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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 January 9, 2018
this is a great game, but I haven't gotten into the right rhythm yet even after playing 10 or so games. I know it's not in the same classification of board game, but I recently got Karuba and have gotten WAY more enjoyment out of that one.

the coop element is cool; it's unique to a lot of people and that makes it fun. the game's difficulty can be discouraging but it is not unwinnable. if you are on a losing streak, try a team with Medic, Dispacher, and Researcher.

all of the parts and pieces are very nice quality. I do suggest to keep the manual handy and read through twice before you start.
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on April 20, 2015
This was our first cooperative board game, and honestly the first non-traditional board game my family has ever purchased. Other than this, we have the usual standbys: Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, etc. Those are fine, and we enjoyed playing them, but we were SO BORED of them and the same old thing.

Pandemic was a really fun switch to the old classics. We loved that we were playing together, rather than against each other. We left the game feeling like a team, rather than like two people who'd like to strangle the bejezus out of each other, which is usually how board games leave us feeling.

The set up took awhile to figure out, and then the rules left us completely baffled. The set up was pretty detailed, but then it gets down to "okay, now play!" We weren't even sure where to start, or what the point was when we did start. But we found a video on YouTube that explained it and that made everything clear. We tried to figure it out with kids involved (ages 7 and 9) but we were all left frustrated. After the kids went to bed, we figured it out, and now we think we'll be ready to play as a family and have a great time.

The box and game itself is very nice quality. The cards are nice and sturdy, the game board is nice, and I liked that the small pieces came in little zipped bags to keep it organized. The box the game came in is an excellent quality, much better than I'm used to.

I can definitely see that we'll be buying more cooperative games in the future. My wishlist is now ten miles long!
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on February 16, 2016
I love this game. This was my first coop game, and I've taught a few people how to play, and it's thematic, it feels like you are actually trying to wipe out disease threats across the globe. Try it first on the easiest difficulty level until you've beaten it and are sure you understand the game mechanics. Once I understood the game, I went to the middle difficulty level and I think that that's just the right level to play. Only warning I'll give is that, because it's a coop game, there's a tendency, as the person who taught it to other people, for me to dominate the game. I try to get everyone's input while playing. I try not to boss people around. If someone else has a different idea than me of what to do, I try to encourage them. I managed to hook a total non-gamer on the game, so I guess whatever I've been doing works.

I used to game a lot, and I'm trying to get back into the hobby. This was a nice re-introduction into gaming for me.
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on December 12, 2014
Pandemic hardly needs more positive reviews, but I feel kind of obligated to add my two cents to the mix.

This is a game that's really taken a preeminent position in the realm of modern cooperative board games, and with good reason. I think the biggest compliment that I can pay it is that it is pretty simple in terms of game-play but thoroughly addictive, the latter made all the more impressive by the fact that you lose the game about 75% of the time! It's no small feat to create a game that makes players want to keep coming back to it even AFTER they get their butts kicked again...and again....and again.

Another thing I really like personally is that there's just enough luck and randomness to the game (in both the setup and during the game) that each game feels somewhat unique, which also helps the replay value. Put more simply: though you will start to develop a bit of a strategy after a few plays through, there's no "solving" the game in a way that reduces the challenge to the point of it becoming too easy or boring. If there's one thing Pandemics are not, it's predictable!

If I have one criticism of the game it is that the aforementioned "luck/randomness" can be quite cruel; sometimes you seem to have everything under control (well, as much as you CAN when facing multiple, terrifying world-wide epidemics!) and then BOOM, a particularly unfortunate card-draw suddenly dooms your efforts. Actually, no that's not really accurate. It's more a case of simply not having the resources to deal with everything that needs dealt with at any given moment, which eventually leads to said un-dealt-with thing coming back and biting you in the a**. But it's never a case where you feel the game is inherently unfair, but more "AAAGGGHH I NEW WE SHOULD HAVE DONE ______ INSTEAD OF _______ WHEN WE HAD THE CHANCE!". Anyway, put simply, it's a very satisfying experience---win, lose or.....lose ;) (there's no draw in Pandemic; either you save the world or you don't!).

One last note: you won't really see any mention of Pandemic being a single-player game, but it is very much playable solo. The only thing lost is the interaction between players (which granted, is the main appeal of cooperative games). Pandemic plays just fine solo though (you simply play two or more "characters" yourself) much so that I'm surprised the designer didn't just go ahead and say "1-5 players" instead of "2-5".
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on September 2, 2015
This is one of the best board games I've played in years! The cooperative element is an excellent dynamic for a board game, and Pandemic doesn't disappoint. The game is relatively easy to learn, but the depths of strategy between different role combinations and at higher difficulty gives it tremendous replay value and amusement, even after mastering the basic game. Available expansion also gives it new and fresh elements to the original gameplay.
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on September 21, 2016
This is one of my favorite games right now, in fact I'm planning on getting most of the expansion packs and the one-off games. The idea of the game is that there are four diseases that have gotten out and the player must work together to stop them. I've play with game with 2 people and with 4, its equally fun no matter the number of people. I like that is a cooperative game, its different from most of the other games we play. Game time isn't terribly long. The first few games take a bit longer as everyone is learning how to play and what their roles can and cannot do. I recommend reading all the instructions, at the end there a section of commonly misunderstood rules that really helps with the game play. If you're looking for a new game to add to game night this is a good one!
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on July 18, 2016
Myself and a group of friends recently started doing some game-nights to break up the week, so we review the "TableTop" YouTube channel quite frequently, and Pandemic was one that looked amazing!

Absolutely love it. It's a very challenging game, 9 times out of 10 ending up loosing but it's great to play a cooperative board-game for once!
Would highly recommend it!

Bought it and the expansions that go with it below:
Main Game:
In The Lab Expansion:
On The Brink Expansion:
State of Emergency:
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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2014
This is the first cooperative board game I have played and I love it. I didn't know what to expect with a cooperative board game, but my friends and I decided to give it a try. So far, I have played it twice along with 3 friends. Our first play through was fun. I liked learning how to play the game together. I admit that we played it incorrectly our first go-around, but still had fun.

Our second go-around, went smoothly and was also enjoyable. We were able to master the rules on the second go-around. Collaborating with friends is fun. It's interesting to work together to win. I really enjoy the mechanic of picking out a profession that has special abilities to combat the pandemic. It's also great that the difficulty can be changed by adding or removing outbreak cards.

I recommend this game to people who wants to give cooperative games a try. I estimate that it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish a game, so you don't have to devote an entire night to playing. I can't wait to play it again.
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