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Pandemic» Forums » Variants

Subject: 6-player game! rss

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Clayton Helme
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I got Pandemic and the expansion from my Secret Santa this weekend (Thanks by the way!!!) and my entire family really loves it - the problem is there are 6 of us.

I have looked through the 5 player variant forum and will be taking a mixture of those ideas to form this variant. I have not tried this yet but I plan to do so this weekend. Please feel free to comment and give feedback for what may work or not work!

robinmotion wrote:
Each player starts with 1 card instead of 2, and during the draw phase, a player has the choice of drawing 1 or 2 cards.

New action type: Research
For one action, the player may place the bottom-most player card in the discard pile at the bottom of the player draw deck.

Edits to other rules would then be:
Any time a special event card is played, it is placed in the box rather than in the discard pile.

Any time an epidemic card is drawn, it is placed in the box rather than in the discard pile.

I like these rules from the 5 player variant forum and will be implementing them in my game this weekend.

I also will only be playing with 4 epidemics as that should balance the difficulty of adding an additional (6th) player.

I've also been toying around with the idea of making it so you only need 4 cards to cure a disease instead of 5 - but I will only be doing this if the game is too difficult to complete with just the rule changes mentioned above.
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Jordan Alexander
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I'm not sure that adding an extra epidemic card will balance things out, as I've found that the difficulty ramps up by adding players anyway. So I don't know how that will help.

Anyway, sounds like a good experiment, make sure you come back with the results.
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Clayton Helme
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I'm actually taking away an epidemic card as the normal game plays with 5 epidemics.

I will be sure to report back next week!!

Thanks for your comments!
 
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Carl Brousseau
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You may want to get On The Brink as well, that way you can actually get 6 separate roles (with the base game, the 6th role would need to replicate one of the others).
 
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James Cheng
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barneyg wrote:
You may want to get On The Brink as well, that way you can actually get 6 separate roles (with the base game, the 6th role would need to replicate one of the others).


Yes, you should totally get the OTB expansion, it has more role and variant scenarios,
 
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Clayton Helme
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Crimson_Phoenix wrote:
I got Pandemic and the expansion

you're right it is a really great addition to the game!
 
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Conan Meriadoc
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4 epidemics, with the option of drawing only 1 card ? This makes an awful lot of player actions inbetween epidemics! The game might not be very challenging, with lots of infected cities but none of them a real threat (more than one cube would be uncommon), and almost no way to run out of time.

Most of the challenge in a Pandemic game (as per the rules) comes from the need to find a delicate balance between two aspects : Situation Control, and Time Management.

It boils down to this: if you devote enough resources to fighting local emergencies (Too many cubes of one color) and avoiding outbreaks, you'll almost never lose to cubes on the board. However, the player deck might run out before you get time to find all the cures. The opposite is also true: if you ignore the board and go all-out on trading cards and finding cures, you'll probably lose to cubes and outbreaks. You have to take care of short-term problems, but never lose sight of the long-term goal, which might require taking a few risks.

The perceived increase in difficulty when adding more players comes from a shift in this balance: with more players, board control seems easier (more locations covered), but you need to focus a lot more on trading cards, sometimes accepting risks of outbreaks in order to find a cure earlier. Situation Control gets easier, Time Management can be much harder.

6-player would probably shift the game too much in that direction, so a good 6-player variant should include a few ideas to give a bit more time to players... But not eliminate the time management aspect completely.

As is, it seems that your variant would remove that 'ticking bomb' aspect, as you can put back as many cards as you drew in the player deck, or even more, so there is basically no risk of the deck running out.

Either being able to draw only one card, or being able to put one (max one per turn) back on the bottom of the deck, sounds reasonable. Having both options would, IMHO, break the game. I'd personally try the latter, the former having the other drawback of allowing too many Infection cards between two consecutive epidemics.

This Research action, however, comes with a question : what should happen when all 4 epidemics are gone, and people keep revealing new cards from the infection deck until it runs out? since epidemics are there to renew the infection deck and provide the challenge, I'm not sure that mechanics-wise it's really a good idea to allow players to go on playing for a long time after the last Epidemic card... Keeping them in the discard, with a potential to come back when researching, might not actually be that bad.

My two cents
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Jordan Alexander
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sorry, yes of course, I should learn to read more closely.

The On the Brink expansion will help like many people have suggested.
 
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Clayton Helme
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Dystopian wrote:
As is, it seems that your variant would remove that 'ticking bomb' aspect, as you can put back as many cards as you drew in the player deck, or even more, so there is basically no risk of the deck running out.

Either being able to draw only one card, or being able to put one (max one per turn) back on the bottom of the deck, sounds reasonable. Having both options would, IMHO, break the game. I'd personally try the latter, the former having the other drawback of allowing too many Infection cards between two consecutive epidemics.

This Research action, however, comes with a question : what should happen when all 4 epidemics are gone, and people keep revealing new cards from the infection deck until it runs out? since epidemics are there to renew the infection deck and provide the challenge, I'm not sure that mechanics-wise it's really a good idea to allow players to go on playing for a long time after the last Epidemic card... Keeping them in the discard, with a potential to come back when researching, might not actually be that bad.


You make some very good points and I think you are right. Okay so some changes will occur to the rule changes following your comments.
I will only keep the research action and it will only be usable once per turn.
All cards will go back into the discard pile - including both epidemics and special actions.
However, Players will still only start with one card.

Thanks for your comments - they were really helpful!
 
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Conan Meriadoc
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No problem ! Keep us updated, I'd like to know how it went
 
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Clayton Helme
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Okay, so we played the six player variant on sunday and we ended up winning quite handily - but I think we got lucky with our card draws.

Premise: we all started with 1 card and two role cards - everyone chose 1 of the roles and we started. We played with 4 epidemics in the deck and with the additional research action (as described by Dystopian). We ended up curing all the diseases with 6 cards left in the draw pile, only one outbreak, and the research action was only used once. We were doing so well that everyone wanted to eradicate all the diseases, which we were able to do - heavily relying on the research action.

Looking back, I will start using 5 epidemics in the draw pile.

So summary of rule changes:

-Players start with 1 card
-Players get to pick one of two roles they receive. (except one player)
-New Action: Research - Put a card from the bottom of the player discard pile to the bottom of the player draw pile. Usable once per turn.

It worked well and I am excited to playtest it again this weekend!
 
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Barney Bustoffson
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We have had a couple of nice 6 player games using The Warp's custom decks for Pandemic. It makes the player deck a little larger, and lets us really modify the difficulty up or down easily. I recommend them highly.

goo
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Tony Alonzo
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My 6 player game, which included On the Brink characters and Epidemic cards and the Virulant Strain went very well, however, we ran out of cards a little earlier than anticipated. I think adding the rule of choosing 1 or 2 cards is the way to go with 6 players.
 
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Clayton Helme
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We've played a few more times over the past month or so and the variant continues to work well. In fact in one of the games we played we just barely made it by having everyone do the research action during the last round and we just barely made it. We didn't think we would but we did! It made for a very exciting game!!
 
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Not Myname
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Let's have my fist post on that Pandemic thread then. cool

We ran a Pandemic + OTB game with six players last night, one of them had not played before.
I was aware of the game being designed for four players only and of the points raised by Dystopian above.

The main concerned I had was with the dreaded "out of cards" losing condition; so instead of having the "two special event per player" rule from OTB, we had all the special event cards in play. In order not too make the game too easy, six OTB virulent-strain cards were in use. We also chose to draw only one card per player instead of two, starting with two cards each. The idea was to increase the difficulty to compensate for the extra time we gained by drawing only one card.
Note that we usually play (four-players) Pandemic with the "virulent strain" cards and the mutation (both from On The Brink). This leads to a lot of lost games but very satisfying wins when they do occur.

We won this six-player set-up but, as expected, in the last round with only one player card to spare in the draw pile, i.e. one card away from a loss. We also played with all hands revealed.

We have only played one game at six players and the following happened:
* Most of the epidemic cards showed-up early, leading to our drawing 3 to 4 cards very quickly for the infection phase.
* Yellow as virulent strain.
* Luckily we cured and eradicated the black disease pretty early, making the relatively early four card draw during the infection phase less painful than expected.
* The infection deck ran out, so we reshuffled it once. Had the infection cards been spread a bit better, the intensify stages would have used more cards, thus not depleted the deck so quickly.
* Win condition met by curing the four diseases (with black eradicated) and wiping out the mutation.
* Only three outbreaks reported, but we got lucky with our choices of emergency treatments. We had a "Medic" and a "Containment Specialist", which helped a lot too.
* Pretty low in red and blue cubes at various points during play, i.e. close to lose by running out of cubes. Ironically yellow was relatively easy to contain compared to the other two that were left (black disappeared quickly).

With hindsight, we should have put another one or two additional epidemic cards to spice things up a bit (for a total of seven or eight). As mentioned in an earlier post, more players means more action points to spend and more cubes being removed per turn. Still, even with an early disease eradication, a couple of outbreaks happened, and the virulent strain (yellow in our game) had collected most of the constant effect cards (unlucky random set-up) making yellow harder to cure and control. So there was a challenge indeed. Our roles were drawn randomly and the original team was far from optimal, we used the "new assignment" special event card to bring in a "Researcher" after our "Engineer" had built enough stations. We got lucky with the original two-card draw as two players had two cards of the same colour; hence it was pretty easy to have an early "collect and cure" strategy.

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Rich Hims
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We played our first 6 player game on New Year's eve, as follows. Note that I haven't been able to get hold of OTB yet, so, with two players who'd only played Pandemic once before, I just added roles & special events from OTB by creating paste-ups.

* 6P5E, all OTB special events in deck (13 in total)
* Players choose 1 of 2 roles (base + OTB, one player has no choice)
* Players start with 1 card
* 'Research' special action may be chosen once per turn to recycle the bottom card from the player discard pile into the draw pile

Aware of the potential for the 'research' action to extend the game, we encouraged use of cards for actions (charter, direct, etc.) throughout, and felt like we made good use of the field operative role, remote treatment & rapid vaccine deployment special event cards, and won comfortably, eradicating two of the four diseases, and preventing any outbreaks. Had the game gone on longer, we were hoping that our use of special event cards around epidemic draws would have made the 'research' action even more useful in tidying up when the epidemics recurred!

After drawing the first epidemic very early, and then the second and third epidemics quite close, we used a few special event cards (including commercial travel ban) to constrain outbreaks while the field operative cured yellow (rapid vaccine helped us eradicate) and the scientist red. A long gap between the third and fourth epidemics contained a number of now safe yellow cards to help us further reduce the intensity of the discard pile. This quiet period allowed us to focus on research & knowledge sharing, meaning we felt pretty good about plans to get the final two diseases cured within another round, before we realised that the player draw pile had got a little low. Planning to use the 'research' action where necessary & hope for a bit of luck, we got the latter, and used 're-examined research' to wrap up the final two cures in subsequent turns.

Having the extra 8 special events in the player draw pile may have been decisive: while we never ended up using Resilient Population, Special Orders, Mobile Hospital, Borrowed Time or One Quiet Night, they had the advantage of reducing the frequency of epidemics. Given that the '2 special events per player' option would only have taken one special event out of the game, I think the next time we play 6 players, I'll go with the following variant:

* 6P6E, 10 special events in deck (remove three from superset of base + OTB)
* Players choose 1 of 2 roles (base + OTB, one player has no choice)
* Players start with 1 card
* 'Research' special action may be chosen once per turn to recycle the bottom card from the player discard pile into the draw pile

If I can get hold of OTB before then however, the virulent strain modifications may balance the game back towards the board...
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Clayton Helme
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leeds55 wrote:
before we realised that the player draw pile had got a little low.
This always seems to be the problem with playing with 6 players, that and downtime between turns can get a little long. Good luck with your next session!
 
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Rich Hims
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Crimson_Phoenix wrote:
[player draw pile exhaustion] always seems to be the problem with playing with 6 players, that and downtime between turns can get a little long.


I never feel like there's any downtime between turns in Pandemic: being a co-op, the distinction between my turn and anyone else's is heavily blurred by our collaborative planning. With dependencies between our actions and some contingency for what might get drawn between turns, the actual taking of actions is almost always quick, and then others are involved again as they pass the player cards & help with the infection or epidemic resolution. It's possible we're sharing more information than Matt intended when suggesting that players shouldn't discuss their cards in too much detail, but I think we're sufficiently non-specific. How does that description compare to your group dynamic?
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Clayton Helme
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Well, sometimes a few players aren't as into it as the other players - which creates it's own set of problems - and larger down-time has been one of their complaints. You are right in what you say about collaborative planning and downtime is not an issue for me in this game.
 
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Yuiko Sato
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I add two per each player neutral cards using blank special events cards and epidemic cards not in use. I have Brink and sleeved cards so its easy to slip blank small paper in front. Player draws 2 but can be neither destination nor special events or epidemic.
 
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Matt Asher
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zeewisteria wrote:
I add two per each player neutral cards using blank special events cards and epidemic cards not in use. I have Brink and sleeved cards so its easy to slip blank small paper in front. Player draws 2 but can be neither destination nor special events or epidemic.

I like the blank card idea...I suppose without sleeves and paste-ups you you could use the provided blank Event cards (OTB) and either the Green Epidemic cards or Virulent Strain cards and/or Mutation cards - depending on which game being played.
 
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Marco Peñalver
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Hello everybody.
I bought the game and have a simple idea to 6 players.
the game is for 4 players. for 6 players needs 50% of cards more.
So i put 5 epidemic cards, when the level of the discard place has around 50% of the total cards,shuffle the discard cards (epidemic cards discarded included) and put it down of the normal amount cards.
this action is only once per game.
then will continue playing normally until the end.

what do you think?
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