Pandemic

One may not think that the New York Magazine would be the place to look for board game recommendations, but for the past couple of years the magazine has featured articles on board gaming as part of life and culture in New York City.  Its latest article, featured in its Strategist section which helps shoppers focus on getting the best value for their money, identified the best four-player board games according to experts. These experts included game store owners, board game reviewers, and even a board game illustrator, so it should be no surprise that the list included some heavy hitters in the board game hobby and include several Spiel des Jahres winners. Some of the games on the list do play more than four players, but the experts felt that these games played best with four players.  Pandemic was named Best overall four-player board game.  Other categories on the list include best four player strategic board game, best four-player board game for beginners, best four-player thematic board game, best family-friendly four-player game, best board game for advanced gamers, best cooperative four-player board game, best world-building board game, best four-player party games, best word-association four-player board game, best fast-paced four-player board game, best app-compatible four-player board game.  Sheriff of Nottingham, from the Dice Tower Essentials line, was named one of the best family-friendly four-player games.  Read the full article here to learn more about which games were consider the best four-player games.  In case you missed it, take a look at their list of best two-player games published earlier last month.

Z-Man Games has announced a new game in the Pandemic Universe, Pandemic: Rapid Response. Pandemic (2008), by designer Matt Leacock is the absolute gold standard among cooperative games, winning numerous awards over the years. However, this time around the game is a real-time dice chucker, and the designer is none other than the grand poobah of real time, Kane Klenko. Klenko designed the popular co-op games FUSE and Flatline, and is known for creating tension-filled, unique dice mechanisms.

“Pandemic: Rapid Response is a race against time. Set in the beloved Pandemic universe, this real-time board game challenges players to create supplies and deliver aid to cities in need around the world.”

In Rapid Response, players work cooperatively to fly their rescue plane to troubled cities, and drop the supplies they require. The board represents rooms within the plane, each of which specializes in a task – generating supplies, dealing with generated waste, or controlling the cargo bay in order to make the drop. Around the outside of the board is a track of cities, with a token marking the plane’s current location. City cards sit on this track and show what cargo is needed where.

Everything takes place in real time, and players take turns rolling custom dice, Yahtzee-style, with 3 rerolls allowed. One die of any face can be discarded to move the player’s marker one room within the plane. Airplane symbols on dice can move the rescue plane itself one city in either direction around the board. The rest of the die faces can be placed on matching boxes in a player’s room to generate that type of supply – either vaccines, food, power, first aid, or water. Once a resource track is filled with enough dice, players need to activate that room to generate resource cubes into the cargo bay. But making cargo creates waste, and dice need to be placed in the recycling center to reduce the buildup. Finally, activating the cargo bay delivers cubes therein, and as long as the plane is in the right city and the correct cubes are in the cargo bay, that city card is cleared. Remember, all of these actions are done during a 2-minute sand timer: When the timer runs out, a new city card is placed on the route, one time token is discarded, then the timer is flipped and the insanity continues. Players all win if all the city cards are cleared using their required resources, but lose if time tokens run out, or the plane becomes overwhelmed with waste.

Pandemic: Rapid Response will be exclusive to Target stores in the U.S., but will hit your FLGS in the rest of the world. Look for Rapid Response in stores on June 23, 2019, and for more details, check out Z-Man Games’ website here.

Z-Man Games has announced the 2019 season of Pandemic Survival. Survival takes the classic game, but standardizes the roles played, the initial infected cities, the player deck and the infections deck. This means that each and every game session of the 2019 season will start at the same place, allowing for fair tournament play.  This is the 5th year Z-Man has organized Pandemic Survival, and once again players can compete for prizes and the elusive Pandemic Survival World Championship. The ultimate champion will win a trip to any city on the Pandemic board.

Pandemic (2008) by Matt Leacock is the poster child for all great cooperative games, dominating “best of” lists, sitting in BordGameGeek’s top 100, and collecting more awards than one can count. In this classic game, players act to stem the four diseases taking over cities all over the globe, as more and more infections relentlessly appear. Players take on specific roles, such as Medic, Scientist or Operations Expert, each with a special ability. The evil infections deck denotes which cities gain infection cubes each round, and cities with 4 or more cubes will “explode” into neighboring areas, quickly taking down the whole map. Players win or lose as a team by either allowing the world to succumb to infection, or curing all 4 diseases.

There are a few changes in this year’s competition – players must bring their own copy of the original base game, however the card decks will be pre-stacked and sorted, allowing for quicker setup, and “ease of assembly”. For more details, rules for this unique style of tournament play, and the schedule of games, check out Z-Man’s press release here.

For die-hard fans of Asmodee board games longing for further adventures from beloved characters such as Sparky the Stunt Dog or Blue the Monkey, your wishes have been fulfilled. Aconyte has announced that they will be publishing works of fiction based on the many fantastic worlds from Asmodee. Although details are scarce, from the web site it appears the properties deserving of literary expansion include Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Keyforge, Dead of Winter, and Legend of the Five Rings. Aconyte has stated that they are aiming for a monthly publication schedule starting in Summer 2020. Aconyte is being heralded by Marc Gascoigne, most recently publisher from Sci-Fi imprint Angry Robot Books, a property of Osprey Games. For more information, you can read the official press release from Aconyte here.

Eggertspiele has announced Era: Medieval Age, a new game from designer Matt Leacock.  Not only is Era being pitched as a spiritual successor to Roll Through the Ages, but also, the first roll-and-build game.

In Era, players will be using three-dimensional pieces (churches, farms, mills, castle walls, etc.) to build up medieval towns on their personal boards.  The dice represent different classes of medieval society.

“Era: Medieval Age is made even more challenging as players interact with each other in ways such as extortion, scorched earth, and, of course, disease!”

The other piece of the announcement is that Era: Medieval Age marks the start of a series of roll-and-build games from Matt Leacock and Eggertspiele.  No specifics were provided about other games, but Era is planned to debut at Gen Con later this year.

Era: Medieval Age is designed for 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up.

An invasion of barbarian tribes can certainly feel like pandemic to the Roman world.  Matt Leacock and Paolo Mori have teamed up to bring the Pandemic gameplay to Ancient Rome.  In Pandemic: Fall of Rome, players are members of Roman society employing Roman legions to defend against invading tribes.  Plays may also convert members of a tribe into Roman soldiers. Rome survives to continue its long history is they can defeat all the barbarian tribes, whether by absorption or eradication. Rome has five barbarian tribes threatening its borders: Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, and Anglo-Saxons and Franks.  Each invading tribe follows their migration pattern that eventual leads to Rome. Pandemic: Fall of Rome will also feature a Solo Play mode and a challenge mode for season Pandemic players.  The tribes are represented by wooden cubes like all pandemic games, but the Roman legion tokens are legionnaire shaped meeples.  The game will include custom dice for resolving battles with the invading hordes.  Pandemic: Fall of Rome is available for pre-order now with a projected release in Q4. Go to Z-man Games to learn more about Pandemic: Fall of Rome.

Z-Man Games celebrates a decade of curing diseases with a special 10th Anniversary Edition of Pandemic. Steve Kimball, Z-man’s Head of Studio, made sure that this edition of Pandemic would be something truly special.  First, the game comes in a custom metal box shaped like the early 20th century first aid kits.  This beautiful case is a fitting display item, and it comes special gaskets that will allow you to mount it on the walls of your game room.

Second, at long last, each of the Pandemic character roles has a highly detailed plastic figure. These are based on the 2nd edition character designs and have been painted in a wash to bring out the details. Next, like the 1st edition, this edition will include wooden cubes and wooden cure markers screen printed with the virus symbols.  Keeping with the vintage look of the game box, the game will feature all-new art and graphic design throughout.  The role cards have been converted to large ID badges complete with updated character art from the second edition, profile data, and even fingerprints.  The gameboard is bigger, and custom screen printed Petri dishes round out all the fine touches and upgrades to this popular game. As a bonus, there is even an offer of pre-painted figures while supplies last for pre-orders.  Read about more about this edition or Steve Kimball’s inspiration for the special edition at Z-Man Games.  You can see Pandemic 10th Anniversary on display at GENCON and in stores in Q4 this year.

The Spiel des Jahres nominees for 2018 have just recently been announced (see Dice Tower News article here), and for the first time since 2010 the judges have awarded the “Sonderpreis“, literally a special award. The recipient is the innovative Pandemic Legacy Season 2 by Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau, published by Z-Man Games. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 uses amazing new mechanics and devices, and blends them with an engrossing story taking place 71 years after the original Season 1, creating a game “all future legacy games will have to be measured” against. Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy Season 1 were both nominated for Spiel des Jahres awards in 2009 and 2016 respectively.

For more information, check out Z-Man Games press release on their website here.

Asmodee, which has the largest catalog of games under it’s wide umbrella thanks to it’s partnerships with Days of Wonder, ZMAN Games, Fantasy Flight, Catan Games and more, has announced it’s Modern Classics line. This new category is for games that are easy to get into yet offer tremendous depth and make for excellent staples in any new or existing collection. The titles in this series together cover a wide range of mechanisms and modes-of-play and each one is considered a gateway of it’s respective genre. As stated by Asmodee in their announcement:

“Modern Classics refers to a small group of pioneering titles that have left a lasting legacy on the board-games market and have stood the test of time to remain preferred gateway purchases in a constantly changing landscape of products. […] Each of the highlighted titles is easy to learn but hard to master, making them well suited for any gaming situation that you might encounter. The Modern Classics range consists of the following games: Ticket to Ride Europe, Catan, Carcassonne, Dixit, Pandemic, and Splendor.

While this really is just a matter of showcasing for new customers, the games chosen here are, I feel, irrefutably ‘Modern Classics’ and deserve to be called as such. These quintessential games also cover a lot of ground as well, certain to prepare even the newest of gamers for the great many strategy games that lie beyond. Just with these six games there’s card drafting, network building, tile laying, set collection, storytelling, cooperation, trading, and resource management game mechanisms. Hoo! The question I have now is, will there be any more games added to this list in the future? Only time will tell.

Vlaada Chvátil’s fantastic civilization building game Through The Ages now has a digital version available. Through the Ages is easily considered one of the best board games of recent history, having its newest edition ranked at #2 on BGG. Czech Games Edition has made the mobile app available for both iOS and Android. You can read the full press release from CGE here.

Along the same vein, Temple Gates Games and Rio Grande Games have announced a digital version of Roll For The Galaxy. The popular dice game version of Race For The Galaxy hit the board game world by storm in 2015, and has consistently been at the top of the charts. The digital version will be made available for iOS, Android and Steam, and is being designed by Keldon Jones, who was responsible for the AI on the Race for the Galaxy app. You can read the full press release here.

Z-Man Games has announced the new 2018 Season of Pandemic Survival. Pandemic Survival is the competitive team version of the award winning cooperative classic, pitting teams of 2 against the same scenario: same roles, same cards, same infected cities, same situation.  Tournaments are held across the glode, leading up to the World Championships, with the grand prize being a trip to any city on the Pandemic map. For more information on the 2018 Survival Series, read the full press release here.