CGFCG: Pandemic

pic1534148[1]There seems to be a stigma about board games that makes people avoid playing them like the plague – that incessant feeling that all board games will lead into fights, arguments and the occasional table flip. There’s always someone who will cheat in Monopoly, someone who will make up words in Scrabble, and that person who will absolutely bully you in a game of Risk. Why can’t everybody just play nice and get along?!

If you’re someone who isn’t competitive at all, or is just tired of playing against overly competitive players and just wants to have a fun time playing board games, then perhaps Pandemic is the game for you!1246_1745[1]

Pandemic is a co-operative board game designed by Matt Leacock. In Pandemic each player takes on the role of a particular disease-fighting specialist in the event of a worldwide epidemic, where you have to work together as a team, using each player’s special abilities to their full potential, to keep the plagues from spreading across the world and to find a cure for all four diseases before total outbreak ensues or time runs out!

While co-operative play is by no means an innovative game mechanic in modern board games, even for a game like Pandemic – which was first published in 2008 – what Matt Leacock has done with the game is incredibly intuitive but also deeply strategic.

With only one way to win the game and a multitude of ways to lose, as well as an adjustable difficulty setting for beginners and experienced gamers, Pandemic sets itself as a co-operative game that has revolutionised the way board games are played as a team.

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When you play the game of plagues, you win or you die.

On each player’s turn you have four action points to spend on moving between cities of the world, treating diseased cities, building research stations, sharing knowledge (give/get cards from other players) and discovering a cure. You have to choose your actions carefully, think and discuss what the next player(s) actions might be and try to predict what curve ball the game might throw at you.

So, the game itself presents a few challenges, does the rulebook make playing the game any more difficult? Surprisingly not at all! The rulebook is presented in a heavily illustrated 8 page A4 booklet, and is presented in such a way that you could play the game as you read the rules, in fact I would encourage this as all the main things you need to know to start playing the game are well described and illustrated on the first two pages.

And how often would you need to refer to the rulebook? Once you have the general game-play down pat, which should only take a round or two of playing, you’ll rarely have to read the rulebook; the game has been played well enough that every possible play has been answered for when the question arises.

1246_1746[1]But even if some players have a slower learning curve than others, that’s ok because you can help each other out because that’s the point of the game. So it doesn’t really matter if some players turns takes longer than others, everyone is involved even in other players turns, you can all work together to build the best team play to strategically win the game. And, with minimal text on the cards too, there is more time to help each other cure diseases!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Pandemic, but I can tell you there have been A LOT of memorable games. Either they were games that came down to the last draw of the card that led us to victory, and a lot of games where we lost miserably. But even in defeat you can never walk away from the game without some form of excitement, and whenever you lose a game most people want to play it again and again until victory has been achieved!

If you’re dreading your next family games night because your family is too competitive, perhaps suggest a game of Pandemic as a cure.

The Rundown

  • # of Players: 2-4
  • Game length: 45 minutes
  • Designed by: Matt Leacock
  • Published by: Z-Man Games
  • Game type: Co-Operative Strategy
  • Cost: $45~$58

Watch Pandemic being played on TableTop!

 

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Justin Hallam-Stephens

I am the founder of the former Melbourne-based board games meetup group, Meetings With The Board (currently inactive). I am an aspiring game designer, a feminist ally, and I like playing my ukulele. On rainy days I like to make pillow forts and watch Firefly. @JHallamStephens

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