Pandemic is an amazing game and is considered one of the best cooperative games made. It has spawned two legacy games and several expansions. Pandemic The Cure is a dice version of the original. It feels like Pandemic but it is still its own game with its own unique mechanics.
In Pandemic The Cure, players take on one of the character roles, such as a medic or scientist. Each character comes with its own set of customized dice to use with a unique special ability. Players then set out the six numbered region tiles, the CDC, and the infection/outbreak tracker. Next, set the outbreaks at zero, select the difficulty level and place the infection marker. Take the deck of special ability cards, shuffle and draw three, placing them next to the CDC.
Take all the colored dice, put them in the bag, and draw 12; roll them and place them on the corresponding regions. Reroll any that would place more than three at any one region. Select the first player, and begin the game.
Like Pandemic, Pandemic The Cure is a fully cooperative game. Players win or lose as a team, and like Pandemic, the goal is to cure four diseases BEFORE you run out of dice, suffer eight outbreaks or the infection rate goes to maximum.
A player’s turn consists of four steps; roll dice, take actions, pass samples, and infect regions. In addition, players can roll for a cure as a free action.
Character dice consists of symbols. There are four basic symbols (ship, plane, treat, sample) special character specific ones, and the biohazard symbol (increase the infection rate). A player rolls their dice and then takes actions. The ship lets you move to one adjacent region, the plane to any region, the syringe treats a disease placing it in the treatment center. The jar collects a sample from the treatment center.
The biohazard increases the infection rate and when the tracker crosses an epidemic line, all dice in the treatment center plus a number of dice equal to the current infection rate are rolled and placed in the corresponding regions. In addition as the infection rate rises, more disease dice are pulled out during the infect regions step.
A player can reroll their dice as many times as they like, but risk rolling a biohazard and increase the infection rate.
After actions, a player may trade samples with another player in the same region. Sample dice are collected and rolled for finding a cure. If the samples rolled add up to 13 or more, the disease is cured. After it is cured, a treatment action will quarantine all dice of that color, instead of one.
After actions and samples, it is time to infect. A number of dice are pulled based on the infection rate. These dice are rolled and placed in the corresponding region. If there are ever more than three dice of the same color in a region, an outbreak occurs. The fourth dice is moved to the next region and may then trigger another outbreak. If there are eight outbreaks, the players lose. If a cross is rolled on an infection dice, that dice is placed in the CDC and can be used to play event cards. These events can help greatly during the game.
The game continues until either all four diseases are cured or one of the losing conditions trigger. Pandemic The Cure has a strong push your luck element to it, as players decide to reroll dice looking for that right symbol and risk getting a biohazard or keep what they have and make the best of it.
It uses clever mechanics of dice rolling to replicate the actions in Pandemic. In addition, each character having their own customized dice and abilities, really help each player contribute to the game and really push the cooperative element.
I think Pandemic The Cure is a fun and unique way to enjoy Pandemic in a fresh way. There is a much more randomness and luck element in Pandemic The Cure than Pandemic, but for fans of dice games, it’s hard to find a better cooperative one.
Tom Vasel from the Dice Tower has a nice overview of this game, for those who want to learn more.
By Ed Carter