Pathfinder Adventures is a card and dice based RPG where you control a party of adventurers going through a few quests in order to find loot and improve their stats and skills. To complete challenges you use cards and skills that give bonuses to your checks in order to match specific challenges. You lose if you run out of time and characters can die if their decks run out. I had fun with it even if the dice-based aspects of the game made it very random at times and I had some difficulties wrapping my brain around the concept of losing cards forever in a card game where your rewards are cards. Oh and there are also a bunch of free-to-play mechanics snuck in there that rubbed me the wrong way.
The game starts with a few tutorials that explain the core concepts of Pathfinder Adventures, these were needed because the game is kind of mechanically dense, sometimes too much so, there are some systems that I had problems navigating even after ten hours of gameplay. Things like certain ‘boosts’ changing your checks to other skills and giving you lower results overall. In any case, you get thrown with the concept of phases, character skills and stats, Each character has different stats (strength, dexterity, charisma, etc.) and they roll different dice when they have to make checks of that nature. Some have bonuses for more specific skill checks (Intellect might affect Arcane and Knowledge checks, for instance) so that’s how you build a well rounded party.
The goal of most scenarios is the same; you go through a few maps with your party and you try to find the Villain of that scenario. You also need to close the locations by accomplishing certain objectives there, because otherwise even if you defeat the villain, they’ll just run away to another location. Each turn you play, a timer goes down - losing to the Villain also makes that timer go down really fast - so the more characters you have, the more locations you can explore at the same time, but the more turns you burn on each location. It’s a balancing act that wasn’t too bad, but I lost a few occasions because I had ran out of time, each of these times felt like bad random occurrences, like discovering the Villain on turn one and then rolling a bunch of 1s to defeat them, thus dealing a ton of damage to my character and wasting 5 turns for no reason.
You need to discard cards in order to soak off damage -although you can use armors to reduce that damage - and you can use healing spells to recover cards. You also have a bunch of blessings that can be used to add dice to your rolls, but they also can be used to keep exploring a location without spending a turn, so it’s another balancing act here. Most cards that you use can be recharged - put back in your deck - if you succeed at specific checks, so you’re not constantly burning cards and some character abilities also allow you to recover cards played that way. By winning certain scenarios you can improve your character abilities and unlock new ones and I enjoyed the character customization aspect of the game.
This game has some weird free to play mechanics, you can buy runes that give you buffs like getting more gold for 24 hours, you can also buy new characters and blind card packs, you can also buy specific special cards with powerful effects like giving you back some cards or turns. This feels a bit cheap to me, because gold is quite hard to come by in the game and some of these things can only be purchased with real money. You already get cards from completing missions, so why did the game feel like you need random card packs as well? The way you manage your character’s decks is also pretty bad, you have two tabs of cards, your ‘stash’ and ‘unclaimed’ cards. While you’re editing your decks, you have to move between the two tabs to change your cards and it gets clunky pretty fast. You also have a very small stash limit, so you need to sell the extra cards for pitiful amounts of gold, this part is pretty bad.
But overall I had a good time with Pathfinder Adventures! It’s an interesting mix of luck and strategy, there’s a lot of customization and the stories are okay - although a bit silly to see everything reduced to text - and the core gameplay is pretty fun. When things don’t go your way it can get frustrating - and I dread to think about losing a character because I ran out of cards - but overall you have the tools to get out of any situation and that one winning dice roll really hits home!