A Tale of Pathfinder Games (edited)

We, meaning the collective six of us, are playing two Pathfinder Adventure Card Games. The family game consisting of six of us happens twice a week and once on the weekend. The adults only game of Skulls and Shackles consisting of the three adults happens three times a week or more and twice on the weekends. The games could not be more dissimilar if we tried.

The family game is Rise of the Runelords. Prior to this game, every run through Rise has been four players maximum. We knew that games would last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour; totally dependent upon the scenario requirements or in extreme cases if we were having a bad dice night. The four players know the rules and the game, meaning that turns tended to pass smoothly from one player to another. Waiting for your turn was never long and immediate help was always available because you were staring at your cards or watching the current player take their turn. Playing was typically a matter of picking a starting location for each character and moving from there.

Six players changes that dynamic more than I would have expected. Games can last up to an hour and a half to two hours. With eight locations in play and the same 30 turn limit, maximizing effort has become a thing. Previously there was time to explore locations and failing to close a location was a minor set-back. With six players, there is not a lot of time to explore and failing to close a location can become a make or break moment. There were few, “this is the last turn, we have to win,” moments with four players. With six, every game comes down to the last turn and successes requires a lot more cooperation. That is a big difference between four and six players, the amount of cooperation required to complete a scenario ramps up to every person must pay attention to their cards and the actions taken by other players. Otherwise, a scenario is lost because one player who was holding onto Magic Weapon forgets that they have the card and two people who need the card fail checks, setting everyone back.

The Skulls and Shackles adults only game has been a night and day difference from our pervious experience with Skulls and Shackles. It has also been very different from the family Rise game. Three players reduces the number of locations to explore and increases the number of turns per player, meaning we have more opportunity to find loot. However, when a location is closed there are few options for exploration and movement.  One of the issues we have into is when henchmen and villains are encountered early, closing locations and finding that we are winning scenarios with 15-turns to go. Something that has not happened in any Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to date.

Speedier games has meant more games in one sitting than before, but it has also meant a lot less loot per adventure. Something that I am sure will come back to haunt us. Four and six player games have an advantage over a thre-player game in that there are more characters to cover deficiencies among the characters, such as with our Skulls group, Constitution and Fortitutde. In our six-player games we have Constitution and Fortitutde to spare. If you can get into two different Pathfinder Adventure Card Games I highly recommend it, because no two games are the same.

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