Pathfinder Adventure Card Society: New Box, New Opportunities!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set is almost here! Paizo and the designers at Lone Shark built upon years of fan feedback and experience to improve the game. If you're curious about what the Core Set has to offer and the design principles that went into the revision, you're in luck. The designers have been publishing a series of great blogs on the topic: overall principles, adding more story, varying the challenge, reducing complexity, encouraging teamwork, rewarding heroism, and embracing chance.

Much like the card game itself, the card game branch of Organized Play is looking to build on feedback to make a better program, without throwing out the content that we had before. We renamed the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society (PACS). This establishes our card game as the third branch of our organized play programs, with me as the dedicated developer. We will have year themes different from the Pathfinder Society, though there may still be crossover events from time to time, and are looking at what kind of special events we may be able to do besides the annual Open tournament.

In the PACS, there will be a lot of features that you are already used to. Players use class decks to play Adventures made up of several scenarios. As they play, characters upgrade their deck and gain Feats, which let them improve their skills, learn new powers, and add more cards to their deck. Every few scenarios, players can increase their character's Tier, allowing them to play more challenging scenarios.

The Fangwood Thieves

The Fangwood Thieves is the first PACS adventure to use the Core Set. The first two scenarios debut at PaizoCon, and the second two debut at Origins (June 11-15). This collection of 4 scenarios is designed as an introduction to the Core Set and is well-suited as a demo for the game usable anywhere, particularly game stores and conventions. It can also help new players catch up to other players who are playing an ongoing Adventure Path.

The plot's fairly straightforward, taking place in the Fangwood and involving a group of thieving kobolds. If you are steeped in Golarion lore, you may notice a few nods to existing canon, such as references to the aftermath of the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path, but you don't need this knowledge to enjoy the adventure.

The Shape of Year 6

We're saving the name and symbol for Year 6 to be revealed at the PaizoCon Banquet, but I can talk about the season's overall structure. Over the years, we've received feedback that a season with a single large Adventure Path doesn't fit the schedules of everyone in the community. To help address this concern, we shortened the overarching Adventure Path story, including four scenarios per adventure instead of five or six. Not only does this fit more naturally with the new Hero Point model, but it also gives us more space in the season to experiment with other scenario and adventure formats.

Speaking of other formats. For Year 6, we'll be adding two new self-contained adventures. The first of these adventures will release in early 2020, and the second in the summer of 2020. These stand-alone adventures will be written for multiple Tiers to make them as versatile as possible. To differentiate what is part of the meta-plot and what is not, we are adopting a new title structure borrowed from the RPG adventure paths.

Rules Update

Even though Season 6 itself won't start until Gen Con, we'll be releasing an update to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society Guide at PaizoCon 2019 (May 24-27), to coincide with the release of the Core Set. Here is a sneak peek of the three primary adjustments and one clarification appearing in the updated guide.

Using the Core Set Rules

Card Game Organized Play traditionally used the rulebook from the most recently released boxed set (with help from the boxed set that the adventure uses for card-specific rules). We'll be making this update again. Once the new guide releases, the revised rules from the Core Set will become the new default for Organized Play. As with previous rulebooks, the Core Set Rulebook will be available for free at paizo.com/pacg. With the new model of production, in which products like the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path are presented as expansions on the Core Set rather than stand-alone games, the Core Set's rules will be the baseline rules for PACS for the foreseeable future.

So how should groups transition to the Core Set rules? The Core Set Rulebook includes a one-page transition guide that neatly summarizes the revision's changes and gives instructions for handling these changes when playing older sets. There are also a few specific cards that will be receiving changes. These changes will be available at paizo.com/pacg.

Hero Points and Tiering Up

In the Core Set, instead of gaining specific power, card, and skill feats, characters earn hero points. They can use these hero points to buy feats, reroll a die, or come back from the dead. Going forward, hero points will be the new standard for organized play. In PACS, a character can have several feats of each type equal to their Tier, but they can take these feats in whatever order they like. Hero Points also allow for more flexibility in how many scenarios a character can play before bumping up to the next Tier of play. A character could rush their advancement and increase their Tier after only 3 scenarios, or they could stick around for up to 6 scenarios to continue to improve their deck.

Challenge Modes

The Core Set includes options for making the game harder, introducing Heroic and Legendary difficulty. We are looking into how we can incorporate these difficulty levels into organized play and will have more information soon.

Replay

This isn't a change, but it's a clarification of an ambiguous rule. The rules about replay (namely, that characters that replay don't receive rewards) refer only to that specific character. In Pathfinder Adventure Card Society, playing a scenario with a different character does not count as “Replay.” This means that when you play a scenario again with a different character, that character earns the scenario's full rewards.

As always, we'll be keeping an eye out for community feedback, from rules changes to the new adventure model, so let us know what you think!

Linda Zayas-Palmer
Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pathfinder Adventure Card Society
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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This sounds great. I'm hoping I get some time to play PACS at Gen Con this year!


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

Nice but referring to the paizo.com/pacg page that is still referring to the old AP structure is misleading.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Also, not sure if the XXX and YYY where meant to be replaced with something else


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

SO excited to see Card Guild will be continuing to get some love from the team. Playing online has been my favorite new pastime of the past couple years.

I'm hoping to start up some local IRL card guild as well, and new box new season sounds like a great opportunity to drum up interest!

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

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Matsu Kurisu wrote:
Also, not sure if the XXX and YYY where meant to be replaced with something else

Removed. They were placeholders, but that was getting a little further into the weeds than I was ready to prior to the announcement of the name of the new Year.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'd really like to see an in-development version of the next Card Guild Guide be released to the community for feedback prior to an 'official release', if that's a possibility at all. I've mentioned before that the current version has quite a number of oversights or issues, some of which I've expanded upon in other threads.

Scarab Sages *

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
First World Bard wrote:
This sounds great. I'm hoping I get some time to play PACS at Gen Con this year!

I'm sad that I won't get to play with you this year as I once again won't be able to make Paizocon. My Venture Captain Elizabeth Roper will be there though! Look her up to play as she is a blast to play the card game with. =)


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Sarah Bull wrote:
First World Bard wrote:
This sounds great. I'm hoping I get some time to play PACS at Gen Con this year!
I'm sad that I won't get to play with you this year as I once again won't be able to make Paizocon. My Venture Captain Elizabeth Roper will be there though! Look her up to play as she is a blast to play the card game with. =)

Oh sad :(

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Having "built in" proxies should help henchmen and villains from the new scenarios go smoother. I know I'm not the only one to accidentally use the stats of the proxy. Tougher to do that when the physical card doesn't have its own stats.

My wife and I like to play a scenario or two at Gen Con each year.

With four scenarios per adventure, it sounds like the "default" will be one of each feat, plus one hero point for reroll/not dying. So about the same pace as getting one die bump per adventure, although you can choose to have more rerolls if desired. (For example, if you decided you're done with card feats).

Scarab Sages *

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zeroth_hour2 wrote:
Sarah Bull wrote:
First World Bard wrote:
This sounds great. I'm hoping I get some time to play PACS at Gen Con this year!
I'm sad that I won't get to play with you this year as I once again won't be able to make Paizocon. My Venture Captain Elizabeth Roper will be there though! Look her up to play as she is a blast to play the card game with. =)
Oh sad :(

I'll miss you guys. I'm hoping I can make it again next year to either Paizocon or Gencon. I've got a lot going on right now that's preventing me from going to anything but local cons.


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This question came up in another thread:

When the new Guide and Core rules are released, ongoing campaigns/seasons will continue under the old rules? In other words, if I'm in the middle of Season of Tapestry's Tides when the new rules are released, I won't have to switch - will I? I can continue under the old rules?

Only players starting brand new campaigns after June 2019 will be affected by the new guide/rules?

Liberty's Edge ****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Im so excited about this new set and the upcoming guild adventures. Honestly anything involving Linda Zayas-Palmer is guaranteed to be amazing.
Also I'm not biased at all, not saying that for any reason.

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

Gibo Auja wrote:

Im so excited about this new set and the upcoming guild adventures. Honestly anything involving Linda Zayas-Palmer is guaranteed to be amazing.

Also I'm not biased at all, not saying that for any reason.

Aww, thanks ^_^


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
wkover wrote:


Only players starting brand new campaigns after June 2019 will be affected by the new guide/rules?

+1 Vote for this

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When will Fangwood Thieves be available for gameday play? I'm excited to get this set up at the local gaming gastropub (Adventure Pub, if you're in the metro Boston area).


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Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Gibo Auja wrote:

Honestly anything involving Linda Zayas-Palmer is guaranteed to be amazing.

This.

I got to play a PACG scenario with her at a local con this year and she is SO MUCH FUN. Plus, she knew the story and was able to fill in gaps for me that I had not picked up on.

If you ever get a chance to play with her, DO EET!

Venture-Agent, Online—ACG aka MorkXII

wkover wrote:

This question came up in another thread:

When the new Guide and Core rules are released, ongoing campaigns/seasons will continue under the old rules? In other words, if I'm in the middle of Season of Tapestry's Tides when the new rules are released, I won't have to switch - will I? I can continue under the old rules?

Only players starting brand new campaigns after June 2019 will be affected by the new guide/rules?

+1 to allowing existing campaigns to finish using the old rule book and guide book. I've very excited to start playing new games with the new rules, but I'm also hesitant to immediately transitioning old games.


First World Bard wrote:
This sounds great. I'm hoping I get some time to play PACS at Gen Con this year!

Yay! I'll be at GenCon this year too!

Grand Lodge Venture-Agent, California—San Diego aka SirRogue

I see from the description of the annual Open tournament at GenCon that playesr are encouraged to "Bring you own character deck or use on of the limited class/character decks available for use."

Is that really the case? Past Opens have always had all teams use the same selection of characters (either from the box or from pre-selected decks provided). This seems like it provides a more consistent means of comparison in performance, rather than having teams bring their own random assortment (or not-so-random, carefully combined assortment) of characters.

Just curious if this was really open to all class decks or if that was a typo/copy&paste error. Thanks!

Lone Shark Games

It is in error, thank you for spotting that.

Characters will be provided.

*** Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Grand Prairie aka DM Livgin

The Fangwood Thieves, does it require a character deck?

Silver Crusade **** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka Wendy-Ann

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Yes, it does

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

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Mark Koopman wrote:
wkover wrote:

This question came up in another thread:

When the new Guide and Core rules are released, ongoing campaigns/seasons will continue under the old rules? In other words, if I'm in the middle of Season of Tapestry's Tides when the new rules are released, I won't have to switch - will I? I can continue under the old rules?

Only players starting brand new campaigns after June 2019 will be affected by the new guide/rules?

+1 to allowing existing campaigns to finish using the old rule book and guide book. I've very excited to start playing new games with the new rules, but I'm also hesitant to immediately transitioning old games.

Most of the rules in the new guide will go into effect immediately upon its release. However, if you are playing an ongoing season/campaign, you can choose to delay the transition of that season/campaign to the Core Set rules until the official start of Season 6 at GenCon (August 1st, 2019). This should allow folks a few months to finish up their campaigns in the old rules if they like. But if you'd rather switch your ongoing game to the Core Set rules before that, you can at any time.


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Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
...if you are playing an ongoing season/campaign, you can choose to delay the transition of that season/campaign to the Core Set rules until the official start of Season 6 at GenCon (August 1st, 2019). This should allow folks a few months to finish up their campaigns in the old rules if they like.

Thanks for the thorough reply.

We'll finish our face-to-face OP campaign by August 1st, but it's unlikely that the online campaigns started in Outpost II will be finished by then. That will be interesting, as there are some Adventure 5 and 6 scenarios in Tapestry's Tides that struck me as being very difficult to win under the new Core rules.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
wkover wrote:
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
...if you are playing an ongoing season/campaign, you can choose to delay the transition of that season/campaign to the Core Set rules until the official start of Season 6 at GenCon (August 1st, 2019). This should allow folks a few months to finish up their campaigns in the old rules if they like.

Thanks for the thorough reply.

We'll finish our face-to-face OP campaign by August 1st, but it's unlikely that the online campaigns started in Outpost II will be finished by then. That will be interesting, as there are some Adventure 5 and 6 scenarios in Tapestry's Tides that struck me as being very difficult to win under the new Core rules.

There's also some scenarios of some seasons which become impossible or certainly significantly harder with location-banishing, either due to scenario rules or while-closed location powers being entirely negated. In particular effects that occur at a 'random location', since when you're down to the last location that will just always hit every player.

Some banes are much, much worse as well. Season 3 and 4 just got terrifying when Lightning Storm can no longer run away to a closed location (and at the last location it will just keep hitting the party with damage until the scenario is over or you roll a '4' on it). Sandstorms are also worse (arguably) since they can't move you to closed locations, increasing the risk of hitting Triggers and shuffling away valuable boons (and Season 3 in particular has multiple Sandstorm/Trigger-themed scenarios).


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
Mark Koopman wrote:
wkover wrote:

This question came up in another thread:

When the new Guide and Core rules are released, ongoing campaigns/seasons will continue under the old rules? In other words, if I'm in the middle of Season of Tapestry's Tides when the new rules are released, I won't have to switch - will I? I can continue under the old rules?

Only players starting brand new campaigns after June 2019 will be affected by the new guide/rules?

+1 to allowing existing campaigns to finish using the old rule book and guide book. I've very excited to start playing new games with the new rules, but I'm also hesitant to immediately transitioning old games.
Most of the rules in the new guide will go into effect immediately upon its release. However, if you are playing an ongoing season/campaign, you can choose to delay the transition of that season/campaign to the Core Set rules until the official start of Season 6 at GenCon (August 1st, 2019). This should allow folks a few months to finish up their campaigns in the old rules if they like. But if you'd rather switch your ongoing game to the Core Set rules before that, you can at any time.

I REALLY hope you will reconsider this and allow in progress games to complete their seasion under their written rules

I have two new in person stores that have just started playing Season 3 and Season 4.
I don't think they will be able to handle the rules changes as we are only 3 sessions in so far and a lot are new players and they are still getting used to PFACG and they will fail badly playing the hard mode of old class decks and new rules


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hope you reconsider as well. As Yewstance pointed out, and I could possibly compile a (slightly) more comprehensive list later, every single old season has at least one massively-effected scenario (some to the point of becoming unplayable) when using Core rules.

My preference would be a universal rule:
- Season 5 and older always use Mummy’s Mask rulebook + most recent Guide
- Season 6+ always use Core rulebook + most recent Guide

*

Folks, while at the moment I'd also like to stick to the old rules for our existing campaign, I think everyone should take a step back until we have:

- The new rules.
- The new Guide.
- The rules for adapting old cards to the new rules.
- Any updates to the existing Seasons.

At the moment we don't have the whole picture.

(Note that I'm not saying there aren't some valid concerns, just that we're working on partial information.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm voicing my concerns now precisely because those haven't been released yet. Once the new Guide is out, it's too late to get changes to it until Season 7. It needs to be fixed now before release, not after with emergency patches that never properly rectify the situation.

I would be massively surprised if old seasons ever got an update. Some scenarios have had known issues for quite some time now and have never been updated despite that. There's been no official word on such updates being pending either. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that the scenarios will not be updated, and we'll have to figure out how the new rules and Guide apply to that old text and wording.

Scenarios that have issues with locations being banished:
minor issues = scenario rules work as-is but the intent or difficulty of the scenario is altered.
major issues = scenario rules require revision to work.
This list is not comprehensive, as I only looked at scenario powers. I'm pretty sure there are also villain powers and location powers that could interact poorly with the new rules as well.

0-3C (minor issues)
0-4D (minor issues)
0-5D (major issues. Once you banish all locations in one group, you have nowhere valid to move to since you can only move to the other group during your move step)
0-6E (minor issues)
1-4B (major issues. To be fair, these issues already exist as of right now, they've just never been fixed -- it's possible to banish the villain if you're unlucky and render the scenario unwinnable)
1-5B (major issues. Scenario has you shuffle boons back into closed locations, and cares about the number of boons required. If locations are banished, the scenario could become unwinnable)
1-5E (major issues. Easy enough to see what the intent is, but the scenario text requires revision to pull Molten Pool back once the requisite condition is met rather than re-opening it)
1-6C (minor issues)
2-1A (minor issues)
2-1D (minor issues)
2-1E (minor issues)
2-3B (minor issues)
2-6C (major issues. Scenario can become unwinnable very easily if 2 or more of the allies are used)
3-1C (minor issues)
3-1D (minor issues)
3-5D (minor issues)
3-6B (minor issues)
4-1D (minor issues)
4-4B (minor issues)
5-1A (major issues. Intent is obvious but the wording as-is leaves characters location-less)
5-1E (minor issues)
5-4D (major issues. Banishing locations without rearranging could render movement impossible)
(Note: I didn't examine 5-6, 5-P2, or the Season 5 capstone as I didn't have those PDFs on-hand at the moment)

Additionally: any scenario in S&S with an anchored ship. What happens when the location the ship is anchored at is banished?


skizzerz wrote:

My preference would be a universal rule:

- Season 5 and older always use Mummy’s Mask rulebook + most recent Guide
- Season 6+ always use Core rulebook + most recent Guide

I suspect that this is the type of rule that Paizo is trying to avoid, as it creates a steep learning curve - reading and understanding an entirely separate ruleset - for brand new players wanting to play Seasons 1-5. Paizo wants to attract new customers, not drive them away. ;)

We'll have to see what's in the new Guide (looking forward to it), but it would be more novice-friendly to create a handful of rules exceptions for Seasons 1-5. These might include:
- locations don't banish when closed
- all campaigns have an additional AD3 reward: For the rest of the adventure path, all blessings can be played freely
- etc.

Whatever modifications would help players be successful in 1-5 under the new ruleset.

*

skizzerz wrote:
I'm voicing my concerns now precisely because those haven't been released yet. Once the new Guide is out, it's too late to get changes to it until Season 7. It needs to be fixed now before release, not after with emergency patches that never properly rectify the situation.

The Guide 6.0 is probably already final. PaizoCon is a couple days away, and they're busy getting ready for that.

They've released updated Guides in the middle of a year before; if something major is wrong I'm sure they will again.

skizzerz wrote:
I would be massively surprised if old seasons ever got an update.

Vic already said there will be updates for the Scenarios that need them. They updated the Season 0 PDFs when they switched to Tiers; they may do so again or it may just be a list of FAQs/errata. A bunch of concerns may instead be handled by the general list of rules for adapting the new rules to the old sets. (For example: what if they just say to flip closed Locations when you're using the old sets instead of banishing them?)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Using Core rules plus a “house rule” to keep closed locations around in Seasons 0-5 would likely be sufficient.

The other changes Core brings won’t have game-breaking effects, provided enough old cards are able to be used “freely” so that pre-Core class decks can achieve the expected check numbers still.

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