Checks to Acquire


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion


Wrath and Mummies mask both say "When you explore, flip over the top card of your current location deck. If it’s a boon, you may attempt to acquire it; if you don’t attempt that, banish it." under the Explore write up.

Mummies mask (pg 9) under Encountering a Card: "After you flip over the top card of the location deck, put it on top of the deck and read it. If the card is a bane, you must try to defeat it. If it is a boon, you may try to acquire it for your deck; if you choose not to acquire it, it counts as failing to acquire it."

Sorry I couldn't find this while we were playing. What I found was listed under "Attempting a Check" and it reads as: "Many times during the game, you will need to succeed at checks to do things, such as acquire a new weapon or defeat a monster. When you are required to attempt a check, you may not choose to fail it."

So this somewhat contradicting. And there are people on both sides of the fence in my group.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

"if you choose not to acquire it, it counts as failing to acquire it."

It counts as failing to acquire the boon, not as failing the check. So, they don't contradict. You can choose to not attempt the check. If you do, you failed to acquire the boon. But you did not fail the check.

(The distinction is important. For example: the Glassworks in RotR.)


Other member of his player group here. I definitely agree with the overall text being clear that you may choose not to acquire boons. I am wrestling with the distinction between failing to acquire and failing a check, and actually brought up the Glassworks as well.

If the only way to acquire the vast majority of boons (95% or higher?) is by making a check, and the booklet states that you are counted as failing to acquire them, I think it logically follows as failing a check as well for affects like the Glassworks. I doubt they intended for us ignore the 'At this location' text for fully 1/2 of the cards there as long as you choose to pass on all boons. I think the only cards this shouldn't be the case for are the few that present alternate options like 'bury a card'.


If you never attempted any checks, you could not have possibly failed them. Hawkmoon is correct.


You never attempted to acquire either, yet you are still counted as having failed to acquire.

The question is, in a system where acquiring boons is nearly always tied to making a check, is a failed acquire also treated as a failed check ?

There are other effects which can cause you to gain cards using language like '...you may add them to your hand', but those ignore card text and do not count as acquiring. Since making a check is generally the only way you acquire boons, I would say yes.

Edit: It may be pedantic / only count in edge cases, but I think the distinction is important due to Glassworks-like effects.


Another example, this one from the current season of Factions Favor, Adventure Set 2. Along with mentioning a cohort and henchman, one of the scenarios includes the following text:

"After building the location decks, shuffle an ally from the box into each location. When you fail a check to acquire an ally, suffer a scourge."

The scenario also features several ally-heavy locations. I doubt the intent behind this setup was to allow you to completely avoid the scourging scenario condition by deciding to dump the many allies you encounter directly back into the box and treat it as not failing a check.

Edit: Also, I would like to point out the above quoted language from the handbook again:

When you are required to attempt a check, you may not choose to fail it. This would seem to suggest that the reverse is true, that when you are not required to attempt a check you MAY choose to fail it. Otherwise it would be far simpler to say "You may never choose to fail a check." It would follow then that choosing to fail a check is what you are doing when you decide not to try to acquire a boon.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Knightofthevoid wrote:
I think the distinction is important due to Glassworks-like effects.

You're quite correct, but I don't know why you assume this distinction must be applied to the player's detriment, when it's equally as valid in the other directio. In fact, if what you're suggesting was true - Glassworks would be one of the deadliest locations in the game, and not because of the banes, but because of the boons.

(Arguing on intent is a moot point, since what Hawk and Skizzers said above was either directly confirmed by devs, or indirectly by not correcting the overwhelming player consensus. If you feel like it, you can probably dig into the 4 y.o. threads for the relevant discusiions- search for 'Glassworks', but you'll probably find your answers in a discussion relating to the Burglar)

Knightofthevoid wrote:
The scenario also features several ally-heavy locations. I doubt the intent behind this setup was...

There's nothing wrong in doubting the intent behind a specific wording/interaction - in fact, you may very well ask that in a dedicated thread of its own. I would, however, caution against taking your doubts on one issue as a supportive argument for your theories on another issue. (Now, if you get an answer "yea, in Factions we want you to get hurt when you decline an ally" - this would be grounds to then ask "But why does Glassworks work differently then?"; but in any case, this would at most lead to a FAQ on Factions and/or Glassworks, but will not change the fundamental distinction between 'failing to acquire' and 'failing a check'.)


There are cases outside of acquiring boons where attempting a check is optional. See the sidebar on page 10:

MM rulebook wrote:

RULES: OPTIONAL VS. REQUIRED CHECKS

• If you are instructed to attempt a check, you must do so.
• If you are instructed to succeed at a check to do a thing, and
the instruction does not use the word “may,” you must attempt
the check; if you succeed, you must do that thing.
• If you are instructed to succeed at a check or do a thing, you
must attempt the check; if you fail, you must do that thing.
• If you are instructed to either attempt a check or do something
else, choose one of those options.
• If you are presented with 2 or more options, none of which
require a check, you may choose any of those options.

If you choose not to acquire a boon, you never attempt any checks. You have no results of checks. Powers which say "If you failed a check by 4 or less" don't apply because there is no result, because you never attempted a check. If you failed a check, there would be a result and a number of how much you failed by.

The rulebook does not say that choosing to not acquire a boon counts as failing all checks to acquire it -- it says that it counts as failing to acquire it. If it really wanted you to count it as failing checks, it would have said that. It does not.

Finally, see this post and Vic's reply below it.


Longshot11 wrote:

There's nothing wrong in doubting the intent behind a specific wording/interaction - in fact, you may very well ask that in a dedicated thread of its own. I would, however, caution against taking your doubts on one issue as a supportive argument for your theories on another issue. (Now, if you get an answer "yea, in Factions we want you to get hurt when you decline an ally" - this would be grounds to then ask "But why does Glassworks work differently then?"; but in any case, this would at most lead to a FAQ on Factions and/or Glassworks, but will not change the fundamental distinction between 'failing to acquire' and 'failing a check'.)

It very well could be something that needs its own thread, and honestly could just be a phrasing issue (replacing a line with "...fail to acquire" instead would change it completely). However I think it's dismissive to label it 'doubts on one issue'. If taking a basic rule interpretation that everyone seems to be agreeing on and applying it to a recently written scenario severely breaks the difficulty, there is a problem. It could just be a language problem or some disconnect in the way choosing to fail to acquire boons resolve, but I would like clarification on it.

skizzerz wrote:
Finally, see this post and Vic's reply below it.

My takeaway from this thread were these three posts:

1) Hawkmoon - "So, for the Burglar, what if someone chooses to not attempt to acquire it? That (I think) doesn't count as failing the check. So you would avoid the burglar taking an item or weapon from you."

2) Vic - "That would be correct. (Again, not sure we're going with that...)"

Initially, Vic confirms that choosing not to attempt to acquire a boon does not count as failing the check, and thus would not trigger the burglar's failure condition.

Then afterward:

3) Vic - "The current plan: Burglar stays as is. The rules get a few changes, though.

"Evade the Card (Optional)" becomes:

Apply Evasion Effects....etc

"Attempt the Check" gets the following addition:

If you choose not to acquire a boon, it counts as failing to acquire it.

What this means is if you evade, the burglar's second power does not occur. If you do not evade, and either choose not to acquire it or fail to acquire it, the power occurs."

So he first says that it would not count as failing a check, but then states afterward that they are changing the rules so that it is a failed acquire. To me that sounds like a reversal of his previous answer via rule change.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Failing to acquire a card and failing a check to acquire a card are intentionally different things.

Choosing not to attempt a check to acquire a card results in you failing to acquire that card, but it does not mean you failed a check to acquire that card. You can't fail a check when you didn't attempt a check.


Fair enough, doesn't get much clearer than that :)

Sorry all if I came off as too pedantic.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

[posted before I read your post above, but leaving it here it case it helps someone...]

Let's map this another way. You want to equate failing to acquire with failing the check to acquire. But think about a bane that requires two checks to defeat: If you succeed at one check, but fail at the other, you clearly failed to defeat the card... but that doesn't mean you failed both of the checks to defeat it, right? So if failing to defeat does not equate to failing the checks to defeat, why should failing to acquire equate to failing the checks to acquire?


Ok, but in the bane example even if one check was passed there was still a check failed. So if we're at the Glassworks (to use one of the earlier situations) when this goes on we still lose a card from the top of our deck as a check was failed.

Part of the problem for me was the phrasing saying that you can't fail a check if you never attempted one. It was too analagous to saying you can't fail to acquire something if you never attempted to, because the rules clearly state you can resolve a boon encounter in exactly that fashion. So since failing to acquire something more ordinarily includes failing on a check, I assumed that must be the mechanic that causes the failure of the acquire. It's not that I thought multiple / all checks listed on a boon were failed, just that acquisitions and checks were too tied together for me so it was resolving in the order of some check (even if none was rolled, just as a mechanical thing) being failed to trigger the failed acquire and card being banished, even when purposely making the decision not to acquire.

Edit: This does make a particular new season set 2 scenario remarkably less Scourge-y. We've needed loads less curse removal this season, although I will say that I kind of appreciate it letting up a bit after finishing up the six regular sets of season 3 :)

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