Simon C
United Kingdom
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(Continuing the month by month session reports: see our other months here -
Early July
Late July
Early September
Late September
Onwards: to come!)

October! With the drama of September out the way, maybe we’d be on for a quiet month?

I didn’t believe that for a second.

I was expecting a fourth search this month. After all, there were four search party token pairs provided when we first reached that action of the game, and we’d had three so far – one per month. We had a fourth and final piece to get for the checklist and we’re reaching the end of the year. All signs pointed towards a final search, and I guessed it might be to do with City Zero: we’d marked it out all those months ago and it seemed an obvious place for DNA samples (assuming that, you know, just any old Faded wasn’t good enough for some reason).

I was right on all counts. Unfortunately my satisfaction was mitigated somewhat by the fact that our City Zero – Moscow – just so happens to be the only city we have at level 4 (and we have none at level 5). It would be a pain to get in. It also wanted a Military Base there to help, which unfortunately we didn’t have. It was also a high number to reach, and our win bonus only offered a single point to start. On top of all that, we’d been happily burning black cards in the hands of the virologist last game and here we’d surely have to use them for searching, leading us to ask just how we’d keep the Faded in check and still complete the search.

Eventually, we picked our characters: Tina the Quarantiner again, plus her long-forgotten brother Ollie the Ops Expert (who we'd last used in May). The value of a military base in Moscow was not to be underestimated. I played Ollie, with Nicole taking Tina.

The opening display had cubes plus a new base in Essen, and assorted Faded throughout Black and once again in our Red faded cities (every single game, this happens). We began in Atlanta and started dealing with the hotspots as I travelled to Moscow (via Ollie’s discard-a-card-to-go-anywhere). Tina immediately moved there and quarantined it – just as we drew Moscow from the Infection deck! Faded averted, and we were safe knowing it wasn’t the bottom card of the deck waiting for an Epidemic.

Talking of which…it had been several turns, but no Epidemics were happening. It meant that we had everything under control but I had a bad feeling. It reached the fifth turn of the game – mine – and I drew the first card alone, knowing it to be an Epidemic. I flipped the second card and my fears came true: a second!

I’ve known this to be a possibility while playing with 0 Funding, but it’s never come up before now. Nicole hadn’t been aware, so I had the fun of explaining that (a) I didn’t mess up deck construction and (b) what that means happens. Guaranteed outbreak!

Our hit city was Miami – its first panic level and not critical. We’d also got Supressed (the final positive mutation) for Yellow the previous game so were well placed to stop a second outbreak. And while the two increases to the search track were bad, we were OK. Nicole had already found the first Binoculars from the deck and earned a single search 4 points and I’d done another for 2 while I had been there. Knowing we had a gap before the final outbreak, Nicole headed to Cairo (our second Research station), built the second pair of Binoculars, and headed back for another 4-search and a found Patient Zero!

Guessing what might be under the silvered surface, I suggested Nicole use up her last action before the search, rather than saving one: “it’ll be easier to remember it’s your draw phase rather than that you have one action left”. I was right: scratching off the card took a while. Spoilers below: this did give us the DNA Sample, and allowed us to open Box 7. Don’t read further unless you’ve reached this yourself!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Hurrah, a solution for C0da! Continuing my satisfaction at predictions, there was a new type of structure (well, there had been spaces for more stickers in the “Structures” part of the rule book) – but the rest was a surprise.

A new character, a torn up objective (goodbye to the troublesome Quarantine 7 Faded cities – even if that was starting to become relatively achievable with Tina using Local Pressure), plus some new objectives – and most of all, a ton of new windows. In fact, ALL of the remaining windows. The dossiers had given up their final secrets.

We fiddled with the new bits for a while, getting our heads around Vaccination (and Nicole complaining that “Vaccinating a city” didn’t make sense; it should be Immunizing it or something like that). Once sorted, we planned out our new approach – we’d been intending to ignore the sabotage military bases objective in favour of the quarantine objective, but now that was gone. Fortunately a new one was “Have three Vaccine factories” and Ollie was onhand to help!

We’d been building up the cards to cure already, so we simply had to have Ollie have three more turns and keep control of the board while we drew our last few cards. Yellow was cured, and Nicole was holding near cures for both Red and Blue. Vaccinating cities along the way would be a nice start towards the following games’ objectives too.

So Ollie built a factory in Lima, where he’d been clearing up the mess from earlier, and headed to Asia where red cubes were threatening outbreaks and Faded were once again risking a spread to further cities. Another factory was built over the rubble of a Military Base in Ho Chi Min, where we’d sabotaged a starting base a couple of games ago. Finally a third was built in Beijing as Nicole came up with a Red cure. Just the Blue cure to go.

I was nearly there myself. Nicole had headed into South America to pick up some vaccine pills (it’s worth noting that we both love the little pill markers!) and was planning on securing a few cities in the south edge of Black, but I had seen the win in hand. I moved to Milan, ignoring the Faded there, and asked Nicole to come meet me with her Milan card for trading – which would give me the fourth and final card for our cure. She was disappointed not to have chance to use the pills she’d grabbed, but agreed the win was more important. She came, handed the card over, and we won Early October!

I had a quick look at the deck afterwards – if Nicole had decided to postpone winning in order to vaccinate a city, we’d have immediately hit another Epidemic. And that would have gone off somewhere nasty. We were very glad to have finished when we did!

For end game upgrades, we took our time looking at the options, but in the end the choice was easy: two starting Vaccine Factory stickers, for Lima and Ho Chi Min. Two thirds of the way to that objective for November, plus more Shuttle Flight options and immediate production of pills in the next game. The win bonus is unexciting – presuming no surprise fifth search, we just get three roadblocks. Still, assuming that Bangkok or Hong Kong are infected yet again, they’ll be useful for protecting our Ho Chi Min factory.

We were very positive after the game, and spent a good while talking about it – although that’s been true of several of our more recent games. We’re happy to have the chance to take the fight back and finally deal with C0da, and hopefully we’ll be able to Vaccinate a good few cities next game. In fact, Nicole suggested that it felt like we should be trying to vaccinate all the cities – and maybe we should keep playing more rounds after the final game until we’ve achieved that!

The end’s drawing very near, and we’re short on opportunities for further surprises: the rulebook’s complete, the dossier’s spent and the boxes are all open (except for Box 8, which it’s now too late to be able to open and use in game!). Only the last few cards of the Legacy deck remain. Will it throw another curve-ball at us in terms of plot or objectives? Or is it now all just clean-up and wind-down? We’re intruiged how it will handle spoilers and dealing with the fact players may or may not have opened Boxes 6 and 7 by now. But for all this we’ll just have to wait and see. I can’t wait!

Onwards…to November!

Edit: This has now been played and is chronicled here.
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Laura Blachek
United States
charlotte hall
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Congrats on your october win!
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