5 Of Our Favorite “More Challenging” Board Games You Should Try

2. Pandemic

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OVERVIEW

If you are a big fan of outbreak films or TV series, such as 28 Weeks Later, World War Z, Quarantine, or The Walking Dead, and you have been dreaming to be part of the team that saves the world, well, then Pandemic is YOUR board game! Pandemic is a cooperative game that introduces a world disturbed by four virus strains that simultaneously broke out and threatens to eradicate the world as we know it. The players take the role of disease-fighting experts, plan their strategy as a team, and stop the deadly pandemic from spreading across the globe.

RECOMMENDED NO OF PLAYERS:3-5

AVERAGE PLATHROUGH: 1 hour to 1½ hour

SETUP

Game Board- It depicts a world map with 48 major population centers on Earth connected by red lines including Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Paris, Riyadh, Mumbai, and of course, Manila! Cities are color-coded into blue, yellow, black, or red to fit in with the color of the four virus strains in the game. Also on the board are spots for the Infection Cards deck and the Player Cards deck. Moreover, there is the Infection Rate Track (represented by the seven green circles in a row) which directs how many infection cards are drawn in a specific round of turns. The Outbreak Indicator (represented by the vertical  zigzagging figure with a skull on the left side) updates you on the number of outbreak events on the map. Ultimately, the “cures discovered” area on the lower area lets you map out which of the four virus strains you have managed to cure.

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Infection Deck- This deck consists of one card for every city and a color of the disease that will start there.

Player Deck- It also includes cards with each city name, Special Event cards that can be played at to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station, and Epidemic! Cards sprinkled throughout this deck that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity.

Research center- There is a total of 6 of these house-shaped markers. When placed on any city, it allows the team to have more freedom in moving across the map.

Infection Cubes- These are placed on cities to mark that they are infected. They come in four colors to complement the colors of the four virus strains.

Player Pawns- These represent the players on the board, and are moved depending on the action chosen by its player.

Role Cards-  These cards represent the roles each player can take as part of the team. These roles have special abilities that allow each player to be unique and specialized to help in different situations that come up during the game.  For an instance, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are essential to ‘find’ the cures and these stations also allow for greater mobility between cities. Another example of a role would be the Scientist, which only needs four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five.intense_dd_pandemic_3

HOW TO WIN

If one or more diseases spread beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose. If they cure the four diseases, they all win!

GAMEPLAY

Before starting, each player takes a random role card, a reference sheet, and a starting hand of action cards (four each for 2 players, three for 3 players, two for 4 players).intense_dd_pandemic_2

In an interesting manner, the game officially begins with all players’ pawns stationed at the capital research center in Atlanta (just how the Center for Disease Control in The Walking Dead was located in Atlanta). As the players position there, nine of the major cities across the board map already have disease outbreaks (the nine cities are determined by randomly picking nine city cards prior to the start of the game).  To avoid a total disease outbreak, the team must NOT run out of player cards from the deck, run out of disease cubes, and let the outbreak reach the skull of the outbreak tracker. To prevent this, each member of the team must carefully consider every action they choose to make in every turn. Each turn has three distinct phases:

  1. Take 4 player actions

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This phase allows each player to do various actions for a maximum of four times. One action can include moving a player’s pawn between adjacent cities or using action cards to move to desired cities. Another action could be the giving of action cards to other players, or treating diseases by removing a cube in a city. Based from experience, being limited to just four actions is challenging especially when hell has broken loose already in certain continents.

  1. Draw 2 cards and add to their hand

Cards are drawn from the ‘player deck’, which consists of an assortment of card such as the city cards, special event cards, and the unwanted EPIDEMIC card. If cards in this player deck run out, the team loses, so this deck must be tracked to avoid a sudden end of the game (apart from letting the virus take over the world).

When a city card is drawn from the player deck, it can be used to cure a disease at the city shown on the card. Meanwhile, special event cards give one time use abilities, such as the “Government Grant” which allows the team to add 1 research station to any city, and the “Airlift”, which lets the team move 1 pawn to any city. Lastly, EPIDEMIC cards are cards you would never wish to draw from the deck. Every time one of it is drawn, a city from the bottom of the city deck is drawn and that city automatically gains three infection cubes. That card, as well as any other cards in the discard pile, are reshuffled and placed at the top of the city deck. This means that cities that have been drawn recently could be drawn again very quickly. This can cause the cities to become even more infected and places that the players have cleaned out to become infected once again.

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Jaime and Ruby are helping Cedric decide which actions to take

  1. Playing the role of the infector

At this point, a player will look at the current infection situation by checking the infection tracker. When the player draws a city card in this phase, the city shown on the card receives one cube to represent that the infection has gotten worse. If there are no more cubes of the city card color to play from the supply, the players lose.

Having three cubes on a city will first lead to an outbreak. This causes the outbreak tracker to go up by one, if you get more than eight of those in a game and it reaches the skull, the team loses. Then, each adjacent city of that city receives a cube and if any of those cities are now at four cubes, another outbreak occurs. The team has to know which infected cities to focus on to avoid larger outbreaks which can cause the team to lose quickly.

The players will keep on going through these 3 phases until the players have successfully defeated the four virus strains, or if the virus strains have defeated the players by decimating the world (through the ways mentioned above).

EXPERIENCE

Just like in Mysterium, working with a team towards an ultimate goal is what makes Pandemic tick. Not all co-op games are great, but thankfully, Pandemic belongs to one of the greats. Playing Pandemic feels like handling a class of kindergarten students while you’re trying to calm them down, but there will always be those kids that just won’t hahaha. Whenever there’s an outbreak and the tracker slides down, we’d always panic and my friend, Ruby, would always say “beh, ano na?!!. With every player sharing opinions on what best course of action to take, there is plenty of room for discussion in Pandemic.

The different special abilities of the roles also offer some sort of ‘pride’ to any player who holds a very useful one. For example, we drew a card wherein we have to infect Manila, and if we do, there will be another outbreak (insert super sad face). The good thing is, my Quarantine Specialist was located in Manila, which has the ability to prevent any infection activity, so YEY, that proves my worth to the team!

To truly enjoy Pandemic, just make sure that no one makes the decision for everyone, and let everyone huddle to make the best decisions as there are limits. In the end, the fate of the human race lies in your team’s hands, so you better not panic when it’s time for some Pandemic!

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Had the chance to try the newest member of the Dyce N Dyne menu, the Kare-Kare Burger!

Read on for the best ‘tougher’ board game to play this 2016!

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