I’ve played with workshops and engineers, and I now know that I can assign engineers to some facilities for various benefits.
What about scientists? I can’t seem to control what they do. Am I missing something, or is it the same as in previous XCom versions where it’s just the count of scientists I own that matters?
I didn’t build a lab yet. Would it only increase the number of scientists I own? Would it allow me to assign an engineer or a scientist? Would it add a bonus to research speed?
The Laboratory (you can only build one) functions in a same way as the Workshop: It makes a scientist count as two scientists when he or she is assigned in the Laboratory (you can assign two after upgrading), just like Workshop creates two drones per assigned engineer.
Having no more than two scientists but both of them being assigned in the lab will decrease research times for the same amount as having four scientists but no lab.
There’s also a continent bonus that decreases research times just by having the laboratory built. It gives 20% faster research rate when it is constructed, giving it some additional boost.
In terms of how important building the Laboratory is, well I’d say with difficulties other than legend not very. The bottleneck is more often lack of supplies/alloys than available tech. With legend difficulty however research takes so much longer that you will have much more supply drops before you get the next level gear unlocked. The available tech will be a more significant bottleneck than lack of materials. Therefore having either a lot of scientists or the lab if you did not get many is a necessity. For example, magnetic weapons research with 0 scientists takes over 60 days in legend, over 40 with one scientist and still over 30 with two scientists.