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XTrueFinale

A Critical Glance at Rogues

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Now I'll admit I've played or experimented much with Rogues and have recently just started playing a deck with them, and here's my critical take on their class in general. (I spend hours tweaking on what I think  is the maximum potential of an investigator).

1) Their best attribute is Agility, the problem is the stat rarely contributes to doing actions that help contribute to the wincon (winning condition of the game). I mean it's nice to evade enemies but it's usually obviously better to just outright kill them or even neutralize them outright while they remain in play(so they don't go back in the encounter deck if it becomes reset).

2)  Their 2nd best attribute is possibly investigate (though of course it would depend on the actual investigator pick in general). However their investigate support cards at average at best (lockpick being a once per turn action).

3) Their cards are somewhat themed towards getting more actions per turn, but since they don't particularly excel in any wincon actions, having more actions is really not that useful. An investigator who has a higher chance of investigating successfully with 3 actions is better than an investigator with more actions but lower odds of investigating successfully.

4) Rogue cards are themed towards getting more resources/supplies. Having more resources is nice, but the problem is actions spent on gathering more resources doesn't directly contribute towards to help winning the game. Secondly some of the decent cards for rogues require a fair amount of resources to play. I wouldn't say spending actions to get more resources just so you can spend actions to play high resources cards action efficient.

5) They have a few fast cards, that's nice but they very rarely help deal with a problem like Lucky! for example.

In summary I feel out of the classes, the Rogue is the underdog class. Their cards seem to synergise towards being potentially really good, but that's all there is, the potential. In practice they just feel clunky and don't seem to particularly excel at doing anything well. A lot of their cards should be more cost effective to play (cost less) and if being fast and versatile is theme the Rogue class is going for, they should have cards or ways to help them set up their board state faster say opposed to a mystic. 

These are of course are just my thoughts, I'm interested in your thoughts and experiences on playing the Rogue class...

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That sounds like a pretty accurate analysis...around the time of the core set. Nowadays, I'd say rogues are the second strongest class after seekers. Preston Fairmont is making a good argument for strongest investigator in the game if played the right way, Finn Edwards is legitimately better at gathering clues than many seeker builds while also having absurd evasion and solid backup combat abilities, Jenny Barnes is the most popular investigator in the game and is like "Preston lite", still with an exceptional economy but with an actual stat-line, Sefina Rousseau is very durable with 4 Will/Agi and can pull off excellent shenanigans, and Skids O'Toole is also an investigator card published for this game. 

Honourable mention to Wendy, who tends to be very rogue-y and, much like rogues themselves, started the game very weak and by this point is extremely solid. 

I will say that rogues are very dependent on a few exp cards. Lockpicks, Charisma, Lola Santiago, Hot Streak and above all Streetwise are extremely important for making them work, and in the first scenario a rogue tends to be one of the weakest group members (well, unless you're Finn). Rogues also have some of the worst cards in the game, so it's very easy to make a bad rogue build - for instance, their level 0 weapons come in two flavours - completely worthless and usable but mediocre. 

I recently finished two different Forgotten Age campaigns with 2 rogues in the group and it was exceptional, particularly the second campaign with a Preston proxying Intel Report and Decoy. At one point, between Intel Report, "Look What I Found!", Lola Santiago and Streetwise, Preston had 3/4 of the clues in the game - on a team with a dedicated seeker. 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah OP.  It sounds like your opinion is centered around the design of Skids.  He is often regarded as a middling to lower tier investigator because he himself doesn't have any real big strengths except being able to get more actions per turn than anyone else in the game.  Sometimes that means he can create some crazy combos per turn with his access to Guardian cards.  Though at a steady state he does tend to perform under the curve. 

Though that's just Skids.  The Jenny and Preston big money decks are crazy powerful.  Finn is incredibly offensive given his great ability to fight, evade and investigate.  Though that comes at a crippling willpower and sanity disadvantage, which usually means he wants to speed through  scenarios and get out as soon as possible (very thematic).  Sefina is about reoccurring powerful cards and having a fantastic early game start.

Asside from Rogues powerful evasion abilities (evading is sometimes the correct answer from an efficiency standpoint) and options to greatly increase the amount of actions you can take a turn(Which is a significant ability), rogues have a couple other major themes.  The generate money cards are fantastic considering we also have a wide variety of pay to pump effects available to the investigators, which means they can effectively build decks that just pay to with the game potentially.  The mitigate luck cards are all very power as well.  Something like Elusive, Sneak Attack, Coup De Grace or Lola Santiago just let you do things without a test making their actual stats irrelevant.  Lastly off the top of my head is their gambling mechanic, which allows you to wager on the outcome of the test, which is alot of fun.  Things like Double or Nothing are particularly powerful.

Edited by phillos

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3 hours ago, Allonym said:

and Skids O'Toole is also an investigator card published for this game. 

LOL. Poor Skids, but yeah.  He’s usually just played like a guardian with more actions and he fairs poorly compared to actual guardians.  

 

But the rest are all great.  Sefina is probably tied for the most fun investigator in the game for me and is amazing with her repeated events, Finn is absurd once you get past his willpower skill, Jenny is solid all around and can be built to handle anything in the game and Preston is turning out to be quite strong and has a very unique play style.  

 

So yeah, (most) rogues are quite strong right now.  I feel they just require a better understanding of what you are trying to do with your deck and how it works then other classes.

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Nice write up.

I view it more of the challenges of building for Rogues than a statement that the role is under-powered overall.

eg.  Rogues can do a lot of stuff.  They just aren't as good at it as the other classes.  You need to manage that.

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I'm playing TFA as Ursula at the moment, alongside Yorrick, Jenny & Sefina - coming out of Heart of the Elders, I wouldn't say that either of the Rogue decks were underpowered at all.

In fact, at times I often start to feel a little pointless (especially if I get a poor start, as has happened in a couple of games), while they're buying clues, coming up with exactly the right card for the job, or evading the assorted enemies we don't actually want to kill.

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The thing with Rogues is they are like mystics in many ways...not that everything focuses on a single stat but that they need setup time and resources.  It took me about 100 playthru's with Skids to finally get it, the Rogue class has tools and money and their overall "trick" is: if I have money...Any thing you can do I can better.  That is what every card in their class is geared toward, gaining resources and boosting their stats to do bonus damage grab clues, evade multiple enemies, or move great distances quickly.  Which is why everyone gravitates toward Preston/Jenny they naturally generate large amounts of resources.  Getting their builds right takes alot of patience and re work but once done right IMO they are often better than most seekers. 

For example in their class once you have a little xp their "weakest clue gatherer" still investigates at 6 without spending money and Also fights at 5, with out money spent.  Add any amount of money and that number can easily be much higher.  If they don't have a weapon they can still evade in an emergency. 

If you do the skill buffs right you can generate extra money while investigating.  For those of you who also think Skids is low tier.  Once I had a good deck figured out he was able to ACE and I mean ACE, Killed ghoul priest max VP, ALL six cultists, and break the ritual, the Gathering solo (Standard).  I won't lie it surprised even me but it also opened my eyes as to what Rogues can do.

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11 hours ago, Jobu said:

Nice write up.

I view it more of the challenges of building for Rogues than a statement that the role is under-powered overall.

eg.  Rogues can do a lot of stuff.  They just aren't as good at it as the other classes.  You need to manage that.

Quoting myself.

I wanted to add, can you imagine if Rogues were as good as Guardians or Seekers at what they do and got the extra actions and extra resources?

That would be insane.  They need to be less good at the actions because of their strengths.

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2 hours ago, Eldan985 said:

The right Sefina is crazy powerful, I agree. Like last game, where she, over a long scenario, played three Hot Streaks and three Time Warps. 

Last campaign I played Sefina, I managed to play Ace in the Hole three times, by tearing through my deck like it was tissue paper. I love that Suggestion+Pickpocketing+All In synergy.

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Finn snagged 8 clues in a single turn last week that saved our bacon in Depths of Yoth.  Admittedly he had help doing it, but I'd take some exception to the idea that he's weaker than a pure Seeker.

On 3/17/2019 at 4:06 AM, XTrueFinale said:

1) Their best attribute is Agility, the problem is the stat rarely contributes to doing actions that help contribute to the wincon (winning condition of the game). I mean it's nice to evade enemies but it's usually obviously better to just outright kill them or even neutralize them outright while they remain in play(so they don't go back in the encounter deck if it becomes reset).

This simply isn't true.  With the exception of Hunters, an evaded-and-left-behind enemy is can be better than one which is actually killed.  Evasion is also typically far more action efficient, requiring a single action vs. multiples to kill a lot of enemies.  Even if you have to keep evading it each turn, you can do that for multiple turns before the action cost comes to a disadvantage.  Evasion is also a pretty flat efficiency compared to damage, which relies on extra cards to improve the efficiency.

And that's before we get to the obvious observation that you haven't played through TFA yet :D

On 3/17/2019 at 4:06 AM, XTrueFinale said:

2)  Their 2nd best attribute is possibly investigate (though of course it would depend on the actual investigator pick in general). However their investigate support cards at average at best (lockpick being a once per turn action).

Lockpicks enables an investigation stat spike like no other.  The above Finn was also our only chance to touch the 12-shroud location in Depths.  Lola is insanely awesome.  Double or Nothing can easily generate multiple clue gathering actions.  Streetwise may not be as efficient as the (often argued to be broken) Higher Education, but it also does it while still letting you actually use your cards.

On 3/17/2019 at 4:06 AM, XTrueFinale said:

3) Their cards are somewhat themed towards getting more actions per turn, but since they don't particularly excel in any wincon actions, having more actions is really not that useful. An investigator who has a higher chance of investigating successfully with 3 actions is better than an investigator with more actions but lower odds of investigating successfully.

Again, this just isn't true.  3 actions at 100% chance of success and 4 actions at 75% chance of success will net the exact same number of successes.  More realistically, let's take Extracurricular Activity on Standard, and assume that a Seeker can get to +2 while a Rogue can only get +1.  At +2, 4 tokens fail (74% chance of success).  At +1, 6 tokens fail (60% chance of success).  3 actions at 75% or so gives you 2.2 clues per turn.  4 actions at 60% gives you 2.4 per turn.  That will obviously shift, and depend a lot on that gap between +1/+2, but the base assumption is simply wrong.

Now, that failure may often bring other negatives with it, but it also brings the flexibility of using that action for anything.  Once a location is cleared of clues, many Seekers have the "Okay, what now?" look.  Same thing with Guardians on turns when no enemies pop out.

On 3/17/2019 at 4:06 AM, XTrueFinale said:

4) Rogue cards are themed towards getting more resources/supplies. Having more resources is nice, but the problem is actions spent on gathering more resources doesn't directly contribute towards to help winning the game. Secondly some of the decent cards for rogues require a fair amount of resources to play. I wouldn't say spending actions to get more resources just so you can spend actions to play high resources cards action efficient.

If only they'd done something to help them have extra actions to compensate for that... And predicting the inevitable response, this just creates flexibility for the class - you can use extra actions to gain resources which increase your chances of success on fewer actions, or play into a "spray-and-pray" approach to trying more in order to pass more.

I'll freely grant that Rogues require more work to accomplish the same as a simpler, higher-stat one-trick character like a Seeker or Guardian.  But the reward is flexibility.  Even more than that, they provide a different playstyle, which is a good thing.

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On 3/17/2019 at 4:06 AM, XTrueFinale said:

1) Their best attribute is Agility, the problem is the stat rarely contributes to doing actions that help contribute to the wincon (winning condition of the game). I mean it's nice to evade enemies but it's usually obviously better to just outright kill them or even neutralize them outright while they remain in play(so they don't go back in the encounter deck if it becomes reset).

I'll add one more thought to this:

Killing monsters isn't actually the win condition most of the time - getting clues is usually the sole requirement to advance, except in cases of boss fights.  Enemies are speed bumps that must be dealt with; there are a number of ways you can do it, each of which presents some advantages.  Even in cases where you must kill a monster, the common existence of Retaliate on these makes evasion a critical part of doing so.  I remember when Key of Ys came out, the first screed I read about how broken it was because it made Dim Carcosa trivial really was more about how evading every turn made it trivial.  Sadly, the author showed no awareness of the distinction.

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Posted (edited)

Rogues are Rogues.

They aren't Guardians, with enough weapons to clear every enemy in the encounter deck twice over.
They aren't Seekers, able to cluever out an 8-12 clue location (in multiplayer) in a single turn, every turn.
They aren't Survivors, able to succeed even when they fail.
They aren't Mystics, able to use one ability to do everything and mess with the Chaos Bag until it cries.

If you try playing a Rogue like one of them, especially if that isn't the Investigators secondary class, the Rogue will, generally, suck.

Rogues get resources. And he who has the resources makes the rules. Rogues have enough cards to make those rules, buying their way out of most difficulties with a bit of planning. In the process they can take out enemies - that give vp, clear clues off locations - that give vp, and take enough extra actions that getting hosed by the Chaos Bag won't stop them.

Rogue cards do synergize - a lot. But then, so do Guardian cards. And a lot of Seeker cards. And some Mystic cards. And even a bunch of Survivor cards.
Use those synergies. If you don't, then like every other class, a Rogue will fail.

Edited by SamWeiss

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I'd agree with the Finn Edwards synopsis, once you can get him Moxie  you've gotten his only real weakness in check. With Lockpicks he investigates at 8. The new improves .41 Derringer also gives him decent firepower combined with Contraband, plus he can use the .45 Thompson at level 0, if in need be.

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On 3/18/2019 at 2:57 PM, Buhallin said:

This simply isn't true.  With the exception of Hunters, an evaded-and-left-behind enemy is can be better than one which is actually killed.  Evasion is also typically far more action efficient, requiring a single action vs. multiples to kill a lot of enemies.  Even if you have to keep evading it each turn, you can do that for multiple turns before the action cost comes to a disadvantage.  Evasion is also a pretty flat efficiency compared to damage, which relies on extra cards to improve the efficiency.

There's a healthy number of enemies that you don't want to just leave laying around. All the cultists the accumulate doom. The guys who shoot arrows out of Forgotten Age. Random other effects. I would say that it's less than half of the enemies in the game that you're happy just evading them once and leaving them in the room for the rest of the game. And that also means that you have to deal with them again if you ever go back into the room. TFA changed things significantly. But that was needed because if you take Vengeance out of the equation, 90% of the time you're better off killing something rather than evading it. Moreover, most enemies have 3 health or less, sometimes 4. Anyone who is trying to kill something will have weapons that will do additional damage. Which isn't any different than rogues getting equipment to increase their evasion.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/23/2019 at 11:06 PM, PJimo said:

There's a healthy number of enemies that you don't want to just leave laying around. All the cultists the accumulate doom. The guys who shoot arrows out of Forgotten Age. Random other effects. I would say that it's less than half of the enemies in the game that you're happy just evading them once and leaving them in the room for the rest of the game. And that also means that you have to deal with them again if you ever go back into the room. TFA changed things significantly. But that was needed because if you take Vengeance out of the equation, 90% of the time you're better off killing something rather than evading it. Moreover, most enemies have 3 health or less, sometimes 4. Anyone who is trying to kill something will have weapons that will do additional damage. Which isn't any different than rogues getting equipment to increase their evasion.

It's certainly not 90%.  That's hyperbolic.  I've played this game enough to know my experience isn't an outlier and I evade stuff a ton while still coming out with good outcomes.  Of course this is a piloting skill topic.  If you are playing a Guardian and can manage to control the enemies with a machete then good on you.  Clearly that's how that investigator is suppose to be solving the problem, but that's not every investigator.  No matter how hard we try Roland and Zoey are not gonna be slick sneaky investigators, but what about the Wendy, Rita and Finn decks.  They obviously have another plan in their design.

There are a bunch of variables to consider, but ultimately this game is a push your luck game combine with a race against the agenda deck.  Knowing when to evade and when to spend your kill option is part of playing the game successfully.  Waiting around to kill every enemy might just be too slow in some cases.  In addition depending on the circumstances it can be way more dangerous than just running away considering some investigators won't get to good odds on the combat check and will have to risk enemy attacks and retaliates. 

Edited by phillos

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Yeah I was originally really negative on evade.  It seemed like a poorer option.

I got my head put on straight for that.  Some enemies make more sense to just evade and then clear out of dodge.  Others make more sense to defeat.  Some make more sense to evade now and defeat later.

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On 3/23/2019 at 10:06 PM, PJimo said:

Moreover, most enemies have 3 health or less, sometimes 4. Anyone who is trying to kill something will have weapons that will do additional damage. Which isn't any different than rogues getting equipment to increase their evasion.

It's very different. Finn can evade competently with nothing but committed agility pips. Assets only defray the costs; they aren't strictly necessary.

Mark, on the other hand cannot fight competently without weapons. Punching is very inefficient, effectively doubling or even tripling the number of actions needed to defeat an enemy. Fighters need their assets to do their jobs.

Besides, as you pointed out, 3-4 health enemies are common. That's two actions to defeat, versus one action to evade.

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On 3/23/2019 at 8:06 PM, PJimo said:

There's a healthy number of enemies that you don't want to just leave laying around. All the cultists the accumulate doom. The guys who shoot arrows out of Forgotten Age. Random other effects. I would say that it's less than half of the enemies in the game that you're happy just evading them once and leaving them in the room for the rest of the game.

Sure, it's not the best choice for every enemy.  But there are plenty where it is a solid choice, even in the examples you cite - Acolytes don't keep gaining doom.  If you can't get to them before you advance, you're far better off leaving them.  Even if it is less than half - which I'd probably agree with, if only because of Hunters - that doesn't make evasion a strictly weaker option.  It makes it another tool in the bag.

There are times when killing will be more efficient.  There are times when evasion will be more efficient.  That's fine and good - I'm not saying that evasion is always a better choice.  But you were saying that evasion was always an inferior choice, which is simply not correct.  And even in cases where killing is more efficient, it doesn't make evasion useless.  If nothing else, evasion is a key element in dealing with a number of boss fights where you have to handle high fight and Retaliate.  We did Return to Blood on the Altar yesterday without a reliable evader in the group, and while we got through it was FAR less efficient than it would have been if we'd had one.

It's worth remembering that most Rogues can fight fairly well too.  I think they skew stronger towards investigation than they do fighting, but they can do it.  Being able to fight or evade lets them choose the most efficient option for the current situation, where Guardians just see a map full of nails.

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Rogues can get tonnes of work done. 

Finn is outright crazy, he can obtain clues with his high intellect and the right set of seeker card splashes, and/or lockpicks, easily robust enough to play the primary clue dude. Then he has enough fighting ability to clear a few threats per map too. Or, he can go full ham with the rogue guns. In my opinion Finn is the face identity of the faction, slippery and flexible.

Jenny is the perennial gambler, she can be built in a number of ways but always it's the healthy influx of cash that keeps her going. I don't like her statline myself but I've seen and played enough of her to respect her ability to win campaigns.

Sefina is the funky doodle. But the right build can smash scenarios, she loves her some Double / nothing. On the flipside Sefina has proven to be really sensitive to bad draws and incoming damage, so her teammates gotta keep her safe.

Havent tried Preston, but as I understand it he's Jenny's strengths and weaknesses on steroids.

That leaves poor old Skids. That dude was build for the game the designer though he was making, turns out it all ended up too different for Skids. A useless strength card, iffy lineup of stats and cardpool. This guy is the reason this class got a bad rep in the first place. I do like to try and make him work though.

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It's the Non-Elite clause on On The Lam that makes it disappointing.  Most of the time I throw it for the icons.  I can't think of any real clutch moments where that card saved by bacon.  I kinda wish Skid's signature card just gave him money or something since Skids is always desperate for more money mechanically and thematically.

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I have used it to pull 4 enemies off of our group then move them to a location where they won't be an issue for the rest of the game.  Then I Elusived away.  They would have defeated the group otherwise.

I once used it to concentrate enemies so that a Dynamite could take out a bunch without being defeated by the Dynamite myself.

I have used it to reach a location to resign to end a scenario rather than be defeated by AoOs.

I have also used it to engage all the enemies so no one else takes damage that turn.

It has its uses mostly when the group is overwhelmed.

 

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Posted (edited)

I think I never played Skids in a 3+ player game and that might be the difference. 

I kinda wanna try Skids now.  He's been sitting in my binder for a while.  Rogues have a lot of new tricks.  Sour Mash is kinda nice to get around his big weakness.  In other low Will investigators like Roland and Finn I take Logical Reasoning to get rid of horrid things like Frozen in Fear or throw for the 2 will icons.  Skids doen't have that luxury so it would be nice to have some other will spiking trick up his sleeve.  Especially in Carcosa or TCU.  Also Enchanted Blade and the Thompson gives him level 0 options to be at a decent fight value. 

Edited by phillos

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