I know I say this all the time, to the point where I’m probably a bit like a droning LP (“What’s an LP?,” say Millenials almost everywhere), but Paizo continually puts out great products, and on such a regular basis they really put WOTC’s D&D schedule to shame. I am, I’m sad to say, somewhat hooked on their products, and so buy almost everything that comes out. My bank account has seen better days.
The recent releases of the Pathfinder 2e (P2e) Bestiary 2 Battle Cards and NPC Battle Cards contain all the monsters and NPCs listed in the Bestiary 2 and Gamemastery Guide books. I’m a fan of using cards for monster stats – they are convenient and I don’t have to refer to hefty books or screens for information during games. In my live games (oh, how long it’s been since I’ve played a game face-to-face! Don’t worry, Roll20 – I still love you) I find it’s easier to use a few cards than refer to a bunch of books, and in battles featuring multiple opponents it saves me paging around between beasts. I made my own cards for D&D 5e, but Paizo conveniently releases Battle Cards to save me the hassle.
BUT (and that’s a big but) it still infuriates me that Paizo STILL doesn’t always list all the special ability information on their Battle Cards. This was a problem I identified with the first Bestiary Battle Cards set (click here for more about that).When a monster has lots or lengthy special abilities, Paizo uses more than one card. That’s fine, but some special abilities STILL refer me back to the Bestiary 2 book! As always, my question to Paizo is: if I wanted to refer to the Bestiary 2 book, why would I have purchased these Battle Cards (at great expense, I might add). Example: Ancient Cloud Dragon Cloud Form – “see Pathfinder Bestiary 2 page 90”. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
I know what you’re gonna say. Stop complaining, Steve – the cards are beautifully presented with great art, a handy size and have most of the stats you need at a glance. Yes, I agree, but isn’t the point of monster cards to save you time as a GM? To make the stats more convenient so that you can run the game without having to refer back to the books during play? As a designer, I believe that convenience and ease of use for DMs/GMs is a primary factor. Pathfinder 2e has a lot of rules – there’s a lot to remember and a lot of admin during combat. (Don’t think so? Check out the conditions and ongoing condition levels you need to keep track of each round.) I love Pathfinder 2e’s attention to detail but I believe if you’re going to design a product to make a GM’s job easier then you ACTUALLY have to make it easier for them.
By now, you’re probably thinking I really hate these cards. Nope. I really do like them. But I think I have a valid gripe.
In the end, the decision about buying these cards is up to you. The problem I’ve highlighted only impacts on a small percentage of cards – maybe 5-10%. The rest are good to go. I would have liked it if Paizo just spent that little bit of extra time to summarise the text a little more so they could squeeze on more information without having to refer GMs back to their manuals. That said, the NPC Battle Cards are simple and straightforward, and thus don’t have the same problem as some of the Bestiary 2 Battle Cards.
So should you buy them? I guess that comes down to your level of Paizo addiction and whether or not you feel Battle Cards are really going to save you time in a game. If you don’t mind occasionally looking up a manual when you have a card in front of you, then this is the product for you. But if you feel you’re doing fine using the manuals, forget about investing in Battle Cards.
I like Battle Cards, and these ones are very nice. I know Paizo probably won’t fix the issue of making sure all the info is on the cards for bigger monsters, but since I’ve bought them I guess I’ll put up with it. Time for me to buy some more P2e stuff to feed my ongoing addiction. Big sigh…
Bestiary 2 Battle Cards – 7/10
NPC Battle Cards – 9/10
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