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Why did the creators of the game Pandemic decide that the starting position for each game would be Atlanta rather than any of the other possible cities on the board?

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up vote 28 down vote accepted

Because Atlanta is the home of the CDC. And since we all live in America they are responsible for diseases everywhere...

EDIT: I just checked the English and German rules and now understand your confusion. The German rules explicitly say that this is why players start in Atlanta. For some reason the English rules skip that part.

Danach nimmt sich jeder Spieler die farblich passende Spielfigur und stellt sie in Atlanta auf, wo sich das Zentrum für Seuchenkontrolle und -prävention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) befindet.

Which roughly translates to:

Then every player takes the matching pawn and places it on Atlanta - where the CDC is based.

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+1 for linking to TV Tropes – Johno Apr 24 '12 at 16:29
the English rules mention that you start in Atlanta because it's home to the CDC, too (at least, the copy of the game I have does) – warren Sep 3 '14 at 17:49

Atlanta is US headquarters for disease control.

I don't see any gameplay related reason as to why the game would not function equally well by moving the starting position to any other city of your choosing.

As an aside, note that Essen is a map location. It's a fairly minor German city of around 500.000 inhabitants, but included in many games because of its relation to The Spiel fair (the world's largest board game trade show)

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Then again, the map places Essen somewhere in Belgium or France, at least on the copy I played with. – Michael Borgwardt Jan 20 '14 at 12:25
@MichaelBorgwardt Note that many of the city markers have small lines extending from them that show where the city is actually located. – Zayenz Apr 14 '14 at 7:44
@Zayenz: yes, and it's definitely pointing at the wrong location for Essen. Look at… - that's somewhere northwest of Paris... – Michael Borgwardt Apr 14 '14 at 7:48
@MichaelBorgwardt Ok. I hadn't checked that closely. – Zayenz Apr 14 '14 at 8:05

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