Wednesday, January 08, 2014

In which I misuse my blessing from the gods

My Secret Santa (my sister) got me a copy of Pathfinder the RPG card game for Christmas.  I'm not 100% sure why it was on my wish list.  I hadn't researched it well.  I assume I intended to check it out as it was in the top ten over at Boardgamegeek.  We gave it a spin at Dunn Brothers as a family, and Eryn and I have been playing some follow up games following the string of adventures in the basic set.  We even watched a few YouTube videos with a variety of somewhat annoying spazzes to get an idea if our first attempt was directionally correct (take speak).

We've learned a few things...

1.) It's intended as a bit of a money suck with the expansions.  There are five of them and a character expansion pack.  Admittedly, it's not much different from buying scenarios for AD&D, but it is a bit more difficult to create your own cards to represent items/etc (we haven't done that), particularly as how it works doesn't exactly follow my AD&D way of thinking and how you acquire weapons of increasing power.  Fortunately, the base set gives you three scenarios plus the first expansion pack, so there's plenty of play and replay.
2.) It's more structured than a regular RPG.  There isn't quite the same free form element.  I guess that's obvious.  After all, you're playing a card game.  You sort of have to make up the story in your own head.  Like when the dwarf can inspect the top card of his location deck at the end of his turn, I say, "I hear something growling ahead of me," or, "I see a bottle glinting ahead," so the other person (Eryn) knows I'm using the equivalent of night vision.  Similarly, when the head villain we were trying to catch got away from us on the very last card we turned, we talked about how clever he'd been to hide and then slip away.
3.) It's harder to role than an RPG for the most part.  Your attributes use different dice and quite often there's not an outside chance you'll roll a natural 20 and call it a surprising success.  Instead, you're faced with trying to roll a 9 on a d4 and deciding whether to supplement or just let the loot get away.
4.) Cards doubling as hitpoints is ROUGH.  You're losing your stuff, your hitpoints, and your flexibility all at the same time.  That requires some serious balancing and forethought about what to do.  When it gets tight, the ability to inspect the top of the deck is incredibly useful.
5.) You have to READ all the cards.  The adventure has extra rules.  The locations have several extra rules (for actions in the location, for closing the location, for the closed location - you close locations so the primary bad person/monster can't escape if they're defeated.  Escaping means they run off to another deck under a location card and get mixed in.  If there are multiple locations still open, you mix a few cards in so you don't know where they're hiding.  So closing locations is crucial to forcing them into dead ends).  Your character has extra rules.  For helping yourself, for helping allies in your location, for helping allies in other locations.  The monster has rules.  The items have rules.  And it all meshes together.  Go too fast and you miss something important.
6.) Blessings of the Gods are not as powerful as they seem.  Eryn and I were playing our last two games by assuming that the Blessing of the Gods, when it said it was an exact match for the card on the blessings deck (which counts down 30 turns you have to defeat the bad guy or try again if you don't die), and the card on the blessings deck wasn't a Blessing of the Gods, but one of the other cards that said you may recharge instead of discard (the card goes to the bottom of your deck instead of into your discard, so you don't lose the equivalent of a hitpoint), the Blessing of the Gods does not copy the recharge.  Only the powers.  That's per Mike, the designer of the game, out on Boardgamegeek, so I'm going to assume he's right.  And the fact that I went to look it up because it seemed too powerful - that's another tell.  So we don't get as many re-explore attempts and we don't get to recycle those hit points with nearly the frequency we were recycling them.  That's a huge deal for Eryn's mage, because it has so few hitpoints.  Next game she'll have to manage what she disposes much more carefullly, and we'll have to save those healing potions when we find them (I've directed her to a few after looking at the top card at the end of my turn, but there's not a guarantee one will be in a location).  It also means we should be looking at the non-Blessing-of-the-Gods blessings as they have a chance to recharge if there's a match, while there isn't that options with BoftG.

You can imagine Eryn and I spazzing out if that helps the visual.  We're having fun and Eryn is keen to play some of the other sets if we finish this one.  Personally, I'm looking forward to dying and trying a new character at some point, although I'll do my best not to perish on purpose.  I like the ranged abilities of my dwarf and I have an urge to try out his new heavy crossbow Eryn acquired for him at the general store.

No comments: