Review – Pathfinder Condition Card Deck (Second Edition)

So, let’s get the most important bit out of the way first – the Pathfinder (2E) Condition Card Deck is the most useful tabletop roleplaying accessory since Hymen Lipman first attached an eraser to the end of a graphite pencil (side note: I really wanted that line to be “since the invention of the twenty-sided die, but it turns out that twenty-sided dice have been around for over two millennia, while the ability to easily write and then erase things on your character sheet has only been around for about 150 years).

Condition cards are handy little cheat sheets to help keep track of the mechanics of all of those nasty things the GM inflicts on your character (and the handful that are positive). I consider myself pretty good at rules, and I don’t really need a reminder about what it means to be flat-footed (or paralyzed, petrified, or dead). But I am not going to claim perfect recollection of the exact penalties that are associated with being clumsy, dazzled, drained, enfeebled, fatigued, sickened, etc. And flipping to the right card in a deck is way faster than fumbling through a book to fight what the rules for the particular condition are that just came up (even though the Pathfinder 2E core book puts all of them together in one handy location). Plus, if someone else has a condition, then I can toss them the condition card, instead of having to look the condition up in the book again two rounds later when we’ve all already forgotten what exactly that -2 applied to.

So I love condition cards. They were great for PF1. They’re great for Starfinder. Even the introductory ones included in the new Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit are quite handy. But Pathfinder 2E uses conditions a lot. And that makes the conditions cards even more useful here than in any of those other games.

As for the contents of the cards, there is a significant difference in tone from Paizo’s offerings for PF1 and Starfinder. For better or for worse, gone are the amusing images of goblins suffering from the various maladies described on the card. I find myself missing them. But I have to admit that not having the funny picture does leave more room for a full-text description of the condition, in addition to the basic effect in the highlight box at the bottom of the card. Perhaps one side of the card could have had the picture and the other side the text (unlike the prior Paizo condition cards, these have the same condition on both sides, which I greatly prefer)? Also increasing usability is that there are several different border colors, so that when you have them stacked alphabetically it’s usually easier to see when one condition ends and the next begins (different conditions have different quantities, but some have up to 4 cards) – although, inexplicably, Dazzled/Deafened and Enfeebled/Fatigued/Flat-Footed use the same colors in a row.

There are also just a lot of cards to cover a lot of conditions in the box – 108 cards for over 30 conditions (every single condition in the PF2 core book). There are also a set of six value/duration tracking cards, for conditions of variable value (such as Clumsy X or Frightened X) or that last a defined number of turns (such as Stunned). These cards have bars numbered 1-10 going across the card, allowing the player to slide the condition card up or down to match the current value.

While not perfect, the Pathfinder 2E conditions cards remain, as noted above, about the most useful tabletop roleplaying accessory one can buy (after dice).

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