Pandemic Board Game Review

The Board Game Box

8/10 by The Board Game Box

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There are those that believe Marijuana is a 'gateway' drug; one that enables the user an accessible route into harder, more dangerous drugs like cocaine, heroin or meth. The ease with which one can pick up weed and smoke it without needing any complicated paraphernalia makes it the one thing that almost all have at some time tried and some of those have liked. Now, far be it from me to compare board games to drugs but in this case, the comparison seems apt as Pandemic is for many a gateway into the world of board games that exist outside of the realm of those dull and boring gaming experiences that include Monopoly, Scrabble, Game Of Life and so on.

Pandemic was the first proper tabletop game that we bought and played. It was a Saturday evening and the experience lasted well past midnight over at least 5 plays of the game, as we tried desperately to grapple with the rules, the pieces, the cards, the diseases and everything else that Matt Leacock had mind-melded into his awesome gateway drug.

It was a lot of fun. Seriously. Fun as the act of playing and losing only stiffened our resolve and determination to play it again and beat the damn thing. As far as I can remember that first evening I don't think we won any of those five games; not least because it's really difficult but also because it is very hard trying to digest the rule book and play the game in one sitting.

Rules Understandability

Panedmic's rules are complicated in much the same way that candy floss is sticky and fun fairs are a rip-off. Most of the time when you come to sit down and play a board game most will already know the rules. You might have learnt to play Monopoly when really young round your grandma's house so by the time you are pulling out the battered box on boxing day, there's no problem with anyone not knowing what the hell is going on.

These new tabletop games have rules that are more extensive, more involved and more challenging to keep a hold of in your mind. You must juggle the plates of actually being involved playing the game, working out what is going on, how best to win whilst also trying to make sure that you don't break any rules at any point, jump from one city to another without the right city card in your hand. If we did win a game on that first outing it would have been because we flouted one of the many rules or simply missed something that would have otherwise stopped our relentless (cheating) progress to victory.


Having said all that, it is clear that the mark of a quality game is one where, once your brain has progressed all facets and paths the rules can take, the gameplay is actually completely obvious (more or less) and it becomes clear how and why one rule flows into another. No different I suppose to learning chess: you have a limited number of pieces but a seemingly unlimited number of ways to play them but that doesn't prevent you from actually moving your pawn to queen's 4.

There are a few pages of rules which are laid out in a somewhat disjointed manner but are clear for the most part and once you've played a couple of times it becomes easier to see where you might be going wrong.

The basic premise of the game is to eradicate 4 diseases which are slowly infecting and spreading through the major capitals and ultimately save the World. As players you take on the role of a particular member of the support team, like the EDC, to combat and cure the infections using your own character's skill.

Pandemic is a cooperative game and builds, quite slowly as the infection spread is fairly manageable. You travel about the board curing here curing there, building a research station or two. At some point during the first quarter of the play, there will be a major infection outbreak as an epidemic card is pulled from the deck. This triggers an epidemic in a city which can then start a chain reaction into neighbouring cities and all of a sudden what was once a fairly clean and healthy world is now awash with colourful disease cubes of virulent pestilence; spreading from place to place like an awful apocalyptic plague.


The Pandemic board game is great, no question. The board and playing pieces are nice to look at and feel good to the touch and the once you manage to beat the system and clear the world of these four terrible diseases you get a great sense of satisfaction, but remember to savour that moment because it probably won't happen very often.

And if you enjoy this original Pandemic board game why not try out the many other versions and board game expansions available like Pandemic Iberia, Pandemic Contagion, Pandemic Fall of Rome, Pandemic Legacy Season 1, Pandemic Legacy Season 2.

Pandemic cards

Pandemic board and pieces

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