The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (ACG?) that deserves its own thread

So this game should totally have its own thread. Discussions like these shouldn’t get buried in a generic boardgaming thread!

Okay, so as I’m wrapping my head around this thing, I think I’m bummed out about one important thing. Because of the way the game works – i.e. the persistent character concept means any character you’re leveling up takes out of circulation a set number of cards, yet you need to use cards to build each location’s deck, and therefore the base set only supports four persistent characters – I get the sense that I don’t have a full set of cards. In other words, the base game comes with seven characters, each distinct, each appealing in his or her own way. Yet there are only enough cards included in the game to level up four of them. In other words, three of these characters I can never use. Furthermore, if I buy the Character Add-on Deck (sold separately, of course), that raisea the grand total of characters to eleven, yet I only have enough cards to support six of them. Now five of the characters I can never use. I just paid more money to have even more characters I can never use.

Am I just being touchy about the whole business model? Does this not annoy anyone else?

I guess I could track each character’s deck on a separate sheet of paper, so I shouldn’t get worked up about it if I really want to try extra characters. It’s not quite the level of fuckery in the Netrunner game, where you had to buy three core sets to fully flex the gameplay. But it feels like a dick move that Pathfinder shows me these seven cool characters and then tell me, “Oh, by the way, you can only play with four of these”. Urk. Business models, man.


The deck tracking isn’t too bad. Paizo has character sheets on their website you can download that have every card on them so you can put a little “X” next to them if you’re including them in that character’s deck.

They’re there for options. It’s like having other characters than the ones you’re playing in Arkham (at least if it had a campaign mode), or other characters and character classes in Descent. You can totally play with them at some point if you’re up for another campaign of Rise of the Runelords later (I fully expect that if this release takes off, which it seems to be doing, there will be a new base set with new characters for each subsequent Adventure Path series of modules for the RPG), you just aren’t intended to this time around. To me it would be more frustrating to be locked into playing a particular character type because there were only four characters and everyone’s got to play one of them.

The other thing you may be missing is that these characters can die. Dead. That doesn’t mean that character card is off the table forever, but you do get to decide between bringing back a less advanced version of that character or swapping in one of the unused characters from before if that should happen. So they might well turn up after all, during the same campaign.

That said, the manual has entries and suggested decks for every addon character, and the scenario cards have location entries for 5 and 6 players, etc, so the Addon Deck really does feel to me like part of the base set that was split off entirely so that they could sell it separately.


Also, a link to the character sheets since Paizo doesn’t make them obvious:

Man, no kidding. This game has taken our group by storm and is a surprise hit out of nowhere.

The base box has enough basic cards to support 4 characters per game. If you get the expansion (highly recommended as it includes more character classes and unique items, monsters, allys, etc) you will then have enough basic gear to support 6 characters per game. Essentially it is a 1 to 4 player game off the base set that ups to 5 or 6 with the character expansion.

As to the progression, it just becomes a tracking deal. We have downloaded the character sheets (free) from Paizo and use them to track different characters for different play groups. It is a bit annoying and can slow down the set up and break down of games, but I think I am over it (it was one of my beefs in the beginning too). However it would take a monstrous set of cards and thus seriously watered down randomizer decks if it was otherwise. The main beefs that persist with me is that you get weird cross pollination problems if characters jump between play groups as there are only so many instances of elite gear and also that if characters die, you get an awkward issue with adding newbies to a party.

Yeah, those are exactly the issues I’m talking about, Rob. It’s a game based on persistence. I get the sense I’m advancing my boxed set, and I really like that the warrior dude in my boxed set has the one of the rare (unique?) magic armor cards he got in a battered chest. That’s the appeal of this game as you noted in the other thread. But short of a lot of annoying paperwork – basically modding :) – you can’t use all the characters you get. Malkav’s Arkham Horror comparison makes no sense to me, because that’s an example of a game without persistence, and therefore without any of these issues for keeping track of which characters get which gear.

As for earning feats, are you guys actually writing on your character cards? I’m not a card sleeve guy, and I mercilessly mock my friends who use card sleeves. But writing on cards is a whole other deal. It seems like another poorly thought-out dynamic, if not out-right mercenary. I’m for darn sure not going to be writing on those things given that if they die, I’m going to have erase whatever marks I made. I like how the manual suggest writing lightly in pencil. As if.


Thanks, Malk. Very helpful, even if they do force you to create an account and purchase them for zero dollars before you can download them. Otherwise, who knows how much bandwidth it would cost to make those sheets more accessible!


I guess my point is that to me, the entire adventure path is, effectively, one multiple-session game of PACG. So yes, you don’t get to use those characters in that game, (barring deaths) but when you’re done with that run, you can always turn around and roll up a new set of characters. It’s closer to Descent, which also has a bunch of characters that you will never use in a given campaign of Descent because you’re locked in to the particular set of characters and the particular class decks you’ve chosen. I think the big issue is trying to use the same game set with multiple ongoing campaigns, which I can definitely see getting awkward given that you’re pulling from a global pool of cards. But that’s not an issue I see arising for me because I don’t have multiple groups of people to play this with, and although the total party composition might change a bit session to session, I don’t anticipate having more than six total people playing ever and probably never all six at one time.

Showed the game to my wife and a friend tonight. We cant wait to get started. Im playing in another friends game where im using the mage. I really dig the game. Cant wait to see how you filter the older monsters out as you get deeper into the path.

Mock if you like, but I sleeved my pathfinder. There is just way too much small stack shuffling going on. Also the character cards are in “top loader” sleeves which are a thicker plastic holder and I use dry erase markers on those in longer sessions then just update the sheets.

As to not being able to use characters or “modding”, I don’t know. I have bumped into the designer in other threads and I just get the feeling that there are two groups that are brought together by this product. The full on RPG guys which are kind of confused or put off by card mechanics and the full on Board Gamers that are confused or put off by the RPG heritage (keep in mind Pathfinder is an RPG product and the ACG is the result of trying to distill the experience into a quicker experience that does not require a GM). I am in the latter category and I got the impression that the designing philosophy is rooted heavily in the RPG camp. To that camp it is utterly no big deal to use character sheets to track different characters that have different parties (and never shall the groups mingle) and the fiddly bits of the game (cards, figures, etc) are just there to be the engine during a sit down. There even seemed to be a sort of confusion at why it was any kind of deal about tracking characters on a sheet or isolating characters. To a board (or video) gamer this is foreign as we are used to having the game being the ONLY thing that tracks anything and being able to move anything around to any environment like save states.

Shrug Once I started playing a few sets of characters with a few groups, I just accepted the schism and am fine with the paper tracking now. The larger problem is trying to get all the folks of different parties to sit down again so we can advance the one of the many shards of Pathfinder we have going. I have a Paladin, a Cleric, and a Warrior. All of them have some nice gear that cannot co-mingle with other gear or characters in other games. This seems weird when you think of from the point of view of a Diablo player where bouncing a character into other friends’ games with different progress is a trivial affair. However, it utterly makes sense to an RPG player that is confused as to how my Cleric would have had some alternate reality to meet up with my Warrior (that somehow both, separately, saved the town from the same poison plot) as they are in separate stories/ adventures. Brigadoom is not an MMO amusement park ride that departs every 10 minutes to generate loot after all (to the RPG player).

I don’t think it is broken or needs modding, it is just not quite the product a pure board gamer might think it is when first approaching it. I guess I am advocating Pathfinder: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Character Sheet.

Shhhhhhsshshsh!! I accidentally learned more than I wanted to know about this.

Besides that, yeah, as I said in the other thread, I have showed this game to a great range of player (and non player) types and nobody has been turned off by it. So far it seems to have universal appeal in my corner of the planet.

Shards is a good way to put it, Rob. My group is pretty inconsistent in terms of who shows up when, and there’s no way I can limit this boxed set to four characters over the long run. But using those sheets Malk linked should make shard management easier.

Also, I love the idea about sleeves for the character cards, so you can actually mark the sleeves! You’re a genius! Now I’m about to do something I never thought I would do: buy card sleeves.


Let the mocking commence! =)

Chaplin, which sleeves do you use? I have ultra pro clear sleeves, not the penny ones, but im afraid i wont be able to use the insert. (I sleeve my deck building / high shuffle games)…

I agree. Heavy shuffle games, like deck builders, get some extra love (unless I am not that fond of the game). I was not convinced I wanted to sleeve Pathfinder until I played the demo game at my FLGS and the cards in ONE GAME showed significant wear. Plus the character marking problem caused me to shift into card condom mode.

You are also right that the insert won’t work if you sleeve, but even before sleeving I was not thrilled with the insert as a board/video gamer who would play often with different groups. For a pen and paper group that busts out Pathfinder:ACG before a table top session once a week with the same folks, the insert is probably awesome.

Anyway, I used Ultra Pro Clear (50 count ‘standard fit’ sleeves with the hologram). These are pretty high quality sleeves and have a good fit on Pathfinder cards. If you use these, make sure to alternate the hologram top and bottom or you will get leaning stacks as the dot adds subtle thickness. I looked at Fantasy Flight Standard (Gray), but they were pretty loose on the feel and are a thinner stock which considering how thin Pathfinder stock is to start with, I opted for another option. For this reason I would also strongly discourage penny sleeves, but that is between your wallet, your OCD, and you.

For the character cards I used “top loaders”, but I have had these sitting around for ages to use with Warmachine and AT-43 so I couldn’t tell you much about the brand or anything.

Now, at the risk of being over the top on geek crafty, here is what my Pathfinder setup looks like currently:

The picture above is how it looks now when I open the lid. I have three cardboard card storage boxes (660 size I think) which currently hold sleeved ultra pro cards and take up about half the three boxes with the character pack and scenario one cards already distributed. That is, this should work as a storage solution once all the expansions are released. Also of note these kinds of boxes have little tabs on the long edges that are part of the cutting process before they are folded. These tabs stick out and I had to trim them off to get a nice easy fit three across in the box. As far as I could tell the tabs had no purpose once the box was folded other than increasing the footprint of the box.

The above image is what it looks like without the sheets and stuff on top (there is a good amount of room on top as you can see the expansion boxes can fit on top of the card boxes). The dice and character cards in top loaders also are visible and have plenty of room.

“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!” Although admittedly you are probably in despair over my utterly unnecessary geek craft here rather than some idea that I am the King of Kings. I have all the “base” cards broken apart behind color coded card stock tabs (B and C cards are mixed and in the left box along with the front part of the right box) and similar coloring and dividers for the scenario 1 cards (all towards the back of the box on the right). Besides feeding the control freak beast, this makes it 1000% times faster in setting up, breaking down, and drawing random loot or encounters. Once you are done laughing at me, I would suggest a similar setup in your own home. Go ahead, nobody will see it. =)

50 count ultra pro sleeves= $3 x 12 to cover base set plus character pack
?? count top loaders= $?? (not much though)
660 count card holders= 99 cents x3
Several colors of card stock deviders= 50 cents or so and a truck load of free time

Total cost= Dignity

Man, this thread got nerded up hardcore! And on that note, watch out, Black Fang. Now that Pillbug Podikin is down, you’re next.


Nice setup Chap! Proper boxing/storage of components is essential to any good boardgame experience. It’s almost it’s own little game figuring out how to protect the components for storage, allow for quick and easy setup/takedown, and get everything to fit nicely in the original box. I like your work there on PACG.

EDIT: I would also find it useful if you would all stop crowing about how great this game is. I’m packing up the car to move to Seattle in about 2 weeks and with space already at a premium this thread is not helping things! Perhaps more complaining about niggly bits would be better.

Wait a minute. Does Tom know he’s playing a cooperative game? ;) Maybe it’s time to check out Sentinels of the Multiverse.

On the pathfinder note I love how easy it is to determine your level of involvement. You can play a single scenario for an hour, or embark on an epic campaign. The rules are pretty simple and despite its similarities to other adventure card games it benefits from some really good game design.

Tom M

I just figured Tom must have house ruled in some sort of traitor mechanic.

No need. I am sure there has been a moment when a Zombie Ogre or rune trap was about to bring utter and complete ruin to a party member causing Tom to thoughtfully examine his cards only to look up and say, “No Dingus, I am afraid I won’t use this Blessing of the Gods I have right here to save you.” =)