Munchkin: Pandemic

Munchkin: Pandemic

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Munchkin: Pandemic

Munchkin we don’t really play anymore. Pandemic, on the other hand, remains one of our all-time favourite games. But that doesn’t mean we’re above poking some gentle fun at it. It’s important to be able to maintain a sense of humour about things. This is probably more true the more sacred you hold something. Nothing should be above satire.

I don’t begrudge either Munchkin or Pandemic the number of versions and expansions they each boast. Both are great gateway games, and variations and licenses are only going to help them reach more people. Also, I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like or approve of a product, simply don’t buy it. Problem solved.

While I’m perfectly fine with Munchkin spawning new editions like disease cubes during an outbreak, as I said above, we don’t play it anymore. Pandemic, on the other hand, we continue to devour, like Shoggoth spawning in a crowd of innocents. And in all fairness to the game (brand?), we haven’t come across a bad edition yet. Each brings something different, and interesting, to the board, and none feel like a mere re-skin or cash-in. We’ve played and loved Cthulhu, Iberia, Legacy, On the Brink, The Cure – and we haven’t even gotten through all of the expansions/iterations yet, and our campaign of Legacy is one of our all-time great board gaming experiences.

Thoughts? Opinions? Favourite versions of Pandemic? Think there are too many versions of Pandemic?

8 Comments on Munchkin: Pandemic
  • Dexter Ó Thuithear

    I have Pandemic – plus all the expansions – The Cure, Contagion, and Legacy. We have literally only played vanilla Pandemic. I’ve had most of those since launch, but we’ve still only played vanilla. Pandemic. I’ve moved all the extra game pieces for the expansions into the main box, but we’ve still only played vanilla Pandemic… Goddamnit I try to break them out but while explaining them, I always get the “sure we’ll just play the regular one” or “that seems more complicated, can we go without that?”.
    I’m not sure if it’s because Pandemic itself is so compelling that people are willing to come back to it, or that they’re just put off by the extra mechanics, boards, etc, but it never seems to catch hold. Even Legacy keeps getting put off until we can “properly beat the normal one”, which is to say beat it regularly.

    I think the massive number of variations is part of the problem, though. Casual players get introduced to a game, find they enjoy it, and settle into playing it. You offer them a half dozen variations or expansions of that base game, they get analysis paralysis before the game is even open, and end up changing their mind. It’s rare that a game takes an original concept and adapts it with a theme in a way that makes it truly unique from it’s originator. Gloom and Love Letter come to mind in that regard. Great games, each with various theme releases, but those releases are essentially reskins. The game plays identically. Meanwhile, games like Fluxx genuinely iterates. Vanilla Fluxx is so-so, but themes warp the game so much, they make it a whole new style of play. Whether it’s the enforced silly accents and singing in Monty Python Fluxx, or the Surprise! cards and hilariously thinly veiled IP references in Star Fluxx, the games end up playing totally differently, even though the core concepts are so similar that someone who played one can instantly play the other.

    Pandemic is definitely in the “iterates well” camp, but Munchkin… ohhhh boy. Munchkin is way off in the distance in full command of the “oh god, please make it stop” camp. Unfortunately, more people are sliding the latter direction than the former…

    • Zawadi Berg Svela

      My opinion is that you should definitely play legacy before you become too good at pandemic. The game will throw you some curve balls to keep you on edge anyway, but I don’t I don’t think you should ever feel entirely comfortable in that game. A good narrative about diseases should contain some tragedy, after all.

      • I know that so far in our campaign we have rarely felt comfortable, and when we do, well. The game punishes hubris very harshly indeed.

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        I completely agree. The problem is more that the casual players we usually have generally want to be entertained more than seriously challenged.

    • I didn’t want to pass comment as I have played very few of the various Munchkin iterations, but I did kind of presume they were simply reskins.
      Legacy does do a good job of starting of as a basic game of Pandemic, and gradually introducing twists and (as Zawaki said) throwing curve balls. But after a few game the twists, complications and curve balls do come thick and fast. It never gets too much, but you would need players willing to put up with new mechanics/rules/etc with every play.
      Gah! So many fascinating and brilliant twists and surprises, and we are only just past the halfway point ourselves.

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        I really want to break it out. I had it pre-ordered, and yet the box remains sealed since release. We were so looking forward to playing it, but it’s entirely taken a back seat to life. A fluctuating group means vanilla has been the order of choice.
        Truth be told, life stuff has actually been preventing most opportunities to break out anything. X-wing makes a fairly regular appearance as it slots oddly into a time when most others are busy anyway, but the last time we got truly busy with a tabletop game was back when we were down in Cork! Perhaps the solution is another trip down there!

        • That is EXACTLY the solution, of course! This is totally a think you should do!

  • wr00t

    Pandemic X-men? 🙂