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Pandemic» Forums » Variants

Subject: Simple variant to limit getting screwed by lousy player deck shuffles rss

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Dave B.
United States
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I rather like this game, but most times I've played it, I felt like the biggest threat to losing the game was guessing wrong when discarding excess player cards. A bad shuffle can really amplify this effect, and soon there simply aren't enough cards left in the deck to get all the cures. Meanwhile, you're just bouncing around the map in auto-pilot chipping away at the three-cube cities, with comparatively little threat from the infection deck.

This feels kind of backwards, so here's a variant I came up with.

1. Only once on your turn, if you are on a city with a research station, you may "deposit" one city player card with color matching the city you are on. This counts as an action. All players share a single card depository, and there is no limit on the number of cards that may be deposited. Fan them out in separate colored piles so all players can easily see how many cards of each color have been deposited.

2. As soon as one player makes the fifth deposit of a particular color player card, that disease is cured. Place the marker on the board as usual. If the Scientist deposits the fourth (or fifth) card of a particular color, the disease is cured. Diseases are no longer cured by having a certain number of matching color cards in your hand and discarding them.

3. Player cards cannot be removed from the depository piles once they have been deposited. Special effect cards may not be deposited.

4. If the player deck runs out, move the Outbreaks counter up one space, remove any special effect cards from the player discard pile, and use the remaining discarded cards to build a new player deck as described in the setup instructions. Yes, include the original number of Epidemic cards in this now-smaller deck. If a second pass through the player deck would move the infection rate counter off the end, leave it at the maximum, and carry out the other steps on the Epidemic card as normal.

I gave this a try earlier tonight, and I figured the simplified hand management would make this too easy, so I went straight for all six Epidemic cards. Wow, did I get annihilated. Do not underestimate the important balance between getting your cards deposited, and keeping the diseases cleaned up. It sort of reminds me of Ghost Stories, in which you have to carefully plan when to use the village tiles, and when to fight ghosts.

I think I might play like this from now on.
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Justin Moore
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Without playing it, I'd vote against this. Simply because part of the game is knowing what to discard! That's where teamwork comes in. If you're close to having to discard, moving those cards to other players who need them to cure later. I feel card balance is the key in this game, i.e., getting the right cards to the right people, if you're not doing that and discarding too many, I don't think that's the game's fault.
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Dave B.
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Well, you can't "know" what to discard without knowing what's coming up in the player deck. Maybe a Ticket to Ride kind of system with a few face-up draw cards could overcome that slightly.

My feeling is that the standard trading rules are too stiff to effectively overcome getting swamped with cards you can't use, and throwing them away. A player with three or four blue cards will probably be inclined to hang on to them, and throw other stuff away. If all the remaining blue cards are at the bottom of the deck, you're screwed. This happened to my wife and I while playing. We had the board pretty well under control, but lost to the tail end of a really awful player deck shuffle trying to wrangle the last two cures and get all the needed cards over to one player.

It feels like you're trying to play two entirely different games at once, and only occasionally do they cross over. Personally, I'd prefer to unify the experience, and get screwed by the bad cards rather than the good ones.
 
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Martin Jackson
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Maybe a solution would be to set up the player card deck spreading the colours approximately throughout the deck in same way that you do for epidemics?

It would be a hassle, but you could do something like:
Deal out your epidemic cards.
Separate out all the colours.
Shuffle each colour separately.
Deal out (2?) of each colour onto each epidemic.
Shuffle the remaining colours together (also now include the special actions).
Deal these out onto the piles.
Shuffle each pile.
Stack the piles.
 
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Justin Moore
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davidbrit2 wrote:
Well, you can't "know" what to discard without knowing what's coming up in the player deck. Maybe a Ticket to Ride kind of system with a few face-up draw cards could overcome that


I disagree. You know what not to throw away because you've already thrown away one or two of that color. Your job is to manage that. I've always found that one of the most fascinating parts of the game. Sometimes you might toss your fourth blue so you can get that yellow to the person who needs it on his next turn.
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Dave B.
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I do kind of like the way Forbidden Island handles this, in that you can make multiple trips through the player card deck, but obviously the game gets progressively deadlier if you waste time. The flood rate increases, the Waters Rise cards are more frequent if the players have a lot of cards when it's time to reshuffle, and the "safe" parts of the island begin falling away, forcing you to really pick up the pace keeping the important tiles in play while you gather the right cards. Plus you can give away any cards you want, as long as you're on the same space as the player you give them to.

Of course, the "deposit cards" variant wouldn't work as well thematically with Forbidden Island.

 
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Greg Jones
United States
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I think it changes the game too much (and makes it much easier I think). I agree a bad order of drawing player cards is the least controllable factor in the game. If you had said you can deposit the cards at a research station, and then another player can pick them up, but they still have to cure with 5 in their hand, I'd have probably said that's ok.

Something else that would help is more special cards or roles that help with that aspect of the game. Re-examined Research from the expansion is one. The Archivist is an attempt to help, but I think if you still get really bad draws, the Archivist might be able to help you get the cures, but you lose the game another way because you spend too many actions retrieving discarded cards.

I think there should be a card like Forecast, but for the player deck.
 
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CLARENCE TAN
Canada
Richmond
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I think this has sort of been addressed in one of the 5 player variants as a way to buy time as people found the player deck being burned through too quickly.

Instead of a separate pile to deposit, one could, for an action, recycle a card into the draw pile. That way, it would be like working on a file, and then saving it and putting it aside to work on later. This mitigates not having certain colours left over if you are not paying too much attention to which cards are being tossed, but it also makes for a simpler variant.
 
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Len
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Managing what cards are discarded and beating the diseases before you've tossed all of its cards is an integral part (and challenge) of the game.

Why not just adjust the rules so you cure a disease with 3 cards? Or add more cubes to the game?




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Dave B.
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So has anybody actually tested this variant? I tried playing with all six Epidemic cards, and it was by no means easy.
 
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Yee Keat Phuah
Malaysia
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davidbrit2 wrote:
I rather like this game, but most times I've played it, I felt like the biggest threat to losing the game was guessing wrong when discarding excess player cards. A bad shuffle can really amplify this effect, and soon there simply aren't enough cards left in the deck to get all the cures.


My wife and me realized this as well, the problem seems to be the curing stage where 5 of the same color cards are stacked back into the discard pile and most of the time they don't get separated easily with shuffling. This does not happen with the infector cards because they don't get stacked up.

I am thinking of getting some auto shuffler, and my wife just shuffle everything FACE UP and make sure there are no two colors of the same kind that is back to back, then turn it back over and do some normal shuffling.
 
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Tom Curtis
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The player stack runs out fast in a game with a lot of people playing. In a game with only two people, sometimes you get screwed drawing all the wrong cards early on. Pandemic is probably most balanced with three or four people playing.

It makes sense to have something in place to counter these if a game with two people can become potentially frustrating and a game with a lot of people might seem too short, having so few turns per person. But I would be careful not to add an element that might replace player-to-player card trading; wouldn't it tend to take less turns to simply drop everything off at a research station than to have to plan meeting up at specific cities?

Maybe instead allow the discard of, say, three or four city cards in order to draw one out of the discard pile. This would help regain lost cards in an emergency situation without dominating the game. I also liked someone else's idea of putting player cards back into the deck (at the bottom) whenever a cure is found.

All in all, game balanced or not, the important thing is that you're having fun.
 
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