Board Game Strategy Tips: Pandemic!

Here is a long-promised follow-up to my post about the Board Game Expo event I attended! Here are some Pandemic strategy tips that make the game a bit more manageable:

Travel

The drain for your actions in each turn is travel. Using any and all methods to get to and from locations in the least actions is critical in order to get the cubes off the board. It also prevent backlog with the hand being added to each turn. Here are a few thoughts on reducing your travel:

  • Build Research centres in really well connected cities! It also doubles as a travel hub, so if you can get as many of those centres built, it’ll cut travel times, and card usage drastically.
  • Obvious one, but remember the earth is round – you can travel from America to Asia, and vice versa.
  • Use the actions at your disposal to travel, but make them count. Don’t go discarding a city card to fly to a city 2 actions away, but if you need to go to somewhere on the other end of the board or it’s crunch time with the bottom of the deck fast approaching, these card actions are a life-saver.
  • Use the airlift event for an important journey, or one that will have an impact on at least the next 5 or so turns. The best time to get airlift would be when you get the cure for a disease, and can ferry someone straight to the centre and the game ends in their turn. Don’t forget airlift and any event cards do not count as actions – you can lift yourself or any other player anywhere on the board and it doesn’t have to be anyone’s turn.
  • Plan your exchanges according to the map. If you and another player have two cities nearby, you can plan it so that in one round you have a flurry of exchanges based on where players end and start their turns.

Card collecting/Cures

  • Once someone starts to get a few of a colour get them to focus on that one colour (and make sure only one of you is collecting it), it also allows them to use the other card colours to move. I’d advise this as the hand limit is a pain, and you’ll wind up discarding those cards, and they could cut your travel times.
  • Get an early cure in. One cure being found in the first 4 or so rounds is essential for a smooth game. It takes the pressure off the 7-card hand limit as there is a quarter of the deck which can be discarded as needed.
  • These cured disease city cards can be useful if they are close to where you need to get to. When presented with the choice between several city cards, be careful to keep the most potentially advantageous city in your hand. This could be one linking to a research centre, a link to that pesky city with 3 cubes but few ways in. It also could be one that is one or two moves away from a disease colour you’re still working on.
  • When you eradicate a disease it will not come up again. This means for every eradicated colour there’s essentially a 1/4 chance of an epidemic’s “place 3 cubes on a random city” phase not having any impact at all! To add to this, 1/4 of the deck will no longer affect your game, which is excellent.
  • Count your discards of each city colour! I have had games lost as a result of travelling using one city colour too much (e.g. Red), and then there simply aren’t enough red city cards left in the player deck. An even distribution of city colour discards is ideal, and of course a cured disease means a colour you can all discard when you need to sort your hand limit.

Epidemics/Cube Management

  • Keep everyone separated unless you’re exchanging cards. It makes sense to have players spread out across the board. If you are needed in another continent to sort out a pesky outbreak, and can’t get there for a few turns, it can make things a tad difficult when you do get there.
  • Epidemics are not ideal, so minimising the damage is a good idea. If one comes up target any 3 cube cities on the board because they very likely will come up.
  • If you travel to a city, remove all the cubes unless it’s urgent you move on. Removing all of them prevents buildup later or having to go back again in the near future.

Abilities

  • Use your ability! If you can build free centres… Do it as much as you can! If you can remove all cubes as a medic, you can be a sweeping hero clearing the map of the 3 cube cities while someone else collects cards
  • If you have quarantine specialist, sometimes less movement is more effective. This role means that a player sat on a city protects it from infection cubes being added, so where you end your turn can be important, and mean that playing defensively is the better option.
  • An example of airlift and Quarantine Specialist being used might be during an epidemic, as you could find out that which city has 3 cubes on it, airlift there, and you prevent an outbreak if it comes up again in the infect stage. If you’re lucky, this is a really good thing to try and pull off.
  • Medics “going on tour” is a useful way to travel. While moving around individual nodes is tedious and wasted actions, a medic can treat a cured disease in each city they travel to. This means that using 4 actions, your player can wipe 4 sets of disease cubes. In 3 or so turns with the luck of the infect stage on their side, that can mean wiping an entire colour of disease off the game.

Final thoughts

  • Communicate! Make sure you collaborate and make the most of each other’s ideas and character roles, as it’s a fun game for teamwork. The group strategising, and role cards give the game its variety and replay value, and make it easier too.
  • For new players, here’s a nice post by user “Jim Cote” on BoardGameGeek about first mistakes about the rules that new players may experience. 🙂

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