Preferred table size for organized play = 4. Why?


Pathfinder Adventure Card Society

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Grand Lodge

In the Guide it states in bold letters:

We strongly recommend making 4 players your standard table size.

Clearly Paizo wants to emphasize this, but what is the reasoning? Is it because larger tables tend to run long on time (because of increased decision-making discussion length), or that with 6 there are fewer turns per player?

We have a single box for my FLGS and we are trying to decide whether to chip in for a 2nd one so we can run 2 tables simultaneously. Insights into the reasoning behind suggesting 4 as the table size would help us decide. Thanks!

Grand Lodge

The reasons you already mentioned, I think.
Also, set up is marginally simpler.

But I suspect the main reason is that 3-4 players is when the game is easiest. 5-6 means you often run out of Blessings, 1-2 means you're short on skills and in more danger of dying. And in OP you want to have a larger margin of success... and more freedom to experiment with the scenarios.

Grand Lodge

Interesting. There are a couple reasons I can see for a 4 player table being "standard." You hit on two, being time and turn count. But I think another factor is the number of locations. More players, more locations. More locations, more cards to get through in 30 turns. More cards, more blessings used on exploration and fewer in the tank for check assistance. Games are lost and players killed when you have to force exploration all the time. My guess is the developers feel like 6 locations is a good sweet spot to make the game difficult enough without being too overwhelming.

Silver Crusade Venture-Lieutenant, Missouri—Kansas City

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the first scenario out of Skulls and Shackles for a group of PFS players in my area. There was 5 people at the table and I was hanging out, helping them out along the way and answering questions.

With those 5 players, each person would get 6 turns and I originally thought it was only going to be a 3 hour game, max and it took almost 4 hours. I had to do some wrap up stuff at the very end to show them how to win the scenario, just so the shop could close and the owner could go home.

Even without that rule, we've already made the suggestion that we'd like to limit the table size to 4 people, at least for a while, just to make sure each player gets plenty of play time, help cut down on the table chatter that slows things down and everyone feels like they are contributing to the overall success of the scenario.

We may try going up to a 6 person scenario later on in the future, but in our area, we're going to stick to 4 players until the player base gets a good understanding of the rules.

Grand Lodge

Just anecdotally, when we played OP at GenCon I think we had 6 every time. We might have had 5 but we definitely never had 4. We got through the scenarios (1-4) in 2 hours (or less) each and only lost once.

Venture-Agent, New Mexico—Alamogordo aka pluvia33

Agreed with two player/character games. A friend and I played a quick one-shot game of the first scenario from the base set with Damiel and Lini while we were waiting to go to the game store and run On the Horizon. Granted we were rushing a bit because the game was taking longer than expected, but we both ended up dying.

This was a bit of a shock to the system for me as when we were playtesting S&S with a six player/character group, we rarely had characters at risk of dying and no one actually died during the entire game.

I'm not that worried about larger games, but I'm going to be very careful about running smaller groups in OP.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I played in a six player group at Gen Con in the first scenario. The group was my girlfriend and myself, who had played all through Runelords, and four newbies who had gotten a quick primer just before starting. We ran out of time, and had one character death. Oddly we found the villain but it was one of the new sorcerer characters who didn't have any attack spells and the villain was immune to one of the traits on the sorc's built in blast. I'm unused to large groups but in retrospect we should have spread out to temp close and gone for a win that way. We all had fun but it was very challenging with so many new people and the large group.

Also playing with 4 means you could leave out the add-on deck, which improves your treasure because there will be no C cards to pull, just B and 1(and maybe P)

2/5

I started playing with 6 people and it was extremely painful learning the game with that table size. There was 30 minutes between turns. The game was not fun. If I didn't own the game, I probably wouldn't have played again.

It was only when we played a 3 player game (and later several solo games) that I felt the game was fun. The 3 player game felt easier than the 6 player game.

Solo I can finish a game in 30 minutes (sometimes as little as 10 minutes), with 2-3 players in 45-60 minutes, with 6 players it took 3 hours.

I'm sure once everyone gets quick with the game and knows their characters, 6 player games can be very fun, but not initially.

I'm guessing that's why they recommend 4 player games.

Venture-Agent, New Mexico—Alamogordo aka pluvia33

Wow, three hours? Is that all in play time? I hope that was with a few relatively new players. I don't think a game every clocked in at much longer than 90 minutes with my 6-player playtest group.

Sovereign Court

It sounds like that was his first, very negative, experience with the game.

We run four in our group and typically go about an hour per scenario. I can see six being about 90 minutes per, because of more locations and more communication and coordination. I definitely wouldn't recommend learning with more than four though, I think that's the sweet spot for the game.


I'll toss out the age old reason 4 is best:

4 = muscle/magic/heals/thiefyness

Can't beat the "standard" party size :)


4 seems to make a lot of sense for balance- not so thinly spread that you can't handle all the checks (we did a 2-character play-through of RotR, Ezren and Merisiel - never a blessing to be had, no healing, and no chance of making a strength/melee check), but not so big that you have to wait a fortnight between turns and then run out of blessings...

Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka zeroth_hour

I believe PACG is really designed ideally for 4 players. It scales okay with 2-6 (solo is tough), but it's probably the easiest with 4 and you don't want to make things too hard for people who aren't naturally inclined to have the most optimized situations.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
TanRu wrote:
Just anecdotally, when we played OP at GenCon I think we had 6 every time. We might have had 5 but we definitely never had 4. We got through the scenarios (1-4) in 2 hours (or less) each and only lost once.

That is very strange to me. I was only in four-player tables, which they seemed to be working very hard to maintain. I saw a couple of 5 but never 6.

Pathfinder ACG Designer

borodino21 wrote:
TanRu wrote:
Just anecdotally, when we played OP at GenCon I think we had 6 every time. We might have had 5 but we definitely never had 4. We got through the scenarios (1-4) in 2 hours (or less) each and only lost once.
That is very strange to me. I was only in four-player tables, which they seemed to be working very hard to maintain. I saw a couple of 5 but never 6.

We sold tickets for four-player tables and sat generics up to six-player tables.

Scarab Sages 1/5

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I split the six players we had last night into two tables. The resounding feedback I received was to not do that again. Everyone would rather play together unless we need to split due to more players. Even with six players, we get in two games in a four hour time slot. That said, it would be nice to have slots free on tables for walk ins and late players.... I have no solution, just feedback. =P


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Smaller groups are probably better for people who are just learning the game. Quicker turns and people are able to retain the information they're absorbing. There is alot to take in...especially for people who don't own it personally.

Grand Lodge

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Thanks, all - I think we are going to go ahead and get an extra set. We've played non-organized play twice with six players, mostly new or people who have played once. The first time, it took us roughly 2 hours, the second time it was more like 3. If playing with 4 increases the chance we can get in 2 scenarios in an evening, I think that's worth it, not to mention the ability to easily accommodate 8 and even go up to 12 with walk-ins if needed.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Idaho—Boise aka Alifera

The main problem, I feel, with six player tables is if you have any new people in the game. Sometimes it's already hard to get them focused to really pay attention to all the game play but then you have to wait around on the turns until you can play again. It's really better for new players to max it out at 4.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

With every extra player you are adding another 10 cards that potently have to be encountered. So even though you have the same number of turns a 5 or 6 player game has significanlty more cards to get thorough in the same amount of time.

My experiance is that 5 or 6 players games are only suited for a group of well experianced players.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I talked with Mike about this earlier this week, and he feels that since you have fewer turns when you have more people, you have fewer opportunities to master the dynamic of a new party, with regard to both gameplay and social aspects. Corollary: bigger parties work better when you have a group that's used to playing together.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

To add more to this:
When I designed the 30-card blessings deck, I knew I'd created a swingy system. Play with fewer people, and you'll get more turns per person, but your likelihood of killing yourself before you run out of turns goes way up. Play with more people, and your likelihood of killing yourself goes way down, but you're vastly more likely to lose by running out of turns.

The former situation can be rectified by time. As you get into a rhythm of when to explore and when to play blessings and when to heal over the course of the game, your marginal success per encounter rises, and your likelihood of dying (or at least having to bail) goes down.

But it doesn't work the other way. You're going to run out of turns when you run out of turns. And that means you have to be efficient out of the gate. You can't make up in later turns for turns in which you weren't efficient.

In basketball, the cliche is, "You can't teach height." That pretty much matches the problem that you can teach your comrades how to defeat and acquire better, but the blessings deck is uneducable.


Holy Candle in RotR was a great boon to provide a few additional turns. Why this item is no longer available in S&S and in the class decks?

Venture-Agent, New Mexico—Alamogordo aka pluvia33

It may have been decided that Holy Candle was a little too good. And although it wasn't included in S&S or any of the Class Decks, there are two spells in the Class Decks with similar abilities:

-Consecrate (Spell 3, Cleric): lets you bury your own blessings to shuffle back that many into the blessing deck then banish the spell.

-Invoke (Spell 5, Rogue): shuffle 1d6 random cards back into the blessing deck, bury the spell or banish if you do not have the Divine skill (both of Lesath's roles have the ability to gain the Divine skill, but he only gets one spell slot after using a Card Feat).

Although these spells aren't available in the actual S&S set, there may be a card or two with similar abilities later on. We'll just have to wait and see.


Karloch wrote:
Holy Candle in RotR was a great boon to provide a few additional turns. Why this item is no longer available in S&S and in the class decks?

This is just speculation on my part, not knowing what the devs were thinking: the only thing Holy Candle does is turn back the clock a bit. Sure, it's a useful power, but it does mean that it's taking up an item slot that could be doing something useful to the scenario/checks instead. Turning back the clock, while useful to the players in some swingy contexts, doesn't really otherwise do a lot. An item that, for example, reduced damage from structural damage would be more useful, since that would prevent (rather than fix) blessing deck damage.

Further: If it was in S&S, then encountering it in OP would basically be 'succeed at this check to turn back the clock', making the item an anti-barrier, rather than an actual item you'd be using, since there would be no point in not using it immediately if you weren't in the first five turns.

And by putting it in the class decks (cleric, probably) you're basically telling that class 'blessing deck management is in your purview', which isn't something that the devs probably wanted to say. Just my 2 coppers.


I don't think Holy Candle was removed because it was too good. Based on my play experience; I found this item mostly useful when there are 3 or more characters in the game. But it could help large groups (5-6 players) instead of capping the number of players to 4 or talking about adding card into the blessing deck (as discussed in another thread in this section).

It needs to be an item (rather than a spell) included in the base set or in some class decks; I don't see why it should be only in one class deck.

EDIT: I think Holy Candle should be in the Character Add-on Deck! Isn't that what we need for more than 4 players.

Venture-Lieutenant, Online—ACG aka Hawkmoon269

Mike has said both on the forums and on the recent Know Direction video that Holy Candle might have been too good.

Grand Lodge Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Lancaster aka Theryon Stormrune

Yeah, someone wanted to bring Holy Candle into the Skull & Shackles set … so we shot him.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Mike has said both on the forums and on the recent Know Direction video that Holy Candle might have been too good.

Thanks for the link Hawkmoon269.

After reading the thread (didn't look the video); I understand that multiple copies of holy candle could disrup the game. Not really sure that having a unique copy (could be gained as loot perhaps) would be too powerful. Again, I think this item usefulness is strongly depending of the number of players in the game.

The fact today is: many players don't wish to include a fifth or sixth character in the game. Why? How we can balance larger group? In RotR; I consider Holy candle is a good trade-off. In S&S; I'd rather split the table 2-3 or 3-3 rather than having a full table. My two cents.

Venture-Agent, New Mexico—Alamogordo aka pluvia33

Karloch wrote:
The fact today is: many players don't wish to include a fifth or sixth character in the game. Why? How we can balance larger group? In RotR; I consider Holy candle is a good trade-off. In S&S; I'd rather split the table 2-3 or 3-3 rather than having a full table. My two cents.

Personally, I think 5-6 character games work just fine. To me, it's just an issue of play style preference. It's a completely different dynamic playing with that many characters and if you're not used to it or it just isn't how you like playing the game, you're likely not going to enjoy it as much. I've introduced four new people to the game over the last couple of weeks, all at a 5-6 character table, and they loved it.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Agreed. Out of every size table, I prefer 5-player tables the best. Plenty of characters to diversify the table and provide different skill sets, but there's still a crunch to push and explore as often as possible.

Venture-Lieutenant, Online—ACG aka Hawkmoon269

Here is the link to the relevant discussion in Know Direction video.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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pluvia33 wrote:
Personally, I think 5-6 character games work just fine. To me, it's just an issue of play style preference.

Exactly. Which is why we *allow* 1-6 players, but *recommend* 4 for PFSACG.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Here is the link to the relevant discussion in Know Direction video.

Hawkmoon, your link goes to http://paizo.com/pfsacg/resources

Venture-Lieutenant, Online—ACG aka Hawkmoon269

elcoderdude wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Here is the link to the relevant discussion in Know Direction video.
Hawkmoon, your link goes to http://paizo.com/pfsacg/resources

Argh!!!! I hate when that happens. Here is the right link.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
elcoderdude wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Here is the link to the relevant discussion in Know Direction video.
Hawkmoon, your link goes to http://paizo.com/pfsacg/resources
Argh!!!! I hate when that happens. Here is the right link.

Thank you!

Well, if I heard correctly; Mike ended his comment by saying that Holy Candle is fine.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Holy Candle is fine; it has the perception of not being fine, but it's probably okay as is. The opportunity cost of carrying it is that you don't have an item you could actually use for dealing with what you encounter in the game.

But that's not the point. We're not in the business of giving you everything you want every time we release something new. We're in the business of creating new challenges for you, and seeing what happens when you try out the new things. So, S&S did not have Holy Candle, Haste, Staff of Minor Healing, and several other popular cards, because our job is to make more popular cards. You might see all of them again, but there's no card that's guaranteed to be in any particular set.

That said, when I suggested we might be able to get by without Cure in the next adventure path, that was not a popular suggestion amongst the designers.

Grand Lodge Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Lancaster aka Theryon Stormrune

Mike Selinker wrote:

Holy Candle is fine; it has the perception of not being fine, but it's probably okay as is. The opportunity cost of carrying it is that you don't have an item you could actually use for dealing with what you encounter in the game.

But that's not the point. We're not in the business of giving you everything you want every time we release something new. We're in the business of creating new challenges for you, and seeing what happens when you try out the new things. So, S&S did not have Holy Candle, Haste, Staff of Minor Healing, and several other popular cards, because our job is to make more popular cards. You might see all of them again, but there's no card that's guaranteed to be in any particular set.

That said, when I suggested we might be able to get by without Cure in the next adventure path, that was not a popular suggestion amongst the designers.

Depends ... you plan on replacing it with Heal?

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

I wouldn't rule it out.

Sovereign Court

Considering all the demontheme, holiness, and whatnot, I'm hoping to see attack spells that also do small healing!

1/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Theryon Stormrune wrote:


Depends ... you plan on replacing it with Heal?

If they did such a thing, I'm guessing they'd name it Healing instead.


I played RotR with a consistent group of 5 and now we are a full 6 for S&S and we are all enjoying it. You have to really optimize your turns and think about the best characters to close and handle each location. The added challenge of 30 turns with 6 players is very welcome and it's great to see as many characters in action as possible.

Downtime hasn't been that big an issue for us between temporary closing of locations, barriers that force everyone to deal with their consequences or even weird scenarios with rules that make everyone fight banes all the time, there is usually something to do. Plus we all want to see the boons that are turned up in case there is something awesome we want to get in on!

So far we are averaging about and hour and half per scenario. Last week we played one in about an hour and then the next one took 2 hours. As the complexity and challenge of the adventure path increases each month I expect most scenarios to last about 2 hours towards the end, as was the case in RotR.

I cant imagine a scenario lasting three hours even with 6 people once everyone knows what they are doing.

Grand Lodge Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Lancaster aka Theryon Stormrune

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Organized Play scenarios are definitely different than RotR and S&S scenarios. We'll see what happens if we get 6 for a session. I am finding that some of the classed work well together then the next week they don't. Depends on the skills needed for the scenario.

Venture-Lieutenant, California—Santa Maria aka tkpope

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We had 5 players for an OP session on Saturday, and three of those 5 had not played a lick of PACG (Where G is Game and not Guild) or PACG (where G is Guild and not Game). We almost ran out of time (blessings) but through a stroke of luck, we were able to defeat the villain on the last turn.

I'm pretty sure the two experienced players could have defeated the villain much quicker than this party of five. But isn't the point of the game, and Organized Play by extension, to have fun AND bring new people to the game? We succeed at both.


Obviously they hate bards. IT is PFS institutionalized racism against bards!

We shall march upon them in all our resplendent glory making music all the way!

Pathfinder ACG Designer

KenderKin wrote:

Obviously they hate bards. IT is PFS institutionalized racism against bards!

We shall march upon them in all our resplendent glory making music all the way!

<--loves bards

5/5 Venture-Captain, Idaho—Boise aka Alifera

I don't know how anyone could hate bards. I was not a fan of them at the beginning but that was before I could revel in all their awesomeness.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Seriously, bards are the best. It's the one class I find myself coming back to consistently in every tabletop RPG that allows the class. :)

Sovereign Court

Bards are 99% broken

I love them

Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka zeroth_hour

I like bards... when I'm not a bard.

(I think Meliski's reroll has saved my bacon more than once.)

Tanis, if you like bards, why do you have a fighter as your avatar? :)

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