Pandemic the game

Pandemic is a board game. One of our sons gave this to his brother for Christmas in 2018. I have played this game about ten times since then. It was timely that older son came over and played it with Snooks and me this past weekend. This is the best new game we have learned in many years. With current events to chew on, the discussion over the game was particularly lively.

This game is novel, in that the setup is that all the players are on the same team, and you are collaborating to beat the game. The game itself has four levels of difficulty. It can be played as a three player game, up to six players. You could create dummy players if you wanted to, and since it is a collaborative exercise, that would be fine, but we have not done that. We have learned the game well enough to beat level three difficulty with three players. This past weekend we played level four as a three-player attempt, and we lost. Losing means that the world crashed into a pandemic, with millions dying.

   Beginning play.

It is a role-play game. You draw cards to determine the role of each player. The board is a map of the world. All travel is assumed to be by air, so you are jetting all over the planet to treat disease and develop cures. The game forces a balance between treating and developing cures; if you just focus on cures, then the disease will spread too fast. Failure on either task can lead to losing the game. We had to read the rules for every play the first couple of times we played. This past weekend we only pulled out the rules to look up one question. It had been about three months since we last played. It is a sign that we really like this game that we remembered the rules.

   After two rounds.

Infections of disease are determined by a card deck of cities. You track the infections with little markers. There are player tokens that you move around the board. There is a separate deck of city cards that provide a hand for each player.


Hidden in the card decks are cards for special events and cards for special epidemic outbreaks. All the players start in Atlanta (at the CDC, of course). You travel around to treat disease. There are four diseases in play, and the ones that are most threatening gets determined by the cards. The heavy action takes place in a different part of the world each time you play the game.

   Looking grim.

Pandemic is the flagship product of Z-man Games, which was founded by Zev Slasinger. Their other products are mainly board games from Europe and Japan that they have translated into American English. Wikipedia says the company was acquired by Filosofia and is now owned by Asmodée. Website:

Pandemic is a tough game, and it does generate discussions over strategy. Luck is also involved, so do a thorough job of shuffling the card decks. Since all the players are on the same team, the only conflict is differences of opinion over strategy. The brothers can get quite animated with each other when they are both present. With only one or the other, game play is not tense. But we are all so competitive that we hate to lose, and the game holds our interest in the pursuit of cures.

   Losing position.

Here is our losing position from last weekend. Great fun. I recommend this game.

It is a lot more fun than actual coronavirus.


5 thoughts on “Pandemic the game”

  1. Yeah, Older Son brought Coronas just for fun.   That helped put a current-events spin on game play.

    He also brought a Shiner novelty ale.   Good family fun, without the use of electronic devices.

  2. 10 Cents:
    Since when have you become a follower of Pan?

    Pan? No fan.

    It looks like a sick Risk.

    Yes, it looks like that.  But in play, the players are not opposing each other; instead, you plot strategy together, which gives the game a very different vibe.

    The game itself is a formidable opponent.   It is a really clever game design.


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