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Pandemic: On the Brink» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Love This New Expansion rss

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Michael J
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Two plays in. Status Report: I love this new expansion. It does so many things well, and revitalizes the game in ways that make its staying power far greater than the original.

First up, the new Roles. They're great. I've only seen a handful of them after my two plays (encompassing 4 games), but they are original and are a blast to play. The Containment Expert is my early leader for favorite. His role (or, in the last game I played with my wife, HER role), is to mop up the dangerous spots by removing cubes from cities that are close to outbreaking. He only gets to remove 1 cube per city this way, but it is enough to contain potential outbreaks, hence the role name. When played well, this role walks from city to city cleaning up cubes without taking extra action points, and will rarely linger to clean up extra cubes that aren't part of the free actions. He's like a hit-and-run medic! That's the best way I can describe him. Playing him truly feels like he is containing disease. Brilliant. I also love the Archivist, who can dig into the discard pile to pick up cards he discarded, making direct flights less costly, and can even pick up cards from the discard pile to fill out his hand with like colors to find cures. Bringing the discard pile into play adds another dimension to the game that wasn't there before just by using mechanics that already existed. Another brilliant design choice. I could go on and describe other roles too, but they are all unique and fun to play.

Secondly, the Virulent Challenge. I love the new roles, but I love this challenge even better. It takes one disease and makes it a beeyotch. The ways it will affect your game depend on what epidemic cards you shuffled into the game (there are 8 different cards to pick from), so each game will play different. And not only are the 8 virulent effects different, they will play differently depending on WHEN they are drawn during the game. Some are more deadly early on, some can hit you big later. Again, more creativity and good design decisions. They add another decision tree to factor in when curing disease. Do you work extra hard on the virulent strain? Or, do you try to contain outbreaks instead? Containing outbreaks used to be a no-brainer. But the virulent strain changes priorities. More decisions equals more fun, and takes the game off auto-pilot a bit.

Thirdly, the Mutation Challenge. The Mutation Challenge adds another disease color that you must contend with. These purple cubes don't overwhelm you like the other cubes. They kind of nip at you like flies, slowly growing in danger. There's just a few of them, so you don't worry about them too much at first, until you realize that there are only 12 cubes in the supply, and then you know you have your work cut out for you. You are constantly under the threat of running out of purple cubes, so you HAVE to deal with this disease even though it rarely outbreaks or overwhelms the board. And every purple cube you cure is one less virulent cube you cure, or one less "normal" disease you cure. Making this tougher is the fact that they are added in random places. They don't grow near each other. It's not uncommon to see 7 cities with 1 purple cube on it. Your medic can't attack them easily. They come and go as they please. But they don't need to be cured first, do they? To cure it, you need to turn in 5 cards, one of which is from a city that is infected with the purple disease. If you "over-treat" it, you will have a harder time finding a cure. So you need to either eradicate it completely or let enough purple cubes stay on the board to give you a good shot of finding the cure, again pushing you closer to the low 12-cube limit. Your choices are critical. Once again, they add another dimension to a game that felt easy at times.

Fourth, the new Special Events. The designer could have given us 3 or 4 new events, and we would have taken it. But no, they gave us 8 new events. Awesome. And since you only see 2 events per player per game, you won't have all in play at any one time. You can't count on the Airlift coming out any more. Or the Government Grant. You don't know what's coming, so you have to stay alert. The Special Events are nice additions.

Fifth, the petri dishes. I love these because they are cool. But I love them even more because they were first suggested right here on the Geek. I feel closer to the design of this game already. I just love the fact that our community made a difference. And a cool one at that.

Sixth, the new cards. The new card stock is a big improvement over the old one. The linen finish seems to be the Rolls-Royce of card finishes nowadays, and I, for one, am not complaining. The old cards were fine. These are better.

Seventh, smaller pawns. The designer didn't have to put these in, but they did. I'm glad they did it! I would have liked smaller research stations too, but for now I'll have to live with the stations I created by cutting the originals in half.

Eighth, the bio-terrorist challenge. I haven't tried this challenge, so I won't comment on it. It looks cool, and it's nice to know it's there when I'm ready to try it. I can't wait to give it a go and wipe out my 8 year old daughter... errr.... no... I'll go easy on her, I promise.

CONCLUSION
OTB adds enough new decisions to Pandemic to make the game feel fresh again. I suspect that the variability of the new challenges will make each game more exciting, less predictable, and give the game far more staying power. I, for one, will never play without the two challenges above ever again (unless I'm teaching new players). One thing I know for sure is that the new challenges give the game more consistency. Previously, some games would be hard, some would be easy, and some would be in the middle. Now, all games are generally hard. Which is how I like it!
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Wayne O Connor
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nice review. looking forward to adding this to the game, i read the rules online and they already had my interest piqued! But your review has it even more so now...
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Luis Diaz
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Awesome! I'm sold. Can't wait to get it.
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Lee Wardle
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mjacobsca wrote:
It takes one disease and makes it a beeyotch.


laughed for ages at this .

Nice review. I shall go and purchase this now based on your comments
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Mike Mead
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Great review. I can't wait to pick this one up. I have one question regarding the actual game box. I saw the expansion at a local game store, but couldn't purchase it at the time. I see the box is smaller, and it seams to me that it would fit inside of the original game box. Is this actually the case? If so, then kudos to the designers and Z-man games all around!
 
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Michael J
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machosancho wrote:
Great review. I can't wait to pick this one up. I have one question regarding the actual game box. I saw the expansion at a local game store, but couldn't purchase it at the time. I see the box is smaller, and it seams to me that it would fit inside of the original game box. Is this actually the case? If so, then kudos to the designers and Z-man games all around!


Actually, no. The expansion box is about 30% thicker than the original game box. It won't fit inside the old box. And for those that like to ditch their expansion boxes and squeeze everything into the original box (I'm one of those - check out how heavy my Railroad Tycoon box is!), you'll be disappointed too. You will not be able to fit all the petri dishes in the original box because they are too big to fit 6 next to each other and stacked 2 at a time they are too tall to fit in the original box (hence the expansion's extra thickness). That, and the ultra thick bio-terrorist player pad means you won't fit it all in one box unless you ditch the petri dishes altogether, or just take a few with you at once.

It doesn't matter, though, it's a great expansion nonetheless!
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Randall Bart
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I saw it done. A player unpacked his new OTB, put all the cubes and buildings in the petri dishes, laid those petri dishes in one layer in the original box, laid all the other crap components on top of the petri dishes, and closed the lid. He was not able to keep the cards in a single stack, but otherwise it works.
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David Harrington
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Great review. I agree that this is a fantastic addition to the original. My only gripe is that some of the new cards are just a hair larger than the old ones which makes shuffling even more demanding (which is saying ALOT!). Anyone else have this issue?
 
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Maaike Fest
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sharr16 wrote:
Great review. I agree that this is a fantastic addition to the original. My only gripe is that some of the new cards are just a hair larger than the old ones which makes shuffling even more demanding (which is saying ALOT!). Anyone else have this issue?


I've noticed too, not because of the shuffling, but because if you look carefully at the stack of player cards before the game, you can see where the new action cards/new epidemic cards are in the deck!
 
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D L
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I must say I'm impressed with how easy the rules still are. I taught the Virulent Strain and Mutation Challenge after that to complete non-gamers, and they got a hang of the game with no problem.
 
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Lance H
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Thank you for this review! I just recently picked up the original and it does seem that I've "figured it out" fairly quickly. Unfortunately it makes me feel "bossy" when I play it with those that haven't played it yet (or haven't played it much). I love the fact that this expansion seems to add so much to the original game. Especially in light of how much expansions can cost - and for just a new map or area often times!

 
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