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Pandemic: On the Brink» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A look at the new roles and special events rss

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Murray C
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There are already some really good reviews for On the Brink and its various challenges. So I thought I would go a different route and take a look specifically at the new roles and special events.

General Notes
As usual, roles are selected blind and randomly. With more roles to choose from, games can be a bit harder since the more powerful roles will see less play. If you are playing with fewer players, chances are worse.

In playing with fewer players, you actually make the game harder for yourself. According to the new rules, in a two player game, only 4 random special event cards will be added to the deck, instead of the usual 5. This makes the game a bit more interesting since you cannot rely on things like One Quiet Night or Air Lift to come up and save the day.


Meet the Team

Containment Specialist: When you enter a city with 2 or more cubes of the same color, remove 1 cube
Once a cure is found, the Medic gains what I call "Jesus touch," the ability to heal just by being there. The Containment Specialist is a much weaker version of that. If there is ever a chain outbreak, she can be very useful, especially with a Dispatcher around as well. However, her ability is a bit too specific and defense orientated. It does little to help complete the game's objectives.

Generalist: You get 5 actions to spend each turn
The Generalist is actually a fairly decent role as you get 5 actions per player card draw, which will add up and stack the odds in your favour. But like the Containment Specialist, the Generalist lacks any real capacity in helping you get those cures faster.

Operations Expert: You may build a Research Station in your current city for one action. Once per turn at a Research Station you may spend an action and discard any city card to move to any city
At the very start of the game, the Operations Expert is incredibly powerful thanks to his new ability. With two actions and a single discard, he can build a research station anywhere in the world. This also opens up the option for a quick trade and vaccine as other players can shuttle over to the city and trade the card of that city.

Throughout the game, the Operations Expert can open up ways for people to move and trade cards quickly and easily. As long as you have an Archivist around, you won't have to worry about all his random discards either. As a kind of Researcher/Dispatacher hybrid, the Operations Expert is not spectacular at either job, but provides tonnes of options that will be appreciated.

Troubleshooter: At your turn's start, peek at the number of cards on top of the Infection Draw Pile equal to the current infection rate. When performing a Direct Flight action, you reveal but do not discard the card.
Having a constant forecast on the Troubleshooter's turn is more often than not neglible as you should almost always be striving to cure those triple cubed cities anyways. His other ability, however, does allow him to trade cards in a timely fashion, which is not so bad.

Epidemiologist: Once per turn (on your turn only) you may spend an action to take a non-matching city card from a player whose pawn is in the city you are in.
A weak reverse Researcher who cannot take cards outside their own turn? No thank you. The only time that the Epidemiologist is worthwhile having is at the start of the game, when all the other players can pool their cards together for a quick vaccine. At any time, the odds that another player is close to a vaccine is always better than the single Epidemiologist player being close to a vaccine. However, if there is no Researcher, but there is a Dispatcher or Operations Expert, then the Epidemiologist can act as the middleman and help two other players pool cards together at the cost of one round of turns.

Field Operative: Once per turn you may spend an action to move 1 cube from your current city to your Role Card. You may Cure a Disease following normal rules but using only 3 cards plus 3 matching cubes from your Role Card.
Offering an alternate method of creating vaccines and a better cure method makes the Field Operative a fairly decent role. Keep in mind that the Field Operative can always return the cubes on his role card back to the supply if necessary, so there is no real cost to it at all.

Archivist: Your hand limit is 8 cards. Once per turn, you may spend an action to draw your current city's card from the Player Discard Pile.
The Archivist gives a lot of options to the team. The hand size doesn't really come into play that much as it would if it was for the Scientist. However, the ability to pull cards back from the discard pile makes the Archivist into a makeshift Operations Expert, Troubleshooter, Epidemiologist, and Researcher as cards can fly around without worry about dwindling the odds of drawing a specific colour.

New Roles Overall
There is a pretty good mish-mash of new roles. Some are pretty much useless while others give plenty of options that allows players to tackle familiar situations from a different angle, adding fun and replayability to the game. There is still nothing as overpowered as the Medic and Dispatcher, however, but this is probably a good thing as people have been craving a bigger challenge. In that regards, On the Brink delivers.



Brand New Lifesavers Flavours

Special Orders: During this turn, the current player may move one other player's pawn (with permission) as if it were his own.
A half-Dispatcher special card is not that bad depending on what roles are in play at the moment. It's too bad that one cannot use the hand of another player and complete that vaccine that was one action away.

New Assignment: Any player (including the current player) may discard their current Role card and select a new one from the unused ones in the box.
One of the most overpowered special cards available simply because it gives you access to the overpowered roles. Definitely a lifesaver, and maybe a balancer for the increase in the number of roles, but hacks the challenge of a game in half.

Mobile Hospital: The current player may remove 1 cube from every city he Drive/Ferries to during this turn
Hasn't come up in a game yet for me, but looks to be another weaker "Jesus touch" ability that is useful in very specific situations (chain outbreaks).

Borrowed Time: The current player may take 2 additional actions this turn
Very powerful, especially if played at the right time. A great addition to the game as it forces you to weigh your choices frequently. Sometimes games are played with the card never leaving your opening hand because you are still waiting for the best time to use it. That sort of agony improves the gaming experience.

Rapid Vaccine Deployment: Play immediately after a cure is discovered to remove up to 5 cubes of the cured disease. These cubes must come from connected cities.
Pretty much useless as the conditions and situations for using it is too restrictive.

Remote Treatment: Remove any two cubes from the board. Play at any time during any turn before the infection phase of that turn begins.
Not too bad but hardly a lifesaver.

Re-examined Research: The current player may draw any one city card from the Player Discard Pile and add it to his hand
A good pseudo-Archivist card that gives lots of leeway for vaccine development. Also gives lots of options as you can build an operation station, get the city card back and cure.

Commercial Travel Ban: The Infection Rate becomes 1 until the start of the current player's next turn
A lifesaver that arguably works better than One Quiet Night or Resilient Population. Throwing this out late in a game buys you more time than anything else.

Special Events Overall
There is a good mix in here and not knowing what specials are coming to you makes the game more tense and interesting. However, adding two cards per player to the deck may be a bit too much as it seems that they come up all the time and get abused too much for an easy victory. However, if you're playing Legendary, I doubt you will complain.

New Cards Overall
While there are some weaker cards in the batch, the new cards do add a good amount of variance and replayability to Pandemic. More options and a bit more randomness doesn't hurt the game at all. Even if it was just based on these cards, I would still recommend getting On the Brink.
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Brian McCormick
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Nice review of the new cards. On the Brink is a great expansion and I enjoy all the things they added, but you're right about one thing: the extra player cards means you won't be seeing the medic too often. Still, I kinda like that. Usually my team and I can beat the game regardless of the roles we're dealt.
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Murray C
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That's when you know you're pro
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Mike Krajewski
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Good review. The cards cover a wide variety of situations. I like that it makes you think if you should hold onto a card to use later if a particular situation comes up or if you should just use it right away to get it out of your hand.

Mobile Hospital can also be pretty good for helping to eradicate a disease once it's been cured. If you've got only a few cubes of a color left, you can do a walk-through and mop them up without spending actions to do it.
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Железный комиссар
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Quote:
In playing with fewer players, you actually make the game harder for yourself. According to the new rules, in a two player game, only 4 random special event cards will be added to the deck, instead of the usual 5. This makes the game a bit more interesting since you cannot rely on things like One Quiet Night or Air Lift to come up and save the day.


I think the main goal here was fixing 4P4E, which was often just a race against time with no other realistic threat to the players. This adds an extra turn.

I don't think it actually makes it any harder for 2-players, which is the easiest count anyway.
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Rob Hayward
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Interesting how different people value cards diffrently, I guess it must come down to how you play. Personally I always preferred the Ops Expert to the Medic and couldn't understand why he got an additional powerful ability.

As for the new cards we've seen

Borrowed time played with Mobile hospital to allow an additional 2 cubes to be removed.

Rapid vaccine deployed to turn a cure into an eradication

Remote treatment to reduce two triples to doubles when the trouble shooter tells you what's coming up which saves him having to spend a complete turn and cards and still only get one cube whilst leaving him out of position for the next round.

Of course the trouble shooter's second ability turns him into a half Ops expert as he can now fl;y and then build a station

And then the Archivist can fly, draw the card back and make a station.

Both these abilities are useful if there is no easy way to get others to the area. Try starting the game with no black cards anywhere but lots of black cubes.

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Tom Lehmann
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Anjohl wrote:
Are you sure that the field op can return the cubes to the supply? Where is that rule listed?

Yes, see OTB rules, page 3, bottom note.
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Tom Lehmann
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Anjohl wrote:
Thanks tom. BTW, if they do a second edition of RFTG, please ask them to clean up the rulebook! We have been afraid to play it despite loving SJ, because of how intimidating the rules are!

This is OT for this forum, but we aren't going to be able to revise the RFTG rules since so many translations are based on it. However, we are looking at adding a 4-page sample rounds of play to the game to help players who are intimidated. I've posted a draft version to the files section for RFTG. Please take a look at it and tell us whether this helps reduce the intimidation factor for new players. Thanks!
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