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Author Topic: Interview with Donald X.  (Read 872791 times)

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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1000 on: March 17, 2014, 05:41:21 pm »
+10

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?

From the Secret History of Hinterlands:

Quote
Farmland: Another very old card, from before I split Seaside and Hinterlands. Originally it triggered on gaining it. This can cause some confusing chaining - buy Farmland, trash a card costing $4, gain a Farmland, trash another card costing $4, gain a Farmland. I might have left it as when-gain anyway, just to have everything be when-gain (possibly also limiting what you could gain to non-Farmland), but Noble Brigand had to be when-buy, so there wasn't a sufficient benefit to having this be when-gain. So the less confusing when-buy prevailed.

Also note that an on-gain Farmland could immediately drain the Farmland pile in combination with Fortress.

This doesn't appear to address A Drowned Kernel's question at all.  Am I missing something?
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Holger

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1001 on: March 17, 2014, 05:43:09 pm »
+1

This doesn't appear to address A Drowned Kernel's question at all.  Am I missing something?

+1. Replacing "exactly" by "up to" would be a good way to boost Farmland slightly without any confusion, IMO. That has nothing to do with the "when-buy or when-gain" question, or with Fortress.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1002 on: March 17, 2014, 05:45:37 pm »
+3

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?

If it were "up to $2 more", you could pretty quickly run out the Province pile by turning Provinces into Provinces. That might be it.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1003 on: March 17, 2014, 05:50:08 pm »
+9

Donald, I appreciate your patience in explaining repeatedly why you don’t look at fan cards. I think the reason that people keep posting with counterarguments goes something like this:

• It would be nice to have more Dominion cards.
• Donald isn’t creating any more sets.
• Some of these unofficial cards look cool.
• Wouldn’t it be great if those were official so that I could play with them online and/or buy a box of them without all manner of tedious printing, cutting, and sleeving.

Maybe that’s all obvious but I thought I’d actually put it into words so that it’s clear why this discussion is even happening. From the Dominion enthusiast's perspective, it seems like an obvious direction to go if you personally aren't making more cards.

The Guy-Who-Argues-On-The-Internet side of me compels me to respond to some of your points that I disagree with. Hopefully, as someone who has fallen into this trap yourself in the past, you will forgive me. I’m really not trying to antagonize you here.

The problem with making new expansions isn't difficulty coming up with cards. It's increasing complexity, diminishing returns on variety, unpopularity of linear mechanics that would work fine in spin-offs, having better projects. See http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=73.0. It all still applies if someone else produces the ideas.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. You say that coming up with cards isn’t difficult. But if a card is too complex, or redundant, or uniteresting, or uses a linear mechanic, then that is a bad card. So what this boils down to is that creating good cards IS difficult. There are still fresh, simple cards left to make. Not vanilla cards, but simple ones. The easiest way to make more simple cards is to introduce a new, nonlinear mechanic, which is again difficult—but not impossible—to do.

The point I’m trying to get across is that having somebody else produce good ideas is a time-saver, because good cards are already the result of repeated playtesting, tweaking, and not being afraid to throw out a card that you can’t get to work or that is too complex, etc. Of course you’d have to further playtest any such cards personally, but you already play Dominion online (when you can log in, of course), so that begs the question, mightn’t you be playtesting cards while you’re doing that?

I don't want to look at the cream of the crop either though, that will just make me not make those cards.

I am going to hazard a guess that you wouldn’t make those cards anyway, not because they’re actually bad, but because they wouldn’t occur to you. As a sort of backwards example, I started making cards after Hinterlands was released. To date, I believe there has been exactly one card I had to scrap because I felt it was too similar to a card that was subsequently published. I am not going to use this paragraph as a sneaky way to tell you about this card, so suffice to say that the published card was Scavenger. Although the rest of the card was different, the core concept of “look through your discard pile and put a card on your deck” was the same and I felt like there didn’t need to be two cards that did that. I don’t feel that any of my other cards are redundant with published cards. My point is that although there may be some small amount of overlap between two individuals’ card ideas, now that all the obvious cards have been done, it’s increasingly unlikely that two people are going to have the same ideas.

All that being said, I think there are very legitimate reasons to just say, “No, I am never going to ok a fan-made expansion.” Two that I can think of off the top of my head are:

• It potentially opens the floodgates of fan card submissions. Maybe you already get a dozen emails a day from people submitting fan cards and this is a non-issue. I have no idea. But I could easily envision a situation where an expansion made by some non-famous game designer gets published and every Dominion enthusiast and his brother thinks, “Herp derp, I should submit some fan cards, too!” As previously established, most fan cards are terrible, so this is all sorts of undesirable any way you slice it.

• Wanting to be the guy and getting to. I think this is reasonable. Let’s say that somebody wrote an unofficial 8th book for the Harry Potter series and that, somehow, 95% of the Harry Potter fanbase thought it was a worthy sequel and should be part of Harry Potter canon. Somehow, I could not find it in myself to blame J. K. Rowling for saying, “No, I am not going to recommend to my publisher that this fanfic be released as the next official book!” To be fair, there is precedent for this sort of thing in the world of board gaming. Some of SmallWorld’s expansions are composed of contest-winning ideas, for example. But there certainly isn’t any obligation on the part of a creator to include fans in the creative process, nor should there be.

Just to be clear, I am not trying to convince you to reverse your position and start publishing fan cards, so I apologize for being argumentative anyway. I do appreciate your clarifications. It’s good to get a solid “No fan cards are ever going to be published” so that if I ever feel that a set of cards has reached publishable status, I can submit it to BGG as a fan expansion without worrying about what might have been. If nothing else, the processs of reading your secret histories and essays and creating cards for this game has taught me a lot about game design in general. I really appreciate your taking the time to write all of your essays and also respond to our questions.
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Holger

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1004 on: March 17, 2014, 05:55:44 pm »
0

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?

If it were "up to $2 more", you could pretty quickly run out the Province pile by turning Provinces into Provinces. That might be it.

Maybe. But I don't think it happens so often that you have $6 but not $8, AND a Province in hand but not a Farmland. (With $8 or $6 and a Farmland in hand you can gain a Province anyway, and increase your VP count.)
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1005 on: March 17, 2014, 06:03:40 pm »
0

I'm afraid that doesn't answer the question why the exactly is there.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1006 on: March 17, 2014, 06:20:58 pm »
0

But that doesn't answer the question of why Farmland is 'exactly $2 more', not 'up to $2' like with Remodel. Presumably Farmland (and Governor) have 'exactly' because they needed nerfing--but while Governor is a powerful $5 card, Farmland isn't necessarily better than the other $6 alt-VP cards.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1007 on: March 17, 2014, 06:27:46 pm »
0

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?

From the Secret History of Hinterlands:

Quote
Farmland: Another very old card, from before I split Seaside and Hinterlands. Originally it triggered on gaining it. This can cause some confusing chaining - buy Farmland, trash a card costing $4, gain a Farmland, trash another card costing $4, gain a Farmland. I might have left it as when-gain anyway, just to have everything be when-gain (possibly also limiting what you could gain to non-Farmland), but Noble Brigand had to be when-buy, so there wasn't a sufficient benefit to having this be when-gain. So the less confusing when-buy prevailed.

Also note that an on-gain Farmland could immediately drain the Farmland pile in combination with Fortress.

This doesn't appear to address A Drowned Kernel's question at all.  Am I missing something?

I misread the question.  My bad!
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1008 on: March 17, 2014, 07:10:44 pm »
+10

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?
In the early days, to keep down complexity, I set myself a limit: the card text had to fit in the text box, at a particular size of a particular font. None of the original cards (25-card main set, five 20-card expansions) broke this rule. You can see the original Farmland in the Outtakes article - it's New Wing, shown at the top of the Seaside section (http://dominionstrategy.com/2013/06/24/dominion-outtakes/). The VP symbol eats up a bunch of space; it just barely fit with no "up to" (and back then I didn't say "exactly," though obv. that's better for clarity).

So, it didn't say "up to" just to make the text fit given this arbitrary constraint I'd chosen. Then later there was never a point where I felt unhappy with it, so it never changed.
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Holger

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1009 on: March 17, 2014, 07:21:52 pm »
+4

Why does Farmland gain you a card costing exactly $2 more and not up to $2 more?
In the early days, to keep down complexity, I set myself a limit: the card text had to fit in the text box, at a particular size of a particular font. None of the original cards (25-card main set, five 20-card expansions) broke this rule. You can see the original Farmland in the Outtakes article - it's New Wing, shown at the top of the Seaside section (http://dominionstrategy.com/2013/06/24/dominion-outtakes/). The VP symbol eats up a bunch of space; it just barely fit with no "up to" (and back then I didn't say "exactly," though obv. that's better for clarity).

So, it didn't say "up to" just to make the text fit given this arbitrary constraint I'd chosen. Then later there was never a point where I felt unhappy with it, so it never changed.

Thanks for the answer; that's an unexpected explanation. Ironically, "exactly" now takes up more space than "up to"  :D
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1010 on: March 17, 2014, 08:12:11 pm »
+7

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. You say that coming up with cards isn’t difficult. But if a card is too complex, or redundant, or uniteresting, or uses a linear mechanic, then that is a bad card. So what this boils down to is that creating good cards IS difficult. There are still fresh, simple cards left to make. Not vanilla cards, but simple ones. The easiest way to make more simple cards is to introduce a new, nonlinear mechanic, which is again difficult—but not impossible—to do.
Well it's not that complex cards are bad; there are complex cards in most of the expansions. It's just that at a certain point the expansions have too many complex cards. Now I have blown it; I have, in my effort to please expert players (he said, not actually passing on the blame), tried to make cards as well-balanced as possible even though that meant making them too complex (again I will cite those Hinterlands cards I've singled out). That's an issue, that the expert players are less happy with the simpler, weaker/stronger card that casual players would prefer.

I have already done the experiment of "this is a good place to stop, wait I have to make another one." That set is Guilds. It exists only to come out between Hinterlands and Dark Ages (though it didn't); it completely postdates Dominion being published. I picked the most promising (most likely to produce good cards easily) ideas from my list and made some cards for them. It ended up taking a couple cards from Dark Ages (Journeyman, Advisor) and a couple old ideas that I hadn't fixed up yet (Taxman, Soothsayer) (Soothsayer shouldn't have the "if," there I am seeking approval from playtesters to the end). And it worked out fine; I wasn't somehow unable to make it.

If you loved Guilds then man the idea that I should stop making expansions must seem less compelling than ever. I am certainly pleased with Guilds. It is nevertheless more complex than I would like, it strongly demonstrates the diminishing returns issue, and a spin-off would have been better. Even if there's a non-linear thing left to do, a spin-off can do a linear thing and that can be good; a spin-off automatically gets new vanilla cards, not just simple enough to live with but extremely simple and yet still compelling; and a spin-off has no diminishing returns at all.

Here is more on the diminishing returns thing. Which expansion has sold the best? 2nd best? 3rd best? Well maybe that's not fair; Intrigue has been out the longest. Which expansion sold the best in its first year? 2nd best? 3rd best? 4th best?

You can just line them up by release date (skipping the small sets, which do worse). People stop buying them eventually; foreign publishers stop publishing them. They've got enough.

I mentioned this to the Making Fun people, while explaining why I wasn't making more expansions. One of the guys immediately said, yeah he had played a thousand times with his kid, but he had Cornucopia still in shrink, and didn't see the point of buying Dark Ages until they had gotten some value out of the last few sets he'd bought.

I am going to hazard a guess that you wouldn’t make those cards anyway, not because they’re actually bad, but because they wouldn’t occur to you.
I prefer to think that I would think of enough of the simple ones, and leave it untested. You can make complex cards for forever, so sure, I might never get to whatever corner there.

I made a bunch of homemade Magic expansions, and at one point aggressively looked for new mechanics. They do stuff I thought of all the time; there is plenty left that they haven't done, but they keep making cards, they will gradually whittle that list down. I guess that's not as relevant as it sounds; maybe I am just as uncreative as Wizards, and someone out there could blow us away.

If you have tons of great ideas for innovative cards for a game with rules on cards, I bet you can make your own games. It's good times.

• It potentially opens the floodgates of fan card submissions. Maybe you already get a dozen emails a day from people submitting fan cards and this is a non-issue. I have no idea.
I don't, hooray.

• Wanting to be the guy and getting to. I think this is reasonable.
I do want to be the guy and do get to. I'm not sure we do promotion well enough for a card design contest to do much for us.
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Polk5440

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1011 on: March 17, 2014, 08:17:44 pm »
+1

Donald's explanation of why he does not look at fan cards is more than satisfactory. He could have just said "I don't like to" or "For legal reasons, my lawyer advises me not to look at fan cards."

I am extremely sympathetic to the increasing complexity and decreasing returns to more cards argument, by the way. At some point, it just isn't Dominion anymore -- and that's the designer's call. I mean, I play a lot of Dominion, and I already limit the expansions I play with in person because I simply will not mess around with all the mats and tokens.

And even if the new cards would still be "Dominion", when there are decreasing returns, there is usually a non-zero cutoff point where it's optimal to switch to something else. I am happy to hear Donald feels like there are greater returns to making other games rather than expanding Dominion. By working on something else, Donald is essentially saying, "think about all of the joy that you would get from having me spend time to sanction more official Dominion cards; what I am working will be even better."
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Polk5440

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1012 on: March 17, 2014, 08:19:23 pm »
+1


If you loved Guilds then man the idea that I should stop making expansions must seem less compelling than ever. I am certainly pleased with Guilds. It is nevertheless more complex than I would like, it strongly demonstrates the diminishing returns issue, and a spin-off would have been better. Even if there's a non-linear thing left to do, a spin-off can do a linear thing and that can be good; a spin-off automatically gets new vanilla cards, not just simple enough to live with but extremely simple and yet still compelling; and a spin-off has no diminishing returns at all.

Here is more on the diminishing returns thing. Which expansion has sold the best? 2nd best? 3rd best? Well maybe that's not fair; Intrigue has been out the longest. Which expansion sold the best in its first year? 2nd best? 3rd best? 4th best?

You can just line them up by release date (skipping the small sets, which do worse). People stop buying them eventually; foreign publishers stop publishing them. They've got enough.

I mentioned this to the Making Fun people, while explaining why I wasn't making more expansions. One of the guys immediately said, yeah he had played a thousand times with his kid, but he had Cornucopia still in shrink, and didn't see the point of buying Dark Ages until they had gotten some value out of the last few sets he'd bought.

Man, this is so much better than my post. I should have just waited.  :P
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1013 on: March 17, 2014, 08:52:50 pm »
+3

I think we will all be more satisfied with Donald's reason when he finally wows us with a Dominion-esque spin-off.  (More domion-y than Kingdom Builder)
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1014 on: March 17, 2014, 08:56:57 pm »
+4

I made a bunch of homemade Magic expansions, and at one point aggressively looked for new mechanics. They do stuff I thought of all the time; there is plenty left that they haven't done, but they keep making cards, they will gradually whittle that list down. I guess that's not as relevant as it sounds; maybe I am just as uncreative as Wizards, and someone out there could blow us away.
I have a better example. A famous game designer - a different one - had an idea for a Dominion expansion. He didn't tell me what it was. A few years later, I found out that it was covered by later expansions, especially Guilds. If I hadn't made Guilds, and he had thought that I would never think of his idea, he would have been wrong.

Two guys thought of calculus, as the saying goes. Dominion cards are easier.
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soulnet

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1015 on: March 17, 2014, 09:38:08 pm »
0

Two guys thought of calculus, as the saying goes. Dominion cards are easier.

But a third guy also thought about that long before them. Society was just not ready (for instance, lacking positional numbering systems).

http://itech.fgcu.edu/faculty/clindsey/mhf4404/archimedes/archimedes.html

Are we ready for the really simple, new and awesome Dominion cards?
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1016 on: March 17, 2014, 09:39:25 pm »
+3

Quote
If you loved Guilds then man the idea that I should stop making expansions must seem less compelling than ever.
Indeed. Guilds is my favorite expansion and the first time I read that you're not going to make new expansions was right after I discovered my love for Guilds. Painful stuff.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1017 on: March 17, 2014, 09:54:06 pm »
+1

Quote
If you loved Guilds then man the idea that I should stop making expansions must seem less compelling than ever.
Indeed. Guilds is my favorite expansion and the first time I read that you're not going to make new expansions was right after I discovered my love for Guilds. Painful stuff.

Even with just Guilds, having only 13 cards compared to the almost 200 that were already released, it still had a significant impact on the strategy space of the game.  Without Guilds, we wouldn't have had Masterpiece/Feodum, or Stonemason/Vineyards, or Stonemason/Border Village!  Journeyman and Doctor may tread old ground, but they're just really good cards.  And then there's Baker.  Baker, Baker, Baker.  Baker just upsets everything you thought you knew about opening strategy!

My point is that "diminishing returns" makes a point, but it's not necessarily a compelling one.  If I only desired a satisfactory amount of variety in my Dominion games, I probably would never have even bought Hinterlands.  Even small expansions (even single cards, look at Governor) can have a profound impact on the strategy space of Dominion.  The more variety, the better, and I will continue to say this even when there are thousands of kingdom cards.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1018 on: March 17, 2014, 09:57:38 pm »
0

Quote
If you loved Guilds then man the idea that I should stop making expansions must seem less compelling than ever.
Indeed. Guilds is my favorite expansion and the first time I read that you're not going to make new expansions was right after I discovered my love for Guilds. Painful stuff.

Even with just Guilds, having only 13 cards compared to the almost 200 that were already released, it still had a significant impact on the strategy space of the game.  Without Guilds, we wouldn't have had Masterpiece/Feodum, or Stonemason/Vineyards, or Stonemason/Border Village!  Journeyman and Doctor may tread old ground, but they're just really good cards.  And then there's Baker.  Baker, Baker, Baker.  Baker just upsets everything you thought you knew about opening strategy!

My point is that "diminishing returns" makes a point, but it's not necessarily a compelling one.  If I only desired a satisfactory amount of variety in my Dominion games, I probably would never have even bought Hinterlands.  Even small expansions (even single cards, look at Governor) can have a profound impact on the strategy space of Dominion.  The more variety, the better, and I will continue to say this even when there are thousands of kingdom cards.

Every new card that is published diminishes the chance Baker will be in your kingdom (playing full random.  edge case: black market)
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1019 on: March 17, 2014, 10:31:01 pm »
0

My point is that "diminishing returns" makes a point, but it's not necessarily a compelling one.  If I only desired a satisfactory amount of variety in my Dominion games, I probably would never have even bought Hinterlands.  Even small expansions (even single cards, look at Governor) can have a profound impact on the strategy space of Dominion.  The more variety, the better, and I will continue to say this even when there are thousands of kingdom cards.
There are always going to be people who would buy a 20th expansion despite owning 19. Each expansion gives you whatever new experiences, despite already having endless variety; at some level it can be like buying a 20th game when you already have 19. However for most people, a 20th game does a much better job of being a 20th game, and there is clear data that most Dominion fans do not need even 8 expansions. You can produce a big line of people who do and that won't change that.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1020 on: March 18, 2014, 12:36:26 am »
+1

Not to step on Donald's toes here, but he has said many, many, many times that he doesn't look at fan cards at all.

One of the reasons he gave was to avoid something looking like a rip off of a fan card (even by coincidence). Now that all cards are out...
In fact there will probably be a physical Dominion promo this year - I finished my work on it, it's just up to when Jay decides to put it out.


Do you have any updates on to whether or not/when Jay will decide to put it (the promo) out? Will it be a single card, or a full set? (I know "promo" makes it seem kind of obvious that it'll be the former, but I'm asking anyway :) )


« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 12:38:48 am by Trogdor the Burninator »
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1021 on: March 18, 2014, 12:51:36 am »
0

Could you see Dominion working as a game, akin to TCGs, that continually releases new expansions, with only truly dedicated fans having all of them, with most players having, say, 3 (eg the base set, the most recent new expansion, and the one with the theme that interests them the most?)?

Personally I love the feeling of seeing new cards and playing with them to figure out how they work. There's probably enough good card ideas out there to release an expansion every year for a long time to come, especially since the nature of Dominion means that a card doesn't need to be balanced in power compared to other cards to be worthwhile; it's ok for a card to define the games its in or be really useful in only a few setups as long as it's fun.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1022 on: March 18, 2014, 01:09:02 am »
+3

Do you have any updates on to whether or not/when Jay will decide to put it (the promo) out? Will it be a single card, or a full set? (I know "promo" makes it seem kind of obvious that it'll be the former, but I'm asking anyway :) )
It's a single card, which is to say a single pile, like the other promos.

He told me when he planned to release it, but it's up to him to announce it.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1023 on: March 18, 2014, 01:45:49 am »
+3

Could you see Dominion working as a game, akin to TCGs, that continually releases new expansions, with only truly dedicated fans having all of them, with most players having, say, 3 (eg the base set, the most recent new expansion, and the one with the theme that interests them the most?)?

Personally I love the feeling of seeing new cards and playing with them to figure out how they work. There's probably enough good card ideas out there to release an expansion every year for a long time to come, especially since the nature of Dominion means that a card doesn't need to be balanced in power compared to other cards to be worthwhile; it's ok for a card to define the games its in or be really useful in only a few setups as long as it's fun.
In my experience those people with 3 sets would have the base set, Intrigue, and Seaside. Maybe we could sell the new set instead if it were a standalone, but then you have to ask, what's the beauty of it, why not just sell them an existing set? We could run lots of tournaments, and only use new sets in them, like Magic. And rotate sets out of print; buy 'em while they last. Is that a utopia or a dystopia?

I don't really know at what point it would stop being good business to make new sets for the insatiable players. Probably it would keep seeming worth printing them for a while; again you know your product won't be a big hit, but you know it will sell some copies. But uh again you have the complexity issue. To avoid complexity on cards you can put it in the rulebook, but then people can't just sit down with random cards and play. And you'd have to give up on having cards be as unique as they are.

Magic has been around for 20+ years, but they have a much larger space for possible simple cards, with more stats and zones and data. Magic leans heavily on making slight variations of cards, and reprints cards too.
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soulnet

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #1024 on: March 18, 2014, 07:37:25 am »
+2

In my experience those people with 3 sets would have the base set, Intrigue, and Seaside. Maybe we could sell the new set instead if it were a standalone, but then you have to ask, what's the beauty of it, why not just sell them an existing set? We could run lots of tournaments, and only use new sets in them, like Magic. And rotate sets out of print; buy 'em while they last. Is that a utopia or a dystopia?

Utopia. It means more Dominion cards.
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