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on October 27, 2016
My wife and I have gradually gotten more into board games, because we're old and lame and that's ok. She's a bit ... competitive, however, so even playing a game like Settlers can put me on the edge of the seat a little bit if I'm winning. Some of you know what I'm talking about. Board games kept popping up in my Amazon recommendations, and I kept seeing this one (nice work, Amazon ad algorythms). Cooperative? Sounds good!

There went that Sunday. I even stopped watching football, BECAUSE CHILDREN ARE DYING IN ISTANBUL OR CONSTANTINOPLE. We played several games. We lost our first few, then kept winning. Our kids were annoying us with petty stuff like, "Daddy, I'm hungry" and "Mommy, my toe fell off" but sometimes you just have to tell your kids that now isn't a good time, because Daddy is building a research center and then has to fly to meet Mommy in Milan, and there is leftover ham in the refrigerator.

I do question whether the game will keep its challenge. We've won our only two games on the hardest difficulty, but it felt suspenseful and like we could have lost, so I think it'll still be fun to play. Regardless, we've already gotten our money's worth out of this game. I think my daughter (six) will be able to learn it now or shortly as well, which will be cool and we can monitor her toe situation better.
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on August 26, 2014
It seemed like we’d just started the game and the yellow strain had not only been cured but eradicated! We were on the cusp of a cure for the second strain. This one was in the bag. We had weathered two epidemics so far without any egregious problems. Sure there was a pair of cities in Eastern Europe that was in danger, but what were the odds that was going to be a problem? One of us was already there. Then another epidemic hit, the infection rate increased, three cities were drawn and it seemed the cascading outbreaks knew no bounds. I think nearly everyone in Europe died that day, and we – a group of specialized scientists- were served a plate of bitter defeat. Again! Again and again, always defeat. Oh, the humanity!

It’s true, I haven’t ever beat this rotten game and yet I keep coming back. Because one day I’ll win; in spite of all the wounds to my pride I’ve had to nurse, one day I’ll – I mean- we’ll win. I say we’ll because this is a co-operative game where you all work together against those nasty strains of no-doubt-human engineered beasties. Now, I know there are those of you who beat this every time you play, like I beat Shadows over Camelot every time I play, but I’ve invited those sorts to come play with me and they can barely stand the shame of losing with me.

To make it even worse, we only play with 4 epidemics. I feel like I’m at an AA meeting: “Hi my name is Kyle.”
“Hi Kyle” echoes the crowd.
“I… I suck at Pandemic.”
This is the part where you put your arm on my shoulder and tell me it’s going to be alright.

Game Play
This board is a handsome map of the world; only instead of country boards you see in Risk there is a red web of interconnected cities. Everyone starts in Atlanta were a research station is and you go from there. Each player plays a scientist that has a special ability: one can move others on their turn, one can give cards to another without the restrictions other players have and so on. The game also begins with 9 random cities around the world with varying degrees of infection (one to three stacked blocks). If a city would have a fourth block put on it (called an outbreak), it actually stays at three and the cities connected by the red web get a block. Isn’t that nice? It’s called a cascading outbreak. Such a pretty name. If you get 9 outbreaks in a game you lose. If you run out of blocks for a certain strain you lose, and if you haven’t cured all the strains before your white deck of cards runs out, you lose. I hate to be a negative Nancy, but there’s a lot of ways to lose this game. If, on the other hand, you are able to find cures for each strain, you win!

How do you do that? Well you get someone who has got 5 cards of the same color in their hand to a research station, that’s how. One of the players only needs four.

Every turn each player gets to do four actions. Picking up a cube off a city counts as one, so does moving between cities. You can charter flights with your cards, rather than use them for cures. You can build research stations and fly between those without expending a card, and a few other things. Then you draw cards that you think will help you, but can instead turn out to be epidemics. And you also draw cards for cities that get infected: usually this amounts to adding on square to the city’s pile. As the game progresses, more cards are drawn at a time to be infected. Oh, and when an epidemic happens, the cards for the cities that were infected get put back on the top of the draw pile. Oh dear.

I hate to tell you what to do because what do I know anyway?
Those of you who beat this all the time should tell me what to do. I understand that finding the cures is everything- lest you run out of time. Others say, make sure that you never have three on on e city at a time, as to avoid outbreaks.

Make sure that the medic is only clearing off stacks of infections, the dispatcher should be moving people so that don’t have to move themselves.

Again, I never win, so what do I know?

If it hasn’t been obvious, I am completely sucked in by the theme. There are similarities to other co-operative games especially Forbidden Island: Each character has special powers, you make moves for the team and then the board pushed you closer to defeat, that sort of thing. Forbidden Island also shares the shuffle the cards and put them back on top of the draw deck mechanic. I tell you this so that you won’t be surprised if you decide to add them both to your game closet, this is why I haven’t added Forbidden Island to mine, though I’ve played the game. While this adds to the evidence that the theme could be stripped out of the game, I don’t recall cascading flooding going on in Forbidden Island, or feeling like humanity is hanging in the balance, or being glad I don’t live anywhere in Eastern Europe. That is to say, I think the theme sticks.

I read about people who win all the time and needed the expansion to rouse any concern in them. But who can believe everything they read on the internet, I ask you? Just because I’ve never won though doesn’t mean that it’s not an enjoyable experience, mind you. Because I keep coming back.

Interaction is very high. There’s all sort of collaborative discussion that goes on through this game.

Learning Curve
Low. It takes all of ten minutes to explain and there are directions on the board and the turn cards.
Nill. You are all in it together! And you even get to move a guy in your turn.

What’s not to Like?
I actually know where some of these cities are on the map are but they all have these lines that go from the pin-pointed location to the circle where you actually place the blocks. That remains a bit annoying even after playing the game 10 times.

Collateral Endorsement
My four year old likes “The one where they get sick” We run around curing cities till the infection deck runs out. He feels a lot better about himself than the rage I feel playing by the real rules.

Actually, as I think about it, the first time I played this game I was at the home of some friends and I think we won. But I’m certain I have not won with my copy of the game. I’d say mine is jinxed, but we’ve played on another friends copy and lost there too. Also, I should say that a brother of mine lost two in a row and saw the writing on the wall in the third game and left the table, swearing off the game forever. You might consider your own resiliency before buying this game.
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on December 11, 2016
I have found the game to be fun and interesting. At the learning stage of the game, it took a bit of time to figure out how to play it. There was just a lot of steps and rules. There is a lot going on in the game. It seemed a bit confusing a first. Once I got into the swing of things, it was not so bad.

I like how you can get different roles each time one plays the game. It makes it more interesting. It has different challenge levels too. This is a fun game with two players. I think 3-4 players make it more challenging as well. Since it is a co-op game, an extra player hand can be made if there is only 2 players.

The thing I do not like is that it took me a while to get used to the game. There is a lot going on. It makes sense why there are reference cards to give to the players. I got used to it after the second game. The other thing is to win the game is to cure all the diseases. I think it would be more fun to be able to eradicate all the diseases. It would also make the playtime longer though if that was the case. The other thing is I do not like how one of the ways to lose is when the entire player deck is gone. It feels like it shortens the playtime a bit, especially if I am into the game and want to continue playing to see if I can cure everything before I get to many outbreaks, which is another way to end the game,
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on September 23, 2015
I got this game to give my wife and I something to play cooperatively rather than competitively. Everyone plays on the same side - you either all win or all lose. To that end, it's awesomely different.


My wife was skeptical based on the product images she saw. When it arrived, however, we were blown away by the quality. The colors are fantastic and the set pieces are well machined. The disease cubes look so good they almost look like shiny candies on your game board. The board is solid. The cards are not flimsy. The game box provides sufficient protection and is thick enough to protect everything inside. Fantastic.


There is a lot of variety to this game. The inclusion of multiple roles, which you assign at random, creates a variety of play styles and strategy.

The game also supports three difficulty modes (represented by the quantity of certain cards you mix into the deck). Once you get the hang of the rules, it's fairly easy on the lowest difficulty level (until you get the hang of all the ways you can lose, however, you'll find that you'll only win about 75% of the time). Ratcheting up the difficulty satisfyingly makes the game more challenging. It's not a given that you'll win, which makes it more appealing for replayability.

Maxing out the number of players also makes the game more difficult, because you have less rounds by which to complete your objectives and win the game.


I've played this game with family and friends, and everyone immediately wants to play another round. That's partly because it really takes playing a round to get the hang of the rules, but mostly because it is really different from the normal game. The cooperative aspect allows for a lot of group discussion, strategy, what-if scenarios, and so on. As soon as you've seen it in action - win or lose - you'll want to play again just to see what happens if different decisions are made or different roles are selected.

Long-term, I'm still addicted to this game. My wife no longer is, and only feels like playing it every once in a while. It's still a welcome break from Settlers of Catan, which has been the game that I typically measure of my games against.

Ease of play:

There are a lot of rules to this game, which feels kind of overwhelming when you first play it. You absolutely do have to play at least a round to get the hang of the rules. Once you do, however, they don't feel all that bad at all. I've actually played this game successfully with younger children (since it is cooperative, you can do most of the thinking for them, yet still make them feel like they contributed and made decisions). At least one of my friends has purchase the game for himself and his kids after playing with me.


Overall, this game is different. The cooperative element alone is worth the price of admission. Stay for the fun and the challenge. And the build quality makes it feel like it will last a long time in your possession.
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on September 5, 2015
This is the first cooperative game that we've tried, and we love the change of pace from your typical competitive options. My husband bought it after he soundly trounced me several times in a row while playing Ticket to Ride (also a great game), saying (jokingly) that he was hoping to save our marriage. It's a great choice for those uber-competitive types who want to play games without devolving into negativity.

I won't go into game play here - there are plenty of reviews that do that - but I will state this: read the instructions carefully the first time you play. We got ahead of ourselves the first time around and ended up confusing ourselves (and shooting ourselves in the foot) by merely trying to eliminate plague pieces from the board instead of actually curing disease.

We've played it most often with two players, and it works well. It holds up to multiple playings, or has so far - after two months of playing it a few times a week, we're still enjoying it.

That said, it would be interesting to see how well it would work to play with people at various levels of experience. We haven't tried this, but because of the collaborative nature of the game, I would think those with more experience would have to consciously choose to be quiet and let the less experienced players lead in order for them to have a more enjoyable time.
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on December 9, 2016
My boyfriend and I just can't play competitive games against each other. They always end with one of us gloating and the other glowering, muttering profanities under their breath. So, we decided that we'd try to find a good cooperative game. Unfortunately, good two-player coop games are tough to come by.

That's why we're so happy to have found Pandemic. It's you against the board WITH your partner (up to four people). The game is really easy to catch on to; after playing through the first few moves, we both got the hang of it. You definitely don't need to be a hugely experienced boardgame player to enjoy it.

There are tons of small parts and nuances to each game, so I do recommend limiting the game to 10 years old and up. Expect your first game to last 90 minutes with the learning curve, but that time will quickly reduce to an hour or so after you understand how to play the game. Set up takes five minutes.

Overall, the game is replayable and thoroughly enjoyable. My boyfriend and I are both not super great at it (yet), but I would much rather be conquering this game WITH him than tearfully conceding another game TO him. At least, now, I have a chance.
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on December 20, 2013
This game does have a learning curve, but once you've played it through one time it seems simple. I love that it's cooperative, which means I get to work with my friends rather than against them. Instead of secretly plotting against each other, we spend the game coordinating strategies, simulating different possible outcomes, and planning for contingencies. It's a logic game above all, and it's both challenging and fun. Also, when we lose, we all lose together, so we're motivated to try again. If we win, we're tempted to try it at a higher difficulty level (there are 3 difficulties).

This is also great because you can play with just 2 players. Moreover, if you find having only 2 characters limiting, you can "ghost play" with 4 players by having each of you play two characters.

Last thing: if you want to add some fun to the game and also avoid losing any of the tiny cubes that come with it, I highly recommend buying some cheap plastic petri dishes to keep the cubes in. Like this one: B005Z4QU5U
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on August 1, 2017

This is my ever "adult" tabletop game and I must say that as a game it deserves 5 stars, it is a great game for those new to tabletop games and, acoording to my friends, seasoned players as well.


Although the game is awesome, the hardware itself not so much. I've hadded for about 2 weeks ( about 20 games) and the cards are already somewhat peeling.


Great game with Ok materials.
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on January 6, 2017
My family loves this game. You are a team of CDC workers racing around the globe trying to squelch several series of ever spreading infections. In this game you are not competing with each other, but rather must work together. There are a lot of intricacies which at first are a little confusing. I started off by watching a couple you tube videos and then read through the instructions as we played a practice game. Once you do a few rounds of turns everyone gets it. The complexity of the game makes it fun but since you're working together, you can help newcomers out. My 8 year old daughter gets it just fine and when she's unsure we can help. Since we're working together it's not like you can't see each others cards. We have played it maybe 4-5 times. Each game lasts 45-60 minutes. We still haven't beat it. Oddly that's what makes it fun. We can't wait until we have another hour to get back together to team up and beat this thing. Don't hesitate to get this one. It's great!
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VINE VOICEon January 9, 2016
My kids played this after we got it for the family for Christmas, and they had a fun time, though I hadn't played. My middle daughter and her boyfriend played a second game with my wife and I for New Years, and so I tried it for the first time. Like any board game, it takes a little getting used to before play moves quickly. The 45-minute estimate was low even with only two brand new players, but it was less than ninety minutes even though we played a full game (i.e. we won).

The co-operative mechanics are great for anyone looking to avoid a zero-sum game where every player's success comes at the expense of someone else. Those can be fun, but most games and groups quickly develop tiers, and who wins is decided often as soon as you pick what game you will play. Even when the winner isn't clear from the start, the loser(s) typically are. So co-op has real advantages unless you have a very balanced group.

Also, the nature of game play lets you ease new players into the system. Each player's turn involves discussions with all players, so advice is entirely appropriate. Novices might feel left out, my wife's turns were often decided when she was away, but if you are careful, any player can be eased into the game and still be very useful. The limit of four players is affected as well. You can't have more than four players on the board, but that doesn't stop having one or more extra people offering advice and being a valuable part of the team as anyone with a token on the board.

Despite the subject matter, the game isn't overly dark. This isn't Plague Inc, you're saving mankind, not wiping it out (Greenland and Madagascar, regrettably, are not represented). Little blocks, like Risk only clear plastic, are used to represent diseases. No need to worry about having too few blocks, either. If you run out, you've lost. So don't lose any pieces. Mankind may become extinct due to your carelessness! There is also a geography lesson involved, as many distant and exotic places will become important to you. However, compact areas of the world are handled by moving the name and having a line point to the real location to spread out the major metropolitan areas you try to save,

While you can ramp up the difficulty level with pre-game choices, I doubt you'll be playing this every week for months at a time. The same is true of most games, of course, but I can see Pandemic becoming samey after a dozen games. In the meantime, however, it's a lot of fun, and an enjoyable group effort in the bargain.
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