In the very near future, what started as a small footnote on the news has spiraled into a world wide epidemic! Entire cities have been laid low by the emerging virus, with several strands having already mutated and spread across the continents. It is up to you and a small team of specialists from the Center for Disease Control to gain a handle on the worsening situation before the real possibility of human extinction is made manifest. Now is your time to save the world!
Pandemic is a cooperative game for 2-4 Players aged 8 years or older, and takes about an hour to play. Players each assume a role from a deck of specialist cards, including the Medic, Operations Specialist and Dispatcher just to name a few. Every role offers special rules, so your team will be a different combination of bonuses every time you play. The goal of the game is to find a Cure for all four strains of he virus that is threatening to consume humanity before the epidemic grows to a point that is beyond human survival.
The game itself is divided into turns where players discuss the course of each specialists actions. Players then proceed to travel the world treating outbreaks, building CDC command centers and searching for data that will lead to a cure. However, every turn the players will suffer setbacks alongside their progress. New cities will be infected on the game board, with the possibility of an Epidemic outbreak causing cured cities to be infected again, and allowing the virus to spread at faster rates.
The game is also a race against time, as the players have a fixed number of turns to find the cure. Pandemic can be very challenging, since players must rely on their own skills and experience as much as good luck from random events and information cards. Sometimes players can do everything right and still lose, and other times a costly mistake can be saved in the nick of time by a fortuitous chance card.
Pandemic has a variable difficulty setting, which allows the game to be adjusted more simply for new players or staggeringly challenging for experienced players. With the inclusion of expansion players can obtain new Specialist Roles, new mutations that piggyback on the virus and must also be cured, more challenging outbreaks and epidemic special rules, and even a variant for a fifth player to act as a Bio-Terrorist intentionally making the Virus worse!
The beauty of Pandemic shines brightly in three areas. First, the game is simple in its complexity. While there is much to watch and many decisions to be made, the core concept and mechanics of the game are quick and easy to learn, with easy reference sheets for players to use throughout the game. Second, the random effects of cards, the luck of the draw and the variability of each player’s role and special rules means that no two games of Pandemic will ever play out the same. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Pandemic is one of a handful of emerging cooperative games that allows players to challenge the game itself rather than each other. Players can work together to overcome a mutual challenge rather than undermining eachother, allowing for a different kind of game play experience and a rather welcome departure from the typical animosity some games promise competitive players.
Pandemic has four expansions and five variants, including a Reign of Cthulhu Lovecraftian expansion, and Pandemic Iberia set in 1800s Europe. One of the newer incarnations, Pandemic Legacy, is designed to be played ten times with the addition of stickers and new rule cards that emerge as games are played, to simulate a world be ravaged and forever changed as the virus mutates or goes dormant. Each victory and defeat brings the players to a new board, permanently altered, with a landscape that reflects both the successes and failures of the players.
Pandemic, and several of its variants, are available for play and for purchase at Pawn & Pint! Come in and try Pandemic before you buy it, and experience this modern sci-fi adventure for yourself! Choose your role, assemble your team, and become a new kind of hero in the modern age of scientific discovery and triumph!
See you tonight at Sci Fi Tuesday!