Kevin L. Kitchens
Pandemic: The Cure
Roll dice, call me in the morn.
It killed Pandemic.
Played the sister game Pandemic only on my iPad and never liked it enough (didn't hate it either) to ever warrant owning a copy for solitaire play. But when this new variation came out a la "The Dice Game" it piqued my interest enough to jump on it.
Dice, dice, and more dice. The game comes with 37 custom action dice for the seven different user roles available (seven each x six and one role gets seven. There are also 48 virus dice (12x four different colors) for the various strains you're trying to cure and a cloth bag for storing and drawing the dice randomly. There are role cards for each role detailing the action dice distribution and special abilities as well as bonus cards that can be purchased during to game to give, well, bonuses. Each role also gets a plastic token in their color. Finally, there are six discs for each of the continents where the viruses can start and go viral and a thick plastic ring (in two parts, some assembly required, batteries not included (or necessary)) for tracking the current infection level and number of outbreaks. In all the component quality is quite nice.
The role action dice are custom for each role and color coordinated to that role's color. The distribution of actions on the six sides will vary based on the strengths and characteristics of the role. As these roles are assigned randomly to the players, it offers a great deal of re-playability.
Likewise, the virus dice (in translucent red, blue, yellow, and black) are customized not only with a cross symbol on one face (to denote their purchase power at the CDC), but also in their distribution of standard dice "pips". So while they may look like normal six-sided pipped dice, they are definitely not. The pips do matter because they determine which continent they are initially place in as well as points for rolling to cure the virus.
The rules are clear, well written, and simple. Players take turns, each turn involving four steps and keep going in order until there have been eight outbreaks or until all four viruses have been cured.
On each player's turn they roll all their action dice, spend them to take the actions shown, and may re-roll as many or as few dice as they like. There are bio-hazard symbols though on each dice that may not normally be re-rolled and increase the virus tracker producing epidemics and outbreaks.
Actions available include flying to any region, sailing to an adjacent region, treating a virus die (buy moving it to the treatment center or from the treatment center back to the infection bag), or collecting a sample from the treatment center to be used later in finding a cure.
Once a player has spent all the actions they want, they can transfer samples collected to other players, attempt a cure, and then infect the various regions. Special abilities for each role and bonus cards may mitigate certain conditions and allow other extra actions and they add a nice variety to the game. Other reviews and how-to-plays have covered the game mechanics, but the game really is that simple to play, but not necessarily easy to beat.
I like this game a lot and it's definitely a keeper. Personally I see this as having completely killed its sibling Pandemic. So much so that the upcoming version Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 holds no interest for me. I'd love to see expansions for this game more than the other.
It's quick to set-up, provides a good challenge each time to play with the variable roles, dice draws, dice rolls and even being able to make the game harder by adjusting the starting point of the epidemic track. It sets up fast (less than five minutes) and can be completed in under 30 minutes in most cases.
Another game on this theme, Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp, was replaced for me by the excellent app version, I think between even those two, I'd prefer Pandemic the cure.
If you like the research/medical theme of curing diseases and saving the world as well as dice games, I think you'll really like Pandemic: The Cure.
As with most co-op games, player count is never properly reflected on the box. While this says 2-5 players on the cover, that is actually the number of roles that need to be played. They could be played by a single person or by a committee of 200 (though that might get unwieldy voting for each action).
Fortunately, this game plays very well solo. I normally use three roles (randomly selected) and managing each role separately is quite easy to do. The footprint for each role is small (one card, 5-7 action dice, and any collected samples). If you're prone to leaving a game from time to time, you'll need to mark your current player, but for a normal one-session game, the gap between turns is not so long that you'd lose your place too readily. Nothing changes the player order either, so once you're setup, you can just go in order left to right. The puzzle each game creates as well as the tension factor makes this a very fun and challenging game to play solo. Not too thinky but definitely not mindless either.
From the ones upon a game Blog
Fortunately, this game plays very well solo. I normally use three roles (randomly selected) and managing each role separately is quite easy to do. The footprint for each role is small (one card, 5-7 action dice, and any collected samples). If you're prone to leaving a game from time to time, you'll need to mark your current player, but for a normal one-session game, the gap between turns is not so long that you'd lose your place too readily. Nothing changes the player order either, so once you're setup, you can just go in order left to right. The puzzle each game creates as well as the tension factor makes this a very fun and challenging game to play solo. Not too thinky but definitely not mindless either.From the ones upon a game Blog
In fact, I believe I can implement this game via menu-driven, text based interface. I've actually already thought out some questions and answers in design and interface. However, I'm still in the midst of doing Yggdrasil, so despite my excitement for this, I'd best finish that one first
King of the Wood
Pandemic Legacy is such a different beast that I think you might want to check it out!