Paizo’s latest Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Class Deck, the Monk, just arrived at my door, and I am ecstatic. I’ve been waiting for this one ever since it was first announced.
The Monk Class Deck is the second of the newer class decks that feature only three characters instead of four (the Paladin was the first). When I first heard that Paizo was reducing the number of characters in each deck, I was a little disappointed, but then I realized that I always pick my favorite and just keep it. I’ve never taken apart my class deck and switched to a different character, so having one less choice isn’t really a big deal and if it means the designers put a little more time into the characters and cards, I think it’s worth it.
For those new to class decks, a class deck adds a new class and characters to your game play and can be used for regular Pathfinder: ACG games, but are also mandatory for Pathfinder: ACG Society Play.
Like all the class decks, the Monk class deck contains 109 cards (which means ditching the fourth character also nets you a few more boon cards). Every class deck always provides a new version of an existing character, in this case Sajan, the monk from Rise of the Runelords, as well as several new characters, Rooboo and Athnul in this deck. One interesting thing of note, which makes perfect sense for monks skilled in the martial arts–there are zero armor boons in the monk class deck.
For those familiar with Sajan, there are a couple of immediately noticeable differences. His role as a weapon wielding monk is now more ingrained in the character, and he always starts with weapons at the cost of some of his huge blessings stack–don’t worry, he still has a lot of starting blessings though– and he’s lost the ability to ever have spells. His skills have gotten a little tweaking to better reflect his character–a +2 to melee and an extra +1 to acrobatics.
The major difference though is in Sajan’s Powers. His hand size has gone up by one and he is now proficient in weapons, but his other powers have had a major overhaul. The ability to use multiple blessings for combat is gone as is his ability to use Dexterity for a combat check. In place of those abilities, Sajan now gets a bonus to slashing weapons (to better reflect his weapon of choice), blessings used for combat checks always provide a d12 (wow!) and are recharged instead of discarded, and the unlockable power to reduce combat damage dealt to him. These new powers still allow Sajan to be a blessings machine but stop the overkill you may have been witness to before.
Sajan also has two new roles available to him–Temple Guardian and Monk of the Four Winds. The Temple Guardian role focuses more on straight up fighting and defense–you can gain the ability to reduce any kind of damage, evading a monster with a discard or recharge of a weapon, and drawing a card when you start a turn without a weapon. The Monk of the Four Winds is more about adding a little bit of the mystical to Sajan–being able to add elemental damage to combat checks, burying blessings to reroll failed combat checks, resurrection once per scenario, and adding elemental damage to other player’s combat checks at your location. Personally, I’d go with the Monk of the Four Winds role myself as some of these powers are just too awesome to pass up.
Rooboo is a female Tengu monk. Tengu are the bird people of Pathfinder with traits similar to a magpie (think powers of flight as well as an affinity for shiny things). Her skills and powers are much more focused on Stealth and Perception compared to Sajan. Her affinity for things gives her a lot more item slots, but she also has the option to get a spell slot later. To reflect her bird-like nature, her powers let her use Dexterity for both combat and other checks as well as allowing her to evade not only barriers and monsters, but to also move to other locations after evasion. Her charisma skill suffers the most due to the uncommon nature of adventuring Tengu.
Rooboo’s two roles are the Monk of the Seven Forms and the Flowing Monk. Though there are slight differences, these two seem more alike to me than Sajan’s roles. Both focus on the bird-like nature of Rooboo–a lot of moving to reduce or increase damage. The Monk of the Seven Forms is a little more offensive and combat focused while the Flowing Monk is slightly more defensive and movement focused. I’d personally probably go with Flowing Monk if I played Rooboo just because of the power to reduce combat damage by half.
Athnul is a human female monk that rounds out the deck. Athnul is probably the closest to what I have in mind when I think of a monk character–a master of mind over body. Her Constituion and Wisdom are her highest traits but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Her melee is a d6 +2 which isn’t shabby but her main power is the ability to recharge a card to add her Wisdom and the bludgeoning trait to a combat check. Wow! As long as Athnul has a card to recharge, she can do a base d6 + d10 +4 on a melee attack! That explains why her starting cards are all items, allies, and blessings. In addition, just revealing a blessing (which odds are you will have one in your hand) allows her to evade an encounter.
Athnul’s two roles are the Keen Strike Monk and the Monk of the Ki Fist. Like Rooboo’s roles, these are very similar in that they both mainly focus on combat; however, there is one major difference. the Keen Strike Monk focuses on making Athnul’s attacks more vicious–adding piercing damage. “Finish Him!” immediately popped into my head. Alternatively, the Monk of the Ki Fist, allows buffing of Athnul’s melee attacks most notably by making blessings always add a d12 similar to Sajan’s power. It also focuses a little more on adding spells to Athnul. I think I’d opt for the Monk of the Ki Fist as Keen Strike Monk is a little too brutal for me!
In addition to the playable characters, every class decks includes a bunch of familiar boons that make sense for the class of the deck as well as some new ones that are specific to the class. Here are a few of my new favorites.
- Sai and Nunchaku. There are a few versions of these weapons in the deck of increasing power, and, really, who doesn’t want a character who fights with ninja turtle weapons (I’m a child of the ’80s)? Both of these weapons can use Strength, Melee, or Acrobatics which is perfect for monks.
- Amulet of Fiery Fists. Street Fighter anyone? The Amulet of Fiery Fists, along with several other items, add fire, magic, and other elemental damage to combat checks. I’m totally picturing Hadouken here.
- Amulet of Furious Fists. Similar to the Amulet of Fiery Fists, but this amulet along with several others add force and magic to your attacks instead. Now I’m getting a nice Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon vibe.
- Blessing of Irori. While pretty standard in functionality to other blessings, its nice to see a monk specific blessing.
The final verdict? It’s great to see two-thirds of the characters be strong females. Pathfinder has thankfully always produced a lot of great female characters. Also, monks and martial artist characters are always fun to play. I am definitely playing a monk as my next PACG character!