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I have played several games of Pandemic, and have found it to be a really enjoyable game with a lot of challenge.

I was wondering about the possibility of modifying the rules such that the game is played to eradicate all diseases, rather than merely cure them, as a means of varying the difficulty further, and adding extra depth to individual games.

I was wondering if this win condition is achievable, as I suspect there may not physically be enough cards in the player deck to allow you to eradicate all the diseases.

Has anyone else considered a variant like this?

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i have tried to ensure the answer to this question is not opinion based, by focusing on whether such a variant is "possible" rather than "good" – Patters May 7 '14 at 13:05
    
That's kind of a false dichotomy. Of course it is possible to play. Is it possible to win? I doubt you can prove not. So it still boils down to whether it is fair/interesting. – bwarner May 8 '14 at 13:18
up vote 9 down vote accepted

You can get a pretty good idea about the extra time needed just by looking at the board when you finish a normal game. How many cities still have cubes in them? How many cards are left in the player deck?

As an absolute lower bound, you'll need two actions per city (one to move, one to treat), or one for the medic. If you've got three players and one is the medic, that's 8 cities cleared per six cards drawn.

But usually you'll have more than 8 cities, you'll need a lot more than one action per city to get to all of them, and the infection phase will be undoing half your work. You'll also usually have 10 or fewer cards left in the player deck. The odds of being able to clear the board are really, really low - and worse, if you can do it, it's probably just because you're lucky about infected cities being close together.

As others have said, simply adding an expansion and varying the difficulty using the existing means is probably a better bet.

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Eradication is definitely possible, and I used to play with a group that has done it multiple times on legendary difficulty (with the on the brink expansion). However, it usually takes a good degree of luck to even be possible. I think that eradication works best as a "challenge" win condition, so that if you ever have a game where you are easily winning, you try to eradicate, but if you're barely surviving, then just go for the regular win. If you're keeping track of a win-loss record, you could count an eradicate win as worth more than a regular win, and the additional points would offset the additional risk required to attempt it. But as the only win condition, no, I don't think that's a good idea. Eradication is too rare.

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Are you saying that you've played games where you managed to eradicate all four diseases? (Eradicating one isn't that surprising, maybe even two, but all of them?) – Monica Cellio May 11 '14 at 22:15
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Yes, all of them. The only way to eradicate the last disease is to cure with no cubes on the board, since the game ends as soon as you cure the last disease. – Joe May 12 '14 at 1:10

It depends, I think, on the difficulty. On Legendary (all 6 Epidemic cards), curing all four diseases is an achievement in and of itself. Eradicating all four diseases after they are cured is simply a matter of time, something that is in short supply on every difficulty.

So yes, the win condition you're offering is definitely achievable, but slightly more difficult.

If you want a challenge, I'd highly suggest the In the Lab expansion, which adds a cool layer to curing the diseases.

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It would definitely increase the difficulty - namely, by both increasing the number of turns needed to win, and by increasing the temptation to clear cubes when you should be curing disease.

If I was to try it, I would go back to 4 Epidemics to start, and work up/down from there.

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It's certainly possible - I've had a few games where three of the diseases were eradicated while we waited for the cards for the last 1/2 - but not easy. In many cases it's not going to be possible - the cubes on the board will simply be too far apart and the cards you need will be at the bottom of the deck.

I wouldn't play that variant; I'm happy with just using both the virulent strain and the mutation to get the difficulty up to an acceptable level :-)

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In our games, we actually thought we were supposed to eradicate them all :D we played about six games (with 4 epidemic cards), all except one were doomed because of running out of cards. In the last game, we were just 1 damn turn from eradicating them all. It really requires a nasty load of luck in every part of the game.

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This doesn't appear to answer the question but is rather a comment on the question – Joe W Feb 10 at 22:27
2  
"It really requires a nasty load of luck" seems like it addresses the viability to me... – Jefromi Feb 11 at 1:15
    
Six games from new players in a game that uses luck does not mean a lot. – Joe W Feb 11 at 15:42

I just got the game and thought that I did need to eradicate all to win (clean sweep of board). I didn't realize that you just need to cure (cubes still remaining).

That said, by my 3rd solo / duo-hand play with the Scientist and Medic, we won a 4-epidemic game with eradication. Luck of the draw and very strategic planning.

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numerous people make this mistake when they first start the game. It happens all the time and many of them chalk up wins before they realize their error. It's certainly possible to play the game that way it's just not necessary or recommended. After all if you want greater difficulty it's as easy as adding more pandemic cards or picking more nuanced roles. – Wolfkin yesterday
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This does not add anything to the question that was not already answered. – Joe W yesterday

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