A Look into Pandemic

My husband and I got into playing board games quite recently. Thanks to YouTube channels like Tabletop Games and Watch It Played, we’ve become addicted to these things. It’s only been a couple of months since we started playing co-op games together, but we’ve already bought several games. Our latest acquisition is Pandemic, made by Matt Leacock and published by Z-Man games. We couldn’t find a copy of this back in Manila, despite visiting several gaming stores. Thankfully, they had plenty of copies here in Welly and we got one from Cerberus Games.

Pandemic board in the middle of a game

Four cure tokens

The goal of the game is to find the cure to all four diseases before they take over the world. As this is a co-op game, all the players have to work with one another in order to achieve the goal. Players collect a certain number of same colored cards and have research stations built in order for a cure to be discovered. While you and your team mates are on the search, make sure you try to treat cities which are already infected so that the diseases don’t spread any further.

Epidemic cards drawn

Sounds simple and easy, right? That’s until you start drawing Epidemic cards or having outbreaks in different places across your board. The epidemic card makes one random city infected at maximum level. If one of the players draw the same city again during the next infection stage, it will cause an outbreak and the disease will start spreading to all the different places directly linked to that city. If the disease spreads to another city which has also reached its maximum infection levels, it’ll lead to another outbreak!

close up shot of some pieces in game

Keep an eye on the outbreak meter on the left side of the board: Eight (8) outbreaks and you lose! The colored cubes symbolize the diseases and each city can only hold a maximum of 3 cubes per disease. If the diseases spread way too much and you don’t have any cubes left to put on the cities, you lose the game as well. There will be many times when you think you’ve got everything under control. One unlucky draw can completely wreck the game and have players praying they find all the cures sooner than later.

cover shot of the Pandemic box showing some of the characters used in the game

Pandemic is one of those games which doesn’t involve rolling a die, but that doesn’t make the game any less intense. This is a challenging co-op game which can get infuriating as it’s so much more easier to lose than win. S and I have played this game many times since we’ve bought it, and it still manages to beat us. Each time we draw from the player deck, we still catch ourselves dreading the appearance of the Epidemic card. And when it does get drawn? A lot of swearing Groans of despair can be heard from all the players at the table.

If there’s one “flaw” we see in Pandemic, it’s that one player can easily dictate the moves of all the others if he chooses to. In Dead of Winter (which I need to write about soon), each player has their individual “secret” missions on top of completing the main goal of the game. This helps minimize, if not eliminate, the chance of having one player dominate the entire game with what he thinks should be done. Despite that observation and all the times we lose in this game, S and I still love playing Pandemic. After several months of searching, we finally understand why it’s such a beloved game. 🙂

2 Replies to “A Look into Pandemic”

  1. It really is an excellent game! I definitely recommend checking out the On The Brink expansion to add in ​a bit more.

    1. We weren’t aware that there’s an expansion for Pandemic! We’ll definitely look into getting that. 🙂

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