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Subject: Synchronous Pandemic variant - 4 characters play simultaneously rss

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Benjamin C
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I thought to a variant in which players do their actions simultaneously instead of one having four actions in one turn. It should be played with 4 characters. A player (or more) may control more than one character for this purpose, each having its own hand.

For short :
This plays essentially like regular Pandemic, the main change being an action phase with every player doing one action. Here is how turns are organized :
-one "refresh phase" in which the leader player is changed
-one "planning phase" in which all players plan their actions
-one "player phase" in which all players perform their actions
-one "draw phase" for the Leading player
-one "Infection phase" as usual.

Set up
Additionnaly to the usual setup :
-The "Leader token" is given to one player : this symbolizes the player who is going to draw cards each turn.
-Each player is given "Action cards" : "Move" (all 4 possible regular moves are on this card), "Treat disease", "Build a station", "Share knowledge", "Discover a cure"
-Players may also be dealt "Role Action" cards, or also "Free action" cards that are specific on their role (see the corresponding sections).

Running of a turn
1) Refresh phase (except for 1st turn)
-The Leader (player with Leader token) passes his token to the player to his left.
-The new leader (and only he) returns to his hand his Action cards with "Periodic" and flips face-up his "free actions" cards, making them available again on the Planning and Action phase to come.
2) planning phase
-Each player chooses one of his action cards and put it face down (no communication allowed during this phase).
3) action phase
-after everyone has chosen their card, they reveal it. (Communication becomes possible)
Then, each player performs the action/one of the actions shown on their card. Each player can perform it once at most, and the players can act in any order.
-A player performs his action only if he wants to ; he may choose to cancel it and pass instead. A player may be forced to cancel his action if it is impossible.
-Players may also use their "Free actions" if they have any (and they are available) ; see "Free actions" below.
-Once done, players return their non-periodic Action to their hand, and leave the periodic ones in front of them, which will be no more usable until this player is leader again.
4) Drawing phase
-the Leader draws 2 cards as usual (solving epidemics/other nasty events if required).
5) Infection phase
-perform an infection phase as usual (skip it if "One Quiet night" takes effect.)

Action cards

Here are the regular action cards and their effects :
-Move : perform one of the 4 regular move actions (Car/transborder, direct flight, charter flight, shuttle flight)
-Treat disease : as usual
-Build a station : as usual
-Discover a cure : as usual
-Share knowledge : as usual
-All these actions that are enhanced by a character's power (Medic's "Treat disease", Operation Expert's "Build a station", Scientist's "Discover a cure", Researcher's "Share Knowledge" etc...) are enhanced as usual.
-Actions that are solely character-related such as the field operative's "setting a cube aside" or the Operation Expert's "move anywhere from a station" are NOT usable with the above cards. They are remplaced by "Role-action cards" instead (see below).

Role action cards

-These cards are only given to specific characters.
-Many of them have the word periodic which means that they aren't returned to hand at the end of action phase (and the player will have to take another card) and are left unusable the player becomes leader again. They replace the "Once per turn" effect.
-This penalty doesn't apply if the periodic action is cancelled.

Here are the special Action cards :
-Field Operative :
--Move another player : like "move" except you have to do it on another player, with your own cards, and can't do it on yourself.
--Move a player to another : Move any player's pawn (with his permission) to any other player's pawn.
-Operation Expert :
--Controlled flight (Periodic) : From a research station, discard a card to go on any city.
-Emergency planner :
--Event gathering : Take an event back from the Player discard pile, with the same usage and restriction as the original game.
-Archivist :
--Knowledge gathering (Periodic) : Take the card matching your city from the Player discard pile.
-Field operative :
--Isolating a sample (Periodic) : Set aside a disease cube from the city you are in. (3 of them may be used as usual in with the "Discover a cure" action.)
-Pilot :
--Flight : same as Pilot-specific move action
-Local liaison :
--Distant knowledge sharing (Periodic) : Give a City card to a player located in a city of the same colour as you that match the cities color.
-Virologist :
--Remote healing : Discard a City card to return any cube that matches its color to the supply.

Free actions
-These cards are linked to character, not held in hand and can be used during Action phase even without being planned, before of after regular action and there may be other actions solved in between.
-They have the same "Periodic" penalty as Role action cards (since they reflect the "once per turn" effet of Regular Pandemic), and are flipped-down (or tapped a la Magic The Gathering) when used.
-They can be performed before or after the player's regular action, and other players also may act in-between.
-They cannot be done outside of Action phase

Here are the free actions :
-Virologist :
--Take knowledge (Free,periodic) : take any City card from a player's hand in the same city as you.
-Generalist :
--Double take (Free,periodic) : perform an extra action independent from the one you planned.
-Field director :
--Moving order (Free, periodic) : move another player in your city or an adjacent one by drive/ferry.

Other character modifications
-Troubleshooter :
At the start of Planning phase, when the Troubleshooter is Leader, she may reveal as many card from Infection deck as infection rate to all the players. This replaces her usual picking activity.
-Pilot :
He isn't dealt "Move" and "Build a station" cards as he cannot use their actions in the regular game.

Advanced rules (hidden for more clarty - no spoilers inside) :
Modificating events :
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-When an event states "until the active player's next turn begins" (Flight travel ban, improved sanitation...), it reads now "until the current leader becomes leader again".
-Events that act on the Player's Action phase in Pandemic now applies to all players in this Action phase only (to keep the game "synchronous") :
--The turn "Mobile hospital" is active, anyone performing a car/transborder removes a cube this turn.
--"Special orders" let all players that have planned a moving action moving another pawn like their own this turn.
-One exception :
--"Borrowed time" allows two different players to take an extra action each, and the Generalist cannot perform it on the same turn she performs the Extra action. If periodic, it must be available and it also will suffer the same penalties as usual.

Modificating Virulent strain cards :
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-Remove the "Resistant to Treatment" and "Government interference" cards when playing with this (or replace them with a random left aside Virulent Strain card).

To play with 2 characters (or more) :
Spoiler (click to reveal)
If you are not enough players, then you may choose to have 2 characters, each one with his own set of Action cards, hand of cards, and pawn.
You play as usual, except any effect that states "a player's pawn/hand" instead states "a character's pawn/hand" and you have permanent information for both character's cards.
Players are free to determinate at start of game in which order characters will be leader.
Note (this doesn't affect gameplay) : if playing exactly 2 characters, instead of holding in hand two copies of regular action cards, a "real" player with 2 characters may have one copy of each only, along with a "copy" card which may be planned and when revealed becomes a copy of the other planned card (eg "Move" + "x2" mean both characters will move). Of course, it must be used with actions that are available for both characters.

On player communication :
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-Any effect that requires the authorization of a player other than the Event user is forbidden when communication also is.
-You don't have to "ask permission to yourself" if you use 2 characters and want to use a card on one that belongs to the other character.

Personnal comments :
I'm opened to any comments and suggestions.
-I wonder if merging all regular moving possibilities in one action card and not doing the same fort rest is fine.
-I didn't mention anything related to the Lab Challenge, as I lack experience with it. I suggest giving a single "Lab action" card for all Action cards, and giving some characters a new "Free action" card.
-I didn't add the "State of Emergency" roles but I bet you will figure them out.
-The game may be more interesting depending on when the "non-communication" clause starts. I suggest you forbid communication a few seconds after the last Infection card is revealed and resolved.
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Thomas Woosley
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North Carolina
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This is brilliant. I am absolutely going to try this next time I play.

I have some suggestions though, for playing with fewer than four. For three, you make a dummy role, where no-one is leader, everyone takes an action, and no-one draws cards. For two players, you could take two actions before switching leaders (but only draw cards once!) or have two dummies, one after each real player.

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Benjamin C
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Thank you. Also, I like the idea of a "dummy role" and think you should also skip the Infection phase.
This way, in 3 players, players may perform ~12 actions at total every cycle (4*3 plus bonuses) and there are 3 Drawing phases and 3 Infection phases. Just like a 4-character cycle gives 16 actions, 4 Drawing phases and 4 Infection phases.
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Nick Matt
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im trying to learn pandemic, each time a player ends his turn you infect towns based on the infect rate right? like 2 cities each get a cube, each time a player ends his turn

in this variant you will infect 2x4 in a 4 player game 8 towns?
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Benjamin C
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No, you perform an Infection phase "as usual", i.e. with a number of cities infected equal to the Infection rate after everyone has taken one (or sometimes more) actions.
(Also, note if you learn Pandemic that this variant can give you a different approach of the game but the game wasn't designed this way)
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