I played this for the first time at the recent UK Games Expo and was quite smitten that evening. Co-op games aren't usually my cup of caramel Americano, despite our group originally playing D&D back in the day, but this just seemed a load of fun even being played straight out of the shrink-wrap.
I'd had a quick solo run-through just to reacquaint myself with the rules and it all seemed pretty clear. The only thing I needed to brush up was exactly how the passing cards between players worked especially w.r.t. the researcher role. But the rules gave some clear examples and I was confident we could jump in without any problems.
Funnily enough, following comments in other threads about the 'inappropriately' big pieces, one of the first things Ralph said when I opened the box was "oh great, pieces big enough for me to pick up!". Well, at least someone is happy. We decided by the end of the evening that with a standardised stacking approach for the disease cubes, the board size / layout wasn't an issue.
I think I only spent around 5 mins (over and above set-up time) to explain the rules and both Alan and Ralph seemed confident. We randomly selected 3 roles (operations expert, scientist, researcher) and went for the 4 epidemics 'easy' option. The game trundled along smoothly and we quickly got into the swing of co-operation. Without open hands, but with free information, it really does stop anyone (in this case, me!) from dominating the decision-making process. It went right to the wire of a 'run out of cards' loss when a frantic consultation of the rules meant that only triggered when the next draw was due to happen. We made it just in time!
Seemingly inspired by success, and with no prompting on my part (!), the game was set up again. More random roles - this time; medic, dispatcher, researcher. This time around we got pasted! It was the outbreaks that did us, although we ran out of blue cubes at pretty much the same time. I think the problem was we weren't getting the most from the dispatcher and we let the 'blue' go too long unchecked.
Right! Straight into game# 3 - a first for a game of any length in our group, at least! We were determined! More random roles - this time; medic, dispatcher, operations expert. No passing multiple cards this time courtesy of the researcher but at least we were back to building research stations 'for free'! I think we got the hang of the dispatcher more this time around and it got *really* tense as the cards got close to the end and stock of red cubes had dwindled as far as it could. Eventually it was a 'cube loss' that did us, just as I failed *by one action* to get the vital red card to Ralph who held the other 4! It was just about as close as it could get.
In summary - *very* well received, I loved it as much as I recalled from my first encounter and the other guys seemed very keen. Playing with 4 might well present more challenges, so we'll look forward to that when the wandering Ian returns to the fold. Also, given the noncompetitive nature of the game, I reckon it might work quite well in a group of mixed ability / game-geekness! Maybe I'll just pop it into the back of the car next time we have a social gathering (-;
This game does tend to see multiple plays when it is introduced to a group, since it is fast playing and enjoyable. Glad to hear you liked it!