In Pandemic, a cooperative 2-4 player board game that is designed by Matt Leacock, you assume the role of a Specialist and work together with other players in order to prevent the spread of virulent diseases. Pandemic was released in 2008 and garnered both critical and public appeal. In the original version of the game you had the option of assuming the role of either a Medic, Scientist, Operations Expert, Dispatcher or Researcher. A second edition re-printing of the game was released in 2013 which featured updated artwork and two new specialist roles: the Contingency Planner and the Quarantine Specialist.
The overall game play in Pandemic is pretty straightforward, thus making it a relatively easy game to teach to new players. There are three phases to each player’s turn: Action phase, Draw Player Cards phase and Infect Cities phase.
During the action phase each player has the option to perform up to four actions and they include: movement, treating disease, sharing knowledge with another player or discovering a cure. The players will also have specialty abilities to use as actions based on the role they have elected to play. Movement will involve moving your pawn across the board, or traveling across a world map. In order to maximize and optimize turn actions, players will have to deftly manage the player cards in their hands which can be exchanged to fast-travel, build research stations or develop cures.
During the Draw Player Cards phase each player has an opportunity to draw two new Player Cards into their hand. As Pandemic is a cooperative game, players may show their cards to the other players during game play. Included among the standard player cards are special Event Cards which can bring about significant, game-changing events that will aid the players with their goals. And there are also those dreaded Epidemic Cards.
After a player has completed their available actions and has drawn their two eligible Player Cards it is then time to Infect Cities, which is achieved by drawing cards from the Infection Deck and placing the appropriate color disease cube on the city that is named on the card. The number of cards that are drawn from the Infection Deck is determined by the Infection Marker on the game board. The Infection Marker starts at 2 but will gradually increase throughout the game as Epidemic Cards are drawn from the Player Deck. Depending on the difficulty level you choose to play you could be drawing up to four cards from the Infection Deck on your turn!
Before the game starts an initial group of infections must be released upon the world. You will draw nine cards from the Infection Deck and place the appropriate number of colored disease cubes on the cities noted on the cards. The first three cities that are drawn will have 3 cubes placed on them. The next three cities that are drawn will have 2 cubes placed on them and the last three cities that are drawn will have one cube placed on them.
Cities with 3 disease cubes are on the verge of an outbreak. An outbreak event will occur anytime a city that already has three disease cubes on it is required to incur a fourth one as per a drawn infection card. Infection Cards can and more than likely will continue to rear their ugly heads during game play as a result of the Epidemic Cards which a player may inadvertently draw during their Draw Cards phase. An Epidemic Card, when drawn, requires a player to draw the card from the bottom of the Infection Deck, put three colored disease cubes on the city name on that card, and then shuffle that card, along with all the other cards that are currently in the Infection Deck discard pile and then put all of the cards back on top of the Infection Deck draw pile!
Pandemic although engaging and a lot of fun to play, is a very hard game! You will lose the game as a collective if the Player Deck runs out of cards before cures for all four diseases have been established. You will also lose the game if eight disease Outbreaks occur. Lastly you will lose the game if the group runs out of any of the disease cubes and have no more to place on the board when required during the Infect Cities phase.
The game can be won if the team of players works together, strategically and efficiently to travel around the world, treat disease, establish research facilities and lastly cures. This game has easily become one of the go-to games in my family’s game library. It’s a deep, engaging and wonderful game. It is as fun and exciting to play today as it was years ago.
Since 2009 there have been a handful of expansions for the base game as well as a collection of other games set in the Pandemic Universe. In 2018 a deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition of the game was released. The metal game box is made to look like an old-fashioned first aid kit and features updated artwork and upgraded wooden components.
If you have not yet played this game, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Pandemic, the base game is still widely available at quality game/hobby stores or online. Pandemic, published by Z-Man Games. Pick up your copy, today!