Designer: Matt Leacock
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Players: 2 – 4 players
Recommended Age: 8+
Time to Play: 45 minutes
BGG Ranking: 7.6
My Ranking: 8/10
My quick review: Pandemic is easy to learn, focuses on strategic teamwork, varies each time you play, and allows you to adjust the difficulty level. If you’re interested in a co-op where winning is never a guarantee, Pandemic is a great choice!
Pandemic is a co-op game that puts you in the middle of a crisis as four diseases have broken out all over the world. You and your team of disease experts must attempt to prevent a pandemic. Your mission is to treat hotspots, build research stations, and discover cures before the spread of the diseases are out of control. Once the four cures have been discovered, you win!
The rule book is only a few pages long and has a nice walk-through page for how to set up the game. There’s also an Actions card you can use to remind you of what you can do on your turn. Compared to other games, it takes a reasonable amount of time to learn. In about 10 minutes, you should be ready to get the game started. And there are plenty of Youtube videos available to help you out. I recommend the Youtube channel called Shut Up and Sit Down.
Pandemic allows you to select the level of difficulty for the game based off of the number of Epidemic cards you elect to include. Fewer epidemic cards means an easier game. Each game will also be almost entirely different in terms of strategy as the players randomly pick their roles on the team. In my opinion, two of the roles are slightly overpowered especially when played together: Researcher and Scientist. The Medic and Dispatcher are also nice to have together in your game.
If it is your first time playing, I’d recommend starting with these roles and four Epidemic cards so you can get a feel of the game without being overwhelmed. From my experience, the chances to win are in your favor with four Epidemic cards, about 50/50 with five Epidemic cards and slightly against you with six Epidemic cards. The game does get easier if you have three or four players instead of two.
What I like about Pandemic is that the mechanics of the game work well together and are, for the most part, balanced. While there are three ways to lose, they each progress steadily throughout the game so you are not caught off-guard. If you run out of cubes for any particular color, if your player deck runs out or if you have more than 7 outbreaks, you lose. The only way to win is by discovering the cures for the four diseases. The player deck also helps you along by providing cards that allow for certain actions and prevent other actions to aid you in your attempt to prevent a pandemic.
If you’re looking for a co-op game that is easy to learn and challenging enough where you don’t feel like you’ll always win, this is the perfect game for you. Also, what a better time to play Pandemic than during a pandemic!