My Solo Adventures With the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

When I first mentioned the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game I talked about how it had done something no other game had ever done: made me consider buying a copy to play solo. I did that and this weekend I decided to start a solo campaign.

The basic set contains a small adventure: Perils of the Lost Coast, which contains three scenarios (think of a scenario as a single session of play. An adventure is a collection of related scenarios, and an Adventure Path is a collection of Adventures.) Saturday I took on “Brigandoom!”, the first scenario in the Perils of the Lost Coast.

My three heroes were Kyra (Cleric), Valeros (Fighter), and Ezren (Wizard). I wanted a well-rounded crew. Kyra had incredibly useful healing powers, Valeros could just plain kick butt, and Ezren had some nice skills that let him search faster. I gave them all basic weapons, spells, and such, and sent them off to right wrongs in the world of Pathfinderia, or whatever this place is called.

Sorry, I didn’t realize the pics I took were so lousy.

Anyway, here’s the object of the game, in a nutshell. There are five locations, each of which has a deck of things to encounter. One thing in each deck is either the big bad or one of his henchmen. If you find and defeat a henchman, you can try to “close” the location, which is making it completely safe. If you find the villain and another location is still open, even if you defeat him he’ll run away and you’ll have to search for him again. So you want to close all the locations to corner him and then take him down. All of this is being timed: there’s a deck of 30 blessing cards and each turn you flip a new one. If that runs out, you’ve failed the scenario. (All this means is you didn’t win. You don’t die; that only happens if a character’s deck runs out of cards.)

Kyra started out in the Woods, and didn’t take too long to find and defeat a Henchman. However, she botched her die roll and failed to close the location. This is particularly sucks because the only way to try again is to clear it out, and time’s a-wasting. Similarly, Valeros failed to close his location, a Farmhouse. Two failures to close means no coffee for this bunch. However, Ezren won the steak knives by successfully looting and closing the Academy (it was full of spells, and he can tear through such a location pretty easily.)

Kyra got down to one card and had to heal herself. Valeros got whomped for 5 damage from a damn skeleton and lost his whole hand (hand of cards, not his grabbin’ hand). He also found an Icy Longspear +1, but it was one of the cards he had to discard for damage. Things were not looking good.

Ezren had moved to the Waterfront, and a Detect Magic spell had allowed him to find (but not encounter) the Villain there. This was huge, because now we knew exactly where he was and just had to close the other locations. Valeros finally managed to clear out the Farmhouse on the third try, and Kyra made it through and closed out the Woods. All that was left was the Wooden Bridge (I had forgotten a rule that would have made this easier, as we’ll see in a bit.) Kyra and Valeros managed to close off the Wooden Bridge and Ezren went in for the kill.

With the help of his Acolyte ally and his Sage’s Journal, Ezren blasted Jubrayl Vhiski with a Force Missile, ending his evildoing once and for all. The heroes were victorious and “Brigandoom!” was completed.

In addition to the cards they picked up during the game, the reward for completing this scenario was a random item. Here are the victors with their spoils:

I then had to reset their decks. Each character starts out only being able to have so many weapons, armor, etc, and I had to figure out what they’d keep from their adventure and what would go. They could also trade stuff between each other. Valeros kept the Icy Longspear +1, ditching a regular old Longspear that he now had nothing but contempt for. Ezren’s Acolyte replaced a basic ally, and Kyra, now knowing a little more about what was out there, swapped some spells around.

On Sunday morning I went ahead and did the second scenario, “The Poison Pill”. This one actually went very fast, as we got super lucky with finding the henchmen. The villain, one Pillbug Podiker, did get away from us at one point, but it didn’t take long for the group to corner him and bring him to justice…magic justice! In fact, it went by so quick that we didn’t really score a lot of PH4T L3WT from the scenario, other than the random weapon as a reward. (Here’s where the game is like an video game. If I felt that I didn’t get enough stuff to really prepare for the next scenario, I could have run this one again, essentially grinding it for equipment.)

Unsatisfied, I went ahead and stormed into the third and final scenario of the introductory adventure, “Black Fang’s Dungeon”. Black Fang is a dragon, so I knew this would not be too easy. It wasn’t, and this was the scenario that was the most intense. Kyra’s healing power got a workout on everyone, and we also used a couple of healing potions we found. Black Fang was discovered and defeated but again, without closed locations, he ran off. This time I remembered a key rule: when you encounter the Villain, characters at other locations can attempt to temporarily close them, essentially barring the door so the Villain can’t flee there. With three locations still open, everyone low on cards, and only a handful of turns remaining, the party split up, knowing that whoever found Black Fang first could fight him, and the other two could temporarily close their spots. It was risky, since everyone was hurting; I was hoping we’d just run out of time and fail before anyone died. Ezren found Black Fang, the other two successfully closed where they were, and the Wizard defeated the dragon. We had barely made it.

The reward for finishing this scenario was a random card of a type you chose. Ezren and Kyra got spells, Valeros went for armor. But that wasn’t all. We’d not only completed the scenario but the adventure, and we got a reward for that as well! A skill feat!

Here’s Valeros’ character card. Right now, his Strength roll is a d10, and his Melee roll is Strength + 3. With a skill feat, I could check, for example, the first box under Strength (THAT’S RIGHT, WRITING ON THE CARD, BAY-BEE!) to change my Strength check to a d10+1 (and my Melee d10+4). Which I may do, or I may up his Dexterity to make him better at ranged weapons. I haven’t decided yet.

I had loads of fun with the solo game, and not too many rules issues (I had been told that a good source for FAQs and card rulings was www.commonsense.you, and that was pretty much right.) Each scenario took about an hour or so to play, and tweaking the decks between didn’t take very long. Granted, I already more or less knew how to play from playing over at Matt’s. My team did well, and the MVP for this adventure goes to Ezren, who was just a force of nature. In fact, you could say that no one was…(puts on sunglasses)…better than Ezren

The Basic Set comes with the first adventure in a big adventure path, “Burnt Offerings”. It’s kind of a busy week this week and I need to do some of the things I didn’t do this weekend cause I was busy Pathfinding, so I don’t know when I’ll get started on that, but I’m looking forward to it a bunch. I don’t know that I’m converted to solo boardgaming now, but this one really satisfies.

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