Friday, March 1, 2013

Pathfinder Card Game?

Apparently Paizo is making a Pathfinder card game - Press Release here.

Three things stood out to me:

First, "The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game provides a substantive Pathfinder Roleplaying Game experience in a fun and new card game system,". Really? Is flipping cards around the table really somehow comparable to a normal tabletop RPG session? 

It continues: "Now you can get your Pathfinder fix when you don't have the time or players needed for a full roleplaying game session." - see if I don't have enough players for a session 99% of the time I know about it beforehand and we just don't get together that week because we talk to each other about it. The rare times that we find out after people have arrived we play a different RPG like M&M or ICONS, something that doesn't require very many players. People aren't coming over to play a card game, they're coming over to play a role-playing game. One is not an automatic substitute for the other. I'm also curious as to how many players are needed for a good game? Two? Four? At four I have enough for a normal RPG session, so the only time we would be playing this is when we got together specifically to play it, and I sure don;t need another one of those games gathering dust on my shelf. 

Second:"The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set will be packaged in a gorgeous 14" x 14" box featuring brand-new cover art from superstar artist Wayne Reynolds, and will be available through as well as hobby game retailers nationwide, with an MSRP of $59.99 for the Base Set ..." sounds good until that last part. It's $60 for something that's being positioned as a backup game? WTH? 

Third: "and $19.99 for the Character Add-On Deck and bimonthly Adventure Decks. " Argh ... and this just about kills it for me. So, six sets a year for 20 bucks apiece. At this point why not just play Magic, which is pretty popular, easily portable, has a substantial "used" market, and only requires two people to play? 

Now don't get me wrong - I like Paizo, I like the people that are running it, I like Pathfinder (though we're not playing it much) and I can understand the interest in coming up with something new. There are enough Pathfinder fans that it may do well for them for a while, but if it's that good then sell it as it's own thing, a cool new second game line that you plan to fully support! I am curious to see if it's something you can play as a pick-up game sitting at the FLGS like Magic, or if it requires a tabletop and a fair amount of space to keep everything straight. Casual portability would go a long way towards making it popular.

 I hate to see the fallacy of the "backup game" being used as a major selling point for this as I've never seen this happen, across multiple groups for 30 years. That's just not how this kind of thing works in my experience. At most people have a backup RPG campaign they play when the full group doesn't show but even that has been more talk than action when I have seen it.

It does put a company with an ongoing RPG line in a tough spot: assuming people have a limited budget each month, wouldn't you prefer that they buy your monthly adventure path modules? There's $20 right there. So the hope here has to be that people will spend a little more every other month for something different, or that people who are not buying the AP's will for some reason pick these up. Here's how long-time gamer guy sees it: I have several games I play and several more that I follow even though I'm not playing them right now. Asking me to "subscribe" to a new game means I have to drop something else. Now maybe I'm tired of something and ready to start picking up something new but that's not a slam-dunk. Also, if it's a great substitute for regular Pathfinder then why should I keep buying those expensive books and adventures - maybe I should just get this instead?

The other "opportunity cost" is that if I am a hard core Pathfinder player I am probably spending a substantial amount of money on PF stuff. The card game does nothing to help me run my RPG sessions. It looks like it's part of the package but it's not. In fact, if people start picking it up and my players start wanting to play it, it actually becomes a threat to my campaign as people start wanting to spend their limited "group gaming time" playing cards instead of playing an RPG session. I am assuming that many groups are like mine where we can only find the time to gather 2-4 times a month and so we have to focus on one game to make the most of it. There's just not much room for anything else. Even with the Apprentices, if I have time to sit down with them for an hour or two we're playing 40K or Stonehell or ICONS. We do play the occasional boardgame, but I'm not sure where this would fit in. 

Finally, when it comes down to it, I already have the game that re-creates the core essence of D&D/Pathfinder, and it's been out for a few years:

...and that's all I have to say about that!

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