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Udzu

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Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« on: May 18, 2019, 10:30:39 am »
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Hi all,

Dominion: Swords & Sorcery (DS&S) is a mini-set that I'm currently designing. Inspired by Asper's excellent cards, the aim is to introduce new mechanics but stay simple. The setting is D&D-style fantasy.

The set is still in its very early days: I've blitzed out a few ideas but not playtested it yet. I'm posting it now to allow early feedback, and to encourage big changes before I get too wedded to any of the ideas. I'm hoping to bully some people into testing it with me soonish.

Adventurer Cards

These are the defining cards in the set (at the moment), a sort of cross between Heirlooms and Reserve cards.

At the start of the game, each player starts with one copy of every Adventurer specified in any of the Kingdom cards or Quests. The cards start on the player's Adventurer's Guild mat, where they remain until they're called. Unlike Reserve cards, calling requires first satisfying some precondition, and the cards don't (currently) have any on-call effects. They get discarded as normal during Clean-up and can be played next time they cycle round. When an Adventurer card gets trashed it gets returned to the Adventurers' Guild rather than placed in the trash pile; the only way to get rid of an Adventurer is to pass it using Masquerade.



Comments: The fact that there's at most one of each Adventurer hopefully gives a bit more leeway in card design. My aim is to make the game reasonably balanced regardless of how many Adventurers are in use: more Adventurers should mainly mean more strategy options. The name Adventurer is quite natural given the setting, but obviously clashes with a removed Base card (admittedly my least favourite one). Other suggestions are welcome. If the mechanic works, I plan to add a few more Adventurers, though many of the obvious card names (Thief, Rogue, Ranger, Druid) are similarly taken.

Kingdom cards

These all introduce an Adventurer, with some attempt at synergy between the card and the Adventurer. Many are probably broken as written.





Missions

Missions are the other way to introduce Adventurers to the game. Whenever you complete an Missions's Quest, place a cube on it and take the specified Reward.



Comments: these are very preliminary proofs-of-concepts. The challenge here will be to make the Adventures fun and not too swingy: an incentive to play a little differently but not a game breaker.

Equipment

A way to mod your Adventurers! There is one of each card, and all of them are brought out whenever any Adventurer cards are in use. They work a bit like Projects: you can buy one for the price specified, place a cube on it, and follow the instructions. There is no limit on how many different equipment items you can buy in a game.



Comments: the challenge here is obviously to make the equipment balanced in games with 1 Adventurer but also in games with all 5.

Individual Cards

Once I've played this a bit I might add some comments here...

[Updates]

2019.05.18 Initial upload
2019.05.19 Fixed Dark Priest wording and made it a Reaction
2019.05.20 Renamed Quest into Adventure and Gear into Equipment; added runners-up for Adventures
2019.05.26 Renamed Adventure into Mission and make prize the same for everyone; buff Cleric; reword Dark Priest

« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 06:18:06 am by Udzu »
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Commodore Chuckles

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 12:18:02 pm »
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You have some neat ideas here. All the complicated interactions feel very D&D-like, which works here. I like the Gear cards a lot (though this is another name that's already been taken.) I've been wondering about ways to mod cards besides the Adventures tokens, and this looks like a great way to do it.

Barbarian: Like a lot of people here, I'm not normally a fan of trashing Attacks. Seeing all your hard deck-building work destroyed just feels super bad. There are some exceptions. They can be fun if there's a way to gain cards back from the trash. I also don't mind Giant because it's slow. Since there's only one Barbarian I might not mind it so much either. Another thing to note, though, is that this doesn't give you any benefit when you play it, which might annoy some people.

Cleric: Looks neat. A Loan that can't irritate you.

Fighter: On first glance, I don't like it. It doesn't seem interesting, and the benefit cancels out the Attack exactly, making it a Ruined Mine overall.

Sorcerer: Seems... rather weak? The best comparison is with Transmogrify, but you can't upgrade the cost by one and you don't get the benefit and the start of your turn. Having to gain a Curse to put it in action is also nasty. Maybe it should instead be "up to $1 more"? That would be interesting, and have a nice parallel with Transmogrify.

Wizard: I think this would be strong enough without the +Action. This effectively costs $5, but it's actually a bit cheaper because there are some cards that give you Golds for free. You just need a Silver or Estate in hand to gain a $5, which is a premium ability normally reserved for 6s.

Circus: This doesn't need to be a dual-type. Why not "Choose one: +1 Coffers or +1 Card, +1 Villager"?

Goblin Ambush: I'm not seeing a compelling reason for this to have a Duration effect.

School of Magic: This looks fine, but I think it should cost at least $6.

Tomb Raider: Looks okay.

Corrupt Noble: Whoa, this thing looks bonkers strong! The per-Buy idea is cool, but it makes it even better than Bridge, which can already be broken. Maybe it could be used to limit the power instead? Like, "$1 less for every 2 Buys you have left"?

Dark Priest: I feel like I must be missing something here. How would discard it from play other than during Clean-up? And it doesn't give Curses, so how will Cleric be useful?

Dragon: This is super cool. Very thematic. One thing, though, is that Sea Hag is another Attack that gets a lot of hate. This can give you some benefit, but not when you play it, which might annoy some people. It's nice that there's a way to block it, at least.

Monstrous Lair: Another Attack that gives you no benefit (when you're using the Attack part anyway). I like that the Golds can divert the Barbarian Attacks, at least.

Hidden Treasure: Looks fine.

Pendant: Nice interactions with Wizard.

Pegasus: The swinginess could be a problem here. If your Adventurer happens to be on the bottom of your deck, then it sucks to be you.

Dragon Heist and Prince's Rescue I like.

Ruined Crypt I do not. This will introduce a huge amount of luck into the game, especially if there are no other junkers. I know there's already Followers, but that junks you up as well. And for what it's worth, Followers is the only prize I really hate.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 12:40:49 pm by Commodore Chuckles »
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Udzu

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2019, 01:16:13 pm »
0

...

Thanks for the quick feedback!

Glad you liked the Gear concept. Somehow I completely missed the card name clash, despite frequently playing with Adventures!

Barbarian is basically a weak Knight that you can get for pseudo-free (in the presence of other attacks). It's still not a strong card as it doesn't get you any benefit, but I understand why you wouldn't like it if you don't like Knights!

Fighter is a Cutpurse variant (that doesn't stack). Not super exciting I agree, but at least it can be geared. I'll wait to see what it plays like.

I hadn't noticed the Sorcerer-Transmogrify parallel. I was hoping for an interesting BoM variant, but I think you've got a point. I'll have a think.

Ditto regarding Wizard. Since it's potentially gainable on turn 1 I should make sure it's not OP (or make it harder to call).

Circus is dual type only because there aren't enough action-treasures imo!

Goblin Ambush is duration because I was worried it would be too strong at $4 otherwise.

School of Magic may well be underpriced but remember that it requires an extra action to play compared to King's Court, and gives the payoff the following turn. Still, I'll have to play it to be sure.

Corrupt Noble modifies its own cost not that of other cards! I like that concept, but don't think it really works here since unlike Peddler you won't want too many in your deck. And note that even with 3 buys you can only get one CN for $3, since the next one will cost $4.

Dark Priest, like Tunnel, relies on another discarder. Fortunately Cleric is one such discarder (and a particularly effective one in the absence of curses).

Good points regarding Pegasus and Ruined Crypt.
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Gubump

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 03:18:24 pm »
+1

Dark Priest, like Tunnel, relies on another discarder. Fortunately Cleric is one such discarder (and a particularly effective one in the absence of curses).

Cleric doesn't discard from play, and Dark Priest specifically says that it has to be discarded from play, which is impossible as no official card and none of your cards discard from play. I assume Dark Priest's extra effect is supposed to trigger just when it's discarded in general. Either way, it should be a Reaction card; look at Faithful Hound and the aforementioned Tunnel.
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Udzu

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2019, 03:10:20 am »
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Dark Priest, like Tunnel, relies on another discarder. Fortunately Cleric is one such discarder (and a particularly effective one in the absence of curses).

Cleric doesn't discard from play, and Dark Priest specifically says that it has to be discarded from play, which is impossible as no official card and none of your cards discard from play. I assume Dark Priest's extra effect is supposed to trigger just when it's discarded in general. Either way, it should be a Reaction card; look at Faithful Hound and the aforementioned Tunnel.

Two good points. I'll fix it. Update: fixed.

Regarding Wizard, I forgot to note in my previous response that it can't upgrade an Estate due to the type restriction (unless you've bought inheritance I guess). It can still reveal a Silver for a Gold though.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 05:19:54 am by Udzu »
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Kudasai

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2019, 05:33:44 pm »
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Well first off great mockups! I find myself coming back to this thread just to admire the style and artwork. But thankfully this also seems to have a lot else going for it. I won't cover everything here, but I figure starting with the Adventurers and Quest seems like a good place.

Adventurers: I really like the concept of having to fulfill a requirement to get an Adventurer. Sort of has a thematic element of recruiting them.

Cleric: The on-play seems rather weak and unnecessarily restrictive. It's a terminal, stop card with no other functionality besides trashing Curses. Beyond that, when played you could end up skipping a lot of good cards. I'm sure this would work fine as a name a card to trash type deal. In addition I think the other revealed cards could go back on top in any order.

Sorcerer: Probably my favorite Adventurer out of the five you've posted. There should always be an Action costing $4 or less in the Kingdom and no matter what it is, +1 Card and +1 Action should make it good. Gaining a Curse on-gain is brutal, but I think it's fine given this cards strength. As you can gain the Curse at anytime you can easily plan this around your reshuffles or wait until your deck is thinner.

Overall I think these are nice, safe, non-game breaking features. However, since you can only have one of each Adventurer I think (if you wanted to) you could really push the on-play effects into the almost broken realm. Sort of like how Prizes are broken, but work fine given the delay in getting them and that you can only have one. I'd say Sorcerer is getting into this realm a bit.

Since we're all brainstorming, here are some random ideas:
(1) An Adventurer that can steal other Adventurers if they are still on an Adventurer mat.
(2) Adventurers that put themselves back on the Adventurer mat and thus need to satisfy the on-call each time.
(3) Adventurers that start in a common Adventurers mat and thus players can gain multiples of them if fast enough.


Quests: Really interesting, but I think these are way too swingy. You could specifically hinder yourself by building a deck to specifically satisfy say gaining 4 cards in one turn for Dragon Heist only to be beaten to it by one turn. Now your deck is shot and your opponent has +5 Coffers. I think the game is effectively over at that point. This will not always be the case, but I think this likely doesn't work most games.

I like the idea of being rewarded for being first, but how about some runner up prizes? You could have something like:

"Reward: +5 Coffers then -2 Coffers per token on here. Place your token here."

Tokens being something like the Project cubes. Players could only put one token/cube on a Quest. This doesn't work for things like Ruined Crypt, but I'm sure there are creative ways to scale that.



Ultimately I think this is looking really good. I may be able to help with playtesting. I assume your thinking about using Tabletop simulator?

Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, there is a D&D deckbuilder called Dragonfire that is pretty fun. It's not heavy on the deckbuilding, but has certain elements of it.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 05:35:59 pm by Kudasai »
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Gubump

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2019, 06:44:43 pm »
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Cleric: ...In addition I think the other revealed cards could go back on top in any order.

The problem with this is, Cleric could hit the card at the very bottom of your deck after going through even your discard pile for all you know. And do you really want players analyzing the best possible ordering of 20+ cards? Going back on top in any order should only happen for a relatively small, fixed number of revealed cards for this reason.
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Gubump

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2019, 08:05:58 pm »
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I just realized something. Even if it isn't in print anymore, isn't it bad to have a card type share a name with a card? Specifically Adventurer in this case.
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Kudasai

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2019, 09:00:25 pm »
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Cleric: ...In addition I think the other revealed cards could go back on top in any order.

The problem with this is, Cleric could hit the card at the very bottom of your deck after going through even your discard pile for all you know. And do you really want players analyzing the best possible ordering of 20+ cards? Going back on top in any order should only happen for a relatively small, fixed number of revealed cards for this reason.

Agreed. I thought of this after I posted that. Was just brain-storming. I wonder if a powerful effect like that could be balanced somehow. Like with a harsh on-gain effect.
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Kudasai

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2019, 09:00:56 pm »
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I just realized something. Even if it isn't in print anymore, isn't it bad to have a card type share a name with a card? Specifically Adventurer in this case.

Also, Quest is already in use.
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Udzu

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2019, 04:52:04 am »
+1

Well first off great mockups! I find myself coming back to this thread just to admire the style and artwork. But thankfully this also seems to have a lot else going for it. I won't cover everything here, but I figure starting with the Adventurers and Quest seems like a good place.
Thanks for the feedback! (also I really like your cards)

Quote
Cleric: The on-play seems rather weak and unnecessarily restrictive. It's a terminal, stop card with no other functionality besides trashing Curses. Beyond that, when played you could end up skipping a lot of good cards. I'm sure this would work fine as a name a card to trash type deal. In addition I think the other revealed cards could go back on top in any order.
It may be a bit weak, though it does a tiny bit more than trash Curses: it also cycles and can trigger on-discard reactions. I'm worried about making it too good at trashing curses, which could mean people don't buy cursers as a result, but I might try buffing it when I try it out.

Quote
Since we're all brainstorming, here are some random ideas:
(1) An Adventurer that can steal other Adventurers if they are still on an Adventurer mat.
(2) Adventurers that put themselves back on the Adventurer mat and thus need to satisfy the on-call each time.
(3) Adventurers that start in a common Adventurers mat and thus players can gain multiples of them if fast enough.
Nice suggestions.

Quote
Quests: Really interesting, but I think these are way too swingy. You could specifically hinder yourself by building a deck to specifically satisfy say gaining 4 cards in one turn for Dragon Heist only to be beaten to it by one turn. Now your deck is shot and your opponent has +5 Coffers. I think the game is effectively over at that point. This will not always be the case, but I think this likely doesn't work most games.

I like the idea of being rewarded for being first, but how about some runner up prizes? You could have something like:

"Reward: +5 Coffers then -2 Coffers per token on here. Place your token here."

Tokens being something like the Project cubes. Players could only put one token/cube on a Quest. This doesn't work for things like Ruined Crypt, but I'm sure there are creative ways to scale that.
Great idea! I briefly toyed with the idea of different (possibly private) Quests for different people, almost like Ticket To Ride, but decided that would be equally swingy. Even just having a runner-up prize would probably be enough. One practical issue though might be having enough token cubes to go round (though the  Gears already requires 4 per player).

Quote
Ultimately I think this is looking really good. I may be able to help with playtesting. I assume your thinking about using Tabletop simulator?

Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, there is a D&D deckbuilder called Dragonfire that is pretty fun. It's not heavy on the deckbuilding, but has certain elements of it.
I was actually planning a combination of real-life testing of a few cards using blanks/spares, combined with using my homespun (but undistributable, for copyright reasons) text-based Dominion implementation. I hadn't actually heard of Tabletop Simulator before! Checking out YouTube videos now. Also thanks for the Dragonfire recommendation!
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Udzu

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2019, 04:59:26 am »
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I just realized something. Even if it isn't in print anymore, isn't it bad to have a card type share a name with a card? Specifically Adventurer in this case.

Also, Quest is already in use.

Quest and Gear were oversights. I'll rename them to Adventure and Equipment (though they're a bit less pretty on the card due to their length).

Adventurer is just too good a name for me to pass on though, unless someone can think of something else! In practice it shouldn't cause any issues, since most of the time it's obvious whether you're referring to a Card or Card Type. Also I'm pretty sure nobody ever buys Adventurers! Still, I know it will annoy some people :-(
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Gazbag

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2019, 05:43:43 pm »
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Really cool ideas here!

Obviously the Adventurers themselves are only half the story, but here are some thoughts.

Barbarian: The issue I have with this is that it only slows the game down, and it only comes into play if there's another attack - which will already be slowing the game down!

Cleric: I think this needs to do something if it doesn't trash a Curse, like give +$2 or something. Bring back Chancellor! As it is it just doesn't really do very much, it's not even particularly impressive at trashing Curses.

Fighter: I think this is a much more successful Attack-Adventurer than Barbarian. I appreciate the simple effect, although adding yet another additional component to all this isn't ideal. I wonder how often you don't open with this though, it seems like a very good opening.

Sorcerer: I've read the other's comments on this and I don't really get what they're talking about. This is just a fancy Village right? It just sort of Band of Misfits the card it plays. Having said that I do quite like this one, most of the issue I have come from the cards associated with it.

Wizard: So when I first read this I thought it was a very type restricted Remodeller and really liked it. I like it less now that I've read it properly though, it doesn't really seem as interesting to me. I am admittedly a Remodel-junkie though, I love those things!

Onto the cards themselves.

Circus: I'm in agreement with Commodore Chuckles that this really doesn't need to be a Treasure as is. I'd argue that the cantrip part of this is already one of the better $2 cantrips so it doesn't really need the help either. However if it's Adventurer was Wizard then it being an Action-Treasure would actually be relevant and that would be really cool, I'd also bump up the price to $3 so you can gain a Gold with Wizard if you made that change. I get that this is a nice $2 so helps out a Fighter opening, but I don't think Fighter opening really needs the help.

Goblin Ambush: This is really similar to Cutpurse and Fighter is already very similar to Cutpurse really. You also have a card that's pretty much just Sea Hag too.

School of Magic: The issue with this kind of thing is that it doesn't work without a non-terminal Action. This adds Wizard to the game though which is a non-terminal Action so that helps. I feel like this should set aside from hand though, it makes it work in more kingdoms and less likely to be broken.

Tomb Raider: I think this is a little too good for a regular $5, but I guess Cleric makes it worse because there's always the Curse trashing. But man Cleric just seems really weak the more I think about it so I'm not sure. I also feel like this should be a Warlock or some kind of Witch type person, Cursing other people doesn't really seem like a Tomb Raidery thing to me.

Corrupt Noble: I absolutely love this card! But I still have a little problem with it, because it's paired with Sorcerer I thought you'd be able to make Nobles cheaper and then use Sorcerer to play a random crappy $2 or $3 cost as a Noble, but you can't do that. I suggest making it change cost in all phases to accommodate this interaction. I also think it should probably cost $7, it basically costs at most $5 as is because you'll always have at least 1 Buy if you're buying things and I think it should be a bit overcosted when you only have 1 Buy. (I know Margrave and Wharf exist, but +3 Cards +1 Buy really is a $5 effect.)

Dark Priest: This is fine but it needs to reveal itself, just copy the wording on Tunnel. I still think Cleric is kind of a dud to be honest, I feel like discarding your whole deck and triggering all of these won't be as satisfying as making use of Tunnel and Faithful Hound can be.

Dragon: I don't really think we need another Sea Hag, I don't really think we need one Sea Hag to be honest it's a bit of a dud. I don't like having Fighter paired with an attack because that's supposed to be Barbarian's thing. I also feel like we don't need 2 Cursers in this batch of cards and I prefer Tomb Raider over this myself. I also find this type of effect that involves lining up specific cards ends up being cool to read, but playing really badly. Think Urchin or Mountebank's Curse blocking, it just exacerbates shuffle variance in a really visible way and leads to unsatisfying games in my opinion.

Monstrous Lair: I appreciate that Gold gaining can hedge against Barbarian attacks. The stuff I said about Dragon kind of applies here too, you can't even gain more Adventurers to try and control lining things up better, you just have to hope you draw your cards in the right order.

Hidden Treasure: The Buy restriction seems like a worthwhile thing to try, but Gold for $5? I think we're well past the days of anyone caring about a slightly discounted Gold.

Pendant: I kind of feel like getting 2 free Coffers and Villagers with your Wizard is sort of crazy? I'm not really a fan of having such an obvious and automatic interaction baked into a card like this to be honest. The card itself seems fine though, I usually like how these types of things play.

Pegasus: I'm not sure why this makes Horse not work. I guess it's for flavour purposes? But your Adventurers can ride 7 Pegasus if they want, so I'm not sure why they can't ride a Pegasus and a regular Horse.

An overall thought on this set of cards is that the effects seem pretty unbalanced. We have 2 junking attacks and 2 handsize attacks but only 1 trasher and no real villages, no remodel and no non-Gold gaining aside from Wizard. There are 6 terminal Actions and 5 non-terminal cards, which is far too many terminals. Whether you're bothered about this depends on whether you want this to be like an actual expansion or just a collection of cards I guess.

I think having things called Adventurers and Adventures isn't a great idea, having things with such similar names can be confusing to people (mainly me). Why not call them Missions? I also think a lot of these will be very snowbally. For example, the first person to gain 4 cards in a turn will usually be the person in the best position anyway, so giving them 2 more Coffers than everyone else will just extend that lead even further. I think these would play better if everyone gets the same bonus for completing the task, and they'd be simpler too which is win-win. You'd probably have to scrap the Ruined Crypt, but I think that one needed changing anyway. I'm assuming you plan on having 10 Adventures so there's one for each Adventurer pair? 

The Equipment are my least favourite of these mechanics to be honest, for a couple of reasons. It seems like they won't really have a huge impact on most games because you'll often only have 1 Adventurer and they don't really add all that much. They also add a lot of complexity to what is already a relatively complex mechanic. I get that it's flavourful, but we already have Pathfinding et al from Adventures so this type of card modifying effect isn't particularly new or novel anymore. The other thing is that Dominion is all about variety, so having the same 4 Equipment every time seems kinda lame to me. I'd suggest just having one Equipment per game, but having 10 or so different Equipment so you can have a different one every time. That way there's less to take in all at once for someone first playing with Adventurers and there's more variety in the long run, maybe you can buff up the effects a bit then too if there's only one at a time.

Hopefully you find my comments constructive.
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Kudasai

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2019, 06:14:42 pm »
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Sorcerer: I've read the other's comments on this and I don't really get what they're talking about. This is just a fancy Village right? It just sort of Band of Misfits the card it plays. Having said that I do quite like this one, most of the issue I have come from the cards associated with it.

Hmm, I completely misread what this does. I thought it was +1 Card, +1 Action, Play this as if it were an Action in the Supply costing up to the same.
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Udzu

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Re: Dominion: Swords & Sorcery
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2019, 05:55:18 am »
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Hopefully you find my comments constructive.

Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions!

A couple I've adopted straight away: buff Cleric (+$2 if it fails to trash a Curse, at least to begin with), renamed Adventures into Missions, and made the prizes the same for everyone.

The rest I'll think about, especially the problems with barbarian and the balance/repetitiveness of the set. Hopefully I'll be trying it out fairly soon.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 06:18:33 am by Udzu »
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