$35.00
Simon C
United Kingdom
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(Continuing the month by month session reports: see our other months here -
January
February
March
April
May
June
Early July
Late July
August
Early September
Late September
October
Onwards: to come!)

November! For the first time in the campaign (started back in April) we were ahead of the real world calendar.

Spoiler warning: We’ve completed all our searches, so if you haven’t done that yourselves, then DON’T READ AHEAD!.

The briefing was brief and amusingly different. It’s not clear how much Zodiac has taken over the CDC, but they at least had chance to get communications this time. “We know you’re on to us, it’s too late”. Then a single other card, to scratch off if you hadn’t opened box 6 or 7. We’ve opened both so left the card unscratched for now: we’ll look at it at the end of the campaign to see how things would have worked instead. Still, amusing to think that potentially players could reach here having not found anything more than vague hints that something is a little off but not opened the boxes, so otherwise still be going along with the CDC plans as normal – only to have Zodiac declare “We know you’re on to us!” and throw a wobbly.

There were no other cards, so no changes to set-up; nor could anything jump out at us mid-game, with the next card being the usual “draw at the end of your first game” in the month. Nonetheless, Nicole was convinced the briefing was a warning. In fact, she was convinced that whichever characters we took into the game would be killed at the end of the month! I didn’t think any such thing, so she decided that I had to choose both characters and “on your head be it” if something happened to them.

It seems she still hasn’t forgiven the game for the Paranoid Soldier twist!

We had two permanent Vaccine Factories on the board from last game, so were looking forward to clearing out a bunch of cities and saving the world as best we could. However, it wasn’t going to be easy – our first infected city, and final Permanent Military Base, was in Kolkata – bringing us to two in Asia, home to most of our Faded cities. Sigh. Our other threes were a triple of red cubes in Beijing and a triple of Faded in St Petersburg.

We (well, I – see above) decided to take Valerie the Virologist and the newly joined Immunologist Iain – making them co-workers to aid their curing attempts. As Iain I started with a decent hand towards a Red cure – two Red cards plus the wildcard-stickered Washington, plus Cairo – useful for allowing us to start in Cairo knowing it would not be hit by Accelerated Incubation. For our October win bonus, we had three roadblocks to place – these went on the three roads out of St Petersburg, figuring we could afford to let it panic a few times but otherwise ignore it, and removing a Faded concern from the game.

Our focus early was on Vaccines and Sabotage. We began in Cairo and I went first, taking my turn to move to Riyadh, build some new C4, blow up the base there and move back to safety in Cairo. Meanwhile Nicole used Valerie’s powers to remove a few Faded from Kolkata and prepared to pick up a set of Vaccines. I’d drawn a fourth red, so moved to Tokyo (for which Nicole had the card) and took it from her remotely using our Co-Workers. Cure done!

However, the first epidemic hit after Nicole’s second turn and although we’d cured Red, we hadn’t actually dealt with the triple cubes in Beijing. Naturally, our newly infected city was Seoul, and it reappeared in the first two cards. Double outbreak! Neither city had seen an outbreak before, so it only took them to Unstable – but we finally reached the point of a full half of the cities on the map having Panic stickers.

My turn, fairly naturally, was to be thankful I’d just cured Red and move through both Seoul and Beijing clearing up all the cubes. Phew! Nicole spent her time taking advantage of the regional borders (no military bases in Africa) and Vaccinated both Cairo and Khartoum – two Faded cities out, and our second Research Station permanently protected 

But Faded were reappearing in Kolkata and Delhi, and most black cards appearing in our hands were turning up for me, making the ordering of our characters unfortunate. When our second epidemic came, placing three more Faded figures in Mumbai, things looked distinctly less good, especially as it immediately popped again to give us two more outbreaks and a ton more Faded figures.

I lined up with some Vaccines and the newly drawn Kolkata card to prepare an assault on the central issue. I took two actions to Vaccinate the empty (but Faded) Bangkok and prepared to spend the following turn moving into Kolkata, from where I could Sabotage the base directly, clear all the Faded in one action using Iain’s power, and Vaccinate the city for good. That’d place us in a much better position for the next few turns.

But we were further through the deck than I’d thought, and instead of being in the latter half of the second stack, we were just breaching the third. And the epidemic was right at the top, triggering just two turns after the second. It drew Riyadh – not great, giving yet more Faded on the board – but more problematic was the fact we were about to draw three cards out of seven, and at least two of them were adjacent triple Faded cities.

The first card was Beijing. It had swiftly refilled with cubes but was still OK.

The second was Mumbai. Two outbreaks and a bunch more adjacent cities suddenly sitting at 3 Faded once again.

The third card was Delhi. It popped for the second time in that phase, and with it caused three more outbreaks – ending the game in a sudden loss! We felt like we’d barely got started but the game was over. We’d vaccinated three Faded cities – progress which will at least hold over – and sabotaged one base, which cuts down our potential targets but at least makes Vaccinating more Faded cities a lot easier. But our team was out for now and we’re on to Late November for take 2 – and Faded Asia now has a lot more Panic stickers on it than before, including our second Collapsing city in the form of Mumbai.

(The expected fall of St Petersburg, on the other hand, had never come to pass. St Petersburg had never shown up and the roadblocks had no effect on the game at all. Sigh.)

The end of game Legacy card was simply the win bonus scratch panel – no resolution of the Zodiac threat as Nicole had worried about. That said, who knows what the start of December may bring? We’re always logging which characters we use in which month, after all. But that Legacy card will have to wait. Anyway, Zodiac had clearly done their damage – the surge of Faded outbreaks and loss was clearly their doing.

For the end of game upgrades – which we almost forgot about in our sudden-loss despondency – we took another set of equipment stickers (another Grenade belt, another Riot Shield, and a second Aerosol Unit after Nicole had built the first during the game), plus the Shady Background character upgrade for Iain – we want to be able to get rid of that Kolkata military base ASAP next game.

I’m still eager to move onto the next game, but Nicole was annoyed by the loss and that may slow her willingness to play the next round. Scheduling the next game was already looking tricky with our upcoming calendars, so we’ll have to see how long it waits and how we’re feeling next time we have an opportunity (probably back in line with the real calendar again). But I think if we can Vaccinate a few more cities and start seeing the benefit of that, we’ll be excited to hit the end game.

Onwards…to late November!

Edit: this has now been played and chronicled here.
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Laura Blachek
United States
charlotte hall
Maryland
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Wow, it sounds like you had a rough ealy November!
Enjoy your last two or three games! We just finished December this afternoon... That last game played out way differently than i expected it to....
 
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