What I Learned in only 2 Games of Forbidden Island

Lee gifted me Forbidden Island from Gamewright for Christmas.

The game is cooperative in which 2-4 players race across a sinking island to secure four treasures and get to the helicopter before everything descends into the murky, watery abyss. It plays similar to Pandemic in that players get to take actions, collect sets of cards, and slowly reveal what sections of the island sink each turn. As the water rises, the pace increases, and the players must try to stay one step ahead.

As a veteran of Pandemic (and Pandemic Legacy) as well as Ghost Stories and similar games, I felt I had a good handle on these sort of cooperative race games. Boy was I pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was! After two games, here is what I learned:

1 – The Island Sinks Fast

Compared to Pandemic, the pace in Forbidden Island is much quicker. The game plays in under 30 minutes….easily. I found that what I thought were reasonable actions (like shoring up some tiles–in other words, flipping a tile from flooded to unflooded) were completely wrong. I realized after two defeats that I would have to optimize my turn much more than I originally thought.

2 – Hand Management is Tough

To get a treasure, a player needs a set of 4 matching cards. There are two big issues: 1) there are only 5 of each treasure card available in the Treasure Deck and 2) a player’s hand limit is 5 cards. Unlike the higher hand limit and excess matching-color cards in Pandemic, the scarcity of cards in Forbidden Island and small hand size mean that players must trade cards more strategically.

3 – Protect Fools’ Landing

Fools’ Landing is the tile with a helicopter for the players to escape the sinking island after grabbing the treasures. If it sinks beneath the waves, game over Man! We lost a game because we chose to leave Fools’ Landing flooded while taking care of other tasks. We paid the ultimate price when a Waters Rise! card was drawn and the first Flood Card drawn was Fools’ Landing, sinking the tile.

4 – This Game is Fun!

Despite two losses (on Novice level, egads!) I am ready to try again. The gameplay is quick and enjoyable. I have a lot to learn, but the fun will be in the trying.

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Pandemic Legacy December — The Final Chapter

 

After purposely throwing our fourth loss in a row, the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was ready to finish off the long campaign of Pandemic Legacy in December.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE DECEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first eleven months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.  We wiped out in both attempts in October, but we did find Patient Zero and a possible vaccine.  In our first game in November we started vaccinating Faded cities and in our second November game we vaccinated ALL the Faded cities while losing our fourth game in a row.

We purposely lost in November in order to make December much easier (Funded Event total of 8, 3 bonus cards from Box 8, all Faded cities Vaccinated, etc.).  Let’s see if it paid off!

December Setup

The Mission Briefing asked us to tear up all our old objectives and replace them with new ones.  We now had to destroy the secret stockpile of COdA and Vaccinate every Faded city.  Good thing we already completed that 2nd objective in November, isn’t it?

pan-leg-dec-01

The two new mandatory objectives

The find and destroy the secret stockpile objective came with a search card.  Unlike others in the past, this search would require us to discard player cards of specific colors in order to advance the search.

pan-leg-dec-02

The search for the stockpile

We drew the 9 infection cards and then selected our 8 Funded events: Local Initiative, One Quiet Night, Remote Treatment, Airlift, Borrowed Time, Forecast, Flexible Aid Package, and Resilient Population.  We also inserted the 3 Experimental Vaccine cards that we gained in November.  We picked our characters (listed below) and started in Atlanta.  By random draw, Stew was going to go first.

Given that we had already completed the Vaccinate all Faded cities objective, we were going to concentrate on staying in or near Atlanta and finding that stockpile!  We would mop up cubes and Quarantine cities as necessary to stop Outbreaks from chaining.

Characters and Turn Order

  • Stew – Dispatcher
  • Bob – Researcher
  • Neal – Scientist

No surprise here folks!  This tried and true three-way combo of characters should be able to trade cards quickly enough to get the search done.

Gameplay

Turn One

Dispatcher — Searched with a Red card (search=1), Treated 1/1 cubes, moved to Washington D.C. and Treated 1/1 cubes.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to give the Scientist a Yellow card. Flew to Baghdad, moved to Istanbul and Treated 1/1 then moved to Algiers.  Drew Epidemic #1–but it got cancelled with the Experimental Vaccine.  Thank you box #8!  We then used One Quiet Night to skip the Infection Step.

Scientist — Searched (search=2) and Quarantined Atlanta, then moved to D.C. and Quarantined it too.

Turn 2

Dispatcher — Moved to Atlanta, Searched (search=5), then Dispatched himself to Algiers and Treated 1/2.

Researcher — Treated Algiers 1/1, moved to Madrid, Treated 1/2 and then Treated 1/1.

Scientist — Moved to Atlanta, Searched (search=8) and then forfeited his two remaining actions.  He didn’t want to move out of Atlanta so that the Dispatcher and Researcher could return there.

Turn 3

Dispatcher — Dispatched himself and the Researcher to Atlanta.  Shared Knowledge to get a Blue card from the Researcher and then forfeited his final action.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to give a Black card to the Dispatcher.  Moved to D.C. and then Montreal, Treated 1/1, and Quarantined Montreal.

Scientist — Searched (search=9), moved to Miami, Treated 1/1, then Quarantined Miami.

Turn 4

Dispatcher — Searched (search=10), dispatched the Scientist and Researcher to Atlanta, then Shared Knowledge to give a Blue Card to the Researcher.  Drew the 2nd Epidemic Card (which is now our 1st Epidemic) in Vaccinated Sydney.  The Search target moved from 12 to 13.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge three times: Yellow card to Scientist, Blue card from the Dispatcher and a Red Card from the Dispatcher.  Searched (search=12) and forfeited his 5th action.

Scientist — Flew to Baghdad and Treated 1/1 and then Quarantined it.  Then flew back to Atlanta.  Drew Epidemic #2 (third Epidemic card drawn) in Chicago.  We used Resilient Population to discard the Chicago Infection card.  Then we used Remote Treatment in St. Petersburg (2/2).  Then we moved the Search target from 13 to 14.

Turn 5

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago, Treated 1/3, then 1/2 and then Moved to Atlanta.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to get a Red card from the Dispatcher.  Searched for the win! (search=14=search target).  We found the Stockpile, completed the 2nd Objective and scratched off “The Stockpile” card.

pan-leg-dec-03

Finding the Stockpile of COdA

What?!?  We didn’t have to use the C4 that we were hoarding in our hands to blow up the stockpile?  That was a complete let down.  We were looking forward to actually “blowing” it up.

Anyway, we completed both objectives and had now won the game.  We flipped over the winning card and read this…

pan-leg-dec-04

The end of Pandemic Legacy: one of the biggest let downs in gaming history!

That’s it?!?  “Congratulations. At long last…it’s over.”  What a crock!  Huge let down. That was really awful.

But wait, there were still a couple cards in the Legacy deck.  Maybe something cool still awaited us.

pan-leg-dec-05

Ranking your success

Nope.  It was a card that allowed us to rank our success.  We won…and now the game was going to tell us that we didn’t win well enough?!?  What a double-crock.  It just felt really wrong and misguided.  I expect success/fail ranking in two-player games that can be played multiple times (think Avalon Hill, GMT, Decision Games, etc).  But in a multiplayer cooperative game it fell flat.  After all, in cooperative games the goal is to win.  Failure is normal, so winning really counts for something.  This ranking  nonsense kind of cheapened it.

The back side of the card had the score sheet.

pan-leg-dec-06

Score sheet side of the card

We tallied it all up and we earned a 637=recovery and progress.  Who cares?  We didn’t.

Evaluation

After 12 months of playing Pandemic Legacy, the gang at the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club agreed on the following:

  1. It started out pretty fun.
  2. The Faded popping up was cool.
  3. The game waned badly in the last few months.
  4. The ending was awful.
  5. It ate up about 18 weeks of meeting for games–which pushed out other games that we could have played.
  6. We are NOT going to play another season of this game.
  7. And that I, your faithful narrator, needed to get on www.boardgamegeek.com and lower my rating of the game.

All right, there it is.  I hope everyone reading along enjoyed the ride!

 

Pandemic Legacy November Playthrough Part Two

 

After a rough loss in both games in October (see Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough and Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough Part Two) and the first game in November (Pandemic Legacy November Playthrough)the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was ready to try a second time in November.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE NOVEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first ten months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.  We wiped out in both attempts in October, but we did find Patient Zero and a possible vaccine.  In our first game in November we started vaccinating Faded cities.

November Setup

We had no permanent military base stickers left, so we did not have to add any new military bases to the board.  We drew the 9 infection cards and then selected our 6 Funded events: Local Initiative, One Quiet Night, Remote Treatment, Airlift, Borrowed Time, and Resilient Population.  We picked our characters (listed below) and started in Kolkata.  By random draw, Stew was going to go first.

As we mentioned in the 1st November game, we were suspicious that the previous mission objective was to only vaccinate 6 Faded cities.  It looked like a set-up to us (much like the earlier military base set up).  So, we decided that it was best to concentrate on vaccinating every Faded city this time.  Why?  Two reasons: 1) the more vaccinated cities the fewer Faded cities and thus the greater number of infection cards that would do nothing when drawn and 2) because we are guessing that in December the game will want us to vaccinate all the Faded cities.  We also were going to Sabotage the remaining military bases.

Characters and Turn Order

  • Stew – Soldier
  • Bob – Immunologist
  • Neal – Dispatcher

Gameplay

Turn One

Soldier — Moved to Delhi, Karachi, and then Riyadh.  Then treated 1/3 cubes.

Immunologist — Picked up 1 dose, moved to Hong Kong and then Taiwan.  Then remotely vaccinated Osaka.  Drew Epidemic #1 (Kinshasa).  The team used Tactical Centers Online to put up 3 roadblocks in Asia.  Then we used the Experimental Program to reduce Kinshasa from 3 to 2 cubes.  This turned out to be a good move because the Immunologist drew Kinshasa during the Infection step.

Dispatcher — Flew to Atlanta, then moved to San Francisco via Chicago.  Used Shady Background to Sabotage the military base in San Francisco.  During infection step drew Seoul, which is roadblocked completely, so it didn’t have an Outbreak, but its Panic Level went up from 2 to 3.

Turn 2

Soldier — Moved to Baghdad, then flew to Atlanta.  Moved to Washington D.C. and then New York.  Used Borrowed Time to get 2 more actions.  Sabotaged the military base with C4 and then picked up the card again.  Objective #1 (Sabotage 2 military bases) is complete!

Immunologist — Moved to Bangkok via Hong Kong.  Picked up 4 doses and then moved back to Hong Kong.  The team used Resilient Population to removed Santiago from the Infection discards.  Used Local Initiative to Quarantine Kinshasa and Riyadh.

Dispatcher — Dispatched self to Hong Kong, moved to Kolkata, picked up 4 doses and moved to Hong Kong.

Turn 3

Soldier — Moved to London and used C4 to Sabotage the military base there.  Moved to Essen and put up a Vaccination Center and Quarantined Essen.  Objective #2 met (if the Vaccination centers stay on the board until the end of the game).

Immunologist — Moved to Shanghai and remotely Vaccinated Seoul (3/3).  Then moved to Tokyo and Vaccinated 1/1. The team played One Quiet Night to skip the Infection step.

Dispatcher — Parachuted into Seoul and Vaccinated it.  Moved to Tokyo (by discarding Jakarta card) and Vaccinated it.  Then moved to Shanghai.  Drew Epidemic #2 (Osaka–but it is Vaccinated so no effect).  Drew Khartoum for Outbreak #1.

Turn 4

Soldier — Picked up 3 doses, grabbed the Parachute and Parachuted into Manila.  Vaccinated it with the Aerosol and then grabbed the Parachute back.

Immunologist — Moved to Shanghai, then Hong Kong, then Bangkok and grabbed 5 doses.  Drew 2 Yellow cards and cured BSNL-419.  Quarantines in Essen and Shanghai got removed via Infection card draw.

Dispatcher — Moved to Kolkata via Hong Kong.  Then shuttled to Essen and Quarantined it.

Turn 5

Soldier — Used Remote Treatment on Chicago (1/3) and Khartoum (1/3) and Parachuted into Beijing.  Vaccinated it and grabbed back the Parachute.  Parachuted into D.C. and Quarantined it before moving to Montreal.  Drew Epidemic #3 (Chennai–but vaccinated).

Immunologist — Parachuted to Khartoum and treated (2/2) before moving to Kinshasa and treating 3/3. Then moved to Johannesburg. Drew Riyadh for Outbreak #2 and drew Essen (quarantined).

Dispatcher — Quarantined Essen (again!) and took a Direct Flight to Santiago.  Treated 3/3 and Dispatched the Soldier to Johannesburg.  Drew San Francisco for Outbreak #3 which led to a chain reaction Outbreak in Chicago (#4).

Turn 6

Soldier — Treated Johannesburg (1/1) then moved to Khartoum and Treated 1/1.  Moved to Cairo.

Immunologist — Moved to Kinshasa and treated 1/1.  Moved to Lagos and Treated 1/1.

Dispatcher — Moved to Lima and then Mexico City.  Treated 1/1.  Then Cured Sprague (Black).

We now had cured 2 of the 3 diseases.  We began to debate whether to cure Fischer-Titus (Blue) or to lose on purpose in order to open Box #8 and increase our Funded Event total for December.

Turn 7 (how did we survive this long?!?)

Soldier — Treated a yellow cube in Cairo (1/1) and Eradicated BSNL-419.  Moved to Riyadh and Treated 3/3.  Grabbed a Parachute.

Immunologist — Took a Direct Flight to Cairo and Treated 1/1 Black cubes.  Moved to Baghdad and Treated 1/1.  Drew Epidemic #4 (Karachi).  Then during Infection step drew D.C. for Outbreak #5.

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago, Treated 1/3 and then moved to San Francisco and Treated 1/3.

Turn 8 (Surely the end is near, no one survives this long without losing)

Soldier — Parachuted into D.C., Treated 1/3, moved to Atlanta and Treated 1/3 before ending in Chicago.  Drew Karachi for Outbreak #6–and Karachi became a Fallen City!

Immunologist — Airlift to Karachi and Treated 3/3.  Then moved to Mumbai and Treated 2/2 before ending in Delhi.

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago and Shared Knowledge with the Soldier to get a Blue card.  Then moved to Montreal and Dispatched the Soldier there too.  Drew 2 Blue cards.

*** And here is where we had to make a choice!  The Dispatcher now had enough Blue cards to cure Fischer-Titus (don’t need to be in a Research Station and did not need to use an Action) at any time.  We chose instead to keep playing in order to lose.  It became clear that with over 1/4 of all cities Vaccinated and 1/4 of the cities Eradicated that this is how we wanted the board to look in December if possible.  We decided to lose in order to make December easier.

Turn 9 (How did we made it this far!)

Soldier — Quarantined Montreal and took a Direct Flight to St. Petersberg before moving to Essen and Quarantining it.  Drew Epidemic #5 (Miami- Eradicated).  No player cards were left at this point.

Immunologist — Forfeited turn.  Games ends because no more player cards can be drawn.

Here is the board at the end of the game:

pan-leg-nov-2nd-01

Panoramic View of the End of the Game.  Note the 5 Blue cards in the hands of the Dispatcher (far left).

We lost 4 games in a row and now could open Box #8.  Inside we found the following cards:

pan-leg-nov-2nd-02

The contents of Box #8

The Experimental Vaccine cards should make it really easy to win in December.

 

Endgame Upgrades

We put a permanent Vaccination Center in Essen and added the Supressed Upgrade to BSNL-419 (Treating removes all cubes).  We increased our Funded Event total to 8 and left with very positive thoughts about defeating the game in December.

Post Thanksgiving Game-o-rama!

Just after the Thanksgiving holidays we got in more gaming that usual.  On various dates we managed to delve into some 7 Wonders: Duel, Pandemic Legacy, 7 Wonders with the Babel expansion, and T.I.M.E. Stories.

Here are the photos of the fun!

post-turkey-01

Stewart contemplating what to do in 7 Wonders: Duel.  I had him at a severe disadvantage and eventually I nipped a victory by a few points.

post-turkey-02

Getting ready for some 7 Wonders with the Babel expansion (and of course Cities and Leaders expansions too!)

post-turkey-05

Stewart and Bob during Age II.  Stew had played that darn leader (the name escapes me at the moment) who returns -1 military tokens to the other players.  So annoying!  Note the Babel tower in the middle of the table.  Stew won the game thanks to mucho scientific structures.

post-turkey-03

Stew, Bob and I getting ready to start our 2nd November playthrough of Pandemic Legacy.  I will get a post out about that game soon.

post-turkey-04

Lee, Stew and Katie getting ready for a game of T.I.M.E. Stories.  Katie really likes the game but when we got to the maze cards, Stew and I spent like 10 minutes figuring it out and she got bored!  Btw, note in the background left the shield that I made for Stew when he was big into SCA at West Point.

Oh…and I will give out a not genuine “no prize” to whoever who leaves a comment correctly naming the most games (either from the boxes/books or the minis, boards, etc, used in particular games) that they see in the photos.  Note, there are also RPGs in the photos.  Don’t forget to look on the bookshelves and under the folding table too!

Good luck!

Pandemic Legacy November Playthrough

After a rough loss in both games in October (see Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough and Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough Part Two) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to November.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE NOVEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first ten months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.  We wiped out in both attempts in October, but we did find Patient Zero and a possible vaccine.

November Setup

We had no permanent military base stickers left, so we did not have to add any new military bases to the board.  We drew the 9 infection cards and then selected our 4 Funded events: Local Initiative, One Quiet Night, Remote Treatment, and Resilient Population.  We picked our characters (listed below) and started in Kolkata.  By random draw, Stew was going to go first.

Characters and Turn Order

  • Stew – Dispatcher
  • Bob – Immunologist
  • Neal – Scientist
  • Lee – Researcher

Gameplay

Turn One

Dispatcher — Shared Knowledge to take Osaka from the Researcher, moved to Bangkok and then Jakarta (by discarding Osaka because Jakarta has a 4 on it), and then Sabotaged the military base that gave us fits in October.  During his draw phase, the Dispatcher drew the Bioreactor and puts 3 doses at the Vacc Center in Kolkata.

Immunologist — Picked up 4 doses in Kolkata, moved to Chennai, Vaccinated the city, then moved to Kolkata.

Scientist — (5 actions this turn) Shared Knowledge with the Researcher to give away Tokyo (which is also the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells), moved to Bangkok, picked up 2 doses, then moved to Ho Chi Minh City and then Vaccinated it.  City Zero of the Faded epidemic was now a safe place!  During the infection step, he drew Bangkok which had been Vaccinated in a previous game.

Researcher — Picked up 2 doses, moved to Hong Kong, Vaccinated 1 Faded and then Vaccinated Hong Kong.  Six Faded cities were now vaccinated so Objective #1 was met and we tore up the card.  ** Note: we were very suspicious that the game wanted us to vaccinate only 6 Faded cities.  We suspect that we should keep vaccinating cities because this smells like a set-up, much like the military base fiasco.**

Turn 2

Dispatcher — Moved to Chennai then took flight to Khartoum, moved to Lagos and then used Shady Background to Sabotage the military base there by discarding the Bogota card.  That was now 2 military bases Sabotaged so Objective #2 was met!  He then drew Epidemic #1 in Milan.  We used Resilient Population to remove the Milan infection card from the game.

Immunologist — Picked up 2 doses, moved to Hong Kong, Shared Knowledge with the Researcher and took a yellow card, then cured BSNL-419 (Yellow, no action) and Vaccinated Taipei remotely.

Scientist — Moved to Manila, then San Francisco, then Chicago and treated 1/2 cubes.  Drew a Bioreactor card and used it to put 3 doses in Kolkata.  Drew Epidemic #2 in San Francisco.  During the infection step drew San Francisco (what bad luck for Outbreak #1)!

Researcher — Moved to Kolkata, flew to Atlanta, moved to Chicago and then treated 1/2 cubes.  During the infection step both Madrid and Sao Paolo got their 3rd cube.

Turn 3

Dispatcher — Dispatched himself to Chicago, Shared Knowledge to give Chicago card to the Scientist, moved to San Francisco and treated 1/3 cubes.  Played One Quiet Night.

Immunologist — Moved to Manila, Vaccinated 3/3 Faded, then remotely Vaccinated Sydney, and treated the single blue cube in Manila.

Scientist — (5 actions) Shared Knowledge with the Researcher and Cured Fischer-Titus (Blue).  Two viruses down!  Then moved to Montreal, New York, Madrid and treated 3/3 cubes.  Drew Milan during infection step for Outbreak #2.

Researcher — Treated Chicago 2/2 cubes, moved to Montreal and then New York, and treated 2/2 cubes.

Turn 4

Dispatcher — Direct flight to London, moved to Essen and then St. Petersburg and treated 3/3 cubes.

Immunologist — Moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vaccinated Jakarta remotely, moved to Bangkok and grabbed 11 doses.  Drew Epidemic #3 in Karachi.  During infection step drew Sao Paolo for Outbreak #3.

Scientist — Moved to Paris, treated 1/1 cubes, moved to Milan and treated 3/3 cubes.  Used Remote Treatment to take both Moscow and Karachi down from 3 cubes each to 2.  During infect step both Mexico City and San Francisco went up to 3 cubes.

Researcher — Moved to Madrid, Paris, and then Milan.  Shared Knowledge with the Scientist.  Drew Epidemic #4 in Essen.  During infect step drew San Francisco for Outbreak #4.  There were cubes all over the place at this point!

Turn 5

Dispatcher — Moved to Essen, treated 3/3 cubes, moved to Milan, treated 2/2 cubes.  During infect step drew Sao Paolo (Outbreak #5) and then Mexico City (Outbreak #6) which led to chain Outbreak #7 in Bogota and then chain Outbreak #8 in Buenos Aires and the game was over!  We came up just short as we almost ready to cure Sprague (Black) in the next couple moves.

The board at the end looked like this:

pan-leg-nov-1

Panoramic view of the end–outbreaks of BSNL-419 (Yellow) everywhere!

End Game Upgrades

After 3 losses in a row, we were demoralized but determined to make the board look better in future games.  We chose to give the Researcher the Hero upgrade (can Self-Sacrifice at any time with an action) and to add 3 equipment stickers (Parachute, and 2 Grenade Belts).  We moved our Funded Event total to 6.  We also wondered whether it might be useful in the next game in November to lose on purpose in order to see what was in Box #8 (the “open this box if you lose 4 games in a row” box).  After all a win would lower the Funded Event total to 4 and give us a Win Bonus, but a loss would move the event total to 8 and open Box #8.  Which way to go?  I guess we will just have to wait and see how the next game goes and choose at that time.

Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough

After a very unexpected victory in September (see Pandemic Legacy September Playthrough) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to October.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE OCTOBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first nine months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.

October Setup

We read the mission briefing and discovered that we were to find Patient Zero!

pan-leg-oct-01

The Search to find Patient Zero

Per the new rules, we randomly added a new military base in San Francisco.  We completed the routine set up and then picked our characters.  Because we had zero (yes zero!) Funded Events, we felt it an imperative to find Patient Zero.  We expected to lose the game this month so Neal took the Soldier and Bob took the Ops Expert so that we could quickly complete the Patient Zero mission.  Lee took the Medic so that he could treat cities and buy the rest of us more time.  Stew would be his usual Dispatcher and move pawns around.  After selecting characters, we decided to start in Kolkata and then we used our September Win Bonus to put some Binoculars on the Jakarta Card.  We randomly drew pawns and Stew would be the first player (again!  He has all the luck!).

Characters and Order

  • Stew — Dispatcher
  • Bob — Operations Expert
  • Neal — Soldier
  • Lee — Medic

Gameplay

Turn 1

Dispatcher — Moved to Ho Chi Minh City (City Zero) and then dispatched the Ops Expert and Soldier there.  He then drew the 1st Epidemic card and Riyadh exploded with the Sprague (Black) virus.  We moved the search track from 9 to 10.  We drew an infection card and it was…wait on it…wait on it…Riyadh!  Outbreak #1!  The other was Beijing (Faded went from 2 to 3).

Ops Expert — Bob put down a military base in Ho Chi Minh City and then searched for Patient Zero.  We moved the Search from 0 to 2 (+1 Tokyo card–which by the way has an equipment sticker on it, +1 military base).  He discarded the Tehran card and flew to Baghdad (Ops Expert ability) and treated 1/3 cubes.  He drew the Ho Chi Minh City player card so 1 Faded joined the Soldier and Dispatcher in City Zero.  For infection cards he drew Taipei (1 to 2) and San Francisco.  Boom!  Outbreak #2!  The non-COdA viruses were getting out of hand pretty fast.

Soldier — He didn’t get a scar because, well, he is the soldier!  Anyway, he picked up the Tokyo card from the discard pile and then searched for Patient Zero.  We moved the search from 2 to 4 (+1 Tokyo card, +1 military base).  He then picked up the Tokyo card again from the discard pile and searched again (search 4 to 6)!  Cheesy?  Yes!  But effective use of the Soldier’s ability to pick up equipment.  For infection cards, he drew New York (Boom! Outbreak #3) and Bogota (1 to 2).

Medic — Moved to Ho Chi Minh City and searched with the Jakarta card with Binoculars!  Moved search from 6 to 10 (+1 Jakarta card, +1 military base, +2 Binoculars).  And Objective #1 is complete and we found Patient Zero!  Because we now had the DNA, Gene Sequence, and the Records, this led to a opening Box #7 and a whole bunch of stuff.  I will save all that for the end of this report.  Anyway, the Medic moved to Hong Kong to finish his turn.  Faded/cubes were added to Baghdad and Bogota by draws from the Infection deck.

pan-leg-oct-02

Finding Patient Zero

Turn 2

Dispatcher — He got a scar from being in Ho Chi Minh City with the Faded.  Stew took the Indecisive scar.  He dispatched himself to Baghdad, moved to Tehran and treated 2/3 cubes.

Ops Expert — Moved to Riyadh and discarded the Riyadh card to Sabotage the military base there.  He then treated 2/3 cubes in Riyadh.

Soldier — Picked up the Tokyo card from the discard pile and moved to Tokyo.

Medic — Moved to Ho Chi Minh City and used C4 (no action needed) to Sabotage the military base there.  Objective #2 (Sabotage 2 military bases) complete.  Now only the mandatory mission remained.  He then moved to Kolkata and flew to Baghdad.

Turn 3

At this point we were struggling because we only had a single Black card between all 4 of our hands and realized that we probably wouldn’t complete the mandatory mission.

Dispatcher — Dispatched himself to Tokyo, grabbed the Tokyo card from the Soldier.  You might remember it has an equipment sticker and that sticker is the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells.  The Dispatcher cured Fischer-Titus (Blue virus) without an action and then flew to Baghdad and treated 1/3 cubes.  He drew Epidemic #2 in St. Petersburg.  He then drew Mumbai (Outbreak #4).  We were rapidly running out of Black cubes to put on the board.

Ops Expert — Moved to Baghdad by discarding the Ho Chi Minh City card.  He treated cubes and then with his last action equipped the Parachute sticker on the Algiers card.

Soldier — Took a direct flight to Chicago, treated 1/1 cubes there, moved to San Francisco and treated 3/3 cubes.  Then he drew Epidemic #3 in Delhi.  The first infection card drawn was Mumbai (Outbreak #5) which led to chain outbreaks in Delhi (#6), Karachi (#7) and Tehran (#8) and the game was lost!

Here is the board at the end of the game:

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A Panoramic photo of the board at the end of the game.

The Vaccine

Because we collected everything necessary to open Box #7, the game changed as we now had access to a vaccine to stop COdA.

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The Vaccine is found!

By finding a vaccine, we now had two new objectives: Vaccinate 6 Faded cities and have 3 Vaccination Centers on the board.  We were instructed to put all kinds of new stickers in the rulebook to simulate the new vaccine rules.  We also got some cool orange buildings and doses.

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Vaccination Centers and Vaccine Doses

And when you vaccinate a Faded City, you put a Vaccination sticker over it!

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Vaccinate those cities!

Also, the Immunologist is now a character choice.

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The Immunologist

Endgame Upgrades

We moved our Funded Event total up from 0 to 2 (yay!).  We used both upgrades to put 3 equipment stickers each (so 6 stickers!) on red cards.  We added all 3 of the new Bioreactor (discard to produce 3 vaccine doses) and all 3 of the Aerosol Unit (use one dose to remove all Faded in a city) stickers.  At this point the entire Top Secret dossier was exhausted.  I guess the only twists and turns left must be in the Legacy Deck.

Because we lost we will have to tackle October again.  But…somehow we felt that we won anyway because now we would be armed with Vaccination centers!

 

 

Pandemic Legacy September Playthrough

After our unexpected victory in August (see Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to September.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE SEPTEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first eight months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds (Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2).  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist (see Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough).

September Setup

The mission briefing was fairly straightforward.  We had to find a paranoid soldier who was frightening people.

pan-leg-sept-01

The Search for the Paranoid Soldier

We started September with zero, yep zero, funded events!  We expected to lose badly, so we decided that we would concentrate on finding the paranoid soldier.  We set up the board, selected characters, used our August win bonus to advance the Paranoid Soldier search from space 0 to 2, and then randomly determined that Stew would be the first player.

Character Selection and Order

  • Stew — Dispatcher
  • Bob — Colonel
  • Neal — Researcher
  • Lee — Scientist

We decided to start in Kolkata.  Stew had the only red (COdA) card and he figured he would rush over to Ho Chi Minh City and start the search.

pan-leg-sept-02

Panoramic view of the start of the game. Stew the dispatcher is sitting on the right side of the photo and you can see he has a red card–and it’s Ho Chi Minh City!

Gameplay

We immediately accomplished Objective #1 — have a military base in six regions.

Turn 1

Dispatcher — moved to Hi Chi Minh City.  Moved the Colonel there.  Searched for the paranoid soldier: +3 Ho Chi Minh City card, +1 Dispatcher (veteran), and +1 Colonel.  Search moved from 2 to 7.  Then he drew the 1st Epidemic and Atlanta got 3 cubes.  The search target moved from 9 to 10.  The Dispatcher drew a red card but we were still worrying about whether we would find the Paranoid Soldier.

Colonel — Moved to Taipei, got rid of 1 Faded, moved to Hong Kong.  When drawing infection cards Algiers had an Outbreak (outbreak #1).

Researcher — Gave 2 cards to Scientist, then flew to Atlanta.  Treated 1/3 cubes and then dropped a quarantine.  Drew the Bogota infection card leading to Outbreak #2!

Scientist — Flew to Atlanta, moved to San Frandisco (yep, misspelling is intentional) and treated 1/3 cubes.  By the end of this turn, there were 3 cubes/Faded in many cities.  It was already looking grim.

Turn 2

Dispatcher — Moved Colonel to Ho Chi Minh City. Searched for Paranoid Soldier: +1 Beijing card, +1 Dispatcher, +1 Colonel.  Search moved from 7 to 10 and we found him! (Objective #2).

We scratched off the Paranoid Soldier card and it revealed that something really wrong was going on.  The implication was that the COdA virus was not an accident and that a secret organization operating from within the CDC was involved.

pan-leg-sept-03

Paranoid Soldier is found — and the truth becomes known!

This led us to open Box #6 — and then the floor dropped out from under us.  The Colonel was a traitor!

pan-leg-sept-04

We have been duped!

The Colonel was a mysterious person known as Sagittarius, part of the secretive group Zodiac.  Bob had to discard The Colonel and take a Civilian card.  In short, Zodiac instigated COdA in order to stage a world-wide martial law that would allow it to assume control.  We unwittingly helped them by placing all those permanent military bases around the globe.

Now we needed to tear down the oppressive military state that we had built up.

pan-leg-sept-05

We were now determined to right the wrongs that we had unknowingly perpetrated.

Also, we had to discard the 6 Military Base objective, so now we had completed only 1 objective so far.  We really felt deflated.

The Dispatcher’s turn continued at this point.  He moved the Scientist to Atlanta to be with the Researcher and dropped a quarantine on Ho Chi Minh City.

Civilian — Moved to Algiers and treated 3/3 cubes.

Researcher — Gave 2 cards to the Scientist then moved to Bogota and treated 1/3 cubes.

Scientist — Cured BSNL-419 (yellow) then moved to Bogota and took 2 cards from the Researcher.

Turn 3

Dispatcher — Equipped C4 and blew up the Ho Chi Minh City military base.  Moved to Lima via Bogota and equipped C4 again–and blew up the Lima military base!  Objective #2 complete!  He then drew Epidemic #2 (Shanghai).  Subsequently Buenos Aires had an Outbreak (outbreak #3).

Civilian — Moved to Bogota and treated 3/3 cubes.  Used the Airstrike unfunded event to remove 1/3 Faded in Taipei.  Drew the Shanghai infection card for Outbreak #4.

Researcher — Moved to Kinshasha and treated 3/3 cubes and then moved to Lagos.  Drew the Atlanta infection card but the Quarantine from way back on Turn 1 prevented an Outbreak.

Scientist — Moved to Lagos, took Riyadh card from the Researcher, cured Fischer-Titus (blue) and then cured Sprague (black)–note: the Scientist has two upgrades that have moved his hand size to 9.  Thus we completed the mandatory objective, got 3 objectives done, and quite against our expectations won the game!

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Panoramic photo of the end of the game

Endgame Upgrades

At the end of the first game in September, you get a bunch of new upgrades, some are character upgrades and a bunch are new equipment.

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Equipment upgrades at end of 1st game in September

We decided to give the Shady Background to the Dispatcher and the Forecaster upgrade to the Researcher.  Our Funded Event total remains at zero.  Not sure how we keep winning, but we hope our luck keeps holding.

Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough

After our narrow victory in July (see Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to August.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE AUGUST EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first seven months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  See review here (Pandemic Legacy July Episode – Part One).  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds (Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2).

August Setup

The Mission Briefing threw a curve right at the start of the game.  We had to rip up the “Eradicate 1 disease” mission!  We did however get a new mission: Find the Immunologist.  It is another “search” mission, much like the “Find the Virologist” that we completed in July.

 

Pan Leg Aug 03

We drew a number of red cards during set up, so there were plenty of Faded on the board.  We knew that we would have to deal with them while also going into Faded cities to find the Immunologist.  So, Bob graciously volunteered to select the Colonel, a character that we had not yet used.

Pan Leg Aug 04

The Colonel.  He can removed Faded figures from the city that he is in.  He also ignores roadblocks.  He got the scar on Turn 3.

Stew came up a with a great plan to quickly find the Immunologist.  We also anticipated using the July win bonus to put down our 6th permanent military base.  In other words, we figured that we would accomplish 2 objectives quickly, leaving only the mandatory “cure 3 diseases” objective.  So, we chose to go with the standard Dispatcher, Researcher, Scientist combo.  After determining play order, here are our character picks:

  • Stew — Dispatcher
  • Bob — Colonel
  • Neal — Researcher
  • Lee — Scientist

Our Funded Event total was only 2, so we selected “Local Initiative” and “Resilient Population.”  We used our July win bonus to put a permanent military base in London and a temporary military base in Seoul.

Here is what the board looked like after set-up was finished:

Pan Leg Aug 01

Start of the August game.  Photo taken before we placed the 6th military base in London. The base in Lagos is there, but it is hard to see.

Game Play

When the game started, we automatically accomplished the “Have a military base in each of the 6 regions” objective.  Objective #1 down — giddy up!

Turn 1

We all started in Kolkata.  The dispatcher moved to Bangkok and then moved the Researcher and Scientist to him.  For his final action, he “Searched” with the Ho Chi Minh City card.  This moved the search 4 spaces (+1 red/Faded card, +1 Researcher present, +1 Scientist present, +1 Dispatcher present).

The Colonel moved to Bangkok and Searched with the Beijing Card.  This moved the search 4 more spaces (+1 for red/Faded card, +1 for Researcher, +1 for Scientist, +1 for Dispatcher).  As the search moved 8 spaces, we found the Immunologist!  Objective #2 down before the first turn was over!  Yee Haw!  The Colonel then moved to Ho Chi Minh City and removed a Faded figure.

Pan Leg Aug 02

The benefits from finding the Immunologist.  The Virologist that we found previously has the “Gene Sequence” so two more things left to find.

The Researcher (has 5 actions because starting with Scientist–Family Member upgrade) gave 2 cards to the Researcher, moved to Kolkata, treated a cube and then moved to Bangkok.

The Scientist grabbed one card from the Researcher, moved to Kolkata, flew to Baghdad, then moved to Istanbul and treated a cube.

Turn 2

The Dispatcher moved the Researcher to Istanbul, then traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, took a military shuttle to New York City (via the Veteran upgrade), and treated 1 of the 3 cubes there.  We drew our first Epidemic card in Seoul.  We used an “Airstrike” to immediately destroy 1 of the 3 Faded figures there.  After shuffling the discarded Infection cards, we drew Khartoum which had an Outbreak (#1) and Seoul!  Good thing we hit it with that Airstrike!

The Colonel flew to Seoul and removed all 3 Faded figures.  He then drew Epidemic #2 in Karachi.  As you can figure, the Infection discard pile now had only 3 cards in it.  We drew Karachi (outbreak #2) and Khartoum (outbreak #3).  We now were going to have to hussle before the 3 regular diseases got out of control.

The Researcher moved to Khartoum via Cairo, treated 1 of 3 cubes, then moved to Lagos and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Scientist moved to Lagos and took a Blue card from the Researcher.

Turn 3

The Dispatcher took a military shuttle to Lima, moved to Buenos Aires via Santiago and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Colonel got hit with a scar in Seoul and selected “Regretful.”  He then moved to Shanghai and removed 3/3 Faded figures there.

The Researcher moved to Tehran and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Scientist cured the BSNL-419 disease (no action required and no need to be at a research station via upgrades), treated all the cubes in Lagos, moved to Khartoum and treated those cubes, and then moved to Cairo.

Turn 4

The Dispatcher moved the Researcher to Cairo, then treated the cubes in Buenos Aires, moved to Johannesburg and treated there.  He then used the “Local Initiative” card to quarantine Karachi and New York.

The Colonel removed 1/2 Faded in Hong Kong, moved to Kolkata and treated 1/3 cubes there.

The Researcher handed a Black card to the Scientist, then moved to Bangdad and put the “Medical Equipment: Binoculars” on a Red card and moved to Cairo.  He then drew Epidemic #3 in St. Petersburg.  We used the “Resilient Population” event to remove Delhi from the Infection deck.  We then drew Mexico City (2 cubes now), Santiago (3 cubes) and Los Angeles (outbreak #4).

Pan Leg Aug 05

Binoculars–should help in searches needed to finish the requirements on card 30 (see above picture).

The Scientist cured the Blue (Fischer-Titus) disease.  Grabbed the Istanbul card from the Researcher and cured the Black (Sprague) disease.  Objective # 3 met — Game over man!

Pan Leg Aug 06

Panoramic view of the end of the game!

Endgame

Well, none of us expected to win the August episode with an unfunded event total at 2, but our long range planning really helped.  Our “munchkin” strategy of getting 6 permanent military bases paid off, as did placing a bunch of “unfunded events” on player cards.

At the end of the first game in August, the game gives you a new character “The Immunologist” and a bunch of new upgrades.

Pan Leg Aug 07

New upgrades at end of August game.  Check out the “Nuclear Option”!

We took advantage of these new upgrades choosing: 1) to add the “Tactical Centers Now Online” to the Osaka card and 2) to give the “Hacker” upgrade (+1 card in hand) to the Scientist.  We then moved our Funded event total to zero (yikes!).

Onward to September!

 

 

The Big Book of Madness: A Post-Gen Con Review after Two Games

The Big Book of Madness by Iello Games (BBoM) was released last December.  My brother and I got a chance to check it out at Gen Con 2016 (check out some photos Here and Here) and we purchased it.  We really enjoy cooperative games such as Pandemic and Ghost Stories, so we figured BBoM would be a nice addition.

BBoM01

The Big Book of Madness

Initial Impression?  Visually Stunning and Great Theme!

One of the negatives that I got from walking about the Indy Convention Center at Gen Con 2016 was that many game companies are rushing games to market.  Without naming names, I saw a plethora of games with bad art, cheap/sub-standard components (can you say it looked like crayon on a cereal box interior?) and poor execution.  The Big Book of Madness is exactly the opposite of all that!

The art is visually stunning and evocative of the theme: students of a magic academy open a Big Book of Madness and now have to try and contain the monsters jumping forth from its pages.  The character choices (there are 8, 2 in each of the 4 colors/elements of magic) are all distinct in presentation and have different rules mechanics.

BBoM03

4 of the 8 characters.  Sorry about that light source on the Green card, my bad!

Other game components are also of high quality.  The board is sturdy and supports the theme. On the board, he BBoM rests in the middle, the madness emanates from the hole on the right, and the scroll on the left keeps track of the rounds and curses.  On the scroll, the arabic numerals are rounds, the roman numerals are the 3 levels of difficulty, and the brown cards are extra curses to add each round.  Spaces for the curses are at the bottom and the large numbers are for the individual turns within a round. A book token moves along those big numbers counter-clockwise from 1 to 5 and back again.

BBoM02

The Board

One of the best thematic components, and also a great source of evocative art, is the Big Book of Madness itself.  The book has a cover that is opened at the start of the game, revealing the first monster and its curses.  Each round the book is turned until it gets to the end.  Here is an example of what an open book looks like.  Looks like a real book, doesn’t it?  In reality it is a set of double-sided cards that are slowly flipped and moved from the left pile to the right.

BBoM04

Example of an open book.  Pretty cool huh?

Game Play: Fun…and really, really tough!

To summarize the rules, each player manages a deck of element cards and a set of spells toward the goal of removing curses.  If the players remove all the curses on the board they defeat the current monster and get a bonus, otherwise they get a penalty.  If the players defeat the final monster they win, otherwise they lose.  Players get more and more element cards and also Madness cards as the game progresses, combining deck-building and resource management mechanics.  The game has a lot of opportunities for cooperation as players develop a common support pool of element cards and can actively give non-active players actions during any active player’s turn.

I found the level of both tension and difficulty within BBoM to be very similar to Ghost Stories (Ghost Stories at Asmodee).  We played both a 2-player and a 4-player game, and like most cooperative games, the more players involved, the harder the game felt.  We won the 2-p game but lost the 4-p game (pretty badly actually).  While bad luck certainly played a part in the 4-player loss, most of the game we felt like we were behind and struggling to catch up as the number of curses slowly increased each round. And we were playing on the lowest level (I) of difficulty!

As this is what makes BBoM very fun indeed!  Beating a cooperative game the first few times you play it should be tough.  The enjoyment comes from both trying to win and also learning how to win.  At one point in the 4-player game we were down and just about out.  On my turn I needed to draw a 3-point white card to defeat a curse that was going to finish us by draining the Madness deck.  What happened?  I drew the needed card and well…the crowd went wild!  We were hooting and hollering even though we knew that I had only temporarily delayed the inevitable defeat.  I learned a lot in my first two plays of BBoM and I anticipate that winning will be easier but probably not more likely than 50-50.

Verdict: A Very Good Game

What else can I say about BBoM?  The rules are well-written (and the rulebook is gorgeous too) and the game offers 1) enough strategy and complexity to keep avid boardgamers interested while 2) being simple enough for casual gamers to enjoy it.  Here is an example of what a game looks like in progress:

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The Big Book of Madness in progress.  Note the little Book marker on space #3.

If you like cooperative games, I highly recommend you run, don’t walk, to your nearest game store and buy The Big Book of Madness!

 

Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2

After our stunning victory in June (see Pandemic Legacy June Playthrough) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to July.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE JULY EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE JULY EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first six months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  Outbreaks came at lightning speed and we lost due to the too many outbreaks rule.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events, so July looked to be a tough month.  In our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  See review here (Pandemic Legacy July Episode – Part One).

July Part 2 Setup

We had a strange draw of cards, with an unusual number of Red (Faded) cards being drawn.  We had 3 Faded in Beijing and Bangkok and 2 Faded in Manila and Seoul and not a single Blue (Fischer-Titus) cube on the board!  We had a Funded Event total of 4 so we selected the One Quiet Night, Local Initiative, Resilient Population, and Remote Treatment cards.

Our friend Kristie joined us this week, so we had 5 players.  With only rules for a 4-player game, we decided that Bob and Stew would work together.  Seeing the clear threat of the Faded in Asia, we knew that someone would have to be the Quarantine Specialist.  After determining play order, here are our character picks:

  • Bob/Stew — Researcher
  • Neal — Medic
  • Lee — Scientist
  • Kristie — Quarantine Specialist

We used our June win bonus to add some roadblocks to the board.

Here is what the board looked like after set-up was finished:

Pan Leg July Part 2 01

July Part 2 Start — Note all the Faded!

Gameplay

The basic idea was for the Quarantine Specialist to stay in Asia and deal with the Faded while the Researcher/Scientist combo powered out cures and the Medic mopped up cubes.

Turn 1

The Researcher was first and quarantined Bangkok.  The Medic removed cubes in Baghdad and Washington.  The Scientist picked up a blue card from the Researcher and flew to N. America where he blockaded western routes from San Francisco.  The Quarantine Specialist quarantined Seoul, Kolkata and Hong Kong.

Turn 2

The Researcher moved to Kolkata and flew to N. America to get to San Francisco to be with the Scientist.  They drew the 1st Epidemic and it was in London.  The Medic moved toward some cubes and drew the 2nd Epidemic in Istanbul, which led to an outbreak in Seoul (#1) which spread to Shanghai (#2).  The Scientist cured both Blue (Fischer-Titus) and after getting a card, Yellow (BSNL-419) and played One Quiet Night to not draw some dangerous infection cards on his turn.  The Quar. Spec. quarantined Ho Chi Minh City.

Turn 3

The Researcher treated Santiago in an effort to eradicate BSNL-419.  The Medic ferried trans-Atlantic and treated London.  The Scientist treated Kinshasa and BSNL-419 was eradicated (Objective #1 completed).  The Quar. Spec. put down quarantines in Osaka and Shanghai as the Faded continued to multiply from infection cards and the players drawing Red (Faded) cities from the Player Deck (This is the Accelerated Incubation rule).

Turn 4

The Researcher moved to Khartoum to be with the Scientist.  The Medic dropped a military base in Paris (a card the Medic had since the start of the game), thus establishing a military base in all 6 regions (Objective #2) as we started the game with 5 permanent military bases.  The Scientist went to Riyadh and drew the 3rd Epidemic card.  The Quar. Spec. dropped an Airstrike on Manila to reduce the Faded in that city from 3 to 2 as it had no quarantine marker on it and could be draw in a re-shuffled Infection Deck.  As it happened, Madrid had an outbreak (#3) but it did not cause any chain outbreak due to the Medic’s previous action in London.  The Quar. Spec. used her turn to quarantine Shanghai and Bangkok.

Turn 5

The Researcher quarantined Karachi.  The Medic moved to Riyadh and got the matching card from the Scientist and cured Black (Sprague), thus completing the mandatory objective of curing the 3 non-Faded diseases (Objective #3)–Winning the game!

Here is the map at the end of the game:

Pan Leg July Part 2 02

July Part 2 End — note all the Blue and Faded on the board!  But we won anyway!

For our end game upgrades we chose:

  1. Add 3 permanent roadblocks–2 around Beijing and the other from Tokyo to San Francisco.
  2. Adding the “Easier Agents” upgrade to BSNL-419.  Now the cure could be discovered with one fewer card.

We did not put down our 6th permanent military base in Paris because the July Win Bonus will allow us to do that at the start of August (yay!).  We adjusted our Funded Event total back down to 2.  August is going to be tough!