Pandemic is based on the premise that four diseases have broken out in the world, each threatening to wipe out a region. The game accommodates 2 to 4 players, each playing one of five possible specialists: (dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher or operations expert). The game is unlike most board games as the gameplay is cooperative, rather than competitive. Through the combined effort of all the players, the goal is to discover all four cures before any of several game-losing conditions are reached.
Though it may not accommodate a large crowd, it’s still immensely fun to watch from the sidelines (as demonstrated by Wil Wheaton, Morgan Webb, Ed Brubaker, and Robert Gifford below).
The Qwerty Café consortium gathered ‘round a few Fridays ago for a play through (and some good eats). Here’s what we thought of it:
Adam – It is a good game, but maybe too stressful for something to have in regular rotation. But if it was any easier, then it wouldn’t be as enjoyable when you do play it. It is also a bit hard to tell how good or bad you are doing, which makes it again difficult to tell whether you will do better next time you play or just lose even worse. We played with 5 players which is outside the rules and I’m not sure what effect that might have had on the balance. I’d like to try it again with the correct 2-4 players and see how it goes.
Brandie – “Let’s play Pandemic,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. I did not enjoy this game very much. Call me grumpy cat if you’d like, but it just seemed like there was no way around getting all the diseases and dying. I have no problem volunteering next time to just watch. Maybe sometime in the future, after they have played a number of times i’ll join again. But the stress and intensity is too much for not being at work.
Brie – I really enjoyed this game. It was challenging, and kept you invested the whole time. There was never a point where I felt like we just had to get through turns and were waiting for something interesting to happen. The cooperative nature was fantastic; the coordination and planning was a new experience. I’m really forward to giving it another go – I wonder how many times it’ll take for us to win?
Cat – OMG THIS GAME. It’s amazing. And stressful. But amazing! I highly recommend. It’s just … fascinating. It can go from “oh yeah, I got this to,” “WTF WE’RE DEAD?!?” so quickly. It’s a great game, very exciting, and so much fun in a group. You spend a lot of time weighing options and discussing strategy. Full disclosure: I have yet to win it. I’ve played close to ten times at this point and have never not died. But I still love it and think you should play it too! If you’re feeling especially brave, give the expansion pack a try. Though the original is hard to beat, the expansion, Pandemic: On the Brink, is nearly impossible. And I mean that in the best possible way!
She lives in the Bay Area and cites her diverse background as her biggest influence: her visual artist mom is half-Chinese, half-Greek, and from Hawai’i; her film-loving, world-music curating dad is from Montana; and she lived in both California and Montana while growing up. She loves at least a little bit about virtually everything (Pokémon Snap included) and aims to be a Jane of all trades. By day Cat is a multiple-hat-wearing media person.
She is also allergic to felines.