Boons, introduced in Nocturne, are small bonuses that may be useful to the player receiving them. They are bestowed by Fate cards.
The pile of Boons is shuffled, and when a Fate card instructs you to receive a Boon, you draw the next one and get whatever bonus it tells you, and return it to the Boon discard pile when you've resolved it. Druid is an exception; it selects three Boons at the beginning of the game and gives access to only those three. When the Boon pile is exhausted, the discarded Boons are reshuffled.
Boons are not "cards"; any text referring to a "card" does not apply to Boons. However, for reference, the Boon effects are printed on cards in a landscape orientation with golden frames.
- Boons are a face-down deck of cards that are revealed as needed.
- The phrase "receive a Boon" means, turn over the top Boon, and follow the instructions on it. If the Boons deck is empty, first shuffle the discarded Boons to reform the deck; you may also do this any time all Boons are in their discard pile.
- Received Boons normally go to the Boons discard pile, but three (The Field's Gift, The Forest's Gift, and The River's Gift) go in front of a player until that turn's Clean-up.
- If any Kingdom cards being used have the Fate type, shuffle the Boons and put them near the Supply, and put the Will-o'-Wisp pile near the Supply also.
Other rules clarifications
- In the unlikely event that all the Boons are set aside or otherwise occupied at the same time, so there are no Boons in the Boons deck or discard pile when you are told to receive a Boon, you don't receive one.
List of Boons
- The Earth's Gift
- The Field's Gift
- The Flame's Gift
- The Forest's Gift
- The Moon's Gift
- The Mountain's Gift
- The River's Gift
- The Sea's Gift
- The Sky's Gift
- The Sun's Gift
- The Swamp's Gift
- The Wind's Gift
The different Boons vary greatly in power, and their utility also depends on when you receive them, in terms of both the stage of your turn and the stage of the game. Consequently, receiving a single random Boon is a high variance effect that can range from highly valuable to detrimental, and since this is the most common way to receive them, it is generally hard to plan around Boons or make them a central component of your strategy. A few Fate cards mitigate this problem by allowing you to choose your Boons to varying extents or by offering multiple Boons at once or in quick succession, thereby decreasing variance and increasing the chance you'll get meaningful benefits from them; however, in most cases, Boons are best thought of as small unreliable bonuses.
When playing cards that let you receive Boons, it is often preferable to play those cards somewhat early during your turn, for two reasons:
- Knowing the effect of the Boon lets you make more informed decisions during the rest of your turn. For example, if you receive The Field's Gift, you might be able to use your Pawn terminally.
- Certain Boons draw cards or manipulate your deck (e.g. The Sun's Gift), which means they increase your chances of drawing your deck if you receive them earlier, but are useless after drawing your deck.
However, other Boons that affect cards in your hand (e.g. The Earth's Gift) can make it desirable to try and draw as much as possible before receiving a Boon. In the absence of much information about which Boon you'll get, it's usually a good idea to play your Fate cards after most of your other draw, but before your other payload cards.
Sometimes, you might be able to situationally optimize your play order and other decisions (such as whether to play a Fate card at all) by tracking both your deck and the Boon pile, especially when the latter gets lower as the game proceeds. For example, if you know most of the remaining Boons affect cards in your hand, it might make sense to delay playing your Pixie until after your other draw. More importantly, Boon tracking can tell whether you can still receive a particular Boon. For example, if you haven't seen The Forest's Gift yet, you might be able to go for a pileout using your Fate card as a source of +Buy.
While it is difficult to plan around a specific Boon given the low odds of finding any particular one, it is important to understand each one's potential impact. In cases where a Boon or class of Boons is particularly desirable, it may be worth trying to receive a large number of Boons to increase your odds of receiving a particular one.
- Occasionally, Boons can be strategically important if they provide sources of extra gains (The Earth's Gift) or +Buy (The Forest's Gift). Most often, these are important if the Kingdom otherwise lacks ways to gain additional cards, or if they help enable a pileout.
- Two Boons can provide permanent help with deck control: The Swamp's Gift and The Flame's Gift. In the early game when your deck still contains many Coppers and Estates, Will-o'-Wisp is usually an effective non-terminal draw card. While Will-o'-Wisp may be less effective later in the game as you thin those cards, it can still draw copies of itself, which can make receiving The Swamp's Gift multiple times (most likely via Pixie or Druid) productive. Even though The Flame's Gift only trashes a single card, it can give you a slight edge, particularly if other options for trashing are lacking.
- Some other Boons (The Moon's Gift, The River's Gift, The Sea's Gift, The Sun's Gift, and The Wind's Gift) can help you temporarily control your shuffle, and are likely best received before drawing your deck. As draw, The River's Gift and The Sea's Gift are the most consistently helpful, while The Sun's Gift and The Wind's Gift can occasionally help you sift through junk, although it is worth noting that the latter can be actively detrimental if you have no cards to draw and must still discard two. The Moon's Gift is difficult to plan around, but topdecking a key card can be pivotal in the early game.
- The Field's Gift and The Forest's Gift can occasionally help you hit a price point, but are usually more important as sources of terminal space and +Buy respectively.
- The Mountain's Gift and The Sky's Gift can have some use in ramping up your deck's payload. This may be helpful if sources of additional gains are lacking, but in general Treasures are usually not the best source of stop card payload. Additionally, discarding three cards for The Sky's Gift can be expensive, and the fact that The Mountain's Gift is mandatory can be a detriment to your deck control.
While Boons were still part of Empires, they were named after Roman deities.
In other languages
- Dutch: Gunsten
- French: Aubaine
- German: Gaben
- Japanese: 祝福 (pron. shukufuku)
- Polish: Łaska
- Russian: Благодеяние (pron. blagodyeyaniye)
Nocturne has Boons. It's a deck of 12 landscape-style cards that give small beneficial effects. You play a card that says "receive a Boon" or some such, and turn over the top Boon and see what you get. You shuffle the cards when needed, they don't run out.
The idea was to have 12 different ones, and there were always 12. At first there were two copies of each, in the end there's one. Some Boons went the distance while others were tweaked or replaced; I'll get to that. What you can do with a mechanic varies with the rest of the set; in Empires one Boon gave +1 , and here one gives you a Will-o'-Wisp.
Originally the top Boon was revealed; you'd know what was coming up. One day Matt Engel suggested having a choice of 3, and initially I liked that, and for a while it worked like that. One day I tried a card that gave you a random one, and I liked it a lot better, and in the end I switched it back to random only you don't even get to know what's coming. It's much faster; there's no first player advantage; it takes less table space.A big issue with Boons was making sure they didn't make the game too slow. There were cards that gave +Cards and gave you a Boon; they did not work out. The cantrip that gave you a Boon is gone. Even the Treasure only gives you a Boon half the time (in multiples).
Empires had had +1 ; this set got a Will-o'-Wisp. There were several versions of Sky, trying to be hard enough but not too hard. The Moon's Gift started out also letting you flip your deck; it lost that when you got to choose your Boon, then didn't get it back somehow. I tried different versions of the basic +'s, trying to get the best mix and then to also keep Idol happy.
There was a Remodel, it was too good. There was discard X cards, gain a card for X+ , also strong. There was "each other player gains a Copper"; it wasn't great to have an Attack in there. I tried out a Bridge and a twist on Bridge. I tried "+ , put a card from your hand on your deck" and a Haven. I tried "draw up to 6." In Empires some tried gaining a copy of a card.At one point when you could choose your Boon from 3, it started to seem bad that Boons people didn't want would pile up. A few Boons tried to fix that, refresh Boons somehow. One replaced the Boons and then gave you a random one.
Why are some Boons not optional?
The intention is to not do errata, unless it's really really helping. So, "now boons are optional" has no shot. It's great that I get to do errata at all; Jay's initial stance was very anti-errata. If you errata something, you might get a mix of players who know about it and don't, and have a bad argument that makes them hate that game. That is the basic reason to not do errata. It's less important now, when everyone has the combined knowledge of humanity in their pocket, but it's still a thing. My strategy depended on the card doing what it says, and now you're saying no it's got errata, suck it up.
Anyway. There are of course cases where this seems super not a thing, and there are cases where the errata is too important to pass on. But still, the basic stance is, the errata needs more of a reason than "boo hoo I didn't want that Silver."If Nocturne weren't out yet and someone said, Boons could be optional, well, it's something we could have tried. It wouldn't have saved e.g. Idol (typically the worst case for Wind's Gift), and mostly you should just take the Silver. I like rules to be worth their weight. But it's an example of a case where it's about as much weight either way; people will sometimes ask, do I have to, so you have to answer that, so saying "yes" or "no" isn't much different. Instead what would matter is, if you don't know this rule, what would you guess from the cards. If they don't all say "you may" I am betting more people would guess it's mandatory.