Sunday, 3 September 2017

Pandemic Iberia

Recently a new FLGS opened up in our nearby city; Meeple Games in Durham.  Should you ever find yourself in that fair city I heartily recommend you seek out this new venture and spend a little money there.  

Anyway, for my wife and I this has become a regular stop off now, and today we dropped in and purchased a game my good lady has wanted for some time, Pandemic: Iberia.  We have Pandemic and Pandemic: Cthulhu (see here for our playthrough), and both those games are great fun, and incredibly challenging.  Pandemic: Iberia adds in some new elements of gameplay and some gorgeous production values.  Its certainly a very pretty game!

So this evening, following a hearty meal of bangers, mash and veg, we settled down with steam hot mugs of tea/coffee to try out our new purchase.

Lovely box art...

And inside the eye candy continued to drip!

There are even inserts like this art book.  

So, anyway, we set up ready to go, and so far things are following the core Pandemic rules.  There are a couple of additions, including the ability to provide sanitation to help suppress the disease outbreaks, and the capacity for you to build railways to help you get around to the crisis points. There are also some subtle tweaks, that as it turns out make the game FAR more challenging.  The Rules.

Our first game kicked off with some significant outbreaks spread across Spain.  Its safe to say, that our tactics were wrong from the get go...

Initially we thought we had a handle on things, but we didn't factor in the increased difficulty in constructing and using treatment centres compared to the base game.

The east coast was looking bad, but we managed to cure the red disease.

And it was at this point that a series of catastrophic outbreaks overtook us and we lost the game in short order!  Curses.

Normally the base Pandemic game is tough but this seemed to be a whole new level of challenge.  We had an intense post-game discussion about what we'd done wrong, and immediately set up to go again and test our theories.

Sadly, I was so into the game that I forgot photos for the second round.

That said, we fared much better this time, having figured out the following:

1.  Use the early turns of the game to build hospitals and lay railway tracks.
2. Don't forget to provide clean drinking water and sanitation where you can (we did).

Anyway, we still lost but this time we researched three of the diseases, and were a turn away from getting the fourth, when a nasty outbreak around Cadiz finished us off.  So close!

Pandemic: Iberia, is an excellent version of a modern classic boardgame.  It looks beautiful, and is significantly more challenging than the base game (certainly with two players). Its well worth a place in any tabletop gamer's collection.

We will beat it.  Oh yes we will...


Today we played another couple of games, trying out various tactics and approaches.  The first game this didn't work too well, and we got our lilly-whites handed to us again, barely managing to research two cures before we effectively lost three ways (running our of cards, running out of disease cubes, and then maxing out the outbreaks...grr...)

But in the second game we finally came out winners!

As you can see, the four diseases were rampant, and we had 10 cities on the brink of outbreak, and almost everywhere else suffering!  However we managed to win by researching the four required cures.

I had the "Royal Academy Scientist" character and my wife had the "Politician character".  So between us we were able to lay down sanitation and purified water easily, could manipulate the order of upcoming cards, and also organise the cards in play into sets more easily to achieve the research needed.

However, I think our tactics worked better.  In base Pandemic you're basically firefighting all the time; reacting to crises and trying to optimise your immediate actions.  Pandemic: Iberia allows you the chance to plan ahead, and try to put in place things to prevent outbreaks or at least minimise them.  So our successful tactics were:

Early on, mix your actions, and try to lay a rail track, develop some purified water, and use your special actions.  This builds up resistance.

Mid game, concentrate on hoarding and swapping cure cards, and keeping a lid on the crisis points (which by this stage are usually the backwaters, off your train network and away from the water treatment areas.

We found by taking this more considered and planned approach, although the game was still on a knife edge, we felt like we had a chance and things were at least partially under control.

Of the three versions we have, Pandemic: Iberia, in my view, is the most challenging, yet most enjoyable version.

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