February (Session 3)
Medic - Dr. A. E. Atchoo (pilot ability; treat connected city once per turn)
Quarantine Specialist - Mal Arhya
Generalist - Running de Chancla
Researcher - Sika Treese (pronounced SEE-kuh)
One Quiet Night
Flexible Aid Package
Starting Research Stations:
As Dr. Atchoo prepared the room for the team meeting, he halfway smiled. The news from the higher ups wasn’t good. COdA-403a had now become untreatable. This was certainly devastating news to follow the horrible failures in the month of January. So many people would be suffering in the Middle East and India with no relief available to them. However, not all was lost. A new quarantine initiative was being rolled out to help keep the infection rates under control and a couple of new team members would be coming onboard to help. In spite of things continuing to worsen with COdA-403a, Dr. Atchoo had confidence that they now had what they needed to swing this battle back in humanity’s favor.
“Morning, Atchoo,” said Running de Chancla as she briskly entered the room. Somewhere from a nearby cubicle “Gezhuntheit!” was heard. Dr. Atchoo chuckled a bit thinking about how appropriately Running’s tribal elders had named her; she always seemed to be in motion. It was a good trait, as she always seemed to get more done than everybody else.
“Morning, Running,” he said cheerfully. “I take it you read the briefing as well?”
“Yeah, good news to try to cover up the bad,” she said, sighing. “I am kind of bummed that they reassigned MRSA and Yun. Do you know who is coming in place of them?”
Before Atchoo could respond, a voice from the door said, “One of the replacements is me.” Atchoo and Running turned to see an attractive African woman enter the room.
“Mal Arhya, quarantine specialist on assignment from the Johannesburg offices. With this new quarantine initiative, it makes sense they would want my expertise on this.”
“I think we’ve got this, but the extra help is welcome,” Running said with a bit of spite.
“Oh, you mean you’ve got it like you had it last month?” Mal said, not backing down. “Then you definitely need me.”
Atchoo was thankful he could interrupt the conversation as he noticed the fourth team member had entered the room at some point during the exchange.
“Running and Mal, allow me to introduce our final team member, Sika Treese. Sika and I worked together at the Miami office for a few years. She is by far the best researcher I’ve known. She will be a great help to us all.”
Running shot a sideways glance at Mal, then said, “It’s great to meet you, Sika. Why don’t you join us at the table?”
“Sorry, I need to stand for the moment. Sore back. I’ll just be back here, sipping my tea.”
Atchoo gave Sika a quick smirk and then said, “Well, then, why don’t we start the briefing?”
Status Report: 1 Feb
Infection Level 1: Karachi, London, Essen
Infection Level 2: Bangkok, Mumbai, Buenos Aires
Infection Level 3: St. Petersburg, Algiers, Sidney
Research Stations: Atlanta, Taipei, Tehran
Dr. Atchoo took the initiative to head to Sidney to eliminate the Infection risk there while Running went to Mumbai to establish quarantine procedures.
"I'm the best person for the job," Running said in a mocking voice. "Yeah, but who was the first to get the quarantines established?" But in the back of her mind, she remembered the reports that came out of St. Petersburg in early January about the riots that broke out due to outbreaks. She wondered how safe it was to be in the cities being infected by COdA-403a, since it was untreatable. So, she headed to Jakarta just to be safe.
As she settled in, word came that an epidemic had broken out in Bogotá followed by an Outbreak in Algiers. So much for a quiet start to February..
Due to the already deteriorating situation in St. Petersburg, Sika traveled there via the research station in Tehran due to restricted air travel in an out of St. Petersburg and helped the teams there bring the infection threat level down to 2. But even with the small triumph came more heartbreaking news - Bangkok had been raised to Infection Level 3 and Bogotá suffered an Outbreak.
After giving direction to the teams in Buenos Aires to set up a quarantine, Mal headed to the Middle East to help with the quarantines efforts there, making sure Baghdad was protected. She wasn't about to let Running show her up. After refining some protocols, she knew at least one member of the team would be able to get more done with their time in the future.
Dr. Atchoo in the meantime requisitioned a plane and flew to Kolkata and then traveled to Bangkok to eliminate the infection threat there. The Thai government was more than happy to repay him by giving him their high tech supersonic jet to fly back to Miami in preparation for efforts to help clean up the mess caused by the Bogota Outbreak.
"I am not going back into that mess," Running said as she sailed from Jakarta to Delhi. "Mal can deal with it. Besides, Atchoo needs some help in South America." After chartering a flight to Bogotá, she was able to reduce the threat levels in both Bogotá and Buenos Aires (the quarantine protocols there had prevented an Outbreak previously). As she settled into the office in Buenos Aires, Running got incredible news. The CDC had found an experimental therapy that seemed to be effective for each disease even for COdA-403a. And, it was easy to implement, which made it available to all the infectious diseases around the world.
"Now we'll see who is the most important member of this team, Mal," Running said as she looked into how to get this new protocol going.
St. Petersburg continued to struggle as it returned to Infection Level 3. However, Sika was still there to coordinate efforts and reduce it to Level 2 before heading to Algiers to re-establish the quarantine. It was at this point that the team made a decision to have Running implement the new experimental therapy in Cairo and Istanbul to prevent possible Outbreaks in the future. The therapy worked and the infection threat in both cities was eliminated.
Mal wasn't about to be shown up like this. She called in some favors and sacrificed some research time to make sure the next implementation of the therapy would be issued by her. "Let's see who comes out on top, Running.. oh, wait, it's going to be me, of course," she said as she finished helping re-establish the quarantine protocols in Mumbai.
Her opportunity came quickly as another Epidemic flared up in Moscow. Mal quickly sent out orders for Miami and Moscow to reduce their Infection Level to 2, which kept the cities safe from Outbreaks. Running was monitoring her activities, though, and made sure that Mal's glory would be short-lived as she made sure to set up another round of experimental treatments.
Atchoo, after treating the populace of Miami to eliminate infection risk, headed to Sao Paulo to collect research that Sika forwarded to him. This brought them even closer to curing the yellow disease. However, Atchoo had made a lot of progress with his own research into the blue disease and was about to make a breakthrough.
Running was able to process more research for the yellow disease and had the team close to curing it. However, the Infection Level went to 3 in Moscow and Manila. This required Sika to charter a flight from Algiers to Manila to treat the red disease, but it allowed her to get to Taipei to await the arrival of Mal. Sika had discovered the last sequencing information needed to help Mal cure the red disease!
Mal set up quarantines again in Moscow and Mumbai and met up with Sika in Taipei to prepare for curing the red disease.
After finishing some treatments in Buenos Aires and Miami, Dr. Atchoo waited patiently in the Miami offices for Running so he could give her part of his yellow disease research. However, he barely had a chance to rest as word came Washington, DC that a major Epidemic had broken out.
Quickly, Running sent a text message to the team - "I got this" - and issued orders to remotely treat London and Essen. This was quickly followed by another text from Mal saying, "So do I", quickly giving orders to issue remote treatment of Algiers and Washington. This saved the people of Algiers, as infections increased again there.
Running was able to get the necessary research from Dr. Atchoo in Miami and then headed for Atlanta to await the arrival of Sika to provide the last data for the yellow disease. The blue disease flared up again in London, Essen and St. Petersburg, but the team was confident that they would avoid the possible Outbreaks that could happen there.
In Taipei, Sika handed the remaining data for the red disease to Mal. "You definitely have this, Mal," Sika said, grinning. "I'll see you back at the CDC in March." With that, Sika bid Mal farewell and headed off for her shuttle flight to Atlanta.
Mal finished up her work with the red disease, then implemented her protocols for efficiency and headed off to St. Petersburg to bring down the Infection Level there. She didn't realize, though, that Running had already appropriated her protocols to make sure he had all the bases covered in case something went wrong before she could provide the cure for the yellow disease.
However, there was only celebration as both Dr. Atchoo and Running de Chancla provided the cures for the blue disease and the yellow disease!
End Status Report
Relationships Are A Great Addition: If you couldn't tell in the story, we picked Co-Workers (Atchoo and Sika) and Rivals (Running and Mal). Rivals seemed overpowered, but only in the way that it played out for us. If either of the other two players had drawn the Remote Treatment Event, the game would have played out very differently and would have been a lot more difficult. I did make sure to verify at the beginning of play that Remote Treatment could be used on the Treat Disease resistant COdA-403a.
Not Your Ordinary Quarantine Specialist: I kind of liked the blending of the Quarantine Specialist with the Colonel role from State of Emergency. However, we did miss the normal blocking ability of the Quarantine Specialist. It probably would have helped to control COdA-403a a bit easier.
What Happens When A Player Is Psychologically Scarred?: Well, we took care of our friend's paranoia about getting a scar by giving Running de Chancla the Grizzled trait. She will be fearless now.
Missed It By That Much..: We were really close to eradicating red and thinking back, we probably could have done it. However, it probably would have ended the game with a few more Outbreaks. The map is bad enough as it is, so we went for the win.
Hope This One Works: We weren't able to drop another research station this game, so we took the Forecaster trait for Mal (quarantine specialist). We figured it would give her more flexibility with her "anywhere" quarantine action.
The Twists Keep Getting Better: Some players on BGG have commented that the plot twists are predictable, but so far we have enjoyed the new challenges and character changes. That might change in the future, but I think the time between plays (we usually can only play once a month, but we are working on that) and not overthinking the game leaves us open to the new discoveries each time. We have also made sure to not look up anything to spoil it (especially me).
Until next time, this is the Pandemic Squad signing off!