Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Chief Scientist)

August 19, 2015


As previously discussed there are four roles in the game. Each role plays a little differently from the others and so below I present some strategies for how to execute your role as Chief Scientist more efficiently and intelligently. Given the nature of the game, how well you play your role can determine the outcome of the game.

Role Overview

The Chief Scientist – The Chief Scientist is responsible for researching technology and upgrading the XCOM forces.

The Chief Scientist basically is a pure support role. They decide which technology to pursue and how much money to throw at the research of said technology. A balance must be struck figuring out what tech will best benefit the group and how to get it quickly without spending too much money. Blowing the budget on a few items that don’t really help much is a quick way to lose the game as you’re taking money away from defenses such as soldiers, interceptors and satellites. However, being too stingy means your comrades may be overwhelmed before you can get valuable tech to them to make their jobs easier.

First lets look at how the tech cards breakdown for each role.

Role Total Tech Cards Cost 1 Cost 2 Cost 3 Average Cost
Commander 5 1 3 1 2
Chief Scientist 5 2 3 0 1.6
Central Officer 7 1 4 2 2.14
Squad Leader 11 6 5 0 1.5

The above statistics take into account all possible technologies. But what does it all mean?
looking at the numbers we can immediately see how much effort each role’s technologies will require. The higher the average cost, the harder it will be (on average) to research tech for those roles. This tells us that technologies for the squad leader will actually be quite easy, where as technologies for the central officer will take longer. Overall, though we see that these differences are slight and that in general technologies will require 2 successes to research.

# of Dice: The number of dice being rolled each time along with the alien die.
% Passing: Calculated odds of reaching required # of successes on or by the Expected # of Rolls.
Expected # of Rolls: Calculated point at which your odds of passing increase by less than 1% per additional roll after this point. IOW, you are unlikely to roll more than this number of times before success or failure has been determined.

2 Successes Required
# of Dice % Passing Expected # of Rolls
1 15.04% 5
2 35.33% 5
3 56.81% 5
4 68.41% 4

As you can see, under these conditions, each die added, increases your odds of success by about 20%. That is until you hit 3 dice. At 4 dice and beyond the increase in percentage starts to drop off steeply. As such, you probably want a minimum of 2 dice if not 3 dice for tasks that require 2 successes. For comparison you can see the trend much more sharply when only one success is needed.

1 Successes Required
# of Dice % Passing Expected # of Rolls
1 68.24% 6
2 74.31% 5
3 81.29% 4
4 86.86% 3

So, generally speaking, the number of successes required translates well to how many dice you should be rolling.

Which Tech Should I get?

To start with there are no “bad” tech cards. All of them are useful, but some are much more situation than others. Below I am going to rank the cards.

Rank A: These cards are generally useful for the role, they help in situations that are constantly coming up and so unless a particular situation demands something else, these are your go to cards.
Rank B: These are second string cards. While useful, they don’t tend to be quite as good as the Rank A cards. But are still worthwhile.
Rank C: These cards are good but only under very specific circumstances. Don’t expect to see much return on these cards unless the situation calls for it.


(A) Defense Matrix: This is remarkably cheap for how useful it is. This card will allow the commander to protect one of their interceptors on a bad roll. Not only is this a savings in terms of money on intercepters but it will sometimes make the difference between shooting down that last UFO or not that is harassing a country.
(A) UFO Flight: This card is immensely helpful. Sometimes a mission goes bad for the squad leader, this means losing the entire squad, which can be quite painful if one or more elites were in that squad. This card allows the commander to save the squad. Saving time and resources.
(B) Plasma Cannon: This is a great card, the only reason it is not ranked higher is because of its cost. This can make some of the tougher enemies a breeze, unfortunately it’s substantial cost can make it difficult to research.
(B) Elerium: This card is quite helpful. So long as the commander remembers to use it every turn. This can really help with funding but unfortunately requires a smart Commander to maximize it’s potential. As a result it’s a bit more hit or miss than it should be.
(C) Firestorm: This card would be more useful if it did not require that an interceptor be assigned. Additionally, it can only be used once. As a result, often it gets used either to clean up a final UFO that could of been rolled for and not much else.

Chief Scientist

(A) Alien Construction: This card is amazingly useful. This card can make researching a tech a given. Particularly since this can be used after you have failed to research a technology. This means you can make all of your rolls for all 3 technologies you are currently working on and then after the fact add a success to one of them, possibly completing it.
(A) Xenobiology: This card requires salvage as fuel, however, once you have salvage you can use it to instantly research cards. This happens outside of the normal resolution phase meaning you can possibly start pumping out 4 techs per turn. Additionally, since they come out during the timed phase, those technologies can be used the same turn they come out even if they are timed phase only techs.
(B) Interceptor Repair: This card can be a major money saver, allowing you to use scientists (at no cost) to build interceptors. The only problem is that there have to be interceptors available to build. If there aren’t, then this card doesn’t do much for you. So, generally you will see a lot of use initially and then it’s usefulness will wane as there are fewer if any to build.
(B) Alien Alloys: Though this is a highly situational card it is also the only way to retrieve technology cards that have been discarded. This card when combined with your starting technologies can give you substantial control over your research options without sacrificing potentially useful technologies.
(C) Weapon Fragments: In general you will be spending your salvage like crazy either using them to add to your rolls or to fuel a card like xenobiology. As a result you just aren’t going to get much use out of this card.

Central Officer

(A) Hyperwave Communications: Panic is something the commander is going to be constantly combating. This card allows you to reduce panic in a country every turn. This is a huge benefit as it will allow the commander to breathe a little easier as they will FINNALLY be able to reduce panic in that one continent that just seems to constantly go up no matter what they do.
(A) Stealth Satellite: There should always be at least one satellite in orbit and since the central officer only has the single location, this card will basically be used every turn once it’s researched. Since even if there are no UFOs in orbit the central officer can lure them into orbit giving them an auto-kill each turn.
(A) SHIV: This card shines when it comes to missions, especially the final mission. Since the final mission is required in order to win, having an advantage for the end game is always nice.
(B) UFO Tracking: This is a rather powerful card. Unfortunately, you can only use it twice per turn and it’s quite expensive to research. For these reasons other cards will often take priority over this one. But its nice if you can get it.
(B) UFO Navigation: This is also a nice card, but it’s only useful if you have another really useful card to pair it with. Additionally, you can only use it during the resolution phase which limits the number of cards it can be used on.
(C) Satellite Targeting: This card is primarily useful when dealing with aliens that escalate threat. Outside of these situations its often hard to judge when reducing the threat is going to be helpful since this threat reduction has to be done prior to the roll. Additionally, it is incredibly expensive to research for something that has such minimal benefits.
(C) UFO Power: This card is less useful since it not only is not under the control of the commander, but it will cost the central officer to use it. This means that it will only get used when the central officer has satellites to spare. Something they can only really be sure of at the end of the turn. Unfortunately, the end of the round is when extra funding is least useful to the commander as they can’t use that money for anything other than recruiting soldiers or building interceptors.

Squad Leader

The squad leader technologies are a little different from the other roles. There are two technologies for each soldier type and then 3 that are not related to any type of soldier. You should pay attention to which soldier types you have already given tech to and avoid doubling up on a particular type. This is because for the most part using one prevents the ability to use the other one. It should be noted though, that any tech is better than no tech for a class, even if its not the better of the two. So I will list the 8 soldier specific technologies and then the remaining 3 general technologies will be listed and ranked.


(A) Revive: Though not as powerful as the commander’s technology, this technology can still be a life saver (literally).
(B) Light Plasma Rifle: This is the gun for the Support class. As with all guns it’s only downside is that it can only be used once per turn.


(B) Blaster Launcher: This is the gun for the Heavy class. As with all guns it’s only downside is that it can only be used once per turn.
(C) Holo-Targeting: Similar to satellite targeting, this is really only useful when dealing with aliens that escalate threat. Unfortunately, sometimes that same alien is best attacked with a heavy meaning you don’t always even want to use this tech to deal with those kinds of enemies.


(A) Run & Gun: This tech gives you an extra die, basically giving you an extra soldier for free. This can be quite powerful as it is pretty much always useful.
(B) Alloy Cannon: This is the gun for the Assault class. As with all guns it’s only downside is that it can only be used once per turn.


(A) Battle Scanners: This tech gives you at minimum one extra die. There are a few rare cases where all of the icons are already specialized but this is unusual.
(B) Plasma Sniper: This is the gun for the Sniper class. As with all guns it’s only downside is that it can only be used once per turn.


(A) Carapace Armor: This tech is extremely valuable as it can protect soldiers on missions. Given that it can not only potentially save the entire squad but also upon doing so will allow the squad to continue to attempt the task at hand, makes this quite valuable for its rather inexpensive cost.
(C) Arc Thrower: This tech is only useful if the enemies you are encountering are giving you grief due to their special abilities. In those cases it can be quite useful. Otherwise the squad leader will rarely have a use for this tech.
(C) Archangel Armor: While this will look awesome to you as the chief scientist, the simple fact is that the squad leader will rarely have the extra soldiers on hand to use it. As they will either have deployed their soldiers, used them to activate other cards or will have sent them off for training. In the end you’ll probably get a few pieces of salvage from it but it’s unlikely you’ll see more than that, especially if you’ve been giving the squad leader other useful tech cards.

Below is a quick reference table for the information given above

Rank A Technology
Commander Chief Scientist Central Officer Squad Leader
Defense Matrix Alien Construction Hyperwave Communications Revive
UFO Flight Xenobiology Stealth Satellite Run & Gun
SHIV Battle Scanners
Carapace Armor
Rank B Technology
Commander Chief Scientist Central Officer Squad Leader
Plasma Cannon Interceptor Repair UFO Tracking Light Plasma Rifle
Elerium Alien Alloys UFO Navigation Blaster Launcher
Alloy Cannon
Plasma Sniper
Rank C Technology
Commander Chief Scientist Central Officer Squad Leader
Firestorm Weapon Fragments Satellite Targeting Holo-Targeting
UFO Power Arc Thrower
Archangel Armor

Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Review
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Commander)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Accessory (Commander Balance Sheet)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Chief Scientist)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Central Officer)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Squad Leader)

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