Core Principles: Varying the Challenge in the Pathfinder ACG

Wednesday, November 20, 2018

Last week I got to proof the new rulebook for Core and it made me excited to talk more about the design principles for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set. As Mike explained in a previous blog, we really wanted to give players the ability to control the game's challenge level, as well as the ability to speed the game up when desired.

I'm a big fan of giving players control knobs in games. We've all tinkered with house rules to increase the fun for our table. The problem with house rules is that they vary pretty wildly from house to house, which can occasionally be tough. They also tend to have less rigorous testing and development. Official options for changing the game are better, since they provide a common language of well-tested options.

We've all tried to control the difficulty level in our games, too. It's easy and obvious in video games (like picking Legendary difficulty in Obsidian's Pathfinder Adventures), but in the RPG, the adventure you choose, the GM, the characters, and the people playing them all have a pretty profound effect on difficulty, too. When people discuss PACG sets they often talk about difficulty as a primary reason to choose one set over another. It's good to have variety, but it's a shame to rule out a set because it's too easy or hard!

The amount of time available to play can change session to session, as can the number of players, and more players usually means more time required. We really wanted to present options that would let you look at the number of players and the amount of time you have so you can say "let's play one long scenario" or "let's knock out two quick scenarios."

Ideally, you can alter the difficulty on the fly to suit the particular players that night, or to match the scenario. You like a hard game, but you just failed the scenario? Drop the difficulty a notch before replaying it!

Change Things Up... Or Down

The first thing we decided to do was create small, medium, and large locations. Medium locations are what you're used to. Small locations usually have 3 fewer cards, which speeds up the game while making it easier. Large locations usually have 3 more cards, giving you a longer, more challenging scenario.


Bigger locations have more banes, but also more boons. Everyone likes boons!

Next, we gave you some freedom to change the number of cards in the blessings deck—which, since it often contains things that aren't blessings, has been renamed the hourglass. While the hourglass defaults to 30 blessings, we heartily encourage you to play with fewer or more blessings. Fewer cards in the hourglass speeds up the game while making it harder, and more cards gives you more time to win, making the game easier.

Because location size and hourglass size can be changed independently, you can dial in length and challenge level to your liking. If you combine small locations (faster + easier) and fewer cards in the hourglass (faster + harder), you get a faster game that's close to normal difficulty. Some of our testers prefer a version of the game that uses small locations and just 12 blessings + 2 per character because they can play twice as many scenarios in the same amount of time. Some of our testers with larger groups like large locations and extra blessings to give them an epic, satisfying scenario where everyone gets several turns.

(There's another reason for the name hourglass: The top card of the hourglass discards is now called the "hour," and new blessings have powers that happen when they are the hour. This ends the disconnect that new players had after flipping over a blessing at the start of their first turn:

New player: Ok, what do I do with this?

Experienced player: Nothing.

New player: It has all these words, but I don't do anything with it?

Experienced player: No. It's just a timer.

New player: …Oh. Um, okay.

Also, I can unofficially refer to each turn as "flipping the hourglass," which reminds me to actually flip the card, and feels thematic. And when you've got that one friend who can't make any decisions but still wants to explore five times per turn you can remind them they're not supposed to take a literal hour.)


When the hour can change your turn, especially for the better, you get used to looking at it.
(Oh, and we redesigned all the card faces. Surprise! We'll talk more about that later.)

Let's Get Wild

We've also been playing around with some ideas for changing up scenarios for quite some time. They started out as "templates" similar to ones used in the RPG, but Obsidian's Pathfinder Adventures app helped crystallize the concept into "wildcards." Core and Curse each include a number of different options that increase the difficulty of the game and make it less predictable. You can use any number of them, either chosen or random, depending on the desires of the group.


Hate long turns? Just add Wearisome. Want to die in a fire? Try an Ablaze, Deadly, and Hostile game!
(And did I mention that the card images show work in progress?)

If you're looking to adjust the difficulty in a more straightforward manner, you can treat your adventure as 1 higher or lower in difficulty. This increases or decreases the difficulty of Veteran banes. You can also add banes of a higher adventure number to your box to encounter earlier, which can be an exciting and unexpected change, especially for replay.

Speaking of replay, we've also offered the option to play the scenarios on Heroic and Legendary difficulty, which incorporate a few of the above options. In addition to bragging rights and a more entertaining game for those who seek a challenge, you get a reward for completing adventures on higher difficulties: you get to erase a feat, then take a feat of the same type. It doesn't increase your power level at all, but it does make you more flexible and lets you address any regrets you might have in an officially sanctioned and fun way.

I hope folks are looking forward to customizing their play experience, as well as all of the new cards, characters, and scenarios!

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I was worried we'd never hear about the card game again. I'm very excited to hear about the new difficulty options. I really like the idea of a smaller / faster game. One issue we have during conventions is there is never an opportunity to play a fast ACG game. I'd love to have an option that is 30 to 60 minutes. We could play over lunch or dinner.


Woohoo! Thanks for the reveal


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Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Nice! I'm very interested to see what other "when this is the hour" powers there will be.

Also, I absolutely loved the wildcards from the digital app. My only complaint was that I couldn't do "legendary" straight away and instead had to unlock the harder difficulties. I'm excited for the physical game to have a similar mechanic (with less forced restrictions) and can't wait to go on some suicidal runs!

Overall pretty exciting stuff-all of it! Keep up the great work!


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That sounds like a lot of different knobs that can be tweaked - potentially too many, for someone who doesn't know yet what level of difficulty they actually want, or how fast a game will play. I hope there's a clear "Normal" difficulty path set out for a starting default. I could forsee it taking some trial and error to figure out what works well for a given group.

The wildcard options don't really excite me - I'd rather only use those kinds of challenges if they're thematically appropriate for the scenario, over tacking them on just to make something more dangerous. But if other people like that kind of thing I see no harm in having them available as options. (I never go for Hard or Legendary completions in video games either, but I get that it's of supreme importance for some.)

At any rate, good to get an update for what you've been working on!

Lone Shark Games

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Neume wrote:
I was worried we'd never hear about the card game again.

Sorry for the radio silence. We've been face down in editing and proofing the Core Set, and just didn't have too much time for blogs. It'll be done soon ... but then Curse will start in editing. We're gonna make sure we keep up the blogs as best as we can, though.

Lone Shark Games

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Elinnea wrote:
That sounds like a lot of different knobs that can be tweaked - potentially too many, for someone who doesn't know yet what level of difficulty they actually want, or how fast a game will play. I hope there's a clear "Normal" difficulty path set out for a starting default. I could forsee it taking some trial and error to figure out what works well for a given group.

The way to think about this is that "Normal mode" is a deck of 30 blessings, 9-card locations (plus any henchmen or villains), no wildcards, and the adventure number that's on the adventure you're playing. You know, like normal.


Any PFACG news is good news. Looking forward to the updates!


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
Elinnea wrote:
That sounds like a lot of different knobs that can be tweaked - potentially too many, for someone who doesn't know yet what level of difficulty they actually want, or how fast a game will play. I hope there's a clear "Normal" difficulty path set out for a starting default. I could forsee it taking some trial and error to figure out what works well for a given group.
The way to think about this is that "Normal mode" is a deck of 30 blessings, 9-card locations (plus any henchmen or villains), no wildcards, and the adventure number that's on the adventure you're playing. You know, like normal.

I guess that makes sense!

@Robb the Pathfinder: I met my avatar doppelganger!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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No one else has mentioned it yet, but I'm absolutely in love with the card redesigns. So much prettier and yet easier to read and understand as well. :-D


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

Thanks a lot Mike & Keith for all the job done (I really like everything in it - most of this we actually added in our home games in a certain way so it's great to have it built-in soon) and the update.

Now for the obvious question no one asked until now:

Dear Santa, when can we get all these goodies?
I've been nice. Promise.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Keith wrote:
And when you've got that one friend who can't make any decisions but still wants to explore five times per turn you can remind them they're not supposed to take a literal hour.)

I have names :-)

Keith wrote:
Some of our testers with larger groups like large locations and extra blessings to give them an epic, satisfying scenario where everyone gets several turns.

That!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

One thing about the card redesign. It seems you are doing this already (based on the fact you said the "FACES" are being redesigned) but PLEASE DO NOT REDESIGN THE BACKS! I don't mind incorporating new faces with old faces, but changing the BACKS will make things MUCH MUCH MORE difficult to integrate.

Honestly, who am I kidding, if you told me I'd have to buy all new cards I'd do it. But I know I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford something like that and not everyone is.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We won't be changing the cardback design—all your current cards will continue to be useful!


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cartmanbeck wrote:
No one else has mentioned it yet, but I'm absolutely in love with the card redesigns. So much prettier and yet easier to read and understand as well. :-D

I wasn't going to say anything because we have exactly one example which may not be final and may not represent any other type of card, but I think this specific example card is much more difficult to read and interpret when viewed at the proper size. The name merges together with the type and deck number, the skills and traits fade into their background due to being white on two different medium-light blues, and card text that wraps card elements is more difficult to read than text that doesn't need to do so.

I know the design goal is to reduce the power of Blessings so this is unlikely to be a fair comparison to what's in the Core 2.0 and Crimson Throne sets, but imagine putting any of the existing wordier Blessings into this format with an added Hour Power. To pick one I was looking at earlier today: Blessing of Alkenstar. (Alkenstar's Report?)

Things tend to get wordier over time, and there's only so many places for those words to go in this design.

Graphically I guess it's OK. The camoflage background isn't really my thing; I liked the light papery background in the existing cards. The cup symbol is a fine variation on the god symbols we've had for the last 10 years. The check number is a decent size and simpler than the old ones, which I think should have been inverted anyway. There are gradients that should hopefully not interfere with their text when professionally printed.

Mike Selinker wrote:
Elinnea wrote:
I hope there's a clear "Normal" difficulty path set out for a starting default. I could forsee it taking some trial and error to figure out what works well for a given group.
The way to think about this is that "Normal mode" is a deck of 30 blessings, 9-card locations (plus any henchmen or villains), no wildcards, and the adventure number that's on the adventure you're playing. You know, like normal.

Existing players (who have a "normal" already defined) aren't the issue, though. We're just wanting to make sure you make it clear for new players. (Always nice to have a reminder.)

Frencois wrote:
Dear Santa, when can we get all these goodies?

PaizoCon 2019, so perhaps next Christmas? :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Elinnea wrote:
The wildcard options don't really excite me - I'd rather only use those kinds of challenges if they're thematically appropriate for the scenario, over tacking them on just to make something more dangerous. But if other people like that kind of thing I see no harm in having them available as options.

Presenting them as cards (as opposed to a list of options in the rulebook) does indeed give us the ability to create more thematic wildcards for specific storylines.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Parody wrote:
Existing players (who have a "normal" already defined) aren't the issue, though. We're just wanting to make sure you make it clear for new players.

To continue the "control knob" analogy, we're going to give you several knobs along with some guidance about how each affects difficulty and timing, and then we're going to give you a few preset modes to choose from, including one that's literally called "Normal." To make it even more clear, the general setup instructions tell you how to set up for Normal mode, and a separate section of the rulebook (called "Play It Your Way") tells you how you can customize it.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Parody wrote:

...imagine putting any of the existing wordier Blessings into this format with an added Hour Power. To pick one I was looking at earlier today: Blessing of Alkenstar. (Alkenstar's Report?)

Things tend to get wordier over time, and there's only so many places for those words to go in this design.

We've done a lot to simplify wordings.

Blessing of Alkenstar currently says this:

Blessing of Alkenstar (Gunslinger Class Deck) wrote:

Discard this card to add 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, or 1d12 to any check. If the result is equal to the difficulty, you may put this card on top of your deck instead of discarding it; if the result exceeds the difficulty by less than 6, you may recharge this card instead of discarding it.

Discard this card to explore your location. Once during this exploration, you may reroll 1 die; take the new result.

Today, these two powers would look something like this:

Blessing of Alkenstar (Theoretical Future Version) wrote:

On any check, discard to add 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, or 1d12. If the result is equal to the difficulty, you may reload instead; if the result exceeds the difficulty by less than 6, you may recharge instead.

Discard to explore. Once this exploration, you may reroll 1 die.

Old: 75 words. New: 49 words.


Is the idea that every location has a S/M/L version?

The Perils seem interesting. A "more chaos" option would be to roll randomly each round to see which peril is in effect for that full round. (To support this option, it would be cool to have each peril numbered.)

Anyway, thanks for the update. Good stuff. And if you want outside feedback on the rulebook draft, I'm sure folks here would be happy to help.

And I like the idea of potentially adding higher-level enemies (but not boons?) in earlier, particularly if a box has the reputation of being "easy".

Taking a different approach, we keep meaning to repeat Rise of the Runelords with basic and elite monsters removed one adventure early (basics in AD2 and elites in AD4).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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wkover wrote:
Is the idea that every location has a S/M/L version?

Yep. (Although I'm sure the designers will someday create some wacky story-based exception, a la Wrath 6's The Rasping Rifts.)


That card face is grotesque. Honestly disgusting. I couldn't imagine trying to play with that. I'm not having any success thinking of any other games with as bad a looking card as that. And, no, this isn't just familiarity. (Though there's a good reason the vast majority of games stick to the topline-art-traits-bottomtext template. And remember not to assume a direction for hand fanning. It varies between people, with left- and right-handedness, and preference) I'm not averse to a new design, but I sure hope this isn't it.

All this and you're still trying NOT to call it a new edition? The compatibility looks like it approaches zero. "Guard", "Reload", yadda. A whole lot of new vocabulary here.

Not to be all negative: Difficulty adjustment seems good. I like varying location sizes. Just don't make a mistake of tying any rewards to difficulty knobs. Difficulty is a play group's choice and should remain simply that. I hope some scenario setups say "build a large tavern, a small citadel...".

And on a tangent: you guys STILL haven't posted character sheets/checklists for all the last batch of Character decks. Products I bought, that I cannot play due to lack of product support. I'm certainly out for any continuation with the line out of a matter of principle seeing how product support has been.


Vic Wertz wrote:
Presenting them as cards (as opposed to a list of options in the rulebook) does indeed give us the ability to create more thematic wildcards for specific storylines.

Doesn't that conflict with the whole reason that the adventure and scenario cards were moved into a being a booklet instead of on cards?


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
emky wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Presenting them as cards (as opposed to a list of options in the rulebook) does indeed give us the ability to create more thematic wildcards for specific storylines.
Doesn't that conflict with the whole reason that the adventure and scenario cards were moved into a being a booklet instead of on cards?

That was moved so that there would be more space for flavor story. So different reason.


Yay this is something I really wanted and wasn't expecting to get.

I just went to try and dig up where I asked for it in the "what would you change" thread, and only found myself saying that I want a recommended mode rather than a big list of options. So I guess I'm even happier that Vic, in the comments, says there will also be some preset modes.

One thought on this. "Fast" mode (smaller locations less turns) and "Slow" mode (bigger locations more turns) have one obvious balance difference that healing will matter a lot less/more. Is there any way to offset this? Or will it just be something to consider when building your party?

In that regard though, a similar healing imbalance already exists between different sized parties. If you put the two together, I actually wonder whether playing small groups (1-2) on "fast" and large groups (5-6) on "slow" will give different group sizes a more consistent feel than before.

Of course playing that way makes the time requirements spread out even further! But at least you have the choice.

Really looking forward to learning more.


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emky wrote:
..you're still trying NOT to call it a new edition? The compatibility looks like it approaches zero. "Guard", "Reload", yadda. A whole lot of new vocabulary here.

I think the main point is that there aren't major rules changes. The new words are just shorthand terms for existing mechanics:

Reload = Put on top of your deck

Guard = temporarily close

The same terminology was used in Apocrypha, and was ported over to PACG towards the general goal of reducing card text and clutter.

I'm not sure what it is, but I do find the new card design to be a bit off-putting. However, the sample cards are mock-ups, so I assume the final versions will be more to everyone's tastes. Regardless, I'm happy to reserve judgment until I've actually played with them.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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*Stares at card for a long time.*
*Reads comments*
*Stares again*

How could anyone call those "grotesque"?!?!? I really don't get it.


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Usually the designers of card games have to find a compromise between the size of the image and the readability of text. The blessing depicted above has a fairly small illustration, several text boxes that may not be readable from across the table and an ornamental brownish background that covers more than a third of the card. Would it help to make the text boxes slightly larger (and thus more readable) and sacrifice a bit of the background? Maybe this card is an exception and the ratio is different on other cards.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

But I would argue that the card design leaves room for the power box to be much larger if needed, or to increase the number of checks to acquire, etc. It seems to me that there is very little restriction to the amount of text that can be included... Almost as much text as they could fit with the old, much less nice-looking cards.


Valarauko wrote:
The blessing depicted above has a fairly small illustration, several text boxes that may not be readable from across the table...

I've never found PACG text boxes to be readable by anyone except the person holding the card - which is fine for solo play, but not for multiplayer games. This has always been a problem for us, and is particularly noticeable with location text. The easiest mistake for new players to make, by far, is to inadvertently ignore location effects - and the existing font size doesn't help. (Accidentally ignoring scenario rules is probably a close second.)

Since there is no easy physical solution to making card text readable across the table, in the new Core, I'm hoping for an easy-to-navigate app database that contains the text for all locations.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

wkover wrote:
Valarauko wrote:
The blessing depicted above has a fairly small illustration, several text boxes that may not be readable from across the table...

Since there is no easy physical solution to making card text readable across the table, in the new Core, I'm hoping for an easy-to-navigate app database that contains the text for all locations.

I would not recommend holding your breath for such a thing.


A similar app already exists for Apocrypha. I wouldn't think it too difficult to do something similar for PACG?


I'm concerned with the new card design - there's awfully little place for artwork.
No problem with blessings, as their art is basically just a symbol, but spells with all their great art? Wuld be a shame to lose it


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I don't like the new card design either, for a lot of the reasons already mentioned. I wouldn't call them grotesque, but there seems to be an awful lot of empty space, which isn't helped by the distracting pattern.

While I think that I get where most of the changes in arrangement are coming from, I think switching the sides of the checks to acquire and the traits compared to the current cards is a bad move. I guess that the benefit is in having a left aligned text, but you also have the text of the powers box wraping around the card icon in the lower left corner.

I really think that the simple change of mirroring the layout already feels much better, as the layout is closer to the original cards, and there is no text wrapping around the corner.


Bravo for difficulty controls. Like others, I've advocated for this - PACG should not be one-size-fits-all. The scheme presented here has a lot of flexibility. I applaud that.

The redesigned card doesn't bother me. (That's a mock-up, right? I'm sure the cards will be plenty attractive when the graphics designer is through with them.)

One complaint I find unintentionally humorous is that text on the new cards will not be able to be read from "across the table". I'm not a young whippersnapper, but I don't typically wear reading glasses and I've never been able to read a card held by the person next to me, let alone across the table.

I agree the jargon change is jarring to old hands like myself who have played this game since 2013. Paizo originally intentionally avoided using keywords in PACG, but they've crept in over the years, and now they are taking over. But I understand how vital the keywords are: terms like 'reload' spare critical card real estate. Fewer words used on repeated ideas means more words for a card's unique powers. I'm on board with that.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I agree! These Are good changes. And difficulty levels gives more replayability to old scenarios. And Yep, those graphics Are most likely not the final version yet? But not bad even now.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

The new card layout on the blessing is very clean and clear. Separating out information based on when a card's effects take place is a good idea.


Read the title and thought we were going to get some fixes to the Advanced Class Guide.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Liking everything I am seeing, and looking forward to playing it!


elcoderdude wrote:
I agree the jargon change is jarring to old hands like myself who have played this game since 2013. Paizo originally intentionally avoided using keywords in PACG, but they've crept in over the years, and now they are taking over. But I understand how vital the keywords are: terms like 'reload' spare critical card real estate. Fewer words used on repeated ideas means more words for a card's unique powers. I'm on board with that.

(In advance: I admit this is not really aimed at you, but I've come across the topic of "keywords == bad" before, which is more my context here.)

For the record, whilst it's objectively true that the new redesign clearly is incorporating more use of 'keywords', a keyword in a game just refers to a shorthand method of describing one or more words or actions, and plenty of them have existed in PACG all the way back since Rise of the Runelords.

"Recharge", "Close", "Evade", even "add a die" are all pretty clear indications of keywords - they don't inherently tell you what actions to take unless you know the rules (especially that you need to know what "add a die" means, and no you cannot add a 1d12 just because it didn't say otherwise). Also "Summon", "Search", even "Defeated" or "Undefeated", as they all describe a series of actions that should be taken (which may or may not be intuitive to any given player, especially when you have to start defining things like the difference between Examining and Searching).

(I'll give a pass to "Discard" and even "Bury", since "move a card to your discard/buried pile" is not really more descriptive than "discard"/"bury". "Draw" is inherent to the wider genre so it also gets a pass.)

But I would contend that keywords were already a part of the game, as they are in almost every card game I can think of, even a huge number of traditional card games (though they were spoken or rulebook shorthand, rather than listed on the standard playing deck, of course). Changing things like "Place on top of your deck" to "Reload" I feel makes cards much more readable, not less, much like adding "place on the bottom of your deck" in place of every incidence of the word "Recharge" in PACG can lead to awfully hard to read sentences.


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Thanks for the 'In advance' qualifier, Mr. Resident Nit-Picker* (else I would have taken more umbrage).

Yes, I spoke with insufficient nuance. I meant Paizo in the past intentionally avoided a proliferation of keywords for PACG, and instead attempted to explain in English when possible, given the severe space constraints imposed by the amount of text that fits on the game's cards. In comparison to, say, Magic: The Gathering, Rise of the Runelords had far fewer keywords. And, as you agree, the PACG keyword pendulum has now swung the MTG direction. (And, as I think you note, I was not saying this is a problem.)

*Meant as a term of endearment. Really.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Not sure that I love the new card layout. Something just seems wrong. It may be the header/footer colors. They are very distinct and in your face.

I am not impressed by the art on the card either. I prefer my artwork to be more crisp. The image on the blessing appears soft and muddy to me.


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Doppelschwert wrote:

I don't like the new card design either, for a lot of the reasons already mentioned. I wouldn't call them grotesque, but there seems to be an awful lot of empty space, which isn't helped by the distracting pattern.

While I think that I get where most of the changes in arrangement are coming from, I think switching the sides of the checks to acquire and the traits compared to the current cards is a bad move. I guess that the benefit is in having a left aligned text, but you also have the text of the powers box wraping around the card icon in the lower left corner.

I really think that the simple change of mirroring the layout already feels much better, as the layout is closer to the original cards, and there is no text wrapping around the corner.

I'm pretty much in agreement with this. I much prefer the mirrored example you provided. I think consistency is key and information should generally be held in the same location as the older cards to make the cards more readable when playing with mixed sets


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Speaking of playing with mixed sets, there seems to be a distinct lack of set indicator on the new template, making it next to impossible to un-mix cards after they’ve been mixed. This is very bad.

I’d prefer you take a page after many CCGs and add a 3 character indicator on the copyright line for the set along with a card number (preferably each copy of a card has its own unique number). For example “COR 023/501” indicates that it’s from the Core set and is the 23rd card (out of 501 cards total in the set). This not only lets us I mix cards, but it lets us see if we’re missing cards and which cards we’re missing without having to wait for Paizo to publish card lists.

Beyond that, I echo the concerns above and add a few of my own:
- Name and type run into each other too much. Would be better if these are on separate lines or something.
-Text formatting in general is really ugly and I’d prefer a wider powers box and an icon placement which doesn’t interfere with power text.
- I’m assuming that the icon is conveying information about card type and perhaps if it has important powers that happen when examining. If this is the case, a more prominent position near the top of the card would be better so a scan of the card name (the first thing people would look at) also shares the info tied with the icon.
- If the icon does not convey mechanical information and is instead meant as a set indicator, it’s useless and should be removed entirely in favor of what I mentioned earlier in this post which conveys far more useful info about set and doesn’t consume valuable card real estate due to occupying the same line as copyright.
- Traits being at the bottom mean that triggers are going to be more easily overlooked. People read things top to bottom, and when examining may only read part of the card before putting it back. Instead of trying to fight human nature, work with it by making relevant stuff pop. Perhaps the solution here is not moving traits (these are rarely relevant), but adding a When Examined box on relevant cards that is separate from and located above the Powers box.
- I can see a lot of people getting confused between recharge and reload. Neither are very intuitive terms and they look and sound somewhat similar due to both starting with ”re” and being approximately the same length. It may be helpful to include 6 reference cards in the Core set which briefly explains some of the terminology of the game and perhaps has other info on it. Or, call them topdeck and/or bottomdeck instead


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cartmanbeck wrote:

*Stares at card for a long time.*

*Reads comments*
*Stares again*

How could anyone call those "grotesque"?!?!?

Right? Personally, "grotesque" doesn't even begin to cover it.

But while aesthetics can't be argued as it's pretty much subjective, the *practical* flaws should be fairly self-evident - as noted by some users above. So instead of repeating them, I just want to cast a vote of support for pretty much *everything* Irgy, Doppelschwert and Skizzers noted.

skizzers wrote:
...recharge and reload... look and sound somewhat similar due to both starting with ”re” and being approximately the same length

Sorry, do you mean there could be just a *slight* confusion arising from the fact that both words actually mean the exact same thing! in most instances of conventional English, to the point where you could explain the one with the other? Let alone other languages that couldn't even distinguish between the two...

Nah, I'm sure you're overthinking it...
/sarcasm

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

skizzerz wrote:

Speaking of playing with mixed sets, there seems to be a distinct lack of set indicator on the new template, making it next to impossible to un-mix cards after they’ve been mixed. This is very bad.

I’d prefer you take a page after many CCGs and add a 3 character indicator on the copyright line for the set along with a card number (preferably each copy of a card has its own unique number). For example “COR 023/501” indicates that it’s from the Core set and is the 23rd card (out of 501 cards total in the set). This not only lets us I mix cards, but it lets us see if we’re missing cards and which cards we’re missing without having to wait for Paizo to publish card lists.

Beyond that, I echo the concerns above and add a few of my own:
- Name and type run into each other too much. Would be better if these are on separate lines or something.
-Text formatting in general is really ugly and I’d prefer a wider powers box and an icon placement which doesn’t interfere with power text.
- I’m assuming that the icon is conveying information about card type and perhaps if it has important powers that happen when examining. If this is the case, a more prominent position near the top of the card would be better so a scan of the card name (the first thing people would look at) also shares the info tied with the icon.
- If the icon does not convey mechanical information and is instead meant as a set indicator, it’s useless and should be removed entirely in favor of what I mentioned earlier in this post which conveys far more useful info about set and doesn’t consume valuable card real estate due to occupying the same line as copyright.
- Traits being at the bottom mean that triggers are going to be more easily overlooked. People read things top to bottom, and when examining may only read part of the card before putting it back. Instead of trying to fight human nature, work with it by making relevant stuff pop. Perhaps the solution here is not moving traits (these are rarely relevant), but adding a When Examined box on...

The set indicator is the small green dragon's head in the bottom left, and I think it's easier to understand than many of the set indicators we've gotten on other sets, which can be hard to read.

And I'm pretty sure they're not allowed to say "topdeck" because that term is somehow copyrighted or something by some large game that includes a bunch of magical... stuff... might be wrong there, though.


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Doppelschwert wrote:

While I think that I get where most of the changes in arrangement are coming from, I think switching the sides of the checks to acquire and the traits compared to the current cards is a bad move. I guess that the benefit is in having a left aligned text, but you also have the text of the powers box wraping around the card icon in the lower left corner.

I really think that the simple change of mirroring the layout already feels much better, as the layout is closer to the original cards, and there is no text wrapping around the corner.

I'll also second (fifth?) this point. Rearranging where things are on the cards not only will increase the learning curve for people playing with the new cards (looking in a different spot for the same information, re-training our brains where to glance for the keywords for example), but it will also make a jumbled mess when I'm playing an OP deck on a new scenario, and have picked up a few of the new cards. Because now my hand is mixed with cards the easily show the keywords on the top left, and cards that have them hidden down on the bottom right.

I already get annoyed when I encounter Eder during a game, because he's printed on the digital card template. And I really like the digital card template, but the fact that the information is presented in different places than my other cards throws me off every time I need to look at the card. I can online imagine how much more rough it's going to be if half my cards have an even more drastically different layout...


Longshot11 wrote:
skizzers wrote:
...recharge and reload... look and sound somewhat similar due to both starting with ”re” and being approximately the same length
Sorry, do you mean there could be just a *slight* confusion arising from the fact that both words actually mean the exact same thing!...

Apocrypha uses Reload and Recycle, which are more conceptually distinct. PACG is stuck with Recharge, though, since it's on all of the old cards.

Maybe Prepare/Recharge or Delay/Recharge instead of Reload/Recharge? I dunno - just spitballing here.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Hmm...I don't feel as tetchy about it as some others, but have to say that I'm also not a huge fan of the new layout. Lots of white text on light-colored backgrounds, and a huge dark background drawing the eye...those skills to acquire are not so easy on the eyes, and that line of text crediting the artist at the bottom is almost illegible, even blown up on my computer.

But I really like the scalable options being built in - can't wait to play at PAX Unplugged.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

All the scalable options look great, especially with “presets” so you don’t have to do much thinking about how much to turn each knob if you just want an increase in difficulty or decrease in time.

@CMB: A set icon without text is difficult for me to use because it doesn’t inherently tell me which set it came from, and it uses up way too much real estate on the card to tell me something that will never be relevant during gameplay. I’d much prefer the icon be used to convey mechanical information (such as a burst shape if the card has an examine trigger and the circle shape you see in the mock-up if not, with the actual image denoting some other gameplay-relevant information). And, moved somewhere else because the current location interferes with the powers box. In any case, I made my preference and reasons for my preference regarding set indicators above and won’t repeat them here.

For the recharge/reload thing, no matter what gets picked or if it stays the same, I think the reference cards would be a good idea. This would be 6 copies of a card with text on both sides intended to be passed out 1 to each player. The text would explain the most common keywords with a brief description so that new players do not have to constantly pass the rulebook around or interrupt game flow to figure out where in the rulebook a particular term is defined. We’ll never eliminate new player confusion regardless of what terms we ultimately end up using, but we can do our best to reduce it by not using similar terms that mean different things and giving player aids to help explain things better. Another alternative is to steal a page from MtG and add reminder text on Basic cards that fully spell out the keywords. The assumption there is since new player decks are only Basic, they get immersed in the definitions and can learn them that way, then as they upgrade they should hopefully have learned it by then so it’s less needed in other cards which have more stuff going on (and therefore less room in the powers box for reminders). However, this doesn’t help groups which play infrequently and may forget things between plays whereas the reference cards neatly address that case as well.

Sorry for hijacking the blog thread with a discussion on the new template, but since you mentioned it here...


Thanks for this. I had not pulled out Pathfinder ACG for a while now, cuz the setup and playthrough (even solo) was so lengthy. I was musing to myself if I could somehow concoct a super-trimmed down version that I could have on my work desk at all times and just play a single location in like 5-10 min :-)

This is better though...can't wait to see it!
P.S. I LOVE that the new game is going to be backwards compatible with the existing one. Kudos on that.

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