In my youth I used to play “pen and paper” RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game tries to simulate that kind of adventuring / Dungeon crawling experience in a card based game. This set was my first introduction to the series which has an extremely difficult on-ramping.
The directions are very dense and the set up from getting the box to starting the game (for a newbie) was nearly an hour. There are so many different things to track it’s easy to get well into gameplay and realize that you haven’t been activating a trait or a special condition. I understand that this set is acting like a GM-less adventure, but as we played I really felt just how critical a GM is to making an RPG game like this work.
Once we did get set up and rolling the game felt kind of mechanical. You roll, draw, discard and repeat. Since there’s so much on each card related to rules and such there’s really not much story and we struggled to find ourselves really immersed.
Having said all that, if you are an existing Pathfinder fan, you’ll probably find a lot to like with this set. From what I understand the base set (and it also includes 1 adventure expansion) have stepped up monsters from previous editions. We experienced that and found Henchmen spawning other Henchmen we had to fight. (That also means it may not be the best place to start for Pathfinder Newbies).
While there might be a good game here, as newbie it’s VERY hard to get at. The set up and learning curve to get going is pretty significant and we found that we had to stop and watch a Rahdo Runs Through to really get the mechanics of the game. Ultimately, it’s not a game for us, and playing it through we wondered why we weren’t just playing an RPG?
For existing Pathfinder fan this may be more of a treat, but for the un-initiated it doesn’t seem to be the best place to start.