A challenge is fun, it’s something that you enjoy overcoming. Pandemic is not hard, it’s face-grindingly difficult. In the two games I played it wasn’t tricky, it wasn’t just challenging, it was flat-out vertical learning curve hard. And somehow, like the crazy ex, that makes it even more entertaining.
So for those who don’t know Pandemic is a board game where you play scientists trying to cure highly virulent pandemics, 4 of them in fact at the same time, across the world. For more details, I hand over to my friend Will Wheaton, and his excellent series, Tabletop on YouTube who can take you though the basics and then a highly entertaining game.
The game itself is fully cooperative (rather than cooperative in the Zombicide sense, which is cooperative till its funny, you need to screw someone over for the mission or Darren gets any tool that can open doors at the worlds poorest moment and shows the decision-making prowess of a child with ADHD who’s had his tablets swapped for speed) and you work hard to treat each disease, if you get a cure, you can clear it faster and if you clear all active viruses of that colour you can wipe it from the board. If you cure all 4 diseases then you win. It’s simple as that, the one way to win.
Except of course it isn’t. This game has a marvellous variety of ways to lose:
- Run out of virus counters for any of the 4 viruses – You Lose
- Have more than 8 outbreaks – You Lose
- Run out of draw cards – You Lose
To avoid all of these you need to work together very carefully, with each player having unique special abilities to help. and if your good, lucky and avoid the dreaded epidemic cards (which you can’t dodge, but come at semi-regular intervals, then you have a chance, a very slim one, of saving the world.
So, what are my thoughts?
Firstly if you like to win every game, if you use the konami code or take the easy button colossal in Warmachine every time then this is not the game for you. I game with smart people, Not saying solving word hunger smart, but definitely ‘smarter than the average bear’ smart. In three games (2 playing, 1 watching) we didn’t get close to winning. And that was on medium. Yet i’m itching to play again.
The mechanics are elegant, well thought out and work very well. The tenseness in the infection phase is brilliant, and when the epidemic card becomes swiftly known as the ‘Oh F***’ card you know that the game has done an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension and getting into the players heads.
We played on medium (4 epidemic cards in the draw deck, with the options being between 2-6) and it was great. I really enjoyed the game and its one I’ll add to my collection soon. I’ve also seen there’s an expansion On The Brink which my friend also has – once we’ve busted it out, I’ll write up my thoughts.
Overall: excellent game, well worth playing and very very fun. Person highlight for me was playing with someone with a cold, as the diseases spread and the situation got worse, every time he coughed people glared at him, like he was causing it. You’ve gotta love a game that makes you think like that.
I’m also adding win this game on maximum difficulty to my bucket list, as I think it might take me that long!
Anyone else played the game? What are your thoughts?
Comments, as ever, are welcome.