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Board Game Review: Pandamic

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I am a big fan of boardgames, especially larger strategic boardgames. I have played a lot of them and are still trying new games.



The Board Game Pandemic

Pandemic is a board game in which two to four players work together. On the board the world map containing a lot of big cities. These cities are divided in four colors. Blue for North America and Europe, yellow for South America and Africa, black for West and Central Asia and red for East Asia and Oceania. Every color represents a different virus. The goal of the game is to find a vaccine for all four of the viruses.

Player Cards

During the game the players receive player cards. They get them at the start of the game and after a player finishes his turn he draws two additional cards. On the cards the cities of the board are displayed. Every city appears once in the deck. The color of the card matches the color of the city. Furthermore there are some special action cards in the deck, that give you a certain bonus if you play the card. Finally, there are epidemic cards. Before the game begins, the player deck is divided in five equal parts. Into every part one epidemic card is shuffled. If the players want a higher level of difficulty, they can add a sixth epidemic card.

Actions a Player Can Take

To counter the viruses every player plays his own character. In his turn a player can do up to four actions. He can choose to:

  • Walk to an adjacent city
  • Remove one virus cube from the city he is in
  • Trade a card
  • Use a card to travel
  • Build a research station
  • Travel via a research station
  • Find a vaccine for a certain type of virus

A player can do an action multiple times in his turn if he wants to, but he is limited to four actions per turn. So a turn could look like this: walk two steps and remove two cubes.

Trading a card is more complicated than just given another player a card from your hand. To trade a card both players must stand in the city matching the card they want to trade.

Using a card to travel can be done in two different ways. Firstly, you can play the card of the city you are in. Then you can travel to anywhere you want. The second way of using a card to travel is to play the card of a city to travel directly to that city.

If you play the card matching the city you are in you can also choose to build a research station, instead of travel to any city. Research stations are very important and can be used to travel. If you are in a city containing a research station you can travel in one step to any other city that contains a research station.

A research station is also needed to find vaccines. If a player is in a city containing a research station he can play five cards of the same color to find the vaccine for the virus of that color. This is necessary to win the game, so it is important not to spend all your cards to travel.



The Infection Phase and Outbreaks

After a player draws cards at the end of his turn the infection phase starts. During this phase two cards are drawn from the infection deck. This is a different deck of cards that also contains one card of all cities on the map. On the cities that are drawn one additional virus cube is placed. If a fourth virus cube should be placed on a city this does not happen. Instead an outbreak occurs and a virus cube is placed on all adjacent cities. It can happen that because of this an adjacent city also gets an outbreak. However, a city can have only one outbreak per turn.

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When a player draws cards at the end of his turn it might happen he draws an epidemic card instead of a city card. In that case, an epidemic occurs. The player draws the last card of the infection deck. On this location three cubes are placed. Then all cards from the infection discard pile are shuffled and put back on top of the infection deck. Because they come on top, the same cities will be coming back repeatedly. In total there are five or six epidemic cards in the player card deck, depending on the difficulty level you want to play on.

Characters and Special Abilities

All players play as a unique character. Every character has his own special ability that allows him to do something the other characters aren't allowed to do.

There are five characters in the base game:

  • Dispatcher: can move any pawn during his turn, can move a pawn to a city containing another pawn
  • Researcher: when trading with a player at his location he can give any card instead of only the card matching the city they are in
  • Medic: for one action he can remove all virus cubes at a location instead of only one cube
  • Scientist: can find a vaccine with only four cards of the same color
  • Operations expert: doesn't have to spend a card to build a research center

How to Win or Lose in Pandemic?

The goal of the game is to find a vaccine for all four of the viruses. Once this has happened the players win immediately. There are a couple of different ways to lose:

  • Eight outbreaks occurred
  • The player card deck is empty
  • There are not enough virus cubes of a color anymore

Why Pandemic Is a Great Game

On the board game ranking on Boardgamegeek the game is ranked 86. Since the ranking consists of more than 15,000 games this is a very high rating. Pandemic is a cooperative game, and teamwork is really needed. You need to discuss every players actions. You will need to make smart use of the special abilities of each character, otherwise it will be nearly impossible to win.

It is a game that suits both board game fanatics and people who just like to play a board game every now and then because you can play on different difficulty levels by adding or removing an epidemic card.

Furthermore, Pandemic has many expansions that add player cards and event cards. There are also two legacy variants: Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and 2 in which you play the game in story mode. These are ranked even higher on 2 and 28 respectively in the Boardgamegeek ranking.

What Do You Think of Pandemic?

  • Board Game Recommendation: Codenames
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  • Board Game Recommendation: Pandamic Legacy Season 1
    Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a cooperative board game based on Pandemic, in which you play a story of twelve months in which your team tries to stop the world from spreading virusses.


Rohit Desai from India on May 20, 2020:

Interesting game. Cant wait to get my hands on it.

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