Pandemic is one of the most popular games at my house, so I was really excited when Z-Man Games reached out to see if I’d be up for reviewing Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America. They sent me a copy, and it’s been fun to have, with some caveats. You can purchase a copy of Hot Zone – North America from your favorite retailers or you can download a free print and play version to enjoy at home.
Hot Zone – North America is kind of like Pandemic Lite. The map is smaller which means there are fewer cities to worry about and it’s easier to traverse. There are also only three diseases instead of four and you only need four cards instead of five to discover a cure. The game only takes about half the time of a normal game of Pandemic, averaging about 20-25 minutes.
In addition, there are three Epidemic cards to worry about. If you’ve played a fair amount of Pandemic, this may prove too easy still. The first game I played was a 2-player game with all three Epidemics. We ended with only a few turns left, but it was never a stressful game. It was pretty easy. However, to help offset this, there are Crisis cards that you can add to up the challenge. It never feels as hard as Pandemic though. Oh, there’s also only one Research Station with no way to build more.
Hot Zone – North America is not for every game group. However, it provides a faster and easier experience that some will love. It is especially nice for introducing the game to new players or younger players. This is where I think this really fits in. Something to get people into the game and familiar with the game mechanics before giving them next to no hope of winning. I do recommend it for people wanting a quick game or wanting to try out the Pandemic games. If you want something with more of a challenge, this is not for you.