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Lipstick and a Pig - Pandemic Review

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15 Dec 2015 21:36 #217421 by Egg Shen

The end of the year is approaching with the same inevitable certainty as death and taxes. That means we're going to see a smorgasbord of "Top Ten" lists, "Year's Best" lists and other opinion pieces. It's generally a fun time to look back at the year and assess everyone's favorite things. This is not going to be one of those lists. No, this is going to be a torpedo of truth about a game that is destined to rest atop many people's lists. That game is Pandemic Legacy.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, ChristopherMD, OldHippy, Josh Look, engineer Al, stoic, JEM

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15 Dec 2015 21:56 #217422 by Da Bid Dabid
The following user(s) said Thank You: Black Barney, engineer Al

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15 Dec 2015 22:01 #217423 by OldHippy
Nice job. Entertaining read that also had a ring of truth to it. Much appreciated.

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15 Dec 2015 22:14 #217424 by chouzar
This was just spot on.

Played pandemic a couple of months ago... the experience was completely dry for me. I don't think the Legacy aspect will make me change my mind if all I'm sill doing is hand managment with complete out of place abstractions.

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15 Dec 2015 22:28 - 15 Dec 2015 22:33 #217426 by Sevej
Huge fan of Pandemic here. But even I will admit it's "dry". It's not something I pull out, but I'll gladly play when someone requests it. It just provided the co-op experience I enjoy, unlike most co ops. It's got smooth AI, re-program itself each game, and a meaningful map play. No need to deal with ifs, buts and thens. The AI part is a fraction of your gameplay time. The pace is excellent with highs and lows, not just constant pounding from the AI.

It's a really solid game for me.

And the comparison to Fury of Dracula is... baffling. Not sure what are you trying to do by comparing an AI controlled opposition with human controlled one...
Last edit: 15 Dec 2015 22:33 by Sevej.

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15 Dec 2015 23:25 #217433 by Ancient_of_MuMu
It would be good if you could edit the piece to make it clearer as to when you are talking about Pandemic and when you are talking about Pandemic Legacy because there are quite a few times when you say "Pandemic" and I think you are referring to "Pandemic Legacy". Because of this it leaves me unclear as to whether you have actually played Pandemic Legacy or are just extrapolating from Pandemic.

Apart from that I disagree. I have had just as much fun playing Pandemic Legacy as I have had playing other Ameritrash games, but then I don't mind a game of standard Pandemic every now and then.

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16 Dec 2015 00:01 #217436 by Jarvis
I got the impression from the article that he never played Pandemic: Legacy and just inferred his thoughts of the basic game onto it.

I really enjoyed both the vanilla game and the legacy version of it (after 4 plays). So far the legacy version has done a really good job of developing the missions between sessions. Each has felt unique with the status of the diseases on the board. Sure it's drier than other games, but it is still one of the best designed coops out there.

My friends, family and I will still regularly play Pandemic and I don't see that changing any time soon.

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16 Dec 2015 01:50 - 16 Dec 2015 01:57 #217439 by Frohike
I've played Pandemic: Legacy and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. In fact I think it's the game Pandemic should have been, but obviously at a cost (essentially becoming a disposable/consumable game). I enjoy the new material and change-ups that unlock as a consequence of actions in the game, the fact that outbreaks have long term repercussions, that my characters can get fucked up in different ways and/or eventually die, causing my interactions with the other players to change. I don't see any of this as "aping" Ameritrash narrative. Sure it's adopting a narrative modality, but it's doing this in a competent, integrated manner because it's a competent legacy design. I don't think it's slapping on the veneer of Ameritrash quite as lazily or affectedly as one would think, though disliking the core game is obviously not going to make one prone to investigate this design further (it enhances the core game but doesn't redeem some of the flaws). I also think this particular design is much less prone to the problem I faced in Risk: Legacy of players purposefully playing in fucked up ways to unlock content.
Last edit: 16 Dec 2015 01:57 by Frohike.

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16 Dec 2015 04:22 - 16 Dec 2015 05:04 #217440 by scissors
I don't want to slight you, but I am curious have you played Pandemic Legacy or Above and Below? Because the tone strangely sounds like you actually haven't, like Jarvis suggests, or not much. (or maybe you are limited so as not to reveal spoilers? in which case, thanks).

The way the article is written, a lot of this sounds like conjecture to make a broader philosophical point abut games and narrative.

somehow the points you made aren't very convincing to me, it comes across as not very specific and shallow, even if I understand and agree in essence with what you are saying.

Otherwise, I am not a huge vanilla Pandemic fan, either, but I am pretty sure I could have fun with this game based on what I have heard. And if not, I'm out the cost of one game. not that big a deal.
Last edit: 16 Dec 2015 05:04 by scissors.

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16 Dec 2015 05:26 #217441 by Ancient_of_MuMu
Rereading the article, I think Jarvis is correct and he is slandering the game without playing it because he hates Pandemic. Which is definitely interesting because Pandemic Legacy does do more with story and narrative than many Ameritrash games do. I have played numerous Board game campaigns and they always felt lacking until Pandemic Legacy because the consequences of success and failure were always irrelevant.

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16 Dec 2015 06:04 #217442 by Josh Look
Man, thank you for writing this. I was throwing around the idea of doing a preemptive strike against the inevitable GOTY lists we'll be seeing soon. 2015 has been a great year for gaming, but the games that will be most talked about are entirely overrated. Cthulhu Wars is the poster child for mediocrity, Blood Rage offers nothing for me to give two shits about, and then there's this, Febreeze spayed on the turd that is Pandemic.

Great job, Egg.

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16 Dec 2015 06:11 #217443 by scissors
Oh those terrible GotY lists. if only I could avoid them somehow.
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16 Dec 2015 08:25 - 16 Dec 2015 08:26 #217445 by Josh Look
I don't think you necessarily need to play the game to make this kind of observation. Pandemic is a truly terrible game, a nexus of everything wrong with co-ops in one easy to avoid package. Forcing a storyline which, from all indications is built around the players rather than coming from the players and what they do, is enough for me to say that it isn't enough to justify the reaction it's gotten. I've played Pandemic. I know how it works. I know that much of the game rides on being in the right place at the right time with the right resources and the threats coming out in an order that doesn't entirely screw you over. The heart of that poorly designed experience is still present, a story is supposed to fix that? Please.

I know, I know, "Pandemic is so popular! You're the minority, fun is subjective!" Yeah, maybe, but you know what else is true? Surivor is still on the air, Michael Bay and Zack Snyder movies still make bank, and Coldplay sells shit tons of records. That doesn't paint a pretty picture for "popular opinion" and the intelligence of those who hold it.

And the Fury of Dracula thing isn't really a comparison, it's an example of story that stems from actual gameplay, not poorly written words on a card.
Last edit: 16 Dec 2015 08:26 by Josh Look.

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16 Dec 2015 08:44 #217446 by Legomancer
I like Pandemic Classic, even though I don't play it very often. Legacy was something I was eager to try, as I hadn't played a legacy game before. Our first two games of PL we lost, and I wasn't sure if this was an improvement on the design, not because we lost but because (a) we lost in the familiar Pandemic way - poorly timed Epidemics that we couldn't get to in time. I worried that PL was assuming we were better at Pandemic than we actually were, and we were just going to continue to suffer.

Last night, though, we played two more games and won both. And the reason why was due to the things that later came out, which gave us not just a leg up, but more options to utilize. We went from having four fairly obvious roles to play to having to really agonize over that choice. The choices opened up and became a lot more interesting and less obvious.

I haven't really played with any classic Pandemic expansions, so maybe the stuff we're seeing is still old hat to Pandemic fans, but it's made for an exciting narrative to us in PL.

I like narrative in games. I'd say it's one of my top three goals in playing a game. And I like it to be player-driven, not "here's a card with some text on it, now we're 'dripping with theme'." I think Dead of Winter is a load of crap, and I have never ever understood the appeal of Tales of the Arabian Nights. PL is guilty of a lot of that; the criticism that the narrative is driven by in-game devices instead of the players is valid. If you don't like Classic Pandemic on top of that, then no, there really isn't anything for you here, and that's fine.

However, if you're already friendly towards regular Pandemic, then there is still something here. The game controls how these mechanisms are doled out, but the decisions involved in using or not using them, and the crafting of the board and roles to fit a group-decided strategy are still there for players.

PL will certainly be on my Top Ten list for the year. There's a lot there for me personally to be excited about. Will it be #1? Probably not, as I don't see it unseating the current most likely contender for that spot, Caylus (kidding.) But just as I think there's a lot of hyperbole surrounding its rocket rise, there's also a lot of it on the other side (apparently over on BGG there's been a campaign of 1s to overcome the 10s because you can only insta-10 a game if it's another goddamn Uwe Rosenberg farm game).
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16 Dec 2015 09:01 #217451 by Black Barney
I really hate Pandemic but Legacy is my most wanted board game right now. I don't know why that is

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