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Subject: Better than S1: Review on Completion - SPOILERS! rss

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Abraham Quicksilver
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Pandemic Season 2 SPOILERS - After completing season


First up, I preferred this over Season 1. I liked the optimism of exploring and growing and finding more.

Season 1 always felt like a series of variations of conventional Pandemic. Whereas Season 2 really feels like a new game in the same history (future).

How we played

3 of us played and we kept the same characters throughout the game. We play 18 games with a final win.

Playing with the same characters throughout meant we were very invested in them. The end month in particular was a real wrench to the heart.



Mechanics

I'm not doing a rules review but I will point out some notable features.

Scars: Although functional (and varied) I didn't think they quite had the emotional/story impact as the S1 versions.

Satellite Towers and Shelters: Was nice to see some new types of structures, the satellite towers especially make the game play quite different and open up new possibilities. The towers absolutely should be part of your end game strategy.

Character cards: Really liked these, especially the little scratch off scar/death markers. We found very early that the cards were not the same and that made us really wary of getting any wound. Knowing that S1 expects you to get through characters and that there were a lot of cards and the Haven Worker cards made us feel that death was just around the corner. A nice tension ratchet.

The end game flip was great and really caught us on the hop - as I think it does for most - you think you know how to play the game, then suddenly all bets are off.



Components

We had none of the quality issues that I've seen others complain about (the quality of the stickers and that some cards are slightly different sizes)

Quality throughout was great.

The map does get a little crowded and we missed a couple of things because basically everything was hidden under piles of stuff.


Also, I just have to say that the thrill of opening boxes, pealing stickers, scratch and reveals and all the other elements of this type if legacy cannot be under-estimated.

Yes, I know there are lots of simpler ways of handling these reveals, but there really is a delicious delight in finding out you can open Box 6 or reveal square 56.



Story

I enjoyed the story so much more here than in S1. There is a real sense of exploring. We never felt we knew what was coming next. We played to try and second guess events but were often wrong.

I really enjoyed the outgoing aspect - whereas S1 feels more gloomy and oppressive, S2 felt almost exuberant at times.

The twist in S2 is a cracker, again very emotional I thought. S1 was almost predictable.

Between flavour text and other cards you are given some good ideas of what you should go and do, but you never feel as though you are on rails.

In fact the big clue about where all the labs are we completely forgot about by accident. Meant we never actually found all the labs.

However, on the same token we had let Joburg fall and had to do a minor cheat in December because we recovered the wrong city.

In retrospect I understand when people say the middle section is a bit "rinse and repeat" but it never felt that way at the time as we were building out our world and finding new places and features.



Finish

I've always felt that Matt Leacock's Achille's heel is the end-game. To me all of his games fail at the end and lose their drive and impact.

Sadly, I think this is partly true here as well. The twist in game play is terrific, but somehow actually winning was a bit of letdown.

In part this is because you have to approach the final rounds very methodically to achieve them.

But Leacock nevers manages to increase the pressure at the end of his games - there is never a sense of the Big Finish.

Which is a real shame, because up until the last 4 turns of the whole season I really enjoyed myself.


Difficulty

Our experience was that it was reasonably easy, but our final score wasn't very good. In essence we always played to meet the objectives and worried little about the affect of epidemics in the cities - we lost a lot of cities!!

We had a middle patch of losing a 4 games in a row - but this was entirely our fault for failing to open all the dossier patches.

We played in three sessions, but I must admit we were constantly getting rules wrong to a greater or lesser extent. I think that those that are finding it either very hard or very easy are missing rule(s) too.

Definitely do the game start and game end in order by the book. I'd also recommend re-reading the rules every 3 or 4 months to make sure you are still on track.


Replayability

Well, technically you could replay December again, but once its over it is over for this box.

But I would play S2 from scratch all over again. There are lots of different ways to explore and strategies to adopt. Alright you would not have the fun of the surprises but I think there is enough game there to warrant a replay. I never felt that way about S1.




Conclusion:

I liked Season 2 so much more than S1 - and I really liked S1.

I would gladly have played S2 in one long binge and would gladly play it again from scratch.

I would strongly recommend playing as a binge over a few days or weeks at most, not months.

Finally, £70 worked out at £1 an hour over 30 hours or so - definitely value for money.



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Phil K
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Love love love this review! We just finished a couple days ago, and I agree with so many things. I'm definitely in the camp that S2 is hands down more fun and less predictable, and feels different from OG Pandemic with the exploration aspect. While I got mid-game fatigue with S1, I didn't feel that way with S2 because there was so much of the board to discover. Like you describe so perfectly, "S2 felt almost exuberant at times." We were embarrassingly overjoyed to get the power of flight, even though that's basic Pandemic; I guess being deprived of it for many months made us appreciate it more

I also like how the towers had multiple neat purposes, they were much more interesting than buildings we got in S1. Love the new Search mechanic, further adding to the sense of discovery and giving flavor text as we go. And that twist!!! We were floored. What a great way to build off of S1.
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Jonathan Powell
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We just finished the game. We won the second game in December.

Thanks for the review. Agreed with a lot you said. The middle months we’re a bit of rinse and repeat, but we really enjoyed them. The end however was a disappointment and to us. We understood what we had to do, but weren’t interested in doing it. The end game win condition was a boring painful slow slog. The game should end on a high note, but it didn’t. These aren’t sour grapes. We won.

December wasn’t fun. It wasn’t designed to be fun. I’d be interested to hear someone argue that December was fun for them.
 
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Ray Taylor
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ukraineboo wrote:
We just finished the game. We won the second game in December.

Thanks for the review. Agreed with a lot you said. The middle months we’re a bit of rinse and repeat, but we really enjoyed them. The end however was a disappointment and to us. We understood what we had to do, but weren’t interested in doing it. The end game win condition was a boring painful slow slog. The game should end on a high note, but it didn’t. These aren’t sour grapes. We won.

December wasn’t fun. It wasn’t designed to be fun. I’d be interested to hear someone argue that December was fun for them.

Sure I can see how it was not "fun", not sure self-sacrifice ever could be right? In the end Pandemic Legacy S1 & 2 are about the story and I thought the story was pretty good (for a board game), we did not see the twist about us being Faded coming at all (even though there were so many hints).

So in short, did I think December was fun, nope I guess not. It was tense, exciting & sad though, and it was very satisfying playing it! Pretty sure all stories don't need to be fun.
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Abraham Quicksilver
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I wonder if December didn't get the playtesting that the rest of the got?

But the, like I say, Leacock just isn't good at finales. Solid games that don't have the grand finish.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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aqsgames wrote:
But I would play S2 from scratch all over again. There are lots of different ways to explore and strategies to adopt.

Really? I would think that once you know where everything is, the game would be pretty easy. Go straight for the havens & labs; wait until July to recon the middle east; avoid connecting unnecessary cities (or connect them late in the campaign purely for score); etc.
 
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Abraham Quicksilver
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Antistone wrote:
aqsgames wrote:
But I would play S2 from scratch all over again. There are lots of different ways to explore and strategies to adopt.

Really? I would think that once you know where everything is, the game would be pretty easy. Go straight for the havens & labs; wait until July to recon the middle east; avoid connecting unnecessary cities (or connect them late in the campaign purely for score); etc.


I think there were a lot of alternate routes and strategies that would be worth exploring. I wouldn't *buy* another copy, but would gladly play someone else's
 
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Geoff
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Any thoughts on whether playing season 2 before season 1 would spoil any of the twists from season 1? Getting the whole story isn’t important— just wondering if some players who haven’t done season 1 yet will wind up knowing things they can’t unknow from the season 1 story.

Thanks!
 
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Ray Taylor
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imyourskribe wrote:
Any thoughts on whether playing season 2 before season 1 would spoil any of the twists from season 1? Getting the whole story isn’t important— just wondering if some players who haven’t done season 1 yet will wind up knowing things they can’t unknow from the season 1 story.

Thanks!

There are a few things that will make more sense in season 2 if you have played season 1 first. Nothing game breaking or major though (personal opinion here, of course, your opinion on what you find major could be very different to mine)
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Geoff
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Good to hear that side of it. Also curious if playing season 1 after 2 will ruin any of the story in season 1.
 
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Ray Taylor
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imyourskribe wrote:
Good to hear that side of it. Also curious if playing season 1 after 2 will ruin any of the story in season 1.

This is really hard to answer, as I have to unlearn everything I know about season 1 and imagine everything that happened in season 2 then replay season 1 in my head.

The 2 seasons are set in the same world, and the stories are (lossley) connected, there is 1 very prominent thing that you would know going into the start of season 1 but I don't think you would know what it means and/or how it will be implemented.

If you have any intention of playing both you should play them in order
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Geoff
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Quilzar wrote:

If you have any intention of playing both you should play them in order


Would certainly be preferred, though there are some people in my group who haven’t played 1 yet but don’t want to miss out on the start of our season 2 games. Experiencing the story with friends trumps finding out a hint or two about season 1 for us, but major spoilers would have been a tough sell. I’m glad to hear there doesn’t seem to be a major issue, with your caveat noted.

Thank you!
 
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Abraham Quicksilver
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If you have a choice play S1 first, but really not important
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Jerrith _
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My group just finished Season 2 tonight and wow - we won, but with an amazingly tight final game. (Group was 4 people, two of which I'd played S1 with, and the 4th had played S1 with another group. We used starting characters except for swapping in the immunologist once in the late / mid game, and then again at the end. )

Only 3 wins in the first part of the month, only 1 month (November) we lost completely (couldn't get 5 red cards in time - got the rest).

Our final game was amazingly tight. We literally ended up with every single hollow men figure on the board, and (checking after we won) the very next card in the infection deck was another hollow men gather.

We were actually a bit discouraged going into it - we lost early December quickly, and had been having trouble getting red cards. Luck was with us in the final game though, starting us with 2 and relatively quickly getting the rest we needed.

Having the win be as tight as it was (next infection card causing a loss) was amazing - though with it that tight, I feel like maybe it was a bit too hard / too tight.

Of course, having won with it feeling that difficult, makes us feel even happier about the win.
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Eric Fontaine
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I actually enjoyed the twist of December. I had the runner ability so was able to head to lake Baikal very quickly (as we had no permanent supply centers left to put near the reds, getting up there was very costly).

Once we figured out the final objective, we were a little dismayed. How could we do this? Who would we sacrifice?? We chose the guy who had the ability to take any card from anyone that had no scars. Sent him directly to me via dispatcher.

We got lucky, we needed 5 reds for him to get through asia, we already had uncovered 3. Found 2 more. Radio towered them to him. Alas, hollow men appeared in his way, plus he had to end up on an infested city. Two more scars... would he die? He didn't! More hollow men appeared in his path, we managed to move them away. We had 1 or 2 plague cubes out, cities were getting filled with hollow men. He had 2 moves left to get to Johannesburg. We play 4 players, all we had to do was survive 3 more turns. Avoided an epidemic with a radio tower. Mitigated lost supply cubes. Final infection card draw... WE WIN! First try december! I enjoyed it .
 
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