Two very exciting pieces of game news that appeared on facebook lately. I mean – check it out! First, the upcoming Age of Rebellion RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, the second of three game lines that the company are using for their Star Wars roleplaying game. It’s due to come out by the end of the week, and I’m pretty excited as I’ve had it on pre-order for months! Again, not that I get to play that many RPGs, of course, but still!
Secondly, we have Dark Gothic, a deckbuilding game from Flying Frog Productions that is tied into their previous boardgame, A Touch of Evil. A fabulous game, that, so I’m looking forward to getting this too. Another game that has been months on pre-order, it was dispatched yesterday so – yay!
So, folks: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game! Yeah, this has been mentioned quite a few times now, so I feel like I should give it the full-blog treatment!
So yeah. Two months ago, you may remember I did something of a mini-feature about it:
This morning, I took delivery of the fifth adventure pack for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. At least, I think they’re called adventure packs. Well, whatever. I’ve been off-and-on playing this game since last September, when it first arrived in my hot little hands. I mean, more off than on – I’ve by no means been playing it constantly, or anything! In fact, my boardgamegeek stats tell me I’ve played it seven times since I had it. (I’m on boardgamegeek as ‘spalanzani’ – feel free to add me as a geek buddy!) The game was something of a sensation when it came out – the forums were absolutely crazy with new posts, to the extent that I had to unsubscribe pretty sharp-ish as my subscription feed was just spammed daily. The idea of a game that was “the perfect amalgam” of card game and RPG seemed to scratch a lot of itches across the ‘geek, and of course, the Pathfinder RPG was close to a lot of peoples’ hearts. The box follows the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, a linked series of six adventures in the Pathfinder universe. I’m saying all this like I know what I’m talking about, of course – while I do indeed have the Rise of the Runelords RPG book, I’ve never actually played the RPG, so have no idea what it’s like. The RPG engine is, I believe, licensed from Wizards of the Coast’s D&D 3rd edition system, which I have also not played, but I have played d20 Star Wars RPG (Saga Edition), which I believe to be a similar engine. But all of this is pretty tangential to the actual discussion.
In the card game, you pick a character and have a deck of cards, which represents your “life” in the game – if the deck runs out, you die. You have a series of locations, represented by cards and an associated deck, that you have to explore. Within each location’s deck can be anything, from items and spells you can try to acquire, to monsters and even the villain of the piece! You have to fight these monsters, which is a skill check based on your character’s stats and a die-roll (the RPG element). Once you explore the locations to meet the win conditions of the scenario you’re playing, usually beat a villain in combat, you have a reward, which so far for me has been drawing a card from those unused in the box, or adding bonuses to your skills that will help in subsequent adventures (again, the RPG element).
By rights, I should be obsessed with this game, and I should be far too over-excited each month as Paizo sends me the new adventure pack (I’m just calling them that, whether they are or not!). But I find the game oddly dissatisfying. Like I said before, I’ve been playing it intermittently since September, and have taken Ezren through all the scenarios up to the midway point of Burnt Offerings. However, there is something missing, for me. While I enjoy the levelling aspect, and the dice rolling and the fantasy locales, I find myself feeling like I’d much rather play a proper RPG. For me, RPG-ing is a terrific social opportunity for storytelling and having fun while exercising the imagination. I suppose the ‘anything can happen’ aspect of the RPG is lost when you’re straightjacketed into the same mechanic of exploring locations and fighting monsters. Yes, arguably that’s what most RPG-ing comes down to, but there can be so much more variety in games where you can concentrate on diplomacy or any other of a multitude of types of quest. Plus, crucially, the presence of a GM in a RPG leads to so much more interactivity than we have here. So what we’re left with is a bit of a hollow shell of a RPG. Harsh, I know. When approached as a card game, it is much more enjoyable to play, but I find this game wants to be a RPG too much. Which is probably why I only play it in short bursts.
I’ve recently been on a bit of a Pathfinder kick, of course, and now that all six of the adventure decks have arrived in my grubby little hands, I’ve been feeling a lot more… involved, I suppose, with it.
One of the complaints I had about the card game was, of course the fact that it’s all down to fighting monsters, with very little else going on. But since dabbling with the RPG, I’ve come to find that that is what the Pathfinder system is all about. Somehow, being prepared for that, I suppose I’m better-predisposed towards the card game. So while I’d still rather play a full-blown RPG, I also don’t really mind this as much as I used to!
This is all sounding very strange, I know!
I discovered the other day that paizo are poised on releasing a series of seven ‘class decks’ for the seven character classes, such as this for the Cleric. The opportunity for even further customization is something that really excites me, naturally, and I’m really looking forward to these! They’re due in August, around the same time that the next base set is due out.
Rise of the Runelords was the first adventure path in the Pathfinder RPG series, and Skull & Shackles was the tenth released. In terms of the adventure card game, anyway, Skull and Shackles brings four new character classes to the game, and the Character Add-on Deck adds three more new ones. Completely compatible with the Rise of the Runelords set, the character options will be immense!
However, word on the street appears to be that the characters we’ve spent so long taking through Rise of the Runelords will have to start again from basic level rather than continuing the adventure (though additional word on the street suggests there may be a high-level adventure released at some point that would allow us to continue past the six adventures in the path). Seems that a lot of people aren’t too happy about that, but I’m perfectly fine with it. Looking forward to having a whole stack of boxes of these things soon enough!
I’m slowly rehabilitating this game into my life, and am looking forward to playing more of it as the weeks and months pass!