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I regularly play two-player seasons with my spouse. We've played probably well over 150 games at this point, maybe more, so I'm relatively confident that we understand the game's strategy well enough to make suggestions like this, at least for two players.
Seasons does not, of course, have a set of cards that is balanced in terms of power level. An early or even mid-game Yjang's Forgotten Vase, for example, will effectively always be better than the best uses of Amulet of Air. This is fine. The cards don't need to be balanced in power level.
However, there are some cards that are consistently just underwhelming or outright bad, and our initial solution was to just remove them. But then we figured, why not keep them around and house rule them up a little bit? Here's how we're currently playing those cards.
From the base game:
Amulet of Earth
Gain 12 crystals (instead of 9).
Why? Olaf's Blessed Statue gives you 20 points for 3 energy and is a great sacrifice option. The amulet gives you 15 points for 2 energy and doesn't sacrifice as well. Amulet of Water gives you 4 energy instead of 9 crystals. 12 crystals is a subtle but effective change, bringing it more in line with both of those options.
Potion of Life
Crystallize your energies for 5 crystals each (instead of 4).
Why? A good player will transmute their energy in the right season and earn the base 3 crystals for them. At 4 crystals per energy, you're effectively gaining 7 crystals. Filling up your reserve exactly isn't something you can just do whenever, either. The card is effectively saying "Meet a condition and you can earn 7 crystals." Even the combo with Bespelled Grimoire only gives you 10.
Contrast with, say, Potion of Knowledge, which pays out 5 energy. Or Potion of Power, which gives you 2 gauge and a card. Given the crystals don't really enable other plays like the others do, even 10 crystals doesn't hold a candle to that.
At 5 per energy, you're earning 14 crystals instead, which is starting to actually look comparable. The Grimoire offers 6 more, making that a solid combo.
Costs 2 air (instead of 3).
Why? Air Elemental is one of the weakest attacks in the game. Sure, you can murder a Lantern of Xidit-to-be, but it's a rare game where that happens. Usually, the attack is so weak that it barely even counts. Sometimes it even helps your opponent, and the 3-air cost doesn't exactly make it a flexible play.
A cost of 2 air ups the raw point value considerably, turning this into a decent point play, while also making it easier to play offensively.
Gain 20 crystals upon sacrifice (instead of 15).
Why? Glutton Cauldron has a couple things going for it; it combos well with certain cards (Beggar's Horn) and with megaturn strategies. But it has a similar feel to Wondrous Chest or Ethiel's Fountain; continually meet a condition and earn crystals for doing so.
The Cauldron's condition doesn't feel any less restrictive than the others. So for 7 turns, you meet its condition, and as a result you earn 15 crystals, or 2.14/turn. With a transmute bonus you can get up to 7 more out of it if the energy is the right type, but realistically not quite that many. While it does offer its gauge back, it still feels underwhelming. 20 crystals makes it a lot more palatable.
Balance of Ishtar
Activate: Discard an energy token of each type (i.e. 1 water, 1 earth, 1 fire, 1 air), and transmute them into 16 crystals (instead of 3x the same type to 9 crystals, or 4x the same type to 12 crystals).
Why? Before the official buff, Ishtar was abysmal. The buff at least made it less difficult to use, but comparing it to other ongoing crystal generation cards, it still offers next to nothing. Off-season transmutation is almost never worth anything.
This change makes Ishtar actually good, and something you can build an engine around. Probably the strongest buff here, but it's hard enough to use and drains enough energy that it hasn't felt broken in any of our games so far.
Pay 5 crystals (instead of 1 summoning gauge).
Why? As it is, Carnivora is the single best card drawer in the game in terms of raw card drawing potential, rivaling or surpassing even the Crystal Orb. If you want to put together the most theoretically optimized set of 9 cards, it's probably going to pair Carnivora with an Estorian Harp to fuel it, and 2x Yjang's Vase to fuel the harp.
In practice? Summoning gauge isn't the freely available resource it needs to be to pull this off. In a good game it draws maybe twice. Usually it's more like once, or not at all.
5 crystals is worth about the same as or a little more than a summoning gauge (I usually value a gauge at 4), but the advantage is that it's something you actually have on hand to spend. Card draw is good, but it's not that good.
When used, gain 3 crystals in addition to choosing an effect. You can only use one Steadfast Die at a time.
Why? Imagine the amazing combo of 2x Die of Malice paired with Steadfast Die. You can gain 4 crystals and whatever you want, every single turn. Except... 4 crystals and one energy of your choice might as well just be one side of the die for the value it gives. A three card engine that, at best, gives you energy flexibility? Most of the time you'd be better off not using the Steadfast Die after you reroll twice. I guess the insurance is nice, but.. really?
In the normal case where you don't have 2x or even 1x Die of Malice, using the effect is painful, and usually means you've done something wrong.
3 crystals seems like a lot to add at first glance, but most actual sides of the die will give you more than 3 crystals and 1 energy or 3 crystals and 1 summoning gauge, and crystals aren't generally as immediately usable as getting two energy and a gauge anyway. And with Die of Malice, this creates a more practically useful combo.
If anyone has thoughts on these changes, please let me know. It hasn't seemed that way so far, but it's entirely possible we've over-buffed something. There are still some cards that are generally pretty bad, like Amulet of Air and maybe Potion of Dreams, but those haven't felt as consistently painful to draw as some of the ones here, so we've left them alone.
- Last edited Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:52 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:27 pm
I think you've come up with some well thought out changes. I too play this game exclusively as a 2-player game. I do think, however, that these changes would significantly buff the cards, and thereby change the game.
Amulet of Earth
Not a bad change, but has the potential to be strong, especially in the first year, and especially if Longneck is played early. It's not bad as it currently sits since it uses the mostly useless earth token
Potion of Life
This change may be the strongest. Played in the first or second year, it can easily wipe out a useless or semi-useless reserve at a huge benefit. Used w/ Vampiric Crown or the Kris, and it's powerful. Couple it with the Purse of Io, and it could be a deathblow. And if you have the Shield of Zira...well.
I agree that the attack is weak, but it's situational. Dropping it to a 2 cost would make it nearly impossible to detect, and capable of being collected and played in one turn. If the cost drops, the prestige points should drop as well.
I agree. It sucks. And this change would help it out.
Balance of Ishtar
This card is by far the worst in the game. I like your change, but I'd still not want to play with it. Maybe the cost of the card is reduced to 0 crystals and upping the prestige point value? I don't know. I hate the card.
I don't own the second expansion.
Agree. This card is just bad--even as an insurance policy. Interesting change. May incorporate this one.
And finally, I'll agree that Amulet of Air is bad, but Potion of Dreams is far from bad. This card will usually be drafted in the 3 or 4 round, especially if there is a Cube out there.
Thank you for the feedback!
Changing cards will certainly change the game, and I think one of the more subtle ways is the improvement to card draw. If there's less trash in the deck, the average card is going to be a little better when drawn. Given the limited scope of these changes, I don't really see this as a bad thing, but it is worth noting.
While I'm not trying to argue for anyone using these tweaks, I do want to share the sort of comparative analysis I've run through with each of these. For Potion of Life, an example goes something like this:
You're starting a megaturn, wherein you've activated the +1 transmute bonus, you have a full reserve of energy, a Vampiric Crown in your hand, and a Purse of Io on the table. On a megaturn, would you rather have 2x Potion of Knowledge, or 2x Potion of Life?
2x Potion of Knowledge
You transmute five energies for 5 each, then play your Vampiric Crown with the last two to fill your reserve. You then transmute seven energies for 5 each, pop a Potion of Knowledge to transmute five more energies for 5 each, and finally pop the second Potion of Knowledge to transmute five more for 5 each.
Total crystals: 110 (22 from Purse of Io)
2x Potion of Life (modified)
You want to use Vampiric Crown, but you need to do some finagling to get it to work. Maybe you have some energy of an Amulet of Water, or on Fairy Monolith. So you pop a Potion of Life to transmute seven energies into 7 crystals each, play the Vampiric Crown to fill your reserve, and pop the second Potion of Life to do it again.
Total crystals: 98 (14 from Purse of Io)
With Purse of Io on the table, Knowledge is 12 better. Without it, it's still 4 better. And this on top of the fact that A) Potion of Life had to produce and use two extra energy from somewhere to play Vampiric Crown, and B) Potion of Knowledge has a number of uses outside of megaturns, whereas Potion of Life is sort of a one-trick pony.
So even with the modified version, we have a card that's harder to use, less versatile, and gives fewer crystals than Potion of Knowledge when used for the same purpose. Since Potion of Knowledge is a good card, the modified Potion of Life is probably somewhere around middling. It seems like it's not amazing, but something worth drafting if you can use it, rather than tuning out as entirely irrelevant. Achieving that is sort of my goal with changes like this.
There's no doubt Potion of Knowledge is better in the situations I outlined. In fact, my megaturns will revolve around a Kris, Knowledge, or Crown, and they will rarely revolve around a Potion of Life. And it's easier to stockpile one type of energy and grab a transmute on a die in those situations.
I will say that I like that there are weaker cards in the deck. I like trying to make them work, and I like sticking them on my opponent in the rare Naria situation.
But you're ultimate goal is valid: These changes do increase the value of weaker cards.
Maybe I'm off with my doubts about buffing Potion of Life. I'm not a big fan of change.