I posted this on the Paizo forum, but thought I'd post here, too, to widen the audience and see what kind of response I get.
Solo play is obviously different, but I've played with anywhere from 1 to 4 characters. My regular 4 character group got through all 8 scenarios, plus a couple of fan scenarios, all relatively easily. My 3 character group is having a harder time. Though we've succeeded in every scenario we've played so far, we've come close to some character deaths a few times, due to lack of healing. I realized that it's mostly because of party make up, which got me thinking about party balance and the different roles for characters within a group.
Here are the primary roles, as I see them. To keep this list short, I'll leave discussion for how to carry out these roles, and which characters are good at each role, for future posts.
1. Scout - This is the ability to look at one or more cards in a location deck without encountering them. Believe it or not, I consider this the most important role in a 4+ character group (maybe also 3, but I'm on the fence there). Knowing where the villain is can define your entire strategy and allow your team to win. Just exploring randomly will lead to the blessings deck running out before you can finish.
2. Healer - Discards happen. Getting those cards back into your hand and/or character deck is a good idea, and sometimes essential for survival. Certain characters need to work with a healer more than others, so this may or may not be an essential role, depending on party makeup.
3. Explorer - Sure, everyone usually explores once per turn. But every big group needs at least a third of the team to routinely knock 2-3 cards out of a location deck every single turn, even if they're not successfully acquiring the boons. Otherwise, how will you clear all those location decks before the blessings deck runs out?
4. Safe cracker - With enough Thieves Tools and Masterwork Tools, this doesn't have to be just a single character. But some barriers are tough enough that having a barrier breaking specialist isn't a bad thing. This isn't necessarily just the disable skill, either, but all skills that routinely come up when dealing with barriers.
5. Combat - Is it a role if everyone needs to be ready for it? Like exploring, everyone does this, but it's good to know who your team's heaviest hitters are. Once your scout finds the villain, everyone else spreads out and prepares to temporarily close locations, while the team's combat monster goes in for the kill.
6. Survivalist - I know it seems odd to single out this one skill for inclusion on the "must have" list, but Survival seems to be the one oddball skill that comes up the most for closing locations. If you don't have a character on your team trained in it, you'll need to save blessings, or Guide allies, for tackling those locations.
7. Collector - While it's nice for each person to be good at acquiring boons that their character will use, I don't consider this an important general role. I include it on this list merely to rule it out as a needed role in a big party.
This list is roughly sorted from most to least important, though some of those choices could change, depending on various factors. Anyone have any additional roles to add, or anything to say about my list so far?
My thoughts, in roughly the same order:
Scouts are more properly deck manipulators. Augury? Good scouting. Harsk? Bad scouting. Seelah? Good scouting. Why? Because it's way better to be able to set things on the bottom or get rid of certain things, or bring things to the top is way, way, way better than just peeking and knowing what to prepare for. It's like free exploring. As such, I think it should be lumped into exploring.
Healers are really party dependent, I agree. It's also number of players dependent in the extreme.
Explorers should be the default role. If you're in a 6 man game and you're not knocking out 2.33 cards on average per turn, you're an active hinderance. Some characters can get away with that since they massively help others. Most don't.
Safe crackers should be something that everyone is also. There's usually only one or two barriers per location, so if you just hold 1 thieves tools in your hand, you're set. Some people are natural safe crackers, some other characters only need one card. It's really not good to have no plan for dealing with barriers if you're going to do any exploring.
Combat isn't a role, for exactly the same reason exploring isn't a role. It's the default mode of playing the game. Again, there are times for avoiding combat, and certain characters may wish to avoid combat as much as they can get away with, but noncombat is really more of a limitation on characters, more than a role.
Survivalist is a weird role. I blame the base set for this. Each skill can be used in closing locations, so calling Survivalist a role but not Knowledgeist is just a fluke of the current meta, if you can call it a meta.
Collectors are a kind of subset of explorers. Seoni with her d12+2 diplomacy is great for churning through areas that are high on allies because you can discard them to explore again, and if you draw a monster instead of an ally, she'll always go down swinging. Same thing with the divine characters and their ability to acquire blessings. Being able to pick up allies/blessings and then use them to keep exploring the same turn is a legitimate way to fulfill the explorer role
I'm probably going to start a separate thread on scouting.
I like the idea of this thread, it is (as it should be) hard to really narrow it down.
Collector - If someone ends up in this place, they are huge in the after scenario pow-wow for trading around upgrades to the others whom may have Banished a lot to get the party through it all.
Healer - There is a Cleric, an upgraded Paladin, and then Cure Carriers. Have atleast something in this vein for when your Brawlers rip through their deck, or any who have reloaded a hand.
Lini is surprisingly compact for this out of the gates because of the Cure (2). And she does not slouch out of middle weight combat with the Animal Ally bonus.
Supporter - Character whom sacrifices their deck space for spells, items, etc that assist the team and not aid in their own Exploring/Combat. It could be a sub or prime role for Healers, Scouts, or other Information Gatherers.
Merisiel - Rogue - Strength 1d8, Dex d12, (ALONE) Recharge +1d6 or Discard +2d6. Starts with Dex Weapon in deck. Evade on command.
Amiri - Barbarian - Melee 1d12 +2, starts w/ Weapon
Valeros - Fighter - Melee 1d10 +3, Recharges Weapons. Starts w/ Weapon.
Sajan - Monk - Dex 1d10 (instead of Strength), Unlimited Blessings in Combat, starts w/ Item (Amulet of Mighty Fists!)
Harsk - Ranger - Ranged 1d8 +3, starts 4/5 with a Ranged Weapon
Seelah - Paladin - Melee d8 +2, 6 Blessings, starts w/ Armor (?)
Functional Middleweight: (can fight, but at a cost)
Lini - Druid - discard to 1d10, Reveal Animal to 1d4 anything of her's.
Seoni - Sorcerer - discard to 1d12 +2 +1d6 as a spell, Reloads Arcanes.
Kyra - Cleric - Melee 1d6 +2, 6 Blessings.
Ezren - Wizard - Arcane d12 +2, 8 Spells starting
Lem - Bard - Strength 1d4, 1 Weapon.
However, if equipped with a Dex Weapon, he is acceptable (starts with Sling). He also allows you to pick your Favorite Type, so you could name Weapon and just always be ready. One good hit though, and it is back to struggle for survival.
I wanted to list this as I saw it so as to put the info for balancing out there. There is something to be said for support, but if it takes your party 5 cards for 1 solid kill...
Also, this assumes you started with recommended setup. I like it for the quick start and challenging 'Start Game'.
- Last edited Tue Oct 8, 2013 9:09 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Oct 8, 2013 8:25 am
I don't think it's particularly apropos to rank characters by how good they are at fighting based on the starting recommended decks. Not everyone plays those decks, and nobody will play them past the first scenario or two.
I think Fromper's got the right idea by defining the roles that lead to a successful party rather than worrying about which characters count as which ones.
What I'm unsure about is how to define a role, as no role is strictly necessary. On the other hand, some potential roles are much more useful than others ("guy who wins combats" vs "guy who's really good at Acrobatics"). Is it really just any concept which surpasses a certain threshold of utility? I don't know.