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Dominion Isotropic / Re: Isotropic
« on: June 20, 2011, 02:48:19 pm »
Yes it is legal. Donald X does his official card-testing on it, so he is absolutely fine with it.

What's this now? I don't think there have ever been cards on Isotropic that aren't published yet. This sounds like a mutated version of the fact (from the Isotropic FAQ) that Donald X helpfully provided the set of prototype artwork that he used for the Kingdom cards. (They all seem to be free images anyway, from places like Wikipedia, but it's nice that Donald himself picked them out.)

There is in fact a nonpublic version of isotropic with unpublished cards.

Possession is weak, really?
The other big surprise for me is your unreserved love for Tournament.
Well there are arguments as to why Possession might not be so incredible given its cost, but I'm not really here to discuss strategy. I'm not scared of Possession, and I haven't been in any messed-up games with it, except for ones involving other cards that no longer exist.
I thought Tournament would be such a hit because it was such a hit! That was my line of reasoning there. There was no-one saying, what is this nonsense. There were arguments about the specifics and the prizes and well that's all covered in the Secret History.
I checked the last 10 logged playtest games with Tournament. There were two where no-one bought it, and four where everyone bought it. In the four games with a mix, two games had someone with Tournament and a prize win; one had someone with Tournament but no prizes win; and one had someone without Tournament win (over someone with a prize and someone without one, and this was not a Colony game). The cards get way more testing by the public than by the playtesters, and the playtesters aren't necessarily the best players ever, but still, you can obv. have a group of decent players that do not have a problem with Tournament.

added in more to appeal to the typical board game players (which, to be fair, is probably the anticipated audience) than strongly incorporated into the mechanics themselves.
No, some people like to think that RGG made a marketing-based decision on the flavor, but really, I didn't have any medieval-themed games at the time, had been meaning to do a kingdom-building game, and thought this was a reasonable fit. In the main set, Circus was renamed to Festival, Militia and Bureaucrat switched at one point (see Secret History), and everything else has the original playtest name.
Dominion is a simple game. That means the game isn't adding rules just for the flavor. The cards themselves do support flavor to varying degrees, but the best flavor requires the most text. Thief was easy, but nothing was ever going to be great flavor for "+3 Cards."
At the micro level, there are the cards.  There are some themes that are obvious/easy to perceive (villages being the obvious...but then there's University and Festival).  Here are some cards that I just don't get:
The idea is that +2 Actions is a group of people doing things for you. Most of them are Villages, but this is how University and Nobles fit in.
Baron: Nobles is a victory card; Duke is a victory card; why not Baron?
It's not like that. Why aren't Nobles and Duke tracts of land, that's the question. And the answer is, well Duke is named that because it involves Duchies, and Nobles uh well maybe they're attracted by the tracts.
Baron involves Estates, that's how it got that name. He's a real Estate Baron.
Library:  Library lets you set aside action cards, which often leaves you with a handful of victory cards and coins.  Why does a library get you those?  Shouldn't it get you actions?  My guess with this particular card is that it originally did get you only actions, but was probably overpowered in that version.
No, it didn't change except for the precise wording. Library was the kind of name I wanted in Alchemy, where the card started, and well I guess I've been influenced all these years by MtG equating card-drawing with knowledge. There is no such equating in Dominion; I decided early on that "+Cards" would have no flavor, because a card like Torturer wants to be named for the relevant new part of the card, not for the +3 Cards.
Chapel:  What does trashing cards have to do with chapels?  Is there a theme with religious figures/buildings/rooms and trashing (e.g., bishop)?  Why? 
Well this one is easy. When you trash Coppers and Estates, you're giving them to charity, and when you trash Curses, that's an exorcism.
Those a few off the top of my head, but I know there are others that come up (are all attacks themed as people?  What is the mechanical difference between a card representing a person and one representing a building?  Why only use verbs on the trash for a new card effects (remodel, upgrade, etc.)
There's no specific reason for person vs. building, just whichever sounds better on the card, except yes, attacks are usually people. Remodel was a verb and then the rest just imitated it. One-shots were events, back when there were more of them.

moat's defensive ability fits its flavor perfectly, but why does it draw cards?
Because it would be too awful if it didn't! And really that sums it up. You are not gonna do better on naming Moat; you really have to just ignore the +2 Cards when naming, except when that's all the card does. And then, do you drop the +2 Cards so the card has better flavor? No, you do not do that, it doesn't matter how good the flavor is on a card no-one is ever buying.

Dominion Isotropic / Re: Decline of civility on isotropic?
« on: June 19, 2011, 07:06:13 pm »
I am totally sympathetic towards the guy who wanted to see just how well his deck could perform, and totally unsympathetic towards the guy who made the other guy wait for the timeout.

Them being a jerk doesn't justify you being a jerk. The only time you being jerk is justified is when it's hilarious. And that takes an audience so it really can't apply here.

Timeouts may be honest, but I think the obvious trick is just, track the timeouts by player, and if a player tends to only timeout on later turns in losing positions, drop them from the leaderboard. The leaderboard is the only prize here, so that's as much as you can do. It's the internet; you will always be up against twelve-year-olds some of the time, and the system just has to deal with it as best it can.

Edit: Also I hate how this forum software adds blank lines.

Once in a while someone will mention to me, "you know, I don't like Dominion," and man I am fine with that. I am not too insecure on that front. It didn't win Austrian game of the year, that's how I put it. Anyway here you all are probably relatively fond of it, but feel free to hate whatever cards. I don't mind. There are certainly some love/hate cards.

Here then is what I think of these hated Dominion cards.

Possession: Possession has two possible problems in my book. First it has that gigantic FAQ. The FAQ might have killed it if there had been more time to work on the set. It's crazy long, even if mostly it just says, "yes really, they take a turn but you make the decisions." Second it's a love/hate card in a small set. You could argue that love/hate cards should be in large sets, where the hate matters less, because, you know, it's a smaller percentage of your cards. Whereas I don't think that diminishes love so much. Somehow. Anyway it was the first small set and I did not think about such things. Other than those things I like the card. I find it to be on the weak side; it kind of has a "fun tax" - cards that give you extra turns have to be weak in general so that players don't bore you too much with them. Not that Possession is boring. Anyway it was gonna be a love/hate card, no question, but there are people who love it and they couldn't play it if it didn't exist, and man it's easy enough to fight against. Don't build a deck that buys two Provinces a turn vs. Possession; that's a good place to start.

Saboteur: This has four strikes against it. First it's a way to trash people's precious cards. It is totally worth making some of those cards, for the people that adore them, but they need to be especially fun for those people, which Saboteur is not. Second it's an attack with no resource production. You know, it just attacks. That sounded fine to me, but it turns out some people don't like that. This isn't a love/hate thing though; no-one loves it. It's not important to the game to have such cards and I already did a couple, so I wouldn't be expecting too many more. Third it's weak. In fact it's the weakest card in the game, relative to its cost. Something had to be and well that something is Saboteur. Fourth it has lots of tiny text. That's something I like to reserve for really adored cards. Overall Saboteur is the Dominion card least justified in existing.

Smugglers: I like Smugglers a lot. Flavorwise it should probably be "non-vp card" rather than "card costing up to $6," but of course functionally it's significant that it isn't necessarily dead late in the game. I think Smugglers went over well in general and it looks out of place on this list to me. Sure your opponent might Throne Smugglers after you buy Gold or Duchy. Man, they're your opponent, they've gotta do something to bother you.

Treasure Map: In playtesting the struggle was making sure this was good enough to sometimes go for. Once it made 3 Golds and they didn't go on top. Some people do single this out as a high-variance card they don't like. I think the hate is similar to Pirate Ship's; in some groups everybody buys it, thus whoever bought it and got luckiest wins, and then the card looks broken when really it requires good card interactions to be exciting. King's Court has higher variance and gets fewer complaints, though some people do hate it (especially, players who are really focused on skill winning out); I think there it's just, playing something three times is something a lot of people can appreciate, and the card isn't as blatant about its variance. And then Platinum, I bet a lot of people don't even think of Platinum as high-variance. Certainly no-one complains about it. So anyway yeah, Treasure Map, not the swingiest card, but very in your face about its swinginess.

Familiar: Some people just don't like the Potion concept. I knew this, thought the set was still worth doing, but put it last. Then it jumped up to 3rd after they decided they wanted small sets. The cards in Alchemy have to be good enough when they're the only Alchemy card out, and if they are then you may draw your Potion without quite enough money. The general solution is not to do this kind of thing in Dominion expansions, but in spin-offs instead, where you can ensure that there's always plenty of whatever, and then balance the cards for that situation.

Swindler: I like Swindler a lot, now you know. It's everything I want out of a trashing attack. Let's compare it to Saboteur. Swindler trashes people's precious cards. It can't usually get rid of a Province though (yes it can on the last turn, and there's Peddler sometimes, or combos). And sometimes other cards are safe from it, e.g. Gold with no other $6. It does produce resources, a generous +$2. It's not weak. And it doesn't have lots of tiny text! It's a fine length. Also it adds a decision that's sometimes interesting, and puts cards in your deck that you didn't want but which might be useful anyway. It does add luck, and especially hurts when they hit your $5 early, say while hitting someone else's Estate, but it also adds skill. You see people blow it on that decision so often; the funniest case is where they hit Silver and cannot bear to give you a Swindler for it.

Black Market: For the prototype I don't have separate different-backed randomizer cards - I use one card from each pile for the randomizer, add it to the pile to play, then return one to the randomizer pile afterwards. You can do this with real cards too, and if you do, then you don't actually ever need to build a Black Market deck. Those of you who just don't like the setup, there you go. I have played with Black Market a lot, but have never actually endured the setup it proposes. Those of you who don't like that only one person ends up with a particular card, well that was the premise, some people like that a lot, and hey it's a promo.

Tournament: Aside from being so complex that it has a 2x2 payoff grid and then requires you to read five other cards to know the whole story, I think of Tournament as a slam dunk, the kind of card every set is desperate to have. I did not expect any complaints about the rich-get-richer aspect of it; there is so much rich-get-richer in Dominion.

Goons: I am pleased with this card. It was a late addition with several restrictions - it had to be an attack that was suitable for Prosperity and didn't give out Curses; it had to give out VP tokens; it had to be justifiable with that art (leftover from Pawn). The attack part feels tacked on, but the other part is cool. It's nice that while the VP tokens part is cumulative, the attack part isn't. It's a good $6 but not an automatic purchase. Some people never get tired of raking in the VP tokens, and there are cute combos like Watchtower.

Ambassador: The attacks in Dominion fall into four categories, and it's easy for the attack part of an attack to feel like nothing new, leaving the resource part to try to make the card unique. So I am very pleased with Ambassador, which feels very different from other attacks in its family. It's cool that people sometimes buy Curses to give them away with it, and it's fun when you end up giving someone a random action you don't want anymore. I can see experienced players getting sick of it, since it's powerful, but I think at first glance it doesn't look scary; there's some play value in gradually learning what kind of monster you're dealing with.

For me, the worst cards to see in a set of 10 are Spy variants. The reason is, they mess up testing. I'm testing a new card, Sheep. I buy it. You hit it with Spy and make me discard it. Next pass through my deck, same thing. Well I am not learning anything about Sheep this game.

I like seeing high variance cards on the table - it takes the pressure off. I can just relax and play. It wasn't my fault I lost, officer, the King's Court did it. I like fighting against attacks. Some of the most hated cards, like Possession and Saboteur, I usually don't even buy, because I'm trying to win. I don't mind Chapel in games where there's no good alternative; we all buy Chapel, it's a fast game, and there are still other decisions. I don't have trouble counting for Philosopher's Stone, although if I had it to do again I would put it (back) into Prosperity (with Bank, formerly from Alchemy, in Alchemy), to reduce the overall sense of the set being slow.

Well it's no surprise that I like the cards, I mean anything I hated did not have much of a chance of making it into a set.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Keeping track of turns...
« on: June 18, 2011, 11:14:44 pm »
I snuck the rule for Outpost into the Possession FAQ, so it is actually a rulebook rule, just not one that comes with Seaside.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Pirate Ship in 3+ player games.
« on: June 18, 2011, 06:02:08 pm »
My heart made a little jump when I read your name. It's great to have you here.
thx guys. Just try not to be intimidated into not saying how much you hate Pirate Ship or whatever. I can take it, honest. And here's a little more on the Pirate Ship front.

Pirate Ship originally was an action-victory card worth points based on the stolen treasures. That card wasn't attractive enough and one day I replaced it with essentially the card you know.

We tried it for the first time in a 3-player game. We all bought it. One of us won. Afterwards someone said, well that was obv. broken.

I argued with them for a bit, then we played again with the same 10 cards. This time I didn't buy Pirate Ship and I won.

This has been the story of Pirate Ship from the beginning. Most of the time you can beat it handily, regardless of the number of players or how many go for it. They trash your Coppers for you! That's a significant penalty. You don't need to go treasureless to beat it either. Nevertheless some groups think it's unbeatable, everyone buys it, someone who bought it wins. It lends itself to this behavior by being an action that makes money that makes you want an action that makes money.

Arguably balancing cards for experts isn't the be-all end-all. A card that's too powerful for beginners may be worth changing just for that reason. I try to pay attention to this, and to avoid cards that defend too well vs. themselves, but some get out, and there's Pirate Ship. If it's bumming you out, try beating it, that's my advice.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Pirate Ship in 3+ player games.
« on: June 17, 2011, 04:02:37 am »
I've slowly become more and more convinced that the various card powers in Dominion are actually best balanced for a 3-player game,
I can't say if this is true, but it's definitely the intention. Ideally any card is balanced regardless of the number of players. When a card varies in power level noticeably with the number of players (but is still worth making), it typically either gets better with more players or gets worse with more players. So the way to make it as balanced as possible is to balance it for 3 players (yes we supported 5-6 but those games aren't typical).

That said, Pirate Ship would not be my example. I do not think there is a number of players that makes it overpowered.

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