Don't make me bust out the drama!!
Panda is a Werewolf. The Village wins!
My friend Stephanie and I have really taken on the Heroic level of Pandemic. And through all of this we've learned a lot about the individual strengths and weaknesses of the roles. I thought that I would post my thoughts here to hope that others will save the world despite imminent disaster.
Roles in Alphabetical Order:
Opinions: The Dispatcher in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable roles to play. But it's also the one where you really have to be paying the most attention. The Dispatcher's abilities are centered around movement. It is important for the Dispatcher to be forward thinking, setting up moves for the players that will save them valuable time and resources.
1. The single most powerful ability the Dispatcher has is to bring two pawns together. This allows a couple of good techniques:
a. The Research Station Anchor. When someone is ready to cure, a Dispatcher can bring that player to him. Then the player can immediately cure on the player's turn, and take a fast movement via Research Station to Research Station to get back out into the field. Also, in some cases, if the research stations are set up well, it may be necessary to "bring him home" so he can take a Station to Station move.
b. The Slingshot. In areas that are overwrought with disease, the Dispatcher can fly one player out to the area, and then use the Pawn to Pawn ability to get a second player into the area.
c. The City Drop. A good Dispatcher looks at the cities of everyone's cards. And in some cases, it will be possible to pass cards by moving a player a space or two, and dropping a different player into that spot. That way, they can pass the card on either player's next turn. This sometimes becomes necessary just for hand management!
2. The Dispatcher's other ability is to move pawns like their own. This is useful to move people quickly around the board. Things to note:
a. Red Lines. If flying isn't an option or decided to be a bad idea, the Dispatcher can always just move pawns along the red lines to get them where they need to go. Typically this is done to rush a piece to a "hotspot" (a location with 3 cubes ready to outbreak) or to a research station for a cure. The best use of this is to move the Medic through a cured disease area to treat the disease without taking additional actions.
b. Flights to Cities. If the Dispatcher holds a card and wants to use it on a player, they may fly that player to the named city. This is great to do on an Ops Expert or a Medic into an area that has a lot of cubes. This is also one way of using a card that might otherwise get discarded due to hand limit issues.
c. Chartered Flight. If a player is on or near a city of a card they hold, it is sometimes fast to fly them anywhere by spending the card. This is great to use when someone's done in an area or needs to get to one particular spot on the board. If you know a spot is ready to burst, a typical action set could be: Move Player X from Paris to Milan, Play Milan to fly to Hong Kong, Use Pawn to Pawn movement to move Dispatcher to Hong Kong, treat Hong Kong. (You'll see this most frequently after a Forecast.)
d. Set up a Chartered Flight. "What cities are you holding?" Always ask other players what cities they have and see what's close by. Sometimes you'll need to move them to that city so they can fly somewhere on their turn. Usually a good "conjecture" move. You know they're going to have to go somewhere, but not yet sure. And if there is a turn between you and them, you'll get to see what's happening.
Pros of a Dispatcher:
1. The board seems much smaller with a Dispatcher. Everything becomes more accessible more quickly.
2. It maximizes the time and abilities of other players as they will not waste actions on movement.
3. Passing cards (Share Research action) in cities of the same name is easier to do.
Cons of a Dispatcher:
1. Hand Limits. By saving others from spending cards, they may end up with hand limit issues. Keeping an eye on the discards can help from being too helpful in flying around.
2. Overworked. Sometimes people get too married to the idea of "oh the Dispatcher can move me later." The Dispatcher really is a "here and now" character. They can't move everyone on their turn effectively. Usually just 1 or 2 characters.
3. Not a grunt worker. The Dispatcher is rarely the person you want running around treating disease as it doesn't make use of their abilities. Sometimes it's necessary (or even imperative if it will sunset (i.e. eradicate) a troublesome disease.
Ops Expert: Fly him out to the center of an active area. Others will be able to get there by Station to Station to help out. Or you can just slingshot them there if it will reduce their movement to get to other areas.
Medic: Get the Medic to areas that have a high concentration of one color, especially any area with two hotspots next to each other. Once a disease is cured, look to see if you can sunset the disease by moving the Medic around.
Researcher: Move to Researcher via Pawn to Pawn whenever they hop up and say, "Hey we've got enough cards for a cure if I give them to x!"
Scientist: When the Scientist has 3 of a color, watch for players with cards in that city to be able to pass a card. Always be looking at the fastest way a Scientist is going to get back to a research station. They tend to need one more than others.
2 Player Game Comments:
In a 2 player game the Pawn to Pawn movement becomes a little less important. The Dispatcher has to get out there and get their hands dirty. The problem is if you move to the same area, the world suddenly becomes smaller. It's harder to get back to an area once you've left it. But once a disease is eradicated, then it's a fast way to getting someone out of that area. Otherwise, just use your actions as normal, occasionally giving one or two to your partner as needed. Look for opportunities to trade off the last card needed for a cure quickly. Watch for routes back to the research station when a cure is ready.
Opinions: My personal opinion is that he is the weakest of all roles. The Ops Expert is the quintessential grunt worker. By careful placement of research stations, the Ops Expert can create a network of fast movement to switch between troublesome areas. The research stations can also save a player from completely leaving an area once they've discovered a cure. Lastly, if everyone else has something better to do because of their abilities, it's the Ops Expert who can come to the rescue. Also, don't be afraid to play so many that you have to pick up an old one and move a new one. This is rare, but usually means you're on top of your game.
1. The Ops Expert only has 1 ability: Place a research station in the city he's occupying without discarding the matching player card. So the techniques we've developed:
a. Disease Central. After the initial set up, see where the greatest concentration of disease is. In some cases it will be spread out. But generally there will be an area in close proximity of each other that has cubes. Doesn't matter if it's one two or three cubes. Doesn't matter if they are different colors. If Jakarta, Mumbai, and Chennai have one cube, through the course of the game they'll have 3 before you know it. Get a research station down there and you won't be worried about chained outbreaks. Or losing because one of the diseases runs out of cubes due to proliferation. (i.e. Black cubes outbreak to red cities, which dilutes the number of black cubes that will infest the other black cities.)
b. Jetsetter. Walking around and putting Research Stations down as you go generally isn't the way to go. Fly to an area and then plop down a research station where it really needs to be. Once you've done this in all 4 areas (if you're unlucky enough to need that) then you'll be saving cards in the long run by moving station to station.
c. Serendipitous Laboratory. If someone is close to a cure and you happen to be in the area, see what the player's fastest route is to a research station. Otherwise, consider taking your action towards that person, using your 4th action to drop a research station. This can save time. It also helps when you have the last card needed for a set. If you can get to that city, you can set a research station down for someone to find a fast way to you. (Their move would be get to research station, Station to Station, Share Research, Cure, and thank you.) This also helps when they get a card needed for a cure.
d. Impatience. If the Ops Expert is needs to move quickly, they can always drop a research station and take a station to station movement. This saves cards but uses two actions. (one to drop the station, one to move Station to Station)
Pros of an Ops Expert:
1. Accelerated movement around the board by station to station movement.
2. Stations are easier to get to when cures are ready. This can sometimes gain momentum on diseases when the station is in the color of the disease being cured. That same player on their next turn can start curing like a Medic.
3. Opportunistic plays... the Ops Expert usually has opportunities other players don't due to the ability to drop a research station and move station to station.
4. Card saving. By not having to spend a player card to place a station, that's one more card that can be used in a cure or to fly.
5. Grunt worker. Typically the Ops Expert isn't playing more than 2 or 3 stations. Which means the rest of their time they're moving, treating, and figuring out how to pass cards around.
Cons of an Ops Expert:
1. Slow start. It's typically best to fly out on your first turn and start placing the stations. It's wasteful now but saves later. Depending on how quickly that first Epidemic appears, this can certainly work against you.
2. Lack of Additional abilities. Placing stations is the only ability of this role. This limits the player the most.
Dispatcher: Get the Dispatcher to move you to the areas that need Research Stations early. Once that's done, the Dispatcher will be free to concentrate on other people. You can also act as a second anchor for getting people to research stations by the sheer virtue of being able to just make one magically appear.
Medic: With a Medic you should consider placing a research station directly on top of a hot spot instead of completely central to an area.
Researcher: Getting the Researcher on top of a research station is a good way for people to be able to get to that Researcher to gobble up his cards. Then they don't have to travel elsewhere to cure the disease. (It's like a mini-mall!)
Scientist: Figure out the intercept course for the scientist, and leave a station en route to help the Scientist get to the research station.
2 Player Game Comments:
This is why I have such a low opinion of the Ops Expert. I find him the toughest to use in a 2 player. But the strategies that have worked the best involve getting the research stations down in the hard to contain areas, getting those cures, and eradicating the disease as quickly as possible. Place the stations on cities with cards that are known in the infection deck. That way you can hop from research station to research station treating in those cities along the way. When epidemics occur before your turn, it's usually within your ability to clean it up before it outbreaks.
Opinions: Many players feel relieved when there's a Medic in the game. The Medic is a powerful Role that really helps keep infections down and outbreaks to a minimum. The Medic also makes eradication of a disease possible. Try not to use the treatment abilities on cities with only 1 cube without good reason. Otherwise, this is one of the most straightforward roles of the game.
1. The Medic's primary ability is to treat all cubes of one color in the city their pawn is occupying. Normally it would take 3 actions to do so. There isn't much strategy around this other than:
a. MEDIC!!! Any city with 3 cubes, any two cities next to each other with potential to cause a chain of outbreaks, any area that is in threat of having too many cubes spread across the board... the Medic has to get there by any means necessary and treat everything they can.
2. The Medic's secondary ability triggers when a disease is cured. Now the Medic no longer has to take an action to treat a disease. All disease cubes of a cured disease whisk off the board.
a. Doctors still make house calls! Look for eradication possibilities. It's not always possible to eradicate a troublesome disease because there are too many infection cards of that color. But even curing the least common card gives you some breathing room. If the Medic is needed elsewhere, consider the path of most resistance.
Pros of a Medic:
1. You can let an area get bad by chained outbreaks knowing that the Medic can fix it very quickly. It sometimes seems counterintuitive to let an area explode, but the Medic is designed for this situation.
2. You'll see less outbreaks and less cubes on the board of a game with a Medic. It helps morale.
3. Very Straightforward to play.
Cons of a Medic:
1. Overworked. The Medic can't be in two places at once, so sometimes it is necessary to decide between two troublesome areas.
2. Too much attention. In some games with a Medic the Medic becomes so important that players get caught up in getting an area under control or waste too much time trying to eradicate a disease.
3. Slowed down. Don't waste time by curing unnecessary things along the way or by not flying to a troubled area quickly. The Medic is a specialist in treatment whose time is best spend in the worst areas.
Dispatcher: The Dispatcher should be moving you off turn to the next area you need to treat, or getting you to the hotspot as quickly as possible. Once a disease is cured, the Dispatcher can then do the "Angel" with you by getting you to a cured area and spending his actions to move you through the area. This automatically cures the disease.
Ops Expert: Send the Ops Expert to the areas you don't have time to visit. Use the Research Stations to hop back and forth from trouble areas.
Researcher: If he's useful for getting you a cure, great. Otherwise, keep on treating.
Scientist: If there's a potential for a cure in either direction, great. Otherwise, keep on treating.
2 Player Game Comments:
The Medic is great for containment but not the best at cures. Don't ever lose sight that this is the goal of the game! Get the Medic out there to treat and let the partner handle the area you can't get to. Here's the hard part: There will be times when you just have to let an area get out of control to work on a cure. Take a deep breath and know that you can let this happen because you can quickly contain it.
And a note if you don't have a Medic in a 2 player game: It's imperative to hit those hotspots as quickly as possible! If you don't, then the diseases will spread faster than you can control them until the cure is created.
Opinions: The Researcher really makes curing a lot easier and a lot faster. The ability to ignore the city restriction is immense. knowing when to pass cards on your turn or be in a place where people can take cards on their turn is important to mitigate. In general a Research wants to be near a research station or near another player. As soon as a set can be constructed between the two players, how to get those pawns together and to a research station becomes a priority. Sometimes you have to play a little speculation in the passing of cards. But you want to watch the hand management or you'll waste too many cards and exhaust the player deck.
1. The Researcher can ignore the city restriction when a Share Research action is taken. The card is a little poorly written leading to some players thinking it must only occur on the Researcher's turn. Heroic level would be very difficult with the Researcher if this were true. It's not. The Researcher's role is to get the right colored cards to the right people.
a. The Lap Dog. It's sometimes better for the Researcher to follow another pawn around. If a player has 2 of a color and the Researcher 1 of that color, sometimes it's best to follow them and treat similar areas in hopes of getting 5 between the two.
b1. I'm sooo Drunk! The Researcher will sometimes end up at a research station when holding a pair or triple in hopes of drawing one or two more at the end of their turn. If not, it still gives players easy access to take advantage of the Researcher at the
b2. Drive-by. If a player just needs one card to cure and the Researcher has a card of that color, it may be good just to get the Researcher in the path of the research station so someone can pick the card up on their way.
c. Unload. After a player has just cured a disease, if the Researcher is nearby, they can just add a few cards to that player just to clean up their hand a bit without worrying about discarding.
Pros of a Researcher:
1. Cures. The Researcher is focused on cures, which is the objective to winning.
2. Less hassle. It removes one layer of thought when it comes to passing cards. It gives players a lot more flexibility in collecting the cards.
Cons of a Researcher:
1. TMI! (too much information) The Researcher will usually have less cards and the other player more cards. This can cause a lot of trouble if the players aren't careful. By tossing too many of a single color away, you'll have to wait until those cards appear in the deck and figure out how to get them all in one place. If this ability isn't managed well it will cause the game to end by the player deck running out because those last 5 cards will be spread too far around the other players.
2. Not mobile. A card in the Researcher's hand can be moved to another player. It's usually not as profitable to fly with a card unless that disease has already been cured. Chartering flights ends up the necessary evil.
2 Player Game Comments:
If your partner is the Scientist, just follow them around and let the world outbreak. You should be able to get one or two cures quickly and be able to contain the diseases.
Otherwise, do the grunt work until the opportunity arises to put together a cure. The Researcher's pretty good in a 2 player game.
Opinions: Getting all 4 cures wins the game, and the Scientist is a role focused on that objective. The Scientist only needs a 4 of a kind to create a cure. I started out thinking this was one of the weakest of the roles, but later turned around after I had this epiphany: you can waste cards when a Scientist is in the game. This really helps with the overall hand management aspect of the game. It also frees everyone up to thinking globally while acting locally. It's the subtlety of the role that makes it so wonderful.
1. The Scientist also has 1 ability: Create a Cure with a set of 4 matching colors. Very straightforward. Basic strategies:
a. Baby it's cold outside. The Scientist needs to be at a research station to cure. And they should be doing most of the curing. So they basically stay inside, and jump out when necessary to get a card they need. Then right back to the research station. Or they'll jump out far enough to use a card to place another research station.
b. The Golden Ticket. If the Scientist has Atlanta, it's worth its weight in gold. The Scientist can venture forth knowing they have a free ride right back to the research station when the time comes. If another player starts with Atlanta, it's generally not a bad idea to pass it to the Scientist.
c. Fly like an Eagle / Drop it like it's hot. Besides the color a Scientist is collecting, the Scientist can use their other cards to fly around as needed or to place research stations as needed.
Pros of an Scientist:
1. Hand Management. Don't be afraid to discard cards. The Scientist will generally cure at least two of the four diseases, so you can waste a few cards in that color. Get those research stations out and fly around the board. It's very liberating to not panic at the idea of discarding.
2. Faster cures. Once a disease gets cured, the game starts getting a bit easier. And the Scientist helps create great momentum by turning ordinary scientists into medics.
Cons of an Scientist:
1. Not the best grunt worker. They tend to stay local to research stations.
2. Not the fastest movement. Having only 1 ability, albeit a good one, means that the Scientist isn't moving around quickly. It's either flying or sitting in Istanbul at a cafe. (I have had a number of turns with the Scientist where you just ignore your last action.)
Dispatcher: The Dispatcher is a huge boon to the Scientist. It allows the Scientist to go forth and helps get to the right cities to Share Research. It really frees up the cards in both players hands when it comes to flying. And it's typically easy to get the Scientist to a research station when needed.
Ops Expert: Because the Scientist likes to stay close to Research Stations, the Ops Expert makes the world accessible. It's not a bad combo because the Ops Expert uses his ability and then both Roles become decent grunt workers.
Medic: The Scientist and Medic are on opposite spectrums. One treats, the other cures. They work in tandem, but generally don't interact as much unless it's to Share Research.
Researcher: The Researcher is the Scientist's total lap dog. Just have the Research follow you around feeding you. In fact, go camping together in the research station and just hope your draws are faster than the disease. You may never have to leave Atlanta.
2 Player Game Comments:
Basically let your partner treat while you focus on the cure. The Scientist's ability is slowed down in a 2 player game. The pair can still use cards a little more indiscriminately, but the Scientist's lack of movement abilities will become apparent when trying to contain diseases. In some extreme cases, it will be more important to ignore the 4 black cards in your hand because you really want to make the red set since the red is a higher priority and you're not close enough to a research station to cure black. It's just hard to swallow that the black card your wasting is still okay because the Scientist allows card wastage.
The two player game with a Scientist is all about gaining momentum over the disease. It's slow but will gain if you can start containing. It's not uncommon to see the world look worse at the beginning of the game, but then slowly get better. Watch for losses by too many cubes and too many outbreaks.
Best descriptions of the roles so far read.
This should be included , along with the rules, in the game. Print and keep, is my suggestion.
Wow! You just raised the bar for strategy posts. I'm printing this and keeping it in the Pandemic box. Thanks so much!
From the Halls of Montezuma...
...to the Shores of Tripoli...
This kind of content is what makes BGG more than just a social site. Excellent post.
Meh... alot of people were already thinking this, but definitely thumbs to you for taking the time to put it on paper. Well done.