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4 epidemic cards in the pile are easy in Pandemic. 5 cards - it is interesting. Our win / lose ratio is about 50% with 5 epidemic cards. But I can't imagine how to play with 6 epidemic cards. Are you just very lucky to win this way, or are there are some strategy secrets I still don't get?

Btw there is a 7th epidemic card in the expansion "On the Brink".

Is there anybody who usually plays (and wins) with 6 or 7 epidemic cards on the pile? What's your secret?

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Anecdotally, the one time I played Pandemic one player knew how to play and the rest of us were newbies - I assume we were playing with 4 or 5 epidemic cards. Basically the the owner of the game made all the decisions for everyone and we defeated the epidemic without breaking a sweat. I thought it was a bit pointless! I would have enjoyed it MUCH more if the task had seemed closer to impossible. But maybe I'm just a boardgames masochist? –  thesunneversets Sep 8 '11 at 10:29
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5 Answers

My wife and I have a house rule to let us choose the number of epidemics after we see what roles we get. We usually play "If we have a Medic then 6, otherwise 5". That keeps the challenge ratio at a good spot in all cases.

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My group played with six once, and had virtually no problems; at no point were we even worried we might lose. On the other hand, the last two times we played with five cards we lost miserably, so I don't think the sixth card is as big of an upset as you're expecting. I'd recommend just trying it to see how your group does; a lot depends on if you get two epidemics close together and what cities they hit

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We have tried to play with 6 cards few times. Once we have even won :-) But there was only luck, not strategy - cards were mixed comfortable. I'm interested if anybody plays with 6 cards and could win at least 33% of games. –  Pawka Oct 19 '10 at 20:57
    
@Pawka It's possible we just got really lucky; we're 1 for 1 right now and haven't tried it again –  Michael Mrozek Oct 19 '10 at 20:58
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I suggest don't try, you got very good ratio. Keep it :-) –  Pawka Oct 19 '10 at 20:59
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I've also won with six in a cake walk but been destroyed by it many more times. I think it mostly comes down to luck. I've also had horrid luck run the other way and lost with only four while trying to teach newbies. –  Tycho Oct 19 '10 at 21:35
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@Tycho The first time we played (with five, if I recall correctly) we had back-to-back epidemics :) –  Michael Mrozek Oct 19 '10 at 21:36
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We play with six epidemics most of the time and win about half our games, which is a good ratio for us. My husband and I play a lot of two-player games, but we also play with three and four players and use six epidemics unless we have beginners.

We use a house rule of dealing two roles per player and letting the players choose. Discussion is permitted.

The key to playing with six epidemics, in my experience, is to be ruthless in not wasting actions. Yes, that isolated city with three cubes will have an outbreak soon; absorb it if you've got spare capacity so you can focus on getting the cards together for a cure or attacking bigger problems. It can be tempting to say "while I'm in the neighborhood anyway why don't I...?", but you should always look at whether there are more pressing demands first.

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Ahh Pandemic. There's quite a bit of luck involved. Hitting back to back pandemics can screw you over even in a 4 epidemic game...

Since we got the hang of it we've never lost a 5 epidemic game. So we've been thinking about tackling the 6th card. A big factor in the game are the roles you get. Some combinations just aren't that useful while other simply rock. My suggestion would be to choose your roles and see what combinations suit you most and then try with one of those...

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With 5 players, we're able to win with 7 epidemics + Virulent/Mutation about half the time. In the last game we played, we were short one action and therefore lost by decking ourselves (lame!). Note that having 5 players isn't really an advantage -- it mainly just makes you more likely to deck yourself before you get 4 cures.

We tend to do better if we draw a good balance between role types, where we have at least one of the three major categories: movement/coordination (e.g. Operation's Expert and Dispatcher), treatment (e.g. Medic and Containment Specialist), and cure-finding (e.g. Scientist and Researcher).

Most of all, though, you need a role in the movement/coordination category -- it's just so expensive to get around the board normally.

I don't like to recommend variations I haven't tried, but you can probably reach 7 more easily if you give yourself more choice in starting roles. For example, during setup you could allow each player one chance to discard her role and draw again.

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