First of all, let me say that I and the rest of my playgroup absolutely love Exodus. But a concern is arising for us when I look at the expansion's effect on character variety. On the one hand, a huge plus about Exodus is that every class matters again, instead of just Political and Military Leaders. On the other hand, the gap between characters I'd classify as "haves" and "have-nots" has widened considerably, by my estimation.
- Helena Cain has something to offer the fleet. Players at my table find her very attractive to choose. Whether she stays human or cylon, she's a real power character.
- Tory Foster obviously has something to offer the fleet. Our impression has been that there's just nothing quite like her. She really doesn't need to be president, and we're beginning to feel it's better for the fleet if she isn't, for a variety of reasons. But she's a *monster*.
- Apollo has something to offer the fleet. He's a phenomenal CAG.
- Chief has something to offer the fleet. His card set is great. His OPT and OPG are both strong. He has a lot to give if he stays human, and a lot to take away if he flips.
At least three of these characters are picked very frequently among the first 4 picks. And it's not because we're trying to amass a "dream team"; it's because each is the most attractive option for the individual player currently picking. The dominoes can fall in a different order each time, but by the end, the same ones tend to fall. These are, to my group, the Tier 1 choices of each color.
Then there are the Tier 2 choices. These are characters who can adequately sub for the Tier 1 choices. In many cases they have conditional advantages that might make them stronger on rare occasions, but as a general rule they are weaker.
- William Adama and Felix Gaeta are good Admirals.
- No yellow rivals Tory in power, but it's very common for our table to have two yellows: either Ellen Tigh as a utility character or Baltar / Zarek will trump Tory for the presidency, freeing her to run around drawing infinity blues and purples, effectively making her a "super-Chief."
- Starbuck is a strong CAG. Kat is a fine second pilot, but not a very good CAG, since she shouldn't be in space.
- Cally is an adequate support character.
And then there are the Tier 3 choices. With the increased rigor of Exodus, players at my table perceive these characters as risky choices (maybe it's the absence of a character from the above list for every choice from below that's the risky thing). Either way, these characters are relegated to the dustbin to an even greater extent than they were before.
- Saul Tigh and Helo never see play anymore. The problem with Helo isn't even that he's bad, it's that he's only really good if taken really early. And the 1st or 2nd person picking now has such other attractive options that Helo gets overlooked until the beaters go off the board, and by then he's unattractive.
- Laura Roslin doesn't see much play. Our group loved her pre-Exodus. The problem is she combos poorly with Tory. Do you have no Tory? Or do you pass the presidency to Tory? Or do you just quorum slowly, effectively running a gimped Tory? Those all sound bad.
- Boomer was always weak. Now she has Anders for company in the box.
- Dee really, really should have gotten better with Exodus. But I still feel like she's Tier 3. Her OPG is not good, her card set's a little hinky, and her OPT just kind of looks better than it is. I want to be wrong about her, but we've tried her quite a bit and come to feel that she's not all there.
Anyway, those are our initial impressions. I know all about actual mileage varying for different groups based on different playstyles, and I've no doubt that different players' lists will look different. I wouldn't mind hearing about groups that have drawn significantly different conclusions about individual characters on this list, but I'm even more interested in hearing about groups where Exodus has not had this kind of narrowing effect on character selection. Has anyone felt like it's broadened character selection? If so, how or why?
See, I love diversity in character selection, and I sometimes take an obscure character just to give them a chance (or maybe to be contrary). But by mid-game, I often come to feel I've hurt my and my team's chances of victory by choosing sub-optimally. Whatever my intentions when I take (for the sake of an extreme example) Saul Tigh instead of Helena Cain, when the absence of Blind Jump costs my team a game two hours later, I'm the irresponsible guy. I've come to feel I owe it to whichever team I wind up on to pack a little punch, especially with the increased intensity of Exodus. Your thoughts?