One evening on a vacation, I paced around, the only one awake, thinking about what the future could possibly hold for Dominion. Was there anything great left to do? I jotted down some notes, then typed it all up when I got home.
Of the stuff I came up with, a few things went together, to make a kind of Prosperity sequel. It would have more VP tokens, those seemed like they had a lot more life in them than just those 3 Prosperity cards. Some "bonus" cards of some sort would award VP at the end of the game, like Kingdom Builder scoring methods. There would be giant expensive cards that you could pay for later. There would be cards that effectively didn't cost a Buy to buy. Special treasures could be a focus again. And there were three or so other ideas that did not actually make it. I like to tell the whole story, but who knows, I might need that stuff someday. Anyway you can only fit so much stuff in an expansion.
Initially the big thing I wanted out of VP tokens was, cards you trash for VP based on the game state. So, they would count things that conventional Victory cards can't, like how many Actions you managed to get into play at once. So I tried several of those and well in the end there's Emporium (which just checks a threshold) and Triumph (an Event). The original concepts didn't work out, but there are a zillion ways to make VP in this set so it was not much of a loss. A key thing was to try to avoid "golden decks" - where you just make points every turn without pushing the game towards ending. So most of the VP token stuff is tied to gaining cards, or trashing cards, or will run out some other way.
I didn't try the "bonus" cards for a while. When I finally got to them, they initially didn't matter enough, but it was easy to make them matter more and that all worked out. I made more and more of them and in the end there are 21. It could have been 20 Landmarks, 12 Events, 2 blanks, but I had the extra cards so in they went.
I had Debt from the start (and it had been in the ideas file for years). The first version though was a word on cards, "Debt," that meant you didn't need the $ to buy the card, but went into Debt. The Debt tokens worked the same way as they do now. One day I thought of using a symbol, and the cards changed to things like "When you gain this during your turn, take [red coin with a 10 on it]." They were like that for a while, before finally I put the symbol into the cost. With Debt a significant concern was that you could just buy the card turn one, and if that was good it seemed like the game could be too scripted. So the big Debt cards always tried to not be good turn one, although it took a while to really get there. Originally the cards could all be bought with $0, and in the end some have $ costs too.
And cards that gave you +1 Buy when bought, I made a couple and then it seemed like, that was plenty.
One day Jeff Boschen complained that one of the Debt cards (an earlier version of City Quarter) was dominating games, that in particular you could always get all the copies you needed, even in a 2-player game. And I thought, hmmm, I could have piles that were only 5 cards. And then from there went immediately to, wait, 5 cards, then 5 of another card. And I tried some cards like that and it seemed pretty cool. You get to tie together the cards somehow. A big issue was making sure you would get through the top 5 often enough; not necessarily every game, but you know, not as some rare thing. So three are cheap cantrips, and Gladiator eats its own pile for you.
I had no plans to have any Duration cards in this set, then somehow tried one, and then a couple more. The original one didn't make it but there are two Duration cards. The objection all these years was the amount of rulebook space Duration cards took in Seaside, but in Adventures that rulebook space was small enough to not seem so bad to repeat.
Dominion is a medieval game; ancient Rome is not medieval. I remained wishy-washy on that issue, not quite wanting to go full-on ancient Rome. In the end the set is called Empires and has a bunch of Roman things. Roman empires were around for a while in various forms, extending into medieval times, so there.
Late in the going, Scott Colcord took it upon himself to get all of the recommended sets played. The recommended sets don't always get much attention and well these ones did make it to a table or two.
Empires started out as a kind of Prosperity sequel. And ended up as one; it has super-spendy cards (though you can pay for them later), more Treasures than other non-Prosperity sets, VP tokens, even a Treasure that makes $6 and an Event that gets you 15 VP. One of Prosperity's less-obvious themes is player interaction; it ups the non-attack interaction to cope with having fewer attacks (which in turn was to make sure Colony was reachable in enough games). Empires has that too. There are again only three attacks, but the 3 Gathering cards are all interactive, plus Chariot Race and Gladiator, plus Castles in that way VP piles can be; the split piles cause more competition for cards; and then some of the Events are interactive and many Landmarks are, and those don't even take up space in the usual 10 Kingdom cards.
On to the cards!
*** Kingdom cards ***
Archive: When I thought of it, I had to try it, and it worked, so there it is. A Duration card!
Capital: This started as an action that gave +$2 and gave all cards "debt" for the turn, for $3. It was neat but scary. The final version costs more, doesn't use an action, and doesn't give any net $ - you are just borrowing.
Castles: There was an old idea in the file, a pile of Victory cards with different sizes. One day we needed a promo (which became Summon) and Matt Engel decided to try this out. He made 8 cards for it, including Small Castle and King's Castle, and converting Opulent Castle from an old outtake from Hinterlands (there a straight action). He also had a vanilla treasure-victory card ($2 and 1 VP). I thought it was important to have a cheap one that rewarded you for loading up on them, and made Humble Castle for the first one. Small Castle trashes itself or another Castle, so Crumbling Castle is something nice to trash, and Haunted Castle isn't so bad there either. Sprawling Castle and Grand Castle interact with some of the other cards and are also nice for people not going for Castles.
Mostly the cards didn't change after the second version; they just worked out. There were a couple cards in the Haunted Castle slot. I tried a Castle that shuffled cards from discard into deck, after an old outtake; I tried a one-time Cursing one (like Ill-Gotten Gains). Haunted Castle couldn't work at weird times (such as when gaining it with Saboteur) and so ended up saying "on your turn," to be as friendly as possible (still works with Small Castle) while shutting out weirdness.
Catapult / Rocks: I tried to come up with flavor that would be good for split piles. The main thing to do was one thing that leads to another thing somehow (rather than one card changing into another, like some cards in the past). But one idea on the list was a Catapult and Rocks and well, who can resist naming a card Rocks. Catapult initially gave the Cursing bonus on cards costing $4 or more, but at one point I lowered the cards to costing $2 and $3, and then kept Catapult working on $3's when I switched it back to costing $3 itself.
Rocks started out with "when gain/trash, +2 Cards, may trash 2 cards from hand." It wasn't everything I wanted and I replaced that with gaining Silver to your hand, then your choice of hand or deck top. Then to avoid confusion it took the destination choice away and based it on the phase, so you weren't all, wait if I put Silver in my hand after buying Rocks, can I play the Silver?
Chariot Race: The question here was what to do with the other player's card. If you leave it on top, Chariot Race has the same competition all turn, although your own card varies. If you discard it or put it on the bottom, it feels too much like an attack. It went back and forth but ended up leaving the card on top.
Charm: This started out as a Treasure worth $2 that made cards you buy come with different cards at the same cost. We did crazy things with that for a while, then finally I looked at ways to weaken it. I tried several variations in rapid succession, that limited you to one gain per turn. There was one that gave you a $5 if you had at least $5 when you played it. The best was a Reaction version - a Treasure worth $2 and a Buy, can discard when gaining a card to gain a different card with the same cost. Discarding it gives you the potential to get loops, where you redraw it repeatedly; Dave Goldthorpe found some of these. So now it's a choose-one. It doesn't get to be a pretty yellow/blue card, but is pretty similar.
City Quarter: One of the first Debt cards was +3 Cards +1 Action, for some large amount of Debt that I tweaked some. It was an interesting card to consider. It's two Laboratories in one card; that's different in various small ways from actually having two Labs. In the end it seemed too strong too early. I tried a version that either drew 3 cards or got two Treasures from your discard pile, that cost more up front. I tried a giant Pawn briefly. Then, a Village that had you draw a card the next 2 times you played an Action; it addressed early power level some but had tracking issues, especially in multiples. Finally it turned into the published card. It can go nuts, but you have to set it up; you do not want it turn one.
Crown: The first version was an Action that played an Action or Treasure twice. You really want it to be a Treasure too, so you don't draw it dead off of card-drawing. So, an Action - Treasure card! It always seemed like that would be too confusing, but here was one that was no trouble. It's something how popular it is even in games where you are almost always using it as Throne Room.
Encampment / Plunder: The idea to Encampment was to go back to the pile, that was the neat part; Plunder can get uncovered but then re-covered. Encampment is a card that's not shabby to play as a one-shot you only paid $2 for. At first you had to have Plunder to keep it; that sometimes worked well, sometimes not so well. To improve the card it changed to also letting you reveal Gold; it flirted with just referring to Treasures costing $6 or more (with a $6 Plunder), but naming the cards is simpler. Later on Encampment changed to being set aside, only going to the pile at the end of the turn, which sometimes stops you from buying it back (but lets you buy the Plunder), but was done as a precaution against recursion that helps you remember you got those extra Actions this turn. Plus it neatly solved the issue of clearly having it be that Overlord as Encampment goes to the Overlord pile, not the Encampment pile.
Plunder meanwhile started out as a treasure giving +1 Buy, and +$1 per Buy you have. It had been its own pile and had seemed cool for a while, but it dominated games, you buy them up as a combo with each other. It's like Bridge but different in lots of ways and in the end stronger. Even the half-pile version bugged me, and finally I replaced it with a straight treasure version of Monument. It cost $6 first but then seemed like it could be $5. I had already tried a similar card in the set that could sometimes go on your deck when discarded from play, but left that part out for this version.
Enchantress: A late card, replacing another attack. I quickly tweaked the resources and the wording, but the premise worked immediately.
Engineer: For a while there was a different Workshop: Gain a card costing up to $4, get +1 VP per empty pile. It seemed reasonable and then I had one too many games that were dominated by it. I tried a lot of replacements, man, like ten other cards, mostly very briefly. Engineer stood out. However it had the issue of being able to trash it to gain something plus another Engineer, to run out the pile. Dame Josephine suggested having it cost Debt, which fixed that problem while taking no space on the card.
Farmers' Market: At first you got the VP and trashed it at the same time you got the +$4. That was too big of a pay-off, so I separated out the VP. Before Farmers' Market I briefly tried an Explorer variant that increased in $ ala Farmers' Market.
Forum: This started at $2 with +2 Cards instead of +3. There were several possible ways to do "when buy +buy" to try to not empty piles too quickly; the solution here was, a more powerful card costing $5.
Gladiator / Fortune: Some split piles were having trouble getting to the 2nd card often enough. For Fortune I made a card that specifically eats its half-pile. A single Gladiator purchase can do the trick. The card was inspired by Chariot Race, trying to be another way to do that kind of thing, since we liked Chariot Race.
Fortune started as its own pile. It was a Debt card back when they could all be bought with no $. The first version was $10; in the end it's $16, with $8 up front please. That's how good double your $ is, taking into account that sometimes it helps pay for itself. And originally you could use multiple Fortunes in a turn and well doubling doublers is always trouble (Throning a Throne isn't actually doubling a doubler, person who thinks of that; however King's Court on King's Court is). There were "discard your hand" versions, but in the end it got a harsh clause to limit you to one doubling per turn. When Fortune became a split pile card, it got the when-gain ability to tie in to Gladiator.
Groundskeeper: First this cost $2 and let you pay $1 extra when buying a card to get +1 VP. It was nuts. It shifted to only working on Victory cards and then to costing $5 up front and none later.
Legionary: The first version had the other players "discard a card then draw up to 3" each time you played a Silver. So you got the full effect only if you played three Silvers. I quickly ran through a few variants before settling on, reveal a Gold to have them discard down to 2 then draw (an attack from Dark Ages that had been too annoying, but that one was cheaper and didn't require revealing a Gold). But then for a while it instead triggered on playing a Gold; for some reason I thought that might be better. It wasn't and it's back to revealing a Gold.
Overlord: Around when I found the good forms of Royal Blacksmith and City Quarter, I thought of trying a bigger Band of Misfits with Debt. It was preceded by related cards - Trash a non-Treasure, gain an Action for up to $7 and play it; then +1 Action, gain an Action for up to $6/$5 and play it. Gaining the card is so much simpler but just madly rushes the game end. Overlord costs 8 Debt but doesn't obviously lock itself out from being worthwhile turn one; somehow it all works out here.
Patrician / Emporium: Patrician started as its own pile. It never changed except to become half of a pile. I liked it as a full pile but it was a good fit for half of a pile. Originally it got to interact with Debt cards, since they had high $ costs, but I still liked the card when it stopped doing that.
Emporium started out as a village you could trash for +VP based on how many Action cards you had in play. I tried a few sizes. I liked that whole idea of cashing in cards for VP, but you don't so much want to do it until your last turn of the game, which is not great, and making it fair when it's good can mean making it weak most of the time. I fixed up the concept by making it a threshold; you either get VP or don't, and can't get more with more Actions. Patrician is a combo with it both ways (finds it, helps reach the threshold), which is cute. The threshold was 6 Actions for a while; one day Matt said, why not 5.
Royal Blacksmith: One of the first Debt cards was +5 Cards, you may put your deck into your discard pile. It cost $10 at first, but varied. For a while it seemed like one of the more reasonable Debt cards. It wasn't good immediately, when your deck had mostly Coppers. Or was it? Gradually I got disenchanted with the deck-flipping; it was there to make you less sad to draw at the bottom of your deck, but sometimes meant you got it in every hand when you weren't actually drawing your whole deck. You zoomed to victory or didn't, depending on where it was in your deck. Then I got focused on wanting the big Debt cards to really not be good right away. I replaced the flipping with "discard the Coppers" and well there it is.
Sacrifice: The first version was identical except you only got +2 Actions when trashing an Action, and it cost $3. For a while it seemed good but you sure weren't too interested in trashing Actions to it. It's nice to have that option sometimes be meaningful.
Settlers / Bustling Village: This pile started with the flavor of the card names; nice names for a split pile, with the additional nice idea of having a village that wasn't available right away. It was trouble finding a good card to go in the top slot here; some cards left us just never getting to the village. In the end I used a card Matt made for a homemade set. It was perfect.
I tried a few different bonuses on Bustling Village. There was +$1 per Settlers in play; get your top card if it's an Action per Settlers; there was +VP based on the cards in your hand. Then I tried getting a Settlers from your discard pile and I liked that one. Then Settlers became Matt's card and I like how that ends up, where you play Bustling Village to get Settlers and then Settlers to get Copper.
Temple: At first it didn't have the when-gain ability (or put VP on the pile, don't be silly). When I thought of having VP tokens on piles, I added that part, and it all worked out.
Villa: Originally this just gave +1 Buy when you bought it. One day I thought of having a card that let you play an Action when you bought it, and after a few quick iterations it landed here, as the Village you buy to help out that same turn. For a while it was played when you bought it, but that has some tricky interactions, which were resolved by putting it into your hand instead, and giving you +1 Action to play it with.
Wild Hunt: This started out being trashed to get the VP. You don't want to trash your Smithy. I changed it to gaining an Estate (trying to make sure you couldn't make VP forever this way) and it was much better.
*** Events ***
I used every good Event idea that I had in Adventures. Still, why not try to make more? VP tokens helped a lot, and I ended up with 13 new Events.
Advance: This never changed.
Annex: Late in the going, I had Events that handed out Estate, Province, Curse, Copper, Silver, and Gold (*checks other Events*... huh he's right); where was Duchy? This finally makes good use of an ability I'd tried in a few forms in previous sets, especially Hinterlands.
Banquet: This started as a Treasure for $3 that was worth $1 and came with a Copper and a $5 (then, a Copper and a non-VP $5). I liked it like that, but changing it to an Event saved a slot and made it less fast at running out piles.
Conquest: This never changed.
Delve: This was an idea from Adventures that I never got around to trying there. It's the only one of those I tried, and it worked great.
Dominate: This never changed. Which is funny for an Event costing $14. The idea was to have a next step after Colony, and I could simulate it with an Event rather than spend 12 cards on it.
Donate: This started out costing $8. It was too swingy, and I fixed it by making it 8 debt. Now we can all figure out a plan for when to get it and it doesn't come down to draws, you can just always get it. At first it happened in Clean-up, but I had to move it to between turns due to Possession.
Ritual: I tried an Event that gave you a Curse in exchange for +1 VP per 2 Actions in play. It was a dud, then I tried trashing a card for VP, and there it is.
Salt the Earth: Trashing directly from the Supply tried out for Dark Ages - and cards were phrased to account for the possibility of it - but didn't pass the audition. This approach worked immediately though.
Tax: This started as an Action that gave +$2 and put two Debt tokens on a pile. Then it got a Setup rule that made piles start with Debt. It was hard squeezing everything into the set, and one trick was to turn this into an Event.
Triumph: This started out as an Action for $5 that gave +1 Card +1 Action +$1, and came with +1 VP per card you'd gained that turn (yes, looking a bit like Emporium). It was fun going nuts with it and so I tried variations - a Woodcutter version; one that gave +1 VP per 2 cards gained. Then I made it a Victory card worth 1 VP, that gave +1 VP per card gained that turn. That version was nice. But some games it's just sitting out, you don't have the combos. Space was limited and it could just be an Event. So there it is.
Wedding: This had a bonus I decided would have to wait for some future expansion I hope to put off making for a while. I replaced that part with +1 VP.
Windfall: This started out costing $6. It's a hard condition to meet so I felt like I could be just a little more generous.
*** Landmarks ***
Originally the Landmarks were all "when scoring" except it took a while for me to add the actual words "when scoring" to them. The first "6 VP per player" cards started with 12 VP, and I tried a few at "4 VP per player."
Aqueduct: This started out putting 5 VP on each Treasure pile. I liked that but you only have so many VP tokens. I played around with how to cut down on tokens and ended up with 8 each on Silver and Gold.
Arena: No changes.
Bandit Fort: First it gave 8 VP if you had no Silver and no Gold. It's more fun to punish each one, so you can get a few Silvers and Golds and then see if you can get rid of them later.
Basilica: An earlier version was, when you buy a card, you may pay $3 to take 2 VP.
Baths: No changes except that business about 12 VP turning into 6 VP per player.
Battlefield: No changes except. This was the first one of these 6 VP per player cards, paving the way for more of them, plus other Landmarks that weren't "when scoring." It was controversial, shouldn't they all be "when scoring," but well they worked great.
Colonnade: It was 1 VP when buying an Action you had in play, then 2 VP, then 2 VP with a limited supply of VP.
Defiled Shrine: It triggered on gaining a Curse, but it was not entertaining in games with Witches, so now you have to buy the Curse. The "non-Gathering" thing was a late change to deal with poor interactions between this and the cards that put VP on their own piles. It's kind of weird to have that type there just for this one thing, but it also ties the cards together. That's what I said when insisting on that change, and people's reactions to the Gathering cards has borne that out; they really are tied together.
Fountain: Stef Meijer suggested this one. It was one of the first Landmarks and so started out weaker, at 8 VP for 10 Coppers.
Keep: Some versions gave you the points if you didn't have the fewest copies of a Treasure. It's the same in 2-player but was more political in multiplayer. I went back and forth on whether tying got you the VP, again with an eye towards reducing politics.
Labyrinth: No changes. Well in the initial version of the art, you couldn't do the maze; I got the artist to erase a bit of wall so you could do it.
Mountain Pass: At first it was when the first Province was bought, the buyer bid first, no limit, and the prize was 10 VP. Since the correct bid might be infinity, there's a limit, and hey why not the total number of Debt tokens included. Gain felt better than buy; between turns dealt with Possession, man, that card. And eventually I lowered it to 8 VP to reduce the chance that you run out of Debt tokens.
Museum: The initial idea was to reward you for having cards other players didn't. It was too political, and ended up as a straight Fairgrounds variant.
Obelisk: Originally it could be any Kingdom card. I already knew from some Adventures playtesting that many people don't know that term. I used it anyway, then replaced it with Action.
Orchard: This started out giving a flat bonus of 5 VP if you had at least 3 copies of each card you had any copies of; then it was 10 VP if you had at least 2 of everything you had any of. It was too hard to go for, so it switched to giving VP per card you had 3 copies of, first 5 VP then a more reasonable 4 VP.
Palace: Originally it was 2 VP per set.
Tomb: This one just worked.
Tower: Originally any pile counted; it was slightly more interesting to not reward Victory cards, a thing Matt pushed for.
Triumphal Arch: It started at 2 VP per copy of your 2nd-most copious Action; Matt argued for bumping it up.
Wall: First it was 8 VP if you had no more than 15 cards; then -1 VP per 2 cards in your deck; then the version you know and love. Inspired by that Adventures Victory card outtake that rewarded you for having a small deck (itself inspired by a conversation on BGG, where I talked about possible future Victory cards, and decided inverse-Gardens wouldn't be fresh enough, and David argued otherwise).
Wolf Den: Never changed, though there were related cards that didn't work out.
*** Outtakes ***
This time around I'm putting the outtakes in list form instead of paragraph form. I'm skipping some stuff mentioned above, and a few things that seem like I could maybe fix them up if I have to make more cards someday.
Regular card outtakes:
- The first card in the file is a Witch variant that gives you +1 VP if the Curses have run out. That sounded nifty enough that it hung around for most of testing, though later versions triggered on buying a card. If you somehow got +1 Buy and then played it and bought two things, yeeha. Eventually the trigger started to seem bad, and then the whole card fell apart. And I replaced it with Enchantress, hooray, a happy ending.
- Village, you may trash this for +1 VP per 2 Actions in play;
- and +2 Cards, you may trash this for +1 VP per 2 cards in your hand. I liked the idea of cards you cashed in for VP, but well, you would generally like to hold onto the card until the last minute, and we've already had that experience with Mining Village. They seemed like a good direction and then I fiddled with them and then they died.
- Right and a third one, a treasure worth $1, may trash it to pay any amount of $ for +VP. That one you cashed in of course, since you didn't want the big Copper. There were a couple versions; they were dominating and didn't seem worth pursuing.
- I tried several cards that cost a lot but let you go into Debt, that tried to look impressive and in the end were too impressive. First up, a new extra-turn card. I also had double your $ in Fortune, and I felt like, double your $, with +1 Buy, was like an extra turn but way way faster to resolve.
- One of the most significant outtakes was a treasure that gave +1 Buy and produced $1 per Buy you had. So by default it made $2 and a Buy. But with other sources of +Buys it made more $. You could just play multiple copies of it and build up. If you think about it, it's like Bridge, but gives you the $ up front to divide how you want, instead of assigning $1 per purchase. It turns out that's strong. For a long time the card seemed on the edge of acceptable; gradually I got sick of it. I put it in the Plunder slot and then killed it.
- There was a Witch that gave everyone else a Curse and +1 VP. It seemed cute; it's like giving them a Ruined Village, but they end up ahead a VP if they trash the Curse. So do you still even want to give them these Curses? Yes, you still do, but not as much as usual. I still like the idea but well it wasn't popular. Tower can give you that "Curses are just blank" feeling.
- A Knight-like attack trashed from the Supply if it missed. I decided Salt the Earth was enough of that. Yes and Gladiator.
- A couple attacks played around with playing cards you bought that turn; then I had a village that let you play a card from your hand when you gained it, and then I figured out how to do Villa.
- I tried a Reaction that gave you +VP when attacked. Man. You load up on them and then hope they attack you. Even at once per round I wasn't happy with it.
- I tried giving other players VP as a penalty. It's not pretty-looking but was around for a while.
- +1 Action, get the Silvers and another card from the top 4. Also you got +1 VP per Silver in play when you gained it (then, +1 VP per 2 Silvers, then no VP). The top was crazy. I thought the bottom would survive somewhere in some form but it did not.
- Here's a Venture variant, discard N cards to play the treasures from your top N cards. I have a very vague memory of trying this.
- There was a card that made each card you bought come with a Silver. For a while I thought there would be a sub-theme of cards doing things when you bought other cards. Also I thought there would be a sub-theme of making Silver more exciting.
- Treasure, name a card, worth $1 per copy of it you have in play (cost $5). A super-Coppersmith; if you name Copper it's a Coppersmith treasure, but you can name something else instead. It looked classic and got a lot of chances.
- Treasure version of King's Court, with debt. A dud.
- A cantrip super-Remodel (up to +$4) that had you take debt equal to the amount you Remodel'd up. Debt and Remodels are a poor combination, but I tried it multiple times anyway.
- Mine 3 times, with a Debt cost. Then, trash a treasure to gain a treasure to hand - the same if you went Copper to Platinum, but usually weaker. It thought it had a shot, and spent some time in split piles.
- Remodel 3 times, with a Debt cost. Debt? That's okay, I'm not going to be buying any more cards.
- In the same vein as Farmers' Market, I tried a Warehouse. You draw N cards then discard N, N being the number of tokens on the pile. And could optionally trash it to take the VP. Farmers' Market made the concept work.
- There were a bunch of treasures I tried briefly for split pile slots. A treasure version of Vault. A treasure that gained you a copy of a treasure in play. A treasure that played the Coppers from your 3 top cards. A treasure that made cards the previous player had gained cheaper. A treasure (worth $2) you could put on your deck ala Treasury. A treasure worth $1 per other differently named treasure you had in play. A treasure that let you trash a card when gaining or trashing it. A treasure you cashed in for two $3's when you played it (that one goes back to Prosperity). A double Harem - $4 and 4 VP for $10. You know it wouldn't have been embarassing, but when its pile died I didn't miss it.
- There was a bigger Wharf with Debt cost - +3 Cards this turn and next.
- Here's a Wishing Well where you just need to get the type right, not the card name. Man I don't remember trying this. And next to it a version that could get 2 cards if they both matched.
- There were cards called Barbarian, don't think there weren't. Here's one where they name a card, then trash their top card if it costs $3+ and isn't what they named. Then immediately a version where they revealed two cards; revealing one has worked on a few attacks but tends to be too random. My memory is this attack just never hits.
- I tried another permanent duration; +$2 each turn with the first Action card you play, with a Debt cost. It was in the running for a big debt slot, it seemed potentially balanceable but was not as fun as the competition.
- I tried a few things in the Settlers slot, maybe not all in the file, but here's a 2-card Cartographer.
- Each other player reveals 2 cards from their hand, trashes one you choose, gains a replacement to their hand with the same cost, also your choice. Attacks are hard.
- Ah yes, so many cards tried out for Engineer's slot. Here's an Expand with on-use Debt that tried to dodge Remodel/Debt issues by doing something different if you had any Debt. A +$1 Remodel that had you draw 2 cards when you gained or trashed it; I still like the idea of a Remodel that does something when gained/trashed. A +$1 Remodel that, when trashed, gave you a $5. Yowza. Another one of these, gaining you a copy of a card in play with some limits to try not to go nuts. Another one with different limits, man. Okay here are 3 that involve putting VP on the pile. One is just a Workshop that accumulates VP you can trash it to get; one counts down, it's reset to 5 VP when a copy is gained, and when played gains a card for the number of VP on the pile and then gives you a VP from the pile, that was fun to try; and a Workshop that adds or takes VP based on how much the card you gained cost. Finally, the one that held the slot for the longest out of these, a Workshop that turns into Remodel if a pile is empty. That seemed okay and like I could live with it if I couldn't do better, but I like Engineer better.
- 1 VP per card costing $4 wasn't very interesting;
- ditto 1 VP per card costing $6+.
- 2 VP per Attack seemed okay for a while but didn't survive. I then tried 2 VP per card with 2+ types. It feels like Obelisk covers "this random pile is worth points."
- 10 VP if you have at least 3 Curses; not the best way to use Curses.
- 5 VP if the game ended on your turn; that looks interesting but isn't really and could cause a stalemate.
- -1 VP per Duchy -2 VP per Province; what is there to say.
- If the Provinces are empty, 2 VP per Estate; that's a classic thing that didn't work out in Victory card form or here either.
- In a similar vein, 1 VP per empty Supply pile per Province you have.
- When "1 VP per $6" didn't work out I tried "take 2 VP from here when you gain Gold."
- There's one that gave you 2 VP for shuffling; it just doesn't make a difference.
- One gave +1 VP for starting your Buy phase with 6+ cards in hand.
- I tried a few versions of "At the start of your turn, you may gain a Copper, to take 2 VP from here." It's kind of interesting, but some players just always take the Copper, and sometimes you forget to take the Copper and are unhappy. I tried it with Curse; I tried it triggering on buying Treasures.
- When any player buys a Victory card, each player may discard a Victory card for +1 VP. Random and not so meaningful.
- When you buy a Victory card, reveal hand for +1 VP per Victory card. Grand Castles everywhere.
- -1 VP per copy you have after the first of each card. Then, -1 VP per copy after the 2nd. Then non-Victory cards only. The card to do was Wolf Den but I wasn't there yet.
- Reveal a hand of no duplicates at turn start to take 2 VP. Very easy to forget.
- At start of buy phase, if more Actions in play than VP tokens, +2 VP. You want more and more Actions. Not bad, except wait, it's no good in a game with any other way to make VP tokens, and I was making a whole expansion of those.
- Pick your next hand. It turns out that's pretty good and also repetitive.
- A couple versions of, Expand your top card.
- Summon! It always was hoping to be a promo but was in the set for a bit.
- A Scheme variant. It's tricky to make it useful and not automatic.
- A Moat-in-advance. It's tricky to make it useful and not stop people from buying attacks.
- Various versions of, the player to your left gains an Estate and you get +3 VP. I couldn't give everyone an Estate and didn't want anything political.
- A few versions of a hot potato - you pay to give it to the player to your left, and it punishes whoever has it (the Event, sitting in front of them). Again politics was an issue, but also it just wasn't creating good times.
- A few Haggler variants that were too hard to get value out of.
- A few versions of, trash a card, get VP if the trash didn't have it yet (phrased to not be Fortress tricks).
- It seemed like I could do "make anything a Nobles/Harem" and it would be reasonable. Pay $6, gain a card costing up to $4, get +2 VP. I could make it be worth doing, but entertainment-wise it was a dud.
- I tried giving Duchy an ability. It had to be a buy phase ability but that was fine; I tried +1 Buy +$1 (but +2 Buys because you bought the Event). Discard a Duchy, get that stuff, cost $0. It sounded interesting and was supposed to make me consider getting a Duchy for the +Buy. It did sometimes, but didn't add enough to make the grade.
- Trying to make other giant Events like Donate and Dominate, I briefly tried "gain all Actions from a pile" and "gain the trash."