Pandemic
Answer: MARYMALLON
Ariel Uy

This puzzle is based on the board game Pandemic by Z-Man Games.

First, we solve each of the 4 subpuzzles.

Puzzle 1:

The first card played is Bursa. We only get 1 turn before Bursa is played, so we cannot prevent an outbreak from occurring in Bursa. We could treat Minsk for blue to prevent the Bursa outbreak from also causing an outbreak in Minsk. However, the next card being played is Minsk. If we do not treat Minsk for red, then a chain of outbreaks will occur in Minsk, Vologda, and Oslo, causing the total number of outbreaks to reach 4 (losing). We cannot treat Minsk twice in a row, so on the first turn, we must treat Minsk for red.

The next card being played is Oslo. Oslo currently has 3 blue cubes due to an outbreak in Minsk. A blue outbreak in Oslo would also cause many other blue outbreaks, and we can have at most 1 more outbreak. So the next two turns must be move to Oslo and treat Oslo for blue.

The rest of the cards are Lisbon, Lisbon, Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Lisbon. The last 3 cards will each cause an outbreak in that city, but we can have at most 1 more outbreak, so we must prevent 2 of those outbreaks. We cannot allow Aberdeen to outbreak twice, so one of the next 4 moves must be treating Aberdeen. We can't treat Aberdeen twice in a row, so we can only prevent one of Aberdeen's outbreaks, so we move to Nice, move to Aberdeen, and treat Aberdeen for red. Finally, we must prevent the outbreak in Lisbon, so we move to Lisbon and treat Lisbon for blue.

Puzzle 2:

The first 2 cards played are Cartagena and Fort Lauderdale. These cards bring each of those cities up to 3 yellow cubes. If we do not treat either city, the 3rd card, Cartagena, will cause outbreaks in both Cartagena and Fort Lauderdale. This would be 2 outbreaks and we would lose. Therefore we must treat either Cartagena or Fort Lauderdale in the first 3 moves. Each of them is 2 moves away from the starting position, so the first 3 moves will be move, move, treat.

The next 2 cards are St. Paul and Laredo. If Laredo outbreaks, it will potentially cause a chain of outbreaks in St. Paul, Merida, and Cartagena.

Suppose we chose to move to and treat Cartagena in the first 3 turns. Then we have had 0 outbreaks so far. For the fourth turn, we have to move since we cannot treat twice in a row. No matter where we move, moving and treating does not prevent Laredo and St. Paul from outbreaking, so we would lose.

So the first 3 moves must be move to St. Paul, move to Fort Lauderdale, and treat Fort Lauderdale for yellow. We have 1 outbreak so far, and cannot have any more. So we must move to Laredo and treat Laredo for red.

Puzzle 3:

The first card is Medina. If we had an outbreak in Medina, that would cause a chain of outbreaks in Alexandria, Sanaa, Lusaka, Kumasi, Brazzaville, and Gqeberha, so we would lose. So the first turn must be treat Medina for blue. The second turn must then be moving, since we cannot treat twice, so we cannot do anything about the outbreak in Sanaa. This causes outbreaks in Medina, Alexandria, and Lusaka, for a total of 4.

The third card is Kumasi. We cannot reach Kumasi in time to prevent an outbreak there, but we can only have 1 more outbreak. So we cannot allow Kumasi to trigger a outbreaks in Alexandria and Lusaka. Therefore the next 2 turns are move to Alexandria and treat Alexandria for yellow.

The next 2 cards are Alexandria and Lusaka. Alexandria does not outbreak, but Lusaka will. We have already had 5 outbreaks, so the last 2 turns must be move to Lusaka and treat Lusaka for red.

Puzzle 4:

The first 2 cards are Surabaya and Orai. We cannot have any outbreaks, so the first turn must be treat Orai for red. If we moved instead, we wouldn't be able to treat Orai.

The next 2 cards are Davao and Nanning. Nanning would cause an outbreak, so the next 3 turns must be move to Hanoi, move to Nanning, and treat Nanning for red.

The last 2 cards are Hanoi and Surabaya. Surabaya has 3 black cubes already, so another would cause an outbreak. So we move to Surabaya and treat Surabaya for black.

Extraction:

Next we look at the extraction key at the bottom. We can see from the first 4 blanks that we are supposed to get 1 letter from each puzzle. If we draw the moves onto the map, we spell out MARY.

The next 6 blanks have a red cube underneath of them. We removed exactly 6 red cubes while solving the minipuzzles. The order we removed those red cubes was Minsk, Aberdeen, Laredo, Lusaka, Orai, Nanning. Taking the first letters of these cities, we get MALLON.