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Want to play the Rise of the Runelords campaign, but don’t have the time or dedicated tabletop group? Check out this excellent deck builder.

This is a deck builder with a difference. In most deck builders, the cards are arrayed for all to see and purchase as desired. In PACG, the decks are built by adventuring at locations and this is the core of the game.

The game comes with a series of adventures, all part of the Rise of the Runelords campaign, each with its own setup card. The card will tell you which locations to use based on the number of players. Each location will then tell you what type of cards (spells, monsters, treasure, whatever) should be dealt there. All cards except the locations are face down. These become the cards that the players will use to build their decks.

Rather than simply purchasing them as you would in Dominion or Legendary, players adventure at each location encountering monsters, treasure chests, allies or loot they must try to acquire. For example, Seoni the Sorcerer might be at the Glassworks, where there are 3 monsters, 1 barrier, 1 weapon, 1 spell, 1 item and 2 allies. She might reveal a monster to defeat or the spell, weapon or item. If she passes whatever the check is on the card, she can add that card to her hand. In this way, you can replenish your hand and grow your deck beyond starting cards as well. This is not necessarily as important if you are doing a one shot, but if you are playing this as the full campaign, you will get to rebuild your deck between adventures, keeping cards you value and getting rid of others of less importance. The weapon Seoni gets here might be the Returning Throwing Axe +1, which is of little use to her, so she might not want it in the next adventure, thus she may drop it in favor of the Scorching Ray spell, for which she’ll have more use.

The mechanics of this game are solid, and this leads to fast, easy game play.

Each player starts with a deck of 15 cards and that deck must be made up of card types listed on their character card. For instance, at first level, Sajan the Monk starts with 4 items, 3 allies and 8 blessings. Merisiel the Rogue starts with 2 weapons, 1 armor, 6 items, 2 allies and 4 blessings. There are suggested starting cards in the rulebook and these are good to use for the first few plays. After that, you can experiment with building your own deck. You can also rebuild your decks between adventures if you are playing the campaign.

Your deck is not only your gear and your spells, it is also your life. As you take damage from failing to defeat creatures or traps, you discard cards. If at any point you must draw a card and cannot, you are dead. There are a few healing skills and items, but they are not overpowered. They allow you to return a few cards to your deck. This is called recharging. Recharging in this manner is generally random, so you won’t get to choose what you’re putting back in your deck. You can’t really plan on seeing a card again once you’ve discarded it, so you must really balance using your cards for their basic abilities or boosting them for extra dice, but also having to discard them. Some cards will allow you to pass a check to recharge a card rather than discard it. This helps not only keep you alive, but also keep useful cards in your deck.

There are 30 turns, tracked by the Blessing deck. Blessings are both a countdown timer and also an in-game effect for the turn. A new Blessing is revealed at the start of each player’s turn. If the party has not defeated the scenario, the game ends at the end of thirty turns.

Every card lists what needs to happen in order to succeed at the encounter. A Cultist need a 9 Combat check to defeat. A Slashing Blade needs a Dexterity/Disable 9 check to disarm. The Cure spell need a 9 Wisdom/Divine check to pick up. And so on. The game effects, for success or failure, are also clearly explained on the card. Generally, failure results in discarding wanted items, party members taking damage and creatures being shuffled back into the location. Checks are performed with the standard set of polyhedrals, though there is no d20. Amiri the Barbarian’s primary stat is Strength, where she gets to roll a d12. Her weakest stat is Intelligence with is a D4. So, she’s strong at Strength-related checks, weak at Intelligence-related checks and middling at everything else. A player can attempt any check, but if you need a 6 and your associated skill is only on a d4, you can’t succeed without help.

And this leads to an interesting difference between Pathfinder RPG and PACG. The traditional and oft-quoted RPG rule is to never split the party. In PACG, however, it is generally better to have your group split among the locations. If possible, it’s good to travel in pairs with a primary and a support class working a location together. Unlike the paper and pencil game where the party is together and can work together, in the card game, usually only the active player is going to attempt the encounter. Players at the same location or different location can have some impact on another player’s turn, but it is generally limited to adding dice at the cost of cards. Unless soloing (and the game is designed with solo play in mind), splitting the party is definitely desired.

Combat is straight forward. As mentioned above, there is no d20. You’re always hitting. When you encounter a creature, it will have the check to defeat listed. The Goblin Snake is a combat 8. This means you must meet or exceed 8 as the total of your dice rolled. If you beat the creature, you take no damage. If you fail to meet the target number, you take damage equal to the difference. If you need to do 8 and only do 7, you will take 1 damage.

Turn order is straightforward. Advance the Blessing Deck. Give a card (to a character at the same location). Move. Explore. Close a Location. Reset your hand (discard down to or draw up to your max hand size). End your turn. Other than Advancing the Blessings and Resetting your hand, everything is optional, but these actions must be performed in that order. You can’t explore a location, get the uber item and then give it to somebody.

As players explore, they will eventually run out of cards at a location. This is not the end of that location, though. Each location needs to be closed and will have a closing requirement. Maybe you have to summon and defeat a creature. Maybe pass a strength check. It will say on the location card what is needed to close the location, so you can plan on who will try to ensure you have the best person there. Some locations have beneficial effects when closed. Some have no effect. There are no negatives to closing a location.

Game play follows these steps until the scenario villain is defeated or the Blessing counter runs out. Defeating the villain is no easy task. All the villains have some sort of ‘before the encounter’ ability that makes things tougher. Some make you recharge cards. Some make you take a skill test or take a negative result. Others just drop some damage on you before you’ve even wiggled a finger. On top of that, almost all of them have double digit skill checks and some even require multiple skill checks to defeat. But that’s not the end. If there are any locations still open when you defeat the villain, he escapes to one of them! Unless all other locations are closed, the villain escapes to another random location and you have to go hunting again. If you’re very unlucky you could defeat the villain multiple times without actually winning the game because there are locations still open. The villain will only be finally defeated if he or it has nowhere else to run. When revealed, players at other locations can try to temporarily close the location they’re at, but as long as 1 other location is open, the villain will make a break for it.

Overall, this is an excellent game. It comes with a metric ton of cardboard and an excellent well for the cards. However, it only comes with 1 set of dice. Since all the action takes place for 1 player at a time, only 1 set is not a big problem, but there are simply not enough of each type. Many times you’ll be rolling multiples of 1 die if you’re using many of your bonuses or Blessings and having to roll, hold that number, roll again and maybe again is annoying. This is common in most games that provide dice, though, so while it irritates me, I expect no better from any company. Realistically, if you’re playing this, you’ve probably got your own dice, so it’s not that big a problem. But still, as far as basic components go, companies should really include enough dice for you to be able to roll all you might need to do in a turn.

The rule book is lacking. It gives you enough to get started on your first game, but it’s poorly laid out, not as descriptive as I’d like and, while there are examples, they’re not spectacular. This is the only weak point of the product.

The artwork, both on the cards, the box and in the book is spectacular. The artist lists in the rules is straight out of the RPG supplements and comics. If you like the style of art in these, you’ll love these cards. This is, for me, the best part of the product.


The audio review for this and other games can be found at www.allusgeeks.com
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Matt Smith
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Troy
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Nice summary of the game. Not only are there not enough dice, the dice provided with the game are pretty lame. There are a lot better looking dice sets out there. If you're not a former RPGer like me with a bag full of dice, I highly recommend picking up some nice Chessex sets.

Only one nitpick: I think there is at least one location (The Waterfront?), where there is a penalty upon permanently closing it. I think each player at that location discards a card.
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Jordan Scott
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mvettemagred wrote:


Only one nitpick: I think there is at least one location (The Waterfront?), where there is a penalty upon permanently closing it. I think each player at that location discards a card.


You are correct.

I did mean to break that one out specifically but it slipped my mind despite the note I made to myself.
 
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R N
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Quote:
Rather than simply purchasing them as you would in Dominion or Legendary, players adventure at each location encountering monsters, treasure chests, allies or loot they must try to acquire.


I think purchases in Dominino, Legendary, and PACG are actually pretty similar. In the ways that they differ, I think PACG mostly comes out behind. PACG has other things to offer, but the core mechanic is a bit under par IMO.
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Richard Dewsbery
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mvettemagred wrote:
Not only are there not enough dice, the dice provided with the game are pretty lame.


If you're buying extra dice, it's a good idea to buy d4s in one colour, d6s in another, d8s in a third etc. It makes grabbing the right dice easier. And four of each seems to be the sweet spot - I've yet to need to roll a fifth die of one shape, but have used four several times (and most checks involve rolling two or three of the same shape).
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Aaron Sibley
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Agreed on the dice colours. I have 5d4 in yellow, 5d6 in green, 5d8 in blue, 5d10 in orange and 5d12 in red. It makes it easier for people that are not used to anything other than d6 and d10's and speeds up play quite a bit.
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Tristan Hall
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RDewsbery wrote:
mvettemagred wrote:
Not only are there not enough dice, the dice provided with the game are pretty lame.


If you're buying extra dice, it's a good idea to buy d4s in one colour, d6s in another, d8s in a third etc. It makes grabbing the right dice easier. And four of each seems to be the sweet spot - I've yet to need to roll a fifth die of one shape, but have used four several times (and most checks involve rolling two or three of the same shape).


This is good advice. I bought 3 extra sets in different colours for each player in anticipation of the game arriving, but now it's a minor annoyance picking out multiples of the same type of die.
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Sam Lawton
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ninjadorg wrote:
it's a minor annoyance picking out multiples of the same type of die.


Especially when someone can't tell his D8s from his D10s or D12s....whistle
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jordanscott wrote:
Want to play the Rise of the Runelords campaign, but don’t have the time or dedicated tabletop group? Check out this excellent deck builder.
I wouldn't really call this game a deck builder. In deck builders you try to optimize your deck to improve your draws, ideally drawing your entire deck every turn.

In the Pathfinder cardgame your character is dead as soon as she's drawn the last card of her deck.

The deckbuilding aspect only comes into play between scenarios and it's not particularly relevant since you will see most of your cards only once in a game.

Also, deckbuilder or no, the game just isn't very good.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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jhaelen wrote:
The deckbuilding aspect only comes into play between scenarios and it's not particularly relevant since you will see most of your cards only once in a game.

Depends on the character. Kyra, Lini, and Lem are likely to do some healing/curing, bringing discarded cards back in. Valeros can increase his attack by putting weapon cards from his hand on the bottom of his deck. Merisiel has a similar (but different) power.

And even if you did only see the cards once, the way you build your deck is still very relevant. Every card matters.
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Tristan Hall
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jhaelen wrote:
jordanscott wrote:
Want to play the Rise of the Runelords campaign, but don’t have the time or dedicated tabletop group? Check out this excellent deck builder.
I wouldn't really call this game a deck builder. In deck builders you try to optimize your deck to improve your draws, ideally drawing your entire deck every turn.

In the Pathfinder cardgame your character is dead as soon as she's drawn the last card of her deck.

The deckbuilding aspect only comes into play between scenarios and it's not particularly relevant since you will see most of your cards only once in a game.

Also, deckbuilder or no, the game just isn't very good.



That's at least 5 subscription pings now with you bashing the game. Have you thought about writing a review? It would give you a concentrated place to grind your axe, instead of flogging every old thread.
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ninjadorg wrote:
That's at least 5 subscription pings now with you bashing the game. Have you thought about writing a review?
I did feel a bit bad about 'spamming' my opinion on the game like this after the fact. It was just that I was looking over all of the reviews listed on the first page and felt compelled to reply to the ones I didn't agree with.

You're right, though. This may be the first time I feel a strong urge to write a review of my own because there seem to be so many misconceptions about this game. I feel I may have to play it a few more times with different setups to really do it justice and make sure I'm not overlooking anything.
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peakhope wrote:
Depends on the character. Kyra, Lini, and Lem are likely to do some healing/curing, bringing discarded cards back in.
True. I tested Kyra after posting and her presence does make the game somewhat more interesting (for me at least). There still aren't really any non-obvious choices to make, but at least you have a few more options on your turns.

For me the problem is that playing Kyra is even more boring than playing any of the more offensive characters. About half of the time she's just there to enable other characters to shine.

I think the game would improve a lot if every character had ways to heal themselves - something similar to the healing surges used in D&D 4e or the D&D Adventure System boardgames.
 
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