Pandemic Iberia is a Pandemic game set in the Iberian Peninsula in 1848. This was an important year since it marked the construction of the first railroad in the region. During this time, however, 4 major diseases threatened to outbreak in the peninsula: typhus, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever. Players taking on roles such as the nurse, railwayman, rural doctor, and sailor to help construct the railroad and stop the spread of those diseases.
This game has many of the basic components that players have come to expect from Pandemic games: different colored cubes, player markers, and 2 decks of cards. There are also several tokens that make an appearance that Pandemic players won’t recognize, like the purification tokens and railway markers.
What really makes Pandemic Iberia shine component-wise, however, is the art. The box insert, cards, and game board all have beautiful art on them! The quality of everything is also amazing though I will probably still sleeve the cards because accidents do happen during game nights!
Many of the basic mechanics in Pandemic Iberia are the same as vanilla Pandemic. Your main goal is to “cure” the four diseases. In this game, however, you cannot cure them, only “research” them. You research a disease by collecting and discarding 5 cards of a particular color. After each turn, you draw 2 cards, and cards may be traded by using an action and being on the same space as another player. Once you successfully research all 4 diseases, the players win!
The main hiccup is the fact that the diseases are spreading rapidly while you are collecting your cards. When the game starts, 9 cities are infected with a mixture of the 4 diseases: 3 cities get 3 cubes, 3 cities get 2 cubes, and 3 cities start with 1 cube. After each turn, the players draw card from the infection deck and add cubes to the cities. If any city gets more than 3 cubes, there is an outbreak that can chain to other cities. Each outbreak moves the outbreak track. If you have 8 outbreaks in a game, players lose. This game also has epidemic cards. When this card is drawn, players must infect the bottom card of the infection deck with three cubes and reshuffle all of the infection cards from the discard pile back into the deck. Epidemics also up the rate of infection after a few from 2 cards to 3 cards.
There are a few things that make Pandemic Iberia more difficult than Pandemic. You cannot research a disease until you build a hospital of the same color. This essentially means that you need 6 cards to research or cure instead of 5. Another thing that adds to the challenge is that this version is missing some of the essential roles from regular Pandemic.
The rural doctor is similar to the medic, but he can remove a cube from an adjacent space instead of removing all of the cubes. The nurse is similar to the quarantine specialist except that her quarantine marker must be placed on an adjacent area and does not protect all areas surrounding her. Missing from the bunch is the scientist, who can cure with one fewer card, and the dispatcher, who can aid in player movement. Having an extra card requirement and no scientist really does add to the challenge of the game.
Speaking of movement, this board is very spread out and this was before air travel. As such, players cannot discard cards to move freely around the board. Instead, they can use the new travel mechanics of the game. The most important travel change is the railroad. As players move about the map, they can lay railway tokens to connect areas. Doing this allows a player to move from one city to any other city connected by the railroad in 1 action. You can also travel by carriage or by sea from any port city to another port city if you discard a card matching the color of the destination city.
The final new mechanic is the purify water action. At any time, a player may discard a card matching their region to place 2 purification tokens in an area. The way the may is divided, there are areas in between the lines on the map that form regions. If a purification token is in the center, no cubes need to be added to the cities in that region if it is drawn during the infect step. Instead, you just remove a purification token.
For some added difficulty, there are also some added challenge modes, but I have not touched those yet so I cannot comment on them.
I really like this version of Pandemic! Having already played and loved Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy, and Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu, I kind of suspected I would. Pandemic Iberia is different enough from the other versions of Pandemic that I don’t feel like I am playing the exact same game. The railroad and purification tokens add extra strategy and planning ahead, and having to build hospitals in each region before you can research adds some real difficulty. I had to play 5 times before I finally won! This is exactly what I’ve come to expect and love about cooperative games: the challenge! I love the art and the history built into this game. The naming of the diseases make them blend in seamlessly with the theme whereas letting the players name the diseases detracts from it in some ways (depending on the chose names, I guess). If you think you might like this game, I would go buy it ASAP. It is a limited edition game, meaning that when this printing is sold out, it will never be reprinted. I don’t think they have ever officially announced the number of games that were printed, but I still wouldn’t wait to buy it. It’s a great game that deserves to be in your collection, and it’s not going to be around forever!
Verdict: Highly recommended!