Core Design: Valeros

Friday, February 28, 2020

Hello there! In this series of blogs, we’ve been talking about the characters from the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set, including Sajan, Lini, Seoni, and Amiri. Today, I’m going to talk about our latest twist on a familiar iconic fighter: Valeros.

In Rise of the Runelords, Valeros was frequently brash, crass, and surrounded by enemies, as in the cover of the very first Adventure Card Game:

Friends, Foes, and Fun!]

Then as now, Valeros was a common pick for people jumping into the game quickly: he had a clear role, could easily help others, and was tough enough that you could survive a few bumps on the road to experience. He started with an even mix of cards types alongside an extra helping of weapons, which naturally reinforced what you already wanted to do.

Weapon, armor, weapon, tankard, weapon, weapon. Seems right!

Once you had a few successful sessions under your weapons belt, you could start to specialize in having more choices (hand size) or getting more oomph out of your helping efforts. Eventually, these matured into the Guardian and Weapon Master roles.

From there we moved into the nautical realm of Skull & Shackles. Valeros gained Fortitude, helpful for swimming, diving, and other sailing-related activities (that likely involve the tankard) alongside his ability to command a ship’s crew if needed.

Still covered in weapons? Check. Still using that tankard? Double check!

His card selection shifted slightly away from armor and towards friends and comrades. As a Corsair, he could dive into the world of ships and swashbuckling, while the Tactician Valeros could be especially strong and/or helpful during critical battles.

Valeros was one of the early characters to get the Class Deck treatment, giving us the third version of the character in relatively short order. Distinguishing him from prior versions, Class Deck: Fighter Valeros was focused more on the “friendly helper” aspects of the character.

Fiendly? Intimidating? Why not both?]

Class Deck Valeros is still tough and excellent with melee weapons, in addition to his improved personal interaction skills. His second power lets him frequently use the “big bonus” effects on weapons, which are generally around a third or more of his deck. Taking the viewpoint that these two things combine to make him “good enough” at his own combats, this Valeros gains a new ally-focused power to help his neighbors fight, while still retaining cards to help him explore on his own turns. When he gains a role card, he can choose to focus more on Daredevil-style antics (including an early instance of an “I can fight this for you” power), or adopt a Liberator mantle more focused on allies.

For the Core Set, we wanted to reflect the changes to Valeros that were coming as part of the new edition, so Valeros today commonly makes use of shield and armor in addition to his hard-earned blades. He also reflects the new approach to ranged weapons as a way to coordinate during combat, gaining the Ranged skill. This lets him make good use of a wide variety of weapons for his own combats and for his friends’ combats, and with some of the exciting special effects from certain specific weapons, effectively giving him access to a wider toolkit of smash/help/utility while still making him a great choice for a quick-start “I hit it. Hard.” character.

Another new aspect of the PACG Core Set is the regular use of local in effects, especially helping effects. The first power of Core Set Valeros lets him add to a local combat check, which includes both his own fights as well as other characters at the same location. The new template “on a local….” gives us clean, natural wording for both “get better yourself” and “help your friends.” Reloading or recharging a card to activate this power means there’s a decision involved, but the cost is low enough that it can often be a benefit in practice. It lets you make room in your relatively small hand for new cards while saving a key card for the near or far future if the situation is dicey, and generally helps smooth over unwanted “clumps” in your deck. Yet it still keeps Valeros focused mostly on the card types most clearly associated with an iconic fighter: weapons and armor. His second power similarly helps clearing out clumps, and also makes him effectively tougher via a slow, automatic healing-like effect. It also encourages Valeros to make use of big “discard to…” effects on weapon and armor cards, producing an overall effect similar to previous iterations of the character.

In addition to these adjustments, Valeros retains his “I can help you fight” concept via the new avenge mechanic, wherein a character can “have the back” of another character that runs into bad luck or overwhelming odds (or both). Roughly, when a character fails to defeat a bane, another local character can step in afterwards and take a second shot at the conflict—something that can be especially important against henchmen and villains. While this ability is available to everyone under the Core Set rules, most characters have to bury a card to do it. Valeros, the friendly helpful combat monster, can do it by discarding (or even recharging) a card… and if he uses a weapon or armor boon, he can recharge it at the end of his turn. Aces.

Once you get a role card (which happens 1 adventure sooner than it used to), you can choose between Compatriot or Drunken Avenger.

Choices, choices. But both good choices!

As a Compatriot, Valeros becomes something of a “people person.” He may use allies to accomplish many of the things he was doing pre-role with weapons and armor, including using them to help local combats (his or others), “saving” them for later turns, and picking them up more often than normal. He gains a shield-focused power to represent the new “sword and board” approach of the character. He’s also good at making friends, even potentially “borrowing” them from others. On the other side, Drunken Avenger leans into Valeros’ devotion to the Lucky Drunk. He can use Liquid boons both for themselves and to “fuel” his own abilities, and can even lean into the edges of alchemy, if you are so inclined. He might find himself emulating Cayden Cailean’s drunken wandering, where—somehow—things usually manage to work out. If some shouting, singing, shoving, and even swordplay is involved, more’s the better.

That’s it for Valeros in the PACG Core Set. Hopefully, he retains the core (heh) characteristics that made him fun to play, while adapting some of the new concepts from the second edition of the Pathfinder RPG, the new PACG Core Set, and beyond!

Chad Brown
Adventure Card Game Lead Developer

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Tags: Iconics Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Valeros

Thank you for sharing! It's always interesting to see the evolution of a character like this (as well as insights into how certain powers are meant to represent RPG or story-based powers or attributes).


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I had ignored Valeros in earlier editions (thinking he was one dimensional), however a new player played Core Valeros in a learn to play game with me and I was really impressed how well rounded he was!
Excellent design work!
I have even added Core Valeros to my Society play rosters of characters I will “play soon (tm)” :-)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Not sure how I missed this post when it came out, but wanted to chime in and say that I love these! It is fascinating getting to see the thinking that went into the various iterations of this character, surely one of the most redesigned, right?

Valeros is actually one of the few of the Core characters I haven't touched yet, but I am interested in taking him for a spin. I love the flexibility of having both Melee and Ranged skills from the start! Both roles look pretty fun as well, emphasizing both different play styles as well as what card feats you might want to take!


when can we have more posts about pathfinder adventure card game? They take a long time to appear ... We card game fans have a series going on about the characters. Please don't take too long.


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I've just been reminded that I was writing strategy articles before I moved at the start of the year, so I'm hoping to knock out Valeros and maybe the next-one this weekend.

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