn't match cards in the trash.

- There was a Spy variant for $2 that put bottom cards on top or didn't.

- There was a flipped version of Margrave - +2 Cards, each other player discards down to 2, then draws a card. Oh man. So painful. A version that was around for a while cost $4 and gave you 2 Silvers if it was trashed. Another version cost $5 but came with a Spoils.

- After that attack died, I tried, they discard down to 3, you look through your discard pile and either get a card from it into your hand or draw 2 cards. It needed the +2 Cards option in case your discard pile was empty. Well I decided Scavenger was okay, but you don't need to see too many of these getting back Platinums.

- Early on Intrigue had had a one-shot that played every attack in your deck (digging them out of it). It moved here and stopped being a one-shot, then gained the setup of "add an attack pile to the game." It was in the set for a while, producing gigantic piles of pain.

- There was a village that had you Spy first whenever you played an attack. Play three of them and you'd be making three decisions per player per attack. I liked it for a while.

- There was a Throne Room variant that gave +1 Card +1 Action, and had every opponent play the card you Throned on their next turn. It had built-in super-crazy just by playing it on itself.

- Another Throne was "Choose one: +1 Card +1 Action; or Throne." It cost $4 when Throne Room itself cost $3. When Throne Room had to cost $4 there was no place for this card, which would be sad at $5.

- Another Throne hung around, set aside, until you wanted to use it (it was $5 and also gave you +1 Action when played). This works differently from Throne in multiples; two of them would let you do an action three times total, since each one just did it an extra time. This card was cool and was in the set for a while, but setting it aside indefinitely was problematic - in the past we've included playmats for that, and I didn't want playmats here - and the card was strong. A few times Bill Barksdale built a deck with lots of these Thrones and an Altar, which would take advantage of not actually having to trash a card to Altar if there are none in your hand, and would suddenly buy a pile of Duchies. One of those games, Bill pared his deck down to just an Altar and five copies of this Throne, drew the five Thrones and then watched a trashing attack trash his Altar. Good times.

- Another Throne had you draw 2 cards, play an action twice, then discard 3 cards. That may look straightforward, but it's all kinds of weird.

- I had discarding victory cards for +$2 each. It started out at $4, went up to $6, moved to Hinterlands, then was dropped for not being interesting enough.

- There was a Remodel that put the card into your hand. Originally it didn't give +1 Action; then it did and was crazy.

- There was a Remodel for $4 that Remodel'd one of the top 3 cards of your deck, putting the new card on top. I thought it was a keeper, but in one set of surveys it became clear that it was a dud for several playtesters.

- Another Remodel turned one card into two different cards that each cost exactly $2 more. I did Develop instead.

- There was a victory card for $6 that was worth 2 VP and you gained two copies of it. That runs out the pile twice as fast, so I changed it to 1 VP but it came with a Duchy. That moved to Hinterlands, was there for a while, then left when I made Border Village cost $6.

- I tried a victory card that was worth 1 VP per 3 copies of whatever action you had the most copies of. I had a few different reactions on the bottom, including Moat and giving you a new hand when attacked.

- I tried a version of Wall here, which had been a Hinterlands card that I did a better way as Island, then tried to do another version of for a while. The version here was an action-victory worth 2 VP with "look through your discard pile, shuffle all but 5 cards from it into your deck." The various Walls all were ways to shuffle your deck without so much garbage in it; I dropped it from Hinterlands in the end because I did Inn.

- There was an old old card, gain a Silver to hand, each other player gains a Copper to hand, for $5. Way back when, we didn't know any better, and this card seemed okay. Then I tried a bunch of things to make this good enough, eventually drifting into "+1 Card +1 Action +$1, each other player gains a Copper in hand then discards down to 4." In the end nothing has survived. Giving other players Copper is bad in general because the pile varies in size so much, depending on the number of players and whether or not you add together the main set and Intrigue. It's fine if the attack is limited as to how much Copper it will really give out, like Jester and Noble Brigand and Ambassador.

- There was a card from Seaside, "+$2, when you discard this from play you may put this on your deck," for $3. It seemed innocent for a long long time. Steve Wampler eventually demonstrated that it was not. Scavenger provides a way to get that +$2 every turn, but you need two of them, and might draw them together.

- I tried a few ways to give you a combination of +'s that you picked. It sounded like something but was never interesting.

- There was "+1 buy +$1, if you buy a 2nd card on a turn with this in play, trash this and gain 2 Silvers." I tried a few different "turns into 2 Silvers" cards over the years; this was its last stand.

- When it looked like Band of Misfits wouldn't survive, I made a card that was just a big choose one with the kinds of things you'd like to see on the table with Band of Misfits.

- A few cards tried to provide other uses for the Ruins pile. One was "+1 Card +1 Action, play the top Ruins, put it on the bottom." It was cute but there's a tracking issue. I did Ironmonger instead. Another card played the top four Ruins. It gave you +$3 instead if the Ruins ran out, because what fun is that.

- Here's a weird one. Woodcutter, copies of cards in the trash cost $1 less this turn; setup: we each put a kingdom card into the trash. Let me tell you, some slow decisions there, and then you have to keep the trash all spread out. It was interesting though. Those of you complaining about the Band of Misfits FAQ, this is how you could get King's Court to cost less than Band of Misfits.

- The original main set had "Trash a card from your hand, discard a card, draw 3 cards." I dropped it from the main set for being redundant; there were other trashers. I slotted it right into Intrigue and then bumped it from there too. I stuck it here and well. It was interesting in its day, but wasn't so interesting these days, being similar to various other cards.

- An old card drew you 2 extra cards in your next hand, and was a Moat. The idea was to increase your chance of having reactions in hand for attacks.

- A few times over the years, I tried to make a card that cost the other players a victory card at the end of the game. It attacks your score. This version I'm looking at was an "Action - Endgame." I tried versions that made one card not score, or two. At two no-one scores. At one it just wasn't interesting enough. The rest of the card can't exactly compensate; the text doing this weird thing has to be worth it.

- I tried $2, "+1 Card +1 Action, each player draws a card." It's pretty rude with Militias.

- I briefly had a card-drawer that gave you cards when it was trashed. I guess that still describes Cultist.

- A somewhat late card read, "+1 Buy +$2, while this is in play, when you gain a card, you may trash a card from your hand." It was fine, it was just lackluster. I see another Woodcutter here I don't remember; Woodcutter, a card costs $1 less this turn per copy you reveal from your hand.

- Another late card was a treasure-victory card, worth $1 plus $1 per nontreasure in your hand, and worth 1 VP per 10 cards in the trash. The VP part was crazy, and I replaced this with a treasure worth $1 per different card type in your hand. It was cute in all-Dark Ages games and not so great otherwise. It flirted with staying in the set, then I replaced it with Rebuild.

- More late cards, briefly tested in case they somehow worked out, all costing $5. A two-use Gold (you trash it and gain a Spoils). +3 Cards, we all set aside a card from our hand, then we all take one of those cards. +1 Card +1 Action, When you gain or trash this each other player gets a Ruins. +1 Card +1 Action +$1, may discard x cards to gain a card costing $x. +4 Cards, +1 Action, discard 3 cards. And there was a hot potato card - you passed it left when you played it and got some benefit, and at end of game it was worth negative VP - that I tested but did not make a prototype card image for. The slot all these cards were tested for went to Mystic.

- A few cards moved to Guilds, including one that then didn't survive there, but that story will have to wait.

True story!

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