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I'm trying to decide if I should get the pandemic expansion on the brink. Here's the obvious advantages I can see:

  • lets you play with 5 people
  • adds some variety with new cards
  • options to make the game harder

Is there anything else I should know before buying on the brink? Does it add enough to pandemic that its worth getting even instead of an entirely new game? Does it really make the game last about 15 minutes longer? Does it give the opportunity to stretch the game to 6 or 7 people without breaking?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

To answer all your questions, but not in order:

Other things you should know: Also adds some rather nice storage trays for the viruses, and some smaller pawns (including for the original base roles) which fit on the board better. All of this stuff will just fit in the original box, but only if you're good at packing (the virus trays could actually do to be about 10% smaller).

The new roles add significant variation to the base game even without using any of the other new mechanics in the set. (There's also a reprinted Operations Expert card with revised wording, which I recommend also using for the base game.) It becomes tempting to add house rules for how you select powers; there's one new power that's related to (but a major variation on) each of the original roles, and some completely unrelated new roles on top. This means that purely random draw can, if you're unlucky, produce some very odd or tricky mixes. (Some groups, of course, prefer it that way.)

The expansion makes the game last longer only if you're using the new disease variants. The bioterrorist option in particular takes longer, as it adds a hunt-the-hidden-player mechanic (a little bit like Fury of Dracula). Mutating diseases add a little more complexity and hence a few minutes more playtime. (They also make it harder, so they can dramatically shorten the playtime...)

Most of the variations on disease - and hence a lot of the set content - make the game more difficult. So if you regularly find Pandemic challenging, consider carefully: you might have trouble using some of the material without making it too challenging.

The question you linked addresses 6-7 players better than I can here. Short form: it works, but not at all well unless you add house rules to cope with the massive difficulty increase. (Personally, I'd always rather play something else with 6 or 7; Pandemic really wasn't designed for it.)

Summary:

(Personal opinion: I found it to be fun, but expensive for the amount of content.)

Does it add enough that it's worth getting instead of an entirely new game? Depends how much you play Pandemic. If you play intermittently or are still finding the base game surprising you, probably not; use the revised Ops Expert wording and get another small game instead. If you play Pandemic regularly and feel like you've seen all the base game has to offer, it's definitely worth getting. If you regularly beat the pants off Pandemic and want some more challenging options, grab it.

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A quick "bonus" from the revised game: It adds many new Roles, and upgrades one of them (the green one - I don't remember its name off the top of my head, but it lets you build operation centers wherever you are without spending a card). That added a lot of value to the game for me.

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The Ops manager upgrade is official errata/update for the base game even if you don't have On the Brink; they added it in the FAQ and suggest it should always be played that way. (They're right; it's a huge improvement.) Basically it adds an extra travel ability, which keeps the role useful after the labs are built. –  Tynam Dec 31 '10 at 11:00
    
Thanks for that info, Tynam. Like you said: Without that upgrade, the Ops Manager is kind of blah. –  invisiblejon Dec 31 '10 at 16:09
    
@Tynam: I can't find that FAQ anywhere. –  Lohoris Jan 1 '11 at 18:38
    
Neither can I. Apparently my memory was wrong; I thought I remembered seeing that somewhere! I've revised my answer to match. –  Tynam Jan 2 '11 at 13:47
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