Recommend
179 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Pandemic: On the Brink» Forums » Reviews

Subject: On the Brink: Breathing new and fresh life into a stale game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: ZMan [+] [View All]
Donna Silverman
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would like to start this off with saying that this is the first time I've written a review and I was only compelled to because as a long-term fan of Pandemic, I feel that On the Brink is an absolutely wonderful expansion and wanted to share my thoughts. This is not so much a component/gameplay review as a "What does this expansion add."



What Do You Get
The box may not be huge, but you can be sure it is packed with goodies.

~ 8 New Role Cards
Along with 6 new roles for the "heroes," the Operations Expert (long thought to be the weakest link) got an upgrade. They listened! Also included is a Bio-Terrorist for one of the optional challenges you can add. I have not played with the Bio-Terrorist yet, but reading through the rules, I am excited about trying it. The new heroes, after two plays so far with them, seem fairly well-balanced and are different enough to feel new and fresh. What I especially like about some of the roles is that they add new elements such as the idea of drawing cards from the discard pile or being able to examine the infection cards coming up on their turn. These actions, though not as obviously helpful as say, the medic scooping up five cubes in a city with two measly actions, add elements of depth and strategy that I feel the base game lacked after many plays.

~ 12 Smaller Player Pawns...
... that don't dwarf everything on the playing board. Components-wise, this is a very awesome thing but it's just components so moving on.

~ A New Disease Color (12 purple cubes, cure marker, and status tile for the board)
The new purple disease is only used in the Mutation Challenge and the Bio-Terrorist Challenge, neither of which I have tried. But I have got to give Tom Lehmann and Matt Leacock a lot of credit for adding so much more versatility and replayability value to the game with all these interesting-looking challenges.

~ 8 New Special Event Cards
These are awesome. Not as immediately awesome as new role cards, but again, these new cards add versatility and strategy to a game that had a reputation of being played on auto-pilot. Since you play with 2 event cards per player in the game, I have not gotten to see all of the new ones yet. However, to give you a glimpse of one of the new hard decisions it opens for you, one of the cards allows you to switch someone's current role with one of their choice from the ones that are not in play.

~ 3 Mutation Cards Event Cards and 2 Mutation Cards for the Infector Deck
Used for the Mutation Challenge. Haven't tried it, nothing to say here.

~ 8 Virulent Strain Cards
Yay! This is the challenge that I have played with for the last two games and let me tell you, it BEAT ME DOWN. I feel like with more practice, understanding of the new roles, and better strategic planning, I will be able to win with this monster. In any case, what is it? So these are cards you would replace your Epidemic cards in the player pile with (the number of them equaling to the difficulty, so 5 for normal and such, just like in base game). When the first one is drawn, you resolve it normally then the disease with the most cubes on the board (ties are resolved randomly) becomes a VIRULENT STRAIN (cue scary music). Every Virulent Strain Epidemic card works like a regular Epidemic card PLUS has a Horrible Bad Thing that then happens relating to the disease that was deemed virulent. Bad things can be, "This strain now takes one extra card to cure" or "When you draw a city with this disease during the infector phase, draw one more infector card." Those are ones that stay in effect during the whole game, though there are others that just happen once (but we mostly got the horrible ones that stay forever). "Challenge" in this game is not a word to be taken lightly.

~ 1 More Regular Epidemic Card
I love this one because it's true. Remember how easy Hard mode with 6 epidemics feel? Well... here is a seventh. For Legendary mode. And I have a feeling I will feel like a legend with the might of a thousand suns if I manage to beat Legendary mode WITH the virulent strain challenge. ONE DAY, MY FRIENDS.

~ 1 More Reference Card for a 5th Player
Self-explanatory, nothing to see here, moving on.

~ Bio-Terrorist Location Pad

~ 6 Petri Dishes with Labels
For all those who were jealous (me me me) of all the cool kids pimping out their Pandemic set with labels and petri dishes and test tubes and etc., the expansion comes with some! The labels are gorgeous and I get gleeful every time I see these component containers but I will not hate on you if you couldn't care less. modest

~ 4 Blank Cards
I'm never going to use these, but if you want, you can make 2 new roles and 2 new event cards of your very own design.


How it Comes Together (right now, over me)
This is an expansion for someone looking to breathe new life into a game they love but are unlikely to play because it is just not new and fresh anymore and plays on auto-pilot. I may not win ALL my games of Pandemic with the base game (that is probably impossible considering the luck factor), but I win enough that I feel like a win or a lost is not dependent on what I do but what the board throws at me.

On the Brink threw that out the window.

YES, in its core Pandemic is something of a cooperative puzzle game with a heavy infusion of luck. I completely understand why this is not everyone's cup of tea (or coffee). However, I really enjoyed "solving" the puzzle that was the base game. It took me many plays to figure out the best moves in a given scenario.

YES, Pandemic has a tendency to allow one outspoken player to take over the game. But addressing these points, On the Brink is NOT a game I would get if you don't already have people you like playing Pandemic base game with.

However, if you do, please read on. On the Brink gave me back what the base game ended up losing: agonizing decisions. I am not saying that after another 30 plays, I will feel that I have the game "solved" again. However... that would be just with ONE of the new challenges. If it takes me 90+ plays to feel like the game is "solved" with all the new challenges, roles, and event cards, I will be a very happy gamer who made a great investment indeed.

On the Brink adds a lot and the game is once again strategic and thematic. I love the feeling the original game used to give me, which is summarized by, "IT LOOKS BAD BUT WE HAVE TO KEEP TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD BECAUSE THERE IS HOPE YET." On the Brink brought that back plus more and did it with great style.

I LOVE this expansion. Two thumbs way up. thumbsupthumbsup
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jody Ludwick
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
A very nice effort with your 'first time' review Donna.

I've been going over my printed copy of rules and should receive my game sometime this afternoon via UPS. I'm really looking forward to the 8 (replaceable) Virulent Strain cards and will in the meantime find some ominous and foreboding music to listen to during play.

I like PURPLE!
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad Hensley
United States
Rio Rancho
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I haven't had my base game long enough to have "solved" it yet, but I can see that it has the potential to become stale. My wife and I are consistently beating normal, but have yet to win a hard game with six epidemics.We picked up the expansion today and can't wait to play it when the little one's go down for the night. I agree though that even if each variant becomes stale, that's still a ton of plays for each. Excellent first review!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
What preview button?
United States
Medford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jody wrote:
A very nice effort with your 'first time' review Donna.

Especially since what you describe with your feelings about the base game is pretty much *exactly* how I feel about it too. I've been wavering back and forth about whether or not to get this expansion because I really do love the game, but you're right, it has gotten a wee bit stale. Your description of breathing new life has got me leaning back in to the buy side again. I may have to pull the trigger soon for this and the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game – Pegasus Expansion.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Ruhland
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A great first review. I'd love to read your next.
I've just picked up the expansion myself but I've put it on the shelf for now (except for the petri dishes and smaller player pawns) as the base game has not yet gotten stale for me. Although I have to point out that my base game came with an extra epidemic card so we have had the opportunity to lose at Legendary Mode a few times already. Of course now I have 'Super Ultra Legendary Mode with Lemon'!
Wish me luck.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
It's a love/hate relationship.
badge
Check out my board game instructional videos on my YouTube channel: "The Game Explainer".
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dujo wrote:
jody wrote:
A very nice effort with your 'first time' review Donna.

Especially since what you describe with your feelings about the base game is pretty much *exactly* how I feel about it too. I've been wavering back and forth about whether or not to get this expansion because I really do love the game, but you're right, it has gotten a wee bit stale. Your description of breathing new life has got me leaning back in to the buy side again. I may have to pull the trigger soon for this and the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game – Pegasus Expansion.
Heh heh, I just receive my order of these two expansions yesterday. How funny!

My wife and I beat the base game with 6 epidemics about 50-60% of the time. The game is not stale for us, but this expansion will definitely set the limbo bar a lot lower. I hope to try the virulent strain challenge tonight.

(We're breaking out BSG: Pegasus tomorrow with another couple)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gordon Adams
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
mb

Although I am still waiting for the expansion, there is no way I would call the basic game "stale".

A game I call stale is one that certaintly requires something to make it replayable. For example: "A Touch of Evil" basic game is stale and maybe the expansion does do something to warrant that "replayabilty factor". Nevertheless, I have no intention to buy the expansion for it BECAUSE the basic game is plain boring, IMHO. Epidemic (basic game) is not boring and does not really need the expansion, unless you are a fan of the game.

I happen to be hooked on Epidemic and that is why I will buy the expansion and any future expansions. But that is not to say it is a stale game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. @kinson
United States
Grant
Alabama
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
scarletfray wrote:


~ 4 Blank Cards
I'm never going to use these, but if you want, you can make 2 new roles and 2 new event cards of your very own design.


I can see a use for these. Some people complain that the expansion adds too much difficulty without helping increase the player's power to deal with issues.

You could make event cards such as...

"Research Breakthrough": Any player with at least 3 cards of the same color can receive an instant cure of that color. Play at anytime.

"Transferred Immunity": For first discovered cure, the population gains immunity to the disease. Remove all cubes of that disease from the game board for eradication. Play at anytime.

"Virulent Strain Breakthrough". Remove a continuing effect VS epidemic card from play. Play at anytime.

These could be set aside for legendary level to give you a fighting chance

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Tritone

Missouri
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the great review!

And for The Beatles reference, a thumbs up!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Clarke
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I found that after I'd read you hadn't tried out a couple of the new features yet that I didn't want to read the review any further. Would be nice to see your thoughts if you have now tried them?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls