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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Top 10 Expansions We Own: #5

Diseases are spreading into epidemics of massive proportions, creating outbreaks much worse than before.  Your chances of epidemics are considerably higher, and the intensity at how they spread is much greater than before.  Was saving humanity too easy in the beginning?  It’s time to greatly increase the weight of Pandemic with new roles, events, and challenges.  Coming in at our #5 spot is Pandemic: On The Brink.  This is the first expansion for Pandemic and in my opinion, it’s still the best one I could recommend.  Read on to see why.

As any other expansion generally requires the base game and components, we have several new aspects to this expansion. Looking at the new additions, we have 8 new Event cards, 8 Virulent Strain Epidemic cards, 2 mutation cards, 2 mutation event cards, a new cure marker, 7 new role cards with 7 pawns, and 1 new epidemic and reference card. The new cure marker (purple vile) is a matching color to the mutation disease that has been added to the game which also comes with purple disease cubes in its own petri dish.

Speaking of petri dishes, how cool are these? This was the first revealing of petri dishes to Pandemic. Before ‘On The Brink’ was released you had to simply place them in a small pile on the table or in some other generic container during gameplay. This is so much better, not only from a more efficient standpoint, but from a purely geeky one! They’re even color coded to match the disease cubes for the different regions. We had to place the stickers, but due to my high levels of OCD this proved to not be a problem in carefully placing them on the containers. I was surprised to not see any of these within the ‘In The Lab’ expansion. One would think that of all expansions, they would have included petri dishes in that kind of expansion, but apparently not.

How about those newly added character cards? Complete with 7 new matching player pawns!  The Containment Specialist and Generalist are probably the two that I would reach for in most games if they are available to me. Because this is an expansion, you can mix all of the role cards from the original with this expansion if you’re wanting even more options. The base game of Pandemic goes up to 4 players and ‘On The Brink’ goes up to 5 so that is definitely a nice new addition as well. There is nothing wrong with adding more players and in a game like this, you will want all of the help you can get.

This game is an absolute beast! The biggest reason to purchase ‘On The Brink’ is not necessarily just the extra role cards, or those cool little petri dishes. This expansion approaches you not with open arms and a smile, but with a big smack in the face and the order to strap yourself in. There is no pity granted to you in this version of Pandemic, it’s only designed to be much harder than the base game. This is partially what makes this game so great. If the initial difficulty is still not enough for you, you can play the virulent strain challenge, the mutation challenge, or the bio-terrorist challenge to add a little more intensity or variety to the game. I understand why adding the Bio-Terrorist challenge could really add a twist to the game, but I don’t personally think that Pandemic needs an antagonist aspect included since the foundation of the game is designed to be cooperative. The Bio-Terrorist does come with a large pad of paper that the bio-terrorist is able to use to secretly record their movements around the board to try and spread more diseases which is pretty cool, but I still don’t care for that antagonist aspect in a game like Pandemic.

You can also add multiple challenges together which makes this expansion even more intense. The fact that you are even provided an additional epidemic card seems suicidal to me if you’re already going to be playing with the 6 epidemic cards from the base game. Is the price point worth it though? This expansion was only a few dollars less than the base game, but it does add a substantial amount of options and weight to the game. In my opinion, the answer is yes, but that also depends how much you like the base game of Pandemic. In The Lab is not as challenging as ‘On The Brink’ is, and that may be better if you’re still adapting to Pandemic. You may want to play some other expansions first, unless you are bored with the original and are looking for a real challenge. At that point I would say look no further because you’ve found it.  As for me, even as much as I love this expansion, I wouldn't say you really need this expansion because the base game is no good without it.  The base game of Pandemic is an excellent game by itself, and there's already other methods that you can use and adjust the difficulty from the beginning if you really want to make it harder.  It will all come down to what you're looking for.

Pandemic: On The Brink
Overall Meeple Rating: 8.5/10

New additions:
1) 8x New Event Cards
2) 7x New Role Cards
3) 8x Virulent Strain Epidemic Cards
4) 1x Epidemic Card
5) 2x Mutation Cards
6) New Mutation Disease
7) New Challenges
8) 5th player added
9) Petri Dishes 
10) Antagonist (Bio-Terrorist) Player Option

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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