My 2013 Board Game of the Year: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinderacg-box

Disclaimer: These are my opinions—I don’t speak for all of GeekDad, so this is my personal Game of the Year. The other writers may have other picks. We’ll also have a “Best of 2013” list coming … at some point.

Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and call it: my Game of the Year for 2013 is the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Even though I didn’t start playing until September, I’ve played it many more times than anything else in my collection this year, and I won’t be overly surprised if it’s the only game I manage to keep on my 10×10 in 2014 list.

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It’s the first time a game has inspired me to schedule a regular gaming session with a consistent group of gamers. And when I finish a game of Pathfinder ACG, mostly what I want to do is … play it again. So far my group has played through the first two adventure decks, and I spent some of my Christmas gift cards on The Hook Mountain Massacre deck so we can dive right back in this year. So far our adventuring pace has matched the release dates pretty well so we haven’t had to spend too much time waiting for the next set.

Mike Selinker Pathfinder ACG
Mike Selinker demos a game of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game at Gen Con. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Sure, the game isn’t perfect. There are a lot of mistakes on the cards, some of the card backs aren’t color-matched, and at times the final boss fight can be anti-climactic if you can throw so many bonuses at it that you don’t even have to roll the dice to win. But for me, the sheer fun factor trumps all that.

And, oh, the stories! Every game has the potential to create stories, of course, but now I’ve gotten a tiny taste of what people love about RPGs: a game that you play over a series of sessions doesn’t just give you moments, but instead leads to longer stories. In our adventure, we discovered Seoni’s uncanny ability to root out the villains. We marveled at Lem, who despite being a halfling bard managed to slay more monsters and acquire more loot than both the ranger and the fighter in one memorable scenario.

Pathfinder ACG in play
A four-player game in progress.

And who could forget Valeros, emotionally scarred after falling into three pit traps? He tried everything—wearing Elven boots, carrying a Potion of Ghostly Form like a talisman, wearing three suits of armor—but he was still terrified that someday he’d fall and hit his noggin again. Fortunately he finally avoided a pit trap in the last scenario and overcame his fear, but mostly because now he’s wearing his shiny new Snakeskin Tunic.

So: thanks to Paizo Publishing, Mike Selinker and the rest of the game designers, and my gaming group (Wink, Cathe, DeeAnn, Curtis, and David) for a fantastic gaming experience.

How about you? What’s your 2013 Game of the Year?

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Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.