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Subject: Pandemic - our first and second games (2P) rss

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Doug Adams
Australia
Oakleigh
Victoria
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We broke out the newly arrived Pandemic this morning, and have been having a bit of fun with it.

Our initial impressions were uncertain. Not sure what to make of it. On one hand, it's well put together, it all seems to work, nice components, that intoxicating smell of the eastern published game. On the other hand, where's the tension? Perhaps we're not seeing it in its best light.

In our opening game, two players, Doug the Scientist was dealt an initial hand of four yellow cards. A quick check of the rules tells me that the cure for Coeliac Disease (yellow) is obvious - lots of cold baths and avoid ingesting gluten. Bang, yellow is cured in Atlanta on turn 1, action 1. Handshakes and Nobel prizes all round.

On turn 2, Doug triumphantly marches to South America and stamps out Coeliac Disease and the game suddenly lost 25% of it's tension.

Turn 3 and beyond - what do we now do with yellow cards? Not sure... at the moment I guess discard them when we get to our hand limit. Do they have value as tickets now? We ended up using them as routing conduits as we travelled the globe.

Meanwhile in Europe, Janet the Construction Hut Expert has been erecting research labs to confront the onset of Galloping Black Mumps. Doug joins her there and we spend a few turns stamping out black cubes where they are building up.

We had to break the game at that point and go to work. At this stage our choices seem to be to build a hand of five cards of a colour (not yellow, and Doug only needs four cards - he's a Scientist), while dealing with cube build up around the globe.

Sitrep... Galloping Black Mumps under control, but Red Dandruff is spreading in the east, while Blue Pox is starting to be noticed in the north. One epidemic card has been dealt with.

Fun game, but not exactly gut-wrenching... yet.

We returned to the game that evening... when we left, our heroes Doug The Scientist and Janet the Builder had dealt with Coeliac Disease (yellow) on action 1, turn 1, and were high fiving over just how easy it all is.

Wham, bam ... about five turns later it was all over and we'd lost.

Several outbreaks ... er broke out ... and triggered chain reactions. Before you new it, the Outbreak-o-meter had bumped to the skull and crossbones and it was game over. I assume you do bump it for every instance of an outbreak inside a chain reaction.

Still, it got the "I want to play it again" demand, so we set up and tried the easy game again.

Doug was the Despatcher, Janet was the Card Passer. The penny had begun to drop that it was more about the cure and containment, rather than total eradication. Even so, the game nearly got away from us again, as we methodically dealt with Blue Pox, Red Dandruff and Black Galloping Mumps ... curing them in that order.

The sacrifice we had to make was basically ignore Coeliac Disease in South America and Africa. Doug hurried over there as the deck was dwindling. Janet was determined to eradicate Red Dandruff in Asia, and was touring the region stamping on single cubes. Hysterically, I screamed at her to leave it as Asian Red Dandruff couldn't hurt us now, but Coeliac Disease could and we had to cure it, fast. Some nifty despatching and card passing saw us cure Coeliac Disease with one card remaining in the draw pile. Phew, a narrow victory, and this was the easy four card version.

Oh, I also discovered we have two Algiers cards and no Cairo.

Thoughts - I like it. Easier to break out than the now groaning Lord of the Rings box for a quick cooperative fix. Much more interesting to play than Shadows Over Camelot (grail, grail, grail, ...). Pandemic is probably not a game I'd play too often - I can see it getting a bit repetitive. Should be possible to cobble some solo rules too.
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Randy Cox
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Interesting, my wife and I have now played twice on successive nights. Both times, we were randomly dealt the Scientist and Medic (we've each played each role once).

In both games (one with 4 epidemics, one with 5), we won easily with an anticlimactic cure of the blue pox in some far-away research clinic (St. Petersburg and Tehran, I believe). Both times we had plenty of cards left and hadn't yet encountered the final epidemic. One game saw two outbreaks and the other saw one.

As to wiping out Yellow Fever on turn one and eliminating 25% of the tension, I wouldn't say that. I'd say it wiped out about 2% of the tension. Sure, those cards don't matter, but the other cities are the tense part and if y'all had only a couple of yellow sites (so few that you eradicated the disease on turn 1), then the cards that keep getting recirculated with every epidemic probably aren't very yellow-heavy.

Anyway, it's a fun little game, even if it's awfully simple. We need to try it with all 6 epidemics. But as long as we keep drawing the Scientist/Medic combo, I don't see that it would be all that difficult. If we get stuck with dispatcher/card trader, then even the 4 epidemic game could be hazardous.
 
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Doug Adams
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Thanks for the input, Randy. I wrote that report over 2 days, and the "25% of the tension" bit came from the first half of the first game. The game bit us badly when we resumed.
 
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