Your starting character decks


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion

Silver Crusade

So now that I've played a couple of times, I'm realizing that the starting character decks recommended in the rules aren't that great. In fact, some of them have some pretty silly stuff in them. Because Kyra's so good against undead, she's the one character who doesn't need Holy Water, so why's it on her list?

So what are some of your recommendations for building starting decks for your characters? Which basic cards do you like for each character? Are there multiple strategies you could focus on depending on how you want to play that character?

I'll start:

I noticed that there are lots of good arcane blasting spells, so why give Ezren stuff like Sleep and Invisibility to evade monsters, when you're better off eliminating them? Max out on those Force Missile and similar cards, along with Arcane Armor for when the gods of randomness work against you (either not having a blast in hand when you need it, or bad luck on the dice). Maybe a Detect Magic or two for scouting. But evasion spells? Bah! Give those to Lem, so he can scout safely!

Speaking of Lem: I tried him with two Cures to be a healer, along with Sanctuary and Invisibility, so he could evade fights while scouting. Making him a totally non-combat support character seems to work, though it's slow going.

I played solo with Ezren and Lem as my two characters in Brigandoom, customized as I describe here, and I actually cleared all 4 locations and reached the last card in the Blessing deck when I finally won. But I did win, which is the point. I think it would have been tougher with the rulebook deck recommendations for them.

On Ezren, though, perhaps having evasion stuff for scouting is more useful if he's playing more of a support role, paired with Valeros, Seoni, or whoever else as the primary fighters. I guess the blast focused build worked well because he was the primary fighter, with Lem as the support guy. Though Lem did win one or two fights with his sling and blessings.


If you have a perfect deck to start with, you have nothing to improve!

The reason you have a "Give a Card" action, is to be able to give a card to someone else.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Fromper wrote:

So now that I've played a couple of times, I'm realizing that the starting character decks recommended in the rules aren't that great. In fact, some of them have some pretty silly stuff in them. Because Kyra's so good against undead, she's the one character who doesn't need Holy Water, so why's it on her list?

So what are some of your recommendations for building starting decks for your characters? Which basic cards do you like for each character? Are there multiple strategies you could focus on depending on how you want to play that character?

I'll start:

I noticed that there are lots of good arcane blasting spells, so why give Ezren stuff like Sleep and Invisibility to evade monsters, when you're better off eliminating them? Max out on those Force Missile and similar cards, along with Arcane Armor for when the gods of randomness work against you (either not having a blast in hand when you need it, or bad luck on the dice). Maybe a Detect Magic or two for scouting. But evasion spells? Bah! Give those to Lem, so he can scout safely!

Speaking of Lem: I tried him with two Cures to be a healer, along with Sanctuary and Invisibility, so he could evade fights while scouting. Making him a totally non-combat support character seems to work, though it's slow going.

I played solo with Ezren and Lem as my two characters in Brigandoom, customized as I describe here, and I actually cleared all 4 locations and reached the last card in the Blessing deck when I finally won. But I did win, which is the point. I think it would have been tougher with the rulebook deck recommendations for them.

On Ezren, though, perhaps having evasion stuff for scouting is more useful if he's playing more of a support role, paired with Valeros, Seoni, or whoever else as the primary fighters. I guess the blast focused build worked well because he was the primary fighter, with Lem as the support guy. Though Lem did win one or two fights with his sling and blessings.

As far as Lem goes: I actually think he's best off with only one Cure spell. Why? Because of his ability to exchange for another spell out of his discard pile. He's actually the best healer in the game even with only one Cure, as long as he DOES NOT recharge that Cure. Trading any other spell for Cure and then curing himself is an amazing ability. Save those other spell slots for things like Invisibility, because he's not terribly good at combat. I would also recommend trying to get a Holy Light or Acid Arrow or something like that for him to deal some decent damage once in a while.

I also like Ezren as a blaster, using lots of Lightning Touch and Force Missile cards, because he can cast one to defeat a monster, and then because he played an arcane spell can immediately explore again. I've actually found Ezren to be one of the best characters to blast through a location deck because of this. You don't want ALL of his spells to be damage spells, though. I recommend, out of his 8 spells, that 4 of them be blasty, then you get an Invisibility, a Levitate (because sometimes moving another character around the battlefield can be HUGELY powerful), a Strength, and a Detect Magic (that you can hopefully eventually replace with Augury).

I've seen a lot of posts about Merisiel over-using her Evasion ability and ending up causing a loss for the party. The way I suggest avoiding that happening: Get Spyglass cards for her. There are three of them in the game (if you have the Character Add-On) and i would recommend that she collects two of them. Her other items should be Thieves' tools, MW tools, Eyes of the Eagle, and Crown of Charisma (to pick up those Ally cards and use them to explore more). Obviously none of these are Basic, but this set is what you should strive toward.

Oh also... no melee fighter should be using a shield. Switch them for Basic armors instead. This is mostly because the best weapons in the game are all two-handed.


Ezren doesn't get to explore again just because he used an arcane spell. He gets to look at the top of his deck an if its a spell put it in his hand.

If he acquires a card with the magic trait during an exploration he can explore again. (Which sometimes can be rediculous!)


Kyra has the Holy Water so that when you trade cards freely before the game begins she can try to insist that a weaker melee character can take it so that she doesn't have to heal them when some zombie pops up under their nose.
I wonder if Thieves Tools could be used in the same way - the rogue already has a good Disable check...


OberonViking wrote:

Kyra has the Holy Water so that when you trade cards freely before the game begins she can try to insist that a weaker melee character can take it so that she doesn't have to heal them when some zombie pops up under their nose.

I wonder if Thieves Tools could be used in the same way - the rogue already has a good Disable check...

We generally have her hand it off (The holy Water). The other use though is it has the divine trait so can be used with her discard ability.

Silver Crusade

Still not convinced that Kyra needs the Holy Water. If she's just handing it off, then why not let the other character start with it instead of taking up her item slot? And really, caltrops are almost as good, but work on any enemy.

I can see the point about giving up shields in favor of more armor. I might try Valeros with 3 chain mails to start next time I do a fresh deck for him. I'm also thinking longspear instead of the short sword on his recommended list.

I'm also leaning towards Detect Magic as a means of scouting for all three arcane characters (Ezren, Seoni, and Lem). I don't remember if there are enough of those to go around, though.


Fromper wrote:

Still not convinced that Kyra needs the Holy Water. If she's just handing it off, then why not let the other character start with it instead of taking up her item slot? And really, caltrops are almost as good, but work on any enemy.

I can see the point about giving up shields in favor of more armor. I might try Valeros with 3 chain mails to start next time I do a fresh deck for him. I'm also thinking longspear instead of the short sword on his recommended list.

I'm also leaning towards Detect Magic as a means of scouting for all three arcane characters (Ezren, Seoni, and Lem). I don't remember if there are enough of those to go around, though.

This got answered on another forum but the reason she has holy water is because it has the "Divine" trait. Her innate ability to heal requires a card with the divine trait to be revealed and discarded.

These include blessings, her spells, and holy water

she starts with 6 blessings, 3 spells, 1 item for a total of 10 cards out of 15 that you can discard to heal once per turn.


Invisibility lets you instantly succeed at stealth checks, which all 3 casters are poor at.

Thats why i run one on ezren anyway, 4-5 attack spells is way more than enough.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

"Optimal design" is not our primary concern for the starting decks. While they need to be very playable and somewhat logical, the single most important consideration is actually that you can build any 4 Base Set character's decks out of the Base Set box at the same time (and any 6 characters if you've added the Character Add-On Deck). This is a lot more difficult than it sounds; it's actually kind of a big logic puzzle.

And if you follow this logic through, you'll quickly realize that it means if we give one Divine caster a spell, we can't also give it to another unless there's another copy in the box. So a lot of horse trading has to happen.

Further, you may also notice that the total number of cards assigned to starter decks is pretty close to the total number of Basic B cards in the box (not counting Blessings of the Gods), which also means that almost all Basic B cards have to be assigned to *somebody's* starting deck.

So the question we have to answer is often not "what is the best card for this character," it's "whose deck can this card legally and most reasonably fit into?"

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

"Most reasonably" - Hence, the Cleric gets the Holy Water. Yes, maybe gameplay-wise it might be better for someone else, but thematically it's going to the Cleric.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Vic Wertz wrote:

"Optimal design" is not our primary concern for the starting decks. While they need to be very playable and somewhat logical, the single most important consideration is actually that you can build any 4 Base Set character's decks out of the Base Set box at the same time (and any 6 characters if you've added the Character Add-On Deck). This is a lot more difficult than it sounds; it's actually kind of a big logic puzzle.

And if you follow this logic through, you'll quickly realize that it means if we give one Divine caster a spell, we can't also give it to another unless there's another copy in the box. So a lot of horse trading has to happen.

Further, you may also notice that the total number of cards assigned to starter decks is pretty close to the total number of Basic B cards in the box (not counting Blessings of the Gods), which also means that almost all Basic B cards have to be assigned to *somebody's* starting deck.

So the question we have to answer is often not "what is the best card for this character," it's "whose deck can this card legally and most reasonably fit into?"

I should also note that this means that when *you* build decks, at the very least, you have access to the cards that we assigned to the characters that you're not using. So one of the easiest ways to build your own starting deck that's better than the ones in the rulebook is this: Build all of the active characters' decks using the suggested deck lists, then go through the other Basic B cards from the box, one card type at a time, looking for improvements.

Liberty's Edge

Vic Wertz wrote:


I should also note that this means that when *you* build decks, at the very least, you have access to the cards that we assigned to the characters that you're not using. So one of the easiest ways to build your own starting deck that's better than the ones in the rulebook is this: Build all of the active characters' decks using the suggested deck lists, then go through the other Basic B cards from the box, one card type at a time, looking for improvements.

That's exactly what my group did with S&S after I realized the way the deck lists were developed. In fact, I had pulled EVERY characters deck list (except for BoGs, and Ranzak) so people could have the basic deck ready and see what they wanted to improve.

It worked well for us (probably better than doing the "here's the X deck, grab whatever you want" and passing the deck around.)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

With the advent of the new character decks, and because my S&S box is being used for a game with Hawkmoon and friends, and additionally because I want to start a lunch-game with some people from work (and will be using my Runelords box)...

I've been thinking about using some of the class deck characters, and have made up some starting decks for a few of them. I'm just choosing characters for this work-game...with 40+ characters and nobody there ever having played the game, I'm not going to ask them to sort through it all. They won't understand the rules and will probably choose just by picture, which is almost certain to result in a bad character mix.

Three characters I've drawn up starting decks for (with just the Rise of the Runelords box - no class deck cards added...interested to hear thoughts / different decks that someone else might draw up / decks for other class deck characters for Runelords.

Meliski - Rise of the Runelords Starting Deck

  • Weapon: --
  • Spell: Cure, Force Missile, Inflict, Lightning Touch
  • Armor: Leather Armor
  • Item: Amulet of Mighty Fists, Holy Water, Thieves' Tools
  • Ally: Sage, Standard Bearer, Troubadour
  • Blessing: of the Gods x4
Meliski seems sort of like a bardic monk, with his Brawler role. That's why I gave him Amulet of Mighty Fists (Sajan is not in this group). The spells round out his offensive capabilities. Thieves' Tools might help with his Disable skill, as might the Troubadour. Admittedly, his Gambler role will be less useful without adding Bard class deck cards, there being no cards with the Gambling trait in Runelords (unless I'm forgetting one). May or may not add those; depends.

Tarlin - Rise of the Runelords Starting Deck

  • Weapon: Longspear, Quarterstaff x3
  • Spell: Cure, Sanctuary, Strength
  • Armor: Chain Mail x2
  • Item: Mattock
  • Ally: Sage
  • Blessing: of the Gods x4
No shields for Tarlin, since he relies on 2-handed weapons. Because his weapons can also become cure spells, I only gave him one. Figured this guy would be better in Runelords than S&S at this point, given that Blessing of Iomedae cards are absent in S&S. His options are somewhat limited by his low Ally and Item card count, but he seems very versatile in that he can somewhat exchange weapons + armors for other cards from the discard pile. Looks fun.

Arabundi - Rise of the Runelords Starting Deck

  • Weapon: Dagger, Light Crossbow x2, Shortbow
  • Spell: Cure, Sanctuary
  • Armor: Leather Armor
  • Item: Codex, Sage's Journal
  • Ally: Crow, Guide
  • Blessing: of the Gods x4
Put a sorcerer (Seoni...almost went Qualzar, but...) rather than a wizard in this group, otherwise Arabundi might be getting one of those potions or caltrops and giving up the Codex. Sanctuary was a spell that seemed worthless when I started Runelords, but now I can see the value of an evade that places the card right on top of the deck...as long as the foe is not undead, of course, and immune to the mental trait.

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