Yewstance - Core Character Reviews

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game General Discussion

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Greetings to all forumgoers, veteran and newcomer alike. Since I've had a couple of expressions of interest, I'm trying my hand at producing a review of (or perhaps better described as my subjective "Guide-to-playing") each of the new Core Set characters. This 'review' hopes to serve multiple purposes, including...

  • Provide a high-level overview of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Assess where they may perform best - such as specific party sizes or with specific parties.
  • Assess their 'build options', weighing up the respective merits of their feat and role choices.
  • Identify some of the ideal boons that these characters might search for, or have unique applications for said characters.
  • Encourage further discussion over the characters, encourage the sharing of opinions and knowledge.

    Of course, everything I write is purely opinion-based. I have a history of other 'reviews' of PACG characters and concepts.

    It must be stated that these character reviews are in the context of the Core Set and the Curse of the Crimson Throne card sets, and their respective Adventure Paths. Characters may perform wildly different with or against boons and banes from other sets, but that's not within the scope of these reviews.


    Each review will aim to keep the following format, more or less...

    Difficulty of Play: X/10 (Difficulty of deckbuilding, character risk appetite, complexity of design and quantity of powers to track.)
    Combat Potential: X/10 (Ability to achieve consistent high combat results and/or general anti-monster capability.)
    Noncombat Potential: X/10 (Ability to acquire varied boons, take advantage of skill-dependant scenario powers, defeat barriers or close locations.)
    Exploration Rate: X/10 (How many times they can explore per turn if they try to explore as much as possible.)
    Survivability: X/10 (General risk of death per scenario, and ability to maintain a hand full of cards even after taking damage.)

    (These are highly subjective overviews, with large overlaps (high survivability correlates with lower difficulty of play) and plenty of grey areas (a character might be great at fighting barriers with a specific power but is otherwise limited outside of combat). Furthermore, these values could change greatly with how you play a character, and which Role you pick.)

    (I will generally try to list these numbers from the perspective of the pre-Role character card, and the numbers given are loosely in reference to other Core/Curse characters - not historic PACG characters.)

    Overview of Character Strengths

  • (List)

    Overview of Character Weaknesses

  • (List)

    Optimal Environment

  • (Local characters, Adventure Path, party size, specific party members...)

    General Writeup:
    What does the character do? How do they stack up to comparable characters?

    How do their roles differ from each other?

    What Advanced Strategies or non-obvious options exist for the character?

    Pre-Role Feat Considerations:
    This is a longer, more in-depth analysis of a character, pre-Role.

    What skill feats work well for this character; how do the character's strengths and build change with different skill feats? Which are recommended?

    What are the pre-Role power feat options for this character; how do each contribute to enabling this character? Are any unusually good or unusually weak?

    How does each type of card feat contribute to this character's playstyle? What will they generally focus on, to what end?

    Role 1 Overview & Builds:
    Similar to Pre-Role Feat Considerations, but instead focusing on the strengths of their first Role option and how they can be leveraged, used or built around.
    Role 2 Overview & Builds:
    Similar to Pre-Role Feat Considerations, but instead focusing on the strengths of their second Role option and how they can be leveraged, used or built around.
    Blackjack Build Options:
    An assessment of the character's suitability for the Blackjack Role included in Curse of the Crimson Throne. Blackjack can provide some unique benefits or new options to almost every Core and Curse character. The question is; can you leverage Blackjack's unique qualities to build a better character than you could with your own Roles?
    Notable Boons:
    What kinds of cards best suit this character? Is there any specific type, role or subset of weapons, items, armor or otherwise which are desirable? For example; do they want display-able armors, shields, helmets or a combination thereof?

    Ideally, I'll also refer to a handful of boons by name to demonstrate specific synergies or options they provide for such a character.


    I will be going through each Core Set character in alphabetic order (as provided in the official Character Sheets), followed by each Curse of the Crimson Throne character in the same fashion.

    Which means we'll be starting with the Barbarian Amiri in my next post. I probably won't post any further reviews until I get some feedback. Are these reviews/guides helpful? Are they interesting? Are they too long?

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    BARBARIAN: Amiri
    Difficulty of Play: 3/10
    Combat Potential: 9/10
    Noncombat Potential: 3/10
    Exploration Rate: 3/10
    Survivability: 7/10

    Character Strengths...

  • High mobility, enabling her or her party to...
  • Take full advantage of positive location powers.
  • Avoid penalties of negative Start-of-Turn/End-of-Turn location powers.
  • Gain benefits from positive Start-of-Turn/End-of-Turn location powers.
  • Set self or others up to provide local support and avenging opportunities.

  • Phenomenal melee skill; high average combat checks.
  • Uniquely capable of encountering or avenging against any monster, including passing Before Acting and After Acting checks or noncombat checks to defeat. Consistently strong against most Story Banes and Dangers.
  • Card efficient - unlikely to run out of cards in deck even with heavy use of discard/bury powers, unless playing in small parties.

    Character Weaknesses...

  • Low exploration potential.
  • Low skill variety.
  • Inconsistent at acquiring any type of boon.
  • Poor anti-barrier skills.
  • Limited ability to support friendly checks.

    Optimal Environment

  • Medium size party (3-4 players).
  • Party members that can support her noncombat checks. (eg. Lem, Seelah, Quinn.)
  • Above-average capability to handle Wildcards, due to unusually strong card efficiency and combat checks.

    General Writeup:
    Amiri is one of the the three best examples of a 'pure' martial character in the Core Set, along with Valeros and Harsk. All three of them share a common ability to achieve high combat results just by revealing a weapon, enabling them to consistently handle monsters (regular and story bane) without necessarily expending any actual cards, which also sets them up to act as good Avenging characters.

    Of these three characters, Amiri is the most single-minded in her desire to stick to the most monster-heavy of locations due to her ability to add 1d8+1(+X) to any check against a monster, allowing her to single-handedly deal with monsters like the Boggart that might be treacherous for other martial combatants. Her supportive abilities, however, are weaker than those of Valeros or Harsk (the only explicitly team-assisting power she has pre-Role is the ability to move other characters around with her) and her skill variety is distinctly lesser by most metrics, leaving her less well suited to acquiring cards or closing locations that don't provide a Strength, Melee or monster encounter option.

    Both of Amiri's Role options have a lot in common; both can manipulate how her combat checks can be blessed, both provide means of mitigating or redirecting damage she takes, and both have a hand size of 6. Further assessment of their differences can be seen in the related spoilers below.

    Advanced Strategies
    * Amiri's Survival skill gives her the ability to leverage Hide Armors (and variants) which reference that skill, though it's not a significant strength of hers. Some of the most efficient check-affecting armors post-Core can be acquired in Curse of the Crimson Throne playthroughs, which she is a natural fit for if the party doesn't already include a Druid or Ranger.

    * To offset her normally low exploration rate; Amiri can bury cards from her hand or discard pile for her powers, which can ensure that she buries cards that she doesn't want to be accidentally healed back into her deck later. By burying spare/acquired weapons and items, for example, she can be certain that she'll keep redrawing and reusing blessings and allies when combined with a steady source of healing.
    * Amiri's ability to bury cards from her discard pile in particular is a valuable trait, both for its aforementioned ability to increase the 'precision' and value of healing effects, but also to make use of cards that are of no help to anyone else. If Amiri acquires or is given cards that are otherwise unhelpful; she can always discard them at the end-of-turn and then for the rest of the game she can still earn value from these discarded cards by turning them into bonuses against monsters.

    * Amiri's movement power makes her well-suited to intentionally setting herself into positions to Give cards to other party members or to accept them. Some particularly tightly-knit party strategies can involve her carrying cards solely to hand off to other characters (like giving Melee Weapons to Kess), and she makes great use of what I refer to as the "Hot-Potato" strategy.
    * (The "Hot Potato" strategy is when two characters pass a boon back and forth that is useful at any time, like a Blessing, which allows one of the characters to consistently draw an extra card at the end-of-turn without giving up the party's access to that boon, whilst the other character suffers no downside at all as they return the boon before they get to their own hand reset.)
    * Additionally, Amiri is a fine character to hand extra exploration boons to, stacking her hand with allies and blessings before she starts her turn. She is one of the best monster-killers Post-Core, any cards she discards can continue to fuel one of her powers, and her turn doesn't end if she closes a location.

    Pre-Role Feat Considerations:
    Skills (Strength, Constitution or Wisdom?)
    * Strength: In smaller parties (where avoiding spending resources to pass combat is a higher priority), or parties where Amiri finds herself frequently Avenging encounters, Amiri can take the obvious Strength skill feats to best add consistency to her combat checks.
    * However, it is my opinion that Amiri (with the right weapons) is unlikely to have much trouble with Combat at any stage of the game, and even non-combat Strength checks can be enhanced with her power when it's important to do so, and so I would generally advise against focusing too strongly on Strength at first.

    * Constitution: In many cases, a preferred skill feat option. By increasing Constitution, Amiri fills a niche that is often under-developed in most parties, which also allows her to shrug off more negative effects, acquire more Armor and - most importantly - enhances her primary power to assist in any of her checks against a monster or any of her Strength checks.
    * This is especially potent in large parties: if Amiri is only going to have 5 turns in a scenario (the most you can expect to take in a 6 player party) then she should have absolutely no issue burying cards to her power as often as possible without fear of running out of cards in her deck, so enhancing that power is invaluable.
    * Focusing on Constitution skill feats is particularly recommended if you are going to take the Smashmouth role.

    * Wisdom: For parties without a Survival (or Wisdom) specialist, Wisdom skill feats will allow Amiri to better round out a party. Wisdom helps Amiri acquire Animals (among other cards), tackle more closing checks and have better odds against more barriers.
    * If you intend to hold onto some of the strong Survival-based armors for much of the game then Wisdom skill feats become a must, but either way it serves to diversify Amiri's capabilities - at least in the early game.

    * Hand Size 5: Hand size feats are always good. They give you more chances to draw the right cards and they give you more chances to expend cards to help yourself or your party per turn. If you have the right boons in your deck; the value a given card (like a Blessing) can add to your check will often be bigger than what your character powers are, so it's a no-brainer to treat Hand Size as the 'default' option. However, it does carry a risk in smaller parties, where the possibility of losing more cards to damage can force you to play more cautiously and slowly.
    * In parties larger than 2 players; this will be taken at some point for certain. In parties larger than 4 players, this should be your first feat in order to enable you to explore enough to help your team beat the hourglass.
    * Hand Size gets better if you plan to take Armor card feats.

    * Armor Proficiency: Never a requirement, but obviously allows Amiri to use better Armor cards to resist damage. Conditional.
    * Becomes better as you take Constitution skill feats (so you can recharge some of the Heavy Armors). Becomes worse as you take Wisdom skill feats (which encourage you to use the Survival-based armors, which don't require Proficiency).
    * Becomes better in small parties; highly recommended for party sizes less than 3, where damage avoidance (and card efficiency) is more important.

    * Bury from discards: A strong recommendation, and I believe that almost any Amiri should take this as one of her two pre-Role power feats (the other will be dependant primarily on your party size; see above). This allows Amiri to further specialise in her primary anti-Monster role, and turns her discards into a resource on its own: discarding any card for any reason is further enabling Amiri to buff her checks in the long term, without costing more cards from her hand.
    * This can also be used to cull 'weaker' cards from your discards, increasing the value of healing effects targeting Amiri.
    * Obviously, Constitution skill feats make this power feat better; but you should probably be taking this feat pre-Role no matter what.

    * Draw on location close: I do not recommend this power in most situations, and I consider it one of the weakest pre-Role power feat options in all of Core and Curse. To be brief, it simply provides too small of a benefit, too rarely, in almost all situations.
    * To see a more in-depth explanation, click the spoiler below.

    * In a solo scenario, there is usually 3 locations to close (with the 3rd one ending the game); meaning in 30 turns Amiri will draw, at most, 2 extra cards during the scenario. A hand size increase, meanwhile, will allow you to draw about 30 extra cards.
    * In the other extreme; a 6-player scenario will usually have 8 locations to close, with each player (on average) needing to close 1.3 locations even if there was no Guarding whatsoever. Worse, Amiri is unlikely to close more locations than the average character, as her small hand size limits her number of explorations-per-turn more severely than most other Core/Curse characters, and her lack of skill diversity often limits how easily she can close locations in the first place. The likelihood of it drawing you more than 1-2 cards in a 6 player scenario is remote, whilst the hand size will draw you up to 5 consistently.
    * This power only has 3 silver linings. One; it's an optional draw, so unlike a Hand Size increase it can never be a 'bad' thing, no matter the situation. Two; if you've taken hand size feats and you still want to be drawing more cards, this is the only power feat that could let you do so. Three; if you can somehow ensure that you're closing locations unusually frequently, it can become... okay. See the "Blackjack Build Options" spoiler below for an example of this.

    * There's pretty much no 'wrong' Card Feats for Amiri, and they will be highly dependant upon your party composition and your personal playstyle. My considerations are as follows, but they should be taken with an especially large pinch of salt.

    * Weapons: Usually the weakest Card Feat. Amiri only needs 1 weapon to fight effectively, and its her Favored Card Type so she really shouldn't be lacking in them. However, Core/Curse weapons are more likely to serve more purposes, including anti-barrier, examination or movement effects, and you can always bury them (from hand or discards) to your main power.

    * Armors: The new design of Display-able Armors means that they're much better card feats than they have been in the past. Once an armor is displayed, they're potentially adding value to you turn after turn without taking up a hand slot that could be used for something else.
    * Armor-proficient OR Wisdom-based Amiris are both more likely to take an Armor card feat.
    * Amiris taking hand size increases are more likely to take an Armor card feat.

    * Item: Varies widely in practicality. Better with larger hand sizes (as items tend to be more niche than other card types, so you want to have more cards in hand to increase the likelihood that they'll be relevant). Curse provides the "Paint" cards which can be displayed indefinitely to support Amiri in various ways, however.

    * Ally, Blessing: Both are better in larger party sizes, as they provide more means of both supporting your team off-turn as well as exploring faster on-turn.
    * Highly encouraged for 5+ player parties.
    * Blessings become better with Curse of the Crimson Throne, due to the wide variety of Harrow blessings.

    Resistance Fighter Overview & Builds:
    * Compared to Smashmouth, Resistance Fighter encourages a more exploration-heavy Amiri that actively races to find and defeat story banes as frequently as possible. It's a more complex role, and much harder to make full use of - though that doesn't mean it's worse.
    * I would argue that the key function of this role is the ability to redirect the 'cost' of suffering damage - detailed further in "Powers" below.
    * I only encourage the use of this role in parties of 4 or more players (preferably 5-6); its a much less card-efficient role than Smashmouth, with almost every one of its provided power feats requiring or encouraging Amiri to discard or bury cards.

    Noteworthy New Power Feats
    * When you suffer damage [...]: This chain of powers is one of the most peculiar powers available in Core or Curse, and is highly worthy of analysis.
    * Your 'deck' is not a resource in the sense that your hand is (or even your discards, for Amiri). Having cards in your deck does not directly help you explore faster, achieve higher check results or win games - it simply is something you have to make sure never empties entirely, lest you die.
    * With that in mind, this is a highly important power. Every bit of damage you take (whether from a location, from an off-turn area of effect hit, from an unfortunate BA or AA power or otherwise) normally interferes with your turn by robbing cards from your hand that you need to pass checks or explore further, but this power completely prevents that. By letting your deck take the hit, each of your turns (in the short term) are rendered virtually unable to be slowed or stopped by circumstance... in fact, you actually get a bit more powerful as you discard cards from your deck, because that fills your discards with more cards to bury to your main power.
    * By enhancing this power, you can also use it to help dig for cards you specifically want to draw, or avoid discarding cards you don't want to lose. But the first feat is the most important, and even if you don't intend to use it often it can still save you time and heartache on the rare occasion that you choose to discard from your deck rather than let your hand (and your weapon) be wiped by a BA effect right before you attempt a Combat check.
    * Overall, this power helps ensure that your turns are as long and as uninterrupted as possible... which, among other things, does actually support the likelihood of Amiri closing more locations than the average character.

    * [...] then examine the top card of your location: Remember that you HAVE to move to use this power (however, you're allowed to move to your own location if it's the last location remaining). A small, but pleasant benefit if a party doesn't already have some examination-centric characters, but I would generally treat this as relatively low priority power feat; certainly lower than a hand size increase (which can let you draw and use much more powerful examination cards anyway if you want).

    * [...] remove a scourge when using your power: In my opinion, one of the most powerful de-scourging character powers in Core and Curse combined, rendering Amiri virtually immune to most scourges due to the incredible ease of clearing them off. That said, how often you were suffering from Scourges, and how much they actually impacted you, may vary depending upon your playstyle and party.
    * Naturally, this gets better with Constitution feats, the power feat that lets you bury from your discards, and in larger parties (where burying cards is less of an issue).

    * Free discards to bless your combat: This is a power that does 'remove the limiters' from Amiri, in a sense, letting her reach combat results that are virtually unmatched by any Core or Curse character. But really; with the powers she has she shouldn't have an issue passing any combat check she comes across, and intentionally burning numerous cards to bless a combat check seems wasteful to me - but it does let you go all-out to guarantee a villain defeat if that is a problem.

    * Heal on closing locations: Because this role lets you completely 'ignore' damage (sort of), it's certainly more likely to be able to manage longer exploration-chains than the other role option, so it's not infeasible that you could build around this. However, I would argue that a single heal is too small a payoff and, as mentioned before, even if you really push yourself it's statistically unlikely that Amiri will end up closing many locations a game. Is 1-3 healed cards over the course of the game (the value of a single Cure spell cast on you) really worth your power feat?

    Other Feat Tips
    As mentioned, this role tends to favour larger party sizes and taking longer, more exploration-heavy turns. After all, if you're not planning to explore many times a turn, then losing cards from your hand or suffering Scourges should be less impactful, and thus you have little compelling reason to pick this Role.

    * Skills: This role doesn't strongly impact any strategies on which skills are good, but it gives a small edge to Wisdom skill feats for the small added diversity to Amiri's noncombat checks (such as closing or even fighting barriers).
    * Other than that, I continue to advise Constitution feats to be valued higher than Strength for Amiri (as it can literally be used to enhance the same checks, plus many others), and burying cards (especially from your discards) shouldn't be a high cost if you're in a large party and you won't be taking many turns.
    * If you are in a smaller party with this role, however, then Strength skill feats do more to increase your card efficiency.

    * Cards: Make the most of your ability to barrel through locations - max your Ally and Blessing counts early!

    Smashmouth Overview & Builds:
    * Compared to Resistance Fighter, Smashmouth provides a more efficient Amiri that can accomplish more things with less card expenditure.
    * In my mind, the key component of Smashmouth is the ability for Amiri to leverage her Fortitude-based power against barriers. In doing so, Smashmouth can cover one of Amiri's most notable weaknesses and ensure that she becomes a powerful party member at fighting all kinds of banes and story banes, no matter the scenario or location.
    * Additionally, Smashmouth is a more weapon-oriented Amiri. If you plan to take weapon card feats to give her more weapons to throw at enemies or to use for their other powers, then Smashmouth will give you more benefits to carrying them.
    * Because Smashmouth is a bit more reliant on spending cards from your hand and carrying extra weapons, it won't necessarily provide the same exploration rate as Resistance Fighter, which may slightly impact its performance in large party sizes (which, incidentally, don't value its card efficiency as highly either). However, the powerful anti-barrier abilities and general practicality of the power feats of Smash Mouth can be rewarding in all party sizes, in my opinion, and the role in general is a 'safe' bet.

    Noteworthy New Power Feats
    * [...] or a barrier: This should generally be your first power feat with this role, and usually your very reason to take this role. This allows Amiri to consistently fight any barrier she encounters that would normally be out of her reach without extensive card support (which is... well, most barriers, to be frank). Dexterity 11 checks, Charisma 10 checks, Wisdom 13 checks... these are things that become a lot more tolerable for Amiri when you can hit them with an extra 1d8+4 or so.
    * Naturally, maxing Constitution early and being able to bury from your discards are both desirable qualities here.

    * Heal a Weapon on closing locations: Not recommended. As per Resistance Fighter's similar power, detailed in the last spoiler; you have to spend time, turns or luck to get relatively minimal results out of this power. Do you even care about getting weapons specifically healed from your discards? Shouldn't you have another perfectly good one in hand already?

    * Reload a weapon to support Melee Combat: If you've been taking my advice and focusing on Constitution skill feats instead of Strength, this is a nice power feat to help off-set your slightly lower-than-expected Melee checks (when you're not expending cards). Amiri doesn't tend to explore many times per turn, so there's usually no problem with reloading a weapon to add 4 or so to your check (the weapon you'd just immediately redraw, anyway) if you're not happy burying a card. Alternatively, combining it with your other powers lets you reach exceptional combat results easily.
    * Whether you'd ever want to enhance it to support a friendly character is entirely party-dependant, but I will generally advise caution. Reloading weapons off-turn can be tricky (because it'll take some time before you get to redraw it), and how many Melee combatants tend to exist in the same party anyway - let alone ones that need your help to pass combat? Probably best with a Charisma-oriented Seelah party member, or a Varian or Lem party member actively using acrobatics swords (which use the Melee trait even if they're not using his Melee skill), since they are more likely to need the help and also more likely to want to remain Local to you anyway.

    * Recharge to bless your combat: As mentioned for her other role; I don't necessarily think Amiri often needs the support. But as long as you find people frequently blessing her combat checks, this can certainly add efficiency to the table. All-in-all, I prefer this to Resistance Fighter's equivalent (how many times do you really need multiple blessings to let the Barbarian pass a combat check?) but it's still not mind-blowing to save a card discard a couple of times a scenario or so.

    * Recharge Weapons to reduce BA/AA damage: Fortunately, this can both protect you on-turn and off-turn, and turns weapons into quasi-shields (in my experience, most forms of damage resistance on armors tend to be used to protect against damage outside of combat - BA and AA effects make up a large bulk of such examples). A viable way to lessen reliance on armors; particularly good if you don't want to spend feats on increasing your armor count or gaining armor proficiency, or you prefer to pick armors that provide benefits other than damage avoidance (like Hide Armor variants).
    * In general, I consider this a decent power, but only if you're willing to sink 2 power feats into protecting against both BA and AA damage. AA damage alone just doesn't strike me as a common enough situation to merit a power feat to solve a problem that one or two Armors should already solve.

    Other Feat Tips
    * Skills: Maxing Constitution is a strong recommendation, to ensure that Smashmouth Amiri can break barriers apart on command. There's not many other role components impacting your skill choices.

    * Cards: General recommendations still apply, but Smashmouth does let you do more with spare Weapons in hand, and so taking some Weapon card feats becomes much more viable. They can act a bit like armor, buff your checks or - in the worst case - always be buried to your main power.
    * If you're taking Weapon card feats, be sure to make the most of weapons that provide additional abilities for Amiri to use. Using hammer-style weapons that assist you against barriers is a strong suggestion - using weapons that ignore AA effects is generally only desirable IF you're not spending the power feat to be able to protect yourself against that kind of damage anyway. Using weapons that effectively increase your skillset (like Quarterstaff of Vaulting) is also powerful.
    * (With that said, there's non-damage AA effects that are desirable to ignore... but 'ignoring' AA effects is a lot weaker than many players realize, because you can't let other characters ignore effects. This means a power that says "After Acting, a local character buries a blsesing" is impossible to ignore if there's someone else at your location with a blessing, for example. "After acting, a local character suffers 1d4 combat damage" can also not be ignored if you're not the only character.)

    Blackjack Builds:
    *Amiri is an ideal example of a "surprisingly potent" carrier of the Blackjack role. She doesn't have good Dexterity or Charisma, she doesn't use Stealth or Acrobatics... but she does have 'bury' costs that the Blackjack role lets her replace, and she's phenomenal at taking other characters encounters against monsters.
    * Additionally, a Blackjack Amiri can reach a larger hand size (7 in total) and usually encounter Henchmen/Villains in place of other party members. This means she can close locations off-turn somewhat frequently, potentially justifying her "draw a card when you close a location" power.
    * I would go so far as to say that Amiri is the 3rd or 4th most desirable Blackjack of the 16 Core+Curse characters.

    Inherent Blackjack Powers:
    * The Kit: A benefit for ANY character, since it gives you a better opening hand as well as providing somewhere to 'pocket' certain boons that you don't want to use at the moment.
    * It doesn't critically enable any great strategy for Amiri, but it is somewhere to stockpile spare weapons at least. If your hand gets wiped (or a random discard goes badly) you can pull a spare weapon out of your Kit later.

    * Blackjack Boons: So, the three Blackjack boons are, of course, not really ideal for Amiri. They can all be used with Melee, however, and you can always throw them in your Kit if they're not immediately helpful.
    * Blackjack's Daggers, in particular, are a great boon to hold in hand if you plan to mostly reload these cards to your Character/Role powers rather than use them. It can be used as a backup weapon if you need it and it has a powerful local combat assistance option - one that both adds to a check and completely negates any real penalty from failure. It can also be used to forcibly evade a monster you don't WANT to defeat, like a villain when you haven't got them cornered yet.

    * Weapon Proficiency: Not relevant.

    Noteworthy New Power Feats
    * [...] reload a Blackjack boon instead: Amiri is the only post-Core character, besides Quinn, who can consistently replace a bury cost with a mere reload; allowing her to maximise her Strength and anti-Monster checks at absolute minimum cost to herself. Once you have 2 Blackjack boons in hand (or 1 in hand and 1 in your Kit) that should usually be enough to 'fuel' your character power for most of the scenario by repeatedly reloading and redrawing them.
    * Naturally, emphasise Constitution to make the most of this.
    * Curiously, this option greatly decreases your need to take the pre-role power feat to bury cards from your discards. Not worthless, but weaker.

    * Steal other character's encounters against banes: Amiri - Blackjack or not - will rarely be potent against barriers, but the initial option to steal monster encounters is ideal for her. If you have 'combat-weak' party members like Lem, this power becomes optimal, but even with combat-capable characters it has a variety of benefits. Take on encounters against Attack-Immune enemies for a wizard, for example; take on Story Bane encounters at locations Amiri is suited to closing, or take on encounters with a rough BA/AA effect that Amiri can allay by adding to any of her checks against a monster.
    * As mentioned above, this can be leveraged to close locations off-turn quite easily, which might justify the 'draw a card' power on Amiri's character card. If you have this power; your entire party can happily explore at a location that Amiri is suited to closing with the knowledge that she can always take on the story bane and close the location on their behalf!
    * This synergizes powerfully with Amiri's inherent ability to move at end-of-turn, easily jumping to a party member's location to prepare to take their monster encounters for them. You can also use it to jump to a location which she's capable of closing with the knowledge that any party member can encounter a henchman there and it will promptly give her the chance to steal the encounter and close chance, no matter who's turn it is.
    * Don't forget, with the previously-listed power you can reload a Blackjack boon instead of discarding a card to use this power.

    * Avenge any encounter on a discard: A neat benefit, particularly for parties that spread out (though this isn't a huge problem for Amiri in general thanks to her end-of-turn movement); and it does mean that the party can stay in Guarding positions whilst also providing the safety net of Amiri avenging an unlucky Villain/Henchman encounter.
    * Once again, with the right Blackjack power you can reload a Blackjack boon to power this.

    * Gain Acrobatics, Stealth and Diplomacy: So Amiri is one of the single worst carriers of this power, with a mere 1d6 Dexterity and 1d4 Charisma. Even so, if you've a spare power feat and nothing else you really want this is still a worthwhile feat because of how generous it is. It will give you an effective +3 against a variety of barriers and boons and may even help you out for a variety of scenario powers or location closes.

    Other Feat Tips
    * Skills: Naturally, Constitution skill feats let Amiri make the most of her bury reload a Blackjack boon power.
    * A Blackjack Amiri may or may not choose to skip Wisdom skill feats, since they don't directly really interact positively with any of Blackjack's powers, and stick with Strength. Even Dexterity would be acceptable, since Blackjack's "Gain Acrobatics, Stealth and Diplomacy" power is so potent and generous, even if your base Dexterity and Charisma dice are bad.

    * Cards: Items may actually be a bit better with Blackjack Amiri; Items tend towards having more specific, but potent abilities, and thus may often be good to store in your Kit until such a time as they're needed.
    * Spare Weapons increases the odds that you'll draw a non-Blackjack weapon in your starting hand (+3), for better or worse; and extra weapons can also go in your Kit when needed.

    Notable Boons:
    * Amiri is (tied for) the most weapon-heavy character post-Core, and it's her favored card type. You can (usually) only use one weapon for combat, though; so look to filling most of your weapon slots with weapons that have meaningful, desirable benefits outside of straight combat odds.
    * Quarterstaff of Vaulting, Wyrmsmite and Earthbreaker are all great examples of melee weapons that give you more advantages outside of combat, but you shouldn't be too afraid to keep a single non-typical weapon if they give you new ways to use your weapon slots to contribute to the party. Dancing Dagger, or even Vindicator, may be worthwhile to keep if another party member doesn't want them.
    * For the weapons you keep purely for their combat effectiveness; remember to value rerolls very highly. Rerolling all of the dice on your check is equivalent to squaring your odds of failure: a 50% chance check becomes 75%, an 80% chance check becomes 96%, and a 90% chance check becomes 99%. For the checks you're not certain you'll win, it's more impactful - for the checks you've already got good odds on, it's a fantastic preventative measure from rolling all 1s.

    Spells: Not relevant.

    * Displayable Armors are usually preferred over Shields and Helms. Amiri will be forced to suffer BA/AA damage less frequently thanks to being able to buff any of her checks against a monster, and her ability to continue exploring after closing a location means she's a bit better at carrying hands full of non-armor cards that may let her explore. Furthermore, she can't recharge or reload them for benefits like Valeros or Seelah can, and has no role powers relevant to them at all.
    * Amiri can have excellent Fortitude checks, making her perfectly suited to recharge-able heavy armors if she takes proficiency.
    * If she doesn't take Armor proficiency, her Survival skill means she's capable of leveraging Hide Armor, Magic Hide Armor, Sable Company Hide and Shoanti Barbarian Hide. It also makes Bearskin Armor a bit better, if indirectly.

    * Highly versatile; depends on your specific goals as a character.
    * You can take cards like the Gem of Physical Prowess and The Lost Harrows[/url] to help cover Amiri's weaknesses, giving her better chances to close locations or defeat barriers.
    * You can take cards like Compass, Wayfinder or Helpful Haversack, letting you discard cards for benefits; which can then be buried to Amiri's Fortitude-adding power.
    * Items that are displayed for long periods of time, like the "War Paint" cards, help avoid filling Amiri's hand whilst providing long-term benefits.
    * Items that exacerbate her strengths (like cards to improve her combat) usually aren't required; but some are sufficiently efficient or flexible to still be viable (like Crowbar).

    * I would generally encourage the use of allies that help you make checks to defeat (or avoid) barriers or acquire boons, like Gentleman Explorer and Raccoon.
    * Your allies can also be used for self-healing, if needed.

    * Play to her strengths or cover her weaknesses as needed. Some specific Harrow blessing examples are listed below.
    * The Avalanche is good at avoiding pesky boons to ensure Amiri finds combat faster.
    * The Sickness risks a scourge that Amiri can easily handle.
    * The Wanderer's benefits can easily be reached with the movement-heavy Amiri, and she can always return to her original location at the end of her turn. Similar with The Lucky Drunk.
    * She is the best carrier of The Bear, due to her d12 Strength.
    * The Twin and The Marriage help Amiri handle noncombat checks based on her party members.

  • Great post! Very useful!
    More please :-)

    Oh, this is very nice, Yew! I love the layout and all the info!

    I'm one of those players that just doesn't 'see' combos and synergies by reading the text. I have to get the character on the table and play in a group for a few sessions before things start to click. (And sometimes that's several levels/Adventure Decks in when I realize I don't really like this character, and then you're kind of stuck with them...)

    So something like this would be a HUGE boon for me. I can already see how I would use Amiri with my group! I had actually kind of already written her off cause I was thinking "All she can do is hit stuff with a sword..." Definitely looking forward to more profiles!

    Why did this thread die?

    /glares at Yewstance

    Lack of time. But the fact that you've bumped the thread indicates there's a little more interest than I thought in continuing, so expect another one to come out within the next fortnight or so. :)

    I didn't realize people had favorited my posts! That's heartening!

    Very nice review! :) I hope that you keep it up if you have the time and hopefully others will contribute as well.

    I wrote this in another thread already (Sajan's Strategy), but it fits perfectly here so I'm just gonna copy and paste:

    Can you do this for Lini next? I wanted to play her with my party soon, but when I tested her in a solo play I wasn't so sure what she's actually good at and how I should use her mechanics. It also seems there aren't enough animal allies in core (except low level ones) and especially curse (which has almost only human allies) to make her a great choice. Please prove me wrong.

    burgus wrote:
    Can you do this for Lini next? I wanted to play her with my party soon, but when I tested her in a solo play I wasn't so sure what she's actually good at and how I should use her mechanics.

    I used Lini in Dragon's Demand (regular, not organized play). She was Ok. Possibly my least favorite PACG character of all time, in terms of fun, versatility, and power level.

    She may be better in OP - or once you hit AD4-6.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    burgus wrote:

    Can you do this for Lini next? I wanted to play her with my party soon, but when I tested her in a solo play I wasn't so sure what she's actually good at and how I should use her mechanics. It also seems there aren't enough animal allies in core (except low level ones) and especially curse (which has almost only human allies) to make her a great choice. Please prove me wrong.

    Hm... I want to do these in the 'official' character order, which is alphabetical. That makes Ezren next, and his review is 60% written.

    However, I acknowledge that Lini is a tricky character to assess and a great target for a review. I must admit, on paper she appears to be one of the weakest Core characters, but upon playing her in Dragons Demand I was highly impressed (quite opposite to wkover's opinion above).

    I'll consider re-structuring the character reviews after Ezren, but I'll make some quick statements that's important to consider when evaluating (Core) Lini, that make her seem better than she otherwise might be considered.

  • In parties that stick together, the +1d4 to all checks invoking the Animal trait is remarkably helpful. In Dragon's Demand, it should come up almost as often as the Cleric's anti-Undead against banes, plus coming up when against about 25% of allies (which are Animals). It should pretty much always be your first power feat both because of the frequency that it assists the party (and yourself), plus also making her "use animals to attack" power much better.
  • Additionally, note that almost every animal in Core/Curse has Survival checks to defeat, and many of them penalize players for using combat checks (such as the Dire Badger).

  • Lini, at least without spending power feats, is pretty much the easiest character to intentionally shuffle your character deck with in Core. That possibly makes her the best character at re-using key 'rechargable' cards like Cure, assuming she passes such checks. In a lopsided party with every Core divine caster, I would give Lini both Divine Insight and Cure (possibly the best level 0 divine spells) before any other party member due to this.
  • The Dog ally is a great example of this; she can shuffle it into her deck to examine her location, something that can be done on any turn and at any time (particularly nice if you close a location on your turn and still have it in hand). Quite frankly, it's so easy to examine a location with it and then redraw it on the same turn that it almost feels like having a Dog makes her function much like Harsk.

  • Lini is the king of Survival, making her the best character to use Hide Armor and variants. In the late-game (Curse of the Crimson Throne, notably), some of the most powerful Armor in the game are the survival-based armors like Sable Company Hide Armor, Bearskin Armor and Moon Maiden Armor.

  • As one of the most ally-centric characters in Core, she's better in large parties where you can aim to take a lot of explorations in a turn. Allies are consistently better than blessings to explore with in Core/Curse, where they almost always have an added benefit to doing so with.

  • By and large, her strengths are mostly dictated by the animals you carry with her, since her tendency to shuffle them back on use means they can be re-used frequently. Combat support (Riding Allosaurus), examinations (Dog), exploration efficiency, noncombat support, etc. Plus, she's an example of a caster character who doesn't need a single Attack spell to perform well, freeing up her spell slots for utility purposes.
  • She's a little like a more proactive (exploration/combat heavy) Lem, honestly.

    On the other hand....

  • Her tiny blessing count hurts.
  • Her relatively weak Divine skill hurts.
  • She doesn't use her weapon slot very effectively, and is more likely to just bury a weapon to use her combat power.
  • Her lack of proficiencies of any kind (besides Divine) can hurt.
  • Achieving high combat results without stacking support/blessings is tricky, and she doesn't have any armor or ability to otherwise mitigate that weakness.
  • 2 of the 4 power feat options on her basic Character card, in my opinion, are pretty bad/underwhelming.
  • Whilst some of the later animal allies are really good... there really aren't that many of them, particularly after AD3 when you're using pure Curse cards (as you mentioned). Plus, her aforementioned lack of blessings makes her bad at utilizing Harrow blessings, and the Urban-Heavy nature of many CotCT locations can be rough (despite her getting some amazing Respect-based cards to use in CotCT).

    She's probably one of the weaker printings of Lini, but I actually had a lot of fun with her and I have a higher opinion of her than I initially did. It's important to note that most Core characters are a bit weaker than older characters (notably Mummy's Mask and Class Deck characters), which is almost certainly intentional. I think they're better balanced, personally - RotR Lini was way too good, for example.

  • Thanks for the Lini write up. I had just written her off as I am playing RotRL Lini in an organized play campaign and coming down from reveal an animal on any check was too much of a brain bender :-)
    I will have to relook at her

    *nudge Yewstance*

    9 people marked this as a favorite.

    WIZARD: Ezren
    Difficulty of Play: 7/10
    Combat Potential: 6/10
    Noncombat Potential: 5/10
    Exploration Rate: 6/10
    Survivability: 3/10
    Honestly, the rankings above are kind of useless for pure casters like Ezren; it depends so much on what spells he carries.

    Character Strengths...

  • Largest Spell count of any Core/Curse character, allowing him to...
  • Tweak his spells to cover the party's weaknesses, as well as his own.
  • Effectively utilise spells which are displayed for long periods of time, and still have enough attack spells left to remain self-sufficient.
  • Absolutely maximise the benefits gained by stacking Intelligence skill feats and boons that buff his Intelligence.

  • Practically the largest hand size among all Core and Curse characters.
  • Numerous skills tied to a single stat; allowing him to demonstrate expertise across multiple types of checks by specializing in Intelligence.
  • High capability of acquiring spells of all kinds - the best character to tackle spell-heavy locations. Additionally can assist party members acquiring a range of cards, especially at higher levels (where all Weapons and Armor, and most Items, will be Magical).
  • Examination-heavy; rarely has to explore 'blind', increasing safety and consistency, and helping him isolate villains or story banes when he's not suited to closing or fighting.
  • Can explore numerous times a turn without discarding a single card, in some cases.
  • Hypothetically, can excel in almost any area with the right spells; featuring strong combat, strong exploration potential, strong support, strong examination potential, etc. 

    Character Weaknesses...

  • Almost completely limited in his capabilities by his spell selection.
  • Has few feasible methods of combat outside of spells; requires a certain mass of Attack spells to always be kept in his deck, and can be hosed by a single attack-immune enemy.
  • Low skill variety. If he isn't making a check against a magic card or an Intelligence/Craft/Knowledge/Arcane check; his odds may be very poor without the right boon to assist him.
  • Includes a weapon slot, but is poorly equipped to make strong use of it.
  • Includes no blessings, and so is unable to unconditionally support himself or his allies, and has less options for using boons to explore.
  • Poor at handling series of combat checks, or summoned banes.
  • Without spell-based methods of damage resistance or arcane healing, he's highly vulnerable to all forms of damage and may often discard cards frequently; requiring a healer to consistently function.
  • Highly vulnerable to certain Triggers.
  • Possibly the single most boon-reliant character in Core and Curse. If he does not have the right cards in his deck, he will underperform.

    Optimal Environment

  • Large party (5-6 players).
  • Party members that can take sequential combat checks alongside him effectively. (eg. Valeros, Amiri, Kess, Harsk, Seelah.)
  • Party members who often need assistance to successfully recharge their own spells. (eg. Seelah, Lini.)
  • At least one - preferably 2 - party members effective at consistently re-using Cure spells or other healing powers. (eg. Lini, Kyra, Hakon.) 

    General Writeup:
    Ezren is a character very near and dear to my heart; and the iconic I have played the most of in his various forms. In Core/Curse, he is one of the 3 more-or-less pure Arcane casters - alongside Varian and Seoni - which all feature a 1d12+2 Arcane skill which maxes out at 1d12+6. All of their specific capabilities greatly vary with their selection of spells, but Ezren finds himself both the most restricted and yet (paradoxically) the most free of all of the arcane casters to define his own spellbook (and, thus, his capabilities).

    Why is Ezren's spellbook potentially limited?

    Ezren carries almost no viable method of combat aside from casting a spell (unlike Seoni and, to a lesser extent, Varian); you'll probably want at least 4 Arcane Attack spells in his deck, or you simply will find he will be unable to risk exploring into monsters more often than not. Furthermore, he's a little slower at re-drawing his expended spells than either Varian or Seoni are, potentially, and he's more penalised by using spells with high checks to recharge (which both Varian and Seoni ignore). Additionally, he doesn't carry blessings or have a special Cohort to solve problems for him, so he often has to round out his deck with some supportive spells and anti-barrier spells, leaving him precious few spell slots to further add flexibility with.

    Why is Ezren's spellbook potentially so diverse?
    Ezren carries the most spells of the trio, and is the best at acquiring new ones from locations. Furthermore, his high quantity of items gives him the leeway to use items to leverage his Arcane skill in combat, like with wands or staves. On top of that, he often can start his turn with an extra draw; all together these factors means that Ezren is the most likely to always have some kind of spell in hand to solve some kind of problem - especially since there are spells that can serve double-duty as combat spells with non-combat benefits (like support, anti-barrier, explorations or even healing). His sheer quantity of spells (and ability to draw more of them out of his deck) leaves him perfectly suited to "display-and-forget" spells like False Life or Infernal Healing which can cover his weaknesses (such as his general resilience) marvellously.

    All in all, it's hard to make a 'general writeup' of Ezren, because his strengths are so heavily defined by his boons, and no two Ezrens are likely to play the same. Pre-Role, he practically is a 'shell' character purely set up to let you draw and cast your spells along with some powers to help cycle through your deck, successfully acquire and recharge spells and give him some security against encountering bad banes. The most notable feature of him that isn't entirely centred on the spells you encounter and have is that he can discard/recharge any card that isn't immediately helpful to you, so he's well-suited to carrying corner-case cards (which is a desirable trait for an item and spell-heavy character, which tend to be card types with more 'narrow' effects).

    Ezren's two Roles - unlike Amiri's - are quite dramatically different, with the only compelling similarity is a shared ability to improve all of his non-combat checks (more or less). One emphasises his examination powers, setting him up to be a powerful supporting tool for a party, allowing him to selectively build optimal hands and allowing the progression of a scenario to be tightly controlled. Meanwhile, the other sets him up to be a powerful, pro-active character, absolutely maximising his ability to handle virtually any check and take longer turns... at the cost of the security and safety of his other role.

    Supportive spellcaster or glass-cannon polymath? Very different playstyles; further assessment of their differences can be seen in the related spoilers further below.

    Advanced Strategies
    * Including one-use cards that heal Ezren (like Cure or Elixir of Healing) are perfectly justifiable to include if nobody else in the party is taking them, in order to allow Ezren to keep burning his cards for longer and more dramatic turns, even if he cannot keep them between scenarios.
    * Speaking of Cure; Ezren can recharge Divine spells for his examination/exploration power just as well as Arcane spells, so they're not bad to see in your opening hand either.

    * Whilst there are valid uses for Ezren's weapon slot (as discussed further in the Pre-Role Feat Considerations and Notable Boons spoilers); you can always have him carry a weapon that you know will be valuable for a given party member, too. You may not think that Ezren's a good fit for Giantbane Greataxe, but that doesn't stop him from passing it to a Seelah, Amiri or Harsk in the party (especially since Ezren has a large hand size and will likely draw it faster).
    * Similarly, his expertise at spellcasting may make him ideal to be given spells from other party members with lower arcane skills, like Lem, and his lack of inherent armor usually means he'd appreciate at least one display-able armor that doesn't require proficiency to be given to him.
    * If you do want to try using your weapon in combat (which becomes a bit better with one of his roles), Ezren can make use of weapon poisons like Bloodroot Poison and Wyvern Poison; since he has the Craft skill.

    * Don't value your spells too highly - unless a spell is critically enabling you in some way, feel free to aggressively recharge your spells and other cards to make the absolute most of your powers; you'll cycle through your deck to more frequently find and use your 'ideal' cards whilst making the most of the examinations and check bonuses they provide. Saving too many cards for the 'perfect moment' is unhelpful - if a card is sitting in your hand and not being used, then it's just clogging up your hand without enhancing you in any meaningful way. In particular; any boons that are still in your hand when you end your turn are usually best spent during Recovery to help ensure you recharge all of your spells.
    * Plus, if you try to hoard spells without actually using them then you decrease how often you can use your bonus start-of-turn 'draw', since there won't be as many spells in your deck to draw.

    * I recommend that you play by playing your recharged cards in a faceup pile. The cards you recharge is 'open' information (until you require a deck shuffle) anyway, but this means if you end up recharging your entire deck (a perfectly plausible event for Ezren) then you can better know how many cards to spend and draw to make the most of his "Draw the top card of your deck if it's a spell" power.
    * Additionally, boons that allow players to examine and re-order the top cards of their decks or otherwise manipulate what's on top of their deck (like Zellara's Harrow Deck or Helpful Haversack) can additionally increase the potential of Ezren's first power.

    * Powers that allow Ezren to shuffle his deck can be helpful in speeding up his ability to redraw desirable spells. A Kyra party member is adept at this; as are boons like Staff of Minor Healing or Djinn. Even without these, though, you should find yourself able to recharge through all of your cards and then redraw them pretty quickly, since most of the cards in your deck will be recharged (or discarded) for their powers or your own character powers, largely as the result of being such a spell-heavy character.

    Pre-Role Feat Considerations:
    Skills (Intelligence, any others?)
    * Intelligence: You really don't need to read my review to understand why Ezren should probably max out Intelligence feats first. It makes his combat checks better, it makes his recharge checks better, it further specialises him to fill the role of the party's Intelligence expert, and his Wizened Explorer role gives you more benefits to enhancing your Intelligence.
    * The real question is; what skill should he focus on after he's maxed out his Intelligence?

    * Wisdom: A safe bet for a secondary skill for any Ezren. Wisdom is a commonly used skill for a variety of purposes, but in particular assists Ezren in acquiring Divine-only spells, making him better suited than ever to focusing on spell-heavy locations. (Remember; he can still recharge Divine-only spells to power his examination/exploration power!)
    * Additionally, his Mystic Diviner role can give him a Wisdom-based Perception skill anyway.

    * Strength/Dexterity: Depending on your specific strategy for using your weapon slots (as discussed further in the Pre-Role Feat Considerations and Notable Boons spoilers), Ezren may actually use very specific weapons as backup combat options. Strength or Dexterity may assist you here, if slightly.
    * Strength is more likely to work with the absolute strongest weapons you can carry, but Dexterity is more likely to assist against barriers.

    * Charisma: Worthwhile to take if your party has no Charisma/Diplomacy capable character in order to better round the party out. Otherwise unhelpful.

    * Hand Size 7: As you'll hear me say a lot; Hand size feats are always good. In Ezren's case, they're even better than for most characters, since they increase the odds of him having the right spell for the right situation, they help him cycle through his deck faster and - once you take the "explore by recharging another card" power feat - can allow him to explore more frequently without even having to discard/bury anything! He makes excellent use of larger hand sizes, all-in-all.
    * Hand Size feats are particularly important in larger parties; and Ezren generally functions best in large parties as-is, since he's at much lower risk of death there and his exploration/examination rate can more than pull its weight even in time-constrained scenarios.
    * In parties of 3 or less people, this could be skipped due to the increased fragility it causes... but I would still generally find myself advising it to be taken; if nothing else it lets you draw more of your defensive spells, armors and re-draw your healing effects (like Staff of Minor Healing) to offset its own downsides easily.
    * There's a way to play the Wizened Explorer role in such a way that hand size feats aren't that helpful in the very long term, but a bigger starting hand is still going to make things easier for you.

    * Then recharge the top card of your deck: It lets you cycle to hit your recharged boons/spells faster, it helps you increase the average quality of your drawn cards in some cases and can be used synergistically with cards like Zellara's Harrow Deck. However, the overall impact of this power is quite low, easily surpassed with the right boons or just an increased hand size. Plus; all of Ezren's pre-Role power feats are pretty good, leaving this one as the clear loser among them in general.
    * This power feat becomes better if you plan to take the Mystic Diviner role, but even then I often wouldn't recommend it be taken as one of your first two power feats.
    * However; If you do not intend to explore much with Ezren (for example, you're playing in a small party and you don't want to increase his hand size much, and you instead want to play a lower-risk character with more support) and you're going to take the Mystic Diviner role, then this and the +1d6 power might be your only pre-role power feats - but like I mention above; I'd usually argue that an increased hand size will serve the same purpose as this feat, but better. You can always just recharge the extra card you draw to your myriad of powers anyway.
    * In short; not recommended.

    * Recharge to explore: This is an extremely effective power, letting Ezren remove most of the consequences of leveraging his hand size and converting it directly into explorations - a necessary power for Ezren's who need to explore more, as they lack the blessing and ally count to do so purely with boon effects. As a result, I will generally advise this be selected with one of your first two power feats.
    * However, there are situations where this is not quite so necessary; and oddly enough, they are often at opposite extremes to each other. 
    * If you're in a very small party (such as a 1 or 2 character party); then bonus explorations are hardly ever necessary and you can instead focus on buffing checks against Magic cards and examining every card in advance.
    * In the other extreme, full 6-character parties leave Ezren only taking 5 turns per scenario at most. With a small amount of healing and damage protection, Ezren will usually be perfectly happy discarding cards to explore (in fact, that can help him 'cut' the weakest cards out of his deck and help him cycle his best cards) and won't ever run so close to death that he has a reason to fear discarding cards rather than recharging them outright.
    * Even so, this power is still good in 6-person parties, if only to provide a safety net against the risk of repeat damage eating through your deck faster than expected.
    * Finally, healing-heavy parties have much less use of this power; Ezren should never be so starved for cards that he's reluctant to discard something to explore in such a party!

    * +1d6 against Magic: Probably the 'safest' choice for a power feat. It doesn't represent any possible risk (like Hand Size increases), it doesn't have questionable/low value impacts to your game (like recharging the top of your deck) and no matter how large or small your party you should probably use this power plenty of times per scenario.
    * Gets better with caster-heavy parties to help the party acquire and recharge spells.
    * Good in small parties; increases card efficiency by helping you (and party members) from failing Recovery checks.
    * Acceptably solid in large parties, which provide more off-turn chances to provide support (and an increased likelihood of scenarios providing spell-heavy locations). However, a little worse than in small parties as large parties will usually be happy to provide bigger bonuses where needed just by expending Blessings and the like - large parties can afford to spend boons way more frequently.
    * The actual impact of changing a 1d4 for a 1d6 is a mere +1 on average, though; balance that against his Recharge to explore power which may save you from discarding more cards over a scenario, or the Handsize Increase which will draw you plenty of extra boons to use and expend to your powers over a scenario.

    * Power Feat Summary: I will almost always advise the handsize increase for Ezren pre-Role, but...
    * Whether to use the the other power feat to improve the bonuses he can grant against Magic cards or to let him recharge cards to explore is a much murkier matter, highly dependant upon the party. Both are usually justifiable (and may even be worthy post-Role power feats) but I would tend towards the +1d6 bonus for 1-3 character parties or healing-heavy parties of any size, and tend towards the recharge to explore for 4-6 character parties.

    * It's usually going to be a pretty safe bet that most Ezren's will want to max out their Spells before doing anything else. Spells not only represent your primary method of extra draws, examinations, explorations and combat checks, but practically every aspect of the game which can be assisted with the right utility spell (which is basically "everything"). Still, let's see how Ezren can make use of each type of card feat...

    * Weapons: Usually the weakest Card Feat. Certain weapons (especially Loot) may have potent effects outside of combat that even a non-proficient user can leverage, and the rare weapon is so powerful that even in the hands of someone without any inherent talent can still defeat on on-level monster with them (at least if they're also discarded/recharged). But Ezren himself has virtually no facet of his character making him any better at using any given weapon than literally almost every other character, and he should probably be looking to use spells and items for combat and utility, not weapons.

    * Armors: As mentioned before for Amiri, the new design of Display-able Armors means that they're much better card feats than they have been in the past. Once an armor is displayed, they're potentially adding value to you turn after turn without taking up a hand slot that could be used for something else. Ezren's lack of defensive capabilities makes them even more desirable despite his lack of proficiency, and this is a strong recommendation after you've maxed your spell count (and maybe even beforehand, in smaller parties).

    * Items vs Allies: After filling your spell feats (and likely taking an armor feat, depending on personal preference), most Ezrens will have to decide whether to pick Item or Ally card feats over the other, or divide his attention equally between the two. Below I assess the merits of each over the other.
    * In both cases, however, items and allies rarely outperform your spells, and you may often wish to just focus on whichever card type is less used by your party (so you can better make use of Loot cards and round out your party's capabilities).
    * I do feel that both roles tend to reward playing more items than allies, however.

    * Item: Ezren makes better use of Items than most, since the niche ones can always be recharged to his powers and he additionally benefits from the numerous items that reference Arcane skills and proficiencies, as well as the numerous items referencing Craft (like poisons, or 'grenade' style items as one-off combat options) or Knowledge (like books).
    * As you can see in the Notable Boons spoiler further below; there's actually a very wide variety of items that Ezren effectively uses.
    * In general, I'd value items above allies, especially in small parties where using allies to explore or assist local characters is less useful. 

    * Ally: Allies remain a tiny bit more relevant for larger parties by enhancing Ezren's ability to explore (without spending 2 cards from his hand from his power). Plus, their powers to support local characters will likely come up a more frequently off-turn in large parties.
    * With that said; both their capacity to help Ezren explore as well as support local characters are things that Ezren can innately complete with his own powers anyway.

    Mystic Diviner Overview & Builds:
    * Compared to Wizened Explorer, Mystic Diviner encourages a more support-oriented Ezren, specializing in examining locations and decks and keeping himself and the party well-informed about how to progress optimally. In general, Mystic Diviner works with the party to effectively fulfill the win conditions of the scenario as safely and early as possible, without otherwise greatly altering how good he is at completing individual checks.
    * I would argue that the key function of this role is the ability examine 2 cards instead of 1 when examining a location or deck - no matter what triggers the examination. In particular, this can very easily ensure that he never has to explore 'blind' if he doesn't want to.
    * This role probably works better in larger parties, where the support is more likely to be useful (in particular as there's more likely one or more members of the party that are ideal to take on whatever boons or banes you examine, and your ability to isolate villains will be more rewarding).

    Noteworthy New Power Feats
    * When you examine the top card of a location or deck, you may examine the top 2 cards instead.: The key power of Ezren. This slightly improves his start-of-turn 'examine and draw' power. You still only get the chance to draw the topmost card, but if you do take the (pre-Role) power feat to optionally recharge the top card of your deck afterwards then this ensures you have full knowledge of whatever you're recharging before you choose to do so.
    * This can have a small impact on a number of boons you play, or even banes you defeat. Cards like Helpful Haversack might become better as a result.
    * This also relevantly improves his exploration power by providing more information to the party beyond just the card you likely choose to immediately explore into. You can greatly enhance the value your exploration power provides to the party after taking this power feat by also taking (see the next dot point)...

    * [...of your] or any [location...]: Extending your exploration power to potentially examine other locations whilst you explore your own is ideal if you already know what you're going to encounter via examinations (thanks to the power feat mentioned above).
    * On your first use of this power in a turn, you can examine the top 2 cards of your location and explore into the first. Then you can use this power again, examine the top 2 cards of another location, then explore into the second (now known) card, effectively having 2 safe explorations whilst also providing almost a full Magic Eye effect on another location for free.
    * I would not take this power feat until I had the aforementioned power to double your examinations, however.

    * Gain the skill Perception: Wisdom +2. ([ ] On your non-combat check, you may discard a card to reroll a die.): The gained skill is a passable power feat; letting you make use of Wisdom better as a secondary skill to put skill feats into but not dramatically affecting Ezren's play.
    * The second power feat spent is actually a pretty significant buff, often allowing Ezren to greatly improve his chances at all non-combat checks if the stakes are high enough. In keeping the theme of Mystic Diviner helping the party win at a scenario (rather than individual checks); it's particularly great for helping him guard and close locations, where the penalties for failure are usually high enough to easily justify a card discard on a reroll. It also enhances his ability to recharge critical spells!
    * Unfortunately, while together these are a decent use of 2 power feats, I wouldn't recommend picking them above the examination-driven powers listed above, nor necessarily higher than a hand size feat, so they probably won't be picked until level 5 or 6, if even then. If you want your Ezren to be a killer at non-combat checks early on, you should be taking the Wizened Explorer role for its more dramatic bonuses; not the comparatively weak bonuses offered by Mystic Diviner.

    * Mystic Diviner's other power feats are pretty self-explanatory and generally underwhelming or conditional. To quickly comment on each...
    * [...] or a card of a type you choose before examining [...]: If you know the full order of your deck, or use examining cards on your deck, this can basically be an extra draw (when you weren't going to hit a spell anyway). But in general I'd always consider this worse than a hand size, and underwhelming at the best of times.
    * [...] or Trigger [...]: Naturally ties into Mystic Diviner examining cards so frequently - but not even close to all Triggers actually cause you to make a check against them when you examine them, and the trait isn't so frequent that you'll see it in every location (unlike the Magic trait).
    * Examine locations on any turn: Never pick this unless you have already taken the power feats to examine 2 cards instead of 1 and examine any location. If you have taken those powers, then - since you can't explore off-turn - this just lets you turn any spell into a sort-of Magic Eye on any location. That's not terrible... but nor is it good, and you'd still rather use this power on your own turn whenever possible anyway just so you can leverage explorations with it. This is only really decent in very small parties that never want to blind-explore ever.

    Other Feat Tips
    * Skills: This role reinforces my recommendation of Wisdom skill feats as secondary to Intelligence, but otherwise gives little reason for you to change your skill feat distribution.

    * Cards: You're rather less likely to use allies for their exploration powers when your own exploration power gets so much better with this role, which might cause me to lightly encourage Item Card Feats over Allies (but still lower than Armors and Spells) for this role, but...
    * Knowing what card is coming up next (with your examination powers) enhances the benefits of ally exploration powers, which tend to give you bonuses to specific checks. Plus, quite a lot of late-game allies actually examine-then-explore, which synergizes nicely with Mystic Diviner.
    * All in all, I think this role might slightly lean towards picking Ally card feats a bit higher than usual, at least for full Curse of the Crimson Throne playthroughs (rather than The Dragon's Demand).
    * Of course, any boon that cares about what's on top of your location and/or provides examinations is going to be better, like Dust of Revealing.

    Wizened Explorer Overview & Builds:
    * Compared to Mystic Diviner, Wizened Explorer encourages a far more proactive Ezren, who makes each of his own turns more powerful, longer and successful. You're pretty objectively a bit less of a team player, but you trade that for some seriously potent power feats.  I consider Wizened Explorer more complex to play than Mystic Diviner, however.
    * I would argue that the key function of this role is the ability to add his full Intelligence (both modifier and die) to any of his non-Intelligence checks, wildly improving his checks across the board. A case can be made for being the best 'alchemist' outside of Fumbus and Quinn, too, though.
    * Wizened Explorer works well in all parties, but probably shines most in smaller parties, where Ezren is more likely to need his own healing and to take on checks outside of his usual comfort zones. However, he will almost certainly need healing no matter his party size or composition, whether he provides it himself or relies on a party member for it.

    Noteworthy New Power Feats
    * Discard a spell to add Intelligence.: The key power of this role, in my opinion. From Level 4, Ezren should have a full 10 spells in his deck by default and an Intelligence skill of 1d12+4; and it's difficult to overstate how many problems in PACG can be solved by throwing 1d12+4 at them!
    * Closing almost any kind of location, acquiring almost any type of boon, defeating almost any kind of barrier - Ezren can discard any spell to make all of these possible by throwing an average of +10.5 at the problem again and again!
    * This also comes with a sneaky side-effect. The Wizened Explorer Ezren is actually not terrible with weapons if he chooses to discard a spell alongside them. This probably shouldn't be your focus, but it does give him the option of carrying only utility/non-combat spells rather than relying on spells. Furthermore, it gives him options to fight without using the Attack trait, in case he fights enemies immune to it.
    * This should always be your first feat option (unless you're desperate for Alchemical proficiency), but make sure you and/or your party carry ample methods of healing back the spells you discard in such a way.
    * Additionally, this won't help your other party members' checks at all, and it will eat through your hand quickly if you try to use it multiple times a turn. Don't forget that other party members can hand you spells, though - plus, you can even carry Divine spells like Cure (if nobody else is using them) and still use them to fuel this power.

    * Alchemical Proficiency: A compelling pick for any Ezren who lacks a Fumbus or Quinn (or possibly Valeros) party member; both letting him use powerful items that would otherwise go to waste but also providing a variety of means of offsetting his own weaknesses.
    * Alchemical items like Elixir of Healing and Ambrosia give Ezren ample abilities to keep himself (and others) healed up. Alchemical items like Elixir of Energy Resistance helps shore up his resilience to damage, and at last there's no shortage of alchemical items like Bottled Lightning to provide him with more methods of combat using his Craft skill in case he doesn't have an attack spell on hand.
    * However; Ezren always runs the risks of permanently losing Alchemical items by failing their Recovery checks. They aren't Magical so he cannot use his power to add 1d4/1d6 to his checks against them, and the check to recharge them is still Craft so he can't add his Intelligence skill with the aforementioned power. I would recommend that you don't worry too much about losing your alchemical cards except for those which heal you - even if you don't always get them back there's always more items to find and use.
    * There's also other methods of ensuring you don't lose your alchemical cards - like the Full Pouch spell or Quinn's Epicurean Role - if you feel strongly about keeping them. Full Pouch is a compelling spell to keep for this reason; since you can always recharge/discard it to your myriad of other powers if you don't need it as soon as you draw it.

    * When you defeat ([ ] or acquire) a card using a non-combat check, you may draw a card.: As if Alchemical proficiency and "add Intelligence to checks" weren't enough examples of powerful feat options, here's an example of a power ripe to be exploited and optimized if you prefer your gameplay a bit more complex.
    * Potentially each and every barrier and boon (and some monsters!) can cause you to draw new cards mid-turn, which should keep your hand full of spells to use for explorations, examinations, combat and throwing your Intelligence skill at more problems. Especially in spell and barrier heavy locations, this can greatly extend the length of Ezren's turns, and at the right location (or with the right deck and the right support) can allow for Ezren to close a location in a single turn with some consistency.
    * This power feat alone spikes Ezren to one of the most exploration-heavy characters in Core and Curse, and is a rare power feat that is often straight-up more desirable than a hand size feat in almost any context.
    * Completely unnecessary in small party sizes - drawing extra cards mid-turn primarily serves to fuel further explorations and encounters, but in party sizes of 2-3 you really don't need to explore more than once or twice a turn almost ever.
    * Like many facets of Wizened Explorer; this power functions best when combined with steady healing.

    * [...] or against a non-Divine boon [...]: Perfectly acceptable after you've picked any of the previously mentioned power feats that you like the look of. It works especially well in parties where Ezren often assists the team or where he tries to go on very long chained explorations after picking the power feats to draw a card whenever he acquires a card with a non-combat check, both because Ezren benefits from successfully acquiring boons and also because those boons can then be recharged to this power.
    * On your own turn, it's much less impressive than adding your Intelligence - but you can always use whichever one (or both) as the situation requires.
    * This power will usually work on any non-blessing boon, since the non-blessing boons with the Divine trait often also have the Magic trait (like spells or staffs).

    * Wizened Explorer's other power feats are pretty self-explanatory and generally underwhelming or conditional. To quickly comment on each...
    * [...] or an ally [...]: Even if you maxed out on ally card feats, this is still only mediocre and worse than either a hand size increase or the phenomenal draw power provided by the previously mentioned power feat.
    * [...] or reload [...]: This is a deceptively bad power. Whilst recharging cards to explore is desirable by avoiding you sacrificing 'hitpoints' to do so; the fact remains that Ezren can basically dump any card out of his hand to explore as long as he has a spell, so you'll always be recharging your worst or otherwise least-helpful card to explore. In that case, why would you want to redraw that card immediately again? Furthermore, you usually want to cycle through your deck to hit your recharged spells with Ezren, further cementing this power as too narrow to be worth picking.

    Other Feat Tips
    * Skills: This role gives little reason for you to change your skill feat distribution, unless you want to start actively using weapons with Ezren (bolstered by your Intelligence); in which case you may look to using Strength or Dexterity as a secondary skill.

    * Cards: Naturally, Alchemical Proficiency enhances your options for Item Card Feats in a big way, including for healing. This is the only role where Ezren might take a second Weapon, too, but I still wouldn't recommend it unless you want to go with a "pure utility spellbook" that lacks methods of combat.
    * Some weapons that extend your skillset without requiring proficiency, like Quarterstaff of Vaulting or Banudor, can really help with passing more of those sweet non-combat checks or possibly enhancing your ability to recharge Alchemical cards with Craft (and drawing extra cards as a result!).
    * I mentioned earlier under 'Advanced Strategies' that Ezren can use weapon poisons effectively - something to consider if you do want to make the "weapon-using Wizened Explorer" work better.
    * Spells that give benefits for a full turn, like Enhance and Giant Form, shine with the extra-long turns that Wizened Explorer can take, and can even once again enable weapon-centered strategies if you want.

    Blackjack Builds:
    * Ezren is not a great carrier for the Blackjack role, probably unsurprisingly. But there are still a few merits that you won't otherwise get with his own roles, so let's do a quick analysis.
    * Part of the reason why Ezren isn't a good fit for the role (besides not being an ideal carrier for most of the powers, boons or playstyle of Blackjack) is that both of his roles are, to be frank, really good. They do a ton to improve his core powers as well as offering relevant, powerful new ones (especially Wizened Explorer) that enable him to use a wider variety of boons effectively. You're giving up a lot to take Blackjack compared to Amiri, who's roles are a bit less impressive by comparison.
    * Like for most characters, a Blackjack Ezren can reach a larger hand size (9 in total) than his regular roles. Combined with his ability to often draw a card at the start-of-turn, that gives Blackjack Ezren an impressive array of options and explorations per turn.

    Inherent Blackjack Powers:
    * The Kit: A benefit for ANY character, since it gives you a better opening hand as well as providing somewhere to 'pocket' certain boons that you don't want to use at the moment.
    * The Kit is an uncommonly good benefit for Ezren, since it helps ensure that he can maximize the number of spells in his opening hand and is a great place to tuck away otherwise-unhelpful weapons.

    * Blackjack Boons: So, the three Blackjack boons are, for the most part, not ideal for Ezren. You can always throw them in your Kit or recharge them to your power if they're not immediately helpful, though.
    * Blackjack's Daggers have some distinct merit as far as the weapons go, since you can buff any local combat check with them (or use them yourself) and just force an evasion on failure.
    * Blackjack's Gear movement option is nice, given Ezren's ability to spend spells to examine his location or recharge any card to support his team.

    * Weapon Proficiency: Well, it means Ezren has more option for using his Weapon slots or any more he picks up in a scenario! It's free upside, and it can be used effectively (see "Noteworthy New Power Feats" below), but it doesn't immediately change Ezren's strategy or capabilities much.

    Noteworthy New Power Feats  
    * [...] reload a Blackjack boon instead: If you've already taken the power feat that allows Ezren to recharge (rather than discard) cards to explore - skip this entirely. You will much rather recharge the weakest cards in your hand (which very well might be your Blackjack boons!) than put them right on top and slow down your ability to redraw into the spells in your deck, such as those recharged on a previous turn.
    * If you do still need to discard cards to explore with Ezren's power, then this is an... okay alternative, since it does give you a few more options with Blackjack's other power feats, maybe.
    * However, I would recommend against this power, by and large. It does too little, and is usually worse than just taking Ezren's power feat to turn his only 'discard' cost into a recharge.

    * Steal other character's encounters against banes: By and large, not helpful for Ezren. Whilst a Blackjack Ezren can become decent at dealing with combat without expending spells (see below) he's simply not ever going to be the best person in the party at doing so; which makes it rare that it will be worth him discarding a card to take an encounter away from someone else when he's probably then also going to have to spend a spell to pass the encounter he was given.
    * It's an okay power feat if you don't have much else to take, though. At the least, it means you can grab encounters against closing henchmen when you're the best person to close a location.

    * Avenge any encounter on a discard: For the same reason as the last power feat; this just isn't that helpful. A spell-heavy wizard is not a great Avenging character due to the expectation that they'll need to spend extra resources to pass the same check that a Fighter or Barbarian could with just a card reveal.

    * Gain Acrobatics, Stealth and Diplomacy: Whilst Ezren has only 1d6s for Dexterity and Charisma, this is one of the stronger Blackjack power feats for Ezren; primarily because it significantly enhances his potential with weapons.
    * The wizard Varian starts with 1d8+1 Acrobatics and proficiency with swords - with this, a Blackjack Ezren has 1d6+3 Acrobatics and proficiency with all weapons. In fact; Ezren's average Acrobatics skill matches Fumbus' Ranged skill before skill feats are added, which just goes to show it's a solid starting point to leverage strong Acrobatics weapons in combat, like Shocking Sawtooth Saber.
    * So it's not enough to allow him to compete with a dedicated combatant (especially because you'll really just want Intelligence skill feats first), but this skill is enough to make sure that Ezren can use the right weapon (or even just his Blackjack weapons) with enough skill to defeat weak foes without card expenditure most of the time; which might save you valuable spells at some point. Maybe.
    * Even ignoring the relevant +3 bonus to weapon usage, it gives him a 3 brand-new skills with a generous modifier to each, and lets him use the Blackjack weapons he has to take anyway. Definitely worthwhile.
    * If you want to use weapons more frequently with Ezren, you can also take the power feat to reroll 1/2 dice on Acrobatics or Stealth checks.

    Other Feat Tips
    * Skills: Even if you're not sold on actually using weapons with Ezren (I don't blame you; spells will always be much more powerful and you're made out of them), a Blackjack Ezren should almost certainly take Dexterity skill feats after he maxes his Intelligence.
    * Acrobatics and Stealth based on Dexterity greatly expands on how often you can leverage that skill, and makes you generally better against barriers - quite besides with a lot of weapons.

    * Cards: A Blackjack Ezren might use a second Weapon slot (leveraging Blackjack powers, Acrobatics/Stealth skill, weapon proficiency, supportive spells like Giant Form and weapon poisons to use it effectively), but otherwise the role doesn't do much to change your general card feat strategy.

    Notable Boons:
    * Ezren is always stuck with a weapon. Whilst you can make better use of weapons by building around them (with Weapon Poisons, Giant Form spells and the like, and/or with the Wizened Explorer or Blackjack roles) to try to save you attack spells; for most Ezren's your weapon will end up recharged or discarded to one of your powers or as damage.
    * Without building around any specific weapon, you should decide which of 3 things you want your weapon to do...
    * 1 - Combat: You can give your Ezren a weapon that is so powerful that it can actually pass combat for him if he's stuck in a situation where he cannot use (or does not have) a spell. Look to using weapons like Vicious Scythe or Venomous Dagger in that case.
    * 2 - Utility/Non-Combat: You can give your Ezren a weapon that provides benefits outside of combat that you could see yourself using or wanting. Look to using weapons like Allying Dart, Sword Cane, Quarterstaff of Vaulting, Wyrmsmite or Vindicator in that case.
    * 3 - Sharing: As listed in 'Advanced Strategies' earlier - you can always just carry around a weapon you plan to give to another character as soon as possible; someone who can use it to fuel a strong power (like Amiri) or just as another weapon if they spend or lose their current one!

    * I'm not sure I even want to tackle this - Spells can do everything and Ezren is great at all of them - as long as they're Arcane.
    * However, you should consider how many attack spells you want to carry as Ezren, which is one of the most important decisions to make. The less spells you're carrying that are primarily used for combat, the more spells you have to provide support, defeat barriers, help acquire boons or close locations. If you think you can use your Items (or Weapons) as viable methods of combat, you can decrease your reliance on carrying arcane attack spells and, thus, free up your spells for more uses. Alternatively, you could keep yourself heavily mired in attack spells and rely on Items and Weapons for your other effects.
    * At the start of the game, I'd recommend carrying at least 4-5 attack spells; and no matter how your build goes I would be very hesitant to drop below 3. (It's worth noting, perhaps, that I played MM Ezren through all of Season 4 PACS with as little as 1-2 attack spells in his deck - because I primarily relied on other methods of combat - so it can work wonders in some cases.)
    * If you think you have enough methods of combat and you're not sure what non-combat spells to be on the lookout for; keep an eye out for spells that help you against barriers or that are displayed for long periods of time (like for the full scenario, or until a location closes). Barriers are often the trickier banes to defeat, and spells that are displayed for long periods of time provide a very large amount of value without using up space in your hand.
    * Some top-quality combat spells (which often have secondary effects) include... Immolate, Deathgrip, Vampiric Touch, Chain Lightning and Disintegrate.
    * Some top-quality displayable spells include... False Life, Infernal Healing, Steal Soul and Shapechange.
    * Some top-quality utility spells include... Good Omen, Disable Mechanism and Scrying.
    * Special mention to Enhance, which can provide a surprising amount of value (like adding +1+# to all of your recharge checks if played during Recovery) and greatly helps Wizened Explorer Ezrens recharge Alchemical items (if you don't have Full Pouch handy) or keeping long chains of explorations running smoother with +2-7 to all of your Intelligence, Arcane, Craft and Knowledge checks! You can even get creative and buff your weapon combat with it (especially Blackjack Dexterity combat), quite besides its supportive capabilities.
    * You can also support your own weapon combat (or your party's) with spells like Enlarge or Giant Form.

    * Displayable Light Armor should almost certainly be your only interest here.

    * There's no shortage of items that can help cover Ezren's weaknesses or expand on his strengths!
    * Weapon poisons like Bloodroot Poison and Wyvern Poison help you if you want to use your weapon in actual combat, since Ezren has the Craft skill.
    * Cards that can examine your character deck, like Helpful Haversack, can help make the most of Ezren's start-of-turn power and can synergise further with his Mystic Diviner role.
    * Items that provide damage resistance/resilience, like Ring of Evasion or Mist Horn, can help offset Ezren's natural fragility and make the most of his large hand size. Similarly, Ezren's ability to cycle through his deck rapidly makes him ideal at carrying certain healing items like Staff of Minor Healing.
    * To give him more combat options without using spells; Ezren is an excellent carrier of arcane attack items like Wand of Acid Burst and Fireball Beads. Whilst it's generally a lot weaker, the Flame Staff gives him a backup method of combat when he doesn't have an attack spell at hand, despite it's low power, and is usually good to hold onto just in case there's banes with multiple checks to defeat.
    * Finally, Ezren is tied for the highest Knowledge of the Core/Curse cast; so he can carry the potent early-game books Codex and Sage's Journal.
    * His Wizened Explorer role can let him use Alchemical items effectively, of course - see the previous spoiler for details.

    * I would generally encourage the use of allies that help you shuffle your deck, like Djinn, or heal, like Priest of Pharasma.
    * The Mystic Diviner role lets you make better use of allies that grant very specific bonuses during explorations, and/or examine before exploring.


    Sorry for the long delay on this one! Can't promise it won't happen again - this is time consuming and I really should learn to cut them down! I look through a lot of boons and re-examine and re-write huge portions of these over and over, to be frank.

    Unless I change the ordering; next up is Fumbus! In my opinion, one of the two most powerful characters in Core+Curse.

  • Thanks! Awesome write up. Much appreciated

    Great post, Yewstance. As someone who was playing Dragon's Demand mostly with two characters (Seelah - me, Ezren), I wholeheartedly agree with several points you made. Ezren was a beast attack-wise, but needed a lot of healing due to burning through the deck faster than RotR Seoni. Add to that his need to Crusade-assistance from Seoni for most other checks and that his player sort-of-forgot to help in recharging the Cure - and Seelah was often on the edge of death as well.
    A second Cure would be extremely useful to Seelah - or other characters to help out the wizened intrepid explorer.

    No mention of increased hand size with Blackjack, getting to a max of 9?! That might make it worth taking Blackjack alone!

    Overall, another great analysis. I'm not a huge fan of the pure casters, as I feel the spell selection can lead to a bit of AP, but I do like any character with a lack of a particular boon, as I think it increases the build challenge. I hope to give this Ezren more of a chance than I have his previous incarnations.

    I really look forward to these. Fumbus should be fun. I enjoyed playing the boom gobbo through DD.

    eddiephlash wrote:

    No mention of increased hand size with Blackjack, getting to a max of 9?! That might make it worth taking Blackjack alone!


    I really look forward to these. Fumbus should be fun. I enjoyed playing the boom gobbo through DD.

    Thanks; though I did mention the Blackjack hand size!

    Yewstance wrote:
    * Like for most characters, a Blackjack Ezren can reach a larger hand size (9 in total) than his regular roles. Combined with his ability to often draw a card at the start-of-turn, that gives Blackjack Ezren an impressive array of options and explorations per turn.

    I didn't make as big of a deal of it as I otherwise would have because Ezren's Wizened Explorer role has a way larger effective hand size by passing non-combat checks to defeat or acquire (which can easily draw 3+ cards a turn with very high consistency).

    Additionally, I don't tend to assess the full consequences of Hand Size power feats post-role because I do the assessment of how a character uses extra Hand Size feats earlier on.

    Fumbus is coming sooner than expected (but don't hold out too much hope!), but suffice to say it'll be... different. I feel Fumbus is the most powerful Core/Curse character but he's also kind of... funky in design. Of particular note; one of his roles varies quite a lot in power level depending on how you fall on the "RAW vs RAI" spectrum (but the last official stance falls squarely on RAW, from my observation).

    Great write up! I really appreciate reading your thought process on how you evaluate these characters.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.


    bump again :-)
    Totally understand if you are swamped Yewstance, however would love to see your thoughts on the other core and curse characters

    I really do intend to keep this going, and have an 80% done review of Fumbus waiting to post; but I have so little time right now I can barely keep up with my actual PACG Play-by-post tables, let alone continue this at the moment.

    This isn't dead, just... expect nothing quickly, basically.

    Plus, I was kind of hopeful that a rules question I've raised several times (including in the recent updates to the "list of rulings needed" forum thread) about Fumbus would be clarified before I posted my review, because it completely changes one of his role cards by enabling a new hyper-optimal build.

    All good! Totally understand about being snowed under!
    Hope things calm down a bit for you and I look forward to seeing Fumbus in due course

    Hi Yewstance!
    Hope you are well. Any chance of posting Fumbus as written?
    keen for more of your thoughtful isights

    Lone Shark Games

    Assume that it is not intended or will be fixed if Fumbus's power means that you'd recharge a discarded/buried card you drew. Perhaps change from if not played to if in hand. That has a negative impact on Reveal weapons, but is still pretty great.

    Matsu Kurisu wrote:

    Hi Yewstance!

    Hope you are well. Any chance of posting Fumbus as written?
    keen for more of your thoughtful isights

    My time for PACG has greatly lessened this year, and unfortunately Keith's following statement means I'd need to make great alterations to even the parts of the review that I've already written, because all of my analysis of one of the two roles of Fumbus is assuming a very, very, very powerful power works in a way that... it apparently shouldn't work.

    I can't make promises, but if the opportunity arises I'll consider cleaning up what I've written and posting at least a partial Fumbus review.

    Keith Richmond wrote:
    Assume that it is not intended or will be fixed if Fumbus's power means that you'd recharge a discarded/buried card you drew. Perhaps change from if not played to if in hand. That has a negative impact on Reveal weapons, but is still pretty great.

    That needs a fix, then, because that works contrary to several other rulings which state to follow the instructions of a power regardless of where a card ends up.

    A great example is the powers on Simoun and Drelm (Mummy's Mask), which let you draw cards from the box, then banish them at the end of the encounter/after acting. It's been clarified that even if you draw a dagger and shuffle it into your deck in combat, you'll still need to look through your deck to banish it once the encounter ends in such a situation.

    This was further clarified in a rules discussion post that asked what happened if you revealed Double Chicken Saber +1, then recharged or reloaded it to a power (I believe the context was Quinn's first power, since Ultimate Equipment is now his 'Class Deck'), and rolled a 1, and it was confirmed that you'd still need to fish it out of your deck and discard it as per its requirement if you roll a 1.

    It certainly massively overhauls my opinion on that role of Fumbus, however, and solidly swings my opinion in favor of his other role. I should re-try my testing of Fumbus with this new ruling and see how good I can make his Fumbler role regardless.

    Ok, thanks for the update.
    Totally understand time constraints

    2 down. 10 to go.

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