Also, all cards, Artifacts, and Projects in Renaissance use the largest font size (in the English printing), due to the theme of simplicity.
Going into work on this set, I had two plans. First, to see what I could do with States. States showed up in , just as a way to deal with tracking for a few effects; I had put no work into trying to see what I could do with them, and well probably I could do something with them. Second, to try to do more with the coin tokens from . They were popular and it seemed like maybe I could actually do more with them.
Along the way I added a third goal: to make a set that was much simpler than the last few sets. The expansions naturally get more complex as you go along, since you run out of new simple things to do. I felt like things had gotten too complex though, and wanted to swing things back the other direction as much as possible. So the set intentionally has a bunch of off-theme cards, which is to say, cards that don't involve any of the new mechanics; and I limited myself to text that would fit with the large font, and for the landscape cards, text that would fit with the large font on two lines (then Innovation needed three during layout due to the expansion symbol). And the set tried to stay simple in other ways too.
Initially I did two things with States: I had ones that one player could have, and ones that every player got a copy of. The ones that every player got could turn over; one side would have a rule that let you upgrade it. We liked these a lot.
One of the two-sided States was a lot like the Journey token from - it was, some cards flipped it over, but when it flipped over one way nothing happened, and the other way gave you +1 Action. So some cards essentially had +1 Action half the time you played them. This was cool. But wait: maybe I could just have +1 Action tokens, to go with the + tokens. And I switched to that and it was even better.
So... +1 Buy tokens? I had them in the set for a bit there. And there was a 4th mat, unrelated to the others. In the end I felt like, we were eating up so much table space with mats, and hey what about being simpler. So there are just Coffers and Villagers. And they got those names and notation and then since we were updating Guilds for reprinting it got the Coffers mat too.
The other two-sided States, they were good times, but did not go well with the idea of a simpler expansion. Here, read this extra card, now turn it over. They turned into Projects: you pay to put a cube on a card, and now you have that ability. This is not only simpler - no second side to read, no text to explain how to upgrade it - it also means only one card per Project, rather than six (for six players) per two-sided State. So I could fit way more of them into the set, hooray.
The one-sided States persisted, but somewhere along the way I realized I should use a different name for them, to clarify that only one player got them. So they are Artifacts. The Artifacts were tricky; you want them to move around but not every turn, and they want to be attractive but not have the game hinge on them. I thought there might be 8; there are 5, and I struggled to get those.
Coffers tokens were also problematic; when you have a giant pile of those tokens, it's pretty demoralizing for the other players, and sometimes it's even a good strategy. So only one card gives +2 Coffers each time it's played, and some only sometimes produce +Coffers, and some do it when-gained. Villagers tokens had no issues. Go ahead and get a bunch if you want.
So, I think that covers it: Coffers, Villagers, Artifacts, Projects, and cards that do none of those things.
It turned out Ben King had been working on a Dominion program as a fun project, and he programmed in Renaissance and we playtested it some there. Thanks Ben! He also wrote some bots to demonstrate how powerful some particular cards were.
As I mentioned, there was a 4th mat I don't really want to talk about. I don't know if I'll try to put it into an expansion someday, or how that will go, but, I might.
For a long time there was a for that came with an Artifact that made you discard a Copper each turn. We had fun with it; you're happy to buy it as long as you aren't the last one to get one, and when you're the current last one to get one, well, time to load up on these. Sometimes someone would be stuck with it and suffer. And sometimes you could brush off the penalty. We enjoyed the various ways it played, but it had a big problem: a casual player might just buy it, let's see what this does, and be screwed. It was worse than buying a Curse (sometimes), but disguised. So we tried having it give each other player "+1 Card, discard a card" at the start of your turn; this slows down the game too much and the tracking is poor, guess who has no incentive to remember this, yes it's the guy who has it. Then there was making you gain Coppers, but sometimes that's actually good, and sometimes easy to cope with. Then there was, your choice of discarding Copper or gaining Copper. This was just way too minor, it didn't delay you buying this village at all. In the end there is no negative Artifact; the village that got this slot is Mountain Village.
There was a village that was, cantrip, +1 Villager; man it's fine, you can argue about, does it need to cost
, but it's nice. The village that's always there when you need it. But really, the experience it gives is the villager experience, and other cards are giving us that experience. Another village just came with +2 Villagers; we already have that experience too. Another village converted + to +Coffers for your next card played. Large amounts of +Coffers are trouble.
The +Buy mat debuted with +
, discard cards for + each, +1 Buy token. Ahead of Spices and Ducat, there was a treasure that just gave you your choice of 2 tokens when played, between Coffers, Villagers, and +Buy.
Here's one that trashes itself for +5 Coffers if your opponent has a Silver in hand; when gained, it gave them a Silver. It was nuts, oops.
I tried a few cards that gave the other players a negative State when gained. They were cantrips that sometimes gave you stuff. The State made players put a played Copper on their deck for next turn. An early Witch had a one-use Moat State. A concept that hadn't worked in Nocturne either.
I mentioned some of the 2-sided States above. Another one simulated the +Buy mat. At first it was a +Buy mat that could upgrade to a +Card mat; then I had a card that just gave you the State on either side, and it couldn't flip - you locked in what it was, and what it was was your choice of a +Buy mat or a +1/2 Coffers mat (two tokens for +
One of the 2-sided states was Scheme / Citadel. Different kingdom cards tried producing that state - a , a , a .
There was also a duration cantrip giving +
next turn, that had a 2-sided State where the 2nd side had you draw a card per Duration at the start of each turn. It upgraded all your Durations. Then the States died, but I had a Project that did that, and I had the duration cantrip with no associated State. Both left in a purge of low-rated cards.
A prominent outtake gave you your choice of a Silver or one of two Artifacts. Initially one of the Artifacts gave you +1 Card +1 Action for gaining a card in your action phase, while the other made Silvers get +
(after briefly giving them +1 Coffers). Adam figured out that you could just crush people with this and no other cards. For a while I kept trying to make that happen in my own games; no-one quite managed to pursue the boring strategy, and the card kept seeming reasonable. Finally I saw it be broken. Then we went through a variety of Artifacts, trying to find a version of the card to preserve. The second Artifact usually let you topdeck gained cards. Billy and I heavily analyzed the situation - what exactly could you do to make this kind of an Artifact-giver work. I made a new card with two Artifacts, a village, abandoning the Silver-gainer. Finally I gave up on that too. I replaced one of the Artifacts with a Project - going to 5 Artifacts, 20 Projects, surely the set was always like that, you can't be telling me once there were 19 Projects - and the last Artifact tried out for both the village and Recruiter before ending up on Border Guard. Which does have two Artifacts... but having to get lucky (or to have trashed down) to get one helps it out, and the Artifacts nicely distinguish themselves.
There was a card called Patron that put a token on each of two non-Victory piles with no token (non-Victory because of ). When you gained a card from one of those piles, you took the token. The idea was that you could put one on whatever you were buying, plus one somewhere else, and for a little while there were safe options - I'll start with Curse, then Copper. But eventually you'd be sharing. Of course with +Buy you could just give yourself both tokens. Interesting concept; too powerful and not actually enough fun.
One card gave +2 Coffers, then went back to your hand if you had <= 3 tokens. "+. One issue is tracking the ; this version solved that. It still had the issue of tracking the actions used - and had to have that issue, since the whole point was getting to replay it if you had another action. That wasn't great, but also it was too strong. On its way out I tried just rewarding you if your next play was an Action card, without moving itself or using up the action.
, return to hand" was an old card, that made it out in mutated form as
I tried a card that let you put two tokens on a Project. The effect is pointless or nuts, and makes the rules more complex.
Prior to Villain, there was an attack that had your opponents discard a card they had 2+ copies of in hand (an idea from ); there was "each other player discards a copy of the most recently gained Treasure"; there was "if you have 5+ Coffers tokens, they discard down to 1 then draw 3." There was "they discard an Action, if they did they get +1 Coffers"; that looks like, why did I try that, but the idea was to be a simpler way of implementing an Enchantress that turned a card play into "+1 Action +1 Coffers." There was "Each other player with 5+ cards puts one on the bottom of their deck"; it's uh, it hasn't been done yet is what it is. And there was "they reveal their hand and discard all copies of one card in it," which bled into Villain.
I had a variant that played a card from another player's hand (leaving it there). It wasn't as interesting as it sounded.
There was a cantrip that had you name a card, reveal the top 4, and discard the non-matches. It seemed cute and innocuous, but was secretly strong and also slow. Then I tried it just discarding and Estates. I tried a cantrip that got you the top card if it was Copper or Estate - oh right, that's a lot like Will-o'-Wisp. Then I got you all of the Coppers and Estates from the top 3, and from there we move to the cards that feel like versions of .
Some stuff tried to mess with how many tokens you had. I tried doubling your Coffers tokens; somehow that's here in the outtakes section. I tried "Choose one: +1 Coffers, or + Then a choice between +1 Coffers, or a Warehouse for a card per token. Then, this one had some charm, +1 Coffers, you may gain a card costing per Coffers token." per token. There was a treasure that, when trashed, gave +1 Coffers per 2 tokens you had; yes you empty the pile and have an insane pile of tokens.
In I tested both "+ per card gained in the previous turn" and "+1 Coffers per," and I revisted the +Coffers one here, just making sure.
Here's a card that rewards you for having exactly one Treasure in hand, that's pretty random.
One of the things that tried to use Artifacts was a Treasure that gave you one Artifact if you gained a Treasure, another if you gained a Victory card. Another let you trash an incoming gained card to take one of two Artifacts or get +1 Coffers. An Artifact also messed with that a bunch, trying to let you trash an incoming card. It seemed appropriate for the trash-for-benefit theme that crept into the set, but kept being too weak or too strong. One of the cards was a village that said "If the next card you play this turn is a Treasure, take the thing or the thing." That trigger condition seemed promising for a while, though it limits what the Artifacts can be (mostly they want to be usable the turn you get them, and this confines that to the buy phase). There was a village that gave you an Artifact if you had 5+ Action cards in hand; you never remember that by the time you can do it. There were other Artifact-producing villages that were barely tried: one that had a choice, +2 Actions or toy; one that made your next draw like Catacombs except that's too hard to communicate; one that was a village and also had +1 Villager, and wanted you to gain a card no-one had gained yet to take an Artifact (you can turn the top card of each pile sideways to track that none have been gained yet, and man that doesn't fly today); another had a choice of Card/Coffers/Villager and always gave +2 Actions, and you got the toy for gaining a Gold. And the flurry of Artifacts that tried out for these cards included: Royal Seal; Treasures cost less; each turn gain a Silver; each turn gain a copy of a Treasure you have in play; when you gain a card + ; when you gain an Action or Victory card may gain a cheaper Treasure; Academy. A hard-to-get one gave you an Action card each turn.
On the quest for , there was a card that gave you +1 Buy per Treasure you discarded when gaining it (super +Buy cards are always trouble); and there was a card that to the same cost when you gained it and cost , which meant that on the / I drew in what was probably the only game with it, I went, buy that, turn three into that, huh.
Projects, I have outtakes there too.
- A straight +.
per turn. It's similar to Canal, isn't it. It ended up on
- Save a card for next turn. I didn't like that you had to remember it when it wasn't doing much for you, and would save an Estate for a while.
- Scheme. The gameplay wasn't great and it wasn't popular.
- That +1 Card per Duration card in play thing I already mentioned. Later it had a + option for if there were no Durations.
- May remove cube to trash or topdeck a gained card. This isn't what Projects were about.
- In your turns, are also Actions with "something." I tried a few things.
- At the start of your turn, +2 Cards; at the start of your Buy phase, discard 2 cards. Powerful, fun, too hard to remember.
- May discard Action for +1 Villager. Counterpart to Pageant.
- In your Action phase, Silvers are Peddlers. It was fun briefly.
- In your Action phase, Treasures are Actions. Without any special ability added on. Not useful very often.
- When you buy a card for <= , gain an extra copy. So many Projects tried to do Workshop, often just being too fast to empty piles.
- When you buy an Action you don't have a copy of in play, gain an extra copy. Another one.
- Every turn, Workshop. As if.
- When you gain a card costing +, gain one for <= . One issue is that many of these can even work twice in a turn.
- When shuffle, may first gain card costing <= . So this cut down on how often you got to do it, and seemed cool, but there were huge issues.
- After shuffle, may gain card onto deck costing <= . Another one. See some versions made us wait for a player to shuffle, which sucks hard.
- Once per turn, when shuffle, first gain card for <= . But the other versions had hopeless card interactions, where you'd e.g. empty a pile instantly.
- Before you shuffle, may set aside Supply card for <= , and gain it afterwards. A last gasp for both Workshops and shuffle-Workshops.
- When drawing your hand, +1 Card per card you gained that turn. I did Road Network instead.
- When you play an Action that doesn't give +Actions, +1 Card afterwards. Hard to communicate, and what was I thinking really.
- Buy phase, +; your hand is just 4 cards. Looked interesting; was too strong, was too hard to remember.
- Buy phase, +1 Action +1 Buy +, your hand is just 4 cards. Trying to fix that up.
- Buy phase, +, - per card in hand. Man I don't remember all of these. Probably just in one game.
- Start of turn, look at top 3, put them back in any order. Not meaningful enough.
- Buy phase, may trash hand Silver for hand . Makes the game too much about the boring cards.
- Start of turn, look at top, may discard it. This was endlessly on lists, but I don't remember actually trying it.
- Each turn you don't buy anything, +3 Cards in next hand. A direction to consider more; hey in the end there's Exploration.
- If <= 3 cards in play at start of Clean-up, +3 Cards in next hand. I liked it until it turned out to be strong with just money.
- When you trash non-Copper, +1 Coffers. This game, we all get a big pile of tokens.
- When you gain a Treasure, you may trash a card/Treasure from hand. Let's just have a boring game of buying Treasures now.
- When you play a Treasure, +. A problem even though it cost .
- When gain card in Action phase, +1 Action, and if it's not the first one, +1 Card. Trying to recreate the fun of a dead Artifact that made Workshops cantrips.
- When gain card for <= in Action phase, +1 Card and +1 Action. And so on, for four versions of this premise.
- When you gain a Treasure, +1 Villager. Don't you mean Action?
- When gain copy of card previous player gained, +1 Coffers. Did not play well. The remaining ones were late attempts to fill up the last slots.
- Instead of trashing a hand card, may gain Silver, and vice-versa. That looks cool, doesn't it. Rules issues.
- Start of turn, may trash hand Silver/Gold for +2/3 Cards. Not a highlight of my options at this point.
- At end of Buy phase, if spent <= , +1 Coffers. I guess, helped contribute to Exploration happening? Exploration and City Gate were the last two.
- When gain a card, look at top, may discard it. Not a great matching of trigger and effect.
- Start of turn, reveal top, +1 Card if Treasure. Some people liked this one. A runner-up.
- Start of turn, may reveal no-Treasure hand to gain Gold. I mean it's useful when you build a deck that crushes your enemies already.
- When drawing hand, +2 Cards, discard 2 cards. Good times, crazy power level.
And there you have it.