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Subject: Easier or harder with more players? rss

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Apollo Andy
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My wife and I just got Pandemic and love it and are looking forward to trying it out with our small group this week. We're struggling on easy (4 epidemics) and I can't figure out whether it will be harder or easier with more players.

It seems like more players means: more pawns so less time travelling, more special abilities, more total hand space for cards

But the one big trade off is that it becomes significantly harder to get the right cards into the right players' hands at the right time. There are way more bad things that happen in between each individual player's turn so the decision between containing, curing, and eradicating becomes that much more difficult.

So is the game easier or harder with more players?
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Without the On the Brink expansion, I would say that more players is definitely harder. Yes, you have more abilities with more roles in the game, but each role has fewer turns, and as you say, it is harder to arrange cures. With On the Brink, more Special Event cards were added, as well as the rule that you add 2 Special Event cards per player, so with 4 players, there would be 8 Special Event cards in the game, making the Player Deck larger and of course adding more abilities. I'd say that with On the Brink, it may still be slightly harder with more players, but not as noticeably.

Don't worry, though... keep at it. My wife and I regularly win against 6 Epidemics, so you should definitely improve with more experience.
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Ben Lott
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People will quickly stop in here to give their opinion, but I personally don't think it's easier or harder, I just think it's different. With 2 players the cards are really easy to come by, so getting enough for cures is somewhat easier. However controlling the cubes on the board is harder because you can only be in 2 places at once. With 4 players it is easier to spread out and work the board. But, on the flip side, you have to keep a close watch on the cards because they can disappear fast.

So, that's my opinion: Not necessarily easier or harder...just different. And, of course, the roles used in a 2 player game will greatly affect the difficulty of the game.
 
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Ax Bits
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Harder.

Treating infections is easier since you can have a larger presence across the board, but curing in harder because it takes more coordination to get the right cards in the right hands.

Overall the two effects balance out pretty well, but I find it tips to the harder side with more players. After all, finding cures wins games, treating disease just buys you more time to find cures. As such, more players = longer games = diminishing odds to win.
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B C Z
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More players also increases the odds of a weak link.
 
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Apollo Andy
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But the damage done by a weak link is greater with fewer players.
 
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Gwommy the Purple
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[color=purple]It still seems well balanced. I don't think it changes the game too much. It also depends on which roles are being used.

Yesterday we played two games(with On The Brink expansion for the Roles and Special Events). I forgot about the 2 Special Event cards per player rule, but both times we had 8 special events. First game was 5 players and the next was 6 players!

In the 5 player game, we only needed 1 more turn to win. The 6 player game was won on the last action of the last turn! Most of the players had never played before, so I was suggesting as little as possible (since I've played many times before).

The dispatcher is awesome in a 6 player game since he can almost go anywhere since there's pawns all over the place. We used the dispatcher as the card gatherer. During the other 5 turns, we'd get 2 people to the city of a card they had so when it came back to the dispatcher's turn, he could instantly move to each city and take a card from each player.

We found that a 6 player game is similar to a 2 player game in that when it's your turn, the cities that really need cubes removed from the board are still on the opposite side of the world from your character. =b
 
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Patricio Ulano
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I have been playing alot with my 6yr old son latey, I'd have to say it is easier with less players.

He and I have beat the game with many different combo of roles, and we do use the On the Brink roles which make it sooo much easier.

Starting with 4 cards in the 1st round seems to make all the difference. You know who can go for what cures, and in a sense who should head to which area to contain the cubes.

In the 3-4 player games I've played, it seems tougher but not impossible. Perhaps it is my play style, not sure, but I enjoy the extra challenge of having more players in the game.

As a side note, he has decided that we don't win if we leave cubes on the board, so we have to eradicate all the dieases to win. And we have 2/3's of the time.
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Branko K.
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I played a lot of 2-player and 4-player games. It's most definitely harder with more players, although a gameplay style has a role here.

With less players, your biggest issue is controling outbreaks and covering enough territory. However, you have more turns between Epidemics which means more time to get the cures. If you and your friend are good at setting up research stations and managing "hot zones", odds are you will not have too much difficulty, especially with a low number of Epidemics.

With more players it's much easier to spread around and do damage control. However, you have half as many turns between Epidemics which means you have lot less time to find the cures before shit starts hitting the fan. The fact that effectively twice as many cards are circulating around at any given moment offsets this, but since exchanging cards is very resource-consuming this usually means very good coordination is required. But if you add the fact that alpha-maling is discouraged and that usually everyone has his own idea what the "best" move is you will get a much tougher game.
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stofke mannaert
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In my opinion it's way harder with more players.
90% of our games are 2 player games, we (almost) never lost a single game.

In my opinion (again) this is caused by the cards.
the more players, the more the cards are spread between players, it ain't easy to transfer cards from 1 player to another player, wtihout losing some valuable actions ...
While in a 2 playergame, you get 50 percent of all cards in play. I agree that it can be harder to keep the virus spread under control, but you can take some outbreaks before it really gets a problem.
You even start with more cards in your hand on a 2 player game ...

The games we played with more players, were harder to win (or lose), you spread around, that makes it harder to transfer a card ...

my humble opinion
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Stefan Kaiser
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stofke wrote:
In my opinion it's way harder with more players.
90% of our games are 2 player games, we (almost) never lost a single game.

In my opinion (again) this is caused by the cards.
the more players, the more the cards are spread between players, it ain't easy to transfer cards from 1 player to another player, wtihout losing some valuable actions ...
While in a 2 playergame, you get 50 percent of all cards in play. I agree that it can be harder to keep the virus spread under control, but you can take some outbreaks before it really gets a problem.
You even start with more cards in your hand on a 2 player game ...

The games we played with more players, were harder to win (or lose), you spread around, that makes it harder to transfer a card ...

my humble opinion

I fully agree with this comment. From my experience i can tell that i find it way harder the more people are playing. I played several 2p games with my GF and besides the very first game i think we have yet to lose a game.

OTOH we recently played a few 4 player games (without expansion) and we didn't win a single game...
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John Ladouceur
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As said above, fewer players are better at finding cures, but worse at treatment of existing disease.

I would also add that roles play a big part in the few/many players difficulty ratings.

Infrastructure specialists like the Dispatcher and the Operations Expert are much stronger the more players there are. With more players, synergistic roles like Scientist/Researcher are more likely to be in the same game, and it won't be as risky keeping them together to get the most transfer of cards.

Treatment specialists like the Medic and the Containment Specialist get better the more turns they have, so they are stronger with less players. The Troubleshooter improves with less players as well, since he will be able to use his predictive card draw more often. The Field Operative needs at least three turns to gather the cubes needed for a cheap cure, so more turns is better for her also.
 
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Branko K.
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Traveling Hero wrote:

Infrastructure specialists like the Dispatcher and the Operations Expert are much stronger the more players there are.


Not necessarily. Well Dispatcher is somewhat underwhelming in 2ers, but Operations Expert, if used well, is usually crucial since a good station infrastructure completely offsets the biggest problem in 2ers - covering a lot of ground with only a few men. In fact, sometimes OE makes things just a bit too easy in 2ers.
 
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John Ladouceur
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baba44713 wrote:
Traveling Hero wrote:

Infrastructure specialists like the Dispatcher and the Operations Expert are much stronger the more players there are.


Not necessarily. Well Dispatcher is somewhat underwhelming in 2ers, but Operations Expert, if used well, is usually crucial since a good station infrastructure completely offsets the biggest problem in 2ers - covering a lot of ground with only a few men. In fact, sometimes OE makes things just a bit too easy in 2ers.


The way I look at it, cards are at too high a premium in high player-count games to spare many cards on bases (unless the Archivist is in play). But I'm not implying he's bad in any game, he is probably my #2 preferred role.
 
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Ryan Wanger
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Definitely harder, though I think it takes a lot of plays before you start to see why.

After playing only a few multi-player games, it intuitively seemed to me that it would be easier with more players for these reasons:

- You'll always have at least one really good synergy (Dispatcher/Medic, or Researcher/Scientist)
- With more players, each can be building towards a certain cure, but with two, you're constantly throwing away cards and getting bogged down by hand limits.

However, after many more plays, it's definitely easier with two players. I think the main advantage is that you can plan out two consecutive turns for each role without generally having to worry about changing board conditions.

With more players, it becomes almost impossible to plan very far in advance, so you end up taking actions that seem optimal under the assumption that a player 3 seats to the left will be able to execute the job you've set up for them. Lo and behold, an epidemic will often happen beforehand, changing everything completely.

In a two player game, I'd rate the strength of the roles like this:
1) Scientist
2) Researcher
3) Operations Expert
4) Dispatcher
5) Medic

Interestingly, that is probably close to the opposite of what I would have guessed.
 
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Justus
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The analysis is nicely done by other responders, but here's my vote that its easier with 2P. We've almost stopped playing cause it was too easy 2P. I haven't played it much 3P+ but I really like it that way.
 
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