Bunker Project Log

04 Mar

Pandemic!

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We had a group of five, but VitaminZ was stranded at work, so we busted out the 4-Player max Pandemic. No offense Z, but we are lucky we started with this game, because it was truly awesome.

The first thing to know is, this is a strictly coop game. The players must work together to defeat four different diseases rampaging across the globe. At the same time, each player is forced to carry out the spread of infection at the end of each turn.

Each player is given a different role at the beginning of the game, which grants him/her special powers against the spreading doom.

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Each player’s turn is composed of up to four actions. These actions are mundane, like moving around the map, or special, like discovering a cure for one of the four diseases.

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The currency of the game is information in the form of player cards. Which are acquired two at a time after all four actions have been used.

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These can be used to travel around the map, or to discover cures. Gathering five of the same colored card allows you to cure that disease. The player with the Scientist role only needs four.

The infection phase is the last part of each player’s turn. At this point, infection cards must be drawn, equal to the number specified on the infection rate chart.

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For each card drawn, an infection cube must be placed on the respective city. This is where the fun begins!

Infection Cards

If a city already has three cubes, and you must add another, an outbreak occurs. This causes every connected city to gain a cube. If one of those cities has three cubes, a chain reaction occurs, causing that to outbreak.

In the example below, New York is just begging for a blue outbreak, and Bangkok is ready for a red one.

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Every time an outbreak occurs, the outbreak track is increased. At eight outbreaks, the game is lost!

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To make matters worse, epidemics are mixed in with the player cards, and are resolved as soon as the player draws one.

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These are major setbacks. The first effect is to increase the infection rate track. The second is to pile three disease cubes on a city pulled from the bottom of the infection deck. The third, and most devastating, is the intensify step. Every infection card in the discard pile is shuffled, and then put back on the top of the infection deck, ensuring that already infected cities pop up again and again.

The long and short of it is, the odds are against you, and each move is precious. A calm situation can very rapidly spiral out of control.

What is great about the game is the type of teamwork it inspires. Because every player has a unique role, they must be used appropriately. Red5 was the scientist and could discover cures at a lower cost, so we constantly traded cards with him, often brokered by Markus, who was the Researcher. Mrs. G was the medic, who tirelessly traveled around cleaning up cities on the verge of outbreak. I was the Operations Expert, and honestly… didn’t have much to do. My power was to build research stations without requiring a card for the corresponding city.

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Since the map isn’t that big, we didn’t seem to need it that much.

My real role, as unluckiest player on the planet, was to ensure that we got epidemic’d and outbroken nearly every turn. (Everyone needs a core competency!)

And yes, we lost… horribly… on easy.

Anyway, Pandemic is damned good, and if you want to play a team game with tough odds and a pertinent real-world theme, this is for you!

4 Responses to “Pandemic!”

  1. 1
    Markus O'Reallyus Says:

    We might have won if we didn’t try to cheat by keeping the knowledge piles separate. This actually caused us to get two epidemics back to back.

    Seeing as the game ends if there are no more knowledge cards to drawl and you have to spend the cards to do most anything, it would be better if there were not a 7 card limit. Discarding these precious resources is real a kick to the stones.

    This game was A LOT OF FUN. A must play. I would say the coolest part of the game was everyone was legitimately stressed out trying to save the planet.

  2. 2
    Gangrene Says:

    Are you referring to the totally stupid rules interpretation? (By me of course.)

    I think next time we need to be much more centered on containing outbreaks than discovering cures. The cures didn’t help us much anyway.

    And yes, the tension is palpable, and feels so… current. I love it!

  3. 3
    MrRed Says:

    I agree. I would be willing to lead a game of this at the next Bunker party. Is there a pdf of the rules so I could brush up?

  4. 4
    Gangrene Says:

    I am somewhat giddy as I write this… because… Dangerkitty and I took this to lunch at Wendy’s and TOTALLY PWNED THE GAME!

    He pulled the Researcher, I pulled the Dispatcher, and they turned out to be an amazing combo. The researcher can freely give away cards, and the dispatcher can move other players to her location, thus, whenever we collectively had enough cards to cure, I would dispatch him to my location, and he would give me the cards on the next turn. I would cure, then we would clean up trouble spots.

    I believe that is also an important strategy… don’t let cubes build up. Outbreaks happen sooner than you think they will. Don’t get locked into a plan that keeps you from curing.

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