The sun beats down upon the group of desperadoes clad in their grime covered dusters. Their spurs jangle as they encourage their steeds to just a little bit more speed. They've got a job to do, a dirty job, but if they hurry they might just have a few extra minutes. Time enough to do a shot of whiskey and play a hand of cards. Time enough to get a few laughs before they set this two-bit nowhere town to the torch....
It's F:AT Thursday!
The True Believers were joined by The Fantastics this week which is always a treat. Matt, recently returned from GenCon and Trish, who knowing our strict rules about such things showed up with her own hard boiled egg, made the trek from the Hilltop Watchtower they call home and ventured to the Lake of Crystal. It's always good to see them.
The game choice this week was Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I'd been hearing some good hype here on The Fort and other places and it sounded like something I would dig. So I ordered it up from my local game store and was glad to get it in time for Thursday. I went whole hog and got the base game and the character expansion so that we were able to play with 6 people.
In the game, the players choose one of 10(?) possible characters, each with their own stats, strengths and weaknesses. They each get a starting deck of 15 cards representing weapons, armor, allies, potions and spells.
Then the "adventure" consisting of a number of locations cards is assembled. Each location has a deck of cards consisting of monsters, traps, barriers and some good stuff too like spells, allies and items.
Also, each adventure has a boss villain and some of his henchmen. Each location one of these guys put in it's deck.
The object is for the players to work their way through these locations "closing" them when they can (think of sealing gates in Arkham) and hopefully locating and defeating the boss villain before the game timer runs out.
The players take a hand of cards from their deck and use them to accomplish things like fighting and aiding their comrades. Sometimes these cards are simply revealed and put back in the player's hand but sometimes they are discarded when used, or discarded due to damage in combat. The neat thing is you must draw up to your hand limit at the end of your turn but your discards are not reshuffled. If you burn through your 15 cards and need to draw up but haven't got cards left..guess what...you are DEAD!
Erm-muh-Gehrd! Player Elimination? In this day and age??? Oh yeah. There will be tears in Sandpoint Village at the news but don't worry. Your buddies will strip your corpse and divie up the loot before they dump you in that shallow unmarked grave.
Because that's the other really cool thing about this game. Your characters continue on to the next adventure, keeping any cool items they have acquired along the way, ditching the lame-o starter stuff and maybe getting an ability increase. Neat!
In our game, the town of Sandpoint was under attack from a screaming horde of goblins intent on setting the town to the torch. They were led by the nefarious goblin chief, Ripnugget, who arrived mounted on his ferocious war-gecko, Stickfoot.
We split up attempting to cover as many locations as possible from the Rope Bridge to the Rusty Dragon Tavern, to the Desecrated Temple, to the Swallowtail Fair (in town for a limited time only). We had a couple of sightings of Ripnugget but his lizard is fast and he fled to other locations before we could finish him off.
On the last possible turn (the game timer was out) it was Trish as the green haired barbarian that struck the final blow and vanquished the goblin chief and his mount. We saved the town but it was close, very close. (A lucky monster draw two turns earlier had allowed us to close several locations and thus narrow down where the boss was and eliminate his escape routes).
On F:AT Thursday our primary objective is to have fun and that was what this game was. Fun. Sometimes, fantasy adventure games can take themselves a bit too seriously and be a bit grim. Not so here. Every once in a while some card text or some of the art will let you know that "Hey, it's just a game dude. Relax". For example Ripnugget's war song on the bottom of his card..silly and cheesy but I appreciated it.
I feel the campaign aspect and character development will only add to the overall appeal however having played it twice and both as one off adventures I cannot say for sure.
Then as there were a bunch of us we ended the night with a game of Say Anything. I'm not a big party game player. Not that I don't like them but I don't generally find myself in a situation where they would be appropriate. Either I'm with a group of gamers in which case we would play a more conventional board game or I'm with people who, were I to suggest a game, would flinch and cringe and make that "somebody just farted" face.
Say Anything, judging by my limited experience with such things, is one of the better games. It hits all the right buttons a game of it's type is supposed to: break down inhibitions, let people get to know each other better, and induce laughter and silliness.
It was fun, it was quick, and, of course, it was vulgar.
Talk of important matters started off with taking up the debate of whether a board game can replace an RPG. I'm firmly in the camp of "no". I think that the two types of games are only thinly related. One is not very much like the other.
I suppose the combat mechanics have a certain amount of overlap but I've always found them to be the least compelling aspect of any RPG. The heart of an RPG is the openness of being able to attempt anything and the taking on of a role, not necessarily speaking in a funny voice but having your actions be guided and formed by your idea of the character. These things simply cannot be accomplished in a board game. The structure and rules simply will not allow it.
Matt opined that a board game could take the place of an RPG in an opportunity cost sense. Meaning that if you have only so many hours to allocate to gaming in general if you play game X you are by definition losing the chance to play game Y. And I see his point but I think it's an argument that applies to any use of spare time not exclusive to board vs. RP games.
Which type of game is better? That is like asking which flavor of ice cream is better, vanilla or chocolate. Depends on the day, bub.