Another infinite loop, starring Spell Trapper Zvarbel


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

My friend is going to be mad at me (he's playing Zvarbel in our RotR campaign) if this gets his Zvarbel nerfed (especially since we're going out of our way not to abuse this), and I'm surprised this hasn't been reported yet (to my knowledge), but here it is:

Spell Trapper wrote:
 When you fail a check, you may draw a barrier from the box or draw a random card from your discard pile ( or draw both).

Setup is quite simple:

1. Start the turn with Scrying (or Augury, or any other spell that's both arcane and divine that can be cast outside of an encounter. Scrying is probably the best though) and an empty discard pile.
2. Cast Scrying and then fail the check to recharge. Guaranteed if Zvarbel chooses to attempt the recharge check using the divine skill.
3. Having failed the check to recharge, Scrying is now in Zvarbel's discard pile.
4. Since Zvarbel failed a check, she activates the above power to draw a random card from her discard pile. Since Scrying is the only card there, Scrying goes back to her hand.
5. Rinse and repeat to your heart's content. If you put a second power feat into the ability, you can, if you'd like, get all the barriers from the box into your hand!

To be honest I kind of feel like a jackass for figuring this out; I don't go out of my way to try to find ways to break the game. If it were up to me I'd probably nerf the power so it only works during an encounter - similar to how Radillo was nerfed - since that's a simple fix and it's still plenty powerful.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Hum... the way I see it is at the time you fail the check (the power says "when you fail a check", not "after you failed a check") the spell isn't in your discard pile. So the power cannot draw it.
That's the beauty of the "instead" in the recharge power (the spell never reached the discard when you try to recharge it).
IMHO.

Now the issue is that I can have two such spells with one already in my discard, and then I can indeed it seems swap from one to the other.

I wonder if there would still be an issue it was FAQed with something like :
When you fail a check during an encounter, you may...


+1.
The OP scenario doesn't work, as Frencois says - Scrying wasn't in the discard pile when the check was failed.
But, again as the good Frenchman says, if instead you had an Augury and a Scrying (for example), then the cycle works.
I'm not sure how broken this is - the cycling doesn't work well if you have anything else in your discard pile.


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Frencois is correct, Scrying is set aside at the point in time you make the check, and is therefore not in your discard when the check is failed.

You'd need two spells to cycle between them, so it's still busted though. I agree that a nerfbat is desirable. To counter elcoderdude's point, healing is cheap and readily available so it's easy to assume an empty discard. My preferred fix would be to reload the card from discard instead of adding it to your hand.

Rulebook p8 wrote:
When you play cards by performing any other actions, set them aside while you process their effects. For example, a spell might tell you to discard it, then allow you to succeed at a check to recharge it instead; set it aside until you resolve the check that determines whether or not you recharge it. Do what each card requires in the order you set them aside. While set aside, a card does not count as being in your hand, your discard pile, your deck, or anywhere else.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks Skizzerz, that's exactly the reference I was looking for. But I still have an issue. What is the rules justification for Zvarbel's power interrupting the resolution of the spell recharging? If you're supposed to finish one thing before starting another, it seems like you would resolve the sequence like this:

1. Roll to recharge the Scrying.
2. You failed to recharge. Per the card text, Scrying is discarded.
3. You failed a check. Zvarbel's power activates.

(Again, I'm not purposely trying to find loopholes to exploit, but to me it isn't clear why some powers or effects can interrupt sequences while others have to wait until a sequence is resolved.)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Looks like the new Core rules close this loophole, so an FAQ is unlikely.

As for your question, “when” powers always interrupt the normal flow of things. You resolve them immediately whenever their trigger happens, before continuing with what you were doing before.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
skizzerz wrote:

Looks like the new Core rules close this loophole, so an FAQ is unlikely.

As for your question, “when” powers always interrupt the normal flow of things. You resolve them immediately whenever their trigger happens, before continuing with what you were doing before.

So, for example, that means WotR Imrijka could defeat a henchman, use her explore power to explore again (if she rolls a 4+), then attempt to close the location if the henchman allows after this exploration?

Or when Warchief Bekah fails a check to defeat a barrier, she can explore again before resolving the effects of failing to defeat the barrier?

To me the idea of a power interrupting the resolution of an effect seems to fly in the face of the principle of finishing one thing before starting another:

FAQ wrote:
Finish One Thing Before You Start Something Else. You do many things in a specific order, and you need to finish doing each thing before you do the next thing. You move before you explore, not after. If a spell used in a check can be recharged, finish the first check before you begin your check to recharge it. If a villain requires two sequential combat checks, finish the first before starting the second. Don’t start a new process until you’ve finished the last one. (That said, if the game doesn’t specify an order for things, you decide the order.)

The italicizing is mine. I interpret that part to mean, in the case of Zvarbel's power, that the process of recharging the spell completes before her power activates.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm not going to comment on the timing, besides that I detest the "Finish One Thing Before You Start Something Else" bit of the rulebook, because I know it contradicts other design aspects and rulings. For example, how Triggers will interfere with an examination going off (like what happens if you cast Augury to examine 3 cards - the first trigger will be resolved before you examine cards 2 or 3 - which seems to fly in the face of "Finish One Thing Before You Start Something Else").

Then it gets more confusing when a FAQ covers that if a Triggered card forces you to shuffle the deck, it would occur after all of the examinations and other powers of the examining card finish, further just adding arbitrary exclusions to that 'rule'.

==============

As an aside, though, Zvarbel is a very good candidate for - if not going "infinite" - taking very, very long turns and drawing a lot of cards. I've observed this a few times, and she's been on my radar for a character to try for that reason. Even aside from this, she's probably able to be 'broken', but with a lot of effort

For context, I've personally had a lot of experience with effectively infinite exploration+movement cycles to end scenarios quickly (often on turn 1) numerous times.

  • I've done it with a Tier 5 Mother Myrtle, under test conditions.
  • I've trivially done it with a Tier 2 Reepazo, under test conditions, and I maintain that Reepazo is the single most broken character in PACG by miles and I refuse to play her again.
  • I've done it on three-seperate-occasions with MM Ezren under actual PbP conditions.

    There's always limits - hypothetical or practical - and the new post-Core rulings strictly limit the top-end of power of these things quite nicely, but they can still highlight exploitable combinations of powers which might just be unavoidable in a game with so many moving parts as this. Infinite combos in card games is a long, proud tradition of the genre, after all, but they're certainly a lot less desirable in a co-operative game.

    More Zvarbel trickery:
    But Zvarbel has a couple of particularly important powers that might allow her to go infinite without too much trouble in a custom-crafted deck. Firstly, as you point out, failing checks can draw cards from her discard pile, and it's really easy to forcibly make a lot of checks occur mid-turn (see my Reepazo example above). Cards you encounter may often involve multiple checks (BYAs, AYAs, multi-check banes, closing checks), cards you play may involve checks (recharge checks, checks to avoid downsides, etc) and then there's even location or scenario powers that may involve checks. Drawing cards over and over from discard is not hard - irrespective of the timing of recharge checks, 2 Scrying spells will absolutely work infinitely, for example.

    But she also has this power...

    Zvarbel, Spell Trapper, emphasis added wrote:
    If you fail ([ ] or another character at your location fails) a check to defeat a non-villain monster ([ ] or barrier) when playing a weapon or a spell, you may ([ ] reduce its damage by 2, and/or) after the encounter ([X] you may reset your hand then encounter it or) put the bane on top of the deck it came from.

    Whilst it's highly conditional on the bane you find, she can refill her entire hand whilst also drawing both a barrier and a random card from her discard pile and then restart the encounter on any failure against a bane, potentially drawing 8 cards at max (her hand size + random barrier and card from discard) when encountering any given bane. I'm pretty sure with a well-crafted deck based on the Magus Class Deck and an Ultimate Add-On deck (particularly stacking certain forms of damage resistance and healing) you should be pretty able to explore over and over and happily reset your hand against banes (particularly barriers, which are easier to intentionally fail against and won't cripple you with damage in the process) and just keep plowing on - especially when combined with intentionally using boons that force you to make additional checks and restock your hand in the process that way as well.

    Plus, you can also play her so that she just plays her entire hand off-turn to support the team, then reset it when someone at her location fails a check to defeat, too.


  • Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Golden Rules: If a card and the rulebook conflict, the card wins. The card is telling you to interrupt the normal flow of finishing the first power, so that’s what you do.

    Finish One Thing is a general guideline, not a commandment that can’t be broken. “When” powers break it.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Xexyz wrote:
    So, for example, that means WotR Imrijka could defeat a henchman, use her explore power to explore again (if she rolls a 4+), then attempt to close the location if the henchman allows after this exploration?
    Xexyz wrote:
    Or when Warchief Bekah fails a check to defeat a barrier, she can explore again before resolving the effects of failing to defeat the barrier?

    As Yewstance says, "Finish one thing before you start another is" is too broad for consistent application. Your examples concern powers which grant additional explorations. These *do* fall under "Finish one thing before you start another", because starting an exploration in the middle of an encounter is antithetical to the game. You gain an exploration during your encounter, but you can only use the exploration after the encounter. Because the close attempt must occur 'immediately', it happens first.

    Powers which grant additional explorations aren't good comparisons to powers that affect the discard pile while recharging spells. Here are some Mummy's Mask 'when' powers:

    MM Alazandra wrote:
    When you play a card that has the Fire (□ or Poison) and Attack traits on any check, add 1d8.
    MM Damiel wrote:
    When you are dealt (□ or a character at your location is dealt) a type of damage, you may reveal a card that has a trait matching that type to reduce that damage by 2 (□ 3).
    MM Ezren wrote:
    When you fail a combat check that has the Attack trait, you may bury (□ or discard) a card to reroll the dice; take the new result.
    MM Yoon wrote:
    When you are dealt Acid, Cold, Electricity, or Fire damage, you may reveal a card that has a trait matching that type to reduce the damage by 3.

    Should we say that Yoon (for example) should 'finish' suffering the damage, and so discard cards, *before* reducing the damage by 3?

    Radillo comes to mind:

    Wizard CD Radillo wrote:
    When you play a spell that has the Arcane trait during an encounter, you may examine the bottom card of your deck; if it is a spell (□ or an ally), you may put it on top of your deck (□ or add it to your hand).

    Does Radillo add the card to her hand during the check for which she played the spell (potentially drawing an ally she can then use on the check)? In the (unresolved) thread asking this question, Hawkmoon actually answered both 'Yes' and 'No'. But I'd say 'ol Hawk was right the first time: Radillo examines and draws the moment she plays the spell, while RotR Ezren (for comparison) examines and draws after the check.


    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
    elcoderdude wrote:
    [...]

    Excellent post!

    And I'm aware that the "Finish One Thing Before You Start Another" is not a rule, per se, but it's advice given in the rulebook that I personally feel is wrong just as often as it is right - which makes it seem like outright bad advice to me. Especially since it's presented like an official-sounding guideline under the "Things to Keep in Mind" page, which basically tells people not to take assumptions from other board games into PACG.


    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

    For me the ”finish one thing...” means that you don`t actively start another action. That is not related the thing you Are doing. So any driggers, cards played by another Person etc that consern that spesific check Are ok, but you can not start new spesific check / action before that action and anything that is based on that has been done... but yeah... it is ankward. Most likely so that you don`t forget some parts of that original check. I am so used at interrupts and reactions From other card games that ... well this rule has newer been more than just a quideline.


    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

    Yet another loophole that Recovery will fix nicely.

    Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Card Game / Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion / Another infinite loop, starring Spell Trapper Zvarbel All Messageboards

    Want to post a reply? Sign in.