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Pandemic: In the Lab» Forums » General

Subject: Wow, this is hard. rss

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noodles
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I played the intro game (4 Epidemics) with In The Lab and the first game I lost and didn't even find a single cure. The second game, also with only 4 epidemics, went a little better but I still lost. I ended up losing by multiple outbreaks with 3 out of 4 cures. My initial impression is that this expansion is really difficult.

I'm hoping it's just a learning curve or something. I know when I started playing the original game it spanked me for the first 7 or 8 games before I got the hang of it. Now, with the Medic and Generalist I have won on Legendary w/ the Virulent Strain and Mutation and can routinely win that combination on Heroic.

I'm not giving up though. I will post back after a few more plays.
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Keith Hamilton
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It took my wife and I a few games to react to the In The Lab portion of the game, but we're pretty much winning at our pre-In The Lab frequency, and I assume it will be the same for you. Something we've found that works is to be aggressive with turning over the lab sequence cards to find the mono-color or dual-color ones. Also IMO the Operations Expert really seems to shine since laying down research labs gives you the free lab actions. Could just be small sample size data at work on both of those observations.
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Michael Tyree
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bigstupidgrin wrote:
It took my wife and I a few games to react to the In The Lab portion of the game, but we're pretty much winning at our pre-In The Lab frequency, and I assume it will be the same for you. Something we've found that works is to be aggressive with turning over the lab sequence cards to find the mono-color or dual-color ones. Also IMO the Operations Expert really seems to shine since laying down research labs gives you the free lab actions. Could just be small sample size data at work on both of those observations.


These are 2 great points. The Ops Expert is a super team member for ITL. And unless you have a fairly specific reason to use the any-color sequence, you should keep looking for one that better fits your available sample set.

A question to the OP: are you tripping up on any particular loss condition?
 
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Brian Jurney
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My wife and I would HATE getting the Ops expert in the in the base game, but in ITL he instantly became one of the most powerful roles in the game.

ITL does have a bit of a "learning curve" as it were. It takes a lot more careful planning and it seems that we have lost due to running out of cards more than anything. Unless I am just doing a quick game, or introducing someone to the game for the first time, I prefer the ITL challenge!
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noodles
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Upon a review of the rules there were a few things I was doing wrong - for example, I was not removing cubes when I was testing the cure and I thought every cube I treated on the main board had to go in the lab which was depleting my supply really quick.

I really enjoy the challenge of in the lab so far and will keep persevering. I will chime back in when I notch a few more plays and update everyone on if it gets a bit easier.

On a side note, the pure theme that this adds to the game is great.
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noodles
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One more thing - I am playing with the original base and original on the brink expansion.

The mismatched artwork for the roles has not been an issue for me. And since I have not yet added the new events, mutation cards, or epidemics, there has been no compatibility issues.
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Patrick Fournier
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There is definitely a learning curve, even for Pandemic veterans. We used to win pretty regularly at Pandemic and the variants of OTB, and it took us a few games to figure out In the Lab, even with only 4 epidemics. Some moves that were 'automatic' or obvious before no longer have the same value, you have to think differently. It's a new (and great) puzzle.

We're better now, and we're wondering whether to add more epidemics or the purple cubes. We love it, we're probably never gonna play basic Pandemic again (which was a 10 for us), unless it's with new players...
 
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noodles
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Falzir wrote:
There is definitely a learning curve, even for Pandemic veterans. We used to win pretty regularly at Pandemic and the variants of OTB, and it took us a few games to figure out In the Lab, even with only 4 epidemics. Some moves that were 'automatic' or obvious before no longer have the same value, you have to think differently. It's a new (and great) puzzle.

We're better now, and we're wondering whether to add more epidemics or the purple cubes. We love it, we're probably never gonna play basic Pandemic again (which was a 10 for us), unless it's with new players...


Wow, you're not the first to say they prefer In The Lab over the normal way of curing diseases. That is encouraging to hear. I can routinely win with the base and OTB variants as well so I was hoping for that type of addition to the game.
 
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noodles
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Just thought I'd give a small update. I just played my third game using four epidemics and I managed to eradicate three diseases with the operation's expert and pilot. I had the cure in hand for the final disease but an outbreak occurred on the final color causing me to run out of cubes in supply. I was one turn away... Timing-wise I would have won the game with no more cards available to draw, basically the last turn of the game.

So my thoughts now are that I feel like it's starting to click and I'm really liking it. The pilot absolutely rocks and the operation's expert is very handy indeed. It does change the game in a way that I like and I can see myself always using this variation. It does require a completely different mindset but I'm enjoying figuring it out. Although I eradicated three out of four diseases I clearly still need to work faster in the lab. I feel this is a great expansion so far and this game feels complete to me now.

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Craig Yack
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I just won my first In the Lab solo game after 5 tries on Introductory, playing the Medic and Scientist (1/5 wins).

Most of my losses so far were because of running out of player cards.

The action economy is tricky. I'm not sure how well it balances with the base game. But I'll keep trying.

I think I got lucky on the last game by getting some good sequence card draws. So yeah, it looks like getting a good sequence card is a strong key.

I wasn't originally aware that you can keep loading up a petri dish with cubes from the other petri dishes. You only have to discard extras when you move them forward from a dish.

Playing the base game on Introductory with the same two roles, I got 4/5 wins.
 
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Michael Tyree
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Pygon wrote:
I just won my first In the Lab solo game after 5 tries on Introductory, playing the Medic and Scientist (1/5 wins).

Most of my losses so far were because of running out of player cards.

The action economy is tricky. I'm not sure how well it balances with the base game. But I'll keep trying.

I think I got lucky on the last game by getting some good sequence card draws. So yeah, it looks like getting a good sequence card is a strong key.

I wasn't originally aware that you can keep loading up a petri dish with cubes from the other petri dishes. You only have to discard extras when you move them forward from a dish.

Playing the base game on Introductory with the same two roles, I got 4/5 wins.


Yeah, my losses with ITL seem to be from the deck running out. It is pretty tight on actions, though not much different in the long term. You spend more actions overall but less of them are running off to meet in some city to trade. My wins are usually nick of time close finishes lol.
 
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Craig Yack
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I just won twice more, once with 11 cards left, another with 14 cards left. My win curve is improving.

I usually end up with more cubes on the board overall than in the base game, naturally, since I'm not running around and treating cities.

I have learned to hate the 8-cube sequence cards. Getting a good draw of 2 4-slot and 2 6-slot sequence cards usually gets me a win. Resequence early and often until you get easier cards.

You can cure through a 4-slot card in 8 actions.
A 6-slot card takes 12 actions.
An 8-slot card can take 13-14 actions. Hate them. (edit: used to be 13-16)

Action economy is precious.

Again, this is on Introductory with a Medic and Scientist.
 
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Michael Tyree
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Pygon wrote:
I just won twice more, once with 11 cards left, another with 14 cards left. My win curve is improving.

I usually end up with more cubes on the board overall than in the base game, naturally, since I'm not running around and treating cities.

I have learned to hate the 8-cube sequence cards. Getting a good draw of 2 4-slot and 2 6-slot sequence cards usually gets me a win. Resequence early and often until you get easier cards.

You can cure through a 4-slot card in 8 actions.
A 6-slot card takes 12 actions.
An 8-slot card can take 13-16 actions. Hate them.

Action economy is precious.

Again, this is on Introductory with a Medic and Scientist.


True, though the 8 sometimes is worthwhile. Remember that an eradicated disease color can be replaced with any other disease, so sometimes the 8 cube is a matter of jamming a ton of the same cubes on it. Also, if you should try the mutation/bio-terrorist disease options, the only purple cures are the 8 slots. However, if I haven't eradicated a disease, I usually re-sequence around those buggers.
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Craig Yack
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Yes, eradication is very handy when you have a card that uses that color. Wild card sequence slots are good.
 
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noodles
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I finally won on the intro game on my fifth try. I won very decisively. I won again on my sixth game as well and bumped it up to the normal difficulty level (5 epidemics) and I have lost twice now.

I'm really enjoying the challenge of it. I can see myself using this during every game unless I'm playing with someone who has never played before.
 
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Craig Yack
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For those who are curious, I tried an experiment on Standard (5 Epidemic cards). After playing on Introductory (4 Epidemic cards) and winning most games playing only with the base game and playing with In the Lab, I wanted to compare the wins between base and In the Lab using 5 cards.

I played 5 games of base Pandemic, and 5 games with Pandemic + In the Lab (no On the Brink cards).

The results:

Standard (5 Epidemic cards)
Roles: 2 (Medic and Scientist)

Base Pandemic: (played on the iPad app - it's excellent)
1 - lost - 8 outbreaks, cured 2
2 - lost - red cubes gone, red area chain reacted bad on turn 3. whoops
3 - won, 2 cards left, no eradications
4 - won, 10 cards left, black eradicated
5 - won, 20 cards left, no eradications (lucky draws I guess)

In the Lab + Base Pandemic:
1 - lost - 8 outbreaks, cured 3, 6 cards left
2 - lost - 8 outbreaks, cured 3, 2 cards left - this one was really close, almost had the red cured
3 - lost - 8 outbreaks, cured 2, 14 cards left
4 - win! - 4 outbreaks, 6 cards left, black eradicated (this was handy)
5 - lost - 8 outbreaks, cured 3, 6 cards left

So, by my estimate, In the Lab does make the game harder.
It also makes the base game seem very simple in comparison (I just need to collect city cards to cure? pff!)
 
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Tom Lehmann
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I think there are some scaling issues to consider when comparing games. I can believe that 2P base Medic/Scientist is easier than ITL; I'm not convinced this is true for 4P with the expansion (where you now get 8 events) or for different sets of roles (say, Dispatcher and Medic). The Scientist makes 2P base Pandemic cures a *lot* easier by relieving a lot of the hand pressure and need to co-ordinate cures.
 
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Craig Yack
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I was trying to think of a good control set to compare against.

I found Dispatcher/Medic to be very powerful in the base game, as was Researcher/Scientist. The weakest seems to be Operations Expert/Scientist in the base game in my eyes. However, Operations Expert is powerful in In the Lab since he can take a free lab action with every station build.

I have certainly found 4-player Pandemic base to be harder. Maybe sometime I'll try another comparison test with 4 roles.

Thanks Tom.

 
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Selwyn Hope
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Hoping to get the "In the Lab" to the table this weekend. We have been doing reasonably well with 5 Epidemics and the various challenges from "On the Brink", so eager for more challenges and options.

Eyeballing the expansion it seems much more action intensive to find a cure, but easier on the card requirements. Also more people can work on the cure, rather than one player having to horde the right cards.

Obviously with the reduced number of matching cards the roles change in importance, with the roles getting free or extra actions becoming more useful.

That said, the "In the Lab" way of curing is much more thematic and gives us that CSI fix.
 
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Craig Yack
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I tried Standard (5 Epidemic cards) with the Researcher, Dispatcher, Medic, and Operations Expert.

Base Pandemic (3/5 wins):
1 - win, 2 cards left, no eradications
2 - loss, 8 outbreaks, 24 cards left (red chain reacted midgame)
3 - loss, no player cards left, 7 outbreaks. Researcher had yellow cure but lacked 1 action.
4 - win, 4 cards left, only 2 outbreaks, woo
5 - win, 4 cards left, blue eradicated! 6 outbreaks

In the Lab (1/5 wins):
1 - win, 4 cards left, no eradications (Researcher free resequence helped, didn't need to give cards), lots of cubes on board, 5 yellow left
2 - loss, 22 cards left, 8 outbreaks, no cures (3 adjacent red cities had 3, Epidemic came up, unavoidable)
3 - loss, 0 yellow cubes - 2 cards left, 2 cures, 1 turn left from red cure but yellow wasn't started yet
4 - loss, 0 blue cubes - 24 cards left, 7 outbreaks
5 - loss, 8 outbreaks - 12 cards left, 2 cures. Yellow waiting, no start on black

Maintenance of cubes on cities in In the Lab is a lot rougher, represented well by two losses with a lot of player cards left. I tried a sixth In the Lab game this morning and lost on 0 red cubes. I'm thinking the first win was more luck than skill.

Opinion: In the Lab still makes the game harder!

In the Lab with 4 Epidemic cards might be ok for a challenge, but 5 Epidemic cards makes the game too swingy I think.
 
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Selwyn Hope
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5 games using In the Lab. 5 losses.

Game 1: Well controlled board but lost due to running out of cards (5 Epidemics): Had cured 3 (eradicated Red early after getting Rapid Vaccine)

Game 2: Lost due to Outbreaks (WW Panic, 5 Epidemics) - I don't think we really got anywhere towards cures, board just smashed us to pieces too fast

Game 3: Lost due to running out of cards (WW Panic, 5 Epidemics, Virulent Strain): Had cured 3 (cured Purple early), but only just got a sequence for last 2 during last turns

Game 4: Lost due to Outbreaks (WW Panic, 4 Epidemics) - were going fairly well, may have been able to cure all 5 although cards were running low

Game 5: Lost due to Outbreaks (4 Epidemics) - got two epidemics in a row which saw two cities close to each other explode over the whole region chaining like mad (went from 4 Outbreaks to 8+ on that second Epidemic) - had cured 3 and needed 1 action to cure last


I am not sure we are playing the In the Lab part right. Usually with 5 strains and 5 Epidemics we are able to control the board reasonably well while still sharing knowledge and stuff, but with the 6+ Actions needed to cure a disease we are really finding it hard to do much more than sit in a lab.

Please correct me if any of the following are wrong:
* 4 Actions per pawn (5 for Generalist, some get bonus actions)
* "Lab" actions count as one of those 4
* Free "Lab" action when building a new research station

"Lab" actions
* Sequence disease (swap cure cards)
* Characterise Disease (determine colour of disease)
* Process Sample (push cubes around)
* Test Disease (require disease to be characterised with a cube on it)
* Cure Disease (require characterised and tested disease and all cubes filled in)
 
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Craig Yack
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That is the way I understand it.

The one trick I try most with In the Lab is reducing the numbers of times cubes are moved as much as possible - the most overlooked strategy for me is that you can move cubes as much as you like into one area even if other cubes already exist there, but when you move them, you have to move all of them. Of the cubes you moved, you have to discard the cubes that don't follow the rule.

I said previously that curing cities was put secondary, and I spent more time performing lab moves. I'm beginning to wonder if I should depend less on the x2 lab move so that cities are cured more. But action economy is at a premium and you can run out of player cards easily.

I've been trying In the Lab + Base Pandemic with 4 roles and only 4 Epidemic cards with much greater success.
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Quote:
the most overlooked strategy for me is that you can move cubes as much as you like into one area even if other cubes already exist there


Wait, is that right? If so, that might explain why I've had such a tough time winning (finally won a game today after 10 tries). For some reason, I thought all of the trays had to be exclusive all the time.

EDIT: Duh, here it is in the rules (emphasis mine). Wow, I was adding quite a handicap. Good to know it's not quite that hard.

• Move all cubes in 1 sample dish to either the centrifuge dish (put all cubes of 1 color in it and return the rest to the supply) or the separator dish (put 1 cube of each color present in it and return the rest to the supply). Cubes already in these dishes (from earlier process actions) are not affected.

 
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martijn hogenkamp
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I haven't had a chance to play the in the lab challenge.
But I usually have a good theorical grasp of the rules.
I expect that in the lab would make a 2 player game less random.

In my experience in a normal 2 player game handlimit is one of the biggest limitations. If you get unlucky rainbow hands, you have to go through hell to get that first cure. Or you can get lucky and get that first cure in your hand in turn 1 or 2.
The in the lab challenge requires you to play cards to characterise a disease and test a sample. That should put less strain on your hand limitation. And after that you only need 3 cards for a cure. That shouldn't require any card trading.
In the normal game you'd be running around to get into the right board position to trade cards before you're forced to discard, while also preventing outbreaks.
With the in the lab challenge you do lab actions, build labs(with a free lab action) and pick up samples to prevent outbreaks.(I get the feeling that every player is a bit of a field operative in the in the lab challenge).
I think the operations expert will be very powerfull. Basicly every turn: fly, collect samples, build lab(with free lab action).
 
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Selwyn Hope
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You can only Test a Cure once per disease, so you can't pull heaps of cubes off the board without doing the regular cure route.

In the Lab changes the cure action to needing about 6-14 actions per disease, which is likely more than even the worst "rainbow hands" would require.
 
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