Pandemic: On the Brink - Board Game Box Shot

Pandemic: On the Brink

| Published: 2009
Expansion for Pandemic

Pandemic: On the Brink is an expansion to our popular cooperative game, Pandemic, wherein players take on roles to work together to find cures to 4 diseases.

In this expansion you will find six new roles (plus 1 revised OpEx and a Bio-Terrorist), eight new special events, and several challenge kits to be added to the basic game play.

Virulent Strain challenge: makes one disease become particularly deadly in unpredictable ways.

Mutation Challenge: adds a fifth (purple) disease that behaves differently than the original four.

Bio-Terrorist Challenge: pits one player against the others!

You may also play with 5 players and play on Legendary level!

User Reviews (26)

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1
I Am What I Am
8
47 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Makes a Great Disease Even Greater”

Firstly, the petry dishes are just adorable. Secondly, the best things about this expansion are the new roles. the five base roles were (and still are) fantastic, but these new roles all embody something different that the core five wouldn’t have dreamed of, home in Atlanta. Flying around like crazy isn’t a bad thing, anymore, since there’s a role for that! Discarding cards isn’t quite so taboo, since there’s the Archivist for that! Finding cures with five cards getting you down? The Field Operative would like a word with you!

On top of the additional roles, we also gain a few different ways to play (and make the game a bit more difficult). The Mutation option adds a fourth (purple!) disease the game, which can be cured by a combination of any five location cards, so long as at least one of them shows a location with a purple cube. It spreads…in interesting ways, as well as the standard outbreak. Whenever a card is drawn from the Infection Deck, if it has a purple cube on it, add another one. There are also special Mutation Spreads cards in that deck, which work similarly to Epidemics. In the Hero Deck, the mutation can also…mutate, by adding one cube to all spaces with one purple cube, etc. It’s an interesting shift.

Additionally, there is the option to make one disease way worse than the others, by naming it the Virulent Strain. This disease will spread faster and harsher than the others, thanks to special epidemic cards with added text, many of which link together to cause mayhem for every turn to come.

Finally, there’s the Bioterrorist method of play, which lets one player become the antithesis of what Atlanta bred, and he/she will spread disease around the board (moving in SECRET), while the others try to find HIM, as well as cure the diseases.

Of course, all of these can be combined at once for an exciting game of Virulent Mutated Bioterrorists. This just takes a great game and gives it more options. There isn’t anything that hampers the original at all. Like a good expansion, it only expands the best!

 
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8
Senior
Critic - Level 3
Junior Reporter
Explorer - Level 4
9
107 of 110 gamers found this helpful
“Don't play without it”

On the Brink is a great expansion for Pandemic. You get new characters, new specials and some wicked variants that you can pick and choose from to make the game more interesting and stressful.

What’s New
1) Three new rules variants (mentioned in the overview above) that add some real challenges to the game,
2) Six new roles that add more characters abilities,
3) Eight more Special Event cards to help ease the pressure a bit,
4) Six nice Petri Dishes to store your components (no more plastic baggies),
5) Rules for a 5th player,
6) Legendary difficulty level — 7 Epidemic cards!

What’s Fun About It

Pandemic is never a walk in the park, but it does get a little repetitive after a while. That’s not to say it isn’t always fun, but this expansion adds some variety and new features to the mix that makes things much more interesting in my opinion. The variants all increase the game’s difficulty and the specials and new roles tend to help the characters keep the world alive longer.

The ominous pressure is still there and the fear of where the next infection card will target still makes one hesitate before turning it. Theme and play balance is preserved (although there seems to be more discussion and analysis going on in my group than in the base game) but a win seems even more satisfying with louder sighs of relief.

If you like to have a live player enemy working against the group, then you have the option of using the Bio-Terrorist variant too!

Bottom Line

If you like Pandemic, this is a must-have expansion. It does add a bit of complexity to the base game, but not enough to turn anyone off. As long as one person understands the new mechanics (i.e., the variant rules) other experienced players should pick it up very quickly.

I wouldn’t use it when introducing new players to the world of Pandemic, but most should be able to graduate to the expansion after playing the base game a couple times or so.

 
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1
Gamer - Level 1
7
66 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“A worthy addition for any Pandemic fan”

On the Brink is almost essential for those that enjoy Pandemic for one reason and one reason only: it fixes two of the roles of its predecessor. Previously, two of the roles were almost entirely useless as their abilities rarely assisted the team. These have since been fixed up with updated cards: simply put the new role cards into the deck, and throw away the old- you’ll never have a use for them again. While we’re at it, the new roles have been well thought out. They won’t make you crave them every game, but you won’t be disappointed to receive them. This is certainly a good thing, as it indicates the new roles are sufficiently balanced to ensure the abilities of one person are never more important than the abilities of the collective team.

The components are a nice addition. The comparatively huge meeples of Pandemic have been replaced by smaller meeples that seem more in place on the board. The petri-dishes provided to house the virus counters, while no more useful than a zip lock bag, are a nice touch.

Then you have the bio-terrorist role and the new purple virus. This provides an interesting mechanic where the bio-terrorist travels the world secretly spreading a virus of his or her own (purple) which provides an added layer of difficulty. How does it go down at our table? Meh, take it or leave it. It certainly amps up the difficulty, but we find the difficulty is just fine without them. Ultimately, the bio-terrorist role just comes off as messy to me, and doesn’t seem to flow with the original game as much as I would like.

All in all though, it’s a worthy addition, if only for the added variety of roles, the repairing of previous roles, and downsized meeples alone. At $33 on Milsims, it’s not a bad pick-up by any means. It fixes and adds to the original game, and if you have a particularly destructive or uncooperative player that just wants to watch the world burn? You’ve got the bio-terrorist role right there for them.

 
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4
Novice Reviewer
Gamer - Level 4
Advanced Grader
10
51 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“An expansions that makes a good game great!”

Many expansions just add more of the same and potentially upset the balance of the original game. On The Brink builds on the foundation that Pandemic offers by adding new twists, and it brings along great components for the ride.

The components:
The new pawns fix my only complaint about the original game. Their size makes game play much easier.

The components:
The petri dishes are great for storing and organizing the components, and they add to the thematic experience of the game.

New game play options:
The virulent strains replace the epidemics cards of the original game, and each changes the game play in minor (or major) ways. Since they are randomly selected, there is no easy way to prepare for them. It adds a great layer of difficulty for the experienced player.

The mutation diseases adds a new purple disease to the game. It behaves differently than the original diseases, and it can throw a wrench in the standard strategies. There are so few of the cubes that the players must be especially careful in managing the threat.

I have not used the bio-terrorist. I prefer the Pandemic experience as a cooperative one. I can not comment to how well it works.

The new roles add the most to the game play. Even if you don’t use any of the other components, you can add the new roles to a standard game and add to the experience.

If you enjoy Pandemic, then you should strongly consider picking up this expansion.

 
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3
10
49 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“My favorite game for good reason”

The first game we played when I started playing games over lunch at my new job was Pandemic. Pandemic is a game I have had for quite a while, and I also have the expansion. I really don’t need to say much to convey my feelings about Pandemic: it is my favorite game. I’m not crazy in that enjoyment of the game either. My coworkers who played with me were instantly addicted and wanted to play it whenever we had the chance. We did not, though, because I can get sick of Pandemic just like any game. I have learned to pace myself and not play Pandemic too much in a short span. Otherwise, I get sick of it and won’t want to play it for months even when others want to play it. Even when I do get sick of it, though, I still come back to it. It is simply a great game. Accordingly, it gets to my table more than any other game.

So, I guess if it behoves me to write about Pandemic because it is my favorite, then it in turn behoves me to explain why Pandemic is such a great game. You should know that in Pandemic the player is on a team of specialists that are trying to cure 4 diseases before they decimate mankind. You take turns, do actions, and play cards to travel the world and hold-off/cure disease and discover cures. I now will jump right into the game’s aspects.

First, it is cooperative. Cooperative games are great because you rarely if ever get mad at each other. It is the game that is mean to you and potentially beats you, not other players. Of course, one must keep in mind that this is depend on the personalities of the players. If one person is too dominant and the other players don’t speak up, the game can quickly become a solitaire game with the one player vicariously performing all the actions. Likewise, even when their isn’t a domineering player, the game can get boring if even one player is apathetic or too quiet. In the former case, the other players may as well not play, leaving it to just the one player. In the later case, the quiet/apathetic player may as well not play, leaving the game for the others.

Part of the reason that the cooperative nature works so well is that the roles are well defined. The roles each have special abilities, and that is where the key lies. The special abilities make you change your strategy based upon them. Moreover, it is fun to see how you can roll your abilities (& thus your turn) into your friends’ roles. Using your abilities in tandem is where your team’s true power lies, and when such cooperation is done well, the resulting success is fun to watch and be a part of.

Another element of greatness is the balance in this game. Some roles seem more powerful than others, but none are over-powered or too weak. Once players have played a few times, they start to learn that none of the roles are useless and all have their place and their use. The number of actions per turn versus the amount that the disease spreads each turn is well balanced as well. One loses the game via the spread of disease either by running out of cubes or having too many outbreaks. I would say I have about a 45% win rate; that gives you an idea of that balance between a player’s ability to do actions and the ability of the disease to wreak havoc. The other nod towards balance that the designer implemented is the ability to ramp the difficulty up and down. There are epidemic cards in the player card deck. When they come up, they increase the rate that disease spreads each turn and they make it more likely to have outbreaks. So, the game rules give the option to have 4, 5, or 6 epidemics in the game session. 4 is easy, and 6 is hard. So, depending how good your strategic mind is and depending on how much you like to lose, you can shift the balance of actions vs. disease spread one way or the other. That ability to throttle difficult is fantastic; their is nothing more frustrating than a game that is too hard and nothing more dull than a game that is too easy.

The strategy and replay-ability are another superior aspect to Pandemic. They go hand-in-hand. The cities impacted by disease change every game. Likewise, the team’s strategy must evolve and change as the cities impacted change and grow. Developing the strategy (such as player 1 will do x actions so that player 2 can do y actions) is just plain fun. Since that strategy does change every game; it is an important part of what makes Pandemic excellent.

Finally, one cannot forget about the theme. The theme of racing against time to cure disease is very well done. It feels like a ingrained, required part of the game like as if one can’t have the game Pandemic without the theme (even though technically that is not true). The theme works very well with the mechanics of the game and gives a dose of the tension such specialists might feel in real life. I love it.

If you haven’t played Pandemic, you have to try it. If you have the right group of people (no one too timid or too dominant), you might find yourself so addicted that you play it until disgusted (or at least bored) at the sight of it. Then you’ll come back to it because it is just too good. Then, hopefully in enough moderation to not kill your enjoyment, you will play it again and again and again and again and…

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
9
46 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“This is how you do an expansion!”

I really like Pandemic, but this expansion just makes the game so great! I love the fact that they added lots of new roles! I’m not sure which is my favorite now, but it is somewhere between medic (original game), troubleshooter, and field operative. My daughter really enjoys the bio-terrorist version of the game.

More powerful strains of viruses are added by new epidemic cards that really increase the challenge, along with a new mutating virus to mix things up a bit. This expansion really adds a lot of replay value to the game.

The petri dishes add such a nice touch to the game! You can now store all the virus cubes in them, and an extra dish for the player tokens and research stations. Only problem is that it just doesn’t quite fit in the original game box, but I cram it in anyway.

Well worth getting if you like the original game.

 
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2
My First Favorite!
8
34 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Must-get expansion”

This expansion is worth getting for the petri dishes alone.
The new roles are logical explorations of the theme, and make sense game-play wise and within their roles in the them of the game world.
The new disease livens things up.

I haven’t even got to using the virulent strains and bioterrorist. This was a game that didn’t feel like it needed and expansion, and I’ve only been moving in the expansion options slowly. It’s just that good. We don’t need the extra game options yet, we are thoroughly satisfied with the experience at every stage of the basic game and with the expansions for added variety. I really recommend this to anyone with the base game. Do you need it? Nah! But it’s a great addition.

 
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5
USA
Knight
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
10
36 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Mandatory Expansion”

Pandemic is a great cooperative game with a huge amount of replay value, On the Brink, adds even more to that.

The first thing you will notice is the incorporation of petri dishes to increase the overall look of the game. Next you will notice the increased selection of role cards. This gives each game a even more diverse setup than the base.

Playing this game with the expanded rules and offerings, will increase enjoyment, difficulty and replay value for all fans of the original Pandemic board game.

A must for all Pandemic fans

 
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6
I'm Completely Obsessed
Viscount / Viscountess
Champion
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
9
33 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Amazing expansion to a great game.”

On the Brink takes a good game in Pandemic, and makes it great. The components (especially the petri dishes) really make organizing the game much easier. The new varieties of epidemics, mutations and bio-terrorist add a lot of fun and replay value. As a co-op game which you can completely control the difficulty factor for, this is a terrific game to introduce new people to.

It’s rare that I consider expansions better than the original game, but with Pandemic, I believe On The Brink is mandatory. If you enjoy Pandemic, I highly recommend this.

 
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1
10
9 of 13 gamers found this helpful
“The Devious Bio-Terrorist”

I love this expansion. Beyond the new disease, the new roles, the new event cards for the player deck, the petri dishes, evil virulent strain Epidemic cards, there is a Bio-Terrorist.

If you have played a lot of Pandemic it can be difficult to play with people who are new to the game. It is a great game and you want them to play, but you don’t want to take over their turn and tell them what to do. Advice is fine, but the decision should always be theirs. If you are in this situation, you can now have the most experienced player play as the Bio-Terrorist.

The Bio-Terrorist is a fifth player that actually works against the players. It is a fantastically thematic and fun way of adding to an already fantastic game. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

 
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2
My First Wish!
8
30 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Always use it”

This is the kind of expansion that once it’s in use you will never take it out and play the original game again.

Not that you will use every part every time you play (like the Bio-Terrorist Challenge) but the other stuff is too good to not use.

Besides, I think that once your master the original game you seldom lose. This expansion puts back the challenge to the game, even if you play it so many times.

 
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6
USA
Old Bones
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
10
6 of 13 gamers found this helpful
“A family with a 8 y/o daughters favorite game”

When we purchased the original pandemic last year based on reviews and looking for something different than candyland, monopoly, chutes & ladders, etc… I had no idea we’d all have so much fun with a cooperative game. This expansion just adds to the fun.

We have never played the bio-terrorist variant, instead enjoying cooperative play, but we have played both virulent strain and the purple mutation, we can’t get enough. When people ask us what we like to do and we explain we enjoy saving the world from diabolical viruses we get strange looks. When we invite them over and show them what we mean they get hooked. This is always a family favorite and makes it on the table regularly.

I’d say this is a must have expansion for the extra characters and the cool petri dishes to store your disease cubes in. The added purple virus makes this game a bit more challenging and a whole lot more fun and we love when the virulent strain throws a wrench into our plans.

 
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5
I play red
Strategist
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
9
18 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“How to make a hard game impossible”

I love this expansion, or at least what parts of it we’ve managed to play, but some of it seems insane. My gaming group has managed to win the easy version of the game a handful of times, but Legendary??? Is it even possible? It seems to me that at this level only cheaters or the extremely lucky can possibly even hope of coming close to winning.

 
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5
Went to Gen Con 2012
BoardGaming.com Silver Supporter
9
24 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“A must have expansion”

On The Brink adds everything the base games needs to take it to the next level. The additional roles kicks replay value through the roof. Now there is even a player conflict option with the Bio-terrorist. The new pawns are better sized for the board and the petri dish storage is great.

 
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1
9
12 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“Just great”

The added roles would have been enough for us, but the other parts are good fun too. The smaller pawns and petrie dishes were great touches.

Must have! Honest.

 

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