Board Game Review, Pandemic

This is a review on a pretty recent game called Pandemic. The fact that this is a cooperative game makes it worth the effort to check it out. After all you don't get to find many board games in this genre.


Pandemic is a game by Matt Leacock. In this game, players cooperate to find the cure for 4 different diseases that is currently infecting the world. It is challenging as players have to find the cure and at the same time prevent the diseases from spreading out of control. 

It is a pure cooperative game in the sense that either the whole team wins or they lose which makes for an interesting gaming experience compared to most games where you are competing with each other.

Game Components

The components are pretty nice and I like the artwork for the cards and the game board. The rulebook is nicely formatted with clear examples which makes it easy to learn the game.

The individual action guide is useful and certainly makes it easier when you are teaching the game to first time players. My only gripe is the game board is rather small. It is not that it makes it difficult to play but I would definitely prefer a bigger game board. 

Game Play

The thing about Pandemic that catches my attention is the game mechanics.  It is well-designed and elegant design in the game play. The game is simple to learn and at the same time it provides an intense gaming experience. 

Like most cooperative games, it adopts the "bad guy good guy" approach. Players get to do something good during their turn. The board then gets it turn and throws in some chaos into the game. 

Pandemic is a game for  4 players where each player assumes one of the five possible roles (scientist, medic, operations, dispatcher and researcher). Each role gives the player an advantage when performing certain actions.

Players starting their adventure from the research center in Atlanta

Players have to work together to find the cures for 4 different diseases to win the game. This is done through the collection of player cards. To find a cure for a disease, a player need to collect 5 cards that have the same symbol as the disease. 

However, if a player is a scientist, only 4 cards is needed. Hence you can see that an important aspect of the the game is to be able to effectively make use of the different abilities provided by players with different roles.

Apart from using these cards to find a cure, they are also allow you to travel to different parts of the world. This makes the gameplay interesting because players have to decide between using the cards to travel or keeping them to find the cure, not to mention that players only get to keep up to 7 cards in their hand.

In the process of finding the cures for the diseases, players would still need to treat regions that are currently infected with different diseases. 

At the end of every turn, a number of new regions will be infected as players draw a certain number of infection cards from the infection cards deck.

The first type of card you learn to hate

Now you might be wondering what is the big deal? After all, you can go to these regions and treat the diseases. This is where the importance of making effective decisions as a team comes into play. If you are not able to treat the diseases fast enough, a region can get over infected causing an outbreak and spreading the disease to other regions.

Not to forget that the outbreak in one region can cascade into multiple outbreaks!

To many outbreaks and your whole team loses the game. The team also loses the game by running out of player cards or the disease cubes. This means that to win the game, the players got to act fast and efficient!

Before you think that the challenge can get any worse, let me introduce to you another set of cards that you will hate. They are the epidemic cards. They appear every now and then throughout the game, creating more chaos. 

When this a card is drawn, a new region will become super infected (with 3 disease cubes). At the same time regions that were previously infected get a higher chance of getting infected again as the infection cards are shuffled and put back to the top of the infection deck.

The second type of card that you hate.

The infection rate also gets a notch higer which means that from now onwards, more regions will be infected at the end of every player turn. Hence the intensity of the game can escalate quickly as things get out of control and more regions become infected.

That basically sum up the game play. The game is pretty easy to learn once players become familar with the importance of the various roles. The challenge would then be how to cooperate as a team and beat the game.


I think the theme is perfect. With the epidemic and outbreak mechanism, players can really get into the game as they try to control the diseases from spreading further. The theme is that good and it is also the reason why it make me gripe on the size of the board. Finding cures and treating diseases around the globe makes for a grand experience. Yet all the intense actions are squeezed into one small board! A bigger board definitely makes the adventure grander and provides a better gaming experience.

Won't you have prefer a bigger board too?


Pandemic is a really good game with simple yet well-designed mechanics. The game starts slow but become more and more intense as the epidemic cards and increase in infection rate starts to impact the game. 

Players can also set the level of difficulty by playing with different number of epidemic cards which make this game good for beginning players as well as more experience players. However I am disappointed that this game is only for 4 players. It would definitely be more exciting if it can play up to 6 players.

Some people had commented that sometimes a more "experience" player tends to be the only one making the decisions while others follow. I think it is not a common issue and happens only when some players have yet to grasp the concept of the game. As the game progress and players become more familiar with the game play, the interaction between the players also increases.

One key problem that I would foresee is that the game might lack replayabilty. Though the use of different number of epidemic cards can increase the challenge of the game, the game play can feel repetitive after a couple of plays.

My suggestion to this issue is not to be too focus on beating the game but rather enjoy the intense game experience that Pandemic provides. After all, it isn't everyday that you get to work together with your friends to save the world from horrible diseases and that alone make Pandemic one of best cooperative games around.

Pitstop Cafe, be part of the fun!


1 comment:

ONzLAH.COM said...

Pandemic is a game that requires cooperation between players. A good team building game.

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