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Subject: Cards "priced" in an inconsistent way? rss

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Eric Bridge
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We had 2 cards in our last game we had not seen yet. One of them just sat there the entire game. The other one people wanted to buy as soon as we saw it!

One was Monkeybot - It lets you draw 3 cards. Awesome. It also makes you add 3 clank! Yikes! It costs 5 points, and is worth 1 point at end of game.

The second was (forget the name) - But its only effect is to draw 3 cards (same as Monkeybot). It does not give you end of game points, and costs 6 (only one more than Monkeybot).

To us, situations like this seem like they are "priced" too close. The designers clearly knew the second card was better, and priced it higher, but it seems like Monkeybot should cost 3 or 4 instead. +3 clanks is a HUGE penalty, and no one in our games wants to buy it.

Have other players seen games where the + Clank cards just sit there?
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Chris Ruf
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There is a HUGE difference between a cost of 5 and a cost of 6. 5 can be bought on the first turn. And as such can make your first shuffle. And a point is a point. Cost curves are not linear. In general there is a point at which it is significantly harder to get one more buying power (in this case 5->6). At that point 6 has to be quite a bit better than 5 to justify the cost increase. You see this in Magic the Gathering all the time.

I think people tend to undervalue cards that add clank. But if you are planning on rushing, you won't care about it. I have found Dead Run to be very good, but in our first game no one wanted it because of the +2 clank.
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Georg Wolgast
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I don't think all cards need to be priced consistently in a game like this, first off no one forces you to buy things, there's always 5 other cards to look at(-monsters +always available). Secondly there's only one copy of most cards, so once someone has the draw 3 cards with no downside, the one with drawback becomes a lot more appealing if the effect is desirable.

Specifically regarding Monkeybot, I think it's one of the most interesting cards in the game. Clank seems scary, but in a 4-player game you won't reshuffle your deck that many times, so it's not as bad as it looks. If you get it early, you can go for a very effective rush strategy, the first game I played the winner won because of Monkeybot. It's one of those cards that can change your entire strategy if you choose to take it and I for one love that!
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Tahsin Shamma
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ebridge wrote:
We had 2 cards in our last game we had not seen yet. One of them just sat there the entire game. The other one people wanted to buy as soon as we saw it!

One was Monkeybot - It lets you draw 3 cards. Awesome. It also makes you add 3 clank! Yikes! It costs 5 points, and is worth 1 point at end of game.

The second was (forget the name) - But its only effect is to draw 3 cards (same as Monkeybot). It does not give you end of game points, and costs 6 (only one more than Monkeybot).

To us, situations like this seem like they are "priced" too close. The designers clearly knew the second card was better, and priced it higher, but it seems like Monkeybot should cost 3 or 4 instead. +3 clanks is a HUGE penalty, and no one in our games wants to buy it.

Have other players seen games where the + Clank cards just sit there?


I will admit I hesitate a great deal before buying cards which add Clank. The "Brilliance" card (second one you're thinking of) was instrumental in me getting enough Skill Points to purchase Secret Tomes and get enough Boots to leave the dungeon early.

My son, in the same game, ignored cards which give points and he had half the points of the next closest player in the game. He was extremely upset about it. Considering the points provided by cards is key.
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Peter Hendee
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I do not think it means what you think it means.
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The +3 Skill, +3 Clank card was on our board from the opening deal until just before my last shuffle. It helped me buy some points as I was exiting the dungeon.
We got tired of looking at it.
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I also noticed that some of the most powerfull cards in the game don't generate any clank at all. While some average cards generate alot of clank. In 1 game I got the pickaxe on my first turn. I crushed the other players because I was swimming in coins at the end of the game and even bought 3 items from the shop. Not only does the pickaxe give you coins everytime it shows up it also helps crushing those monsters. Cards like this should generate some clank when played. Bashing rocks with your pickaxe should make alot of sound!
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DNA DNA
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Love game, but I modified a few cards (printed/cut images, pasted onto cards, then penny sleeved all cards).

Dead Run
Added extra Boot
(No one would buy because of +2 Clank...now they do)

Monkey Bot 3000
Added Boot
(not enough value for +3 clank...now card is tempting, but may add more)

Lucky Coin
Made Skill +2
(+1 Clank to draw a card - basically replacing itself? And only 1 point value? That's just volunteering for +1 clank every time for 1 point at end game. Too weak. Needed more cards or something, so I am trying +2 Skill.)

Treasure Map
Added Acquire +2 Clank (tried 8 skill cost, but too many complaints)
(5 coins/points per turn played? If you get early, pick up one easy to get artifact, then don't but any more cards and sit by exit racking up 5 no-risk points almost every other turn. Hard to beat someone if they get this card on turn 3 and don't but any other cards, then leave as soon as they have more points.)

I am sure others will disagree, and I hate tweaking such a good game, but with our group avoiding ANY Clank cards unless the card is really awesome, these mods have helped prevent games where one person gets Treasure Map and all other cards available cause Clank with no competitive edge. But will play more to confirm the above cards with Clank get purchased more.

Also tempted to replace end card in line each turn if no card is purchased in the row, just to make sure the line moves and more desirable cards come out.
 
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Chris Ruf
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You guys are just group thinking yourself into oblivion. Dead Run is already excellent, as is Monkeybot. Lucky Coin isn't great, but there need to be "bad" cards in a game to make good cards feel good, and as skill testers. This issue is brought up a lot by Magic players and has been explained a multitude of times by the Magic design and development teams. By making Treasure Map cost 8, it is now COMPLETELY useless. Getting to 8 is soooooo difficult that it cannot be gotten early enough to make it ever worth it. It isn't worth any points on its way own for goodness sake. I may agree that it MAYBE should cost 7, but even after 7 games I'm not willing to say it's broken.

A lot of people are underestimating how strong a card that can make your first shuffle can really be. Which is why the 2 cards that give +3 clank are so powerful. They aid the rush strategy which keeps everyone else from just engine building. Plus the game is part Push Your Luck. By eliminating high risk cards, you are ruining that aspect of the game.
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Eric Bridge
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Sorry, but I disagree that there should be any "junk" cards in the main row. I agree that 8 for Treasure Map is too much, but 7 seems about right. In our games whomever has bought Treasure Map before mid-game has ALWAYS won the game - that's borderline broken for just one card. It's because of the double-punch from Treasure Map. It's not only giving you gold that you can hoard, but you can also ignore a military strategy completely to just treasure map your way to the market items, including a 10 point crown.

And Monkeybot, in our games, just continues to "sit there" doing nothing the whole game, especially since there is a card in the deck that costs only 1 more but does the same thing for zero clank.

I think what we wish there were more of (and an expansion could solve this), are cards that help to thin your deck. So far I've only seen 2 cards that let you trash a card, + the 2 minor secrets. The odds of none of these even showing up is quite high.

The "effect" of this lack of deck thinning cards is that cards like Monkeybot become less attractive if I know I still have my base 10 cards in my deck. OK, I can add 3 Clank and draw 3 cards. Cool, but those 3 cards might be 2 more Clank and 1 skill. Worth it? I personally don't think so. What about extra movement cards? Yeah, that would be great, but there's a Crystal Cave in my path. How many times do we draw 4 movement and have to waste 3 of them because of the crystal cave ahead? In other words, the card drawing strategy is linked to the likelihood that I'll actually draw something useful, which sometimes is not very high.
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Chris Ruf
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ebridge wrote:
Sorry, but I disagree that there should be any "junk" cards in the main row. I agree that 8 for Treasure Map is too much, but 7 seems about right. In our games whomever has bought Treasure Map before mid-game has ALWAYS won the game - that's borderline broken for just one card. It's because of the double-punch from Treasure Map. It's not only giving you gold that you can hoard, but you can also ignore a military strategy completely to just treasure map your way to the market items, including a 10 point crown.

And Monkeybot, in our games, just continues to "sit there" doing nothing the whole game, especially since there is a card in the deck that costs only 1 more but does the same thing for zero clank.

I think what we wish there were more of (and an expansion could solve this), are cards that help to thin your deck. So far I've only seen 2 cards that let you trash a card, + the 2 minor secrets. The odds of none of these even showing up is quite high.

The "effect" of this lack of deck thinning cards is that cards like Monkeybot become less attractive if I know I still have my base 10 cards in my deck. OK, I can add 3 Clank and draw 3 cards. Cool, but those 3 cards might be 2 more Clank and 1 skill. Worth it? I personally don't think so. What about extra movement cards? Yeah, that would be great, but there's a Crystal Cave in my path. How many times do we draw 4 movement and have to waste 3 of them because of the crystal cave ahead? In other words, the card drawing strategy is linked to the likelihood that I'll actually draw something useful, which sometimes is not very high.


I'm sorry, but from a game design standpoint you are just wrong about useless cards. "Bad" or situational cards MUST exist. You can't make every card universally useful or there is no excitement when finding/getting a "good" card. Plus, if every card is good, then there is no differentiation between players of varying skill when buying cards.

You may think Monkeybot is bad, but you are SERIOUSLY underestimating the difference between a cost of 5 and 6 skill. 5 is A LOT easier to get than 6. You can have 5 on turn 1. And I would guess on average you get 6 skill after your 2nd shuffle. So between turns 5-7. If you pick up Monkeybot early, you would get to shuffle your deck faster and see new cards faster. Plus you are averaging larger hands with more buying/movement power. You game accelerates such that you can escape before anyone else. Sure you could draw the bad cards with this, but you would have drawn them anyway, so this doesn't change anything.

Don't forget, you may have more clank, but that only matters if it actually gets drawn AND kills you. Your HP is a resource as well, and early points of life are a great resource to trade for an advantage like extra cards.

If this game had more culling, then the effect/value of clank would be altered drastically. You can't have so much culling that players should be able to regularly cull out all clank. If they can cull all clank, and have less than 10 cubes in the bag, they can't possibly die until the end game is triggered. (I know there are a few monters that add clank, but that effect is fairly negligible to this line of reasoning.) You lose a HUGE amount of the game's tension that way.

This game is FIRST AND FOREMOST a racing and push your luck game. The engine building is secondary. The changes being proposed here are ones that emphasize the secondary aspect of this game. I think people feel it should be like other engine style deckbuilders like Ascension or DC. But that IS NOT what this game is.
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Eric Bridge
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A first round Monkeybot buy means that where every other player has + 2 clank in their deck, I now have + 5. I am accumulating clank at more than twice the rate of my team-mates, meaning that the odds of ME getting attacked by the dragon instead of my team-mates have more than doubled. And there will likely be more Dragon Attacks coming because of those turns where I get Monkeybot, draw some skill cards, and buy 1 or more cards from the row of 6.

Yeah, it helps with the "rush" strategy (although you're really only drawing 2 more cards per turn, since 1 draw just replaces Monkeybot). I get it. Get down there, grab a 7 or 15 artifact, get out, hoping the early cube draws are black cubes. But of course, there's also enough cubes in that bag, early on, to kill you too.

I guess I'm just perceiving that there are two groups of players out there. Many of us are extra cautious and take whatever steps we can to NOT DIE. Thus, the group that I play with DOES NOT purchase + Clank cards, except the gems, unless they don't expect to see that card in their hand again before the end of the game. Obviously there are many other players out there like us. Likewise, there are the more "risky" players that see this as a huge early game advantage, even though it might kill them. I guess both are fine, but playing with players in the first category results in several cards sitting out there almost the entire game. I might try your "buy the + clank cards" strategy some time and see how it turns out.
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Chris Ruf
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I think that like you, some people are being overly risk averse in this game. It's unlike other push your luck games. In most push your luck games, you only really push hard toward the end of the game when you can see it's necessary. In Clank though, there are two push your luck aspects: diving deeper when the game is drawing to a close, and the less obvious early game purchases.

By buying risky cards early, you are setting yourself up for powerful turns before everyone else at the expense of clank. But clank itself isn't actually dangerous. It only matters when it is drawn and kills you. The risk is the dragon may not attack all that often, or he may attack a lot. If the former happens, it's like your Monkeybot had no drawback.

Plus, again, your HP only matters if it can hit 0. There is no drawback to taking damage. You see this a lot in Magic. Some players preserve their life total at all costs. But in reality, your life total means nothing unless there is a chance it could hit 0. HP is a resource you should be happy to trade for advantage when you have a lot of it because it doesn't cost you any of your purchasing resources or cards.
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DNA DNA
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RE Treasure Map - "Getting to 8 is soooooo difficult that it cannot be gotten early enough"
I agree that you make a good point that maybe 8 cost is a little high (it did get purchased in one game - and they did win with its help..going to market and buying several crowns in just a few turns. So not COMPLETELY useless, since it was available early and players just bought lots of Explore to try to get it first), but I removed the increased cost to make sure it can come out by mid game more often and now we're just trying the card with Acquire +2 Clank. We'll see how this change works. To us, the card was never broken, but everyone dreaded others getting it too soon or without some hindering. A minor tweak seems necessary for our particular type of game play.

However, for us, we disagree about it being okay that there are "bad" cards available in a deck-builder like Clank. If many cards are out that no one will buy, new cards do not come out often enough and the game stalls and gets boring - plus much fewer dragon attacks. To me, comparisons to MTG are not fair because in Clank bad cards in line hold up the entire game. Without more culling, every card that gets added to a deck should be exciting to draw or no one buys it. If there were more ways to trash cards, like in other games like MTG, we would not mind weaker or +Clank cards so much. Maybe expansions will make these "bad" cards more tempting.

But I totally concede that some people may like a slower Clank game with fewer tempting cards and fewer dragon attacks. Our personal preference is that all cards are valuable, and powerful cards are either risky or hard to get. To us, cards should be tempting for one reason or another, so everyone wants to buy at least one of the cards available, so new cards keep coming out semi-regularly and potential dragon attacks occur often enough to make the dragon actually feel like a threat.

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Chris Ruf
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You just can't make every card good or there are less interesting decisions to make. This isn't MTG centric only. It is a fairly general design tactic. And plenty of buy row based deck builders have cards that are weaker than others. The only cards I think are rarely with buying are Lucky Coin, the cat, and Tunnel Guide. But even then I don't find them totally worthless. I still contend that the +clank cards are quite strong.

It's strange to me that you prefer a quick game but don't like the +clank cards. They are designed for that strategy. It doesn't matter how much clank you have if you get out before everyone and force them to play suboptimally.
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DNA DNA
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I love the Clank cards...or the concept anyway, and it works well on the tempting cards that people actually buy. But when no one will buy anything but the safe cards, the game slows to a crawl and the Dragon rarely attacks because not enough new cards are coming out -- an issue unique to this game, as far as I know. The problem to me isn't the cards themselves, or the Clank...it's that in this particular game there needs to be a lot more temptation to buy ALL the cards or the game slows to a crawl and no one cares if the Dragon does attack because hardly any new cubes are being added to it. In fact I would love a lot MORE Clank producing cards! They just need to be exciting to buy...WAY better than just loading up base cards and playing it safe.

But keep in mind, I don't think every group should change the cards the way I did. I only post what I did to show what worked for our group in case others have the same issue. And to see if anyone else found a better solution or had better suggestions dealing with the same issue.

 
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Chris Ruf
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It sounds like your group needs to be willing to try different strategies. The cards aren't the problem, it's the group think. This is also why Treasure Map is very strong in your group. No one is pressuring the person using it.
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Kevin Tierney
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dustmonster wrote:
I love the Clank cards...or the concept anyway, and it works well on the tempting cards that people actually buy. But when no one will buy anything but the safe cards, the game slows to a crawl and the Dragon rarely attacks because not enough new cards are coming out -- an issue unique to this game, as far as I know. The problem to me isn't the cards themselves, or the Clank...it's that in this particular game there needs to be a lot more temptation to buy ALL the cards or the game slows to a crawl and no one cares if the Dragon does attack because hardly any new cubes are being added to it. In fact I would love a lot MORE Clank producing cards! They just need to be exciting to buy...WAY better than just loading up base cards and playing it safe.

But keep in mind, I don't think every group should change the cards the way I did. I only post what I did to show what worked for our group in case others have the same issue. And to see if anyone else found a better solution or had better suggestions dealing with the same issue.



If the main row is stalled because no one wants to add Clank, I would be the first guy to buy one of the cards, especially MonkeyBot. Yes I'll be adding Clank more, but I'll be doing more each turn. Adding Clank doesn't matter if the other players aren't buying cards that might trigger the dragon. Hopefully I'll be out of the dungeon before they figure that out. If they do figure it out, then they will start buying the suboptimal cards as well, and the stalled card row problem solves itself.

The treasure map did come up early in one of our games. The player who bought it came in second. It did radically change the game's personality though -- everyone who didn't buy it really sped up their play and snagged the easy artifacts. The treasure map player had to go further in to get an artifact and only made it out of the depths before dying. She would have won if she had made it all the way out and gotten the +20 token.

Even when the dragon is being triggered a lot, the beauty of the game is that adding Clank is not an automatic death sentence. The last time we played, I won by being the last player out. I made it out after surviving 2 mandatory dragon attacks, as well one late attack triggered by another player buying cards they didn't need. (edit: 3 late game attacks in total.) At the end, I still had 2 health left, which seemed impossible. We checked the bag after the game and I had as much Clank in there as all of the other players plus the dragon's black cubes combined! I SHOULD have died, but I didn't, and it was glorious.

This beauty is also its curse because it really highlights Clank's "push-your-luck" nature. If adding Clank was equivalent to getting Dominion Curses I would have lost. I built a deck that stressed boots and card draws at the expense of Clank and got away with it. The same combination next time might well have me dying first. I think the gaming group needs to understand that and embrace it in order to enjoy Clank to its fullest.

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Eric Bridge
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In our games the person with Treasure Map is the one applying pressure, not the reverse. They KNOW that they get a free 5 points every 3 turns or so, so they grab a cheap artifact before anyone else and start heading back. On the way back they keep accumulating points, while we are "forced" to go deeper and take more risks if we want a competing score at the end.

I'm not worried about a mid-late game treasure map. Its the early treasure map grab that seems broken. How, exactly, does one "put pressure" on someone that isn't taking any big risks to begin with?
 
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Chris Ruf
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That logic makes no sense. Because he has the map, everyone has to stay in longer and give the person with the map EVEN MORE time? Only by escaping can you stop the player with the map from getting 5 points every 3-4 turns. If no one leaves the player with the map has no incentive to leave either.

This is where the person who has bought Monkeybot and Dead Run can shine. They can run in and out and make it so the Map player can't get enough uses to overwhelm everyone. I agree an early map is good, but it is hard to get before turn 5-7 under most circumstsnces. And it does NOTHING other than get you money. That is one less card to move, buy, and attack with. And the map is worth NOTHING if you don't play it.
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Kevin Tierney
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ebridge wrote:
In our games the person with Treasure Map is the one applying pressure, not the reverse. They KNOW that they get a free 5 points every 3 turns or so, so they grab a cheap artifact before anyone else and start heading back. On the way back they keep accumulating points, while we are "forced" to go deeper and take more risks if we want a competing score at the end.

I'm not worried about a mid-late game treasure map. Its the early treasure map grab that seems broken. How, exactly, does one "put pressure" on someone that isn't taking any big risks to begin with?


We were like locusts after she bought the treasure map card. We had more boots than her and didn't worry about Clank. We took every cheap artifact (one extra too because someone bought a backpack), and bought any special card that would help her move/teleport etc. We actively tried to move before her into a lot of rooms with tokens. She didn't get much at all and was forced to "go deep" to find an artifact. Then we sprinted for the exit. One player died and triggered the end game counter. Two of us made it all the way out and the treasure map player only made it back above the depths. It really had an "everyone vs her" kind of feel. Like I said, it was a very different game. And she still came in second.

Edit: and it was exciting! I wouldn't enjoy every game playing out like that, but it was still a fun experience.

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Chris Ruf
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It's natural to assume a particular strategy is dominant after it wins handily when you don't have enough data to show otherwise. Bottom line, a lot of things have to align perfectly for the map to be REALLY good. It had to come out in the first 6-20 cards or so, someone has to put together a hand with 6 skill within that time, and no one else's strategy would have to interfere.

There is only a 20% chance the map comes out in the first 20 cards. And assuming you buy only +2 skill cards for the first 4 turns, there is only about a 30% chance of getting 6 skill hand on turn 3 or 4, and only a 20% chance of getting a 6 skill hand on turn 5.

This is quite a longshot situation to be protecting against.
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DNA DNA
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RE: It sounds like your group needs to be willing to try different strategies. The cards aren't the problem, it's the group think.

Yes, this is surely true. However, since the game group has not been the same people every time, and cards like Monkey Bot and Lucky Coin never got purchased with any of 3 different groups of players (I only teach and watch the game), I can't help but suspect that the issue is not about our specific group -- but ANY group that fears having too much clank coming out every few turns toward the end of the game with not enough benefit to those few potentially harmful cards.

If some groups never have such problems with those cards hindering the game, great for them. I can't imagine why they would waste their time coming here looking for solutions to an issue they never experience.

However, for those few people who just want a little more temptation on a few particular cards to prevent the buy row from stalling and slowing the dragon attacks, perhaps they might benefit from what has helped us a little. Surely this issue does not concern anyone who has not experienced any issues with the game. And if any of those who have experienced the issue I describe have any alternative tweaks - to rules or cards - that they have actually tried, I would love to hear what has worked for them.

One other solution I have considered trying soon is to remove the card mods I added and do what they do in Valley of the Kings, and that is remove the last card in the row if no one buys a card in the row at all. This way the row is always pulling out at least one new card, the Dragon is always a threat, and unpopular cards eventually get removed. I like this idea almost better than the mods because it is such a simple tweak to the rules, it does not worry about the cards or any particular play style. I think it should work for any group…but I have not had to chance to try it yet. Just curious if anyone else has.
 
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Alex Fiedler
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I just wanted to jump in on this statement...

"I'm sorry, but from a game design standpoint you are just wrong about useless cards. "Bad" or situational cards MUST exist. "

THIS is completely false, at lease the "Bad" part.

There should never be "Bad" or useless cards, as that is just bad design.
Every card should provide interesting decisions at different levels (of cost & reward). Even situtational cards have their place provided cost is balanced.

Game balance is critical to any games success.
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Chris Ruf
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ReqMan wrote:
I just wanted to jump in on this statement...

"I'm sorry, but from a game design standpoint you are just wrong about useless cards. "Bad" or situational cards MUST exist. "

THIS is completely false, at lease the "Bad" part.

There should never be "Bad" or useless cards, as that is just bad design.
Every card should provide interesting decisions at different levels (of cost & reward). Even situtational cards have their place provided cost is balanced.

Game balance is critical to any games success.


Useless was a bad choice of words. But I put bad in quotations to imply that bad is relative.
 
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Joe Casadonte
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I don't get the value of Lucky Coin. Granted, I've only played three games, so maybe I'm missing it -- is it that you're getting 1 point for 1 skill instead of 7 for 7 (1 being a lot easier to collect than 7)?
 
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