A number of us at GeekDad are big fans of Pathfinder Adventures and for good reason: it replicates all the fun of a physical copy of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, making it portable, saving on setup time, and letting you pause your game whenever you like (without keeping your kitchen table covered in cards). Even better, it’s a free download that comes with two characters and three scenarios to play. The game is supported via in-app purchases, and while those are usually a red flag for me, I think Obsidian Entertainment and Paizo have gotten it right. The purchases are reasonably priced, and all of the extra content is obtainable via in-game gold earnings.
As with seemingly every game that supports an in-app currency, determining the value for your dollar isn’t easy. I wanted to know the best way to spend my money to unlock the game’s content. Note that all of my exploration was done in the iOS version of the game; I’m hopeful it has the same pricing across platforms, but you should do a bit of research before diving in on Android.
If you just want to know my recommended options, you can jump to that information.
What’s For Sale?
Of primary interest is the core game content: adventures, characters, and the character deck. You can also buy treasure chests, which contain random cards, and sometimes fancy dice that you can assign to your characters. I’ll come back to treasure chests later on.
My focus was on game content, so my goal was to figure out what was the better deal: buying the special “Rise of the Runelords Bundle” or buying all of its component parts with gold. So, what’s in the bundle? It comes with:
- All the current and to-be-released adventures: Burnt Offerings, The Skinsaw Murders, The Hook Mountain Massacre, Fortress of the Stone Giants, Sins of the Saviors (when released), and Spires of Xin Shalast (when released).
- All 11 Rise of the Runelords Heroes
- This seems to include the two you start with for free, so I think it’s a bit misleading.
- Character Add-On Deck
- Promo cards with each adventure deck
- 6 sets of red dice
At $24.99, that’s not a bad deal when you compare it to the physical game. But most of what’s in that pack can be bought with gold. Can we do better?
A word of warning before the rest of the analysis: if you’ve already bought some content, be aware that if it’s contained in a bundle, that you don’t get any kind of compensation or discount for buying the bundle. For example, if you’ve already bought some of the expensive characters, and then you buy the character pack, you’ll still pay the regular price. This will potentially negate my recommendations.
Gold: How to Get It
You earn gold in-game by completing scenarios and quests at the various difficulty levels and party sizes. I think I’ve picked up a few hundred gold playing through the free adventure without trying to repeat scenarios at higher difficulties. Doing a modicum of research (Google searches), I do have to say that earning gold to play the game looks pretty grindy. I’m glad that option exists, but I’m willing to throw the developers some cash. So, what are our gold-buying options?
There are three bulk gold options that are regularly available: 4k, 9k, and 20k. It should come as no surprise that the larger the quantity, the better the deal, with the 20k gold offer giving about 25% more value than the 4k gold offer. But there are two other options to consider. First off is “Buried Treasure,” a deal that appeared under “Specials” when I started playing. At 20k gold for $4.99, it’s the absolute best value you can get, and if you’re planning to buy content with gold, you shouldn’t pass it up. If I had been able to buy this twice, it would have been the clear winner. Unfortunately, after you buy it once, it disappears.
|4k Gold||9k Gold||20k Gold||Buried Treasure (20k)||Daily Gold (6k)|
Note: The above table compares 5 different gold buying options. On mobile, you may need to scroll or rotate your view to see them all.
The remaining option is “Daily Gold.” For $1.99 you get the opportunity to collect 200 gold every day for 30 days. This requires you to enter the game’s store, and if you miss a day, that gold is gone for good. Still, at that price you only have to collect 10 out of 30 days to equal the value (in gold/dollar) of the 20k gold bundle. The trick here is that the gold comes to you slowly. If you’re looking to save up for an adventure, you need to make sure you’re not tempted by a treasure chest every time you have 500 gold on hand.
How Much Gold do I Need?
If you want all the content that the Rise of the Runelords bundle has to offer, you’ll have to pick up the following:
- Adventures: The first Adventure, Burnt Offerings, was available at an 80% discount for 750 gold. The game says it’s time-limited, but I suspect that deal may stay there for quite some time. The rest of the adventures cost 4,000 gold each, for a total cost of 20,750 gold.
- Characters: Most characters cost 1,500 gold each, but four of them (Amiri, Lini, Sajan, and Seelah) are 2,000 gold apiece. However, there’s a better way: the character add-on deck is available for 6,000 gold. It comes with the four expensive characters, plus the add-on deck. Clearly, this is less than buying the characters on their own, and I want the add-on deck anyway, so buying the 9 characters will cost 5 x 1,500 + 6,000 = 13,500 gold.
- Dice: Uh oh. There’s no way to get these. I’m sure that’ll be fine. They’re just eye candy, right?
- Promo cards: There’s no way to buy these either. I don’t think they come with the adventure packs on their own. Still, if the price is right, I can pass on these.
Total gold required: 34,250. At the gold/dollar value of the 20k bulk offer, this is $34, not that great a deal. But if I use the better rate of the Daily Gold offer, that price drops to under $12.
Wait: Are You a New Player?
Looking through the specials, I found an offer called “New Adventurer,” which came with the character Valeros, a set of orange dice, and 5,000 gold. Since Valeros would cost me 1,500 gold, this was the equivalent of 6,500 gold for $4.99, which is 1302 gold/dollar. I like dice, and while the gold/dollar rate isn’t as good as I’d like, this is definitely an offer to consider. Note that it was only available for seven days after I started to play, so you can’t wait to make up your mind on this offer.
So What Should You Buy?
The following assumes you have the option to buy the “Buried Treasure” offer. If you don’t, you can replace it with three months of “Daily Gold.” True, three months of daily gold is only 18,000 gold, but if you’re serious about minimizing cost, you should earn enough in-game gold over that time while playing to put you over the hump. If you can’t buy “Buried Treasure,” any of the below options will cost you $1 more.
- Option 1: You’re in a rush. Especially if the “Buried Treasure” offer isn’t available, just pick up the bundle for $24.99. It’s a good offer with no patience or store-sitting required.
- Option 2: Minimum cost. Grab the “Buried Treasure” special, plus three months of daily gold. The total cost will be ($4.99 + 3x$1.99) = $10.96, and you’ll wind up with an extra 2,250 gold to spend on treasure chests.
- Option 3: Dice hound. “Buried Treasure” plus “New Adventurer” will get you going with 25,000 gold. With only 9,250 more required, that’s just two months of daily gold. Total cost: ($4.99 + $4.99 + 2x$1.99) = $13.96. You’ll be left with 2,750 gold to spend on treasure chests.
Compared to the bundle, both options 2 and 3 will be missing the promo cards and the 6 sets of red dice, but option 3 comes with one set of orange dice from the “New Adventurer” special. And here’s the thing: dice in Pathfinder Adventures are at their coolest when every character has a different set. So six sets of red dice isn’t that interesting anyway!
I went with option 3.
What Do You Do With All That Extra Gold?
Treasure chests can be purchased for 500 gold each. There are four cards of varying rarity in each chest. The extra cards are cool, but there’s no immediate return on them; they just go to your vault and, maybe you see them in the game. You’re even opening cards for the higher adventures, so when you see a really cool card, but it’s for set 6, you’re not going to even have the opportunity to encounter it for a very long time. While opening legendary and rare cards does add a bit of a thrill, overall I didn’t think the chests were terribly interesting.
Until I realized that, sometimes, one of the cards is replaced by a set of colored dice.
Curse you Obsidian! You have found my weakness! Having a different set of dice with each character is just too cool, especially when they have a marbled look or glow.
What If You Want Dice?
Well, first off, you can try your hand at opening chests with your leftover gold as you get it. This seems a slippery slope as you’ll be sorely tempted to open chests before you’ve unlocked all the core game content, but on the other hand, wouldn’t you like to have dice while you’re playing? The best rate for treasure chests is 50 for $19.99. That makes it around 40 cents/chest. Maybe that doesn’t seem too bad, but consider that at the “Daily Gold” value of 3015 gold/dollar, when you can buy a chest for 500 gold, that same chest costs under 17 cents. Patience seems to be the better option here.
However, after two days of playing, I found the following special in the store:
I’m not sure what triggered this deal to appear, but this was a great final purchase to give me everything I was looking for. Not only did it come with some seriously cool dice (Guardian Blue), but it gave me the chance to try out 25 chests, in which I found two more sets of dice (yellow and marigold). With five unique colors, I’m ready to take on the villains of Sandpoint in style!
At $9.99, this was the same cost per chest as purchasing the 50-pack, making it a great deal considering the extras it came with. It wasn’t the most frugal of choices, considering that it came without the core content I had set out to purchase. But if you’re hooked by the idea of dice, this is the place to start if the special shows up in your store.
I Demand Satisfaction
At this point, having taken option 3 but then spending an extra $9.99 on the “Tools of Faith and Devotion” special, my total spending is $23.95. This has allowed me to unlock all of the characters, all of the adventures, given me four additional sets of dice, and let me see what I think of the game’s treasure chests. I think this is a better path than the main “Rise of the Runelords Bundle,” and you can get by for $9.99 less if you don’t get sucked into buying virtual treasure chests in the pursuit of digital dice.
I have yet to experience buyer’s remorse, though would recommend you skip the “Tools of Faith and Devotion” if money is tight. There’s plenty of fun here without it. Then again… this screen of mixed dice is pretty sweet…
It’s time to get back into the game. See you in Sandpoint!