- I'm going to tell you a secret. If you want to sell me something, magically make it appear when I ask about it. I went to the local game store Friday just to see what was new. I didn't expect to actually buy anything, an issue of White Dwarf at most. But then I made an offhand comment that it looked like the Pathfinder game must be hard to keep on the shelf. She said that it was, but that she'd received another shipment today. She walked over to a cardboard box, cut it opened, and pulled the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game from the packing peanuts. Once I had it in my hands, it was very hard to say no. It was also hard to say no to the Character Add-On Deck, because dumber isn't much different from dumb, right?
- Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is an RPG boiled down into card form. You, as the player, choose a character, build a starting card deck of weapons, armor, and the like (the types and amounts based on the character), and select a scenario to play. The base game allows one to four players, but you can go up to six with the add-on. Each scenario lists the villains and the locations for each quest, and each location lists the amount of each card type in its deck. On your turn, flip the top card of the blessing deck (which acts as a doomsday clock), decide whether to move your character to a new location, and then encounter the top card of the location deck. The goal of most of the scenarios is to corner the main villain by cutting off avenues of escape and defeating them.
- One of the main reasons I bought PACG is that it was supposed to play well as a single player game. So after I cracked open the box, read the rules, and sorted the cards (which I actually did in that order), I started my first adventure. Then the next day I played my second. Then the next day I played the third. And now, like my favorite video games, I can't get it out of my head.
- For such a stripped down system, I love how the card interactions evoke fantasy adventure so well. In the final basic scenario, Black Fang's Dungeon, the three locations are Shrine of Lamashtu, Temple, and Desecrated Vault. The order could have been chosen haphazardly, but I don't think so. In my mind, the Shrine, though some distance away, sits in opposition to the Temple. And through its dark magics, the denizens of the Shrine have desecrated the Vault under the shrine, causing all manor of evil to rise from its bowels.
- And then there are the character powers. Without any amount of description, the basis of the powers is immediately evident. My rogue has two primary powers. First, the ability to evade any encounter is a perfect implementation of a rogue's stealth capability. Second, the ability to add an extra die to combat checks when your character is alone at a location is obviously a sneak attack. I'm all for better story telling in games, but sometimes mechanics tell the best stories on their own.
- Because each character deck is really a resource management system, making decisions about how and when to use your cards is vital. That is why the one thing I really like is the various card use mechanics: Reveal, Recharge, Discard, Bury, and Banish. Reveal just means to show that the card is in your hand. Recharge means to play it face down under your draw pile, so that it may come up again. Discard means to place in the discard pile, though various cards (i.e. healing) allow you access to these. Bury means to discard under your character card, putting them out of play for the rest of the game. Banish means to discard to the box, leaving your deck permenantly. Such a wide range of options makes each card play a strategic choice.
- Here is my rogue. She fought off the bandits, she saved the city from a mad alchemist, and she slew the dragon, Black Fang. And yet, the most difficult choice of the game to make: which skill do I chose for her new feat? It has been a couple days now and I still don't know!
© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.