With just a few days left of my vacation, I had one of the better days of my vacation.
The rain was replaced by sunshine just as I lit up the grill, and some friends un-canceled when they were able to find a babysitter in the very last second. After an awesome meal, we had two great games of Betrayal at House on the Hill, before we moved on to Pandemic.
We decided to go for the beginner level.
Partly because two of the players were actually beginners (one to board games in general, both to Pandemic in particular) but also because we had racked up a long line of losses lately.
As in our previous games, we gave each player two roles to choose from. The other players grabbed the Field Operator, Scientist, Dispatcher, and the Researcher. All that was missing was the ability to quickly remove cubes from the board, so I ignored the Operations Expert in favour of the Containment Specialist.
The initial spread of disease hit Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East hard. However, there was only a single red cube on the board, and the one in San Francisco was the only cube in all of the Americas.
With me quickly flying to the black, blue, and yellow disaster, a more daring plan was executed by the rest of the crew. The Researcher handed two red cards to the Scientist, who was then able to find the red cure on his very first move!
Unfortunately, a number of spread out red cities quickly got infected, so eradication was soon unrealistic. Still one of the best starts ever.
After this, things started going south, mostly because the second epidemic came so quickly after the first one. Containment became our priority at this point, and we soon suffered our first outbreak.
This was where the tide turned in our favour in the shape of Special Events.
I got the Forecast card, allowing me to arrange the top six cards in the Infection deck, while another player had the Commercial Travel Ban, reducing the Infection Rate to 1 for an entire round!
This gave us time to work.
The Field Operator grabbed three blue cubes, and with the help of the Researcher he was able to find the blue cure. Meanwhile, the Scientist got a lucky draw of yellow cards, and by the time he found the cure, the Dispatcher had removed all but 5 yellow cubes. At that point, I played the Rapid Vaccine Deployment, eradicating the yellow disease.
After this, our only concern was the spread of black cards between us. We had nine of them, evenly spread, and with one invested in a Research Station, the odds of drawing new ones were slim.
Luckily, the fourth and last Epidemic did very little, so three players were easily able to contain the cubes on the board while the Researcher and the Field Operator worked together to secure the final cure.
Victory! At last!
So, obviously, the luck of the draw was very much in our favour here. Very much so in general, but more specifically when we drew Forecast and Commercial Travel Ban at the same time. Both those cards are really good on their own, but when played at the same time…
The difference between four and five Epidemics was also fairly noticeable. On the plus side there, one of the new players said we’d go for five the next time. As good a review as one could ask for, I guess.
Finally, I was able to remind myself to keep my latent alpha player syndrome in check, only making occasional suggestions. Most noticeable, I allowed the two new players complete freedom to choose their own moves, and only spoke out against the foolhardy chase for red eradication after another player mentioned this.