Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Strategy #9—Fighting the Banes

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

It seems obvious that you want to beat banes, because they can hurt you ... but it turns out that the calculation shouldn't be that simple. It's about knowing when to be brave.

Be brave if you have armor

Fighting monsters and leaping through barriers is dangerous, so there's the temptation to massively overinvest in a way that you wouldn't for other encounters—to increase the odds to an almost certainty.

You should avoid this temptation if you have armor. Most armor (but not shields) allows you to bury (or banish) the card to reduce all damage to you. You should consider this armor's main use: it lets you take chances when you're fighting monsters, without large repercussions.

Yes, you potentially lose a turn, because you may have to fight that same monster on a future turn. But no matter what the results, if the alternative is to use one or more blessing, you probably come out ahead: maybe you win despite the lack of blessing or maybe you won't encounter the monster again. Either way, you potentially gain a turn. And if you were going to play a couple of blessings, you came out way ahead.

So that's what being brave means: take the chance of being defeated by the bane.

Be even braver if you have no cards

Similarly, you shouldn't worry too much about losing to monsters if you have few or no cards in your hand. In this case, there's almost no downside, other than the potential to lose an exploration if you must fight the monster again. But since the alternative is usually to burn blessings ... give yourself a good chance, but don't worry about making it a sure chance.

Corollary #1: Empty your hand if you're going to lose. Sometimes, you might choose to create the situation where you have few or no cards. This is particularly applicable if you think you're going to lose the fight. Recharge everything that you legally can, so that those cards don't get discarded. Then play all the discardable cards that might give you a bonus on the check. It might seem a waste to spend cards just to give yourself a very unlikely chance of beating a bane, but if you're going to lose your cards anyway, then you might as well try. (If a bane isn't actually going to empty your hand, such as the Charmed Faceless Stalker or many barriers, then obviously this advice does not apply.)

Be the bravest if you are encountering a summoned bane

These rules about being willing to lose when faced with damage are especially true when you're fighting summoned monsters that you don't actually benefit from beating. This doesn't include summoned monsters that you must beat to close locations or to defeat barriers like Zombie Horde. But it does include those annoying skeletons that are summoned by the Skeleton Horde barrier or the bandits that are summoned at the Guard Tower. If you don't need to beat them, then don't expend any resources if you have another out (like armor or an empty hand).

The one caveat to this approach is that sometimes those summoned banes are summoned by other banes, and you usually need to beat the summoners. Getting your hand wiped before you do is rarely a good strategy.

Be less brave otherwise

If you don't have armor, if you have lots of cards, and if you're not fighting a summoned beast, then you should be less brave; in other words, worry more about beating the beast.

Still, you shouldn't consider victory over the bane a necessity. Think about what you would lose in your hand if you got beat up, add in the possibility of a lost turn if you encounter the bane again, and weigh that against the turns and other opportunities that will be lost from played cards.

Maybe you'll decide that the bane must be beat or maybe you'll decide that it's acceptable to take a chance. The important thing is to consider it as a choice—not a fait accompli— just because you're meeting a scary monster or bane.

Corollary #1: The more blessings you spend, the more blessings you should spend. Whenever you decide to spend resources rather than bravely taking the chance of being defeated by a bane, you need to make sure that you spend enough. That's because you're now spending turn-resources and you don't want to waste them. So if you're playing no blessing, because the circumstances warrant it, that's fine. But if you're playing one blessing, then consider whether playing two would increase your chances enough to be worthwhile. Every turn and every blessing is an investment: spend them wisely.

Be even less brave against annoying monsters

You should work even harder to beat a monster or a barrier if it's particularly annoying for some reason. The Enchanter is a prime example of an annoying monster, because she does 1 Force damage before then 1 Fire damage after every fight. Similarly, Collapsed Ceiling is definitely an annoying barrier, because it can do damage and sticks around. There are even more annoying banes at higher levels.

In general, if a bane has other costs every time you meet it, particularly if those costs are high, or if a bane sticks around on top of a deck or next to someone's character, be a little less brave when fighting it—not because you're afraid of it, but because you want to get rid of the darned thing!

Be the least brave against villains and henchmen

Finally, don't be brave at all when fighting villains and henchmen. They're the critical-path banes in PACG because defeating them lets you close locations and eventually win! These are the fights where you should be quite conservative, making your odds as good as you possibly can (within reason).

Corollary #1: Don't spend too much on henchmen. With most henchmen, however, be aware of what's on the other side. Usually, you must do something to close the henchman's location. If you spend your last blessing on the henchman, and then need to banish a blessing to close the location, you did all that work for nothing.

As for villains...

Next month: Fighting the villains.

Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian

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

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think the "Be brave if you have armor" one was what took me a while to get used to. I was really hesitant to lose to a monster even when I had armor. But being risky when you can eliminate the damage is a great way to conserve resources for other things (like when you friend is always asking you to help him acquire those shiny boons).

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think another important question to consider is: how is the blessings deck looking and do we have to start taking chances? I tend to play a little conservative in the beginning, maybe asking for a blessing to bump my chances up to smash that bane. Later in the scenario, especially if my character has a healthy deck, I know we have to keep cards for more explores.

Allies that I could recharge to help with a combat or discard to explore are good examples of this. Early on, I will maybe recharge that Saber-toothed Tiger to get a d6. Maybe I will get to use it again later. But as time runs short, a recharge can mean almost the same as a discard, so I maybe better hold back that card to explore again.

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Hum if you encounter a summoned bane you should be the bravest unless you can be the cowardest. I mean, if you can evade why on earth would you be brave?

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