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    Awards

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You Might Like

    • Turns a very familiar theme on its head.
    • A really good, simple area control game.
    • Great player interaction.
    • Plenty of scope for expansions.

    Might Not Like

    • Player interaction is very take-that heavy, which some may not like.
    • The theme could be quite off-putting/upsetting.
    • It looks a little bland in red hues and stark simplicity.
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    Plague Inc. Board Game Review

    If you’re familiar with the mobile game of the same name, this board game variant of Plague Inc. will need little introduction. For those that haven’t heard of it, in this game you are a pathogen, a germ, a dirty, dirty disease with only one goal; the complete and utter annihilation of human kind.

    Thematically, this is opposite to the well known and loved Pandemic series of games, but that is where the similarities end. Plague Inc. will take you on a very different, very competitive journey in your attempt to wipe man from the face of the planet and be claimed the best (or worst, depending on which way you look at it) disease of all time.

    Now, for some people, the theme may be off-putting, I get that. I could tell you that this is a good game, which is full of interesting choices, a little bit of luck and some great player interaction. But, if you really don’t like the idea of playing a game based on a Doomsday Event, you’re going to find a barrier that I can’t really help you get over.

    You should try though....

    Playing Plague Inc.

    Each player begins Plague Inc. with a fairly innocuous pathogen, represented by a player mat with some basic stats, limited abilities and space for new Traits to be evolved and added later. Playing as either a Bacteria or Virus (the Virus offering a slightly more complex game, but you can play a balanced game with a mix of both on the board) each turn you’ll follow a strict order of play that will enable you to affect more countries, evolve your disease, infect and ultimately kill - removing countries from the board in the process.

    The complexities, wonders and beauties of the world are reduced to a red-hued world map showing six continents (Antarctica is excluded), each to be made up of Country cards as the game progresses.  These cards display a number of black hexagons which represent the major cities and these are what you will attempt to infect and kill.

    In a player’s turn, they will collect DNA points (which act as both victory points and currency) for each county they control - have equal or majority infection tokens on. Following this, players will get to choose to add a new, healthy country to the board, or remove a country from the deck in order to [I’m going to call it] mutate and refresh their limited and dwindling hand of Trait cards. It is at this stage that the interesting choices start to show.

    Country Cards

    Your disease can’t just pop-up and start infecting willy-nilly. Far from it, any new country card added needs to be first connected to a country you currently infect – either on the same continent or via boat or plane. Next, this new country has to be climate suitable. Extremely hot and/or cold countries are difficult places for an un-evolved disease to thrive.

    You can use these extreme temperature countries to box opponents in or reduce the amount of connectivity they have by discarding country cards that bear the boat or plane icon. Ensuring that you maintain plenty of climate suitable connectivity.

    Of course, your opponents are trying to do the same to you. However, discarding a country card comes with a ‘cost’ - the discarding of your current hand of Trait cards.

    Trait Cards

    Trait cards represent the symptoms (by and large) of your disease, with each card enabling your disease to do something else, or something extra. Each card is delightfully named and thankfully bears no picture other than an abstracted symbol.

    These benefits range from making your disease more infectious, making it tolerant to extreme temperatures, more stable when travelling and, probably most importantly, making it more lethal.  Only one Trait can be evolved –added – to your disease each turn, so the manner in which you evolve your pathogen will impact your game.

    The cost of each evolution is naturally sliding, the more it does, and the better it does it the more expensive it will be. This is where the game gets a little swingy, as the more victory points the Trait costs you, the longer you spend recovering from your purchase.

    At the end, you’ll get the points back for all active – topmost – traits, but that only helps in game, and does nothing to help you evolve and upgrade whilst playing. It is with this mechanic that most new-to-the-game players struggle, as they place additional value to the higher costing, more powerful cards. Spending 20 DNA points in the first part of the game is eye-watering high, so newer-gamers hold on to these cards, clogging up their hand which slows their progress.

    Wipe out those Countries

    Finally, you’ll be looking to wipe countries out.  Once all the city spots are full, any player who controls that country rolls the Death Die, rolling equal to, or lower than your Lethality score – so if you are prone to roll ones a lot of the time, you will do very, very well playing Plague Inc. Remember I promised you player interaction, it is here that it really comes in.

    Event cards give you all sorts of abilities, some will let you move your disease around a little more freely as a one shot, others will allow you to make a nuclear strike against that country that is soon to score and you’re not in. You can quarantine other players, stop them, slow them and generally get on their nerves, all in these great little pockets of playing “the good guys.”

    These event cards are a welcome and occasionally brutal surprise when playing a game, and any player that occupies a county when it is killed gets one, so even just dipping your toe in and spreading your little, non-lethal disease around will net you a good bunch of these cards.

    The Event cards also inject a little more colour into the game, with more illustrative card art, however, these cards don’t fit perfectly from a thematic stand point, where you will be wiping out parts of North America out one minute, and then setting up a travel ban for all of Asia the next. This flip-flopping between humankind and disease does snatch some of the immersion away – of which, as an abstract game there isn’t an abundance.

    Final Thoughts on Plague Inc.

    Plague Inc. is an example of a game that tells a story, even though it is probably one you don’t want to hear. There is a healthy dose of replay-ability as some countries are removed each game, and with two different styles of play and a large Trait deck, you are unlikely to see much repetition.

    You’ll play your second game different to your first, and different again in your third and so on, learning and improving your understanding of the game each time. It may be a little morbid, and monochromatic on the table, but the player interaction and competition will keep Plague Inc. as a welcome game on my table or shelf.

    Solo Mode

    Plague Inc. also boasts a solo player mode, where you’ll play against the Plague Bot. This presents an interesting challenge and a fun little puzzle but it can, if you’re unlucky either kick your ass or just end up limited to the African continent making people sneeze and very little else.

    This is a middle weight, competitive area control, hand management game, which is easy to pick up but offers plenty of choices and changes between games.  You’ll have great satisfaction dropping CDC quarantine down on your opponents, and the rare occasion where rolling a one is always a good thing.

    In Plague Inc. you don’t want to succeed too much as you can risk taking yourself out of the game, so striking that perfect balance where you are slightly ahead but never in risk is an interesting challenge.

    As a fan of the mobile game, I’m really excited to see where the board game goes and how it develops with expansions, not that they are needed but they are ripe for design. As much as this game is a little morbid, it is sometimes a lot of fun being the “bad guy.”

    Zatu Score

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You might like

    • Turns a very familiar theme on its head.
    • A really good, simple area control game.
    • Great player interaction.
    • Plenty of scope for expansions.

    Might not like

    • Player interaction is very take-that heavy, which some may not like.
    • The theme could be quite off-putting/upsetting.
    • It looks a little bland in red hues and stark simplicity.

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    Reviews

    great company! Bought lots of games now

    great company! Bought lots of games now

    Excellent company, very responsive customer service team, and the games always arrive quickly and safely.

    Excellent company, very responsive customer service team, and the games always arrive quickly and safely.

    Great price (cheaper than my usual online go-to store) and fast delivery and packaged safely! Easy to use and navigate the website. Already asked someone to buy me my birthday present from here! Will definitely use them again

    Great price (cheaper than my usual online go-to store) and fast delivery and packaged safely! Easy to use and navigate the website. Already asked someone to buy me my birthday present from here! Will definitely use them again

    Competitive Prices in today's 2021 CCG/TCG Market. Great Card Shop option to purchase gaming cards compared to most Card Shops that lack a variety of inventory. Gives players a chance to buy and play these wonderful games. Excellent Customer Service. I'd drive here and visit the store if I didn't live that far.

    Competitive Prices in today's 2021 CCG/TCG Market. Great Card Shop option to purchase gaming cards compared to most Card Shops that lack a variety of inventory. Gives players a chance to buy and play these wonderful games. Excellent Customer Service. I'd drive here and visit the store if I didn't live that far.

    Good prices, good selection and preorder/restock options. Good communication. Deliveries are quick and nicely packaged.

    Good prices, good selection and preorder/restock options. Good communication. Deliveries are quick and nicely packaged.

    A large selection of games available to the UK

    A large selection of games available to the UK

    Have been buying from Zatu for a year now, always a swift delivery. Rapid answers to questions. A thoroughly awesome company. Highly recommended.

    Have been buying from Zatu for a year now, always a swift delivery. Rapid answers to questions. A thoroughly awesome company. Highly recommended.

    Really great, easy to order and very reasonable. Ships really quick to offshore uk! Have used Zatu a few times now and I'll definitely order from again to get our game fix 😊 I can barely wait for my next preorder to arrive.

    Really great, easy to order and very reasonable. Ships really quick to offshore uk! Have used Zatu a few times now and I'll definitely order from again to get our game fix 😊 I can barely wait for my next preorder to arrive.

    Great games, delivered quickly with wonderful customer service

    Great games, delivered quickly with wonderful customer service

    I'm in Ireland and ordered on a Friday and received on a Monday. Umbelievable, thanks so much. Very nice to deal with too!

    I'm in Ireland and ordered on a Friday and received on a Monday. Umbelievable, thanks so much. Very nice to deal with too!

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