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Subject: Cult of the New | Pandemic Iberia Detailed Review and Impressions rss

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Brian Papa
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Originally posted in the UnGeek.ph website http://www.ungeek.ph/2016/10/cult-of-the-new-pandemic-iberia...




It seems that the Pandemic series of games are on a chain-reaction this year! It started with Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu last August and now, history buffs and coop-fans are in for a treat as the next installment to the beloved franchise goes a bit old-school… The mid-19th Century time in the Iberian Peninsula to be specific!

Let’s take a look at Pandemic Iberia!




Pandemic Iberia (and, kids, bear with me for a bit) as mentioned above, is set in the Iberian Peninsula. The peninsula is divided between Portugal and Spain and is the third largest European peninsula, after the Scandinavian and Balkan peninsulas. Take a look at the gorgeous board below:




As you might have noticed, the map shows circles that depicts key cities and ports (edges of the peninsula with the anchor symbol) where players can move through, as noted by straight or broken lines.




Regions on the other hand are areas on the board enclosed by a those lines, so in the example above – Valladolid, Salamanca, and Madrid triangulate to form one region. Take note of this as these are the areas where you will put purification tokens (more on this later).




In this game (insert movie trailer narrator voice here), you and up to 5 players are a part of The Second Royal Philanthropic Expedition where you embark on a journey to discover and treat the 4 major diseases that plague the area, in hopes to gather enough research to control the spread and eventually save mankind and (what else?) THE WORLD, of course! And here I thought you did that a couple of times already…




The tried-and-true, bread-and-butter fundamental mechanics of Pandemic are still present here in Iberia. For those trying this type of game out for the first time, it is is a fully-cooperative, action-selection, set collection game where there is only 1 goal to winning… And that is to research all the 4 major diseases, accurately named and thematically-colored this time by the way!


Red = Typhus – Transmitted via blood
Blue = Cholera – A water transmitted disease
Black = Malaria – a disease that when not treated, can lead to Blackwater fever
Yellow = Yellow Fever – Oh, how appropriate!


Like in previous versions of Pandemic, there are also multiple ways to lose! And this game is no exception!

You can lose in 3 ways:



The Outbreak Track reaches 8 (A massive panic occurs)




Not enough disease cubes are left when needed (The disease spreads out too much)




The player deck is depleted (Your team runs out of time)

You with me so far? Good! Let’s now move on to how the game actually plays out in a turn! To Pandemic veterans, it will feel all too familiar:




Do 4 actions: In your turn, you can do up to 4 actions. We will all go through every action and how it plays out, noting the new ones as we go along. As usual, the same action can be repeated as many times as you want as long as you have enough actions or resources to perform it.

Here are the actions you can do in a turn:


MOVEMENT ACTIONS:


Move by Carriage / Boat – You simply move to an adjacent city connected by a brown line
Move by ships – By discarding a card of a matching color, you can move between two port cities (anchor symbol)




Move By Train – A new feature for the game! As one whole action, you can move to a city connected by a continuous chain of railroad tokens (See Build Railroad below).




BUILD RAILROAD
Another new action! And one of my favorites! To build a railroad, put a railroad token on a straight line (not dashed lines) coming out of your current city. This is a neat mechanic that rewards future planning in later turns, when you effectively make a railway system that makes moving a lot easier! Be careful though, as these tokens are finite (20 to be exact) and you cannot do the action once the supply is depleted, so decide carefully!


TREAT DISEASE




For one action, remove 1 disease cube on the board. Simple right? Sadly though since were playing in the 19th century, even though you have completed a research for a disease, you never really discover the cures for it… So these little buggers still stay on the board! But don’t you worry! Them old-timers can still find a way! (See Purify Water)




BUILD A HOSPITAL
A somewhat familiar action, this replaces the build Research Station from the original Pandemic. To do this, you have to discard a city card matching your current city (as pictured above) to build a hospital of a matching color there. There is one hospital for each of the 4 colors so if you build a hospital with a color that is already on the board, simply move it from it’s current location to the city you are building in.
Hospitals are important as these are the only locations where you can RESEARCH A DISEASE bringing you one step closer to winning the game (as described below).




RESEARCH A DISEASE
To research a disease you must be in a hospital and discard 5 city cards of a matching color. Though it does not fully cure or eradicate a disease. It can still help you Purify Water a bit easier (see below), and of course make you that much closer to winning!




PURIFY WATER
Another new action for the game! Remember the regions I mentioned earlier? Well you can place purification tokens in 1 of 2 ways:

-Discard a city card matching the color of a city you are in in to put 2 tokens in an adjacent region.

-Discard a city card matching the color of a researched disease to put 2 tokens in an adjacent region.

Each purification token in a region prevents the addition of one disease cube. Simply put, when placing a cube in a city that has a purification token in that region, just remove that token instead. Like the Build Railroad action, this move rewards careful planning, especially during EPIDEMIC card effects. You’ll see why later.

SHARE KNOWLEDGE
This is simply giving or taking one card from a player that shares the same location as you! But always remember you can only send or receive a card that matches the city you both are in! And you can only have up to 7 cards.




EVENT CARDS
Free Actions that can be used anytime, even if it’s not your turn. These are very powerful cards that can often change the tide of a game in a pinch! I love that they have a bit of background history in the rule book. Adds a bit of flavor to the setting.




DRAW 2 CARDS
And those are the actions! To end your turn, simply draw 2 cards from the player deck, but be warned as you might draw Epidemic Cards! Yes they make a comeback and they are always bad news! Especially the Intensify step (3) where previous infection cards get a do-over. That’s why planning ahead (purifying and building railroads) is important.




INFECT CITIES
Draw cards from the infection deck equal to the value in the track and add 1 cube to the city indicated. This might cause Outbreaks and Chain Outbreaks (essentially adding more tokens to the board) when the disease cubes in a city goes beyond 3. Be wary of the board for outbreaks as they can end the game fast this way!




And there you have it! There are 2 variants included in the game that you can discover on your own once you’ve played the base rules. One variant adds a sense of urgency while the other one makes the diseases more distinct to one another. I’ll leave it to you to find that out for yourself.


Final Thoughts:





First let me say this… The game is pure eye-candy to me in terms of visual appeal. I love the art and the choice of colors used. This game is just that aesthetically pleasing!




And they went the extra effort even to the card backs and insert. I mean just take a look! I kinda wished that more could be said for the other components like the cubes and pawns for it to have that complete “Limited collectors edition” feel to it, so that part was a miss to me. But hey, maybe they were aiming for ye olde and simplistic… I might pimp those components mentioned in the future though.




Another thing that I would like to point out, its that there are some symbols in the game that might confuse players. Specifically, in some city locations you might notice arrows pointing toward a region – They are not part of the actual gameplay but rather, they just point out the exact geographical location of the city. Maybe I’m being nit-picky but I think this a poor design choice made at the board.




Second I LOVE the theme of this game! Even more so than the Pandemic Cthulhu version, though the reason might be is that because the Lovecraft style is way overused in boardgames. The subject featured is a breath of fresh air that does away with all the farming, steampunk, fantasy and space themes filling my shelf. It feels really grounded and at the same time, people can learn a lot of history just by reading the fluff in the manual.
Though appealing to me and those history aficionados out there, the theme can also be a turn-off to some, especially those who want to escape from reality. And I can understand that.





Gameplay-wise it’s still Pandemic, but those 2 new actions – Building Railroads and Purifying Water add a new layer of strategy and future planning that makes all the difference to me. The new roles are exciting at the same time give an old-school flavor to it, I especially like the Railwayman!

Oh and before I forget, much as I like the game it’s still HARD. Though I believe that a difficult coop is a mark of a good game.

Pros:
-Unique historical theme that can also be educational.
-Excellent art and design on the board and cards.
-New actions and roles provide a lot of depth in strategy and planning.
-Easy to teach even to new players.
-The diseases have real-world names now! Again adds to the educational aspect.

Cons:
-Alternatively, the theme might not appeal to some people.
-The others components should have gotten the “collectors edition” touch.
-Those “arrows” that point the exact location of a city might confuse players during their first game.
-“Alpha-gamer” syndrome is still present.

Verdict: 8.5/10
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mortego
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Just another review that makes me feel like I made the right choice, my copy is on it's way!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice write-up!

Though I haven't seen any of the components yest I am assuming that they "wooden" cubes were meant to be that way to fit the theme. As for the black arrows, I can only imagine the amount of grief Z-Man would get if they didn't clarify the exact location of those cities so they felt the need to be proactive about it and I also assume they couldn't put those cities in the right spot because it may have made the region look off centered or something, oh well, it doesn't make a difference to me so I'm good with it.
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Brian Papa
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Thanks mortego. Like I said the arrows might confuse new players trying to find an answer in the rulebook... Just want o give a heads-up to them and save their time.

There are other posts here saying that some of the cities are misspelled? Can anyone confirm this?

Anyways I had a few more games in and I only won once on easy. With that said I like this game.
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Ron Hatch
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killerjoe1962 wrote:
As for the black arrows, I can only imagine the amount of grief Z-Man would get if they didn't clarify the exact location of those cities so they felt the need to be proactive about it and I also assume they couldn't put those cities in the right spot because it may have made the region look off centered or something, oh well, it doesn't make a difference to me so I'm good with it.

Yeah, all the other Pandemic games do the same thing... but they do it with what I would describe as "zoom-in" graphics that are much more intuitive. (The usual cone with the point at the real location of the city and the base at the graphics for that city's node in the game map.)

I guess they felt that zoom-in style looked too modern, but I wish they had come up with a more subtle alternative. Even just using a lighter color for the arrows might have worked.

Still just a minor quibble, though. (And as a disclaimer, I haven't seen the board in person either.)

Definitely putting all the major cities in exactly the right spot was even less of an option than other versions of Pandemic, since the new purified water mechanic requires that all of the regions be big enough to hold the tokens. Near the middle of the board you can see a red city and two black that make an in-game triangle, and yet if you look at the real-world locations they are almost in a straight line.
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Loris GIANADDA
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Played this 3 times at 3 and 4 players. We lost 3 times. In "easy mode" (4 epidemic cards, no variant). I begin to wonder if this game can be won at all...
The white character power seemed useless, while Politician's is very useful.

We wondered what the arrows were. Thanks for the info !
I've not seen any city mispelled on the board. I wondered for "A Coruña" as I knew it in French by the name "La Corogne" (and in English "La Coruña") but I checked and the board is right. Never forget that the names on the board are in Spanish/Portuguese/local language.
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Ron Hatch
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Briguy_12 wrote:
There are other posts here saying that some of the cities are misspelled? Can anyone confirm this?


Oh, I had intended to answer this when I first saw the question and must have gotten sidetracked.

I'm pretty sure that the discussion of misspelled cities you can find in the forums was for the first image of the board that was posted by the publisher. That was before full proofreading, and most likely there aren't any problems with the published version. (And I believe they also updated the image.)
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Kevy B
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greuh wrote:
Played this 3 times at 3 and 4 players. We lost 3 times. In "easy mode" (4 epidemic cards, no variant). I begin to wonder if this game can be won at all...
The white character power seemed useless, while Politician's is very useful.

We wondered what the arrows were. Thanks for the info !
I've not seen any city mispelled on the board. I wondered for "A Coruña" as I knew it in French by the name "La Corogne" (and in English "La Coruña") but I checked and the board is right. Never forget that the names on the board are in Spanish/Portuguese/local language.


I've played five times and won four of them with four Epidemics each. In the first round I treat the three-cube diseases, and for the next few rounds I focus almost solely on railroads. I'll move one space and then put track in front of me and behind. Next round, I'll move to one end, move a space away, and do it again. I try to connect as many of my infected cities as possible and have my staff meet somewhere in the middle to connect them all.

When all lines are connected, everyone should have enough cards to figure out what disease they'll be Researching. Each card not being collected for Research is an immediate candidate for either Sharing Knowledge or for Building a Hospital (DO NOT DO HOSPITALS AT THE BEGINNING!). It's more important for a Sharing Knowledge card to be on the rail line somewhere than it is for a Hospital to be on one. The absolute BEST cards for Sharing Knowledge are ones that are not only on the railroad, but have been infected too. You can kill two birds with one stone and you're not going out of your way just to give someone a card. Unlike Original Recipe Pandemic, Hospitals here are good for ONE thing: Research! If possible, don't build the Hospital too far from a rail line, you want to be able to reach it in three moves or less. If you have two city cards that are on the train line, and you only need to Share one of them, then definitely Build the Hospital on the other one.

Now your focus can be on Treating and Trading. Cards that aren't good for Sharing or for Building Hospitals become excellent candidates for Purifying Water. Due to the limited supply, I will Purify Water for a region where two or more cities have been infected or for a region that has cities not on my train route. It's rarely necessary to Treat a disease down to nothing, except maybe at the very beginning of the game. If you're playing with four Epidemics, no city will be hit more than five times, barring Outbreaks. Turns late in the game tend to go one of three ways:

Option One: Take the train to a very infected city, Treat two cubes, Train to a city where you're going to Share Knowledge. (I never Share Knowledge as my fourth action, because I could end up drawing that color.)

Option Two: Share Knowledge, Train to a very infected city, Treat one cube or Purify Water, Train to a Share Knowledge city. (Naturally, these will be broken up when someone gets enough cards to Research a disease - Share, Train, Carriage, Research, plus or minus a Carriage move - but this basic pattern can continue after each Research turn.)

Option Three (on rarer occasions the turn will consist of SOME of these steps, depending on what is needed): Share Knowledge, Train to the end of a rail line, Take a Carriage to the next city, Purify Water, Return to the Railroad terminus. You won't be in position for a Share Knowledge at the end of this turn, so it's best to send someone who won't be involved in a Share Knowledge until they draw new cards. If you're doing well on Outbreaks and cubes, you can ignore outlying cities if they won't cause a chain reaction. Remember, if you've already had three Epidemics, then anything in the Infection Discard Pile will only be hit one more time. Treat accordingly.

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Kevy B
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greuh wrote:


I've not seen any city mispelled on the board. I wondered for "A Coruña" as I knew it in French by the name "La Corogne" (and in English "La Coruña") but I checked and the board is right. Never forget that the names on the board are in Spanish/Portuguese/local language.


What I found weird is that A Coruña is the name of the town in the Galician language. La Coruña is what the rest of Spain calls it. Or used to call it. BUT Bilbao and San San Sebastián are not only the Spanish names for the Basque Bilbo and Donostia, but the Spanish names are actually the town's official names. Google Maps only uses the official names, yet both the Spanish and Basque names are used on the game board. (For the record, I've been to both and signs do say both names, but things within each city, like the "Guggenheim Bilbao" or the "San Sebastián Film Festival" use the official spelling.) Unlike Vitoria-Gasteiz, which combined both Spanish and Basque names into its always-hyphenated current name, San Sebastián and Bilbao haven't done that.

Hmmmmm.....
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Cari Burstein
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greuh wrote:
Played this 3 times at 3 and 4 players. We lost 3 times. In "easy mode" (4 epidemic cards, no variant). I begin to wonder if this game can be won at all...


I'm wondering if the game is tuned a little too tightly for 2 player mode with 4 epidemics. We can win regular Pandemic pretty regularly with 2 players (and win with 5 epidemics a good chunk of the time as well), but most of the time we lose in Iberia. Typically it's because we run out of cards. It seems too dependent on luck whether you can get enough cards of a color to one player to cure early enough in the game to not have to discard too many. We've taken to building hospitals as early as possible to free cards in our hands but we still end up at the end praying we'll get that last card for the 2 colors we are still working on before we hit the bottom of the deck. If we focus more on trading early game then the diseases get out of hand and wipe us out.

We tried playing once as 4 players with each of us playing 2 characters and it felt easier because we weren't wasting so many cards, although we did end up losing due to bad timing on back to back epidemics. We prefer to play with only 2 though.

I may have been spoiled by Flashpoint, which has a far less steep curve of difficulty, but it feels like the easiest level of the game should be winnable at least half the time if you know what you're doing.
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Brad103
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cdaveb wrote:
Typically it's because we run out of cards.


I'm seeing the same thing in my sessions. In my last game I told the group to not worry so much about clearing cubes and instead focus on trading cards as needed so that we rarely have to discard unnecessarily. This really helped out our game and we won with several rounds left to go.

I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing about this game. Epidemics are really not much of a threat as compared to other Pandemic games. But you really have to maneuver around the board to do trades. Makes you play the game as a whole with a very different strategy.

This is my experience with it at least.
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