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Fabio Binder
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Disclaimer*: The main goal of “Down to the Basics Reviews” is to show what the game is about, getting down to the basics, the bare minimum necessary to captivated the reader.

So, about Pandemic:

1) What it is?
A cooperative game where you have to discover cures for diseases to avoid the brutal human extinction.

2) How do you play?
Draw cards, move pawn, give cards, put cubes on board, remove cubes, shuffle cards, get cure tokens, build research stations, set the outbreak and infection rate levels. Cubes represent disease infection levels and are added to a city when an infection card of that city is drawn. There must be a maximum of three cubes of each color in a given city. If a fourth cube must be added, the disease spreads to the neighbour cities (outbreak). Players can remove one cube worth of a disease per action if the cure was not yet discovered or all cubes from a city per action otherwise. A cure is discovered when one player reaches a reasearch station in a city and he discards five cards of the same color.
Victory: all cures are discovered.
Defeat: there are no more cubes of a color when one is needed or there are no more player cards to draw or the eighth outbreak occurs.

3) What are the decisions that you make?
You have 4 action points to spent with the following actions:
- Where to move your pawn. You must move to remove cubes from a city (cure population), to reach a research station or to be in a better position to give or receive cards from other players. You may move direct to a neighbour city or to any other city using your cards.
- Give cards to players. Other players may have more of a certain diseade. You may give another card of the same color so they have a better chance to discover the cure. You can only give cards of the city where you are.
- Decide to build a research station. These are the only places where cures can be discovered.
- Each player has a different role with different powers. For instance, if you are a scientist you can cure a disease with only four cards.
- There are event cards that can be used at any point during the game. Such cards do not need action points.

4) What is good about it?
Variable player powers are really interesting because they require group thinking and a good dose of ingenuity to work. The game is simple, elegant and fun to play. You can even play solo using more than one role card.

5) What is not so good about it?
As a cooperative game there can be those moments when one player tries to command everyone. Also, you can adjust the difficulty level but after a number of plays the game may look repetitive. This can be corrected with the On the Brink expansion (or the 2013 edition that already contains the expansion).

6) What it feels when you play it?
After a few rounds there will be tension in the air. There will be outbreaks? Will I be able to reach the research station on time? After a victory, a sense of relief. After a defeat, totally despair, the humanity is doomed.

*originally published on boardgaming.com
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Grey Fox
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Nice review. But just a clarification. The 2013 does NOT contain the expansion. It only adds two more characters not on the original edition.
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Fabio Binder
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Thanks, you are correct!
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Sander Engels
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I would like to add another decision level to your paragraph about action decisions. There are also decisions to be made about the cards you have. Every card you have can only be used once, but they can be used for different purposes: they are used for travel, for discovering cures (either by yourself or after trading by one of the other players) and for building research stations. What you do with your cards (and when) is equally important to the outcome of the game as managing your turn actions.

Using cards only for finding cures is generally bad for the board situation, as it is more difficult to reach infected areas and outbreaks will occur more frequently. But spending your cards too often on traveling and research stations severely limits your options of gathering the cards you need for cures. Finding the balance while also optimizing your actions for each turn and limiting needless discarding due to full hands, this is what makes the game the great puzzle that it is.
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