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 dominionstrategy.com 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.