Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pandemic [Board Game Review]

Hi, hello, and welcome, fellow users of the Interwebs. It is I, Daniel, back to invite you, the reader, into the wonderful world of board games that don't involve putting money on Free Parking. This time, we will discover just how much fun disease outbreaks and the CDC can be as we look at the newest game in my collection - Pandemic.

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Pandemic is a game for 2-4 players, although really you could get away with 5 if you really wanted to. The game should take about an hour. What makes Pandemic different from most games, and, in fact, all of the games that I own, is that it is a co-op game. In other words, all players are on the same team, meaning that at the end of the game, you're either all winners, or all losers. And you want to win, because not winning means the world gets overrun by up to 4 diseases that wreak havoc on the global population and cause mass... um... deaths hospital visits.

After I give you the regular spiel about not relying on this for a rules description, the game essentially works like this: To start, you will shuffle the infection deck (a list of world cities) and "seed" the board with diseases - placing 3, 2, and 1 disease cube respectively on a few starting cities. You then hand out a role for each player, and this is what gives you a fighting chance to win, because each role has a special action or ability that allows you bend the rules on your turn. After roles are handed out, you deal out cards from the player deck. These cards are either city cards, special event cards, and the dreaded epidemic cards. (More on this in a moment.) 

On your turn, you have a limit of 4 actions you can take. Your options include treating (i.e. removing) 1 disease cube from the city you are currently in, traveling to another city that is connected to the city you are currently in, using city cards from your hand to fly around the world, discover a cure for a disease, and share knowledge (cards) with another player in the same city as you. Again, please take time to read the rule book, because this is the basics of each turn. After your turn, you will draw cards from the player deck, hoping against hope that one of them is not the EPIDEMIC card - this is really bad. Then you will draw 2, 3, or 4 cards from the infection deck, spreading disease around the world. If a city with 3 cubes in it gets a 4th, an outbreak occurs (this is bad). The game ends either when you cure all 4 diseases (yay!), run out of cards from the player deck (boo!), suffer 8 outbreaks (cough, hack, sneeze, die!), or run out of disease cubes to place on the board (global doom!). Players can and are encouraged to discuss moves with each other in order to coordinate resources and attempt to keep the world safe from whatever you decide to name the diseases (and you will wind up naming them).

Image courtesy user nnjed on
So what do I think of Pandemic? It is great! Ginny and I have gotten it out to the table several times since I got it, and we both enjoy it. It's nice to have a game where we are working together rather than against each other. The game length of just about an hour makes this easy to play after the little ones go to bed. In full disclosure, I have not played a 3- or 4-player game, but I know it would be good fun. For a really good video of game play, you should check out Wesley Crusher Wil Wheaton and the Table Top series Pandemic episode.

I think if you can add this game to your collection, you definitely should. It readily available on Amazon, or your favorite game store/website.  Easily an 8 out of 10 for me.

Happy Saturday, and happy gaming!


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