Last night, our friends Simon and Jessica joined Chris and me for our monthly feast/drink/board game night. This time, we played Pandemic: Contagion for the first time and loved it.
We’re already fans of Pandemic, a game that pits the players working cooperatively against a series of deadly diseases that are sweeping the globe. Those games are real nail-biters, so we were excited to take a crack at Pandemic: Contagion, which turns the tables and pits you, a series of diseases, against humanity. Another big difference is that while Pandemic is cooperative, Contagion is competitive. Whatever disease kills the most human beings by the end wins.
Each disease has an incubation rate (how many cards you can draw per turn), infection rate (how many infection cubes you can put against the drawn cities), and resistance (which you can spend to reduce the impact of World Health Organization (WHO) counter moves. Each turn, you can invest cards in infecting new cities, ramping up the infection rate in already infected cities, or boosting your incubation, infection or resistance. You score primarily by generating death toll and destroying cities. When you destroy a city, the death toll is tallied as score and whoever did the eradicating gets a special action that can boost their play.
Each round, event cards are played, some of which help you, some of which hurt you. Every fourth card is a WHO card, which can be devastating to the players.
We had a ton of fun playing two games. In the first game, we caused the collapse of civilization (there were only two cities left). The second, we played right to the last card. Both games played out very differently, promising repeat playability. I learned it’s a good idea to get on as many cities as possible early on, and next time I play, after that I’m going to invest heavily in my incubation and infection rates. Then I can get four cards per turn and slam cities, destroying them. Jess won both games, but next time I’m going to give her a run for her money with my robovirus!