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kieranmillar

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The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« on: December 28, 2018, 04:07:44 pm »
+16

I love Dominion. It's my favourite board game by a significant margin, so I've spent some time ooh-ing and aah-ing over its design and that of particular cards. So I figured, why not write about what I think is so brilliant about the design of some of the cards. At first this was gonna be the top 5, but then when looking through the list of cards I simply had to include more, and found it hard to pare the list of best designed cards down below 20. Even leaving it at 20, there are still more cards I could gush about but I have to stop somewhere. I am sure you will be outraged that the list ends up not containing a card that you were certain I would include.

Note that this is not a power ranking, although obviously the power of the card factors into its design. It is also not a list of my favourite cards. This list is merely my opinion on what I believe constitutes a well-designed Dominion card and how these cards achieve this.

I'll be posting them in batches of 5 cards whenever I find the time. I have already compiled the list but the write-ups are kinda the whole point and it takes time.

#20 - Baker

While Baker itself is a fairly basic and average card, it's setup bonus is a really good idea. Baker manipulates the kingdom in a very profound way, and doesn't even need to be bought or played in order to have an impact! Dominion lives and dies on its variety, it is a game that benefits from as many cards as possible providing interesting ways to deal with the kingdom when they are present, and this rather simple-seeming effect on Baker really makes itself a big deal without getting in the way of other cards being able to do their own thing. I also think it was absolutely the correct card to put this concept on, Baker already uses coffers and is otherwise a very forgettable card, but the bonus helps elevate it to being a memorable standout of its expansion. It also has the side bonus of being an excellent way to introduce Coffers to players new to the concept.

#19 - Lackeys

I think Lackeys' particular combination of effects is absolutely pitch-perfect. It is just two very simple concepts on their own, but this particular combination has some really interesting implications that I find a lot of fun. The on-gain villagers are quite strong so it is very tempting to gain the card just for them but then Lackeys is in your deck just begging you to spend the villagers on it for that sweet little bit of extra draw. This then throws you into a quandary. Do you keep buying Lackeys, just so you can keep playing your Lackeys? It can be hard to assess where the right sweet spot is for getting more Lackeys, which for such a cheap card with a simple combination of basic effects is really pulling its weight.

#18 - Guide

It was Guide that got me sitting up and thinking "hot damn, Dominion has really got its act together" when I first got to play Adventures. How many times has Dominion tried and failed to get the concept of avoiding bad end-of-turn draws to work? Navigator is just bad, Cartographer feels lacklustre in practice, and all of these cards get worse in the fun engine decks where you're drawing everything. Not so with Guide, that just so beautifully sidesteps the issue by sitting around waiting until you actually get the bad hand and then throws it away. Guide is the sort of card that's really easy to get wrong. But the way that the card itself goes out of your deck until you use it, then has a natural cool-down period until you find and play it again, and stacks so wonderfully and sensibly with multiple copies of itself just works so well. Guide makes you feel like it was your smart preparation and forward planning that helped you avoid a bad hand rather than luck, and that feels great.

#17 - Tomb

When Adventures reintroduced Duration cards and people were musing about a "Prosperity sequel" the one thing I knew I wanted to see a comeback more than anything else was VP tokens. Bishop and Monument were always a crowd-pleaser and it was such a shame that so little was done with them in Prosperity. It was like Donald X read my mind because along came Empires and not only gave me everything I ever wanted, but massively exceeded all of my expectations. I think Tomb is the best representation of this. Dominion sticks out from many other deckbuilders because of its love of trashing, and Tomb just sits there and forces you to re-evaluate the trashing cards, encouraging you to go all in and make decks whose contents vary wildly in the course of the game. The only reason why this is not rated more highly is because it has the chance to be completely useless, and that's always sad, but the fun this card brings more than makes up for it.

#16 - Cathedral

Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.
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Awaclus

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2018, 05:09:48 pm »
+4

#16 - Cathedral
Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.

"Cathedral" and "as the game drags on" in the same context is an oxymoron. With Cathedral in the kingdom, the game is probably over roughly when you're still trashing some of your last remaining starting junk.
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Bomb, Cannon, and many of the Gunpowder cards can strongly effect gameplay, particularly in a destructive way

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samath

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2018, 03:01:33 am »
0

#16 - Cathedral
Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.

"Cathedral" and "as the game drags on" in the same context is an oxymoron. With Cathedral in the kingdom, the game is probably over roughly when you're still trashing some of your last remaining starting junk.

You've clearly never played a Cathedral Nightmare game then. It certainly doesn't happen every time if you build carefully, but it can, especially if your opponent leaves Provinces alone longer than you expected. And then there are the games where you get unlucky and have to trash engine pieces despite still having a few starting cards around...
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2018, 03:09:26 am »
0

#16 - Cathedral
Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.

"Cathedral" and "as the game drags on" in the same context is an oxymoron. With Cathedral in the kingdom, the game is probably over roughly when you're still trashing some of your last remaining starting junk.

You've clearly never played a Cathedral Nightmare game then. It certainly doesn't happen every time if you build carefully, but it can, especially if your opponent leaves Provinces alone longer than you expected. And then there are the games where you get unlucky and have to trash engine pieces despite still having a few starting cards around...

I mean, I have had to trash engine pieces with Cathedral, but I have certainly never had a game "drag on".
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2018, 08:28:03 am »
+6

#16 - Cathedral
Never has a card simultaneously provided such feelings of hope and dread. Cathedral is equal parts amazing and horrifying. It offers such tantalising power, but at what cost? I love the way Cathedral sets you on a path that feels very different to decks without it, with some incredible burst of power early in the game followed by that moment of doubt later when it starts cannibalizing all of your engine pieces as the game drags on to extended Duchy dancing. If Dominion were differently themed, this project would probably be some terrifying dark force that tempts you into great power with the risk of corrupting your soul, but instead in Dominion it's .... organised religion? Huh. I guess this card also provides scathing social commentary.

"Cathedral" and "as the game drags on" in the same context is an oxymoron. With Cathedral in the kingdom, the game is probably over roughly when you're still trashing some of your last remaining starting junk.

You've clearly never played a Cathedral Nightmare game then. It certainly doesn't happen every time if you build carefully, but it can, especially if your opponent leaves Provinces alone longer than you expected. And then there are the games where you get unlucky and have to trash engine pieces despite still having a few starting cards around...

I mean, I have had to trash engine pieces with Cathedral, but I have certainly never had a game "drag on".

Game Dragon
Action–Attack–Duration
For the rest of the game, each opponent trashes a card from their hand at the start of each of their turns.
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AJD

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2018, 08:32:41 am »
+2

Game Dragon
Action–Attack–Duration
For the rest of the game, each opponent trashes a card from their hand at the start of each of their turns.

(If a Knight is trashed by this, trash this card.)
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kieranmillar

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2018, 11:05:32 am »
+7

#15 - Council Room

I may be completely wrong on this assumption, but Council Room has always struck me as having the bonus interaction come first, and the rest of the card designed around it to make it work. Given that having your opponents draw additional cards to start their hand is very strong for them, this effect really needed to be put on a card that was good enough to sorely tempt it to actually be bought and used in the first place, but on something that wasn't going to be played loads of times to make the drawback seem like less of a downside. The stronger than usual draw means you simply don't need to play that many, and I think this card ends up working out really well. I also think this card's inclusion into the base game was a very smart choice, providing an immediate counter to the criticism that Dominion isn't interactive enough. This particular interaction spreads a lot of good feeling around the table, if anything I wish there were more cards like this.

#14 - Hireling

I have included Hireling in this list not so much for the card itself, but for the forward-thinking of Donald X's design of many game mechanics. In the pre-Adventures era of Dominion, all of the Duration cards only impacted your next turn at most, so it would have been really easy to try and "simplify" the rules by setting in stone that Durations affect this turn and the next. But by leaving that flexibility open for Durations to stay in play for as long as necessary, a card like Hireling could come along and offer what is essentially a whole new dynamic, a card that once played offers a passive bonus all game, and have it use an existing mechanic in a way that feels completely natural.

#13 - Storyteller

Dominion benefits substantially from being a physical product first and foremost, as not being able to rely on the computer to handle and keep track of things for you helps eliminate a lot of potential unnecessary complexity that makes it easier to think about your turns. The way that Storyteller forces you to spend all of the money you have earned up until that point gracefully eliminates all potential tracking issues, while still allowing it to interact with other sources of coin. Storyteller could have fairly easily only spent the money generated by the treasures you play using it, but by carefully designing away from that it maintains maximum interactivity with the kingdom it is a part of.

#12 - Golem

A lack of theming is a criticism that gets levelled at Dominion, but Golem is brilliantly thematic. When you play Golem it really does feel like a force clumsily stomping through your deck and executing other cards with reckless abandon, consequences be damned. This card's name, artwork and mechanics all tie together perfectly.

#11 - Stonemason

Stonemason has a pretty interesting on play effect, but I think it is not exciting or strong enough to justify the card being purchased a lot of the time. Where Stonemason is clever is that it finds a way to force itself into your deck by being attached to an incredibly strong on-buy effect, and you're more than happy to take advantage of the card once you've already got it. The low cost of Stonemason also means it's usually bad to use Stonemason on another Stonemason, which helps keep its power in check by forcing you to trash other things.
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kieranmillar

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2018, 05:28:25 pm »
+5

#10 - Vineyard

There are a bunch of alternate victory cards in Dominion that encourage building certain types of deck, but how do you balance one around building the most powerful deck type - the engine? Engines tend to be great at picking up pretty much any type of card, including Provinces and Colonies, so how do you possibly set a suitable cost? This problem is brilliantly solved with potions. Now Alchemy is the least popular expansion for a reason, but I believe that unlike a number of the other Alchemy cards, Vineyard is one that simply could not work without costing Potion. Potions put a strong limit on the number of a certain card you can get during a shuffle, and force you to load up on a junky stopcard if you want to increase how many you can get each shuffle, which allows Vineyard to remain viable for all players to collect in crazy engine boards with lots of gaining without turning into a total blowout for one player.

#9 - Shepherd / Pasture

Individually, each of these cards has a problem. Shepherd is really powerful, but needs a high density of victory cards, and can struggle to be viable early and mid game with only the initial 3 estates, and really you'd rather trash them. Meanwhile, Pasture struggles to be a victory card pile, because it's just too insanely strong to get in any reasonable quantity unless the scaling is made so much worse. Now the heirloom mechanic is cool and all, but honestly for a lot of them the pairings feel incidental. No other heirloom solves the problems each card has in the way that it does for this pair. By adding an extra victory card to your starting hand and making the estates more valuable so you want to keep them, and putting a hard limit of only one Pasture in your deck, these two cards combined solve each other's problems in a way that would have been really tough or inelegant to solve any other way. The perfect solution for two cards at the same time!

#8 - Bridge

Lots of other deckbuilders decide to change the supply to a constantly rotating market but cards like Bridge show why this was ultimately a worse idea. Dominion allows you to actually build a deck themed around making certain cards work because you have ample access to multiple copies of the card and have the opportunity to actually get it in games where it's available. Bridge is a particularly nice example of this because of the manner in which its power explodes as you play more of them, it is almost like a naturally-occuring alternative victory condition whereby if you can play enough of them, you almost certainly just win through raw power, but doing this reqires you to build your deck very well, and feels very different from decks without it.

#7 - Dominate

After Prosperity's release, fans immediately asked the question, would there be the next step beyond Colony, that cost 14 and gave 15 points? But this always had an issue, in that it risked dragging out games to be quite long most of the time it showed up. Also, what about the base-cards-only product? Does it count as a new base card and need to be included? Where Dominate is so smart is that instead of making a whole new pile of cards and adding yet another game-end trigger, Dominate simply runs down the Province pile. This means that running down Provinces as the game progresses can be a viable way to shortcut the game's length a reasonable amount of the time, and the fact that it is an Event had the nice bonus of meaning only one card has to be printed instead of a new stack of 12. So the base cards product remains intact, and there's more room in the expansion to add even more cards. Everyone's a winner!

#6 - Imp

So let's say you're looking to make a card that multiple other cards can give out. You want this card to be usuable in a reasonable quantity to make the cards that give them out better value, but you don't want it to dominate the game on its own if you can quickly amass lots of them in case multiple types of these cards are in the kingdom, so there needs to be some sort of check on how many of them you can play. Imp's mechanic of being able to play other cards if you've not got any of them in play yet is the ideal solution to this. It's effective in making a reasonable and flexible limit, that can even change and evolve as your deck does. It requires some manner of thought and care in when you get them and how many, and best of all, it encourages using more of the cards available in the kingdom that you may not have otherwise. This card's design absolutely nails it, and I love it.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2019, 10:15:35 am »
+5

Funny, because I consider Storyteller to be one of the poorer designs in Dominion. First, it made playing Treasures during your Action phase a standard thing (when before it was only the case for one obscure promo card), which weaked the distinction between Treasures and Actions considerably, to the point where now they feel almost interchangeable. It also misleads you by saying "+1 Coin" and then not giving you any coins.

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2019, 10:47:29 am »
+2

#12 - Golem
A lack of theming is a criticism that gets levelled at Dominion, but Golem is brilliantly thematic.
Funny how you mention theme here after mentioning Storyteller without a nod to the theme, while I found the "continues telling as long as people are throwing coins" bit so compelling.
Quote
This card's name, artwork and mechanics all tie together perfectly.
Agree about the artwork. This is Drew Tucker level.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2019, 10:53:59 am »
0

I love juxtaposing your praise of Tomb with this (mame) lukewarm initial reaction.

In a game yesterday, while KCing Treasurers, after I had left all Copper behind and the key was mine, I untrashed-trashed Coppers for the few extra Tomb VPs.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2019, 01:19:36 pm »
+1

Funny, because I consider Storyteller to be one of the poorer designs in Dominion. First, it made playing Treasures during your Action phase a standard thing (when before it was only the case for one obscure promo card), which weaked the distinction between Treasures and Actions considerably, to the point where now they feel almost interchangeable. It also misleads you by saying "+1 Coin" and then not giving you any coins.

I think this is the problem with the concept of "best designed." Without more clearly defined criteria, it doesn't actually mean anything.

That being said, I still find kieranmillar's write-ups interesting.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 09:29:03 am »
0

I love cards that are very strong in some situations and very bad in others. These double edges swords require a lot of skill to use properly.

I like Contraband for example, because it is much stronger in the early game, when it might be unclear what you are looking to buy, than in the late game when you are racing to buy Colonies.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 10:52:06 am »
0

#15 - Council Room

I may be completely wrong on this assumption, but Council Room has always struck me as having the bonus interaction come first, and the rest of the card designed around it to make it work. Given that having your opponents draw additional cards to start their hand is very strong for them, this effect really needed to be put on a card that was good enough to sorely tempt it to actually be bought and used in the first place, but on something that wasn't going to be played loads of times to make the drawback seem like less of a downside. The stronger than usual draw means you simply don't need to play that many, and I think this card ends up working out really well. I also think this card's inclusion into the base game was a very smart choice, providing an immediate counter to the criticism that Dominion isn't interactive enough. This particular interaction spreads a lot of good feeling around the table, if anything I wish there were more cards like this.
Is Council Room still the only +Cards with +Buy?  That is a cute and subtle point of power for Council Room, and instructive too.
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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 11:12:19 am »
0

#15 - Council Room

I may be completely wrong on this assumption, but Council Room has always struck me as having the bonus interaction come first, and the rest of the card designed around it to make it work. Given that having your opponents draw additional cards to start their hand is very strong for them, this effect really needed to be put on a card that was good enough to sorely tempt it to actually be bought and used in the first place, but on something that wasn't going to be played loads of times to make the drawback seem like less of a downside. The stronger than usual draw means you simply don't need to play that many, and I think this card ends up working out really well. I also think this card's inclusion into the base game was a very smart choice, providing an immediate counter to the criticism that Dominion isn't interactive enough. This particular interaction spreads a lot of good feeling around the table, if anything I wish there were more cards like this.
Is Council Room still the only +Cards with +Buy?  That is a cute and subtle point of power for Council Room, and instructive too.

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 11:15:29 am »
+3

Is Council Room still the only +Cards with +Buy?  That is a cute and subtle point of power for Council Room, and instructive too.

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2019, 05:07:19 pm »
+4

#5 - Bishop

Tomb's and Cathedral's early inclusion on this list made it clear that I like trashing. A lot of deckbuilders that use a rotating market rather than a supply to buy cards from always feel highly restricted on how much you can trash because it is so powerful and unequal access to trashing is particularly unfair. Dominion not only avoids this problem, but fully embraces trashing, and few other cards deeply encourage you to intentionally annihilate your deck like Bishop does. Bishop is powerful, but it's clever in how it curtails that power without diminshing what it's designed to do. The opportunity for your opponent to also trash a card is smart because of the way it directly promotes the exact counter-strategy to a heavily-Bishop focussed deck. The free trash for your opponent provides some significant acceleration to their deck, and it's fast decks that green quickly that Bishop struggles to beat. Bishop either wants to end the game quickly with a reasonable points lead before a multi-province engine can get going, or engage in a long, drawn-out game where it has more opportunities to amass points without worrying about the deck clogging up with green. By ensuring a good counter to dull mono-Bishop strategies is always present, Bishop helps promote more varied types of decks that utilise it. "But what about Bishop-Fortress? That usually dominates and plays out the same each time", I hear you say, or would have, if I hadn't ran off with my fingers in my ears going "La la I can't hear you!"

#4 - Menagerie

You might have gathered by now that I think that Dominion massively benefits from variety, and an important part of maximising that is trying to ensure that as many cards as possible influence the Kingdom in their own way, as this helps make each Kingdom feel unique. It's not always going to be possible to make every card impactful, but some cards find their own ways to make other less usueful cards more worthwhile. Menagerie is the king of these cards, encouraging you to pick up as many different cards as possible to get the strong draw. But unlike, say, Fairgrounds, Menagerie really makes you care about how you build and play that deck to make it work, rather than last-minute diversification. Menagerie's play-by-play care over the composition of your hand makes for a simple-seeming card that adds some very complex and careful deck-building strategy. Menagerie adds its own unique play-style to the table while also making other cards more valuable, making Menagerie decks feel different not just to other types of deck, but also to each other.

#3 - Lurker

Lurker is the best card I've ever bought and then not played. A non-terminal gainer that can gain any action but requires two plays? OK that's cool. But the card you want to gain goes into a shared pile that anybody can take? Absolutely devious. When it was introduced in 2nd Edition, gaining from the trash was nothing new, and there was always this potential undercurrent of having your trashed cards be taken by other players with those cards. But Lurker embraced this, bringing this tension to the forefront of the card's gameplay, and I love it for it. The utility of playing Lurker can swing wildly from turn to turn, and also based on the other cards in the kingdom. I don't know how much the combos with other trashers or on-trash bonuses was accidental or the original basis of the card, but either way Lurker is a very unique and wild idea. Lurker took an existing mechanic on the fringes of the design and built on it to great success.

#2 - Butcher

Butcher takes full advantage of the components being included in its expansion to get maximum mileage out of them while it has the opportunity. Butcher takes the existing Remodel mechanic and allows it to be partially utilised, in order to save part of its upgrading to boost a later use, or just use as regular Coffers. It allows you to get better cards into your deck in two different ways but shares the resource between those uses so you can improve your deck in the way that best works for you in the moment. Additional physical components are expensive, and Butcher's approach to making the most use of them is very clever and works brilliantly.

#1 - Throne Room

I think Throne Room proves more than any other card in Dominion just how much Donald X fundamentally understood the genre that he created, and as early as the base game! It seems so unassuming on its own, but you can't possibly make a card like this without having full confidence that it's not going to be horrendously broken and cause problems some time down the line. But you know you can be confident in that design, because a core feature of Dominion's design is that multiple copies of cards are always available to put into your deck, and therefore playing multiple copies is usually expected. But what I also love about Throne Room is how deliciously meta it is. A simple instruction, that is entirely reliant on another card to even do anything but can still be combined with itself and make perfect sense without requiring an exception. Throne Room is beautiful in its simplicity, but hiding beneath its simple exterior is a huge amount of reliance in a careful and consistent core framework, combined with some great ingenuity to even come up with in the first place. When I think of what sets Dominion apart from other deck builders, I think of Throne Room.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 01:43:27 pm by kieranmillar »
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kieranmillar

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2019, 05:21:21 pm »
+2

I think this is the problem with the concept of "best designed." Without more clearly defined criteria, it doesn't actually mean anything.

That being said, I still find kieranmillar's write-ups interesting.
It's true, you caught me. What does best-designed even mean? What does the 3rd best designed card do worse than the 1st or 2nd? Well... basically nothing.

What does good design itself even mean? I see design as problem solving in the pursuit of multiple, sometimes contradictory outcomes. Dominion wants to be simple to play but with deep strategic complexity. It wants to have the freedom to play with ideas while being constrained physically and mechanically. It wants cards to be exciting on first glance and when playing with it for the 100th time. There's a lot to unpack, and different cards have different problems that need solving. And as someone who was not involved in any of that design process, merely a player of the end product, commenting upon what problems were encountered and the solutions that were taken contains a heaping of guesswork and navel gazing that makes the whole thing ultimately rather pointless.

This article started its life as me wanting to talk about Dominion compared to other board games I'd played, and why I think it succeeds so brilliantly, and what it does differently that makes that work. The problem is, this article would have just been a rambling mess with no real structure, darting from place to place with nothing to tie them together. Me just talking about some examples in isolation of a greater point. So instead I stripped it down to cards where I had something that felt meaningfully different from each other to talk about, then put them in an order, added a clickbait title, and avoided ever needing to have some coherent underlying narrative or actual competence in essay writing. Hooray!
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kieranmillar

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2019, 05:34:59 pm »
0

Funny, because I consider Storyteller to be one of the poorer designs in Dominion. First, it made playing Treasures during your Action phase a standard thing (when before it was only the case for one obscure promo card), which weaked the distinction between Treasures and Actions considerably, to the point where now they feel almost interchangeable. It also misleads you by saying "+1 Coin" and then not giving you any coins.
You raise good points, but I'm not sure I agree with it all. I think some treasures like Scepter are the real cause of blurring the lines between treasures and actions. And if you think of Storyteller from the concept of "how can I make a draw card that draws proportionally according to how much you're willing to pay", Storyteller's implementation is the one that makes the most sense. By using the treasures in your hand, Storyteller cares about the composition of your deck and which cards you draw when. I can easily see the +$1 being swapped for +1 card at the end if the card text, but then all of the simple instructions won't be at the top, for whatever that might be worth, and the way it is now allows for that stylistic choice while still allowing the card to be a cantrip at worst without letting you draw an extra treasure first. The stylistic choice being not worth sticking to in this case is a part where I might agree here.

Even then I don't see the +$1 as misleading because you always know that a play of Storyteller wipes out all +$ from every source before it finsihes resolving. Which really was the only part of the card I wanted to discuss anyway.
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Asper

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2019, 07:07:20 pm »
0

Funny, because I consider Storyteller to be one of the poorer designs in Dominion. First, it made playing Treasures during your Action phase a standard thing (when before it was only the case for one obscure promo card), which weaked the distinction between Treasures and Actions considerably, to the point where now they feel almost interchangeable. It also misleads you by saying "+1 Coin" and then not giving you any coins.
You raise good points, but I'm not sure I agree with it all. I think some treasures like Scepter are the real cause of blurring the lines between treasures and actions. And if you think of Storyteller from the concept of "how can I make a draw card that draws proportionally according to how much you're willing to pay", Storyteller's implementation is the one that makes the most sense. By using the treasures in your hand, Storyteller cares about the composition of your deck and which cards you draw when. I can easily see the +$1 being swapped for +1 card at the end if the card text, but then all of the simple instructions won't be at the top, for whatever that might be worth, and the way it is now allows for that stylistic choice while still allowing the card to be a cantrip at worst without letting you draw an extra treasure first. The stylistic choice being not worth sticking to in this case is a part where I might agree here.

Even then I don't see the +$1 as misleading because you always know that a play of Storyteller wipes out all +$ from every source before it finsihes resolving. Which really was the only part of the card I wanted to discuss anyway.

I don't think Scepter is a valid point. It - as well as Crown - came after Storyteller. Both of these just expanded on a trend that Storyteller helped set up.

GendoIkari

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2019, 11:34:43 am »
0


Tomb's and Citadel's early inclusion on this list made it clear that I like trashing.


Do you mean Cathedral?
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GendoIkari

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2019, 11:41:12 am »
+1

I think that treasures that do things other than make are the actual real cause of blurring lines between treasure and action. Especially Horn of Plenty, which doesn't even produce any at all! Of course, HoP would be a Night if the technology existed at the time. But really I blame Prosperity.
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kieranmillar

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2019, 01:44:12 pm »
0


Tomb's and Citadel's early inclusion on this list made it clear that I like trashing.


Do you mean Cathedral?
Whoops yes I did. Thanks. I've corrected the article. Still getting those two mixed up!
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ipofanes

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2019, 05:41:18 am »
0

Even understanding that you saw the itch of a bad end-of-turn draw needing to be scratched and you didn't want another tavern mat card in your list, to my mind Transmogrify is even better designed than Guide. Making possible to easily collide Treasure Maps or Urchins after proper setups without unbalancing the game must have taken a lot of playtesting.
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faust

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Re: The Top 20 Best Designed Cards
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2019, 06:07:28 am »
+2

I appreciate the inclusion of Shepherd in this list, but it should really be on top. And I like Throne Room too, but first place? Even ignoring the fact that it didn't have the "you may" initially - that has been fixed - I feel that the interaction with durations is a bit too weird for a supposedly perfectly designed card.
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