Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Boardgame Overview: Pandemic

Last weekend, I was in HMV with some vouchers to spend. Now HMV is not what you'd describe as game store (besides video games), the only games they really have are Simpsons Monopoly, Scene It, things of that ilk. Not much to tempt a more serious gamer, but for some reason they had several copies of Pandemic in stock, so I spent my vouchers on picking this up (also got The Batman Series 1 on DVD for my son, he really like that series and to be honest so do I).

Pandemic is a board game from Z Man Games and as it's name suggests it's about disease, or rather the prevention of it. The game is for 2 to 4 people, and each person takes on the role of a certain specialist within a disease control team. As you're all in the same team, the play is pure cooperative, which makes it a nice game to introduce non-gamers to as you can easily help them along.

As members of the disease control team, you need to travel the world balancing your play between curing diseases in individual cities, and finding cures for diseases. There's 4 diseases to cure and that's the win condition. The board is a world map you move your pieces around on:

Each turn you get four actions which can be things like moving to a different city, finding a cure, building a research station and so on. Each turn in the game, the diseases spread represented by little wooden cubes of various colours.

The fundamental mechanic in the game is card management. The player cards in the bottom left have the name of a city on it, and each city has a different colour. You use these cards for a couple of things: to move to other cities by discarding a card of that city, or the city you're in, and to discover cures. To discover a cure, you normally need 5 cards of that colour, then move to a research station and spend an action to discover a cure.

Each player takes on a different role, and each role has various abilities. For example: the Scientist only needs 4 cards of one colour to discover a cure; the Medic can remove all blocks of one colour in a city when he performs the Cure action (you normally only remove one block of a colour). By working together and playing to the strengths of each role is the key to winning.

The game is easy to play and understand, and being a coop game it's easy to teach. I've played it a couple of times with my non-gaming wife and she's picked it up quickly as the mechanics are simple (unlike when she played Last Night on Earth) and is enjoying it. The game plays quickly, last night's game was done in 40 minutes including setup time.

So I'd recommend Pandemic if you're after a quick, entertaining game to play. It'd be an ideal game at Christmas as although the age is recommended as 10+ I think younger players could easily grasp this.

1 comment:

Shrink to Fit said...

I love Pandemic! A friend and I played it over and over and over again (for about 6 hours) when I first purchased it. Our goal was to beat it on the most difficult setting using only two Roles. Finally, after lady luck gave us the Medic and Dispatcher, we achieved our goal.

It only gets better (read: more difficult) with the expansion, On the Brink. It adds three different ways to play.

I highly recommend checking out the expansion if you enjoy the base game.