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The On the Brink expansion adds the following to the base game:

  • More event cards.
  • More roles.

It also adds the possibility of playing with 5 players and some extra challenges with their own set of rules.

If you are playing with 4 players, and no extra challenges, is the game strictly easier than the base game with no expansion?

The rules say that you pick 2 x #players event cards, so there's 8 event cards instead of 5.

Event cards increase the size of the players deck, and are usually very useful. A larger players deck means more cards between Epidemic cards and more rounds to finish the game.

I'm not sure if the new roles make the game easier of harder.

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With a game like pandemic it is hard to say in this case if it is easier or harder by just adding in the basic parts of the On the Brink expansion. A lot of the games difficulty depends on the randomness in the game itself. Since player roles are random and with this expansion events are random the difficulty becomes even more random.

In general I would say that the game does become easier as there are some powerful roles and events in the expansion. However it is possible to get a set of roles and events that do not work well together that can make the game harder. It all will come down to luck of the draw in the end.

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