FTW Staff Picks - Pandemic: The Cure
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Pandemic: The Cure
Designer: Matt Leacock
Player Size: 2 to 5 Players
Game Length: 60 minutes
For fans of: Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Ghost Stories
Dice spinoffs of card games, and card spinoffs of dice games are commonplace in the tabletop world. But something always seems to get lost in translation. The trick to a successful adaptation lies in making a game feel like the original, while still being different enough to justify its existence. Pandemic: The Cure is an often forgotten game because it was launched alongside Pandemic: Contagion; and soon after both were overshadowed by Legacy Season 1. And yet coming back to The Cure, I can't help but feel like they deserve some praise for the work that went into it.
In Pandemic: The Cure, players are working collectively to find the cure for 4 diseases before the world is overrun by the epidemic. Players familiar with Pandemic will see many of same core concepts in The Cure. The game uses 6 continents represented by pads, from which players will travel back and forth. The Infection Dice are one of four colours, and the distribution of numbers on each die is dependent on the continents they can land on. Instead of choosing actions, players roll their assigned action dice to determine what they can do. Players are granted unlimited re-rolls, but each die has a Plague side which locks in for the turn and increases the Infection rate. To find a cure, players must first remove the Infection Dice and then collect them from the pool. To attempt a cure roll the player will roll all disease dice they have collected, and the sum must be higher than 14 to succeed. If the Infection Rate reaches the end of its track the players lose. If the players can cure all 4 diseases before then, the players win.
At first, it can feel like you are at the mercy of the dice (like many other dice games), but after getting familiar with the changes, you start to get an idea of when it's smart to begin pushing your luck. Instead of each character having just a unique ability, their dice are also distributed differently. There's less of a map to worry about covering, but with less freedom to choose your actions you have to pick your spots more carefully. It's easy to think re-rolling is the solution to everything, but more often than not it puts you in a worse position.
It's unfortunate that Pandemic: The Cure is often overlooked. Especially considering how beloved Pandemic and its expansions are among all gamers. While I am not a big fan of the direction they took with Contagion, I feel like The Cure is an excellent dice adaptation of Pandemic. As the universe continues to expand with the Legacy titles, I would hope more people look back and give Pandemic: The Cure a try. It lives up to its Pandemic title, and does it proud.