Game Buzz: Quarantine

Recently, there have been a few games about the emergency professions – Flash Point: Fire Rescue took us into the world of a firefighter, and Police Precint helped us learn what it was like to be a police officer.  Now we journey into a hospital with

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Quarantine is a new game from designer Mark Klassen and Mercury Games.  It’s for 2-4 players and takes an hour to play.  Each player is the owner of a hospital, trying to provide the best treatment possible while trying to avoid having wards shut down due to disease.  The theme sounds pretty intense, but from the looks of the cover, the game seems to have a more tongue-in-cheek feel to it.  It was one of the most anticipated games for 2013 on a BGG poll, so let’s see how it looks.

The game comes with 96 patient cubes (4 colors, 24 each); 32 gray disease cubes (the Graysies); 28 spcial room tiles; 16 starting treatment room tiles; 8 additional treatment room tiles; 4 lobby tiles; 8 bonus action markers; 4 round action discs, and a cloth draw bag.  Each player gets a starting treatment room of each color, plus a lobby tile.  You’ll arrange these into your hospital layout so that each tile connects to at least one open doorway, and you remain connected to your lobby through a series of doorways (the entrance must always remain open, so the lobby can never be completely surrounded).  Additionally, 8 special rooms are drawn for use, and put all patient and disease cubes into the draw bag.  The start player takes the four action discs, and the player on his/her left gets the draw bag.

At the start of your turn, the player on your left draws four cubes from the bag and holds them secretly in hand.  When you’re ready, you call out “New Patient!” and get a random cube, and then place it into either your wait line or another player’s wait line.  If you get a gray cube, you must Quarantine a tile in any player’s hospital.  If that hospital has no quarantined tiles, you may go after any of them.  If they do have quarantined tiles, you must quarantine an adjacent tile.  In the first round only, you draw until you have four non-gray cubes.

You also get four actions during your turn – these can be taken at any time, including before, during, and after the cube placement.  Each action must finish before moving on to another.  The action discs will help you track how many actions you’ve taken.  Your options:

  • Admit Patients: Admit patients from the beginning of the wait line into your hospital.  For this one action, you admit as many as you can until you reach a patient that can not be admitted.
  • Cure Patients: Cure all patients of one color (not gray) in treatment rooms or special room tiles.  These go are taken into your own personal supply for use later.
  • Open a Tile Contract: Put two cubes from your personal supply on top of the special room tile stack and put the whole stack in front of you.  On your next turn, take the top room and either place it in your hospital or next to your hospital.  The cubes remain on top.
  • Buy Room Tile: You can buy a special room (as long as you have an open tile contract) or an additional treatment room.  For both, you’ll have to pay cubes from your personal supply, either the exact cost indicated by the cubes on the special rooms or two of any color for treatment rooms.  These cubes go out of the game.
  • Move Patients: Take any patient in your line and move it anywhere else in your line.
  • Take Bonus Action Marker: These can be used later to give you more actions during a turn.  There are only eight available bonus action markers, and if there aren’t any left, you can’t take this action.  Additionally, you can only do this twice in a turn.
  • Decontaminate: Remove one gray disease cube from any tile in any hospital.
  • Renovate: Move, reorient, or remove up to two tiles, following all placement rules.  You can’t move a quarantine tile or a tile containing a patient.  This can only be taken once per turn.

Your turn is over after your four actions and four cube placements.  The game ends when the last tile in the game is purchased, or when the last patient comes out of the game.  The player who triggered the end game finishes their turn, and then everyone else gets one more turn.  You get one point per special room in your hospital, every completed nurses station (formed with the corners of tiles), every two cubes in your personal supply, and if you have no patients in line.

I said at the beginning that this game looked kind of tongue-in-cheek.  After reading the rules, I can see it even more.  You’re running a hospital while committing acts of corporate terrorism, trying to infect your opponents and send cases you don’t want their way.  It seems very confrontational, but it also seems like it could be a lot of fun.  There are a bunch of action choices, and you have to figure out how to use them.  The bonus actions are a good addition, as it helps you carry over actions from turn to turn – if you have nothing left you need to do and an action left, take a bonus action so you can get five next time.  I like how you can organize and reorganize things in your hospital, and it all seems to make a lot of sense.  This looks like a very clean game design, and I look forward to seeing how it all comes out.  Thanks for reading!

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