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Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Strategy #5—Moving to New Locations

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is the fifth installment of our strategy blog written by game historian Shannon Appelcline. You can read all the installments here.

There is a tendency to go to a location and then to grind through it until you've closed the location. Don't give in to this! If there are reasons to move, then move. You're not stuck at a location just because you went there. (Unless it's the Shimmerglens, the Cell, or a similar location. Then you might be stuck!)

Move to a Location Based on Your Hand

You might move to another location based on what's in your hand—and specifically based on your desire to rapidly cycle your hand. If Valeros has a handful of weapons or Kyra has a handful of attack spells, then it makes sense for them to move to locations with more monsters to kill, while a character with Thieves' Tools should move somewhere with barriers (or to Junk Beach), while a character with a Crown of Charisma would do well to move somewhere with allies (or to the Prison).

In short: If your hand clogs, see if there are locations that would help unclog it.


If you can't find the right tool for the job, find the right job for the tool.

Move to a Location Based on the Deck's Top Card

Sometimes you might get to see the top card of a deck, thanks to Harsk or Alahazra or courtesy of boons like Augury, Scrying, or even the humble Spyglass. If this reveals a difficult bane or a valuable boon, and a specific character can make quick work of it, send them there to face just that card.

Corollary #1: Move to help with a check on the top card. You might move just to help someone else with the top card of a deck—either to take one of the checks on a two-check bane, or to provide support against one of the wackier villains like Erylium or Justice Ironbriar (who summon a monster that someone must face) or the Skinsaw Man (who gets tougher if you face him all alone). Or you could be a character like Valeros or Lem who can offer support with character powers.


Two swords are better than one.

Move to a Location Based on the Deck's Undefeated Banes

Precognition isn't the only way to learn what's in a deck. Sometimes you fight a bane that you just don't have the right cards or attributes to defeat. This calls for an emergency intervention from another party member. Sure, that newcomer will probably have to grind through the deck to find the bane in question again, but it's still worth sending Seoni to burn up the Troll or Lem to disable the traps, lest you have to keep facing those banes again and again.

Corollary #1: Move to a location to sort the deck if the undefeated banes are undefeatable. Sometimes you'll get really unlucky and face a bane that no one can deal with. This is a problem for smaller parties that don't have every skill represented, but it also is sometimes an issue when a flammable monster shows up and you don't have any fiery spells or weapons. To solve this problem, send a character to the location to sort the deck. The Augury and Scrying spells do this best, though there are also a number of less efficient methods to get cards to the bottom of the deck, or at least reshuffle them.


Sometimes the way to win is not to fight.

Move to a Location Based on the Number of Cards Left

Abandoning locations leaves decks with fewer cards in them. That's fine when you're bouncing around early on, but later in the game it can become a missed opportunity. If you're at a point in the game where permanently closing a location with just a few cards in it would allow you to temporarily close all of the locations next time you find the villain—or if you think a villain is in one of two decks, or something similar—then it's worth moving to the smaller deck. A deck that has 9 cards gives you an 11% chance of hitting the villain or henchman with each exploration, while a deck with 5 cards ups that chance to 20%!

Move to a Location Based on the Characters That Are There

Irrespective of what's in a deck, you might move to a location because of who else is there.

Most obviously, you might need to heal someone. Since the discard/heal cycle is a perfectly viable method to keep your deck moving, healers should always be thinking about where they can go to help other people out. This means that they should move early and often.

Alternatively, you might move to give a player a boon. This might be something you just picked up that can serve them better—but this is of limited importance, because you can usually give them the card at the end of the game. But sometimes you might be able to give them a boon that they really need right now. Perhaps they don't have a weapon and you have extras. Perhaps they could use Father Zantus more than you in this scenario. Perhaps they need Thieves' Tools because they'll be exploring a barrier-heavy deck. There's a little bit of reluctance in PACG to give up a card from your deck because it defines your character… but as long as you remember to get it back at the end of the game, all should be well.

Corollary #1: Beware of moving to a character if the location is ill-fitting. When you move to help out a character, you don't want to waste your turn—you also want to explore the location if you can. This means that you shouldn't go to a location if your character is a terrible fit for it. If you're unable to close the location or if you're going to interact badly with a location's special power, you don't want to go there. So the Mountain Peak (where you can lose a card) or the Cell (where you can get stuck) are often right out. (There's some wiggle room here. If you're bad—but not terrible—at closing a location, and it's still got a lot of cards in its deck, then you might give it a shot: You're unlikely to get to close the location in a single turn, and if you do get the opportunity, maybe you can deal with it.)

Move to a Location Because You Have a Bonus Move

Amiri gets a bonus move at the end of her turn. Items like the Boots of Teleportation, allies like the Celestial Unicorn, and spells like Teleport can duplicate this ability. This should encourage a player to move for even the smallest reasons—to reduce the number of characters at a location, to get away from a start-of-the-turn effect, or to temporarily support another character.

If a character or boon can move other characters too, then they should be even more willing to move—not just if it would benefit them or the state of the game board, but also if it would benefit the other character, for any of the reasons described herein.

Move to a Location Because of Where the Villain Is

Of course, another reason to move is to find the villain—or to get away from the villain. More on that next time.

Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Adventure Card Game Strategy Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Rise of the Runelords
Lone Shark Games

The Corollary under "Move to a location based on the deck's undefeated banes" is pretty darn smart, says me.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

"Move to a location based on whether you can close it" would have been a good title of paragraph too IMHO.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I fully admit, my group often falls into the trap of 'I have no specific reason to move, so I'm not going to move' even when proper consideration would have led to the conclusion that another location would have been more beneficial.

That being said, there are definitely reasons that it's probably better for our group to not do that extra level of thinking. First, we generally play multiple characters. When you have that much going on, it's often good to simplify the less important decision trees, and staying or moving definitely is lower impact than, say, knowing when to play a blessing on a 60/40 close check. Also, at least one player in our group gets frustrated when players take too long on decisions and slow down the game, so taking extra time on move steps would probably exacerbate that issue. Finally, I think most of our players heavily gravitate toward supporting characters, so we generally have very strong incentive to stay with other characters, even when other factors would benefit moving.

Again, I think everything in this article is absolutely correct. I just wanted to put out a devil's advocate point on how shortcutting this particular decision is not necessarily the worst thing in the world.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

In case you are, like us, playing with a large group, you may also add "Move in group to a location that has a painful start of turn effect" as a paragraph.
If each of the 5 or 6 characters move to such a location and are able to explore twice at least, there is a good chance you will close the location without anyone suffering the start of turn effect.


One reason we move a character from a location, particularly in large parties, is the character defeated the henchman, but failed the close check. If there are a lot of cards left in the deck, it may be worth moving elsewhere and chasing the villain to the henchman-less location. (Especially if there are unoccupied open locations.)


"To solve this problem, send a character to the location to sort the deck. The Augury and Scrying spells do this best..."

Minor correction: Scrying can be used on any location deck, so you don't need to move, to use it like this.


Frencois wrote:
"Move to a location based on whether you can close it" would have been a good title of paragraph too IMHO.

That was covered in article #4, which was about initially choosing locations, rather than deciding to move because of something that's happened since.


Frencois wrote:

In case you are, like us, playing with a large group, you may also add "Move in group to a location that has a painful start of turn effect" as a paragraph.

Yep, I've done that on occasion and it's a good point to have (probably in the discussion of initial choices). Personally, I just prefer to have Amiri deal with those, though.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
ShannonA wrote:
Frencois wrote:
"Move to a location based on whether you can close it" would have been a good title of paragraph too IMHO.
That was covered in article #4, which was about initially choosing locations, rather than deciding to move because of something that's happened since.

Great job Shannon. I just wanted to point that sometimes "something happened" (like you just aquired or draw the good card) that makes you change your initial choice on location (as per your great article #4).

Like for a location A that says "bury an armor" to close. May not be your initial choice because you are THE pro of Perception and another location asks pour a Perception check (and you think anyone can bury an armor), but say you know that the henchman is now on top of location A and you just aquired an armor: time to move.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

The "painful start-of-turn effect" Frencois mentions is a classic strategy Hawkmoon and I try to employ in our groups. Mountain Peak in Runelords is the one that comes first to mind, but there are lots of others in later decks - that island that makes you fight a hammerhead shark every turn in S&S, that molten lava place that hits you up for fire damage every turn in Wrath, and so forth. We always try to dog-pile those locations to get them through quickly so that few players have to face the "at the beginning of your turn" penalty.

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