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The Bible of Donald X. / Donald X.'s Guide to 15 Dominion Expansions
« on: December 28, 2022, 12:59:46 pm »
Lots of people ask: what Dominion expansion should I get next? They have different criteria in mind and well this guide will try to answer that question for a variety of criteria. This is the second version of this guide, adding the 3 latest expansions and some notes on second editions.

It can be helpful to look at the cards, see what's in the expansions. The wiki has images of all of them:


Mainly there's the main set and 15 expansions. You technically don't need the main set - you could know the game and get Base Cards plus any expansions. So I have to consider it too.

Small - 150 cards: Alchemy, Cornucopia, Guilds
Regular - 300 cards: Intrigue, Seaside, Prosperity, Hinterlands, Empires, Renaissance
Large - 400 cards: Adventures, Menagerie, Allies
Extra large - 500 cards: Dominion (due to base cards), Dark Ages, Nocturne, Plunder

Dominion: The main set - includes base cards needed to play. The focus is on simplicity.
Intrigue: Cards that give you a choice, and victory cards that do something.
Seaside: Duration cards - they do something this turn and next turn.
Alchemy: Potions - a new resource that most of the cards in the set require to buy them.
Prosperity: Adds Platinum and Colony as a step above Gold and Province; Treasures that do things, VP tokens (worth 1 VP at end of game).
Cornucopia: Variety theme.
Hinterlands: "When you gain this" theme; Reactions and filtering subthemes.
Dark Ages: Trash theme; Shelters to replace starting Estates; Ruins which are similar to Curses; Spoils which is a one-use Gold.
Guilds: Coffers tokens ($ you can save), overpay (pay extra for a card to get an effect when buying it).
Adventures: Duration cards return; Reserve cards you can save until you want to use them; Events, effects you can buy that aren't cards.
Empires: VP tokens return; more Events; Landmarks, things you don't buy that modify scores; Debt that lets you pay for a card later; Split piles with two or more cards in them.
Nocturne: Night - a new phase after the Buy phase with cards usable then; Boons/Hexes - small random good/bad effects that cards generate; non-supply Spirits; cards with Heirlooms that replace starting Coppers.
Renaissance: Coffers tokens return; Villager tokens (+1 Action you can save); Projects, abilities you can buy that aren't cards; Artifacts, abilities only one player can have at a time.
Menagerie: Horses, one-use draw; the Exile mat, a place to have cards that are yours but not in your deck; Ways, alternate uses for Action cards; more Events; weird costs subtheme.
Allies: Split piles with 4 unique cards each; Favor tokens, that vary in meaning based on an Ally card; choice and recursion subthemes.
Plunder: Duration and Treasure themes, including Treasure-Durations; Loot, a pile of random Treasures; next-time Durations; Traits that modify a pile; more Events.

But wait, there are other products you might find. I'll ignore these elsewhere in this guide, but let's see what they are.

Dominion and Intrigue were changed, with 6 cards dropped and 7 cards added. Update packs for each set provided just the new cards (but have not stayed in print). The other expansions through Adventures got new versions with improved layout, but no new cards. Then in 2022 there were three more second editions: Seaside, Prosperity, and Hinterlands. Meaning three more update packs too. The earlier update packs had each had 7 new cards, for an 80-card update pack with a few blanks; the later ones have 9 new cards and are 100-card packs with one blank.

The first editions are the only way to get the dropped cards. They were dropped with good reason though! You don't need them, that's what I think. And we haven't kept the first editions in print, though there are lots of copies of each of these sets. Additional notes:

Dominion: 6 cards dropped, 7 added. The changes are most important here, as it's the main set. The second edition gives you more things to do with just the main set.
Intrigue: 6 cards dropped, 7 added. Also the first edition was a standalone - it had Copper etc. - and the second edition is not.
Seaside: 8 cards and a set of blanks dropped, 9 cards added. The Duration theme was pushed harder, with 16 Duration cards instead of 8.
Prosperity: 9 cards dropped, 9 cards added. Prosperity had a Treasures theme, but several of the special Treasures were weaker cards. So the new cards include a bunch of snazzy new Treasures.
Hinterlands: 9 cards dropped, 9 cards added. Hinterlands had less identity than other sets; the when-gain theme can be invisible. So I added more Reaction cards to it, so that now it has a Reactions subtheme. Note that the first printing of Hinterlands 2E accidentally doesn't say "second edition" on the cover. But the artwork is new, and the back cover explains that it's the second edition.

There's more:

Base Cards: Just the basic cards needed to play - Copper Silver Gold Estate Duchy Province Curse - plus a few similar things that have appeared in expansions - Platinum Colony Potion. Once they were prettier than the main set / expansion versions; now everything is even prettier. You could want this in order to avoid buying Dominion itself (though it's a fine product), or if you want to go to 5-6 players.
Promos: Over the years some promos have come out. They're a mixed bag, with some being too weak or too strong. Some of them are fun though. You can buy them (in English) at BoardGameGeek and support the site at the same time.
Mixed Box: It's Cornucopia plus Guilds in one box; we no longer sell them separately (in English). I couldn't quite bring myself to combine them in this guide though.
Big Box: The current one is Dominion plus Intrigue plus extra base cards so you can play with 5-6 players. The old out of print one was Dominion plus Prosperity plus Alchemy, for some reason.

Non-English-language versions include different Big Boxes and different Mixed Boxes and random assortment products; I don't have all the information on those. Hobby Japan also makes rethemes - mixes of cards from multiple expansions, with different flavor. You can look those things up on BoardGameGeek if you want. 999 Games makes an intro product in Dutch that's smaller than the normal main game.


If you just want a few sentences more on each set, I'm there for you.

Dominion: Some of the simplest cards in the game, covering all the most common kinds of abilities. Most of you have this already. If you don't, I recommend getting it; while it's possible to get base cards elsewhere, these cards are great to add to your games.

Intrigue: This expands on the main game in the simplest way possible, without much to send you to the rulebook. There is a theme of cards that give you a choice - something like "choose one..." or "name a card." There are also Victory cards with abilities, including Action - Victory cards and a Treasure - Victory card, plus a few cards that like those cards.

Seaside: Introduces Duration cards - orange cards that set up something to happen in the future. Many of them simply do something this turn, and that thing or another thing on your next turn. Duration cards were much admired on their debut. They finally came back in Adventures, and the later sets each have a few Duration cards, and Plunder heavily revisits the theme again. But they started out here.

Alchemy: Adds a new basic pile, Potions, which produce a new resource. To buy cards with the potion symbol in the cost, you need to play a Potion. The set also has an action-chaining theme, which it got to make sure that most of the cards were worth buying a Potion for even if no other cards in the game required a Potion. Some people adore Alchemy, but it tends to be people's least favorite set.

Prosperity: The overall theme is "spendy." There are Platinum and Colony, new base cards above Gold and Province; there are Treasures that do things when you play them or while they're in play; and there are at last cards that cost $7. There are also four cards that use VP tokens - a way to have VP without it being a card in your deck.

Cornucopia: There are no new rulebook mechanics in this small expansion. The theme of the set is variety, with cards that care about the variety of cards you have in your deck, or in your hand, or in play, and some cards that can get you more variety.

Hinterlands: This is a simpler set. The main theme is cards that do something (extra) when you gain them. There are also 6 Reaction cards, with 3 that trigger on discarding cards. And there's a filtering subtheme - cards that both draw and discard.

Dark Ages: This is a sprawling set full of crazy combos. There is a trash theme, cards that do something when you trash them, lots of ways to trash things, and a few things that care what's in the trash or can take cards out of it. The Ruins pile is like Curses but more interesting, with 3 cards handing them out. The Spoils pile is an unbuyable one-use Gold that 3 cards give out. Starting Estates can be replaced with Shelters, which have little abilities to spice up those games.

Guilds: A small set with two themes: Coffers tokens, which you can cash in in your Buy phase for +$1, and overpay, which is cards that let you pay extra for them in order to generate an effect when you buy the card.

Adventures: Duration cards return, including Duration attacks and Duration cards that just hang around in play all game. The Tavern mat gives you a place to put Reserve cards, which go to your mat when played and can be "called" off later to do what they do. For the first time a new kind of card is shuffled in with the randomizers (or kept separate if you prefer): Events. A game can have 0-2 Events; they give you an effect you can buy in your Buy phase, but aren't a card in anyone's deck. There are two Travellers, cards that upgrade themselves four times each.

Empires: VP tokens return, with lots of uses for them, including cards that they pile up on. In addition to more Events, there are Landmarks, more randomizer-deck cards that can be added to a game. They provide a way to score VP, sometimes with tokens or sometimes just calculated at the end of the game. You use 0-2 Events/Landmarks total. Some cards cost Debt, which means you don't have to pay for the card now, but can't buy other things until you finish paying off the Debt. There are 5 Split piles that have two different cards in them - five copies of each - plus the Castles pile with 8 different Victory cards.

Nocturne: This expansion adds a new phase, Night, which occurs after the Buy phase and before Clean-up. The only thing it means is, there are Night cards that you only play then. This lets them care about what happened during the turn, and many of them do; others go right into your hand when gained, so you can buy one and then immediately play it at Night. There are two small decks of random good/bad effects, the Boons and Hexes, and cards that cause you to turn over one of those cards and see what happens. Seven cards have Heirlooms, which are special Treasures that replace a starting Copper in games using that card. Several cards use new non-Supply cards, the Spirits. Overall it's the most flavorful set.

Renaissance: This set is much simpler than the last few, but still has four mechanics. Coffers tokens return, paired with Villagers, which are tokens you can cash in in your Action phase for +1 Action. Projects are randomizer-deck things like Events, but instead of getting a one-time effect, you get a permanent ability. You use 0-2 Events/Landmarks/Project per game. Artifacts are non-deck cards that only one player can have at a time; the cards that produce them will let you take them from other players.

Menagerie: This set gets more complex again, but tries to avoid going as far as Nocturne there. It has Horses, which are simply one-use Labs that various cards can gain. It also has the Exile mat, a place cards can go that are yours but not in your deck; when you gain a card, you can take copies of it off of your mat, to have them back in your deck. Menagerie also has Ways, which are landscapes that change the rules for all Actions - you can play an Action for what it normally does, or to do what the Way says. Events return. There is a minor subtheme of cards with weird costs.

Allies: This set leans on the Intrigue theme of decisions. There are split piles with 4 different cards; the first card in the pile will "rotate" the pile, giving you access to the next card. Some cards produce favor tokens; Ally cards are landscapes that provide rules for what favor tokens do this game. There's also a minor subtheme of recursion - cards you can reuse somehow.

Plunder: This set combines the Seaside Duration theme with the Prosperity Treasures theme; it has tons of both kinds of cards, plus lots of Treasure - Durations. Some cards can gain random Loots, which are expensive Treasures. The Duration cards have a sub-theme of "next time": cards that sit out waiting for a certain thing to happen. Traits are new landscapes that change something about one random kingdom card pile (chosen in setup). Events return again. This is another flavorful set.


The main set is especially simple; start there! Intrigue is next simplest, adding just "Victory cards can do things" as a concept, and never really sending you to the rulebook. Hinterlands is pretty simple, and then, simple but with more new stuff, we have Seaside, Prosperity, and Renaissance.


You get better with experience; I think the later sets - from Adventures on - are all more polished than the original earlier sets, with fewer duds, and lots of exciting content. However, I went back and made second editions to fix up most of the earlier sets, so they are all pretty great now too. For me, personal favorites from the revamped early sets are Hinterlands and Prosperity; personal favorites from the later always-good sets are Menagerie, Empires, and Plunder.


Adventures, Empires, Renaissance, Menagerie, Allies, and Plunder add not just kingdom cards but also Events / Landmarks / Projects / Ways / Allies / Traits, which add lots of variety to the game. From those, the absolute top amount of content comes from Plunder and Menagerie. After those, some expansions mess with the starting decks or basic cards: Prosperity adds Platinum / Colony; Dark Ages has Shelters; Nocturne has Heirlooms.


Empires has the most interaction overall: it has attacks, split piles, and Gathering piles (they accumulate tokens one player will get), plus many of the Landmarks are interactive. The later sets, starting with Adventures, in general have more player interaction than the earlier sets did.


Renaissance only has two, getting much of its interaction from the Artifacts that players can compete for. Prosperity and Empires only have three. All three sets make up for that reduced interaction by having more non-attack interaction.


Intrigue has some especially vicious attacks, attacks that make the game be about that card. Dark Ages attacks include the ones that give out Ruins cards, plus the Knights pile; if you like attacks, you will want to see the Knights. Nocturne has attacks that give out Hexes, which are random bad effects.


Any new expansion you get will favor the best player. Allies and Intrigue push decision-making. Empires helps the better player via VP tokens, with so many ways to catch up to a lead in Provinces. Renaissance and Guilds help the player better at knowing when to use up Coffers and Villagers, which can loom large.


Nocturne has the most randomness, with completely random Boons and Hexes. Plunder offers up random Loot. Dark Ages and Plunder are especially rich in card interactions. Menagerie and Plunder change what cards do with Ways and Traits, and this can lead to craziness.


Prosperity has a "big" theme, with Platinum and Colony as the next step from Gold and Province, and cards costing $7. Empires picks up from there, with a treasure that doubles your $, an Event that makes 15 VP total, and cards that cost 8 debt. Plunder has some bigness in its Loots and some expensive cards.


Nocturne, Plunder, and Adventures stand out as having more thematic cards than other expansions. Nocturne ends up especially complex as a result. Dominion's theme gets singled out some for ridicule, but well, whether that's your stance or not, these expansions are heavier on theme.


Empires has VP tokens and Debt tokens; Prosperity has VP tokens; Guilds and Renaissance have coin tokens, used as Coffers in both and Villagers in Renaissance; Allies has coin tokens used as Favors. In terms of actually using the tokens, Empires and Renaissance get the most out of their metal.


Dominion, Intrigue, and Hinterlands have no extra bits and no extra piles. Seaside just has mats for two cards.


These were a theme of Prosperity and Plunder, and a lesser theme of Empires.


They debuted in Seaside, returned with a vengeance in Adventures, and returned with a double vengeance in Plunder. All sets after Adventures have at least a few.


They debuted in Adventures, then appeared in Empires, Menagerie, and Plunder. Renaissance has Projects, which are a relative.


Dominion: Intrigue for being the most basic, then Hinterlands.
Intrigue: Allies for the choice theme, then Renaissance; Empires for the VP theme.
Seaside: Plunder and Adventures for the Duration theme.
Alchemy: If you liked the action-chaining, try Dark Ages. If you like the idea of an alternate resource, try Debt in Empires.
Prosperity: Plunder for the Treasures theme; Empires for some of that and more "spendy" theme.
Cornucopia: There isn't much that cares about variety outside of Cornucopia, but some sets help you get variety: Plunder, Allies, Nocturne, Dark Ages.
Hinterlands: Renaissance and Guilds for more when-gain; Menagerie for more Reactions.
Dark Ages: Renaissance for more when-trash and combo-y cards. Nocturne for more non-Supply piles and starting-deck cards.
Guilds: Renaissance for more Coffers. Hinterlands for more when-gain.
Adventures: Plunder for Durations, Events, next-time cards (which are like Reserve cards), and flavor.
Empires: This is kind of a sequel to Prosperity. Allies also especially favors the better player.
Nocturne: Plunder for flavor and surprises; Dark Ages for more non-Supply piles and starting-deck cards. Adventures for more fantasy.
Renaissance: Guilds for more Coffers; Menagerie for Horses, which are like +Card tokens. Dark Ages for more trash-combo stuff.
Menagerie: Renaissance for the tokens, which Horses are reminiscent of; Plunder for changing what cards do with its Traits, reminiscent of Ways.
Allies: Intrigue also pushes decisions; Empires also has split piles, and especially favors better play.
Plunder: Adventures for Durations, Events, and flavor; Seaside for Durations; Prosperity and Empires for Treasures.


Seaside and Prosperity! When they came out they were the best sets. People have a lot of nostalgia for them. Duration cards from Seaside were popular; some people never want to play without Platinum and Colony from Prosperity. Then, I made both sets even better with the second editions.


None of the above categories recommend these expansions. In the case of Alchemy, well, it's most people's least favorite expansion; I'd get it last. I like Cornucopia, but it doesn't fall into any of those categories. The variety theme is a unique thing that people like but don't specifically ask for.


There you have it. When people say, what expansion should I get next, here is a thing you can link them to.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Dominion: Plunder
« on: December 24, 2022, 02:17:43 am »
The pandemic got me working on Allies, Allies got me working on second editions, and the second editions got me working on Plunder. Making more Seaside and Prosperity stuff was fun, and I had mechanics lying around that went with that. I could seriously make some treasure-durations. I could try out "rewards," which had been sitting around for a long time (looked at briefly for Empires). I had an idea for duration cards left over from Seaside 2E; I'd saved it because clearly it was good for a bunch of cards. And I had a landscape type left over from Allies.

I had the name before I had much else. The intersection of treasures and durations! It was also the name of a card, but man we'd been down that road before. A lot of cards then ended up based on flavor, at least initially; names that would be cool in the set.

Let's consider the mechanics one by one.

*** Mechanics ***

Treasures: Some cards are born treasures; others have treasure-ness thrust upon them. Stuff that might have been +1 Action +$ in some other set ("disappearing money") ended up as treasures here, unless that didn't work out. Treasures were going to fill lots of deck roles here, but still wanted to also feel like treasures, at least for the most part.

Durations: I tried to cover the range of previous variations in the Duration concept, while also finding new stuff, though the next-time durations did plenty to give me new stuff.

Treasure - Durations: The plan was always to errata things like Bonfire that make treasure-durations bad to do. And then hooray, I could have treasure-durations. This doesn't so much narrow the cards down; they could do all sorts of things. There had been a split pile of treasure-durations in Allies that died, but part of its problem was needing to meet the demands of a split pile - we had to want the top card enough and they had to go in ascending order and make sense as a whole. It was no trouble having lots when there were no restrictions beyond "be a treasure-duration."

Loot: In the file they were "rewards." When I tried them they were "valuables." Loot was the perfect name, if you didn't care that there were unrelated Looters in Dark Ages, and well eventually I didn't care. The premise was random treasures that cards could give you, that would be worth about the right amount. It's like the set has a bunch of cards that say "gain a Gold," only they're more exciting. There was a lot more variety at first but that didn't work out, you were too likely to get something crazy this game or awful this game. In the end they almost all make $3 and a lot make +1 Buy. Cade was always drawing his deck, and hated the ones that you only got to play every other turn (due to being a duration), so some of those changed into every-turn things.

Next time durations: This idea started out as one of many Sailor cards trying out for Seaside 2E (it was in the Avoid family: "+$2, next time you shuffle, choose up to 4 cards to not shuffle in, trash this, and gain a Duration card"). It seemed like I could do a lot with it - cards that waited around for something to happen and then did something. It's like Reserve cards, but not the start-of-turn ones. I had a lot of things to try and didn't even cover all the expected ground. For example nothing is like "next time x happens, do y; until then, z every turn." That's just so many words when you put in the effects (though Taskmaster is in this vicinity, flipped).

Traits: So these started as Goods in Allies. They were all rules of the form, "when you gain a treasure, thing." I liked them, Matt not so much. Allies had too much stuff, so I saved them for the next set (dropping "when you gain a Treasure, +1 Favor"). Now I called them Cargo. Sir Martin complained that they made him fill his deck with treasures that didn't do anything. Then there was always the issue of Copper being a treasure. Sometimes you could make the rule happen a bunch and it mattered. I considered triggering on just Gold, or modifying Gold a variety of ways, but well I had Loot. But well, actions are fun, why not modify actions? At first the idea was to only modify actions; then I expanded it to, actions or treasures. Some ideas wouldn't work on treasures but that was fine, I could use other ideas. I never quite wanted them to just work on kingdom card piles, given what I'd be ruling out and how little I'd be getting out of that.

Events: Hey, why not more Events? It took me a while to get to them but then I got some great ones. I tried to make some that related to "next time" and that was fruitful.

Let's look at the kingdom cards! Man this set has 40 of them.

*** Kingdom cards ***

Abundance: The initial card cost $5, and was "The next time you gain a Victory card, +2 Buys and gain a Loot to your hand." And then it just played the Loot due to certain interactions. For a while I liked this. It was good, but you didn't want it immediately; I like that. It would be a gamble sometimes; will this Loot be +$3 or not. It dropped to +1 Buy because +2 Buys was sure generous. But finally one day there was a round of "fix up the treasures" and this one was targeted. I tried triggering on Actions instead, and just giving you the +$3 instead of gaining a Loot. And was immediately pleased with it.

Buried Treasure: Initially this cost $3 and had no +Buy. It seemed fine for a while; then we had online testing and oops it was nuts.

Cabin Boy: There were several other cards trying out to be Cabin Boys, that turned into other things or died. This one started out costing $3 and giving you a choice next turn of +1 Buy, +$1, or upgrading. I turned the first two options into a +$2 option to make it good enough; then it was too good and so costs $4.

Cage: Initially it wasn't a Treasure, didn't trash itself, and put the cards into your hand on the same turn that you gained a Victory card (where typically you'd then uselessly discard them). The idea was that it just locked up four cards for a while for you. First I made it a Treasure, then put the cards into your hand at end of turn, to make the card better; then to tone it back down, and also make it less like Grotto, it trashed itself.

Crew: The initial idea was: "+2 Cards, set aside a card from your hand, next turn put it and this into your hand." That's just way stronger than it looks. And good times, we were all fans. Eventually testing established that it was too nuts. I tried letting you just take one of the cards next turn, but oops that sucks. Then I hit on putting it onto your deck next turn, which attacked the most problematic case, where you just buy Treasures and a Crew. The final version of Crew doesn't do that trick as well; every other turn you don't draw it.

Crucible: I tried a few variations on "some Treasure version of Salvager." One of them was a mess of conditions - +$2 if you had a copy of the trashed card in play, +$2 if its pile was empty, +$2 if it cost $4 or more. A couple versions gave +$ equal to a number in the card's text; those kinds of things are always fun to playtest, and hey if they somehow work out, yeeha. Then I finally tried the straight "Salvager with no Buy but hey it's a Treasure" and there it is. It's gotta be one of the less-interesting cards to read in the set, but man, I like it, no regrets.

Cutthroat: There were unrelated discard attacks that died prior to me trying this. This one didn't change though.

Enlarge: Didn't change, though having it be mandatory next turn was debated. I feel like it's a fun thing.

Figurine: Initially it gave +$2 and +1 Buy if you discarded an Action. Way too generous. For a bit I was hoping to get an Action - Treasure into the set; as you can see I settled for Spell Scroll. When I was pursuing that, some of them were Figurines.

First Mate: Unchanged except for a phrasing tweak.

Flagship: I tested "Throne a Treasure this turn, Throne an Action next turn." The Throne Treasure part seemed like it could just be +$2; then I thought of the next-time replayer. It cost $5 initially, but was too weak.

Fortune Hunter: The first version was a Duchess for Gold (it came free with Gold) and could play your top card if it was a non-Copper Treasure. Maybe that's just an unrelated card. Then I tried the published card, bam.

Frigate: The first version made +$4; that was too much. It also triggered on drawing cards; triggering on playing Actions is simpler and worked out. Initially you get the +$ next turn; it felt like it needed the push of giving you the +$ up front.

Gondola: Didn't change.

Grotto: This started as an Action, turned into a Treasure, then back to an Action. It originally had no limit, and was secretly powerful. And one version had you draw before discarding, so you couldn't draw the cards you were storing (when it was an unlimited giant pile of junk).

Harbor Village: I messed with the wording, but the premise stayed the same. Originally it let you play an Action, then checked if it gave you +$. It's nicer for a village to say +2 Actions though.

Jewelled Egg: This started as Damsel: +1 Action, +1 Buy, +$1, and when trashed, gain a Loot, and each player whose turn it isn't may play an Attack from hand. They're mad you hurt the Damsel, you see. The playing Attacks part was fun flavor but did not do enough to be worth the complication, and the card was a good fit for turning into a treasure.

King's Cache: This started out as a terminal Action for $5. Then it crept towards the only form it could have ever had.

Landing Party: Initially cost $3.

Longship: This came straight from Allies. Gloriously simple cards always have to fight for life, and this was going to be a good fit for Plunder.

Mapmaker: Preceded by an action that gave you 3 of the top 5, for $5. Then, the final card.

Maroon: This didn't change. Except the name, which was initially Ravage. You used to Ravage Cabin Boys and Stowaways; now you just Maroon them.

Mining Road: Initially didn't have the +1 Action. Most +Action +$ stuff in the set is Treasures, but this stayed an Action so you could play Treasure-gaining Actions after it.

Pendant: This slot for a while was dedicated to some kind of treasure that would be payload but not hurt your draw. The first version stayed out until you shuffled, then went into your hand. Then it went back to your hand next turn, but you had to discard a card. It made $2 and was a lot like Treasury. For a long time it clung to life, being sometimes okay, and then I tried some different Pendants and settled on this unrelated different-Treasures counter.

Pickaxe: Started out without the $1.

Pilgrim: Unchanged. Being simple, it had to fight for its life; that's the sad lot of these awesome cards.

Quartermaster: Early on I had a Duration card for $5 that gained a Copper, a Silver, and a Loot, setting them aside, and doled them out one per turn. You don't want Copper, right, so, how about a Silver, a Loot, and a card costing up to $4? This was briefly fun, but too strong. Then back to the Copper, but wait we hadn't liked that and still didn't. Then I tried, gain two differently named $4's, and get one each turn. Then I thought of the final card. It's an old idea in a form that finally works - having a stash of cards that you add to or take from.

Rope: Started as a Sailor in Seaside 2E. The first version there gave you all the stuff next turn, and could be played when anyone gained a Treasure. I liked it; it was in the set for a while. Then it moved here, dropped the reaction, and became a Treasure; then the coin and buy moved to the turn played.

Sack of Loot: Initially had neither the $1 nor the +Buy. The +Buy is so if you don't gain a Loot with +Buy with it, you're not so sad.

Search: The first version cost $3 and gave +2 Cards and +2 Actions; too generous. It didn't even trash itself. I changed it to the published version for $3, then later on dropped it to $2.

Secluded Shrine: This didn't change. A simple showcase for next-time.

Shaman: Hmmm, where does this story start. The first remotely related card in the file is "+1 Action, This turn when you trash a non-duration card, you may play it, leaving it there. Trash a card from your hand." Let me just wrap my head around that. So you trash Copper and get the +$1; you Remodel a Gold later in the turn and get the +$3, and so on. I don't remember that one, but it sure didn't last. Then I had an attack that gave out Curses and also said "The next time you gain, trash or discard a card in your Action phase, +$2." The idea being that you had to meet the condition to get the card back for another attack. Briefly that sounded good. Then I was back at the Remodel combos, with a Cursing attack with +$3 next turn and "Until then, when a player trashes one of their cards, they discard it." With various phrasings, messing with exactly when the card came back. Near the end of work on the set, Cade singled this out to complain about. The thing was, maybe somebody gets to trash 3 cards near the start of the game, and then there's no more trashing possible, and it's pretty random and how fun is that, for an expert like Cade. So I tried a version with an "In games using this" phrasing. That fixes that problem, but when we sat down to try it, I had another version I think we never played, and then the gain a trashed card every turn idea. Well that one was great, except it needed a cost limit, getting back Spell Scroll for example seemed problematic, especially when you could do it at start of turn with e.g. Enlarge. But this definitely seemed like the direction. Then Matt suggested that it shouldn't be a Witch, and I tried making it a trasher instead. Hooray, we got there. And it ended up one of my favorite cards in the set.

Silver Mine: Initially it played the card; now it goes to your hand. Another one under frequent attack. It's just some Explorer, and can't even get Gold; I dunno what to tell you, Dominion needs some simple cards.

Siren: A flavor-based card; what could a Siren do? They lure sailors to their deaths, but I didn't want an attack that punished Duration cards. Finally I thought of having to trash an Action to get one. And that's that, the card was done.

Stowaway: Briefly it triggered on other players playing Duration cards; then to the final version.

Swamp Shacks: Initially cost $3 and gave +1 Card per 4 cards you had in play. Mostly it was the final version, but at $3. It got a lot of extra testing. It's insane, how could this card exist, but initially it's bad and that makes all the difference.

Taskmaster: The first version made +$2, and then +1 Action each turn until you gained an Action. After that I jumped to the final card. The wording got tweaked repeatedly to try to be clear and avoid bad interactions, but it stayed basically the same.

Tools: This started as an Action for $5 with "Gain a copy of a card anyone has in play." To make it good enough it had to be a Treasure for $4. We worried about the final card a bunch. We tried it at $5 but that played worse. I considered limiting it to gaining Actions, so it couldn't gain a Tools, but in the end it gets to.

Trickster: The wording got tweaked, but what it did stayed the same.

Wealthy Village: The first village that gave Loot was +2 Actions, +$1, if your hand is empty gain a Loot. It was hard to proc. It got +Buy but whatever. Then I tried village, when you gain this gain a copy of a Treasure you have in play. A nice fit for the set, but well this is the Loot set right? What about gaining those. So then it was the published card. But wait, then it only counted non-Loot Treasures for a while, so that it didn't snowball as much. "Non-Loot" is way more complexity and confusion than you'd think, so it eventually lost it. When it first had that, Loot was Valuables, so it said, "if you have three non-Valuable treasures in play," which was funny.

*** Traits ***

Cheap: Unchanged. Not actually one of the first ones, but eventually you try this.

Cursed: Initially it came with an extra copy of the card plus a Curse. Late in the going there was the idea of a Trait coming with a Loot and a Curse, and hey that would be this slot, and fixed up how a cheap Cursed card was awful.

Fated: Unchanged except for wording tweaks.

Fawning: The first idea was, when you gain a card costing $2+ more than the Fawning card, you gained a Fawning card. That quickly turned into, it comes with Province. It was optional, but it seemed clearly more fun to make it mandatory.

Friendly: In a sense unchanged. A late addition, replacing "When you gain a Friendly card, you may discard 3 cards to gain a Friendly card."

Hasty: The first version put the card onto your deck when you gained it. Then, to your hand or onto your deck (this does not work). Then, set it aside and play it next turn.

Inherited: Unchanged except for wording tweaks and ruling tweaks; initially it was going to put the replaced card back if it was an Estate or Copper, but Cade noted that we had precedents there.

Inspiring: Unchanged. Suggested by Matt. Other +1 Action Traits had failed.

Nearby: Unchanged. It had to compete with "When you play one of these, +1 Buy" for a while; it didn't seem like I needed both, and this one was more interesting.

Patient: Initially you had to play the card, like with Way of the Turtle.

Pious: Unchanged.

Reckless: Initially played the card twice, then trashed it. Some work went into this wording, trying to deal with various cases that messed up tracking or had other issues. In the end it may not be quite there, but man, it's in the set.

Rich: Unchanged, though I also briefly tested, "When you gain or trash this, gain a Silver."

Shy: Unchanged.

Tireless: Initially you could pay $1 to put the card onto your deck when discarding it. This family of effects tends to be problematic because well you play that same card every turn, whatever it is. Sometimes it's a Witch, that game isn't amazing. For a while this died, then it came back with a version of Crew's mechanic of waiting until next turn to topdeck.

*** Loot ***

Amphora: Unchanged except for name.

Doubloons: At first it came with a Gold. Then it gained a Gold each time you played it. Then, back to coming with a Gold.

Endless Chalice: Tweaked the wording but kept it functionally the same. It didn't always have the big coin.

Figurehead: Started out making +$2.

Hammer: Initially gained $5's and didn't make $. Then non-VP $5's, then it made $2 and gained $4's. Then up to making $3.

Insignia: Unchanged.

Jewels: This slot had the vanilla Loot - just $3 - and then just $3 and +2 Buys. I tried letting you discard 2 cards for +$1; I tried coming with a token being used that game. Then it was a duration you could put on the top or bottom next turn, but that was nuts, so in the end it goes on the bottom.

Orb: Initially made $2 and played a card from your discard pile; yowza. Then a choice of playing a card or +$3; then playing a card or +$3 and +1 Buy.

Prize Goat: Initially had no +Buy.

Puzzle Box: Initially had no +Buy.

Sextant: I had one that made $3 and looked at the top 4 and discarded some, and one that made $2 and had you draw 5 and discard 5 on your next turn. That one got upped to $3, then replaced by the 5-card version of the first one, to avoid having another Duration Loot that could only be played every other turn.

Shield: Initially had no +Buy. Adding that made the text shrink but it ended up being the move anyway.

Spell Scroll: Initially a Treasure that gained a cheaper card to hand. There are situations where that doesn't work out nicely, so it changed to letting you play the card if it was an Action, while also saying "costing up to $6." Then, could also play Treasures, sometimes relevant. Then I made it also an Action for more flexibility.

Staff: This started out making $3 and letting you play an Action. Then it got +1 Buy. Then it was a choice of +1 Buy, play an Action, or +1 of a token you had at least one of. A fun ability that tried to sneak into a set with no tokens. Then there was a choose 2 version - +$3, +1 Buy, play an Action, next turn +2 Cards. I was happy with Figurehead though. Then down to a choice of +1 Buy or play an Action, and finally back to giving you both of those.

Sword: Initially had no +Buy.

*** Events ***

Avoid: Started out costing $3, with no +Buy. The premise of having cards miss shuffles like this started out in Hinterlands outtakes, made it out on Annex, and now these days is finally worth something. All it took was being cheap enough.

Bury: First I had, you may put your deck into your discard pile, then topdeck a card from it, with no +Buy. Scavenge! Then it got +1 Buy but I still wasn't happy. It gives you "repetitive gameplay"; a problem with lots of Scheme variants. Then I had an Event called Bury that set aside your next Treasure gained for next turn. It's a lot like Reap, which did not dazzle people. Then, wanting a Bury Event, I remembered Scavenge, and thought of the bottomdecking thing. It's way less repetitive and nicely novel.

Deliver: A later Event that worked great immediately.

Foray: This started out as, reveal/discard your top 3 cards, if they have different names gain a Loot, otherwise a Curse. Temple Robbery. It was really unattractive, so I made it always gain the Loot; that was crazy, so I had it not Curse, but only sometimes give the Loot. For a while that seemed fine, but gradually it became clear from online testing that while we never bought it, it was actually too strong. So I changed the condition to discarding different cards, and that worked out.

Invasion: How about another spendy Event? No changes. Just a flavorful mix of stuff.

Journey: This glorious monster leapt from my head fully-formed. I'd had a related idea in my notes for the holiday joke cards some years back (an attack called Icy Roads that made cards not be discarded from play).

Launch: Splitting the difference between Villa and Cavalry. Initially this didn't say "once per turn" and didn't give +1 Buy. It needed the +Buy for players who forget that they can't buy anything in their next buy phase; then since it had that it needed "once per turn." The version with neither was cool, but what can you do.

Looting: Initially cost $7.

Maelstrom: Based on the flavor. The first version was a double Masquerade - pass two cards, trash two cards. Then straight to the published card.

Mirror: Unchanged. Inspired by next-time Durations.

Peril: Cost $2, then $3, then $2 again.

Prepare: The only change was adding "face up."

Prosper: The first Event in the file. The first version gave you an extra Loot.

Rush: Another next-time card that never changed.

Scrounge: Initially it could get any card from the trash. Too many things made that a problem, including Spell Scroll, which was a pure Treasure at the time. So it became "Estate or Action." Then I changed Spell Scroll to be an Action and that was bad, so it's just "Estate."

*** Outtakes ***

Kingdom cards:
- I tried cantrip Silver gainer again (outtake from Dark Ages). It came with a Cargo so it would be good.
- What is this even. "+1 Buy. The next time you draw a Victory card, +3 Cards and discard this from play. Until then, play with your hand revealed."
- Peddler with "The next time you gain an Action for $5+, +1 Action."
- +$2, "The next time another player gains a card, you may gain a cheaper card." It looked nice on paper.
- The next time you have $7 or more, +$3 and +1 Buy. Then a cantrip version that gave +$1. It was a cute concept for Prosperity 2E (where it was same-turn) that someone always liked but which just never contributed much.
- At the start of your next turn, may play an Action, then draw to 6. I think LastFootnote suggested this.
- +1 Buy, they gain Curse, this turn when you gain an Attack, gain a Loot. Trying to get another Skirmisher. Then there was a version that also gave +$1 when you gained a Treasure.
- Cantrip, your Treasures come with cheaper cards. There were several versions that tried to restrict it enough but not too much. It started in Allies in a split pile and sometimes was super fun. It was always broken or stupid though.
- +$2, next time you gain an Action you topdeck it, until then Moat. This just sucks all the joy from a game with good attacks. There was also a version that just waited for an Attack, which, well, was an improvement.
- $2, next turn may return this for +2 Cards. This had been in an Allies split pile. We'd liked it there. Here it was totally fine but in the end there were more fun things to do. It was extra-cute in the spile pile, since returning to the pile meant it might cover up another card.
- Several versions of a Knight that only killed Actions ("Assassin"). There may still be something there, but it starts out anti-fun.
- A Duration Militia timed for when they play their first Treasure. Possibly a step towards Frigate.
- Cantrip, next time you shuffle, you first get a card from your discard pile to hand. That sounds interesting.
- Here's a treasure Knight that makes +$1 per attack and trashes $5's and $6's. There had been a Hinterlands outtake called War Axe and I kept wanting to use the name. There were other versions of this too; here's one that kills a $3-$6 and then turns into a cheaper-than-War-Axe treasure to hand.
- Trash this. You may play an Action from hand; gain a copy of it and play the copy. "Throne that turns into the card" has been on the ideas list for 15 years or so.
- Peddler, the next time the first card from a pile is gained, put this onto your deck. In its brief run, this seemed very cool, but was totally shot down by the tracking. One to remember if there's ever an online-only card.
- Remodel into a card costing up to $1 more than any card in the trash. Also: May trash a hand Treasure for a card costing up to $3 more. I did Enlarge.
- +3 Cards. May discard 3-4 cards with different costs to gain a Loot. At one point I was considering multiple new Smithies, and this one was a contender. You don't proc it much though.
- +3 Cards +1 Buy, when gain, gain a cheaper card and everyone else gains a copy. These days I'm down on Messenger-type things that quickly empty piles.
- Cantrip, set aside a card, may take it back at the start of a future turn. Overlapped too much with Cage / Grotto.
- A Knight for $3-$4's where the resources were playing one of the cards you ate, or you could gain and play a Silver instead.
- Gain a copy of a card from the trash costing up to $6 / when gain, trash a supply card for up to $4. I still like the premise, which tried out for an earlier set too.
- Action-treasure, $2, if it's your Action phase, Curse them. Then we tried, if it's your Action phase, +2 Cards. Trying to get a nice Treasure - Action for the set.

- Set aside an Action/Treasure from hand. Next turn, play it, gain a copy, play the copy.
- Each player gains a non-VP no-one has gained this turn, then you gain a 2nd. How does this play out?
- Gain a $5, set it aside, next time you shuffle you discard it. A very slow gainer.
- For each Treasure you have in play costing $5+, gain a cheaper card. So many ways to foosh cards in this set. "Foosh" is also the answer to the question from two cards up.
- Gain a card costing up to half the amount of $ you have. Cost $0. I've tried a few variations on this over the years.
- +3 Cards, until your next turn Moat. Can be rough when one player gets it going. Another version was +1 Buy +2 Cards.
- +1 Buy, pick a random unused Event, you may replace this with it. This kind of thing sounds fun but does nothing.
- +1 Buy, next time you gain a card this turn, gain a cheaper card. A runner-up.
- +1 Buy, once per turn: replay an Action you played this turn that's still in play. I don't remember how this went but it sounds dangerous rules-wise.
- Play a $4 from the Supply, trashing it. I don't remember it but it sounds like trouble.
- Trash a treasure from hand, gain one for up to $3 more, playing it. A runner-up.
- Once per turn: +1 Buy, may trash hand Action for +$1 per $1 it costs. Another runner-up.

- May discard up to 2 Actions for +$2 each. Later, discard any number of cards for +$1 each. And, you may discard an Action for +$2. Some kind of Vault effect on top of your Gold and +Buy is well stronger than it looks.
- Copies of cards gained last turn cost $1 less this turn. Feels very unfair.
- Name a card. +$1 per copy of it you have in play. Coppersmith trying its luck again.
- +$1 per card you've gained this turn. Another unfair one.
- Action-Treasure with Choose one: +3 Cards or +$3. This might be the only draw.
- This turn you can buy cards from the trash, and when you do, +$1. Trying to get some exotic stuff into the pile, which did not so much want exotic stuff.
- Reveal the top Loot. If it's a Duration or one of these, +$3 and +1 Buy, otherwise play it leaving it there. Wait, otherwise play it then trash it. Wait, this just isn't working.

Right, before there were Traits, there was Cargo. Landscapes with "When you gain a Treasure..." and then what you got. Let's see what these looked like. This is just everything in the file; some had died before the concept did.
- +1 Favor
- may trash it to gain a cheaper card.
- +1 Card at end of turn
- may play an Action from hand
- may put it into your hand, then topdeck a hand card. No, maybe just, may topdeck a card.
- others discard down to 4
- may discard 2 cards to gain a $4. No, discard a Treasure. No, 2 Treasures.
- look through discard and may topdeck a card
- look at top 2, discard any #, topdeck the rest
- cards cost $1 less this turn
- Scheme an Action
- +$1, and if it's your first gain of the turn, +1 Buy. No, maybe just +$1.
- may trash hand Treasure
- name an action; gaining most recently named card gives Curse
- may gain 2nd copy and a Curse.
- may play cheaper supply Action you haven't played a copy of this turn, leaving it there

- When playing, +1 Card then discard a card. Too slow and not fun and stuff.
- When gain, gain a Copper. When play, +$1. One of the first Traits; it made Traits look interesting and then was not good enough.
- When playing, if 1st card played this turn, +1 Action. Not the most fun way to get in +1 Action.
- The second time you play a copy of this each turn, +1 Buy. Then later, just a flat +1 Buy okay?
- Buy phase, may play an Action from hand per copy of this you have in play. In the end Inspired was the surviving +Action thing.
- Also a VP card. Worth 10VP if you have 2+ copies. The "is VP" part was soon dropped for being too hard to remember and not usually relevant (they go together). It lasted a while and was interesting sometimes and then was "I must replace this card that does nothing."
- Clean-up, if would discard, may return it for a card costing $1 more. Some Trait ideas had the problem of, Ways cover this already.
- When you gain or trash a card, may discard this, to trash the gained card or gain the trashed card. Tries hard but doesn't do enough.
- +$1. Later on I realized Traits could be stronger than they'd been. So, that earlier Trait with no bad part. It does not spark joy.
- Comes with a Copper. And hey the bad part by itself. It just kills the pile too often. It's cute when it doesn't.
- When-gain, look at top 5, discard any number, topdeck rest. A classic idea that has endlessly failed to get onto cards for various reasons. Imagine this on a $5, and you have the 5/2, and your opponent doesn't, but has good strong arms for flipping tables with.
- When you gain this other than while playing a copy of it, or discard it not in Clean-up, may play it. Trying for make-me-into-Trail.
- Instead of following its instructions, may play cheaper card with restrictions. Way of Band of Misfits. Ways were poor here, and Band of Misfits is awful here. So slow.
- This is a Duration card, it does its stuff twice on the turn after you play it. Then, cantrip this turn, normal effects next turn. I adored that card. It kept having issues though.
- When gain, if have a copy of this in play, Militia. Trying for another Skirmisher again.
- When gain, others gain Copper. I like the idea of getting a Copper attack in this way, but it produced zero fun. A 2nd version topdecked the Copper, take that.
- When discard from play, may trash for +2 Cards at end of turn. The tracking is bad. A 2nd version tried to fix that.
- Start of turn, may trash from hand to gain a cheaper card and Silver to hand. So strong.
- When trashed, gain a Loot. Everything's Jewelled Egg. Only, Jewelled Egg costs $2 for a reason.
- After playing, +1 Action, and others may play an Action. So slow and messy.
- Setup: set aside this pile, add another pile. When it empties, add this pile. There were two more versions of this; the last one is "Setup: set aside this pile. The first time a player plays a card costing $5 or more, add this pile to the game." The idea of the pile showing up Late sounded great; in practice it did nothing or just turned off the pile.
- When gain, reveal top 3, play the Actions/Treasures, discard the rest. Super Gamble, was super nuts. Then there was a one-card Gamble.
- When gain, +1 Card at end of turn. A runner-up; one of the original Goods, and it had always seemed fine, even if the tracking is a little weak. The hope was always that I'd do better, and I did.
- After playing, may trash a hand Gold for a hand Loot. Totally fine in the games where it did anything, which was not enough games.

Phew! This set is gigantic.

Dominion General Discussion / * Plunder Previews #5: More Stuff *
« on: December 16, 2022, 03:00:06 am »
You've seen all the themes; here then are just some cards I want to show off.

Taskmaster is a tricky village. It can be there for you turn after turn, if you keep working on those $5's.

King's Cache is the King's Court for Treasures that you never knew you needed.

First Mate is a tricky draw-to-X card. It can be a big village and draw a bunch of cards, or not do much at all.

Shaman is the inverse Cathedral. This game, the junk will keep coming; you will have to figure out something there.

Journey is an exotic extra turn, where you won't get to use the cards from this turn on that turn. And it messes with stuff like Swamp Shacks.

Cursed gets Loots into the Traits; some card this game will come with two more cards. Yes now you will have to be clearer as to what you mean when you refer to a Cursed Village. You can also have a Cursed Cursed Village or a Cursed Blessed Village.

And Patient, which waited its turn, makes a card easy to play, if you're willing to wait for it.

That's 20 cards, 15 landscapes, and 15 Loots, from this monstrous expansion. Which we currently expect on Monday online, and around Monday in physical form.

Dominion General Discussion / * Plunder Previews #4: Next Time *
« on: December 15, 2022, 03:00:10 am »
Plunder has a sub-theme for its Duration cards: next time. Cards that do something the next time a certain thing happens. They just sit around in play turn after turn, waiting for that thing. The thing may immediately happen of course, so that they're discarded that turn. Or it may never happen, and all they do is help out your Swamp Shacks and Tools. Let's see some.

Secluded Shrine is a basic one. Get a Treasure, and you'll get to trash two things. When you're done getting Treasures, Secluded Shrine will quietly leave your deck and just sit there forlornly in play.

Abundance is also simple: get an Action, and you get +$3 and +1 Buy. You can save up for a big turn, or just pop it immediately as a warped Workshop.

Flagship replays your next Action, skipping tricky things like other Flagships.

Landing Party is an exotic one: you have to have a turn that you launch with Treasure, and then all your Landing Partys will topdeck.

Now some landscapes!

Rush lets an Action leap into play; more useful with some Actions than others.

Inherited is a Trait that has you start the game with a particular card (usually replacing an Estate, but it's up to you). Good times.

Hasty makes a particular card leap into play, albeit a turn later. This one is useful on almost anything. A Hasty Territory goes into play but doesn't do anything else for being played; as always there's a rulebook.

Tomorrow: more stuff.

Dominion General Discussion / * Plunder Previews #3: Loot *
« on: December 14, 2022, 03:00:08 am »
What are we plundering, anyway? We're plundering loot. So the set has some.

Loot is a pile of 30 cards, with 15 unique ones at 2 copies each. You shuffle it before the game, put it face down, and when something says "gain a Loot," you take the top one. You also have to show us all what you got. You can't just buy Loot; it's not in the Supply. Something has to tell you to gain one.

Let's see all 15.

As you can see, your basic loot is a Gold with +Buy and some other bonus. But some have no +Buy, and a few aren't a Gold.

Some cards that use Loot:

Sack of Loot just gains a Loot, with no hurdles beyond getting the Sack. There you go: some Loot.

Pickaxe is a trasher, and makes Loot if you trash a good enough card. This Loot goes straight to your hand though.

Wealthy Village requires you to get a variety of Treasures in play in order to get your Loot; otherwise it's just a Village for $5.

And Jewelled Egg needs to be trashed to make a Loot.

For the rest of the week I'll have a mix of Events and Traits for the landscapes. Here are today's:

Of course Events could involve Loot. Peril sends someone to their certain death, but you do get the Loot they were after.

Prosper gets you a pile of Treasures, or maybe just a Loot and a Gold; it's up to you and the board.

Cheap is another Trait, simply making a pile cheaper. This happens after setup; it can't affect what ends up being a Young Witch's bane or whatever.

Next time: next time.

Dominion General Discussion / * Plunder Previews #2: Durations & Traits *
« on: December 13, 2022, 03:00:09 am »
The other big part of Plunder is Durations, so let's see some of those.

Siren is just some new Duration card. It's a little hard to get; someone has to get lured to their doom. There are some subtle combos for getting around that penalty; see if you can find them.

Stowaway is a Duration card that cares about Duration cards; yes today is just mirroring yesterday. They'll stow away on anything - a Merchant Ship, a Barge, even a Swamp Hag.

Swamp Shacks is a non-Duration card that cares about Duration cards. It doesn't call them out but you can see how they help it.

Finally Buried Treasure is a Treasure-Duration. It's the payload version of Den of Sin.

Plunder has a new kind of landscape, Traits. These modify a pile. They only modify a kingdom card pile (not e.g. Gold), and only Action and Treasure piles. Technically they don't "modify" the pile, they just refer to it somehow, but the pile will feel modified, take it from me. At the start of a game with a Trait, you randomly pick which eligibile pile is modified, and the Trait card can slide under the pile, leaving the text showing and the name on the sides. Hence the layout. Well man let's see some of these.

So. Pious. Maybe that shows up on uh Smithy. So this game, when you gain a Smithy, you also get to trash a card from your hand. Well that's bound to be handy.

Fawning means Province comes with a Fawning card. It's not optional, which is sometimes fun.

Shy lets you discard one copy of the Shy card at the start of your turn, for +2 Cards. It's pretty simple but still spices up almost anything.

Okay. If a Trait lands on a split pile, all the cards are affected; "a Pious card" means any card from the Pious pile. This can include Territory in the Clashes, even though normally Victory cards can't have Traits. And one way or another the rules will handle all the cases that can come up, so there.

Tomorrow: Loot.

Dominion General Discussion / * Plunder Previews #1: Treasures & Events *
« on: December 12, 2022, 03:00:08 am »
I know what you're thinking. What this year needs is more Dominion. Well I'm here to satisfy that need. Starting with previews.

Plunder is a crazy huge set, with 40 kingdom cards and 30 landscapes. I'll be previewing a tenth of the set each day for 5 days, meaning at the end you'll have seen half of it (not counting Loot, whatever that is). The two central themes are Treasures and Durations; "Plunder" is the intersection of the sea and loot. Today, let's check out the Treasures theme.

Tools is just some new Treasure. There are a bunch and this is one of them. It gains copies of things in play, which plays into the Durations theme; a little preview of tomorrow's preview.

Pendant is a Treasure that cares about Treasures; why not have some of those. You will compare it to Bank, but it's really its own animal.

Mining Road is a non-Treasure that cares about Treasures. It makes one leap into play, which is bound to be handy. And gives you +Buy, so it's useful even if you're only gaining Treasures by buying them.

Finally Rope is a Treasure-Duration; there will be more of these to come! Like rope, it's versatile.

Wait, I need landscapes too. There are Events, let's start with 3 of those.

Bury puts a card on the bottom of your deck; I nailed the flavor there. You can bury a bunch of cards and set up some future turn. Or just draw a particular card a little faster than you might otherwise.

Maelstrom is a trasher, and maybe helps the other players, maybe attacks them.

Prepare is an exciting one. All your unusable cards - and any others you feel like saving - leap into play for you on your next turn.

As usual, previewed cards will be playable at through the week. Tomorrow: Durations & Traits.

Dominion General Discussion / Dominion: Plunder Teaser
« on: December 09, 2022, 03:00:30 am »
The teaser for Plunder is a Sporcle quiz of the card names in the set. Just type in your guesses, and see the correct ones appear, in a random order. The set is thematic! You will be able to guess some of these names.

In our experience, it's possible to hack Sporcle and spoil all the answers. Have the fun you want to have, that's my advice.

Dominion General Discussion / Secret Advent
« on: December 01, 2022, 02:11:42 pm »
Someone I know as "strumphf" has put together an Advent calendar of in-depth secret histories, with me sharing prototype images and explanations, and then somehow people have also written poetry for it.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Why of the Errata
« on: June 30, 2022, 05:42:40 pm »
By popular demand, I'm going to go over the reasons for the errata for all the various cards that just got errata. This is covering all of the 6/29/22 errata, plus the errata for cards from Seaside / Prosperity / Hinterlands.

Normally errata waits for a physical set. Stef wanted to get a bunch of it programmed at once and as you can tell I okayed it. So that's why it happened all at once, rather than when the particular expansions got new printings.

* Getting rid of triggers on buying cards *

Lots and lots of players conflate "when you gain" with "when you buy"; for example they expect to gain two Ports when using Workshop to gain one. People who know the rules well still get tripped up by this sometimes. Then there's, when-buy is timed differently from when-gain - it happens first. This again endlessly is not something people expect, and causes weird things to happen. For example you can buy the last card of a pile with Talisman in play, gain that card with Talisman, and then fail to gain a card due to the buy itself.

It should have been that I only had when-gain from the start. And this has been clear since before Hinterlands came out. I kept when-buy because a few cards needed it to not have some other fix, and I'd already put out Mint with when-buy. I immediately regretted it, then felt for years like, oh well, that damage is done, and made more when-buy cards. Finally I stopped making them and now I'm getting rid of them.

Some people immediately feel like getting rid of when-buy is removing some important nuance or complexity. It isn't! It isn't, you heard it here. The game has so much nuance; no particular instance of it is important. And I mean the last few expansions have no when-buy; I have been on this plan for years now.

Some cards got to just change to when-gain: Port, Hovel, Plan, Charm, Forum, Basilica, Colonnade, Mint. Some of these are notably different; in each case that seemed worth it to me in order to get rid of the when-buy.

Some refer to gains in the Buy phase: Messenger, Tax, Defiled Shrine, Exploration. Defiled Shrine was tested working on Witches back when; that sucked. Messenger and Tax felt like they had to just apply to Buy phase gains, but could leave it at that. Exploration has to only care about the Buy phase.

Some needed to avoid loops. Haggler can't trigger on itself, and even just ruling that out (e.g. "other than due to a Haggler," which was a version of Haggler when originally playtested) can leave you with loops if there's ever another Haggler-type card (there are!). Farmland loops with Fortress if you don't fix that; initially it was going to be "When you gain this other than due to a Farmland," but gaining non-Farmlands is a simpler fix. Hoard has no loops, but I've playtested cards that would loop with it if it were a pure when-gain. It was a real question, did I really have to fix it; I always think I won't get talked into more expansions, but if I do, I'll sure be glad I didn't rule out future cards due to trying to be nice to Hoard.

Finally Haunted Woods and Swamp Hag refer to cards you bought in order to not be way more oppressive than intended.

Let's be clear: "When you gain a card you bought" is awful. It's not "yeeha, just what I've always wanted"; it's, "this is my least bad option, oh well, I take it." Other things you can do in these cases, e.g. "once per turn," were more of a change; despite how it may look, I was trying to minimize changes.

* Getting rid of "while this is in play" *

This also endlessly confuses players. Who are these players, someone is asking. Man. They're everywhere. Maybe you are in a bubble of rules experts, I dunno; they're really out there. They are surprised when Throne - Goons doesn't work and so on.

The Highway cost-reduction feels just like Bridge's, but there are all these things that are actually different. This really honestly truly confuses people. Part of this for me was that I misphrased Conspirator back when. It cares about cards you played; isn't it simpler to count the cards in play? Then you don't have to remember e.g. that Mining Village that vanished. Peddler does it the correct way. But well. Translating this to doing Highway instead of Bridge just endlessly confused people. I thought it was better for a few years there but eventually I saw the light. Again you may note a lack of such cards in recent expansions.

Cards changed: Princess, Hermit, Merchant Guild, Bridge Troll, Groundskeeper, Tracker, Sauna, Lighthouse, Quarry, Hoard, Haggler, Highway.

"This turn" seems straightforward in most cases. Some of these cards have other changes too; I didn't forget them, they're coming below.

I'm not on a crusade to get rid of dividing lines; it's "while this is in play" that was specifically confusing.

* Fixing Duration tracking issues *

Durations don't want to be trashed from play because then you have to remember the effect with no card reminding you. There didn't used to be Treasure - Durations but now there are; hence "non-Duration" on Counterfeit, Crypt, Mint.

Bonfire goes further, and only trashes Coppers now. However sad that may seem, in practice it's almost identical to how it was before. Almost... identical. Bonfire needed to not trash other cards from play because this breaks the game at a basic level. Going into play "uses up" a card for the turn; letting you trash it lets you re-use it. If you Procession a card, well, Procession itself is in play, being used up; it only goes so far. But Bonfire is an Event and you can endlessly buy it. So there were infinite loops you could get with it. These are not things that happen in games! They just aren't. But I fixed it anyway. The fix was trivial, a very simple wording that almost completely failed to change the card at all, despite one's ability to be sad about it. When I leave cards able to break the game, eventually they break the game. So, no regrets! Well I mean, except for letting Bonfire trash other cards in the first place.

* Minor fixes for how Treasures are done *

Treasures used to say "When you play this," and sometimes "worth," and sometimes had a $0 in the corners. All of that has been gradually leaving, and a few more cards just got those fixes, including: Philosopher's Stone, Horn of Plenty, Diadem.

Part of this again was precedent. Alchemy snuck ahead of Prosperity, and only had one special Treasure, and I felt like it had to be clear that it did something when you played it. Without that maybe I would have never had those words. They sure weren't helping; they just shrink the font on Treasures. "Worth" was trying to communicate "you know, this is what this Treasure is worth" but the game has a better "+$" wording for that situation. And then $0 in the corners felt important on Horn of Plenty - plus the giant $0 it lost earlier - but now I think it's not actually helping. A $0 cost on a card tells you what happens when you Remodel it; a treasure making +$0, man, that's not actually making +$ at all.

* Rephrasing overpay *

Overpay needed to resolve at the same time as when-gain abilities. But the payment had to be when you pay for the card, so it is. It remains the one when-buy trigger, but all you do then is spend more; the ability happens with when-gain abilities. And then the text is a little simpler too, though just due to sending you to the rulebook (that doesn't exist yet). This affects Stonemason, Doctor, Masterpiece, Herald.

* Dealing with how Coffers works *

Coffers can now be spent any time during your turn, which is fantastic, a much better way to do it. And what people irl tended to do anyway. This required wording changes to Merchant Guild and Patron, which otherwise were broken (e.g. Patron plus Pursue).

* Clean-up timing fixes *

Herbalist and Alchemist both do a thing in the middle of discarding cards in Clean-up; these days I like to limit that to topdecking the card doing the thing. Just, to avoid having you worry about the order of discards in Clean-up. So now Herbalist doesn't care what order you discard it and the Treasure, and Alchemist doesn't care what order you discard it and the Potion.

* Getting rid of between-turns stuff *

Nothing should happen between turns except picking which extra turn happens next. Donate and Mountain Pass broke that. Donate could let anything in Dominion happen in-between turns; this is super confusing. So I moved it to end of turn, wait, to right before drawing your hand, perfect. While Mountain Pass couldn't make anything else happen between turns (since nothing triggers on getting debt), I decided to fix it too.

* Excluding Command cards *

Inheritance and Prince now go a little farther to prevent Command card loops. It's not clear I had to be worried, but any new Command card has to be compared against every card that cheated, to try to avoid problems, so ideally there is no cheating here.

* Interacting with discard piles is a little cleaner *

Settlers and Bustling Village didn't have to say "look through your discard pile" any more and so don't; that was a rules change from a while ago, stuff that sends you to your discard pile lets you look through it.

* Prefer not referring to the Supply when not necessary *

That's it; just trying to make things more consistent. This affected: Encampment, Farmers' Market, Temple, Wild Hunt, Experiment.

* Prefer "Do X. Until then" wording *

Haunted Woods, Swamp Hag, and Guardian now have just a slightly better wording here.

* Just fitting text better *

Young Witch, Butcher, Haunted Castle, and Treasury all just try to not take so many words to say what they do. I try to avoid the small font these days, and mostly succeed. It's trickier with certain older cards, but these could make it.

* Dropping some reminders *

I decided that "This stays in play" and "Not less than $0" didn't have to be reminders; this affects Princess, Bridge Troll, Hireling, and Champion. Also, Caravan Guard's reminder that +1 Action wasn't going to be so useful didn't seem especially great.

* Remaining individual fixes *

Champion: Once in a while someone would complain that this didn't say "first" to clarify when exactly you get the +1 Action, which only matters for Diadem, okay and maybe something convoluted involving Snowy Village, so man really? Really.

Citadel: This changed because how replaying cards works changed, and this one card didn't work properly with the current rules. You can replay a card even if you've lost it, but can't play it the first time if you don't have it.

Hermit: I was changing this anyway to deal with when-buy. I went the distance and also made it an exchange; it seemed simpler. It's not a slam-dunk that it's simpler; you have to know what "exchange" means. That was the call I made here though. In playtesting we liked the change.

Innovation: There was timing confusion here, not so often but sometimes. The new wording happens to make the card better, but that wasn't the point, I was just clearing up the confusion.

Mission: Somehow I added a reminder here. No-one was asking for this, but when I looked through all the cards, it seemed like an easy thing to get wrong.

Prince: This being orange is maybe news to some people. That got changed earlier at, but I'm mentioning it here anyway.

Storyteller: This had "draw" when everything should say "+1 Card" in case something like Way of Chameleon ever exists (oops, there's one, Way of the Chameleon). Then, I was changing it anyway, why does it make +$1 and then immediately cash it in, that could be simpler.

Villa, Cavalry: These didn't actually get new wordings, but now gaining one of these "ends" the Buy phase, meaning certain things get triggered then (e.g. Wine Merchant). This just seemed more intuitive.

And another thing

The point to the changes wasn't to torment online players, or make people sad because some combo that Dominion sure didn't need nevertheless used to exist and now does not. I mean of course not. The point to the changes was to have the product we sell be better. The next time e.g. Empires gets reprinted, some cards will have better wordings, and some people will only ever see those improved wordings.

I can't change physical cards people already own. I expect most of those people will keep playing them by the text on them, or their version of what they think that text does; a lot of them won't know there's errata anyway (of course if they know about the errata, they're sure free to play with it if they feel like it). But I can make the cards better for the people who don't have them yet, and I'm optimistic that that will be a lot of people. And I don't get anything from making these changes besides thinking that that's what I'm accomplishing; they don't feed me any better.

And online, you'll be used to them all before you know it. That's my prediction.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Hinterlands 2E
« on: June 29, 2022, 01:10:29 pm »
Man, another one of these? Okay in fact I worked on all three sets at once. Hinterlands wanted to be revisited so much that I had a personal set of fixed cards I was already playing with. I couldn't use those though; they were just tweaks on the published cards. Hinterlands also had less of a visible theme than most sets; I could fix that. I did by adding more Reactions; it has 6, which to me counts as a sub-theme. And it's still the when-gain set.

* Hinterlands dropped cards: *

Duchess: Sometimes a $2 with +$2 is good enough when you have $2, but even there this is weaker than it has to be.

Cache: It would be cool if I could just move the +Buy from Margrave to Cache, but I can't just do that. Banquet is kind of a fixed version of this. I like it more than many dropped cards, but it's sure not contributing much.

Embassy: This is okay, and it was the last card to go. All it really contributes is simplicity.

Ill-Gotten Gains: This has poor gameplay. Some games, it's all about emptying the Ill-Gotten Gainses, the Curses, and the Duchies. Ill-Gotten Gains empties two piles on its own; that's a big part of the problem.

Mandarin: This card would be interesting at $2 (and I've got some playtesting backing that up). At $5, well. If people don't know what they're doing, it still has a certain charm; otherwise it's part of a couple silly combos and that's it. And hey it was going to need errata anyway due to removing Treasure-Durations from play.

Noble Brigand: This fixed Thief tried too hard not to completely obsolete Thief, itself one of the very weakest cards in the game.

Nomad Camp: This is a more innocuous card to replace, but it doesn't add much. The ability is interesting turn one; after that it's usually a penalty, on an otherwise vanilla card.

Oracle: I personally stopped playing with this years ago. It slows down games way too much, while at the same time being the bane of playtesting, as they keep flipping over whatever you wanted to test. That's not a problem for anyone else, but that still leaves how slow it is.

Silk Road: This is a classic basic Victory card, but well, it's not a very good implementation of it. Mostly you don't go for these, though you might get one on your last turn. I couldn't replace it with another Victory card due to the update pack size; a fixed version may still appear someday though.

Fool's Gold stayed, though I'd really like to drop the reaction from it. Margrave stayed; it's a powerful attack, but it doesn't shut down the game like Ghost Ship and Mountebank, in fact it helps your opponents draw into their village/Margrave. It's a bummer that it has +Buy. And Trader stayed; it's tricky but well, only so much could get replaced.

* Hinterlands new cards: *

The key to the new Hinterlands cards is, I wanted to add a full theme, that would give the set more identity. When-gain felt like a great thing at the time, and it's a great mechanic that I use in every set; but, as a full set theme, well it vanishes into the set somewhat, and you're left with just a bunch of simple cards, some of them with dividing lines. I reinforced when-gain anyway, but also, wanted to add a new thing. And that thing is Reactions! The set had three, now it has six. Furthermore, three of them trigger on discarding them, which livens up the filtering sub-theme the set had. Something had to go; the set no longer has 3 Treasures / 3 Reactions / 3 Victory cards. But I think that didn't contribute nearly as much identity as the 6 Reactions do. Why just 6? Man it would have been nice to have more; as usual there were all the things demanded of the new cards, and that only left space for so much.

Berserker: We tested over 26 Berserkers. Man. I don't know the exact count because some variants we tried without me printing them out. Most could attack when gained. Some were Knight-family, some Militia-family. There were several issues that repeatedly came up, that wanted to be addressed: it should be played when gained, not just attack, so that Moats would work against it; it should have no way to wreck an opening 5/2; the resources should be useful when gained, without stepping on Nomads; the text should fit on the card. And I mean, ideally it should be fun and not wreck the game and all that. 26+ tries, attacks are hard, and the when-gain trigger made it harder.

Cauldron: The new Ill-Gotten Gains. It triggers on other gains, so it doesn't empty two piles. It plays into the when-gain theme, being a combo with things that gain extra cards. And it does the in-vogue modern Witch thing of not being able to give out Curses for a while.

Guard Dog: This is here so that one of the Reactions will react to attacks, the classic trigger. The premise goes back to before Dominion was published, an early card called Battlements, that could be played for +2 Cards when attacked. How Reactions ended up working left it undoable; then I did it as Horse Traders, which is a very wordy convoluted way to do it. This is the simple way. And since the Reaction isn't so hot against Militias, the top is good against them (as well as a combo with some of the filtering cards). I tried a version that could also trigger on your own Attacks.

Nomads: An exciting card from Allies that moved here to push the when-gain theme.

Souk: The top was an outtake from Menagerie and Allies, just due to, only so much fits, this wasn't on-theme. The filtering sub-theme made it fit Hinterlands, and then it got a when-gain to do even more fitting. I also tried just letting you trash one card on-gain, and having it come with a cheaper card like Border Village does.

Trail: The first version of this was the second card of the Odysseys split pile. It moved out to be its own pile so we'd have more copies of it, then moved here because it fits new Hinterlands so well. Late in the going it got the trashing trigger on top of what it already did, just to reduce further the chance that there's no combo for it on the board. It flirted with being limited to your turn, to simplify the Militia interaction.

Weaver: A star of new Hinterlands, pushing the new Reactions subtheme, doing something when discarded, and gaining cards, so that it ties everything together.

Wheelwright: This tried out for Seaside first, but was a good fit here, where it can activate when-discard abilities, or discard expensive cards that came with stuff.

Witch's Hut: In some sense the new Embassy, combining an attack for the Oracle slot. We tried versions with different discard conditions; this one was hard enough.

Hinterlands tweaks:

Farmland: I wanted a when-gain trigger, but had to still avoid looping with Fortress. So, it can't gain Farmlands.

Haggler: I can't just switch to when-gain here, so it uses an awkward "if you bought it" to at least clarify what it refers to while fixing the timing.

Highway: This switches from a while-in-play ability to a this-turn.

* Outtakes: *

- Somehow, 26+ Berserkers! There was so much Berserker.
- I tried some Silk Road variants, but I couldn't actually fit one. Maybe someday.
- I tried Gamble as a trigger on gaining cards. That was a silly game.
- I tried when-gain save a card for next turn; not for the first time.
- For a while there was a Witch that was played when gained, but only gave out Curse if you had more cards in hand than in play. It was hard to proc, which I liked.
- A bunch of villages tried to be Innovations. Sailor I guess took up that slack.


Dominion General Discussion / Hinterlands 2E Preview 3
« on: June 29, 2022, 03:00:11 am »

Noble Brigand is a fixed Thief, and yet still too weak. Bandit turns out to be the actual fixed Thief.

Berserker is another Attack that attacks right away. But the Attack is more meaningful, and it comes with more stuff.

Ill-Gotten Gains is a cute concept, but in practice makes for bad experiences. It was hard to even try to make a replacement along the same lines; I don't want games to be about emptying a certain pile that also empties the Curses, plus the Duchies.

Cauldron isn't tied to gaining Cauldrons, so it doesn't empty its own pile, just the Curses, and it's not even great at emptying those. But it's a Silver with a +Buy so it doesn't have to always Curse them. And it ties into the when-gain theme, being better with cards like Border Village.

Silk Road was another borderline card. The experts were sure they didn't have to see it any more. I couldn't just replace it with another Victory card though - they take two extra cards, and the update pack just had room for one extra card. Hinterlands is no longer the set with 3 Treasures, 3 Victory cards, 3 Reactions; now it's, 2 Treasures, 2 Victory cards, 6 Reactions.

Trail is such a thing of beauty. It's like the most Hinterlandsy Hinterlands card. It plays into both the when-gain and filtering themes, and is a Reaction. You can imagine a board where there's no combo for it, but really it never happens.

Three cards got errata. As you know, I was avoiding while-in-play and also when-buy. So. Farmland is now when-gain. To avoid loops with Fortress, it can't gain Farmland. That was just the simplest fix. Haggler is this-turn; now you can Throne Room it. It still cares about bought cards, because it had to, but it triggers on gains like everything else. And then Highway is also a Throne-able this-turn.

Here's the set:

All together, the three update packs amount to 27 new cards - a full expansion, out of nowhere.

Dominion General Discussion / Hinterlands 2E Preview 2
« on: June 28, 2022, 03:00:08 am »

Nomad Camp is basically a Woodcutter with a penalty; you don't tend to want it to be gained onto your deck. Woodcutter is already not a very good Woodcutter.

Nomads, now there's a sweet Woodcutter. So often there is some cute trick it can do.

Duchess had to be weak, since you could take one for free with a Duchy. It was still too weak. Man, it could at least have only looked at your own top card, without letting your opponents do it too.

Guard Dog has no connection, and is another new Reaction. Okay so. If they play say Witch, you can react to play your Guard Dog. If they play say Militia, don't react, just save Guard Dog for your turn, and then you'll draw 2 extra cards. Of course there are also all the other ways you can get the 4 cards. It's another one that plays into the filtering theme.

I like Cache, except for it being bad. If only I could move the +Buy from Margrave onto Cache (and from Wharf onto Merchant Ship). But I can't. And I mean. It's bad.

Souk is unrelated, beyond being another when-gain card. It rewards a small hand size, such as you might have after playing some filtering cards. And it gets in another when-gain trigger.

Dominion General Discussion / Hinterlands 2E Preview 1
« on: June 27, 2022, 03:00:12 am »
Hinterlands 2E! What were the odds. But here it is.

Each day for 3 days I'll show 3 cards leaving, and the 3 replacing them, and talk about all six. The last day will throw in the miscellaneous minor errata, and then more minor errata, for other sets. Oops that errata's been spoiled already somehow. Well it will happen then.

As with the other two sets, I had no specific objective for Hinterlands beyond... actually, you know what? This set could use more of a theme. I love having lots of when-gain cards, but it's just a bit invisible. What about... Reactions? The set already has three of them. Yeah, let's go with that. A Reactions subtheme. And then, just taking out bad-to-print cards for good-to-print ones.

Mandarin is very weak. You heard it here. Good rules of thumb: never get involved in a land war in Asia; don't buy Mandarin.

Weaver has no relation to it; Mandarin was doing nothing for the set. Weaver is a Reaction, starting in on that new subtheme. It's a Workshop, and you can play it when you discard it. Also fitting Hinterlands' other invisible theme, which is filtering.

Embassy is dull but okay; it lost out on numbers. It was a borderline card that people really didn't need to exist.

Wheelwright is unrelated. You discard a thing to gain a thing. Another way to discard those Tunnels and Weavers. And note that it's the second new way to gain cards, for the set where cards do things when you gain them.

Oracle isn't weak or strong really, but it's crazy slow. It's the bane of playtesting; they endlessly flip over the card you actually wanted to playtest. I haven't played with it in years, except for one game to make sure I really wanted to get rid of it. I did.

Witch's Hut again ties into the filtering theme. It's both the new Embassy and the attack that replaces Oracle.

As usual, the preview cards will be playable on; in fact for those of you who aren't subscribing, previews will include all of Hinterlands.

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Prosperity 2E
« on: June 01, 2022, 03:59:25 pm »
I started working on this and Seaside 2E at the same time. Prosperity also badly wanted to get rid of some cards. If we could revisit Seaside we could sure revisit Prosperity.

As with Seaside it lost 9 cards and gained 9, only it had no blanks to take one of those slots. Let's look at what left.

Contraband: A cool premise but very weak card. There are games where you can get it, but.

Counting House: Once upon a time, the plan was to do one very narrow card every two expansions or so, for the thrill of winning with a card you can rarely win with. It turns out I make those cards without trying to; I don't need to put flaws in the rug myself. This one is well very weak except for a few combos where it's significant.

Goons: Initially I thought this would stay; a classic card that's been lots of fun, even though it's so sad that it has Militia stapled to it. When I went up to 9 cards, I saw my chance to replace it with a new Goons sans Militia.

Loan: This is a fine card that just isn't liked much by casual players.

Mountebank: This is a monster of swamping decks with junk. One of the cards I most wanted to replace.

Royal Seal: What it does is nice, as you've finally learned from e.g. Bauble; it just isn't worth spending $5 on it. Again I could just make a new one.

Talisman: This only left when I went up to 9 cards. It was going to get errata'd multiple ways, and it was nice to just replace it with something related.

Trade Route: A very weak trasher, which also requires including coin tokens in the expansion.

Venture: One of the more fun cards here for casual players. I had a replacement lined up that was Loan plus Venture plus better.

And here are the new Prosperity cards:

Anvil: The Talisman replacement. It just gains a card directly. I was testing something that was closer to Talisman, but it already said "once per turn," and well a straight Workshop is like that but way simpler. Matt suggested "You may discard a treasure to..."

Charlatan: Several times over the years, I've tried and abandoned attacks that give out Coppers (some can do it, e.g. Jester, but you know, not every time you play them). They vary a lot based on the number of players and thus size of the Copper pile, which turns out to be a problem. I tried another one here, man, still didn't work, go figure. But wait, I could set the size of the Copper pile, by making it the Curse pile. And thus, Charlatan. It's sometimes very fun that the Curses are Treasures.

Clerk: Long ago, Prosperity had a card called Bureaucrat: +$2, each other player puts a card from their hand onto their deck. It's broken because you can play five of them and lock them out of the game. I fixed that by having you also gain Silvers with it, and it's in the main set, though the story is a little more complex than that (see other secret histories okay). Now Prosperity gets it back, this time with a perk that lets you play it sometimes without spending an Action on it. The hand size check of course solves the lock-out problem. Seaside was losing Ghost Ship; here is the new one. Hopefully not the new most hated attack ever.

Collection: The new Goons. It only triggers on gaining Actions, just to make it play a little more differently and interestingly. And it's a Treasure because that's fun, and well not a Militia, that was the important part. The first version was a terminal action; then there was a Treasure that only made $1, and then a Treasure that made $2 but gave VP for cards you hadn't gained copies of yet that turn, instead of Actions.

Crystal Ball: It's the combination Loan-Venture you never knew you needed. It started life as an Allies card, with no trashing. I dropped it, then was looking for new Treasures for Prosperity, and added the trashing to spice it up. Finally it got the discarding option for an extra nudge.

Investment: The Trade Route replacement. Gets in another use of VP tokens. It wanted to count Treasures in play, but it was too confusing to do that while trashing itself, so it looks at your hand instead.

Magnate: In some sense the Counting House replacement. They both care about Coppers; Magnate doesn't exclude other Treasures, and does something you're more likely to want. It leapt into the expansion fully-formed.

Tiara: Original Prosperity had a Treasure Throne Room, for $4; it died because somehow it had no fans. It was a surprise to me but well, no fans, I took it out. I saved it by adding trashing and a Buy to it, and there it is as Counterfeit, a happy ending. But here we are back on Prosperity, and well probably there was another way to rescue it. Older and wiser, we still actually didn't like the basic Treasure Throne Room enough, man. I tried a version you could save for the turn you wanted it, but it was a crazy combo with Magnate, found by JNails. Then I tried putting Royal Seal onto it, and there it is. I also tried one that gained a copy of the Treasure, and let other players gain a cheaper Treasure.

War Chest: The new Contraband. It gains a $5; probably that will be good, even though they can block what you most wanted. I tried a smaller one first.
And Prosperity got some tweaks, let's look at those:

Hoard: Dropped "while in play" in favor of "this turn"; now triggers on gains not buys, though it still only works on cards you bought. This is a general change; when-buy triggers confuse things for casual players. Why not just "when gain"? The issue is loops. Hoard can happen multiple times a turn, and lets you go up in value - you gain an Estate, it comes with a Gold. Reasonable-looking cards - and I've playtested multiple cards like this - can loop with Hoard, so that you empty the Estates and Duchies. Well those cards don't exist so who cares? I decided in the end that I cared.

Mint: Triggers on gain not buy. Here I thought I could just change the functionality and it would be okay. Also no longer works on Durations, so that there's no tracking issue there. Yeeha, you can get a Mint and not lose that Astrolabe.

Quarry: Dropped "while in play" for "this turn." Another thing about this change, for Prosperity in particular, is, I was adding Tiara, and well you want to be able to Throne all the Treasures in Prosperity.

I guess I can talk about a few outtakes.

- "Trash up to 2 cards from your hand. Then if you have no cards in hand, gain a Gold." I liked it. It's true that it didn't proc very often. It tried out for Allies too.
- "+1 Buy, If you have at least $7, +$3 and +1 VP." A Treasure for $2. If the cards just had to look pretty when you read them, it would have been a shoe-in for the set. Sadly they also have to play well.
- Some treasures tried to get out of the way of your draw, until you wanted them. There were multiple approaches here that did not fly.
- There was a Bridge Treasure for non-Actions. A counterpart to Quarry.
- There were Mine variants. There was a Changeling Treasure. There was a one-shot Copper that turned into a Gold (another throwback to a card from early versions of Prosperity). There was a Treasure with a built-in Event ("may pay $ to...").
- One I especially remember was a $5 Treasure worth $4 that gained a Copper onto your deck. It turns out that +$4 is a lot.

Dominion General Discussion / Prosperity 2E Preview 3
« on: June 01, 2022, 03:00:10 am »
How would you describe the tension, right about now? That's right. It's palpable.

Royal Seal has a great ability, with too high of an opportunity cost. It plays well when there's really nothing better for $5.

Tiara has the Royal Seal ability, and also is a Throne Room for Treasures. And hey, +1 Buy. It really wants you to like it.

Talisman was okay, but was going to need two kinds of errata: not being a while-in-play, and not triggering on buys. At some point I thought, why not just replace it. It was borderline already.

Anvil then is a very simple Treasure Workshop.

Ah, Goons. You've made me so many VP tokens. It's good times. Except for the Militia part. And then you get Goons first and Militia them so they can't afford Goons. And then Militia every turn. It just sucks the fun out of the other part, which is so good.

Collection is trying to be, not just a Goons replacement, but also a different card. I didn't just want Goons minus the Militia. So it's a Treasure, making it easy to play multiples, but cares about Actions specifically, so you can't buy up Coppers for it, or Victory cards. It's a different version of the Goons experience.

There are also three tweaked cards. Another general rule for me was, to not do when-buy triggers anymore. If it all possible, those became when-gain triggers. In a few cases I felt stuck and did "when you gain this, if you bought it."

So Hoard is one of those. Now both a this-turn and a when-gain. It was too problematic without the "if you bought it" part. Mint though could just trigger on gain, so it does. And it doesn't trash Duration cards because that would be confusing with e.g. Astrolabe. And then Quarry is another one converted to this-turn style. This incidentally means you can use Tiara on Quarry and Hoard, which is ideal.

Here are those cards plus the rest of the set:

And that's Prosperity 2E.

Dominion General Discussion / Prosperity 2E Preview 2
« on: May 31, 2022, 03:00:11 am »
Another day, another set of previews. These are the rocks for my Sisyphus.

Venture is more or less a fixed Adventurer. And it's still weak. Casual players must get some fun out of it sometimes, but I could make a better one.

Crystal Ball is like Venture, but it's like Loan too, and also it can trash the Estates that Loan can't, and play the Actions that Venture can't.

Right, Loan, so, Crystal Ball took over for Loan. Loan is a decent card that casual players tend to not like, because it may flip over a good Treasure. And I had a better version to do, hooray.

Investment is another trashing Treasure, this time tying into the VP tokens. You can imagine getting a bunch of VP from one of these, but it's far from trivial. Just remember, it was also a Treasure that trashed stuff for you.

Trade Route is simply a very weak trasher. It also requires coin tokens, which the set would rather not include (or, would like to do a lot with, but it also had VP tokens).

I'd already covered replacing the trashing part; Clerk covers being another interactive card. It's the one-card Ghost Ship; it somehow ended up here instead of in Seaside. It hurts a lot less than Ghost Ship but still hurts plenty.

Dominion General Discussion / Prosperity 2E Preview 1
« on: May 30, 2022, 03:00:08 am »
Prosperity 2E! It's here at last, in preview form. People don't quite have Seaside 2E in their hands yet, but that's not stopping us.

Each day for 3 days I'll show 3 cards leaving Prosperity, and the 3 replacing them, and talk about all six. The last day will throw in the miscellaneous minor errata.

As with Seaside, I had no specific objective beyond making the set better. I took bad-to-print cards out, I added good-to-print ones. A key thing was, it's the Treasures expansion, but it sure had some weak Treasures. Let's see what we can do about that. And, the set had VP tokens, and I wasn't getting rid of them, so I wanted to get a little more use out of them if possible.

It used to be I felt like I could make an occasional intentionally weak card, that could be fun to win with in the rare games where it was useful. I later realized that I would make those cards without trying, and so shouldn't try to make them. These days my rugs try to be perfect. Counting House was very weak, except for a few combos that made it powerful.

Magnate also likes having lots of Treasures, but doesn't require them to be Coppers, and it also draws, but it can draw other cards, and doesn't care about your discard pile, and well it's all there on the card. It's Magnate.

Mountebank is easily one of the most miserable powerful attacks in the game. It fits the theme of Ghost Ship and Ambassador: you get so much junk that you don't get to see your deck. It's the card I most wanted to replace in Prosperity.

Charlatan also gives out Curses and Treasures that make $1, but makes them the same card, which is way more manageable. There are a lot of cool interactions that come up as a result.

Contraband was a cool idea, but you basically never want it. You want to buy the cards you want, especially when it's oh Provinces. And being a Gold for $5 doesn't make up the difference.

War Chest fixes that by being a big Workshop; there just have to be two things you'd be happy to gain with it.

As previously you can try out the cards right away, at

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Seaside 2E
« on: May 18, 2022, 03:24:13 pm »
When I did the second editions for the main set and Intrigue, I planned to do Seaside, but didn't. At last I am getting to it, years later.

My interest in the project grew slowly. Finally, while working on Allies, I asked Jay if we could do it, and he said yes. A big problem previously had been, there were real people depicted on two cards I wanted to replace (Navigator and Pearl Diver), and he hadn't even wanted to ask if they could just be depicted on new cards. But years had passed, and Jay didn't even remember having said that, and had no issues this time (they aren't depicted in Seaside 2E; we'll get to them eventually okay).

There was then the task of picking out which cards exactly to replace; I got lots of opinions and looked at data. Then I wanted more cards than before, and asked Jay if that was okay, and he said yes again. So Seaside lost 9 cards and gained 9 new ones.

If you already have the physical set, well it's like a new mini-expansion for Seaside. You can keep the replaced cards if you want; no-one's coming into your house and making you throw them away. Or you can replace them, the choice is yours. Online, the cards remain available on (you have to specify that you want them though), and I am not sure if TGG will keep selling them or merely keep supporting them, for their version. They are supported though.

Let's look at what left.

Blanks: I mean c'mon, right? Some people get some value out of blanks; a new card would sure be better. They are still available as a promo I think.

Ambassador: This mostly left due to multiplayer. In 2-player it's a unique experience, and it's cool that it starts out looking silly and then turns out to be powerful. It's not so great in 2-player; every game with it starts out with a sub-game of dealing with Ambassador. But you know, some people may cherish it. But well in multiplayer, it can just shut you out. The early shuffles don't go your way and you are drowning in Coppers and Estates and in for a long game of that. It's a really unpleasant experience, and I could get rid of it. It may feel weird that this time I also got rid of some powerful cards, but well. I think the game is better without Ambassador. There is no card trying to be the fixed Ambassador here, but there still might be one someday.

Embargo: Getting rid of this let me get rid of the special tokens used only by this card. That was really attractive. Plus I could make a new better version, which I did. And all that aside, it was weak.

Explorer: They can't all be the best $5 ever. For the 9th card to go, the other candidate was Merchant Ship. Merchant Ship is the card the experts like less, but it's popular with casual players. Over the years there have been some better Explorers. There was also the fact that Merchant Ship is so very simple. I wouldn't have been so sad to keep Explorer, but I wanted to add 9 cards, and I did make a new one.

Ghost Ship: This won a most-hated-attack poll on reddit. As with Ambassador, it can lock you out of a game; you never see your deck. Experts may appreciate the card, the unique experience and their skill with it. It seemed pretty bad for most players though, and well, most-hated-attack.

Navigator: This is just a dud. The effect is totally worthwhile, it's just not worth spending an Action on. You get it if Actions are just super-plentiful, and there happens to be nothing else competing with it otherwise, which is rare.

Pearl Diver: Some games a cantrip that does nothing has value to you. I can do better though.

Pirate Ship: Some casual players think this is a powerhouse. Experts know this is one of the very weakest cards ever, like possibly the weakest, possibly 2nd weakest. Trashing Coppers is a very useful thing to do; doing it for your opponents needs to come with way more of a benefit. And then, this is also the only card in the set using coin tokens.

Sea Hag: This is another attack that many people hate. They hated it from the moment the set came out, due to it attacking without producing resources. That premise always seemed fine to me, but well, there are so many years of data here.

And here are the new cards:

Astrolabe: All these years it has been clear that I could do Treasure - Durations, but they were limited by the need to not cause tracking issues with e.g. Counterfeit. The option was always there, but I never made any. Finally Allies went for it with, at one point, five of them, but in the end just Contract. But you know, how many cards really cause these tracking issues? It's not many. And it's not like you want to trash your Duration treasures with them so much. Maybe I could just errata all of them. And that's the plan! This opened the door to doing just a straight vanilla Treasure - Duration, and here it is.

Blockade: The new Embargo had to not use tokens. That was straightforward: it sets aside a card, and only Embargoes it for while the card is set aside. At first it wasn't phrased so cleverly, and you could like topdeck the card with Royal Seal and have to remember it. Now the card has to still be set aside if you want to hand out Curses. This card had to not provide a way to instantly hand out all of the Curses, via Embargo-ing Curse and then giving them one; it accomplished this with the "their turn" part, courtesy of Matt. Of course you can still let them empty the Curses, but they have to go along with it; and there are exotic combos, why wouldn't there be. For a while it dodged Curse and Estate by saying "costing $3 or $4," but that wasn't great, as everyone assumed it could get $2's.

Corsair: Pirate Ship had to go, but the set sure wanted some kind of pirate ship. It seemed like it had to trash Treasures, so it does. It tries a different approach than usual, hitting them in play. At first it could hit any non-Coppers, but well, what about Duration Treasures? The simplest thing here was just to hit Silver and Gold.

Monkey: One of the split pile outtakes from Allies was the Mariners. I liked them but then it seemed like, hey these could be Seaside cards. The pile went Sailor, Pirate, Ghost Pirate, Buried Treasure. Sailor gave +$1 per Duration card in play next turn; I tried a bunch of versions and it never worked out. Pirate was Monkey! Just as printed except the name. Ghost Pirate was a cantrip one-card Ghost Ship. And Buried Treasure was Pirate sans the reaction. One issue with original Seaside was a lack of draw; there is more draw now.

Pirate: As just mentioned, the first version had no reaction. It had two complaints: was it really good enough, and also, doesn't this set have Explorer? The second complaint was solved by replacing Explorer. For the first, it got a Reaction, triggering on a Gold being played. Another card in the set triggered on Treasures being gained, and it seemed simpler to have the Reactions match, and the other Reaction was better. Then the other card left.

Sailor: I tried several variations on "Innovation as a card" and then hit on this thing that ties it to Durations. There's always at least Sailor to work with it, and then other cards are sometimes exciting there. It's a bit on the complex side for Seaside, but well, there it is.

Sea Chart: One thing about Duration cards is, they hang around in play. Sea Chart plays with that, it cares about cards in play. Originally it cost $2, but it was too easy to quickly buy them all, and have the deck where your Sea Charts reveal your Sea Charts.

Sea Witch: The new Witch is very basic. It's a Witch; it misses more shuffles and all the Duration stuff, but has a Dungeon effect next turn. The first version varied the Dungeon part based on the number of Durations in play, and put the Curse on top like Sea Hag. I changed it to what you know, and was happy and didn't need to look further.

Tide Pools: I was looking at what set sub-themes I could pursue, besides the "top of deck" thing, which had all but vanished. Some cards lead towards having big turns and small turns. So, a new one of those. It's a Tactician where the good part is this turn, the bad part next turn. Briefly it cost $5.

I also felt able to tweak cards in minor ways:

Lighthouse: Lost "while in play" for a simpler "until then."

Treasury: Losing the dividing line let it be the large font, and then it also dropped caring about buys specifically. I don't like making the distinction because it's invisible to many players.

I usually have a section going on about outtakes. Seaside 2E though was worked on at the same time as both Allies and the fall expansion (fall expansion?). Ideas went back and forth (Sentinel at one point was going to replace Lookout).  So most of these outtakes aren't really looking to be talked about yet. I guess I can mention that there was "+$1 per 2 cards in your hand." A couple Reactions tried triggering on players playing Gold or gaining Treasures. And there were those Mariners - the one-card cantrip Ghost Ship, and multiple cards that tried some version of "next turn, +something per Duration you have in play."

And that's my story.

Dominion General Discussion / Seaside 2E Preview 3
« on: May 18, 2022, 03:00:10 am »
The final three new cards for Seaside. The tension is palpable. Or would be if I left a big blank space here or something.

Explorer is fine. It's been complained about a lot over the years, but well, it's really not so bad. But it was borderline, it was a contender for going, and then I wanted to add Pirate, which is similar. So, out with Explorer.

Pirate gains a Gold next turn, or maybe some other Treasure, and maybe faster than it looks.

Pirate Ship for years has been one of the very weakest cards in the game. At the same time it terrifies casual multiplayer groups, where everyone buys it and so someone who bought it wins. It also requires tokens for again just a single card in the expansion.

I felt like some people would be sad to have no piratey shippy thing, so there's Corsair. It attacks Treasures in a way that doesn't help your opponents.

Ambassador! It's such a classic old Dominion card. At first it just looks silly; later you find out it's a powerhouse. It's not necessarily a problem in 2-player, though you get a sub-game of trashing down with Ambassadors before you get to the main game after that. But in multiplayer, it can just shut you out. As with Ghost Ship, you don't get to see your deck.

Sailor is unrelated, other than also covering trashing. It's a Duration card that ties into Duration cards, by letting them leap into play. And if there aren't any other ones on the board, well it can work with another Sailor.

But wait, there's more. A few cards got errata. My philosophy has shifted on "while in play"; now I think it's way more confusing than "this turn." For some years there I thought the opposite; let's hope I don't reverse again there. So, Lighthouse has a different phrasing to get rid of "while in play." And then Treasury wanted to not be in the tiny font if possible. And it was possible. Here's the whole set, with all current wordings / images, only small.

I know what you're thinking. What about Lookout and Merchant Ship? I always thought casual players hated Lookout, but when I actually polled some, they didn't. And they absolutely loved Merchant Ship, even though for experts it was a shoe-in to go, one of the first cards any of them would think of replacing. And then I had a new Explorer too. So Lookout and Merchant Ship survived (secret history: if I'd replaced Lookout, it would have been with Sentinel). And whatever else you want to ask about probably has a similar story. I got to replace 9 cards, counting blanks; some work went into those choices. Lots of people weighed in, and I playtested the removed cards too, for just how replace-worthy they were.

There you have it, Seaside 2E! I hope you like it. I'll have a little more to say about the cards in the Secret History. And somehow Prosperity 2E will follow just a few weeks after Seaside 2E (there is no more precise date yet okay).

Dominion General Discussion / Seaside 2E Preview 2
« on: May 17, 2022, 03:00:09 am »
Here I am with 3 more new Seaside cards, and 3 cards that get lovely parting gifts.

Navigator is fine to play if nothing else is claiming your action play, if you can just put this in instead of a Silver and never notice that action cost. And if not then you don't touch it.

Tide Pools has nothing to do with Navigator; it's just some cool new card. Seaside had a few things that pushed bigger or smaller turns, so Tide Pools pursues that angle, making one turn bigger and another smaller, in the reverse order that Tactician does.

People were telling me how little they liked Sea Hag from the moment it came out. Some people just didn't like that all it does it attacks. And it wasn't very good, and games where you did want it were miserable.

Sea Witch is a more classic Witch. In fact it starts off being classic Witch exactly. Then it hangs around and Cellars a little next turn.

Pearl Diver is inoffensive but also very low value. You want it when a cantrip that does nothing is useful.

Sea Chart is a better cantrip. It plays into the Duration cards theme: Duration cards are in play more often, and so easier to draw with Sea Charts.

Dominion General Discussion / Seaside 2E Preview 1
« on: May 16, 2022, 03:00:19 am »
Seaside 2E! At last, its mysteries may be revealed.

Each day for 3 days I'll show 3 cards leaving, and the 3 replacing them, and talk about all six. The last day will throw in the miscellaneous minor errata because why not, someone cares.

The overall goal was... to take out bad-to-print cards and replace them with better-to-print ones. That was really all I was doing. But along the way the percentage of the cards that are Durations went up; in fact all but one of the new cards are Durations. And I see this as a good thing, of course, or I wouldn't have done it. There is twice as much of the set's new thing. And then, Seaside was a bit low on draw; Seaside 2E has more draw. On to the cards!

I guess someone out there will miss the blanks. I think they're still available as a promo? Obv. the set would be better with a card in that slot. There's still a single blank.

Astrolabe is a Treasure - Duration! And not something like Contract that manages to avoid any issues if you trash it from play. What can it mean? Well, when the time comes to reprint the sets with Bonfire etc., those cards will get errata so that they don't mess up with Durations. And then so much for trashing Astrolabe in a confusing way. So anyway, Astrolabe itself is just a vanilla Duration card, but it's a Treasure and well just look at it. So pretty.

Embargo requires dedicated tokens, just for this card that often no-one buys. That sure wanted to be fixed. And it already had errata due to the changes to Band of Misfits & co.

Blockade is the new Embargo. No tokens required. And it blocks other players and not you, and they can't even get around it with Workshops. It really embargoes things, you get the embargoing experience you always wanted.

Ghost Ship actually won a most-hated attack poll on reddit ( Expert players may miss it, but it makes casual players miserable. You don't get to see your deck, that's the main thing. For Dominion and Intrigue 2E, weak cards left; for Seaside 2E, a few strong cards left too.

Monkey isn't even an attack; Seaside is following in the footsteps of later sets, that are a little lighter on attacks. It's interactive though. You draw cards if they gain cards. They'll feel attacked, take it from me. plans to have the cards available to play via a "preview" mode; they're probably there as you read this. More previews tomorrow!

The Bible of Donald X. / The Secret History of Dominion: Allies
« on: March 11, 2022, 01:57:54 pm »
The year was 2020. Menagerie was coming out soon, and I had a lot of non-Dominion projects in motion. I was playing games with friends two nights a week. Eating in restaurants. Walking past strangers on the sidewalk without a care in the world.

When the pandemic hit, at first I just didn't work on games. I wrote some stories and novellas. Eventually my daughter Natalie started playing games with me. At the same time I typed up a few Dominion cards, in case external playtesters could somehow playtest them. One day in May I set up Dominion, which Natalie'd been resisting trying, and we played it and nothing bad happened. So after that, we played it a bunch. So I worked on an expansion! That's how they get you.

At first it was just some random cards. Ideas that we could totally test. I tried a few new VP token cards, maybe I'd revisit those (spoilers: those cards all left). I tried several new Victory cards; maybe I'd revisit that theme (I did not). And you know, just tried whatever cards I thought of. In June I tried out Favors: tokens that varied from game to game. I also tried some new Reserve cards, but Reserve cards overlapped heavily with Favors. And in July I tried a split pile with 4 different cards in it and away we go. There was also another new kind of landscape; I liked it but can only fit so much into one expansion.

The Favors / Liaisons always worked the same way. Initially nothing cost more than one Favor per use, and there wasn't anything that cared how many Favors you'd stacked up, or put them on piles. I gradually made more Liaisons and more Allies, and looked for less straightforward things they could do.

The split piles originally had a variety of mechanics to ensure that you could somehow get through the pile to the cards you wanted. Some piles had every card able to upgrade to a card from the pile, just like how Acolyte does. Two piles tried having the top card gain a card from the pile; two piles, including one of those, tried having the top card able to trash cards from its Supply pile. One pile had no trick but was all villages. In the end we have rotation. It gets you through the pile, provided that someone gets the top card. The upgrading and Lurker-ing meant we didn't get to play with cards from the piles as much, and the gaining was crazy. The first version of rotation just moved one card; then it got the word "rotate" and did what it does.

I had tons of cards. I took out a lot of cards, based mainly on what fit the set best; they are waiting around in case they get to be real boys someday. I ended up with two minor themes: choose ones and recursion. Late in the going I scrapped two split piles, which let me fit in three regular piles (which all ended up being cards from split piles), plus an ally.

Natalie only tested with me for so long. Matt Engel pushed playtesting on Tabletop Simulator, and we did some of that. Eventually started adding cards in a secret version, so some people got some playtesting in there. And one day I knew enough vaccinated people that game nights resumed, hooray. And we went back to restaurants, but I still walk into the street to avoid people on the sidewalk. That part had a certain charm, I don't know what to tell you.

* On to the cards! *

Augurs: The first split pile. It sold the concept; the pile was fun. Herb Gatherer was very briefly a choose-two. Acolyte was briefly a Lookout variant where you draw the cards, ala an Adventures outtake; then for a long time it was the final card but with the upgrading removed, when I removed it everywhere else. Sorceress had its wording messed with but stayed basically the same. There was a big choose-two where Sibyl is, but it almost immediately became the final Sibyl.

Barbarian: An outtake from Dark Ages! Some guys from briefly playtested Dark Ages (theory, rrenaud, and Captain Frisk, hey guys), and were aghast at how easy it was to lose a Duchy. I decided to scale back the quantity of Duchy-trashing, and took this card out. It was the same except it gave out a Ruins instead of a Curse. Well, I always liked it, and here it is at last. It also tried out for the Clashes pile, but I preferred it as its own pile.

Bauble: Didn't change, but did try out for being the top card of a split pile.

Broker: An old idea, finally realized with help from Favors. It seemed like it could get a wording that just explained the "once per $1 the trashed card costs" bit once and then listed the bonuses, "+1 Action; +1 Card; +$1; +1 Favor." But after confusing people, in the end it got a fully spelled out list of options.

Capital City: Originally you played a card, and got +1 Card per +$1 it gave you, and +$1 per +1 Card it gave you. There are some tricky things here, but also some combos where it goes nuts. Letting you pay $ for Cards and Cards for $ is kind of similar without those combos and without being a Throne Room. I had other Throne Rooms. It was "up to 3" before I locked it in at "2."

Carpenter: An outtake from Empires, sans the +1 Action. The +1 Action helps! Started out here in a split pile.

Clashes: Battle Plan and Territory started out like they ended, though I tried Territory counting Attack cards too (it's just not as interesting). Archer and Warlord swapped places some (with their resources changing), and Warlord tried different ways of punishing repetition. For a while it made you trash cards you gained that were copies of cards you had in play, but this is problematic and also didn't do much. And originally it gave +$3 next turn.

Contract: Originally you could play an Action from your hand. Saving it for next turn was more interesting, and something I could do with a Treasure-Duration. A Treasure-Duration! At one point the set had five of them.

Courier: Originally you discarded 3 cards, then played something from your discard pile. This was nuts. You just desperately want all of the Couriers. Kevin White demonstrated this, and I scaled it back.

Emissary: Initially this had no +Favors on it. It got +1 Favor because it spiced up the card a little; a while later that bumped up to +2 Favors because some Allies cost more than one Favor and they were sure hard to make do anything with Emissary.

Forts: Tent started as its own pile. Actually it goes back to Hinterlands, where it seemed strong. With the wisdom of my years I felt like probably it wasn't really. Then it went into a split pile because well you sure don't need ten of these. Before Garrison, versions of Royal Galley were here, plus a reaction you could play when an Action gave you +$2 or more. Garrison started out as its own pile, making +$2 and +1 Buy this turn (for $5). Then it made +$ next turn instead of +Cards, and after a while left due to having too many +Buy cards. It tried again as a treasure and then here it is. It removes the tokens so that it doesn't multiply if you have two of them. The third slot tried a few Remodels before getting to Hill Fort. The first version of Hill Fort gave +3 Cards at end of turn when trashed; a fine ability for something, but not too relevant here. And there was a Moat, because, aren't Forts things that keep attacks out? But the pile didn't have an attack. Stronghold started out dividing tokens between this turn and next, with them giving +$ this turn and +Cards next turn. You did not tend to finagle this so much, and it was way simpler to just offer up +$4 this turn or +4 Cards next turn. I mean +$3 this turn or +3 Cards next turn. This one also tried giving +Cards at end of turn when gained/trashed, before just getting 2 VP. It's nice to have VP on some of the bottom cards for the split piles, since sometimes you don't see them for a while.

Galleria: Matt thought this could also work on $2's, but that always sounded scary and there was always something else I needed to test more. So, went unchanged.

Guildmaster: One of the later Liaisons; just trying to get in another way to get Favors. Printed like it started, though I considered limiting it to e.g. "when you gain a card costing $3 or more."

Highwayman: I messed with the language, but this is what it always did. Playing into the recursion theme by being Duration draw you can play every turn.

Hunter: An idea Matt suggested for Intrigue 2E. There it seemed strong. Here I tried an even stronger version - a village - but quickly scaled it back.

Importer: This started in the Odyssey pile. It could gain an Odyssey card (crazy), or next turn gain a $5, or discard a Silver for a this-turn $5. I cut the Silver part and the crazy part, and messed around with it, then wanted it as its own pile. Matt suggested the setup, which is of course the focus of the card now. Initially that version had a cantrip option on top, then a "+1 Action +1 Favor" option. You only picked it when you couldn't otherwise play the Importer, and it's so much cleaner to not have the extra option.

Innkeeper: Initially the choice was just between cantrip or Warehouse. It wasn't phrased as a choose-one either, it was cantrip, "You may: +2 Cards, then discard 3 cards." I turned it into a choose-one to work with Elder, then added the draw 5 / discard 6 option to spice it up. It was a concern, was that too generous, was it too slow.

Marquis: Started out in a split pile. It was too hard to get to, we just weren't seeing it much. It wasn't great to only have 4 of either. The premise was a card where you discard down to a hand size; it felt like I could get away with Madman here. For a bit it tried also doubling Buys.

Merchant Camp: The first of the new batch of cards that survived into the set. It's an old premise, having tried out for ancient sets in other shapes. Here it is working fine. I strongly considered giving it a type and a color, to help you remember that it does something when you discard it from play. In the end, I felt like it was a great move, except that all those earlier cards (Treasury etc.) wouldn't have the new color for most people, even if future printings added it.

Modify: Multiple Remodels tried out for the set. I hit on this one to play into the choose-one sub-theme, then was enamored with it and made Hill Fort as another "do a thing, then choose something that relates" card.

Odysseys: The first card was initially Importer (called Provisioner). Then it was a duration version of Old Map - cantrip, next turn draw/discard (with an option to trash Odyssey cards from the Supply). Matt suggested having this be the multicolor pile - each card a different color. So I tried some blue Old Maps, but the one I liked ending up being a straight Action. The second card started as a cool thing that became its own pile and then left the set, bound for the future. Then briefly it was Fugitive with a recursion clause, and then it got Voyage from the Wizards pile. Cade suggested the "from your hand" wording, which was crucial for e.g. not stranding cards that Golem hits. The third card was initially a Remodel with +2 Cards in front of it and "discard 2 cards" after it. An old concept, tried years ago. You know this time it didn't exactly fail, it just didn't want to be in the pile and then there was no home for it. I folowed it with a treasure that cared how many types you had in play, then "gain an Action card from a pile that isn't full," then the final card. And then the last card in the pile started out as a token-based variation on Stronghold - 4 tokens, remove some this turn for +$, the rest next turn for +Cards. The tokens weren't necessary, I could just fix the amounts. But you know, did that elsewhere. Here I was looking for a green card for that multicolor theme. I tried Miller with VP based on how many treasures you had, then a thing that gave $ based on the cost of a discarded card, and finally the final card. Hooray, we made it there.

Royal Galley: This card started out in Seaside. It didn't have +1 Card then, which makes all the difference. I tried a version here which gave +$2 next turn, then Matt suggested making it +1 Card this turn instead. Originally it looked for the card being discarded from play, the classic trick to catch Durations and one-shots and things; Stef suggested setting the card aside immediately, with "non-Duration" to rule those out.

Sentinel: It trashes from your next hand. Showed up midway through work on the set, when I needed more trashing; didn't change.

Skirmisher: Didn't change.

Specialist: Another card cashing in on the Modify premise. Didn't change.

Swap: Initially I tried "exchange" on it, and also trashing the card rather than returning it. I also tried not having the cost limit. It quickly settled into the card we know and love.

Sycophant: Initially this had no when-gain/trash; "+1 Action, +$3, discard 3 cards." A little bit of Vaulting, with an extra reward if you had ditched your other cards. It quickly got the when-gain/trash and for a while seemed fine. One day online tester JNails noticed that it could be nuts with a few of the Allies - League of Shopkeepers especially. You just buy nothing but Sycophants and Provinces. So I had to scale it back to requiring at least one card discarded.

Town: This was a Menagerie outtake. The original idea was to make a village pile that was 20 cards, but with no mechanic that pushed it being 20 cards; just, in multiplayer games, yeeha, there are plenty of villages. This was a stand-out for that, and was a fine card, but each set only has so much space. Here it fits in with the mild choose-one theme. And there are just ten because well, just put out two village piles for multiplayer if you want.

Townsfolk: For a bit the pile had a Mafia theme - it was Vigilante, Miller, Town Doctor, Elder. The Vigilante trashed a Townsfolk from the supply, only they were called Townies. The first version though had a Town Crier, without the cantrip option and with "gain a Townie" instead. Blacksmith never changed (but at first was called Miller). A few cards tried out for the 3rd slot. There was a Silversmith that gave bonuses for Silvers in hand; there was a Town Doctor that triggered on trashing cards, to get them back. There were cards that gave you +Cards or +$ based on how many cards you had in play, or how many differently named cards. There was a cantrip that drew other Townsfolk from your top 4 cards. Miller is an old old card, a version of it predates there being expansions. This shape seemed the right one and worked out. Elder initially gave +1 Action and affected the rest of the turn; this was too much.

Underling: The first card to give Favors. It never changed (except, it was called Poet).

Wizards: Student originally either trashed or drew your top card. Then it got the topdecking, but initially only triggered on Copper. That changed just to give you a little leeway if you really wanted more Favors. The Conjurer slot was another kind of Workshop, then Voyage, then the surviving card (though with an upgrading bit for a while still). Sorcerer went back and forth on being cumulative or not (via having them discard the card). In the end, not cumulative. Lich started out as a way to get all these upgrading split pile cards. It was played to gain cards from the trash, then that moved to a when-trash ability, and the top got "draw your deck, skip your next turn." Would you believe, that was overpowered. But someone has to try these things, and it might as well be me. The bottom was also broken, it put Lich into your hand when trashed and you could go nuts with various trash-for-benefit cards. The scaled back beast still looks scary.

* Allies *

Architects' Guild: There were multiple gainers besides Crafters' Guild, some of them Remodels. Some were in the file for a while, some just briefly tested. I eventually settled on two, with the name Architects' Guild on this one. Originally it didn't say non-Victory; it always seems worth trying, but.

Band of Nomads: Originally it gave Buys at the start of the Buy phase. It's friendlier to let you use them mid-Buy-phase, but wait, needs to not loop with Guildmaster. It was always clearly the dud but clearly going to survive; it was such a basic thing, +Buy tokens, they'd gotten a whole mat in Renaissance at one point. It's just that some games there was another +Buy and well that card could often out-compete the Liaison. Then I was messing with what Woodworkers' Guild would be and had this idea for it, only it was basically the +Buy token thing I already had only better. And that was good so here it is. And then the cost limit stops Guildmaster shenanigans.

Cave Dwellers: Originally you did all the discarding at once, then all the drawing; now you get to discard/draw, then see if you want to do it again.

Circle of Witches: How about adding abilities to Liaisons? Well a lot of that has been done already via Adventures tokens, but here's turning them into Witches. Unchanged.

City-state: Originally just one Favor, which was nuts. Also it had the wording where you set aside the card, and check if you did. That went away with a rules change: now you can't play a card you can't find (though you can replay it, meaning Thrones on Horses still work).

Coastal Haven: The wording changed a lot while the functionality stayed basically the same. You were setting aside cards and getting them back; now they just stay in your hand.

Crafters' Guild: This drew a lot of worry and tweaking. The first version was one Favor for a $2, two Favors for a $4. That quickly shifted to just two Favors for a $4. For a while it was there, looking reasonable to me. It drew complaints, and I considered lots of different versions, that messed with the timing to try to make it more exciting. Like, triggering when drawing a card - you draw the card you're gaining. That was tricky, and for simplicity I scaled it back to just the original Workshop, but now onto your deck.

Desert Guides: Unchanged, though at one point attention focused on it.

Family of Inventors: How about putting tokens on piles? It's non-Victory both due to how it would play without that, and due to Trade Route, which puts tokens on Victory piles. Crazy but unchanged.

Fellowship of Scribes: Unchanged. The Allies tried to get in Villagers/Coffers/Horses in tweaked forms, as basic things to do with tokens. This is the Horse.

Forest Dwellers: Briefly I had Scout - look at the top 4, take the Victory cards. I switched it to this, which went the distance.

Gang of Pickpockets: I tested this early on, as "if you have 5+ cards in hand, discard one unless you spend a Favor." I wasn't thrilled in its one or so games and cut it. Later I thought of it again and tweaked it to "discard down to 4." This time I liked it, go figure.

Island Folk: Unchanged. The cost is hemmed in by Importer; to cost 6 Favors, Importer would have had to make +5.

League of Bankers: Why make you spend the tokens? Unchanged.

League of Shopkeepers: Cashing in on the "why spend tokens" of League of Bankers, and the "make the Liaisons do things" idea of Circle of Witches. Unchanged.

Market Towns: Unchanged.

Mountain Folk: Unchanged. Early on I thought, just use one Favor token at a time, but once I gave up on that, why not have some really expensive ones.

Order of Astrologers: Unchanged, although the rules changed to support it better. Now we let you look at the cards you're about to draw while deciding, which some people felt was absolutely essential, to the cores of their beings. And the same for Star Chart of course.

Order of Masons: This started out as a Reserve card. Reserve cards overlapped too much with Favors, so it turned into an Ally. Mostly it had you set aside exactly two cards per Favor, but my heart softened, and now it's "up to" two per.

Peaceful Cult: Originally it trashed at start of turn. The change was mostly to make it a little more different, but of course also makes it stronger.

Plateau Shepherds: Unchanged. The Landmark Ally.

Trappers' Lodge: Unchanged. That's at least a dozen unchanged Allies.

Woodworkers' Guild: The other slot that many Workshops/Remodels tried out for. This one, directly playing off of Advance, just did more in the games we played with it than the others did.

* Outtakes *

More than usual, there were cards that seemed good but which I just didn't have space for. Those stories will wait for another day, when they either make it into a set, or demonstrate that they really aren't making it.

There were a few more split piles. One pile split up into separate cards, then some got saved for the future. One pile was all treasures, and at one point all treasure-durations. It kept being impossible to make it through the pile; we liked the first card but it didn't rotate often enough. Then the first pile tried to be its own pile and turned out to be broken. It was a treasure that made $1 this turn or $2 next turn or $3 the turn after that, and so on. Man it seemed fine and fun and then it turned out, just buy them and a Woodcutter or something and let them pile up to 8 tokens. Some of the treasures that tried out for the pile may still make it out in the future, with more work. There was a villages pile; the first card was conditional which wasn't great, and then I split the pile up and worked on the cards and it doesn't feel like any survived, though Capital City is a relative of one. And there was the Crafts pile, which I dropped just because I was dropping the treasures pile and had to drop two split piles to make the numbers work out well. Plus it wasn't so clear that having 8 split piles was so great; in an all Allies game you'd frequently have 3, which is so many cards to read. But hooray, two of the cards from that pile are in the set, Carpenter and Marquis, and another is hoping to make it out someday.

Early on I tried doing more VP token cards. Some of those gave VP tokens when you gained them, and let you spend the tokens somehow. Others came with VP tokens via a formula; the effect was kind of like Triumph.

Also early, a Victory cards theme. There was a Treasure-Victory card worth VP per 5 Treasures you had. Natalie endlessly beat me up with that, as I weakened it and finally gave up on it. I also tried VP per copy of an Action card you choose, and VP per 3 Action cards you have from non-empty piles. The experience this gave was not really so fun. To go with the Victory cards, there was a card that drew all the non-Action non-Treasure cards from the top of your deck, plus one more card. There was also a new Goons, sans attack and triggering on gains.

When I tried revisiting Reserve cards, I had: call to gain to hand a copy of a Treasure you played; call when a pile empties to gain a Gold and Duchy to hand (there's a novel one); call when shuffling to not shuffle in 4 cards (turned into Order of Masons); call for +1 Card per Copper in hand (I also tried a Duration version of that one); and gain a $4 onto your mat, call to put a card from your mat into your hand (cool if Reserve cards manage to be a theme again).

The first card in the file is "Gain an Action card from a pile that isn't full." It was fun and then seemed too generous. The closest the set comes now is Sunken Treasure. Conjurer at one point was gain a $4, or a $5 if there's an empty pile. Another early card, ancient idea, was reveal your hand, +$ per type there. The set ended up generous on the types, and this card was just always nothing or crazy.

I though it would be cool to do a trasher that returned cards, but wasn't also an attack like Ambassador. Since sometimes Ambassador is interesting for the bit where it stops a pile from being empty. You know it just didn't come up enough to be worth the words. I also had an Expand that required the gained card to share a type with the trashed card. It only cost $4 and still wasn't exciting most games.

I revisited the one-card Ghost Ship. It did not have some twist to it that made it fun. I tried "reveal the top card of your deck, you may have each other player gain a copy of it." I was briefly a fan, but really you so quickly move to never attacking with it.

More random things. A Warehouse with the Merchant Camp bottom. Cantrip, with +$1 if you've gained or trashed this turn. +$2 +1 Favor, with +1 Action if it was your first play. There's still a certain mild charm there. +1 Action +$1, play up to 3 treasures, may buy a card to hand. A 2006 concept trying its luck again. One of the Town Doctors tried out for its own pile: a Salvager with +1 Action, that you could discard when trashing an action or treasure to gain it back. For the recursion theme, I tried a Smithy that you put into your hand next turn if you could reveal a Gold. Then it was a Smithy that went into your hand or onto your deck when you gained a Treasure.

Allies that did not make it included: versions of Pearl Diver and Scout; that Expand limited by type thing; when you gain a card, exchange it for one costing $1 more (popular but confusing, then I tried lots of wordings to preserve the concept); spend X favors to gain a card to your hand costing $X (Matt's suggestion); when you get +1 of something, get another +1 of it; when playing an Action, get +$3 instead of following its instructions (it's Way of the Sheep only bigger, and well, we already have Way of the Sheep); Scheme for cards with just one type (it had to be weaker than Scheme somehow, so that Underling wasn't just better than Scheme); and play an Action a 2nd time then trash it (crazy, would you believe).

Dominion General Discussion / Allies Preview 5: More Cards
« on: March 04, 2022, 03:00:08 am »
There are no more themes, but lots more cards. The set has 400 cards total, with 6 split piles, 25 regular kingdom card piles, and 23 Allies. 25*11+6*17+23 = 400, and now you know that the only Victory cards are in split piles. So anyway, here are some more cards.

Importer means, you start with 5 Favors, but can't get any more (unless there's another Liaison in the game, obv.). And it gains $5's, slowly. Courier is the Peddler version of Mountain Village, and discards a card to help itself out. Royal Galley plays a card both this turn and next turn; it makes anything else into a Duration.

And two more Allies for good measure. Family of Inventors lowers costs for everyone; fooshing may occur. Gang of Pickpockets is that rare thing, the game attacking the players. You can keep them at bay, or just give in.

Cards will stay playable at over the weekend. Then they will be gone until... Wednesday, when they'll be available both there and in the Temple Gates Games version on Steam. We expect the physical version to follow at around the same time, but this is much harder to nail down, it depends on lots of different trucks and where you live and stuff. It will be around then though.

And I'll return with Seaside 2E previews around... late April? It's a little hard to pin down just yet.

Dominion General Discussion / Allies Preview 4: Recursion
« on: March 03, 2022, 03:00:12 am »
Recursion is a smaller sub-theme of the set. Ways to get a card back somehow. First, it's another split pile, the Wizards:

Student goes on top of your deck when it trashes a Copper; you can play it multiple times in the same turn. And hey, it's another Liaison. Conjurer can keep going to your hand turn after turn, you just need to keep playing it. And Lich comes back when you try to trash it, like a Fortress only not to your hand. Also Lich can uh skip your turn? Well maybe you aren't getting another turn anyway. Sorcerer meanwhile is the counterpart to Sorceress; it makes them play the guessing game instead of you.

Two more recursive cards:

Merchant Camp is a village you can have in your starting hand for the rest of the game. It doesn't draw a card, but you can't have everything. Highwayman is the Duration draw card that you can play every turn - draw your deck, and at the end you'll find the Highwayman.

Here are two more Ally cards again; things to try with your Students.

Island Folk lets you take extra turns; maybe that's worth getting some Underlings for. Order of Masons is a novel one: it lets you keep cards out of a shuffle.

Again, cards can be tried out almost immediately at

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