I've recently bought Pandemic, and really liked the game. But since the basic game is only 2-4 players, I ordered the expansion "On the Brink", which brings it up to 5 players.
Is there a rules variant that would let me play with 6 players?
I haven't seen recommendations for six-player, but I can't think of a reason it can't be done. I think the only thing that needs to be decided is the size of the players' starting hands. 4 and 5-player games start with two cards. You could either go with two or drop it to one. I'd probably stick with two. Beyond that I think you can just play. There's nothing in the game that will break by having six people.
That said, I'm not sure how well it will play. The consensus is that the game gets harder with more people, but fortunately it's very easy to tweak the difficulty in Pandemic. You can decrease the number of Epidemic cards, increase the Special Event cards, or allow players to choose their role, each of these will make the game easier to beat.
If I were going to try it, I'd probably go with two cards for the starting hands, four epidemic cards, and I'd put all 13 Special Event cards in. I'd see how that goes and then tweak it from there.
Pandemic is a great game with tremendously elegant mechanics. Matt Leacock did fantastic job of using the infection deck and the draw deck as sequencer/timers. This careful mechanical design is precisely what makes it difficult to expand the game to six players.
(thinks for a while)
Okay. Here's an idea that should let you play with as six players (and possibly more):
• Assign roles to players at random. Deal out cards as if playing with five players. Also give each player an "action" token.
• When it's your turn, you can spend your action token and take a turn, or pass. If you do not have an action token, you must pass. If you pass, your entire turn (including the infection phase) is skipped.
• When no player has an action token, every player gets an action token.
You might need to tweak the starting hand sizes, but this little hack just might suffice.
I just played for the first time and thought of a way to add an additional role to the game. Have someone play the actual disease.
10 card maximum in hand Draw rate is 3 cards "actions" or infecting is = to the infection rate. The epidemic cards can be split 50% into infection draw pile and the other 50% into the player draw pile.
This does a few things for the game. 1. Makes the "players" more discreet of their plans. 2. Difficulty will rise with more players. 3. Allows for an additional player to be added. 4. Brings a different style of play to the game. Strategies etc. 5. Can be modified further to add more "diseases", or "players" to the game.
This is all still a thought in process as I literally played for the first time tonight.
I would recommend buying a second copy of Pandemic and just playing seperate 3-player games.