February 25, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: October

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We lost September on our first attempt and won it on our second
  • We reconned East Asia
  • We gained the ability to build shelters in cities

October (First Attempt)

The legacy deck reveals some new twists and turns. We now have just two mandatory objectives for the month, and no optional ones. We must build the three supply centres as usual, but our other objective is to coax three hollow men into havens at which point we can induce them to defect. To do this, we are given the ability to spread information which will cause the hollow men to move to an adjacent city.

The new “broadcast misinformation” action

Our two objectives

And a bit of bonus lore (click on the image to view it full size)

An interesting detail about this second objective is that if we complete it in our first attempt at October, it is automatically considered done for our second attempt. Therefore we decide that for our first attempt at October we will just focus on the new objective, and not worry about the supply centres. Then, in our second attempt, we can just deal with the supply centres. This feels like a better strategy than dividing ourselves between two objectives and failing both times.

We have very few initial supplies, so we have no choice but to leave some cities empty.

Not many initial supplies to go around

We are lucky to only get a plague cube on New Mumbai. As is standard with the new rules, we get three hollow men to start the game, and they are in Santiago, Sao Paulo and Paris. Already we are thinking about the shortest route to misinformate these little chaps to the nearest haven.

For the first time in many games we mix up our character selections slightly. Since our goal for this game is not to build supply centres, we decide to leave Lucius on the substitute bench, and instead give our new character an outing.

  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)
  • Susan – Professor Susan (Scientist)
  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)

Welcome, Professor Susan!

First Turn

It’s Pete’s turn to start, so he moves from Buenos Aires to Lima and then uses the satellite tower there to shuffle a hollow man from Sao Paulo to Turtloise Rock. And with that, we’re already a third of the way to one of our objectives!

One hollow man in Turtloise Rock

However, we get quite unlucky with an epidemic already, in Jacksonville. Gammidgy is up next, so he can use his ability to resupply it from the comfort of his haven, then shuttle over to London, where he can use the satellite tower there to move a hollow man from Paris to Gloomfort. That’s two done. A plague cube pops up in Jakarta, and it’s one of the infection cards that we are able to destroy, so we do so.

Upgraded infection card, and we never need to worry about seeing it again

Susan starts in Johannesburg, so she creates a supply line to Dar es Salaam, as we want to get more cities linked in, and we also really want to check out that new lost haven.

Dar es Salaam added to the grid

The infection stage gives us a plague cube in Kolkata and a hollow man in New Mumbai.

Karen uses her character ability to zoom over to Dar es Salaam by discarding a player card, from where she charts a sea lane to the haven, and heads over to check it out. We name this newfound location “Ripley’s Hole”. As expected, there’s good stuff therein. We get a bonus 15 supply cubes straight away, and in all subsequent games, for starters.

More supplies always welcome, though the sticker is a little mutilated. Trust me, it says “+15”

She also gets an additional 4 actions for this turn, so she uses them to chart sea lanes to New Mumbai and Antananarivo, before finally dashing off to the safety of Cairo.

Ripley’s Hole and adjacent transport connections

Second Turn

We now have cards for Dar es Salaam and Antananarivo in the discard pile, so Pete dashes over to Antananarivo. It uses up all his actions but in the next turn he’ll be able to pick up that card and search it. The infection step of this turn puts a hollow man in Sao Paulo, which is a bit awkward as that now blocks off all our routes into Lima, where the yellow satellite tower is. There are possible strategies to mitigate this – either building a shelter, or a new satellite tower elsewhere, but it’s mildly annoying.

He’s hollow, and he’s in the way

Gammidgy does a systemwide supply production to get lots of supplies back into play, and then goes to Lagos and builds a new satellite tower there. He shuffles the new hollow man from Sao Paulo to Helms Deep, and that’s one of our objectives complete. We’re still a long way off from building any supply centres, so winning this game is beyond a chance. Therefore we decide to do as much good as we can with the time we have left.

We’re expecting an epidemic soon, so Susan heads to Lagos to use the monitor action. Disappointingly the card does not come out, which just increases the odds that she’s about to draw one. While at the satellite tower she relocates the hollow man out of Jacksonville and into a haven, just on the off chance that there’s any benefit in getting more than 3 into the havens. The epidemic does indeed come up in Frankfurt, which was previously fully innoculated, but thanks to the new rules around epidemics, our innoculated cities are the ones most likely to suffer epidemics. We have plague cubes in New Mumbai and Kolkata, and the incident tracker is now nearly at the bottom.

Karen goes to Ho Chi Minh City to link in a few more cities. She’s able to build a route to Kolkata, which will save us an action when trying to get there from Tehran, and then goes to Hong Kong to build a route to Shanghai.

New routes in East Asia

Third Turn

Picking up the plan from the previous turn, Pete searches Antananarivo and also has enough actions to go to Dar es Salaam and search there. The results are a little underwhelming – we can remove the plague cubes from one location (which is nice but sadly does not cause the incident tracker to retreat) and build a supply line out of Dar es Salaam (which is frankly of pretty much no use at this point – we build it to Khartoum, not because it’s particularly valuable, but just because it’s the most tidy option)

Results of searching Antananarivo and Dar es Salaam. Since we’d already found the lost haven at Ripley’s Hole, the searches at sea were effectively free actions

Useless road

A plague cube pops up in Riyadh, and the game is unsurprisingly over.

End Of Game

We get given a few new character abilities and city card upgrade options which look like they might be appealing options.

City card upgrades that allow us to use that card in place of a red card for the purposes of building a supply centre or performing recon

Some tasty new character upgrades, especially Saboteur: “As an action, discard a City card to remove a Hollow Man figure from a city matching the colour of the card”

As a result of completing the defection objective, we also get a very intriguing piece of lore which suggests that the hollow men view us as the baddies!

The Hollow Men had been told to fear us, that we were monsters, that we deserved death…

We have 6 production units to spend. First off, we buy both of those “Local Operative” city card improvements.

Jacksonville and Baghdad cards that now double up as red

We also give Maggot that tasty new Saboteur skill, filling up his dance card.

Maggot has the power to remove hollow men

With our remaining two production units we restore Jakarta and Hong Kong from population 1 to population 2, to remove the risk of them becoming forsaken in the next game.

October (Second Attempt)

The initial infections left us with one plague cube, in Cairo. Now that we have completed the objective to get the hollow men to defect, all we need to worry about in this game in building three supply centres, and therefore we went back to the usual dream team:

  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)

First Turn

Gammidgy often uses his first turn to resupply Jacksonville, as it is adjacent to his starting location, and this game was no different. He was able to use one of his other abilities to also put some cubes on Sao Paulo, which seemed like a good outcome. For the second time today, we got unlucky with an epidemic on the first turn, and another Frankfurt card is back in play. We also have a hollow man in Buenos Aires, which is the exact city where both Gammidgy and Pete currently are. I think I probably don’t need to tell you that this is a pretty awful start to the game, and does not augur well for our chances.

Susan, however, is having a much better time. Her two initial cards are a red card and a wild card, and what’s more, she can recon without needing there to be a supply centre in the city, so she’s able to go straight to Jakarta and perform a recon. As we had suspected, this gives us another lost haven.

The lost haven to the east of Australia

Interestingly we can recon further from the lost haven. We know from previous information that there is another lost laboratory out here somewhere – hopefully we get the chance to check that out.

Karen has a yellow card, so she heads to Buenos Aires and builds a shelter there to protect Gammidgy and Pete when the time comes for them to leave. With her remaining action she zooms over to the new lost haven, and we name it Finch Reef.

Finch Reef in all its glory

The infection step here gives two more plague cubes in Cairo. Cairo’s looking like a hotspot this game, so Susan plays a rationed event card to immediately remove two of them. It’s still not looking great, as those Cairo cards are going to keep coming out, so Pete heads over there, places a shelter (to protect himself from the plague cube there) and then innoculates it to dump those infection cards back into box 6. Cairo is now completely safe, at least until the cards find their way back out of box 6, which will happen eventually. Another plague cube lands in New York. This is not looking promising. We’re already halfway down the incident tracker, and no-one’s got a particularly reassuring-looking hand yet.

Second Turn

Gammidgy is in Buenos Aires. It’s a nice enough place, so he remains there for now, making and placing supplies, innoculating it, building a satellite tower, and transmitting a Lagos card to Susan.

Buenos Aires is lovely this time of year. Pay no mind to the hollow man.

Susan then zips over to Finch Reef and charts a sea lane to Osaka, linking one more city into the grid. Only now do I realise that this sea lane crosses two red region lines, which is a rule violation, and hence we should not have made it. We’ll have to think about a suitable punishment.

Susan and Karen in Finch Reef, with the new (illegal) sea lane to Osaka present. It’s taken me way too long to think of drawing faces on the pawns, but I’m glad I got there in the end. Next up: tiny little wigs.

Karen, having been teleported to Finch Reef by Susan’s special ability, can now hand over her Lima card, meaning that Susan at last has enough yellow cards to build a supply centre on her next turn. With remaining actions, the most useful thing we can think of for her to do is warp to Tehran and search it, as she has the relevant card in her hand. The reward: we can remove two hollow men from the board. We choose New Mexico and New Mumbai to receive this boon.

Searching in Tehran – it’s okay, I guess

With an epidemic imminent, Pete plays the monitor action and deftly averts it. As a result, he also gets an additional black card in his hand. With his three remaining actions, he sends his three black cards to Karen, giving her a total of five, which is enough for her to make a supply centre on her turn. We’ve reached that point in the game where we can finally formulate a plan to victory, as there are enough cards on the table to build three supply centres, and we know what we need to do to get them into the right person’s hand. The bad news is that the plan will take a little while to execute, so we need to survive one and a half more turns around the board.

Another relevant aside at this point – each time we perform the monitor action, we scratch off a panel on the frequency scanner card, and once all the panels are gone, we can’t monitor any more. There is only one of these panels left. I also have a slight nagging feeling that we might sometimes have forgotten to scratch them off, which means we maybe should already have run out

Third Turn

Gammidgy’s role in the grand plan is just to keep us alive, so he heads to Ripley’s Hole and resupplies New Mumbai and Antananarivo. A plague cube pops up in New York, which ain’t great.

Susan goes to Lima and builds our first new supply centre.

New supply centre in Lima

She also uses her ability to move Karen to Gammidgy’s location in Antananarivo, which is a spot that’s just crying out for a supply centre. An epidemic comes up in London, and immediately a plague cube follows. There’s also a hollow man in Kolkata now but that isn’t going to affect our game.

Karen builds a supply centre in Antananarivo, as discussed, and then hops to London where she can use the satellite tower to send two blue cards to Susan. Susan now has the required number of blue cards to build a supply centre, so all we need to do is survive until then. A new plague cube in New York means that we are nearly out of time – the next incident will crush us.

We examine the various cities on the board, trying to figure out which city is at most risk. There are a small handful that don’t have any supplies, and we need to try to remember which ones came out before the previous epidemic, and which have come out since, to try to deduce which are likely to come up in the next few moves. We settle on Ho Chi Minh City, so Pete heads there and places supplies. This is also a good time to play the rationed event that allows us to place shelters on a couple of cities for free. With this, we prevent their populations from dropping at the end of this game.

Fourth Turn

Again, we have to decide which city to resupply. This turn is all that stands between us and victory. With Gammidgy’s abilities, he can resupply both New Mumbai and New York. Unfortunately, we have chosen poorly, and we should have gone for Frankfurt. Game over.

End of Game

We have 6 production units to spend again. We spend way too long agonising over the decision, which drives Karen up the wall.

We spend 2 of those units applying the “Rebirth” infection card upgrade to Tehran and Buenos Aires. As long as those cities stay at above 6 population, these two infection cards are mostly neutralised.

Rebirth upgrade on Tehran and Buenos Aires

We consider using our remaining four production units to restore a couple of forsaken cities to population 1, but decide instead to use them to boost four cities from population 1 to 2, to hopefully prevent them from going forsaken at all. The cities we choose are Kolkata, New Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Shanghai.

In November we will only have one objective. My suspicion is that our long-running objective to build supply centres is going to be removed, and our objective for November will be to compile the plan for accessing Utopia. In the final month, our objective will be to execute on that plan. We still have some unexplored areas of the board – Seoul and Tokyo are not linked in, and there’s also a lost laboratory off of Finch Reef which I’d really like to explore before the game is over. But as to whether we’ll have the time – I don’t know.

We also need to think about what we’re going to do with that illegal route from Finch Reef to Osaka. It feels like the right thing to do might be to pretend we never built it, and remove the Osaka cards from the deck until we have connected to Osaka via legitimate means.

Pete
February 12, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: September

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We lost August on our first attempt (by a sliver) and won it on our second (convincingly)
  • We gained the “monitor” action which can be carried out at satellite towers and allows us to potentially skip epidemics, if timed right
  • We built a permanent supply centre in Tehran
  • We spot a lost haven from New Mumbai, but don’t have a link to it yet
  • We built a permanent satellite tower in London

September (First Attempt)

Setting up for September, the “Recon 1 new area” optional objectives has been destroyed and replaced with a “Recon East Asia” mandatory objective. This is fine by us, as we were planning on doing that anyway.

Our objectives for this game (two mandatory, two optional, and we need to complete three in total)

There’s also some bad news, which we’ve been braced for – remember all of that innoculating we were doing, moving infection cards into box 6? Well, they’re going to start coming back. Epidemics now require you to draw from box 6 instead of from the bottom of the deck. On the upside, the effect is slightly less severe, as you no longer have to put a plague cube on them if they are totally devoid of supplies, so that’s something.

The new rules for epidemics, slightly damaged upon removing the sticker from the dossier sheet

And here’s the new stickers on the epidemic cards themselves, which are easier to read

The rules for initial infections have changed too – instead of drawing 9 infection cards (skipping forsaken cities) and removing a supply cube from each (or adding a plague cube, if they have no supplies), we now do something slightly more severe. We still draw 9, and we do the same thing on the first 6, but for the last 3 we place a hollow man instead. You may recall, hollow men are worse than plague cubes, as you risk exposure every time you pass through a city with a hollow man in it.

The new rules for initial infections

There’s also another way to lose the game – by running out of hollow men figures.

Try not to use them all up, dear

Setting up the first game, we get hollow men in Istanbul, Khartoum and Jacksonville, meaning that we now want to avoid these three cities entirely for the duration of this game.

We play with our usual favourite characters:

  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)

First Turn

We really want to link to Johannesburg in this game, as we know that there is a lost laboratory there. So Gammidgy uses his turn to go to Lagos, make some supplies, and deploy them to Kinshasa. This will mean that another player (probably Pete) can easily go to Kinshasa, pick up those supplies, build a supply line to Johannesburg, and then still have an action free to move away from Kinshasa (which is an infected city, and hence you don’t want to be starting your turn there). In a turn of appalling luck, we draw an epidemic card already. The London card comes back out of box 6, and already we now have a plague cube in London, another hollow man in Khartoum, and a plague cube in Jacksonville. This is disastrous and already our chances of winning this game look slender. The good news, I suppose, is that we now know for sure that there won’t be an epidemic for a while, which means Susan doesn’t have to waste her turn doing the “monitor” action.

Not a great start

Susan wants more supplies, so Karen plays an unrationed event card that she conveniently has in her hand. It’s the sort that self-destructs after one use.

Karen played this card on Susan’s turn, bringing lots of supplies into play

Susan is able to resupply Paris. With so few cards having been reshuffled into the deck after that early epidemic, we get another plague cube in London and another hollow man in Jacksonville.

Bad things brewing on both sides of the Atlantic

By now we’ve decided that winning this game ain’t gonna happen, so instead we should focus on getting as much value from our loss as possible. If we can recon East Asia in this game, then that’s one fewer thing to worry about in the next game. To achieve that, we need to accumulate unique black cards in one person’s hand, and Susan’s would make the most sense as she can recon with one fewer card. Also, if we can get to Johannesburg and find the lost lab then that might give us some useful upgrades, as the one in Buenos Aires sure did. Our memories here played a bit of a trick on us, as we believed that the lab in Buenos Aires was responsible for our +15 supplies per month, but in fact it was the lost haven at Turtloise Rock. So we were possibly slightly overestimating the expected benefit.

For some reason I didn’t write down what Karen did on this turn, it must have been quite boring. Pete used his turn to zoom over to Cairo, transmit a black city card to Susan and then build a new supply line from Baghdad to Riyadh.

Riyadh now attached to the network

We get yet another hollow man in Santiago, and plague cubes in Washington and London. The infection tracker is now up to 5 – at this rate, we won’t survive to the end of our second turn.

Second Turn

Gammidgy used one of his abilities to place a supply cube from the reserve into London, simply by discarding the London city card from his hand. He then performed step two of the little dance he set up on his previous turn, by heading to Kinshasa and linking Johannesburg into the grid.

Hi Johannesburg, welcome to the game. It’s lovely once you’re in, honest.

This does technically complete one of our optional objectives, as we’ve now linked two cities into the grid, but talking about completion of objectives is moot in this game, as we know we’re not going to win. We’ve deliberately made no progress at all towards building supply centres, which is a mandatory objective.

Susan now has enough black city cards in her hand to head to Kolkata and recon East Asia. We open package 3 and it’s chocka with fun things, including more “hollow men gather” cards, and the ability to build shelters. Shelters are cool, they’re basically the antidote to hollow men. If you build a shelter in a city then you’ll no longer have to risk exposure when passing through, and they also stop the hollow men from causing the city to lose population. They’re cheap to build too, requiring just a city card of the matching colour.

Shelters are cool

We also pick up some lore, suggesting that some strategy to cause the hollow men to defect to our side might be in the brewing.

This plan intentionally left vague

And of course, a whole new area of the world revealed to us. We can see that most of these cities will need to be linked using sea lanes rather than ground-based supply lines, and there’s also an interesting-looking sea lane heading east out of Jakarta to who knows where.

The new area of the world that we’ve unlocked

Again, we technically now have two of our three objectives accomplished, but it’s moot because the supply centres are nowhere near ready.

Celebrate the achievements where we can

Having thoroughly explored package 3, it’s back to the standard game flow. An epidemic hits in Sao Paulo, and another plague cube in Jacksonville. We now have 3 hollow men in Khartoum.

We’re still hoping to search Johannesburg by the end of the game, so Karen deploys supplies in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo in the hope of maximising our chances of blocking another plague cube. We get hollow men in London and Istanbul but thankfully the hollow men don’t cause the infection tracker to advance.

London and Istanbul really did not have a good time of it in this game

Pete is able to use his actions to get to Johannesburg, and then one of his character abilities to pluck the Johannesburg city card from the player discard pile and search it. We find the lab, as expected.

Lost laboratory “Jade” in Johannesburg

Since we were hoping for another little “+15 supplies” sticker, we are disappointed by what we find. We do get a new character, with a quite powerful ability – it’s like a “super-innoculate” where they can destroy an infection card for their current city outright, not just move it to box 6. This action can only be used once per turn, though. We’re also unlikely to switch to using this character, because while it is a good ability, the characters we’re playing with at the moment have 4 or 5 abilities each.

We didn’t expect to last much longer, and indeed a plague cube comes out in Jacksonville and the game is over. Gammidgy storms out of the room in disgust and a cat climbs into a box lid.

Cat in box lid

End of Game

Khartoum falls to population 0 and therefore “forsaken” status. The legacy deck instructs us to open door 33, which is a very nifty rationed event, which is like a “super-monitor” – the current player can take the top 4 cards from the deck, keeping all the city cards and discarding the rest (including epidemics).

Nifty new rationed event

We have 6 production units to spend, so we go wild with character upgrades for our current favourite characters, all of which we think will be useful for exploring this new area, where we have lots of new cities to add and where city cards will be in short supply:

  • Peron gets Navigator which allows them to chart a sea lane without spending cubes (limited to one per turn)
  • Ophelia gets Investigator which allows them to swap a city card from their hand for any other city card from the discard pile (not limited to the same colour)
  • Lucius gets Scout which allows them to recon from a city without a supply centre.

Character upgrades aplenty – Navigator for Peron, Investigator for Ophelia and Scout for Lucius

Broadly this means that our plan for the next attempt at September is as follows:

  • Peron heads over to East Asia and builds sea lanes aplenty, linking in new cities and causing their respective city cards to be place in the discard pile
  • Then use their lookout ability to get the city cards back from the discard pile and into their hand
  • Build a satellite tower in Jakarta and use that to send those red city cards to Lucius
  • …who can then head to Jakarta and recon the new area

September (Second Attempt)

Note that since we completed the mandatory objective to recon East Asia in the first attempt, that carries over to this game. To win this game we therefore need to complete the mandatory objective to build 3 supply centres, plus one of the two optional objectives (either 2 new cities linked to the grid, or 2 searches done).

During the initial infections we got a plague cube in Sao Paulo, and hollow men in New York, London and Baghdad. We play with the same characters as before, of course. And having lost the previous game, we now have a funding level of 2, so are able to pick a couple of rationed event cards to go into the deck.

First Turn

Once again Gammidgy was randomly chosen to start. We could see that Susan had the makings of a decent collection of yellow cards, so Gammidgy went to Lima so that he could throw his Sao Paulo card at her, and he also resupplied Sao Paulo on the way.

Sao Paulo resupplied

We debated whether it made sense for Susan to do the monitor action on her turn, but decided to risk an epidemic and so she headed to South America to resupply Santiago. The epidemic did not come up, so it definitely made sense for Karen to do the monitoring, which she did in Cairo, resupplying while she was there. The first epidemic was revealed and averted. Coincidentally, she then drew both of our rationed event cards.

Karen has a lovely pair of rationed events

Pete zoops on over to Jakarta and gets on with the planned business of building sea lanes. We pick Ho Chi Minh City as our first target, only to realise that the Ho Chi Minh City card doesn’t have a scratch-off panel, so is not searchable, which means I won’t be able to pick it out of the discard pile this game using my special ability. Doh. I then checked the pending city cards to identify which were searchable and which weren’t, to prevent me making that mistake again.

A new sea lane to Ho Chi Minh City

Second Turn

As usual, our strategy for building supply centres is to throw cards at Susan, so Gammidgy went to London to do just that. There’s a hollow man there, so he built our first shelter, meaning that he could safely end his turn there, after having transferred Johannesburg to Susan.

London is the site of our first shelter against the hollow men

Susan was able to build a supply centre in Santiago, thanks to a combination of her character ability, and having some yellow city cards in her hand with decent upgrades on them. We were about due for an epidemic, so Karen played the “cautious approach” rationed event here, meaning that Susan could draw the next four cards from the player deck. Sadly no epidemic there, but it did leave her with enough black cards to make another supply centre already.

A supply centre in Santiago

After thinking about ways to transfer Karen’s two blue city cards to Susan, we eventually gave up trying to figure it out, and instead Karen just resupplied Tripoli on her turn. The anticipated epidemic came out, and Lagos was retrieved from box 6. Thankfully, due to the new mechanic, no plague cube was placed there despite it having no supplies. After reshuffling the discard pile onto the deck, hollow men appeared in Sao Paulo and Lagos.

Pete got all excited on his turn and did a stupid. So the plan was to link a new city in, go there, and search it. But I charged in like a fool and drew a line to Manila on the map before realising that Manila is not searchable. With my remaining actions I charted a second sea lane to Hong Kong, before immediately regretting that, as I didn’t have enough actions to go there and use my ability to immediately search it.

Hong Kong and Manila now added to the network

Third Turn

The end-game was in sight. Gammidgy resupplied Paris, and a plague cube came up in Cairo. But it didn’t matter, because Susan could travel to Moscow, build a supply centre there, and then (thanks to Karen’s other rationed event card) travel to Lima and build a supply centre there too. With three objectives complete, we had won!

End of game

Baghdad is now down to population 0, and hence forsaken. With our 7 game-end production units, we spent a couple on some infection card improvements, allowing them to potentially be totally destroyed in a future game, meaning that those cities would be totally immune.

Some infection card upgrades for Hong Kong and Jakarta

We also spent a couple of points on boosting the population of Tripoli and Jakarta, both of which were at population 1 and felt like they needed more wiggle room. The remaining 3 went on a character ability for our new scientist, who can now move supply cubes from the stockpile to a city matching a card in their hand, without having to discard the card. While we’re not necessarily planning on using this character in the next month, it would be good to have them warmed up on the substitute’s bench in case one of our current top four were to become unavailable.

Another ability for our scientist, who does not yet have a name

For the next game, we need to link up to that lost haven in the Indian Ocean. New Mumbai is probably the best way to approach it. An ongoing concern is that we have used up all of our “permanent supply centre” stickers so our fast travel into the East Asia region is likely to be severely hampered. We’re hoping that recon from Jakarta will reveal that the blue line to the east goes to a lost haven, which we can then use as a fast travel node, and maybe chart a sea lane from there direct to Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Another thing to note is that in October, the number of objectives required drops to 2, and in November it drops further to 1. We suspect that the “build 3 supply centres” mandatory objective which has kept us company since the start of the game is going to be replaced soon, and the narrative of the game will shift to finding a strategy against the hollow men, forcing their defection, and eventually taking on Utopia.

Pete
January 26, 2024

Beckathon

Earlier this week I decided to listen to every Beck album through in order, inspired largely by reading this article: Beck’s greatest songs, and partly by the discovery that there are half a dozen of his albums that I’ve never heard before. A chronological listen-through seemed like a good way to refamiliarise myself with the albums I already knew, have a listen to the new ones, and also get a sense of the overall context and evolution.

The first couple of albums (which I’d never heard before) were a fairly impenetrable mess of noise, much as I’d been expecting. At that time he was young and full of punkish bravado, wanting to turn the music world on its head with his own original sound, and throwing novel and challenging concepts out to see if he could catch some attention. After that, I entered the realm of things that I already owned on CD – everything from Mellow Gold (1994) to Sea Change (2002), all of which are brilliant albums in their own ways. After this must have been about the time that I became aware that Beck was a scientologist, and I’m not really the kind of person who finds it easy to separate the art from the artist, and so I drifted away from his music for a while.

That said, I must have drifted back at some point, as Guero (2005) and The Information (2006) are both albums that I had heard before on a few occasions. But my drifting was apparently only temporary, as all four of his albums since then were completely new to me.

Now, I’m generally reluctant to form an opinion on an album based on the first listen, because with a few exceptions, I find that familiarity has a huge impact on my relationship with a piece of music. But I could see why Morning Phase (2014) was so positively received, and I also really digged the disco pop of Colors (2017) which reminded me a lot of Two Door Cinema Club, who have a sound that fills me with great joy. That said, the whole project came to a bit of a disappointing conclusion with Hyperspace (2019). While I hate to be the person who uses the phrase “selling out”, this album did feel like the absolute antithesis of his early material. No innovation or originality here, just tedious recycling of the mainstream music of its time. I found it hard to believe that he could listen to it and think “yep, perfect. Ship it.” I think I might try to pretend I never heard it.

Pete
  • Comments: 2
  • While I concede that it is not a word used in modern English, I think my meaning was perfe... - Pete
  • "digged"? - Karen Hall
January 15, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: August

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We lost July on our first attempt and won it on our second
  • We gained the ability to build satellite towers which can be used to send city cards to other players
  • The Hollow Men have arrived – their presence in a city makes even passing through it dangerous
  • We added a permanent supply centre in Buenos Aires

August (First Attempt)

Since we forgot to check Maggot for exposure at the end of the previous session, we start by doing that today. Sadly, he gains a scar. Of the available options, a slightly increased cost to chart a sea lane seems like the most innocuous, so we choose that.

Maggot now requires one more supply cube to chart a sea lane

With a new month beginning, we have lots of good news. For starters, we are immediately given three production units to spend on character abilities.

Some free character upgrades as a little August bonus

We give Peron an increased hand limit, as this feels like it synergises well with their ability to take cards from other players.

Peron’s new ability, wonkily applied

Ophelia gets a nifty new ability to travel from a haven or supply centre to anywhere on the grid, at the cost of any city card.

Ophelia can now move about with consummate ease

And we also give Maggot a new skill, allowing him to take a supply cube from the reserve and put it on a city matching a card in his hand. Given how few supplies we get in the stockpile at the start of each game now, skills that bring supplies from the reserve are valuable.

Maggot’s new skills. Running out of spaces on that card!

We can now use the satellite towers to perform a “monitor” action, in which we can basically discard the top 4 cards from the player deck. If we time this right, we can play this when we’re pretty certain that an epidemic is due, and skip it entirely. The cost is that three perfectly good cards will also get shuffled across to the discard pile, so we need to be thoughtful about how often we use it. When playing this action, we also get to scratch off one of the panels on the frequency scanner card, which will yield mystery rewards. Our successful completion of the triangulation objective at the end of the previous game has given us a hint that three frequencies in particular might be worth targeting.

The new monitor action, and the frequency scanner card

We have very few supplies to start with, so we’re spread thin from the outset. We draw the initial 9 infections, as usual, and already we have a plague cube in Cairo. It’s a bit annoying to have a plague cube on there right from the outset, as Cairo is such a key tactical location for us.

Plague cube in Cairo

We choose the usual characters, as they are pretty well-upgraded by now:

  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)

First Turn

Karen starts off by heading to the east coast of North America, and thanks to Ophelia getting one free move action per turn, is able to resupply both Jacksonville and Washington. Pete goes next, and goes to Cairo to make supplies there (from the reserve, thanks to Peron’s primary ability). We know that the epidemics are distributed every 8 player cards, on average, so given that Karen didn’t draw one, there’s a 66% chance that one of the next 4 cards is an epidemic. Thus it makes good strategic sense to play the monitor action now, in the hope of skipping the first epidemic. Our strategy pays off. We scratch off frequency 9.2, which was one of the ones suggested at the end of July, and it yields the instructions on how to recon from Kolkata. Smashing.

The results of our very successful debut monitoring

Cairo has plague in it, so I end my turn in Istanbul. Susan’s next, and uses her actions to pop into Cairo, resupply it, and pop back out, also to Istanbul. There’s a very good reason for her ending in the same location as me – I’ve already got three blue cards, and she’s got one. What’s more, the one she’s got also acts as a companion that reduces the cost of building supply centres by 1. Thanks to one of my character abilities, I’ll be able to take that blue card from her at the start of my next turn, leaving me with exactly enough to build a supply centre. However, since the two of us are in Istanbul with no supplies to protect us, Gammidgy uses his turn to pop in to Cairo, throw some supplies in our general direction (thanks to his “Courier” ability which must be one of our most-used abilities on any character in this game) and then retreat to Buenos Aires with the intention of doing fun things on his next turn. Our first epidemic comes up in Tripoli, and as a result one plague cube crops up in Sao Paulo.

Plague cube in Sao Paulo

Second Turn

Karen goes to London and resupplies there. After the first epidemic, the hollow men cards have been shuffled into the deck, and one of them pops up in San Francisco. This is a remote and far-flung corner of the grid, so the good news is that this hollow man isn’t interfering with movement. However, San Francisco was down to population of 1, so at the end of this game it’s almost certain that it will fall to forsaken status.

Hollow man in San Francisco

As planned, Pete takes Paris from Susan, and then moves to Moscow and builds a supply line to Tehran from there. This is needed as Baghdad, New Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are all infested, so if we want to have any chance of safely getting into Kolkata, building a supply centre and getting back out again, then a direct link to Tehran is the best way. Linking a new city into the grid also gives us progress towards one of our optional objectives, and towards getting more production units at the end of the game.

New supply line from Moscow to Tehran

Plague cubes pop up in Tripoli and New Mexico, and we’re now halfway down the infection tracker. Susan moves to Tehran and builds a supply centre there, giving us progress towards our main objective. Our intention is to make it permanent at the end of this game, so that we’ve got a good beachhead from which to assault Kolkata in the next game.

A supply centre in Tehran

Gammidgy moves to Cairo from where he can deploy supplies to Tripoli. He also moves to Istanbul, deploys supplies there, and innoculates it for good measure so that it’s less likely to come up in the infection deck.

Third Turn

Karen moves to St Petersburg and builds a supply line to Moscow. This does not add any new cities to the grid, but makes it much easier for Pete to get to a blue city on his next turn to build a supply centre. She also drops off a supply cube so that it’s not totally unprotected.

Just a supply line from St Petersburg to Moscow (note that the photo was taken before the supply cube was deposited)

Pete moves to St Petersburg. Building a supply centre would use up all the blue cards in his hand, but one of them is St Petersburg with two search panels on it, and he’s got two actions to spare, so… you see where this is going. The first search yields a companion who allows you to search for free. The second search (which is now free) allows us to build a free sea lane from St Petersburg. It’s already linked to London, which would have been the obvious choice, so we link it to New York instead.

A blurry photo of the St Petersburg search card. I also scratched too much in the top half and took off lots of the text. I don’t know my own strength.

With that business out of the way, the supply centre is built in St Petersburg, meaning we only need one more to complete our main objective. Progress on our secondary objectives is going well – the two searches have ticked off one of them, so we only need to link one more new city into the grid to complete a second.

The ingredients for a supply centre

Another epidemic hits. Thankfully, because we averted our first epidemic, the hollow men cards are now scattered quite evenly throughout the deck. That said, luck would have it that one pops out straight away, and we now have a hollow man in New York too.

North America doesn’t look great, does it?

Susan has the herbalist companion in her hand, so moves to Tripoli, innoculates, and removes the plague cube there. She ends her turn in Jacksonville, so that Karen can take a Jacksonville card off of her on her next turn. Victory is in sight – we just need to survive Gammidgy’s turn, in which he will link a new city into the grid, and then Karen will build a supply centre and win the game. Sadly we get two plague cubes here – one in Washington, and one in Cairo on top of the one that’s already there.

We’re expecting an epidemic, so Gammidgy moves to Cairo where he plays the monitor action. This successfully averts the epidemic. He produces a big pile of supplies and uses two of them to establish a new supply line to Khartoum, granting us our second optional objective.

Khartoum linked into the grid, and leftover supplies in Cairo

Sadly luck is not on our side. Plague cubes crop up in Jacksonville and Sao Paulo, and it’s game over. The narrowest of narrow defeats.

End Of Game

The legacy deck instructs us to open a few dossier doors, which just gives us some new character ability options and possible scars. We have 5 production units to spend, which go on the following:

  • Permanent supply centre in Tehran (3 production units)
  • “Lookout” ability for Peron (2 production units)

Peron can now search with cards from the discard pile. The new monitor action is great for averting epidemics, but also burns through player cards, so having skills that allow us to get stuff back from the discard pile is useful

As predicted, San Francisco is now forsaken.

Bad news about San Francisco

August (Second Attempt)

While setting up, we realise that when we linked Frankfurt into the grid at the end of June, we forgot to add the player cards and infection cards into the deck, so we did that now.

Initial infections for this attempt at August gave no plague cubes, but did leave us with a lot of cities bereft of supplies.

It will not surprise you to learn that we played with the same characters as before.

First Turn

Pete began by resupplying Jacksonville and New York. Our first plague cube emerged, and of course, having only just added the Frankfurt card to the infection deck, you know exactly where it landed.

Welcome to the game, Frankfurt

Since we are still expecting epidemics every 8 cards, on average, if the second player uses the monitor action, there’s a 66% chance that an epidemic will be averted. So Susan went to Cairo and did exactly that, and it worked. It also gave us a new city card upgrade option, that would make the selected city card act as any colour for building supply centres or recon.

Decryption key city card upgrade

Susan ended her turn in Tehran, with the intention of building a supply line to Kolkata on her next turn. A plague cube popped up, this time in Baghdad.

Susan in Tehran, plague in Baghdad

On Gammidgy’s turn he moved to London and threw supplies at St Petersburg. Karen moved to Lima to resupply there, and also use the satellite tower to monitor, as we are again expecting an epidemic. Once again, the odds were in our favour, and the epidemic was skipped. However the infection step did result in a new plague cube in New Mumbai.

Second Turn

Pete moved to Moscow and then to Frankfurt, innoculating both as he passed through. Given that the number of infection cards in the deck for a city equals the initial population, we now know these two cities to be completely safe. He ended his turn in Istanbul, as Frankfurt is not a safe place to sleep at the moment.

Susan built a supply line from Tehran to Kolkata, as planned, and then moved to London to build a satellite tower there. Having satellite towers in the same location as supply centres makes them much more useful, as we can fast travel there much easier. The one in Lima sees very little use compared to the one in Cairo. Therefore, building a satellite tower in London and converting it to a permanent one at the end of the game would make it much easier for us to pass blue city cards around in future games. In this game, however, Susan has a nice handful of blue cards already, so should be able to build a supply centre on her next turn.

A new supply line adding Kolkata to the grid

An epidemic is due, so Gammidgy used our new satellite tower to immediately play the monitor action, and once again we successfully averted an epidemic. We’ve now averted three in a row in this game, and not had one slip past us yet. The infection discard pile is getting very tall. With his remaining actions he resupplied Paris and moved to Tehran. He’s accumulating a nice stockpile of yellow cards, so he should be able to build a supply centre soon.

Karen uses the Lima satellite tower to send a Sao Paulo city card to Gammidgy, and then moved to Khartoum to do a search. The result was a one-off action allowing you to hand a city card to any other player, so she tossed the Khartoum card straight to Susan before retreating to Cairo, as Khartoum is infected and you don’t want to start your turn there.

Third Turn

Pete moved to Tripoli to resupply there. By now there are quite a lot of empty cities on the grid, and every time we draw infection cards Gammidgy mutters “shit”, regardless of which one it is. But we’ve still not had a single epidemic. We wonder what happens if the infection deck gets completely empty. The rule book doesn’t say anything, so we decide to stop monitoring for a while, and allow the next epidemic through.

Susan goes to St Petersburg and builds our first supply centre there. She uses her action to also teleport Karen to her. Our first epidemic of the game occurs, and it’s in Kinshasa. A plague cube crops up in Baghdad.

St Petersburg now has its own supply centre. It’s only one hop from London, so we won’t upgrade this to a permanent supply centre

Gammidgy moves to Santiago and uses his yellow cards to build a supply centre there, giving us two of the three needed for our main objective. There are quite a lot of supply cubes in the stockpile by now (14, to be exact) so we decide it makes sense for him to use a produce supplies card, doing the “systemwide production” which destroys the card but allows us to get all of those supplies out and into the supply centres.

Karen goes to Tehran from where she builds roads to Delhi (linking it into the grid for the first time) and New Mumbai (giving us better movement options to an existing city). She heads into New Mumbai, uses the herbalist to remove the plague cube there, and then uses her free movement action to retreat back to Tehran.

Fourth Turn

Pete moves to London and uses the satellite tower there to send a blue city card to Gammidgy, meaning Gammidgy now has enough blue cards to build a third and final supply centre on his turn. We only need to do two things between now and then: one more search, to achieve that optional objective; and survive. An epidemic is anticipated, so we play the monitor action and once again deftly avert it.

Susan moves to New Mumbai to do some searching there. Searching at sea reveals a lost haven, so we all get very excited about exploring there next time.

A lost haven, somewhere in the vicinity of the Seychelles

She’s got the actions, so might as well do a search at land as well. This just yields some lore about the hollow men. Hey, maybe they’re the good guys after all?

“Saw one of the Hollow Men down near the water. He was sketching, drawing pictures of a family. Mother. Kids. The father was clearly an image of him. He was crying silently. We kept our distance. Gain 1 action.”

New Mumbai is infected so ordinarily Susan would not want to end her turn there. However, we definitely won’t be making it round to her next turn, one way or the other, so she uses her final action to airlift Gammidgy to Pete, in London.

Gammidgy then grabs a bunch of supplies from London and carries them to Paris. With a surplus of supplies and actions, he’s able to build supply lines to Frankfurt and Istanbul to give us better movement options, and finally a supply centre in Paris to end the game in victory.

New supply lines and supply centre in Paris

End of Game

This has been one of our best games yet. Averting so many of the early epidemics has meant that we only made it halfway down the infection tracker, and avoided the hollow men entirely. Baghdad falls to population 0, but the addition of two new cities to the grid means that we pass the threshold for production units, so we now have 7 to spend. We spend them as follows:

  • Permanent satellite tower in London (3)
  • Immediately restoring Baghdad to population 1 (2)
  • City card upgrade (“Decryption Key”) on San Francisco
  • Infection card upgrade (“Well Stocked”) on Mexico City

The “Well Stocked” upgrade has been very useful on Los Angeles – by putting two supply cubes on it at the start of the game, we never have to worry about it at all, so the same trick in Mexico City seems smart.

City card and infection card upgrades

Something very interesting happened this game, both from a statistical and gameplay perspective. The vast majority of the black city cards were in the bottom half of the player deck. This meant that we barely saw any during the game. As a consequence, we had quite a good stream of blue and yellow cards, which made it easier to build supply centres in those regions. But it does mean that we made no progress towards reconning a new region from Kolkata, which we had been hoping to achieve in this game. We already know that if you don’t recon an area yourself, it gets unlocked for you, because this already happened to us once. I suspect that if the new area doesn’t get unlocked at the start of September, it definitely will at the start of October. There’s a small penalty for not finding it yourself, but not too punishing.

One of my side-missions for the next game is to find more of the lost laboratories, because the rewards that we got from finding Opal were brilliant (being able to make additional supplies in supply centres, and of course Peron Peron with their ability to make supplies from the reserve instead of the stockpile). One of the cards we were given in an earlier play session, which I apparently didn’t mention at the time, contained some co-ordinates, and I think that those might be the key to finding them.

Laboratory coordinates

There’s one we’ve already found, and two that we can’t reach yet, but it looks like Jade is in Johannesburg.

Pete
January 3, 2024

2023: Best Books

A pile of books

Books purchased in 2023 but largely not read yet

You are, I am sure, stamping impatiently as you wait for my annual review of books. Last year, I promised I would not be able to read so much this year, owing to the PhD; it turns out that I read exactly the same number (59) but also have a couple of unfinisheds on the list. I won’t even bother to tell you what they were, our time is too precious, isn’t it my lovelies?

So in no particular order, here are the ten best books I read or listened to over the last 12 months:

Lowborn, by Kerry Hudson
Kerry Hudson was born into extreme poverty, and was homeless through most of her childhood. In her late 30s, now living in stability and love, she spends a year revisiting the towns and the B&Bs and council flats she lived in as a kid. Through the book you see her comie to terms with her horrifically traumatic upbringing, writing and acting with confidence and a real sense of belonging in her world by the end. I don’t kwow why I waited so long to read this, it was a real antidote to Shuggie Bain (featured on last year’s list).

A Short History of Queer Women, by Kirsty Loehr
This was an entertaining read, which I finished on a train heading towards Leamington Spa one Friday evening. The girl sitting next to me plucked up the courage to ask me about it, and as I’d finished it, I gave it to her.

Front page of a book, signed by Jeffrey BoakyeI heard what you said, by Jeffrey Boakye
I had this as an audiobook, read by the author, and it blew me away – this is purportedly a book about racism in the education system, but it says so much more about society as a whole and I think everyone should read it. I saw him speak at the Also Festival, bought the book in hard copy, and crept up to him like a lil fangirl and asked him to sign it. Then I pushed it heavily at all of my colleagues.

Bibliomaniac, by Robin Ince
This was a birthday gift in 2022, which tells you how long my to-read shelf is. I got so swept away in his lovely accounts of speaking in bookshops up and down the country, that I now cannot leave a bookshop without having acquired at least one book that I didn’t even know I wanted (see illustration above).

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

Far and away the best fiction book of the year, which I had on audiobook and then bought for Pete for his birthday. It is an epic love story set in a world of videogaming. Sam and Sadie are friends from childhood, and their relationship is stormy but creative. I loved the geeky detail, the wonderful, flawed characters, and the amount of time spent telling the story through the medium of a co-operative online farming simulator game. If you’re a gamer you’ll really love it, but it was recommended to me by non-gamer Lisa, so there you go, it’s just a wonderful book.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I do not normally find JP’s books particularly appealing, but this was recommended by colleagues and is very relevant to my work, both in anti-discriminatory practice, and working in birth/parenting. Having that background certainly added layers to my reading of it, and it was a well-told story that kept me glued to it throughout.

Young Mungo, by Douglas Stuart
This was an audiobook, and I took a while to warm up to it, but when it did kick in (about half way), it kicked hard. A less traumatic read than last year’s Shuggie Bain, with a similar gay Glasgow poverty porn setting, engaging characters in shitty situations, and a surprise redemption for the horrible older brother. I went straight into this from Fern Brady’s memoir, which was also excellent, and basically the non-fiction version of the same story.

After Birth, by Elise Albert
This has been on my to-read pile for a very very long time, and was another case of “why have I left it so long>” I thought it would be all earnest and birthy, and there were some elements of that, but in fact it was such a strong insight into the head of a new mother, her need for connection, and the warping of her identity in the first year after the birth of her baby. I want to give this to someone else to read, so let me know if you want it.

Ticket to the World, by Martin Kemp
A free audiobook, sadly not read by MK himself, but I really enjoyed the immersion in the 80s pop scene. So much glamorous name-dropping, without being nearly as annoying as Dave Grohl; and I loved how honest he is about his own vanity. Nice insights as well into the Wham! backstory, as well as how it felt to be a musician who just wasn’t a great musician. Made me listen to a lot of Spandau Ballet, and then read Tony Hadley’s memoir, which was bitter and badly written, and mainly consisted of stories about how he got shitfaced and fell over.

Hallucinating Foucault, by Patricia Duncker
Finally a rather random little book which I loved more and more as it went on. A literature student rescues the writer he is studying from an asylum in France, and they fall in love. It is deep and moving, with a lovely exploration of the power dynamics between the two men. One of those books that leaves you bereft that it is over.

A stack of copies of my book: Why Mixed Feeding MattersAnd not forgetting that my own book was published in September. If you’re reading this blog then you are probably not the target market for it, but if you know someone who is expecting or who has just had a baby, you can buy a signed copy from me and I will be so chuffed.

Karen
January 2, 2024

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: July

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We won May and June, on our first attempt at each
  • We didn’t really achieve much in terms of reconning new areas
  • There were no significant game-altering rule changes

July (First Attempt)

Upon turning over the top card of the legacy deck, we discover that our opportunity to recon Africa of our own volition has expired, and it will now be done for us. As a punishment, it will not count towards our game objectives, and the unrationed event that we would have received will also not be awarded. In the box are six little brown satellite towers.

Africa is being reconned for us.

We now have two new actions available to us – for a paltry two supply cubes, we can build a satellite tower in our current location. We can use the satellite towers to send a city card to any other player, anywhere in the world – the only restriction is that the colour of the city card must match the colour of the city that the sender is in.

The new satellite tower related actions

A new optional objective has also been added: to build satellite towers in three different coloured cities. This will also provide an additional mystery reward, and once attained, the objective will be removed for subsequent games.

Door 35 sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

A cat briefly showed up and I thought it was going to settle down in the upturned box lid for the rest of the session, but it was just a passing inspection.

Box lid inspection feline

The initial infections were bad. As the number of cities in the grid has been creeping up, and the number of available supplies has been creeping down, we are no longer able to put three supplies on each city. We’re not even able to put two supplies on each city. Which means that if Paris, for example, were to come up twice in the initial nine infections, we might end up with a plague cube on it. Hey, guess what happened.

Off to a bad start in Paris

We also have no rationed events, thanks to winning the last two games in a row.

Our objectives for this game are as follows, of which we need to complete two of the optional ones:

  • Build 3 new supply centres (mandatory)
  • Perform 2 searches (optional)
  • Connect 2 new cities to the grid (optional)
  • Recon a new area (optional)
  • Triangulate signals (the new one, optional)

Looking at the optional objectives for this game, we decided to prioritise the new satellite tower one, and also reconning the middle east. We didn’t want to end up in the same situation as with Africa, where we leave it too late and end up missing out on one of the rewards.

We selected the same characters as usual, though I selected one of the new ones, as I never seem to make much use of the character upgrades on Bez. For this game, we played as the following:

  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Peron Peron (Immunologist)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)

The immunologist, out for their first deployment

The sticker got slightly damaged upon removing it from its packaging – the immunologist’s ability is that when making supplies we draw them from the reserve instead of the stockpile. This seemed like a really nifty way of getting additional supplies into the game.

First Turn

Istanbul and Cairo had also been hit hard in the initial infections, so Susan headed over there to resupply them. The first player card she drew was an epidemic, which hit Jacksonville. This is awful luck, and due to such a small number of cards being reshuffled back onto the deck, it meant that Paris got hit again. Having three plague cubes already, we could see that this game was not going to be a cakewalk.

Plague in Washington already

And a double plague in Paris! DOUBLE PLAGUE!

Karen decided to wiggle on over to San Francisco, as she was holding a card with two scratch-off search panels, so we could tick off one optional objective at least. The results were underwhelming – we got three supply cubes out of the reserve, and found the lost haven yet again.

At least it’s an objective completed

In drawing cards from the player deck, Karen now has a lot of blue cards in her hand – nearly enough, in fact, to build a supply centre. But Paris came up in the infection stage, meaning that there are now three plague cubes there, and it’s on the cusp of bubbling over.

Pete’s new character starts in Buenos Aires, so immediately deploying some supplies there made sense. Paris is obviously burning, but he didn’t have enough actions to get there and do anything of value. Drawing from the player deck, he now has three unique black cards, which is one fewer than needed to recon the middle east, so that’s good progress. Sadly, more infection in Jacksonville, bringing the total of plague cubes there up to two.

Gammidgy played a blinder of a turn, managing to place supplies on both Jacksonville and Paris in the space of one turn. However, the infections continue to flood in, and Sao Paulo is the latest to receive a plague cube.

Plague in Sao Paulo too, now. Oh that pesky plague, it’s coarse and irritating and gets everywhere

Second Turn

Susan used her ability to rescue Pete from the plague-infested Sao Paulo. At this point we then had a heart-dropping realisation: we need four unique black cards to recon the middle east, but there are only three black cities in the grid. Meaning that if I’m waiting on a fourth unique black card, I’m going to be waiting a long time. Fortunately, there’s a backup plan – Susan’s character needs one fewer card to recon, thanks to her special powers, and she already holds one black card, so we just need to transfer a couple of specific cards into her hand, and we’re golden. Since both Susan and I are currently in Cairo, she takes my Cairo card off of me. One down, one to go.

Karen innoculates San Francisco and builds our first satellite tower in Lima. Winning this game is feeling impossible, but at the very least we should try to make at least one satellite tower and upgrade it to be a permanent satellite tower at the game end, and then it makes the next game fractionally easier. She continues to draw blue cards from the deck, and now has more than enough to make a supply centre.

Pete travels up to Frankfurt and connects Moscow into the grid, getting us halfway towards another optional objective. He ends his turn in Istanbul, within reach of the fast travel points.

A new city in the grid. I got a new ruler for Christmas. Can you tell?

Gammidgy once again makes use of his character’s abilities to travel to Helm’s Deep, make some supplies, deploy them to the adjacent Sao Paulo, then fly back to Cairo, make more supplies, and hand them off to Susan. Another epidemic comes out, this time in Washington, and with the supplies removed it promptly gains a second plague cube. We can all sense that this game is not going to last for much longer.

One more incident will be enough to finish us off

Third Turn

Susan travels to Istanbul to rendezvous with Pete, and takes his Istanbul card from him. She then returns to Cairo to perform the recon action. The box we need to open is very heavy, and Gammidgy gets very excited, but that excitement is short-lived when we discover that this box contains a very bad thing. The Hollow Men are here, and they’re like plague cubes, but worse. Four new cards are added to the infection deck, and when you flip one over, it means that the next infection city card will receive one hollow man token instead of the usual infection action. Every time you pass through a city with a hollow man in it, your character gets exposed and may pick up a scar or even die.

This is what a hollow man looks like. Not friendly.

At the end of the game, cities with hollow men in them will lose population, following the same rules as cities with plague cubes. However, there is also some good news in there – it looks like something might happen in August that allows us to combat them. We also get an unrationed event card which we immediately play to give Peron a new upgrade.

Peron’s new ability allows them to take any card from a player in the same location

With the map extended to include the middle east, we know that at some point we will need to recon further east, but we don’t yet know how.

The newly opened-up areas

We do not yet know how to recon out of Kolkata

Karen travels to Paris, where she builds a supply centre and satellite tower. We know that we’re not going to be winning this game, but building a supply centre does at least mean that Paris won’t lose any population as a consequence of all the plague there. As anticipated, another plague cube lands in New York, and the game is over.

The game is over, the plague got us

But not before we built these fine erections in Paris

End of Game

We have five production units to spend, and we allocate them as follows:

  • Permanent satellite tower in Lima (3 points). Though they are cheap to build, this does at least give us a head start on our objective for the next game
  • Population increases for Kinshasa and Moscow (1 point each) bringing them up to 2.

The permanent satellite tower in Lima

July (Second Attempt)

We retry July immediately, with the same characters. Further recon is, for now, not possible, so it looks like the optional objectives we’ll be focusing on this game are triangulate signals (as we already have one satellite tower in place) and linking two new cities into the grid. Searching is getting increasingly challenging, as we’ve already searched most of the cities available to us.

The initial infections in this game are a bit more evenly distributed, and so we don’t get any plague cubes before we’ve had the chance to take our first turn. However, we do have lots of cities across North America and around the Mediterranean that are devoid of supplies already. Susan gets a really good initial deal of cards – two yellow city cards, one of which has an upgrade making it worth 3 when it comes to building supply centres. Couple that with her character ability that reduces the cost of building supply centres by one, and she’s already got enough to build a yellow supply centre.

First Turn

It’s Pete’s turn to start. Buenos Aires is a very poorly connected location, so there’s not much he can do with a meagre 4 actions. He has a searchable Kinshasa card in his hand, so decides to head there and see what he can find. There’s a companion there, a technician who will reduce the supply cube cost of building satellite towers.

The technician that we met in Kinshasa

Kinshasa is an infested city, so ending his turn there would usually be a bad idea, but we’re assuming Susan will be able to lift him out using her special ability. Our bad luck from the previous game continues, and he immediately draws an epidemic in Buenos Aires, wiping out the three supply cubes that we’d left there. Our first hollow man pops up in Los Angeles, and we have a green plague cube in Baghdad. So it’s going to be like that again, eh?

Say hello to the first ever hollow man. Note the lack of supplies on the east coast as well

And a plague cube in Baghdad. Note the absence of supplies in Tripoli and Istanbul. Oh dear.

Gammidgy moves to Jacksonville and is able to deploy supplies there, and also to Washington next door. A plague cube pops up in Tripoli and another hollow man in San Francisco. Brilliant.

Susan airlifts Pete out of the infested Kinshasa and back to the Winchester. She builds a supply centre in Los Angeles, and as she leaves the city is exposed to the hollow men and gains a scar. The hollow men continue to spring up, this time in Istanbul.

Supply centres and hollow men on the west coast

Lucius Keswick’s first scar – establishing supply lines costs one additional supply cube

Karen heads to Jacksonville to meet up with Gammidgy. She passes him the Lagos card with the Foundations upgrade, meaning that he now has enough yellow cards to build a supply centre. She then heads to New York to deposit some supplies there.

Second Turn

Pete resupplies Tripoli to protect against further plague. Not wanting to end his turn there, he instead chooses the adjacent Cairo, which seems safe, and has a nice warm supply centre. We watch in despair as plague cubes crop up in Lagos and Buenos Aires.

Despair

Gammidgy moves to the plaguey Buenos Aires and builds a supply centre there. We chose this location with the intention of upgrading it to a permanent supply centre at the end of the game, as that corner of the world is currently very poorly connected to our fast travel network. Pete plays his rationed event card as this point, granting Gammidgy 3 additional actions, allowing him to put some supplies in Buenos Aires and then get out before the plague gets him.

Gammidgy in Buenos Aires, mere seconds before he legged it

While Pete and Gammidgy bunker down in Cairo together, a plague cube pops up outside the door. This is bad news – Susan can only airlift one of them out, with the result that the other will be getting exposed at the start of their next go. Our chances of winning this game have faded from poor to practically non-existent.

An undesirable situation to be in

Susan moves to New York, and then whisks Pete in to join her. Pete is currently rocking a nice little collection of three blue cards, and once she hands him New York, he now has four. If he can just get the Paris card off of Karen, he’ll have enough to build a third supply centre. Another epidemic appears, this time in Paris. Gammidgy plays a one-time unrationed event card allowing him to innoculate Paris, as we really can’t afford any more nonsense over there right now. A hollow man pops up in Buenos Aires and another plague cube in Cairo.

The one-time unrationed event card. Let’s hope our future selves don’t look back and regret playing this now.

Karen passes through New York, handing her Paris card to Pete and putting our mandatory objective within reach. She then heads to London and charts a new sea lane to St Petersburg. There’s the tiniest glimmer of hope shining through now – Pete’s got the cards to build our third supply centre, and we’ll complete our optional objectives if we can build two satellite towers and link one more city into the grid.

Third Turn

Pete’s already in New York so builds a supply centre right there, and a satellite tower too, before using the new supply centre to fast travel over to Turtloise Rock with his final action, for reasons unfathomable. Another plague cube pops up in Cairo, but it doesn’t matter, as we have a plan.

A new supply centre in New York (I should really have taken the photo after I put down the satellite tower too)

Gammidgy starts by producing supplies, and then uses them to build a satellite tower, completing one of our optional objectives and allowing us to open door 35. It just contains some story text, and the hint of good news in August.

A pile of chaos in Cairo. We need a bigger board

Our reward for triangulation. Whoop-de-doo?

Gammidgy then hops over to Baghdad next door, and with his final action creates a supply line to New Mumbai, ticking off a second optional objective and winning the game.

End of Game

We have six production units to spend, and we allocate them as follows:

  • Permanent supply centre in Buenos Aires (3 points). Being able to fast travel to and from that corner of the world will save us a lot of actions in the long run
  • Permanent satellite tower in Cairo (3 points). We suspect that these satellite towers are going to have a big role to play in August, so the more the merrier. We chose to upgrade this one, rather than the New York one, as we pass through Cairo quite often and so we get lots of opportunities to use it for redistributing city cards.
  • We decided not to spend any production units on population restoration this time, as the opportunities above were just too tempting. That does mean that there are now quite a lot of cities with a population of 1, and it’s very likely that some of those will be falling to “forsaken” status at the end of the next game.

And so our session comes to an end. The player card deck is getting very thick, and whereas once upon a time we worried about losing the game due to the player card draw pile getting empty, that feels like an impossibility nowadays.

We’ve realised that we overlooked something – in all the excitement of winning the game, we didn’t notice that Gammidgy started his final turn in a city with a plague cube, so should have checked for exposure. We’ll do this at the start of our next session, and hopefully it won’t result in a scar, or worse.

We’re really hoping for some good news in August, as those hollow men are brutal, and once they pop up in a city you basically want to avoid it entirely. We might need to spend some supplies in the next game building additional supply lines to create bypass options.

Pete
December 12, 2023

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: May / June

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We lost April twice in a row, both times by a whisker
  • We discovered a lost laboratory in Buenos Aires
  • We explored a lost haven just off the coast from Peru
  • We reconned from London and discover Europe
  • We gained the ability to fast travel between havens and supply centres

May (First Attempt)

It’s only two weeks since our last play session, so we are able to go into this game with a bit less of a feeling of “so what was all this about then?”

There’s nothing of importance in the legacy deck, just some background lore about Hollow Men and Utopia, clearly setting us up for some upcoming story. We spend a lot of time debating which rationed events to put in the deck, as we have to pick 4 from a fairly sizeable selection.

Some guff about Utopia, of no immediate apparent importance

We play with our usual characters, which are:

  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Bez (Labourer)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)

First Turn

Karen goes first, and heads straight to Los Angeles. Usually the first person starts by heading to the worst-hit city to shore it up, but on this occasion the initial infections were quite well distributed, so there’s less urgency. Instead, we want to get new cities linked into the grid, and there’s a couple over there that are crying out for it. Also, we like the idea of a sea route linking Turtloise Rock to Los Angeles, as now that we can fast travel between havens, it would improve our network considerably. On this turn, she only has enough action points to link San Francisco into the grid.

The road to San Francisco

In case you’re wondering why there’s no supplies in Atlanta, it’s because in a previous game we destroyed the only infection card for it.

Pete then heads to Tripoli to top up the supplies there, and Susan goes to London for the same reason. Gammidgy goes to Sao Paulo to resupply there, and using his cool new Courier ability can also resupply the adjacent Buenos Aires. We’re quite happy with the state of the board at this point, and New York is the only city with no supplies in it.

Second Turn

Karen is still in Los Angeles, so uses this turn to link in Mexico City. With two new cities connected to the grid, that’s one of our optional objectives completed.

Mexico City connected up, so that’s one objective complete already!

The first epidemic comes up, and it’s in Jacksonville. A few supplies are lost, but no plague cubes are added.

Pete then heads to Cairo to resupply there. Another epidemic comes up, which is awful luck. Istanbul is the recipient, and because so few cards are being reshuffled back onto the deck, it’s inevitable that a plague cube will also come out in Istanbul. However Pete does now nearly have enough yellow cards to build a supply centre, and Gammidgy is currently sat in Sao Paulo with a spare Sao Paulo card.

Unavoidable disaster in Istanbul

Susan uses her ability to teleport Pete to Gammidgy, to enable card transfer. She also stocks up New York on her turn. The infection deck gives us Istanbul again, and none of us have had the chance to resupply it, so a second plague cube is added.

Gammidgy hands his Sao Paulo card off to Pete, then tops up the supplies in Bogota, ending his turn in Turtloise Rock.

Third Turn

Karen heads to New York to rendezvous with Susan, using her skill to pass over the Buenos Aires card. This leaves Susan with a good handful of yellow cards. Pete uses his handful of yellow cards to build a supply centre in Sao Paulo, then heads to Bogota to perform the innoculate action, as we believe there is only one Bogota infection card, and so innoculating it will mean that we never have to worry about this city again.

Sao Paulo – the site of our brand new supply centre

Susan builds a supply centre in Jacksonville. We had hoped to use those yellow cards to recon Africa in this game, but at this stage we’re worried about completing the mandatory objective, so we decide to focus on building the supply centres and accept that recon might have to wait. She also uses one of our finite systemwide production actions, as there are quite a lot of supplies in the stockpile and not nearly enough out in the world. And she also uses her special ability to move Pete to Gammidgy in Turtloise Rock, as he wants to go to visit Paris and this will save him some actions on his turn. At this point we realise we’ve made a bit of a miscalculation, as an unexpected Bogota card comes up in the infection deck. Since we’d left the city bereft of supplies, it now becomes quite antibereft of plague cube.

Gammidgy heads to Cairo and resupplies the adjacent Istanbul. He then fast travels back to Jacksonville, grabs some supplies from Susan (who is carrying an indecent number about on her person) and plops them into Washington. A very productive turn.

Fourth Turn

Karen heads to Lima to resupply there, with the intention of dealing with Bogota on her next turn. We draw another epidemic, this one in Cairo.

Pete fast travels to London and then to Paris, where he places some supplies and also does a search, finding an engineer.

This is the engineer. Having them in your hand allows you to build supply centres with one fewer card.

The three cities that get drawn during the infection stage (Tripoli, Cairo, Bogota) are all currently devoid of supplies, so get a plague cube each. It looks like a lot of cities are going to be suffering some population loss today. That said, to win this game we only need to do one more search and build one more supply centre, and we have a plan for how to achieve that, assuming that fortune is on our side for one more trip round the table.

It’s very plaguey in Tripoli, Cairo and Istanbul now

Bogota also has an undesirable “plague” motif going on

Susan heads to Cairo to resupply there, and in Tripoli. Gammidgy also goes to Cairo where he produces some supplies and ends his turn in Istanbul. This last detail is crucial for our success, as you will see in a second.

Fifth Turn

Karen goes to Bogota where she does a search, completing our second optional objective. The actual outcome of the search itself is underwhelming, allowing us merely to remove a card from the discard pile. We draw an epidemic in Jacksonville, at which we all start to worry, but fortunately we are able to dodge any new plague cubes being added, and we’re in the clear. All that remains is for Pete to travel to Cairo, pick up the supplies that Gammidgy left there, hop to Istanbul, take Gammidgy’s Istanbul card off of him, giving him enough resources to build a supply centre, and win the game.

The state of the board after building the winning supply centre in Istanbul

End Of Game

The legacy deck gives us a few new character upgrade options and some more permanent supply centre stickers, so nothing sensational. We have 5 production units to spend, and we choose the following:

  • Permanent supply centre in Jacksonville (3 production units). Jacksonville is only one hop from a haven, meaning that this doesn’t significantly improve our travel network. However it has a population of 5, meaning that when we produce supplies there, we’ll get a lot of bang for our buck
  • Increase the population in Tripoli and Lima (1 production unit each). These cities are both down to 1 population each, and it makes sense to spend a couple of production units now to get them back up to 2 population, rather than allow them to risk falling to “forsaken” status

Permanent supply centre in Jacksonville

Tripoli’s population bounced back up to 2 after dropping to 1 as a result of this game

Lima’s population also boosted back up to 2. Sadly we were too late to save Bogota

June (First Attempt)

We’re liking these afternoon sessions, as they give us time for a second game. Again the legacy deck yields some lore but no rule changes, and we continue to play with the same characters.

First Turn

Pete goes first, heading to New York to resupply there, and ending his turn in Washington. Susan goes to Cairo, using the produce supplies card to get 6 supply cubes. She leaves some there and takes some to Tripoli. Our first epidemic crops up, in the hard-to-reach and barely populated Mexico City.

Gammidgy then goes to Turtloise Rock and charts a sea lane to Los Angeles, something we were talking about doing in the previous game but never got round to. From Los Angeles he can resupply Mexico City. Karen, on her turn, simply heads to Lagos to resupply.

Our first new sea route, linking Turtloise Rock to Los Angeles

Second Turn

Pete hops sideways to Jacksonville to give Karen his Jacksonville city card, then returns to Washington as it’s looking like he’s going to be building a blue supply centre this game. We draw an epidemic in Cairo, which is sad as there were quite a few supplies there. Plague cubes pop up in Cairo and San Francisco.

A plague cube in Cairo

San Francisco. It’s only got a bit of plague on it

Susan resupplies Cairo on her turn, but makes sure to end her turn in an adjacent city that doesn’t have plague in it. Gammidgy is next door to San Francisco so can resupply it without having to go there. He then heads to Mexico City to do a search there, where he finds a companion who can help with swapping city cards. Once again we find ourselves falling into the familiar pattern of focusing on the objectives that are easiest to get, and neglecting recon.

The scout, who has city card swapping capabilities

We’re in quite a strong situation now. Gammidgy and Susan are both each one yellow card short of having enough to build a supply centre, and Karen conveniently has two yellows. Pete is two blue cards short of having enough to build a supply centre, and Karen conveniently has two blues. The quicker we can get those cards from Karen’s hand into ours, the better. We decide to prioritise Pete, and so on her turn she heads to Washington and gives him her two Washington cards. She then returns to Jacksonville so that Gammidgy or Susan can meet her there on their next turn, and take her Jacksonville card.

Third Turn

Pete builds a supply centre in Washington, and resupplies Jacksonville.

The new supply centre in Washington

Susan moves to Jacksonville and takes the card off of Karen. She has enough action points to get to Lagos, but will need to wait for her next turn to build the supply centre there. We’ve chosen Lagos as the site, so that we can convert it to a permanent supply centre at the end of this game, setting it up nicely for a recon in the next. New York and Washington at this point are now both empty of supplies.

Gammidgy does a global supply production to pull the 13 supply cubes from the stockpile and into the world. Karen heads to Buenos Aires to resupply there and connect Santiago into the grid. We get an epidemic in Sao Paulo, but no plague.

Fourth Turn

Victory is close. We need to build two supply centres, do one search, and connect up one more city, which sounds a lot but all of these plans are close to fruition. Pete resupplies Istanbul, and a plague cube pops up in New York.

Plague in New York? That’s the last thing we need!

Susan builds the supply centre in Lagos, as planned, and also resupplies Sao Paulo with her available actions.

A supply centre in Lagos. They’re popping up everywhere!

Gammidgy builds a supply centre in Lima, which completes our mandatory objective. Another epidemic comes up, this time in Paris.

And a supply centre in Lima makes three

Karen heads to Lima for our second and final search of the game. This just finds Turtloise Rock again, so the game gives her an action back. This works out really nicely, as she now has enough actions to go to New York and remove the plague cube that recently appeared there, thanks to the herbalist companion.

We laughed at the herbalist, but are now developing a grudging respect

Fifth Turn

All that remains is for Pete to travel to Istanbul and build a supply line to Frankfurt, which will grant us our second optional objective and another victory. Before he does so, Karen plays her “play at any time, not an action” event card to remove the plague cubes from Cairo and San Francisco, meaning that there is not a single plague cube left anywhere on the board!

The “Drastic Measures” card that allowed us to end this game with not a single plague cube on the board

It’s an interesting coincidence that in both games the final winning move was played by Pete from Istanbul.

This was probably our most comfortable victory left, and in hindsight we could have survived a bit longer. We perhaps should have made more of an effort to recon one of the new regions, but felt it was better to consolidate our existing area, since there are still some cities not yet linked into the grid.

The legacy deck yields a couple of new characters:

  • the captain can freely travel between any two ports at the mere cost of any single city card
  • the sanitation officer who can take city cards and produce supplies cards out of the discard pile at the cost of any two player cards

New character – the captain. Let’s be honest, we’re not going to play this character unless something bad happens to one of our four favourites.

The sanitation officer. Another skill that, while useful, doesn’t feel like it justifies using this character in place of one of our favourites

We also get a new rationed event card that allows us to make one free sea lane that can cross any number of red region lines, and one that is like a supercharged innoculate action.

Two new rationed event cards

We have 6 production units to spend at the end of this game, and chose the following:

  • Permanent supply centre in Lagos (3 production units). We will need a supply centre here to be able to recon the middle east, so this is useful.
  • Increase population in Mexico City (1 production unit). As in the previous game, we should aim to keep all cities at 2 population or more.
  • Infrastructure (2 production units). This is a city card upgrade for one of the Jacksonville cards that will make the card worth 3 when building a supply centre. If we can make it easier to build supply centres, that frees up more yellow city cards for recon purposes.

Jacksonville, now with added Infrastructure!

Our next play session will be over the new year weekend, and hopefully our good luck continues.

Pete
November 28, 2023

Pandemic Legacy Season 2: April

WARNING: This blog post contains shameless spoilers for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Reading this blog post if you have not yet played the game will impair your enjoyment should you decide to play it in the future.

Previously, on Pandemic Legacy…

  • We won our first attempt at March
  • We unlocked South America
  • We spotted the lost haven from Los Angeles, but have not yet visited it
  • The number of epidemic cards will now increase, according to how many city cards are in the deck

April (First Attempt)

It’s been nearly 4 months since our last play session, so setting up the board and reminding ourselves of the lay of the land took nearly half an hour. There’s nothing new to report in the Legacy deck, though the new “stretched too thin” rule means that we’re now putting 6 epidemic cards into the deck instead of 5. To be honest, this seems only fair – as we add more and more city cards to the player deck, if the number of epidemics had stayed at 5 then they would have come up less and less often, so this is an essential rebalancing.

Having won three games in a row, we naturally chose the same characters as before:

  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)
  • Susan – Lucius (Administrator)
  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Pete – Bez (Labourer)

We also now have a funding level of 0. While having no rationed event cards is obviously not great, at least we saved time during setup as we no longer had to spend 5 minutes choosing which ones to include.

First Turn

Susan went first. While New York has been left devoid of supply cubes by the initial infections, for now our eyes turned towards South America, as there’s a lot to do there. There are new cities to add to the grid, a lost haven to explore, and Susan was also holding a Buenos Aires card with two scratch-off search panels. She used 3 actions to get there, and so was able to do one search, discovering a supply cache at sea. A few more supplies are not to be sniffed at.

Additional supplies in Buenos Aires are muy bueno

We now had two cities cleared of supplies – New York and London. Karen went to New York on her turn, to make and deliver some supplies. But we’re playing whack-a-mole, as now it’s London and Tripoli that are empty. Pete deals with Tripoli, Jacksonville pops up. Gammidgy deals with London, and our first epidemic erupts. We have a plague cube in New York already.

It’s already a bit plaguey in New York. Not ideal.

Second Turn

Susan does her second search in Buenos Aires, discovering Laboratory Opal there. It gives us a few useful upgrades, including a new character and the ability to manufacture supplies in slightly greater quantities.

This is what Laboratory Opal looks like

New character – when making supplies, they take cubes from the reserve instead of the stockpile. Will be useful later in future games when the stockpile runs low.

We also discover the location of a remote lab in Lake Baikal, which is something to look forward to. With Susan’s second search, we tick off one of our optional objectives for the game, and before handing the baton to the next player she uses her special ability to airlift Karen out of the plague-ridden New York and into Sao Paulo.

There’s something interesting in Lake Baikal, can’t wait to get there

Karen has the necessary yellow cards to build a supply centre in Sao Paulo, so she does that and then heads over to Jacksonville, picking up some supplies en-route. A second plague cube comes up in New York, just up the coast.

A supply centre in Sao Paulo

Pete also heads to the North American coast, to resupply Washington. An epidemic is drawn, and we experience an incident in that very same city.

Gammidgy deals with Tripoli, and yet another plague cube crops up in Washington. We can all sense that this game is going badly, and start preparing ourselves for the worst. Our goal is no longer winning this game, but mitigating the damage.

There’s quite a lot of damage to mitigate, with two cubes on New York and two on Washington already

Third Turn

Susan continues to be the MVP in this game, using her ability to hoik the helpless Pete out of Washington. She then establishes a supply line from Sao Paulo to Lima and travels to the lost haven.

New supply line to Lima

The lost haven seems to be located somewhere near the Galapagos Islands so Pete suggests naming it Turtle Rock. Everyone agrees with this suggestion, and Pete manages to write the first five letters in before Susan points out that the Galapagos are generally associated more with tortoises, so Pete gracefully pivots mid-word and we end up with Turtloise Rock instead.

Turtloise Rock, I Am In You

We gain some more useful skills here, including the Innoculate action, which allows us to remove infection cards (and city cards) from the game. It has some caveats (we need to be in the city in question, the card must be in the discard pile) but it doesn’t cost an action and seems very powerful indeed.

The Turtloise Rock Effect – bonus supplies every month!

And here’s the scale of the Turtloise Rock effect

Full details of the very impressive-looking Innoculate action

Karen moves through Washington and New York to London, innoculating as she goes. A third plague cube crops up in New York, so she uses her rationed event card to remove all three of them.

Our first innoculations. These go into box 6, and may at some point be reintroduced to the game

The rationed event card that saved New York

Pete innoculates while he is in Sao Paulo, and resupplies in Lagos. Cairo loses its last supply cube, so is now at some risk. Thankfully Gammidgy is nearby, so is able to produce lots of supplies and do an innoculation while he’s there. He sails all the way to Washington, and makes and deposits some supplies there too. A very successful turn, though the bit where a plague cube showed up in London wasn’t great.

Washington has cubes of all sorts, and a Gammidgy

Fourth Turn

Still in damage limitation mode, Susan uses her ability to teleport Karen to Pete in Lagos, with the intention that she gives him her Chicago card on her next turn, leaving him with enough blue cards to build a supply centre. Susan also builds a supply line from Lima to Bogota, adding one more city to the grid. With the two supply lines she’s built in this game, she’s now single-handedly completed our two optional objectives. After drawing cards, she also now has 5 black cards, meaning that if we can survive through to her next turn, we’ll have built enough supply centres to win the game. We allow ourselves to feel a glimmer of hope.

On Karen’s turn she gives Pete the blue card, as planned, and then heads to London. She innoculates Lagos on the way out and London on the way in. The next epidemic hits in London, and the subsequent infection draw causes a plague cube to appear in Istanbul, which has been empty of supplies since Gammidgy’s last turn. The infection tracker is now nearly at the bottom, and one more plague cube will kill us.

Pete is able to get to New York and build a supply centre there.

A supply centre in New York. Only one more required to win the game…

But sadly an infection in Denver means a plague cube, and the end of our game.

End of Game

That plague cube in Denver has meant that it is our second city to fall to Forsaken status.

The legacy deck gives us a few new available end-game improvements. For this game, we spend our 4 production points as follows:

  • 3 points on a character upgrade for Lucius, allowing recon with one fewer card. We’re going to have limited opportunities to use this, but it feels useful. We put it on Lucius because they only have one skill at present (though, to be fair, it’s turned out to be one of the most used ones)
  • 1 point on Foundations on Tripoli – counts as two black cards when building a supply centre

Lucius Keswick’s third upgrade, allowing them to recon with one fewer action. This character is getting very powerful.

This Tripoli card now counts as two black cards when building supply centres

Second Attempt

It’s about two hours since we opened the box on today’s session, but we have time left, so we embark upon a second attempt. Same characters, though we now have a funding level of 2 so can put in some rationed events. We’ve also added more cities to the grid, so will now be playing with 7 epidemics.

First Turn

It’s Karen’s turn to start. She has an Atlanta card with a scratch-off panel, so heads over there first. What she finds there grants a one-off action – we can pick one of the infection cards in the discard pile and remove it for the remainder of this game. We have few options to choose from, so early in the game so we select Bogota as it is the hardest city to get to.

A very well-scratched card, permitting us to remove one card from the infection discard pile for the remainder of the game

Pete resupplies London on his turn, and thanks to his character ability and the Tripoli card upgrade, will only need one more black card in order to build a supply centre.

Gammidgy targets Sao Paulo with his resupplying and innoculating intentions, and Susan resupplies Istanbul. She also uses her special ability to teleport Karen to London, where Pete is currently resting.

Second Turn

Karen uses her ability to give the Cairo card to Pete. His turn is up next so he moves to Istanbul and builds a supply centre there.

It may surprise you, but this is what the pile of materials to build a supply centre looks like

And this is what the resultant supply centre looks like

For the second time today, Pete draws an epidemic on his second turn. It’s Tripoli, and by the end of the infection stage, there’s a plague cube on it.

Obviously it would be preferable if there were not a plague cube in Tripoli

Gammidgy heads to Lima, where he does our second search of the game, completing an optional objective. He finds a herbalist companion, and is overjoyed.

The unnamed herbalist

Susan plays a “produce supplies” card in Cairo, where it’s worth 5 cubes. She warps Gammidgy to Karen, as he’s collecting blue cards, and she’s got two to spare. Susan ends her turn sat in the supply centre in London, poised to do a recon on her next turn with her collection of blue cards.

Third Turn

On Karen’s turn she hands off blue cards to Gammidgy as planned. Washington has run out of supplies, which is a mild concern. Pete deposits some supplies in the plague-ridden Tripoli, but makes sure not to end his turn there. Gammidgy plays a global supply production action, which brings loads of supplies in to all the havens and supply centres, and then heads to Lagos. He doesn’t have enough action points to place any supplies, but can at least innoculate, as that’s a free action.

On Susan’s turn she plays the recon action from London. A new region is unlocked, and we now have 2 optional objectives completed.

Paris, Frankfurt, St Petersburg and Moscow all added to our view of the world

We also gain access to a new fast travel ability – for one action, we can fly between havens and/or supply centres. We’re all very happy about this. Sadly, at the end of her turn we have a plague cube in Lagos. Gammidgy gets very nervous, as that’s exactly where he is right now, and since Susan’s just played, he won’t be able to rely on her for an extraction.

Gammidgy abandoned in Lagos to his doom

Fourth Turn

Karen resupplies Washington. We draw an epidemic in Istanbul, and Bogota picks up a green plague cube. Washington is empty already, so Pete also goes there on his turn to resupply, and also draws an epidemic, which is terrible luck. This one’s in Tripoli, but the fact that only three infection cards are being shuffled back onto the top of the deck means that we know what’s going to happen – Bogota picks up a second plague cube, and Tripoli too. Karen plays her rationed event card at this point, clearing the plague cubes from Lagos to avoid Gammidgy having to start his turn in a beplaguened place. At this point we can see that Gammidgy is getting very attached to Maggot, and really doesn’t want to have to roll for exposure. He’s already had one close shave, where he got away with no damage, but who knows what the next encounter will bring? It could be a scar, or it could even be death.

Gammidgy makes and places some supplies in Lagos before leaving for Washington. He arrives with no actions left, which is a shame, as the whole reason he’s here is to transfer blue cards from Pete. His hand is filling up with blue and yellow cards, so we decide that he’ll focus on yellow, and Pete will focus on blue. We formulate a new plan – if Pete can take one of Gammidgy’s Washington cards on his next turn, he’ll be able to build a supply centre. Similarly if Karen can give Gammidgy one of her yellow cards on her next turn, he’ll be able to build a supply centre too. So we again find ourselves in the situation of just needing to survive one more trip around the board. Another plague cube lands in Istanbul – we have only two lives left.

Susan uses our new fast travel ability to get to Istanbul quickly. She innoculates it, and Tripoli too, and also places some supplies on Tripoli. Another plague cube on Istanbul. One life left, and we still need to survive Karen and Pete’s turns if our plan is to succeed.

Fifth Turn

Karen gets to Washington as planned to give Gammidgy a yellow card. But poor Istanbul receives another infection, and the game is over.

End Of Game

Bogota and Tripoli both lose population. Istanbul, thankfully, has a supply centre, so despite all of the plague cubes there, it does not lose any population.

We again have 4 production points to spend, and allocate them as follows:

  • 3 points on a new skill for Maggot.
  • 1 point on another Foundations upgrade.

Maggot upgrade

We’ve booked our next gaming session for two weeks’ time. With our new fast travel ability, we should be able to move around the board much faster. And let’s hope we don’t regret having done so much innoculating.

Pete