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Subject: Let's hammer out the details for my variant idea! rss

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Josh Klopfenstein
United States
Edmonds
Washington
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My wife and I recently got Pandemic and had a blast! I've been thinking that it would make a great party game with some interesting tweaks.

At this point, it's just an idea, so I'd love feedback on mechanics that might work and any other ideas from folks more immediately familiar with the game and other variants.

With the On The Brink expansion and the introduction of some sort of currency (Monopoly money came to mind first), I think it would be interesting to add the potential for additional players to be rival pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines, antivirals, and/or symptom management agents.

If we can figure out a reasonable way to include the potential for corporate espionage (stealing others' research or something) that would be cool as well.

Also, it could be interesting if the Pharmeceutical companies goals were to have the most profit, but the one with the most profit could ONLY win if the game was ended by reaching the maximum number of breakouts. Maybe they could each directly trigger one breakout per game? Maybe just add on disc a one strategic point? Or maybe it would be more compelling to have to indirectly cause breakouts by withholding medicine supply?

Again, these are real basic starter ideas. I'd love to hear what people think! Anyone interested in coming up with some ideas on how to practically include some of these mechanics within the game?

Let's make this variant!
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Josh Klopfenstein
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Edmonds
Washington
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As I'm thinking more about it, I came up with three mechanics that make sense for vaccines, antivirals, and therapeutic agents:

-Purchasing one shipment of vaccines will allow you the option of transporting those vaccines to a particular city. For a certain duration (or rest of the game?), if that city has discs added to it during a turn, one disc will be removed for each shipment of vaccinations it has received.

-Purchasing a shipment of antivirals will allow you to remove one disc from any city to which you can transport those antivirals. This is a much more powerful tool, I think, and might mean antivirals should cost more than vaccines.

-Purchasing a shipment of therapeutic agent will allow you (since they reduce symptoms that may increase the contagions leaking out of you) will allow you to prevent one location from being effected by the spread of an outbreak. Basically, if an outbreak happens, you can use a shipments of therapeutic agents to pick one adjacent location it doesn't spread to.


Also, it would be cool if each company started with money, but had to fund research and manufacturing (with some unpredictable factors affecting their individual costs [maybe a deck of some sort of chance cards?]) before they had product to sell. Then at the beginning of each turn (maybe less often, or maybe it costs "marketing" money to change the price? Idk), they each set their prices secretly and reveal them at the same time. This will create and interesting micromarket within the game that could development some interesting situations like price-fixing, undercutting, etc.

Thoughts? Does anyone have any better ideas for the effect of the Therapeutic agents? Maybe they need to be played on a location before an outbreak, rather than after?
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Andrew Peterson
United States
Lansing
Michigan
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I had a thought along these lines. My hope is to introduce a new element to the game that would maintain the cooperative aspect of the game, not change any of the general mechanics, yet would add a separate economy or research arena, for lack of better words. KEEP IN MIND THIS IS A ROUGH IDEA, HAVE NOT EVEN TRIED IT YET.

Imagine this. Your hand limit is 7 cards and I am sure we are all well familiar with having to discard back down to this seven card limit. Well, what if every time you are forced to discard because you exceed the hand size you have the option of putting aside any number of discarded cards into what would be your own personal face-down "research deck" (or maybe call it "investment deck") rather than placing them into the discard pile. Every time a cure to a disease is found, all players reveal their research/investment decks. The player to reveal the most cards matching the color of the newly cured disease is now considered to be the owner of the patent on that vaccine along with the player that submitted the 5 card cure. (In some cases the player to submit the cure may be the same person who won the patent via their research deck. Possible patent bonus here?)

Anyway, on to the point. Once a cure/vaccine is developed the patent holder(s) will get 1 victory point (or dollar, or chip, or whatever) every time any player removes the matching color cubes from a city. (1 point per cube? or 1 point per city regardless of how many cubes? not sure yet.)

Some possible rules/limits:

1) Your research/investment deck is limited to 3 cards. Anytime you must discards from your actual hand you can add cards to your research deck up to the 3 card limit OR replace cards already in your research/investment deck if you are at your 3 card limit. (Discard cards you are replacing to the communal discard pile.)

2) Possibly introduce a mechanic whereby a player can add the top card of the discard pile into their research/investment deck. Perhaps if they discard 2 cards at once they can take the top card? Something along these lines

3) Special event cards and epidemics cannot be used as part of this new mechanic, obviously.

4) If you are the holder of a vaccine patent, you lose 1 (or more?) points if there are any outbreaks of the matching color.

5) Obviously you would want to became a patent holder on one of the earliest cured diseases, that way there is more time to rack up points. Perhaps there is a way to balance out later cures by making them worth progressively more?

6) Due to the advantage, perhaps remove the Scientist role from the game? Perhaps a number of roles from the expansion need to be outlawed as well?

Again, I am not sure if this would ever work considering that I have yet to demo this myself. I fear it might compromise the co-op aspect of the game in ways I cannot foresee, it may also discourage from trading cards with other players and generally distract from the ultimate group objective. HOWEVER, using discarded cards should not interfere with the pace or balance of the game because once you discard, the card is essentially a dead component as per the rules. Any number of aspects of this proposal may be WAY off and impossible to implement, but hopefully you can see the general direction I am going.
 
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Josh Klopfenstein
United States
Edmonds
Washington
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Those are definitely some really cool ideas! I like the potential of the research pile. Sort of like "At the end of your turn, you may only keep 7 cards to use in your hand. You must remove all other cards from your hand. You may put one of these card per turn into your Research Pile to go back to the lab and help develop vaccines. Each time you put a card into you Research Pile, it will cost you $XX. The rest of your extra cards must be discarded."

Or maybe there's a per game limit to how many card you can put in your research pile? I think the per turn limit is probably more logical, though. That way, players can weigh the costs-benefits of contributing to research. We won't be able to figure out what the cost should be until we get a more precise idea of the money mechanic.

Regarding the co-op aspect of the game, I see my variant (when fully realized) as a way to turn it into a team game. All of the standard players are trying to beat the game together, while the pharmaceutical companies are trying to beat the standard players by sustain the existence of the viruses, while also trying to make the more profit than the other pharmaceutical companies.

So essentially, either the four regular players can win, or any one of the individual Pharmaceutical players can win.
 
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