Theme: In Pandemic, four deadly viruses have broken out around the world. It’s a race against the diseases and the clock to find a cure for each. 

How to Win: Once you find the cure for all four diseases you and your teammates win.

Components: Sturdy world board, Infection and Player cards, four different colored disease cubes, player and counter tokens. 

How to Play: After setting up the board and dealing a set number of cards per player (varies depending on player count) everyone starts in Atlanta (home of the CDC). Each player has a different role that gives them special abilities. On your turn, you can take four actions – move, cure, trade cards or fly to a specific city. Once you are done with all of your actions, you draw two player cards and add them to your hand. Next, you spread the disease by flipping over a number of infection cards based on the state of the game. At the start of the game, it is just two, but it will grow to four as the game goes on. You will add one of the corresponding cubes to the matching city. 

If you draw an ‘Epidemic Card’ you draw the bottom card of the Infection Deck, add three cubes to the corresponding city, shuffle the discard pile and place the discard pile ON TOP of the Infection Deck. This means you will be drawing the same cities you previously have – hopefully you and your team have maintained control over the diseases that this isn’t a huge issue. 

Cities can only hold three cubes of one color. If you are ever forced to place the fourth cube, you instead cause an ‘Outbreak’. In the event of an outbreak, you advance the Outbreak Track by one and place a cube of the city’s color on each adjacent city – this can cause multiple outbreaks. 

There is one way to win Pandemic – Cure all four diseases.

There are three ways to lose Pandemic:

  • A player is unable to draw two player cards at the end of their turn.
  • You need to place a cube, but there are no more cubes of that color to place.
  • You hit or exceed eight outbreaks. 
Sorry for the stock photo. Don’t have an actual Pandemic board.

Thoughts: Pandemic is one of those games that people either love or hate, there is no in between. Without the use of dice or a lot of chance, the feeling of the group can go from ‘oh yeah, we got this’ to ‘how the heck did we sink so far?’ in the matter of a few turns. This is not a game where everyone can just sit quietly and let someone take their turn. There has to be communication and everyone has to be willing to take feedback and work with the group. I have played games before where there was little to no communication and we’ve lost miserably. 

It’s also one of those games where you don’t realize how tense and stressed you were until you and your group successfully cure the diseases and let out a sigh of relief. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the worst feeling is when you can count the number of turns left and you realize there is no hope of winning and wonder if there was anything you could have done differently. 

At its core, Pandemic is simple and since it’s cooperative, new players can be easily walked through the motions and pros/cons in the midst of the game without having to worry about giving away your position or your ability to win. Just make sure you and your group are allowing everyone to speak up and be heard as cooperative games tend to run the risk of someone strong-arming other players. 

Overall, Pandemic by itself can stand alone and is a great cooperative game to bring in new gamers. I used this game (technically Pandemic Legacy) to bring my mother and father into the board gaming fold and let me tell you, it’s difficult to get my dad into anything. As someone who enjoys campaigns and stories (both reading and writing them) I have received more enjoyment out of Pandemic Legacy than Pandemic, but those looking for a one-shot hour to hour and a half game (depending on how long turns take) with a group that does not like competition Pandemic a great game to have on the shelf.

[This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I wouldn’t recommend a game I didn’t like or think you wouldn’t enjoy. Any games linked have been recommended to friends and family long before this blog.]

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