Review: Pandemic: The Cure


Designer: Matt Leacock
Year: 2014
Publisher: Asmodee, Asterion Press
Players: 1-5
Game Type: Co-operative

The world is in trouble. Four diseases threaten to eradicate humanity, and it’s your time to shine as one of seven roles to cure those diseases before they outbreak and spread quickly through the cities. Pandemic: The Cure forces you to make decisions based on current hotspots, what you can take care of, efficiently utilizing Role abilities, and much more. If you can cure all four diseases before eight outbreaks or you run out of dice from the infection bag or the infection rate hits the end (out of time), you win!

Typical Setup
SETUP

Getting the game ready takes no time at all. You lay the main ring down (Treatment center), place the six location circles (Regions) around the ring, then place the CDC circle and cured diseases card nearby. Pop the pegs in your selected difficulty and the outbreak section. Finally, roll twelve dice to start and place them in the corresponding Regions. In less than five minutes, you’re set to save the world.

GAMEPLAY

What I really like about Pandemic: The Cure is there are four simple steps per turn. When you look at the layout and glance over the rules, it appears there’s a lot going on, but it’s deceiving. Once you take a turn or two, you’ll cruise through the steps. A turn should take you no longer than thirty seconds. A turn is as follows:

  1.   Roll player-specific dice and do actions.
  2.   Give samples to other players (if you can).
  3.   Attempt a cure.
  4.   Infect regions.

 Each player dice has actions you can take. They aren’t all the same across the roles, so deciding what you want to do versus conceding your actions is a viable choice. I sometimes find myself wanting skip doing any actions to immediately try to find a cure, especially if it’s the last disease to cure!

Treatment Center and Regions
What I like about The Cure is the balance of randomness and strategy in your quest to cure four diseases. The action and infection dice rolls give you the randomness, but deciding where to move, what to manage, when to stop pressing your luck, and when to spend for Event cards gives you your strategy. I’ve played dozens of games solo and not once did I feel overwhelmed with terrible dice rolls. That’s not so say bad action and infection dice rolls won’t happen, but you do have options to control the game in the present and prepare for the future.

SOLO PLAY

Pandemic: The Cure offers a solid solo experience. Being a co-operative game, The Cure allows you to choose one or multiple roles to play. When playing one role, I often pick the Scientist since her ability adds two when finding a cure. That way, instead of rolling a thirteen (the minimum needed to cure a disease), I only need to hit eleven. But no matter what role you select if using one, it’s a challenge to win.

Event Cards
If I could offer one piece of advice when playing solo, it’s this: Don’t forget about the Event cards you can spend dice on. When rolling the infection dice, if any of them come up with a cross, you add it to the CDC circle. The Event cards cost one to three of those crosses and have useful actions like skipping the infection step or removing dice from a region. When playing alone, I occasionally forget they are available and kick myself after losing a game and seeing one of the cards I could have used to save the game.

FINAL THOUGHTS


I feel Pandemic: The Cure is a great gateway game into the world of solo board gaming.  It’s quick to set up and takes minutes to learn. You don’t get overrun with the randomness of the dice rolls, and with many opportunities to don your thinking cap, you’ll enjoy The Cure for something in between deep, expansive games or when you have thirty minutes or less to play.

PROS
  • Quick setup
  • Short gaming sessions (15-20 minutes)
  • Easy to learn
  • Challenging
  • Good balance of luck and strategy 

CONS
  • Not enough Event Cards in base game (only 10 to use)
  • A lot of dice (losing one of any of them hurts gameplay).


  •  
  •  
  •  
Gregory Gregory Author