Overtime Impression: Pathfinder ACG: Skulls and Shackles

Well good evening everyone! It is quite apparently a new week, and therefore, time for a new post. This week is going to be a bit of a different post for me, as I will be doing a review of a game that I have had some more long term exposure to. The layout of the review isn’t going to change very much, however, I will be able to give a better idea of oddities within the games and things that work well, and others that don’t. To start this set of posts, I will be reviewing a game that I am quite often referring to others to play, which is Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game: Skulls and Shackles. Before I get started, I just want to clarify that this review is being completed under my own accord, and Paizo has not requested this review from me. I’m just doing it out of the goodness of my heart! Having said that, let’s get into the review!


How It’s Played

Pathfinder ACG is a card based game, that is similar to a deck building game, however, distinctly different. When you start your campaign (yes it is a campaign), you have a completely basic set of equipment. This includes spells, armour, weapons, and allies among other things. You also have a starting set of stats in which you will use strength, dexterity, intelligence etc. Each stat is represented by a specific dice, between a d4, and a d12. A higher ability will give you a larger sized die that you will roll to make checks when you explore locations. Locations are made up of a random set of cards that is put together before your game. They will include new equipment for you to find, as well as barriers, enemies, and monsters. You must use the abilities that you have to meet checks on each card, or risk losing the card if it is an item of sorts, or losing life if you fail to defeat negative cards. The point of the game is to defeat the villain that is hiding in one of the locations being played in each scenario. As the game progresses, you will buff your character to fight stronger monsters, and villains.


The Pretty Little Bow

This game is beautifully put together without a doubt. All of the art goes well together and is similar to that of Rise of the Runelords, and the Pathfinder RPG. The box artwork is thematic to the Pirate theme of the game, and even the insert has had much thought put into it and fits everything needed for the game comfortably. The only downside to the insert is that there is not really any space for more than the five dice that comes with the game. Much like RPG’s, I want to roll my own dice, and leave them in the box! Otherwise, there is not really any complaints from me about the look and quality of this game.


The Way You Play

To be successful in Skulls and Shackles, you must really focus on upgrading your character. Having only played with lower player counts in this game, my personal approach to the game has been to spread out my upgrades fairly evenly. With so many different types of checks you will be making, it would be tough to win any scenarios. In higher player counts, I’m sure each player could likely focus on one or two skills rather than being more well rounded, however, I feel being well rounded as much as possible is probably the best thing overall.


What’s Not to Love? 

It took me a while to think of something I didn’t love about this game, and when I did find something, I actually found a couple of things. First of all, my biggest issue with the game is the way that some scenarios have contradictions to the rules of various parts of the game. There have been official explanations posted on various areas of the internet, however, I feel that a couple of situations should have been able to have been caught before the game was released. I do however, understand that there are a TON of cards in this game and unforeseen contradictions may arise. The second issue I had with the game is the amount of small details within the game that can be easily skipped over. These are numerous small issues that can come back and bite you in the butt if you aren’t careful. For example, one of a fairly commonly skipped over aspect for my group, is the abilities of the location we are in. It isn’t just negative ones we forget about, but also the positives, so it isn’t generally willing blindness to bad things. It’s mainly due to a small bit of writing on location cards I think.

What’d You Think? 

Overall, this is my favourite game right now. I actually realized how hard it is to review this game for me. Everything about this game hits the nail on the head for me. It really covers the itch for a role playing game for me, as I am not often able to get a group together for that. This is an excellent substitute for me, as I am still adventuring and building up my character over time. Growing up playing Diablo II on the computer, this game to me, is a perfect card game version of that, but with pirates. I could care less for the most part that there is a pirate theme, but with the ship mechanic and the loot you can gain from there at the end of scenarios, I’m really not sure what other theme would even work. To me, this game is the game that I compare every other game to right now. The best part of this game to me is that when you finish a (very) long campaign, you have the option of selecting a new character with new strengths and weaknesses,and starting the game over again. This makes for a very high replay value as far as I’m concerned. This is a game that will likely be re-purchased by me eventually one day, due to wear on my cards. I can’t recommend this game enough for everyone. I hope my love for this game came across well to all of you, and remember, I love you all!

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