Class Decks by the Score

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Yesterday, we sent our printer Cartamundi four more Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Class Decks, bringing our total of class decks to 20. With such an auspicious number in the books, I thought it'd be nice to look back on our designs—even though you've only seen 13 of them to date. So this is both a review and a preview.

Oh, hey, the important thing: Ace designer Tanis O'Connor led the design of all of these. All of Lone Shark Games' designers helped, of course, but we've been very lucky to be working under Tanis's singular vision for the whole line. Yay, Tanis!

Okay, I mentioned in a recent blog that we design these in "waves." That certainly surprised a few people. I expect folks imagined that on the first of every month, we flip the page on our Dog Shaming Calendar, say "Oh, Bonzo, will you never learn?" and then design a class deck. That's not really how we work. Instead, we tackle a big project with lots of sub-projects all at once, so we can see the whole picture. And then we bang on it over several months until it's done. Then Vic says, "You have to turn it over to me now," and the wave gets edited, illustrated, proofed, printed, and sent to you. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Here's a wave-by-wave look at the decks.

Wave 1: The "Big Seven"

As we were wrapping up Skull & Shackles, we decided to get our feet wet with a set of seven initial decks. Wait, that's not true at all. We decided to do the eleven core iconics' decks all at once, but then our internal gaskets blew into pieces, and we scaled back. Seven was all our diminutive brains could handle in one wave.

Exactly which seven? Our choices mirrored the Rise of the Runelords Base Set's characters—Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard—and established a principle that you could use the deck to grow your character over an entire Adventure Path. At this point, we only had the first two sets' cards to draw from, and we hadn't actually seen folks play with Skull & Shackles in the wild. We decided on a core ethic, though: These decks would be usable with any Adventure Path. So no cards that worked in only one set.

Our primary resource for ideas the Pathfinder RPG NPC Codex. That supplement expanded our minds as to what a character of a class could be. A key exemplar of this idea is Flenta, the fighter who wants everyone to believe she's a wizard. We could never make that our fighter archetype. But in the Fighter Class Deck, we could use the principles of fighterdom to make a new kind of hybrid character that showed off how robust our system was.

We also wove subthemes into the deck. For example, we gave rogues Meliski and Wu Shen some new Poison cards, and the ability to do some fancy trickery with them. We wove our first Gambling items throughout the set, a lucky Rabbit's Foot here and a set of Marked Cards there. We seeded things we hoped to do more ornately later, such as Darago's window on what would become Balazar.

If there was any legit critique of those first seven decks, it's that we were trying to do too much. So for example, the Cleric Class Deck found Tarlin and Zarlova fighting for space to get 2-Handed weapons and Arcane/Divine spells. That seemed untenable. Something had to give.

Wave 2: The Expanded (and Condensed) Roster

After taking some time to see the first wave in play, we made some changes. Wave 2 encompassed Paladin, Monk, and Druid, three of the four classes that originally appeared in the Rise of the Runelords Character Add-On Deck. The most obvious change was dropping from four characters to three, each of whom could now have a full complement of tools to exploit.

Plus we introduced some characters who would look really out of place in the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box: Rooboo the tengu monk, Raz the dog-riding paladin, and Gronk the elf druid who spent most of his time as a tree. You wanted variety, we gave you variety.

In addition to introducing cards from Wrath of the Righteous, we started relying more heavily on "cycles," sets of cards that introduced variants on a central theme running through the deck. The Monk Class Deck, for example, got a whole bunch of new Asian-themed weapons, all of which work with the Acrobatics skill that Monks are known for.

The key element of this set: surprises. We wanted you to open up the deck and think, "Wow, I didn't see that coming."

Wave 3: Crazytimes Begin

OK, Amiri's waiting this whole time saying, "I was in Runelords too! What's a frost-giant-sword-slinging girl gotta do to get in a class deck?" Best for last, I say. Her time finally came, as wave 3 began with Barbarian, followed by Oracle and Alchemist.

Hoo boy, we jumped quite a ways out of the box here. The Barbarian Class Deck has two great cycles, the war paint cycle (in which you decide what color to paint your face and gain superpowers from it) and the improvised cycle (in which you decide what random thing to smash your foes with). Plus, we debuted the first character for the game based on a Paizo employee's home character: Erik Mona's Ostog the Unslain. (Try to keep him that way.)

In addition to a blind woman in a Rio Carnival outfit, the Oracle deck had a lizardfolk AND a pitborn. Grazzle and Ramexes divined things the fun way: using bones and entrails. This deck also gave the first previews of cards from our upcoming Mummy's Mask set, including some wild Egyptian blessings.

And where the Oracle Class Deck opened the door, the Alchemist Class Deck melted it off its hinges. The deck featured bombs, elementals, and the weirdest armor you've ever seen from us. (Spoiler: The Mummy's Mask team likes weird armor.) But most interesting of all was a cycle of "allies" you probably didn't imagine we'd make: oozes, slimes, and jellies. If these are Mother Myrtle's friends, I don't want to see her enemies.

Wave 4: New Old Tricks

By wave 4, we wanted to use some of the cool tricks we designed for Skull & Shackles and Wrath of the Righteous. This wave—Inquisitor, Witch, and Gunslinger—use rules we'd restricted ourselves from using in previous sets.

For example, check out this card from the Inquisitor Class Deck, Detect Thoughts.

See that little "if you have a role card" dodge in there? That's a spell that grows with you. You might hold on to that Adventure Deck 2 spell well through Adventure Deck 4 if you know it's gonna pick up allies after you get that role card. Thanks, Wrath of the Righteous mythic path cards, for teaching us that little trick.

The Witch Class Deck makes particularly great use of Wrath's cohort rules, maybe the cleverest stuff we've done with that card type. And the Gunslinger Class Deck (created in Wave 4, but due to be released after the next two decks I'm gonna talk about) takes some guns from Skull & Shackles and adds card after card of brand-new explosiveness.

Wave 5: Goblins in the Machinery

By now you know that we're breaking from our traditional class-driven format to roll out some goblin buffoonery. Goblins Fight! and Goblins Burn! are straight-up ridiculous, but as with all the other decks, they're fully playable in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild. These decks are... not kind to the goblins in question. You will see lots of goblins blown up, impaled, and/or turned into ooze. But y'know, in a good way. The crude little buggers really wanted to invade Gen Con, so they muscled their way in front of the Gunslinger Class Deck from the previous wave to make that happen.

Wave 5 also includes two of our most intricate decks, Warpriest, and (hey, I'm announcing this right now) Summoner. If you've played Oloch or Balazar, you know that you have to read those characters closely before diving in—there's a lot of "there" in there. And if you like that, you'll like these. The allies in these sets are some of the most interesting ones we've made.

As for the Summoner Class Deck in particular, I have never seen us stress so much over the complex interaction of a character and corresponding Owner card before. Probably took us thirty tries to get it right. But that's a story for another day.

So that's the score on the score of class decks we've sent to the printer to date. By the time the Summoner Class Deck comes out, Class Decks will have added more than 130 different character/role combos to PACG play.

One more thing...

When we were designing the goblin decks, we kept thinking about some of the goblin-themed promo cards we created for previous Adventure Paths, and how they'd go really nicely with these two decks. So Paizo dug into their warehouse and emerged with enough copies of these promos to cover Class Deck subscribers. For the first time, Class Deck subscribers are going to get some of that sweet, sweet promo card love. Subscription copies of Goblins Fight! will ship with the item Goblin Lockpick and a Blessing of Zogmugot (both Skull & Shackles promos), and Goblins Burn! will ship with the spell Fire Sneeze (a Rise of the Runelords promo) and another Blessing of Zogmugot. These are not reprints—these are the very same printings as the copies that have sometimes sold on eBay for more than the price of the decks we'll be shipping them with (so the cut and color of Fire Sneeze in particular is slightly different from the cards we print today).

If you haven't already signed up for a Class Deck Subscription, there has never been a better time. And if you already have a subscription, thank you for that... and get ready for a whole lot of strangeness!

Mike Selinker
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer

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Tags: Class Decks Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
Silver Crusade

Oooh. I am very excited that the Mummy's Mask team likes weird armors, because after playing Seelah, I'm a huge fan of armor. Pauldrons of Unflinching Fortitude are probably my current favorite, but I'm excited to have my mind changed.

Adventure Card Game Designer

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Spoiler: Bonzo will never actually learn.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
The Witch Class Deck makes particularly great use of Wrath's cohort rules, maybe the cleverest stuff we've done with that card type.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Paizo Blog wrote:
You might hold on to that Adventure Deck 2 spell well through Adventure Deck 4 if you know it's gonna pick up allies after you get that role card.

Not knowing what other spells are in the deck, it's a solid spell even before the role card. I mean, I guess I usually use Augury to put the monsters on the *bottom*, but I'm guessing inquisitors like them their monster slayin', if Imrijka is the canonical example.


Raz!

And Feiya! And Balazar! I'm excited to see the other witches and summoners. :)


So am I right in thinking the Stained Glass Elemental allows you to make the combat check, see how you do, and THEN add to it? That's cool.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Mike Selinker wrote:
The Witch Class Deck makes particularly great use of Wrath's cohort rules, maybe the cleverest stuff we've done with that card type.
I'm really looking forward to seeing this!

Hmm. This makes me wonder whether other base sets will therefore have cohorts. If not, it seems weird to make a big thing out of a card type that appears in only one place (not counting a season of OP which has already gone by).


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Googam wrote:
So am I right in thinking the Stained Glass Elemental allows you to make the combat check, see how you do, and THEN add to it? That's cool.

For the second power, yes, since it gets added to the result.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
For the second power, yes, since it gets added to the result.

Whoa, that's *really good*. Retroactive bumps are pretty rare (luckstone, greater luckstone, Meliski's Gambler role, etc). I guess rerolls are more common but a static bump that's sizable at higher ADs? Heck, the Old Salt was great late in Skull & Shackles, and the Elemental is even better.

Also, most retroactive bumps cost a buried card. To get one on a recharge...


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I have to admit I'm one of those who didn't opt for CD Sub until now. I normally buy one or two class decks when I pass by our local store, but now I can't pass up Fire Sneeze. I missed the promo last time.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
First World Bard wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
For the second power, yes, since it gets added to the result.

Whoa, that's *really good*. Retroactive bumps are pretty rare (luckstone, greater luckstone, Meliski's Gambler role, etc). I guess rerolls are more common but a static bump that's sizable at higher ADs? Heck, the Old Salt was great late in Skull & Shackles, and the Elemental is even better.

Also, most retroactive bumps cost a buried card. To get one on a recharge...

Yeah. It is good at what it does. The trade off is that it doesn't explore and the first power is risky. But the die bump is strong.

Also, I think the link when you click on the image of the Stained Glass Elemental is broken. It is linked to .jpeg and should be .jpg.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

The cost of a recharge is what made me do a double take. Even as someone who doesn't take allies who can't explore, losing the explore power for an Old Salt Luckstone seems like a pretty good trade??

Community & Digital Content Director

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Also, I think the link when you click on the image of the Stained Glass Elemental is broken. It is linked to .jpeg and should be .jpg.

Thanks for the heads up, should be fixed now!


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm kind if wondering, which adventure deck number the Stained Glass Elemental's second power refers to. With no qualifier, I'm led to assume that this would be its own adventure deck number, but that would make no sense, as that is always 1, and the power could easily be "add 2." It's probably meant to use the current scenario's aventure deck number, but it's strange that this is not spelled out. Or is it defined somewhere that "adventure deck number" listed on its own always refers to the current scenario (or maybe something else)?


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
I'm kind if wondering, which adventure deck number the Stained Glass Elemental's second power refers to. With no qualifier, I'm led to assume that this would be its own adventure deck number, but that would make no sense, as that is always 1, and the power could easily be "add 2." It's probably meant to use the current scenario's aventure deck number, but it's strange that this is not spelled out. Or is it defined somewhere that "adventure deck number" listed on its own always refers to the current scenario (or maybe something else)?

The card has the Veteran trait, you can assume the intent is for the adventure deck number of the current scenario. Besides, anything else doesn't make sense (if it was the card's AD number, then it'd add a static 2, and checks do not have adventure deck numbers). I don't believe that a default is spelled out anywhere in the rulebook, although it may be a templating change for MM where "adventure deck number" always refers to the current scenario if the card does not state otherwise.


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A) Great news
B) Keep the good work
C) Now for the reminder for Mike and Vic : at some point, when the dust settles, do you plan an upgrade version of the first wave(s) of class decks so that they also take advantage of the new ruls (cohorts, role cards, new blessings...)? I buy a 110 cards deck to upgrade those class decks as soon as available.

Grand Lodge

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skizzerz wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm kind if wondering, which adventure deck number the Stained Glass Elemental's second power refers to. With no qualifier, I'm led to assume that this would be its own adventure deck number, but that would make no sense, as that is always 1, and the power could easily be "add 2." It's probably meant to use the current scenario's aventure deck number, but it's strange that this is not spelled out. Or is it defined somewhere that "adventure deck number" listed on its own always refers to the current scenario (or maybe something else)?
The card has the Veteran trait, you can assume the intent is for the adventure deck number of the current scenario. Besides, anything else doesn't make sense (if it was the card's AD number, then it'd add a static 2, and checks do not have adventure deck numbers). I don't believe that a default is spelled out anywhere in the rulebook, although it may be a templating change for MM where "adventure deck number" always refers to the current scenario if the card does not state otherwise.

That.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

It should say "the scenario's adventure deck number." Added to FAQ.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Wait a minute...what is all this blathering about card mechanics when they said the magic words: "Promo Cards?" bbKabag has it right, that's exciting.

I already have these two, though...and it's not like they're legal in organized play to put in your deck, so...


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Calthaer wrote:
I already have these two, though...and it's not like they're legal in organized play to put in your deck, so...

Oh, I plan to fix that with a fine-tip Sharpie. "Yes, Fire Sneeze says 'Owner: Poog' on it. Why do you ask?"

Silver Crusade

First World Bard wrote:
Calthaer wrote:
I already have these two, though...and it's not like they're legal in organized play to put in your deck, so...
Oh, I plan to fix that with a fine-tip Sharpie. "Yes, Fire Sneeze says Owner: Poog" on it. Why do you ask?

Seems legit. They ARE goblins, after all.


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Mike Selinker wrote:
we gave rogues Meliski and Wu Shen some new Poison cards

Think you might mean Olenjack there (though I can see how one awesome dwarf is easily confused with another).

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Ooooh. A new place to put my Splediferous Hat!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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The blog wrote:
Subscription copies of Goblins Fight! will ship with the item Goblin Lockpick and a Blessing of Zogmugot (both Skull & Shackles promos), and Goblins Burn! will ship with the spell Fire Sneeze (a Rise of the Runelords promo) and another Blessing of Zogmugot.

We have made an adjustment to this plan: Instead of sending a second Blessing of Zogmugot with Goblins Burn!, we will instead be sending the RotR promo card Blessing of Zarongel.

To sum up:
• Goblins Fight! gets Goblin Lockpick and Blessing of Zogmugot (both S&S promos)
• Goblins Burn! gets Fire Sneeze and Blessing of Zarongel (both RotR promos).

Adventure Card Game Designer

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Vic Wertz wrote:
We have made an adjustment to this plan: Instead of sending a second Blessing of Zogmugot with Goblins Burn!, we will instead be sending the RotR promo card Blessing of Zarongel.

It is important to understand that the only reason this plan needed "adjusting" is that I can't tell one goblin "Z" god from another when I'm typing up a request for promos. The other designers sternly corrected me as soon as they saw the announcement.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
We have made an adjustment to this plan: Instead of sending a second Blessing of Zogmugot with Goblins Burn!, we will instead be sending the RotR promo card Blessing of Zarongel.
It is important to understand that the only reason this plan needed "adjusting" is that I can't tell one goblin "Z" god from another when I'm typing up a request for promos. The other designers sternly corrected me as soon as they saw the announcement.

Ooops


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
We have made an adjustment to this plan: Instead of sending a second Blessing of Zogmugot with Goblins Burn!, we will instead be sending the RotR promo card Blessing of Zarongel.
It is important to understand that the only reason this plan needed "adjusting" is that I can't tell one goblin "Z" god from another when I'm typing up a request for promos. The other designers sternly corrected me as soon as they saw the announcement.

I can understand mixing up Zogdoe and Zarongdoer, but an Archer in place of a Magpie in the Alchemist Class Deck, and nobody corrected you?

Wish I had been there :-)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Just to clarify on this...the promo cards being included with these shipments will have the same art and in all respects be indistinguishable from the cards as they were originally released? Not different or slightly altered art, the way that some blessings and monsters and whatnot had new art in the Wrath of the Righteous box set.


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Calthaer wrote:
Just to clarify on this...the promo cards being included with these shipments will have the same art and in all respects be indistinguishable from the cards as they were originally released? Not different or slightly altered art, the way that some blessings and monsters and whatnot had new art in the Wrath of the Righteous box set.

From the blog: "These are not reprints—these are the very same printings as the copies that have sometimes sold on eBay for more than the price of the decks we'll be shipping them with (so the cut and color of Fire Sneeze in particular is slightly different from the cards we print today)."

They're sending out leftover stock from the original promo card printings, so yes, they will be indistinguishable from the originals because they ARE the originals.


This post got me thinking about what other classes, that are in the base set and character add-on, don't have full on class decks yet. Off the top of my head...

Magus
Bloodrager
Cavalier
Arcanist
Swashbuckler
Hunter
Shaman

Missing any?

Then add whatever new classes come with Mummy's Mask. Whew, that's a lot to look forward to.

I guess paizo could always pass on some of the class decks. Trying to differentiate hunters from rangers would be difficult, but that's just me.

Silver Crusade

KS_brkfst wrote:

This post got me thinking about what other classes, that are in the base set and character add-on, don't have full on class decks yet. Off the top of my head...

Magus
Bloodrager
Cavalier
Arcanist
Swashbuckler
Hunter
Shaman

Missing any?

I think that's all the characters we've seen, but we've also got investigator, skald, brawler, kineticist, occultist, psychic, mesmerist, spiritualist, medium, ninja, samurai, slayer, and vigilante to look forward to someday!


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I keep a list.


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Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
KS_brkfst wrote:

This post got me thinking about what other classes, that are in the base set and character add-on, don't have full on class decks yet. Off the top of my head...

Magus
Bloodrager
Cavalier
Arcanist
Swashbuckler
Hunter
Shaman

Missing any?

I think that's all the characters we've seen, but we've also got investigator, skald, brawler, kineticist, occultist, psychic, mesmerist, spiritualist, medium, ninja, samurai, slayer, and vigilante to look forward to someday!

Dang! Are those the extra classes in the iconic heroes miniature set?

It makes me wonder, seeing how far in advance they plan the class decks, how far out they plan the base sets. Could there be an asian themed one in the works where they introduce the samurai and ninja? That would be cool!


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
KS_brkfst wrote:
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
KS_brkfst wrote:

This post got me thinking about what other classes, that are in the base set and character add-on, don't have full on class decks yet. Off the top of my head...

Magus
Bloodrager
Cavalier
Arcanist
Swashbuckler
Hunter
Shaman

Missing any?

I think that's all the characters we've seen, but we've also got investigator, skald, brawler, kineticist, occultist, psychic, mesmerist, spiritualist, medium, ninja, samurai, slayer, and vigilante to look forward to someday!

Dang! Are those the extra classes in the iconic heroes miniature set?

It makes me wonder, seeing how far in advance they plan the class decks, how far out they plan the base sets. Could there be an asian themed one in the works where they introduce the samurai and ninja? That would be cool!

Base sets are based on the RPG Adventure Paths. It is possible we will see a card game version of Jade Regent (aka the Asian themed AP) in the future, but I do not know if or when that may be. Given that the card game release cycle is slower than the RPG AP release cycle, and the card game didn't start up until many years after the APs started, it's unlikely we will see every AP in card game form (at least officially).

Silver Crusade

There are iconic heroes minis for everyone except the occult classes (medium, mesmerist, psychic, occultist, spiritualist, and kineticist) and vigilante. I don't think they existed when the Iconic Heroes deal with WizKids came into being. Though if the Iconic Heroes line does well enough, we might see minis of the new iconics as well!

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