Wednesday, February 2, 2011


PANDEMIC  by Z-Man Games
Published in 2008

Pandemic is a fully cooperative board game, in which the Earth is plagued with four deadly diseases.
The players control specialists, who travel around the world, treating the suffering population, and trying to discover cures for these diseases. Time is of the essence, as the diseases spread faster and faster, and new epidemics break out.
The specialists must work together, or they will have no chance of saving the world. 

All players either win together, or lose together.

At the beginning of the game, 9 metropolitan areas have already been infected by the diseases. These cities are always drawn randomly. In this game, the worst places seem to be Atlanta, São Paulo and Johannesburg. Atlanta is also the city where all the specialists begin their mission. (apparently because the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" or CDC is located there)


I drew two specialists by random, and got Scientist and Operations Expert.
The scientist needs fewer cards to create a cure, while the Operations Expert can build research stations much easier that the other specialists.


A good start: The black disease is nowhere to be seen, and the Scientist has most of the information needed for the black cure. This means that one of the diseases is already nearly taken care of, which makes the rest of the came potentially much easier.
The first signs of the black disease are later found from Delhi.

The Operations Expert takes a flight to Chennai, and builds a research station there. Research stations are used to develop the cures, but they also provide shuttles for the specialists to quickly move from station to station. Building a world-wide network of research stations is a good strategy.
Meanwhile. the Scientist gathers the missing data for the black cure.

Far east is having some trouble...
The Operations Expert reaches Johannesburg and treats its population.
So far, the game is going quietly. No epidemics have occurred yet, but soon things are bound to get tougher.

The black disease is cured! Only two cities - Karachi and Delhi -suffer from minor infestations of this disease, so the black disease is likely to be eradicated from the Earth soon enough.
The first Epidemic finally happens; At Mexico City. Southern America is also not doing too good...
Soon after the epidemic of Mexico city, another one breaks up, this time in Sydney.

The Scientist uses a special event: "one quiet night". This gives the Operations Expert some time to treat the yellow disease at south America, before outbreaks begin to occur.
The Operations Expert treats the suffering population of Buenos Aires, as well as builds a research station in there.. He then uses this station to find a cure for the red disease.

The Scientist manages to eradicate the black disease from the face of Earth! That disease is no more.
The Scientist receives a "government grant", which she uses to build a free research station at Beijing. The station network is pretty good now, given that Middle-east, Africa and Europe don't really need the stations as those parts of the world are nearly free of any diseases.
The Scientist takes a shuttle flight back to Atlanta, where she was supposed to meet the Operations Expert for exchanging some data, but this proved to be unnecessary, as she found the missing piece of information herself. The blue cure is ready to be discovered!

The Operations Expert takes a charter flight to Johannesburg, the only diseased city in Africa at the moment.
A third epidemic would have occurred at Tehran, but since the black disease has already been eradicated, nothing much happens.. However, at this point the overall infection rate of all the other diseases increases.

South America is suffering badly.

The scientist cures the blue disease, now there is only the yellow one to go...
A fourth epidemic breaks in Essen. Immediately after this, Essen suffers an outbreak, spreading the disease all over Europe. Luckily, the cure was just found...

The Operations Expert uses an "airlift" special event to get to Buenos Aires, these he meets the Scientists and gives her the final piece of info needed for the yellow cure. Soon after this, the Scientist finds the last cure and so the Earth is saved!


This particular 'Pandemic' was an easy one. Not only did I win the game, but only one outbreak happened. Most importantly, I got an easy start; black disease was absent and almost cured already.
However, Pandemic is not necessarily an easy game in default. The difficulty can be changed according to how many Epidemics are shuffled into the deck. I used 5 Epidemics, which is usually challenging enough for me.
In all the games of Pandemic I have played, the winning rate has been somewhere around 60%.

Pandemic is one of the best cooperative board games I know. The mechanics are great and innovative, and the theme is quite unique for a board game.
Pandemic is easy to learn, and quick to play, which makes it an excellent game for less-than-hardcore board gamers, but it is also strategic enough to be enjoyable for pros.
Artwork is above average and the coloured cubes for diseases serve their purpose fine. As an interesting detail, the city cards have some actual information about the cities; their population and density of population. 

RATING: 9 /10


While my solo rating is as high as the normal rating, it doesn't mean that the gaming experience is the same with just one player. With multiple players, the game is conversing and comparing ideas. With one player, it is more about planning the best possible courses of action.
The game can be played with just one character, but I recommend using at least two, even if you are playing alone. This gives you more strategic options to consider.


  1. This was absolutely brilliant!

  2. Will be picking this up this weekend from a trade on BGG! Can't wait!

  3. Love the photography with the single light source. The game looks fantastic. I have just purchased the game, looking forward to playing it solo. Many thanks for your blog :-)