Designing the Ultimate Decks

Thursday, October 26, 2017

We're deep in design on the Ultimate add-on series of character decks for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game—Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Intrigue, and Ultimate Equipment. (We broke the news on this series in an earlier blog.)

So far from final art, it's not even in the same dictionary as "final" and "art."

The idea is to supplement all the character decks we've made so far with decks of new cards. If you're playing a home game, you can just add Ultimate decks into any Adventure Path box. If you're playing in organized play, you'll be able to use a character deck—say, the Wizard Class Deck—and one Ultimate deck. If you'd like to play the character that's in the Ultimate deck, you can supplement that character with the cards from one other character deck. (There will likely be some limitations on which decks you can use with each of the characters from the Ultimate decks, but we haven't settled this yet.)

So as we're making these decks—moving cards in and out, designing cycles, even rethinking their reasonings for existence—we keep hitting three questions. If you'd like to participate in helping us think these things out, leave your suggestions in the comments.

Question 1: What utility cards must be in the decks?

We need to give all of the existing characters the cards they need to be more awesome. For some of those characters, they need cards they don't have access to, such as Potion of Healing. A melee character who can't get a Greatsword at any tier is going to be sad about it. And even if your character deck has a Cure in it, you're unlikely to be upset about having access to a second Cure. So we're tracking all the cards we just can't get along without.

Sometimes "boring" is another word for "gimme that."

And sometimes we need to help characters play in sets they weren't designed for. All those Curses in Mummy's Mask are pretty nasty, so you might want Remove Curse. A lot.

Where in the Ultimate series such a card goes is also relevant. Ultimate Intrigue doesn't need a Greatsword. Ultimate Combat does.

Just as significantly, we're looking at cards we don't need to put anywhere. We don't need to put any Blessings of the Gods in the Ultimate decks, because the other character decks have as many as they need. Low-powered cards like Dart and Leather Armor seem unlikely to make an appearance in a deck with the word Ultimate in the title.

Question 2: What cards are our favorites?

We want to see reappearances of many of the cool things we've created over the years, especially since Skull & Shackles. (That's the set that was mostly done when we made the first seven class decks.) Every designer on this team has a different set of these, but there are some we're quickly reaching consensus on.

One of these is particularly fun at parties.

For example, Mummy's Mask was the set where we made some bizarre armors. Even people who ragged on armor on a daily basis were stopped cold by a card like Falcon Crown from Secret of the Sphinx.

We also love cards that let someone be something their deck wouldn't otherwise allow them to be. Riffle Scrolls, from the Pathfinder Tales Character Deck, lets a player with the Fighter Class Deck hold on to spells he might play, even if that opportunity is rarer than it is for, say, Ezren.

And of course, it's often just about what makes a certain designer smile. For example, I find the Baby Triceratops adorable. Hey there! Who's a good little trikey-wikey? You are. YES, YOU ARE. So yeah, there's probably going to be a Baby Triceratops in one of these decks. You might want to prepare to bury a lot of cards.

Question 3: What cards are missing?

This is where we're spending a lot of our time. Usually when we make a set or a character deck, we're trying to model something specific. Write a Demon-fighting set, make a lot of things to fight Demons.

But left unchained, what are we going to do? Well, a lot of things. Create more stained-glass blessings for our favorite gods, for example. Japanese weapons for Hayato. New books for Enora. Maybe some new poisons in Ultimate Intrigue. And some just weird things like—hey, did you know there's a luchador mask in the Ultimate Equipment book? We did.

Por el bando rudo.

Chad noted the other day that we had exactly one pair of non-promo shoes in the entire game, the Boots of Teleportation. (I suggested the Reed Moccasin, but he wasn't buying it.) Now, why do we need more shoes? Beats me. But now that he's said it, somebody on the team is likely to demand more shoes.

There are all sorts of things we'd like to do with these decks. But what do you want to see? Leave comments below about what cards you'd like us to include and where. Thanks!

Mike Selinker
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Ultimate Decks
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Grand Lodge

I was excited to find a ranged-based Merisiel in the character deck that gets a big boost using strength-adding bows... right up until I discovered there was only two in the deck, and one of them was a Weapon 6. :( A few more of those would be useful for her, and I'm sure for Imrijka and other range-based characters.

Sovereign Court

Hi, everyone! Hope you've been having a good time while I've been gone! After sailing around for most of a year, I came back to Absalom to catch up with my friends and see what they've been up to! I've heard stories about demon invasions, goblin invasions, and sand getting in people's shoes! Eww!

Anywho, I ran into Siwar the other day and she asked me to come by and talk about what's available from Sorcerers-B-Us here in Absalom. So here's some of my deep thinkings about our stuff:

Weapons: I stay away from these 'cause they're really dangerous! I think Val carries some, though.

Spells: Pew-pew-pew-boom! Make things easier! See what's coming! I like our Spells! More variety is awesome, though!

Armors: I don't really use Armor, but I hear there's some robes and stuff at the shop. Qualzar told me that Armor prices have been driven way up here in Absalom; over in the desert he got better armor after his first assignment than we can get after three entire Adventures! I figure he'll be happy with practically anything if that's true.

Items: Siwar told me about a gem she has that lets her sweet-talk her way out of practically anything! I'd like one of those! (Ed: She means a Ruby of Charisma.) My favoritest Item is my super fancy Cape of Escape, which replaced those spiky metal things (Caltrops), that book I really should have read sometime (Codex), and the rock that blows up but reappears in my pocket a day later (Blast Stone). Other than my Cape and occasionally the Misty Horn, I kinda forgot what all I was carrying, though.

Allies: I like my friends! (::whispering:: Well, not the Pixies. They're a little weird. ::stops whispering::) But I like most of my friends! My bestest friend was the Poultice Lady. She fixed me up whenever I was all beat up!

Blessings: Speaking of friends, did you know the gods are our friends too? And we've got sooooo many happy Blessings from them! Blessings for magic, Blessings for prettiness, all sorts of Blessings! I'm happy with the simple ones, though, since they seem to come back to me all the time. (::whispering:: You may not want to mention our Blessings when Siwar's around, though. Her eyes get all scrunchy and make me shiver. She can be really creepy!)

I can't wait to see what's new in the store!

the Steal Book spell is incredibly fun, please add more than the One from the Pathfinder Tales Character Deck.

Calthaer wrote:
Keith Richmond wrote:
If you guys want to identify specific needs for those characters...
OK...I have a long list of things that would improve Lem in the Bard class deck.

  • Weapons that interact with spells (e.g., Spelldagger)...or just any ranged weapon besides the Deathbane Light Crossbow. I know I raved about that thing in Runelords, but when I got this deck and saw it was the only viable ranged weapon until that spear in deck 6, I was sad.
  • Needs different elements besides Electricity and Poison - all the different elemental basics (Unshakeable Chill, Acid Splash, etc.), or I think there were powered-up versions of Lightning Bolt (but with fire or something) in later sets. I took this guy in the Wrath season and it was so annoying that everything was immune to all the damage-dealing spells in the bard deck.
  • Would be great to get Life Drain at a lower deck #. The only offensive Healing spell is deck 5 (Life Leech).
  • Needs spells that can handle multi-check monsters. This guy can't be wasting 2, 3 of his 6(!) spells on one encounter - it is so painful and expensive, and so often I found that I'd be able to hit the first check but then I'd be hosed on check 2. Aqueous Orb and stuff like that. Form of the Dragon would be awesome. I know I can team up to mitigate, but there are still those times when you just can't be clinging to other peoples' skirts.
  • I often found this guy without a way to do damage in his hand - there's no reliable way to get that weapon right off the bat; his favored card type is spell, and if you are going with his Tent Preacher role, then your spells will be Cure spells and whatever (and there's not much divine offense

I play Lem and I have Acid Touch (or is it Arrow? Cannot recall) and Holy Light in his repertoire. Very useful. I have not come across any who are immune to Holy Light...fave spell so far, btw.

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For those of you that don't pop into the blogs on a daily basis, the blog entry for the Ultimate Equipment Add-On Deck, including the iconic ninja, Reiko, hit the street (it's not appearing here in the PACG forums - yet).

Brother Tyler wrote:
For those of you that don't pop into the blogs on a daily basis, the blog entry for the Ultimate Equipment Add-On Deck, including the iconic ninja, Reiko, hit the street (it's not appearing here in the PACG forums - yet).

It's actually listed in the Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild forum:

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Shnik wrote:
Brother Tyler wrote:
For those of you that don't pop into the blogs on a daily basis, the blog entry for the Ultimate Equipment Add-On Deck, including the iconic ninja, Reiko, hit the street (it's not appearing here in the PACG forums - yet).

It's actually listed in the Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild forum:


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