The PACG Cutting Room Floor: The Market

Friday, October 4, 2019

When working on Adventure Time: Edge of Anarchy, I really wanted to talk about some of the things that didn’t make it into the Curse of the Crimson Throne box. Every set, we design more cards than end up making it out into the wild. Some cards just get lost to that voracious devourer of cards called Card Count, which only lets some preordained multiple of 110 survive. Some characters never made it into a Class Deck because we liked how the deck (including its selection of cards) looked with the other characters more. This series of blogs plans to shed some light on some of these lost elements. Enjoy at your own risk!

Balazar, the iconic summoner, stands in a room cluttered with treasures and curios, peering into a crystal ball as a robed and hooded shopkeeper looms in the background.

Want to trade your priceless artifact for my priceless artifact?

A big mechanic that we tested at some tables throughout the Core and Curse playtesting process was the “Market”. At the end of each scenario, you were given the option to trade for a readily available boon (one that was either level 0, or at least 2 levels lower than you).

When rebuilding, each character may banish 1 boon; any that do may search the vault for a boon with a maximum level of the most recently played scenario’s # minus 2 (minimum 0).

It was cut for a few reasons:

  • It would add complexity and time to the end of scenarios, as traders did in Mummy’s Mask.
  • There was concern around removing some of the loot chase, both in terms of reduced difficulty and also reduced excitement.
  • We just didn’t have space in the storybook for more mechanics.

We considered trying to sneak it in as a simpler mechanic that would piggyback off rebuilding to have a similar effect:

When rebuilding, each character may banish any number of boons.
OR
When rebuilding, each character may banish 1 boon.

As long as you were able to banish enough boons that you had to refill your deck to make it legal, you could replace them with cards that were a maximum level of the most recently played scenario’s # minus 2 (minimum 0). Unfortunately, it was less flavorful and still had the same complexity and timing flaws. It was also less obvious how you use it (especially to newer players). This is a good example of the sort of things that cause us to cut material even after it has been developed and tested. While the mechanic was dearly beloved by several of our (very experienced) playtesters, it added an extra layer of confusion for the newer players. It’s always a balancing act to keep the game interesting and challenging, but not overwhelming.

Now that we’ve talked about why we didn’t include it in the box, let’s talk about why you might want to play around with it at home.

Elixir of Healing, Item 0. Liquid, Alchemical, Healing. Soothing Word, Spell 0. Magic, Arcane, Divine, Healing. Magical Mansion, Spell 3. Magic, Arcane, Healing.

Even single use, it’s nice to have healing options.

The main goal of the market concept was to empower characters to take and, especially, feel comfortable using consumables like Elixir of Healing by providing a reasonable way to replace them. It’s extremely common for characters in the RPG to carry around a supply of healing potions and scrolls, so we like the idea of a character hanging onto an Elixir of Healing or a scroll of Soothing Word, secure in the knowledge they can get it back.

Merisiel, Character B. Female, Elf, Rogue. Thieves' Tools, Item B. Tool, Basic. Token of Remembrance, Item B. Object, Magic, Arcane, Divine.

One of these things doesn’t belong with the others...

A secondary goal of the market was a way to address a rare conundrum that can occur. If, for whatever reason, your character had to banish a boon you liked, you have to rebuild your deck with whatever card you happen to have on hand. Only if there are no spare cards of that type can you go searching the box for a reasonable replacement. I’ve seen a few different complaints about this, and I’ve also suffered it myself. I was soloing Rise of the Runelords with Merisiel when I had to banish my Thieves Tools, probably to close a location. Merisiel really liked those Thieves Tools, so I was eager to get them back, but I drew a random item from the box (for either closing a location or defeating a Cache barrier) and got a Token of Remembrance. It turns out that since Merisiel has no spells, that particular item doesn’t help her except as a hit point. “No big deal,” I thought, “I’m sure I’ll quickly either banish it or find another item I want more.” Sadly, I was stuck with it for 3 whole scenarios. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal since I just kept using it to feed my backstab power, but it felt wrong!

Giantbane Greataxe, Weapon 1. Axe, Melee, Slashing, 2-Handed, Magic. The Mute Hag, Blessing 1. Suit: Stars, Harrow, Veteran. Locate Object, Spell 1. Magic, Arcane, Divine

Does Ezren keep failing to acquire ‘your’ Greataxe? Well, we’ve got an offer for you!

A tertiary goal, and one that led to the greatest mechanical argument against including the market concept, is that sometimes you just fail to find a boon you really want. Perhaps you really want a particular level 1 weapon or blessing, but you’re level 3 and you’ve never had a chance to acquire it (perhaps because Lini or Quinn keeps finding it and failing to get it for you). It’d be nice to be able to just banish a boon you like less and replace it with the one you’ve been hunting for multiple levels. That said, one of the most exciting things for many players is the loot chase: seeing that dream boon that perfectly complements your character, waiting to luck into it, throwing the kitchen sink at acquiring it, and victoriously adding it to your deck. If you can too easily just get lower level boons, that takes away a fair chunk of the ‘thrill of the chase’ for some people.

Deathbane Light Crossbow, Weapon 1. Bow, Ranged, Piercing, Magic. Covering Heavy Shield, Armor 1. Shield, Offhand, Magic. Wyrmsmite, Weapon 3. Loot. Sword, Melee, Slashing, Magic.

So many shiny boons, so little deck space.

An extra benefit for the market appeared later: you can give up boons until you think you’re likely to need them. Know that you’re heading into a few scenarios full of undead? Go buy a Deathbane weapon. See that there’s an upcoming scenario full of arrows and fire? A Covering Shield might be just what you need. This is particularly nice now that Loot boons are in the vault. The Loot weapon Wyrmsmite from The Dragon’s Demand is great against dragons, which might be great to use against a couple of vicious dragons late in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

I encourage you to try it out and see if it’s good for your group. If you think “at the end of a scenario” is too often, you could make going to the market require winning the scenario, or only occur at the end of an adventure. Another interesting option would be to make a trip to the market a reward for having spent a hero point on something other than a feat during a scenario, or for being rewarded a hero point and not immediately spending it on a feat.

Base, Location 0. To build this location, shuffle together all of your rallied supporters. Urban. Shop, Location 0. Urban. Academy, Location 0. Urban.

Some locations lend themselves more to a market trip than others.

Another option for Curse specifically is to make the market a special feature available at the end of any scenario that included the Base. If that sounds too frequent for your group, you could require that characters “put in an order” by only allowing characters that explored the Base during the scenario to go the market. Just be careful of this option if your group has someone who hogs the Base and demolishes it before anyone else can even think of going to it.

If you want to go a bit crazy, you could even give access to the market as a reward for closing certain locations. Just have people keep locations they close handy, then at the end you might let whoever closed the Shop trade for anything, Academy a spell, Arsenal a weapon, Cathedral a blessing, Tavern an ally, etc. This is more complex than we’re likely to publish outside of a blog, but it could add an exciting benefit for some groups.

If you get a chance to play around with the Market, let us know. We love feedback. Maybe it will appear in some future product.

We’d also love to know if this kind of blog content is of interest. It’ll take time and effort to put lost boons into a usable form, and a lot of work to develop and test the lost characters from class decks, but it may be worth it if enough people would like to see them.

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Quote:
We’d also love to know if this kind of blog content is of interest. It’ll take time and effort to put lost boons into a usable form, and a lot of work to develop and test the lost characters from class decks, but it may be worth it if enough people would like to see them.

This kind of blog content is of a LOT of interest.

Perhaps "lost" boons (and locations, and mechanics) might be usable in mini-adventures - single deck adventures that might be played without feat rewards, but which give players/characters the opportunity to make slight adjustments from the normal AP progression without adversely affecting balance.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Keith wrote:


Just be careful of this option if your group has someone who hogs the Base and demolishes it before anyone else can even think of going to it.

We don't know anyone who would be this inconsiderate, do we? ;)


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I like the idea of spending a hero point to get the card of your choice.

I liked the markets of Mummy's Mask, not only for the extra chance to get a good card, but also because it gave more incentive to spend resources to get cards you didn't care about but could use for trade fodder. I can see how an extra thing to do at the end of the scenario could be too much for a lot of people, though.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I LOVE this idea.
I can see not doing this with beginner tables, however I will definitely include this in my next experienced core table playing from box (not class decks)
I am assuming that this wouldn’t apply in society play as you are fetching from deckbox anyway


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I really like the blog posts of getting inside the developers' brains! The part about the thieves tools resonated with me quite a bit as someone who has played a merisiel that needed to banish theirs!

Anyway, great read as always!


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber

I love the market mechanic, would love to see it back. The lost ''characters'' class deck would make a cool concept. If this could create a new class deck, we could at the same time update old cards in newer versions, allowing for more Pathfinder society players to replace cards.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't see why it couldn't apply to society play.

I've long thought that being able to freely banish boons from my deck (or possibly just from my hand) at the end of a scenario would be something I'd like to see.

If you've worked your way up to tier 3 without ever managing to get a tier 1 item (or weapon, or ally, or ...) upgrade, I don't think it would be unbalancing to allow banishing a card to replace it according to the hierarchy. If being allowed to do this freely would be seen as overly generous, then allow it to be done only instead of taking a possible upgrade. That way, if there's nothing in the acquired cards you want (or if the one thing you did want gets taken by somebody else) you don't have to grind through another scenario just in the hope of getting a card you could actually use.


I like all the suggestions for market house rules.
And I really love these blogs. Keep it up!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

For those of us who aspire to make our own material, it really helps to know how you guys make things work, and decide how things don't work. I'd love more blogs like this.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'd love to see more blogs like that.

I'm one of those disgruntled players who thinks the omission of Market in Core was really NOT the right decision for game (and have felt so about its lack ever since RotR) for pretty much all the reasons Keith has provided - so at least it's good to know devs have their ear to the ground, and at least somewhat comforting to know the arguments behind "controversial" decisions like that.

A few thinks I'd like to add:

Keith wrote:


one of the most exciting things for many players is the loot chase: seeing that dream boon that perfectly complements your character, waiting to luck into it, throwing the kitchen sink at acquiring it, and victoriously adding it to your deck.

While the above is true (though by no means sufficient argument for *me* to omit Market), there's also a flip side to this coin: all the banes and "boons" that can make you randomly banish a card you have strived and waited to obtain. Imagine you finally get that dreamy Greataxe, then happily explore, eager to try it on a monster... and stumbling upon a Cannibal haunt or something. Half our MM party carried a bunch of those crappy "allies" to the end, just to insure against a random banishing of boons.

So, if "thrill of the chase" is a solid enough argument for devs to omit Market, I'd like to see them sticking to their guns and also not arbitrarily throw in stuff that messes with players' hard-earned decks.
(I'm aware this "deck disruption" actually has proponents on this forum, so the inclusion of Market as *option* seems like a good compromise to satisfy both groups. Also, I don't have issue with Location and Scenario powers that may prompt card banishment - as long as this is something you could build your tactic around avoiding - like, you *know* you have to acquire and hold on to a crappy boon before attempting to close a Village House, etc..).

Keith wrote:
you can give up boons until you think you’re likely to need them. Know that you’re heading into a few scenarios full of undead? Go buy a Deathbane weapon.

That's another feature that my tables felt would really emulate the RPG experience and why people have argued for the inclusion of at least some sort of "side deck" ever since RotR. I admit both Market and Stash might be overkill, but if Market absolutely *never* makes it into PACG as an option - I feel this might be an acceptable alternative.

TLDR: Please consider adding Market and/or some form of Stash at least as *options* in the Play it Your Way. Given all the concessions made for the "hardcore crowd" (difficulties, wildcards, big locations), my group of players feels really undeserved in having *our way of playing* legitimized.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Keith wrote:


When rebuilding, each character may banish 1 boon; any that do may search the vault for a boon with a maximum level of the most recently played scenario’s # minus 2 (minimum 0).

It was cut for a few reasons:

It would add complexity and time to the end of scenarios, as traders did in Mummy’s Mask.

Traders in MM were on a whole other level, complexity -wise. You had different cards (Traders) for different boons, different cost (adding cost-benefit analysis), specific level of boons you could trade in, specific level of boons you could trade for (oddly enough)...

While we loved Tarders due to lack of anything better, we really did find their implementation pretty cumbersome. The Market proposition above, however, seems as simple as it can get!

Keith wrote:
There was concern around removing some of the loot chase, ... in terms of reduced difficulty

Oh, I think you would've been fine. What with the most heavy mechanical changes (single boon per type per check, banishable locations) being geared towards making the game MORE difficult and all.

(Also, with only 4 scenarios per Adventure, the likelyhood of acquiring just the right boon for *you* is now further reduced - and I can only imagine it's worse for smaller parties)

Keith wrote:

We just didn’t have space in the storybook for more mechanics.

I know the Rulebooks get more packed with each iteration, but... really? It's literally one more sentence in the Rebuild section, not a whole new paragraph?!?

The above being said, the suggested Market is a little over-simplified for my taste. While it's probably the best decision for PACG (if ever included), I'll just share the homebre option we experimented with:
At end of scenario, if the party wants to "buy" a boon of particular level (say, L3 boon at the end of AD5 scenario) - it must "pay" for each such boon with a number of boons which total its level (in this example, say 1 L2 boon and 1 L1 boon). And, of course, Basics are L0 (so useless for trade).


My table has always played -- since after Chapter 2 of Rise -- that you can banish as many as you want after a scenario and then rebuild as if you didn't have enough cards. It makes the game a heck of a lot more fun. And, I'd expect, especially back when you actually had to work to remove basic and elite cards from the offerings, so they'd keep popping up in decks and you'd never get to see what you wanted. (I had nothing AGAINST that -- I liked that mechanic... though we'd massage it a little when integrating class decks into the pool and remove them a little pre-emptively compared to the core adventure decks.)

There's no reason NOT to play with it. I'm baffled by your rationale not to make it a core mechanic. The "rebuild" rules of lower cards is not that egregious to power you up that significantly. And I couldn't imagine having been able to finish Wrath (*gag*) without it.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Great blog as always. Thanks Keith!

I really enjoyed the trader mechanic in MM and Factions Favor. I think the Market is a neat idea, and think something can be gained from including something like it, as long as the cost is appropriate. Some have suggested spending a hero point, or only allowing a visit to happen if a hero point was not spent on a feat. Those are fine, but my favorite resolution for this is to have it as a reward for an optional sub-goal during a scenario.

Maybe there's a location that if closed, grants you a visit to the market. Or a monster or barrier, not even necessarily a story bane. Something like: "At the end of the scenario, if the Tavern was closed, each character may banish an ally and add a new ally of choice to their deck according to the hierarchy."

Optional goals are something I've requested before. It would increase the variability and replay-ability of given scenarios, as well as allow for more emergent storytelling moments. The few times this has been done, for instance in Adventure 3 of Dragon's Demand, it has been really neat.


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Great blog, I'm always interested in peering behind the curtain.

I will say that our group (which has diminished from 4-5 players to 3) runs into the problem of not getting through enough cards in a play-through to adequately upgrade our decks. While we are all experienced gamers, now that we have busier schedules (and kids!) our play sessions are shorter and farther apart. That being said, we like a more casual style of play and would really benefit from some kind of market mechanic.

One house rule we did implement a while back to help with "loot chasing" was what we called "Last Chance." Basically, when we closed a location, all boons that were left were moved to a separate pile. Upon winning the scenario, players kept their hands and each had 1 opportunity to encounter one of the missed cards to try and acquire it. It wasn't a guarantee, especially if we blew out our hands on the villain, but it was at least a chance to get some of the cards we missed encountering. It also added some tension... do I add another blessing against that villain, or selfishly save it for last chance?

We also use a vault mechanic where each player is allowed to save 1 card aside in a "vault" and then when rebuilding their deck, they can use that card in rebuilding as they wish. It worked well for that time you find a great upgrade but would not get a card feat for many adventures. The new Hero Point system has alleviated this quite a bit, so we are a lot less reliant on the vault, but it is still fun for casual play. It also allows some experimentation with less used cards since you can feel safe swapping them in for a test run without losing another card permanently.

Thanks for continuing to listen to your fans! We are anxious to hear what's in store next for PACG (It's been very quiet since Core was released.)


Longshot11 wrote:
The Market proposition above, however, seems as simple as it can get!

I completely agree with this assessment. I can't imagine NOT implementing the Market because you thought it added too much complexity. It doesn't add any complexity. Rebuilding a deck is something that players already need to know how to do between scenarios if they are ever short on cards. Banishing a card is of course something players already know. I don't see how the Market introduces anything that every player wouldn't already know.

In fact, this is something that NEEDED to be implemented on day 1, especially if you're making strides to make the card game mimic the RPG more. One of the most annoying aspects of the game is losing a card that took so long to get, just to never get it back because it never comes up in the locations again. For example, I gave Merisiel a spell card feat once so she could carry a utility spell around. (Actually I wanted her to carry a Cure spell, but Kyra was understandably not willing to give it up, and for some reason you guys decided to make only one of each card - but that's a different complaint!) The problem is she only got one use out of it, and at the end of the scenario was forced to take an arcane attack spell because it was something we had acquired, and nobody else wanted to take it. So Merisiel now had a completely dead card in her deck!

In fact, as Longshot11 stated, the Market concept might even be TOO simplistic. I like his idea of swapping out an equivalent level of boons for the one wanted. When I played Seoni, I kept finding attack spells which I didn't really need. I wanted utility spells (which could double as an attack spell using her power if I needed one). I would have loved to swap one of those spells out for a Charm Person, something I didn't acquire throughout the entire adventure! Yeah it's fun to run into that ideal card in the locations and throw everything at acquiring it, but when that card is now 2+ levels behind you, it's not quite as exciting anymore.

Lone Shark Games

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Dulcee wrote:
I completely agree with this assessment. I can't imagine NOT implementing the Market because you thought it added too much complexity. It doesn't add any complexity. Rebuilding a deck is something that players already need to know how to do between scenarios if they are ever short on cards. Banishing a card is of course something players already know. I don't see how the Market introduces anything that every player wouldn't already know.

It introduces the concept that optimizing your deck means reading every single card in the box that is 2 levels lower than you, since you can swap them in every scenario without having to encounter them. When you hit a new level, the entire group might want to do so.

That said, if you feel strongly that it should be in the game, you should definitely play that way. That's why I wrote both the rule and then this blog :)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
fuji6100 wrote:

Great blog, I'm always interested in peering behind the curtain.

One house rule we did implement a while back to help with "loot chasing" was what we called "Last Chance." Basically, when we closed a location, all boons that were left were moved to a separate pile. Upon winning the scenario, players kept their hands and each had 1 opportunity to encounter one of the missed cards to try and acquire it. It wasn't a guarantee, especially if we blew out our hands on the villain, but it was at least a chance to get some of the cards we missed encountering. It also added some tension... do I add another blessing against that villain, or selfishly save it for last chance?

I love this! Seems like an elegant solution to the market.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
fuji6100 wrote:


We also use a vault mechanic where each player is allowed to save 1 card aside in a "vault" and then when rebuilding their deck, they can use that card in rebuilding as they wish. It also allows some experimentation with less used cards since you can feel safe swapping them in for a test run without losing another card permanently.

I just want to underscore this as one of the main reasons why I think some greater flexibility in deck rebuilding is long overdue.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I see the omission of the Market as entirely appropriate to the supposedly generic nature of the Core Set. The Core Set provides the basic rules that should be usable/applicable in any adventure path. There are going to be APs in which there would be no market resource - I don't think that a party would have access to regular markets when battling through the Worldwound in Wrath of the Righteous, for example. Imagine some other AP in which the party is operating in an austere environment (perhaps some AP in which a party is exploring a jungle, or operating in the Maelstrom, etc.).

Rather, the Market would be good as an optional add-on type of rule that can be applied when it's appropriate to the scenario/adventure/adventure path. In this, perhaps there is a future for similarly optional add-ons that might be used in scenarios/adventures/adventure paths. Such a set might include additional cards (perhaps augmenting the banes/boons in the Core Set) and a rulebook so that a direction to use "X" rule merely requires players to consult that section. The Core Set, then, becomes the "always" set of rules whereas the hypothesized set includes additional rules and stuff (and maybe more characters!). In my mind I'm already calling this the "Core Set Add-On Box" (I know it's a pipe dream).


Keith Richmond wrote:
That said, if you feel strongly that it should be in the game, you should definitely play that way. That's why I wrote both the rule and then this blog :)

With your blessing, it shall be done! :)

Brother Tyler wrote:
I don't think that a party would have access to regular markets when battling through the Worldwound in Wrath of the Righteous

Perhaps not, but a good DM (or at least a non-sadistic one) will have the party find useful loot for the party through their 20 levels of adventuring through the campaign, and not constantly give them random weapons they aren't proficient in. (Not to mention I've never had a DM force my sorcerer to learn a random spell when I leveled up.)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Brother Tyler wrote:
Quote:
We’d also love to know if this kind of blog content is of interest. It’ll take time and effort to put lost boons into a usable form, and a lot of work to develop and test the lost characters from class decks, but it may be worth it if enough people would like to see them.

This kind of blog content is of a LOT of interest.

Just in case Brother Tyler's answer wasn't clear enough (we know he only answered that to have the opening post :-)):

This kind of blog content is of a LOT of interest.

Period.

Even if in our case, we always refill our decks (when we need too because we lack a certain type of cards at the end of a scenario) drawing random #-2 cards (so when we have a good card, we really earned it).

So if we where to implement a "market", you would only find there boons that you would have :
- acquired during a scenario or as a reward
- and returned to the vault only because you had to at the end of a scenario because there was too many cards of a certain type to fit in the various decks of the party.
I. e. if you willingly/were forced to banish/return a boon during a scenario, you won't get it back through the market.

That way you can "store" a Dragonbane sword that you indeed acquire and kept until the end of a scenario. But if a bad guy forced you to banish a boon... that would be too easy to buy it back at the end.
It feels like roleplay for us.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Frencois wrote:
Just in case Brother Tyler's answer wasn't clear enough (we know he only answered that to have the opening post :-)):

Guilty! :)

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Keith Richmond wrote:


That said, if you feel strongly that it should be in the game, you should definitely play that way. That's why I wrote both the rule and then this blog :)

Unfortunately that's not an option for Organized Play.

If something like this is seen as having merit, and being attractive to a significant number of players, it needs to be an official option, not a house rule. Saying "you can't do this in organized play" isn't going to prevent players from playing that way - it just means they're going to switch to home games (or give up PACG altogether). It's hard enough to get Organized Play running at the best of times - we don't really need additional ways to turn potential players away.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Keith said wrote:
Some locations lend themselves more to a market trip than others.

Keith, could please provide a little insight on the changes to Academy in particular?

IMHO, this location has been horrendously redesigned to a point where it loses any thematic cohesion and goes against its supposed "flavor". RotR Academy used to be the best (and one of maybe three) "shopping stop" for Casters, with 5 spells in its location, and would often be left open to explore even after henchman is defeated. The new "academy" is instead a "danger high" location with friggin SIX banes inside - i.e. a "close on sight" location - and to add insult to injury it sees the number of spells inside reduced to a measly 2 - about on par with a bunch of other locations that aren't inherently very "magical" or, well, "academical". Sure, if you had called it "CURSED Academy" or something, I would have no issue with it, but as is - this a more homicidal learning institution than friggin' Hogwards!!

One possible explanation I can see is that you actually wanted to "buff" the extra exploration mechanic, but even still - why didn't you just buff the number of Items (which makes sense, but is actually reduced to 0!!) or other boons, instead of making the "academy" as dangerous a Dungeon?!?

The other explanation is that this got swept in the whole "Make. Game. Harder!!" momentum, but to my table the almost seamless fusion between mechanics and *theme* has always been one of the biggest draws of PACG and when an arbitrary rebalance trumps the flavor of a card to such a ridiculous extent - that pill gets a bit too bitter.

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