For my first game review, I thought I’d discuss one of my personal favorites, a fairly new game: Z-Man’s “Pandemic.” This 2-4 player game takes about an hour, maybe less. The basic premise is this: four deadly diseases have broken out across the globe, and it is up to you, a team of experts to solve the crisis before the viruses wipe out all of humanity. No pressure.
One of my favorite aspects about this game is its cooperative play. In “Pandemic,” all the players are on a team, a rare mechanic for a board game. Players take turns taking up to four actions, which can consist of movement, treating infected cities, building research stations at which cures can be found, sharing knowledge with teammates, and officially curing a disease. The trick is that cities are constantly getting infected as the diseases spread and the rates of infection grow. And then there’s the dreaded “Epidemic” card…
When a player draws an “Epidemic” card, one city gets hit particularly hard. This can lead to outbreaks, in which one city overflows with disease victims and infects all surrounding cities, sometimes even beginning nasty chain reactions that can quickly ravage a whole continent.
There are three ways to lose “Pandemic:”
1) Players run out of “Resource Cards,” used to help in transportation and curing diseases
2) Eight outbreaks occur, leaving the world utterly devastated
3) All the disease markers of one color are on the board, meaning a specific disease has expanded beyond control.
The game ends in victory for the players if all four diseases have been cured before any of the above conditions are met. This makes “Pandemic” a tricky game. Players need to really work together and communicate amongst themselves to strategize a way to beat the diseases before it’s too late.
The cooperative mechanic of the game is very nice. Yes, I understand that part of the fun of a board game is pwning your oppwnents, but there is certainly something to be said for the element of teamwork. (If you MUST pwn other players, check out the expansion: “Pandemic: On the Brink.”)
The game is very simple to learn. Whether or not you are familiar with board games, “Pandemic” can be learned in under 10 minutes. The setup time is minimal, usually about 5 minutes. The rulebook is short and sweet, and the included pieces are very nice. Sometimes, the pawns can be a little too big for the city markers on the board, especially if two or more pawns are in one city, but this is a small problem at best.
One of the best parts of “Pandemic,” in my opinion, is the intensity of the game. While very lightweight and easy to learn, players get very into it, nervously awaiting the next “Epidemic” or trying to decide how to best prevent future outbreaks.
My favorite part of the game is coming up with specifically what the diseases are, as the rulebook never says. So far, here are my conlusions:
Red – Asian Bird Flu
Black – The Black Plague (obviously)
Yellow – Yellow Fever (duh)
And, my personal favorite:
Blue – Bieber Fever
“Pandemic” overall rating: A. If you’ve never played it, it’s worth a try. (Just don’t get infected by this kid…)