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Subject: Pandemic, the virus spreads... rss

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Wayne O Connor
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Pandemic is a Co-operative style game from Z-man Games and one that has been earning a lot of good reviews in general. In the Game, players assume the roles of various members of the CDC attempting to halt the spread of 4 viruses around the globe. This great and in these times relevant concept is build upon in a equally great and clever way.

Firstly the Components are quite nice, cubes are used to represent viruses and pawns represent the individual characters. The Board is a map of the World with relevant Cities marked. Tracks on the board also show the current infection and outbreak levels. Overall the board is simple but elegant. Some reviewers have commented on it being a little too small and things getting cluttered when diseases build up, but for me at least its hardly damning of the game.

The game is easily learnt. Players choose a role, each role has a special ability whether it be the Medics ability to heal all same coloured cubes in a city or the Dispatchers ability to move other pawns, each role can prove vital to success. During the players turn, he has 4 actions to use. Moving to cities, removing a cube of disease, sharing cards etc. The players decide how to use these actions as they see fit, maybe move twice, remove 2 cubes. Maybe Use a special ability, move, remove a cube etc...Success is keyed to using your actions well and players really do need work together to achieve success. Next, City cards are drawn. Some cards are Special events, providing one off abilities and the other city cards can be used to fly direct to cities etc but most importantly a hand of 5 same coloured cards provides a cure to that colour disease. Once the cure is in hand, players can proceed to research stations they have built and trade in the hand to cure the relevant disease. Finally, in a players turn, they reveal cards from an infection deck which indicate places where disease cubes are added.

But things get more nasty than that! On a players turn, theres a chance of an Epidemic Card being drawn. This rises the infection level and creates a hot spot city. Basically any city with 3 cubes has the potential of causing a disease to spread to neighbouring cities which if they in turn have 3 cubes may spread again etc etc A new hot spot City is drawn from the bottom of the deck and then the discarded cities in the infection deck are returned to the top of the deck and the infection level rises, basically meaning more infection cards are drawn on the infection phase of a players turn.

This all combines to a lot of trouble. Players need limit cubes in the cities, race against time to get the cures before the deck of cards runs out, prevent 8 outbreaks (every time a city spreads disease) and also prevent the pool of cubes running out. The return of infected cities to the TOP of the infection deck during an outbreak also means those cities that have acquired cubes will rapidly acquire more as they will be the first cards redrawn...

Overall, Pandemic plays great. Im probably making it sound more complicated than it is. Its a game you can learn in a sitting and ideal for new players even those who arent into Boardgames as such. Its quick, The Mechanics are smart and the game is highly addictive. Levels of difficulty are increased by adding more Epidemic cards to the mix. Overall, Highly recommended.
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