Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set
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- Ages: 12+
- Number of Players: 1-4
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A forgotten evil stirs in the ancient land of Varisia. Dark magic once more thrums amid crumbling ruins, giants gather in titanic armies, cultists murder in the name of foul deities, and maniacal goblins plot a fiery end for the peaceful town of Sandpoint. Launch a campaign to strike back against the evils plaguing Varisia with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set. This complete cooperative strategy card game pits 1 to 4 heroes against the traps, monsters, deadly magic, and despicable foes of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game's award-winning Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. Choose your character's class; build a deck of allies, equipment, and magic; and explore lethal locations as you journey through multiple scenarios in an exciting fantasy adventure. Characters grow stronger after each game, adding unique gear and awesome magic to their decks, and gaining incredible powers, all of which they'll need to challenge greater threats in a complete Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Adventure Path.
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Top customer reviews
The more glaring flaw in my opinion is the selection of character classes that come in the base game. There is a single wisdom character (Cleric), who also has the divine skill. One. There are many, many, many situations that require a wisdom and/or divine check. So if you do not have someone playing this character, you literally can not succeed on those checks. This is particularly evident in the third scenario of the tutorial adventure which has multiple locations that can not be closed without said checks. But guess what, there is a character add on pack (at extra cost!!) that includes several more characters that can make decent wisdom/divine checks. It was extremely frustrating to my group (which didn't know the cleric was mandatory) to constantly be under a barrage of skill checks they simply couldn't make. Even using a blessing for an extra dice makes rolling a 9 with 2d6 fairly challenging (28% chance FYI).
Now that the negatives are out of the way, the positives.
Despite the issues described above, the game is pretty fun to play. You must work together to succeed and best of all can be played solo if you'd like to test run it yourself before getting a group together, or if you just like to play board games on your own. There is an aside in the rule book that you can swap out impossible checks when playing solo for something more suited to your character. I'm thinking I may have to apply that rule even in group play given what's described above. Each scenario will scale to the number of players, adding additional locations as you add players. The base game only allows for up to 4 players at once. The character add-on pack bumps that up to 6 by adding the extra cards you'd need. If you want, you can also of course play multiple characters yourself.
In theory you do not need to the additional adventure packs, you could create your own adventures. You will be limited by the available number of villains/henchmen (meaning you'll fight the same bad guys multiple times) but you can always just use your imagination.
The game comes with a plastic card organizer tray that will help you keep everything separate. On opening the box and putting the cards in though, it will look depressingly empty because it's designed to fit all of the cards from the other 6 add-on packs.
The rules can be somewhat challenging to learn which will make your first few games move at a pretty slow pace, but once the rules start to click things will move along much faster. The setup can still take a fair amount of time though, with three players there are nine decks of cards that need shuffled minimum. These decks are pretty small, so shuffling isn't as easy as say a deck of regular playing cards.
One of my kids is only 7, which is well below the recommended age, but with some guidance she is able to play the game. The game can be brutally hard though. Being dice based, you can get unlucky and it hurt really, really bad. As an example I was fighting a monster with a check to beat of 11. I was rolling 2d10+3 to defeat it, so a fairly good chance. My total roll was a 6. So per the rules, I lose 11-6 = 5 cards. That was my entire hand. Again, that Cleric becomes more and more a necessity... When you can no longer draw enough cards to make a full hand, your character dies. And without a special powerful spell (which you can't have at the start, you have to randomly find it, and succeed in acquiring it) your character is dead forever and losing everything. You must start over again, making a character with only 'basic' cards. This is extremely brutal which younger kids may not enjoy. It's your game though, you're free to bend the rules if you like ;) In addition, each scenario is limited to 30 turns (so with 10 players, that's 10 turns each). Fail to beat the villain, and you lose. Due to this time limit, you are forced to play aggressive. It's certainly a very challenging game, at least for our group. We'll try again, this time with a cleric, and see how it goes.
Overall, I like the game. I love tabletop RPGs. I'm glad it can have a persistent campaign, I sorely miss Hero's Quest and wish more games like it existed. The experience is only marred by the extremely high cost for the total game, and my groups annoyance with the wisdom/divine checks.
Everything I have said up to now make this game good. But what makes this game great is the blessing deck. At the start of your turn you draw a blessing card from the blessing deck. The deck contains 30 cards I believe, and there are 9 locations. Each location starts with 10 cards and can potentially have more added. This means you have to find the bad guy in these 90 cards within 30 turns, and there is no getting lucky. Even if you are able to defeat the bad guy early on he will run to any location that is not currently closed. This means that many times you have to close locations before you get the chance to mine them for all of those valuable cards and adds a real urgency to the game. In the first game I played we beat the final boss on the last turn. One of the guys at the table had to roll a 7 on two 10 sided dice and he rolled exactly a 7. And I have yet to play a game were we have won with more than 3 cards left in the blessing deck. I really feel like this constantly ticking clock brings this game to a whole new level.
As a final note there are already a bunch of expansions you can pre order which will bring lots of new cards to the game and that is great. But don't thing that just because there are a bunch of expansions they are skimping on the base game. There are still a TON of cards and a TON of treasures to pick from and no reason you cannot have hours and hours of fun with this game. This was my favorite game of Gencon 2013 and I would highly recommend it.