Back to the drawing board: is fighting too important in PACG?

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game General Discussion

I played three seasons of Organized Play with the same three people (and we had a blast). Eventually two gamers decided they were done with PACG for awhile, so we played other stuff (until the group disbanded).

With Paizo's re-evaluation of PACG, I asked one of the nay-sayers for his thoughts on the game. This was his biggest gripe:

Matt wrote:
PACG has too much of a combat focus. If your character was good at fighting, you were strong and could deal with pretty much anything; if your character wasn't good at fighting, you were only situationally useful and could get stalled on a fight you were unable to win. To me, the rest of the mechanics seemed almost tertiary.

Thoughts? (Input from Siwar players would be appreciated.)

Scarab Sages

Dahling, we have other people to do those messy tasks for us.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

You certainly would have trouble playing solo with a poor fighter - you need some way to beat the villain. Most do not have a choice besides combat.

Most location decks are about 50/50 banes and boons. 2-3 of the banes will usually be monsters, which means combat. The others will be barriers which can require all sorts of checks.

Fundamentally, combat is how things get done so you certainly need someone who can handle it. Now, characters that are less good at fighting still perform useful functions, but some players really don't enjoy being the "buffbot."

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... Yes and no....
I mean compared with similar "cooperative-improving-character-deck-building-games", it is indeed combat-focused (and rightly so, we are coming from D&D where dungeon crawling was HEAVILY combat&loot-centric).

When I was "a bit" younger we played games like "Call of Cthulhu" or "Rêve de Dragon" (a bit of Frenchy advertising doesn't hurt) where we were desesperatly trying to avoid combat by using our wits. Not strangely, ACG coming from thoser games are less combat centric.

So yes if you want less combat-centric, maybe not PACG.

This said if the question is whether a non-combat centric character is fun in PACG, I have only ONE answer: they are the funniest to play. Assuming of course you are playing with at least 5 REAL players (not the same guy playing numerous characters). Because those characters are really meant to be played in less-than-optimal play. Bottom line elcoderdude is the level of maturity of your players. If they are "still" in the teenage spirit of "more power = more fun, I want to be Superman or nothing, give me all the greatest loot immediately", indeed that may not be so fun for a non combat character. If they are more into the "what's the adventure today?", it's a whole different ballgame. Mavaro and Alahazra to say the least.

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That there is a heavy focus on Combat check is true. After all, the terminology of the game is divides checks into "Combat" and non-Combat" categories.

I think Combat has a lot to do with balancing the game. Combat is the easiest kind of check to have that makes sure most if not all characters have a way of succeeding at it. True, many characters are way better at Combat check than others, but combat is the check that is going to make give the greatest number of characters a chance to be successful.

But, it is definitely possible to play a character with a very low emphasis on combat. I've discovered this a few times. Interestingly, more then a few of them emphasize something other than checks (as opposed to emphasizing non-combat checks). Here are the ones I've seen pulled off:

Illusionist Ezren (RotR)
I took all the Scrying, Auguy, evading spells I could. I kept one or two combat spells. I also had the Medusa Mask since (if I recall) that isn't technically evading so it took care of the things that couldn't be evaded. Brodert Quink let me examine the bottom of the locations. Invisibility was key, and so were spells like Dominate that let you combo the evasion with acquiring boons. Swipe was great since it both acquired cards to let Ezren explore, let me help others, and served for my combat check. Basically, my role was to setup location decks for the others, acquire boons, and avoid encountering banes as much as possible.

Acrobat Merisiel (RotR)
This was my wife's character. She took the upgrade to leave evaded cards on the top of the deck. She also had the power feat to help acquire items. She'd leave boons that were great for others on top of the location deck. She'd also leave a henchman or villain we weren't prepared for on top. And she'd pick up items with relative ease.

Chirurgeon Damiel (S&S)
I know you can make Damiel into all kinds of insane monsters, but I build mine around assisting others and succeeding at a variety of non-Combat checks. He was paired with Calthaer's Olenjack, so Damiel would give Olenjack the poison trait (or help him succeed at a craft check for a poison adding item) to fuel more explorations. I'd then heal myself and keep the cycle going. I took a few combat potions, but also emphasized the non-combat ones. I really relied on my weapon for combat as much as the potions.

Sheild of Gorum Oloch (S&S)
Add to checks others attempt, reduce damage they are dealt, heal them, and even let them heal themselves when they help you.

I'd also expect a non-combat emphasis to be possible with these characters:
Evade banes to let someone else deal with them, acquire boons. Keep one reliable combat method on hand to use the Wrecker's power to close difficulty locations.

Alahazra (S&S)
This is probably true for most versions of Alahazra and other oracles, but focus on scouting for yourself and others.

Lem (various)
Pair up with another character and focus on helping them with checks.

I'm sure there are more I haven't discovered or I'm not thinking of.

The tricky thing is, that when a character emphasizes a skill over combat, there is a risk of a difficulty group combination. In "physical" adventure paths, the designers know which skills are going to be emphasized and so can make sure that most (if not all) characters can handle that skill. If you only build your group from characters included in the adventure path, you have a really high (if not guaranteed) chance of creating a successful group. But throw in Organized Play, Class Deck, and/or characters from other sources and now there can be some trouble. You can build a group where everyone has a d4 for Wisdom for Skull and Shackles. Or where everyone has a d4 Intelligence in Wrath of the Righteous (I think that one emphasized Intelligence/Knowledge didn't it?).

And when designing an organized play scenario you have no way to predict which combo of the myriad of possible characters will end up playing it. So, you have to limit requiring a skill for success because the group might not have that skill. It isn't organized play, but as an example, I picked up the "Valeros adventure" on Pathfinder Adventures because it was under $2 on sale recently on Steam. I took my group that had successfully completed RotR (legendary through adventure 5, still finishing legendary in adventure 6) and played it. And it was brutal at times. There are a higher percentage of non-combat checks on villains and henchmen. And the scenario with the bar tables where all the closing requirements are Constitution? Rough. (It also has henchmen that are require Strength checks to defeat I think). My group was Valeros, Sajan, Ezren, Seoni, Merisiel and Lini. No one was really ideal for the scenario. They either couldn't defeat the henchman without a lot of help, or they couldn't close the location without a lot of help.

So, yeah, there is a focus on combat. It essentially has to be that way. But I think it is possible to play a character that doesn't emphasize combat. But I will say, I've never personally seen a Siwar played yet.

Silver Crusade

I played the entirety of Season of the Shackles with a Siwar at my table, and we won every scenario. We frequently paired up her and Maznar---also a decent-but-not-great combat character---and they gave each other a ton of d4s.

I have heard tell of a Lem who recharged all his cards on other people's turn and just used his turn to draw back up.

Hawkmoon left his SotRi Radillo off his list above, but he had her constantly taking Augury and Scrying over combat spells, and we lost very few scenarios. (I'm looking at you, Grimslakes!)

I've played S&S Alahazra through the base set a couple of times, and she is perfectly happy with only a few combat spells in her deck.

Interestingly, I think Mummy's Mask and the fact that we live in a post-trigger world has made combat more of an emphasis. Once upon a time, scouters could keep their decks relatively free of attack spells, but now there's always the danger of scouting a bad guy. I get why it was done in terms of game balance---scouting was very powerful in previous sets---but it also means that one of the primary and most effective types of support had to focus on combat as well.

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Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
Hawkmoon left his SotRi Radillo off his list above, but he had her constantly taking Augury and Scrying over combat spells, and we lost very few scenarios. (I'm looking at you, Grimslakes!)

Yeah, that is a good example too. Though, I didn't sacrifice combat as much for that Radillo build as I did in the case of Illusionist Ezren. But I did find myself often working to simply set up the turn of other characters.

Glad to hear there is a successful Siwar. I haven't seen (in person) anyone really attempt playing her yet.

I'm definitely curious to see some interesting combos, like Ranzak and someone to take all his banes.

As you might have heard (looks upthread) I've been playing Siwar in Season of the Plundered Tombs. You'd probably consider her a "slightly less good Lem", but I'm having a lot of fun. Our group of 4 regulars (Siwar, Damiel, Oloch, and Balazar) and an occasional bonus player has failed a scenario or two but overall we work well together.

Combat-wise, she has Swipe, Lightning Bolt, Deathbane Light Crossbow +1, and (via substitution) Neferekhu. Only one of those is what I'd term "good", so most of the time she pairs up with Balazar or Oloch and lets them handle Combat duties. (The one time I was lucky enough to pick up Mummify Self, though, Neferekhu became a combat monster. Pun intended!)

Like the other Bards she is great in support with her recharge ability, Cures, examines, and various Allies and Items with helpful abilities. Tetisurah (another substitution card) keeps her in cards to spend on her turn, and using her cards in support on other turns helps make up for her lack of damage reduction. (When you get there, though, don't forget to take substitution cards that give damage reduction.)

I think folks get too concerned about Combat checks. Yes, there's a lot of combat and yes, the Henchmen and Villains are usually Combat. Most of the cards don't involve Combat checks, though. If you can do a half-decent Combat a turn and do other things to help clear out the location decks you're probably fine. What I worry about more are Combat-types who can completely crush a combat without losing any cards but can't go again and refuse to dump cards to get Blessings/Allies/etc.

Of course, everything changes with more or less players. :(

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Having only looked at what Siwar's card says and not played her, I'll definitely take your word for it. She seems to be the one most people point to as being difficult to play. Once she got a few card feats, she'd seem easier to play (either picking up a weapon or more spells).

She's designed to be pure support. You want to pair her with someone who can fight and handle that heavy lifting. With her Manipulator role she's pretty good at everything except Combats and can hand off Combats to others, but you have to get there first.

Pre-role Siwar is Lem without the "get a Spell from your discard pile" power. The "Skirmish/Task -> Diplomacy" power is not nearly as good, at least not in PluTo. My guess is that it'd be most useful in Skull and Shackles-based games, but I'm not the one with the card database. ;)

You will want to fill out her Spells quickly; whether you spend a feat on the one decent Weapon is a tough choice. Folks with Guild play Markets may find having that Weapon card feat less of a drawback because later on they can trade it away (probably for a Combat Spell.)

The substitution cards given to you in Season of the Plundered Tombs are extremely helpful. Extra cards every turn, a bonus to Wisdom checks and a Weapon as an Ally, damage reduction, Curse removal, Charisma/Diplomacy bonuses, giving others an explore; there's a lot of good there.

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Hawkmoon269 wrote:
I'm definitely curious to see some interesting combos, like Ranzak and someone to take all his banes.

Me and the GF did that in RotR - she played Ranzak, I was Sajan moping up the bad guys in her wake - my turn usually consisted of "I start the turn, I reset my (usually empty) hand, I end my turn. You go again, Ranzak!". Quite the reversal of traditional roles, when I had the combat monster and instead felt like the most dedicated support ever :D Of course, after he swipes 3-4 DEX feats, Ranzak is quite capable of holding his own against many of the lower-AD monsters...

Apologies for being AWOL from an active thread I started. Life happens.

Reflecting on the comment from my friend Matt in my OP: Matt played Olenjack in the latest RotR season, and he played Zarlova in the Wrath season. Particularly in the first case, if he did not have the right cards in hand, he lost combats not infrequently (compared to the rest of the party of combat beast CD Sajan, CD Seelah and even Grazzle). Zarlova fared better but could be caught out by a two-check monster, particularly as the second combat of a turn.

We lost 2 scenarios in season 0, as I recall, and I don't think we ever lost another scenario (perhaps one). So, winning/losing isn't so much the point, as is that Matt himself was discouraged at times that his character seemed handicapped compared to the characters played by others at the table.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Y'all demonstrate that a party can have dedicated non-Combat specialists. I think it's the more challenging route in PACG, though.

Eliandra makes an interesting point that MM has altered the landscape significantly, in that the scouting-focused characters now need to be prepared for Combat more often than they needed to be in prior sets. That's really true.

Frencois wrote:
When I was "a bit" younger we played games like "Call of Cthulhu" or "Rêve de Dragon" (a bit of Frenchy advertising doesn't hurt)

Il faut que je pose la question: Les dragons android, rêvent-ils de manger des moutons électriques?

My group played through S&S with some of the early character deck characters, Amaryllis, Melindra and Zarlova. We had to avoid combat quite a bit, and make use of other techniques-- lots of scrying and augury. It made for a different sort of play experience.

The game could certainly benefit from other paths, alternate ways to winning apart from combat. A more 'old school' style.

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elcoderdude wrote:
Matt wrote:
PACG has too much of a combat focus. If your character was good at fighting, you were strong and could deal with pretty much anything; if your character wasn't good at fighting, you were only situationally useful and could get stalled on a fight you were unable to win. To me, the rest of the mechanics seemed almost tertiary.

Well, that is certainly true, but it seems to be such part of the PACG DNA that it's unlikely to change.

To me, part of the problem is that (closing notwithstanding), failed non-combat are rarely an issue. However, *to close* you usually have to defeat some tough Henchman monster. So, in my XP, supports with mediocre combat but strong closing skills are sometimes reluctant to explore aggressively their preferred locations. It's not that it's not *possible* to play pure support - it's that *someone" MUST make the heavy combat checks. On one hand, that means at least every other person in the party has to spec as combat beast; otoh, it also means the 'supports' often feel like it's "the fighter's show", and they're just warm-up act (granted, there are also a lot of people content playing support).

IMHO, throughout the current sets, PACG evolved in way that's not particularly friendly to 'supports'. The Trigger problem was already mentioned (and in my XP, it didn't only hit scout characters, it hit the 'examine' mechanic as whole; and it hit it *hard*)

Another thing is the over-reliance on Veteran effects - both monsters AND barriers/location. MM actually felt really strongly as *devolution* of characters. Consider this: a starting character will have a +2/+3 skill bonus and a d12/d10 VS a particular card in AD0, with a difficulty around 9 - that's about 50% or better chance of success before expending resources. In AD6, that difficulty would be 15 (Veteran) or even 21 (double Veteran) - as characters peak at +4 to their Skill* (see below) they would now have +6/+7 - their chances at beating the same card actually got WORSE with experience! (Some characters DO have powers that boost their chances *without expending resources* - but most do not!). So, when a dedicated barrier-buster/closer has to throw at least 1 Blessing for a decent chance at *what they're supposedly good at* - this is very discouraging for the non-dedicated characters. With 'To Close', you can at least usually plan for this; for barriers - you mostly cannot.

And then there are the Veteran monsters. RotR is much maligned on these particular forums for being "too easy" - but it also remains the single most newcomer-friendly of the sets. To me, part of it is because it struck the best (not perfect! yes, it *did* slide more toward the 'easy' side of the scale.) balance of monster difficulties in the box as the AD# advanced. In MM, we had to expend resources for almost every single combat, and more than anything it felt like "there's no room for mistakes, at all". My take-away from the post-game talks is that PACG is now more 'tense', 'exhausting' and 'nerve-racking', rather than 'pleasant', 'exciting' or 'fun'. But, hey, it's not like those more casual players from RotR even stuck around for MM, right?

*About Skills and dedicated people: I don't see how it could (or even that it *should*) be changed - but I often wonder why Lone Shark even bothers printing half the Skill feats on characters. MM Zadim was an amazing exception that he actually *wanted* to upgrade 3 different skills at the same time; for most others however, it remains the same old "MAX your Combat stat first, then dump the rest into that other stat, that maybe has 1 or 2 linked sub-skills, but it's not like you'll be ever good enough at them to actually plan around them"). I'm particularly peeved by the 'tradition' of giving the d4 skills a single Feat box - post-Combat boosting, some people *might* at least want to prop up their weakest stat, if it seems important for the campaign; being capped at +1 however goes nowhere (the single exception to mind is S&S Ranzak with his d4 WIS +3 Survival. But hey, that guy already rocks harder than a boat at a Gozreh party)

My 2 cents, or thereabouts.

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I think part of the problem is Olenjack. I consider Olenjack the weakest class deck character (yes, even worse than Siwar, because Siwar has spells).

Olenjack isn't even support (he helps no-one but himself). Without having actually played him...

He gets d8 Dex without any boosts, and a proto-Warpriest like power to add to all of your checks. Early Rogue weapons are also kinda blah (Dagger and Dart in particular - Bekah, a character that's also fairly combat weak early, gets to use a Rapier for combat at least). You may be tempted to use your allies for exploring, but you really shouldn't. You'll need all the allies you can get, so you mainly do your free explore, and calculate a lot of probabilities. It really sucks, but I don't think I'd recommend him for newbies. Spider Olenjack gets reasonable combat ability since he doesn't care about the bury from his Poisons, and can even recoup them if he has to discard them to damage.

Zarlova just has the problem of not having enough spells in her deck to support her style of combat. She needs at least 3 Attack spells early on and she only has 1-2. I also played Zarlova in the Wrath season and I was okay.

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Red Harvester wrote:

Il faut que je pose la question: Les dragons android, rêvent-ils de manger des moutons électriques?

... seulement les dragons bleus...

VERY old joke

When I was young, I was sure there was no such thing as android dragons... then I met my wife (easy one).

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I think a big factor is that combat is a very binary outcome, with a set of consequences great enough that you don't want to risk failing.

Failing combat, arguably worst of all, doesn't deplete a card from the deck (I play in 6 man groups, usually, so time wastage is the worst case scenario), as well as threatens damage and other negative effects. Some "Non-combat" character solutions to this don't actually sufficiently mitigate this - notably, reliance on Evade, or using armour to nullify damage. You still end up spending an exploration and a card for merely a shuffle of the deck.

In fact, the downside of failing is so high that spending additional resources to assure success is so consistently worthwhile that actually getting into no-win situations, or unlucky rolls losing combat, is exceptionally rare in my experience (outside of WotR, though note I have not played Mummy's Mask at all). This has the side effect of almost entirely negating the point of an entire card type: Armours. In fact, they've gotten around this by trying to give armours more and more additional effects and bonuses in later sets, since "Preventing damage", at least from combat failure (rather than before/after you act), is so rarely helpful in even vaguely combat-capable parties.

I'm not sure what solutions there could be that gives non-combat focused characters a greater chance to shine and pull their weight, because I don't feel they often do (and characters 'specced' into non-combat roles, like Illusionist Ezren, really do just feel like they play A LOT worse than a more traditional playstyle).

Giving more common non-combat checks as options to defeat monsters, combined with some more complex or practical 'examining'/scouting effects could work: "Hey a Siren's coming up at this location soon, how about you sit here?". Having scenario rules or location rules that are more likely to benefit support characters, which we sometimes see, could also be a consideration for a greater focus. "Pass a Disable 8+ adventure deck number to add 5 to your combat check", etc.

Honestly, as a whole, I just find Barriers, with their more complex failure and success effects, and their more unpredictable (and non-combat) methods of overcoming them, a FAR more satisfying element of play, and due to the often high cost of failure, pretty much the only time the "strongest combat rolls and exploration heavy" character in the party isn't just being outright more productive and helpful than every other party member, in most of my group's games.

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Actually one issue we see (but it may be due to the fact that we only play with 4-6 players) is that (mostly monsters) banes that have a choice of checks to defeat that looks like "Combat X or whatever Y" usually have the Y too high vs X so that we nearly never chose something else than Combat to defeat (although lower than X).

Usually it comes from the fact that there are many ways to boost a combat check and much less to boost another check, unless you were very lucky and the good guy (the one with a very big die in the "whatever" skill) managed to meet that bane.

E. g.: Combat 11 or Divine 8 (Agash). Unless you already have divine forget it. And even if you have a d8 Divine for example, it may happen that you have better luck with a good Attack Spell or Weapon.

I feel if the X/Y ratio was reviewed, we would use less Combat vs other stuff.

Shadow Lodge

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I've played a few of those non-combat characters, and they're a lot of fun.

I'm currently playing Ranzak in Season of the Goblins, and you wouldn't believe how fast he can run through a boon-heavy location deck, especially if he's paired up with a heavy hitter to take on any bane Ranzak can't handle.

I'm also playing RR Lem in a home game of Season of Faction's Favor, who is definitely a support character most of the time.

The one that surprises me, though, is S&S Oloch. I'm playing him in our regular public Season of Plundered Tombs game. I chose him intending to be a combat character with the ability to heal himself if necessary. But by now (just about to get our role cards) he seems to spend a whole lot more time handing out +2s to other players when they run into a difficult check, with the occasional diversion into combat if something needs to be taught a lesson. Admittedly this is possible because we have another player with a summoner, and I suspect he could almost solo most scenarios - he certainly makes short work of most of his encounters.

Scarab Sages

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If anything, I think healing is too important.

I was looking at that part about being "only situationally useful" and thinking that it seems, in my limited experience, like combat checks are things that basically anybody can do.. some characters might need a spell or item to do them, but they get done and people have something better than 1d4 to do them. Non-combat checks on the other hand, get divided into "skill roles", and it seems very likely that even a "support" character just won't have the skills needed to make all of the varying skill roles. Even though I've been playing Raheli, who can pick a skill before every scenario (by picking her cohort), I still find that I often lack skills necessary to close locations or acquire boons. If I pick a cohort to help close 1 location, I'm still probably missing skills to close other locations.

In addition to having to cover a wide variety of skills just to have a chance of making a check, the results of failing non-combat checks are usually relatively meaningless. So if you fail a check to close a location, that location doesn't close on that turn.. If you fail a check to acquire a boon, you miss out on that boon. If you fail a combat check though, you take damage and might die. There are barriers of course, but it seems like the damage from those is generally less than combat damage.

One thing I would suggest is having more characters that actually have powers which use their skills. A "scout" style character, for example, could have a power to (once per turn) make a perception role to examine the top card of their location deck. A character with Fortitude might be able to make a fort roll once per turn to avoid 1 damage. I'm talking about little things to make sure that a character's skills are always useful for that character, and not only useful if a certain set of circumstances occurs. So far I've used my disable skill about once per adventure, and I've never used my knowledge skill.

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To the point of game exhaustion. There are just no 'interesting' mechanic s in PACG's combat (for the most part). You almost always roll combat. Maybe there's a before / after, or a check to limit something (maybe).. but that's about it. We finished Mummy's Mask and have gone to FFG's Arkham Horror LCG. Not exactly the same but similar. We'll re-evaluate if we return to PACG with whatever changes they make, but as it stands right now, Mummy's Mask was our last play.

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I wouldn't call combat prevalence strictly "exhausting" but its weight probably informs too much of character/deck builds - and it's only gotten worse post-RotR where an effort was made to counter the "too easy" complaints by jacking up Combat CtDs.

Maybe we could move forward a situation where more monsters actually have *viable* alternative CtDs? Like, I can out-Stealth Rogues (some Snakes/Rats already have that), out-Diplomacy Captains/Aristocrats, out-Survival (i.e. "calm down") predator Animals... - You know, somehow emulate an RPG character's non-combat approach to problem solving and role-playing.

This could give a better incentive for spreading outside of the primary Combat Skill feats, and add better value to cards that add to particular sub-skill. I don't know that it'll be enough to offer a reasonable alternative so dumping all your Skill feats into combat, but it's *something*... (Though, of course, it could also somewhat devalue dedicated weapons/fighters).

Alternatively, maybe there's a way to make non-combat skills more valuable in way that doesn't feel strictly inferior to combat-focus (though, I don't know what that would be withing the game's current parameters...)

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I like the amount of combat the game has to offer, even in RotR and WotR, which are very combat centric. Even then, it is certainly possible to play all of the sets without investing heavily into the combat stat or cards that focus on combat.

It's not like you can just invest in your combat stat and be done in SnS and MM either; you'll have serious problems without Wisdom/Constitution in the former and without means against barriers in the later, especially if you play characters that do not belong to the respective base sets.

As has already been mentioned, if anything, healing is the biggest factor in changing the feel of the game (besides player count). Try playing a party without access to cure or anything similiar and you'll see that the way you approach the game radically changes.

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I don't think that the (perceived) focus on combat is a problem with the game system. Rather, it's a "problem" with individual scenarios, adventures, and adventure paths. As Mummy's Mask has shown, the developers have ways of shifting the focus so that barriers and other game effects can take more of the limelight, and so that more monsters can be given suitable non-combat checks to defeat. At the next higher level, scenarios can be given success criteria that don't revolve around defeating monsters in combat - much like the Local Heroes scenario in Rise of the Runelords or the Audience with the Inheritor scenario in Wrath of the Righteous.

So this isn't a "problem" that needs to be resolved by going back to the drawing board (i.e., re-designing the core system). Rather, it's a challenge for the designers as they continue to develop future products. And at the risk of sounding like a suck-up, the creativity in the recent class/character decks demonstrates that the designers can effectively evolve the game without needing to change the core rules.

With the Pathfinder/Golarion setting and the adventure paths being based on the RPG APs, though, I think that we're always going to see a significant portion of the challenges resolved through combat, whether that combat is effected with weapons, spells, or whatever. On that note, perhaps one thing that can be designed into the game more is different combat methods having more or less potency against certain banes (most likely via the traits). Golems/constructs and their immunity to the Attack trait is one example, but there might be ways to design more of these into the game. Some of this will be limited by the source material, of course, but there's room to experiment.

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Doppelschwert wrote:
Try playing a party without access to cure or anything similiar and you'll see that the way you approach the game radically changes.

Аctually, this describes pretty much all of my 6-p parties, across multiple adventure paths in all 4 sets. Sometimes, someone would carry a Cure "for insurance" but across upwards of 200 scenarios, we used it less than a dozen times - and then, mostly as "just in case" or to get the healing card out of hand, not because it was really needed.

So, Healing, in my *6-p* experience is strongly overrated - quite explicable, since we usually don't have enough time to go through our deck, let alone be in danger of dying.

I strongly suspect this may vary a lot in 2-5 players, and a bunch of solo characters would be screwed without it (while others, like some casters, actually operate *better* at "death's door"). Healing's impact is strongly tied to party numbers and composition, is what I'm saying.

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I agree with both Brother Tyler and Longshot.

I'd expect that healing is much less of an issue for 6p games, but for 2p or 3p games, this can become an issue both early on and towards the end of an AP whenever there is something that the party as a whole can't deal with well.

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Brother Tyler wrote:
I don't think that the (perceived) focus on combat is a problem with the game system. Rather, it's a "problem" with individual scenarios, adventures, and adventure paths....

I'm wondering if the "too combat focused" seems-to-be-issue can only be solved by adapting scenarios. As an example, if I refer to my previous post:

I wrote:
... banes that have a choice of checks to defeat that looks like "Combat X or whatever Y" usually have the Y too high vs X so that we nearly never chose something else than Combat to defeat.

Seems that giving a penalty to using combat (at scenario or location level for example) could do the trick. But I've seldom seen that actually done.

I feel that if X and Y were actually more balanced that would be better.

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Longshot11 wrote:
...Healing's impact is strongly tied to party numbers and composition, is what I'm saying.

Exactly that Longshot. And (unfortunately?) much more than in the RPG.

From our experience a spell like Cure makes a lot of sense if you have a party of 1-3 characters. But much less above.

A spell like Pillar of Life makes nearly no sense if you have a single character... but even less if you have 5+ characters. It feels counterintuitive (seems the more characters, the more can benefit) but if you are 6 players and have only 5 turns to play, you really seldom benefit to spend a move + an explore to just get a bit of healing. Worse, since the all the previous characters came to the Pillar's location to get healed, they ended up exploring there, and there's a good chance that location is closed before your turn... so moving there would actually means using all of one of your only 5 turns.

The way Mike built the game, healing is an issue in small groups and time (blessing deck) in large ones. One thing I "would" change would be trying to balance the game so that both are issues whatever the party size. IMHO.

In regards to Brother Tyler's post, I feel the perceived notion that the game is too combat-focused is because most of the banes encountered are monsters, especially henchmen and villains. Barriers are meant to represent the non-combat obstacles. They're not necessarily just traps (though most of them fall into that category), but can also represent other sticky situations like the Shopkeeper's Daughter.

This isn't an issue solely with the Adventure Card Game. Pathfinder in general is built around this for the most part. When you play Pathfinder Society, the henchmen and final boss are nearly always combat encounters. That's just what most people expect, and probably what most people want. Even in the RPG, being a non-combat character is usually going to be pretty boring for a majority of the scenario. I remember playing alongside a player who loved being the party "face", but when it came to combat (which it inevitably does in PFS), he was almost completely ineffective. The GM did his best to allow him to roleplay his way through some things, but for the most part, combat encounters require combat. If more than one player were doing this, we likely wouldn't survive.

Similary in PFACG, in a 6p game you could likely have 1 player be non-combat, and the others could carry them through the combat portions of the game. But I wouldn't try it with a 2nd player doing that until they start making adventures that are more barrier-focused.

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