This game has been on our radar for quite some time. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the board game and it was really different from other board games we’ve played. The biggest learning curve for us, I believe, was to remember that it was a cooperative game rather than a competition between all the players.
Playing a cooperative game was a nice change of pace though. Especially since we normally play just the two of us, most competitive games are harder and would be more fun if there were more of us. Of course, the first time we played (and learned) Pandemic, we played with our cousin Kat.
Yes, Kat was a great addition to the board game, giving us another to bounce ideas off of and a third voice to help interpret the rules. The main objective of the game is to find cures for four deadly diseases before the population of the world succumbs to them. To do so, you need to find enough “data” on each disease — also known as collecting enough city cards of the same color — and bring your findings to a city with a research center. Once you do so, that particular disease will have a cure. With a limited number of turns determined by the player deck, it’s definitely a challenge!
“Interpret the rules.” That’s code for Kris reading the rules and trying to explain it to us while Kat and I played with the game pieces. The rules are a lot of fun though. Once you start playing, the game is easy enough to understand, but it’s difficult. We played so many games – with just us or with three people – and I think we won twice.
Yes, we do not have a great win streak with this game so far. Speaking of the game pieces, there is a bit to set up. Aside from the character pawns — each of which represents a certain role with a special ability or two — there was also the disease tokens, the outbreak and infection rate tokens, and the two deck of cards. The player deck consisted of the many cities you could travel to and the infection deck indicated which city became more infected at the end of every turn.
To set up the game, you need to spread the virus around a bit so you can, you know, have something to cure. This is done by taking nine cards from the infection deck and, depending on their color – red, blue, yellow, or black – you need to place the virus block on those places. One infection on three places, two infections on three other places, and three infections on the last three places. Now, if a place has three infections already and they get infected again, an outbreak occurs. A place can’t have more than three infections so all the connecting places will end up getting one infection. Get seven outbreaks and the game ends.
All of the characters start in Atlanta at a research center along with a handful of cards from the player deck, indicating cities that they can charter a flight to. Working together, players must visit cities to start eradicating diseases. When you visit a city, you can take away a virus block as one of your actions. Players can take up to four actions during their turn, including traveling to another city, building a research center, or sharing knowledge with another player that is in the same city as them. Sharing knowledge is crucial, as it enables players to share city cards of the city they are meeting in. Collecting enough city cards of the same color is key to curing the diseases once and for all. During some of our games, we tended to assign a “disease” to each player, saying one would do her best to collect enough blue cards and another to collect black cards as a goal to find cures.
Depending on which character you choose, you have special skills as well. For example, I personally loved being the Medic because instead of taking away one infection in a city per action, I could take them all away as one action. It helped out a lot, but… we still lost the game a lot. And, honestly, I think we even fudged the rules a couple of times accidentally too. We still kept losing though, but it was a fun challenge nonetheless!
Pandemic gets a rating of…
Skip It | Try It | Buy It