Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Star Trek: Catan Federation Space offer fantasy, sci-fi fun

By Cody Carlson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13 2013 4:15 p.m. MST

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is an innovative new card game that feels like an RPG, from Paizo Publishing.

Paizo Publishing

Fantasy and science fiction highlight two new games that promise action and strategy, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game from Paizo Publishing, and Star Trek: Catan Federation Space expansion from Mayfair Games.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

In Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, one to four players take on the roles of fantasy heroes as they cooperatively undertake a series of quests and fight hosts of skeletons, the undead and other villains. At the beginning of the first game players pick one of several characters, including the elf, the fighter and the wizard.

Each player carries a certain amount of cards from different decks, which include weapons, armor, allies and spells, and each has certain stats placed on an information card in front of him. A token card can then move from location deck to location deck, laid out before the players.

Critically, each character has a set hand size of cards he can play during his turn. However, at the end of his turn he must draw up to that hand size. If there are no cards left to draw, he dies. This means a greater hand size will give a player more options during play, but it also means he is weaker than a character required to draw fewer cards at the end of his turn.

Stats also contain traditional role-playing game skills like charisma, wisdom and strength and identify which of five polyhedral dice, included with the game, are used for each particular skill.

Next, the scenario card tells which locations will be used depending on numbers of players, and location cards tell which cards go into each deck. Location decks also contain similar cards to what characters put in their initial decks, and players can attempt to pass skill checks to acquire them. The location decks also contain monsters that must be defeated.

In most scenarios a villain must be destroyed to win the game, but a villain defeated earlier can flee to another location. This requires players to work together to defeat “boss” monsters in each location, so that location may be closed to the villain. In the center of the play area a deck of special blessing cards is flipped over with each player's turn. The cards act as a timer, and if the quest has not been finished by the time all the blessings have been flipped, the heroes lose.

Based upon Paizo's series of role-playing games, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game feels very much like an RPG, though the game itself functions as a game master. The game is also meant to be played along an “adventure path,” essentially a linked campaign in which players can evolve their character decks and improve stats. This is really an interesting and innovative new design, borrowing heavily from not only RPGs, but also from deck-builders.

This game has a level of customization that is truly amazing. Boasting nearly 500 cards in the base set and first adventure deck, which is included with the base game, Paizo plans on releasing further adventure decks in the months to come, allowing hard-core gamers to play an extended adventure for the foreseeable future.

Though the sheer number of cards can initially be quite intimidating, the game itself is surprisingly simple and easy to learn. Still, this is not a game for everyone. At the end of the day it is simply a matter of moving cards around the table and rolling dice, so you need to allow your imagination to fill in the rest. If you're a gamer who loves a great fantasy theme and enjoys role-playing games or heavier card games, you will certainly have a lot of fun with Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is recommended for ages 13 and up and generally plays in about an hour to 90 minutes.

Star Trek: Catan Federation Space expansion

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