Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords
List Price: $59.99
Your Price: $47.99
(Worth 4,799 Funagain Points!)
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Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a cooperative, deck-building card game based on the popular RPG of the same name. In this game players take the part of a fantasy character such as a rogue or wizard, each with varying skills and proficiencies that are represented by the cards in their deck. The classic ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, etc.) are assigned with different sized dice. Players can acquire allies, spells, weapons, and other items. The goal is to find and defeat a villain before a certain number of turns pass, with the villain being represented by its own deck of cards complete with challenges and foes that must be overcome.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is an expandable game, with the first set containing 400+ cards and being based on the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. The Base Set supports 1 to 4 players; a 110-card add-on deck will expand the number of players to 5 or 6 and add more character options for any number of players. The game will be expanded with bimonthly 110-card adventure decks.
I am new to the Pathfinder universe. I recently joined a gaming group, and the first game we played was the Pathfinder RPG. I was new to RPG's, but I found myself enthralled with its world and the adventures there were to be had within. The problem we ran into, as so many groups do, was scheduling game nights when everyone in the party could make it. The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords aims to mitigate this issue by providing an RPG-like experience in which you create a character, which you level up as you progress through a series of scenarios, adventures, or adventure paths. In the base set you have a wizard, a fighter, a rogue, a ranger, a bard, a cleric, and a sorceress. Run of the mill RPG classes, but they work well together, and I think they are great classes to start with in this game.
So does the Pathfinder Adventure Card game succeed at its lofty goals?
Is the Pathfinder Adventure Card game an RPG?
Like I said above, you begin the game by choosing a character. You then utilize the back of the character card to create your deck, which is a small number of cards you will have at your disposal during the game. Note that this is also your HP. If you run out of cards, you're dead. Done. Forever. Time to create a new character. This means your choices have very real consequences. And since Paizo plans to release expansions for the adventure path bimonthy it means your choices from day one are extremely important. Dying six months into this very fun campaign would be frustrating to say the least.
Within each adventure path are adventures, and within each adventures are scenarios. The scenario cards tell you which locations are within that scenario. You set the location cards out and fill them with monsters, spells, loot, henchmen, and villains. (Each location card tells you how many of each type of card go into it and the cards are chosen at random).
From there you place your hero in a location and begin drawing cards from the locations each turn. This brings me to the overall point of each scenario.
The overall structure of the game thus far is to find and kill the main villain or boss, who is also accompanied by his henchmen. The problem is, if there are open locations on the table when you find the villain, he can escape. So you have to close locations as you explore them in order to corner the villain for the final battle. This becomes stressful because of the blessings pile, which consists of thirty blessings cards, which characters must flip over each turn. This pile acts as a timer. When all thirty have been flipped the adventure is a failure. It doesn't mean you're dead, it just means you have to start that adventure over.
This forces strategy because you will sometimes want to close areas sooner rather than later, however, this also means you could be missing out on good cards within a location because when a location is closed you can no longer access its cards. This is a difficult choice considering the fact that, at the end of a scenario, characters have the option of keeping some of the cards they recovered, thus improving their hero.
This game is full of these difficult choices, which makes it all the better.
Combat is simple, in RPG terms, it uses a series of "checks", based on what type of attach you are making, and with what kind of weapon you are using.
The game comes with five dice, with the D12 being the largest. I am not sure why they opted out of using a D20 (I mean this is Pathfinder!), but that's just a personal preference on my part.
Some people may be turned off by the fact that so much of this game comes down to the roll of the dice simply because this opens so much up to pure chance, but I personally think it is one of the best features of the game because it makes it feel like an RPG.
Damage dealt by monsters is the difference of their toughness to your dice roll. Example: If Goblin Raider has 8 toughness and you roll a 5 then you would take 3 damage. This damage comes directly out of your hand, meaning you discard 3 cards. That is, unless, you have cards that mitigate damage.
On top of that, there is still plenty of strategy in combat and noncombat checks because you are always trying to utilize items, weapons, spells, armor and ally cards to improve the odds in your favor. For example, if you use a weapon to improve a check, there are often options to further improve the check by discarding the weapon afterwards. There are times when you will need this, but it is not always smart to use these features because, by doing so, you are taking more cards out of your deck, thus lowering your HP.
There is so much to this game that I simply cannot cover without writing a review as long as the rulebook. It plays quickly, with most games lasting 45 minutes or so, but it is complex enough to scratch that RPG itch. Additionally, it can be played solo, which is an amazing feature! I have played solo and I have played with up to four and the game functions just as well in each case. I do enjoy having a party to plan strategies with, but I have really enjoyed solo play as well.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game is the sense of adventure and the overall theme. This feels like Pathfinder, and its amazing that a card game actually has managed to feel that way. On top of that, there are going to be expansions every two months to form what will be a 12 month campaign in which we get to carry our heroes through adventures, leveling them up and making them stronger along the way. This is one of those games that I want to play again right after finishing a scenario or adventure. It deserves to be on every gamer's shelf.
I give this game my highest recommendation. The only game I have enjoyed as much as this one recently is Mage Wars, and they are completely different in terms of gameplay and overall feel.
5 out of 5 Stars