Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game-Skull and Shackles base box

Product-Pathfinder Adventure Card Game-Skull and Shackles


Price– $60 here

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– ~25 min per player per scenario (1-6 players with expansion, 10 scenarios in the base game)

TL; DR– A fun addition to the Card Game. 89%


Basics-Ahoy matey!  This game is the sequel to the hit Pathfinder Adventure Card Game-Rise of the Runelords.  Players take the role of one character and progress between scenarios to move along the Skull and Shackles adventure path.  You have a character that has the six standard Pathfinder stats as a die.  Each turn you can move between different locations, and draw the top card of that deck as an encounter.  That card is either something you can equip like a spell or a weapon (a “boon”) or something that will attack you like a monster or an obstacle (a “bane”).  You can then play cards from your hand to give you extra dice or bonuses to your roll, select an ability based on the card encountered and roll the die related to that ability score.  If you beat the number on the card, you can add it to your hand if it’s a boon, while banes are defeated.  If you don’t beat the number on the card, you discard any good cards you encountered or take damage if you fought a monster.  When you take damage you discard cards from your hand.  If you can’t play cards from your hand to keep exploring, you draw up to your hand size.  If you can’t, then your character dies.  If you encounter something called henchmen while exploring, you encounter it as above, but if you defeat it, you can close the location the henchmen was at.  If you encounter and beat a villain or man bad guy for the scenario and the other locations are closed, you win!  While much hasn’t changed, what has changed is pretty different.


Mechanics-This game is and isn’t much different from the original.  Let’s look at each section individually.

Basic Play– The basics play described above hasn’t changed.  The rules go a little more in depth and make that section MUCH clearer, so that is very appreciated.  However, it feels like there are definitely winner and loser abilities and skills.  Maybe further in the game, some of the skills will matter.  But right now, it feels like some of the characters just don’t matter.


Ships-The largest new mechanic is the addition of ships.  The ships provide a constant bonus or ability for your group and the bonus to move as a group.  Also, the ships provide an awesome way to deal with not getting enough gear.  When you beat another ship or get to store plunder, you roll on a random chart, and place one of five different types of cards under the ship.  If you win, you get these cards in addition to any other bonuses for the scenario.

Display and Other Small Changes-Display is a new mechanic where you don’t just reveal a card from your hand, you set it in front of you.  The card now provides an effect and will then tell you when you can pick it up or if you have to discard it.  Some cards allow you to constantly use a displayed card.  This is just part of a handful of new terms for the game.  These new cards do an excellent job of updating the rules.  It provides new options for card design and helps the players.  I like how the rules have moved along.

Summary– The game plays like the basic adventure card game.  It’s a great game, but some of the characters don’t feel like they matter.  Maybe that will change, maybe not.  That will depend on what comes out later in this scenario.  Ships are amazing and help prevent characters just not getting enough cards.  The new terms and mechanics like display provide some new design and play space, and the new characters are fun.  It’s not perfect, but it is a blast to play. 4.75/5


Theme-You’re a pirate and you sail the high seas!  You get to move through the Skull and Shackles adventure path with was an amazing adventure series.  I like what I’ve seen so far as it hits the high points reasonably well.  However, if you haven’t played the adventure path, you will feel lost.  You do feel like an island hopping pirate, but the story does lack a bit since the story is still told by half card length paragraphs.  I really wish Paizo would publish a quick summary of each adventure part and an epilogue so the players would know a bit more about what is going on. 4/5


Instructions– Here there are some problems, but they don’t break the game.  You just might end up cheating by accident.  The rules are a giant tome!  There’s a lot going on here, but what it really needs is a one page summary to help character jump in the action.  The rules are a bit of a text book that tends to bury some important rule points under lots of other text.  The rules by themselves are ok.  They get the points across, but some concepts like who controls ships, number of cards per check, and even the blessing deck can get lost in the text.  Rules on the cards need some work too.  The first scenario of the main campaign is already errata’ed by the designers.  That’s a major problem!  That’s the scenario that should have gotten the absolute most number of plays and should be the most rock solid.  A bit more writing in some areas and much less in others would really help make the concepts and story much clearer.  4/5


Execution-For $60 you get a ton of cards, rules, and a nice box.  The cards are well done with great art, and they’re of decent enough quality to withstand lots of shuffling.  The design has slightly changed, but again, it’s all for the best.  As always with Paizo, the art is well done.  All and all, this is well done. 5/5


Summary– The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a great co-op game.  My wife and I love to play this game.  The Skull and Shackles is a great addition to the franchise.  I loved playing through the Skull and Shackles adventure path, and this give almost the same experience.  The major problems in this game could be fixed with some clever writing.  Some of the rules and story need clarification, while some excess writing needs to be trimmed.  The characters are fun, but some just don’t seem as interesting or useful.  However, all told, I’m enjoying what’s this new base set, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.   89%

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