Archive for September, 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game from Paizo is a cooperative cardgame for up to four players (up to six with the multiplayer expansion). The game is based on the Pathfinder roleplaying game, a variant of the open license Dungeon & Dragons 3.5. The artwork, characters, monsters etc. therefore are those of the original RPG (role playing game) adventure paths (i.e. campaigns).

So far two card games of this series are published based on the Rise of the Runelords and the Skull & Shackles campaigns respectively. Each of them has five separately available adventure expansions and one multiplayer expansion. I own the Rise of the Runelords cardgame and the first three expansions to it.


Why do I like this game?

Playing really feels a bit as some reviewers said “like playing a roleplaying game but without a dungeon master”. I would like to add that it feels like a “hack & slash” type roleplaying game there is obviously not much NPC (non-player character) interaction, plotting and scheming etc. included in this game. Almost all scenarios have as a goal to find and defeat the villain.

I still like it for it transports the leveling up and finding of loot elements of a RPG campaign very well.

The replayability is fairly good. I played the first adventure a couple of times with different heroes. Once you start mixing in cards from the expansions playing the initial scenarios becomes however difficult. I suppose if you really wanted you could spend the time to sort through the deck and remove the expansion cards again or draw new cards if you drew cards from a future adventure (but I have neither the time nor the patience for such things).


Single Player

I have not played the game multiplayer. I played it with up to five heroes and due to scaling it plays very different with each number of heroes. In my opinion the sweet spot in terms of difficulty is with three heroes. With fewer heroes each individual hero may take too much damage and may therefore die and/or you may end up lacking the right combination of skills to overcome the barrier and monster cards or close the locations. With more heroes you will often have difficulty not to run out of time. I actually never won a game where I played four or five heroes and didn’t even try to play six. The reason is that the players have basically a combined total of 30 turns, independent on the size of the group but for each additional hero a new location with 10 more cards, where the villain might be hiding, is added to the game.



One thing I find annoying is the large number of small decks (i.e. ten to fifteen cards), which you need to shuffle repeatedly. What I do now is: I lay out the cards of the location decks face down in a row. If due to the use of some items or abilities I know the top card of a stack, I put it face up aside. Otherwise when drawing a card I roll a die to pick one at random. That way the villain or henchman of each stack always comes up at a one, but the odds are the same as if I had shuffled the decks.


Level Cap

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

I sometimes listen to a gaming podcasts while driving. Recently I heard one  about MMORPG. They were saying that in Wildstar currently once you reach max level you really have to change your style of play. You need to find new things to do, because the leveling as game purpose is hard to replace.

I was wondering why modern role playing games do not handle things like it was done in the 80s. Old games like The Bards Tale didn’t even have a level cap or it was ridiculously high and therefore for all but the most dedicated players way out of reach. How so? It’s the old Wheat and Chessboard problem.

If you simply double the experience required for gaining a level, they will quickly get out of reach (unless of course you also increase the experience gained by killing monsters). In Bard’s Tale this had the effect that when you switched schools of magic and your spell caster’s experience was reset, just by letting him walk along with the rest of the party he would very quickly catch up in levels.

Why don’t they do this in modern RPG? I suppose the designers plan ahead for future expansions. But I don’t see why they couldn’t use such a system. In the old days you would just get a stat increase if you leveled beyond the normal scope of the game. New spells (and nowadays class abilities) would obviously only be available in the normal design space say on level 1 through 50. With an expansion the designers could add the abilities and spells for higher levels and some high level mobs that provide enough experience.

The other issue with that is that players who spend a lot of time with the game gain a high advantage over those who don’t. But that is a general problem of any MMO anyway. Somehow the “end game content” leads to better items and such. But if on the other hands there would be no more increase in power, players would quickly lose interest in the game once they had reached the end content (like in an offline single player RPG once it is completed), so that’s it.

Dark Force Rising

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

During my last vacation I read Dark Force Rising on my kindle. This is the second part of the original Thrawn trilogy from Timothy Zahn. In the early nineties I read the first part Heir to the Empire and found it really great. Back in those days books were still printed on paper. :)


At that time it was also difficult to get science fiction books in the original version in Germany, since most bookstores had only small foreign language books sections (filled with classics from penguin books and the like). I therefore read it in the German translation. The second part was however only published in German many years later (1998).


Even though I really liked the first part, I meanwhile somehow forgot about it and didn’t buy the follow-up. Now I saw it on kindle. Strangely enough it is not available for purchase in English. My speculation (and hope) is that this trilogy really is the basis for the new films and for that reason they are being held back until after the release of the movies (when revised and adapted versions of the books will be published).



Anyway, those who wish to read the trilogy now, can still buy second hand paperback versions, or (as I did) get the German version for kindle.
The first part was really good, the second was OK, now I’ll read the last part…



Lord of the Rings – Parallels to the Real World

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Some time ago I bought the Blu-Ray version of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Just recently I finally found the time to watch it. This is one of my favorite movies. (I’m counting the whole trilogy as one movie, although the extended edition is easily over 10 hours long) There are some people (like my father) who say it should be condensed in a 90 minute format. I actually would like to see that, that would be interesting.

Anyway one of my favorite scenes in Return of the King is when Aragon storms into Edoras “The Beacons of Minas Tirith! Gondor calls for aid!” and Theoden takes a moment and then says “And Rohan will answer!”



The odd part about it, where the parallel to real live lies, is that the Steward of Gondor did not want to light the beacons. He gives one unreasonal order after the other. But he is the boss. That’s just how it is. This seems to be a typical management flaw. Who has not at one time or another had a superior who acted like Denethor? 😉