REVIEW: Pandemic Board Game by Z-Man Games

Our family was very excited to receive our first game from the Board Game Blogger Club, which is a great way to get families trying out a range of different games. Sadly, I must confess that my initial impression of this game was not great enthusiasm – there are enough problems in the world, without playing a game that is based on disease. I appreciate that this is a very personal view, and I am sure others will not have the same view – and the game proved to be very engrossing. Setting that aside, the purpose of the game is to keep four deadly diseases at bay whilst working to discover the cures – so that is a positive approach.

The set includes a game board, seven role cards (with matching pawns), six research stations, six wooden markers, 96 disease cubes, 48 infection cards, 59 player cards, reference cards plus an illustrated rule book. The game is for 2 to 4 players – we played it with 4, which worked well, with plenty going on to keep everyone completely engaged all the time. The rules are easy to follow and there’s no lengthy setting up. The game board shows several major population centres on a stylised map of the world. During their turns, players can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these options…but the danger comes with the Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases. A second, separate deck of cards controls the ‘normal’ spread of the infections.

This is a game of strategy and team play, and fast reactions are required to beat the diseases before time runs out. There is only one way to beat Pandemic: and that is by curing; conversely, there are lots of ways to lose so the game has a real element of tension; players must really be on the ball to identify all the possible dangers. What sets this game apart is the fact that players need to cooperate to beat the diseases and this gives the game a whole different vibe. You really do need to think hard throughout the game and it’s a great way to develop strategic thinking skills – and we found the game plays out very differently each time, so you’ll never get bored. It’s a well made and well designed game and the collaborative approach ensures it is good as a family game. The game was provided to us free of charge by the Blogger Board Game Club in return for an honest review.

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