|| by Last 05/26/2011, 10:33am PDT
Pandemic is a co-op game where you play a team of international disease control specialists attempting to prevent four deadly diseases from overtaking the world. It plays on a Risk-style map of the world and the diseases are represented by pea-sized wooden cubes (blue, yellow, black, and red).
There's a stack of Player cards that you draw from each turn which act as either a plane ticket (the Osaka card lets you fly directly to Osaka, for example) OR as a piece of research (the Osaka card is red, you need 5 red cards to cure the red disease). The player gets to choose how to use each card, but you can only do one or the other. You win by finding cures for all four diseases. If too many cubes get on the board or if you run out of Player cards in the stack then you lose. There's also a stack of Infection cards that you draw each turn and they represent which cities the diseases are spreading to. As the game progresses, the diseases spread more rapidly so there's always an exciting pressure on your team to stay ahead of it.
The diseases have identical characteristics and are not given names, so you can choose to rename them whatever you want except for black, because it's funny to hear someone innocently exclaim "I'll go to Atlanta and get rid of all the blacks!" or "Pretty soon we'll have a cure for black." RACISTS.
Each player has a Role card, which gives them a unique way to break a rule. For example, one Role can cure diseases with only four cards, one can treat (remove cubes from) affected cities faster than normal, one can help other players travel around the board faster and so on. The base game only has 5 roles but the expansion adds ~7 more.
The difficulty is easy to adjust with the presence of special cards that cause sudden outbreaks when drawn from the Player deck. A normal game will have 5 of these shuffled in but you can increase/decrease the number to make the game more/less challenging.
The downside of the game is that the ending is anti-climactic. During play, the threat escalates and your capabilities escalate, so you establish a plan and adapt to new developments but it always feels like you have a fair shot at winning if you play smart. Then, the last turn is either that your plan succeeds as expected (eliciting a rousing "oh, it's over? we won? all right.") or you draw a couple unlucky cards that wipe you out. The first turn and the last turn are lukewarm but all the turns in-between are incredibly fun. Another downside is that once you have the hang of it, you have to be careful introducing new players because the more experienced players will tend to boss them around rather than let them figure out what the best move is for the current situation. But, that's not the game's fault, it's just what happens when people play co-op.
The best part of the game is the cooperative nature. The Role abilities are all useful enough that even weaker players feel like they are playing a crucial part of the overall effort. Also, regardless of outcome everyone remains on good terms and nobody feels like they got screwed. Because of this, it's a particularly fun game to play with women (also maybe because the theme of the game is saving the world, not conquest). Another benefit is that there are only a few rules to learn so new players can pick it up in just a couple minutes. There are even little reminder cards for each player so your parents don't have to keep asking the same questions every time game night rolls around. Pandemic takes 30-40 minutes to play and provides a lot of entertainment for such a small investment.
Longshot is a horse-racing game. The board is an overhead view of a horse track sub-divided into about 20 wedges. There's 10 lanes and 10 plastic horses. The players are gamblers that can bet on any of the horses and/or purchase any horse outright. There is a card for each horse that gives their name and details, and there's a stack of player cards that have "Community Chest"-like effects. The game ends when three horses have completed one lap around the board. The winner is the player who has the most money after all bets are resolved.
The horse move around the board due to dice rolls. There's a d10 and a d3, on your turn you roll both and advance the indicated horse the indicated number of spaces around the track. Then you either play a card from your hand ("You win $10", "Take a card from your neighbor", "Advance a horse 1 space"), place a bet on any horse, or purchase a horse (more on this later). You can place bets on a horse up until they have made it 3/4 of the way around the board. The horse cards show the payoff odds for each particular horse depending on how they finish.
The game is technically playable even if no one purchases a horse, but the benefits to doing so are so great that it's a good strategy for everyone to buy as many as they can afford until all ten are gone. One advantage is that the owner of a winning horse gets a lump sum bonus in addition to whatever bets they made. Another advantage is that each horse has a special ability that only takes effect after they are purchased. For example, one horse says 'if this horse is tied with at least two others, advance him one space", another says "if this horse is in last place, advance him four spaces", another says "if this horse is in first, draw an extra card." Those effects happen at the beginning of the owner's turn and generally speed the game along. A third advantage to owning a horse is that they have extra opportunities to advance. Each horse has a unique number but their card has a series of additional numbers at the bottom that take effect if they are purchased. If horse 3 has a 2,7,8 at the bottom then it can advance whenever the owner rolls any of those numbers. This speeds up all of the owned horses to a huge degree compared to unowned ones.
The upside is that the game plays really fast (except for the very end more on this later) and is easy to learn. The betting is simple, you invest in $5 increments and the payouts are straightforward 7-1, 4-1 stuff. Nothing complicated like at a real track. I also like that even if your horses get unlucky dice you can win by making smart bets on your opponent's horses. Raking in a larger pot than the guy who owns the winning horse makes you pretty smug. Also, the stack of Player cards is really enormous, like 5 inches worth of cards and while there are some repeats there are also a shocking number of unique cards in there. That makes it a lot of fun when you've played the game a half-dozen times and there are still surprises lurking in that deck.
The downside, mainly, is that there are too many cards that allow you to move a horse backwards. Of course, everyone holds on to these until it comes down to the finish line, which means that the horses streak around the track in the first 30 minutes of the game and the last 30 mintues is spent with a bunch of pussies fighting over the same 1-2 spaces in an attempt to ensure that their horses win. Maybe the game is designed to be this way on purpose, to create the feeling that it'll always be won 'by just a nose'? In reality, it feels like Xeno's fucking paradox where each incremental advance takes disproportionately longer than the one prior. I usually get to the point where I'm sick of the dilly-dallying and I just want some horse to win so that the game can be over already.
Longshot is not a bad game. It's better than half the games out there just by being unusual and accessible, but there are a lot better choices available that are a better use of your time.
Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/26/2005, 10:56pm PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/27/2005, 12:08am PDT
Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 3:30am PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 6:47am PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 11:52am PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 1:43pm PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 2:40pm PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 2:56pm PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 3:01pm PDT
laudablepuss says dice are random NT by 04/27/2005, 4:57pm PDT
Like football! I also said that. Also ballooning. And then I said comma. NT by 04/27/2005, 5:09pm PDT
Re: Volume 2, right now! by 04/27/2005, 12:10pm PDT
Wow by 04/28/2005, 12:27am PDT
ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE THAT FABIO NT by 04/28/2005, 12:43am PDT
*shrug* NT by 04/28/2005, 12:54am PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/27/2005, 7:54am PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/28/2005, 2:44pm PDT
Fortress America in ACTION! by 04/29/2005, 1:20pm PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/27/2005, 11:56am PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/27/2005, 1:52pm PDT
Scott Orr disagress with you! by 05/09/2005, 9:20pm PDT
Man who made game that sucks, sucks :( NT by 05/09/2005, 11:10pm PDT
Memoir '44 by 01/24/2012, 9:50pm PST
No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by 04/27/2005, 12:31pm PDT
Re: No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by 04/27/2005, 1:02pm PDT
Re: No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by 04/28/2005, 2:45pm PDT
yes. by 04/28/2005, 3:20pm PDT
Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 1 by 04/27/2005, 12:50pm PDT
For the love of God can no one stop these boardgame roundups??? by 04/27/2005, 1:16pm PDT
Re: Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 1 by 04/27/2005, 1:22pm PDT
Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 2 by 04/27/2005, 6:11pm PDT
Settlers counter rebuttal by 04/27/2005, 6:35pm PDT
Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by 04/27/2005, 6:47pm PDT
actually that was me (that's the new mysterio name? I thought he was a poster) NT by 04/27/2005, 6:47pm PDT
Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by 04/27/2005, 7:55pm PDT
Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by 05/10/2005, 11:14am PDT
I can't believe I never heard of Arkham Horror before. by 04/28/2005, 9:28pm PDT
Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by 04/28/2005, 12:32am PDT
Vol. 3 by 05/09/2005, 11:29pm PDT
Thanks! by 05/10/2005, 7:21pm PDT
suggestions by 05/10/2005, 9:20pm PDT
Dark Tower sells for hundreds on ebay? by 05/12/2005, 4:08pm PDT
I shot mine full of BBs. Along with all my classic GI Joes. :( NT by 05/13/2005, 11:11am PDT
I demolished my star wars toys in my sand box or fed them to my guniea pig :( NT by 05/13/2005, 1:58pm PDT
"Putting away childish things" turned out to be a really stupid idea. by 05/13/2005, 4:47pm PDT
Mine sold for $130 by 05/26/2011, 11:14am PDT
Arkham Horror: Making Pen & Paper games obsolete by 02/13/2008, 9:51pm PST
That should read 1d8 people :( by 02/13/2008, 10:05pm PST
Wait'll you discover "How to host a murder mystery!" NT by 02/13/2008, 10:22pm PST
^ roleplaying =( NT by 02/14/2008, 4:20am PST
My group hit a bunch of obstacles with Arkham Horror. by 05/25/2011, 7:14pm PDT
Re: My group hit a bunch of obstacles with Arkham Horror. by 05/26/2011, 12:06pm PDT
My group is having fun now with a play-by-email setup in google docs. by 07/27/2011, 9:16pm PDT
Boardgame roundup: Pandemic, Longshot by 05/26/2011, 10:33am PDT
+1 on Pandemic, it's very fun by 08/07/2011, 6:14pm PDT
Apparently the expansion is worth it if you like the core game NT by 08/07/2011, 8:29pm PDT
Battlestar Galactica by 08/03/2011, 9:09pm PDT
Re: Battlestar Galactica by 08/04/2011, 12:58am PDT
Re: Battlestar Galactica by 08/04/2011, 5:41am PDT
Re: Battlestar Galactica by 08/04/2011, 8:31am PDT
Re: Battlestar Galactica by 08/05/2011, 4:32pm PDT
Tried Exodus by 08/25/2011, 11:52am PDT
Citadels by 08/04/2011, 6:26am PDT
Needs the expansion by 08/04/2011, 8:40am PDT
The expansion comes with every version of the game currently available by 08/05/2011, 4:04pm PDT
Totally worth it by 08/27/2011, 7:44am PDT
Cosmic Encounter by 08/28/2011, 5:23pm PDT
Re: Cosmic Encounter by 08/28/2011, 5:31pm PDT
The best board game review by 01/24/2012, 8:34pm PST
War of the Ring by 01/24/2012, 10:09pm PST
Age of Wonders - Positive! by 01/31/2012, 10:29am PST
*80% to 120% NT by 01/31/2012, 10:31am PST
I liked this one by 01/31/2012, 7:30pm PST
Review request: REX by 02/24/2012, 5:56am PST
Haven't played it, but I have no faith in FFG NT by 03/13/2012, 8:33pm PDT
Why's that by 03/14/2012, 5:42am PDT
Going Cardboard by 02/24/2012, 7:10am PST
Ever wish there was a simplified version of Arkham Horror? by 03/23/2012, 12:41pm PDT
REX, aka Dune 2.0, aka Cosmic Encounter Obsolescence by 04/12/2012, 8:01pm PDT
UPDATE: default rules broken, needs fixing NT by 08/23/2012, 8:42am PDT
Ticket to Ride: Steam edition by 08/23/2012, 8:47am PDT
How is that different from the boardgame version? by 08/23/2012, 9:14am PDT
Never played the boardgame version by 08/23/2012, 10:49am PDT
Oh, I have the version set in Europe and they fixed that. by 08/23/2012, 1:42pm PDT
Great, no one ever plays the other maps online =( NT by 08/23/2012, 5:43pm PDT
Vassal by 05/04/2013, 2:43pm PDT
Fucking iPads by 06/11/2013, 3:32am PDT
Did you want to like Arkham Horror but couldnt? by 12/12/2013, 8:02pm PST
Thanks, I'll get it. NT by 12/13/2013, 8:44am PST
Alhambra - Positive! Guillotine - Positive! by 12/13/2013, 9:00am PST
board game review: Twin Tin Robots by 12/13/2013, 10:33pm PST
Board Games? More like...wait for it...WAIT FOR IT...SNORE-d games! by 12/19/2013, 9:54pm PST
In the land of the video gamer, the board gamer is king by 12/19/2013, 10:47pm PST
I'd invite you over but I only have one game port on my soundbalaster :( NT by 12/20/2013, 12:29am PST