is (if you take to be worth a little more than ) the most expensive Action card in the game, and the card with the longest FAQ to date. It gives an extra turn like , but the only limitation on the number of turns you get is how many times you can play , rather than the artificial cap Outpost has. It features often in combos, and is one of the more hated cards in the game, mostly due to the fact that it allows another player to use your deck.
Alchemy introduced the smallest number of different Kingdom cards of any set, containing only 12. It is also the smallest set to introduce a Basic card.
At first there were just a bunch of cards. One day I decided, okay, these are the main set, these are the first expansion, these are the second expansion. I divided everything up based on mechanical themes. This much, you know.
Then I made some other games. My friends just wanted to play Dominion though. Okay; I could make some more expansions. I made a 3rd, then a 4th, then a 5th. That's where things stood when I showed the game to Jay at Origins. During development of the main set I made some more cards, and reconfigured everything I had into 8 smaller sets. Then I rereconfigured them into 6 large sets. The original 2nd set ended up as two full sets (it had two themes and I split them up). The original 5th set ended up 6th.
After we finished working on , we moved on to the 3rd set. We finished that up, or so we thought, and were soon to begin work on the 4th set.
Meanwhile, people were clamoring for smaller sets. And when I say people I don't mean players, although maybe they were too; I mean, some of the publishers of the game wanted smaller sets. They talked to Jay and Jay talked to me; maybe we should do some small sets here too. Not that we wouldn't keep doing the large ones. But you know. Give the people something that's not the full price of the main game. And the ideal timing would be, next. It would squeeze ahead of the now-misnumbered 3rd expansion.
Since we had just finished the set that was due, shortly before it was due, there wasn't much time. In order to have something that was as polished as possible, as soon as possible, it had to be a subset of one of the existing large sets. Only the 6th set leant itself to this. It had a theme that was just the right size and could stand by itself, and a sub-theme that could be expanded for another small set. And the set was missing some cards, due to stealing them for earlier sets, so it didn't feel like I was breaking up something finished.
So I broke up the 6th set. The part went into this set, Alchemy. I did actually get some advance warning, and started working on it before Essen; then at Essen we worked out that it was in fact going to happen, and that I could have it ready about when they wanted it, although not quite that fast. I demanded an extra month, and then when the time came I got 10 more days, although that last stretch was just spent working on the rulebook and deciding which to use.
In its original 5th-set form, Alchemy was 20 cards (7 with in the cost). It went down to 16 when everything did, and up to 25 (but unfinished) when I went to 6 sets. When I broke it up, at first it was 10 cards plus , but the number of printed cards was going to be 100 or 150, so it went up to 12 cards plus , since going up was way better than going down.
Two cards in the set do not have in the cost (besides itself). In games using lots of cards from Alchemy, you will not always have a card at any particular cost. The most important cost is . So the set has a . Then it has a because it's nice to have one of those. At and you have Silver and Potion, and if there are a lot of Alchemy cards then people will be pulled in that direction anyway (though obviously sometimes some other start will be better).
"Has a in its cost" is not actually a huge connection functionally, so I supplemented the main theme with a "cares about actions" sub-theme.
When I came up with Dominion, I figured it would have multiple resources. When I actually made it, I went with one resource, because it was simpler. I could always add another resource in an expansion. With Alchemy I finally got around to doing that. Originally I was thinking it would be Reagents or Mandrake or something. I didn't find a good enough picture to use for such a card, so I went with . That's how these decisions get made.
The second copy of Dominion was Kelly Bailey's (cheepicus on these forums). He renamed some of the cards, redid all the graphics, changed a few cards, and added some of his own. He took most of the cards from all of the expansions I had, but did not take the cards with in the cost from Alchemy. He figured, he was shuffling everything together, and some games he would just turn over one card with in the cost. Do you buy just to get that one card? He thought not.
So I always knew this was an issue. The cards had to be worth buying multiple copies of. They had to be compelling. With just one out, you had to still consider buying to get it. So that's why the set has so many +1 action cards, and then a victory card and a treasure; it's all stuff you want as much of as you can get.
And what, if you want you can just guarantee that you always have a few of them at once - say, once you've dealt out 8 cards from your randomizer deck, if you have any Alchemy cards, make sure the next two are also from Alchemy (by digging for them), and if you don't, make sure the next two also aren't Alchemy cards. Put the cards you skip over back on top of the randomizer deck. This way you see everything just as often as you would have (in the long run), but the Alchemy cards end up clumped together. Or if, like me, you don't manage to carry every expansion to the place you're playing, you can just specifically play with 3 cards from Alchemy on the nights that you bring it. Or whatever. There are lots of ways to manage this. I realize some BGG people are hung up on this point and well it's not hard. If you don't want to just see one card with in the cost out, and also want to see Alchemy cards as often as everything else, determined randomly, you can do it.
Now, some outtakes. There were several cards (including three s, and the other ) that didn't work out but which I may be able to rescue for a future set. So those will have to remain a mystery.
- There was an attack, "Gain a , each other player gains a ." I liked how simple and compelling it was. It tended to be either too weak or too strong though, depending on how quickly you got it. I also didn't like having two cursing attacks in the set. In games with Alchemy, there were just always s. And they work against all of the chaining actions in the set.
- There was an attack that didn't work out, which I changed and put in another set, where it also failed to work out. I still have hope!
- There was a card that added 2 to numbers in another card's text. It was a wacky thing that was too scary rules-wise to let out. I was especially worried that it might do different things in different languages. I tried a couple versions of it, but it never really had a chance.
- There was a treasure that I stole for an earlier set which will now be a later set. That'll learn me.
- There was the that replaced.
- There was a card that turned anything into a , or a into anything for $6 or less. At some point I realized I couldn't have anything so dependent on (without in its cost), since people just shuffling everything into one randomizer deck would turn over these cards with no Potion-costers.
- Similarly there was a card that let you discard a card for an effect, or get a symbol to spend. What s produce. You know. And there was a that could add the potion symbol to a cost.
- There was a card that drew you cards equal to another card's cost, without trashing it. It had more to it than that, but still overlapped too much with .
That leaves a residue of cards that I can't tell you about or that you already know about. There were a few cards that turned into cards I will tell you about in the Secret History of the next small set, which started out as the non-potion half of Alchemy but ended up much different. There were a few cards that aren't in sets but could still make it somewhere, so there's nothing much to say there. There were a couple cards that mutated into cards coming in other later sets. Then there are cards that are already out in other sets: , , , and all started in Alchemy; started in a later version of Alchemy, and was in Alchemy at some point; the "trash your hand" outtake from Seaside was in Alchemy, as were the card once called that's not in the main set, and the Village with them discarding instead of you drawing that also isn't in the main set.
And that's that!