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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 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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Top Contributor: Petson February 6, 2017
We spend several hours at a shot playing games, probably an average of once a week. Some of our favorites: Settlers of Catan, Fluxx, Munchkin, Phase 10, Parcheesi, Sushi Go!, some of the Cheap-Ass games, just to give you an idea.

We like having a variety of types of play to switch things up & keep us interested, but once in a while a game is simply addictive & we can play it over & over for hours. Settlers is like that for us (even after many years). And now Pandemic is, too. We just can't stop playing!

It's definitely challenging. One of the great features is that you can increase the difficulty level once you start feeling like the game has become easy. But don't judge that too fast, either. There are so many factors that add variety to the game from play to play. For example, the random assignment of a Role for each player means that your characters' combination of special abilities are different each game, so you need to adjust your strategy to take the best advantage of them.

One reason I chose this is because feedback about playing with two players was positive. Most of our games require at least the 3 of us to be any fun. And pretty soon my son will be moving out, so we'll need some good two player games. This weekend we got to test it with 2 people, and it was absolutely just as fun as with 3. In fact, it surprised us because it required such a different strategy than with the 3 of us. And once we adjusted and began winning at the lowest difficulty, we tried the next level and found we had to shift gears again. (And wow that level is tough)

This is the first cooperative game we've owned, and we love that about it. None of us is particularly competitive, so we find this a really nice change from the usual. Maybe if we can stop playing this incessantly, we'll simply use it as a nice break between other games in a sitting.
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on January 2, 2017
  Pandemic Board Game

Overview
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.

Pros:
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.

Cons:
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 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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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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