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Author Topic: The Other Secret History of the Prosperity Cards  (Read 6440 times)

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Donald X.

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The Other Secret History of the Prosperity Cards
« on: October 30, 2012, 02:22:44 pm »

Okay for those of you who were sad not to have the normal style of Secret History, here are the Prosperity cards again, with the individual cards addressed invididually. I am omitting the outtakes and intro; man you've got the original Secret History for that stuff. I am not trying to add any material, just re-sort it, so most of this text is just lifted from the previous version of the Secret History.

Bank: I stole this from Alchemy, where it originally cost $4+P. I wanted something else really simple and classic-seeming. It had been a good fit for Alchemy, since it counts Potions even if you don't end up spending them. Alchemy was years off though, years I say, and Prosperity needed a card now. Then when Alchemy got bumped up, I didn't steal this card back, because it required a little more of the Prosperity rules than I was comfortable with putting out ahead of Prosperity.

Bishop: When Prosperity got delayed, I got extra time to make changes. I decided, why not take out the worst card? At the same time I wanted more cards that used the VP tokens, so they'd seem less gratuitous. I tried a few different cards in this slot and liked Bishop the best.

City: Didn't change from the first version, except for wording. The idea for this card came from the Seaside outtake that cared about the trash, and of course Trade Route. I needed cards in the set that interacted with other players but weren't attacks, so I could have fewer attacks overall (so that Colony would usually be reachable) but still have enough interaction. One thing to do is to look at shared data - the piles. Trade Route cares if a pile isn't full; this cares if a pile is empty. Those were just the two simplest things to check.

Contraband: Another card that didn't change from the first version, except for a wording tweak.

Counting House: My wife came up with this card. Her version got you back all of the Silvers, which was crazy. Women! The Coppers version worked out, and just left getting a good wording.

Expand: Originally cost $6. I missed this the first time so there you go, this wasn't all for nothing. It cost $6 briefly but is $7 in the oldest file with it.

Forge: Originally cost $5, then $6. The "in coins" clause was added late, to simplify Alchemy interactions.

Goons: The art originally submitted for Pawn was not what we wanted for Pawn. We saved it for a future card. It looked like an attack; it had two guys bugging a third guy, so maybe a "choose two." I went with "+$2. Choose two: +1 Action; each other player discards down to 3 cards in hand; take a 1 VP token; gain a Silver. (The choices must be different.)" This card was popular. It had issues though, as pointed out by Wei-Hwa Huang and Bill Barksdale. It was political - someone would play it ahead of you, and then you could pick the discard option or not based on how well that one player was doing (since no-one else would be discarding). With +1 Action making it easy on your deck, it got bought up by everyone, so that you were having to discard constantly. I tried several other versions with different options in different combinations. I tried another card that I thought would work for a while but was just too strong, and finally ended up in a weaker form in another set (that set is Cornucopia and that card is Followers). Finally the Goons you know stuck. Again it squeezes in another use for those VP tokens.

Grand Market: Originally it cost $7 and was "+1 Card +1 Action +$2." People sure complained about it not having +1 Buy. "How is it a Grand Market?" they'd say. So I added +1 Buy, and then later took the anti-Copper clause from another card.

Hoard: Started out at $5. It was too strong, although it took a long time to get changed.

King's Court: Originally it cost $5, then $6. Of course Throne Room originally cost $3. King's Court got "you may" at the last minute. Throne Room should say "you may," because what if you want to play it for some reason (making Peddler cheaper for example) but don't want to play the only other action in your hand (a card-trasher of some kind say)? The card doesn't keep you honest, like (most) other cards do. And "you may" is a lot less text than "or reveals a hand with no actions," which would also look weird. Anyway it's too late for Throne Room. Should King's Court match Throne Room, or have the fix? It matched until near the end. Man, why not use the fix? That's what I think.

Loan: The original card said "when you spend this, trash another treasure spent with it." All of the Prosperity treasures originally had "when you spend this" phrasings. They caused some confusion - what if a treasure worth $2 has such a rule, and you spend $1 on something and $1 on something else? I eventually reworded them all as "when you play this" or "while this is in play." Loan didn't work like that and died. Then later I brought it back by having it look for a treasure in your deck.

Mint: At one point, the expansions were all 20 cards. Do you count Platinum and Colony? Initially I did. Later I decided not to, and added two cards to Prosperity - Wishing Well and Mint. Wishing Well as you know migrated to Intrigue, but Mint hung around. Originally it did nothing when you bought it. I took that "penalty" from Mountebank. Mint had been too weak and Mountebank too strong, and moving the "penalty" addressed both of those problems. Plus it seems more natural here.

Monument: Originally you tracked VP with Coppers from the supply. You set aside a Copper; at the end of the game it was worth 1 VP. Also the first tested version did not have +$2. It got that in order to be playable. After Seaside it was clear this would use tokens, so I rephrased it, and eventually added more VP token cards so it wouldn't be lonely. Late in the going I realized it could be phrased as "+1 VP" rather than "Take a VP token."

Mountebank: Originally it had the Mint "penalty" and no discarding clause. It was too powerful and left the set. Later I brought it back without the "penalty" (yes it is not really a penalty), then added the Curse-Moating. Briefly you just revealed the Curse (rather than discard it), but I decided that was more hosing than I wanted.

Peddler: The first version was "This costs $2 less per Action played this turn." It came from the ruins of an expansion that only ever existed in 16-card form. That expansion had two themes, one of which was "weird stuff with costs." That was not a good theme. I mean some of the cards were cool but you don't want a bunch of that in one place. Peddler and the Grand Market penalty made it into Prosperity. Late in development I changed Peddler to only change cost during buy phases. This meant now you could Remodel it into Platinum and so forth. The change was for two reasons. First, the Remodel combos are fun and well why not try them out. Second, it made it less confusing. People were always trying to Remodel it and then having to be reminded that no, you played two Peddlers and a Remodel, now it only costs $2. And then, close to the end, I tweaked it to count action cards in play, rather than actions played this turn, so there was nothing to remember.

Quarry: This started out as an action, "+$2. Action cards cost $1 less this turn." It was in Seaside; this was a better home for it. It left the set at some point, then I brought it back as a treasure, which made it a lot sexier.

Rabble: Originally you also revealed your own top 3 cards, discarding the Victory cards. There are two reasons that changed. First, it made the card defend against itself too well, which makes it get played more, which makes the game more oppressive. Second, the card was wordy, and didn't need that extra text to be good enough.

Royal Seal: Originally it was "when you spend this," which is more confusing. When I got rid of those, this one got its "while this is in play" functionality. For a while it triggered on buying, but in the end it triggered on gaining, to line it up with Watchtower.

Talisman: Originally this worked on victory cards; you only need to see so many games of Talisman/Gardens to give up on that. Also it cost $5 and only worked on one card per turn, via a "when you spend this" wording.

Trade Route: This started in the original 4th expansion, and migrated here in the great diaspora of interactive cards. The first version in the 4th expansion was "+1 Card +1 Buy +$1. If anyone got a Province this game, +1 Card." I fixed that up to a less-well-worded version of the card you know when I moved it to Prosperity. Late in the going it got a wording that used tokens and mentioned setup.

Vault: The main set once had a card called Vault that was just "Discard any number of cards. +$1 per card discarded." The top half of Secret Chamber. It cost $4 and then $3 and then it was Secret Chamber. Actually the oldest version was like "victory cards are also coppers this turn," but discarding cards is more flexible and way less confusing. Anyway the original mechanic was just not that good, as evidenced by Secret Chamber getting an additional ability and only costing $2 and still being nothing special. But tack on +2 Cards and you've got a monster. For a long time it had no penalty, but it was just too good.

Venture: This replaced some other treasure midway through development, but never changed. I thought of doing a "when you play this" treasure that drew you a card, and well you'd be sad if the card wasn't a treasure, so it always is.

Watchtower: This showed up late in development, after another card left. Dale complained that the set had no reaction, and this was one I'd been meaning to try. The first version, which lasted only a couple days, also let you put the card into your hand. Destry pointed out the Ironworks combo and so much for that.

Worker's Village: Nothing about this card changed except for where the apostrophe is. I previously had a card that was "+1 Card +1 Action +1 Buy," but it's not exactly fair to say that this is a version of that.

Platinum: This always cost $9 and made $5. $4 is not enough. You have to get to $11 for Colonies; that doesn't just happen. I bet that $5 surprised a lot of people.

Colony: This always cost $11. Originally it made 8 VP. At the time Province was worth 5 VP. When Province went up to 6 VP, I changed this to 9 VP. It stayed like that for a while. 9 VP seemed like a good spot for making both Colony and Province viable in Colony games. In development, Valerie and Dale really wanted it to be worth 10 VP. 1 - 3 - 6 - 10! Except, the 1 and 3 there really don't mean much; Estate and Duchy are not bargains. For a while I said, sure, maybe 9 VP isn't the right value, but you know, it sure has seemed good in testing so far. And it had. It had seemed just fine. I finally tested it at 10 VP anyway though. And well, it usually didn't make a difference in who won, and it made counting scores easier, and it looks prettier. And attacks and rush strategies already push you away from Colony; it's fine if some games you really don't want to stop at Provinces. So 10 VP it is.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 01:17:27 pm by Donald X. »

Donald X.

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Re: The Other Secret History of the Prosperity Cards
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 04:05:07 pm »

As part of my ongoing effort to endlessly document Prosperity, here is a new intro.

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

I asked my friend Molly if there was a theme she'd like to see. She said "spendy." And spendy I gave her.

Initially the set's themes were: spendy, in particular Platinum/Colony; cards caring about treasures; treasures that did something when spent; and actions that let you spend money to do things. At the time the set was just 18 cards, including Platinum/Colony. Intrigue and Seaside/Hinterlands were both 15, but counting Platinum/Colony in 15 cards seemed too small, and then a page holds 9 cards. So, 18. Then I decided the sets were too small and upped them all to 20; then during work on the published version I tried all of the sets at 16 cards briefly, then finally up to 25.

The spendy theme got fleshed out by having four cards costing $7, and nothing costing $2. Seaside got extra $2's to compensate. Cards caring about treasures remained a minor theme. I added more treasures that did things, but changed "when spent" to "when played," to deal with rules questions, while having some treasures do things "while in play." The actions that let you spend money died; they weren't compelling and anyway Black Market confused some people.

I added a non-attack interaction subtheme. The set needed interaction, like any set, but it had trouble with attacks. Attacks slow down the game and push you away from buying Colonies. But this is the set with Colonies, you want those to be reachable. So in the end the set only has 3 attacks, but it has 5 non-attacks that interact (not counting Watchtower).

I also added the VP tokens. Monument hadn't always been in the set, and then at one point left, tentatively slated for Dark Ages. I brought it back as a thing people liked that seemed to fit well. I knew tokens would be used for Monument, and also that people would be disappointed if it was the only card that used them (Seaside just had one use per token type because the set did not originally use tokens). In the end I managed to have three cards that used them.

Prosperity was initially the third expansion. Around the time work on it was almost done, it turned out that the powers that be wanted small expansions, and could the next one be small? So Prosperity got put on hold while I worked on Alchemy. This gave it extra time to get extra polished. Bishop and Goons came out of that period, and various small tweaks.
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