Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp Review

Infection is a solitaire game by Victory Point Games in which you try to contain a deadly virus from infecting the world. You take the role of the Director of the Department of Plague Control (DPC) Field Office in NYC.  You make the ultimate decisions on which parts of the virus to study, what equipment to purchase, and which lab scientists to hire.

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Each turn, the player draws a Status Report card and performs its actions.  Usually it means adding molecules for the virus (thus making it stronger) and positive, negative, or no lab effects.  Also, gives a modifier to the containment check given at the end of the turn.  Then, the player moves on to the action phase where they can purchase lab equipment, hire scientists, harvest proteins and destroy molecules in the virus.  The player can do these in any order they wish, but there are restrictions on how much of these actions one can do on a turn.  Next, the player moves on to the containment phase where they roll the die to see if the death track moves forward.  Lastly, the player then refreshes the proteins and draws lab cards for purchase if needed.  Play continues until the death track has reached the end, player destroys the virus, or there are no more proteins to draw.

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Infection reminds me very much of Compounded in the sense that in order to create antibodies, you place a different set of proteins on each molecule.  You always draw four new proteins each turn, and you get to harvest 2 proteins (or more if you get special cards or effects).  I always have enjoyed that aspect of Compounded and was excited to see a similar mechanic in play here.  There are two modes: easy and hard, as the board is double sided.  Easy mode shouldn’t be a problem after a few plays, but hard mode can prove very difficult.  For me, hard mode is just right, giving you the feeling you might win, but usually end up losing in the end.

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What I love about Infection is how one turn can feel very victorious, maybe you destroyed a molecule or two, and didn’t have to move up the death track.  Then the next turn you might draw 3 molecules, and lose a lab equipment card, making you feel defeated.  Each turn can be very different, and one must plan ahead to ensure maximum efficiency in exterminating the virus.  I find the lab equipment cards are much more effective than the scientist cards, but you need at least one scientist card to maximize effects.  The scientists tend to be more expensive and are discarded after they have used all their abilities.  Lab equipment cards stay in play, unless a negative effect makes you discard it.

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Infection has a quick set up time and can be played in less than 45 minutes.  The molecules, proteins, special effect tokens are made of a thick wooden material which have soot on them upon purchase.  The soot irritated my fingers, but thankfully once they got wiped off, there were no issues.  The Status Report and Lab cards are just a step above cardstock, but get the job done.  The puzzle board is cool, and makes it easy to put back in the box.  Overall, the component quality is lower than some would expect, but it doesn’t detract from the gameplay.

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Infection is a fantastic solitaire game that should be in every solo gamers collection.  Having two difficulty modes, place different lab and status report cards that come out give it great replay value.  I know I’ll be playing this game for many months to come.

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