Justin Gortner
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Hi all,

Played a couple games years ago, but now I’m in a position where I’d like to buy and start a campaign! So, I would love ...

What are the main mechanical differences between the 4 base games? Like I know the second one introduced a ship (how did that work)?

What things were worse than the original for each? What things were made better from the original?

What is the difficulty of each?

How much more or less complicated / fiddily are the rules for each?

Do any help mitigate the repetitiveness of the flip-and-roll mechanic? This was the only thing I thought may get slightly tiring.

And of course your opinion is welcome too.

Thanks in advance for your help in steering us in the right direction for optimizing our fun!
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C Sandifer
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I imagine that there are multiple threads on the topic (maybe?), but here's a good place to start:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1783472/which-base-set
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Justin Gortner
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I did have some more specific questions I was hoping people could answer! But thank you I will read this too!
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jgortner wrote:
Hi all,

Played a couple games years ago, but now I’m in a position where I’d like to buy and start a campaign! So, I would love ...

What are the main mechanical differences between the 4 base games? Like I know the second one introduced a ship (how did that work)?


Skulls and Shackles added ships. Wrath of the Righteous added mythic paths with D20's. Mummy's Mask allowed you to buy and sell items.

Quote:
What things were worse than the original for each? What things were made better from the original?


I don't think any are worse or better than the original.

Quote:
What is the difficulty of each?


WotR is the hardest. The original is the easiest. The other two are in the middle.

Quote:
How much more or less complicated / fiddily are the rules for each?


RotR is the easiest to understand.
S&S has the fiddliest mechanism with the ships.
The mythic paths in WotR are a little complicated but not too bad.
MM has the most varied scenarios but I didn't think it was all that complicated.

Quote:
Do any help mitigate the repetitiveness of the flip-and-roll mechanic? This was the only thing I thought may get slightly tiring.


That is the basic mechanism used in all games. There is not really a way to get around it.

Quote:
And of course your opinion is welcome too.


My ranking from favorite to least favorite:

Mummy's Mask
Rise of the Runelords
Wrath of the Righteous
Skulls and Shackles

Quote:
Thanks in advance for your help in steering us in the right direction for optimizing our fun!


Anytime.
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C Sandifer
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I'm not convinced that Mummy's Mask is a good place to start. The invoke rules give people pause, and the cards and characters are generally more complicated in MM than in the other sets. Rather than each boon having a single power, for instance, they may have 2-3 different powers to choose from. So while that makes the game more inviting for experienced players, it makes it more overwhelming for new players.

I'm currently in a 5p Mummy's Mask (just finished Adventure Deck #2) with four new Pathfinder players, and I swear that most of them still don't understand invoking or their more complicated character powers. Or the barriers (1st Law, 2nd Law, etc.) that have wall-to-wall rules text. But the scenario variety in MM *is* nice. (I've already been through MM in its entirety with one group. This is Round 2 with novice players.)

Rise of the Runelords was great fun when released, but it's not very challenging - at least with certain characters. I have gamer friend who gave up on Pathfinder because he started with RoTR and its lack of challenge turned him off. He should probably have started with Wrath of the Righteous instead, since he loves co-op brutality.

But... it's widely recognized that Wrath of the Righteous is too difficult and unforgiving for most new players. Permadeth is not nice, though you can ignore it as a variant.

I've had the most success (in terms of teaching and fun) with Skull & Shackles, because the difficulty level seems to be appropriate. But the ship rules are so counterintuitive that I forget them anew almost every game - even having played 50+ S&S scenarios (1.5 campaigns).

Edit: If Horror games are your thing, Apocrypha - a similar game adventure card game by the same designer - might be an option. But the community opinion seems to be that it isn't easy to learn if you've never played Pathfinder. Certainly, without my own Pathfinder background, Apocrypha would have been pretty baffling.
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jgortner wrote:
Hi all,

Played a couple games years ago, but now I’m in a position where I’d like to buy and start a campaign! So, I would love ...

:Star: What are the main mechanical differences between the 4 base games? Like I know the second one introduced a ship (how did that work)?


Let me shed my light on the questions, if I may;
- RotR is just average Fantasy trope Adventure. Paizo was exploring their footing with this game and it thus provides a wellrounded experience, whoever it doesn't do anything daring.

- SnS introduces Ships and a lot of Pirates. The ships are fiddly. They let you magically teleport around and store bonus awards. But for some reason it felt like a thing to keep track of, rather than a useful thing.

- WotR is hard. Really hard. It gets easier a long the way, which is inline with the theme. There are a lot of new mechanics in this game; but the best are the Mythic Paths (which feel epic) and the d20's.

- MM focuses on Elements more than the rest and feels the most balanced and original of the bunch. The new mechanics are Traders; which lets you trade your silly armor for that must needed spell. They've also added "Triggers" which punish or reward you for examining certain cards. Mostly punish.

Quote:
:Star: What things were worse than the original for each? What things were made better from the original?


Besides SnS, I don't think they've made them worse. Although, if you really like the Pirate-theme, maybe SnS is your box. However, each box has it's own things and every box new characters (and boons and banes) arrive that let you do new and exciting thing, whereas the original was pretty 'plain' in it's card.

Quote:
:Star: What is the difficulty of each?


No new information; First was the easiest. WotR the hardest. The other two are in between.

Quote:
:Star: How much more or less complicated / fiddily are the rules for each?


The rules aren't complicated. However the new mechanics can change the rules for better or worse.
The Boats in SnS are fiddly.
WotR introduces the Mythic Paths, which are pretty self-explanotory but take some time getting used to.
MM does a lot of things different and the ruling behind how Traders work may end up in you googling the forums.

Quote:
:Star: Do any help mitigate the repetitiveness of the flip-and-roll mechanic? This was the only thing I thought may get slightly tiring.


The main mechanism of the game is flip-and-roll and seeing your character get stronger and stronger. If you don't like the randominess this ensues, then WotR and MM have some ways to mitigate this, but it stays with Rolling the dice that your card tells you to roll.

Quote:
And of course your opinion is welcome too.


My ranking is;

1. Wrath of the Righteouss
2. Mummy's Mask
3. Rise of the Runelords
5. Skulls and Shackles

I'm skipping number 4, because I'd rather not play the game than to play SnS.

However, the most popular ranking seems to be;

1. Mummy's Mask
2. Wrath of the Righteouss
3. Rise of the Runelords
4. Skulls and Shackles

I would recommend Mummy's Mask, even though it's my number 2, due to sheer amount of originality in it and the pacing/difficulty is better than in WotR. I cannot find myself in the above post. More choice in cards doesn't mean that it's harder. The "Invoking"-rule is by far way easier to understand than what it used to be. You see, Invoking has been in all 4 boxes, they just changed the wording. "Invoking" basically means; If you or the card you're facing has trait "x", then you invoke x. Which used to be a lot clunkier. But that's just me. ;)

Quote:
Thanks in advance for your help in steering us in the right direction for optimizing our fun!


Good luck. ;)
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Whether WotR or MM is #1 seems to depend on whether players like it harder or easier

Another difference between each base set is that the newer it is, the better written the rulebook is. Which makes Apocrypha the more baffling
(It's sort of, spiritually, the fifth PACG!)

My ranking is MM as #1 (ease of introduction to new players counts strongly for me) and lemme get back to you on the rest when I've got all but the piratey one. I've had enough of the sea for one lifetime.

All sets have a lot of undead and/or goblins though. You can't get away from those.
 
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The best one-line summary I've heard of PACG is "This could easily be your favorite game, or you'll hate it." There's a lot to criticize. The most common complaints I've heard are: repetitive, not enough decisions, not enough ways to cooperate, mechanics don't match theme, not enough story, and too easy. Still, it's my favorite game. For me, each scenario is a puzzle to be solved (the main designer, Mike Selinker, is a puzzle master); I like the cooperative aspect; and, especially, I like the character development. Over a campaign, I grow to really know and love my character.

1. What are the main mechanical differences between the 4 base games? Like I know the second one introduced a ship (how did that work)?
For S&S, ships; for Wrath, cohorts and mythic paths; for MM, triggers, curses, overkill penalties and traders.
Ships work like this:
Each scenario you choose your ship. Ships have different abilities. You gain use of better ships as the campaign progresses.
Your ship belongs to the party as a whole, and can take damage which the party as a whole can mitigate & fix.
If the scenario says the ship is docked at a location, then only people at that location are on the ship, ever.
Otherwise, the active player is commanding the ship, the ship is at his location, and everyone at his location is on the ship. When the active player moves, he can take any willing characters at his location with him.
(I have never understood criticism of the ship mechanic. I enjoyed ships, and no one I played with had trouble with the ship rules.)
A cohort is an extra card you start with in addition to your hand. Usually you display it for a power.
A mythic path grants a limited ability to replace your highest dice with d20s, and a strong power when you do so.
Triggers punish you (or, occasionally, reward) when you examine a card. (A MUCH needed corrective to the often-OP powers of examining locations.)
Curses are persistent negative effects which you can dispel.
Overkill punishes you for rolling too high on a check.
Traders let you get better stuff at the end of scenario in exchange for stuff you don't want. You build a strong deck faster.

2. What things were worse than the original for each? What things were made better from the original?
The rulebook improved considerably with each set -- so much so, that the technical director, Vic Wertz, has said that the official rules for any set are the rules from the most recently published set, plus any set-specific rules (ships, cohorts, etc).
RotR is rather 1.0. The rules are not polished. The difficulty is low (but BGG has many useful house rule suggestions to increase the challenge). That said -- the story is excellent (though you'd have to research that), and it is trueest to the fantasy theme.
S&S brought a welcome increase in difficulty. I feel there is less of a story behind the campaign, although admittedly you have to do your own research with any set to really get the story (it is not brought out much).
Wrath can be capriciously difficult. The d20 abilities leads to some epic check results (I know someone who broke 200).
MM is the best-designed set IMHO. The one downside is the difficulty is on the RotR end, rather than the Wrath/S&S end.

3. What is the difficulty of each?
I'd rank them, from the most to the least difficult:
-- S&S
-- Wrath
-- MM
-- RotR
Over the campaign, I think S&S is harder than Wrath. The thing is: the Wrath B scenarios are the hardest B scenarios in PACG, and in particular there are two B barriers and one B monster that can be incredibly tough to deal with. But Wrath characters ramp up in power faster than S&S characters, and in the late compaign Wrath is generally not as tough (with the caveat that Wrath's Army henchmen can be nearly impossible for a 6-character party to defeat, depending on the party).
MM & RotR are a noticeable step down in difficulty from S&S & Wrath.

4. How much more or less complicated / fiddily are the rules for each?
I have not found the rules for any set to be complicated or fiddily, including the ship mechanic.
For help with rules, I suggest always posting on the Paizo rules forum http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoInc/pathfinder/adv.... You'll get accurate help more quickly and official responses more often.

5. Do any help mitigate the repetitiveness of the flip-and-roll mechanic? This was the only thing I thought may get slightly tiring.
PACG is repetitive. There's no way around that. MM has the most varied scenario objectives, but the basic gameplay in every set is the same.

My ranking of the sets in order of how much I enjoyed them is:
1. MM
2. S&S
3. RotR
4. Wrath
Although, mind you, I enjoyed them all, and would gladly play through Wrath again.

I'd argue Wrath is overwhelmingly the least-liked set, despite having a vocal minority of supporters. This is certainly true on the Paizo forum.

My recommendation to newcomers is Mummy's Mask. The rules are the clearest, and I think it gives the best experience.
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Justin Gortner
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What a fantastic set of responses!

Thank you al so very much for taking the time. I went with all of MM! I can’t wait to start. Glad I got on the boat now as it seems they are slowly going out.

Wonder if they are going to do any more.
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jgortner wrote:
Wonder if they are going to do any more.


http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5ljus?Pardon-Our-Dust-Wh...
 
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Start with the app, it is not most intuitive game for many reasons and the apps help a lot to get into the game and making it fun!

After lotr lcg the best card game out there, close to alien encounters

1. Wrath + your favorite character class deck
2. App/steam
3. RotR
4. Fan made content
5. S&S
6. MM
 
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jgortner wrote:
I went with all of MM! I can’t wait to start.

I hope you love it as much as many of us do. I know I'm late to the party, but my ranking would be:

1. MM
2. RotR
3. S&S

I didn't even bother trying Wrath, because S&S was already too frustrating for us. I might choose not to play rather than trying S&S again.

MM has definitely been on the easier side for us...in our second campaign (Alahazra + Zadim), I think we lost only once. For us, that's fine. Also for us, MM has the best theme.

For gamers, I think MM is a great place to start. For non-gamers, where I would be there teaching, I think RotR would be a gentler introduction. As mentioned, MM cards tend to have more powers so are more complicated. Not for gamers, but for non-gamers. For non-gamers who have to learn it on their own...I don't know which I would suggest.

Be sure to download the Adventure Guide!!! It makes the story come alive.
 
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