I admit that the first time I played Pandemic, it was at Spiel Essen, I didn't enjoy it, heck! I didn't like it! The reason being that there were a lot of players who knew the game inside-out so that when it came to my turn they were basically playing it for me - I didn't make a single decision that wasn't made for me all game. Everyone thought it was great fun, but it scarred me and it was years before I could face even thinking about playing it again. Then I received Pandemic Iberia to review and playing with my GGO group it was hilarious, great fun, frustrating and a real buzz.
PANDEMIC is a game that keeps on giving, and like an actual Virus it just keeps on spreading.
On the Brink
In the Lab.
State of Emergency
Legacy Season 1
Legacy Season 2
Legacy Season 0
Hot Zone - North America
Hot Zone - Europe
The Cure - Experimental Meds
Reign of Cthulhu
Fall of Rome
There are three strains of virus hitting Europe, designated by colour, Red, Blue and Yellow. These expand at the end of every player turn by flipping over cards from the Infection Deck.
But first the player takes their 4 Actions, any of which can be repeated in the same turn. Then they draw 2 Player cards with the prospect of an Epidemic starting - there are 3 mixed into the deck - and finally they draw cards from the Infection deck. The game has a tight edge because every time you draw a card it has the potential for being the beginning of a disaster.
Players can spend one action moving along a road/across water (ferry) between cities or they can either Charter a Flight or take a Commercial flight - the difference being for a Charter Flight you have to discard a card from your hand that shows the City you are currently in and for a Direct/Commercial Flight you need to discard a card that shows your destination City. Flying only costs one Action so that if you are careful you can land in an infected City and spend other turns removing Virus cubes (one cube of any colour per action).
The players need to make cures for all of the different viruses by collecting four cards of the same colour and having one of them take them to a location where there is a laboratory - in this edition the lab' is in Geneva. Players can swap cards with each other, each exchange taking place when the players are in the same location - each card swap taking up one action. Four Actions go very quickly and seem to do very little in the greater plan of things ('things' being the virus of course).
When the Infection cards are flipped, the city shown gains virus cubes of the same colour as the city is shown on the map. Once a City has 3 cubes instead of taking a fourth cube it expands the virus by one cube into each City it is attached to by route line. Thus, of course, the virus spreads and expands further as it reaches other Cities where there are already three cubes. A player can use an Action to remove one cube from the City they are on; moving removing a cube, moving again and removing a cube is legal but takes up all four Actions.
The Epidemic card is a killer (pun intended) when it is drawn. The Infection marker is increased (meaning the number of cubes placed per Infection card is increased), then the bottom card of the Infection card is drawn and 3 cubes placed on it - often causing more outbreaks, and finally (worst of all) the discard pile of the Infection deck is shuffled and replaced on top of the deck - so all the cards that have previously been drawn infecting Cities will be drawn again - a truly evil mechanic. (I bet Matt Leacock & Tom Lehman were dying (not literally) of laughter when they came up with this rule).
I have only played IBERIA recently so am not really qualified to explain the differences between HOT ZONE EUROPE and the other different variants of PANDEMIC.
I understand that there are meant to be 6 games in the HOT ZONE series, this being the second after North America. HOT ZONE EUROPE is extremely difficult to succeed at and I wouldn't think that the rest of the series is going to be easy-peasy. If they are all like this then the World is going to quickly succumb.
The only good thing about having a PANDEMIC is that you can find the HOT ZONE variants online for around £12.00 (often less).