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theory

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The Secret History of the Prosperity Cards
« on: June 20, 2011, 03:42:59 pm »
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Okay I'm doing something different for this Secret History, for no good reason. Prosperity was the first expansion to always be an expansion. And it got more development than any other expansion so far, due to being pushed back. And periodically I made a new set of files with current images. So here then are snapshots of Prosperity at different points in its history - from the oldest version to the released version. I will go over every card in each version, although I won't say anything where there are no changes, and there will be some cards I can't tell you about because they still might end up in future sets. I will return to the usual Secret History format next time. So those of you who prefer them like that, rejoice! And those of you who like this format better, tough luck.

Let's recap. I made Dominion. It gradually got more cards. One day I divided up the cards into a main set, a first expansion, a second expansion. Then I moved on! My friends just wanted to play Dominion though. Okay; I could make some more Dominion expansions.

I asked my friend Molly Sherwin if there was a theme she'd like to see. She said "spendy." And spendy I gave her. I combined that premise with a treasures-that-do-things theme.

Oldest version (early 2007):

This is the first version of the set. I don't remember any earlier versions of any of these. At the time Intrigue and Seaside were both just 15 cards. I suspect this is 18 rather than 17 because I fit 9 cards to a page in my prototypes.

- $2; Future1, a card that's in a later set now. Already I'm not telling you things.
- $3; Action1: +2 cards, may pay $2 for +2 cards. Initially the idea was to have a "pay $ for effects" sub-theme. It was never on very many cards before vanishing completely.
- $3; Attack1: "Each other player either trashes a card in their hand and you gain it, or trashes the top card of their deck." Trashing attacks were originally much nastier. Bam, trash the top card of someone's deck. As previously explained many times, that kind of thing is too weak (hits copper/estate), too random (hits my copper and your province), and can lead to games where everyone has a 5-card deck. During development of the main set, there was a point where I stripped all of these attacks out of every set.
- $3; Fishing Village, as printed in Seaside except with +2 actions next turn instead of +1. At the time Duration cards weren't orange and didn't say Duration on them and had only a single sentence of rules to handle them. I figured any expansion could have one or two.
- $3; Pre-Worker's Village: +1 card/+1 act/+1 buy. This is an obvious simple card that bounced around a little before vanishing. For a while I thought it would end up somewhere, but at this point I think it pretty much has to have another ability spicing it up. Worker's Village itself is a simple way to spice it up and that's what happened here.
- $3; Treasure1. $1, 1 VP, +1 Buy. A treasure-victory card - the small version of Harem. It looks fine on paper but was way too weak. You don't want Copper or Estate in your deck, and combining them doesn't fix that.
- $4; Action2: +$2, may discard 2 cards for +$2. Strong. The flip side of Action1 above.
- $4; Treasure2: a treasure that didn't survive but which I remember fondly enough to not tell you about yet.
- $5. Attack2: "You may pay $4. Trash the top card of each other player's deck, or the top 2 cards if you paid." Man. Let's see some decks shrink to nothing.
- $5; Forge. No "in coins" clause.
- $5; King's Court. No "you may." Yes, Forge and King's Court both originally cost $5. Those did not turn out to be good guesses.
- $5; Mountebank. This version gave everyone else a Copper and a Curse, and had the Mint "penalty." It did not have the bit about discarding Curse to avoid getting Cursed.
- $5. Talisman. No "non-Victory" clause, and refers to "spending" it - "When you spend this on a card costing up to $4..." So it only worked on one card bought per turn.
- $5; Treasure3: worth $2, with "when you spend this, gain Silver." In the end it just wasn't different enough from other cards in the Explorer family. It was in the set for a while though.
- $6; Action3: a wacky card that overlaps with stuff I might do someday. It was crazy and didn't survive past this version.
- $7; Grand Market. This version had no +Buy and no anti-Copper clause. Just, +1 Card, +1 Action, +$2. People sure complained about it not having +1 Buy. "How is it a Grand Market?" they'd say.
- $9; Platinum. As printed! The only such card in the set. One down, 26 to go. So... $5? What happened to $4? The card never made $4. $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.
- $11; Colony. 8 VP. At the time, Province was worth 5 VP.

Origins 2007 version (June):

By Origins I had 5 expansions, all at 20 cards, except that for Prosperity I didn't count Platinum or Colony in the 20.

Unchanged from the previous version: Future1, Treasure1, Treasure2, Mountebank, Talisman, Grand Market; Platinum, Colony.

- $2; Wishing Well. The Intrigue card, only for $2. Prosperity never had much in the $2 department. If you want to throw in expensive cards, something has to give. In the end I felt that it would fit the flavor to not have any $2's at all. I put extra $2's in Seaside to compensate, at least for people who play with everything.
- $3; Attack1. Now only Treasures from hand can stop your top card from being trashed.
- $3; Masquerade, as printed in Intrigue
- $3; Action1: "+1 Card / +1 Action. You may pay $2. If you do, +2 Cards." Broken.
- $4; Action2: "+$2. You may discard 2 cards. If you do, +$1." A fairer version of this. It still seems like a reasonable card, although it's somewhat redundant at this point.
- $4; Worker's Village. As printed. Oh actually this version is "Workers' Village." I researched that apostrophe.
- $5; Action4: "Trash a Silver for +$5 +1 Buy." A bigger Moneylender. No-one was ever very interested in it.
- $5; Attack2: "Pay any amount. Each other player reveals the top 4 cards of their deck and trashes the 1st that costs that much or more." A less insane version of the previous trashing-for-hire card, still insane by today's standards.
- $5; Mint. No treasure-trashing; just gained you a copy of a treasure in your hand.
- $5; Royal Seal. Close to the printed version; all these treasures still said "when you spend this" rather than "when you play this," and this particular card got a wording tweak near the very end of development, to clarify some rules issues. Also I renamed it, along with several other cards. I don't know why I decided against using all of the original names in this post. I guess maybe I'll reuse an unused name or two on a future card, and then this post would be confusing? Anyway we are calling this Royal Seal. Arf.
- $6; Forge. Just a cost change.
- $6; King's Court. Ditto.
- $6; Treasure3, now weaker for some reason.
- $7; Expand. As printed.

Feb 2008 version:

So at this point RGG was going to publish the game, and I was mucking with the expansions some as we worked on the main set. Still 20 cards plus Platinum/Colony.

Unchanged from the previous version: Action1, Treasure2, Worker's Village, Royal Seal, Attack2, Mint, Talisman, Mountebank, Forge, Treasure3, King's Court, Expand; Platinum, Colony.

- $3; Loan. $1, "When you spend this, trash another treasure spent with it."
- $3; Trade Route. This version had a less clear wording, but the same functionality as the final version. I stole it from what was then the 4th expansion.
- $4; Quarry. The first version was an action, "+$2. Action cards cost $1 less this turn." Of course at the time it was called something else and something else was called Quarry. It came from the 2nd expansion; this was a better home for it.
- $4; Treasure Map. The version that only gave you 3 Golds, to your discard pile. Ended up in Seaside, because, how do you not put Treasure Map in your sea expansion?
- $5; Bureaucracy. "+$2. Each other player puts a card from their hand on top of their deck." Turned into Bureaucrat. I like how it looks on paper, but in multiples it just wrecks you.
- $5; Future2. Some card I expect will come out someday. This version was too strong.
- $7; Grand Market. Now it had +1 Buy, but still no non-Copper clause.
- $7; Action5. "+$4, only usable to buy Victory cards." This was another of cheepicus's cards (he came up with Courtyard). It did not survive in the end due to just not being very interesting (sorry cheepicus).

The "16"-card version (summer 2008):

During development, there was some concern that maybe 500 cards was too many to sell. That people wouldn't pay as much as that would have to cost for "just cards." So we looked at ways of making it less cards. One angle was to only play with 8 Kingdom cards at once. I made up lists for each expansion in 16-card form. Prosperity somehow kept Platinum/Colony as extras.

No changes. Action1, Action5, Attack2, Expand, Forge, Grand Market, King's Court, Loan, Mint, Mountebank, Quarry, Royal Seal, Talisman, Treasure2, Treasure3, Worker's Village; Platinum, Colony.

December 2008 version:

At this point we knew we were going with 25-card sets. Dominion came out in October, and Intrigue was finalized around the same time. So Seaside was the current project, but I was working on later sets too in order to have them ready for when development started.

Unchanged: Action1, Action5, Expand, Loan, Royal Seal, Trade Route, Treasure2, Treasure3, Worker's Village; Platinum.

- $3; Treasure4: worth as much $ as another treasure you have at the same time. This seemed like a classic card that would totally be worth doing and wouldn't possibly leave the set. It never had any fans though. The set had too many high-variance cards, and this wasn't one of the admired ones, so eventually it left. We will see more of it first though.
- $4; Attack3: "Each other player reveals cards from the top of his deck until revealing a Duchy, Province, or Colony. He trashes it and gains a cheaper Victory card he chooses, and an Estate. He discards the other revealed cards." This was an attempt at an attack that only hit VP cards. Since that would be useless early on, it compensates by passing out Estates then. It doesn't just trash VP cards, it grinds them up into smaller cards. This was really perfect for Prosperity; I needed attacks that didn't make Colony look unattainable, and this makes you actually want to hold out until you can buy two Colonies in a turn if possible. As you know it did not survive. In the end, no-one liked it. That kills 'em every time. It seems kind of worth doing an attack that only hits VP cards someday, but it probably won't have space to do something else in the bargain, and I already know that no-one will be pleased to see it.
- $4; Future3. This card didn't survive because it wasn't interesting enough. I ended up making it a lot more interesting and it's a star in a later set.
- $4; Monument. This version tracked the VP with Coppers from the supply. You set aside a Copper, at the end of the game that was worth 1 VP. This was the first version of Monument in a set, but not the first version I tested; I started out trying a straight "+1 VP" card, then gave it +$2 to make it playable.
- $4; Talisman. Still no non-VP clause, but now costs $4.
- $5; Attack4: "Each other player discards down to 3 cards in hand. +$ equal to the cost of one of those discarded cards." This was an old idea that had come from another set. It had started out as straight discarding, not discard-down-to, but I had learned by now that that doesn't work. This card seemed promising for a long time. The big problem that this version had was being too political. Hmmm, I would like to discard this Province, but that gives you $8. Well, are you winning?
- $5; City. As printed 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.
- $5; Counting House. As printed, except that in the end it got a better wording. This version was "Look through your discard pile and put all Copper cards from it into your hand." My wife came up with this card. Her version got you back all of the Silvers, which was crazy. Women!
- $5; Future4. This card changed a lot before ending up in a future set.
- $5; Mint. This is at last the Mint you know: it trashes treasures when bought and gains copies of treasures when played. Mint had been too weak and Mountebank too strong, and moving the "penalty" addressed both of those problems. Plus it seems more natural here. Mountebank isn't actually in this version of the set, but it's coming back, don't worry.
- $5; Rabble. This version also has you reveal your top 3 cards, and discard 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.
- $5; Vault. Replaced Action2. This version of Vault had no penalty - it was just, +2 Cards, discard cards for $. It was strong, but it took a while to be convinced of this.
- $6; Grand Market. The printed version, except that it says "you can't spend any Copper when buying this" for the penalty - I still had those "when spending" phrasings.
- $7; Forge.
- $7; King's Court. At last these two ridiculous cards have their proper expensive costs.
- $8; Peddler. The first version says "This costs $2 less per Action played this turn." It came from the ruins of the 8th expansion, which 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.
- $11; Colony. 9 VP. Adjusted since Province was now worth 6 VP. I went for 9 instead of 10 because I wanted to make sure going for Provinces was still viable in Colony games.

March 2009:

Yet another pre-development version.

Unchanged: Attack3, Attack4, City, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Future3, Grand Market, King's Court, Mint, Peddler, Rabble, Trade Route, Vault, Worker's Village; Platinum, Colony.

- $3; Future4. A much different version of a card I still can't tell you about.
- $3; Herbalist. This version put a treasure on your deck each time you bought a card. The version in Alchemy matches Alchemist, which makes it a little simpler. People liked Herbalist, but the set had too many cheap cards that you didn't actually want on turn one, as Valerie reported, and this was one of them. One day I purged a few of those at once, including this. I temporarily moved it to another later set, then put it in Alchemy.
- $3; Philosopher's Stone. This version was worth $1 per 4 cards in your deck - ignoring your discard pile. I liked it, but the high variance bugged some people, and it was another cheap card you didn't want on turn one, so eventually it left. Then I made new versions of it for Alchemy.
- $4; Action6. I still might rescue this one, so it will remain a mystery. This version of it was crazy powerful.
- $4; Talisman. Now has a "while in play" wording, which meant it would now work on multiple cards bought in the same turn.
- $4; Treasure4. Now costing $4.
- $5; Contraband. This is functionally the same as the final card, but worded a little differently.
- $5; Hoard. As printed except for cost. Replaced Treasure3.
- $5; Royal Seal. This got its wording updated to "while this is in play" rather than "when spent." That meant now it could work on multiple cards without having to split the $2 up between them, which had always been a confusing thing.
- $6; Action7. A card in the Remodel family which didn't work out but seems promising enough not to spoil yet.

April 2009:

I think this is close to the first development version.

Unchanged except maybe for slightly improved wordings that aren't at all interesting: Action6, Attack3, Attack4, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Future4, Grand Market, Herbalist, Hoard, King's Court, Mint, Peddler, Philosopher's Stone, Rabble, Royal Seal, Talisman, Trade Route, Treasure4, Vault, Worker's Village; Platinum, Colony.

- $4; Future3. Tweaked a little.
- $5; Mountebank. Back in the set, now without the Mint "penalty." A straight "+$2. Each other player gains a Curse and a Copper."

June 2009:

During development. Note that some of the cheap cards that aren't exciting early have vanished.

Unchanged: Attack4, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Grand Market, Hoard, King's Court, Mint, Mountebank, Rabble, Royal Seal, Trade Route, Worker's Village; Platinum, Colony.

- $3; Action6. This version was also a reaction, and did its former action part in a weaker form as the reaction. That did not save it.
- $3; Loan. Now it's the card you know. The original didn't work with the new style of wordings (without talking about how $ is spent). This revived the concept of the treasure that trashes your Coppers.
- $4; Monument. Added back in, now with a token-based phrasing. This meant you wouldn't run out the Coppers with it and have it stop working.
- $4; Attack3. This version had players put their decks in their discard piles, then paw through their discard piles looking for a VP card to trash. This made the card a lot less random. It still trashed a VP card and replaced it with a cheaper one and an Estate.
- $4; Quarry. This has been out of the story for a while, but has at last returned. Now it's a treasure and looks like the card you know.
- $4; Talisman. This at last got its non-Victory clause. Using Talisman to get multiple copies of Gardens etc. was just too insane.
- $5; Vault. This at last got its penalty. Some of you are thinking, Secret Chamber but you draw two cards first, costing $5? That needed a penalty? It totally did.
- $5; Venture. A new card, already in its printed form.
- $7; Bank. As printed. I stole this from Alchemy, to replace Treasure4. 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 couldn'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.
- $8; Peddler. With this version I switched to having it only change in cost during your buy phase. 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. The second was to make 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.

[continued in next post]
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theory

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Re: The Secret History of the Prosperity Cards
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2011, 03:43:06 pm »
0

November 2009:

This was the final version. It would have been printed just like this. Except then Alchemy snuck in ahead of it. The publishers wanted to do some small expansions too and well that story is told elsewhere.

Unchanged: Bank, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Grand Market, Hoard, King's Court, Loan, Mint, Monument, Peddler, Quarry, Royal Seal, Talisman, Trade Route, Vault, Venture, Worker's Village; Platinum.

- $3; Watchtower. The final version, though not the first version I tried. The first one also let you put the card into your hand. Destry immediately pointed out that that was silly with Ironworks. This replaced Action6. Dale complained that the set had no reaction, and this was one I'd been meaning to try.
- $5; Goons. "+$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.)" Okay so the set always needed a card with that art. It was leftover from Intrigue (it was for Pawn). I decided to call the art Goons, and then made a card to fit the name. It was popular.
- $5; Mountebank. Now lets players discard Curse to Moat it. It had just been too powerful.
- $5; Rabble. No longer does anything to your own deck. Much less wordy, and fairer too.
- $6; Attack4. This morphed into "Each other player gains a Curse and reveals his hand. +$ equal to half the cost in coins of one of the revealed cards, rounded down." The idea was to get rid of the politics of the original, while preserving uh something.
- $11; Colony. Now worth 10 VP! 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. 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.

Final (finalized June 2010, although not much changed in those last few months):

We had extra time, so we worked on the set some more, while also getting going on the next set. The changes below are all things that only got to happen because the set was delayed.

One general wording change for this version was to say "+1 VP" rather than "take a 1 VP token." It's a lot prettier and skirts the issue of making change.

Unchanged: Bank, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Grand Market, Loan, Mint, Monument, Mountebank, Quarry, Rabble, Talisman, Vault, Venture, Watchtower, Worker's Village; Platinum, Colony.

- $3; Trade Route. This isn't really different, but is phrased much differently. Now it says the whole bit about tokens and setup and stuff. Before it just talked about how many VP piles were down a card.
- $4; Bishop. Replaced Attack4. I felt like, Attack4 was one of the cards adding the least to the set. There was extra time. Why not replace it? 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.
- $5; Royal Seal. This version triggers on gaining rather than buying. It's a subtle distinction that involved a lot of thinking and discussion. This lines it up with Watchtower and keeps a more intuitive distinction between buying and gaining.
- $6; Goons. Now the card you know. The previous Goons had a few problems, 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. Finally this one stuck. Again it squeezes in another use for those VP tokens.
- $6; Hoard. Costs $6! It was too strong. It compares fine to Gold as is.
- $7; Forge. Finally got "in coins" added to simplify Alchemy interactions.
- $7; King's Court. This 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 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 up until this version. Man, why not use the fix? That's what I think.
- $8; Peddler. Now looks at action cards you have in play, rather than counting actions played. That makes it different with Throne Rooms and Feasts and such, but simplifies the counting.

Odds and Ends:

There are a few cards in the files that don't show up in any of the full sets of images.

- There was another card that's in a future set now so I can't tell you anything about it. What can I say, I like these lists to be complete.
- There was another version of Loan. It was worth $0, but played the treasure card it found before trashing it (either you discarded it, or you played it and trashed it). This was interesting but did not work out.
- There were the other attacks I tried in the Goons slot, in-between the two listed versions. Most of them involved a "choose two" of some sort. There are two goons in the art, you see. Most of them also involved getting VP tokens.
- There were the four somewhat similar cards I tried in the Bishop slot. These all involved VP tokens.
- I realized at some point that, if I had had VP tokens as a sub-theme from the beginning, I would have tried out "+1 Card +1 Action +1 VP." So I tried it. It was never slotted into the set; it was an extra card, to be swapped in if I wanted it. I didn't want it. It was okay, but not super-exciting, and had the problem of letting you build a deck that never approached the end-game condition. You know, you Chapel down to just six of this card (plus the Chapel), or whatever, and play them every turn. Bishop trashes cards and Goons triggers on buying; both mean the game will eventually end. Monument does neither, but it gives you +$2, and people don't like to just throw that away. They like to spend it. Monument did make me worry some about endless games, but it sure never happened in playtesting. But this card, bam. Then I tried a version that tried to fix that, but didn't like that version either.

And That's That

Now you have a more complete picture of this set than you ever needed.
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