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Six years ago, Paizo launched a fresh spin on Pathfinder, which boldly attempted to distil the RPG experience into an expandable card game. Essentially a ‘hunt the card, burn the deck’ affair, it span out over various campaigns, allowing players to level-up their characters by building decks and taking dice-roll-boosting feats. It worked well, but it’s fair to say it became eclipsed by even more ambitious RPG-lite campaign games – first and foremost Gloomhaven.

Now the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is back in a new edition (albeit entirely backwardscompatible). It’s slightly better looking, slightly slicker and slightly more fun. the 2019 Core Set includes a more generous roster of characters than the first edition’s Rise of the Runelords base set, complete with pawns, and the Adventure Path now comes in storybook form, allowing for more narrative embellishment (though this rarely gels with the actual gameplay). One of the key mechanical changes is the addition of hero point tokens, rewards which can either be spent to gain feats or held in reserve to allow re-rolls, adding some very welcome mitigation.

Yet, despite being quite a simple game at its core, it remains burdened by a knotty ruleset, stuffed with super-specific terminology that may turn off new players. For example, cards aren’t merely played; they’re revealed, displayed, reloaded, recharged, discarded, buried or banished.

It’s hard to imagine this second edition winning over hordes of new players, and it is very pricey for what you get in the box. But once you acclimatise to its tricky lexicon, it remains a charming and very replayable co-operative experience – and a treat to play solo, too.


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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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