Pandemic board game
by Chris Bowler
Pandemic board game
Number of players:
Pandemic is a co-operative board game, where you must work together as a team to save the world from a multitude of viral strains. While the game can be fun with the right group, it can sometimes devolve into a solitaire puzzle for one player as he tells everyone else what to do!
The game and gameplay
Pandemic comes with: 5 pawns, 6 research stations, 1 board, 6 counters, 96 cubes in 5 colours and 116 cards. The cards (in the reprint) are very nice linen finished and all the cubes and pawns are great.
The pawns are a little big (fixed in expansion) and the research stations are just unpainted wood, but over all good quality. The board, I find, is a little disappointing, the art could have been better and the layout a little less claustrophobic in some areas, but still the actual quality is top notch.
To play the Pandemic board game, each player is given one of five roles and the appropriate pawn. All the players’ pawns are placed in a research station in Atlanta (home of the CDC). Diseases are then distributed in varying amounts to random cities as determined by the Infection Deck.
Infection cards are placed in a discard pile which is important to the core mechanics of the game.
On their turn each player may take four actions, including various types of movement, removing disease cubes in cities, swapping cards with other players and ultimately using a research centre to cure the diseases.
After they have taken four actions, players draw two cards. These cards depict cities on the board, collecting a matching set of five colours allows you to cure that disease. They also allow you to move around the board or build research stations.
However, also in the Pandemic board game deck are special actions and epidemics. Every time there is an epidemic things get worse for the players. The number of cities infected each turn my rise and all the discarded city cards are shuffled and placed back on the top of the deck meaning previously infected cities will become infected again.
Once the player has taken four actions and drawn two cards, they must then infect cities. As epicdemic cards are drawn the number of cities infected will rise, but to begin with only two cities are infected each turn.
The player turns over two Infection cards and places a cube in each infected Pandemic board game city. If the city already has three cubes in it an outbreak occurs and each surrounding city receives a cube; outbreaks can trigger a chain reaction of other outbreaks.
The players win the game if they can find all four cures by handing in four sets of five cards, one set for each colour. The players all lose if the number of Outbreaks reaches eight, the player deck runs out of Cards, or if there aren’t enough cubes of one colour to place on the board when called for.
The Pandemic board game can be played on 3 levels of difficulty by adding additional epidemics to the deck.
Pros and cons
The game is reasonably inexpensive and is good quality. It plays fast (30-45 mins) and can be played solo reasonably easily. The cards are really good quality and have interesting facts on them too. If played with the right group the game can be tense and really satisfying; however, if played with a player who likes to be in control, the game quickly becomes a solo effort.
The diseases are simply colours, which is a lot less flavoursome than if they had names, add this to the fact that they are just coloured cubes and the game begins to lose some of its theme.
Although there are five different roles, the Pandemic board game is not that different each time that it does not become repetitive. Also, once you learn the mechanics the best moves become obvious and can feel obligatory, less like you’re playing and more like you’re being played.
The Pandemic board game is a fast and reasonably fun filler game that can be played over a lunch hour, but because you are playing against the board the replayability is a little limited, something that is fixed with three additional gameplay options in the expansion. The game plays best with four, but it works just as well with fewer players. As an opening game or a filler between bigger games Pandemic is great, but as a full evening’s entertainment I find it lacking some oomph!
3 footprints out of 5