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Author Topic: Variant: Player Abilities  (Read 4989 times)

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manthos88

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Variant: Player Abilities
« on: January 14, 2014, 09:53:14 am »
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I generally like board games where every player has some sort of personality and a special unique ability that can use throughout the game. Examples include Bang!, Android Netrunner, Lords of Waterdeep and others, but this is not the subject.



My point is, why not allow for such a behavior in Dominion as well??!!! :D


I've thought of some unique abilities that players can have that could perhaps be represented by some special cards that will describe what the ability does and include an artwork relevant to the ability's name.



Each player, at the start of the game will be able to choose one of these abilities (with some randomizing method i suppose -otherwise they could possibly be too strong) and will have that ability for the whole duration of the game. In other words, they will have a character that can perform some special actions, described in the corresponding character's card, that will be in front of them and visible to everyone else throughout the whole game.



For ability-using reasons, i have created a new kind of Token, the Counter Token. Some abilities will have you take one or more of these Tokens at the start of the game, and their purpose will be to keep track of how many times you can use the corresponding ability throughout the game. Counter Tokens cannot be recovered and you cannot take more Counter Tokens than it is allowed.



So, on to the abilities:



Duke's Minion

Setup: Take 3 Counter Tokens.

Once per turn, you may spend an Action to use a Counter Token. If you do, gain a Duchy.




Summital Trader

Once per turn, during your Buy phase, you may pay $1 to get +1 Buy.




Fund Saver

At the end of your Buy phase, if you have any unspent Coins, take a Coin Token.




Templar

When you buy a Card that is not an Action or Treasure, take a Victory Token.




Clairvoyant Cleanser

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

You may look through your discard pile any time. During your Action phase, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, trash up to 2 Cards from your hand or your discard pile.




Resource Manager

Setup: Take 3 Counter Tokens.

At the start of your Clean-up phase, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, choose a card you have in play and put it on top of your Deck.




Strategist

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

When you are about to shuffle your deck, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, look through your Deck and take up to 4 Cards from it. After shuffling, put these Cards anywhere you want in your Deck.




Junk-Liver

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

As long as you have a Counter Token, when one or more of your Cards are trashed as a result of a  Card effect, +1 Card.
You may spend an Action to use a Counter Token. If you do, trash up to 3 Cards from your hand; +1 Card, per card trashed.





-------




Ok, Junk-Liver may be too good, but i just liked the idea. Anyway, i think they are all rather interesting concepts. Maybe some of them need some tweaks, but i want to know if you guys generally like the concept.

Some clarifications:

 -  "Spend an Action" means that you have to use one of your available Actions. So, if you opt to use an ability that requires an Action to be spent before playing any other Actions, you won't be able to play any Actions this turn.

 - Fund Saver: If you buy a Silver for $4 or more, you have unspent Coins, so you're getting a Coin Token. If you buy a Silver for $3, you 're not.

 - Clairvoyant Cleanser: You can use this ability at the start of your turn, or after playing an Action Card.

 - Resource Manager: You opt to do that, before any other card effects can take place (like Herbalist, or Scheme).

 - Strategist: Right before you shuffle, you choose and take 4 cards from your Deck. Then, after shuffling, place each of them in any position you want (with the Randomizer side face-up) as you would do with Stash.

 - Junk Liver: You 're getting +1 Card after the full effect of the Card that trashed one or more of your cards has completely resolved.


A tempting idea for me would be to try to create a character with the name "Destroyer" and one with the name "Defender". The first one will probably perform some kind of trashing attack, while the second one will have some sort of mechanisms that will counter various Attack cards, along with giving some other utility.
I haven't thought anything good about that yet.



Any comments, suggestions, or even your own character ideas would be welcome!!!  ;D

I hope you liked my idea!!!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 10:04:19 am by manthos88 »
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Gveoniz

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 10:16:40 am »
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It would be unfair for different player if they got different ability. The abilities' power is highly dependent on the kingdom and they cannot be ever balanced(unless you balance the kingdom around the ability), for example, whoever got Duke's Minion is going to win a Rebuild game (and obviously Duke) , other players, even with additional abilities is not going to be able to complete with him. If the ability is randomly distributed, wining some of the game kingdom is just a matter of luck. One reason I love Dominion more than some other deck building games is because each player have the same access to the same card/ability/strategy.

It may work a bit better if everyone can choose the ability after looking at the kingdom and they can make the same choice. Or each player is distributed the same random ability.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 10:21:39 am by Gveoniz »
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GendoIkari

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 10:19:56 am »
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Gveoniz beat me to it, but...

I think it's a good concept and sounds like fun; however, the problem is that the strength of the abilities is so very Kingdom-dependent. For example, Summital Trader is easily a game-winner if there's no +buy cards, but otherwise a strong engine potential. But it's almost worthless if there's cheap +buy sources anyway.
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Davio

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 10:23:21 am »
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I think it just works better if you give every player the same amount of tokens and let them use them on any of the characters you design. Otherwise, balancing is going to be impossible.

I would: Just make 5 characters (like the prizes) and let players just spend 1 token per turn on any of the actions provided by these characters - needs a Possession clause maybe.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 10:52:03 am »
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I think you'll discover that the kind of players that competitive Dominion attracts are in general going to be less receptive to the idea of player powers. I agree that I wouldn't like to have player powers randomly show up in my normal Dominion games. I won't harp on about it, since Gveoniz, GendoIkari, and Davio have already made the point.

That being said, I really love most of the powers themselves! Taking the premise of player-specific powers as a given, this seems like a great start. I'm impressed with how interesting and creative they are and glad that they aren't just "+$1 per turn", etc. I do think that either the powers should be distributed randomly OR they should be chosen before the Kingdom is determined.

Duke's Minion

Setup: Take 3 Counter Tokens.

Once per turn, you may spend an Action to use a Counter Token. If you do, gain a Duchy.

I like this one. It's cool how the start of the game is when you have the Actions to spare, but that's when you least want the Duchies. I'd playtest it as-is and tweak the number of Counter tokens before changing anything else about it.

Summital Trader

Once per turn, during your Buy phase, you may pay $1 to get +1 Buy.

I think GendoIkari makes a good point about this being a bit too good in a game with no +Buy. Although having to pay $1 for a buy isn't insignificant. Still, I would try Counter tokens for buys instead. That way you can have a couple for strategic moments, but it doesn't allow you to build a much better engine than everyone else.

Fund Saver

At the end of your Buy phase, if you have any unspent Coins, take a Coin Token.

Cool idea. Might be too strong. If it is, perhaps specify that you need at least 2 unspent coins.

Templar

When you buy a Card that is not an Action or Treasure, take a Victory Token.

This is one that I really don't like. I worry that it's going to be too powerful in almost any game. But then again, I don't love VP tokens in general, so maybe I'm biased. Perhaps if it had some penalty as well?

As an aside: there are penalties you can put on character cards (which are always visible) that you can't put on Kingdom cards. Like $1. I'm not saying that particular one is a good idea, but you understand my point. Then again, if some of the character cards have penalties, you might not want to randomly distribute them, since there are players who hate penalties and won't have fun if they have to use those character cards. Just some thoughts.

Clairvoyant Cleanser

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

You may look through your discard pile any time. During your Action phase, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, trash up to 2 Cards from your hand or your discard pile.

I think this is perfectly good without being able to look through your discard pile at any time. The point of the rule is so you don't slow down the game looking through your discard pile. So although it's cool to have an ability that breaks that rule, I think logistically it's less than ideal. Perhaps some ability that let you peek at the top X cards of your deck once per turn would provide a similar ability faster? Maybe that's not a great idea, I haven't thought through all the effects of that.

Resource Manager

Setup: Take 3 Counter Tokens.

At the start of your Clean-up phase, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, choose a card you have in play and put it on top of your Deck.

Very cool. I like it.

Strategist

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

When you are about to shuffle your deck, you may use a Counter Token. If you do, look through your Deck and take up to 4 Cards from it. After shuffling, put these Cards anywhere you want in your Deck.

I think this will create too much AP. Instead, I suggest that you can choose 4 cards not to be shuffled into your deck at all. If you do that, probably you should bump the number of Counter tokens to at least 2. Or maybe fewer cards, but more tokens.

Junk-Liver

Setup: Take 1 Counter Token.

As long as you have a Counter Token, when one or more of your Cards are trashed as a result of a  Card effect, +1 Card.
You may spend an Action to use a Counter Token. If you do, trash up to 3 Cards from your hand; +1 Card, per card trashed.

I think this is too crazy and the effect resolution is awkward. I would scrap it or completely rework it. I don't have any specific suggestions right now, but if I think of any I'll post them.

Finally, I have my own idea for an ability, but I don't have a name for it. It's a mulligan ability.

Quote
Setup: Take 2 Counter Tokens.

At the start of your turn, you may use a Counter token. If you do, discard your hand and +4 Cards.

P.S. Although I haven't played it, I believe Puzzle Strike is a deck-building game with player powers. So you could check that out both to get inspiration for these character cards and/or to scratch that player-power deck-building itch.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 11:06:52 am by LastFootnote »
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Stealth Tomato

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 01:17:52 pm »
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Giving people tokens to spend on general actions is a great idea in general if you're trying to make Dominion less competitive/more friendly. It could take away tough and aggravating strategy decisions like deciding whether to buy an Herbalist for $14, make early terminal collisions hurt less, and counteract various other annoyances.

As people have mentioned, giving each player unique powers may have severe balance issues depending on the kingdom, so why not give them all the same set?

Say, for example, each player starts the game with three Tokens, and is limited to spending one per turn. They can spend a Token to turn any resource into any other resource (the resources being Cards, Actions, Buys, and Coins). So you can turn your leftover Action into a +Buy, or discard a card for +1 Action to solve your terminal collision, etc. You could add more Token-related powers, but that would likely lead to severe analysis paralysis. I'd probably limit it to simple resource conversion if I were to go that route.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:32:35 pm by Stealth Tomato »
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manthos88

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 01:32:29 pm »
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@LastFootnote


Yes, i agree that Junk-Liver is not good. But i just wanted to throw down the idea. I already said that.


 - I like your advice about Summital Trader. It's true that in a game with no +Buy, this ability can own.


 - Clairvoyant Cleanser gives a lot of Utility. You are allowed to look through your discard pile so that you can see how many points you have if you are not sure, in order to decide whether you want to buy an Inn or overpay for a Herald, and whether you want to use that ability or not. And other stuff perhaps.


 - The purpose of Strategist's ability is to set up "a good shuffle". My original idea was to have it give you 5 cards to place anywhere you want in your deck, so that you are able to set-up your next hand if you want to. But then i figured you could do a lot better stuff than just that, so i reduced the number of cards to 4. This ability is perfect to line-up combo pieces and mega-turn out, connect your engine pieces at the early stages of the game -when it's most important, connect Tournaments and Provinces, Barons and Estates, Death Cart and Ruins, Crossroads and VP cards. This is the nature of this ability, as i feel it, and this why i want it to be one-shot.
Also, in Big Money games, a nice use out of it would be to use it late game and spread out those Victory Cards in order to minimize the chances of bad shuffle luck.


 - Templar's power is basically a raw boost in VPs. I'm not sure if this is too strong. Given that every player will have an ability, this one lacks utility. So, i can assume that, if for this ability VP cards are worth more, with another ability you'll probably be able to grab more VP cards (hopefully :P).



As for the general impressions, i feel this variant would be a very fun addition. I feel that randomness is a very important factor, because if you are able to choose the ability that suits best a given kingdom, that can possibly create some very strong synergies with the cards. And, given that your opponent can do the same, it would feel as if we 're playing Rebuild mirror. I also want every player to have a different ability, so that there are variations. Yes, this can create some unfair sitiations:
No +Buy on the board. That lucky Summital Trader!
Alert! King's Court-Bridge available! Darn that Strategist! He will get the pieces together first!
Duke on the board! Let the Duke's Minion have his party! Ye!

If someone gets lucky in such situations, it should be acceptable. It's part of the fun anyway.


And -heck!- there already are unfair situations in Dominion! How many times have we moaned out of despair when our oppenent gets 5/2 opening with Cultist on the board and no trashing or engine potential available, and then, on turn 3, he hits $5 again??!!!


« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:36:41 pm by manthos88 »
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LastFootnote

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 01:43:06 pm »
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- Clairvoyant Cleanser gives a lot of Utility. You are allowed to look through your discard pile so that you can see how many points you have if you are not sure, in order to decide whether you want to buy an Inn or overpay for a Herald, and whether you want to use that ability or not. And other stuff perhaps.

I understand that it's useful. I'm saying it might slow down the game too much. The reason you're not allowed to look through your discard pile is so that you're not constantly checking it. Clairvoyant Cleanser allows you to constantly check it.


- The purpose of Strategist's ability is to set up "a good shuffle". My original idea was to have it give you 5 cards to place anywhere you want in your deck, so that you are able to set-up your next hand if you want to. But then i figured you could do a lot better stuff than just that, so i reduced the number of cards to 4. This ability is perfect to line-up combo pieces and mega-turn out, connect your engine pieces at the early stages of the game -when it's most important, connect Tournaments and Provinces, Barons and Estates, Death Cart and Ruins, Crossroads and VP cards. This is the nature of this ability, as i feel it, and this why i want it to be one-shot.
Also, in Big Money games, a nice use out of it would be to use it late game and spread out those Victory Cards in order to minimize the chances of bad shuffle luck.

Again, I understand its intended effect. I'm saying it's going to be really slow. Being able to leave 4 bad cards out of your shuffle entirely is another, much faster way to get a better shuffle.
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popsofctown

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 04:49:07 pm »
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Puzzle strike has three unique "Shelters" based on the character you've selected.  You select your character before you see the kingdom. 
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Warfreak2

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 04:51:48 pm »
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Asymmetry should be fundamental to the design of a game - if it's just tacked on, it just feels like added unfairness.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 05:15:48 pm »
+1

Each player, at the start of the game will be able to choose one of these abilities (with some randomizing method i suppose -otherwise they could possibly be too strong) and will have that ability for the whole duration of the game.

I remember having thought of the idea before to use Evo's bidding system to assign "ability" cards to everyone (I had made a list of ability card ideas).  That way they don't have to be balanced.

So Evo is an awesome game and if you haven't checked it out, you should.  It also has one of the nicest bidding mechanics that I've seen in any game (maybe other games have done it too but I don't think I've seen it anywhere else).  In Evo, during a certain phase of each round, n gene tokens are pulled from a bag, where n is the number of players, and the tokens are placed so each has their own track going from 0 to 6 (6 is a lot to bid on one token, so it's a reasonable maximum).  Then in turn order, each player puts their marker anywhere on one of the tracks, but not so that he is lower on a track than someone else.  After everyone has placed their marker on a track, they move their markers either higher on the same track, or to a different track (but higher than everyone else on that track), and players who have been outbid keep moving their marker, until eventually there is exactly one marker on each track, and then players pay the value on which their marker currently is.

I think that was a terrible explanation, but tl;dr it's a clean, elegant way to have players bid on different things, so that each player will end up with exactly one of the things up for bid.

So, you could do that in Dominion with these ability cards, with players bidding VP on which ability they will start out with, and in theory it should balance out almost perfectly (since the amount of VP you are willing to pay will cancel out the difference in utility between the abilities).  I think that that's a cool idea and would be fun, and ideally add a lot of variety and strategic depth to the game.  I also think that it would feel tacked on, but I think a lot of people (even competitive Dominion players) could have fun with it.

Also, I would think you should mostly be going for really simple ability cards, like "At the start of your action phase, +1 card"; "At the start of your action phase, +1 action"; "At the start of your action phase, +2 cards and put two cards from your hand on top of your deck"; etc.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 06:07:29 pm »
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Pretty much agree with LF.  There are issues, but it's a fun idea and the concepts you've given are a good starting point.

I would say that my least favourite is Strategist.  That one time setup is ridiculously powerful on a fair number of boards.  You've identified it yourself with the KC-Bridge situation.  But if such a mega-turn isn't available on the board, Strategist isn't really so useful.  Feels very swingy to me, more than the other characters (except maybe for that +Buy Trader).
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Powerman

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 11:27:13 pm »
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Reminds me of the starting cards for RftG.
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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 01:15:18 am »
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Reminds me of the starting cards for RftG.

Powerman is, of course, in favor of giving powers to each man or woman at your dominion games
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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 01:55:59 pm »
+1

I tried to make something like this work for quite some time... I considered a "Hero" stack with cards that you could get for buying Victory cards. The more expensive the Victory card was, the better the abilities you could choose from, so you would have to decide whether you wanted to get an Estate-Hero early or wait for something better. Never got it to work, of course.

I still remember some of them being "During your turns Gold never costs more than 5$", "Whenever you would gain a card, you may gain an Estate instead." and "If at the start of your cleanup phase you have $ unspent, you may put your deck in your discard." (or something like that).
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LastFootnote

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Re: Variant: Player Abilities
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 02:05:53 pm »
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"If at the start of your cleanup phase you have $ unspent, you may put your deck in your discard." (or something like that).

I especially like this. Very cool.
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