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Author Topic: The Why of the Errata  (Read 4796 times)

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Donald X.

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The Why of the Errata
« on: June 30, 2022, 05:42:40 pm »

By popular demand, I'm going to go over the reasons for the errata for all the various cards that just got errata. This is covering all of the 6/29/22 errata, plus the errata for cards from Seaside / Prosperity / Hinterlands.

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

* Getting rid of triggers on buying cards *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Fixing Duration tracking issues *

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

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

* Minor fixes for how Treasures are done *

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

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

* Rephrasing overpay *

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

* Dealing with how Coffers works *

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

* Clean-up timing fixes *

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

* Getting rid of between-turns stuff *

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

* Excluding Command cards *

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

* Interacting with discard piles is a little cleaner *

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

* Prefer not referring to the Supply when not necessary *

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

* Prefer "Do X. Until then" wording *

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

* Just fitting text better *

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

* Dropping some reminders *

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

* Remaining individual fixes *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And another thing

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

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

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