Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dominion Non-Aggressive variant – version 1

Me and my wife like to play 2-player Dominion. But my wife does not like using Attack cards, and gets upset at me whenever I play one on her. So we don't use them. Which I don't mind too much, except that I never get to use tactics and strategies related to being attacked – such as using cards to trash Curses. So I decided to modify all of the forbidden cards so that they would be usable without actually attacking the opponent.


What I decided to do was to have the Attack cards become Consequence cards. Instead of attacking the opponent, they attack the person playing them. Of course, this doesn't make them very appealing to buy and play. So to compensate, I rewrote the cards to give them much stronger positive effects, better than cards without Consequences.


For version 1 of this concept, I tried to make the Consequence be as close to an actual attack as possible:


Consequence Rule: When you play a card with a Consequence, it acts like a duration card from Seaside. The part of the card that would normally affect you still happens when you play it. But the part of the card that would normally affect other Players becomes a Consequence and does not occur immediately. At the start of your next turn, before any other duration effects, you suffer the Consequence – the portion of the card that would normally affect other players, affects you instead. You can then respond with any Reaction cards in hand, as if you had been attacked. If there are multiple Consequence cards in play, they affect you in the order in which you played them.


This means that Consequence cards affect you at the same point in play as Attack cards – after you draw your hand but before you play it.


Here are the new rules for the cards that work in just this way – the exact same Attack that used to be applied to the enemy is now applied to you. I have listed the new, updated positive effect on each card – this replaces the previous non-attack effects of each card (for the first 5 listed, these were: put a Silver on top of your deck, +2 Coins, +2 Cards, +2 Coins, none, and +3 Cards, respectively). I decided to start with the Attack Cards from Dominion, Intrigue, and Seaside, just to keep the number manageable, even though as you will see I make use of the victory point tokens from Prosperity, as I think they are cool.


My general preference is to improve what each card already does, to invoke its feel more strongly. First I describe what I did to some of the more straightforward cards to modify:


Bureaucrat: Instead of putting a Silver on top of your library, put it into your hand. That didn't seem strong enough, so I had it give you a victory point token to balance it out.


Cutpurse: First I tried making it give you +3 Coins instead of +2 Coins. That didn't seem enough, so I tried +4 Coins. But that seemed too strong. So I compromised with +3 Coins, +1 Buy.


Ghost Ship: I tend to like Action cards, I think they make the game more fun than just getting Treasures, so I like to encourage them. I had an inspiration to give you +1 Action for every Action card you drew with the +2 Cards the Ghost Ship gives you. Since that is clearly not strong enough by itself, I added +2 Coins as well.


Militia: At first I gave this +4 Coins, +1 Buy. This seemed too strong, so I reduced it to +4 Coins.


Saboteur: This had no positive effect at all, so I had nothing to work from. Obviously I needed a really strong effect to compensate for losing a good card from your deck. So I decided to try having it grant an extra turn, as this effect is not especially common and is clearly very strong. Now, Outpost already does this, so Saboteur has to be much better than Outpost. I decided to have it give you a full extra turn with the normal 5 cards instead of the 3 that Outpost gives you. It is very hard to decide how powerful this is, but it seems to play OK.


Torturer: I added +2 Actions to make this card into a Super-Laboratory. This can be pretty cool for making your deck explode, but if you play more than 2 in the same round, next round you can be forced to take curses because you don't have enough cards to discard. I don't know if it is balanced, but it is fun to play with.


New Rules


Bureaucrat: Gain a Silver and put it into your hand. Gain a victory point token.


Cutpurse: +3 Coins, +1 Buy.


Ghost Ship: +2 Coins, +2 Cards.


Militia: +4 Coins.


Saboteur: Take an extra turn after this one. You can only take one extra turn in this fashion.


Torturer: +2 Actions, +3 Cards.


Next to consider is the cards which give Curses. The problem with these cards is that gaining a Curse is phenomenally bad, to the point that it is very difficult to compensate for since adding a Curse to your deck is likely to wipe out any benefit you might gain from adding any one other card to your deck. Rather than amp up the regular benefits of Curse-granting cards to the nth degree, I decided to just make a standard rule that when you gain a Curse, you gain a Gold as well. By my estimation, these should roughly cancel out to be of neither benefit nor harm to your deck. To give my reasoning, consider that a Curse and a Gold give you +3 Coins and -1 VP, so they are only slightly better than two cards each giving +1.5 Coins and -0.5 VP. Copper (+1 Coins) is generally a bad card you want to get out of your deck, while Silver (+2 Coins) is clearly a good card. +1.5 Coins and -0.5 VP is a lot worse than Silver and not much better than Copper, so I estimate it to be neutral, leaning towards a negative.


Sea Hag: Since this had no positive benefit it needed a lot of help, so I had it put the Gold right into your hand. That means it gives +3 Coins, which seems like a reasonable benefit. But the Curse goes on top of your deck, which is bad. So I added a victory point token (from Prosperity) to compensate.


Witch: +2 Cards is pretty far behind what you would want for a 5-cost card, so I added 2 victory points.


New Rules:


Sea Hag: Gain 1 victory point token. If there is at least one Curse in the supply, gain a Gold and put it into your hand.


Witch: +2 Cards. If there is at least one Curse in the supply, gain a Gold and 2 victory points tokens.


Finally, a number of Attack cards involved choices about how to carry out the attack, such that they would not actually be detrimental if you attacked yourself and made the choices. You could have an opponent make the choice, but that would break the spirit of the non-aggressive concept. So in most cases I decided to accept that the Consequence was, in fact, a positive rather than negative Consequence, and make custom modifications to each card accordingly.


Swindler: The card mostly seemed well suited to turning the Attack into a positive Consequence – the ability to trash a card and replace it with a card of equal cost is handy. One thing I missed, though, was the fact that this is normally a minor curse Card, since it turns Copper into Curses. So I decided to encourage turning Copper into a Curse by giving you a Gold if you do so.


Spy: Another case where turning the Attack into a positive Consequence works just fine; you get to look at your top card, and keep it or discard it, both this turn and the next turn.


Thief: Although the Thief gives you a choice about what to do with your Attack, normally you would want to steal Treasure greater than Copper, and leave Copper alone. So I had the Consequence be that you draw two cards and trash any Treasures you find other than Copper. However, the benefit obviously can't be to give you that card back – that would be pointless. It could give you that card back twice over, but I felt that would violate the spirit of what the Thief does to the game, to discourage players from purchasing expensive Treasures. So I figured I should have the Thief encourage Action Card decks. But how? I never actually figured this out in version 1, I kept fiddling around with different ideas. One idea was to reveal an Action card in your hand, then gain a card with a cost up to 1 greater than the revealed card. The idea was that a real Thief is more useful later in the game when the other players actually have valuable Treasure cards for you to steal; so this version of the Thief would be better later in the game when you have a supply of valuable cards to reveal. Since using an Action card which doesn’t grant an extra Action to reveal a separate Action card is very awkward, I added +2 Coins as well. Then I realized that letting you get Victory Cards would make this a powerful end game card in a way Thief isn't, so I forbid that. To counter, I let you reveal Victory cards. As mentioned, though, this is just one version of the idea, I never did zero in on the right balance.


Pirate Ship: While theoretically similar to the Thief, the Pirate Ship is weird. With the Pirate Ship you actually want to trash the opponents' Copper, even though that usually helps them, in order to gain Coin tokens for yourself. I don't really have a good grasp on exactly how the balance of this card really works out. I decided to make the Consequence work this same way – you draw two cards and trash any Treasure you find, Copper or not. Since this isn't that bad, I added only a small benefit of +1 Coin to playing the Consequence form of the Pirate Ship.


Ambassador: As with the Thief, keeping this card unchanged would make it self-negating and thus pointless. I decided to go with the idea of making the positive effect unchanged and modifying the negative effect instead. So I decided to give you +1 victory point. This seemed weak compared to the Steward, so I changed it to +1 victory point for each card you return. Making this a delayed Consequence would just waste time, since I decided to give the benefit immediately and make this no longer a Consequence card.


New Rules:


Ambassador: Reveal a card in your hand. Return one or two copies of that card in your hand to the supply pile. For each card returned, gain one victory point token. This is not a Consequence card; ignore the old text about other players drawing cards from the supply.


Pirate Ship: Choose one: Gain a number of coins equal to the number of Coin tokens on your Pirate map. Or +1 Coin, gain a Coin token, and Consequence: Turn over the top two cards of your deck. Trash any Treasures you find and discard the rest. If you choose the second option, the Consequence takes place at the start of your next turn, as usual.


Spy: No changes. So at the start of the next turn, you look at the top card of your deck, then choose to put it back or discard it.


Swindler: No changes, except that if you trash a Copper and gain a Curse, you gain a Gold. So at the start of your next turn, you trash the top card of your deck, then gain a card of your choice with a cost no greater than that card.


Thief: +2 Coins. You may reveal a non-Treasure card in your hand. If you do, gain a non-Victory card with a cost up to 1 greater than the revealed card. Consequence: Draw two cards. Trash any non-Copper Treasures you draw, and discard the rest.


Finally, the Reaction cards. Because of the way the Consequence affect you, they should be able to work unchanged. The one exception is the Lighthouse. The predictability of the Lighthouse is normally a disadvantage against Attack cards, but it becomes an advantage against Consequence cards. So I decided to weaken it by having the Lighthouse only affect one attack against you, rather than all of them.


New Rules


Lighthouse: +1 Coin, +1 Action. At the start of your next turn, +1 Coin, and you may cancel one Consequence pending against you. Obviously, this effect kicks in before you suffer Consequences at the start of your next turn.


Rules Summary:


Consequence Rule: When you play a card with a Consequence, it acts like a duration card from Seaside and is not removed from play at the end of the turn you play it. The part of the card that would normally affect you still happens when you play it. But the part of the card that would normally affect other Players becomes a Consequence and does not occur immediately. At the start of your next turn, before any other duration effects, you suffer the Consequence – the portion of the card that would normally affect other players, affects you instead. You can then respond with any Reaction cards in hand, as if you had been attacked. If there are multiple Consequence cards in play, they affect you in the order in which you played them.


Ambassador: Reveal a card in your hand. Return one or two copies of that card in your hand to the supply pile. For each card returned, gain one victory point token. This is not a Consequence card; ignore the old text about other players drawing cards from the supply.


Bureaucrat: Gain a Silver and put it into your hand. Gain a victory point token.


Cutpurse: +3 Coins, +1 Buy.


Ghost Ship: +2 Coins, +2 Cards.


Lighthouse: +1 Coin, +1 Action. At the start of your next turn, +1 Coin, and you may cancel one Consequence pending against you. Obviously, this effect kicks in before you suffer Consequences at the start of your next turn.


Militia: +4 Coins.


Pirate Ship: Choose one: Gain a number of coins equal to the number of Coin tokens on your Pirate map. Or +1 Coin, gain a Coin token, and Consequence: Turn over the top two cards of your deck. Trash any Treasures you find and discard the rest. If you choose the second option, the Consequence takes place at the start of your next turn, as usual.


Saboteur: Take an extra turn after this one. You can only take one extra turn in this fashion.


Sea Hag: Gain 1 victory point token. If there is at least one Curse in the supply, gain a Gold and put it into your hand.


Spy: No changes. So at the start of the next turn, you look at the top card of your deck, then choose to put it back or discard it.


Swindler: No changes, except that if you trash a Copper and gain a Curse, you gain a Gold. So at the start of your next turn, you trash the top card of your deck, then gain a card of your choice with a cost no greater than that card.


Thief: +2 Coins. You may reveal a non-Treasure card in your hand. If you do, gain a non-Victory card with a cost up to 1 greater than the revealed card. Consequence: Draw two cards. Trash any non-Copper Treasures you draw, and discard the rest.


Torturer: +2 Actions, +3 Cards.


Witch: +2 Cards. If there is at least one Curse in the supply, gain a Gold and 2 victory points tokens.

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