Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This review was written for my Crazy Couples Co-op Guide (2013) geeklist. That geeklist header contains detailed descriptions of what each of these rating categories refer to.

Our rating:

Addictive? thumbsup thumbsup

Long Term Replayability: thumbsdown *
*Unless you want to buy lots of expansions, which they assume.

Skill Factor: Low - Moderate.

Modes: Co-op. They list solo, but it doesn't sound like it works well as true solo. You can run multiple characters though.

Players: 1-4*
*Expanded up to 6 with a character expansion.
EDIT: Important note; our plays have been mostly with 4 characters, and a few 2 character plays. Play times, difficulty and decisions may change radically at other player counts.

With a couple: It does play normally with only two players, but it is much more fun if you instead control two characters each.

Play Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Difficulty: Generally easy. I'd say about 1 in 3 plays really comes down to the wire on time, and we've only lost 1 out of around 30 plays.
EDIT: It seems to be generally agreed that the game gets harder with more than 4 characters.

Individual/Group Play: A lot of group decisions, with some individuality in managing your deck. Most of the big decisions are fairly shallow; we almost never disagree on what to do.

Mini-Review
This is going to be a confused review. I have nothing objectively good to say about this game. But we loved playing it and were addicted to it. At least until we ran out of content.

Pathfinder takes on the traditional fantasy adventure genre, and focuses on a campaign based game of building up your characters over a series of games. This is an area that few board games cover; Warhammer Quest and Descent (1st edition with Road to Legend and 2nd Edition) are the only other ones I know of.

Basic Game Play on a Single Scenario
In a single game, each player prepares their character deck; a deck of 15 cards consisting of weapons, armor, allies, spells, blessings and items. The group then picks a scenario. Each scenario is described on a single card, which lists the locations the scenario includes and the major foes (called Villains and Henchmen) that the characters will face.

Each location has another card which describes which 9 cards go in that location. This gives an overall theme to the location. For example, the Woods has 4 monsters, while the Temple has none. So the woods is a generally more dangerous place to be! The actual specific cards are selected randomly from large decks.

To each of these locations, you add a villain or henchman. Your goal is to find and defeat the villain*. However, this isn't as simple as just flipping the villain first turn and winning a fight. Defeated villains flee to a different location. To corner the villain and actually be able to win, you need to first 'close' the other locations by either beating the henchman or running out the entire location deck and meeting a certain condition to close it; usually testing skill, but sometimes using a particular kind of card.

* One scenario in the base game doesn't have a villain or henchmen, but the gameplay is effectively the same.

You have a deck of 30 cards that serves as a timer. You flip one each turn; run out the timer deck, and you lose the game.

On a turn, you'll pick a location to go to. Usually you can pick freely, but a few locations are harder to enter or leave. Then you'll flip over the top card, and it will tell you to roll some stat or other. You might play some cards to help, and then you'll roll the dice and have either good or bad things happen depending on whether you succeeded or failed.

There's no record keeping in a single game. Taking damage discards cards from your hand, or occasionally directly off your deck. If you run out of cards in your deck, your character perishes.

Where are the choices?
Wait, you say, flip a card and roll a die? It doesn't sound like there's a lot of decision making involved.

Well...yeah, there's not.

The big choice you'll make it which location to visit, which is mainly decided by which location you can close successfully. Since different locations require different tests, you usually want to visit a location where you can pass the test. If you encounter a henchman and defeat it, but fail to close the location, the party will be stuck slogging through the entire location deck, which can be a major time drain!

What cards you have available will also influence where you go. If you have a good weapon and armor, it's a good time to visit one of the monster-heavy locations. If you are badly wounded, play it safe at a location without threats, or even avoid exploring at all until someone can heal you.

The other choices you'll make involve which cards to use. Many cards can be discarded to give you a bonus. Since discarding amounts to taking a point of damage, if you're too careless with cards, you'll kill yourself. So you want to judge how many dice you need to succeed. Other cards can just be "revealed"; you can keep them in your hand after using them, so you can spend those freely. Still other cards "recharge" - instead of discarding them, they go to the bottom of your deck. So you won't have them for use right away, but at least spending them doesn't hurt you. Some cards even allow you to help another player.

On occasion you'll get to look at the top card of a location deck, which comes in very handy for deciding who should go deal with that encounter.

And since many monsters and obstacles go back in the deck if you fail to beat them, you'll sometimes have an idea that there's a particular nasty lurking a specific location.

Is all this card flipping FUN?
Well, yes, if, and this can be a big "if", you can enjoy a game of just seeing what happens without a lot of strategy or choice. Pathfinder reminds me a lot of Talisman; just spend a while flipping cards and rolling dice and laughing about what happens.

Occasionally you'll get to do something neat. I'd say every 3 games or so you can make use of a cool combo with the cards, or cleverly set up the party to trap a villain. It's fun when it happens, but it's not common.

Is it challenging?
Does flipping a card and rolling a die and coming up with a clever plan one in three games sound challenging?

No, no it is not. This is a game of seeing what happens, not of trying to cleverly outwit imaginary foes or solving fiendish puzzles. The biggest difference in whether you win or lose will be how the location deck shuffle turned out, and whether you whiff any easy rolls.

From a difficulty perspective, this is one of the easiest co-ops I've played. In our first 30ish plays, we lost once.

And that's not a bad thing, as I'm about to discuss.

Campaign Play: Where the fun is REALLY at!
I may be sounding like I think the game is a bit lacking. No challenge. Mostly random card flipping. What's so great about that?

On its own, not much. If you want to play a single game of with a different group of players each time, do yourself a favor and skip right on by Pathfinder. It is going to be really, really boring if you want to play it like that!

No, the real fun is in building up your character!

As you play, you'll get to upgrade cards in your deck. Learn new spells, gain new allies. And every few adventures you'll get to boost a stat or add an extra card to your deck.

This is the meat of the game. This is the fun. Watching your character grow and power up and deciding which skill you want and which cards you want to keep.

I can't begin to explain why it is so fun. I've found this sort of thing addictive in just every game I've played with this, and Pathfinder is no exception. After each play, we were ready and eager to start the next quest to see if we could find a few more items and work closer to that precious feat check-box.

If you've been addicted to this kind of game, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, it's perhaps a bit puzzling to you. I don't know how to explain it better than that.

Given this context, I don't want the game to be "hard"; the fun of the game isn't in trying to beat it. It's how your characters build up along the way.

So what's wrong with it?
I said it was fun and addictive.

It is also a bit infuriating. Here's a summary of all the problems. Which are numerous.

The rules are a mess. Hard to read, hard to look things up in.

And many of the rules and cards are getting errata, or are just deeply confusing. As of this writing, there's intense discussion on going on over at the Paizo boards about how really basic mechanics are supposed to work, which no one including the developers, seem clear on.
This isn't to say you will necessarily have a bad experience. Actually, its quite likely you'll never notice these. You'll just play with what makes sense, and be getting the rules wrong about half the time.

Too many skills and too few ways to use them.

Talisman had Strength and Craft. Pathfinder has 6 primary skills and something like 10 secondary skills. Most of which only matter if you flip a specific card. And many cards boost one specific skill. Which means:

* You'll practically never to get to use most of these cards and skills, because the chances of meeting something you actually have a card for are tiny due to their being so many skills. Most likely you'll just toss the card to explore or absorb damage.

* Even if the chance does come up to use a card, you probably actually can't. You can only play cards to boost a skill you already have. So even though you have the Spyglass just when you need to make the perception check - ha, ha, you aren't the one character who has perception, so you can't use it. (This may be getting errata, but it's not in the FAQ as of when I wrote this. And even if you are allowed to use a default roll, you will still suck at it, especially later in the game).

* Even if a card seems useful, there may not be a way to use it. Particularly bad are the cards to boost stealth checks; there are, in fact, only 2 cards in the entire game that actually call for stealth checks. One is a location, and one is a villain, where making the check only gives a minor bonus in the fight. In short, trash your stealth cards at the first chance because you will NEVER use them.

Too little variety.

This game has 500 cards that do 10 things. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe 15 things.
We've got an Acid Arrow for Arcane +2d4.
We've got a Force Missile for Arcane +2d4.
We've got a Cold Missile for Arcane +2d4.

Woo hoo! Look all those choices. (I may have messed up; one of those may be the advanced version for +2d6. They're all so samey they just blend together).

Over on the weapon side, you can have a 1D6 basic ranged weapon, or a 1D8 basic ranged weapon. Tough, tough choices. Gosh. Do I want to do better or not?

Even the best of finds is usually a +1 or so. So you now roll D10+D8+3 instead of D10+D8+2.

Descent had it's share of flaws, but when you found a gold chest, what you got out was awesome. You will not have that experience in Pathfinder.

Long term record keeping.
While there's no record keeping in one game, a campaign requires you to record your feats. They suggest writing on cards. For anyone who doesn't want to wreck their pricey game for future plays, I suggest card sleeves with dry erase markers. You'll need to do a lot more writing up if you want to play multiple campaigns at once.

Assorted minor complaints.

Much of the art is dull; a static figure on a blank background. A stray few cards have nice action-oriented scenes that fill up the picture box and look great, so they clearly know how to make nice cards...they just usually didn't bother.

Not enough dice; you really want at least 3 dice of each type. Not a big deal for RPG veterans.

If a character dies, they provide no suggestion beyond 'start over at level 1'. For a campaign that's gotten to the later phases, that's terrible advice.

The big frowny face - Low replayability.

The base game gives you 8 quests. Sure, you can play them again and again, but by the time you've played through once, your party is pretty much as powered up as they can be with the cards included in the base set. So, there goes the whole point of the game.

To keep going, you'll need to buy an expansion, available in about 2 months from release (so maybe a month from now). Which is 5 more quests. And then another one 2 more months out.

They deliberately made a game with low replayability to sell you expansions.

Perhaps worse, another point of view, the expansions are far enough out that I don't know if we'll still be interested. Right after completing the first campaign, we were raring to go for more. 2 months later? We'll probably have forgotten all about it by then.

And on the complete other side, while the replayability per expansion is bad, 30 or so total scenarios seems like an awful long campaign in total. Will it keep being interesting that far out, with fairly repetitive gameplay? Or will the novelty of getting that next check-box wear thin?



Get if for:
* Leveling up characters.
* Simple but fun game-play.
* Campaign play.
* A way to burn lots of excess cash.

Avoid it if:
* You just want to play a standalone game without the campaign.
* Rules problems bother you, and you will spend more than 2 seconds actually thinking about the game rules.
* You want to play the game a lot without having to buy more expansions.

I'm going to diverge on a personal rant here. Feel free to skip this.

Long ago, there was a game called Warhammer Quest, which attempted to give you all the adventure gaming of a fantasy RPG without any of the actual roleplaying. Much as we love roleplaying, taking the boardgame part and the leveling up characters and finding cool treasure and fighting monsters was a BLAST, and we played it over and over for years. Eventually, however, we burned out on it, and these days it's just too complicated and messy; games have improved so much since then.

But, we kept wanting more gameplay like this, and have tried various homebrew versions over the years. But there have always been tough obstacles to overcome. For example, it's cool to have a wizard be able to use a lightning bolt or a frost jet or a fire blast, but how do you make them all different while keeping game-play simple? I mean, yeah, you could give them each a different tag, so you've got a "Fire" attack and a "Cold" attack, but that's pretty lame.

And it would be cool to give characters more of the variety of skills that you see in a roleplaying game. But how do you make a wide variety of skills that actually work in different ways and can be constructively used by the players without being really complicated. I mean, yeah, you could just have occasional card flips call for a different skill, but that's pretty lame.

And how do you make a simple base set of cards or tables or whatever that still works well across an entire campaign of multiple levels?

I would desperately love to see a good game company tackle these questions. But, so often, as with Pathfinder, they just plain fail to. And so all the abilities are pretty much the same, and the skills are just things you get told to roll, and the long term questing is planned in the form of expansion after expansion after expansion.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Byron Rocher
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
Current Holder of FITZ the Cursing Dice!
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Finally a review that mirrors my thoughts exactly....

I keep bringing the game out to other's game tables to discover within myself why I find the game addicting.

Since I also love a good role-playing game, I can only imagine how much better this game would be if paizo would establish a core role-playing game around the deck-leveling aspect...

9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Barker
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice read, I do think a lot of the issues you have with the game will 'go away' within the first couple expansion packs.

First I totally agree that the rules are atrocious, that being said you overlooked something in your example with the spyglass, if you do not have 'perception' or any other secondary you can roll a d4 for the check

In terms of variety, it is the base set, imagine you are starting a new character in any RPG you have very limited, basic, and crappy items to pick from. You don't get magic items or fancy items until you advance and that is what the game is about. Also, it may not count for much now but the spells you listed all do different 'types' of damage, which certain enemies will be immune to, yes to some monsters they will be the same but you are only allowed a limited number of cards and if you bring your cold missile to Antarctica you're gonna be in trouble.

I agree it is bizare that they would expact you to be willing to write on your cards but there is an excel sheet in the files section that you can use, we printed them off and just keep them in the game box.

Even the first adventure deck that is included adds a lot to the game, and keep in mind it is your adventure so it is pretty easy to scale the difficulty, I definitely agree that it sucks for non campaign play.

All that being said, it is a bummer for a game to need its expansions.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Shinners
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
slashlizard wrote:

Since I also love a good role-playing game, I can only imagine how much better this game would be if paizo would establish a core role-playing game around the deck-leveling aspect...


Yea, the deck-leveling aspect is the only part of this game that I find exciting.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lee Fisher
United States
Downingtown
PA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:

I agree it is bizare that they would expact you to be willing to write on your cards but there is an excel sheet in the files section that you can use, we printed them off and just keep them in the game box.


They also provided nice character sheets for download.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Norris
United States
Brownsburg
IN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fantastic write up! You summed up everything I feel about this game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is the way I feel about most MMORPGs. The games suck and I have a driving need to play more.
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
toddbarker wrote:
First I totally agree that the rules are atrocious, that being said you overlooked something in your example with the spyglass, if you do not have 'perception' or any other secondary you can roll a d4 for the check

Check page 11 (I think). You can only use the d4 roll if you don't have any of the skills listed for the check. For example, the Perception check also always lists Wisdom, which every character has. But rolling Wisdom is NOT a perception check, so you couldn't use the Spyglass.
From discussion online, it sounds like they are going to errata that, but as of when we finished playing they hadn't actually done so. The discussions have been quite a mess as some things they have ruled then create chain reactions of other problems that they didn't anticipate. I have given up even trying to follow the mess. I'll check the updated rules when the next set comes out, if I still care by then.

Quote:
In terms of variety, it is the base set, imagine you are starting a new character in any RPG you have very limited, basic, and crappy items to pick from. You don't get magic items or fancy items until you advance and that is what the game is about. Also, it may not count for much now but the spells you listed all do different 'types' of damage, which certain enemies will be immune to, yes to some monsters they will be the same but you are only allowed a limited number of cards and if you bring your cold missile to Antarctica you're gonna be in trouble.

The types of damage occasionally matter, but it's very limited (Ooh, you get +1 if you use a Cold Spell on the fire hound thing!). I just think this is a really weak way to pretend to have a variety of abilities instead of making them actually different with meaningful choices to make between each ability.

Take Dragon Storm, a card based RPG on a similar complexity level to the Pathfinder card game. A lightning bolt does lots of damage and (like most spells) takes a full action to cast. Firefingers does much less damage, but is free to cast. Earth Power does less damage than lightning bolt, but you can 'pump' additional spells into it to strengthen it, potentially taking it up past lightning bolt in power, but not needing to burn as much energy if you all you need is a small attack. Spirit Hammer does more damage than lightning bolt, but can only be used at touch range. Each of these spells has its own distinct use, even though they are all basic attack spells.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can't disagree with very much in this review, so I won't.

Instead, I'll try to describe why I think some of the negatives in this review are only negatives when PACG is compared to games it shouldn't be compared to.

A lot of the negative reviews for PACG focus on the simplistic decisions. "Flip a card, pick the obvious skill, maybe play a card, roll some dice." That is how PACG is described, and mechanically speaking, it's absolutely correct. What is missing from this description is how, in the campaign mode, players get attached to their characters, and don't want them to get too damaged or die. Also, you get attached to your cards, and only want to discard/bury them if absolutely necessary. This "role-playing" aspect of PACG is what takes many of the so-called obvious decisions and makes them more difficult, as least emotionally.

For example, Valeros is facing a fairly tough monster. If he rolls average, he'll just barely defeat him. He could recharge his Long Sword to get an extra die, but them he won't see that weapon again for a long time (probably the rest of the scenario). So he asks for a Blessing of the Gods (BotG) from another player. The only player who has one right now is somewhat hurt, and really doesn't want to discard another card right now. However, he knows it's really important for Valeros to defeat this monster, because that particular location needs to be drained of cards to be closed, and Valeros is their best fighter. But he could really use his BotG on his next turn, especially if he encounters a tough monster himself.

In the above example (which happens a lot in PACG), two players each face a tough decision (emotionally) on a single combat. With more characters, these decisions take on even more importance, as losing to the Blessings Deck is more likely with more characters. Spending the group's resource wisely each turn is really important, and leads to a lot of group strategizing.

In summary, the experience of playing the campaign mode is greater than the sum of the individual decisions. I'm not sure how else to describe it. The negatives of this review are spot on if you're playing solo, or just games with no character progression. But the campaign mode provides a great experience, because of the extra emotional element added by the possibility of permanent character death.

Oh, and while you and your SO are waiting for the next expansion, I highly recommend take two new characters and playing through the base game scenarios again. If you took a fighter the first time, take a spell caster or a support character. Based on my experience, you'll find the scenarios will play out very differently. In our campaign, my buddy and I are Harsk and Merisiel, respectively. Recently we tried Brigandoom with the Paladin and Druid, and it felt really different for both of us. We had to heal a lot (which we haven't done at all in our campaign), we got to cast spells, etc. With all of the available characters, you don't need more scenarios to get more plays.
40 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
With all of the available characters, you don't need more scenarios to get more plays.

We've played all the characters. Including the character add-on. We played them in sets of 4 (mostly - we played our first 3 games with just 2 character, then added 2 more to that party, then later took the new 2 on their own through that same set of 3), and even made our own custom character to have an even number so we could have 3 groups, which have all run through the basic campaign.

And you don't need more scenarios; what you need is higher level boons and challenges. They could have put a lot more gameplay in this box. But then they wouldn't have been able to sell as many expansions.

Quote:
What is missing from this description is how, in the campaign mode, players get attached to their characters, and don't want them to get too damaged or die. Also, you get attached to your cards, and only want to discard/bury them if absolutely necessary. This "role-playing" aspect of PACG is what takes many of the so-called obvious decisions and makes them more difficult, as least emotionally.

I agree that you don't want your character to die (mostly because the rules for dying are lousy, but even if you play with a lesser effect you still probably don't want that ), but why would you care about discarding or burying your cards? That's what they are there for! We haven't seen anything like these tough "emotional" decisions you mention. If the fighter needs to discard the sword to have a good chance, the fighter discards the sword (otherwise you'll probably just lose it anyway to damage, and you have a lot more weapons coming). Nobody else bothers to discard a weapon because it's not worth it. If player A finds a really good item, of course player B tosses a blessing to help get it, because the item will wind up helping us more in the long run.

I've seen other people mentioning this thing that you are saying, but it's just so outside my play style I can't even relate to it.

9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:
Difficulty: Generally easy. I'd say about 1 in 3 plays really comes down to the wire on time, and we've only lost 1 out of around 30 plays.


Gosh. I'd say that we're losing (on time) games at least a third of the time, and even some of the ones we win are going right to the wire. This week we did Adventure 1, Scenario 4 - we lost at the first attempt, and won in the second attempt with only one blessing turn left and a 1-in-4 possibility of losing outright going into the final combat. That's with six players, though; I wonder if it's easier with just two or three.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hornless Unicorn
msg tools
And another 100GG on this
badge
I just spent 100GG on this
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Really nice review.

Just one minor nitpick regarding replay value: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game basically only had one playable scenario at launch, has the same simplistic choices, the game was 'designed' to have un-winnable scenarios without expansions, and look how high it ranked on BGGshake.

Compared to that piece of ____, PACG has great replay value. And there are no other games like that on the market(for the time being).


11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And FWIW, the game improves if you watch for "story moments" or ham up the role playing aspect a bit. Turn over a card, roll to kill the goblin, next player's turn - that's quite dull. But explain away the goblin's sudden appearance in the General Store as part of an organised goblin raid on Sandpoint, and explain the defeat in combat as a complete decapitation by great axe, and the game seems more fulfilling. But what elevates the game is when several such moments combine to create something truly memorable; lots of individual encounters might feel random, but the players can rationalise them to enhance the bare mechanics with some narrative retconning.

As an aside, whilst the individual scenarios will have the same locations and aims if replayed, the decks will contain very different cards and things can occur in very different ways - so I've found the replay ability just fine. Added to which, you can spec your characters in different ways - play the rogue with knives, or with bows; choose a fighter who concentrates on two-handed weapons versus one who is more defence-orientated, using the skill bonuses on non-combat stats.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RDewsbery wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Difficulty: Generally easy. I'd say about 1 in 3 plays really comes down to the wire on time, and we've only lost 1 out of around 30 plays.


Gosh. I'd say that we're losing (on time) games at least a third of the time, and even some of the ones we win are going right to the wire. This week we did Adventure 1, Scenario 4 - we lost at the first attempt, and won in the second attempt with only one blessing turn left and a 1-in-4 possibility of losing outright going into the final combat. That's with six players, though; I wonder if it's easier with just two or three.

Most of our plays have been with 4 characters. I'd guess (and comments seem to support this) that the game will get harder with more players. Adding one more character adds 10 more cards in the location deck to potentially face, but not 10 more cards that allow an extra explore.

Mr M wrote:
Just one minor nitpick regarding replay value: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game basically only had one playable scenario at launch, has the same simplistic choices, the game was 'designed' to have un-winnable scenarios without expansions, and look how high it ranked on BGGshake.

This is my rating, not BGG's rating.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek VDG
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
It is a nicely written review. However, it seems to miss or exaggerate some of the ideas in the game. It is OP's opinion, of course, but we need to be careful not to lead too many people astray.

Where are the choices?

I think Matt just before me explained the choices well. Look at the majority of gameplay videos here on BGG. The players often agonize on which cards to play. Do you discard that Blessing for another Explore, or for an extra die? Do you save it for later, or use it now? It is a risk management choice, which gets more difficult the more players are playing. If you use a card for the person right after you, you are down one card from your hand, and therefore have less than can support players whose turns come later. There is alot of discussion and alot of decision-making that comes from this. Yes, if you play with only one character, there is less decision-making. There are also often decision on *how* to use a card. Do you just reveal that weapon? Do you recharge it? Do you discard it? Some cards have choices for their use.

You also have a choice before, and after, a game in which cards you choose for your deck. It is, after all, partially a deck-building game.

I think you have over-emphasized a perceived lack of choices.

Is it challenging?
Does flipping a card and rolling a die and coming up with a clever plan one in three games sound challenging?


Again, the challenge comes from the risk and card management. Playing with 1 or 2 characters, the challenge is (generally) less, as there are fewer chances to play cards to assist others, and a 'longer' timer/blessings deck. Play with more characters or reduce the number of blessings in the blessing deck so there is a shorter timer if you feel the game isn't challenging enough. I expect the game was designed with 4-characters as the "sweet spot", and less than that will get progressively easier and more will get progressively more difficult.
Again, look at the videos people have posted on BGG, and there are lots of choices and difficult decisions to get made, and scenarios nearly lost.

Keep in mind that the idea is for this is simulate, to an extent, an RPG campaign. Death is possible, but is not the "norm" in an RPG, and its the same here. The primary challenge for scenarios is the Blessings Deck/timer, not death.

Campaign Play: Where the fun is REALLY at!

Agreed, and I think this needs to be kept in mind. Campaign Play is the primary focus of the game. When looking at the difficulty, you are playing the first scenario in a long campaign. There is going to be some challenge, but it is an introductory adventure to get people's "feet wet".

That is why there seems to be "less variety" in items to you. A longsword and a battleaxe in the RPG aren't very much different. The basic spells do similar damage, simply differing by attack type (Cold, Fire, Force, etc). These are the most basic spells. As well, this is an introductory scenario. Not every resistance or vulnerability will be represented to make those traits particularly meaningful ... YET. It does make a significant difference when facing a skeleton, though, if you are using a Slashing/piercing weapon vs a blunt weapon, as an example.

There are sheets online, for free, making it easy to record all sorts of information. It would have been nice to have some sheets in the box, but really, it doesn't take much at all to download and print them off myself.

Skills. Skills are important. As has already been mentioned, it has been officially clarified (for those who didn't interpret it this way from the rules already), that you can always opt to roll on a check option that is less that the "best", including rolling the base d4 for a skill that you don't have. In addition, most cards that give bonus dice to checks can be played for OTHER players as well, which means that +1d10 perception might not be as useful to you, but might really help out one of the other characters. As far as stealth checks, I haven't specifically looked through all of the cards to confirm there are only 2 stealth checks. Does this include all of Burnt Offerings? Also, see point above, that this is designed for a campaign. Just because there aren't many stealth checks in the introductory scenario or Burnt Offerings, doesn't mean that later adventures/scenarios wont have more stealth checks.

While overall much of what you say, and your conclusions, I agree with, I think you overemphasize what you perceive as the negatives.




20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joel Carr
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
PACG has infinite more re-playability in the box than LOTRtCG(this game requires $$$$$$ to make diversely playable, made me very mad to buy 1/3 of a game) Both games are expansion business model games... this makes reviews hard. Base set can be fun, but limiting, and subsequent expansions might add nothing, however, subsequent expansion could add a ton... makes buying into a subscription "game" tough.

that said this game has given me and my wife something to break out every other week or so, and at that rate 3-4 expansions will be out prior to us finishing the burnt offerings..

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jet Panda
msg tools
slashlizard wrote:
Finally a review that mirrors my thoughts exactly....

I keep bringing the game out to other's game tables to discover within myself why I find the game addicting.

Since I also love a good role-playing game, I can only imagine how much better this game would be if paizo would establish a core role-playing game around the deck-leveling aspect...



It would print money.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dvang wrote:
It is a nicely written review. However, it seems to miss or exaggerate some of the ideas in the game. It is OP's opinion, of course, but we need to be careful not to lead too many people astray.

Good to have other opinions. A balanced view is always more helpful. I still stand by what I said though.

Quote:
The players often agonize on which cards to play.

Maybe they aren't very good at calculating odds?

We've played 28 times and have used all the characters. Since we've only lost once in all those plays, I think we're probably not missing tons of important strategy.

Quote:
Play with more characters or reduce the number of blessings in the blessing deck so there is a shorter timer if you feel the game isn't challenging enough.

This will make the game harder, but I have doubts that it would actually increase the challenge. IE; the decisions won't get more interesting, you'll just be less likely to succeed.

Quote:
I expect the game was designed with 4-characters as the "sweet spot", and less than that will get progressively easier and more will get progressively more difficult.

I agree with this. 4 characters also accounts for most of our plays and I never am going to play it with more, so I really can't comment on how it plays with more than that. I didn't feel that really belong here since the base set only goes to 4 and I was going to add a review for the character expansion later, but maybe it is worth pointing out.

Maybe the game is completely different and notably more brilliant with 6 characters, but if so, I'm never going to find out.

Quote:
There is going to be some challenge, but it is an introductory adventure to get people's "feet wet".

-shrug- It's "the game". It's the entire game available at the moment. I'm not going to judge the game on the basis of what expansions might add in the future.

Lots of games give you intro play and enough real gameplay to last you for years straight out of the box.

Quote:
As has already been mentioned, it has been officially clarified (for those who didn't interpret it this way from the rules already), that you can always opt to roll on a check option that is less that the "best", including rolling the base d4 for a skill that you don't have.

I just checked the FAQ/Errata, and it's still not there.

Quote:
Just because there aren't many stealth checks in the introductory scenario or Burnt Offerings, doesn't mean that later adventures/scenarios wont have more stealth checks.

Again, I'm judging this game, right now. Not what the game might be in the future.
If they didn't want to include stealth on challenges in the base set, they shouldn't have put in a bunch of boons that help with stealth into the base set.

(And why the heck is the ambush not a stealth roll to bypass? Acrobatics? What? No way in heck would you have someone roll acrobatics to spot people lurking around and evade them! Stealth or Perception).
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lee Fisher
United States
Downingtown
PA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:


(And why the heck is the ambush not a stealth roll to bypass? Acrobatics? What? No way in heck would you have someone roll acrobatics to spot people lurking around and evade them! Stealth or Perception).


I'm guessing the point is that if you evaded an ambush it wouldn't be an ambush. The ambush is already happening, you can use acrobatics to react and get away, etc.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marlene Thornstrom
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You described how I feel about this: it's addictive and meh at the same time. It has that Diablo appeal to it; keep adventuring to get more loot and level up! Or add card/skill/power feats, in this case. It plays very smoothly once it's been set up. In fact, the lack of challenging decisions you pointed out probably adds to the addictive quality as it's easy to keep going!

As far as printing out character sheets goes, I like the compactness of the character card so I put it in a card sleeve and used a Sharpie to check the boxes.
6 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:
I agree that you don't want your character to die (mostly because the rules for dying are lousy, but even if you play with a lesser effect you still probably don't want that ), but why would you care about discarding or burying your cards? That's what they are there for!

Because, as you said in your review, each card you discard is like taking damage. Your cards are there to keep you alive. Each card you discard/bury/banish brings you closer to death, unless by doing so you are also gaining a card(s).

We're very good at calculating odds, but what odds are good enough? That depends on the check being attempted, the person attempting the check, the status of the character involved, and the overall state of the game. Sometimes, a 50% chance is fine. Sometimes, you want it higher. Sometimes you don't care if you gain a boon, so any chance of success, no matter how small, is good enough. There's no absolute right or wrong answer; therefore, it really comes down to, "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

And I don't agree with the strategy of having Valeros just chuck his Long Sword at his first opportunity, expecting there will be another weapon coming right along. With a hand size of 4, If he has Long Sword, Short Sword, Chain Mail and Wooden Shield, he's not going to want to ditch his other cards in an attempt to draw another good weapon. It may take him several turns to draw a weapon. This happened in our last game with the Paladin.

So, chuck the Long Sword if you feel you need to. But that's all it is; a feeling. You can calculate the odds, and decide what chance of success you want for that one check, but you really don't know what the long-term consequences will be of losing use of that weapon.

Also, I wonder how much your success rate was influenced by each player playing two characters? You have less personalities involved, and you have perfect information of half of the party's cards and abilities. I'm not saying we keep information from each other (it's a co-op game, after all), but we don't go out of our way to memorize exactly what cards each person has in hand. Just idle musings on my part.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:

Check page 11 (I think). You can only use the d4 roll if you don't have any of the skills listed for the check.


The designers have confirmed that the wording in the rule book is incorrect and unclear. It should be that you can roll a d4 "even if you don't have the listed skill". So if your character needs to make a Wisdom/Perception check, and the character has Wisdom d8, but no Perception skill, you can play the Night Watch ally and make a Perception check rolling d4+d10, or simply make a Wisdom check and only roll the d8.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carter
United States
Marion
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RDewsbery wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Difficulty: Generally easy. I'd say about 1 in 3 plays really comes down to the wire on time, and we've only lost 1 out of around 30 plays.


Gosh. I'd say that we're losing (on time) games at least a third of the time, and even some of the ones we win are going right to the wire. This week we did Adventure 1, Scenario 4 - we lost at the first attempt, and won in the second attempt with only one blessing turn left and a 1-in-4 possibility of losing outright going into the final combat. That's with six players, though; I wonder if it's easier with just two or three.


Losing on time really feels like a cheap way to lose. It feels like an artificial way to add challenge.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John S
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
I appreciate your honesty in your review. I have similar feelings about the base set but I also remember that it is ONLY the base set. Our gaming group is only playing the game as the campaign (adventure path) and just finished the first adventure deck. Having only played each scenario once, we are still excited about the game and are looking forward to the next adventure deck.

With each adventure deck having 6 more scenarios, you'll have almost 40 unique experiences with PACG. There are talks about another base set being released next year at Gen Con with a brand new adventure path to spice it up even more.

I have played settlers of catan at least 30 times with various expansions and it has now lost its spark for me. Each game now feels more predictable and not as much fun.

I think just about any game you play 30 times will get old. I think you might have a different opinion of the game if you didn't play that game 30 times within the first two months of its release.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mlcarter815 wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Difficulty: Generally easy. I'd say about 1 in 3 plays really comes down to the wire on time, and we've only lost 1 out of around 30 plays.


Gosh. I'd say that we're losing (on time) games at least a third of the time, and even some of the ones we win are going right to the wire. This week we did Adventure 1, Scenario 4 - we lost at the first attempt, and won in the second attempt with only one blessing turn left and a 1-in-4 possibility of losing outright going into the final combat. That's with six players, though; I wonder if it's easier with just two or three.


Losing on time really feels like a cheap way to lose. It feels like an artificial way to add challenge.

Thematically, your party was too methodical and/or too greedy, and let the villain escape. You should feel crappy when that happens. As heroes, you didn't do your job! Why, you didn't think the villain would just hang around forever, as you slowly tighten your noose?

However, you are all still alive, so you can rest up at the Inn, gather rumors as to the villain's whereabouts, and set out after him again. Isn't that better than having your character die, and either continue the adventure with a weaker character, or have to replay all of the previous scenarios to catch back up to your party?
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.