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Dominion: Alchemy» Forums » Variants

Subject: Potions used as +1 Coin rss

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(Chuck Singer)
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We played a bunch of games of Dominion last night with this house rule:
You can use a Potion as either 1) the Potion value or 2) +1 Coin (a copper), but not both at the same time. This seemed to work very well and did not appear to drastically unbalance anything, since Coppers cost 0 anyway and we normally try and trash Coppers if we can. Potions became a copper we didn't want to trash that still clogged the deck like a copper.

The basic premise arose out of a combination of 1) the diminishing power of this treasure card (Potions not buying VP cards) toward the end of the game and 2) Sets with 1 or 2 Alchemy cards seemed wasted as the Potion was never worth it and it felt like we were playing with a set of 8 or 9 cards.

We use the Hiweller randomizer a lot and do not like forcing 3 Alchemy cards into sets (we seem to get a ton of heavy Alchemy mixes that way). With this change to Potions, those sets with a single Alchemy card, such as just a Familiar or University, didn't make us groan, but became a lot more fun.

It became an interesting decision at 4 money because Potions didn't have the deck-clogging drawback, but became an extremely overpriced copper that provided a shot at obtaining a particular card. Potions as +1 Coin gave us flexibility to possibly buy that single Alchemy card, but also to help buy other cards depending on hand shape. Without this variant, we knew that the lure of a good card like Familiar or University was a recipe for losing the game (too much tempo lost trying to luck into a certain hand for the card vs going other card combos) but now, it seemed balanced and a real decision to buy a Potion and go down that road. One game, the 4 coin cards were not attractive and the decision on multiple draws became Silver vs. Potion. It was also painful to pull 2 copper and a Potion while aiming for that Alchemist (3coins + P), because you could only use those cards as either 3 coins or 2 coins + P.

We had one set come up with a mix of four Alchemy cards and the variant did not appear to affect that in any great way, as most Potions played were used as actual potions. One time, a two potion draw did help someone get to an Alchemy card when otherwise unable (one used as +1coin, the other used as +1P), and a Province was bought for Platinum+Silver+Potion once.

This seemed to play very well and did not seem to unbalance anything too greatly. We did not race to get potions as they didn't seem overpowered - but Potions did open up the game to more decisions on how to build our decks. The main advantage is that it gave sets with 1 or 2 Alchemy cards a better feel.

YMMV - hopefully it can take the edge off some of your Alchemy games like it did for us.
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B C Z
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I hope you also increased the price of the potion for this flexibility, possibly up to be on par with gold (cost of 6).

The point of potions is that they are dead cards unless paired with an appropriate amount of other coin sources.

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David desJardins
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byronczimmer wrote:
The point of potions is that they are dead cards unless paired with an appropriate amount of other coin sources.


The point of variants is to change things.

It's still balanced if everyone has the same choices. It makes sense to me that making potions more attractive is going to work well for some people in some games, especially with fewer Alchemy cards in play where it is definitely true that potions become less attractive because of their inflexibility.

Flexible potions at $6 would also be balanced, but also totally uninteresting. They would come out too late to have any effect, except maybe in Colony games. And a choice of two weak options doesn't make for one strong card.
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Dave Goldthorpe
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I suspect that you're not seeing the full power of some of the alchemy cards if think the potion is not worth its standard value. I would agree that the variability of potion hands can be too influential in deciding some games. With this change however you seem to be taking the risk out of some of the most rewarding strategies in Dominion, by making them even more rewarding.
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David desJardins
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DaveGold wrote:
I suspect that you're not seeing the full power of some of the alchemy cards if think the potion is not worth its standard value.


There's a big difference between "the potion is sometimes not worth its standard value" and "the potion is never worth its standard value". Which proposition are you arguing against?

I think if you're playing a lot of games with only one or two Alchemy cards then often no potions will be bought. I could collect objective data from Isotropic to support that opinion.
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I think if you're playing a lot of games with only one or two Alchemy cards then often no potions will be bought. I could collect objective data from Isotropic to support that opinion.

I think isotropic is a biased sample. It might be interesting to see, but I'm not convinced that you can generalize "Dominion players" from "Dominion players on isotropic."
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Rob Neuhaus
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Donald designed lots of the Alchemy cards to have at least +1 action on them, so that even if only one or two are available, you still often want a lot of them. Without any other supporting Potion cost cards, Familiar (very frequently) and Alchemist (somewhat frequently) are good enough alone to be worth going for Potions.
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Jack Rudd
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rrenaud wrote:
Donald designed lots of the Alchemy cards to have at least +1 action on them, so that even if only one or two are available, you still often want a lot of them. Without any other supporting Potion cost cards, Familiar (very frequently) and Alchemist (somewhat frequently) are good enough alone to be worth going for Potions.


Indeed. Of the ten Alchemy cards that have Potion in their cost:
Vineyard and Philosopher's Stone are not Actions.
University has +2 Actions.
Apothecary, Scrying Pool, Familiar and Alchemist have at least +1 Action, +1 Card (somewhat disguised in Scrying Pool's case).
Golem is an Action for playing other Actions (like Throne Room and King's Court).
Transmute is a trasher (a slow trasher, but one that gets you useful stuff), and a card that can cause multiple copies of itself to appear in your deck.
...
I'll let you decide on the value of multiple copies of the tenth Potion-costing card.
 
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Michael Link
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JackRudd wrote:
I'll let you decide on the value of multiple copies of the tenth Potion-costing card.


I'll let the composition of the deck of the player to my left determine the value of the tenth Potion-costing card
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Mike Young
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I am working on a number of cards for my next fan expansion. Here is one that you may find interesting.

Warning: completely untested. Likely unbalanced. Use at your own risk.

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Mr Hen
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My first reaction is that, suddenly, buying lots of potions is worthwhile. Gaining a second or third potion would be really good if you could switch it over to +Coin when needed. Instead of making Potions "good" when they used to be "bad" they may now be "great" when they before they were merely "good." It is an interesting idea, though.

It does seem, however, that you should just not play sets of cards you think are unfun if you are willing to change the cards. Just let the table veto the singleton Alchemy cards. Why wouldn't this work?
 
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Mr Hen
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DaviddesJ wrote:
DaveGold wrote:
I suspect that you're not seeing the full power of some of the alchemy cards if think the potion is not worth its standard value.


There's a big difference between "the potion is sometimes not worth its standard value" and "the potion is never worth its standard value". Which proposition are you arguing against?


This is a false dilemma. There are plenty of other things he could have been arguing.
 
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(Chuck Singer)
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Quote:
My first reaction is that, suddenly, buying lots of potions is worthwhile. Gaining a second or third potion would be really good if you could switch it over to +Coin when needed. Instead of making Potions "good" when they used to be "bad" they may now be "great" when they before they were merely "good." It is an interesting idea, though.


In the games we tested this out in, they were never "good" when they used to be "bad" - they were "meh." Not as bad as 'I want to trash these coppers" bad, but not good. I've never drawn a copper and thought, 'that +1coin is a good power.' The flexibility of the variant was enough to warrant spending 4 on the Potion, with the knowledge that even if the potion draw on the next one or two cycles wasn't good enough to get that Alchemy card, at least it wasn't hurting us. Then again, in my group, if only one or two alchemy cards showed up, they were just not bought or touched. A priori, it seemed like the wrong path to victory when examining the card set. If you don't have that problem, then rock on with your Dominion!

I'm not sure why everyone thinks the Alchemy cards are so crazy powerful. I still think Lab, Goons, and Minion all change the game much more drastically and are must grab cards over anything in Alchemy -and they don't have potion costs!
-edit: except the Alchemist, he is good.

Quote:
It does seem, however, that you should just not play sets of cards you think are unfun if you are willing to change the cards. Just let the table veto the singleton Alchemy cards. Why wouldn't this work?


But we like the Alchemy cards. Also, we never would veto a set because the game, at its core, is really 'What is the path to winning with this set of cards.' and vetoing a set seems counter to the central design philosophy of the game. I never intended to convey, 'This is the way the game should have been designed.' This is a change that worked for us, and may work for others- hence the post in the variants section.

It seems that it might actually give a lot of people here an aneurysm if I admitted that my game group always plays the 'finish out the turn' variant (how is the game not broken when the start player can get extra turns?) and we always play with Colonies (we like the longer games).
 
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Jack Rudd
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Chuck Singer wrote:

I'm not sure why everyone thinks the Alchemy cards are so crazy powerful. I still think Lab, Goons, and Minion all change the game much more drastically and are must grab cards over anything in Alchemy -and they don't have potion costs!


So you reckon Lab is a must grab card over Alchemist? How do you figure that one, then?
 
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(Chuck Singer)
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JackRudd wrote:

So you reckon Lab is a must grab card over Alchemist? How do you figure that one, then?


Fair point, we do love the Alchemist.
 
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Myke Madsen
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I love it when people come into the Variants forum and argue for the Status Quo. It's almost cute.
 
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Daniel Staub
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Chuck Singer wrote:
It seems that it might actually give a lot of people here an aneurysm if I admitted that my game group always plays the 'finish out the turn' variant (how is the game not broken when the start player can get extra turns?) and we always play with Colonies (we like the longer games).


I read this and was shocked!
I had forgotten that giving everyone equal turns was a variant.
I am also starting to have problems consiving of a Dominions game with no Plat or Colonies.

It looks like Dominions might not be my top game as I little interest in playing by the standard rules.
 
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Boris Kosch
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Hi folks!

I've come here because I always had avoided buying Alchemy, because of the useless Potion and its discussions in other forums. But suddenly it appeared to me that changing the Potion to Copper would be a nice twist and help out the gameplay. So I looked here if anyone else also came to this idea. And voila! You did! ;-) Very cool!

We are playing lots of Dominion, so I think I can figure out what effect a set of cards and rule or wording changes would have on gameplay. And I think that your variant is clearly making single Alchemist cards-setups more interesting (what was in other forums a big drawback! (So where are you guys now? ;-) )

On the other hand, if Donald really wanted the players to make a hard decision by taking a card that has just a limited Value and often is a dead card, it could be wrong changing this element. !?

But for me this change make this edition interesting again!

So thumbs up for your Variant

Greetings cool

P.S. I was grinning as I read the comment about people complaining about changings... here! Hehe. Nicely spotted Myke! ("Me don't like changings. They are so ... different!" devil )

P.P.S. We also play the rule to let the round be finished by the last player in order and not straight at the moment the final card was bought.
That was from the beginning one of the rule decisions of Donald I couldn't agree with!

And we also love the longer games with colonies! laugh

P.P.P.S. Please excuse my crude english. Stupid german I am...
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