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Apocrypha Adventure Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: Comparisons to the Pathfinder ACG rss

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C Sandifer
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My family has grown to love the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. It's their very favorite game, and they'd play every day if they could. We've played through all four PACG campaigns and still haven't burned out.

My adult gaming buddies have also taken a strong interest, to the point where I'm personally involved in three separate PACG campaigns: Mummy's Mask (5p, just starting), Skull & Shackles (2p, two characters each), and Season of the Righteous (2p, two characters each). The latter is an at-home version of an organized play campaign.

So, unsurprisingly, when I heard that Apocrypha was "like" Pathfinder I jumped on board. As a late backer, though, since I unfortunately missed the original Kickstarter campaign.

Anyway, I thought I'd start a conversation about quick and dirty comparisons between Pathfinder and Apocrypha.

Note: This is a work in progress. I'll have numerous updates before this post is finalized.

Major Differences:

The theme, obviously. Apocrypha has an end-of-universe, horror storyline. So it's a sideways step from the PACG goblins, giants, pirates, demons, and mummies. Well, maybe not demons and mummies. Those might be the same.

The order of the chapters (Adventures) is different. In Apocrypha, chapters can technically be attempted in any order. Though that may not be recommended.

The terminology is very different, and will take some getting used to. Banish is now Sacrifice. Recharge is now Recycle. Location is now Nexus. And so on. Complicating matters even further, there are names for things that didn't originally have names (e.g., Reload = put a card on top of your deck). For these reasons, my Pathfinder brain has a tough time processing the Apocrypha rulebook, but I'll cope.

Apocrypha characters ("saints") have four virtues (Body, Mind, Soul, Rage) and non-traditional skills such as charm, conjure, hack, resist, sense, strike, and study. Who needs constitution and charisma when you have a laptop and a library card?

Instead of containing weapons, spells, and other fantasy staples, Apocrypha's saint decks are built from omens (drawn randomly each mission) and body/mind/soul/rage gifts that match the color of the virtues. Each gift contains complicated iconography that indicates its effects, assuming you can find an archeologist on sabbatical willing to explain them. (I kid. Maybe.)

The turn structure has been modified and reordered:
- Start (draw an omen card into your hand from the Doomsday Clock, which replaces the Blessings deck)
- Support (play cards that help you and your allies: healing, examining, etc.)
- Investigate (explore your Nexus, but there are usually no free explores; explores now require a card play)
- Sanctify (attempt to close a Nexus, if relevant; an empty Nexus is automatically closed)
- Transfer (give a card to a character at your location OR move)
- End (apply end powers and reset your hand; cards in excess of your handsize are recycled, not discarded)

Nexuses are double-sided, but not to represent open/closed states like in PACG. Instead, each Nexus has a Hope orientation and a Doom orientation. How they flip: When a Hope omen is used to investigate a Nexus on its Doom side, the Nexus flips "Hope side up" - and vice versa. (Some gifts also change Nexus orientations.) A Nexus oriented towards Doom cannot be temporarily closed ("guarded") when trying to vanquish a villain ("master"), and Hope/Doom orientations have other effects.

Speaking of guarding, the timing of temporarily closing locations is different. In PACG, players temporarily close their locations *before* the active player rolls to defeat the villain. In Apocrypha, it's the other way around: The active player rolls against the villain, and then the other players do their temporary closures.

Apocrypha is all about the d6s (no d8s, d10s, or anything else), consisting of colored virtue dice (green, purple, blue, red) and white bonus dice. You earn bonus dice from: gifts that grant them directly; going above the four-die maximum for a particular virtue; and/or skill matching (e.g., if you face a threat that has the strike skill - or if a card with a strike skill is played on you - you'll get one or more bonus dice if your character also has the strike skill).

Generally, for a check (e.g., Soul 13), you roll your assembled d6s, manipulate them with rerolls, flips, upgrades, and explosions, then sum the three highest dice to try to reach the target number.

The card halo. Your Apocrypha character is physically surrounded by up to eight cards ("memory fragments"). Long-term fragments grant ongoing benefits; short-term fragments are one-use improvements. Memory fragments are obtained as mission rewards.

In PACG, characters become more powerful over time as they gain new skills, powers, card feats, and role cards. There's also the loot-sharing that occurs after every scenario, resulting in equipment upgrades for everyone. In Apocrypha, characters evolve only through the addition of halo fragments and the swapping-out of gifts at mission's end. (I'm tempted to say gift cards, but that makes our heroes sound like hobby shoppers, and avoiding armageddon is so much more than shopping. Or is it?)

Seating order matters, as "assist" abilities (die rerolls), fragments, and card effects can impact players to your left or right.

Apocrypha characters seem like they will die a lot. Or at least more frequently than in PACG. Once your eight halo slots are filled with deaths ("visions of your demise"), you pass into the great beyond if you have to add another - at which point you must start a new character.

Levels of card costs can be upgraded/downgraded. Sacrifice can be downgraded to Bury, for instance, with certain card effects.

Mutations abound in Apocrypha. When one or more players assist with a check, there is a strong chance that the thing the check is against will mutate. Randomly drawn cards (+ die rolls) dictate how threats and non-threats are mutated. A sample mutation: "Trash" (remove) all dice of a certain color from the check.

All damage is of a particular virtue (color). When discarding cards for damage, they must be of the matching virtue if possible. (I.e., if you take Mind damage, Mind cards must be discarded first.) If you run out of cards of the matching virtue, additional cards must be discarded randomly until all damage has been taken.

There is a real life/real time component to the game, in that - for the first year, at least - there will be rules modifications (gameplay "surprises") tied to the actual date that you play the game. E.g., on July 4, 2018, firework spells will get an additional d6 and pop and sparkle more dramatically. I'm hoping that cake and twizzlers will be more delicious than usual on my birthday, but there's no telling yet.

Apocrypha cards can't be sleeved, as the game uses nonstandard card sizes designed specifically for different chapters and plot twists.*


*Ok, this isn't true at all. But it's the one statement that I knew would frighten most players, which seems appropriate for a horror-themed game. Trick or treat.
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Drake Coker
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Thanks for starting this.

As an aside: are there any house rules you use with Pathfinder: TAG? I got a little bored about half way through the first one because it seemed too easy.
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Daniel Takai
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Olvenskol wrote:
As an aside: are there any house rules you use with Pathfinder: TAG? I got a little bored about half way through the first one because it seemed too easy.


All the PACG sets have their own entries right here on BGG, and they feature a homebrew forum to boot.
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Neil Edmonds
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I'm sorry you missed out on the Kickstarter.

Apocrypha (originally called "saints" or "all saints" I think) was the game Lone Shark was trying to publish when they pitched it to Paizo. Paizo liked the design, but asked them to set it in the Pathfinder universe, which is what led to Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.
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calpurnio pison

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thanks for this, C Sandifer.

i remember that i was unable to play the firsts p&ps because i got into apocrypha with all the pathfinder acg background. the new "blessing" deck blowed my mind up...

a unlearning work about pathfinder would be necessary for play apocrypha easily.
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Mike Selinker
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Autoduelist wrote:
Apocrypha (originally called "saints" or "all saints" I think) was the game Lone Shark was trying to publish when they pitched it to Paizo. Paizo liked the design, but asked them to set it in the Pathfinder universe, which is what led to Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.


That is not quite accurate. Saints was the original framework, but the Pathfinder ACG was pitched to Paizo as a Pathfinder game. We never considered asking Paizo to publish the game that became Apocrypha.
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Mike Selinker
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calpurnio1973 wrote:
thanks for this, C Sandifer.

i remember that i was unable to play the firsts p&ps because i got into apocrypha with all the pathfinder acg background. the new "blessing" deck blowed my mind up...

a unlearning work about pathfinder would be necessary for play apocrypha easily.


That is even true at my office. Just this week, Keith asked a question that presumed that summoned creatures (which don't exist in Apocrypha) couldn't seal nexuses. We just went, "Wrong game, Keith."

Apocrypha is more different from PACG than the same as PACG. But you can definitely see their shared DNA. I think it would take me much longer to list the differences than the similarities.

Mike
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C Sandifer
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I've added a bit more detail. If anything looks screwy, please let me know.

If nothing else, I've been reminded that Apocrypha is more different from PACG than I remember. Cool.
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C Sandifer
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Another addition to "what's different from Pathfinder":

The Fae chapter from The Flesh (an expansion, not the core set) introduces some dexterity-based card effects, including:

- balancing a die on your head
- rolling one die into other dice (which can change the dice results)
- spinning a card to determine the target of the check

(See these card images for examples.)

Fae is a one-off goofy chapter, I think, hence the unusual mechanics.
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Shane Childress
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And a Book which I am very looking forward to, I should say.. Honestly one of the things that intrigues me so much about this game, one of many intriguing facts, is the knowledge that the different books will have different mechanics and feels.

Skinwalkers with the Lycanthrope score you have to track, Fae with their quirky mechanics that screw with your rolls, and the Physicians with all the rampant mutations. Who knows what all the rest will bring! It's very exciting, and I think it will keep the game fresh and new, waiting to see what the next Book will add to the mix of chaos.
 
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Neil Edmonds
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Apologies for my error, Mike.

Vic Wertz mentioned in the comments section on this Paizo thread that they were shown Saints first. I'm afraid I can't dig up the other post where a comment was made about "placing it in the Pathfinder setting", although in light of your comments, the statement probably referenced the overall sales pitch (this Saints prototype isn't Pathfinder but it totally could be....)

I certainly have no reason to misrepresent details because I wasn't there in the first place. I can only go off of what I've seen posted on BGG and Paizo.com.
 
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Robert Ahearne
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The only descriptions of the pitch I've seen were along the lines of "This game [we are showing you] isn't Pathfinder, but you're smart enough to imagine how it could be." In other words, Lone Shark demo'd what they had, and asked Vic/Lisa/et al to imagine converting it to Pathfinder.

But since Mike made the pitch, I'm going to take his word on it...
 
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The biggest difference I noticed between PACG and Apocrypha was that my favorite combo got nerfed.

In PACG I settled into a rhythm: play a blessing to explore, play an ally to explore, play a blessing to explore, then cast Cure to shuffle all those blessings and allies back into my deck so I could do the same thing next turn. Sometimes it felt like that made the game too easy; sometimes it felt like it was necessary to win at all.

In Apocrypha, that trick has been carefully, lovingly nerfed. Explores only come from Omens, and Omens go back in the box when used. Heals are -- I'm actually not sure if there's an Apocrypha equivalent for "curing your Cure spells back into your deck" but we haven't stumbled upon it yet.

Not necessarily saying it's bad -- and maybe there are Enduring Fragments that add the same sort of feel to the game, once we leave Candlepoint? -- but it's a different feel.
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