There seems to be an epidemic of Pandemics!

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pandemic

Pandemic

“In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.

The game board depicts several major population centers on Earth. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the “normal” spread of the infections.

Taking a unique role within the team, players must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists’ strengths in order to conquer the diseases. For example, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases and which allow for greater mobility between cities; the Scientist needs only four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five—but the diseases are spreading quickly and time is running out. If one or more diseases spreads beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose. If they cure the four diseases, they all win!”

It’s tough to win, but after a couple of games most people have a decent chance at winning each time. One of the great things about the game is just how well balanced it is. It’s amazing just how many times this game can come down to the last flip of a card being the difference between defeat and victory.

onthebrink

Pandemic – On the Brink

What it adds:

– A 5th player
– Ability for one person to play as a bad guy (the bio-terrorist)
– A choice of playing with a mutated or virilant strain.
– 8 new roles
– Petri dishes for your disease cubes

Is it any good?

Yup. A very solid addition that brings fresh life to Pandemic and the two co-operative challenges (virilant/mutated strain) up the ante quite a bit. The bio-terrorist is where it really shines. The player who gets to do be the bad guy takes a kind of Mister X role (from Scotland Yard), sneaking around and generally being a nuisance spreading disease and destroying buildings. However, if they are too obvious they can be caught offering an advantage to the good guys, so a balance need to be made. Oh yeah, the petri dishes are awesome!
inthelab

Pandemic – In the Lab

What it adds:

– 4 new roles
– Team play challenge
– Solo play challenge
– In the Lab challenge
– Updated mutated disease challenge

Is it any good?

The In the Lab challenge is the main part of the game. Instead of just collecting 5 cards to cure a disease you now have to go through a series of steps to sequence the disease, collect samples from the board, test it and so on. It definitely adds a stronger thematic element to the game, making it feel you are actually working towards a cure and also ramps up the difficulty as well. If you’ve always felt that Pandemic seemed a little too abstracted and want more depth then this is a great expansion. It does add an extra layer of rules that may take it past some people’s comfort zone. It also requires On the Brink to work properly as well.

soe

Pandemic – State of Emergency

What it adds:

– The Hinterlands Challenge, in which the diseases spread from animals to humans
– The Emergency Events Challenge, in which unpredictable events have nasty effects on the game
– The Superbug Challenge, in which a fifth disease that cannot be treated threatens the world

Is it any good?

The three challenges mix the game up in a variety of ways. Hinterlands forces you to travel a lot more to deal with disease. Emergency events ramps up difficulty and the randomness a bit as you cry at the injustice of the events you are forced to deal with. The Superbug, makes the game epic-ally difficult, should you actually want that! Its a good expansion, but probably the weakest of the three (i.e. it’s good just not as good as the other two). You can play it without needing the other two expansions .

contagion

Pandemic – Contagion

This is a separate competitive standalone game where players play as diseases trying to earn the distinction of the disease that wipes out mankind. Its more of a card game in which you collect cards to spread your disease to collapse a city and advance your disease through mutation to give yourself more options. There are event cards that mix things up a bit to add variety. It’s a solid game, definitely the weakest of the bunch, but it’s also the cheapest and shortest too if your looking for a quick filler type game.

thcure

Pandemic – The Cure

Its Pandemic the dice game! The board is reduced to 6 continents that the dice disease break out upon. Your choices are determined by dice roles from your own personalized set of dice depending on your character. Its follows a similar flow to Pandemic; take actions and spread disease. To cure you need to collect samples, but the samples must be covered by your own dice, thereby reducing your actions in future turns until you cure that disease. I really enjoy this version, it’s a lot quicker to set up, but has a similar feel to the original. Your actions aren’t that inhibited by the dice. You can roll them as many times as you want, but one side of each die spreads disease, so every time you roll, you increase the chance you bring out your own doom, a great piece of tension building. Recommended.

legacy

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

What can I say about this one? Not a lot because I’ll spoil the surprise. It’s a Legacy game, which means you play through it once and then you are done with it. Normally that means about 16-20 games, which is plenty. It follows a story arc that will be revealed as you go through the game one month at a time. This means new rules will be added, you will personalize your characters and change the state of the board as cities collapse under the strain of the diseases. Its currently rated the greatest board game of all time according to Boardgamegeek. Ideally you want to play with the same group to create a shared experience, but players can miss the odd game without to much harm. It’s really good.

cthulu

Pandemic Reign of Cthulu

Pandemic gets H.P. Lovecrafted. This is the most similar game to the original Pandemic, but yet it still feels very different. You are trying to prevent the birth of Cthulu by closing the gates that will allow his passage to our realm. Cultists replace the diseases and Shaggoths are like mega diseases that rapidly advance Cthulu’s arrival if you don’t stop them. Movement is also slightly different in this game, but the big difference is the ‘Epidemics’. In this version there are 7 cards are randomly laid out at the top of the board where you would normally have the infection rate. Each time you advance the ‘infection’ you flip a card which makes something horrible happen or a persistent effect comes in to play which makes the game harder. Players also have sanity. Every time the encounter a Shaggoth, use a gate or play a Relic card (event card) they roll a sanity die which can cause them to move towards madness. If they go insane, then they flip their character card and become a slightly more rubbish version of themselves. Considering how much it seems like Pandemic on the surface, I was really shocked by how much it felt like I was playing a totally different game. It also uses miniatures for the first time too. Recommended.

iberia

Pandemic Iberia

This is to be a one time print run due out late 2016. It’ll be set in ye olde Espanol. Again, similar to Pandemic. Go to here to see the differences as we haven’t played it yet…

 

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