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Subject: Earning roles? rss

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Randy Cox
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I bought this game based solely on the main mechanic of diseases spreading like, um, viruses across the board. I had no idea that there were "variable player powers," a mechanic I dislike.

But when I discovered that the roles are set and not actually "variable," I was intrigued. Sure, it makes for unbalanced games and means some players don't get to do as much fun stuff as others, but it's not as noxious as something like Puerto Rico where you pick a role and no one else gets it that round and then next round, you play a different role.

See, I like games where everyone gets the same abilities for the entire game. I grew out of the original "variable player powers" game (Cosmic Encounter) a couple of decades ago.

So, upon playing this game, I realized that a) I don't like the unbalanced powers (one player gets to be the medic and another is just a dispatcher) and b) the powers are necessary to make the game winnable and fun. So how to marry the two?

What if players earned the roles. For instance, what if by removing 5 cubes you are granted the status of "Medic"? And what if by finding a cure, you have the status of "Scientist"? You could do this for every power. Then, as the game goes on, each player earns titles. Someone could theoretically earn every single role possible, though that would be unlikely. Then, on every turn, a player doesn't have to say, "Shoot, I'm just a Scientist, if I were so-and-so, I would do the following..."

Instead, if they earned a role/title, they could use that power on any turn they want to.

See, when playing this game, I see it as an effort to work as a team to save the world, but the bureaucrat in me thinks the individuals are also trying to advance their careers within the CDC. They're all out to showcase their abilities and appear on CNN briefing Wolf Blitzer about how they are coming on the path towards eradication. So I want each player to help others but also attempt to advance their careers and be glory hounds. Thus, using this "earn titles/abilities/roles" idea, coupled with individual scoring (see other thread in variants) would make a very good game excellent, in my opinion.

Thoughts?
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Nick Fisk
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I think there's an idea here to make the game tougher for those that have beat it on difficulty: 6 and want an extra challenge.

Are you saying the roles are available to everyone, or that once someone becomes a medic, that role has gone ?


N.
 
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Randy Cox
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Moviebuffs wrote:
Are you saying the roles are available to everyone, or that once someone becomes a medic, that role has gone ?
I'm saying that everyone can earn any role, so no they never go away.

I could work my ass off to become a Medic/Scientist/Dispatcher while someone else just rises to the title of Medic. Sort of like watching CSI--a great player could be Gil Grissom while others are just lab rats.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Randy, I like this idea and might try it at some point. However, the game is already hard enough and some of the times that I've been sooooo close to winning I only lost because I ran out of time (no Player Cards left to draw). Having to earn the specific roles would make it quite a bit harder, I imagine, considering the time limitations. But it might be good to try out on the "easy" level.

On the other hand, there's no reason, thematically speaking, why you should have to do that... There are already many experts in the world in these fields, and given a global crisis, certainly a team of them might be quickly assembled. The backstory of each of them rising to their level of expertise in their fields is unnecessary, especially considering the extreme time limitations of the game. So what I might suggest is that each player starts with a specific role and then might earn more of the abilities as they go... to become a Gil Grissom, as you say. To me that makes more sense and might be a good variant to help against the "heroic" setting.
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Jeff Brown
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The way that my group works I don't mind if the roles are a little imbalanced since the main idea is for us to work out a plan using everyone's ability. To me the fun is the working out the plan not necessarily what I get to do on my turn. We all work out the plan together so everyone participates.

Incidentally I think the dispatcher role is pretty useful, the only one that I think is less useful is the operations guy (whatever his name is). I've played him and still had just as much fun, trying to figure out how to use everyone's abilities together.
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Randy Cox
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jeff brown wrote:
The way that my group works I don't mind if the roles are a little imbalanced since the main idea is for us to work out a plan using everyone's ability.
I understand, but I'm looking for a way to make this both a cooperative game (must beat the virus) and a competitive game (high score amongst those who win as a team wins or low score of those who lose as a team wins). To do that, everyone needs to start with exactly the same abilities (or no abilities at all).
 
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Isaiah Tanenbaum
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It seems to me that you're describing a completely different game at that point, and not necessarily a better one. The best part of Pandemic is how the tension slowly and steadily escalates as the game continues and you get closer to losing in three different ways.

As stated, this variant makes the opening game considerably more difficult, while the endgame is considerably easier, leveling out that rising tension curve, if not outright reversing it. No medics to start, and as many as four medics at the end, freely eradicating cured diseases? Four researchers running around, trading willy-nilly to a four scientists?

However, I think the variant could still work with the following emendations:

1) The powers are substantially reduced:

The Medic's
free eradication ability is cut
The Dispatcher's "move one pawn to another" ability is cut
The Researcher must be in the same continent as the card he wishes to give
The Ops Expert remains as he is can't "move" previously created research stations, or requires two actions to do so instead of one
The Scientist... ??? Must discard a fifth card of any color when curing using only four cards?

2) Players may choose one of these roles to start with, before cards are handed out or the opening infections are placed. Players may choose the same role as previously chosen by other players.

3) And of course you can set the bar for getting these roles anywhere you like.


My opening thoughts:
Medic: Treat 6 cubes
Dispatcher: Move 8 times?
Researcher: Trade 3 cards (giving or receiving)
Ops Expert: Build 2 research stations
Scientist: Cure a disease

Except for the first two, these seem to be just about the top end of a given player's actions in a game, keeping in mind that it's designed around specialization. As I said, at this point you're pretty much designing a completely new game.
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Milan Mašát
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ilta wrote:
Four researchers running around, trading willy-nilly to a four scientists?
Scientist: Cure a disease

There are just four diseases, so four researchers are winning instantly. :-)
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Stefan Lopuszanski
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I think the OP has confused Variable Player Powers with something like "Roles Selection."

The term "Variable Player Powers" is a mechanic that gives each person a different starting / innate power, that doesn't change over time, such as the difference races in Twilight Imperium or Cosmic Encounter. It is nothing like role selection in games such as Puerto Rico.
 
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Isaiah Tanenbaum
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Vodnyk wrote:
ilta wrote:
Four researchers running around, trading willy-nilly to a four scientists?
Scientist: Cure a disease

There are just four diseases, so four researchers are winning instantly. :-)


Which is just as well. By the time you get even two scientists you're pretty much done: you just cut the remaining cards needed by 20% (10 -> 8).
 
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