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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?

Theme
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.

Balance
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
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.
Downtime
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 May 15, 2017
I love this game. It is fun and easy to learn, and I am even looking forward to perhaps getting some expansions. The printing and game components are all good quality, and the shipping was reasonably quick. The only thing that could be improved is to get something to store all those little plastic cube markers. I found a few screw-top pill cases at my local pharmacy that do the job well for a $1.50 each, and fit with the medical theme of the game too. After all, who doesn't want to save the world?
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on October 27, 2017
I picked this up in 2016 as a Christmas gift for my 13 year-old daughter. I was trying to introduce my family to some new board games in an effort to get the kids to spend less time on video games. Pandemic was a hit with my daughter, my 9 year-old son, and myself (unfortunately, my wife refuses to play those "weird games").

I can't add much more than others have already said. However, since my family was new to cooperative games and this style of game expected that we might have problems understanding the rules which might cause short-attention-span kids to quickly lose interest. To alleviate that I purchased the iPad version and played a few times myself prior to gifting Pandemic to my daughter. It ended up being a great decision on my part and we were able to start paling relatively quickly. I mentioned, we all enjoyed it and my daughter prefers it to "Forbidden Island" and "Ticket to Ride." I enjoy all three, and my 10 year-old son prefers cooperative games such as this.

The only downside is that the "cooperative" component sometimes turns into an "argumentative" component when there's more than one strong-willed player who thinks their strategy is the best.
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on September 21, 2016
I just received this the other day. I want to say I am impressed with the quality.

Starting with the box itself, I am very impressed. I've never got a board game before that was such heavyweight chipboard box. Then the photo paper covering the box is very detailed, and rich full of color. Lovely texture and coating on the box. Super impressed.

The board quality itself is really nice, looks, great!

I like the clear plastic disease cubes, they are pretty crystal clear and to me it's more exciting and not as monotonous as the wooden ones that came with the first edition. I wouldn't of minded wooden pawns but I am not complaining.. they are fairly heavy plastic and polished a bit -- same with the research center tokens.

Card quality is very nice. Air cushioned and seems like they'd hold up. I've already sleeved the player deck. I might not sleeve the infection deck. If it ever becomes a problem (I can always sleeve them later).
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on September 5, 2017
We bought this as a family game. We had never played a cooperative game before. In fact, our family is very competitive and we love games, but we just could not imagine a game where the players were cooperating with one another. We all win, or we all lose - What!?! It made no sense and definitely didn't sound very fun (i.e., competitive). We were WRONG!!! Pandemic is a very fun game, and it is very competitive, but the competition is in trying the beat the game together. The first time we played it (on the easiest setting), we thought we were doing well and the game was too easy, but then the cards (time) ran out and we lost!!! That was all we needed to get our competitive juices flowing and wanting to play again and again! We weren't going to let some game beat us! There is only 1 way for the players to win, but 3 different ways for the game to win. We now regularly beat the game about 50% of the time on the easy setting, 33% of the time on the medium setting, and we've never won at the hardest setting. Another factor for us is that our family consists of 5, but the game plays only up to 4 players, so we delayed purchasing it for over a year, but finally made the plunge. We now regularly play it with 5 players (using 2 cards like with a 4 player game). The game doesn't seem harder or easier with the 5th player. Our success rate is about the same if we play with 4 or 5 players. We found out that we also love cooperative games! Pandemic is a great game - cooperative, competitive, and tense!
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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.

Quality:

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.

Play:

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.

Fun:

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.

Summary:

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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