In part three, we explore the various heroes of FAITH trying to stop the Sinful invasion of the city, plus Ugrades and a few other thoughts.
There are 42 hero characters in The Others (two of them with dual identities), split among 4 different classes: Leader (7), Shooter (12), Bruiser (12), and Fixer (11). In any group of seven characters for a game, there must be 1 Leader, 2 Shooters, 2 Bruisers, and 2 Fixers. The easiest way to sort them out is to go through them team by team and then discuss favorites in terms of roles at the end. After that, we’ll do an overview of the Upgrades in the game and pick out a few notables. But I’ll do a brief discussion of the roles first.
Leaders: These are your commanders and they’re highlanders (There can only be one.) Most of their abilities will be centered around assisting the other members of their teams, but they’re often pretty capable warriors/fixers themselves.
Shooters: Like the name implies, these are your ranged warriors. They most commonly have abilities that make them lethal in that respect, but they often have subpar stats as a consequence. The idea is to keep them some distance from the action and use them to your advantage.
Bruisers: These are your close combat people. They often have great stats and decent abilities, considering that they have to get nose-to-nose with every monster that slithered between the spheres. But it’s not unusual for them to have decent Skill, since they’ll often be out front and in areas that need cleansing.
Fixers: This role is the one that’s going to be taking care of the trouble spots not necessarily inhabited by monsters: Fire, Corruption, Nests, etc. They’ll typically have high Skill ratings to make those rolls, but are jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-none, except for the two shapeshifters, who are capable Bruisers in their alternate forms.
- Leah (Leader): Good stats (3/3/1) and the perfect example of a character that enables the rest of the team, as she can hand out Extra Turn tokens on her first turn each round. Those come with risk attached, like usual, but the option is great to have. She’s solid.
- Brad (Shooter): Decent stats for a Shooter (2/3/1.) He’s the classic “demolitions” guy, since he can kill things in his space automatically at the end of his turn, so he can cover himself. But the remains also makes it a little more difficult for teammates to interact with the space.
- Rocco (Shooter): Average stats (2/2/2), but he gains 2 hits every time he starts a ranged fight. That’s a solid advantage to start with, making him the prototypical shooter, but nothing spectacular.
- Morgana (Bruiser): Good stats (3/2/2) and one of the best abilities for a Bruiser in the game. Morgana heals, every turn (unless a doctor arrives…) So, she can take more risks than other characters or even other Bruisers.
- Thorley (Bruiser): Great stats (4/2/3), plus he protects other teammates in his space. He’s kind of a beast and very high on the list of prospective Bruisers.
- Rose (Fixer): Decent stats (2/4/1) with great Skill, which is good for a Fixer. But her ability is excellent, as she can move an Abomination or Acolyte one space anywhere on the board. Movement powers will always be good in this game.
- Karl (Fixer): (in human form) Good Fixer stats (2/4/1), plus he gets anti-Corruption in all Fight rolls; (in wolf form) Solid Bruiser stats (4/0/2) and can move an additional space. I love Karl for his versatility.
One of the best things about this game is that they put some of the better heroes in all of the roles in the main box, so you don’t have to feel compelled to pick up the rest. They arc more toward ‘average’ in the Shooter category and Leah is solid, but not spectacular. But the Bruisers and the Fixers in Alpha Team are among the best in the game.
- Freder (Leader): Solid stats (4/2/1) and, just like Leah, fills the support role by giving teammates anti-Corruption in fights in his space. Decent, but not thrilling.
- Polly (Shooter): Solid stats for a Shooter (3/2/1) but subpar ability: She needs to kill a monster and then can take a wound to gain an Extra Turn token. I think there’s too many conditions attached there to be really viable. Maybe if she was a 4/2/1.
- Elle (Bruiser): Good stats (3/3/1) and the essence of randomness. She can make both sides reroll all dice in any Fight she’s in. That’s an interesting option to have for those really bad moments, but I’m not sure that it makes her compelling compared to other choices.
- Kanga (Bruiser): Disturbing stats (5/0/0); the definition of ‘glass cannon’. Kanga can also move 5 spaces per turn, 2.5x what other characters can move. That’s awesome in this game, but it also means that she’s often stranded on her own, without support, and with no armor. She can be great, but tricky to use.
- Will (Fixer): Decent stats (2/3/1) but has an ability that’s also quite random: If you roll two or more Eyes to Cleanse, you can get an Extra Turn token. Like Polly, I think it’s too conditional to make him a superior pick to other Fixers.
In total contrast, Beta Team has some of the more underwhelming choices in the game. Basically none of these would qualify as a first pick and few would qualify as a second when compared to the other teams. Beta is probably best identified as the team you’d choose if the FAITH players wanted a challenge.
- Keanu (Leader): Good stats (3/3/1) but an ability that has a more narrow application than others. It allows one hero per round to use any of the five choices of City actions, instead of what’s listed. Using City actions IS important, but it’s also not as common a situation as Extra Turns or anti-Corruption. Maybe.
- Eagle (Shooter): Poor stats (3/0/1) but can mark two Acolytes and/or Abominations per turn and destroy them at the end of the round. That can be instrumental in accomplishing scenario goals and makes him one of the better Shooters in the game.
- Doc (Bruiser): Great stats (4/2/2) and a great, but random, combat ability, giving all monsters in the fight -1 Defense if he rolls any FAITH symbols. He’s like Gamma’s answer to the Pride Sin. Solid choice.
- River (Fixer): Decent stats (2/3/1) and the converse of Rose, as River can teleport fellow heroes one space each turn. That’s brilliant, especially when it comes to coordinating successive actions. Another solid choice.
- Skye (Fixer): (in human form) Good Fixer stats (3/3/0) and can move 2 extra spaces; (in wolf form) good Bruiser stats (4/0/2) and gains one hit in every fight. She has to switch form at the end of each turn, so she’s going to spend one turn human and one turn wolf in each round. I love that enforced versatility and her stats make the switch palatable.
Gamma Team has some choices ranging from “meh” to “top pick”, but the majority are good to great. There’s nice variety and each of them is at least arguable in their role, if not an auto-selection. Skye’s enforced actions remain a particular highlight.
- Bob (Leader): Average stats (2/3/1), more suitable for a Fixer… but Bob gets free automatic Upgrades for the team! That’s pretty amazing and ensures that the team will be carrying the right gear a lot of the time. The ability also can’t be stopped by Diplomats. High pick.
- Julia (Shooter): Poor stats (3/0/1) and, like Polly, has a high requirement to gain an Extra Turn token: killing two monsters in one Fight. Can’t really justify it.
- Manuela (Shooter): Solid stats (3/2/1) and can use a City action without using her token, meaning she can take two City actions per turn, which is teh awesome. She’s a great pick just for that utility.
- Kurt (Bruiser): Great stats (4/2/1) and can move an adjacent monster into his fight. Again, movement abilities and the potential to clear out more than one space at a time. That’s a solid pick.
- Wengsi Wong (Bruiser): Decent stats (3/0/3) and while she’s outnumbered, she gets +1 die, +1 hit, and +1 anti-Corruption. That’s potentially bonkers, especially since most Bruisers will be outnumbered in fights. Keep her supported and she’s a killing machine. Top pick.
Delta Team has some remarkable selections that emphasize gear, utility actions (which can be more gear), and just straight out killin’. With one exception, all of Delta are great picks.
- Calavera (Leader): Good stats (3/3/1) and he can raise or lower any hero’s Corruption by 1. That’s a real support character, either charging you up for an explosion or keeping you safe for later. Good pick.
- Nicole (Shooter): Good stats (3/2/2) and can destroy an Acolyte in her space whenever she takes a wound. Given the tendency of Sin players to toss Acolytes around like blocking dummies, it’s always helpful not to have to waste a fight clearing them out.
- PHD (Shooter): Poor stats (3/1/0) but he gains 3 Defense when the Sin player starts a fight against him. That makes him an ideal Shooter, since he can be assured of being relatively protected without needing cover and still picking things off across the board. Solid.
- Adrian (Fixer): Great stats (3/4/1) especially for a Fixer. His ability takes planning, though, as he can mark street spaces to make them more dangerous for monsters (-1 Defense.) It’s a good way to ensure the progress of goals and saving Innocents, since interference will often be less. It takes some experience with the game, though.
- Rosario (Fixer): Decent stats (2/3/1) and takes 2 less damage from Fire and Corruption. That makes her a cleanser, par excellence. This is a great pick as a straightforward Fixer who will do the main job while one of the werewolves is off getting crazy.
Omega Team is great and has interesting and powerful picks across the board. One of the best of the “regular” groups outside of Alpha.
Sons of Ragnarok:
- Father Odin (Leader): Great stats (3/3/2) and gives all heroes +1 die to all rolls IF they have at least 2 wounds. Not sure if that qualifies as “great”, as it creates a lot of risk, but it is a solid approach, as long as some healing is available.
- Fenris (Shooter): Solid stats (3/2/1) and can carry another hero with him when he moves and they don’t suffer from tokens or monsters. That’s brilliant. That alone makes him one of the best Shooters in the game, since he can do his own job and help the whole team do theirs.
- Freya (Shooter): Great stats for a Shooter (4/0/3) and she can transfer wounds between herself and another hero in her space. Again, that’s brilliant. She can stay back and pick targets off and then heal a Bruiser retreating to her spot. The wounds don’t go away, but it’s excellent utility and she spreads Odin’s ability.
- Thor (Bruiser): Great stats (4/2/2). If he’s wounded in a fight, he can take Corruption to destroy an Acolyte or Abomination after it’s over. That’s almost the ideal Bruiser.
- Tyr (Bruiser): Good stats (4/0/2) While wounded, he can discard any of his Upgrades for automatic hits and then draw new Upgrades. It’s situational and random, but it could be of remarkable use, depending on the draw and what needed to be killed that turn. Definitely worth trying (especially with Bob.)
- Baldur (Fixer): Decent stats (2/3/1) and can pick a new Upgrade after every fight he starts. Starting fights isn’t often the province of Fixers, but it’s probably worth it for the regular flow of gear.
- Heimdall (Fixer): Great Fixer stats (2/4/1) and the all-seeing eye can take a wound to look at the top card of the Apocalypse deck or two cards in the Sin player’s hand. There’s usually a character like this in most dungeon crawlers and they’re almost always useful. His stats push him beyond that.
- Loki (Fixer): Good stats (2/3/2) for flexibility and, then, the ultimate flexibility, since he can trade spots with another hero in the reserve. It’s almost like having an eighth hero since, if Loki’s near death, he can just swap out and he’ll be healed when/if he eventually has to come in again. Another hero for the experienced FAITH player.
It’s hard to debate that the Sons are probably the most powerful team in the game, not only for their numbers which can make up an entire game roster (the only one other than Alpha that can say that) but which can do so in multiple ways and in which every character is a viable, if not great, pick. My games with the Sons have proved very challenging for the Sin player.
Men of Faith:
- Kirpan (Leader): Great stats (4/3/2) and gives all other players +1 Defense. Brilliant. Top pick.
- Zhi (Shooter): Poor stats (2/1/1) but for every fight he survives, he gains +1 die to all rolls for the rest of the game. If he can stay alive, he can become a killing machine. If he can stay alive. Solid pick, but for the experienced player.
- Rajiv (Bruiser): Good stats (3/3/1) and he gets the regular bonus and the next bonus for Voluntary Corruption. That potentially makes him a great burst character, but there has to be a Corruption outlet or he becomes an average Bruiser.
- Augustine (Bruiser): Great stats (3/3/2). If he rolls more hits than needed to clear the space, he heals a wound and a Corruption. With those stats, he should be healing pretty regularly. He’s like Morgana, 2.0, albeit not as reliable. Great pick.
- Bones (Fixer): Great stats (3/3/2), especially for a Fixer. He can destroy Acolytes with Eye rolls and can cleanse spaces on fight rolls if he rolls at least two Eyes. This is a Fixer bending back toward Bruiser, in the way that some Bruisers are backup Fixers.
Like the Sons, the Men of Faith are a really powerful team, with picks ranging from good to spectacular. It’s hard to go wrong with any of them.
- Benoit (Shooter): Good stats (3/2/1) and if she doesn’t roll at least two hits in a ranged fight, she can heal another hero in her space of a wound or Corruption. That’s good utility with good stats. Solid pick.
- Kwanita (Bruiser): Good stats (3/2/2) and she gets +1 die to all rolls while wounded, which means that power should almost always be on, making her a good Bruiser and a good Fixer. Solid pick.
These were a couple of Kickstarter extras that I discovered via an app that someone had produced to help build teams. They’re pretty rare and not especially powerful, but more variety is always nice to have.
Top pick for Leaders: For me, it’s between Kirpan and Bob, for radically different reasons. Kirpan makes the whole team better and is great himself. Bob potentially makes the team even better as the game progresses, but is average, otherwise.
Top picks for Shooters: It’s between Eagle for guaranteed kills, Manuela for City advantage, Fenris for mobility, and Freya for wound distribution. The Shooter role is often one of the weakest, overall, and those are the best of them. An argument can certainly be made for Zhi, as well.
Top picks for Bruisers: Thorley, Wengsi Wong, Thor, and Augustine. All of them are combat machines that destroy things. Thorley provides some support, as well, and Augustine can function as a very capable backup Fixer.
Top picks for Fixers: This is a really difficult choice. Rose and River are good for similar reasons. Karl and Skye are also good for similar reasons. Meanwhile, Bones may be the best actual Fixer in the game and you can’t ignore the advantages provided by Loki and Heimdall. Pressed to make a choice, I’d probably lean toward Bones and Rose. But the most fun, by far, is probably Skye.
Similar to Alpha Team, a lot of the items with more universal applicability (i.e. good with more than one role) are in the main box. As is my wont, I tend to favor items that give movement bonuses like Stealth Suit, which protects you from the damage incurred by leaving spaces with monsters in them, or Cyber Legs, which ups your basic movement from two to three. Ice Blade, which gives you +1 die and +1 Defense for fights in your space is another favorite that pretty much everyone can take advantage of.
However, there’s no denying the awesome combat power that is inherent to some items from the Delta Team box, like Laz Blade, which is +3 dice for fights in your space (+2 against only Abominations and Acolytes), or IR Goggles, which lets you count Defense results as hits in ranged fights. Gamma Team also has two of the more famous combat upgrades in Marksmanship, which grants the Ranged ability, but if you’re already a Shooter, you gain two hits with every roll against targets at least a space away; and Suitcase Bomb, to thin the crowd in your space at the start of your turn.
However, there are a number of key Fixer-focused items, too, which can have far-reaching effects, such as Talisman of Hope, which heals you for each token you cleanse from the board, or Neuronimator and Self-Sacrifice, which let you take wounds to get more dice or automatically remove tokens, respectively. I mention those to again stress the importance of Fixers in the overall makeup of the team. I’ve seen too many FAITH teams focus on the combat machines and neglect what’s happening in more subtle ways on the board, only to find an almost literal minefield in front of them as they try to make their way back to the starting space, as the scenario goals often demand.
But the best part of the Upgrades remains the fact that none of them are so overwhelming that the game turns on their presence. It’s all well and good for Augustine or Wengsi Wong to pick up the Laz Blade and start laying waste to things around them, but that item doesn’t protect them from the Corruption slowly eating away at their very souls(!) and it certainly doesn’t protect the rest of the team while the Sin player avoids them and spreads its forces against the other players. Teamwork remains essential, even with a hand cannon.
So, that’s the game, more or less. I will stress again that this is not really a campaign-style dungeon crawler, so if you’re coming into it expecting something on the order of Gloomhaven, you’re likely to be disappointed. However, it is a game that can be played repeatedly, in couple hour segments, against the same Sin or a varied foe, with the same heroes or a shifting lineup, in a variety of scenarios, and across a few dozen different map layouts, and yet feels like it’s a new experience that remains familiar. The best games to me are the ones whose gameplay stays fresh, while experience with it provides new insights and lessons in subsequent plays. The Others, to me, is one of those games. I’ve gone into as much detail as I think most are willing to put up with and I didn’t even get into the Apocalypse expansion, which takes the whole doomsday scenario that one step further (and in which I think CMON’s model designers really outdid themselves; even moreso than what’s present in the regular game.) The game doesn’t get that much press these days, so it’s probably available for less cost than it was a few years ago. Hopefully, I’ve shown something that makes it sound worthwhile.