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Author Topic: How costs for cards are set  (Read 5008 times)

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theory

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How costs for cards are set
« on: June 17, 2011, 05:16:38 pm »
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Quote from: Donald X.
In a game of Dominion, your deck starts out making ~$3.5 a turn. And in a lot of games, it just goes up from there for a long time.

This drastically lowers the difference between costs in the $2 to $4 range (especially between $2 and $3). It doesn't make them identical though. The set of possible opening moves can distinguish those costs. If a card is something you want to use +buys to get extra copies of, that cost is very relevant. If a card is something you especially want in Curse games, you will have less money and the difference will matter. There is perception; people like cards that cost more to look better, and don't want similar cards at the same cost, such that one is "strictly better." And there are special cases. Would Remodel be more powerful at $3?

But these things don't always apply, and as fewer of them apply, the differences between $2 and $4 vanish. Would Village be too strong at $2? You would be able to get a bunch quickly with +buys; that's not game-breaking though. You don't want it turn one, so being able to pick it up with a 2/5 opening isn't so significant, not that you wouldn't do it sometimes. It's worse in Curse games, so that's not relevant. Would Village be too weak at $4? People would still buy it frequently, even though there would be turns when they sadly only had $3. We can glimpse both cases in similar cards, i.e. Native Village and Worker's Village, when what you wanted was Village. However Village at $4 would mean Village-with-a-bonus would have to cost $5, to avoid the "strictly better" issue (and $5 is actually a lot more than $4). So $4 would in fact be a bad cost for Village. And for that matter costing $3 leaves room at $2 for cards that look worse.

For a long time in playtesting, Throne Room cost $3. The extra opening moves weren't a problem and were sometimes cute, i.e. Throne Room / Feast. It was too strong with +buys though - you sometimes amassed too many too quickly. I had to raise it to $4, and that meant getting rid of a Throne-Room-with-a-bonus I had in another set, that had cost $4 but was no good at $5.

Anyway this is how I see it. People talk about the difference between costing $2 and $3 or whatever as if it's a matter of raw power level and well that's not really the way to look at it. It's relevant for $5+ but not for the low end. You want to look at openings and +buys and things instead.

The OP talks about "+1 card +1 action" as worth "less than $2" and well there is no such thing. Without +buys, Village could cost $0 and it would play very similarly.
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