Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Review of [Pandemic]

Pandemic is a great game. It is probably the best cooperative board game on the market. I own both the original, as well as the expansion: On the Brink. I really like having a few cooperative games, for one of those easy-going days when you don't feel like trying to outwit each other, and just want to get along and work together.

The game is balanced and designed very well. I feel that the key to a good cooperative game is to destroy any sense of safety that the players have. The more I play cooperative games, the more I find that it is most fun when you are losing, but not hopelessly so; just so that you are struggling and hoping for a stroke of luck in order to get back into the game.

Pandemic capitalizes on this, and injects danger around every corner. While there is only one way to win, there are several ways to lose:
  • Run out of disease tokens for any one of the four diseases (five in one variant)
  • Run out of cards in the player deck
  • Have too many outbreaks
This makes it so that you constantly have to stay on your toes to prevent outbreaks, as well as ensure that no one disease gets too out of control, at the same time, forcing you to race against the clock to cure the diseases. You are constantly in danger of losing, constantly under the threat of the next epidemic; this generates the necessary tension to make cooperative gaming enjoyable.

The game also lets you select the difficulty, so it works well for both beginner and experienced players. It is a very good game for introducing people to board gaming, as it allows you to play with new players and not discourage them by crushing them into dust in your game of choice.

The expansion adds to the core game, adding a few new classes, and three game variants. I personally have absolutely no interest in playing the Bioterrorist variant, and I find that the Mutation variant actually makes the game easier (and therefore less fun). The remaining variant Virulent Strain is actually very fun, making one strain deadlier than ever. It also contains some neat containers for the disease cubes, and smaller player pieces, which just add to the tactile appeal of the game. The expansion is by no means required, but I would recommend it if you are enthusiastic about the base set.

Until next time,


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