Pathfinder Adventure Card Game – Class Masterclass: Lini, Gnome Druid
|Pathfinder Adventure Card Game1|
Before I jump into to discussing our diminutive tiger tamer, I will start by directing people who are unfamiliar with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to our initial review in order to provide some context for many of the rules that will be discussed here. For our first article in this series, we will go a bit more in-depth into our character to help give fresh players a clear idea of how characters, decks, and progression works. Future articles might feature two or more characters and have a briefer overview of each. Also, keep in mind that this version of Lini comes from the Rise of the Rune Lords set, which is a bit different from the one found in Skulls & Shackles.
Lini’s Stats –
Lini is an exceptionally powerful and highly adaptive character thanks to her discard power as well as her ability to display an Animal ally to gain an additional 1d4 to any check that she makes. Understanding these two powers is central to making Lini an effective member of your party.
|Lini, Female Gnome Druid1|
Lini’s Skill block is not terribly impressive to behold at first glance. Her Strength and Dexterity leave something to be desired, and lacking the Arcane skill means that she will typically be hard-pressed to make due with the rather paltry selection of Basic Divine attack spells. However, her discard power that allows her to roll 1d10 for Strength or Dexterity for any check including the additional 1d4 that she can add to any check for revealing an ally with the Animal trait makes her quite well-rounded when it comes to making a variety of checks. This makes Lini a really strong choice for closing locations while the rest of the party moves on to keep things rolling.
Building Her Starting Deck –
Lini’s Powers pertaining to allies with the Animal trait makes taking three of them a forgone conclusion. At initial deck creation, you will have access to two dogs and two crows. Whichever combination of two you take is really a matter of preference as both of their abilities are fine choices for her. If you happen to own the first Pathfinder Battles Iconic Heroes miniatures set, you can additional choose Droogami for Lini, who is incredibly strong at first level and highly-recommended.
Sitting on a Divine skill of 1d10+1 and a spell limit of six cards gives Lini a bit of flexibility in terms of how she can be approached. She can be a strong supporter with spells like Strength, Sanctuary, and Cure, or slowly build into an offensive spellcaster starting with two copies of Inflict and adding spells like Holy Light as they come available. What you choose to take here should really be relative to the rest of your group and how you plan on playing Lini.
|Artwork courtesy of Christopher L. Kimball. Used with permission.|
My game consists of four players, one with Seoni, one with Valeros, one with Harsk, and myself with Lini. Consequently, I am the only player capable of recharging heal-related spells, so I decided to start with four Cure cards and two Inflict cards. Taking that many healing abilities gives pretty good odds for always having one in-hand and allows Lini to be fairly aggressive with discarding cards to allow her to roll d10 for Strength or Dexterity checks since I can always heal it back. Also, with the additional 1d4 from revealing an Animal ally and her 1d10+1 in the Divine Skill, she stands fairly decent odds at recharging those Cures when needed. I’ve noticed that Seoni has a tendency to hemorrhage cards from her hand, so being able to heal her up once or twice a scenario has been a lifesaver. I took a pair of Inflict cards to give me a means to tackle monsters that require the Magic trait on the attack to defeat as well as for a way to deal with otherwise difficult combat challenges like a Werewolf revealed with Blessing of the Gods flipped in the Blessings deck.
Where items are concerned, this should completely be a reflection of what you need for your party. Fox example, If you lack a character with decent Charisma, I would recommend a Potion of Glibness or two for passing Diplomacy checks. Our party did not really have a character who was exceptional at disarming traps or unlocking chests, so I took Thieve’s Tools for Disable checks and an Amulet of Protection since Lini cannot take armor and she really needs to keep an ally in her hand at all times if she wants to be useful. I’d also suggest looking at the Amulet of Mighty Fists since Lini typically is not a weapon user, and it effectively gives her another magic attack at first level.
Gaining Feats –
With Skill Feats, the first of which you will receive after the third scenario, you can really go in several directions, but my two preferences would be either Wisdom for increased spell reliability or Strength to make her a bigger threat in combat checks. As a generalist, it may not be a bad plan to alternate leveling up Strength and Wisdom for your first four levels upgrades, then put the last two that you will gain throughout the adventure path wherever you would like to shore up. Alternatively, if you wish to be more focused with how you run Lini, you might choose to invest heavily in the Wisdom buff
As Lini gains Card Feats, I believe that increasing the volume of allies she can take is should really be first priority, as keeping one in your hand is key to making Lini the versatile little gnome that she can be, and having multiple allies in-hand can allow Lini to explore multiple times in a single turn without losing her d4 bonus. After increasing your ally allotment to at least four or five, it really becomes a matter of preference. The only Card Feat that is less-than-thrilling to me is Armors. Armors seem like a hard sell to me since it requires that you both invest in the Light Armors feat as well as pick up some armor decent enough to make the investment pay dividends. However, if you do plan on increasing your hand size, grabbing armor to protect yourself from massive discards will be pretty helpful. Otherwise, you can grab Weapon to drastically increase her combat potential with even a simple Mace, Items to shore up weaknesses, Spells to make Lini a more potent spellcaster, or Blessings to make her a more supportive character to her party.
Lini will receive a total of six Card Feats over the adventure path, but only the first four of them will be of any consequence, since the last two are awarded at the end of the adventure path.
Finally, Lini’s will gain three Power Feats before she chooses her role and her options for these upgrades are expanded. I would absolutely recommend putting the first two Feats into improving her bonus from revealing an Animal ally since this is a bonus that will ideally apply to every check you make with her. Her third will be between Weapon or Light Armor Proficiency. This should merely reflect whether or not you took a Card Feat in Weapon or Armor. I am more inclined to lean toward the former since Lini can be a strong healer, but a point can be made for using Armor to help her better survive those inevitable failed combat checks, especially if you can get your hands on some decent Light Armor like Magic Studded Leather Armor, but this vary largely from game-to-game.
|Lini’s Role Card1|
After finishing off the Hook Mountain Massacre, you can choose a role for Lini that will either define her as relying more on casting spells or using her power that allows her to roll d10 on Strength and Dexterity. If melee combat is more your thing, than run with Shapeshifter. This will give you a few strong options, like giving you an addition 2 to your checks to acquire an ally with the Animal trait, further increasing your reveal power up to +3, or giving you more combat threat by adding bonuses to your discard power.
Spellcasters will run with Wild Warden, which gives Lini the option of increasing the likelihood of recharging her spells, give her greater threat against banes with the Animal trait, and granting more headroom for her reveal power.
You will receive four more Power Feats over the course of the Adventure Path to invest in your role. I’d highly recommend increasing Lini’s hand size regardless of her role while also sticking at least another point into her reveal power to boost it to a 1d4+3 since it is universally applicable, but do be mindful that this will make her more vulnerable to discards when she loses combat making Armor and other damage-reducing items a good investment.
Playing Lini –
In game, I tend to have Lini follow Valeros, the fighter around. Since Valeros is decidedly combat-based in application, Lini’s versatility makes her a great character to have near, and she would probably excel in a similar manner with any of the characters who are strongly focused on one or two things. Valeros’s bonus d4 that he grants to other characters at his location for combat checks helps Lini a bit as well, particularly in the early stages of the Adventure Path where Lini is at her weakest. However, Lini will tend to drift to other locations to help out throughout the game for a various reasons, be it to close a location that has been cleared out, to heal up Seoni as her deck gets thinned out, or to step in to a rather difficult Wisdom check that has been revealed by Harsk. After these little distractions are addressed, I will typically have Lini return to Valeros so that the pair can continue getting down to their bloody, efficient work.
I hope that you enjoyed this article. If interest is high, you can expect to see more discussion of the other characters from Rise of the Runelords within the next several weeks.
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