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Aquila

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Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
« on: January 06, 2020, 05:37:32 am »
+5

The stickied guide by rinkworks highlights common pitfalls to avoid, costing your cards, and how you can make and print your ideas. It is completely right in its introduction:
The first rule about creating custom fan cards for Dominion is that you can ignore every single rule about it if you want to. Dominion is a game. Its purpose is fun. If you've got a card idea that sounds fun, do it. Playtest it. If it remains fun after scrutiny, keep playing with it.
This is kind of an update and fork from that guide. It covers all the present mechanics, and describes the whole design process for those new to fan card creation.
If you just want the mechanics know-how, go straight to the Research section.

Spineflu wrote a fusion of these two guides, with some extra details, here on the wiki.


Dominion is a very simple, highly flexible game model, and it's very easy to add to. With that flexibility, though, is the potential to land upon uninteresting ideas. While they may not break the game and be imbalanced, your ideas could get to be disappointing in some way after playing with them for a while. Particularly disappointing if you went through the trouble of getting them printed out.

If a house is going to be safe to live in and stand a long time, it has to meet high building standards. Some may meet those standards, but also be a bit boring or offer poor quality of living. Similarly, Dominion cards may be safe but not give a great play experience.
So just as with other areas of design, fan card creation (and by extension game design as a whole) calls for a bit of science and a bit of art. There is a science to making cards safe and balanced; we can't simply make whatever we like and add it to Dominion, because we might make it a completely different game. Cards have to follow the rules of Dominion and not change gameplay too much. Too different, and the correct thing would be calling our design a Dominion spin-off. If, though, we stay stuck to science, there is little room for flexibility, innovation, willingness to explore new ideas; that's where art comes in. Science is about doing things correctly, but there's no correct way around art. An idea we find really appealing may be really boring to someone else. So let's say this now: don't have the attitude of trying to please everybody with your ideas, as that's not going to happen! As we'll see later, modesty is essential when it comes to evaluating our designs.

This guide offers suggestions for making your good ideas into great ones for the long term, combining science and art, before the final send-off to print, big reveal to your friends, etc.; it goes through the design process, identifying where people can take a bad turn, aiming to help refine your card ideas to be just what you want them to be.
I talk a bit about expansion design. You might consider making one as an extra level of interest that involves more depth than making individual cards. Parts referring to expansion design will be in this font.
 
TL;DR
  • Be open minded. When you get an immediate good feeling for an idea, note it down straight away.
  • Know the rules and makeup of Dominion well (but you don't have to be a top pro player). Refer to the Research section for help.
  • Creativity blocks and lack of inspiration are possible with longer projects. Don't try to battle through if you're on a time constraint, rather factor them in to your schedule. Keep clear notes so you know what you're doing when you come back.
  • To make a design fun to play long term, focus on the mechanics first, then its theme. The more open it is to interactions, the more replayable it will be and hence interesting long term; but if it's strong in every game, it won't be interesting.
  • Put yourself in a player's shoes and see what mental skills and strategic thinking your design stimulates.
  • With designs incorporating player interaction, always let decisions opponents make involve them thinking about their own advantage.
  • Individual card designs start with a brief. It should state a required property or mechanic, and be understandable to another person. This should lead to an easily understood card.
  • Each card you make should be on the same power level as the official ones.
  • Imagine your design in a game whenever you make a change to it, to see how every other aspect of it is affected. Running a few solo tests may help.
  • You should be able to sum up what your card designs do in one quick sentence.
  • For testing simplicity, get another player to explain what your ideas do.
  • Upvotes on this forum show a good first impression, not necessarily a good overall design.
  • Be realistic. Dominion has flaws that fan cards can't overcome.

A note from the author
I describe myself as a passionate observer of Dominion design. I'm probably not a very skilled player, often preferring a creative and fun strategy to the boring one that wins. I have made fan cards and expansions in theory, but have hardly ever played them for real with others. Not long after getting Dominion, the idea of making custom cards came up some day, and I fell in love with the thought instantly. I like designing, and Dominion is a simple yet diverse game that is amazingly expandable, yet with traps to avoid. It's been such an interesting process!
It feels exactly the same as playing with Lego to me. The different mechanics of Dominion are like the different pieces in the Lego set, and the cards and expansions I've made are the models.
This guide is the product of several years of casual exploration, written through personal interest and seeing how the forum is continually active.

Glossary
Replayability refers to how well a design maintains its interest when played with in lots of different games.
Flavour and theme are used interchangeably to refer to a card's name and its story, and how the other properties of the card connect to it. Mechanics and functions/functionality refers to everything the card can do. A card's properties are its name, abilities, types and cost.
A play theme is a way of building a deck. A thin deck that plays itself every turn (an engine) or a thicker deck with lots of Treasures (called big money) are two example play themes.
Direct payload refers to anything that can directly help getting ahead on VP, so , +Buys, tokens, gaining Victory cards and sometimes cursing Attacks. Drawing cards, gaining non-Victory cards, other Attacks, and trashing junk would all be indirect payload.
All random games are those where all 10 kingdom cards and landscape cards are randomly selected.
VP is short for Victory Points. Alt VP cards are those that can provide alternative victory point options to the usual Provinces and Duchies, e.g Gardens.
Terminal Action effects are those that use up an Action, to potentially terminate your Action phase. Any that give +1 or more Actions, or that are on Treasure or Night cards, are described as non-terminal.
Cantrips are non-terminal cards that also draw.
Deck cycle time refers to the game time taken for a card to be drawn into hand. A card gained onto deck takes much less deck cycle time to get to hand than one gained to the discard pile.

Contents
Situation (your audience, aim, motive)
Design Brief (the project's aim)
Research (Lots of really useful stuff to know all in one place)
Specification (checklist for your project)
Design Ideas (putting card designs together)
Testing (proving your cards balanced, fun, simple)
Final Outcome (ways to publish)

Now let's follow the order of the design process and apply it to Dominion. No matter how you make your ideas, with paper notes or mental ones, casually or organised, you're going through the same process to get to your final outcome. Even if you have ideas down already, it may be beneficial to step back and look at the basics, to identify where design flaws actually are.

Important points are highlighted in bold.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2024, 02:28:13 am by Aquila »
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Aquila

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Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2020, 05:38:15 am »
+2

Situation - What is your aim? Who is your target audience? Why are you wanting to make card(s)?

Let's keep the house analogy going. Someone's situation for their house build may be purely a need to have a roof over their head, while others may have the luxury of building their forever dream home. Dominion fan cards are a luxury, so we want the happiness we get from them to be optimal. What kind of forever dream home are we building? That depends on the plot of land and our tastes.

We might be building for ourselves, or we might be an architect for someone else. Who is our audience? Sometimes it's obvious, or if we are designing fan cards for our own enrichment, it may not be. We need to determine our target audience, otherwise our designs will lack focus and purpose. Are you in a games group who want to expand their Dominion their own way? Do you just love creativity and want to make ideas that work? Will you want to share your ideas with the general public so they could play them?
After determining who your audience is, what do they like most about Dominion, and what are their favourite cards and play styles? What do they not like, or what do they feel is missing?

Note down your target audience and their likes before anything else, as honestly as you can. If you make meeting their likes your purpose, you have the motivation that your end result will very likely be fun. If you aim to make something that's missing, the end result can be very satisfying. Or you might aim to explore areas they're not so keen on to open their minds.
No point thinking about the meanest Attack card if your games group is mostly softies; unless you're aiming to open their minds towards player interaction. If you don't know much about your audience or if it's the general public, the more simplicity is favoured so more people can understand your cards; unless your chosen audience is those who like complexity. Similarly a strategy focus is better for Joe Bloggs, as that's how the official Dominion cards are set; unless your audience is those who want to water the strategy side of Dominion down.

Next, note down your primary motive for making cards. It may seem daft, but this will help you stick to the main excitement you have for Dominion and avoid deviating away from it too far when you make new ideas. It may also identify trends in how you will design, and pitfalls you could fall into.


Some motives and their tendencies:
  • You want to focus on a specific flavour. The story and flavour of a game are important to its enjoyability, giving it some sense. Who is saying that you need to stick to 10th-15th century history? For the general public you might stick to it as they expect it, but otherwise, nobody. The flavour can also help some to remember what a card does. Sometimes you can springboard onto a brilliant mechanic idea by thinking about the flavour first, and when you do, get that idea down on paper quickly! It's by no means wrong to think down this route, but bear in mind: ultimately, what will make a card fun to play long term is what it does, not its flavour. If you play frequently, you'll notice the novelty of flavour fades away if a card plays bad. Let's say you resonate with the thought of medieval Scouts and like the official card because of this; it is, though, a weak card and drab play experience. You would, at least in time, inevitably choose to use Patrol over Scout, and you'd probably love Patrol if it were named Scout.
    So: the ideal is having both great flavour and mechanics, but it's better to focus on mechanics first if you want to use your cards for a good long time.
    Another risk to prioritising flavour is the mechanics may end up being very specific to it, narrow in functionality and not very fun in too many different games. We might cite the outtake Thief as an example, where its trashing Coppers is true to flavour but mechanically unsound, helping opponents rather than attacking them.
    The rest of the examples here are different mechanics motives.
  • You want to see more done with an official mechanic or play theme. There's a good amount of design space in many of them. Playing with one a lot you may see a way to use it that hasn't been covered. If your audience likes the mechanic, they'll probably like your design; however, it may not turn out as different or as exciting a play experience as you hope long term. The design process has already been heavily worked for the mechanic, so you could wind up going over the same thought processes as Donald. Consider the expansion it appears in carefully, and read its Secret History. You could find that ideas you have can already be achieved by certain interactions in it, or there are good reasons your idea doesn't exist. So really check that your ideas are suitably different and interesting. In the Research section there are some tips on using each official mechanic effectively.
  • You think up a certain uncovered mechanic, maybe one seen in another game. To make a card you'll enjoy for a long time that adds a lot to the game, this can be a very effective start. It's why each new Dominion expansion covers a new mechanic; it makes a more interesting thus successful product. Your mechanic might be applied to one single card, or several; perhaps it becomes the centre of your own expansion. It might need new components; be open to this to give yourself more design room, but keep in mind your audience may not like handling and storing too many extra bits. It is possible, though, that a new mechanic could detract from the compelling gameplay of Dominion. Consider the core concepts of the game; deck building, card interactions, strategy, understanding and adapting to game flow, some skill. Will your idea add to or take away from these?
  • You get a vibe when you mentally combine different card properties together. You'll very likely hit upon something exciting. Get that combination written down pronto in case you forget it. Find out exactly why you feel it would be effective, and write that specific reason down. If the combination of properties doesn't quite let you achieve your idea, you can open out to using different ones to make it happen, and make it your brief.
  • “If only there were a card that did this in that game!”. You will easily get a feel of how the card plays before testing it, and you might get a similar vibe that needs writing down quickly. Here especially you'll need to check the idea isn't flawed (see Research section), as in another kingdom the card will be very different. Also it'll be very easy to make a card be too niche to be interesting for a lot of different games; the more open a card is to interactions while retaining a definite primary function, the more replayable it will be and hence interesting long term. You might put together one super fun kingdom that you can replay and it still be interesting, and that of course is great; but eventually your play group will tire of it and want a change of kingdom. How many different kingdoms can your idea be interesting in, how many different ways are there of using it? Try and elegantly add more functionality if your idea is too narrow.
  • For the love of creativity. This is my motive! You have the enthusiasm, and the freedom to explore the whole field of Dominion design. You can come across brilliant ideas; but it's easy to get carried away and also make ineffective ones. This guide and rinkworks’ are aimed with you in mind, but also: keep your focus on what skills and thinking your design stimulates as it's played with. Wacky machines might be cool, but do they actually do something meaningful? Make sure your designs have a clear impact on gameplay.

Finally, think of the practicalities; the time you'll put into your design project and the schedule you'll follow, the money and resources needed to print out physical copies if that's your desire, or how and when to post ideas online. These can prepare you for the process ahead and affect how you design.
Regarding time, here's a reality to know in advance: you're going to want occasional breaks from your projects if they're big. Your mind will want to stop the processes of studying the game, and you'll get creativity blocks. It's natural; don't try to battle through those times, as your ideas will be poor, rather factor them in to your schedule.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2024, 03:24:13 am by Aquila »
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Aquila

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Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2020, 05:38:54 am »
+2

Design Brief - the purpose of your design project(s)

You know your audience, you know what they like, so you know your objective. Now your card designs have a design brief to meet. This is a sentence stating the bare essentials that your design(s) must be if it's to be considered successful. Try not to add lots to the brief, just the basic essentials; you get to add every desirable trait later in its Specification. Avoid generic terms though; you might want to say 'make exciting cards', but what do you mean by exciting? Or 'different', but how exactly? Or 'that my friend or play group likes', but what's involved there? When you come back from a break, you need to be able to get right back in and keep clear focus. Friends sharing in your project need to understand clearly too.

If you're designing an expansion, it will have an overall brief that most of the cards in it need to fit. It should include playstyle themes (e.g. Hinterlands's playstyle themes are when-gain abilities, sifting and Reactions), so that the cards in it have definite interactions with one another. Try to make these themes connected somehow (Hinterlands's are connected by constructing thick decks).

If you're making just a batch of cards that aren't necessarily to play together, they probably still have an overall brief of your preferences.


From here, individual cards will each have their own brief. If you have exciting ideas already noted down, their main concept can be made into such briefs. They should each specify something relating to one or more card properties, which may just include abstract concepts of what the card's abilities are to be, such as 'simple draw' or 'high skill trasher'. Should you need to tweak your ideas later as you develop them, your brief lets you know what you need to try and keep the same.

To start off an expansion, you might put a few individual card briefs you have high hopes in together. They might have a common playstyle theme among them, or they may help you identify one that would fit well. Alternatively, you can begin by thinking of the themes first.

Once you have your briefs, they should ideally be set for good. They're a solid foundation on which you can build a sound final outcome. Some briefs might be asking the impossible though, two or more things that cannot all be met or something that cannot make for a fair, balanced or interesting card. You might come to identifying this later in the process, in which case you will have to adjust the brief.


The more knowledge you have of the makeup of Dominion, be it by play experience or by research, the more likely you are to avoid a flawed brief and land upon great concepts first time. So, that's the logical next step.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2024, 06:53:37 am by Aquila »
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Aquila

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Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2020, 05:40:14 am »
+3

    Research - knowledge of design dos and don'ts

    Research may sound boring, but in this case it's nice to do: simply play Dominion! Of course, it'd take lots of games and several expansions for yourself to know enough to make failsafe, quality cards. You can and probably will read up what others have learned by their playing it, like here on this forum, the wiki (link at the top of every forum page) or on Discord. The collective opinion of others gets a better general consensus. Sure you might sit down and read everything at once, but probably you'll look up whatever's necessary for each of your card ideas, each brief, as you develop them. You might even find inspiration for new ideas in the process.
    With that said, the rest of this section is some generally useful stuff pooled together into one place for convenience (the other guide has more):

    What makes an official Dominion card interesting?
    • It isn't always strong! Analysing whether or not it's relevant to the best strategies of a game should be interesting every time. If you're using a card in every game and winning, things will get boring.
    • That said, it's always able to do something. You'll never get an all random game with a pointless kingdom pile you'll want to reselect. Nothing to say you can't make cards requiring some control over the kingdom though, you can find exciting ideas this way.
    • It's simple to understand, at least in time. Players aren't thinking about what it'll actually do every time they play it so they're free to think strategy.
    • Each one is suitably different from what other cards do. Try to make sure your ideas will be different from any official ones.
    • Each is as good a design as it can be, with no room for improvement. Well, it's more true with newer cards as Donald's got better designing them. Lesson being time and experience will improve your ideas, but also look for ways to improve as you playtest them. More on this later.
    • They're mostly balanced.
    • They don't make luck too big a factor in winning. It's unavoidable since shuffling decks is innately involved, but they don't emphasise it. People buy Dominion as a strategy game, but you might be making less strategic, more chance-based cards for a change to this. Make random effects gentle.

    People's different fun factors:
    • Interactivity between players; there is always a little to be had in every game, such as with emptying piles to push the game towards its end.
    • Cards that have several possible functions (each related somehow so they aren't doing everything), enabling creative play. Trash-for-benefit seems fun for this reason, adding functionality to other cards.
    • Cards needing good play skill to use well feel more rewarding.
    • Mini games and potential for comebacks from far behind can keep the game engaging.
    • Adding a mild randomness makes for a more casually enjoyable game.
    • 3-pile endings add an interactive spin, particularly in 2-player games where it isn't such a dominating feature.
    • Some like the challenge that analysis paralysis brings.

    People's bad points about Dominion:
    • Not enough player interaction.
    • Shuffle and draw luck can decide some games without strategy being too involved. Players can be shut out and have no incentive to continue playing.
    • Cards that take a long time to resolve, either by following the instructions or by causing numerous deep decisions, make players take long turns so they can make the opponents feel disengaged.
    • Long games get boring or too taxing on the brain to be enjoyable.
    • Setup time.
    • 4+-player games can cause too much pressure on 3-pile endings to be enjoyable, limiting the possible strategies.
    • Analysis paralysis could make some players disengage from the game.

    Player interaction:
    • The basic model of Dominion has only depletion of cards in the Supply, emptying 3 piles, and tracking point advantage over opponents as interactive features. Effects can either work with these or add their own interaction.
    • Having few copies of a card in the Supply (e.g. split piles) creates competition to get the most of them. Not everyone likes this because splits decided by chance can decide who wins, whereas others like the tension.
    • Effects that check for empty Supply piles (Poacher, City, Paddock) are mildly interactive; if a player has the fewest copies of such a card, they may be hesitant to empty piles out, or they'll want to with negative effects (like Poacher).
    • Attacks add interactivity, and often impartially. An Attack targeting a chosen player can create politics within the play group; it shouldn't be too hard to equate politics to unfun.
    • Some cards give you a stronger bonus depending on what other players do (Smugglers, Goatherd). Some don't like how their hard work gives an opponent an easy boost, but others not so bothered may like how the card's power level is affected.
    • Games where players run different deck strategies are more interesting than those where they mirror each other. Effects that encourage mirror play (like Smugglers) can be boring.
    • Some effects have opponents make a decision as a simple way to eliminate the best of presented options (Envoy, Advisor). They should naturally choose the best option for their own advantage. Avoid ever having them make a deep decision that doesn't affect them, as that feels mundane.

    High skill Vs low skill:
    You might want to make challenging cards hard to use well even for experienced players, or easy ones good for a more relaxing game. How do you make them?
    • Compare the Empires expansion with Nocturne, as Donald designed these to be high skill and low skill respectively.
    • High skill cards can look for fine margins: like precise times to play/buy/gain (Swashbuckler/Gamble/Inn) or how often to do so; precise play order of cards during the turn (Kiln); decks built in exact ways, with each of these rewarding well. Low skill cards make these margins wide, easy to attain or discern, or ignore them.
    • High skill cards avoid being random as much as possible, while low skill cards don't mind or may like some randomness added (Bauble Vs Tracker. Black Market and Loot create the fun of each player getting different decks, but high skill players don't like how one important card gives a player a big advantage by chance).
    • High skill cards can have a big potential that's hard to reach (Windfall).
    • A card can call for high skill in determining how strong it is in a kingdom (Develop, Procession).
    • Presenting lots of options can make skill involved through players working out what's best to do when. (Coffers and Villagers, Ways)

    Simplicity Vs complexity:
    • Simple cards are easier to understand, and often have few words so the text size can be larger and easier to read. A wider audience can appreciate them.
    • Complex cards can have multiple functions that aren't closely related. (Messenger both moves the deck into the discard pile and has its on-buy effect, two loosely related functions; it's a complex card. On-gain and on-trash effects can add complexity, but note how Cultist's is also draw like it's on-play effect; it's not so hard to comprehend.)
    • While simplicity is mostly superior, some people like getting their mind into a complex card, or feel that extra functionality on a card is always welcome because they can easily comprehend it. Know your audience well if you make cards this way.
    • A card that has a lot of words or involves several mechanics isn't necessarily complex if its overall function is simple. It might be hard to remember what it does though. (Horse Traders is an outtake because it's wordy. Guard Dog is less wordy and less complex with having only the draw function, while almost retaining the hand size Attack countering.)

    Elegance:
    If a card has effects that work very nicely together, that can be pleasing and easy to remember. (Someone might like how Tactician sacrifices one turn to move its starting cards, Action and Buy onto next turn.) Even when such a card is bad in a kingdom, players still enjoy it.
    There was a deep discussion on elegance here.

    Strength:
    A strong card shapes the game it's in, heavily influencing the winning strategy. Competitive players rank the strength of the official cards. Level of fun isn't considered, which of course is the objective of fan cards.
    Every game is different, and every card can be amazing one game, terrible the next. That's how things should be. Every card should have some powerful combos with other cards or be strong when certain effects are absent; if it doesn't, it's too weak to meaningfully exist. Some cards are always useful (like Market), but not necessarily influential. There are cards that are useful less often but crazy when they are (think Counting House); you or your audience might call them strong, but competitively these are considered weak.

    In terms of fun, a strong card can add excitement to the game, players feeling a meaningful strategy come together as it hits the table. If it's overly strong, though, each game it's in will get to feel mundane and scripted with time. (The outtakes Ambassador, Ghost Ship and Mountebank were all strong but they could create unpleasant experiences.) If a strong card is beatable, identifying how can be very satisfying.
    The mild supporter cards like Market (most are cantrips) have their place in making games enjoyable, letting the main strategy be told by the other cards; it's a welcome presence that doesn't add too much noise. There has to actually be strong cards there, of course.

    To prove a card strong, play experience with it is the real indicator. The Qvist ranking lists give the average consensus of competitive players for the official cards, to help get an idea of strength. Not many people vote and affect the rankings there, so it isn't reliable evidence, but still good. If you're looking to make strong cards, try to figure out why they're so ranked for yourself, and identify trends.

    The ThunderDominion rankings give consensus of cards' strength within sets rather than cost brackets.

    Costing cards:
    Lots in the other guide (parts III and IV). This is a big way in which learning the official cards well will help; you can develop a sense for what an appropriate price for your ideas would be by comparing it with them. Most of the time how powerful a card is determines its price, but sometimes there are cases for making a card cost artificially cheap or expensive to help its functions (Chapel is cheap to be easily accessible, and Hunting Grounds is so it can be remodelled into a Province).
    Focusing on cost first before the rest of its abilities can make you quite cramped for flexibility, so it's usually better to leave it until last and fit it around everything else; in some cases finalising the cost part way through is fine (e.g. you may be designing a fairly powerful card, decide that it would be a fun opener and so determine the cost should be , adding this to the design's spec). There are often variables you can adjust, like the amount of each +bonus, to better fit a certain cost for balance, so keep open to this.
    With expansions, you may sometimes have cost as a priority, especially as you come near to completing it. It's likely important for you to get a good balance of costs to ensure a nice mix in random games with just your expansion.


    -- HOW TO USE EXISTING MECHANICS EFFECTIVELY --

    Starting with portrait cards, in chronological order:

    TYPES -
    • If you prioritise a certain type combo in your brief, you could get a narrow, inflexible space to work in, which can limit your card's potential. Only do this to achieve essential interactions with other cards.
    • Use a new type only when you need to mention it in a card's instructions (Knights referring to themselves, Gathering with Defiled Shrine), or if it indicates something extra to do at setup (Looter, not just getting the Ruins out the box but the right number and then shuffling them).
    • Give a new colour to a new type only if it causes unusual behaviour, so there is a visual reminder (Durations stay out at Clean-up, Reserves do something while on the Tavern mat, Treasures and Nights have their own playing phase); otherwise it could be confusing (Knights and Gathering cards behave just like other Actions).

    Action
    • The vast majority of cards are Actions; it's the main phase of Dominion, and they have the biggest influence as to what the best strategies are in each game.
    • They need a resource, namely 'Actions', in order to be played, so unless they give +1 Action or Villagers their effects on play will be stronger than a Treasure or Night at the same cost.
    • They're played first, so they can have a large impact on how the rest of the turn goes. (Laboratory can let other Actions it draws be played, but Figurine at the buy phase can't. Actions like Priest can provide ongoing effects that last through every phase of the turn.)
    • Every Action card can be played at any time of the game; at the Buy phase (Scepter), Night phase (Changeling with Innovation) and outside of turn (Reactions that play themselves like Black Cat, played as Way of the Mouse, which is Vassal). This is often nothing to worry about, but some effects could need specific checks as to turn and phase before they trigger.

    Treasure
    • They nearly always give direct payload.
    • Make drawing cards with them very limited. Too strong, and it could encourage a single card strategy too much. (Supplies carries a draw over to next turn, so it can't draw more Treasures to play the same turn. Venture costs but it's unreliable. Figurine draws just 2 cards at .)
    • You can't normally play Treasures after you've bought something.
    • They are played one at a time.
    • Treasure Vs non-terminal Action (like Silver Vs +1 Action + on an Action): Treasures can be played after terminal draw, but several cards exist that would combo better with Actions (e.g draw to X, Alms, Tactician). In general, Action variants suit engines a little better.

    Victory
    • Pure Victory cards have no functionality, so they weaken the deck when added to it. This establishes the usual game flow of building it first, then collecting points.
    • Donald gives some good insight into alt VP cards here.
    • cards Vs tokens: cards can be stacked up so points multiply per copy you have, but they clog up the deck.
    • If you make a helpful Victory card, the useful effect should be weak for the card's cost; always think of it as a source of , and think what would be interesting to gain as a way to get ahead a little (Mill, Nobles, Stronghold in a split pile). A narrow effect works well as the gives a constant reason to buy (Tunnel, especially since you want to discard your pure Victory cards anyway; Cemetery not only has function when the deck is thin, but it balances its trash effect by being useless in the deck).
    • Pure Victory cards can be put into play (Hasty Clashes puts Territory into play); they don't do anything.
    Attack - lots in the other guide (part II).
    • An Attack is an effect that negatively impacts opponents when it's played. (Ill-Gotten Gains is not an Attack because the Curses aren't given out on play. Swamp Hag can only be blocked when it's played, not each time a card is bought while it's in play. Noble Brigand's "do its Attack" refers to its negative impact to opponents.)
    • They're one of the major means of player interaction in the game, making it less like multiplayer solitaire. There's no point making an Attack that kills the fun. Know what your audience likes; do they mind getting heavily victimised, or are they happy for the player who gets a distinct lead by playing the Attack a lot?
    • A strong Attack is very likely to end up being used, so it can be seen as shaping the game. It will nearly always slow the game down, which can sometimes be used to strategic advantage, but it can also be a killjoy. (Ghost Ship will get you thinking about small hands and the next turn, which can be interesting play. Ghost Ships played every turn makes the game very slow.)
    • The first player to play a strong Attack can be at a huge advantage.
    • Attacks in newer expansions tend to be overall weaker (Villain, Gatekeeper). There is still interaction, but it's less likely to be harsh and unfun. While not irrelevant, strategies in games involving them are usually less shaped around them (Villain with cost reduction or Gatekeeper against Black Market are rare exceptions).
    • Put yourself in the victims' shoes and see if the Attack is interesting to play against.
    • It should never be able to forcibly give them a turn of doing nothing (by itself or when put with other cards).
    • It should be possible to work around it in the absence of Moat variants, and it should make shuffle luck as little of an issue as possible (Knights are about the furthest stretch).
    • Add a self benefit to it, so there's good reason for a softer player who dislikes Attacks to still want to get it; but think of the attack first, then the bonus and cost that best fit...
    • ...If you add drawing cards, the attack can be launched more frequently as you usually draw it more often.

    Reaction - lots in the other guide (part II).
    • They can be used for out-of-turn engagement, involving the chance of their being in hand when an event occurs. This is a likely way to create player interaction.
    • They can also add extra function and achieve desired interactions within turn (Watchtower, Patron, Pirate).
    • Reactions can work an infinite number of times from hand when their needed event occurs, even after a new copy of the card enters your hand during the reaction (like with Sheepdog). You need to either make how many times you reveal it not matter (Moat can only work once, Diplomat can't work when the hand is too small), or move it from your hand so you can't reuse it (Horse Traders sets itself aside, Market Square discards itself, Sheepdog plays itself).
    • If you play it from hand, if it isn't a Duration, it is discarded during the next Clean-up phase, whoever's turn it is.
    • If the reaction can't always trigger in every game, you'll likely consider adding something on that makes the card always useful; it's not nice to select a useless card in an all random game.
    • Making an on-play effect non-terminal lets several copies be added to the deck comfortably, which means the reaction will more likely and/or more often trigger; with cantrips this is even more so.
    • Controlling the size of the reaction window can also affect reliability.
    • Out-of-turn Reactions Vs reactive Duration effects (like Moat Vs Lighthouse):
      • You can choose to not react with a Reaction.
      • Self-benefit Reactions can feel exciting when they trigger, but Attack Reactions can feel very nasty (Black Cat gets away with it because players are almost certain to gain Victories at some point. Imagine Swamp Hag or Haunted Woods as Reactions, where there would be a random chance to get attacked).
      • Reactions are potentially faster to work in not needing to be played from hand first.
      • Duration effects trade dynamic moments for reliability, but not necessarily making for a boring card.

    Curse
    • If you make other cards using the Curse type, you will need to invent a rule for how they interact with cards that gain Curses, since the official game has been designed to just have the crows. Will your idea replace the pile of crows, will you say 'gain a Curse' means the card name? Bear in mind that the general public will have conflicting views.
    • You might modify the crows. Keep Charlatan in mind and make sure your idea works with it.
    • If you make kingdom cards worth negative to try and offset something powerful, you can trash them later so there's no disadvantage. In games with trashing available, it will almost always be right to get them...
    • ...you might give each other player some tokens instead, to simulate a permanent mark against your score.

    Duration
    • This type is a diverse and useful way to implement a lot of different effects, so be open to using it, just as all the newest expansions from Adventures on have done. Several Attacks add an effect to opponents' turns (Swamp Hag, Haunted Woods), cards can be conveniently set aside with the Duration tracking them (Haven, Crypt, Cargo Ship), they can stick around in play until something happens (Abundance), while most carry boosts over to future turns.
    • The card stays in play for however many turns as long as it's tracking something. (Abundance could stay in play permanently if an Action is never gained).
    • Start-of-future-turn effects are effectively the same as playing a normal Action with +1 Card +1 Action then the effect (Caravan is +1 Card, the same as having a Laboratory in hand you play straight away); so typically the later effects are stronger than the immediate, and the immediate needs to be weak to balance it...
    • ...if you reverse this, a strong immediate turn for a weaker next turn, it can make interesting play, particularly with other Durations. But make sure that the next turn setback can be prepared for; otherwise you could create frustrating moments if players feel no choice about getting the immediate effect. (With Tide Pools, you can prepare cards to discard or know what your next hand will be. In contrast, with Tactician, you know what you're losing straight away and can control the setback much easier.)
    • The total amount given across the turns is a lot for the card's cost, but in balance staying out of deck for some turns means multiple copies are needed to keep an effect constantly in play (unless it's permanent like Hireling), and they can miss shuffles by staying in play at Clean-up...
    • ...for these reasons, Durations with just a next turn effect identical to a non-Duration Action are cheaper than that Action (Caravan is cheaper than Laboratory, Mastermind cheaper than King's Court). If you have a very powerful idea, making it a next-turn effect like this might bring the cost down to accessible levels.
    • Durations Vs Projects:
      • Durations can be multiplied with copies in the deck or Thrones (Hireling is more interesting as a Duration since players can choose how many to invest in)
      • Projects work right away without deck cycle delay and are continuous (you want Star Chart and Crop Rotation to always be available when you can trigger them)
      • a Duration can be deactivated (if you don't gain a with Taskmaster, it stops), although removing the cube off the Project could also work.

    Potion
    • A blank Treasure for needs highly convincing reasons to buy, as it is a hefty setback.
    • You can make repeated plays of a Potion produce great effect to add reason to buy it. (Alchemist, Scrying Pool and Vineyard are strong when several copies are bought.)
    • Making a really powerful card normally worth or more is another possibility, making Potion part of its cost (Possession).
    • Things with costs have a delayed introduction to the game. They will almost never affect the opening turns.
    • You could use costs to avoid having a pure cost, preventing certain interactions. (Vineyard has a cost since decks that can collect lots of Actions could usually also collect lots of Vineyards with a pure cost.)


    Non-Supply pile
    • Abilities of cards from a non-Supply pile cannot be modified by the +1 Card, +1 Action, +1 Buy, +, trashing and - cost tokens from Adventures (their respective Events specify "Supply" piles only). This can help certain abilities that would create infinite loops be possible (imagine a terminal Action card with 'put this in your hand' as part of its instructions. If it had the +1 Action token affecting it, it could be played endlessly. If it also had the +1 Buy and + tokens on, that would make for infinite buying power, usually a win condition. So it can work safely by being a non-Supply pile, ignoring Champion).
    • You cannot gain non-Supply cards unless they're specifically named. (Wish benefits from this in being unable to repeatedly gain itself, which would be a problem with Triumph.)
    • A non-Supply pile could create a different play mode of a kingdom pile. (Mercenary is an upgrade to Urchin. Vampire and Bat keep switching modes.)
    • If you make two piles that require each other being in the same game, one could be made a non-Supply pile that the other gains. Unlike a split pile, both would be available at the same time.
    • You can create various different ways to gain a non-Supply card. (Rewards are for Joust's mini-game. Several different Supply piles and landscape cards gain Spirits, Wishes and Horses in different ways.)
    • Cards in a non-Supply pile can be different to create either a choice or randomness. For choices, don't let just one card in the pile have a particular ability, as that can create an unassailable lead for the one who gets it. (Rewards were an update from Prizes to address this.) (Although intentionally random, Loot can create the same scenario, e.g if Prize Goat is the only trashing.)
    • Non-Supply piles Vs tokens: a mechanic idea you have may be better in one format or the other. A cantrip non-Supply pile is very similar to a kind of token. (Horses are +1 Card tokens. 4 Favors with League of Bankers adds a Peddler to the deck.)
      • Non-Supply piles have types, which elegantly restrict when they can be used. (Horses are Action cards, limiting the draw it gives elegantly and simply to the Action phase when you're not resolving any other Actions; a mat for +1 Card tokens would struggle to communicate this so well. Conversely, Villagers can be used safely at any time during the turn, so they benefit from the extra flexibility to interact with Diadem and Cavalry gains).
      • Other card properties may also be useful (Horses cost , so Scrap can trash them for an alternative use.)
      • Non-Supply piles will trigger when-gain and when-trash effects, but tokens won't. (A downside of Horses over +1 Card tokens is endless tokens with Collection.)
      • Non-Supply piles take longer to resolve than tokens. (Official cards giving Horses suffer from being limited to giving few out at once.)
      • Non-Supply piles would be more expensive to produce than tokens, especially if your audience already has a good supply of coin tokens or suitable substitutes. You might just need to produce some mats.

    Rewards
    • Rewards were added to Cornucopia & Guilds since they are more differently named cards.
    • You might make another card that gives Rewards out because Joust can exaggerate leads to be uncatchable. They are great to use for rewarding any kind of challenging objective though.
    • Each Reward is very powerful. They should likely be harder to get than Loot, especially because players can choose the one they gain and there are fewer of them.

    The Bane pile/adding an extra Kingdom pile
    • The Bane pile adds another different Supply pile to the game, developing Cornucopia's variety theme.
    • The cost limitation makes the ability to block Young Witch's attack easily accessible.
    • An extra Supply pile may or may not become involved in the strongest strategies of the Kingdom, and you can use the variable relevance to good effect; a bad Bane card may not be worth picking up for its blocking ability. So, Young Witch gets players' analysing skills working.
    • You can similarly limit the price range or other properties of an extra pile to affect power level (like with Way of the Mouse) and likelihood of relevance, or guarantee a certain property is in the game.
    By contrast, Ferryman adds an extra pile as a non-Supply pile. This creates a varying purpose for it in the game. It also means that if the Ferryman pile empties and the extra one with it, only one of the empty piles counts for the 3 toward game end. If the kingdom pile gains cards from the added pile, bear in mind the impact it can have on game speed; Ferryman is a cantrip, so it's very easy to gain multiples of it, but maybe your kingdom pile isn't.

    Shelters
    • For all random games, the Dark Ages rulebook suggests including Shelters if the last drawn kingdom card is a Dark Ages one. You are free to create whatever inclusion rules for Shelters you make.
    • You could create more than 3 Shelters, and/or mix them with the official ones. But always stick to 3 per deck each game to keep the kingdom cards' power level in correct balance.
    • They can slightly shape the game to be different from usual. They can add weak but often useful effects to the deck (Necropolis), they could get better late game, they could have interesting interactions between them; but they should still be reasonable to trash.
    • Don't give them too much immediate power; the early game is very influential, so they could end up dictating the way to play every game they're used in (Necropolis gives no form of payload).
    • So be very careful around any extra draw or money, as the significant boost in strength from -cost to -cost cards is partly down to the odds of getting a hand of 5 Coppers in the opening over 4 and Estate/Shelter.

    Ruins/Looter
    • Ruins should be weak and cost like the official ones are, so there's as little effect from randomness as possible, just enough to be interesting.
    • You can use the randomness of Ruins to create wanted random effects.
    • You may ask if making more Ruins would actually be worth the cost, because how much could they add to the game for all those cards and your money? The official ones do everything they need to do. Unless you don't have Dark Ages of course.
    • Looters can be strong with Ruins for self benefit (Death Cart), or they could give them out with Attacks when Curses would be too harsh (Cultist) or when you specifically want cost cards, weak Actions or several different cards in the opponents’ decks.

    Command
    • This type exists to prevent cards repeatedly playing themselves (Captain with cost reduced down to could do this). This is a problem with the +bonus tokens from Adventures.
    • Commanding a card from the Supply is good when diversity and flexibility are important to your idea's interest, the ability to become whatever card is available when you need it (Band of Misfits could play Moneylender early, then change to playing Village once the Coppers have gone; this saves on buying Villages and trashing Moneylenders finished with. It could also trigger Leprechaun's Wish gain very reliably, getting to be something other than Leprechaun when there aren't 7 cards in play).
    • If a Command plays a Duration, it stays out for as long as it does. If this creates too much confusion, prevent your idea from playing Durations (Captain can't play them because the potential for tracking multiple Duration effects, including its own, would get too confusing).
    • Cards played are left in their location, so any effect that needs them to move, like Reserve cards going to the Tavern mat and those that trash themselves to produce an effect, won't work (every card that trashes itself for a bonus says 'if you do' trash it).
    • You might think of Commanding cards from places other than the Supply. If you don't have the free choice of what cards are being Commanded, that can make for randomness, or play skill if you have some control over the choice. If you target an opponent's hand or deck, bear in mind that this interactivity may not be pleasant as that opponent's work has gone to help someone else.

    Spoils
    • The large + they give makes them well suited for strategies looking to spike high amounts.
    • Spoils Vs +: Adding an extra non-drawing card to the deck doesn't help an engine so well, since it needs more draw cards added (Bazaar gives just + and costs the same as Bandit Camp). In an immaculate engine, effects that consistently gain a Spoils effectively add a free Gold to the deck. So Spoils give more money than a + effect on the same power level, unless their deck cycle time is made faster than normal. (Marauder uses the long deck cycle time elegantly, since both of its abilities come into effect later than when it's played).
    • Spoils Vs Coffers: Spoils give more, but in exchange depend on the deck cycle and shuffle randomness to be available. They reward deck control skill better. Coffers are available on demand and much more reliable, generally allowing for a more strategy-focused card design.

    Reserve/Tavern mat
    • The Tavern mat is simply a space for things to go on.
    • A card with the Reserve type has an effect that only works while it's on the Tavern mat (Miser uses the Tavern mat, but it doesn't go there itself). This effect could be a call ability (Guide), a passive one (Distant Lands), or a way to delay a card from entering or re-entering the deck cycle (Wine Merchant).
    • Call triggers can be very flexible, and very narrow windows are effective; they're available all the time and don't need to be in hand like a Reaction does or in play like a Duration does.
    • Call effects can also be stacked up with multiples put on the Tavern mat.
    • With methods of temporarily putting a card out of the deck cycle, it may be best to always make removal from the Tavern mat optional (like Wine Merchant). Your audience could forget to do a forced removal, since the mat is out of the play area...
    • ...you could hence make removal effects stack (all Wine Merchants can be discarded with just unspent), or make the choice to remove interesting, e.g. a kind of on-mat toggle ability.
    • You could gain Reserves straight to the Tavern mat. Like this you could delay them from entering the deck; or have a stack of pure passive effects; or have a passive Tavern mat ability and a separate on-play ability, choosing where to gain them, and so create two different play modes.

    Travellers
    • The Traveller type exists because Warrior refers to them and it instructs getting the upgrades out of the box. It can also provide a helpful reminder of the upgrading behaviour, as well as the arrow behind the instructions.
    • Travellers fit well in Adventures since they're about slower strategies that build up power.
    • The way the official Travellers are done is simple. You don't have to stick to their format though: upgrade paths don't have to be 5 long; cost of each stage can be whatever you need; the method of upgrading could be different.
    • Only use the Traveller type for lines of 3 or more stages; just 2 is like Urchin > Mercenary.
    • You could also split the single-line path to multiple routes, to create an interesting choice of which direction to follow. Take extra care with the points below if you do.
    • With a lot of different cards all at once, remembering what they all do may be a challenge for some audiences. Yet, if two stages are too similar, making them separate cards may be a waste of resources.
    • You might start thinking of the end of the line first, the super powerful effect needing game time to reach for balance. It would become the central deck strategy because of the commitment involved...
    • ...because of this, make sure it can work reliably so there's no risk of all that investment failing by chance; that would be a terrible experience (Champion is a permanent Duration, and Teacher leaves permanent boosts).
    • The upgrades could either complement the final stage (all the Teacher line provides further engine support with Soldier as a payload option, and Champion helps with and against Warrior chains) or work against it if needed for balance (Treasure Hunter and Hero bloat the deck with Treasures, reducing the density of Action cards for Champion). You might try complementary ones first, as that would be more fun, and then worsen the synergy if testing shows it's needed.
    • If you want to make the whole line a possible self-contained strategy, remember that there are 9 other Kingdom piles in the game. If the best play is to get nothing but the line all the time, things will get boring. The time it would take for the line by itself to get to a win condition should be long enough to let faster strategies be possible.
    • Some people don't like the Champion line because Warrior can end up trashing an opponent's Treasure Hunter or Warrior. That player will almost certainly get to Champion first by pure chance.
    • The upgrade method doesn't have to be discarding from play, although it is simple and effective and there's no way to upgrade twice in the same turn. You could add an extra cost to make the increase in power more steep. You could make the cost different at each stage, but that won't be elegant or easy to remember...
    • ...think about the implied strategy your method creates. With discarding at Clean-up, faster deck cycling is desirable. Bear this in mind when designing the upgrade stages; the game time taken can be mildly affected by what they do (Page, Warrior and Fugitive can all speed the process up slightly).
    • The official Travellers increase in cost by with each upgrade for elegance. You can price them however you like. (Mercenary costs . If the Traveller upgrades all cost , Warrior trashing other Warriors could be fixed. If Fugitive were a Kingdom card, would be too cheap.)
    • The upgrades can use the advantages of being non-Supply piles (Disciple can't gain copies of itself).

    Split | piles
    (Here I cover the basic principle of a pile with different cards in it. Empires and Allies split piles are considered together)
    • Split piles create some player interaction. With few copies of each card in the pile, there can be pressure to compete for the majority of them. (The Forts and Odysseys highlight this with the few Victory cards in them.)
    • List the order of the cards on the randomiser card, and make the types and cost it has the same as the top card.
    • Some cards may benefit from having fewer copies in the Supply (10 Fortunes would never empty out, and nor would any of the Wizards, so the material cards are not wasted).
    • The more different cards added to the game may be desirable.
    • The lower cards in the pile will come in mid to late game. This lets their price be a bit cheaper (Plunder has been considered as strong as a )...
    • ...you could also involve the timing of their availability (The player who uncovers Fortune with a successful Gladiator can be at a distinct advantage with + towards buying a Fortune with an extra Gold, and getting to the future massive turns first).
    • The top cards of the pile need to empty easily so the lower ones have a good chance of appearing (Patrician, Settlers and Encampment are cantrips easy to add to the deck. Gladiator trashes copies of itself from the pile. Catapult is a trash-for-benefit card, so buying extra Catapults can have a decent payoff, especially since Rocks continues to make Catapult a major part of the deck's strategy)...
    • ...with rotating piles, giving the top card the rotate ability and enough copies for each player to get a copy (4 is good) will make the rest of the pile accessible to all. It will also mean it doesn't have to be so easy to add to the deck (Tent is a terminal non-drawing card). If the rotate ability is put on lower cards, there will be fewer different cards to rotate; this may not be so interesting.
    • The top cards could return to the pile to make the lower ones only sometimes available (Encampment; it's a very desirable cheap purchase, so Plunder will likely reappear).
    • The cards in the pile should have synergy with one another, otherwise why are they together? They shouldn't make too complete a strategy too often though, so the other 9 Kingdom piles can contribute.
    • You can make one card in the pile require that a certain kind of ability be always present, by making another card in the pile have it (Crumbling Castle can always be trashed by Small Castle. Elder always has Town Crier and Blacksmith to work on; note also that because it's at the bottom of the pile, players will likely have Town Criers and Blacksmiths ready in their deck when it becomes available).

    Gathering/Supply piles accumulating tokens
    (See also tokens)
    • The Gathering type exists because of Defiled Shrine. The tokens on Gathering piles can't be used by anything else...
    • ...so going with just the official cards, only Action Supply piles would need to have the type.
    • A Treasure Gathering would interact with Aqueduct.
    • The principle idea always creates player interaction, and can create alternative ways to get ahead besides usual building.
    • Taking tokens on gain (Temple, Wild Hunt Estates) usually limits potential opportunities to the number of cards in the pile, creating some tension.
    • The tokens can let a card have different play modes, tracking them easily (Farmers' Market has a global cycle of 5 play modes).
    • You might think of a Supply pile accumulating other tokens. With coin tokens, mind Trade Route and Family of Inventors; you would need to keep track of two separate stacks of tokens, and your audience may not like that.

    Heirlooms
    • One card in the starting deck that replaces a Copper can change the opening a lot. It can make the game feel more interesting right from the start...
    • ...if it provides extra payload, it will also accelerate the game significantly. (Goat is the only official one doing this. Lucky Coin's payload isn't immediate, so it won't affect the opening. Cursed Gold comes with a harsh setback that dilutes the deck's early strength. Pouch's +Buy will unlikely be significant without more +.) If it's too powerful, it will dictate the way every game it's in is played; a Copper may be the more interesting card to have then.
    • Conversely, if it has weaker payload, the game will slow down and not feel so exciting as players can't do so much.
    • Players have just one copy of the Heirloom most of the time, which can help certain effects broken in multiples exist on them. They could be transferred from one player to another though, such as via the trash (e.g through Treasurer.)
    • There are 7 Heirlooms already. You will need to invent a rule for when 8 or more are drawn for a game; likely you'll keep to 7 per deck for balance.
    • Heirlooms are attached to a kingdom pile for an elegant way to decide if they're included. You could in theory play with Heirlooms without their kingdom pile, or you could make an interesting interaction between them; either a kingdom pile benefitting from an Heirloom's effect (Pasture makes keeping Estates for Shepherd more viable) or vice versa (Magic Lamp and Haunted Mirror have tricky mini-games that their Kingdom piles make possible).
    • You could attach an Heirloom to more than one Kingdom pile.
    • The official Heirlooms are Treasures for elegance, but nothing's saying they have to be.
    • Start designing a Kingdom pile-Heirloom pair with what sparked the idea first.

    Night
    • The Night type is primarily good for when cards in play, cards not played, cards gained or other events during the turn are important (Monastery counts gained cards. Crypt sets Treasures in play aside. Bat trashes cards from hand, so Coppers to be trashed can't be played).
    • The Action and Buy phases have passed so you can't give +Cards, +Actions, +Buys or + without adding something to make them always useful (Ghost Town and Raider are Durations giving the bonus next turn).
    • You might use the unique time window (Night Watchman prepares the next hand you draw).
    • You can make Nights be gained to hand so they can be bought and played straight away (Guardian can block a predicted attack. Ghost Town helps when you know two terminal Actions will come together next turn).
    • Unless the events of the whole Buy phase are distinctly involved in its mechanics, a pure Night likely shouldn't give direct payload, since it'd probably be better as a Treasure. (Cobbler and Vampire are indirect payload cards. Raider checks cards played during the Buy phase.) Coffers might be the only exception, forcing them to be carried over to next turn since spending them at Night doesn't do much.

    Fate and Doom/Boons and Hexes
    • Boons and Hexes can be viewed as a pile of varying effects to add to cards.
    • Their principle purpose in Nocturne is creating random effects, so they create lower skill games.
    • A portrait card that uses these should also have a constant effect, to have a definite purpose.
    • There are ways to make them less random while letting their variability be interesting. If they are set aside from their deck face up, the effects can be fixed and predictable for a time, so they can be planned around. (Druid has a varying choice of 3 effects for the whole game, that no other Fate card can use; this affects how strong it is.) Other possibilities are setting them aside to be unique to a player, or turning the deck face up and rotating them to change effect mid game.
    • You can probably make extra Boons and Hexes too. Keep the power level of the official ones in mind.

    Spirits
    • Put together, they all help with drawing the deck.
    • Donald's initial premise for them was Exorcist, a Remodel gaining unique cards.

    Wishes
    • Wishes Vs immediate 'gain a card to your hand costing up to ': Wishes' gain is delayed for balance, and they are flexible to adapt to immediate needs at that time.

    Horses
    (see also Non-Supply piles above)
    • Coffers are + tokens, and Villagers +1 Action tokens; Horses are +1 Card tokens, only they clog up the deck when you don't want to spend them...
    • ...A literal +1 Card token would rarely be saved, and it wouldn't require a well-built deck like Horses do.
    • Horses Vs +Cards:
      • The draw is delayed with Horses. Sometimes you don't need the draw right now, but late game you may not have time to wait for it.
      • Hand size doesn't immediately increase.
      • Horses present more options besides draw, like being trashed or using Ways on them.
      • Too big an amount of Horses would lengthen play time.
      • You can gain Horses at times when +Cards wouldn't be sensible (Supplies and Ride during the Buy phase).

    Liaison/Favors/Allies
    • A huge asset of this mechanic is it creates a lot of different games.
    • The function of Liaisons varies each game, so they can be played with a lot and not get boring (Underling's function depends a lot on the Ally, whereas Bauble's options let it adapt to the Ally. Emissary gives a non-specific reward for shuffling, good since shuffling happens every game)...
    • ...because of Circle of Witches, each Liaison card should be playable; either that or you reselect the Ally.
    • If you create a Liaison, focus on making a different play theme to the official Liaisons, to make each Ally be interesting more often.
    • There is a lot of flexibility with Allies, as the official ones demonstrate; timing (Desert Guides, Coastal Haven), strength level with cost of Favors (Mountain Folk, Circle of Witches, Desert Guides) or their accumulation over time (League of Bankers), together with having almost anything for an effect. Your inspiration will likely start with something cool for tokens to do.
    • Favors are an investment, so make sure Allies are reliable to avoid moments of feeling awful.
    • The official Allies establish the power level of Favors. (Crafters' Guild is the effect of Armory, a terminal Action, for 2 Favors. Desert Guides is Guide for 1 Favor. Underling is the same cost as Village, but cheaper than Poacher.)
    • Favors are good as a generic bonus when you don't want to imply any specific direction.
    • Ally Vs Reserve pile (both Favors and Tavern mat abilities can create accumulative passive or on-demand effects): the effect of a Reserve pile isn't attached to Liaison cards, letting the means of gaining, regaining and accumulating be fixed (how it is gained, put on the Tavern mat and removed from the mat). On the other hand, making the on-play effect variable might be desired (letting the Liaison determine it rather than a fixed on-play on a Reserve)

    Loot
    • A pile of Treasures stronger than Gold. A lot of different names and types will be present in a game with Loot, as will +Buys.
    • Gain a Loot Vs gain a Gold: Gold is consistent and likely better suited for high skill cards. Loot is for the most part stronger (although Hammer might be bad in a game, as would Endless Chalice be if gained late game), and will call for greater cost to gain. The randomness is better for casual low skill games, and it also makes each player's deck different, avoiding boring mirror play. (When there's no trashing in the kingdom, a player who gains Prize Goat can be at a distinct advantage by chance; not pleasant for a serious game. But because there's only 2 of each Loot, these situations are rare.)


    LANDSCAPES - for effects outside the deck that affect the player's turn, deck or the whole game.

    Events
    • They can be bought any number of times unless otherwise specified. A once-per-game effect may like a way to track when it's been used (Inheritance is clearly visible, but players may have to use Project cubes for Seize the Day.)
    • The design space is large for Events, with several advantages: variable cost (Donate is expensive but accessible, Borrow makes a card the cost, cheap useful effects and expensive powerhouses are possible), independence from the deck cycle (Stampede doesn't need to be a card in play itself) and fixed time window (Advance needs an Action card that usually goes unplayed).
    • Use them to add extra global mechanics to games (Save, Trade, Desperation, Invest), goals to reach (Windfall, Quest), or different ways to buy cards (Delve, Alliance, Ride, Dominate; note how Dominate saves on a new cost basic Victory pile being printed).
    • Avoid detracting from kingdom card functions too much, so as to retain the deckbuilding aspect of the game.
    • Events Vs 'when you gain this' effects: when-gains are limited to the number of copies in the Supply (unless there are trash gainers) and relate to the other mechanics on the card. (Sycophant can't give out Favors indefinitely, but does also have a when-trash ability. Inn can shuffle itself into the deck, and its on-play +Actions can let all the other Action cards shuffled in be played next turn; it may be a preferential buy over Annex for this reason.) When-gains can also be activated at any time.

    Landmarks
    • Passive effects that give , affecting the way to win the game. The same kingdom can potentially be a whole different game with the presence of a Landmark, helping with replayability.
    • A good Landmark makes interesting gameplay, a viable change to the usual gaining Victory cards.
    • Most of the official ones are about high level competitiveness, tying in to the style of Empires. (Some don't like how Keep creates sudden changes to their plans for the turn, or how they have to keep track of how many Treasures each opponent has. Others like this, seeing it as added skill. Tomb is better for those in the former group.)
    • Keep in mind the potential to create endless games by getting without bringing the game towards an end condition. (There is a finite number of cards for Tower and Triumphal Arch to count, and sets available for Palace)...
    • ...Capping the amount of available lets effects that don't bring the game towards its end be possible. (Baths has a pool of tokens on it at setup, so there's no endless dud turns.)...
    • ...With the official ones using a starting pool of tokens, the amount of one player can get ahead by is usually small, and not focusing on it can be the right thing to do. This may or may not be desirable.

    States
    • An extra condition a player can get during the game. Lost in the Woods behaves like an Artifact, and is considered such here. The -1 Card and - tokens behave like States.
    • The official States are all negative. Negative States are useful for creating unique Attacks.
    • You could make a positive State, e.g an Action giving you a State as a one-shot bonus you can use (by returning the State) any time later in the game.
    • The back of a State card is useful space too. (Twice Miserable is a second stack of Miserable. A player can't be Deluded and Envious at the same time for balance reasons, elegantly tracked by being on opposite sides of the same card.)

    Projects
    • A passive effect that, because of its strength, needs buying to activate. Inheritance is essentially a Project.
    • A purely positive effect never hurts, and it's just one investment, so it could add little interest. A good design will get players thinking: when to buy them (Barracks); if cheap and early, how the effect influences the strategies in the game (Star Chart); if expensive and important to the best strategy, how quickly it can be bought (Citadel).
    • Fusing a positive and negative effect together will make the interest whether or not to buy it (Cathedral).

    Artifacts
    • Passive effects that one player has at once.
    • If they're easy to take, they create competitive player interaction (Flag Bearer/Flag). If they're hard to take, they are goals to reach (Swashbuckler/Treasure Chest).
    • Artifact Vs State: there is pressure to maintain the condition for taking the effect as an Artifact. (If two players aim for Treasure Chest, there is pressure to keep 4 Coffers around; if Treasure chest was a State, this wouldn't be necessary.) If the condition is losing something big (more than gaining and trashing Flag Bearers), a State will likely be better.
    • A negative Artifact would be safe if players choose to take it for a benefit. Giving it to another player could create politics in 3+ player games.

    Ways
    • Every Action card is given an extra choice of on-play effect. This adds skill in working out the best times to use the Way, and how Actions are transformed.
    • Some audiences struggle with an overload of choices. A simple effect (Way of the Ox) or one that's easy to see the advantage of (Way of the Chameleon) will be more enjoyable for them.
    • Effects should be weak so they don't overpower the Actions' effects.
    • The times a Way can be used are many. This lets effects needing precise timing work well.
    • An effect might make a negative impact to the game if applied to every Action card. Limiting what Actions can use it or making it a Trait on just one pile might be more interesting. (Reckless was a Way outtake. If every Action could play twice to be returned, that would detract from the skill of building a good deck.)
    Traits
    • A positive Trait will speed the game up, and a negative slow it down.
    • Think about what will make interesting play; if there were a Trait that just added + to the pile's on-play effect, it would be boring.
    • What's to say you can't move Traits (that aren't setup only like Inherited) around? They would become less about transforming the kingdom and more about player interaction. A card would have to require such a Trait as a setup rule.


    MATS AND TOKENS
    • If you make a new mat: if used purely as a space for cards to be kept out of the deck, the Island, Tavern or Exile mats will suffice. You would only need a new mat to create unique behaviour with moving them on and off, or make effects dependent on the cards on it, and/or to avoid interaction with other cards using the mat.
    • If you make a new token: first see if you can use coin tokens and make a mat that indicates what they do, like Coffers, Villagers and Favors. Allies cover a huge variety of different tokens, so unless you need a kingdom card to have a fixed effect with your token idea, or you need a token harder to get than a Favor, an Ally might do the trick.

    The trash
    • This is a shared resource. Effects concerned with cards in the trash create player interaction...
    • ...creating cards that give bonuses depending on what's in the trash can be risky. If one player builds a strategy around it, trashing a lot of the relevant cards, the opponents can pick up the strengthened bonus without doing any investing. The result is nobody does it. (No official Victory card checks the trash. Forager is always useful, and the extra potential is a bonus. Miser creates an independent pile of lost cards, free from player interaction.)
    • A card gaining from the trash may like to have cards put there at setup. (Necromancer doesn't gain, but borrows effects from the trash; the Zombies guarantee some are there.)
    Island/Native Village mat
    • Native Village benefits from having its own mat. It elegantly saves its own draws up.
    • Cards never leave the Island mat; this is the principle reason to use it.

    Coffers
    • They enable strategies around saving up for big payments.
    • +1 Coffers is more valuable than + because it can be used immediately to do the same thing; also more than +1 Villager and +1 Favor (Underling Vs Baker).
    • Coffers can be gained after the Buy phase and out of turn, and still be useful.
    • They're direct payload outside of the deck. If they're too easy to get, the winning strategy could be doing nothing but save up for Provinces; boring.

    Villagers
    • By saving +Actions across turns, decks can use means other than Villages to play all their terminals. (Recruiter is a very different source of Actions, getting lots at once that won't be wasted at turn end.)
    • They can be gained outside of the Action phase (Academy) and outside of turn.
    • Villages require the order of cards in the deck to be right. Villagers don't, letting combos be played in order easier; this is why they work in Renaissance.
    • Villages are a constant source of +Actions. Villagers are not.
    • A simple on-play +1 Villager on an Action card isn't often meaningful, and +1 Action would do fine while saving on getting the Villagers mat and tokens out. It could be made to work as an opener gathering Villagers for the mid game (Patron has + so it can help buy better cards as well).

    tokens
    • They are great for creating alternative ways to win the game besides Victory cards, adding a lot of potential strategies.
    • Unlike Victory cards, they are an infinite source of . Make sure games won't go on endlessly; a game could otherwise get to a situation where the best play is to keep gaining tokens and not empty piles out so that the opponent can't win on their turn...
    • ...so the official cards always attach gaining tokens to means of emptying piles: by directly gaining (Collection, Wild Hunt, Emporium); trashing, since to keep doing it more cards to trash need to be gained (Bishop, Investment, Tomb); or adding to other direct payload, to imply buying cards is right (Monument).
    • If a card is a one-shot, it can ignore these requirements (Mountain Pass puts and together. If a card repeatedly did this, the may be irrelevant if the are sufficient to win with).
    • There are ways to create decks that can infinitely get (such as Swapping Emporiums back and forth, or gaining from the trash). If this is a problem, your audience should make kingdom setup rules to avoid these cases.

    +1 Card/Action/Buy/ tokens
    • +1 Card: Pathfinding costs , more than the other tokens' respective Events. Laboratory is while Pearl Diver was a weak . Putting the +1 Card token on Pearl Diver almost means replacing all your Pearl Divers with Labs. These simple comparisons should reveal how powerful this token can be.
    • +1 Action: Lost Arts costs , and while Moat costs and Lab , Carpenter is just more than Workshop. +1 Action strongly improves fewer effects than +1 Card.
    • +: most of the time this goes on any Action you have several copies of that can all be played. Adding as many as those Actions to each turn makes Training worth .
    • +1 Buy: distinctly cheaper than the others, as it needs other resources to be really beneficial.
    • With all of these, limiting what the tokens go on can create more accessible yet interesting effects.

    -1 Card token - an easy Attack or self setback tool that seems quite reusable.

    - $1 token - similarly seems reusable. Vs : this token isn't stackable, so it may make a more balanced Attack, and it can be paid off in the Action phase with +.

    - cost token - strong when you can take a card below cost with it. And wildly strong if you let it go on Victory piles.

    Trashing token - all you can really do is apply it with a different method than paying and a buy.

    Inheritance token - hard to reuse, you can't really add further abilities to cards that already do something, and Estates are at a good cheap price and you start with some.

    Journey token - a way to have a card switch between two modes each play. The number of copies you have and/or timing become factors for playing the card well. Always force flipping the token, otherwise it's a “choose one” card.

    Debt
    • Great for making expensive cards. Very few non-Victory cards cost more than , as most games players aim for to get Provinces. With a sensible cost can be made and payment split across several turns.
    • Because paying across turns is easier than spiking a high price point, the official -cost cards feel about - in strength.
    • -cost cards can be bought in the opening, so don't make expensive ones too powerful early game, as they could dictate the winning strategy every time (City Quarter and Royal Blacksmith need deck preparation)...
    • ...easy accessibility can be used to advantage though. (Donate's trashing is famously strong. If it cost a lot of instead, players who are ahead and hit that price point could get a runaway victory. Everyone can get it whenever and not fall too far behind.) (Players can be competitive about getting the most City Quarters, grabbing them no matter how much money they have.)
    • cost can be used to avoid interactions with effects referring to costs. (Engineer can't gain itself.)
    • can be added to a card's abilities for balancing something strong (Capital) or to hinder opponents (an Attack giving unlimited could pin a player out of the game, not fun. Tax will also hurt you if you're too aggressive with it).
    • Having prevents buying until it's cleared.

    Exile
    • Exile can be used to keep unwanted cards out of the deck (Sanctuary) or delay them from entering the deck (Gatekeeper as a mild slow-down to opponents' deckbuilding, Coven as a mild Curser, Transport as a two-stage gainer of any Action, Stockpile as a balancing aid to its on-play effect).
    • The specific cards in Exile can be checked since they're visible to all players (Bounty Hunter, Invest).
    • Exile Vs trash: generally Exiling is stronger. You can keep the VP from lost Estates and more valuable Victories, or cards for Landmarks; and other players can't benefit should they have effects involving the trash. Curses or passive effects scoring negative VP for cards in the deck (Wall, Wolf Den) favour trashing, though.
    • Exile Vs Island mat: more cards use Exile, so it's more convenient to use it most of the time. Use the Island mat to completely prevent returning to the deck.
    • Exile Vs Tavern mat: the way of reclaiming can be made different to gaining a copy. Aside from this, it's down to which interactions with other cards to go for.


    FUNCTION CATEGORIES

    Drawing
    • +1 Card is more valuable than +1 Action, +1 Buy and +. It lets more cards be played from hand each turn and cycles through the deck to let each card be played more often most of the time.
    • A card with +Cards will itself be played more often. When adding some generic bonuses, the difference between +Cards and + may come down to the strength of the card's main effect.
    • Terminal +1 Card is almost never done (Ruined Library isn't meant to be good), because if the drawn card is an Action, it's an awful experience.
    • Making draw non-terminal lets drawn Actions be playable, making for a powerful bonus pairing. (Smithy costs , and Laboratory .)
    • The presence of a Village in the kingdom makes terminal draw much more desirable. Without a Village, it could still be used for big money strategies. Actions are stronger to draw and play than Treasures.


    Draw to X cards in hand
    • +Cards let you expand your hand to however big, but draw to X liking smaller hands makes for an interesting way to make a deck or a way to counter handsize attacks.
    • For cost, take how many cards you draw from a standard hand of 5 at the start of the turn as a guide. (Draw to 7 cards is 3 extra in hand, and Library and Scholar have extra effects on them to boost their cost to .)

    Sifting/cycling (discarding weak or useless cards in the deck, termed junk, to get to good ones)
    • Strong deck control is balanced by hand size not improving (Warehouse costs , Forum ).
    • Sifting Vs trashing: trashing is more reliable since the starting hands each turn are less likely to contain junk, letting more be done. Sifting holds Victory cards better though, and helps Action cards be played in the best order.

    Village
    • The ability to play more terminal Actions in a turn is crucial to a great many winning decks, so they will be picked up in the majority of games with terminal Actions in.
    • Very rarely is a Village in such a game too bad not to pick up, only if there's a better Village available. So an interesting Village design isn't so much about when and when not to use it, but what kind of Action-heavy deck it makes.


    Throne
    • They can turn Actions with +1 Action into villages. Beyond this they're powerful for when you need the versatility between sometimes being drawing and sometimes payload.
    • Throne Room effectively becomes a copy of the card it plays. King's Court adds more power than 2 played cards, which is why it's so strong. Procession can also add deck power.
    • The previous 3 example Thrones need good deck control to work consistently. They reward well, so in this regard they're fun. Royal Carriage and Scepter cost because they find targets to play much easier.


    Non-terminal
    • Make them quick to resolve, since you can play many of them during a turn. (Spy was an outtake partly because it was slow.) Pay extra attention to how the card synergizes with itself, too.
    • With cantrips, the warnings for non-terminals apply more. Cantrips effectively replace themselves in your hand, so they're almost not a part of your deck unless there are effects looking for it as a card.

    + on non-Treasures
    • Some decks like having these cards in them instead of Treasures, (Tactician, Poor House, draw to X), but generally it's easy to add + onto cards whenever direct payload fits the rest of the card's abilities or when draw doesn't fit.
    • Being direct payload, a source of lots of can be the deck's way to win.
    • Combining draw with + is very strong, as the two together make hitting high price points very easy. (Trusty Steed is hard to get. Paddock doesn't draw immediately.)
     

    +Buy
    • Official cards give +Buys sparingly. They would let 3 piles empty too often in the average game if more frequent, and decks built too fast.
    • Sometimes not adding +Buy to big payload can be necessary for balance (Bank, King's Cache).

    Cost reduction
    • Reduction by at worst means the same as +. Stacking reduction with +buys multiplies the potential payload a lot. It can be phenomenally powerful.
    • Cards that refer to a cost up to a certain value can access more valuable cards. (Inventor can gain stronger cards with successive plays. Rogue could trash Provinces. Villain could avoid targeting more low costs.)
    • Cost reduction can be applied to only certain cards to create specific strategies. (Quarry is specifically for gaining Action cards.)

    Gainer
    • They can build the deck. They may either lose usefulness later game, or continue gaining cards for emptying piles or getting .
    • Gaining s is a fair bit more potent than gaining s, and Duchies are made accessible. (Artisan Vs Armory)

    Trash-for-benefit - these seem to feel generally more fun on average. They add extra functionality to the other cards in the kingdom by involving their cost.

    Trasher
    • Very powerful. Trashing one Estate has been compared to gaining a Laboratory; both almost do the same thing (ignoring the 1).
    • Dedicated trashers like Chapel are cheap. This makes their strength accessible to all. Rather than favour someone who is already ahead, they heavily shape the game's best strategies.

    "Choose one"
    • Use whenever flexibility is necessary or interesting.
    • Make sure the options are related in some way for ease of understanding, and to make sure the card has one overall function.
    • Being a solo deck strategy is possible (Minion), provided the deck has distinct weaknesses.
    • Some choice combinations can be boring. ('Choose one: +2 Actions; or + ' was a Nocturne outtake. Either try and see what can be done with the Actions, or just go with the because it's good enough; this feels boring.)


    Common pitfalls:

    Cards (everywhere) cost $X more - it's not fun making cards everywhere less accessible than usual, and you'd break some official ones such as Livery (infinite Horses). Either narrow what costs are increased to things you know will be safe, or simulate it with debt or the - $1 token.

    Cards that discard themselves or return to your deck or hand during your Action phase - the problem here is potentially redrawing them to play them multiple times, and in some cases infinite times. This can happen in several ways:
    - Reactions with 'you may discard this for +1 Card' could be cycled indefinitely.
    - Action kingdom cards that move themselves to discard, deck or hand can similarly play infinitely with Adventures tokens. Either make cards like this come from non-Supply piles or split piles where the top card isn't an Action (the type of the pile will then not be Action so couldn't have tokens on it). In any case, if they return to hand, infinite plays with Champion might be an issue.
    - Mandarin can move played Treasures to the top of the deck during your Action phase if gained. Crown and Capitalism can expand this to include Actions.

    'When you trash this, gain a card from the trash' - with Watchtower and Tomb, that makes infinite VP. You'll need a fair bit of limiting to prevent this happening.

    Attacks that trash other players' cards - always limit the range of things that can be trashed so one player can't fall behind entirely by chance in losing their Province.

    [/list][/list][/list][/list]
    « Last Edit: March 05, 2024, 05:04:50 pm by Aquila »
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #4 on: January 06, 2020, 05:40:58 am »
    +2

    Specification - the criteria your project(s) must meet

    After research, you should know the points you need to bear in mind for each brief that you have. Now you can make the specification for each of these briefs, starting with the one for the overall expansion if you're doing one of those. This is a list of the criteria your idea must meet; your brief broken down into individual points, what your research identified with regards avoiding bad or flawed design, your audience's preferences, and expansion themes. Include every other desirable point you can think of, even if not essential, in case they can influence any tweaking later or make one variant of an idea favourite over another. When all the more important criteria are met in your spec, your idea is good to go; you can declare your project complete.

    There are 3 points that should be in every specification. Of course, no one is forcing you to add these, but they are fundamentally what makes a great fan card.
    • Must be balanced, be on the same level of power as the official cards. You would do well to make this the most important criterion. Playtesting is important to proving this.
      Expansions: there should also be balance amongst the cards in it, i.e. no card should be left completely ignored if the expansion is played by itself, and no one card should completely overpower the others.
    • Must give players a positive experience. Several different factors are involved here, qualify this further according to your target audience's likes, being precise and avoiding generic terms; if it's the general public, go with the official game's fun factors though don't necessarily expect to excite everybody.
      Expansions: choose mechanical themes that create fun for your audience and make sure the cards in it cover them well. They should feel compelled to play the expansion by itself.
    • Must play suitably differently from any official card your audience has. (If that's the general public, all of them.) Why make it otherwise?


    In notes, the spec can be drawn up into a table, with columns being criteria (it's a good idea to put them in order of importance, so less important ones could get away with being unfulfilled if needs be), reason for criteria, how to test and test results. This will prepare you for playtesting, and identify some things you can test out by yourself to make the experience better for friends if they want to playtest too. (More in the playtesting section.)

    Writing down the reason for each criterion can help confirm how suitable and important it is, in case you should see the need to re-evaluate later; this may happen if you identify you have 2 or more points that can't possibly all be met, and you need to work out which to ditch. It will also help you to see how well justified you are in taking designs down certain directions, which can be either a confidence boost or a guide in a better direction, both needed.

    You'll fill in the how to test column later, once the spec becomes a design idea.

    Recommendations for further criteria:
    • Be easy to learn, simple to understand. A complex or wordy card should quickly make sense. (Reason: each game with it is otherwise less relaxing or enjoyable and more of an academic exercise.)
      Expansions: interactions between the cards can be as easy or as hard to spot as you like, but the less rules errata you need to make for them the better.
    • Be usable in any kingdom. (Reason: because your audience fully randomises each game, and that's how official cards are designed.)
      Expansions: to be truly defined as an expansion, you should have this in the spec of all the cards in it. You may be making a set of cards to play by themselves though, in which case this point is optional and you call the set a Dominion spin-off.
    • Have short enough ability text to allow for a large enough font size to read easily. (Reason: an easier play experience overall, and some audiences need it.)
    • Be safe from any possible future card design that doesn't exist officially yet. (Reason: they could exist as fan cards that your audience potentially plays with.)

    For expansions, you could also specify the number of cards there are to be in the set, the number at each price point, how many should use a certain mechanic, or definite card flavours that have to be there to reflect the expansion theme.
    « Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 04:37:55 pm by Aquila »
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #5 on: January 06, 2020, 05:41:47 am »
    +2

    Design Ideas - translate your specs into effective designs

    At last, time to unleash your creative flair! You've set your restrictions, you've got an idea of where your cards are going, now you can set them off on their design journey. You could still take bad turns despite all of that work beforehand, so go carefully.

    Start by putting together the card properties you mentioned in your brief. Then stop. Imagine the card like this in your mind; get the nature of the card, asking these questions:
    • What's it like in the deck, in your hand, played, bought?
    • How would other players feel?
    • What are all the things it does in every situation?
    • Do those things feel pleasant and elegant all together or is there a clash?
    • Does it feel too similar to an official card?
    • What will it combo with? Any broken interactions with anything?
    • Compared to official cards, does it need more power or less power? Or what cost seems best?
    • Is it fulfilling all of the important points in the spec?
    After the first imagining, see if you can add another property; think what will fit well and be interesting. After adding another property, stop again and go over the same imagination process, identifying the differences. Keep doing this until you have all the necessary properties and every above question is positively answered.

    This imagining is one of the big keys to being a good designer. With time, you'll be able to do it quicker and develop an innate sense for fan card design, creating good ideas from scratch. That said, newer designers can come across fantastic designs first time, so don't think there must by default be an improvement to make if you imagine everything's good!

    You may come across several things that could work from the base idea. In such case, write down the different variants and try working out which is best. Carry them all through to Testing if they seem equal.

    Translating concepts into Dominion mechanics can be a challenge. Writing the instructions clearly and succinctly is another. Here you'll want to look up official cards that do similar things and learn their wording. If you have a new mechanic, you may have to use a verb not covered by official wording and (hypothetically) explain it in your card's rulebook.

    But at what point do you stop adding things? How much functionality do you add? You should be able to sum up everything your card does in one quick sentence (without mentioning any of the unconditional +bonuses when you play it). You can do this with each of the official cards; Noble Brigand and Pirate Ship look wordy, but they're simply 'steal their money if they're rich, give them a little if they're poor' (notice how the Robin Hood flavour helps here) and 'steal their money to become better payload' respectively. This proves them as easy to learn and remember, and it gives them a pleasing elegance. That's probably two big points in your spec covered.

    As you keep thinking about your idea, as the direction it's going in becomes clear, you might decide to make this sentence its brief, if it more accurately conveys what you want from it. You can then feel free to change those first card properties if needs be.

    Expansions: it can be helpful to brainstorm here. Have the expansion name in the middle, with the playstyle themes branching off it. Off of these write different related concepts; you should be able to identify a concept linking each theme, so put a line from each of them to it. Then note on how to imply each concept with Dominion mechanics, and if any of these are linked to other concepts somehow draw that on. Then, if you have any ideas for cards or your own mechanics, connect these onto the map. Keep thinking of links from one part of the map to the other and you will find coming to briefs for individual cards easier: this map represents the interactions and the very heart of the expansion, so very useful (just don't let your friends see it!). Keep in mind it's good for some cards to not interact well, so you define different strategies.
    « Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 04:54:03 pm by Aquila »
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #6 on: January 06, 2020, 05:42:54 am »
    +2

    Testing - proving the quality of your ideas

    A test has been defined as measuring a subject against a standard. Your design ideas are the subject, and the standard is the plethora of official cards that exist and the average game that those cards make. The impact on your target audience and how well it fits into the average game (its balance) is the test.

    This is not going to be an easy section to write, as every possible design is going to need a different test. You're going to have to do some thinking yourself. Here's where the how to test column on the spec of each idea comes in.
    For balance, think about how you can use it to make a powerful winning deck, noting down what other (kinds of) cards would be needed (don't forget any synergy with itself!).
    For positive experience, note down how you imagine the card to be interesting, in what situations.
    For playing differently from official cards, write down all the ones that share similar functions, if there are any.
    For easy to learn, beyond the one-quick-sentence rule there's only one thing you can do: playtest with your play group.
    Text size is simple, as explained just below.
    Any other points you have will either already be met in previous stages or be tested at the same time as the big three. If not, you can probably work out what to write.


    Preliminary testing you can do yourself

    OK, you might not do anything by yourself if you've had friends all the way through your project, and that's of course fine, testing everything together can be fun. But if you're doing the project by yourself, there are some tests you can do first before showing the cards to your friends, to make the experience better for them.

    You want to make prototypes of each of your ideas and simulate games to yourself. They're only prototypes - you don't need to go fancy with them! Writing them out on pencil and (card-sized) paper lets you make any needed changes. Then, you can set up a game as normal, adding whatever your design requires, and use any kingdom pile or pile of blanks and put the paper over the pile. You have to remember that any kingdom pile you use like this isn't doing what it normally does, which can be tough at first but you get used to it. An easier but costlier alternative if you sleeve your Dominion cards is slip paper prototypes in all the cards of the substitute piles.
    You will also need a counter or somewhere to keep a tally, to count turns.

    The tests in the order you do them in:

    The text size test, if that's in your card's spec. Open up the card generator stickied on this forum (new fork), and type in your card's instructions in the Description box. How easy is it to read on the generated mock-up? Simple; you don't need to do anything else here.

    The feel test. You don't need to count the turns for this. Take your idea and put it in a kingdom with cards you know will combo well with it. How does it behave? Actually playing with the card can reveal things your imagining it couldn't see, which may make it stronger or weaker than you thought. How exciting does it feel when it's in its element? It may not necessarily excite you, but can you imagine it exciting your audience? Can you identify ways it could safely be more fun? Also, how easily are you playing it out? If it's complicated or slow, how can you speed it up or simplify it without deviating from the brief? Next, check how exciting it is in a couple of random games: is it nice to analyse at the start of each one? Ignore the novelty of it being your own idea, that's not the excitement you're identifying. If it isn't an interesting process, that suggests your idea is either too open or too narrow in functionality, missing the sweet middle ground, or it's niche but too weak or dull when it's good.
    Expansions: once you have 10 or more individual card ideas for your expansion, put them all together in a game and get the feel of the interactions going on. This will be better if you tested them all individually first. Try to have a fresh mind for it, and play them as best you can; now sure, it's giving you an advantage over your friends, so by all means save this for when you're with them if you wish. But the point is, see if you're thinking along the lines of the playstyle themes of your expansion. You could easily come across some strong combos in the process; note these for the later speed test.

    The comparison test. Only do this if your idea is similar to official ones; if it's utterly unique, you can't compare it to anything. You're aiming to check for balance by putting it against the official cards you know are balanced, and how different it is to play.
    Take it and those that share similar functions and put them against each other in similar deck strategies. Simulate a 2-player game where one uses your idea. Unless a card in the game needs the deck to be as normal, you can take the shuffle randomness away from both sides by flipping each deck over, and when you draw a card pick any from the deck. See if you're satisfied with how different the feel of playing each deck is. Which one is winning out, and why? If you don't see any reason within the mechanical differences of your idea, play the game through again in case your execution could've been better for either side or if turn order was a factor. If it's only a slight win, see if reintroducing shuffle randomness makes any unexpected distinct difference. If one is definitely winning more, really keep trying to pinpoint any reason why; sometimes it can be a very deep matter.

    The speed test. How quickly can your idea make a deck that gets to a win condition? Too fast and it's imbalanced. Take the same combo cards you had for the feel test, take your method of counting turns, and flip the deck over to avoid shuffle randomness if you can. Think which game end method is best for your combo's strategy, and simulate an opponent if player interaction is needed. Run the game with the best possible card drawing, adding 1 to the count after every round of turns is finished. If you're going for Provinces, the turn threshold that indicates balance will vary depending on how many different cards are in the combo, not including the base cards. If you have 2 cards, getting 4 Provinces after turn 12 is safe; if 3, 4 provinces after turn 10. You might justify quicker rates as balanced if the cards in the combo are very niche and weak overall (an example is Beggar with Guildhall), since it will rarely come up and very few different cards could replicate it. If you can find a combo that gets them faster using 4 or more cards, that's fine; it shows the potential your idea has, and the chances of all those cards appearing in the same game is slim. If you start the game with a $5/$2 split of money on the first 2 turns, that has about 11% chance normally; you might justify a stronger combo because of this, or disqualify it if you want to avoid that narrow chance deciding games.

    If, though, your idea aims to get VP in its own way to win, make a kingdom that helps make it strong enough, and run it against a deck gaining just Provinces. Can it win? In how many different kingdoms could it win? You need it to win only some of the time, and you're aiming to figure out how often and get to a satisfactory rate. And if you need to test out a 3-pile ending, do this with others, as that's the only way to truly simulate it; get the actual mentality of different people rather than trying to imagine them, as you could easily end up biasing their decisions to the outcome you want.


    So, your solo testing may reveal some needed improvements. Try to first think about tweaks, the smallest changes you can make, so you don't interfere with the thoughts behind the previous stages of the process too much. Test these out, and if there are still issues think about bigger variants, perhaps at different costs and power levels. All this testing may seem arduous at first, but with time you can add to your design sense as described at imagining your ideas, so you may be able to lessen this part of the process.


    Using this Variants forum

    Here you can call upon the help of other experienced Dominion players and designers at any stage of the design process. Outside perspective can be extremely valuable. What's generally appreciated is that you start your own thread for everything to do with all your ideas, or one separate one for each of your expansions. You'll probably also get more response if you post design ideas up rather than just your situation or brief, even if you feel the ideas are bad (admit it if so); ultimately design work is yours to do, and ready-made ideas are a more interesting read. That's why I've put this section under Testing.

    People may upvote your ideas. That's great of course, but just be clear on what that means: a lot of upvotes shows your idea gives a good first impression, not necessarily a good overall design. It has the exciting factor, but there could be deep underlying problems that people don't see at first. Conversely, a few upvotes or none at all doesn't necessarily mean your idea is bad, imbalanced or boring; its interest could be subtle and more apparent when actually played with.

    You may get feedback replies. Again, this outside perspective can be just what you need, and things can be picked out that you missed. Be grateful and be open to what they say. To improve the quality and relevance of feedback, you might mention your situation, the idea's brief and extra points besides the big three in its spec (they're generally assumed; so is being playable in any kingdom, so if you're making an expansion to be played by itself say so), so people get on your wavelength.

    Mocking up your ideas with the stickied card image generator makes for an easier read (link images to your thread using an image hosting site like Imgur), but it's optional.


    Playtesting with your group

    In pure testing terms, the principal advantage here is the outside perspective of your ideas in gameplay, and the reality of different players. Though of course, having fun is the bottom line of board game sessions, and you have to respect that. Set up a game as normal for the group (whatever you do when making an all-official kingdom, don't deliberately select the combo cards like you do with solo tests), making things seem as natural and relaxed as possible. You could either watch them play and observe critically your idea in action or join in and try to treat it like an all-official game, whatever the group's comfortable with. There are testing advantages both ways; the former is like an enhanced feel test, whilst the latter helps you to see the card as if it were official and if it fits in amongst them.

    But before anyone jumps in thinking out their strategy, they need to know what the new cards are doing. Here's the test for how simple they are: get them to explain what your ideas do! If they can, your ideas cleanly pass. If you need to chip in with some explanations or rules errata for specific interactions, ask if it makes sense and hope for a unanimous yes, then play through the game and see if anyone asks about those rules again during it. If they don't, your idea may count as a pass, and seeing if they remember when you play it during a later games session will be the indicator. The outcome of this test may or may not identify changes to make depending on how important simplicity is to you, just as long as every game doesn't become an academic exercise.

    For the first game or two you're looking for similar things to the solo feel test. Get feedback on how they feel about analysing it for strategy, and any other first impressions they get. As the game goes on and your idea has had a couple of uses, how are they feeling about playing with it? Extra things could be picked out besides your own testing, and more crucially your audience itself is speaking.

    Later on, ideally in later games with the idea, you want to check for balance issues:
    • How quickly are piles emptying? Are games any faster or slower than expected or liked?
    • How often is the card relevant to a winning strategy? Too often?
    • Are player interaction effects favouring one person too much? Why?


    On the one hand, you want to be absolutely confident about your designs before you publish them somehow, especially if printing. On the other hand, you might not want to go so serious for so long when this is just a game. This balance is yours to call.
    « Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 05:38:59 pm by Aquila »
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #7 on: January 06, 2020, 05:45:51 am »
    +2

    Final Outcome

    Once all the stages of the process have passed, the spec is as ticked off as it can be and your audience like the card or expansion and can see it just like an official one, it is done, ready to be enjoyed for however many games to come. How are you going to materialise it?

    You could keep things as paper prototypes to save on money if your play group agree, or make things more glamorous and print them out nice on paper to sleeve, or even order real cards from a printing company. I'm no expert here, but I can say that the Dominion card size is European Skat size, 59x91mm. The other guides have more.

    Online, you can present finished ideas on this forum so others can see and play with them. As yet, the only real way to play fan cards virtually is with Tabletop Simulator, which doesn't seem ideal (again I'm no expert, I don't have it). You have to buy it, then organise meetings with players from around the world since there's no AI opponent option. We're almost certainly not going to see fan card implementation on Dominion Online. Someone could make an app, but to make it shareable with others you couldn't have the official cards on it as that would need Dominion Online's and Donald X's consent.

    In any case, if you're using internet images for your card illustrations, always check the image is free for non-commercial, Creative Commons use; if it's from an art-sharing website like Deviantart or Artstation or from anywhere else where you know the artist is still alive, you should first ask for consent to use his or her work. Even though you can't make money from your fan cards, and even though the search engine you use may let you freely copy the image, you would still be using the image for entertainment purposes; so you could run into legal issues with what constitutes fair use of the art.
    To put it another way, if you want to be entertained by another person's artwork, should you not pay them for their service?




    Concluding comments

    Well, this ended up being way longer than I expected! I hope this guide helps introduce the design field effectively and provides a convenient place where people can turn to for anything related to their card projects. If you know I'm wrong about something (some of the testing section might be very off) or you have suggestions as to improvements or additions, feel free to reply in this thread. Or if you have anything you're stuck with in your project you can post it in this thread so others can read it too. I'll try to keep the guide up to date, but anyone can feel free to answer questions; just remember that everyone's Situation will be different, so put yourself in their position before answering, and make this a considerate and constructive space.

    Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Dominion!
    « Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 04:17:51 am by Aquila »
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    segura

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #8 on: January 06, 2020, 06:00:06 am »
    0

    Duration - the card stays in play for however many turns as long as it's tracking something, be that effects for your following turns and/or during each other player's turns. Remember start of turn effects are effectively the same as playing a normal Action with +1 Card +1 Action then the effect, so just +1 Card like Caravan is actually the same as playing Laboratory; so typically the later effects are stronger than the immediate, and the immediate needs to be weak to balance it. The total amount given across the turns is a lot for the card's cost, but in balance staying out of deck for some turns means multiple copies are needed to keep an effect constantly in play, and they can miss shuffles by staying in play at Clean-up. This type is a diverse and useful way to implement a lot of different mechanics, so be open to using it, just as all the newest expansions from Adventures on have done.
    I think that this is not specific enough. Terminal card draw is the only thing that is arguably better delayed (Lab vs. Caravan shows that this ain't the case with nonterminal draw), with Actions it is tricky to evaluate (from Fishing and Ghost Town I'd say slightly better delayed but only slightly) whereas Buys and most definitely Coins are the vanilla bonuses that you nearly always want immediately.

    For example I once played a Kingdom with no terminals and Fishing Village. Fishing Village wasn't bought at all because Silver was better.


    Combining draw with +$ is very strong, as illustrated by how hard Mercenary and Trusty Steed are to get.
    How often do you play Trust Steed for +2 Cards and +2 Coins? I definitely do it less than 5% of all times. So we have a rough benchmark: +2 Cards and +2 Coins is weaker than Lost City which is a $6 or a $7. I am pretty sure that such a vanilla card, ignoring that it would be too boring without anything else on it, would be a $5.
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    LastFootnote

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #9 on: January 06, 2020, 01:51:36 pm »
    +1

    How often do you play Trust Steed for +2 Cards and +2 Coins? I definitely do it less than 5% of all times. So we have a rough benchmark: +2 Cards and +2 Coins is weaker than Lost City which is a $6 or a $7. I am pretty sure that such a vanilla card, ignoring that it would be too boring without anything else on it, would be a $5.

    I haven't yet read the guide, but will respond to this. I use Trusty Steed as +2 Cards and +$2 as often as I can get away with doing it. If Trusty Steed is my only village then obviously I mostly use it for +2 Cards and +2 Actions. But I try to budget +Actions with the aim of playing Trusty Steed as a powerful terminal.
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    spineflu

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #10 on: January 06, 2020, 10:14:48 pm »
    0

    really great work though Aquila. Knocked out the park.
    « Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 04:46:01 pm by spineflu »
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    AJD

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #11 on: January 07, 2020, 05:22:40 pm »
    +1

    Duration - the card stays in play for however many turns as long as it's tracking something, be that effects for your following turns and/or during each other player's turns. Remember start of turn effects are effectively the same as playing a normal Action with +1 Card +1 Action then the effect, so just +1 Card like Caravan is actually the same as playing Laboratory; so typically the later effects are stronger than the immediate, and the immediate needs to be weak to balance it. The total amount given across the turns is a lot for the card's cost, but in balance staying out of deck for some turns means multiple copies are needed to keep an effect constantly in play, and they can miss shuffles by staying in play at Clean-up. This type is a diverse and useful way to implement a lot of different mechanics, so be open to using it, just as all the newest expansions from Adventures on have done.
    I think that this is not specific enough. Terminal card draw is the only thing that is arguably better delayed (Lab vs. Caravan shows that this ain't the case with nonterminal draw), with Actions it is tricky to evaluate (from Fishing and Ghost Town I'd say slightly better delayed but only slightly) whereas Buys and most definitely Coins are the vanilla bonuses that you nearly always want immediately.
    I think you misunderstand what Aquila's saying here. It's not 'it's better to have the effects later than immediately'; it's 'the effect that a Duration card has on the next turn is better than the effect it has now'. Thus Caravan is do-nothing cantrip now, Lab next turn; Caravan Guard is do-nothing cantrip now, Peddler next turn; Wharf is Silk Merchant now, 2 Labs and a buy next turn; etc. The future effect of a Duration card is better than the effect you get on the turn when you play it.
    « Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 04:04:19 pm by AJD »
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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #12 on: January 07, 2020, 06:58:05 pm »
    +3

    I've only skimmed through this so far but it seems like a good write up! The only thing that really stuck out to me was this statement:


    LastFootnote should be able to correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Empires was particularly designed to be high skill, it might have ended up that way but I haven't seen Donald say anywhere that it was particularly a goal of the expansion. And I'm pretty sure the goal with Renaissance was to make the mechanics of the cards less complex, not making the strategy less complex/lower skill. (Plus if Donald was trying to make things less skill intensive then he failed miserably there!)


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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #13 on: January 08, 2020, 04:24:51 am »
    +1

    OK, I'm done with tidying it all up, and I added a bit on "choose one" in Research.

    I typed up a merged version of this and rinkwork's guide on my wiki user page and added a couple things that weren't addressed that I've run into with my forays into design. Really, really great work though Aquila. Knocked out the park.

    Feel free to copyedit/edit/critique; i'll merge it maybe... idk, wednesday? later this week.
    link

    revisions I added:
    • removed things that specifically only mattered to first edition
    • Cost comparison and "Otherwise" vs handling each case
    • broke out the printing subsection of rinkwork's guide to be Copy Editing, Layout, and Printing subsections - they're all different things with different considerations
    • sorted the common pitfalls section into groups - reactions, attacks, gameshaping, and specialized cards; the latter two have significant overlap and their arrangement may require refactoring

    things I'd still like to add/tweak:
    • ways of doing vanishing cards
    • the printer herw used when he got correctly sized dominion cards printed back on like, page 4 of WDC thread
    • how do i make level 6 headers not smaller than normal text
    Thanks for the credit. This merging of the guides must have been some undertaking itself! It might well be useful for someone, just...I don't imagine people would turn to the Dominion Strategy wiki for fan card stuff? I might link this in the introduction though.
    I'm also sure there are loads of specific design lessons that could go in yet; my intention was to slowly add them to Research, or if people wanted to reply with them I'd link it or copy it. Expanding on card wording might be another thing.

    ...
    ...
    I think you misunderstand what Aquila's saying here. It's not 'it's better to have the effects later than immediately'; it's 'the effect that a Duration card has on the next turn is better than the effect it has now'. Thus Caravan is do-nothing cantrip now, Lab next turn; Caravan Guard is do-nothing cantrip now, Peddler next turn; Wharf if Silk Merchant now, 2 Labs and a buy next turn; etc. The future effect of a Duration card is better than the effect you get on the turn when you play it.
    This is correct, talking about the design trait rather than what's powerful.

    I've only skimmed through this so far but it seems like a good write up! The only thing that really stuck out to me was this statement:

    LastFootnote should be able to correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Empires was particularly designed to be high skill, it might have ended up that way but I haven't seen Donald say anywhere that it was particularly a goal of the expansion. And I'm pretty sure the goal with Renaissance was to make the mechanics of the cards less complex, not making the strategy less complex/lower skill. (Plus if Donald was trying to make things less skill intensive then he failed miserably there!)
    Sure, now I think about it there are a fair few high skill cards in Renaissance (Priest engines, Swashbuckler, Piazza). Goes to show simple can be high skill. Where I was coming from here I suppose was the intended contrast between Empires and Nocturne, and I thought Renaissance would be a better example because it's simpler to understand. This is from the wiki:
    Quote
    Donald X.'s goal in designing Nocturne was to aim to satisfy the "typical" Dominion player, rather than the expert, so Nocturne cards lend themselves less to subtle and complex strategic decks than do cards from the previous expansion, Empires.
    I'll edit it to reference Nocturne.
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    spineflu

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #14 on: January 08, 2020, 10:12:39 am »
    0

    OK, I'm done with tidying it all up, and I added a bit on "choose one" in Research.

    I typed up a merged version of this and rinkwork's guide on my wiki user page and added a couple things that weren't addressed that I've run into with my forays into design. Really, really great work though Aquila. Knocked out the park.

    Feel free to copyedit/edit/critique; i'll merge it maybe... idk, wednesday? later this week.
    link

    revisions I added:
    • removed things that specifically only mattered to first edition
    • Cost comparison and "Otherwise" vs handling each case
    • broke out the printing subsection of rinkwork's guide to be Copy Editing, Layout, and Printing subsections - they're all different things with different considerations
    • sorted the common pitfalls section into groups - reactions, attacks, gameshaping, and specialized cards; the latter two have significant overlap and their arrangement may require refactoring

    things I'd still like to add/tweak:
    • ways of doing vanishing cards
    • the printer herw used when he got correctly sized dominion cards printed back on like, page 4 of WDC thread
    • how do i make level 6 headers not smaller than normal text
    Thanks for the credit. This merging of the guides must have been some undertaking itself! It might well be useful for someone, just...I don't imagine people would turn to the Dominion Strategy wiki for fan card stuff? I might link this in the introduction though.
    I'm also sure there are loads of specific design lessons that could go in yet; my intention was to slowly add them to Research, or if people wanted to reply with them I'd link it or copy it. Expanding on card wording might be another thing.

    I mean, I read the wiki for a good ... idk six to eight months-ish before even lurking the forum. The forum is more intimidating, whereas the wiki, you can kind of work on things at your own pace without anyone stopping you. The difference between a book and a class, I suppose.
    « Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 04:45:26 pm by spineflu »
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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #15 on: January 08, 2020, 07:06:48 pm »
    +1

    I mean, I read the wiki for a good ... idk six to eight months-ish before even lurking the forum. The forum is more intimidating, whereas the wiki, you can kind of work on things at your own pace without anyone stopping you. The difference between a book and a class, I suppose.
    Same here, actually. Also, amazing work Aquila. Great job.
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    spineflu

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #16 on: January 11, 2020, 12:15:29 am »
    +1

    that took a while to get all the formatting and i still dont think i'm done but here we are
    i also checked with werothegreat that this'd be ok to include provided it stayed on one page, in the community section.
    now it should be easier to peruse for folks who aren't 100% on the canon dominion cards.
    « Last Edit: January 11, 2020, 12:19:19 am by spineflu »
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    herw

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #17 on: January 11, 2020, 01:09:31 am »
    +2

    Final Outcome
    [...] I'm no expert here, but I can say that the Dominion card size is European, 59x90mm, not bridge or poker size. The other guide has more (link).
    [...]
    The European Card size for DOMINION is SKAT-size, which is 59x91mm.
    « Last Edit: January 11, 2020, 01:16:53 am by herw »
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #18 on: January 11, 2020, 04:06:33 am »
    +1

    I mean, I read the wiki for a good ... idk six to eight months-ish before even lurking the forum. The forum is more intimidating, whereas the wiki, you can kind of work on things at your own pace without anyone stopping you. The difference between a book and a class, I suppose.
    Same here, actually. Also, amazing work Aquila. Great job.
    that took a while to get all the formatting and i still dont think i'm done but here we are
    i also checked with werothegreat that this'd be ok to include provided it stayed on one page, in the community section.
    now it should be easier to peruse for folks who aren't 100% on the canon dominion cards.
    Oh yeah, I forgot about the community section on the wiki. Well in that case you're guide's a good job well done, spineflu! Your bit on player interaction should be quite inspiring for new ideas.
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    Aquila

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    Menagerie Update
    « Reply #19 on: March 05, 2020, 11:14:10 am »
    +1

    Added these points to Research with Menagerie's release:

    People's different fun factors:
    ...
    • Some like the challenge that analysis paralysis brings.

    People's bad points about Dominion:
    ...
    • Analysis paralysis could make some players disengage from the game.


    TYPE
    ... Use a new type only...if it indicates something extra to do at setup like Looter (having to set aside the right number of Ruins and then shuffle them. You don't have these unspecified rules with Horses, just putting them out, so no type needed).

    Horses - you may think 'there's +1 Action tokens and + $1 tokens, what about +1 Card?'. That's what Horses are. They're better than tokens because they can only grant extra cards at the Action phase like almost every other draw in the game, and they still need the deck built well to support them. They're less flexible than tokens, but in this more balanced. Avoid making ideas merely simulate +Cards using Horses, i.e an Action that gains Horses to hand; chances are if you can use a Horse immediately you will.

    Ways - adds to the start of every Action, 'choose one: this Way; or the following instructions'. They can either be consistency aids that work around shuffle randomness, or they can provide windows of opportunity that you can easily access when the time is right. Cheap, situational or temporarily functional Actions like trashers are made more useful. They should all be weak effects around $1 to $2 in strength, so they're never overpowering what the Actions do. The extra choices given throughout the game can also make analysis paralysis much more likely.

    Exile - if you need to set aside cards just to keep them out of the deck whilst not trashing them, use Exile. Generally this will be stronger than trashing, since it avoids giving things to opposing trash gainers, it keeps cards counting for Gardens or Fountain and you can reclaim them easily. For Curses or Wall, trashing is superior. You could also involve the gain-copy-to-discard feature to affect how cards enter the deck. In any case, always consider how your idea interacts with the official Exile users.

    Cost reduction - reduction by $1 can mean: whenever you buy a card, first get + $1; or when you refer to a card costing up to or less than any amount of $, add 1 to it. Stack up the +buys and gainers, or attacks like Villain, and cost reduction becomes phenomenally powerful. Quarry is a Treasure that is especially good at buying Actions thanks to cost reduction.


    And I added a new section:

    Looks like you can do these, but you can't:

    Cards cost $X more - it's not fun making cards everywhere less accessible than usual, and you'd break some official ones such as Livery (infinite Horses). Either narrow what costs are increased to things you know will be safe, or simulate it with debt or the - $1 token.



    Does it all make sense? And is there a way I could make this guide more readable?
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    spineflu

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #20 on: March 05, 2020, 03:41:39 pm »
    0

    i mean there's still ways to make cards cost more - Tax, or have it be just cards in the supply cost more. I'll get this added to the wiki in the next couple days after midterms season is done.
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    spineflu

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #21 on: April 21, 2020, 01:05:51 pm »
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    finally added all this to the wiki

    I want to re-write the rinkworks section on reactions with what we've learned through menagerie with reactions, like playing cards out of turn, etc.

    feel like maybe there should be a section about common pitfall card interactions? Mandarin, Adventures tokens interactions, Capitalism, Way of the Chameleon, Way of the Mouse, there's probably others that i'm forgetting - Fortress maybe?

    Also should there be a section on cards like Snowy Village that short-circuit other cards abilities?
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    Aquila

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    Re: Up to Date Guide to Fan Card Creation
    « Reply #22 on: December 19, 2022, 05:28:31 pm »
    +2

    I overhauled this guide. The wording in each part I've tried to simplify. I rearranged the Research section into bullet points, used GendoIkari's extension to link example cards for each point, and I believe covered all the official mechanics up to Plunder. I don't feel this guide is concise just yet, and refinements could be made, but it's there for now.
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