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Subject: Disease police, coming through! rss

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Royce Hix
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Mequon
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There are already plenty of reviews out there, but since I used all of these reviews to decide if I wanted to buy this game (and have logged 20 plays since!), I figure it wouldn't hurt to add another. Especially now that I've got a fair amount of plays with a variety of players and roles.

d10-1 Setup

Of course, the first thing to do is setup the game. From the first time opening it up new, to each time I put it back on the table, this is a pretty quick game to setup. Figure out how many are playing, deal them some medic cards, use the rest to create the draw deck, setup the initial 9 infected areas, decide turn order, and begin!

In comparison to setup of some other games, this one can be pretty fun, to see where all of the initial infections will be and trying to figure out who should go where and start cleaning house.

d10-2 Rules

I don't have a huge collection of games to compare to, but I'd say the rules are pretty easy to understand. Especially given that each person can take a handy guide of all 8 actions that can be taken on a turn. It took just one read through to get the gist of the game, and though I did make a few errors (putting correct color cubes on breakouts through other color zones, not using the Dispatcher role with flight cards on other players), after playing with some friends we quickly corrected those.

Basically, you want 4 cures to win, and it takes 5 of one color to discover a cure. Pretty easy to explain. I've gotten my parents to play, and my fiancee, so I'd say the rules are pretty light, and an easy game to get into. One of the reasons I think so highly of it!

There is one rule that bothers me though, albeit I can understand why it's in place. When the player draw deck empties and someone needs to draw (and of course, is unable to), you lose. I've found that to be a very non-fun way that my 4-character games were going to possibly end. So we've put a house rule in place, that when the deck runs out and a draw is necessary - treat it like an epidemic. Then shuffle all the epidemics back into the deck and start a new draw deck. Sure, this makes it easier to get around the board as you don't need to be as conservative or wary of card usage - but even on easy difficulty, you'll soon be at a 4-infection rate. Plus, to make this even more interesting, each epidemic card that comes out when the infection rate is maxed, we increase it by one each. I've yet to get past a 5 infection rate, as it brings death on very, very quickly.

What this does though, is allows you to fight disease until the bitter end. Running out of cards seemed to me like a cheesy way to end the game. Like I said though, I can see why it works - it limits the time you have, and makes you more aware of cards. I enjoy it better this way!

d10-3 Gameplay

As said in the rules, you win upon discovering the 4th cure. No need to clean up the mess that's left, just an immediate win. The gameplay is very fun, especially with multiple people.

The majority of my plays have been me solo-playing the game with 2 to 4 characters. This is a huge bonus to me that I can solo this game (not depending on other people to play is great, since I only meet for games with friends once a week). However, it does make it harder as I probably miss a lot of unorthodox strategies, or make some critical mistakes. It can get a little stale as well, without the social element to the game.

What's interesting, and simultaneously frustrating to me though, is how much harder this game can be with 4 players. Cards get spread thinly, and even playing with my house rule of reshuffling the draw deck rather than losing, it can be very difficult getting cures together. It also means the Medic that conveniently was moved over to that cluster of 3-cubed cities, has to wait a couple infection turns (and possibly an epidemic!) before he/she can clean house. Whereas in a 2-player game (or even 3-player) the reaction time is more instant - if there's a medic, he gets to clean up every other round. It's nice though, or else having 4 people all thinking of tactics may make this game too easy.

Then again, I've only won once with 4-characters, out of probably a dozen or so of my plays. This keeps me coming back for more though, to continually refine my tactics and learn the ins and outs.

It can come down to a significant amount of luck though. If that epidemic card drops at a poor time, and you get an unlucky shuffle - that can spell doom for you, no matter how well you've played up until that point. Or, if you've made a lot of mistakes, you can get lucky and an epidemic won't come out for a while and you won't get any outbreaks at all. The difficulty level minimizes room for mistakes or putzing around, but as is, on easy difficulty level with 4 characters I am still struggling to win.

Winning is a great feeling though. Even losing is, because it allows you to see what happened and what you could have done differently. It also makes you want to play again, to give it another shot. I'm also a big fan of co-operative or team games (at least, in comparison to free for all games), so there's sort of a joint responsibility. Pandemic has quickly become one of my top games!

d10-4 Pros/Cons

1 Easy to setup, teach, and play
2 Fun gameplay that is a bit different each time
3 Playable both solo, or with up to 4 people
4 Replayability is very high - I still haven't been bored with this
5 Quick playthrough, I've yet to see a game go past 45 minutes

1 Poor shuffling or luck can cause doom, even with great tactics
2 The normal rule of draw deck running out causing a loss is annoying to me (and I've subsequently implemented a house rule instead)
3 If playing with open hands, certain personalities can be too commanding and ruin the co-operation and fun

Overall, I'd highly suggest this game to anyone on the fence. I was for a while, read just about all the reviews on here, and then I splurged. It has been totally worth it, and been the game I've played the most (in large part due to being played solo). I see this one getting a lot more plays from me, and hopefully some more with my game group too, especially since it's such a quick game.
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Mark Lorenzen
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Love the game, and nice review.
 
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Royce Hix
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Thank you - I agree, I just can't get enough of this game (probably because I keep losing and have to try again...).

Yay too, my first review!
 
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Steve Duff
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hend wrote:
So we've put a house rule in place, that when the deck runs out and a draw is necessary - treat it like an epidemic. Then shuffle all the epidemics back into the deck and start a new draw deck.


Play as you like of course, but this really changes the game.

Ultimately, the design of the entire game is a race against time. The deck is the ticking clock, "we've only got x time before the world ends!"

Oh wait. That timer on that bomb that was counting down 4..3..2.. just started counting upwards 3..4..5 now. cool
 
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Royce Hix
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I can certainly understand why that rule is in place. From both a thematic standpoint and a gameplay standpoint though, it makes more sense to me though that you would lose either from too many outbreaks, or running out of disease cubes.

This implies that the disease has gone too far and you lose. It changes gameplay, but in a way that doesn't give you an artificial limit on how long you can try and stave off the disease.

Since I play it like an epidemic card, even on easy difficulty, if you reach the end of the deck, you'll then be starting the deck over with a 4 infection rate, making it difficult and not giving you much more time to find cures before the diseases take over. If playing on hard difficulty and managing to hit the end of the deck, I would be bumping it up to a 5 infection rate - death would come very soon at that point, unless you've managed to eradicate 2 or 3 of the diseases.

Perhaps in the greater opinion, it's not something people would agree with doing, to change that rule. It's a rule change though that has made 4-player games more interesting for our group. Even with it in place, I've yet to win on normal difficulty with 4 characters/players.
 
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