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Instructions on epidemics ask that the discard pile be reshuffled and put back as the last action to take with the card. This means that if a player draws two epidemic cards at the same time, there won't be a discard pile for the pandemic to use for the outbreak step.

What's the most appropriate way to handle this situation?

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A related discussion at BoardGameGeek: boardgamegeek.com/thread/390577/… –  ire_and_curses Mar 1 '11 at 16:51
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We would handle the epidemics separately (as in Kempeth's answer). Consequently there would be a discard pile for the second epidemic - it would consist of just the drawn city card (and unless there are some special events in play this would cause an outbreak). –  tttppp Mar 2 '11 at 8:08
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3 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

You completely resolve one epidemic card and then the other. I don't have any concrete rule to back that up but consider what would happen if you drew the two cards separately:

In this case it would be obvious that you resolve each card.

And now consider if there should be a difference to what happens in the game depending on how you draw your cards...

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From page 6 of the 2013 edition rulebook: "It is rare but possible to draw 2 Epidemic cards at once. In this case, do all three steps [of an epidemic] once and then again. In this case in the second epidemic's Infection card will be the only card to “reshuffle”, ending on top of the Infection Deck. An outbreak will then occur in this city during Infections [...], unless an Event card is played to prevent this." Further, on page 7: "When 2 Epidemic cards are drawn together, events can be played after resolving the first epidemic." –  Caramdir Sep 6 '13 at 16:20
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The Epidemic-shuffling instructions in the Pandemic rules seem to sort of lower the odds that two Epidemic cards are ever adjacent:

Divide the remaining Player cards into a number of piles according to how difficult you’d like to make the game. Make the piles as equal in size as is possible.

Shuffle an Epidemic card into each pile. Stack the piles on top of each other to form the Player Draw Pile. (If the piles aren’t exactly the same size, stack them so that the larger piles are above the smaller piles.) Put any excess Epidemic cards back into the box.

This will obviously spread the Epidemics out throughout the deck, but my group also interprets "shuffle into" to imply that we shouldn't let the Epidemic we're putting in each pile to end up on the top or bottom. As long as the Epidemics are somewhere in the middle of each pile, you won't get two in a row. Although you might get two very close together and it certainly does suck when that happens.

Setting the deck up in this way will guarantee you don't get a double-epidemic.

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I don't think the intent was to keep Epidemic cards from being adjacent. I think the intent of the Player Draw Pile construction is simply to guarantee that the Epidemic cards are distributed (somewhat) evenly. That's not quite the same thing. –  Todd Mar 1 '11 at 21:37
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The rules are clearly attempting to distribute them evenly, yes. We choose to take it further and not allow them to be adjacent since the rules don't explicitly handle that case at all, and even having the cards NEAR each other makes it hard enough. I did say "my group interprets" so your interpretation may vary. –  lilserf Mar 2 '11 at 5:07
    
@lilserf I was really just responding to your first sentence about the intent of the rules, not your shuffle interpretation (which I think is an interesting solution). I could be wrong, but I don't think the rules as written make it statistically less likely that two Epidemic cards would be adjacent, compared to simply shuffling them all into the stack. –  Todd Mar 2 '11 at 17:17
    
Maybe not, I dunno. Seems like since you have to get one at the top of a stack and one at the bottom that does lower the odds compared to just shuffling all 5 (or whatever) into the full deck, but I sure as hell haven't done the math. –  lilserf Mar 2 '11 at 18:34
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@blueberryfields: I disagree with you conclusion. I believe their intention was just to ensure that on average your epidemics will be somewhat evenly distributed throughout the game. Because otherwise you might draw all of them very early (you loose for sure) or very late in the game (you win for sure). Both wouldn't be very interesting games. - - - If you really want to prevent double epidemics then set aside 3/4/5 cards when you make the stacks and use them as spacers. You can still get 2 epi's in two sequential turns though... –  Kempeth Mar 3 '11 at 7:40
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We just encountered this - using the 'shuffle' as a pure shuffle. Our crew feels that ensuring it isn't top or bottom is essentially 'looking.' As a result, we ended up having a player draw 2 epidemics during their draw.

Interesting outcome - since the first epidemic cleared the infection discard during the intensify phase, it forced the city where the 2nd epidemic occurred to have an outbreak during the infector phase.

While painful, we decided to allow this possibility.

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