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Boardgame roundup: Pandemic, Longshot by Last 05/26/2011, 10:33am PDT
Pandemic: POSITIVE!

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: Negative.

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 FABIO 04/26/2005, 10:56pm PDT NEW
    Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by Entropy Stew 04/27/2005, 12:08am PDT NEW
    Volume 2, right now! by FABIO 04/27/2005, 3:30am PDT NEW
        Re: Volume 2, right now! by Choson 04/27/2005, 6:47am PDT NEW
            Re: Volume 2, right now! by theemu 04/27/2005, 11:52am PDT NEW
                Re: Volume 2, right now! by FABIO 04/27/2005, 1:43pm PDT NEW
                    Re: Volume 2, right now! by Choson 04/27/2005, 2:40pm PDT NEW
                        Re: Volume 2, right now! by laudablepuss 04/27/2005, 2:56pm PDT NEW
                            Re: Volume 2, right now! by Choson 04/27/2005, 3:01pm PDT NEW
                            laudablepuss says dice are random NT by binkbot 04/27/2005, 4:57pm PDT NEW
                                Like football! I also said that. Also ballooning. And then I said comma. NT by laudablepuss 04/27/2005, 5:09pm PDT NEW
        Re: Volume 2, right now! by mark 04/27/2005, 12:10pm PDT NEW
        Wow by Arbit 04/28/2005, 12:27am PDT NEW
            ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE THAT FABIO NT by the CROWD 04/28/2005, 12:43am PDT NEW
                *shrug* NT by FABIO 04/28/2005, 12:54am PDT NEW
    Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by Bill Dungsroman 04/27/2005, 7:54am PDT NEW
        Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by FABIO 04/28/2005, 2:44pm PDT NEW
            Fortress America in ACTION! by FABIO 04/29/2005, 1:20pm PDT NEW
    Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by mark 04/27/2005, 11:56am PDT NEW
        Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by FABIO 04/27/2005, 1:52pm PDT NEW
        Scott Orr disagress with you! by FABIO 05/09/2005, 9:20pm PDT NEW
            Man who made game that sucks, sucks :( NT by mark 05/09/2005, 11:10pm PDT NEW
        Memoir '44 by fabio 01/24/2012, 9:50pm PST NEW
    No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by laudablepuss 04/27/2005, 12:31pm PDT NEW
        Re: No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by mark 04/27/2005, 1:02pm PDT NEW
            Re: No Dark Tower? No Stop Thief? by FABIO 04/28/2005, 2:45pm PDT NEW
                yes. by mark 04/28/2005, 3:20pm PDT NEW
    Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 1 by mark 04/27/2005, 12:50pm PDT NEW
        For the love of God can no one stop these boardgame roundups??? by Ray of Light 04/27/2005, 1:16pm PDT NEW
        Re: Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 1 by theemu 04/27/2005, 1:22pm PDT NEW
        Mark's Boardgame Roundup part 2 by mark 04/27/2005, 6:11pm PDT NEW
            Settlers counter rebuttal by FABIO 04/27/2005, 6:35pm PDT NEW
                Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by Quentin Beck 04/27/2005, 6:47pm PDT NEW
                    actually that was me (that's the new mysterio name? I thought he was a poster) NT by mark 04/27/2005, 6:47pm PDT NEW
                Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by Choson 04/27/2005, 7:55pm PDT NEW
                    Re: Settlers counter rebuttal by Pre 05/10/2005, 11:14am PDT NEW
            I can't believe I never heard of Arkham Horror before. by Fullofkittens 04/28/2005, 9:28pm PDT NEW
    Re: Boardgame roundup: Vol. 1 by mark 04/28/2005, 12:32am PDT NEW
    Vol. 3 by FABIO 05/09/2005, 11:29pm PDT NEW
        Thanks! by laudablepuss 05/10/2005, 7:21pm PDT NEW
        suggestions by my$terio 05/10/2005, 9:20pm PDT NEW
        Dark Tower sells for hundreds on ebay? by extarbags 05/12/2005, 4:08pm PDT NEW
            I shot mine full of BBs. Along with all my classic GI Joes. :( NT by laudablepuss 05/13/2005, 11:11am PDT NEW
                I demolished my star wars toys in my sand box or fed them to my guniea pig :( NT by Mischief Maker 05/13/2005, 1:58pm PDT NEW
                    "Putting away childish things" turned out to be a really stupid idea. by laudablepuss 05/13/2005, 4:47pm PDT NEW
            Mine sold for $130 by fabio 05/26/2011, 11:14am PDT NEW
    Arkham Horror: Making Pen & Paper games obsolete by FABIO 02/13/2008, 9:51pm PST NEW
        That should read 1d8 people :( by Erratard 02/13/2008, 10:05pm PST NEW
        Wait'll you discover "How to host a murder mystery!" NT by Mischief Maker 02/13/2008, 10:22pm PST NEW
            ^ roleplaying =( NT by FABIO 02/14/2008, 4:20am PST NEW
        My group hit a bunch of obstacles with Arkham Horror. by Last 05/25/2011, 7:14pm PDT NEW
            Re: My group hit a bunch of obstacles with Arkham Horror. by fabio 05/26/2011, 12:06pm PDT NEW
                My group is having fun now with a play-by-email setup in google docs. by Last 07/27/2011, 9:16pm PDT NEW
    Boardgame roundup: Pandemic, Longshot by Last 05/26/2011, 10:33am PDT NEW
        +1 on Pandemic, it's very fun by Fullofkittens 08/07/2011, 6:14pm PDT NEW
            Apparently the expansion is worth it if you like the core game NT by Lizard_King 08/07/2011, 8:29pm PDT NEW
    Battlestar Galactica by Lizard_King 08/03/2011, 9:09pm PDT NEW
        Re: Battlestar Galactica by fabio 08/04/2011, 12:58am PDT NEW
            Re: Battlestar Galactica by Lizard_King 08/04/2011, 5:41am PDT NEW
                Re: Battlestar Galactica by fabio 08/04/2011, 8:31am PDT NEW
                    Re: Battlestar Galactica by Lizard_King 08/05/2011, 4:32pm PDT NEW
        Tried Exodus by fabio 08/25/2011, 11:52am PDT NEW
    Citadels by Lizard_King 08/04/2011, 6:26am PDT NEW
        Needs the expansion by fabio 08/04/2011, 8:40am PDT NEW
            The expansion comes with every version of the game currently available by Lizard_King 08/05/2011, 4:04pm PDT NEW
    Totally worth it by fabio 08/27/2011, 7:44am PDT NEW
    Cosmic Encounter by NDD 08/28/2011, 5:23pm PDT NEW
        Re: Cosmic Encounter by NDD 08/28/2011, 5:31pm PDT NEW
    The best board game review by fabio 01/24/2012, 8:34pm PST NEW
    War of the Ring by fabio 01/24/2012, 10:09pm PST NEW
    Age of Wonders - Positive! by Last 01/31/2012, 10:29am PST NEW
        *80% to 120% NT by Last 01/31/2012, 10:31am PST NEW
        I liked this one by fabio 01/31/2012, 7:30pm PST NEW
    Review request: REX by fabio 02/24/2012, 5:56am PST NEW
        Haven't played it, but I have no faith in FFG NT by mark 03/13/2012, 8:33pm PDT NEW
            Why's that by fabio 03/14/2012, 5:42am PDT NEW
    Going Cardboard by Souffle of Pain 02/24/2012, 7:10am PST NEW
    Ever wish there was a simplified version of Arkham Horror? by fabio 03/23/2012, 12:41pm PDT NEW
    REX, aka Dune 2.0, aka Cosmic Encounter Obsolescence by fabio 04/12/2012, 8:01pm PDT NEW
        UPDATE: default rules broken, needs fixing NT by fabio 08/23/2012, 8:42am PDT NEW
        Dune got a new edition. Rex is the better game by IPB 04/23/2020, 7:06pm PDT NEW
    Ticket to Ride: Steam edition by fabio 08/23/2012, 8:47am PDT NEW
        How is that different from the boardgame version? by Last 08/23/2012, 9:14am PDT NEW
            Never played the boardgame version by fabio 08/23/2012, 10:49am PDT NEW
                Oh, I have the version set in Europe and they fixed that. by Last 08/23/2012, 1:42pm PDT NEW
                    Great, no one ever plays the other maps online =( NT by fabio 08/23/2012, 5:43pm PDT NEW
    Vassal by fabio 05/04/2013, 2:43pm PDT NEW
    Fucking iPads by fabio 06/11/2013, 3:32am PDT NEW
    Did you want to like Arkham Horror but couldnt? by fabio 12/12/2013, 8:02pm PST NEW
        Thanks, I'll get it. NT by Last 12/13/2013, 8:44am PST NEW
    Alhambra - Positive! Guillotine - Positive! by Last 12/13/2013, 9:00am PST NEW
    board game review: Twin Tin Robots by blackwater 12/13/2013, 10:33pm PST NEW
    Board Games? More like...wait for it...WAIT FOR IT...SNORE-d games! by HA HA HA HA HA HA HA 12/19/2013, 9:54pm PST NEW
        In the land of the video gamer, the board gamer is king by motherfuckerfoodeater 12/19/2013, 10:47pm PST NEW
            I'd invite you over but I only have one game port on my soundbalaster :( NT by PC GAMING FUCK YEAH!! 12/20/2013, 12:29am PST NEW
    Review: Incognito (Board Game) by blackwater 03/24/2014, 12:55am PDT NEW
        Shadow Hunters is fun by fabio 03/24/2014, 1:08am PDT NEW
    Review: Libertalia (board game) by blackwater 06/17/2014, 11:52pm PDT NEW
    Gaming with family by skip 08/04/2016, 7:07am PDT NEW
        Re: Gaming with family by laudablepuss 08/04/2016, 8:45am PDT NEW
            Re: Gaming with family by laudablepuss 08/04/2016, 8:47am PDT NEW
        There is no reason to ever play Ticket to Ride or Dixit by fabio 08/04/2016, 3:56pm PDT NEW
            The reason is that they're great family games by skip 08/04/2016, 5:28pm PDT NEW
                The Pink Panther remake is a great family film! NT by fabio 08/04/2016, 9:48pm PDT NEW
                    Fabio has never had to game with relatives and it really shows. NT by skip 08/05/2016, 6:06am PDT NEW
                        What kind of family get togethers mandate boardgames? by fabio 08/13/2016, 6:16pm PDT NEW
                            The kind where we're inside and just need an activity to do? NT by Picionary < Dixit 08/13/2016, 7:54pm PDT NEW
    Hey this game is coming out with an expansion. Look at the scenario writers by skip 08/13/2016, 7:59am PDT NEW
    GMT games is giving boardgames away to anyone laid off by corona by saltlord 06/29/2020, 8:59am PDT NEW
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