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Subject: How would you rank the new roles? rss

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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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So far, the new roles in the game seem to have a pretty wide disparity as far as how much I like them, so I thought I'd post my rankings and see what others would choose. I had posted some initial commentary about the new roles in this session report, but I've played On the Brink about 20 more times now, with a mix between the Virulent Strain, the Mutation Strain, and both of them together (I still haven't had a chance to try the bioterrorist version yet), so this ranking reflects a lot more experience with the roles (though my rankings still match my initial feelings about them, for the most part).

1: Archivist (A)
The Archivist can really do some cool things... On the same turn he can fly to a specific location by spending that city card, then take the same card back, then spend it again to build a Research Center, or to give to someone else. He is also great at finding cures by walking around a certain color and picking up cards. This also allows other players to discard cards of that color more freely, giving them more freedom of movement to that area, or letting their hand limit go over, knowing they can discard that color for the benefit of the Archivist. And the hand limit of 8 just makes it even better, especially when the Virulent Strain requires an extra card to cure it. I believe that all of the games I've won against the new challenges (few though they are) have included the Archivist.

2: Troubleshooter (B)
The ability to fly somewhere just by revealing a card, and not discarding it, allows some of the same tricks as the Archivist. The Troubleshooter can fly to a city with a card, and then immediately discard it to build a Research Center. Or just fly there for the sake of doing other things. But holding on to the card is very nice. Looking at the top of the Infection Deck isn't always that useful, but sometimes comes in handy and adds a nice extra touch to the role.

3: Containment Specialist (B)
This is a fun one, and the Containment Specialist can do some nice Medic type effects to help clean up certain areas. It's still not quite as powerful overall as the Medic, though, and can't do the nice vacuum cleaner clean up once a disease is cured, which is often crucial when trying to eradicate something. But it's still a good role to play.

4: Field Operative (C)
This is a role that initially seemed very cool in concept, but I wasn't finding it to be very good to play with in my first several games with OTB. For the first few games I played using the Field Operative, I was able to use his special ability to cure a disease exactly once. It really seemed like a completely dud role. However, in the last few games I played the FO was a definite factor. And I realized another benefit of the role, that if you have more than 3 cards of a cure you're going for, you can easily spend one to build a research center in the vicinity of where you're gathering cubes, to help the cure happen faster. It's still a very "iffy" role to me, but it might grow on me as I play it more.

5: Ops Expert (revised) (B-)
I believe the Ops Expert had to be changed because of the Archivist and Troubleshooter, who now have the ability to easily build Research Centers. The new addition allows the Ops Expert to fly anywhere by discarding any card in their hand while at a Research Center. The limitation of being at a Research Center to use that ability is a good one, I think, but the Ops Expert can get around it by just building a research center if he really needs to fly somewhere.

6: Generalist (C+)
I had said before that this seems like the most boring role, because in a way it doesn't have a particular special ability, just an extra action (which I suppose is a special ability, but it didn't feel as much like one, initially). Well, with more experience I can appreciate the value of that extra action and how that can add up throughout the game and be crucial at certain times, and it does make the role interesting enough much of the time.

7: Epidemiologist (C-)
This is sort of the counterpart for the Researcher, but playing it more, I realize it's not quite as good... The Researcher has no limit on the number of cards he can give to someone else; the Epidemiologist can only take one. But both roles require the players to be in the same city as the person they are exchanging cards with, so to me, this one just seems weaker. It can be useful, certainly, but it would be more useful and on par with the Researcher if it wasn't limited to one card.

By comparison, if I had to grade the base game roles in terms of their usefulness or as a measure of how interesting they are to play, I would probably grade them as follows:
Medic (A+) Not really as indispensable as it may seem, but still a very powerful role, and it's a role that gives great satisfaction because you enjoy sucking up all of those cubes from the board.
Dispatcher (A-) Very useful for hooking players up to exchange cards or to do other functions. It's more of a passive or service role, but can involve some nice thought as far as how best to use its ability.
Researcher (B-) Can be very crucial for helping other players find cures and can do that in a hurry.
Scientist (B-) Great for finding cures, but kind of dull, otherwise.
Ops Expert (C-) Provides an important function, but is not always that useful or fun to play.

Of course a lot of these things depend on which other roles a particular role is playing along with, and what the circumstances of a particular game are... certain roles can be more enjoyable or useful in some games compared to others... but so far, those are my general feelings about the roles in an overall sense.

So what are your rankings for the new roles?
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I agree with most of your comments on the new roles. I'd bump the Epidemiologist to the bottom. The FieldOp varies drastically by player-count, but even in a four-player game, she usually gets in one and sometimes even two cures. So I'd give her a B or a B-. You're spot on about the Archivist. Best-in-show.

As for the original game, I'd say the Researcher is easily as useful as the Medic. I'd give the Scientist and OpEx each a B+. I'm in the minority that views the original OpEx as extremely useful and underrated... perhaps even my favorite role to play. But it's a supporting role, and won't have the "clutch" plays of a Medic or a Researcher. I'm not sure that makes it any worse, but it doesn't create the same spectacle. The original 5 are remarkably balanced.

With the new roles I think the Achivist stands out, the Epi sucks, and everyone else is solid (even if the generalist is a little boring in practice). I've played about ~25 games with On the Brink at this point.

EDIT: I should add that, so far, the "New Assignment" special event might as well say "11th hour Researcher FTW." I think once we brought in the Medic for emergency damage control. Otherwise it's been a Researcher quickly followed by the victory every time.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Yeah, I agree that the Ops Expert, even without the new ability, was very useful and underrated. The thing is, what I'm commenting on here is sort of a combination of how useful a role is and how interesting a role is to play... With its base game ability, the Ops Expert gets to use his ability maybe 3 or 4 times during the game (5 at the absolute most, but it's rare that he'll get to erect all of the research centers, in my experience). Some of the other roles may not end up using their ability that often, either, but they can... The Medic is kind of a dopey role in a way... you're the janitor going around picking up trash with your pokey stick... but as I said, there's a certain cool kind of satisfaction to being that role, because you have the most active effect on the board, by far. The Dispatcher is probably the most cerebral and interactive of the roles... you really have a lot of options and choices for how you can help the situation by moving people around. The Scientist only uses his ability 2-3 times in the game, but he's always invested in working towards it with every new card drawn, and there's a certain kind of satisfaction in being the fullback carrying the ball into the endzone... The Researcher and Dispatcher may do most of the hard work, but the Scientist will often get the glory for finding 2-3 of the cures.

I don't mind playing the Ops Expert at all, and I'll focus on trying to set up a useful travel network. And sometimes the Ops Expert can pull a game winner by building a research center at the last possible moment to allow the final cure to happen, either curing it himself or setting up someone else. But generally speaking, in the base game the Ops Expert wasn't quite as satisfying or exciting or interesting to play. I do think it's better now and provides a little extra ability that still relates to the research centers, which is a nice touch.
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Marius Roth
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I would use the Trouble Shooter for building research Centers, although he is capable of doing it. But instead I would use it the way he was intended to be used:

At the start of the round look at the infector cards and see if there is big trouble coming his way (like a breakout or epidemic). Reveal a city card to directly fly to this city (especially good if it is a coming hotspot). Afterwards he can either cure diseases or drop the city card he just revealed to get to the coming hotspot.

The new OpsExpert has grown in usability, too, in my opinion. The first version was only good for building Research Centers, and he could only really get around quickly with the help of the Dispatcher. Now he has an additional ability that helps him get around more quickly and help his comrades eradicate threats.

From the old roles I would rank them:
Medic
Scientist
Dispatcher
OpsExpert
Researcher

and the new ones:
Containment Specialist
Archivist
Troubleshooter
Generalist
Epidemiologist
Field Operative
 
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Christopher Onstad
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I really like the Containment Specialist. Sure it is not as powerful as the medic. But it comes in very handy for keeping outbreaks down. Especially since it's power doesn't cost an action. Although I believe it's most useful with 4 or 5 players.

I have to disagree about the Field Operatvie. It has been very useful in the games I have seen it. It got 3 out of 5 cures I believe. As long as it remembers to take cubes when it has an opporunity.


I am not really a fan of the troubleshooter. I admit that travelling without discarding is a powerful ability, I find the looking at the top card and not doing anything with it kind of lame.
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I haven't played OTB yet, but for the original roles, I find the scientist kinda weak. Hard to get him the four cards for every strain, just as easy to have others collect five.

just my opinion, please correct if wrong
 
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The scientist doesn't have to cure all the strains. But the cures he finds come a lot SOONER than they otherwise would, and time is what makes or breaks you in this game.

So far, epidemiologist is bottom of the pack for our group. I don't think we've even actually used the ability in three or four games with E involved. yuk
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xofour wrote:
I really like the Containment Specialist. Sure it is not as powerful as the medic. But it comes in very handy for keeping outbreaks down. Especially since it's power doesn't cost an action. Although I believe it's most useful with 4 or 5 players.


The CS is essentially a medic with no growth arc (ability boost from the cures). He's actually better at the beginning of the game, because it's unlikely the outbreaks will ever get away from you. He's also the first to go late in the game if we have "New Assignment."
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Okay, I'm going to upgrade the Field Operative... I played a game where he was very much a factor, curing 2 diseases and about to cure a 3rd when I lost (although that 3rd disease was going to be cured from having 5 cards, not from the FO's special ability). I also found another benefit of the role... if you have more than 3 cards of a color that you're going to cure, it's easy to use an extra card of that color to build a research center in the vicinity to help the cure happen faster (and to help build a network of research centers).
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Susan F.
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We've only played with OTB once so far and we went with Generalist/Epidemiologist/Field Operative (just picking what looked cool since it was our first time with the expansion). The Field Operative was *very* useful, curing three of the four diseases. The Generalist avoided a couple of outbreaks (which would have lost us the game otherwise as we finished one outbreak short of a loss). I think I used the Epidemiologist ability once. It looked interesting, but isn't nearly as good as the Researcher from the original game.
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The epidemiologist seems the only "weak" role, and probably only at 2 and 3 players games (with 4 or 5 players, you have a good density of people on the board, and increase the possibility to collect here and there one card of the same color for a cure, which could be best than researcher if hands are mixed in colors). In 2 players game, I will probably give him 2 free drive/ferry; and in 3 players game, 1 free drive/ferry (and probably see how unbalanced it is ), since epidemiologist lacks often movement.

I played all the other roles and they are just perfect, really (ok the generalist doesn't seem original, but still tricky to play), providing a lot of new ways to play.

Anyway, "On the brink" is on the contest on "best expansion ever" for me It is just simply amazing how much fun it introduced in an already perfect game!
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Tim Stellmach
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Grudunza wrote:
7: Epidemiologist (C-)
This is sort of the counterpart for the Researcher, but playing it more, I realize it's not quite as good... The Researcher has no limit on the number of cards he can give to someone else; the Epidemiologist can only take one. But both roles require the players to be in the same city as the person they are exchanging cards with, so to me, this one just seems weaker. It can be useful, certainly, but it would be more useful and on par with the Researcher if it wasn't limited to one card.

"On par" is a funny way of saying "way more powerful."
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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timstellmach wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
7: Epidemiologist (C-)
This is sort of the counterpart for the Researcher, but playing it more, I realize it's not quite as good... The Researcher has no limit on the number of cards he can give to someone else; the Epidemiologist can only take one. But both roles require the players to be in the same city as the person they are exchanging cards with, so to me, this one just seems weaker. It can be useful, certainly, but it would be more useful and on par with the Researcher if it wasn't limited to one card.

"On par" is a funny way of saying "way more powerful."


How would that be way more powerful than the Researcher if it wasn't limited to taking one card? Either the Researcher meets up with one or more players and gives them several cards to allow a cure, or the Epidemiologist could meet up with one or more players to take several cards to allow a cure. It would still be limited to the available distribution of cards and proximity of the players and hand limit of the Epidemiologist.(which, as a counterbalance, perhaps, could be reduced to 6).
 
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Grudunza wrote:
It would still be limited to the available distribution of cards and proximity of the players and hand limit of the Epidemiologist.(which, as a counterbalance, perhaps, could be reduced to 6).

I agree you are limited to proximity, but to say both are limited to the distribution of the cards is a gross over-simplification. The Epidemiologist has the advantage of combining cards from all of the players hands into one hand (their own), whereas the Researcher can only combine the hands of two players into one hand at any time. Is a 1 pass limit too strict? Maybe, but to not put any limit on the passing would make the game WAY too easy. Everyone could just hang out around the Epidemiologist and give them cards any time there are five of the same color among all of the hands or imagine a game with a dispatcher and an epidemiologist. Also I am just guessing but I imagine the chance of being able to cure a disease in the first round of play would be something like 1/4. Anyways I think the Epidemiologist at least deserves a C+. Do you really think it is as bad as the old OpEx?
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Okay, I understand that, but with only one card he can take in a turn, it can make it quite difficult for him to actually accomplish anything useful, especially after everyone leaves Atlanta and spreads out around the world. With the Dispatcher also in the game, he might be more powerful... But the Researcher could spend 2 or 3 actions on a turn (including the first turn in some cases) to give that many cards to someone and boom, they have a cure. The Epidemiologist seems to have a much harder time of getting a cure for himself, in my experience.

I think the Epidemiologist would be better with some slight extra advantage, or with the chance to take more than one card in a turn, but with a corresponding disadvantage (e.g. hand limit of 6). Or, perhaps the ability to take or give one (and only one) card per turn? That would still be less powerful than the Researcher in terms of giving, at least. I would still add the 6 hand limit, though, or some other penalty. Or, another thought... the Epidemiologist can take multiple cards in a turn, but cures cost him 6 cards.
 
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An unlimited Epidemiologist would be ridiculous. At least with the researcher you have to decide how to "hover" near the players who most need your help, and at least you usually have to wait until they've got 3 cards before zooming in to provide the last two. An unlimited Epi could cure a disease every other turn, I'm guessing.

I think they should have concluded that, with no limits, it was absurd, and with a 1-per-turn limit, it's nerfed. The role is extraneous and should have been cut before On the Brink was published. Tom Lehman swears it's useful, though, so go figure.
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Sean McCarthy
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Interesting! I would rank them quite differently.

1. Field Operative (B)
2. Ops Expert Revised (B)
3. Archivist (B)
4. Epidemiologist (B)
5. Generalist (C)
6. Troubleshooter (C)
7. Containment Specialist (C-)
 
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Richard Sampson
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Grudunza wrote:
I think the Epidemiologist would be better with some slight extra advantage, or with the chance to take more than one card in a turn, but with a corresponding disadvantage (e.g. hand limit of 6). Or, perhaps the ability to take or give one (and only one) card per turn? That would still be less powerful than the Researcher in terms of giving, at least. I would still add the 6 hand limit, though, or some other penalty. Or, another thought... the Epidemiologist can take multiple cards in a turn, but cures cost him 6 cards.

I think these are some pretty good ideas, and I might toy around with them when I play. I might even try "can give one card AND take one card in the same turn" allowing a triple role as 1.) normal Epidemiologist, 2.) nerfed Researcher, 3.) 1 card, two actions bridge between other players.

I also think that the Epidemiologist should be completely removed from 2 player games since it is completely eclipsed by the Researcher in this context and Researcher + Epidemiologist only makes no sense.
 
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Grudunza wrote:
Okay, I understand that, but with only one card he can take in a turn, it can make it quite difficult for him to actually accomplish anything useful, especially after everyone leaves Atlanta and spreads out around the world. With the Dispatcher also in the game, he might be more powerful... But the Researcher could spend 2 or 3 actions on a turn (including the first turn in some cases) to give that many cards to someone and boom, they have a cure. The Epidemiologist seems to have a much harder time of getting a cure for himself, in my experience.

I think the Epidemiologist would be better with some slight extra advantage, or with the chance to take more than one card in a turn, but with a corresponding disadvantage (e.g. hand limit of 6). Or, perhaps the ability to take or give one (and only one) card per turn? That would still be less powerful than the Researcher in terms of giving, at least. I would still add the 6 hand limit, though, or some other penalty. Or, another thought... the Epidemiologist can take multiple cards in a turn, but cures cost him 6 cards.


How about this: Keep the power of the epidemiologist the same, but without costing an action.
Or being able to receive a card without being in the same city as the person giving you that card.
 
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Dave Alexander
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We've found the Epidemiologist to not be completely underpowered ONLY when the Dispatcher is also in play. When I first glanced at the new roles before I got the expansion, I thought the Epi looked way too weak and wondered what I was missing; then I thought, "wait, maybe it doesn't take an action to take the 1 card per turn - that might make it worthwhile..." Unfortunately, of course, I was wrong, but maybe we'll try playing this way & see if that "fixes" the role for us.

As far as ranking the new roles individually, I'm not sure I can do that since the game is not played individually because some roles could "leapfrog" others depending on the composition of the team. The CS moves up on the list with the presence of the dispatcher; the new Ops Expert is even better when he can selectively feed his travel discards to the Archivist...

The Dispatcher remains my personal favorite role to play. Pawn to pawn FTW!!!
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