Pandemic On the Brink

Pandemic quickly became a staple of my gaming group early this year. Their first expansion On the Brink added new roles, updated a base set role, introduced new special event cards, added a fifth optional virus and the bio-terrorist scenario. Certain parts of the expansion have improved the base game but parts of it have sat unused since the box was opened.

The new roles have mixed in well with the base game and the updated Operations Expert is strictly an improvement over the base game version. These were much needed but there are a bunch of roles that sit unused. Part of the blame lies with my game group, we select our roles instead of shuffling them and dealing them out. The reason for this is because we feel the game is difficult enough without the random role assignment. But a good portion of the roles are unhelpful in most situations or worse than other roles already in the game.

The new special event cards have introduced much needed variety to the deck. But the fact that there’s only two special event cards per player in the draw deck, there aren’t a lot of them drawn. In addition, the special event card to choose a different role is always left out as we choose are roles at the beginning.

The fifth optional purple disease is a great expansion of the game in either of the options presented. We tend to use it as a mutation and not as the virulent strain. The problem is it makes the game harder and Pandemic is often times hard enough as it is. So it proves difficult to make use of the mutation when we’re already losing two games out of three.

While On the Brink is probably a good expansion overall, it hasn’t seen as much use as I had hoped. I’ll also take this moment to complain about one of the lose conditions for Pandemic: running out of cards in the draw deck. I understand trying to put a time limit on the game but I believe the outbreak counter already does that. And this feeling is reinforced by playing Forbidden Island which doesn’t have the draw deck limitation. Maybe we’ll try that as a house rule in the future.