Game Title: Pandemic
Designer: Matt Leacock
Pandemic was a game I heard a lot about when we first started out in gaming. We borrowed a copy from a friend, played it two-player and it was a super close game which we won with just one card remaining. The following day I ordered the game and it really started the avalanche of games onto our shelves.
Pandemic is a co-operative game for 2-4 players where the players are disease fighting specialists, trying to prevent the spread of four virulent diseases throughout the world. The players must either cure or eradicate all four diseases before too many outbreaks occur or one disease reaches its maximum spread and a global pandemic ensues.
Each player takes on a unique role with its own special ability and then takes turns to perform four actions. The possible actions include; treating disease, moving in a number of different ways, building a research station or discovering a cure. At the end of a turn, the active player will draw two (or more if the Infection Rate Marker is higher) new cards from the Player Deck which may include location cards, special event cards or the dreaded Epidemic! cards. In an Epidemic the bottom card of the Infection Deck is drawn and 3 disease cubes are placed in this location. Then all of the used Infection cards are shuffled and placed on top of the deck. Then infection cards are drawn from the top of the Infection Deck. A disease cube is placed on the locations drawn and if a location has 3 cubes of the same colour an Outbreak occurs, placing one cube on all connected cities and adding an Outbreak to the track.
|The game set-up. The disease is spread to 9 initial locations by drawing cards from the top of the Infection Deck|
The Epidemic! mechanism is key to the puzzle-like nature of this game. When you reshuffle you know that the next cards drawn from the Infection Deck will be locations you have already seen. It becomes very urgent to treat disease (remove cubes) from any locations with 3 cubes, or at least protect these locations using the special ability of the Quarantine Specialist. At the same time your team needs to be concerned about the cubes of any one colour not running out and curing and eradicating disease.
|The seven specialist roles|
To cure a disease, one player must hold 5 location cards of the same colour and take these to a Research Station to cure a disease. Cards can be traded between players, as an action, if both players are standing on the location named on the traded card. Once cured, a disease can be eradicated by removing all cubes of that colour from the board. Once eradicated no more cubes of this colour are added, which can give the team much needed rest-bite from the Infection Deck when that colour card is drawn.
It’s also important to remember that there is an inherent timer on the game because when the Player Deck runs out, the game is lost!
The difficulty level of the game can be set using either 4, 5 or 6 Epidemic cards in the deck. We usually decide this based on the experience of the players, but no matter which level we choose it has always been a tense and close finish to the game, which really makes this game addictive.
I love this game. I want to expand it with both On the Brink and In the Lab. The game is also great with new players and as a gateway game. Not only are the rules and player turn order very simple, but also because its a co-op, experienced players can try and tread the line of helping and not dictating the other players’ turns. I think Pandemic epitomises my favourite type of co-operative game which is those with a puzzle-type nature and mitigable luck. Pandemic gets a 8.5/10 for me.