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Pandemic varies vastly in difficulty depending on the number of players. Does anyone know of any custom rules that make it more even?

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3  
There seems to be differing opinions on this, so could you elaborate on how you think the number of players affects difficulty? –  Todd Dec 14 '10 at 17:42
    
Most times I've played, it been with 4 or 5 players. Is this why we get our a**es handed to us all the time? –  keithjgrant Dec 15 '10 at 8:25
    
@Todd, it gets much more difficult with more players. @keithgrant, yes, play with 2 or 3 and it'll be easy. –  dan_waterworth Dec 15 '10 at 8:41

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You could for example always play with the same amount of pawns. If you have 3 players everyone gets a pawn for themself and you have to discuss what happens with the 4th. Considering there's already a lot of discussion on what to do with your own pawns it's not going to be much of a problem...

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But what happens with the cards of the faceless players? –  dan_waterworth Dec 15 '10 at 7:48
    
I suppose you could share them amongst everyone. –  dan_waterworth Dec 15 '10 at 9:53
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I'd probably place them in a separate spot. Just play as if there where a 4th player - just one who doesn't play on his own. –  Kempeth Dec 16 '10 at 7:52

Allowing players to choose their roles, rather than having them assigned randomly, is one way to lower the difficulty. The players can choose roles that they prefer to work with and that have better synergy.

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Consider making the epidemic cards predictable. Space them out as stated in the rules, but always put them at the bottom of each pile. This keeps the fun of dealing with the challenge, while enhancing the requirement that players work together to handle what they know is coming. It does make it easier though, in general, due to this predictability.

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In my experience, it's the timing of the first epidemic that has the most significant impact on difficulty. The others don't matter as much as long as you have a chance to get on top of the outbreaks early on. –  keithjgrant Dec 16 '10 at 17:53
    
Timing and position of the first outbreak are crucial. If you don't like putting the card always at the bottom of each pile, consider always shuffling into the bottom half of each pile. This is no more work than the regular way, and keeps randomness while preventing early wipe-outs. –  Tynam Dec 28 '10 at 17:44

Pick up the On the Brink BGG expansion.

The forums at Boardgamegeek state that it definitely eases up the difficulty of the 4 and 5 player versions as well as providing more options.

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I agree; particularly if you're choosing roles, as it provides some more flexible choices, and one good fix to an existing role. However, it's an expensive buy just for that; most of the expansion provides variants that make things harder... –  Tynam Dec 28 '10 at 17:43

2 things to make the game a bit easier.

1) once a cure is found any player can cure a city of all diseases for only 1 action

2) shuffle all the infection cards back into the deck when an Pandemic occurs (may be to big of a change)

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First one would make the game slightly easier and could be a nice touch, but the second one would break it entirely. Since you will always draw an epidemic card that puts the infection discard pile on top of the draw pile every several turns, this keeps the tension up that those cities will keep getting more cubes. If you shuffled the entire discard pile, you'd be drawing many cards for the first time after an epidemic, putting them on places with no cubes yet and not threatening outbreaks at all, which is exactly the opposite of what is supposed to happen (going on already infected cities :). –  Gordon Gustafson Feb 21 '12 at 22:07

I found that a nice touch is to not shuffle the top stack of cards when mixing in the epidemic cards. In the first stack, place the epidemic card at the bottom and shuffle the rest normally. This just lets you get a leg up on the game at the beginning while leaving the rest of the game unchanged.

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My group feels that Pandemic is easier with fewer players, so as player count goes down we increase the epidemic count to maintain the challenge level.

Other adjustments will depend on how you think the difficulty changes. In player counts that you consider harder, try dealing out multiple roles and letting players choose, or try choosing play order only after seeing roles and starting cards. For player counts that you consider easier, reverse these decisions.

On the Brink adds some variability and complexity. I'm not sure if (after you get past the learning curve of any new variant) it adds difficulty, but it might.

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Normaly, you can trade city card on the city of that card. So, I suggest that you can trade city black card on a black city, blue one on a blue city, yellow on yellow and red on red. That way, you still restricted but it'll be easyer. It'll make a donw grade for the Researcher but... your choice.

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