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The Saint Petersburg: New Society & Banquet Expansion that is forthcoming changes five cards from the original game, presumably to correct imbalances and improve the game. Pictured here are the original cards (top) compared with the changed cards from the expansion (bottom):



What the five changes are:
Academy: costs 25 instead of 23, and gives 9 VPs instead of 7.
Czar/Carpenter: costs 3 instead of 8, and gives 2 rubles instead of 3.
Observatory: costs 8 instead of 6.
Mistress of Ceremonies: gives 3 rubles and 4VPs instead of 6 rubles and 3 VPs.
Marinskij-Theater: upgrade cost of 20 instead of 10, and gives VPs instead of rubles for aristocrats.

Is this a "variant" to recommend? Are these changes improvements? Perhaps this thread can get the ball rolling on some discussion about the changes made to these cards, and how they would affect the game. How do you feel about these revisions - is there good enough reason for us to get out our sharpies and permanent markers (horrors!) to "fix" our copies of St Pete?

Update: The modifications most recommended as essential seem to be the Czar/Carpenter, Observatory, and Mistress of Ceremonies. For more discussion, see also Tom Lehmann's comments in this thread explaining the changes.
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Mike Adams
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Hmmm. Those are interesting.

I don't see any of them as necessary for game balance.

Academy: Interesting. I rarely see it bought until near the end game, but the increase in points with slight increase in cost would make it more valuable earlier on.

Czar & Carpenter: I think this is the most interesting change of the bunch. I'd almost definitely pick it up if it showed up most of the time where the current Czar I rarely do.

Observatory: Meh. I don't think it will make much difference except to make it more difficult to pick up early in the game when money is very tight. I rarely pick it up at all, though.

Mistress: I don't think the original is broken, even if it comes out in round one. It's powerful, but you can generally account for it. I think it makes games more challenging. The increase in VPs offsets the decrease in money, but overall it is a weaker card now.

Theater: The original was used quite a lot in my early games to great effect but doesn't get picked up much any more. The new one looks like a very interesting change, but the high cost would limit it's use. I'd rather buy the Academy.
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Dan Poole
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Though the expansion cards interest me, St. Petersburg is one of the only games I rate a 10. I think it is perfect just the way it is
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H-B-G
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Thanks for using my picture Ender. My own thoughts on the cards are included here http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2757727, but I already get the impression (as if I didn't before), that there are others, far more experienced than myself, who perhaps have more insight.
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Mike Wong
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From reading Halesowen's article (good one, by the way) and not having seen the actual game/rules, it sounds like more cards were added for 5-player ability, such as the additional New Farmer worker. But if the same new red-dotted cards were used in a 2-4 player game, the game would take longer due to more cards...hence reduce the payout on those expensive cards to prevent a run-away leader, especially when someone gets a Mistress at the start of a game.

Ender, I don't think you would permanently "fix" your base game..it is fine as is. But rather use those 5 replacement cards with updated values when using the red-dotted expansion cards, which of course have red dots anyway. There's a lot more to it than just those 5 cards.
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Steve Duff
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Heh. I always love stuff like these two comments:

Mike A wrote:
Observatory: Meh. I rarely pick it up at all, though.

Drew1365 wrote:
I always go for the Observatory when it shows up.


Generally a good sign about a game. laugh

mikey384 wrote:
Ender, I don't think you would permanently "fix" your base game..it is fine as is. But rather use those 5 replacement cards with updated values when using the red-dotted expansion cards, which of course have red dots anyway.


I think the intent of the question was more from a "for those not buying the expansion, should they change their base cards" viewpoint.
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Daniel Eig
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I would leave the theater out of this group - as a new 6$ building card (a non upgrade) replaces its function.

The Academy change is interesting - blue pushes to overcome an orange advantage can be tough in the regular version - this will make it a more viable strategy.

The czar card now goes from evoking a grimace as you glance down at it, to a dreamy expression. Sure it give out nothing - but what a ratio - you get your money back+more in 2 rounds. Plus it can upgrade to anything!

I think some sort of change was overdue for observatory and the mistress. I never thought the observatory was grossly overpowered - the 3 dollar boost sounds fair. The $/pt change on mistress still makes it desirable - but now a first turn pickup leads to a bit of a money hole to make up for the quick point lead.

Unless the observatories come out early to lead to a quicker finishing game, I think that kills the early pt advantage the mistress will lead to.
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Linda Baldwin
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Heh. I always love stuff like these two comments:

Mike A wrote:
Observatory: Meh. I rarely pick it up at all, though.

Drew1365 wrote:
I always go for the Observatory when it shows up.


Generally a good sign about a game. laugh



Well, I'll add to that. I always pass on Czar and Carpenter, but Osiris Ra almost always takes it. (And welcome to it.) But at this cost, I'd go for it every time. (Maybe not the first round.)
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H-B-G
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Drew1365 wrote:
dtolman wrote:
The czar card now goes from evoking a grimace as you glance down at it, to a dreamy expression. Sure it give out nothing - but what a ratio - you get your money back+more in 2 rounds. Plus it can upgrade to anything!


The change may have also had something to do with the "Czar Superstar" card in the expansion. It's a 9-cost upgrade, and ... can it only replace the "Czar & Carpenter"?

If that's the case, the upgrade will cost 6. So instead of an inital Czar card for 8 and an upgrade for 1, the high-cost/low-cost sequence is flipped around to initially 3, then 6. (Total's still the same, though.)

So instead of a Czar & Carpenter that everyone (well almost everyone) passes on due to its high cost, it will likely be contested more heavily. And instead of a cheap upgrade for whoever buys it at high cost, it'll be a relatively expensive upgrade for whoever buys it cheaply.


The Czar Superstar is part of the Banquet expansion and it does only upgrade the Czar & Carpenter. So if you use only the Banquet the upgrade of the Old Czar is 1, but if you use New Society as well the cost is 6 over the New Czar.

In the second case there is a further complication because Czar Superstar does not have all the special symbols, so you may not want to upgrade if you also have the new Textile Factory building.
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Dave Eisen
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Heh. I always love stuff like these two comments:

Mike A wrote:
Observatory: Meh. I rarely pick it up at all, though.

Drew1365 wrote:
I always go for the Observatory when it shows up.


Generally a good sign about a game. laugh


Yes. Except it might be a symptom of typical player count. The Observatory is a pretty awesome card in a 4 player game, it is nearly never a good purchase in a 2 player game.

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Academy: costs 25 instead of 23, and gives 9 VPs instead of 7.

Normal blue cards are priced at 2 + 3 x VP rubles. For example, the 1 VP card is 5 rubles. This breaks that pattern, making it a much better buy. It was already a good card if you wanted a lot of VPs per card (as opposed to wanting to burn a lot of cards), for example if you had one or both observatories and you wanted a long game. I'm not sure I seen the need for this change, and the danger is that it unbalances the card.

Czar/Carpenter: costs 3 instead of 8, and gives 2 rubles instead of 3.

So, the price/earnings (P/E) ratio of this card is 1.5, roughly comparable to a usual 3 ruble green card priced at 4.5; except, of course, that you get 2 rubles for your action instead of 3. Probably a reasonable change since the old card took almost three rounds to pay off, and probably more considering opportunity cost.

Observatory: costs 8 instead of 6.

I'm really unsure about this one. My gut reaction is that it's a good change for 2-player, but unneeded for 4- or 5-player.

Mistress of Ceremonies: gives 3 rubles and 4VPs instead of 6 rubles and 3 VPs.

So now we're going to hear complaints about the 5 ruble 2 VP cards. The old Mistress was like buying the 3 VP blue card for 11, then getting 6 ruble income for the extra 7 rubles, a very good deal for one card. The new card is comparable to buying the 4 VP blue card for 14, and gives you only 3 rubles for the extra 4 you pay, a usual benefit for a green card. If it weren't for collecting unique Aristocrats, the new card won't be a good buy early in the game, I think.

Marinskij-Theater: upgrade cost of 20 instead of 10, and gives VPs instead of rubles for aristocrats.

So with this card, the 4 ruble red card gives 1 ruble and 1 VP. Ouch. If the old card is renamed in the expansion, the potential is to have the 4 red cards bring 2 rubles and 1 VP. Of course, you have to make that 20 investment, which would would bring 6 VP from a usual blue card. I think this is going to work for a 4- or 5-player game, but it may be very strong in a 2 player game, especially since the expansion will extend these games.

Thanks for the preview of these cards.
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John Earles
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Tom Lehmann has added a preview to Boardgame News. In it he describes the thought process behind some of the card changes:

http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...
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Ben Foy
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Academy: Who cares! snore I'll use my thumb elsewhere.

Czar/Carpenter: This card is a big screw in the first turn. Its not worth buying. This revision gets rid of that problem. thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup

Observatory: Hmmm, I think 6 rubles was fair. 8 might be alittle pricey. thumbsdown

Mistress of Ceremonies: Sounds good. A nice change of pace. thumbsup

Marinskij-Theater: Hmmm, could be interesting. I'm somewhat ambivalent about this card. I'll use my thumb elsewhere.
[/q]
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Mathew Daigle
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Can't wait for this to FINALLY come out seeing as I've been waiting for it since Spring 2007... just curious as to the other new cards in the set, and the strange new cards that seem to do awesome things!

Love St Pete - it is a great game =)

Also, the continued delay of this game being released has caused my pre-orders of other titles to be held up for nearly 2 months now... another reason why I can't wait for the release.
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jearles wrote:
Tom Lehmann has added a preview to Boardgame News. In it he describes the thought process behind some of the card changes:

http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...

The content at boardgamenews is long gone, but you will find several very helpful contributions from Tom Lehmann in this thread, in which he explains the rationale for some of the changes:

Thoughts on the Saint Petersburg Expansion - The New Society
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