All posts by Kimberly

Pandemic Iberia Review

Introduction
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.

Components
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! 

Game Mechanics
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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Dominion Storage: Base Game, Prosperity, and Seaside

I really like Dominion. I like it enough that I have a few of the expansions. I do not have all the expansions yet, but I still found myself having problems storing my cards. The main issue I have is that I really dislike having multiple boxes for a single game. I always prefer to house expansions for my games inside the main game box. In many cases, this is complicated by either the sheer volume of expansions or the limitations of the insert.

The box for Dominion is adequately sized to hold a lot of cards. The artwork is pretty cool, and it fits perfectly on my shelves.

The main problem I have is with the insert. It is a pretty good insert if you only want to stick with the base game, but most people who play and like Dominion understand that the base game isn’t enough. The problem begins when you start adding expansions.

I have expanded my overall game collection by a lot over the last few months. For now, I am okay with just having Dominion, Prosperity, and Seaside. I do recognize that I may someday want to expand the collection further so I did build some room into my storage solution.

With this storage solution, I removed the insert and divided the box into 3 rows. For now, one row houses the treasure and victory point cards while the other row holds all the rest of the cards. The middle section has the game tiles and game pieces.  I did make the center section large enough to fit cards if I ever need it to. For the dividers, I printed out a bunch from Sumpfork’s Dominion Tabbed Divider Generator.  I have been too busy (and lazy) to actually cut out the tabs, but I may do that at some point. I am able to fit in all the cards, tiles, and pieces for Dominion, Seaside, and Prosperity. I could fit some more expansions as well by removing the foam stoppers or merging the tiles and game pieces in one section so that the other section can house more cards.

The main way I did this was to build a center section out of foam core to separate the three rows. I normally build a whole foam core insert that spans the whole box, but I didn’t want to go through the trouble and risk crowding out the dividers. A simple center box seems to work well to keep the rows separate and divided properly. I still have to print a few more dividers, but I am happy to say that all of my expansions currently fit in one box! This will allow my limited shelf space to hold more games.  I can’t even imagine what storage must be like for those Dominion fans that have all the expansions!

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu Unboxing

Earlier this year, game designers Chuck D. Yeager, Matt Leacock, and Z-Man Games released a new version of the beloved game Pandemic set in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Having played and loved both Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy, I was really excited to play this game! I also grew up as a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s work (issues aside) so unlike many people, I am not sick of the Cthulhu theme yet. While I will do a full review of the game and the gameplay at  a later time, I thought I would do an “unboxing” and show you all of the components that come in the box.

First of all, I really like the artwork of the game. The artists Chris Quilliams, Atha Kanaani, and Philippe Guérin did an great job capturing the powerful, foreboding Old Ones.

While I haven’t posted any evidence of it yet on my blog, I really enjoy building foam core inserts for my board games. As such, I always eye the inserts that come with the games with increased scrutiny. The original Pandemic insert was one of my favorites, and I only had to modify it slightly to fit all of the expansions. This one just seems like a lot of wasted space! I think they want you to put the investigator and Shoggoth figures individually into the cubbies, but I don’t think I can bring myself to do that! I do hope they release expansions for this game eventually, but I will probably build a simple custom insert for this game in the mean time.

While I don’t want to get too much into the difference between Pandemic and Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu in this post, one of the big difference is illustrated in the above game pieces. The tokens on the left are sanity tokens. If you play a lot of games set in the Cthulhu Mythos like I do (Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness etc.), you will be familiar with sanity tokens and sanity loss mechanisms. Characters in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories are also in danger from losing their sanity from the extraordinary and incomprehensible truths they witness or read. This is an interesting addition to Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.

This game also comes with miniatures for the investigators instead of the standard pegs or meeple. Seeing as I generally hate meeple, I appreciate that the designers were able to include  miniatures at this price point. Compared to the miniatures in Mansions of Madness, these ones aren’t half bad! In addition to making foam core inserts, I also enjoy painting miniatures so maybe I’ll try to paint these at some point.

There are also miniatures for the cultists and the Shoggoths! The cultists are essentially the disease cubes from Pandemic in miniature form! The Shoggoths represent a new mechanic specific to Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.

The stars of this game are the Old Ones. Each one does something terrible to the investigators and usually modifies the game rules. These cards are revealed during the awakening, which is similar to an outbreak in Pandemic. I definitely see some familiar faces here!

These cards detail the actions available to the investigators as well as explaining the sanity mechanism.

The investigators in this game all have a specific role and special ability. Many of the roles have counterparts in vanilla Pandemic. The Detective, for example, can seal a gate using 4 cards instead of 5 (Scientist). The Hunter may remove all cultists when performing the defeat a cultist action (Medic). There are also several roles that are new and specific to Pandemic; Reign of Cthulhu. Again, I think the art in this game is really great!

The top picture shows the relic cards. While these cards are similar to the event cards in Pandemic, you can get them through ways other than drawing them from the player deck. The only catch with most of them, however, is that you have to roll the sanity dice when you use them. This means that using a lot of relics increases the risk you will go insane. The second picture is of the cards in the player deck. Rather than each individual location having it’s own card, the cards are simply divided into the four towns: Arkham, Innsmouth, Dunwich, and Kingsport. The third picture includes the cards in the summoning deck. This deck is similar to the infection deck in Pandemic.

Finally, here is the Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu game board. The board is divided into four connecting towns and is not as spread out as the cities on the Pandemic game board. This game also introduces some interesting travel mechanisms that aren’t in the original (like travelling through gates or by bus). The board has a dark feel to it that fits in perfectly with the theme of the game. I will talk more about the gameplay in another post, but overall, the components of this game are amazing and well-designed.