In Pandemic, the world is at risk of extinction due to four rapidly spreading diseases. With the fate of the world in your hands, you and your team of specialists must work together to contain – and hopefully find cures for – all of the diseases before it’s too late. You won’t always be successful in saving the world, but you’ll almost always have an amazing time trying.
At the start of the game, each player is randomly assigned a role. In the edition of Pandemic that I have, there are seven roles to choose from. Everyone can achieve the same base actions, though each role has abilities that make it stand out. For instance, the medic can cure all of the disease cubes within a city in one action, while everyone else can only clear out one cube per action. By working as a team and leveraging each player’s unique strengths, you stand a much better chance at stopping the diseases once and for all.
Speaking of the diseases, they truly are the star of this show. At the start of each game, cubes are randomly assigned to cities to note how badly each disease has spread. While you and your team will work together to remove cubes from the board, there will be no shortage of instances when they’ll get the best of you. At the end of each turn, you must flip Infection cards to see which city gains a new disease cube. If a city gets more than three cubes, an outbreak is triggered and every connecting city also gets a cube. There are even times when an outbreak will cause a chain reaction that immediately covers a large swatch of the world in sickness. If too many outbreaks are triggered or if one disease has spread beyond repair, your team loses and everyone in the world dies.
That is a lot of weight for you and your team to carry on your shoulders, but it’s a blast to work through. Everyone must think and work as a coordinated team or else you’re all screwed. Because of this, you’re forced to have some very intense and thought-provoking conversations with everyone at the table as you think through every maneuver. As a two-player game, Steff and I are able to win about half of our matches. With four players, the stakes are heavily skewed in the game’s favour due to a smaller starting hand and fewer turns per player. With a larger group, you really must make a concerted effort to work together.
Whether you’re were just one cure away from saving the world or one outbreak away from destroying it, every moment in Pandemic is filled with tension, joy and excitement. I think the way in which the theme and its mechanics come together to create a fun game about disease control is quite marvelous. When this hits the table, it routinely stays on for a long time as everyone wants just one more shot at saving the world. Like the germs it portrays, this one is hard to shake off once it gets to you.