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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 April 25, 2017
I have been playing more and more board games over the last year and Pandemic has been the best addition to my slowly growing collection. Working with my friends and family instead of against them was a great change of pace after years of royal rumble style board gaming. This game is just as fun to play with 2 people as it is with several more and no two games of Pandemic are the same. It is just as easy to lose this game as it is to win and losing only makes me want to play it again. I have begun to purchase the expansion sets and each new update only makes the game more entertaining and fun. That being said, the original game is extremely replayable and worth every penny. For the dedicated tabletop player, or the family looking to play infrequently, this is a must buy game!
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on June 28, 2016
This is one of the best board games I've ever played that features a team dynamic. Unlike Settlers of Catan, which will ruin any and every relationship you ever had, this co-op will reveal the true colors of anyone daring to pick up a colored pawn. Play this game with a stranger to get to know them. I promise that by the end of the game that you will know whether they will become your beast of a best friend forever or labeled a selfish, uncooperative squat head to be despised forever. Try it on a first date. It will foretell whether or not you and your interest will successfully spawn offspring together.

After opening this box for the first time, my roommates and I spent countless nights trying to save the world. As frustrating as it is to lose to a piece of cardboard, it is equally, if not more, gratifying to conquer your imaginary microscopic adversaries. There are so many occasions where you end the game in despair wishing you had just one more turn. But when you win, you come away feeling like the hero of an apocalyptic movie, saving the world in the very nick of time! Needless to say, we are currently best friends changing the world via healthcare, the arts and non-profits.
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on March 15, 2017
This is a great cooperative board game to play with your friends or gaming group.

I've played this with many different groups of people now and every experience was positive and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves very much while playing. Having a great cooperative game in your rotation is a good way to get people who don't like the competition aspect of games to be able to enjoy themselves too.

The game itself is fairly easy to get the hang of after a few turns and allows for great strategy sessions where you work together to eradicate the various diseases on the board to trigger the win condition. Playing at maximum difficulty will generally be pretty challenging and will require good planning and communication with the other players in order to succeed.

This is one of those games that is tough to win, but tends to make people want to play "just one more time, I know we'll get it this time". It's that enjoyable. This one tends to be a favorite in our board gaming group, and we keep bringing it out time and again.

The only issue that I have with the game set is that the instructions aren't the easiest to read if you want a quick summary of win conditions and such. I had to read them a couple times to figure out some of the more nuanced game rules and situations that tended to come up quite a bit more than expected.

No other issues to this really fun game.

Highest Recommendation.
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on May 8, 2017
I have to quote Wil Wheaton to describe this game because I simply can not find a better way to say it. "I have had more fun loosing this game than I have had winning a lot of others."

This game is very difficult, but extremely fun and engaging. Despite loosing more often than you win (even on the easiest setting) you and your friends will be fully immersed in this game until the end and enjoy losses just as much as winning. The rules are well thought out and every advantage is well balanced and needs to be coordinated with other members of the team to stand any chance of winning.

This is one of the most perfectly developed games I've ever played.
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on January 26, 2016
Pros: High quality components, challenging, requires strategy
Cons: Can be too random, one person can take over if you're not careful

Excellent cooperative game. I got this to play with my girlfriend, and we've played with our families and some friends as well. It is very easy to teach since you're all on the same team, so you can show people how to play as you play. It also lets you choose how difficult you want it to be by letting you decide how many Epidemic cards you add to the player deck. When these are drawn, they will make you infect more cities each turn and they will cause all the cities you have already infected to be shuffled and placed back on top, so they will keep getting more disease added to them. The more Epidemic cards there are, the harder the game gets because this happens more often.

It requires a lot of foresight and strategy if you want to win, as you always have to be aware of what cities are potentially going to be drawn, and if you get close to the end you need to remember that there are only a set number of turns. Each player has a different ability that they can use, so we have found that it can be easier to play with more people, as this gives you access to more abilities. However, in the games I have played, we have both won and lost with 2, 3, and 4 people playing. It can certainly be tough depending on the game.

And that's why I'm rating it 4 stars. I really like the game, and, as a side note, the physical game itself is outstanding. The box is very sturdy with spaces inside for all the pieces and cards. The cards are sturdy and the player pieces and "disease cubes" are all beautiful (everyone comments on how nice the components are). However, the game play can vary greatly. Sometimes you'll win easily, sometimes you'll win at the last second, sometimes you'll get crushed early, sometimes you'll lose just when you think you've won it. This can be a good and bad thing. I like that there's no way to "figure it out" and win every time, but it would be nice if it wasn't as random. (I suppose you could decide where to put the Epidemic cards in the deck, but we haven't tried that.) I played with my brother once and we won very easily, and now he's convinced that it is too trivial.

All in all, I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging co-op game.
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on January 2, 2017
  Pandemic Board Game

Pandemic is a cooperative game where you’re working together to cure diseases and prevent a worldwide pandemic. If disease spreads too far, you lose. If you find cures for all of the diseases and eradicate them you win. There are multiple roles you and your team mates can play, each with unique powers that allow you to work around the rules in a specific way.

There is a high sense of urgency and tension in the game. Working against the game to win in time really draws you into the theme.

The cooperative aspect of this game is great if you're not in the mood to play against your friends and family. Playing as a team can create a great bond with the other players, especially when you get down to that last nail-biting turn.

High level of difficulty and replay-ability, with rules to make the game harder once you've mastered the basic game.

This game really makes you work together to win. If everyone just does their own thing, you will lose for sure. The rules even encourage discussion before making any actions.

It really does an excellent job of making the game a challenging opponent. The game's "AI", that is, the way you draw cards and spread the diseases through "outbreaks" means that the game is very difficult without requiring a player to make decisions.

The game can be very hard, even on the easiest setting. I have yet to actually win the game, even with six plays under my belt.

Be prepared to lose the first few plays.

Mood: Thinky, Cooperative, Strategic
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on June 28, 2017
When I first saw this game I had never actually heard of cooperative games. I read a bit about the concept and I thought to myself that it all seemed a bit pointless – playing games is about winning and how do you win if you don’t have someone to beat? I know that solo games such as solitaire are geared towards beating the system, but to me that’s because you don’t have a human to go up against (and ideally mash). I’m sure I’m not the only one whose family background was board games when it rains, with a win at all costs attitude instilled at an early age – it’s just what you did!

But then I thought about it. I love my wife so why do I always want to pulp her when we bring out the old favourites? I thought to myself that it might be a better idea if we face things together, a kind of extension on how couples are supposed to be. So I bought Pandemic as a Christmas present for her (me!), not knowing very much about it at all or if we would enjoy it. But hey, need to shop for present: box ticked!

We took our time learning the rules, but they aren’t too hard to grasp and we played a few easier levels and then dived into the toughest one. When we lost there was no finger pointing and when (if!) we won it was a very affirming experience for us as a team. I really have to recommend this game; it’s given me a taste for an unexpected evolution in game development and now I’m looking at other things out there too.

But we still play the old stuff like Ludo and Risk, and she still hammers me in chess…
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on January 2, 2017
Super fun to play with friends and definitely challenging. Pandemic is one of the most highly-rated board games around, and it lives up to the expectations. It offers strategic depth, a bit of random chance, and a compelling narrative to follow. It's also well balanced -- you can win if you do things right, but you'll lose a lot figuring out how to do so. Highly recommended for anyone new to board games or curious about co-op games in general.

Pandemic Legacy is also pretty cool, but I'd say this is the better starting point. If you're going into Legacy, it's better to understand the core fundamentals of how to win at Pandemic as losing in Legacy has repercussions that reverberate through future games.
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