Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

No time to explain, let's roll:- Pandemic Rapid Response

Game: Pandemic Rapid Response

Publisher:Z-Man Games

Designer: Kane Klenko

Year: 2019

Pandemic Rapid Response is a 2-4 player real-time dice based re-imagining of Pandemic. Instead of wandering around the globe on foot like a bunch of schmucks, this time you have a state of the art plane capable of producing all the emergency supplies you could every need. Sure it produces a small amount of toxic waste, but that's all recyclable if you put the effort in. You aren't responding to disease outbreaks this time, but instead humanitarian crisis. Survivors of disasters need relief such as safe food and water, medicine and electricity. All of this is done by rolling dice to move around the plane, activate the various rooms to generate, and deliver resource cubes.

At the start of the game each player will be handed 6 dice, a character role card with their special ability and a pawn to represent them. The board will then be set up with a couple of active cities already needing relief and a deck of cities that will appear during the game, the exact numbers depending on difficulty. Each room is filled with it's resource, the timer is flipped and the game can begin. The game takes place in turns, each turn the active player will roll all of their dice, and then has 2 chances to re-roll as many dice as they want. Dice can be spent to do actions, for example any die can be used to move you 1 room over or a plane die can be used to move the plane to the next city along the route. Most commonly though dice are used to activate rooms, each room is a little different, but generally you'll need a lot of 1 die face in order to power them. It's not all luck though, so long as you reach certain points in a room's requirements you can leave your dice there for the next player's turn, where they can add additional dice to finish off your work.

After taking care of recycling the waste, the red player moves to the cargo area to deliver supplies.

When a room is activated it produces goods (which are good) but also produces waste (which is bad). It also releases any dice locked onto it, letting players roll those dice again in their future turns. In order to deliver the goods to a city you must have moved the plane to the city, gathered all the goods they need, and traveled to the back of the plane in order to use the delivery room. All of this is done on a 3 minute timer, every time the timer runs out gameplay pauses, a time token is thrown away and then gameplay resumes. Every time you successfully deliver to a city a time token is earned, keeping you in the game that bit longer. You will win the game if you ever have no cities in need of help in play. You lost them game if you ever run out of time tokens, or if your waste tracker reaches the maximum point.

Pandemic: Rapid Response has a lot going on, but not an awful lot of it is 'Pandemic'. Sure it has (many of) the cities from Pandemic featured, but really those are just real-life cities. They are in the famous red/yellow/blue/black colour scheme, but the colours have no influence in the game. You aren't even curing diseases, you do deliver medicine and vaccines, but it's not quite the same. Really the most 'Pandemic' thing about this game is that it's a cooperative game where every player has a unique character with a different power! That and the word Pandemic on the cover! Instead Pandemic Rapid Response is very much a Kane Klenko game, it's a follow-up to Fuse and Flatline and that is no bad thing!

The crisis cards and individual player powers help keep every card different, and even on the hardest difficulty you won't see every city.

The difficulty of the game is certainly on the low side. Perhaps we are simply good at the game, but we found that when we sat down for a game we were sitting down with the knowledge we were about to win. Increasing the difficulty increases the number of cities you have to cure, which *should* be harder, but in reality just ends up with a longer game. By mid-way through the game if you are doing well you may be in profit of a time token or two and you already know you have won. Adding the crisis cards on top does add extra difficulty, but many of them are fairly easy to work around. For me it's not quite enough. I think this comparative ease comes through the simplicity of decisions. So long as you can all agree what resources you need turns can be as fast as rolling and re-rolling your dice, seeing if you have the right symbols and if not passing. You know you are only really after 1, maybe 2 dice faces at a time which keeps things simple.

Despite the lower difficulty I do find the game enjoyable. The stress of working on a timer adds a lot to the dice rolling experience, it also adds nuance to some of the characters. One of the characters gains extra re-rolls, but re-rolling takes time, so knowing when to actually use your power becomes vital. I do wish that the timer had a sound component rather than being a traditional sand timer, it breaks immersion a little bit that someone has to be constantly looking at the timer! Overall Pandemic: Rapid Response is a solid game, though a touch on the easy side compared to previous games of it's type. However, being a Pandemic game, it will likely be an introduction to the panic-rolling cooperative genre, so perhaps the difficulty is perfect with that in mind. It does feel like it's trying to fill that gateway gap, whether it succeeds, time will tell.


Pandemic Rapid Response was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £38.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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