Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of team based board games where you and the other players are working together against the game itself. I recently did a review on Forbidden Island, which is an awesome team game. This time around though, I will be reviewing the international award-winning board game, Pandemic!
Pandemic is a game where you and your teammates are fighting against time and several diseases that are spreading across the globe. You and your team must work together to cure the diseases and save the world!
The Game to Save Humanity
Like I said above, Pandemic is all about teamwork. You and your teammates are part of a disease control team. Your goal is to try and find a cure for all four diseases spreading across the world. You do this by traveling from city to city and treating the diseases to prevent them from spreading. Once you have enough resources (cards), you can travel to a nearby research station to cure the disease.
Each person plays a different character with a different role, which will aid you in your effort and allows for strategic thinking and planning. You can also draw cards that can give special events and help you in your effort to save the planet.
How to Play
Each Player’s Turn
For each player’s turn, you have three parts. You must decide what to do with your character based on four actions. Then you draw two cards from the player deck. Finally you will draw cards from the infection deck and infect cities based on those cards. The player deck gives you cities and event cards that will help you win the game. The infection deck makes the diseases spread, which increases the likelihood of an outbreak. You could also draw a pandemic card, neither of which are a good thing.
There are several actions that your characters can take on your turn. You can only take up to four actions during this phase, so you have to strategize. It’s important to communicate ideas and plans with your teammates, otherwise it’s going to be a short game.
Like I said, there are several actions that are basically broken down into two parts: Movement and Other. Movement can be done by simply moving your character to an adjacent city. Or you can fly to any city on the board if you have that city card or you have the city card you are currently in. The Other actions vary from treating a disease (by removing a cube off the board) or building a research station. Some roles have special abilities that allow for you to do multiple actions or special moves for just one action, which can help out a ton!
These cards will determine the difficulty of the game. The more epidemic cards you add to the infection deck, the more difficult the game. You do not want to draw this card! Every time you do, the infection meter will move up one, forcing you to draw more cards each turn. You will also have to draw city cards and place cubes on those cities, which can cause an outbreak.
Infections and Outbreaks
Infections and Outbreaks are never a good thing in this game. Drawing from the infection deck will cause infections to spread across the board. The number of cards drawn are indicated by the infection rate marker. The more you draw, the worse the infection will spread. Cubes are added to the corresponding cities on the cards drawn.
However, there can only be three cubes on a city. If more cubes are supposed to be added to the city, instead every adjacent city that is connected to the infected city adds one cube, regardless of color. This is an outbreak, when a city has a maximum number of cubes (three), the infection spreads to other connected cities. This causes the outbreak meter to rise, and if there are any other cities connected that are also maxed out with 3 cubes, they too have an outbreak, causing a chain reaction. Things can get out of hand real quick!
Event and Player Cards
Event cards allow for special situations to happen and using an event card does not use an action. An example of an event card might be an airlift card, which allows you to move one player’s pawn anywhere on the board, with that player’s permission of course. Event cards can greatly help you in your mission!
All player cards have cities with colors that relate to the cities and colors on the board. When you collect five cards of the same color, you can turn those cards in to the nearest research station to cure the same colored disease. You can also turn these cards in so you can “fly” your pawn to the corresponding city.
There are seven roles to choose from in order to make your team:
Scientist: needs only 4 city cards of the same disease color to discover a cure.
Researcher: may give any city card from their hand to another player in the same city, without the card having to match the city. Transfer must be from player’s hand to teammate, but it can occur on either player’s turn.
Quarantine Specialist: prevents both outbreaks and the placement of disease cubes in the city the player is in and adjacent cities the disease might spread to.
Operations Expert: may either build a research station in current city without discarding a card or once per turn move from a research station to any city by discarding any city card.
Medic: removes all cubes, not just one, of the same color when doing the treat disease action. If a disease has been cured, the player automatically removes all cubes of that color from a city, simply entering it or being there. This does not take an action.
Dispatcher: May either move any pawn, if owner agrees, to any city containing another pawn or move another player’s pawn, it owner agrees, as if it were the dispatcher’s own.
Contingency Planner: May take an event card from anywhere in the discard pile and place it on their role card. Only one event card can be on the role card at a time. Does not count against hand limit. When the Contingency Planner plays the event card on his role card, remove the event card from the game.
Since only four people maximum can play the game, this allows for different strategies to be played every game, allowing for a lot of replayability.
How You Win and How You Lose
In order to win Pandemic, players must turn five matching colored player cards into any nearby research station. The disease with the matching color will then be cured! If this is done for all four diseases, then the players win the game! However, that is the only way to win but there are a few different ways to lose.
The players lose Pandemic if eight outbreaks occur (worldwide panic). They can also lose if there are not enough cubes for a certain color disease to be put on the board (the disease has spread to much). The last way to lose is running out of player cards to draw (your team runs out of time).
My Thoughts on the Game
I really enjoy Pandemic. The cooperative aspect of the game is really refreshing. If you are a person who doesn’t like to be super competitive, or you are looking for a game that requires teamwork, this is the game for you! There is a lot of strategy that goes into this game and you have to discuss your actions and plans with your teammates. And it is surprisingly satisfying to beat the game on the most difficult setting.
This really is a team effort game though. I would imagine it is not very fun to play with someone who takes charge and bosses people around. And if strategy isn’t your style, I would probably stay away from this game. Other than those two things, the game is great! No complaints here.
If Pandemic sounds awesome to you, check out on Amazon for more information. If you want to check out our other tabletop reviews, click here. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and YouTube and subscribe to our blog!
Til next time, nerds!
Matt “Donoran” Fuhrmann