Star Trek: Pandemic
This review was originally posted at Guilt-Free-Games.com.
Captain’s Log. Stardate 8132.4:
My crew and I have been captured by an alien presence calling himself a ‘board game reviewer’. This obtuse interloper claims he is “writing an article about playing board games solo,” and recruited us to help him. Spock argued with the mad reviewer that, if we are indeed helping him, then, he is, in fact, not playing solo. The garrulous alien said this was not so, since my crew and I were mere playthings of his imagination. We have decided to play along with this god-like being for now, until an opportunity arises for our escape.
The alien transported us to the late 20th/early 21st century. We’ve returned to this time period so often, I should buy a summer home. Unfortunately my team has no time for lounging, since the planet is seized with a Pandemic. Four apocalyptic diseases infect the globe, and my team must find the cure for them, then inoculate the citizenry. The conceit that four individuals could perform such a goliath task borders on the absurd, but my team is one of the best. I, Captain James T. Kirk, will take the role of Operations Expert. Mr. Spock will be our Field Researcher. Dr. McCoy gladly accepted the role of Medic, and Lieutenant Chekov will be our Dispatcher.
Chekov: I do not understand vhy zee aleeyen deed not put Ohura een zees role. She’s zee Communeecations Offeecer on zee Enterprise. I’m sheep’s Tacteecal Offeecer. My job ees fire zee meessiles.
Spock: Indeed, her expertise in this field will be missed. So won’t her other… assets.
Kirk: Please, Spock. I’m sure we will all miss her many areas of expertise.
McCoy: Will you boys stop waxing romantic and focus on the task at hand? Spock, I’m treating what the locals call ‘the black disease’. Our futuristic technology heals the disease, but I’m just one man with a medpac. Without a cure, the disease is bound to resurge. What information do you need from me to help you in your research?
Spock: Where are you now?
Chekov: Ees Constanteenople.
McCoy: No. It’s Istanbul.
Chekov: Not Constanteenople?
Spock: Well, at the end of your ‘turn’, you will draw two cards from the player deck. Most of these cards will portray a city and the color disease that can affect it. We use these cards for a number of things. For example, you can trade a card to charter a flight to a city, or create a permanent research station which allows the team to move in a similar way to our teleporters. When one of us gets five of the same color, we can trade those cards in for a cure to that color’s disease.
McCoy: Have you lost your Vulcan mind? How can research data from different cities allow us to do all that? No, don’t… don’t explain. I don’t want to hear your damned logic. There are patients to treat in Milan.
Kirk: Treating the populace is important, McCoy, but if we don’t find the cure we’ll never win this ‘game’. I suggest we listen to Spock, and follow his instructions for now.
McCoy: Sure, Jim, sure. I’ve got a card for the blue disease in Atlanta that I don’t need. How do I give you this card, Spock.
Spock: As a researcher, I can give cards to other players as an action, but since you are a medic, you need to give me the card in Atlanta. I will end my turn there so you can perform this action.
Kirk: Can you set up a research station in Istanbul and fly to Atlanta?
McCoy: Damn it Jim! I’m a Medic, not an Operations Expert! Stop confusing your job with mine!
Chekov: No voorees! As deespatcher, I can move other players around globe eenstead of moving myself. I can also transport any player to another for one movement. I’ll transport McCoy to Spock, zen take rest of turn. Feel free to end turn at any time, Dr. McCoy.
McCoy: Alright, I’ve drawn two cards, and… I hear screaming! What the heck is going on in Hong Kong, Jim?
Kirk: The last thing you do for your turn is reveal two cars from the infection deck, and place a disease cube on those cities. If there are already three diseases on one of those cities, however, the disease Outbreaks, putting a disease cube on each of the surrounding metropolises. If an outbreak spills into another city with three disease cubes on it, it causes another Outbreak which could cause… a global catasptrophe. That’s the exact scenario we want to prevent happening. If there are ever nine outbreaks total, we lose. Humanity is doomed. We also lose if we draw out of cure cards, or if one pool of disease cubes is exhausted.
Chekov: Alright. I’ve moved Dr. McCoy and have treated deesease een Cheecago. I’m ending my turn, and taking cards. Vat’s zees? Zees card says ‘One Quiet Night’. Eet says I can play any time and deesease veel not advance for turn. I should play eet now?
Spock: Actually, that choice might not be wise. In the player deck, there are several staggered Epidemic cards. If one of those is drawn, we take an infection card from the bottom of that deck and put three disease cubes on the corresponding city. Then the discarded infection cards are shuffled and put on the top of the infection deck. If you prevent the infection from happening now, there will be fewer diseased cities in the discard pile, and a higher likelihood that an Outbreak will happen immediately after an Epidemic. Logic therefore dictates we should hold on to that card until after an Epidemic hits, not before.
Khan: Hello gentlemen. I hope I’m not interrupting anything?
Kirk: Khan! How did you get on our communication channel, and where are you located?
Khan: Tut, tut, Admiral Kirk, I’ll never tell. Let’s just say from hell’s heart I stab at thee. The alien that brought you here promised I could have my revenge. This isn’t an ordinary Pandemic; you’re now On The Brink. I jammed your sensors, so tracking me won’t be simple. Don’t worry, Kirk, I don’t plan to hide for long. I even left a trail for you to follow; a fifth, purple disease. The game we’re playing is no longer cooperative…
Kirk: KHAAAAAANNNN!!!!! KHAAAAAANNNN!!!!!