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Author Topic: The reasoning behind the number of cards in each pile  (Read 2777 times)

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theory

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The reasoning behind the number of cards in each pile
« on: June 17, 2011, 05:09:32 pm »
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Quote from: Donald X.
All of the piles were originally 12 cards (okay except Copper Silver Gold and Curse), and I lowered the non-victory piles to 10.

The reason they were originally 12 was, well, they had to be something. I couldn't have infinite piles. Twelve seemed like enough to actually get some copies of a card you wanted in a 4-player game.

The reason they went down to 10 was because people in general undervalue cards. Or so I am told! Cards are one of the most expensive components in a game, and one of the least valued. When I made the game, I had no idea if having 500 cards was good, or bad, or what; it wasn't an issue. The game wanted to be ~500 cards so it was. When I showed it to Jay, he immediately said something like, "500 cards? But that would have to be like a $40 game!" And I said sure, it's a game, that's what they cost, and then found out that this was not a good situation. People weren't going to want to pay that much for "just cards." Well as we know that story has a couple happy endings; the game went out with 500 cards after all, and people did buy it, although some of them complained while doing so.

So anyway, during development, that total number of cards was an issue, and I looked at a bunch of ways to cut it down. One way was to cut the non-victory piles from 12 to 10 cards. I changed the end condition from "any empty pile ends the game" to "any empty victory pile ends the game," and then every other pile effectively had 2 more cards in it. You know? If emptying the pile ends the game, the last card in each pile never gets used (other than scoring it and unusual situations that don't matter okay). So right there you have a wasted card. Then, if you don't want the game to end, and a lot of the time you don't, you can't just leave a pile at one card, or whoever's ahead will buy that card to end the game. So you need to leave 2 cards in the pile. Two wasted cards.

Well, if only victory piles end the game, you can now buy those 2 cards (from a non-victory pile). Meaning you get the same experience with just 10 cards per pile. So that's why that happened.

Of course the game end condition changed again later. But that's another story and I could swear I've told it already.

I didn't also lower the victory card piles, because I liked the game length, and they were determining it. Well you know, usually Province was determining it, and sometimes a kingdom card like Gardens. Even when any pile will end the game, what do you buy out? The Provinces. I did think this through though, then and when switching to the published end condition later. Kingdom victory cards are sometimes your main thing, i.e. Gardens, and sometimes not, i.e. you just buy a few Nobles but are still going for Provinces. The ones that are main things wanted to be properly competitive, and part of that meant having plenty of them to buy. Without labeling the kingdom cards somehow I just had to consider them all as main things, since some were. Province was a main thing. That left just Estate and Duchy. Those piles could have been only 10, but you know, that would be a pointless extra bit of complexity. (You can also have no Estates pile at all, which I did consider for bare-minimum versions.) (Again, Duchy rush stories omitted, see other posts.) Similarly, it was easier to lower all of them for 2 players than to single out Duchy and Estate as exceptions.

Obviously if you want about the same length of game (in turns) for 2 players, you want the same number of Provinces per player. And you do want that; it's totally worth the trouble of counting out the 4 cards to turn sideways. That is the answer to your actual question and everything else I told you was just because I was responding to your post rather than the thread title. Man I could have saved myself some time. I did try 2 players with 12 cards in each pile, and it was obvious that they should be lowered. You could ask why 4 players don't get 16 Provinces. Well you know, the game takes longer (in minutes) with more players so it seemed reasonable to speed it up there. You could ask why I didn't lower every pile for 2 players, rather than just victory piles. That's more of a bother and doesn't really get you anything more. And I like that with 2 players I can get more copies of a popular Action card than with 4 players.

I also tested 8-card non-victory piles during development. It's something I could have lived with, but 10 was better. With 8 it becomes harder to get the cards you want with 4 players. In a bad way.

I also tested varying the pile sizes! Just 6 Moneylenders, because probably people don't want more than one, but 10 Labs. And so on. Valerie didn't like how it meant the game was telling you how many copies of a card a good player might want. It wasn't like I was enamored with that option anyway.
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