Why we stopped OP (De-hijacked thread from Class Deck discussion)


Pathfinder Adventure Card Society


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm restarting this conversation in a more proper place, since I was in danger of taking more than my fair share of space off-topic in another thread.

I thought some boosters in the form of a 110-card add-on deck would be useful for jazzing up old content. I gave some back story to the specific problems I was having planning something for my Pathfinder ACG group to move on to after MM, since there's at least one of us that has done RotR, S&S and WotR. People suggested Ron Lundeen's homebrews (they're most definitely on my radar!), and playing the previous seasons of Organized Play.

Then:

Keith Richmond wrote:
Axoq wrote:

Our group started from Organized Play, so we've also played Season of the Shackles and Season of the Righteous, and after seeing Adventure 6 of the latter and dealing with some of the rules, we, um, stopped doing OP.

It's possible the newer rules that came later are better, and of course we can alter the rules playing at home, but it's probably still going to be a hard sell.

It depends a lot on what things bothered you about said rules. AD6 tends to be higher difficulty in every set, so if it's a difficulty question then it might be fairly universal for AD6. On the other hand, you could play AD1-5 of the other OP seasons cheerfully.

If it's certain mechanics - things like burying your role card, Wrath in particular had some mean mechanics, because of Mythic madness. Different sets will likely avoid many of those problems.

If it's purely a question of the team's actual skill and experience at designing scenarios... that is a trickier proposition. We have had slightly different people on different seasons, and it's true that the designers gain skill over time. That said, I wouldn't expect a vast difference between the design theories of OP and its representative set. For example: I worked on both the Mummy's Mask box set and Season of Plundered Tombs and didn't change much in that time :)

And suddenly we're not talking about class decks anymore, and more about what our deal with OP was, and I think it's worth sharing our side of things. So, the long shaggy dog story of our group:

It started with another player who posted about starting something in the Vancouver area on Board Game Geek. We got in touch with each other, he found a store, and talked to some people who might be interested, and we started getting together on Wednesday nights.

The store told us it wasn't cost-effective to continue staying open late on Wednesdays, so they moved us to Fridays and their usual public game night, and we lost half our people. Every once in a while, someone would quit, either because of some other commitment or they moved to another country (this happened twice, and not to the same country). Sometimes we'd attract a new player and they'd stay a while, but then they'd realize, oh, they expect me to come every Friday, and we never heard from them again.

The only thing that kept us going was that my friends from my more general gaming group heard about what I was doing and started coming in to make up the numbers. When that other guy who found us the store finally left, it was him, and two of my friends playing.

Then there was the day that two of us picked up location decks and put them back in the wrong places. So my non-fighter character wandered into the wrong deck and was killed. It didn't take us long to figure out that we'd misdealt the game, so we didn't report anything about it. Then a couple of weeks later my character died again, but not as the result of a misdeal. We were far enough into the game, and at the time there weren't tiers or anything, that it would have completely messed up the game for me to start a new character and attempt to catch up. So we just stopped reporting and pretended it didn't happen.

The beginning of the end came with Season of the Righteous. My one friend was only willing to buy the Bard deck, so he'd been playing Lem for two seasons now. Another friend decided the bard Siwar looked interesting. Rounding us out were two Paladins and a Monk. So I know better than to lay all of the blame on my group souring on OP on game design, whether that's OP in general or SotRighteous in particular. But still:

The WotR deck has a whole lot of theme. Demons everywhere, and things to deal with demons everywhere else. That's fine if you have those cards in your deck, but you don't because you're exclusively using your class deck. (We were anyway. I read something about digging one and only one card out of the box to add to your deck when you start, I think, in a newer version of OP rules? But that was further up the line, after we bailed.) And of course, the Bard decks were from those first seven with too many characters and too few solid boons for said characters, so they always felt like they were struggling with everything. Again, not the game's fault, but it wasn't just the bards who felt this way.

We did struggle through the first five adventures, however. But 6A nearly killed us, and we decided to maybe do them in some other order so we might possibly get some better cards, but they were all equally impossible looking. That was the week that the Mummy's Mask Base Set hit the stores, so we spent that night playing that and decided where to go from there.

We were long past reporting anything, being in public in the store (to get the Seasons) wasn't getting us anything since anyone who might be slightly interested had been and gone, the rules about upgrading class decks felt restrictive (one card? And not a useful one from the Path we're working on?!), we were eating up one-third of the table space in the store, and we were constantly in danger of having to bail on the game when the store closed... so we formed a weekly group to play the game in disorganized play on those same Friday nights.

We now have 9 + n weeks to find the Next Thing (where n is the number of scenarios we fail). That's looking like Season of the Goblins, and then who knows. We might try the content of some of the later OP seasons, but I doubt any of us will want to play them Officially after our experience with it.

Lone Shark Games

This is a very valuable explanation; thank you!

There are some campaign variations / improvements that might work better for you, like:
Season of Plundered Tombs has traders, and increased access to not only Loot cards but also Path critical cards like Remove Curse and Elemental Treaty.
Die Bumps can prevent deaths in OP

That said, I'd encourage you to consider playing the OP scenarios with normal box rules (and whatever your group's accepted practice is for death). It doesn't sound like you're getting the OP benefits (ability to travel to any store, play at conventions, play at a variety of times and locations and still get back together and keep playing in a reasonable fashion), so you should maximize fun over frustration there.


Keith Richmond wrote:


That said, I'd encourage you to consider playing the OP scenarios with normal box rules (and whatever your group's accepted practice is for death). It doesn't sound like you're getting the OP benefits (ability to travel to any store, play at conventions, play at a variety of times and locations and still get back together and keep playing in a reasonable fashion), so you should maximize fun over frustration there.

What he said! Axoq, when I recommended the seasons to you it wasn't about recommending OP, it was about more than doubling the amount of content for a game that you're clearly into.

P.S. Have fun with season of the goblins and I hope you'll let me know how it went after. I've been considering it for when I'm done season of the runelords.

Grand Lodge

Another thing you might want to look into is hooking up with your local Pathfinder Society Chapter. We run our ACG games on the same night as the PFS content at our FLGS. We usually get one new player a month who will rotate in and out if they've already done everything thats scheduled for PFS. Now that we have all the box sets and campaigns, we've started adding an event to their meetup since we have the supplies to run 2-3 tables concurrently.

All that being said, one of the reasons why we can grow our group quickly is that I own all the physical content. We started with all the original class decks split between an old roommate and myself, which we sleeved and put into binders with the appropriate character sheets. This let us easily and quickly pull together new stuff for new players. Once there were enough Class Decks out, we retired all the original classes to a huge binder for demo/conventions.

One of our players ended up starting a new group when he moved with putting his own 5 class decks into binders and bringing them with him. He's got a regular run of 3-6 players now.

Also my group knows me to invoke GM Fiat at something that would make the game unfun or severely mess up someone's experience enough for them to not enjoy the rest of the night, to a certain point. Don't be afraid to bend the rules if they are stopping your ability to have fun.

In regards to character death, something you might have missed in the rules is that the party may spend 3 die bumps to resurrect a character.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks for the clarifications, folks. When my group starts discussing what to do next, I will mention the OP Seasons as a possibility. (Jim, how different from the RotRl adventure path does Season of the Runelords feel?)

As clarifications: I remember looking for regional people for any kind of Pathfinder Society events when we were playing (we stopped OP some 30 weeks ago, and our run of it was a couple of years long, so somewhere in there in the early going) and finding a gaping alphabetical hole where Canada-British Columbia should have been, though I see there are people now. Given the non-reporting, and other ways we'd relaxed the administrivial rules to accommodate people, I wondered at the time what would happen if a Venture Critter showed up one day.

I do own about a dozen class decks, and brought them regularly so we were covered there. Most of the people who came and played did so with my material for a class deck. As for the two deaths, that was during a Season of the Shackles game, and we were following that original rulebook. (Not sure if we were far enough behind at that point that the SotR book was out yet.) Die bumps hadn't been implemented at that point for any purpose. We did play on to see the tier system helping people catch up missed games, die bumps, and a way to restart players who'd died, but when those started we'd already exhausted our local pool of interested players who might have wandered by. I suspect the rule about 3 die bumps is recent enough that we never saw a rulebook with that in it.


3 die bumps was introduced in Season of the Runelords.

That being said, PFSACG Seasons were modeled after Adventure Paths in their structure so unfortunately it's going to take people who are really dedicated to finishing the game to play it. PFSRPG took the route of being able to play 3 scenarios in a Tier that don't have anything to do with each other so you don't have to play with the same group over 30 sessions to catch up or to have to drop someone because they didn't play for 2 months. I'm hoping the modularization will add shorter modules to the game that don't require so much time commitment (Goblins was nice, but it was also designed to be played with the Goblin decks).

Technically you _can_ play across Adventure Paths even now, but because there's 1 AP (and maybe a module) a year, groups can and do overplay the content available.

I do the same thing as you - I provide most of the class deck material to introduce players to OP (although I do stipulate that if you're playing more than 1 Adventure with it you're probably committed enough to get your own) either at the game store or at a convention. If I have to run more than one table, I've thankfully cultivated enough fans that I have more than one box (well, I have more than one box period but more than one box of the most recent set. It does get hard to lug around.)


FWIW, I'm playing Siwar in Season of the Plundered Tombs and she's working out pretty well. The Bard deck (which is, admittedly, pretty bad) is helped quite a bit by the Loot available for substitution in the Mummy's Mask set. I don't think I'd want to try her in Season of the Righteous, though, and definitely not as a second Bard in the same group. :(

Guild play is a lot like a Bard: it's a jack of all trades and master of none. I think the best thing I get out of it as a player and set owner is a second Adventure Path for each set. The best thing about the Guild play rules is that they allow the organizers to easily run multiple groups out of a single box. For Paizo and the stores it's supposed to help spread the word and bring in people (respectively) but I'm not sure how well it works for them. Our group has been pretty constant, but it definitely isn't popular like the RPG PFS. Our group does play at a store and purchase things so that's something.

I don't believe our organizers or the stores at which they've run events are being supported by the program; our organizers buy the PDFs as they appear on the site and bring their own sets and class decks.

I'll agree with what others have said: if the Guild rules don't work for your group then don't use them. You can still play the Guild adventures with the normal rules; just add in the Feat rewards after Scenarios 1, 2, and 4 in each Adventure and you're good to go. (You may also want to change the Loot awards to work the normal way instead of using substitution.) The main thing is to have a good time. :)


Parody wrote:

The Bard deck (which is, admittedly, pretty bad) is helped quite a bit by the Loot available for substitution in the Mummy's Mask set. I don't think I'd want to try her in Season of the Righteous, though, and definitely not as a second Bard in the same group. :(

I'd like to recommend the mound of dead bards miniature https://imgur.com/qxgLQf1

Parody wrote:


I think the best thing I get out of it as a player and set owner is a second Adventure Path for each set.

That's it right there!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Parody wrote:
I don't believe our organizers or the stores at which they've run events are being supported by the program; our organizers buy the PDFs as they appear on the site and bring their own sets and class decks.

Please have your organizers encourage those stores to sign up, as they will only gain from it—they'll get a free Base Set and free scenarios! Just point them to http://paizo.com/paizo/about/retailers.

And your organizers themselves should at least look at http://paizo.com/organizedplay/coordinators/volunteer to see what the options are.


I'm sure our organizers know the drill, Vic. :)

My comment above was my speculation; I've never directly asked them. I do know they have compilation PDFs, not individual scenarios, but they could very well get them from the stores or the network.

All of the stores at which they've run events are on the retailer list already, except for Fantasy Flight's own store. The store at which I play most of the time does have a Skull and Shackles set in their demo pile. It doesn't have the other adventures, so for us it's only been useful as a filler for new players and hasn't been used since Season of the Righteous started. (IIRC.)


Parody wrote:
I'm sure our organizers know the drill, Vic. :)

Now I'm sure they do and I'm almost assuredly wrong, as I went and dug up one of her old posts and she's listed as a Venture-Lieutenant. Shows what I know. :)


Parody wrote:
FWIW, I'm playing Siwar in Season of the Plundered Tombs and she's working out pretty well. The Bard deck (which is, admittedly, pretty bad) is helped quite a bit by the Loot available for substitution in the Mummy's Mask set.


If you have comments about the Bard deck, you might want to add to the recent review thread. :)


Parody wrote:
If you have comments about the Bard deck, you might want to add to the recent review thread. :)

Im not sure what I think about that review. The reviewer has never played a bard.

I do agree with about half his review of the card breakdown. The bard deck had issues with Items & Allies, luckily the items could be mitigated by loot. Especially if your table looked at what you are replacing.

I didn't really agree with the Spell rating. Bards getting Lightning Bolt at AD2 was slightly over powered compared to the wizards. They all looked on in envy. Great healing and utility added to this and I would have rated it as an A.

I feel his review is very misleading.

Silver Crusade 2/5 RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 aka cartmanbeck

Slacker2010 wrote:
Parody wrote:
If you have comments about the Bard deck, you might want to add to the recent review thread. :)

Im not sure what I think about that review. The reviewer has never played a bard.

I do agree with about half his review of the card breakdown. The bard deck had issues with Items & Allies, luckily the items could be mitigated by loot. Especially if your table looked at what you are replacing.

I didn't really agree with the Spell rating. Bards getting Lightning Bolt at AD2 was slightly over powered compared to the wizards. They all looked on in envy. Great healing and utility added to this and I would have rated it as an A.

I feel his review is very misleading.

I disagree, I think the reviewer hit the nail right on the head with the review. Sure, you can argue slight differences in the overall grading, but the item selection is abysmal, and the allies in the deck are weak, and when you're seeing weak allies in a Bard deck, something went wrong.

Also, like several of the other "old" class decks, the best weapon in the deck is the Deathbane Light Crossbow, which you get early on and never want to replace. :(


Slacker2010 wrote:
I do agree with about half his review of the card breakdown. The bard deck had issues with Items & Allies...
cartmanbeck wrote:
Also, like several of the other "old" class decks, the best weapon in the deck is the Deathbane Light Crossbow, which you get early on and never want to replace. :(

I do agree with everything you are saying. My point was taking the cards in a vacuum isn't fair to people looking to play in OP since it has a lot to do with the actual characters.

All of the original decks had issues. I think the bard and the cleric decks are two of the best of those 7. I think the new decks are constantly getting better leaving the originals by the wayside.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Missouri—St. Louis aka Joshua N Hancock

Ultimate decks! (See today's blog)


Parody wrote:
The best thing about the Guild play rules is that they allow the organizers to easily run multiple groups out of a single box.

You mean over a period of time, not simultaneously, right? We currently have 10 in our group & even 2 boxes isn't really enough because all the level 6 scenarios (Plundered Tombs) are nigh impossible with 5 players.

Parody wrote:
I'll agree with what others have said: if the Guild rules don't work for your group then don't use them.... The main thing is to have a good time. :)

See I don't think we could. Rules are, well, rules. If you take one out then none of them really matter and there's no game left. Maybe too many of us are board gamers, but it just doesn't seem like an option.


PezKat wrote:
Parody wrote:
The best thing about the Guild play rules is that they allow the organizers to easily run multiple groups out of a single box.
You mean over a period of time, not simultaneously, right?

Our organizers use the same boxes to run for groups at multiple locations on different days. Each group uses one box at a time. If you were using the normal rules with those boxes, you would have to spend a bunch of time dealing with character decks before and after each session and figure out how to deal with "removed from the game" Basics and Elites for multiple groups.

PezKat wrote:
We currently have 10 in our group & even 2 boxes isn't really enough because all the level 6 scenarios (Plundered Tombs) are nigh impossible with 5 players.

Whether or not specific scenario(s) work well with large groups isn't part of the equation and is best discussed in a thread about those scenario(s).

PezKat wrote:
See I don't think we could. Rules are, well, rules.

Playing the Guild Adventures with the normal rules is a perfectly valid option. You still have rules, just slightly different ones.

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