Split pile

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Encampment, the top card of a Split pile.
Plunder, the card under Encampment.

Split piles are Kingdom card piles containing multiple differently named cards, in a particular order. Often, the cards in a split pile have some particular synergy with each other. Split piles were introduced in Empires and revisited in Allies. In Empires, the cards on top of the pile had to be gained or trashed before the cards on the bottom would be available; but Allies introduced the mechanism of rotating a split pile, allowing the top cards to be moved to the bottom of the pile to make the next cards accessible.

Dark Ages featured Knights and Ruins, a precursor to split piles; these supply piles contain multiple differently-named cards, but they are shuffled at the start of the game rather than appearing in a prescribed order.

The cards in a split pile usually have different costs and may belong to different card types. When an effect depends on the cost or types of a pile, rather than of an individual card, the information listed on a split pile's randomizer card determine what the cost and types of the pile as a whole are considered to be. For instance, the GladiatorGladiator.jpg/FortuneFortune.jpg pile is labeled a $3 Action pile, and therefore may be designated the Bane pile for Young WitchYoung Witch.jpg and have various Adventures tokens placed on it, even though FortuneFortune.jpg is not an Action and costs more than $3; and when this is the case, FortuneFortune.jpg and GladiatorGladiator.jpg both receive the bonuses from the Adventures tokens and may be used as a Bane card.


[edit] List of split pile cards

Piles are sorted by the cost of the top card (which is shown on the randomizer card for the pile).

$2 EncampmentEncampment.jpg/PlunderPlunder.jpg, PatricianPatrician.jpg/EmporiumEmporium.jpg, SettlersSettlers.jpg/Bustling VillageBustling Village.jpg, TownsfolkTownsfolk.jpg
$3 CastlesCastles.jpg, CatapultCatapult.jpg/RocksRocks.jpg, GladiatorGladiator.jpg/FortuneFortune.jpg, AugursAugurs.jpg, ClashesClashes.jpg, FortsForts.jpg, OdysseysOdysseys.jpg, WizardsWizards.jpg
$4 SaunaSauna.jpg/AvantoAvanto.jpg

[edit] Randomizers

[edit] Official Rules

[edit] Empires

  • Five Kingdom Card piles in Empires have two cards in them, with 5 copies of each - Catapult / Rocks, Encampment / Plunder, Gladiator / Fortune, Patrician / Emporium, and Settlers / Bustling Village.
  • The Randomizers for those piles show both cards. During set-up, always put the cheaper card on top, e.g. Patrician (cost $2) above Emporium (cost $5).
  • To mark the pile, turn the bottom half sideways. That way players remember that the other card is there. Turn it back when those cards are uncovered.
  • Players may only Buy or Gain the top card of a pile; players have to work through the top 5 cards to get to the bottom 5.
  • Players can read the covered card to remember what it does, but cannot buy it or gain it until it is uncovered.
  • If the card is covered back up somehow - for example Encampment can return to its pile - then once again players cannot Buy or Gain the covered cards, until again uncovered.
  • Returning cards to a pile, such as with AmbassadorAmbassador.jpg (from Dominion: SeasideSeaside.jpg), can also result in the pile being in an unusual order; an Ambassador could return a Plunder to the Encampment/Plunder pile on top of an Encampment.
  • Some cards refer to the cost or types of a pile as if it is just one card. In these cases go with what is on the Randomizer card, which usually matches the top card.
  • Some things refer to cards from a particular pile; these things work on both cards from a split pile.
  • For example TrainingTraining.jpg (from Dominion: AdventuresAdventures.jpg) lets a player put a token on an Action pile, which causes them to get +$1 when playing a card from that pile. The token can be put on the Catapult / Rocks pile, despite Rocks being a Treasure; and the token causes both Catapult and Rocks to produce an extra $1 when played.
  • Emptying the top half of a split pile does not count as emptying a pile, for the game end condition or cards that refer to empty piles. The entire pile needs to be gone for the pile to be empty.
  • One Kingdom Card pile in Empires has 8 different cards - the Castles. They behave similarly to the other split piles; only the top card can be bought or gained, they go in order by cost with Humble Castle on top, and so on. This pile is treated as a Victory - Castle pile, as per the Randomizer, despite the top card being a Treasure - Victory - Castle. In 2-player games, use one of each Castle; with more players, use all 12 cards.

[edit] Allies

  • Dominion: AlliesAllies.jpg has six split piles, that have four different cards in each of them.
  • The cards start the game in order by cost. For example, the Augurs pile starts out with 4 Herb GatherersHerb Gatherer.jpg on top, then 4 AcolytesAcolyte.jpg, then 4 SorceressesSorceress.jpg, then 4 SibylsSibyl.jpg. This order may get messed up by cards like SwapSwap.jpg; that's fine.
  • As with the split piles in Dominion: EmpiresEmpires.jpg, only the top card of a split pile can be bought or gained.
  • You can look through the cards in a split pile at any time, without changing the order.
  • The top card of each split pile has an ability that can "rotate" the pile (or with Battle PlanBattle Plan.jpg, any pile). Rotating a pile means taking the top card, and all copies of it directly under it, and putting them on the bottom. For example, if three Herb Gatherers were at the top of the Augurs, followed by Acolytes, you would put those three Herb Gatherers on the bottom, and Acolyte would now be on top.
  • Some cards refer to information about a pile as if it's just one card. In these cases, go with what's on the Randomizer card, which usually matches the top card.
  • Some things refer to cards from a particular pile; these things work on all cards from a split pile. For example TrainingTraining.jpg (from Dominion: AdventuresAdventures.jpg) lets a player put a token on an Action pile, which causes them to get +$1 when playing a card from that pile. The token can be put on the Odyssey pile, and then Sunken TreasureSunken Treasure.jpg will also make +$1 when played.

[edit] Trivia

Encampment/Plunder official card art.
Patrician/Emporium official card art.
Settlers/Bustling Village official card art.
Catapult/Rocks official card art.
Gladiator/Fortune official card art.
Sauna/Avanto official card art.

[edit] Preview

So how do these work exactly? The top cards are paired with the bottom ones. Each pile has 5 copies of the first (cheaper) card, then 5 copies of the second (more expensive) card. You can only buy/gain the card on top; if you want the other card, you have to dig it out. There are special randomizers for these piles, that list both cards and have art showing both things. You will see those when the set comes out; the six actual cards will have to do for today. And uh some things in the game care about stats for a pile, and well they go by the randomizer, which usually matches the top card. Young WitchYoung Witch.jpg can have Gladiator/Fortune as its bane (and then both cards will do the trick), TrainingTraining.jpg lets you put your +$1 token on the Catapult/Rocks pile (and then both cards give +$1), and so on.

Split piles are back! Only this time they rotate. Also they have four different cards in them. Let's see one to better talk about this. It's: Augurs.
So the pile starts with 4 copies of Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpg, then 4 copies of AcolyteAcolyte.jpg, then 4 copies of SorceressSorceress.jpg, then 4 copies of SibylSibyl.jpg. And you can only buy/gain the top card. But, the first card lets you "rotate" the pile. This puts all copies of whatever's on top onto the bottom. If the top has three Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpgs and then AcolyteAcolyte.jpgs etc., rotating it puts all three Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpgs on the bottom. If it was just one Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpg and then AcolyteAcolyte.jpgs, that one Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpg goes on the bottom. If the pile has different cards left in it, then rotating it will uncover a different one. It gets you through the pile.

[edit] Secret History (Empires)

One day Jeff Boschen complained that one of the Debt cards (an earlier version of City QuarterCity Quarter.jpg) was dominating games, that in particular you could always get all the copies you needed, even in a 2-player game. And I thought, hmmm, I could have piles that were only 5 cards. And then from there went immediately to, wait, 5 cards, then 5 of another card. And I tried some cards like that and it seemed pretty cool. You get to tie together the cards somehow. A big issue was making sure you would get through the top 5 often enough; not necessarily every game, but you know, not as some rare thing. So three are cheap cantrips, and GladiatorGladiator.jpg eats its own pile for you.

[edit] Secret History (Allies)

The split piles originally had a variety of mechanics to ensure that you could somehow get through the pile to the cards you wanted. Some piles had every card able to upgrade to a card from the pile, just like how AcolyteAcolyte.jpg does. Two piles tried having the top card gain a card from the pile; two piles, including one of those, tried having the top card able to trash cards from its Supply pile. One pile had no trick but was all villages. In the end we have rotation. It gets you through the pile, provided that someone gets the top card. The upgrading and LurkerLurker.jpg-ing meant we didn't get to play with cards from the piles as much, and the gaining was crazy. The first version of rotation just moved one card; then it got the word "rotate" and did what it does.

[edit] Why are Empires split piles 10 cards?

I would certainly consider 6/6 if doing them again, but what that does varies with the pile. I want to make sure we get to the 2nd card sometimes, so that's a downside/limitation.

[edit] Split pile synergies

I do not see such great value in having the split pile cards all be super-synergistic. The danger is that then that's all you do in those games, you do those synergies and they're in every game with that pile. You can see this in action in SaunaSauna.jpg / AvantoAvanto.jpg. The split piles were an opportunity to do a card like ElderElder.jpg and ensure it had something to do, and I did some of those. I have no regrets about not making every card neatly interact with the rest of its pile.

[edit] Allies split pile complexity

I did the split piles because they were fun. They are for sure complex; even with lots of simple cards in them, you have to read four cards and think about them as a whole in order to play well with a pile. It's a lot to ask new players. The set does have lots of regular cards that are great for new players though. There were 8 split piles at one point. I cut it down to 6 in part because then when you played an all AlliesAllies.jpg game, you wouldn't have three split piles at once all the time.

AlliesAllies.jpg is not so far in the past, and obv. I was pleased enough with what AlliesAllies.jpg did then. I am still pleased with it. The big problem is "read these three other cards to understand this card." With the split piles, casual players can reduce that to, "this will give me control of the pile and that's probably something"; I don't think they read all the cards. I mean they didn't, when I played with them. And then they were more likely to rotate just to see what was next, and you know, the cards to read end up spaced out some. So it's not as bad as it sounds. And I mean there the set is, saying I approve. Now that it's out, no change there. And more-than-ideally complex for casual players, but not too much to want to print, and I think they're good times for casual players.

Cards 4D EngineerEngineer.jpg 8D City QuarterCity Quarter.jpgOverlordOverlord.jpgRoyal BlacksmithRoyal Blacksmith.jpg $2 EncampmentEncampment.jpg/PlunderPlunder.jpgPatricianPatrician.jpg/EmporiumEmporium.jpgSettlersSettlers.jpg/Bustling VillageBustling Village.jpg $3 Castles (HumbleHumble Castle.jpgCrumblingCrumbling Castle.jpgSmallSmall Castle.jpgHauntedHaunted Castle.jpgOpulentOpulent Castle.jpgSprawlingSprawling Castle.jpgGrandGrand Castle.jpgKing'sKing's Castle.jpg) • CatapultCatapult.jpg/RocksRocks.jpgChariot RaceChariot Race.jpgEnchantressEnchantress.jpgFarmers' MarketFarmers' Market.jpgGladiatorGladiator.jpg/FortuneFortune.jpg $4 SacrificeSacrifice.jpgTempleTemple.jpgVillaVilla.jpg $5 ArchiveArchive.jpgCapitalCapital.jpgCharmCharm.jpgCrownCrown.jpgForumForum.jpgGroundskeeperGroundskeeper.jpgLegionaryLegionary.jpgWild HuntWild Hunt.jpg
Events 5D TriumphTriumph.jpg 8D AnnexAnnex.jpgDonateDonate.jpg $0 AdvanceAdvance.jpg $2 DelveDelve.jpgTaxTax.jpg $3 BanquetBanquet.jpg $4 RitualRitual.jpgSalt the EarthSalt the Earth.jpg $43D WeddingWedding.jpg $5 WindfallWindfall.jpg $6 ConquestConquest.jpg $14 DominateDominate.jpg
Landmarks AqueductAqueduct.jpgArenaArena.jpgBandit FortBandit Fort.jpgBasilicaBasilica.jpgBathsBaths.jpgBattlefieldBattlefield.jpgColonnadeColonnade.jpgDefiled ShrineDefiled Shrine.jpgFountainFountain.jpgKeepKeep.jpgLabyrinthLabyrinth.jpgMountain PassMountain Pass.jpgMuseumMuseum.jpgObeliskObelisk.jpgOrchardOrchard.jpgPalacePalace.jpgTombTomb.jpgTowerTower.jpgTriumphal ArchTriumphal Arch.jpgWallWall.jpgWolf DenWolf Den.jpg
Combos and Counters Capital/HerbalistCapital/MandarinDonate/Market Square
Other concepts DebtGatheringSplit pilesVictory tokens
Cards $2 BaubleBauble.jpgSycophantSycophant.jpgTownsfolkTownsfolk.jpg (Town CrierTown Crier.jpg / BlacksmithBlacksmith.jpg / MillerMiller.jpg / ElderElder.jpg) $3 AugursAugurs.jpg (Herb GathererHerb Gatherer.jpg / AcolyteAcolyte.jpg / SorceressSorceress.jpg / SibylSibyl.jpg) • ClashesClashes.jpg (Battle PlanBattle Plan.jpg / ArcherArcher.jpg / WarlordWarlord.jpg / TerritoryTerritory.jpg) • FortsForts.jpg (TentTent.jpg / GarrisonGarrison.jpg / Hill FortHill Fort.jpg / StrongholdStronghold.jpg) • ImporterImporter.jpgMerchant CampMerchant Camp.jpgOdysseysOdysseys.jpg (Old MapOld Map.jpg / VoyageVoyage.jpg / Sunken TreasureSunken Treasure.jpg / Distant ShoreDistant Shore.jpg) • SentinelSentinel.jpgUnderlingUnderling.jpgWizardsWizards.jpg (StudentStudent.jpg / ConjurerConjurer.jpg / SorcererSorcerer.jpg / LichLich.jpg) $4 BrokerBroker.jpgCarpenterCarpenter.jpgCourierCourier.jpgInnkeeperInnkeeper.jpgRoyal GalleyRoyal Galley.jpgTownTown.jpg $5 BarbarianBarbarian.jpgCapital CityCapital City.jpgContractContract.jpgEmissaryEmissary.jpgGalleriaGalleria.jpgGuildmasterGuildmaster.jpgHighwaymanHighwayman.jpgHunterHunter.jpgModifyModify.jpgSkirmisherSkirmisher.jpgSpecialistSpecialist.jpgSwapSwap.jpg $6 MarquisMarquis.jpg
Allies Architects' GuildArchitects' Guild.jpgBand of NomadsBand of Nomads.jpgCave DwellersCave Dwellers.jpgCircle of WitchesCircle of Witches.jpgCity-stateCity-state.jpgCoastal HavenCoastal Haven.jpgCrafters' GuildCrafters' Guild.jpgDesert GuidesDesert Guides.jpgFamily of InventorsFamily of Inventors.jpgFellowship of ScribesFellowship of Scribes.jpgForest DwellersForest Dwellers.jpgGang of PickpocketsGang of Pickpockets.jpgIsland FolkIsland Folk.jpgLeague of BankersLeague of Bankers.jpgLeague of ShopkeepersLeague of Shopkeepers.jpgMarket TownsMarket Towns.jpgMountain FolkMountain Folk.jpgOrder of AstrologersOrder of Astrologers.jpgOrder of MasonsOrder of Masons.jpgPeaceful CultPeaceful Cult.jpgPlateau ShepherdsPlateau Shepherds.jpgTrappers' LodgeTrappers' Lodge.jpgWoodworkers' GuildWoodworkers' Guild.jpg
Other concepts FavorsSplit piles
Attacks Attack immunityCurserDeck inspection attackDeck order attackHandsize attackJunking attackTrashing attackTurn-worsening attack
Buy/Money +BuyCost-reducerDisappearing moneyOverpayPeddler variantTerminal silverVirtual coinVirtual +Buy
Cycling Deck discarderDeck inspectorDiggingDiscard for benefitSifter
Terminality CantripNon-terminalNon-terminal drawSoft terminalTerminalTerminal drawThrone Room variantVillageConditional non-terminal
Other Alt-VPBasic cardsDuration drawCommand variantGainerLuck-basedNon-Attack interactionOne-shotRemodelerSplit pileTop deckerTrasherVanillaExtra turn
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