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Author Topic: The Continued Secret History of the Early Dominion Cards  (Read 4021 times)

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Donald X.

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The Continued Secret History of the Early Dominion Cards
« on: December 12, 2012, 08:26:47 pm »
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I didn't say as much about outtakes for the main set back when; it was material edited into a W. Eric Martin article on BGN, and anyway there were cards that might get fixed up for later sets. And I didn't say as much about the non-outtakes in the first secret history as I might have, because, how much did people really need to hear?

I made 10 cards. I don't remember what they all were. I wasn't preserving everything back then. One was Witch and one was a discard attack. Mine was in there. I had "+1 card +1 action +$1," "+2 actions," and "+1 buy," although nothing said "+1" like that, it was all written out. I had some kind of card-drawing, probably the next-turn one listed below. The first evening we just played the same 10 cards, but they weren't really the same because I tweaked the costs after each game. You mark the piles with dice indicating the current cost.

I made 10 more cards. Some were variations on what I'd had the first time. Some covered obvious territory I hadn't yet. After that I made more cards at whatever rate, eventually dividing everything into a 25-card main set and two 15-card expansions.

I am going to look at the cards in the order they appear in the oldest files. Some of the slots got filled in by other cards after stuff died or changed though; I wasn't saving every image. So, "Dungeon" isn't the first action card I made an image for. And attacks got their own page because they were printed on pink paper, and similarly victory and treasure and reaction cards had separate pages initially, so those cards aren't in the right order either.

I am only doing the first four pages because I want to lead a balanced life. There are six and half pages total, with the cards I'm not doing almost all being ones you know from Intrigue or later anyway.

Page 1:

"Dungeon:" I have talked about this a few times recently. "Trash a card from your hand, discard a card, +3 Cards." It cost $3, then $4. It was a staple trasher that dropped through the cracks. I bumped it to Intrigue and then Dark Ages and then it seemed like I'd covered this ground already.

Village: The first version cost $5 and just said "you may play two more actions." Over the first couple weeks I lowered it to $4, then $3, then added +1 Card, reasoning, part of why it sucked was that drawing Village meant you had fewer cards in hand to be those two actions. Sir Destry bought a lot of Villages early on and it was a month before he won his first game.

Market: Similarly Market cost $5 and let you buy an extra card, and I realized that Market in hand meant less money, so I made it +$1 +1 Buy. At the same time the first game had had "+1 Card +1 Action +$1," and eventually they merged. "+1 Buy" got terminology when it turned out I'd be doing more of those than just Market. I tried on "+1 Purchase" and then "+1 Build." Woodcutter is called Woodcutter because, +1 Build.

Smithy: Initially I was scared of such card-drawing. I had "draw 2 extra cards at end of turn" (as Laboratory). I came around to the beauty of straight card-drawing, and did the simplest one.

Mine: This is the card from the first game that changed the least. It explicitly turned Copper into Silver and Silver into Gold, and now looks at cost.

Chapel: Your Estates are worth points, surely you don't want to trash those. Okay I guess they are dead cards and you sure aren't buying them, but Coppers, they do something. It was a week or two before I said, man, I am just going to try trashing everything. Not long after that I found the 5-card deck - not the Remodel one, the Witch one. Chapel, Silver, Throne Room, Witch. I play Throne Witch every turn (paying $2 since Witch required you to pay $1 to play it). There were something like 45 Curses and the pile did not scale with the number of players, so this deck was not shabby.

Laboratory: This was probably from after the second batch of cards. I don't remember multiple versions. The "+1 Card +1 Action +$1" card was an early star, and after Village got its +1 Card and became a "free" +1 Action, it was like, why not a free +1 Card.

Throne Room: It cost $3 for forever. You could open Feast / Throne Room, some people enjoyed that. You could get it with "Stonecutter," that was significant. Okay I am only going to do 4 pages, so I will not make it to Stonecutter. Stonecutter was "Gain a card costing up to $3, if it's an action play it." You Stonecutter up Throne Rooms and Villages and Woodcutters (once that was around) and then buy "Towers" to rake in points.

"Stables:" The first Workshop-type thing I tried was "Gain an Estate," then "Gain a card costing up to $2." It was trying to be Monument but it would take a while to get there. Then it was "Gain a card costing up to $2. When you discard or trash this, +1 Card." Those of you marvelling at how main set cards anticipate Tunnel and Dark Ages: those were things that had just been around forever. Before the little Workshops, this slot started out as "When you buy an action this turn, play it;" then I tried out "+1 Buy, cards cost $1 less this turn." That seemed scary, but I brought it back in Alchemy (the original large 5th expansion) as the Bridge you know.

Page 2:

"Vault:" First Vault was "your victory cards are also coppers this turn." Then it became the top half of Secret Chamber. That cost $4, then $3, then became Secret Chamber.

Feast: As told elsewhere, Feast started out as a one-use Gold - "+1 Action +$3, trash this." It was strong and turned into Feast.

Trading Post: Started out as a way to trade a card for another of the same cost. Well that's awful. I thought of trading specifically for Silver and that's what it does. People would talk about melding treasure or victory cards - turn two Coppers into a Silver, turn three Estates into a Duchy - but that simple concept required way too many words. I could just turn two things into Silver specifically though and hey sometimes it would be two Coppers.

Workshop: This started out as a deliberate attempt to make a card to support a money-free deck. It was "+1 Action, -1 Buy, gain a card costing up to $3." I was the only one who liked it or could make it work.

Remodel: There's no story here, this was an obvious card that worked well early on.

Cellar: First I tried "+2 Cards +1 Action, put 2 cards from your hand on your deck." It was way too slow. Then I did Cellar but without the +1 Action.

"Highway:" This was "+2 Cards +$2," for $5. It was a solid card that I eventually decided not to do. It seemed strong and it's too easy to compare to other things. It had no special charm.

"Spare Room:" This is Pawn.

"Mining Village:" This version was switched - "+$2, may trash for +1 Card +2 Actions." These days tons of cards are "+$2, do something." Back then, that was not such a thing - cards tried to be good enough via their new ability. So Mining Village was a lonely "+$2" card. Yes Highway also says it but you know.

Page 3:

"Knight:" "Trash the top card of each other player's deck," for $4. I have previously told the story of the games this could trap you in. For a while though it was the standard, several cards were Knight with a bonus. Including of course the Knights. Knight itself started more expensive but I quickly lowered it to $4. At $4 you could buy it when you were losing and desperate; at $5 you would just get a Duchy.

Witch: The first version cost $3 and did not give +2 Cards. Then it cost $4, then $5, then $5 but you had to pay $1 to use it. Then just $5, then with +1 Card, then +2 Cards, with the Curse pile changing to scaling somewhere in there.

Thief: There was a discard attack in this slot first. I tried just making each other player discard one or two cards; it's broken as soon as multiple players buy them or you can chain them. Then I tried out Thief close to how you know it, but with the top cards being put back if they weren't trashed. Militias as you know them didn't arrive until after I showed the game to RGG.

"Wizard:" "+1 Card, each other player gains a Confusion," for $3. Confusion was a blank card. It had a hypnotic spiral on it, and when people were like, "I don't get it," I'd turn the spiral. Confusion stayed in the game for a while, and some other cards used them, but once the game was getting published it wasn't worth the 30 cards.

"Baron:" "Reveal the top card of each other player's deck. Trash those victory cards. Gain the trashed cards." For $6. Why not an attack that just hits victory cards? Within a few months it would change to $4, "each other player reveals the top 3 and trashes a victory card, gaining a cheaper card." Stealing Duchies survived in the game for a while; now you have to play Rogue twice. The best victory-card-trasher I ever had was "Mob" from Prosperity, which dug for one, trashed it, and gave them the next cheapest plus an Estate (or just an Estate if it didn't find one, making it useful in the early game). It is not really anything anyone needs in the game though. I eventually tried attacks that only hit actions; the problem is, I can make that dead by having a boring deck. So in the end there are cards that only trash treasures, and trashers that don't care about type.

Harem: Originally it cost $5, then $6. My version has no art, just a giant 2 coins and 2 crowns (my VP symbol).

"Tower:" This is Vineyard only for $4. I ended up swapping it with Gardens (originally from Alchemy and costing $P) because Gardens is in some sense easier.

Moat: Originally reactions were played when you reacted. Moat stopped one turn of attacks and drew you a card. It was useless on your own turn. Then I made another reaction that stopped all attacks for one round, and then I combined them.

"Battlements:" This reaction drew you two cards if you were attacked (after that it would be in play - so, dead or a Lab). Then it changed to, either play normally for +2 Cards, or play when attacked for +2 Cards. This died when I changed how reactions worked, because it was cumulative; then I brought it back as Horse Traders.

Page 4:

"Plague:" "Trash this, each other player gains a Confusion and a Curse," for $3. In some ways a precursor of Ill-Gotten Gains. Not shabby.

Great Hall: The first version is the same as the last; in-between it cost $4 for a bit after I beat people up with Upgrade / Great Hall (Upgrade had cost $4, which was the actual problem).

"Courtyard:" "When you gain this or play this, look at the top 3 cards of your deck, and discard any number of them," for $2. Did not work out. Previously the name had been on "Discard an Action card, gain a copy of it" for $3. After those the name went on $6, "play 2 actions from the supply each costing $3 or less." You know, you google up some art, but the card doesn't work out, and it's like, something else can be a courtyard.

Outpost: This version made your next turn's hand 2 cards smaller then this turn's, which meant you could take a 3rd turn with just one card and then any further turns you'd have no cards.

"Library:" "Look at the top 5, play one of those Actions, discard the rest first," for $3. It died for being uninteresting. Then I made a new version for Prosperity: "+1 action, look at top 5, put one in your hand, discard the rest." It cost $4 and was broken. At first it seemed like it might be fun broken, we all have crazy decks and aren't we having a good time? No, whoever got more copies of it won. I tried various fixes over the years to follow.

"Servant's Room:" $2, "Choose a card in your hand. Trash it; or discard it and +1 card; or trash it and gain a card with equal cost, in your hand." It was trying to be a follow-up to Pawn. I remembered the bad Trading Post and thought hey maybe it just needs more bad options. It didn't see much play and then turned into "choose one: +2 of something" which then turned into Steward.

Moneylender: The published version; I can't remember another version.

"Tax Collector:" This turned into Cutpurse. "Cards cost $1 less this turn and then $1 more until your next turn," for $3. There was no duration type or color, but I did have the rule that cards stayed out until the end of the turn they finished doing things. Multiplayer with multiple people playing Tax Collectors would have odd shifts in costs. I play it. On your turn you play another one; you break even. On the next player's turn they are hit by two at once. The 4th player plays one and so is only being hit by one total. On my turn mine goes away but the other two are hitting me.

"Caravan:" Only it's Merchant Ship. This replaced "+$2 +2 Actions" for $4. I can't do "+1 Action +$2 something something" for less than $5 (without a penalty), because you just automatically buy it over Silver in most games.
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