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Subject: Epidlimolgoist rss

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Josh Kaufman
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I originally posted the below in the general forum, but learned that these forums would be better. So curious of people's thoughts.

I'm a big pandemic fan and I play the game with a lot of other people and most people feel the Epidimologist is significantly weaker when compared to the other roles. I think the general reason why most people feel this way is because the Epidimologist is the reverse of the Researcher and the Researcher can give as many cards as he wants, but the Epidimologist can only take 1 card. So few questions.

1) Do most people in the Pandemic community feel this way? Just a minor survey here.
2) Anybody know why the Epidimoloist can only take 1 card? Was it found during game design that having it take more than 1 card from a non-matching city was broken somehow?
3) I play a lot of 2-player games and the Epidomologist-Researcher combo makes the Epidimologist useless. I've thought of a special fix for this, which allows the Epidimologist to take 1 card from the researcer for zero actions. Just curious if anybody else has come up with any fixes for this?
4) Has anybody tried any tweaks to the Epidimolist? If so, what tweaks and how did it work out?

Josh
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If the Epidemiologist were allowed to take multiple cards, he'd probably have a turn 2 cure in many games, because he would effectively allow the players to quickly pool four cards into one hand plus whatever the Ep started with. To say it a little differently, Researcher allows one hand of cards (the Researcher's) to ignore location restrictions. The Epidemiologist allows every hand except his own to ignore location restrictions. I believe that's why the restriction exists to balance the two.

I do think the Researcher is almost strictly superior in two player games.
 
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board game jr
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hobbes27 wrote:
1) Do most people in the Pandemic community feel this way? Just a minor survey here.

You might want to put up a poll because responses written in a thread may not represent what the majority are thinking. I found this out recently in my own thread with a poll. Of course part of the problem was I screwed up the poll which attracted a biased response so be careful. The people most likely to speak up here, and who have been vocal in the past, are people who do not like this role. I personally do not like it. I don't even play with it.

hobbes27 wrote:
2) Anybody know why the Epidimoloist can only take 1 card? Was it found during game design that having it take more than 1 card from a non-matching city was broken somehow?

I believe it was Tom Lehmann (co-designer) who came on one of these forums and basically stated that the Epidemiologist, without the hand limit, was too powerful so it had to weakened. There are two main examples given. First is that the Epidemiologist starts first in Atlanta and is able to get a cure immediately in Atlanta on the very first turn because he has two of one color and can grab three more from the other players. The second is that the Researcher's ability is limited by the number of cards she can hold in her hand. The Epidemiologist, on the other, hand can basically build his hand from any number of players and this pool is much larger than what the researcher offers.

hobbes27 wrote:
3) I play a lot of 2-player games and the Epidomologist-Researcher combo makes the Epidimologist useless. I've thought of a special fix for this, which allows the Epidimologist to take 1 card from the researcer for zero actions. Just curious if anybody else has come up with any fixes for this?

This doesn't sound like an interesting combination to me . You could do that, but it is only a benefit with the Researcher around. The argument has been made that the Dispatcher makes the Epidemiologist a more useful role. This makes sense as this allows the Epidemiologist to wonder off on his own without always having to follow other players around. There is a timing issue with all this. If the Dispatcher's turn comes after the Epidemiologist its not as useful if the Dispatcher came before. This is because the Epidemiologist, unlike the Researcher, can only use his ability on his turn. I think this is an even bigger drawback than the one card per round. So the Dispatcher can be useful, but only if the Dispatcher gets to move the Epidemiologist right before the Epidemiologist's turn. Otherwise you are moving the Epidemiologist, but the other player's are going off on their own direction before the Epidemiologist can even get a card from them

hobbes27 wrote:
4) Has anybody tried any tweaks to the Epidimolist? If so, what tweaks and how did it work out?

I have a file in the files section that lists all the custom roles that people have created on these forums. Some of them include Epidemiologist variants that are more powerful. One change is to allow them to grab as many cards as they want. Tom Lehmann says change the one card limit to two cards. Its still an unsatisfactory role to me because I feel that he's basically going around and chasing other players in the game. The Researcher can actually go off on his own for awhile and then move in close when ready for an exchange that will deliver a cure. Plus the Epidemiologist always seems to be running into the seven card hand limit problem since he's taking cards. So he will discover a cure, but then have only two left over for his next one. At that point he sort of feels done. He could go looking for that second cure, but that is more following around. He's usually a great candidate for the New Assignment at that point.

I think the variant with the unlimited pickup per round is too powerful. I would like to allow other player's to give him cards, but I do think its too powerful. One thing that I was thinking could make the role interesting is allowing him to move two space for each drive\ferry action rather than just one. That way the following around problem to steal cards off other players seems less of nuisance. I've played some other custom roles with that ability and its fun to be able to move across the board so quickly. A change in hand limits size like Archivist could be useful to help lessen the problem of going over the hand limit all the time.

 
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board game jr
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Here you go Josh. Decided to test my search skills. All threads where Tom Lehmann has posted that talk about the Epidemiologist. Your question isn't a new one, but it never hurts to revisit it once in awhile as a new group of Pandemic players is always coming in.

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/3924830
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/5534747
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/4602565
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Josh Kaufman
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Epidimologist
Thanks for the responses and previous links. My thoughts after reading everything.

BoardGameJr wrote:
hobbes27 wrote:
1) Do most people in the Pandemic community feel this way? Just a minor survey here.

You might want to put up a poll because responses written in a thread may not represent what the majority are thinking. I found this out recently in my own thread with a poll. Of course part of the problem was I screwed up the poll which attracted a biased response so be careful. The people most likely to speak up here, and who have been vocal in the past, are people who do not like this role. I personally do not like it. I don't even play with it.

How do I put up a poll in a message thread? It isn't obvious to me.

hobbes27 wrote:
2) Anybody know why the Epidimoloist can only take 1 card? Was it found during game design that having it take more than 1 card from a non-matching city was broken somehow?

I believe it was Tom Lehmann (co-designer) who came on one of these forums and basically stated that the Epidemiologist, without the hand limit, was too powerful so it had to weakened. There are two main examples given. First is that the Epidemiologist starts first in Atlanta and is able to get a cure immediately in Atlanta on the very first turn because he has two of one color and can grab three more from the other players. The second is that the Researcher's ability is limited by the number of cards she can hold in her hand. The Epidemiologist, on the other, hand can basically build his hand from any number of players and this pool is much larger than what the researcher offers.

I read that thread and understand Tom's argument. The main problem with the Epidimologist is that it needs to spend its time next to someone. I play a lot of two player games, so this is a big problem for the Epidimologist to do, because either you aren't cleaning the 3-spots very well or the Epidimologist is having limited interaction. This can be a problem for the researcher, but the researcher can store 2-3 cards for the other player and then arrange for a meet at the appropriate time. Whereas with the Epidimologist, those same 2-3 cards means you have to follow for 2-3 turns to grab. Big disadvantage.

In a 4 player game, it isn't as much of a problem for the Epidimologist, because that character has more people to chase and it doesn't endanger the board as much. I think the role is more valuable in a 4 player game, but I still think its inferior.

I do disagree with the Atlanta argument. Its based on a very hokey premise. For the Epidimologist to get the cure on the first turn. 1) It has to be the first player. 2) It has to have two of one color card (Unless someone has the card to give it +2). and 3) The other three players need to have 3 of one color card. I'm not a statistician, but you are talking about a fringe situation, as far as I am concerned. And fringe situations shouldn't prevent you from enacting a rule.

hobbes27 wrote:
3) I play a lot of 2-player games and the Epidomologist-Researcher combo makes the Epidimologist useless. I've thought of a special fix for this, which allows the Epidimologist to take 1 card from the researcer for zero actions. Just curious if anybody else has come up with any fixes for this?

This doesn't sound like an interesting combination to me :(. You could do that, but it is only a benefit with the Researcher around. The argument has been made that the Dispatcher makes the Epidemiologist a more useful role. This makes sense as this allows the Epidemiologist to wonder off on his own without always having to follow other players around. There is a timing issue with all this. If the Dispatcher's turn comes after the Epidemiologist its not as useful if the Dispatcher came before. This is because the Epidemiologist, unlike the Researcher, can only use his ability on his turn. I think this is an even bigger drawback than the one card per round. So the Dispatcher can be useful, but only if the Dispatcher gets to move the Epidemiologist right before the Epidemiologist's turn. Otherwise you are moving the Epidemiologist, but the other player's are going off on their own direction before the Epidemiologist can even get a card from them

Well I play online, and when we are randomly assigned those roles, we groan. We could reset, but my partner and I usually grunt it out. We even grunt it out if its just the Epidimologist and whoever. The people I play with just don't like the role, and neither do I. Maybe my dislike is more based on the fact that it just sucks in a 2-player game and that is mostly what I play. The fix that I mentioned above would only apply if you get the worthless combo of researcher-epidimologist. Just so the epidimologist is useful to have in that game over another role. If there was more than 2 players, you could still limit the Epidimologist to 1 card/turn. But if he takes from the Researcher its a freebie.

You bring up a good point about Dispatcher/Epidimologist. The combo can make the Epidimologist stronger, but it depends on timing.

hobbes27 wrote:
4) Has anybody tried any tweaks to the Epidimolist? If so, what tweaks and how did it work out?

I have a file in the files section that lists all the custom roles that people have created on these forums. Some of them include Epidemiologist variants that are more powerful. One change is to allow them to grab as many cards as they want. Tom Lehmann says change the one card limit to two cards. Its still an unsatisfactory role to me because I feel that he's basically going around and chasing other players in the game. The Researcher can actually go off on his own for awhile and then move in close when ready for an exchange that will deliver a cure. Plus the Epidemiologist always seems to be running into the seven card hand limit problem since he's taking cards. So he will discover a cure, but then have only two left over for his next one. At that point he sort of feels done. He could go looking for that second cure, but that is more following around. He's usually a great candidate for the New Assignment at that point.

I think the variant with the unlimited pickup per round is too powerful. I would like to allow other player's to give him cards, but I do think its too powerful. One thing that I was thinking could make the role interesting is allowing him to move two space for each drive\ferry action rather than just one. That way the following around problem to steal cards off other players seems less of nuisance. I've played some other custom roles with that ability and its fun to be able to move across the board so quickly. A change in hand limits size like Archivist could be useful to help lessen the problem of going over the hand limit all the time.



I wasn't necessarily advocating unlimited cards/round. I was just wondering people's general feeling about this and try to make this role comparable to the other roles in the game. Thsi is indeed a role that does better with more players, similar to the Dispatcher. But the Dispatcher is still very nice to have in a 2 player game. Just more nicer with more player. I don't feel that way about the Epidimologist. I actually thought about allowing an 8 card hand limit for the Epidimologist. One other possibility I was considering, but I was involved with Tom for a playtest of another role with an ability similar to this was to allow the Epidimologist to take any one card and give any card in return. But limit that to once/turn. I think that would make the role much more playable. I know for role that I playtested for Tom, the ability was that the role could do the above trade, but one of the two cards exchanged had to be the city both pawns were in.
 
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Chris Berger
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hobbes27 wrote:
I wasn't necessarily advocating unlimited cards/round. I was just wondering people's general feeling about this and try to make this role comparable to the other roles in the game.


Despite the contrary views in this thread, I think it's pretty commonly felt that the Epidemiologist is weak and/or uninteresting. Take a look at some other threads in this forum. So far, I've just taken him out of the deck when we've played with the expansion. If I were to play with him, I'd probably just let him do unlimited cards per turn. I understand Tom's explanation and why it could theoretically make him too strong, but a) I don't think it's gonna be that strong in practice, and b) it really doesn't matter if one role is a little stronger. What matters is if one role is too weak and too uninteresting to be fun, and that's what the Epidemiologist is as printed.
 
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board game jr
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hobbes27 wrote:
was to allow the Epidimologist to take any one card and give any card in return. But limit that to once/turn

This is a nice way of solving the hand limit problem and it also becomes a mutual benefit where two players help one another. So its sort of like a weakened-Reseacher \ Epidemiologist hybrid. I'll try it sometime soon. I don't like the idea of the city restriction though. Every role has the city restriction. I guess I would need to playtest it though to really find out how overpowered it was. And even if it was there are always more Virulent Strain Epidemic cards to even things out .

The biggest flaw that remains after that is movement\actions are mostly directed to following other pawns around. This forces you to choose ignoring cubes too often in favor of not losing the ability to get your one card per round. Someone could say that you just need to wait till you get 3 or 4 of a color and then start using your special ability. The Researcher for example, doesn't always have to follow people around. But the Researcher also can be engaged in a transfer of multiple cards on her turn or on another player's turn. Her opportunity costs for treating disease is less because she doesn't have a restriction on transfers. Each round the Epidemiologist plays and treats is one round that he lost the use of his power. Maybe if there wasn't such a high Opportunity Cost I would feel less inclined to follow other pawns around. Maybe if the Epidemiologist collected a token each round that represented the ability to grab one card from another player and then could spend those tokens as an action each round to grab a card that would remove the opportunity cost problem? I don't know. I might try that too,

In any case it isn't a very interesting role to me and I've had a poor success rate when playing with it. I recommend you look at my file that summarizes all the custom roles that people designed here. You may find some special ability of interest to work with or maybe would just prefer to play one of these instead of trying to make the Epidemiologist better. Also let me know if you do finalize something here so I can add it:
http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/64531/all-pandemic-roles-o...
 
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Josh Kaufman
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The city restriction was for the new role. For the Epidimologist, there wouldn't be a city restriction. You just make one card exchange on your turn.

Well, you do have to make a decision sometimes to chase rather than treat cubes. I guess what you are trying to say is that the role of the epidimologist requires chasing another pawn (or vice versa). But I'm okay to that, because the Researcher has a siimilar problem. At least with this new power, the Epidimologist wouldn't necessasrily need to chase every turn. But rather could chase when it either helps itself or another role get the 5th card for the cure. Similar to how the researcher can hold cards and then wait to pounce on another pawn to give the pawn the cards to make the cure.

I would have to playtest the card switching ability just want some general thoughts.
 
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board game jr
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hobbes27 wrote:
The city restriction was for the new role. For the Epidimologist, there wouldn't be a city restriction. You just make one card exchange on your turn.

I'm a little confused then. I just assumed we were talking about Epidimologist like roles with card transfers. What is the "new role" called?

hobbes27 wrote:
Well, you do have to make a decision sometimes to chase rather than treat cubes. I guess what you are trying to say is that the role of the epidimologist requires chasing another pawn (or vice versa).But I'm okay to that, because the Researcher has a siimilar problem.

I don't really feel that way at all with the Researcher. I feel its a very flexible role that can go off and do its own thing. It eventually has to meet up, but in-between it has some freedom.

hobbes27 wrote:
I would have to playtest the card switching ability just want some general thoughts.

Go ahead and set up a solitaire game or if you want to try VASSAL let me know. Its a pretty open system that doesn't enforce rules. One card a round is still limiting, but the extra power to trade one back helps. And I'm completely sympathetic to any view that says the role becomes unbalance if you don't limit the transfers somehow.

I actually like one of the ideas that popped into my head while discussing and I'm going to post that Epidemiologist to the Variants section.
 
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Richard Smith
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We felt the Epidemiologist was too weak and so we start that role with two extra player cards. This way, the Epi, usually has at least two cards of one suit and knows which cards to start collecting from the other players.

Using this method, the Epi is often able to get an early cure of one disease. It is rare that the Epi gets two cures but it can happen. It is also balanced in that the game is shorter by one player turn since the Epi starts with an extra two cards.

This change makes the Epi still a pretty weak role, but better.

Warm regards, Rick.

post script: Note, the revised Epi no longer uses an action to take their once per turn card. A nice bonus.
 
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