Review: Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords – a game, that found A PATH
Ancient danger. It has always been with us, hidden out of our sight, waiting for its chance. Something has happened and we all feel it. People, animals and even stones. It rolled away from the river bed perhaps in the hope, that the stronger flow will wash away all the filth and darkness. So far we have heard of it just in stories of varisian riders, but today for the first time after centuries, there came some an ork to gate of Sandpoint, trying to bring it down. But monster was visibly tired and hurt, so it was easy to put it down. Since then, I carry my knife everywhere with me. Tonight, I made a decision. I will bring my old team back together..
Who else would have be better addition to this party, than us, players? Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game (ACG) gives us a hand and invites us into its first adventure story Rise of the Runelords, which serves as the base set. Its author is Mike Selinker and everything is happening in the world of Varisia, that is hosting also classic RPG role-playing game for some time. But now, Paizo Publishing Company has brought a renaissance into the genre of tabletop gaming.
All those experiences are hiding in a respectable box, that exceeds the dimensions of all other card games, we have played. Inside, you will find in fact almost nothing more, than five hundred cards. Exception lies in five blue dice and one box with Burnt Offerings scenario, which includes more and more cards.
At the bottom of the box expands a black binder to all sides and it clearly has more space, than simply for all types of card. There are positions also for the upcoming expansion packages. That is also reason, why the whole box is so huge, because cards out of the box take up maybe ten percent of the entire space on the bottom. But its good to have whole game in one place in the future. After buying this box, you are ready for a lot of expansion, that will further add on to experience of Pathfinder.
Because cards are basis of the whole experience, there is a large number of different types. First up are the heroes. Each of them includes several cards with portrait, his own storyline, but also skills, that can be learned. Cards contain some empty boxes to check after each completed adventure and will help you later in the face of danger.
Remaining cards can be simply divided into objects, enemies, scenarios and blessings. Each has a slightly different layout, but most cards have a common figure in upper left corner. While numbers in opponents indicates their strength, in items it represents chances of finding it in usable condition. Of course, each of the cards has special text at the bottom and in upper left corner are keywords associated with it. Exception are story cards, which are divided into locations, scenarios, adventures and stories. Each of these cards has its own rules, but also contains a list of locations (scenarios) / creatures (locations), that belong to it.
Its time to start your trip (beware, your adventure does not end after one game!). Each participant must choose a hero and equip him with basic items. Characters have clearly given number of each card types, which can form their initial deck. But it is up to player, which of the starting cards will he choose. A player free choice, that winds through the whole game, starts here.
Once everyone has his deck, players bring adventure together to life according to instructions on actual scenario and location cards. Scenarios card is turned and shows locations for each number of players. Cards representing these places have to be spread in a semicircle on table. Each spot has then randomly drawn playing cards according to its schedule. Its a mixture of items and monsters, but players can find even allies or blessing there. Package for each location is shuffled and put face down under its location. Everybody can now freely decide, where his character will start this adventure.
In addition to basic map of the story, players prepare blessing deck, that serves as a clock. Merciless hands of time are ticking with every turn and weigh up the players time to complete their task. It always contains exactly thirty blessing cards. Number of players then decides, how many times everyone gets his turn before the adventure ends. Heroes draw their starting hand from their inventory. Number of cards is specified by properties of their characters. Game is almost ready to begin.
In each story, players have a task, that involves finding and destroying some public enemy. But he has also henchmen, which protect him. Total number of these villains corresponds to number of locations in the game. Boss and his henchmen are shuffled together and randomly inserted into location decks. Inside one of them now hides players goal, but they do not know where.
Players take turns during the game. At the beginning of each turn, they need to turn one blessing card, which is getting them nearer towards end of their adventure. Then players have opportunity to exchanged objects with heroes in the same place or move to another location on the map. Movements are often worthwhile, but it depends on the situation.
The most important option is exploration, which leads to revealing top card from location deck, where hero is located. If he finds an object, he can immediately try to acquire it. To do this, he must apply the required skills of his character, it may be for example ability of melee combat, knowledge in magical sciences or constitution. Often the card lists several properties and player can choose, which one to use. According to his abilities, he rolls the dice and if result is equal or higher, he can take the card into his deck.
When hero encounters a monster or a human enemy, it works almost the same way. However, fighter can first choose to use some weapons and bonuses to beat his enemy. Only then rolls the dice and compares it to required result. In the event, that he fails to defeat it, he will lose as many cards, as is difference between his strength and required number. And because deck at the same time constitutes hero’s life, it’s not good news.
Sometimes, players have a chance to close the site, usually because they have defeated all the enemies there. They now know, that boss is not there. Such a closure requires a roll of the dice and a success. Only then can player lower chance of escape for their arch enemy. When they meet final villain, they can try to beat him, but if there is some unguarded location, he runs there instead of a defeat and hunt must continue.
At the end of the turn, player must discard cards, so he complies with hand limit of his hero. Game continues by other players actions until the moment, when the players manage to encircle and destroy the enemy. Or they run out of time. Game ends in both situations. Players must either try again to conquer the same story, or they can after the success move forwards towards next scenario in a row, according to adventure card.
Pathfinder brings something new, we have never experienced. This does not mean, that it must necessarily appeal to everyone, because of its card nature and dice involved in each duel. It will certainly bring many opponents to the game. But all lovers of adventure, character progress and strong stories with open end should now sharpen their senses, because this is the moment in time, when history is written.
A real experience is as great and far-reaching as is its huge box. Linking scenarios into one story is done in the best way, we have ever encountered. Players are closely linked to their hero and experience all his adventures with him. They can feel his every gash. What is really important is the fact, that the character can truly die and no one gives you any helping hand in such moment. He or she is dead and all the experience is gone with it. And so are usually chances of successful completion of the actual scenario. For the rest of the party is better to return somewhere in the shelter to lick their wounds and find a new member for their party.
This is a game, where you truly appreciate its great tuning for different numbers of players. This makes Pathfinder in such an exceptional way and by lowering player numbers, it even does not lose depth, that the game provides. This is truly outstanding news, which will delight all, who have problem to get some regular gaming group to play board games with. Now they can even play by themselves.
Pathfinder has surprisingly quick preparation phase before each adventure. Heroes game decks are usually simply picked up from previous adventures, so you only need to fill in locations and game can begin. Time praise goes also for actual course of the game, which does not last extremely long and can tell a real story with all those twists and turns in between an hour and ninety minutes depending on the complexity of a scenario.
Strongest point of this game undoubtedly lies in its ability to tell amazing stories. Heroes experience a true adventure, that is supported by every card in the box. Players, who have a better imagination easily find themselves in the midst of a battle. Its doing an incredible job of getting close to experience of true role-playing game, yet retains all the specifics of board/card games. Author has done a precise work and mechanisms of Pathfinder are one of the best, with which you can meet in adventure games. It is of course difficult to measure it with games, that include miniatures, such as the Descent: Journeys in the Dark.
Since bosses can escape into unsealed locations, players must think and play very tactically. However, sometimes it can be only result of bad luck in the form of strong creature, when you have nothing to do, than simply run away. Such enemies then haunt heroes in their sleep and may have an adverse impact on the completion of the scenario. There is no way except to return there with support of other charactres and explore location more.
And then there is of course coincidence. Not even the best plans can succeed, if you do not have at least a little bit of luck in shooting an arrow. Here again the game remains true to its model, where dice also determine the existence and nonexistence of heroes. Battles, closing locations and acquiring items, everything requires a dice roll, and sometimes your dream axe can falls apart in your hands and it becomes only unusable rusty scrap.
It can be seen, that there was an honest effort put in development of this game. A huge testing efforts resulted in a perfect experience. All the mechanisms support player experience. In most of which, however, there is a chance to improve your character between different quests. Surely many adventure gamers waited many years for it and now they finally got their chance.
With such a big adventure game, its own terminology obviously goes hand in hand and also quite thorough and detailed rules, that will fortunately easily get into your blood. They are not difficult, there is simply more text about them and they are interdependent. On the back of the rules, you get an overview, as well as list of specific rules, that can be easily forgotten.
You get three basic scenarios in the box and one expansion pack, which contains beginning of a great adventure called Rise of the Runelords. It consists of a total of five scenarios, but also more than a hundred cards to improve your character.
The actual graphics of Pathfinder is a simple, but functional. It retains fairytale fantasy-tuning, that suits to it well, although we are looking forward to pirate setting, which should be published during summer. The cards are easily distinguishable from each other and the fact, that the requirements for benefits are always in the same place is contributing to good overall feeling. The rules are written carefully and answer all questions you may have about gameplay.
Pathfinder ACG offers an adventurous experience, that is truly unique. Story continues across several stories and there will be more, thanks to expansion packs. If you complete it once, you’ll want at any cost to learn, what will happen next. Know therefore, that with purchase of basic boxes, this investment does not end. But you will definitely get it back a hundred times in wealth of experience, that Pathfinder can and will offer to you.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set
Pathfinder Abenteuerkartenspiel: Das Erwachen der Runenherrscher – Grundbox, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Ascesa dei Signori delle Rune – Set Base, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: El Auge de los Señores de la Runas, Pathfinder O Jogo de Aventuras: Ascensão dos Mestres Rúnicos – Conjunto Básico, Pathfinder, Le Jeu de Cartes: L'Eveil des Seigneurs des runes – Jeu de base, Pathfinder. Карточная игра. Возвращение рунных властителей, パスファインダー・アドベンチャー：ルーンロードの帰還 完
Review: Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords – a game, that found A PATH
Pathfinder ACG has a beating heart of an adventurer in its center. Its simply a dream come true for anyone, who wanted a role-playing game, that would be playable on the table with cards. That is just, what this game is all about. Story focused, full of adventure and abundance crammed atmosphere. Players can create their own character, grow with it and improve it furter during adventure. Its all because they have unique opportunity to go through the whole adventure with this man/woman and evolve. But they must be careful, because life of heroes is fragile. The game is very variable, even though the basic box contains only a limited number of scenarios. This means, that spending money will continue and its difficult to resist the opportunity to acquire expansion packs. You can also enjoy the game in one player and it works well and will delight all loners. In any scenario, you are chasing a bad guy, but he can escape several times, so you must play tactically. Each adventure has the time to complete. Victory is a road full of luck, misses and joy, which may bother some players, who like to be in control. Despite these minor shortcomings, Pathfinder is great fun for all, who love adventure. Its hard to say no to this entertainment and you will keep coming back for more and more. And that's exactly, what we imagined role-playing board game would look like.