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Author Topic: Which expansion is underpowered? Overpowered? An analysis of Qvist's rankings  (Read 13023 times)

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Merudo

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Which expansion has the most powerful cards? Which one has the most useless ones? I tried to answer this question by analysis the data from Qvist's 2014 Rankings. (Note: since Alchemy cards have their own special costs, I excluded them from this list)

Here, I define a cards as “underpowered” if it is ranked in the 25% worst cards for its cost category ($1-2, $3, $4, $5, $6+). In my experience, these underpowered cards are usually unplayable & a waste of space; unless you specify pick a board for them, chances are they will have nearly no effect on gameplay - they maybe bought only once or twice in a game, if at all.

Or, in the words of Donald X, "There are some duds, and those duds reduce strategic options".

Here is the list of expansions and their associated underpowered cards. In parenthesis is the percentage of that set that is underpowered.

Base (36%):
     $3: Chancellor, Woodcutter, Workshop
     $4: Bureaucrat, Feast, Spy, Thief
     $5: Mine
     $6: Adventurer
Intrigue (24%):
     $2: Secret Chamber, Great Hall
     $4: Coppersmith, Scout
     $5: Saboteur, Tribute
Seaside (23%):
     $2: Pearl Diver
     $4: Navigator, Pirate Ship, Treasure Map
     $5: Explorer, Outpost
Prosperity (32%):
     $3: Loan, Trade Route
     $4: Talisman
     $5: Contraband, Counting House, Mint, Royal Seal
     $6: Expand
Cornucopia (15%):
     $3: Fortune Teller
     $5: Harvest
Hinterlands (27%):
     $2: Duchess
     $3: Develop
     $4: Noble Brigand, Nomad Camp
     $5: Cache, Mandarin
     $6: Farmland
Dark Ages (14%):
     $2: Beggar
     $4: Rats
     $5: Graverobber, Pillage, Rogue
Guilds (8%):
     $4: Taxman

First, we can see that Guilds (8%), Cornucopia (15%), and Dark Ages (14%) have the lowest number of underpowered cards. It is likely that that overly weak and useless cards were excluded from Guilds & Cornucopia as these sets already have few type of cards (13) to begin with. Dark Ages however is surprising – it has almost no useless cards (4) yet is the set with the most Kingdom cards. At about $28 on amazon, it might be the most cost-effective way to get a high number of playable cards.

On the other hand, the Base set (36%), Prosperity (32%), and Hinterlands (27%) all have a high number of unplayable cards. The base set has terrible $3 and $4 cards, many of which are among the worst of the worst. Prosperity has, surprisingly, the second highest proportion of terrible cards (32%). This is strange considering the glowing reception the set has received. It may be that the glowing reviews of the set are due mainly to the addition of Platinum & Colonies, and not the actual quality of the Kingdom cards.

After analyzing underpowered cards, I decided to see which sets were overpowered. Similar to underpowered cards, I define a card as overpowered if it's ranked in the top 25% for its cost.

Here, having overpowered cards may be good or bad, depending on your point of view. On one hand, overpowered cards are awesome to play and are often bought. However, having overpowered cards on the board can lead to a lack a variety as everyone rushes to buy the dominant cards.

Here is the list of overpowered cards & expansions with, in parenthesis, the proportion of the set that is overpowered:

Base (12%):
     $2: Chapel
     $4: Militia
     $5: Witch
Intrigue (32%):
     $2: Courtyard
     $3: Masquerade, Steward, Swindler
     $4: Bridge
     $5: Minion, Torturer, Upgrade
Seaside (27%):
     $3: Ambassador, Fishing Village
     $4: Caravan, Sea Hag
     $5: Ghost Ship, Tactician, Wharf
Prosperity (28%):
     $4: Bishop, Monument, Worker's Village
     $5: Mountebank
     $6+: Goons, Grand Market, King's Court
Cornucopia (46%):
     $2: Hamlet
     $3: Menagerie
     $4: Tournament, Remake, Young Witch
     $6: Hunting Party
Hinterlands (20%):
     $2: Fool's Gold;
     $4: Jack of all Trades;
     $5: Ill-Gotten Gains, Margrave
     $6: Border Village
Dark Ages (26%):
     $3: Squire; Forager;
     $4: Marauder, Ironmonger, Wandering Minstrel
     $5: Rebuild, Cultist, Junk Dealer, Counterfeit
Guilds (0%):

First we see that the Base set (12%), Hinterlands (20%) & Guilds(0%) all have few overpowered cards. As we have seen, the Base set and Hinterlands also have a high proportion of underpowered cards – it appears these two may well be the least powerful sets of Dominion. Guilds however also have only 1 underpowered card – this may indicate it is among the most balanced set yet, with nearly all its cards being useful & appropriately priced. Alternatively, the strengths and weaknesses of Guilds may be poorly understood given it is the most recent set – perhaps the rankings will change in the future.

Moreover, we see that Intrigue (32%) and especially Cornucopia (46%) are the sets with the most powerful cards. Again, having cards that are too powerful may be to the detriment of these sets, as cards such as Masquerade and Remake become auto-purchases on some boards.

Finally, I note that Prosperity (28%) also has a high of overpowered cards – even if it also has a high proportion of underpowered cards (32%). Prosperity seems to be made of very powerful cards and very weak ones, with few cards of average power.

In summary,

Most overpowered set: Cornucopia
Most underpowered set: Base Dominion (runner-up: Hinterlands)
Most unbalanced set: Prosperity (runner-up: Intrigue)
Most balanced set: Guilds (runners-up: Dark Ages, Seaside)
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 01:30:43 am by Merudo »
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Awaclus

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I don't think the analysis for the overpowered cards is as useful. For example, Wharf is a powerful card that gets bought in almost every game it appears in, but it also makes most games more interesting because it enables all kinds of strategies — in other words, you want Wharf in whichever strategy you're choosing. On the other hand, Rebuild is a powerful card that gets bought in almost every game it appears in, but it makes most games less interesting because it disables all kinds of strategies — in other words, you want Rebuild in only one strategy and you always want to choose that one strategy when Rebuild is in the kingdom. This is an exaggeration, but the point is there.

And then there's Urchin, which is on an entirely different level at ruining games.
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assemble_me

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And then there's Urchin, which is on an entirely different level at ruining games.
I'd expect Urchin to be among the top 3 of 3$ cards next year; at least top 5.

Btw Merudo: Welcome to the forums :)

Also, I have to say I kind of don't like reading these weaker cards are a waste of space. I agree there are cards which have really limited use but there are situations where even those can shine.
Like, Woodcutter is good if you really need the +Buy, sometimes you want it for being an action. Great Hall is nice if you want to get rid of your Hovel in turn 1/2, Workshop finds its way into a lot of decks on boards where there are plenty good cheap cards or splits are crucial, Rats is often worthless but comboes nicely with TfB cards and Watchtower, Graverobber can be a great engine Payload, Pillage gets better in an engine where you can play it and pay the spoils the same turn and sometimes can skip Gold, and so on. From time to time even Pirate Ship can shine and wreck your opponent completely.
As always: Depends on the board.

tl;dr I agree that some cards have limited use or are weaker in general, but I think many of those weaker cards have their uses on many boards, even if their impact is not as great as that of many power cards.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2014, 09:11:23 am by assemble_me »
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DG

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The ranking are for two players. Cards like Pirate Ship are not underpowered when you move into multiplayer games.
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Donald X.

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I think using a flat 25% cut-off point is obviously going to give you bad results. Man. I had four strips of bacon yesterday. Was one automatically undercooked, one automatically overcooked? No, let's put a stop to that right here, all four strips were excellent.

You then compound this by considering the cards ranked by cost. What if I made more weak $4's than $3's? In fact things just like that actually happened.

You would be better off picking what cards you thought were actually weak or strong, and then looking at where they fall in the different sets. Use Qvist's lists as a guideline if you want, but make the hard calls yourself.

And if you do that, you may want to include Scout somewhere.
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Awaclus

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pacovf

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I had four strips of bacon yesterday. Was one automatically undercooked, one automatically overcooked? No, let's put a stop to that right here, all four strips were excellent.

If you had four strips of bacon yesterday, the fourth one was undeniably bad for you.
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Deadlock39

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I agree that the arbitrary 25% cutoff is not a great way to do this.  I mean, what if we just pretended that 25% of the cards doesn't exist?  Is the new lowest 25% of cards underpowered?  Surely not.  A better method might be to use something like the gain based win rate statistics on Councilroom, but that is missing Guilds and Dark Ages, and still probably isn't very good.

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You left Scout off the under powered list.  There may be other mistakes too, but that one stood out immediately.
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soulnet

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(Note that if we include the 4 cards costing 7 or more, the proportion of underpowered prosperity cards falls to 32%. However, these cards are unlikely to be useful in non-prosperity games)

That's a gross understatement. KC is unskippable in almost every game it appears. Forge and Bank are useful often, they are definitely not unplayable cards.

Also, most of the cards in the list of "unplayable" cards are really playable. They are comparatively weak, but that does not mean they are unplayable.
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JW

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(Note that if we include the 4 cards costing 7 or more, the proportion of underpowered prosperity cards falls to 32%. However, these cards are unlikely to be useful in non-prosperity games)

King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

As Donald mentions, the $4 cards feature more very weak cards (and there aren't many dud $3 cards). He doesn't mention that $4 also has fewer very strong cards. Bishop and Caravan, for example, are certainly not "overpowered" by any reasonable definition (and even if "top 25%= overpowered" is the standard, probably would not fall in the top 25% among all cards).
 
Here is the list of overpowered cards & expansions with, in parenthesis, the proportion of the set that is overpowered:

Seaside (27%): Ambassador, Fishing Village; Caravan, Sea Hag; Ghost Ship, Tactician, Wharf
Prosperity (28%,29%): Bishop, Monument, Worker's Village; Mountebank; Goons, Grand Market, King's Court

Lastly, it's worth noting that some powerful cards make for more interesting games, while some make for less interesting games (Rebuild and Cultist are my two least favorite here). Here's Donald X on why Rebuild leads to less interesting games: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14094365#14094365.

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

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

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In my experience, these underpowered cards are usually unplayable & a waste of space; unless you specify pick a board for them, chances are they will be bought only once or twice in a game, if at all.


I don't understand the bolded part. How many times a card is bought in a game has nothing to do with its power level. Chapel will pretty much never be bought more than once (per player) in a game, yet it's one of the strongest cards in the game.
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Merudo

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Btw Merudo: Welcome to the forums :)
Thanks :D

Also, I have to say I kind of don't like reading these weaker cards are a waste of space. I agree there are cards which have really limited use but there are situations where even those can shine.

Like, Woodcutter is good if you really need the +Buy, sometimes you want it for being an action. Great Hall is nice if you want to get rid of your Hovel in turn 1/2, Workshop finds its way into a lot of decks on boards where there are plenty good cheap cards or splits are crucial, Rats is often worthless but comboes nicely with TfB cards and Watchtower, Graverobber can be a great engine Payload, Pillage gets better in an engine where you can play it and pay the spoils the same turn and sometimes can skip Gold, and so on. From time to time even Pirate Ship can shine and wreck your opponent completely. As always: Depends on the board.
I agree with the sentiment. The cards I listed as underpowered have a place and can be used on some boards.

However, chances are, if you randomly choose which cards will be in the game (as recommended in the manual) or if you don't specifically design the board for them, they will usually be ignored because they are too weak.

To me, that's a bad thing. I'd rather have cards that are going to be considered nearly every games, instead of a Woodcutter that I won't even look at unless there is no +buy on the board.
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soulnet

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To me, that's a bad thing. I'd rather have cards that are going to be considered nearly every games, instead of a Woodcutter that I won't even look at unless there is no +buy on the board.

That does not exist. Games in which you buy more than 3 or 4 cards are the exception, so even in your best selection, most cards will get bought in less than half of the games they appear in (unless you get down to 10 in an engine board that uses every card or something edgy like that).

Mountebank games will make Smithy a lot less likely to be bought, and both are strong cards. Chapel tends to make Steward a lot less likely to be bought, and yet Steward is a powerful card. And so on, and so forth ...

Also, leaving only powerful cards, measured by how they make you win games, will possibly lean your games a lot more towards single card strategies: Rebuild, Cultist, Mountebank: those are the cards that dominante the most. The exceptions are KC and Goons, which are powerful cards that want company.
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Merudo

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The ranking are for two players. Cards like Pirate Ship are not underpowered when you move into multiplayer games.
I agree that some cards become better in multiplayer games.

Thief: allows you to steal more coins - but probably remains a terrible card.
Noble Brigand: allows you to steal more coins. It stops being an underpowered card as it barely made the list.
Beggar: has a higher chance to be used for its reactive ability.  It stops being an underpowered card as it barely made the list.
Pirate Ship: has a better chance to reveal a treasure. Probably stops being an underpowered card.

So that's 3 cards that are not underpowered anymore - one from Seaside, one from Hinterlands and one from Dark Ages.

Similarly, some overpowered cards might lose power in multiplayer games:

Militia, Margrave, Minion & Goons lose power and do less if others also used it the previous turn. Of these, Margrave is probably the only one becoming underpowered.
Ambassador empties piles faster - but that might actually make it stronger.
Jack of all Trades's defenses may crumble if there too many attacking players - however it probably still remains on the list.
Tournament is less good as there are more players who can reveal a province; moreover, others are likely to get the best prizes first.

Of these, I'd say only Margrave (Hinterlands) becomes underpowered.

So as you see, the only difference from including multiplayer consideration is that two expansions (Dark Ages and Seaside) have 1 less underpowered card (Hinterlands gains and loses 1 card for no change).
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Merudo

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I think using a flat 25% cut-off point is obviously going to give you bad results. Man. I had four strips of bacon yesterday. Was one automatically undercooked, one automatically overcooked? No, let's put a stop to that right here, all four strips were excellent.

You then compound this by considering the cards ranked by cost. What if I made more weak $4's than $3's? In fact things just like that actually happened.
True, but $4 cards don't have to compete with Silver as much...

I agree the 25% cuttoff is unsatisfactory. It's more of a starting point for a discussion - others are free to make there own list according to their own criteria.

Also, handpicking the cards I think are weak would be less objective - plus it is a lot more work  ;).

And if you do that, you may want to include Scout somewhere.
I somehow forgot to include the Scout ;D  As the bottom ranking $4 card, it obviously belongs to this list!
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Merudo

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King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.
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silverspawn

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King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.

without providing any sort of evidence, examples, or backing my post up in any other way, I'll say that neither bank and forge are particularly weak in province games. in fact, I think forge is on average stronger than sea hag in province games.

Merudo

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In my experience, these underpowered cards are usually unplayable & a waste of space; unless you specify pick a board for them, chances are they will be bought only once or twice in a game, if at all.


I don't understand the bolded part. How many times a card is bought in a game has nothing to do with its power level. Chapel will pretty much never be bought more than once (per player) in a game, yet it's one of the strongest cards in the game.

Chapel is pretty much its own category :) Sure you buy it once, but it has such profound effects on the game that it is definitely a very powerful card.

Similarly, cheap cantrips (I look at you, Pearl Diver) that don't do much may be purchased a lot, but their effect on the game will usually be minimal.

I admit I simplified my definitions of "underpowered" and "overpowered" cards - but I still believe they are helpful.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2014, 02:41:54 pm by Merudo »
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JW

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King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.

Bank and Forge certainly don't qualify as "usually unplayable and a waste of space."

Quote from: Merudo
Here, I define a cards as “underpowered” if it is ranked in the 25% worst cards for its cost category ($1-2, $3, $4, $5, $6+). In my experience, these underpowered cards are usually unplayable & a waste of space; unless you specify pick a board for them, chances are they will have nearly no effect on gameplay - they maybe bought only once or twice in a game, if at all.

Search for some game logs by Stef or Mic Qsenoch (they're at the top of the leaderboard- https://www.gokosalvager.com/leaderboard/) and you'll see: https://www.gokosalvager.com/logsearch
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soulnet

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Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.

You are seriously mistaken. There are PLENTY of times in which you should not buy a Province with your first $8, for instance. Bank is not a bad card, the problem with Bank is just that it does not do a lot more than Gold, unless you have both a big draw engine and +Buy. But it is not weak, in the same sense that Gold is not weak.
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KingZog3

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King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.

You may not be convinced that they are solid cards, but they are. It's not THAT hard to hit $7 early, especially with good $4 and $5 cards.
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Awaclus

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To me, that's a bad thing. I'd rather have cards that are going to be considered nearly every games, instead of a Woodcutter that I won't even look at unless there is no +buy on the board.
It's better than Pawn and Herbalist for the purpose of giving +buy for sure. Often, it's also better than Trade Route, Spice Merchant, Salvager and Forager, which can run out of stuff to trash eventually, and sometimes you want to avoid Council Room, and sometimes you don't have more than $3-$4 on the turn you want to spend getting your +buy, and sometimes you don't want to have an Estate in your deck for Baron. Sure, you can ignore Woodcutter when there's an engine piece that comes with the +buy (such as Worker's Village), but there aren't that many of them. It's a weak card, but it's definitely a card that you should look at more often than you apparently do.

King's Court is very strong in Province games, and Bank and Forge are solid cards in Province games. Only Expand is weak in Province games.

Bank and Forge are near the bottom of the list - right above Harem. I'm not convinced these are "solid" cards - by the time you get Forge/Bank, the game is getting close to be over and you will be unlikely to Forge a province or to use Bank more effectively than a Gold.
And Harem is a good card. They're above it.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2014, 03:16:58 pm by Awaclus »
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Merudo

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Bank and Forge certainly don't qualify as "usually unplayable and a waste of space."
That's why they are not on the underpowered list!

Still, according to the ranking and discussion in other threads, Bank and Forge seem rather average: most of the time they are inferior to gold, but sometimes they get to shine.

You are welcome to discuss this issue in the The Dominion Cards Lists 2014 Edition: $6+ cards thread if you disagree :).

P.S. I decided to remove the second rating for Prosperity (the one excluding 7 cost cards). It didn't really help, and was confusing.
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JW

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Bank and Forge certainly don't qualify as "usually unplayable and a waste of space."
That's why they are not on the underpowered list!

True, you originally described them as "unlikely to be useful in non-prosperity games" implying that they're unlikely to be useful in Province games. That's a bit less harsh.

(Note that if we include the 4 cards costing 7 or more, the proportion of underpowered prosperity cards falls to 32%. However, these cards are unlikely to be useful in non-prosperity games)
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