My husband picked out a couple of board games for me back at Christmas, and this one is my favorite of the three. Quarantine is a tile placement game made by Mercury Games – which is a game company I don’t think we own anything else from. It plays 2-4 people, and the box says it takes about 60 min. I think for first time players, it is probably more like 90 min.
I love the little germy disease guys on the box cover, hehe.
Anyway, the game begins with each player owning a hospital, and everyone’s hospital starts with the same four treatment rooms – one of each color.
At the beginning of the game, players can arrange these four rooms however they want attached to the lobby, providing there is always an entrance to the hospital through the lobby. You can place doors against a wall of another room if you’d like.
An important note – in the picture above, the connection point between the four square rooms has a circular desk formed. This is called a nurses station. At the end of the game, you want to have as many of these as possible as they are worth points. But during the game, having more nurses stations means spreading disease more easily as patients will congregate there.
Here is an example of how a player may setup their hospital at the beginning of the game.
There is a room market available at the beginning of the game setup somewhat randomly. The special rooms are chosen at random, but there will always be two additional treatment rooms of each color available for purchase in addition. This means a total of twelve stacks of 2 rooms each are available for players to expand their hospitals. The rule book has a short list of what each special room tile does near the back. Here was our room buying setup.
On each turn, the active player receives 4 cubes from the game bag (given to them randomly by the player on their right). The active player then places the cubes however they like. Colored cubes represent patients, while gray cubes represent disease. You place patients in a line outside the lobby of your hospital or the hospital of other players. Gray disease cubes go in any room of a hospital (though you probably don’t want to put the disease in your own hospital).
When you place disease cubes, other players cannot cure patients in their hospital whose path to the exit is blocked by disease – rooms with the gray cubes are considered quarantined. As I mentioned earlier, if a gray cube is placed in a room with a completed nurses station, the disease spreads and you get to take a disease cube from the used supply to place in an adjacent room.
Once all of a player’s cubes from the bag have been doled out, the player takes their turn, which consists of any 4 of the following actions (and you can do actions more than once):
1. Decontaminate – Remove one disease cube from a room in your hospital.
2. Admit patients – Bring patients into your hospital from your waiting line, as long as you have space for them in your rooms.
3. Cure patients – Pick a color, and cure all the patients in your hospital of that color. Curing patients turns those cubes into money for you to use to expand your hospital.
4. Renovate – Choose any two room tiles and rearrange them.
5. Open a Contract – Use your money cubes to bid on a special room tile. If the room makes it back around the table to you with at least one remaining, you may add it to your hospital. If others buy it before you, you get your money back.
6. Buy a room – Use your money cubes to buy a room from an open contract or any two cubes can buy you one of the colored treatment rooms which allow you to hold more patients of that color.
7. Move a patient – Move a single patient in your waiting line to a different spot.
8. Take a red cross marker – These markers basically allow you to save actions from this turn for use during any other turn of the game. You can only do this action twice during each turn, so you HAVE to do at least two other things on your turn.
And that is pretty much how the game play works. Here is a shot of my hospital in the middle of our game.
Winning the Game:
At the end of the game, points are given for the following items:
1. You receive a 1 point if you have no patients waiting outside your hospital.
2. You receive 1 point for every two money cubes in your stockpile.
3. You receive 1 point for every special treatment room you purchased.
4. You receive 1 point for every completed nurses station.
Here is a shot of what my hospital looked like at the end of the game. Renovating during my last turn and the special abilities of my Helipad allowed me to create 6 nurses stations and score a total of 16 points.
It’s a fun game, with a good amount of strategy – you have to play at least twice to figure out what you should be doing. But there is one main thing that frustrates me about this game, and it is how the disease cubes work. They seem to mostly be an annoyance. In the most recent game we played, pretty much every player had a single gray cube sitting in their hospital lobby at the beginning of their turn every round. Putting the gray cube in the lobby blocks every patient from leaving until the player decontaminates. But all it does is waste an action to decontaminate, so typically, there are not diseases running out of control in hospitals. I wonder if maybe adding a dice roll to the decontaminate action – you cure the disease only if you roll a 5 or a 6 for instance – might make this mechanic more interesting?
So ultimately, I have to rate this game. I think I give this one a 3.5 out of 5. It is a good game, but I can’t give everything a 5, since all the ratings are relative to one another. So what my 3.5 means is that this is a very fun, solid tile placement game that I would recommend to anyone, but that it doesn’t take the place of some of my other favorite and higher rated tile placement games, such as Castles of Mad King Ludwig or Keyflower. This game may be a little easier to grasp for teens or lighter tabletop gamers, the strategies don’t seem too elaborate here, but they are still fun and challenging enough to make a pleasant gaming experience.
Oh, by the way – if you are interested in board games, you should check out this blog – www.boardgamegiveaway.com – he does a different board game giveaway each month, and in March, he’ll be giving away Star Wars: Imperial Assault! He’s just getting started with the blog, but it’s pretty easy to support something new that involves free games, right? 🙂