I prepared for this year's tournament more meticulously than any before, but got a worse outcome than ever before. Contestants: I hear you, I understand exactly what caused this, I have a plan to fix it, and it will never happen again. Previously, I have never had such space constraints that I would have to make it clear to the programming team that my event needed tables empty for an hour beforehand to set up the tournament. That was my downfall.

The sign-up sheet was almost full. The tournament was scheduled to start at 4PM. I was scheduled to be in the Penguicon Board of Directors meeting from 3 to 4 PM, so I got some minions to set up the tournament. I gave them setup instruction sheets and one pre-assembled material packet per table. Unfortunately, there was a presentation going on in the Private Dining during that hour, so all the tables were full of gamers. My minions are kind-hearted and would never kick gamers out of the only places available to play. Due to space constraints, they would effectively close down the entire game room, end all the games in progress, and kick pretty much everybody out. I was the only one assertive enough to do that, and I was in a meeting.

As a result, setup did not take place, and the tournament started almost an hour late in a huge panicky disorganized rush, while the room was crowded with contestants. A lot of our signed-up players walked out during this time, meaning we had to re-organize the seating chart, and it took even longer. There were some setup errors, so some games had cards in them which I did not intend, resulting in extremely slow and/or swingy games.

How to fix it:

1. A sign on each table at the start of the day, saying "Please be done with games on this table by 3PM, to allow for Dominion tournament setup".
2. Do not accept being scheduled to do something else during setup.

Congratulations to the winner, Mike Riverso! He jotted his contact info and shipping address on Evernote on my phone. As soon as he left, it gave me a "java.io.IO" error and lost his information. I put up a sign in the lobby, and he sent me his info through email, so all's well that ends well. He will receive a copy of the new Dominion expansion, "Guilds", in about a month when it is published.

New things that went well:

Penguicon's new Dominion collection. The convention now owns two copies of every Dominion product, so we had enough cards. With thirty-two players and eight simultaneous games, it was the largest Penguicon Dominion tournament ever, so we needed it!

Using a megaphone. No more shouting myself hoarse.

I ordered plenty of "Estate" "Duchy" and "Province" ribbons to hand them out to each contestant. I have next year's supply already.

The dividers are corrugated plastic. The thickness of the plastic takes up more space than I would have liked, but holds up better than mat board.
Councilroom.com is a fan site for the card game Dominion that analyzes statistics from logs of all games played online at dominion.isotropic.org.

They put out the call for some graphics, and I have begun to submit some! For instance, I made the favicon which you can see in the title bar, depending on which browser you use.

I am sending them a lot of unlockable achievement badges, which they are gradually programming into the system. For instance, if you look at the player page about "theory" (who is one of the best players), you will see which awards he has so far under the "Goals" section. And here is my player page. Hover the mouse over a badge to see what it is for.

Have fun playing around with the interactive graphs.

In other news, Dominion itself is unlocking some achievements, so to speak! It has sold more than a million copies. Congratulations to DXV! (That's Donald X Vaccarino.) A half-size expansion titled "Dominion: Cornucopia" is soon to be released, as well as a large expansion late in 2011, and another promo card to be distributed at game cons. From the promotional text to "Cornucopia":
It adds 13 new Kingdom cards to Dominion, plus 5 unique cards. The central theme is variety; there are cards that reward you for having a variety of cards in your deck, in your hand, and in play, as well cards that help you get that variety.
I guess that prevents me from releasing my Trevor Jagoda Penguicon card, as a Victory card worth 1 VP for every two differently-named cards in your deck at the end of the game. Something like that is bound to be in Cornucopia.

Speculation is rife as to what DXV means by "unique card". He is secretive as usual. Perhaps each game you play with Cornucopia will include only one copy of each Unique! Or, perhaps it introduces variable player powers because each type of Unique would only be purchasable by one player per game. As usual, we'll keep arguing about it until the rulebook is finally released.
Refreshment
Cost: 0
When you draw this card,
you may reveal it from your hand
to enjoy an ice-cold Diet CokeTM,
available now at the concession
stand for only $4.50.
Type: REACTION
Distributed at the 2009 Gencon, "Refreshment" was misunderstood to mean the owner could exchange it for a free product in real life, when in fact it was intended to motivate players to make a purchase. This got the creator, Veronica Mills of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, fired from her job at the concession stand in Exhibit Hall D.
Superb Oner
Cost: 3
+1 Card
+1 Action
Trash a card from your hand.
During your buy phase,
if the only Actions you played
this turn were Superb Oner,
+1 Dollar.
Type: ACTION
Fifty-seven-year-old Nathan Gleason, an insurance adjuster from Norwich, Kansas, lost his volunteer position working with the youth group at First Greater Wichita Church of Christ due to his invention of "Superb Oner". To this day he sincerely has no idea how the title could be misread (and no one at the church will tell him), leading some to believe one of the youth suggested the title. Mr. Gleason is also notable for being the first member of the Tea Party on record describing himself as a "teabagger".
[ unintelligible ]
Cost: unknown
[ unintelligible ]
Type: unknown
All text on this card is in the faux-scriptorium font used for Dominion logo. Only one copy exists of this hand-painted card, in the collection of Frej Riemann, who only shows it to his friends at the annual board game convention in Essen, Germany. Mr. Riemann insists that this arcane relic was made by Dominion art director Mathias Catrein, designer of the logo, in the final hours of an all-night Lynch/Cronenberg movie marathon. The illustration, reminiscent of the Voynich Manuscript, is painted either in acrylic, guache, or something biological. The bottom of the card has been torn off, with some of the instructions. Opinion is split on whether the remaining instructions read "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons" in German, or "+1 Action. Your left ear traitor, un trust".
In an act of amazing and utter coolness, Rio Grande Games has re-iterated their friendly policy toward fan cards. In so doing, they also asked fan creators help them out, by formulating the name "[My Expansion Name], a Fan Expansion for Dominion" and avoid the formulation "Dominion: [My Expansion Name]" which is reserved for official expansions. This is to prevent confusion. My original three disclaimers still apply as well.

This card can make draw piles as open as the recipe for the OpenSoda that Penguicon serves in the ConSuite. Your deck remains face-up, even after you shuffle it. The only way to get it face-down again is to play another OpenSoda. But you can only use each copy of OpenSoda once, and it will throw itself out of the game. There are only ten copies in the supply.

Sometimes you want to know "Should I play this card which will draw the next card in my deck?" Well, with OpenSoda, you can put your draw pile face-up. Now you're drawing from what used to be on the bottom, and you will always see what's next.

At other times, you have a deck-inspection attack like Pirate Ship, Thief, Swindler, or Saboteur, and you're wondering whether it's worthwhile to play it. If you play OpenSoda against everyone else's decks, you can see if they have some delectable goodies on top, just waiting for your destruction. If someone else does that to you, you can play OpenSoda to put your deck back face down.

I wanted to see if I could design a card that would actually motivate players to buy Curses (a negative one victory point card, which doesn't do anything). Normally no one buys Curses. They exist only to inflict on other people. Kimba's "+1 Buy" lets you buy an extra card on the turn you play it. I'll bet you'll use that Buy to get a Curse card, which only costs zero dollars. This card uses Curses as an incredibly powerful fuel. The question is, can you get rid of them by the end of the game?

Say what you want about Kimba, she did some things that we don't have anymore, in ways that sometimes went unnoticed. This card is useful too-- if you bite the bullet, make the hard choices, and accept the damage of Curses to your deck. I dare you!

They say each good Dominion card tells a little story. The story is about what the card does in the start of the game, what it does in the midgame, and what it does in the endgame. Let's just say the Kimba card had too much of a story on it. I just couldn't fit all the effects I wanted to have. At one point I had Kimba trashing everyone else's Potion cards, because she's a teetotaler. And so on. I was doing too much with one card. So I split some of the effects to their own cards. Like this one:

This card will throw itself out of the game at the absolute last minute. (Perhaps even at one AM on the morning of the convention.) Everybody's holding onto their copies of this, holding out hope, because the earlier you play it, the less it's worth. Finally someone will throw one in the trash to get rid of Gold or Platinum from their opponents. (Canceled plane tickets.) Then all of a sudden everybody is trashing Hhhhhhwil Hhhhhhhwheaton. It's like an extravaganza of Hhwheaton-trashing.

Keep in mind that the trashing effect happens when your card gets trashed for any reason, not just when the card trashes itself. If someone hits your Hhwil with Thief or Saboteur, it attacks everyone other than you even though it's not your turn.

I didn't have the heart to put this person on the card. Suffice it to say that when you take on a job and are never heard from again, it is vitally important that we at least get one message from you, acknowledging that you got our email firing you. Otherwise, no one else is able to do your job, because they don't know what arrangements you might be making behind the scenes.


A class required that I create the above image. While I was at it, I figured I'd get the Matt Dominion Card out there. There are still three disclaimers.



Success with this card relies on the other players doing tons of things. If they take super-huge turns, they go through their deck faster, and have to shuffle to go through it again, and the Matt card produces for you. If they trim their deck down to a tiny machine of super power, so that they play the whole thing every turn, they have to shuffle constantly and the Matt card produces for you. It thrives on the work of others. Especially when that work would, in other circumstances, steamroll you.

Of course keep in mind that you also get to draw a card after you shuffle.

Thematically, you might appreciate that my card is a Duration card, even if you don't know what that means in the game. I considered inventing a new kind called the Permanent, just because the bottom banner is filled with so much text. There has never been an actual Dominion card that is both Duration (orange) and Reaction (blue). You never know when you'll shuffle and someone will kaPOW, react with the Matt card from their hand and draw a card, as if they are sitting next to their email client just waiting for someone to message the list. When they play it, it will sit there in front of them, between turns, a visible presence.

Ironically, Matt's omnipresence, and involvement with the activity of others, means when other players get all the money they need in order to buy the card they had in mind, they'll stop. They'll choose not to play any more cards, so as not to reward you. In playtests, this sped up the game in the later stages.

For more Penguicon cards, continue to part six!

Last night, playing Dominion with Eric and Rob, I scored 78 points in one turn! To call this a personal best is an understatement. A six-point turn is considered a lot.

How is it possible? )
Click for more detail, because I spent a very long time on this one.



This is the only card that costs two potions at the same time. It's difficult to get your first copy. But once you've got it, it builds on itself by cleaning out the potions you used to buy it in the first place. Sal is the only card able to produce two potions, so you can get one of these each time you use him. But if you get an Aegis that way, you'll still probably buy a potion or two in order to come out on top of the pecking order, because this card works best in groups. A strategy that relies on this card can win the game-- but it's most likely to succeed if you don't do much of anything else.



The arbitrage card. Steve saves all the coins you didn't spend this turn, and all the Action points which you didn't use to play Action cards on this turn. You get them on your next turn.

You will start to play Dominion more carefully, like this: "Do I really want to play all these extra Actions just because they're in my hand? What would that accomplish? I've already got more than enough money to buy the card I want. I'll save the rest for next turn."

If you play two copies of this, you double that benefit. So it's like accruing interest. I can't describe this card without using words like "accrue" and "arbitrage".

For more Penguicon cards, continue to part five!

That group portrait I mentioned will be delayed until my new tablet gets here. The problem with tablets is that the cords tend to get bent out of shape and stop working. The new one is cordless, so I hope it will last a good long time.

Standard issue of disclaimers, Rio Grande, etc.


Tracy is a recruiter. Recruiting a free Action card onto your team is a big deal. If you've got the right people available to recruit, we're talking game-changing. Such a big deal in fact, that to destroy another player's ability to do that would be worth losing an Attack card.

Trashing other players' Attack cards is just as big a deal. However, nothing on this card says the Attack won't get resolved first. Because it will.

How do you reduce the luck factor in stopping another player from cleaning up the board with this card? Buy a lot of Attacks.

How do you reduce the luck factor if you're playing a strategy based on this card? Besides the obvious "don't buy or gain any Attacks," if there is a card available that lets you trash Curses, have Tracy work closely with that card.


This card has a lot of text. Just like Anne's bookshelves.

Another card for which every copy in the stack is different. There are enough letter combinations for a five-player game to start with three each:

AB AC AD AE AF BC BD BE BF CD CE CF DE DF EF

A few things to keep in mind:
- Your first player advantage isn't really. When you play this, everyone sees the letters you have, so they're going to guess those.
- The cards go back to the supply before you get the reward.
- It says "Each player", not "Each player except you", so you can name your own cards, return them (other than the one in play), and there you go.
- In Dominion, attacks happen clockwise starting with the current player, when it matters. This is a case in which it matters, because you can only buy the top card of any given stack. When someone does so, note the letters.
- Do not overlook the usefulness of this card in gaining information.

The last player with a copy of this card would get an overwhelming reward every time. Pretty soon you'll all start buying one or two Annes just to keep her workload spread too thin for that to happen.

Think how useful a Secret Chamber would be with this card.

For more Penguicon cards, continue to part four!

It is time-consuming for me to draw women, and I am never satisfied. In the meantime, here are some more men.

The disclaimers still apply.


Every card in this stack is different. You never know what ConSuite is serving right now. But there's always free beer!

Like ConSuite, this card is always a surprisingly good deal for the price. But you have to ask yourself whether it's worth taking that deal to give the next awesome deal to another player. Do they need treasure? Or victory points? And most importantly, did you see the high numbers already come out?

Because some of the cards are Victory, I declare this a Victory Point stack and therefore there are 12 with at least 3 players. In a 2-player game, remove the 5-coin, and the 5/6/7 victory point cards.


I hope you like math. This is the card of squares. Let's say you play one of these in one turn. You have $1 to spend. Two are $4 total, three are $9 total, four are $16 total.

During playtesting we found out this really should be priced at $3, because it's so often worth less than a Silver. So I added victory points. Five of these are worth 25 total victory points at game end. If the other players are foolish enough to let you buy them all, you have a hundred and forty-four points. So they should buy just one which will not do much for them. As a victory card, there are 12 in the supply, but 8 in a 2-player game.


Soon you will see why Sal's "two bottles at a time" power is useful. (Other than buying up the Vineyards and Transmutes.) As soon as I get done drawing it. But after that, no more group portraits!

For more Penguicon cards, continue to part three!

Disclaimer 1: This is an unofficial fan-made expansion to the card game Dominion. All rights to Dominion are the publisher Rio Grande Games and the designer Donald X. Vaccarino.

Disclaimer 2: Some of these have not been playtested and will certainly need to be tweaked. Want to playtest them?

Disclaimer 3: These have to be fun cards to play with. In order to be fun and worthwhile, a Dominion card must do enough awesome things to be worth choosing during the game, but with some kind of disadvantage to create interesting choices during gameplay. Nothing personal.

Also every card has to be limited or it gets boring. For instance, the Zrnich card turns it into a drinking game, but I had to limit it by making it a card of the Attack type. Limey as an attack? He doesn't attack. That doesn't make any sense thematically. But it had to be done or everyone might pass out and fall under the table in a single turn.

I have about a dozen more awaiting only their illustrations. Here are the first five.


House rule is that you don't have to remove the item of clothing if you don't want to.


It's like victory points are Nifties and Guests of Honor. Rob's specialty. Rob is the only person I know who I think could get us Mark Shuttleworth.


I can't wait to play with this card. Chuck meticulously obsesses over the choicest ingredients to add to his pressure cooker. It takes time, but the payoff is the best turn you could possibly take. Or, if there's lots of bad stuff floating around, he lets you vent it all at once and blow past it.

In honor of alcoholic celebrations, the price of Chuck includes a potion.


Dominion cards are supposed to attack everyone equally. In defiance of that custom, this one is explicitly political. It turns everyone at the table against another player.


You can get any card on the table if you don't mind making everyone around you powerful. But you can gain a tiny card in order to inflict a Copper or Curse on everyone. Because what would a Jer card be without Cursing?

For more Penguicon cards, continue to part two!

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