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Subject: We didn't even bother playing the final game (Spoilers, particularly in comments) rss

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Giles Bloxham
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At first, Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was exciting as we were opening boxes and exploring however this quickly grew monotonous.

As we came towards December, I started to get a little excited again. This excitement was dampened in November due to our goal being completely unachievable in both attempts, not because we of our poor strategy but simply because we didn't draw the required cards.

Still, I had hopes for December. Immediately after discovering our ultimate goal, the whole group was annoyed. Again, we would be completely reliant on drawing particular cards,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
with no real way to increase our odd so late in the game.


We held on for a long time in our first game of December, despite this, we did not draw the cards we needed and had no chance whatsoever of winning.

After playing through the whole campaign, we didn't even play the final game in December. Why? Winning would be reliant on unlikely card draws, we could easily lose from bad luck and any win would not provide any sense of achievement, rather just be due to drawing the right cards.

Winning is not so important among the players in my group, but the process of playing this game was simply not fun for 3 out of 4 players in my group.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was the most disapointing game I have ever played.

I recommend this game only to people who are fine to go along for the ride and don't mind having the outcome of games be based mostly on luck.

You don't play Pandemic Legacy Season 2, it plays you.
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Curtiss Cox
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Re: We didn't even bother playing the final game
Gilberga wrote:
At first, Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was exciting as we were opening boxes and exploring however this quickly grew monotonous.

As we came towards December, I started to get a little excited again. This excitement was dampened in November due to our goal being completely unachievable in both attempts, not because we of our poor strategy buy simply because we didn't draw the required cards.

Still, I had hopes for December. Immediately after discovering our ultimate goal, the whole group was annoyed. Again, we would be completely reliant on drawing particular cards,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
with no real way to increase our odd so late in the game.


We held on for a long time in our first game of December, despite this, we did not draw the cards we needed until and had no chance whatsoever of winning.

After playing through the whole campaign, we didn't even play the final game in December. Why? Winning would be reliant on unlikely card draws, we could easily lose from bad luck and any win would not provide any sense of achievement, rather just be sure to getting the cards we need.

Winning is not so important among the players in my group, but the process of playing this game was simply not fun for 3 out of 4 players in my group.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was the most disapointing game I have ever played.

I recommend this game only to people who are fine to go along for the ride and don't mind having the outcome of games be based mostly on luck.

You don't play Pandemic Legacy Season 2, it plays you.


I'm going to avoid spoiler tags since this is about the final game...

It is not just random luck, it should be executable if you have been doing the things the game tells you to do in the previous months:

Did you already have or build radio towers in place to send cards to players quickly?
Had you been inoculating the Player deck to your advantage? (i.e. taking out the cards of colors you would not need so the red is more likely to show up?)
Did you use your Monitor actions to search through the deck?
Did you use your End of Game points to buy player abilities that allow you to manipulate the deck and the discard pile?
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Giles Bloxham
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Re: We didn't even bother playing the final game
I agree that it is not just random luck, but it can easily be impossible due to luck.
Given that you don't know what the final goal will be in December, there is no way we could plan so specifically for it.
We did not inoculate as much as we should have however this did not seem so important to us until it was too late to make a meaningful difference.
We could have spent end game points on that for the final game but we didn't even bother playing that as it simply wouldn't be fun imo. You still rely on drawing the right cards with enough time to work with them. All in all I just felt very disappointed in the design overall but especially of the final months.

With the exception of the first few months, 3 of 4 players in my group were playing simply to get through it and we weren't really enjoying it.
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Alex Fiedler
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Re: We didn't even bother playing the final game
I have to agree with Giles. PL2 was a disappointment.

We already know Pandamic is a pretty random game, but PL2 took it up a notch to new giddy heights. The deck was so large, there was no way card draws would be balanced or predictable in any way.

And since the final month was all about (SPOILERS), there's no way to win without getting incredibly lucky. That's just rubbish design.

So while the game started with so much promise, it fizzled out prior to half way, and was pretty much broken by the end. Such a shame.
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Tony Williams
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Gilberga wrote:
I agree that it is not just random luck, but it can easily be impossible due to luck.
Given that you don't know what the final goal will be in December, there is no way we could plan so specifically for it.
We did not inoculate as much as we should have however this did not seem so important to us until it was too late to make a meaningful difference.
We could have spent end game points on that for the final game but we didn't even bother playing that as it simply wouldn't be fun imo. You still rely on drawing the right cards with enough time to work with them. All in all I just felt very disappointed in the design overall but especially of the final months.

With the exception of the first few months, 3 of 4 players in my group were playing simply to get through it and we weren't really enjoying it.


So first thing I'll say is that whilst you don't know what the final goal will be in December - you were told the red card element of the November goal as soon as you unlocked East Asia.

So gathering red cards in November shouldn't have been luck-based. With a bunch of red cities being left unconnected before November, and a Lookout/Navigator character, you should be able to collect those pretty easily. There's then a bit of luck in the distribution of the other colours - but there's so many of them that over two games, I think the chances of not seeing enough of them are so miniscule that it's not necessarily bad game design.

December is, of course, impossible to predict.....and there's plenty of other threads on that elsewhere here. But, with the right choice of characters/upgrades, you should be able to win it as long as you draw at least one red card.......


.....all that said, if your group didn't enjoy it, they didn't enjoy it. Can't argue with that!
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Trevor Olsen
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Tonesta78 wrote:
[q="Gilberga"]....all that said, if your group didn't enjoy it, they didn't enjoy it. Can't argue with that!


This. We had the completely opposite experience and loved the tension and challenge of December. But to each their own.
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David Ogren
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So much to unpack here. First, yes, they did essentially tell you what the final mission was. They strongly implied that the final mission would be moving the cure from Jade to Johannesburg and having a supply center in JBurg. They didn't tell you that you'd need a card to move every space, certainly, but it shouldn't have been a huge surprise either. There had to be some kind of thing to make it a challenge.

When we heard that bit, we basically all looked at each other and said "of course". The need for red cards and card control was basically the entire last part of the game, the game had been training us for it. The "you have to carry it in your body" part was unexpected (at least for us) and it did present a little trepidation, but we got through it.

As Gilberga said, you have an extraordinary ability to influence "luck" in S2. Heck there is even an ability where you can pull whatever card you want from Box 6. You could stuff some red cards in there and completely eliminate luck in December completely. It's probably not worth it if your player deck is stacked well, but it's possible. Plus, a lot of Pandemic (both legacy and non-legacy) has always been about how to minimize risk and deal with bad luck situations.

But, despite this, I'm not really defending S2. I've been thinking a lot about the game since we finished it a couple of months ago. I think the thing about S2 is that the strategic choices and hints are so critical. We got Opal early, we got the Pacific haven early, we used box Box 6 very effectively, and we exploited Lookout heavily to manipulate the discard deck. This felt great to us at the time because it made us feel like our decisions mattered. At the time it felt like a really great game design.

But, after more reflection, and reading comments here, I'm rethinking some of my entire philosophy around game design. The problem is that reward/punishment scale, especially in a legacy game. Yes, it feels great to be rewarded for picking up on a clue. But when it drives some players into despair when they don't play optimally (especially in late spring and December) it makes me wonder if that reward/punishment is too great. By putting the consequences of making strategic errors so high, and the ability to correct those errors so slim, it doesn't feel to the losing player like "well, I'll do better next time and learn from this". It feels like "how was I supposed to know I'd need red cards so badly?" and "this felt like punishment and not fun" and "what I'll learn is to never play this game again".

I love challenging cooperative games. But for most challenging games, a loss is just "we'll try again next week". Aeon's End is a very challenging game that we enjoy and we lose to it a lot. But a legacy game is different. Because you have to live with the consequences for so long severe negative consequences can make the game un-fun. It will be interesting how Aeon's End Legacy handles this.

On a similar not, we've been playing a bit of Seafall recently. (We had low expectations, and knew we likely wouldn't finish it, but I got it at a price we figured it would be worth just goofing around with.) We are running into the same problem there. One player has effectively hamstrung himself with a couple of poor choices. They used what seemed like a great strategy in the first couple of games, but now he basically has no chance of winning any game. He's trying to dig himself out, but he's probably be 30 points behind by the time he correct himself. And, by then, the game will have probably have changed completely again.

Seafall mid-game spoilers
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Essentially he went raid heavy. Now not only does he have ships with high raid and low explore (the shit stat that seems most important now), but he has a good amount of permanent enmity on the board. He's now trying to upgrade his explore stats, but that's only one point per game, and trying to establish a more sustainable way of getting resources. But he's definitely struggling now that there aren't any raiding related milestones and there's enough permanent enmity on islands and provinces to remove his easy targets).

You could say that the consequences of raiding are obvious. But he had some bad rolls on end game enmity that hurt him. Plus the game seemed to be hinting that PvP combat would be more important. He's used PvP effectively, but the enmity costs just make it hard as a sustainable strategy. (At least so far, we are probably only half way.)
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Andi Hub
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loudwalrus wrote:
But, after more reflection, and reading comments here, I'm rethinking some of my entire philosophy around game design. The problem is that reward/punishment scale, especially in a legacy game. Yes, it feels great to be rewarded for picking up on a clue. But when it drives some players into despair when they don't play optimally (especially in late spring and December) it makes me wonder if that reward/punishment is too great. By putting the consequences of making strategic errors so high, and the ability to correct those errors so slim, it doesn't feel to the losing player like "well, I'll do better next time and learn from this". It feels like "how was I supposed to know I'd need red cards so badly?" and "this felt like punishment and not fun" and "what I'll learn is to never play this game again".

First, Pandemic Season 1 can be even more unforgiving: If the blue illness becomes CoDA, you have an extremely hard time trying to contain it compared to red or black. Try winning that if half the map in November are CoDA cities and Atlanta is just a wasteland.

Second, as you said above, you know pretty early that you need a lot of different red cards. So you are under pressure to connect red cities as soon as you discover East Asia. If you do not realize that, you pretty much did not grasp the very concept of PL:S2. That thinning out your deck preferably by removing player cards of initial cities is a good way to go was clear to us, as soon as we realized that you need four different black cards for discovering the Middle East but you have only three in your deck. When you connected Moscow you need to increase your chances of drawing this one card by removing others.

I think PL:S2 is much "more" legacy as you pretty much have to focus during all individual plays on positively impacting the whole campaign. This was much more important in PL:S2 and because of that this was an even better experience for me than PL:S1.
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Tony Williams
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ringo84 wrote:

Second, as you said above, you know pretty early that you need a lot of different red cards. So you are under pressure to connect red cities as soon as you discover East Asia. If you do not realize that, you pretty much did not grasp the very concept of PL:S2. That thinning out your deck preferably by removing player cards of initial cities is a good way to go was clear to us, as soon as we realized that you need four different black cards for discovering the Middle East but you have only three in your deck. When you connected Moscow you need to increase your chances of drawing this one card by removing others.





So whilst I agree with the general principle - you've got to play the longer game in Pandemic Season 2 - our red card strategy was the diametric opposite of yours.

As soon as you discovered East Asia, you knew that you would need five red cards in November. So we consciously avoided connecting five red cities until then - because we knew that with our Captain/Lookout/Navigator, it would be a piece of cake to search those five cities that month and take the cards into hand when we needed them. Thus removing the element of luck, and any chance of getting a bad player deck distribution with all the red cards in the bottom half of the deck.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Of course it turned out that one of them (Tokyo?) - and the last one we searched, of course - was worth two, so we actually ended up with one more than we strictly needed.....


All in all, we found it a fairly straightforward month using this strategy.
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loudwalrus wrote:
So much to unpack here. First, yes, they did essentially tell you what the final mission was. They strongly implied that the final mission would be moving the cure from Jade to Johannesburg and having a supply center in JBurg. They didn't tell you that you'd need a card to move every space, certainly, but it shouldn't have been a huge surprise either. There had to be some kind of thing to make it a challenge.


So many players are mind readers.
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Giles Bloxham
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One thing I didn't mention is that we often had large time gaps between games. The importance of inoculation may have been obvious however it was clearly lost on us as we continued to play and worked towards other goals like keeping cities alive and building permanent infrastructure.

We did connect up all the red cities Asap however that only added about 8 or so red cards plus a couple with upgrades of other cards into a deck of nearly 100 cards.

We did observe the strategy of getting them into box 6, no guarantees we would draw them to be able to though with few games left.

We also observed the strategy of bringing them out of the discard pile but tbh the majority of the group no longer cared about the game since we hadn't been enjoying it for months anyway.

The luck factor isn't the only reason we did not enjoy the game. For me it all felt too samey despite the new rules being added along the way. We won a lot of our early games so we never got to add events to the deck which only amplified the monotony.

I know many will disagree with me and that's cool, we all had a different experience with the game and all have different taste. For me though, even well before the frustrating end I was regretting buying this game and only continued to play to get it finished. As I said earlier, 3 out of 4 in the group disliked the game after the initial exploration months.
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David Ogren
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Quote:
So many players are mind readers.


I don't think that's fair sarcasm. The games explicitly says that to mass produce a cure that the cure will have to be moved from Lake Baikal to J'Burg and that a supply center will have to exist in J'Burg.

The only thing about December that they don't make clear ahead of time is that "only drive/ferry allowed and one card required per move". But did you really think they were just going to let you use Administrator or Charter Flight? Another recon action wouldn't have surprised me, but I don't think you had to be a mind reader to think that there would be some challenge you would have to overcome. And I don't think that it requires a particularly huge leap of logic to anticipate the need for red cards.

I'm sympathetic to the people who say "we had long gaps between sessions and so we forgot some of the hints". We played at least once a week and it definitely helped. But I don't think it's unreasonable to say that it was strongly implied that the players would have to be the ones to make that journey and that a good number of red cards would somehow be required to complete it.
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Alex Fiedler
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I also agree that by half way through the game it got a bit boring. Same thing each game. Every now and then something interested happened, but not enough.

The big issue with the finale (December), was that you need a set number of red cards otherwise it is impossible to win. However, there are only a small number of red cities and thus, only a very small number of red cards. Considering the deck was about 100 cards (with 9-10 epidemic cards), having so few red cards in the deck means it's down to pure luck to get enough red cards to even make winning possible. That's just poor.
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Allen Brown
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ReqMan wrote:
I also agree that by half way through the game it got a bit boring. Same thing each game. Every now and then something interested happened, but not enough.

The big issue with the finale (December), was that you need a set number of red cards otherwise it is impossible to win. However, there are only a small number of red cities and thus, only a very small number of red cards. Considering the deck was about 100 cards (with 9-10 epidemic cards), having so few red cards in the deck means it's down to pure luck to get enough red cards to even make winning possible. That's just poor.


We had the same number of cards for every color at the end.
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David Ogren
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Quote:
We had the same number of cards for every color at the end.


We were pretty close to even as well. We also (of course) had the decryption key which was especially useful because you could actually use it multiple times as a red card via broker (use as red card, broker trades blue for the key, uses satellite to transmit to carrier, repeat if necessary). Plus I think we had 2 monitors left to essentially draw a bonus eight cards. IIRC, we never had a turn where the carrier couldn't move due to the lack of the correct player card.

Don't get me wrong, December was still a challenge. Supplies were so thin that we had a lot of incidents. (Even with the number of hollow men cards in the infection deck.)

But you had so many tools in your arsenal to manipulate the player deck and the player discard, that it's not fair to say that winning December depended on trying to draw a handful of red cards out of a 100 card deck. There's no way you should have a 100 card player deck (if you do, that's your own fault).

As I pointed out there was also a character who could pick which card they wanted from Box 6. That eliminates all luck. So does the character that allows you to exchange any two player cards for any discard. With that character as carrier you could literally win December even if you drew only one red card all of December.

Again, I'm not saying S2 was perfect. I'm just saying that if you think December was just luck, you were missing the tools you had to manipulate that "luck".
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Curtiss Cox
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100 player cards?!?

As soon as we received the uodate that caused more player cards = more epidemics, we STOPPED connecting new cities unless we had to, and we began curating the deck heavily. Most games, we had between 6-7 epidemics.

And I'm glad we stopped adding to the grid, because if we'd kept adding every city's we found, we would have made December even harder by having a cross-cross network of round-about paths.
 
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Alex Fiedler
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Yes, that is the only way to really win. Problem is, there's no way to know the HUGE importance of red cards, and culling the player deck early or even mid game. So if you don't cull the deck, it's game over, with no way to know that's what you need to do. That's pretty poor design, and very one dimensional. Disappointing.

Infact, one of the objectives for most of the game was to connect cities. So that's what the game was telling us to do, and so that's what we did. Again, little did we know that's the opposite of what we should have been doing to win.
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Terry Herrin
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With the combination of not wanting more Epidemics and having a limited number of supply cubes, our group kept the player deck limited to 51 city cards max most of the game to keep it at 7 Epidemics. Near the end it went to 57 cards for 8 Epidemics. We never considered doing anything else. That meant removing player cards and only connecting cities when absolutely necessary.

Once we realized we would need red player cards to win, we decided to not try to win December on the first try. Instead, we did everything we could to make winning on the second try easier. We connected a path to J'berg that consisted of seven moves: 3 red, 2 black, 1 yellow and 1 blue. After the 1st try loss we bumped population 1 cities up to 2 to guarantee they wouldn't fall. We chose the One Quiet Night and Discard up to 4 Utopia infection cards for events, since the loss gave us two of them.

When we went for the win we gave the Sanitation Engineer the sample since he could pull needed cards from the discard pile. We also had the card giver stay with him so any needed cards he drew he could give to the sample carrier. We connected a few red cities which put the red player cards in the discard pile, where they could be picked up by the Sanitation Engineer carrier needing them. Finally, we had the character who could build the supply station with 3 cards and 2 cubes go straight to J'berg and do the build. With the first December prep, and both Event cards being drawn for use near the end, the second December win was pretty easy.
 
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Allen Brown
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ReqMan wrote:
Yes, that is the only way to really win. Problem is, there's no way to know the HUGE importance of red cards, and culling the player deck early or even mid game. So if you don't cull the deck, it's game over, with no way to know that's what you need to do. That's pretty poor design, and very one dimensional. Disappointing.

Infact, one of the objectives for most of the game was to connect cities. So that's what the game was telling us to do, and so that's what we did. Again, little did we know that's the opposite of what we should have been doing to win.


What are you talking about?

We had every single city connected and all but 2 scratched and lost 2 games total (4 players). Of course it makes sense to cull the decks, but towards the end it's actually better to have more hollows stack together. Either way, it is not "1 dimensional." The path to the path is hugely different depending on what you do and what happens.
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Frank Pelkofer
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Gilberga wrote:
One thing I didn't mention is that we often had large time gaps between games. The importance of inoculation may have been obvious however it was clearly lost on us as we continued to play and worked towards other goals like keeping cities alive and building permanent infrastructure.


We also noticed that going more than a week between games was bad for our overall strategy. We instituted a "rule" halfway through that every player had to read their character abilities aloud at the start of the game. We found it helpful in remembering what all of the options were. We lost at least 1 game that we could have won because we forgot about someone's ability.
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NocturnalAllen wrote:

What are you talking about?

We had every single city connected and all but 2 scratched and lost 2 games total (4 players). Of course it makes sense to cull the decks, but towards the end it's actually better to have more hollows stack together. Either way, it is not "1 dimensional." The path to the path is hugely different depending on what you do and what happens.


What are YOU talking about?
There is only ONE way to win this game... get X number of Y coloured cards in December. That is a singular path. So not sure what you're talking about. Perhaps a different game?

Secondly, the game actually leads you to connect cities (via the objective) which then increases the size of the player deck. This in turn, makes getting X number of Y cards at the end even more difficult.

So in the end, it doesn't matter what you do during the rest of the game, in December you need to draw those 3 color X cards to win. If you dont draw them, which is possible regardless of the size of the player deck, you lose. Nothing you can do about it, as you are completely at the mercy of the player deck. This end game "goal" is definitely 1 dimensional, and there is only 1 path which is dependent on luck.

Of course, if you enjoyed that, power to you. We did not, and I consider this very poor design.
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ReqMan wrote:
NocturnalAllen wrote:

What are you talking about?

We had every single city connected and all but 2 scratched and lost 2 games total (4 players). Of course it makes sense to cull the decks, but towards the end it's actually better to have more hollows stack together. Either way, it is not "1 dimensional." The path to the path is hugely different depending on what you do and what happens.


What are YOU talking about?
There is only ONE way to win this game... get X number of Y coloured cards in December. That is a singular path. So not sure what you're talking about. Perhaps a different game?

Secondly, the game actually leads you to connect cities (via the objective) which then increases the size of the player deck. This in turn, makes getting X number of Y cards at the end even more difficult.

So in the end, it doesn't matter what you do during the rest of the game, in December you need to draw those 3 color X cards to win. If you dont draw them, which is possible regardless of the size of the player deck, you lose. Nothing you can do about it, as you are completely at the mercy of the player deck. This end game "goal" is definitely 1 dimensional, and there is only 1 path which is dependent on luck.

Of course, if you enjoyed that, power to you. We did not, and I consider this very poor design.


I said there are multiple paths to the path, meaning the setup of characters, routes, and decks. We made it a high probability of drawing the right color cards and had many abilities and structures to help us do it. The one objective is linear, but there are many ways to accomplish it. Season 1 made you go to certain locations and turn in cards. How is that different? It isn't.

I liked Season 1 more overall, and I agree that certain outcomes are affected by card draws a little more in Season 2, but to say that it was completely up to card draw is just plain ridiculous. We stacked the infection deck, too, so that more hollows were drawn instead of cubes. There are plenty of strategies that help with the one path.
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Alex Fiedler
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It was completely up to the card draw. We had every red card in the deck. By half way through, we only had 2 of them. The rest were near the bottom of the deck.
On the other hand, if we had started with those red cards in hand, it would have been an easy, and rather boring, win.

As I said, it doesnt matter what you do the rest of the game, it all depends on drawing the correct cards in that one month, which is complely random.
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You could draw 1 red and still win that scenario with the right abilities, but you have 2 shots and plenty of chances to thin the player deck.
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So, in PL:S2 you could still have extremely bad luck and lose the game due to bad card draws (even though there are several ways to mitigate that). That is like regular pandemic. If you don't like that, fine. But this kind of randomness is inherent in most coops and not bad game design (basically being guaranteed to win for halfway decent play in coops would be bad).

PL:S2 in addition greatly awards good play and long term strategy over the long game. That is good game design and why I liked it so much. If you do not realize how important culling your deck is, I think it is okay that you will have a much harder time to win December.
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