Pandemic: Rapid Response Review

Pandemic: Rapid Response - Z-MAN Games - $39.99
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Game title: Pandemic: Rapid Response

Game description: Disaster has struck! Cities around the world are in desperate need of food, water, vaccines, and other supplies. You and your team belong to the Crisis Response Unit (CRU), an international organization that provides humanitarian relief around the world. Can you save humanity in time?

Overall
2.5
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Pandemic is a modern classic and has sired many offshoots of the popular cooperative game by Matt Leacock. Pandemic: Rapid Response takes the race for the cure and turns it into a fast-paced dice chucker, distilling the game down to a crack team on an airplane delivering vaccines, food, and water needed to various cities around the globe. Unfortunately, the game loses a bit in translation and becomes a bit of a mess with the addition of a sand timer.

Pros

  • Fast-paced
  • Dice rolling
  • Worker placement(ish)

Cons

  • Too frantic
  • Requires excellent coordination between all players at all times
  • A bit bland looking
  • The rules need a bit more clarification

Pandemic is a modern classic and has sired many offshoots of the popular cooperative game by Matt Leacock. Pandemic: Rapid Response takes the race for the cure and turns it into a fast-paced dice chucker, distilling the game down to a crack team on an airplane delivering vaccines, food, and water needed to various cities around the globe. Unfortunately, the game loses a bit in translation and becomes a bit of a mess with the addition of a sand timer.

Rapid Response was a game I was very eager to get to the table, having heard great things about how it captured Pandemic’s feel and broke it down into a real-time dice game that played in around 15 minutes. After trying to understand how the game worked from the rulebook and actually playing it, I’m not sure I can agree with the hype. In fact, it feels kind of like a bastardization of the original.

All the action takes place right here

While the game plays in real-time, players still need to take turns rolling dice and placing them in various sections of the airplane to generate resources. These resources then need to be delivered to cities around the board. Sometimes generating resources creates waste that needs to be managed. If the waste track fills up or the players run out of time, the game ends. If the players can meet the needs of all the revealed cities around the board, they win.

The biggest problem with the game is the timer mechanism. Each time the sand timer needs to be flipped over, you remove a purple token from the board and place a new city down. Each time you fill a city’s needs, you can add an extra purple token back on the board. This feels like it would work much better if the game were truly real-time. Since it forces each player to take their own turn before passing the dice, it makes it, so players have to be completely in sync to do well.

Close up of the components

It also becomes a major issue if there are a ton of dice set around the board, diminishing the number of dice each player gets to roll with. It’s possible to yourself in a situation where you can only roll a couple of dice, which are then used to move from room to room or around the globe, slowing progress down as you use what little you have to try and complete sets around the inside of the plane.

It feels like these things should make the game more exciting and tense, but in reality, it just feels frustrating and it makes me want to play the original Pandemic for a better experience. I’m sure there are folks out there who will really enjoy this. Unfortunately, there’s just too much here to not enjoy. The frantic, yet forced restrained pacing of the game, the unclear rulebook, and the frustration of overly limited resources all serve to hamper enjoyment and kill what makes the original Pandemic such a great game. I’d skip this one.

A copy of Pandemic: Rapid Response was provided free for review by Z-MAN Games

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