Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Rate the Fun: Pandemic with On The Brink

This is the second Rate the Fun review counting to International Tabletop Day; happening this Saturday! Today's game is Pandemic with the On the Brink expansion.

I wrote a review for the base game of Pandemic back in 2009. Since then the game has been given a fresh new look with the second edition redesign. Z-man has also released two new expansions In the Lab (2013) and State of Emergency (2015). As well as two stand alone games Pandemic: The Cure and Pandemic: Contagion. I am looking forward to trying all of these someday. I'll have links to each of the games' Board Game Geek pages after the Rate the Fun rating.

About Pandemic:
Pandemic is a cooperative game. You win or lose as a team. You are playing against the board, in this case four deadly, disease that have more ways to win then you do. You and the other players are members of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) team. Each player is a specialist that gives the unique skills or abilities that aids the team in curing the diseases. Turn is: player takes four actions (that help the group), pick up two cards potentially good cards, and ends by progressing the diseases by turning over city cards and infecting them with that disease cubes.

The base games was released in 2008 by Z-man is a 2-4 person game. I like it best with 3 players. The length of the game depends on a few factors, like how many epidemics were added (more cards makes the game more challenging) and how long people need to choose their actions. Luck of the cards is also a factor. I have lost in 10 minutes and have had a game last 45 minutes.

What the On The Brink Expansion Adds:
  • 6 Petri dishes and labels
  • Possibility for a 5th player
  • 6 new and 1 revised "specialists" role cards along with 12 new pawns (smaller than the original games pawns)
  • 8 new Special Event cards
  • 3 optional challenges: Virulent Disease, Mutation, and The Bio-Terrorist.
I love the On the Brink expansion; and will not play Pandemic without it.  I have the old design edition of On the Brink, pictured above. It is not my picture. I found it on Dad's Game Addiction. The expansion takes an already great game to the next level.

I play this regular with a group of friends. When we play, we always use the Petri dishes, it is how I store my disease cubes, the new special event cards, and the new role card options when selecting our specialists. We often use the Virulent Disease option, only reason we wouldn't is there was a new player who was unfamiliar with the game. We've tried the Mutation challenge a few times and liked it. I've only had two options to try the Bio-Terrorist.

Good Stuff:
  • I love all of the parts of the expansion that I use regularity. I could not image not having the cute Petri dishes, extra roles, or special events. I sometimes forget they weren't apart of the base game.
  • The Virulent Disease challenge is great. It adds a neat element to the disease fighting and makes adds so much to the Epidemics.
  • Mutation is another great addition. We've only used it a few times but I really like it. I expect we will be using it more regularly in the future.
Less Than Good Stuff:
  • The Bio-Terrorist is another neat challenge. It reminds me of Scotland Yard. I like the special world map pad. The less then good aspect is it is hard to find people interested in playing with the bio-terrorist. It is no fun to have a component you want to play and no one to play it with.
  • If you have the first edition Pandemic it is near impossible and very expensive to find a matching copy of On the Brink. I find this very frustrating because I want to try the newest expansions but don't want to buy new copies of Pandemic or On the Brink.
Final Thoughts:
Pandemic is great, probably my favourite cooperative game. If you like it or are interested in buying then I highly recommend also getting On the Brink. It adds so much to the overall game experience. And it has Petri dishes!

Rate the Fun Score: 9.3
You can find the list of rated games and the Rate the Fun score guide here.

Board Game Geek Pages:
Pandemic
Pandemic: On the Brink
Pandemic: In the Lab
Pandemic: State of Emergency
Pandemic: The Cure
Pandemic: Contagion

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