15 November 2019
The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is back in a new edition!
Six years ago, Paizo launched a fresh spin on Pathfinder, which boldly attempted to distil the RPG experience into an expandable card game. Essentially a 'hunt the card, burn the deck' affair, it span out over various campaigns, allowing players to level-up their characters by building decks and taking dice-roll-boosting feats. It worked well, but it’s fair to say it became eclipsed by even more ambitious RPG-lite campaign games – first and foremost Gloomhaven.
Now the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is back in a new edition (albeit entirely backwards compatible). It’s slightly better looking, slightly slicker and slightly more fun. The 2019 Core Set includes a more generous roster of characters than the first edition’s Rise of the Runelords base set, complete with pawns, and the Adventure Path now comes in storybook form, allowingfor more narrative embellishment
(though this rarely gels with the actual gameplay). One of the key mechanical changes is the addition of hero point tokens, rewards which can either be spent to gain feats or held in reserve to allow re-rolls, adding some very welcome mitigation.
Yet, despite being quite a simplegame at its core, it remains burdened by a knotty ruleset, stuffed with super specific terminology that may turn off new players. For example, cards aren’t merely played; they’re revealed, displayed, reloaded, recharged, discarded, buried or banished.
It’s hard to imagine this second edition winning over hordes of new players, and it is very pricey for what you get in the box. But once you acclimatise to its tricky lexicon, it remains a charming and very replayable co-operative experience –and a treat to play solo, too.
PLAY IT? PROBABLY
Designer: Chad Brown, Keith Richmond, Aviva Schcterson, Mike Selinker, Liz Spain
Time: 90 minutes
This review originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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