Core Principles: Rethinking Complexity in the Pathfinder ACG, Part 1

Friday, January 25, 2019

Last week, perhaps you heard a great exhaling from here in the Pacific Northwest: We shipped the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set and the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path to our printer Cartamundi for production.

I've said before that each set takes on the personality of one of my talented co-designers—Chad Brown for Rise of the Runelords, Gaby Weidling for Skull & Shackles, Tanis O'Connor for the Class Decks and Organized Play, Paul Peterson for Wrath of the Righteous, and Liz Spain for Mummy's Mask. Curse of the Crimson Throne is Keith Richmond's set. He came to Lone Shark in early 2015 specifically to work on that product. Four years later, he waved it out the door. I'm sure he'll tell you lots more about it soon.

However, after many months of design from the whole team, the Core Set ended up taking on my personality in a very different way. As part of our goals for these sets—which have already included adding more story and providing more variability—we wanted to subject the game to a withering assault of streamlining and clarification. The game needed to become less complex so you just get it out of the gate.

Developer/editor Aviva Schecterson and I form the editing core of Lone Shark. When we made the decision to remold—not reboot—the game around a new base set, Aviva and I pledged that we were going to clean up everything. All the rough edges, all the open bug-tracking issues, all the holes in the timing sequence, all the terms that didn't quite mean what we wanted them to mean. All of it was going to be exactly right. For one moment in time, before we found new things to complicate it, this 10,000-card game was going to be smooth.

I don't think Vic was quite ready for how far we were willing to go. Vic and I spent a solid six months in editing and polishing the two sets, renaming and rethinking concepts as we went. When we were done, we had a very different but wholly compatible set of cards—996 of them, to be exact—that continue the legacy of this deep and evolving game line.

There's one thing we knew we wouldn't change: the name of the game. The words "Pathfinder Adventure Card Game" are on the card back, and we want you to be able to mix and match generation 1 cards with generation 2 cards, so the card back can't change, nor can the name. (Also, can you tell we play a lot of Pokémon Go in the office?)

But the card fronts... man, just look what Sarah and Sonja made you.

I now wish we'd thought to give the Riding Allosaurus Wyrmsmite to chew on.

Here are a few Loot cards from the Core Set. First off, there's that Loot word. It's in a trait box in the lower right (things moved a bit, because sometimes things move a bit). And that means Loot is a trait, not a card type. It's got a check to acquire, which means that if you decide you don't want to keep it after you earn it, you can still find and acquire it later.

We also eliminated most of the "objects" in the game. No, I don't mean items like Caltrops and Compass. I mean the grammatical objects like "this card." Instead of saying "reveal this card," Wyrmsmite just says "reveal." You're holding it in your hand as you're reading it, so it's not going to be any other card. (When we need to differentiate between the card you're reading and another card, we do so explicitly, like in "Recharge this card and another card.") The display template also went through some radical changes to make it more intuitive and less of a dense wall of text.

Sometimes we changed a long phrase to a single word. The word reload is an Apocrypha term that's new to PACG, but it's a concept that has been in the game since the beginning: it just means "put on top of your deck." One word instead of six. But also, we needed that word. That's because we really wanted to use that concept. Here's how often the concept appeared in each of the Adventure Paths we've created to date:

  • Rise of the Runelords: 7
  • Skull & Shackles: 9
  • Wrath of the Righteous: 15
  • Mummy's Mask: 9
  • Core/Curse of the Crimson Throne: 111

When you want to use a concept nearly three times as often as you've used it in all the Adventure Paths you've created so far, you need a new term for that. Enter "reload."

"At your location" and "at another location" went through a similar transition. We introduced local and distant to mean those things. All of a sudden, our vocabulary opened up. "A local character" was obviously better than "a character at your location," but also "a local check" was far better than "a check by a character at your location."

Rovagug gets TWO different blessings in Core. Pray he does not eat the rest.

The name "blessings deck" changed for a deeper gameplay reason. In Rise of the Runelords, the name made perfect sense because it only ever contained blessings. But in Skull & Shackles, we shuffled in the villain Brinebones. In Wrath of the Righteous, Khorramzadeh got the same treatment. In Mummy's Mask, all sorts of things—Sandstorms, Conflagrations, Forgotten Pharaoh Cultists, Sun Falcons, even scourges—ended up there. So we needed a name for that deck that didn't imply that everything in it was a blessing. We decided to focus on the deck's function as a timer, so we named it the hourglass. Once we had that, it became much easier to talk about the hour rather than "the top card of the blessings discard pile." And now nearly every blessing has a power that affects the turn while it's the hour.

Once we got rid of "blessings deck," the word deck itself got an overhaul. We simplified "location deck" to just location. (When we say "examine the top card of your location," we don't think you'll think of the card with the name of the location on it.) With those changes in place, that means the word "deck" now refers solely to character's decks.

The concept of the "adventure deck number" has also been rethought. It used to mean either of two very different things: "the scenario's adventure deck number" has been replaced with the symbol #, while the number in the upper right corner of a card is now the card's level. For example, the Veteran bane Traitor has a difficulty to defeat of 9+##, meaning 9 plus twice the number of the adventure you're playing. And his power increases the difficulty of his check by the level of the ally you discard. Tricky guy.

And now we can say things like "if the hour's level is 0, reload," which is so much better than "if the top card of the blessings discard pile has an adventure deck number of 0, put this card on top of your deck."

We've also borrowed some tricks from Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild and from Obsidian's Pathfinder Adventures app. We cull cards adventure-by-adventure, as we've been doing in PFS, and we do so by removing them from the vault, a Pathfinder Adventures term that describes the subset of cards in the box you're playing with right now.

And because we cull by level, we are able to make a sweeping change: removing the traits Basic and Elite. These have been on my hit list for a long time. New players would conflate Basic with "Base Set" too often for my taste, and Elite never pulled its own weight. Now when you build your starting deck, you do it with Level 0 cards. Easy.

We're aware these changes will alter a small number of past cards on more than a cosmetic level. Cards like Vestments of Authority and Named Bullet care about the Basic and Elite traits, and now need to care about something else. Adamantine weapons ignore powers that increase the difficulty of checks, but since the # concept moves the difficulty increase out of the powers box and into the check itself, those cards need a tweak to function properly. The rulebook includes brief conversion notes that cover a lot of these cases, such as explaining that level 0 is the new Basic. We are working on a short list of cards that need attention beyond that, and we'll happily accept your help ferreting out any more.

Speaking of new features in the rulebook, we've added a glossary that lists all of the important game terms (more than 100 of them, can you believe?) along with page references to tell you where to find the related rules. And when one of those game terms is introduced, we bold it—just like we've done in this blog post—to let you know it's a game term and to help you find it again later.

I've run out of pixels for this blog, but I've still got a lot more to show you on this subject. Next time I'll show you what we did with cards like characters, spells, items, banes, and locations. I think you'll like what you see.

Mike Selinker
Lead Designer, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

P.S. Though the name of the game isn't changing, there is an important change to the front of the box: In addition to "A Game by Mike Selinker," each box now features the names of the designers of that set. For Core and Curse, it's me, Chad Brown, Aviva Schecterson, Liz Spain, and of course Keith Richmond. Credit well deserved, says me.

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Well written blog, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a lot of exciting changes are taking place! I like the idea of the rulebook glossary and bolding the terms when they show up.


Are you planning to add choices/paths? In this or any other Set in the future.

Something like making choices or test checks, between scenarios. That would give some role playing value to the story.

Similar to "resolutions" in Arkham Horror CG, that choices may affect later scenarios.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

New Way: Deck number is now Level. Level allows the removal of Basic and Elite traits. New decks are built using only Level 0 cards.

Old Way: New decks were built using only Basic cards. Basic cards were only a sub-set of cards available as B or C cards.

Does this mean that all B and C cards, regardless of having the Basic trait, will be considered Level 0 and will be eligible for inclusion in a new character's deck?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Huzzah!


I love this game and I look forward to picking up the new releases.

As others have pointed out in previous blog posts on this topic, the textured backgrounds of the cards looks messy, but I'm hoping it won't distract too much from gameplay.

On the other hand, I love the cover art on the Core Set box. Fantastic!

I appreciate the efforts to streamline the language and enhance the play. I happily await more info.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Yay Credit! Yay to pretty much everything mentioned in the blog! Yay new card designs and new terminology, Bless, Local, Level, Reload, all make a ton of intuitive sense.

I'm a little worried that losing Basics will make things weird, in that players lose their first round of upgrades from Basics to non-basic B cards, but I will withhold judgement to see how the adventure levels play out when I actually get my set.

Thanks Mike! Many of us are very much looking forward to seeing more!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
1970Zombie wrote:
Does this mean that all B and C cards, regardless of having the Basic trait, will be considered Level 0 and will be eligible for inclusion in a new character's deck?

Right now, (when playing a Level 1 scenario) we essentially have 3 tiers of cards, Basic, B, and 1. I imagine the new set will flatten the "strength" of these three tiers into two tiers: 0 and 1 (with maybe some of the 1 cards being bumped up to lvl 2).

So probably, some of the better B cards that we enjoy now, but aren't basic, will be moved up to lvl 1.


Super excited for these!

Now I need to go and finish that game of Faction's Favor I've been putting off.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I like that the "changes" are oriented around streamlining and correcting, retaining backwards compatibility. I'm sure there will be some rough spots when mixing cards from the different generations, but now I'm confident that these will be minimal.

Thank you for the very informative blog posts about this. I await future blog posts and May with eager anticipation.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm a little concerned that moving to more keywords to save on text may be off-putting to new players. So whereas before, we had "put this card on top of your deck", which is self-explanatory, that's been replaced by the new term "Reload", which just adds to the list of terms new players need to learn in order to play the game. When I'm I'm teaching the game to new players, I already feel like explaining the differences between recharge, banish, bury, and reveal can get a little overwhelming to a new player, and this just adds to that. Same with the concepts of the hourglass, "when this is the hour", and other new terminology. I think I still may use the older sets to teach new players just so it's a little less daunting for them.

Lone Shark Games

alucardeck wrote:
Are you planning to add choices/paths? In this or any other Set in the future. Something like making choices or test checks, between scenarios. That would give some role playing value to the story. Similar to "resolutions" in Arkham Horror CG, that choices may affect later scenarios.

Not in the sense that Arkham Horror or Apocrypha does, but you will find your decisions mattering quite a bit between scenarios in Core and especially in Curse.

1970Zombie wrote:
Does this mean that all B and C cards, regardless of having the Basic trait, will be considered Level 0 and will be eligible for inclusion in a new character's deck?

The rule is "When effects refer to cards that have the Basic trait, treat them as referring to level 0 cards; when they refer to cards that have the Elite trait, treat them as referring to level 1, 2, or 3 cards." However, we haven't assessed the impact of that rule on starting deck selection in older Adventure Paths, so we're still thinking about that. When we release our card-by-card conversion documents (which we haven't written yet), we'll make it clear how this rule fits into Adventure Paths that were made before Core.

eddiephlash wrote:
I'm a little worried that losing Basics will make things weird, in that players lose their first round of upgrades from Basics to non-basic B cards, but I will withhold judgement to see how the adventure levels play out when I actually get my set. Right now, (when playing a Level 1 scenario) we essentially have 3 tiers of cards, Basic, B, and 1. I imagine the new set will flatten the "strength" of these three tiers into two tiers: 0 and 1 (with maybe some of the 1 cards being bumped up to lvl 2). So probably, some of the better B cards that we enjoy now, but aren't basic, will be moved up to lvl 1.

We're aware of this and we will have more thoughts soon on how this plays out in OP especially. I will say that a lot of things you might think of as B now have become level 1 in Core and Curse.

Robb the Pathfinder wrote:
On the other hand, I love the cover art on the Core Set box. Fantastic!

And it's not even the final art. That's all prototype stuff. More soon.

Xexyz wrote:
I'm a little concerned that moving to more keywords to save on text may be off-putting to new players. So whereas before, we had "put this card on top of your deck", which is self-explanatory, that's been replaced by the new term "Reload", which just adds to the list of terms new players need to learn in order to play the game. When I'm I'm teaching the game to new players, I already feel like explaining the differences between recharge, banish, bury, and reveal can get a little overwhelming to a new player, and this just adds to that. Same with the concepts of the hourglass, "when this is the hour", and other new terminology. I think I still may use the older sets to teach new players just so it's a little less daunting for them.

One of the best things about this new approach has been that players now immediately grok the hourglass. Before, we always had people say "Does the text on the blessing apply when I take my turn?" Now it's very clear what does and what doesn't.

Brother Tyler wrote:
Thank you for the very informative blog posts about this. I await future blog posts and May with eager anticipation.

Us too!


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yeah, im going to be one of those people, but this new card design really sucks. besides looking generic ,i don't understand how this much negative space is not being used, it really looks like an early concept that made its way to final design.

like what brother tyler has said about all the improvements the team has made to compatibility, to streamlining rules and terms, the cards shown here framed in the new design is very underwhelming, making it all feel cheap.

Scarab Sages

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Loving the changes Mike, great job to you and your team. Simplifying the terms and making some common definitions like this are changes I've craved for ever since Rise of the Runelords and playtesting Skull & Shackles. Can't wait to play this one!


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well I am a bit nervous and excited for the changes. I have thoroughly enjoyed the original system and like most I am always a bit dubious of change. I found in the original system that when teaching new players there was a steep learning curve. It took a couple of games played with a bit of handholding but once the core concepts were understood these new players would be feeling pretty comfortable after these first few games. While cutting down on the card text might help with making the cards less intimidating to new players, there are now quite a bit more terminologies for them to learn as well. And while this "cleans" up the card text, I still do not see a way that the set up and tear down is going to be any less time. Unless there are some new mechanics for this as well? One of the few drawback of this game is how long it takes to set up a game and take it down when done playing. I do however like the fact that whole new core boxes will not have to be purchased each time to play the next adventure path, as this made for a large investment in both finances and space (my gaming shelves only have so much room).

This all being said, I look forward to getting my copy and seeing for myself. The original game has become one of our go to games for family game night and I truly hope that we will enjoy this new system as much.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Three things:

A) Thanks a lot Mike for sharing.

B) Looks like great great improvements Sharks.

C) I never comment more before I have actually played the game...


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

The changes sound awesome!


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I keep thinking about these new cards.

Here's one concern. On the Traitor card, combat is equal to 9+##.

Mathematically, this seems a little problematic since "##" is ambiguous. Is it "# times #" or "# plus #" or is ## a double digit?

For example, if #=3, is 9+##:

9+3+3 = 9+6 = 15 ?
or
9+3*3 = 9+9 = 18 ?
or
9+33 = 42 ?

Would it be better if it were represented as "9+#+#"? That's one character longer, but it eliminates the misinterpretation that ## involves multiplication or double-digits.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

That is the kind of thing that I expect to see clearly explained, with at least one example from a card image, in the rulebook.

Lone Shark Games

Brother Tyler wrote:
Robb the Pathfinder wrote:
Here's one concern. On the Traitor card, combat is equal to 9+##. Mathematically, this seems a little problematic since "##" is ambiguous. Is it "# times #" or "# plus #" or is ## a double digit?
That is the kind of thing that I expect to see clearly explained, with at least one example from a card image, in the rulebook.

Both in its own sidebar and the example of play.

Lone Shark Games

Postal Apocalypse wrote:
And while this "cleans" up the card text, I still do not see a way that the set up and tear down is going to be any less time. Unless there are some new mechanics for this as well? One of the few drawback of this game is how long it takes to set up a game and take it down when done playing.

We'll have some thoughts on that in another blog soon.


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But yet, with all these changes you've made a terrible decision of shrinking the art down


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Card layout-wise, I really feel the "hour" and the "traits" locations on the cards should have been switched. Now, when holding a hand of cards, the traits will be mostly hidden.

Also seems like there's more "unused" space on the card. I hope the size of the text in the Powers box won't be smaller than on the current cards.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

1970Zombie wrote:

New Way: Deck number is now Level. Level allows the removal of Basic and Elite traits. New decks are built using only Level 0 cards.

Old Way: New decks were built using only Basic cards. Basic cards were only a sub-set of cards available as B or C cards.

Does this mean that all B and C cards, regardless of having the Basic trait, will be considered Level 0 and will be eligible for inclusion in a new character's deck?

To conflate this further, most old sets have Basic cards in AD#1 and 2 as well as B/C. Theoretically one could start a new character with those as well once they were added to the box.

I like most of the terminology changes. Does this mean we're also going to see a card use "track" like Apocrypha? An example could be Valeros - instead of just recharging discarded weapons, he could better the cost of using weapons one step - from discard to recharge, yes, but also from recharge to reload or reload to reveal.


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Postal Apocalypse wrote:
And while this "cleans" up the card text, I still do not see a way that the set up and tear down is going to be any less time. Unless there are some new mechanics for this as well? One of the few drawback of this game is how long it takes to set up a game and take it down when done playing.

I've never found set-up time to be a problem. Granted, I've played hundreds and hundreds of games of PACG. But I can set up a game in 10 minutes, and that isn't an exaggeration.

Though I also don't sleeve my cards, and everything is well organized in the base box. Maybe that helps.

Plus, if I have the game pre-scheduled, I make sure to have it already set up before everyone else arrives. In that case, there's no wait time at all unless we play 2-3 games.

As far as clean-up goes, after someone encounters a card, that card goes straight into the box. So there isn't a ton of tear-down time either. For us, anyway.

Anyway, I guess all I'm saying is that there are many other games with longer set-up and tear-down times.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Set up time can be reduced (or increased?) depending upon the challenge options chosen (location sizes, hourglass size, etc.).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think the most important thing for this update to the ACG is to diminish the perceived barriers to playing it from those casual players or those not already familiar. Setup and cleanup times, though they might take 10 min (each) for those well-versed in doing so are not likely the norms. If you’re watching someone setup or take down this game and trying to envision yourself doing this as a newbie, then I think you’re put off and not likely to give it the glorious go it so rightly deserves.

I’d be very interested to know how the design of this new edition addresses these issues.

FYI - I like the new card design.

Lone Shark Games

ryric wrote:
I like most of the terminology changes. Does this mean we're also going to see a card use "track" like Apocrypha? An example could be Valeros - instead of just recharging discarded weapons, he could better the cost of using weapons one step - from discard to recharge, yes, but also from recharge to reload or reload to reveal.

This was something a lot of folks on the creative team wanted, but eventually I nixed it. I was a little too worried about a character getting a power like "reduce the cost of items by 1" in a location which said "reduce the cost of Divine boons by 1," and somehow Holy Candling on every turn. That's the kind of thing you can do with a new game, but when you have 10,000 cards out there already, you gotta approach these things gingerly.

Lone Shark Games

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Krzysztof Bieniawski wrote:
But yet, with all these changes you've made a terrible decision of shrinking the art down

Take a copy of Longsword from Runelords, turn it sideways, and compare the art box to that of Wyrmsmite above. You'll discover that the box is the same size. The monsters and allies all have taller windows as well. When you see barriers and spells next time, you'll see that their size hasn't changed much either.

What you are seeing is us more efficiently using space, not reducing the art size.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Would love to hear some news on how the Class Decks will work in Gen2, especially in relation to Society play.

I could feasibly see the Ultimate decks getting re-printed in a Gen2 format, since they are recent enough and built very well, but some of the class decks have not aged super well (looking at you, Mystic Theurge, and all 0 of your Arcane spells).

Will we perhaps see some "Unchained" class decks, for second gen versions of the class decks, with more modern tweaks? Will they be bundled together in groups (like how the new adventure paths are)?

Will we see more "Character Decks" like Pathfinder Tales, Occult Adventures, Hell's Vengeance, and the Goblin decks?

It looks like you guys have definitely been looking at Society for how to handle some stuff and improve Gen2, and its looking incredible, so I would love to know how its going to tie back in to improving Society as well!


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These cards are so ugly. I have difficulty seeing them played. The old layout was so clean and functional. These are hideous. And no, it's not just "change is bad". They're objectively wasteful and that swirly background is irritating. :(

As to complexity, all this extra vocabulary, alongside all the dropped clauses, makes the game **more** complex. Hopefully it doesn't suffer, but it's likely it will. It was nice that the cards were verbose and explicit in the past.

Reading the other details here, you failed at not making it a new edition. It's entirely a new edition. I've seen new editions with FEWER changes than this. You're just not calling it a new edition for whatever reason. The dropping of Basic/Elite is a HUGE change, and probably not for the better. (Careful adventuring to cleanup old cards -- intentionally tossing those you don't want or carefully keeping those you want around was a good part of the game.)


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Chalk me up as someone who is very excited by the core set and by the redesign! Thank you for these design blogs.

Aesthetically, I have some comments.

While I wasn't originally thrilled with art moving to a portrait window rather than being 'front and centre', I confess this design is growing on me. (Especially with confirmation that art space is not decreasing). It's a bit like a portal into Golarion, separating the art/action from the mechanical game text around the image. Plus, who wouldn't want a framed portrait of Chompy on their wall? :)

I am ambivalent about the change in location for traits. I think I see how either the 'checks to acquire' or 'traits' needed to move. I think it would be more intuitive as someone who currently plays the game to see traits top left under the title, with the check to acquire under the art, but this may provide insufficient space for longer checks to defeat on banes.

I believe another forumite noted how this change will likely obscure traits when cards are held in hand (perhaps an unfortunate missed opportunity to enable more easy "scanning" of cards held in hand, if all game text had been placed on the left side), but I note that the design shown doesn't seem *less* convenient that the current design (with game-text across the bottom of cards). Further, though it might be awkward to hold cards in hand like this, I note one can now stack cards vertically on top of each-other and still see their effects.

I am, however, wholly underwhelmed by the new swirly backgrounds on the cards. I feel this significantly detracts from a clean, crisp, streamlined design for game mechanics, along with taking focus away from the lovely artwork on the cards.

Frankly, I find the background 'busy' and distracting. While I appreciate how background elements/templating can subtly help with quick card type recognition, I note that the different coloured borders already go a long way to achieving this effect. Frankly, I think the card borders/type would stand out more with a plain white background... though I'd be interested to see a comparison shot/mock-up for clarity.

This rubicon may have been crossed, but if not, I would strongly urge you to consider ditching the kitschy backgrounds.

Thanks for all your hard work in getting us new ACG, and I look forward to trying out new adventures in May!


Perhaps more on point with the main thrust of the article:

Keywords work well when they are intuitive, and can help to ensure standardized concepts. The existing ACG Card Pool is hardly the only one where attempts to just spell out what is meant can lead to lack of clarity over time. Saving word-count for where there are notable distinctions or instructions to articulate, rather than spending space repeating routine instructions, seems sensible.

I believe it will be crucial to have a handy keyword 'cheat sheet' (ideally at least 4 in the box) to help with quickly referencing keywords at the table during play. (Maybe just the back page of the new rulebook, as long as the relevant section could be photocopied onto letter or A4 paper easily?)

Terminology-wise, I've already started using "Hour" (conceptually, I love this change!)

In terms of other facets of the change to ACG Redeux: I'm sincerely hoping there will continue to be an ACG component to Specials once PF 2.0 comes around... :)


I'm excited to see these communication changes. We were playing Wrath of the Righteous this weekend (with some new players) in an exhausting gaming binge and we had endless reading comprehension fails (when the top card of the blessing deck is/is not corrupted, at your/another location). With the multiple lines of text we were skimming trying to find keywords, and missing the modifiers on those keywords.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm probably not the best person to say for certain, given that I have a very programming-oriented mind, but I wonder if, to some extent, the added keywords may actually make the rules more grokkable from a new player perspective.

One issue I had with the previous rules was the sometimes weird mix of common language and keywords. Discard just meant discard, but the result of a discard could mean multiple things - discard from blessing pile, discard from hand, discard from deck. It meant that you couldn't just learn 'discard' and be done with it. I think this flexibility of terms actually could make it harder for someone learning the game to reach the point where they were comfortable with quick-reading a card. How many times have all of us missed rules because we assumed shorthand reading that didn't apply on a particular card (e.g. Last paragraph of armor is the bury/banish to negate damage; extra rules text in the recharge statement of a spell). If we're adding more keywords, that reduces total wordcount, which also makes it easier to read the full card and not miss these kind of changes, and that's not even considering how keywords or lack thereof will be a big red flag that text isn't skippable.

Again, I am far from a new player, so I can only guess. However, I just wanted to point out that adding more jargon doesn't always make something harder to understand.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Just want to add to the liking of keywords. Just taught a new player a couple of weeks ago, had to describe how all the words worked anyway (discard was obvious, but recharge, bury, banish, reveal vs display) so I don't see it being less intuitive for new players.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Mike Selinker wrote:
ryric wrote:
I like most of the terminology changes. Does this mean we're also going to see a card use "track" like Apocrypha? An example could be Valeros - instead of just recharging discarded weapons, he could better the cost of using weapons one step - from discard to recharge, yes, but also from recharge to reload or reload to reveal.
This was something a lot of folks on the creative team wanted, but eventually I nixed it. I was a little too worried about a character getting a power like "reduce the cost of items by 1" in a location which said "reduce the cost of Divine boons by 1," and somehow Holy Candling on every turn. That's the kind of thing you can do with a new game, but when you have 10,000 cards out there already, you gotta approach these things gingerly.

I suppose making some cards' costs "irreducible" or some such would be tricky on previously printed cards, and add another new keyword for everyone to learn.


isaic16 wrote:

the added keywords may actually make the rules more grokkable from a new player perspective.

I wonder about this. One of the things that annoys me about playing Marvel Legendary expansion packs is the new keywords. If I don't play an expansion often, when I pick it up, I have to relearn the new keywords otherwise the game is unplayable until I dig out the rules for that pack.

I get the need for keywords, but I just wish the cards could do the talking for themselves.


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

If the number of keywords, with simple definitions, fits on the back of the rulebook/insert style size, I think it works out. If the number or complexity exceeds that, that's when you run into teaching/game play slow down issues.

Silver Crusade

Playtested last yeat at Paizocon, and very excited to see so many of the playtest concepts made it through. It played pretty smoothly once you remembered the new terms.

Very curious to see the conversion documentation that is pending. Should be some interesting corner cases that will make things fun on the boards for a bit...


Looking forward to the changes as well as new product!


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The new graphic design is objectively and subjectively awful. The odd curly elements around the Riding Allosaurus is something I'd see on a wedding invitation. It's busy, covers the artwork, and is just plain unnecessary. This also goes for the background graphic. While the previous approach to graphic design in PACG 1.0 was blasé, this looks far worse.

Everything else about the game's design excites me, and I see a lot of hard work went into streamlining concepts and layout.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Detrimus wrote:

The new graphic design is objectively and subjectively awful. The odd curly elements around the Riding Allosaurus is something I'd see on a wedding invitation. It's busy, covers the artwork, and is just plain unnecessary. This also goes for the background graphic. While the previous approach to graphic design in PACG 1.0 was blasé, this looks far worse.

Everything else about the game's design excites me, and I see a lot of hard work went into streamlining concepts and layout.

I don't think you can use objectively here when there are those of us, like me, that actually like the new designs. Just sayin'.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

While I do like the layout of the cards, I also find the background kind of busy and those curly lines in some of the art strange. Why draw those over some of the fine art. But I'm looking forward to more of PACG, and it will probably make sense as I get the cards in my hands this spring/summer :)


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Detrimus wrote:
... The odd curly elements around the Riding Allosaurus is something I'd see on a wedding invitation...

Now you just made me want to be invited at a Allosaurus' wedding!!!

Supporting cartmanbeck: art is a matter of taste. No one can say some are is just awful. You can only say that you find it awful! IMHO.


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The more I am thinking about it the more I like the fact basic and elite are going to be eliminated. It is going to make B/C cards interesting though in class decks because some are going to have to become level 0 and some are going to have to be level 1.

One thing that confused me though is vaulting and level like in Society games. The way I read your blog it seems like in a Level 2 adventure, only level 2 cards will be in the game, or will level 0, 1 and 2 cards all be valid.

My other confusion (and this is partially because I have only played society games and never with the stuff in the box), but what is this book that comes with it? Is this existentially the next season of society? If not then will we still be getting new seasons of society? Can I play the adventure book that comes with each game like a season of society, where I choose one hero and just play or does that not work?


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Also more thoughts now that I am thinking about it. The core game and curse, if I want to play curse I need to use both the core game and curse and mix the cards together. But then when the next adventure expansion comes out or if I just want to play with the core game story, I will need to separate the cards. On current games there is the name of what deck that belongs to but I do not see this on the new cards. Is there still going to be something to make it easy to separate?

Will the box be designed so we can easily separate out the levels that we are not using?


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Yep. It would be very good if core cards and expansion cards Are very easy to separate. Not just Little icon. If you play several seasons at the same time, you have to separate non core card Many times a week, so easy recognison is essential!

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
cartmanbeck wrote:
I don't think you can use objectively here when there are those of us, like me, that actually like the new designs. Just sayin'.

You might be in the minority there, Tyler. But...they have already gone to the printer, so there's not much point in commenting on it further. It will be what it will be, and the rest of the excellent improvements will surely make up for it.


Calthaer wrote:
cartmanbeck wrote:
I don't think you can use objectively here when there are those of us, like me, that actually like the new designs. Just sayin'.
You might be in the minority there, Tyler. But...they have already gone to the printer, so there's not much point in commenting on it further. It will be what it will be, and the rest of the excellent improvements will surely make up for it.

That's what I think as well. There was already similiar feedback in the last preview thread, where the cards hadn't been sent to the printer yet, so it was a conscious decision to keep the new design as it is. I'm glad that they moved the set icon from the lower left to the lower right at least.

My solution will probably be not to mix old and new cards and treat them as two separate games. The visual discrepancy is just too much for me.

Still excited for the new mechanics though.


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Coming from someone who has all the previous APs, add-ons, class decks and what-nots, I'm really worried about the new visual design compared to the concise and simple design of the previous one. Imagining having old cards and new cards in play at the same time is quite confusing in a game with already complex card interactions. I applaud all the technical advances in the game mechanics; they seem logical and straight forward.

The old cards might be technically playable together with the new ones but visually they look like coming from two different games. One of the key points for me personally has been the ability to play the APs with additional cards from the add-ons and class decks and this just no longer looks like an option for players who like visual consistency and clarity from their game.

This new radically different design makes it a complete nightmare when trying to teach the game to new players: "Yes, this weapon is just like that other weapon. The cards just look different and all the important data is located on different places. Other questions?". Unless of course players just treat these games as different games and be done with it.

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