Board Game (2007). Z-Man Games. Designed by Matt Leacock.
Pandemic is a cooperative board game for 2-4 players. Players must work together in order to prevent the outbreak of four simultaneous diseases in hotspots around the world by travelling to international locations and fighting the contagion using their individual abilities. This early cooperative strategy board game is a Gateway Game (which see) and was nominated for multiple awards on first release.
Pandemic is played on a top-down board depicting Planet Earth. The game is the exact opposite to the Videogame Plague, Inc., in which players must spread deadly plagues as fast as possible. Instead, the game works against players, who have to fight a rising tide of infection and disease around the world and avoid an End of the World scenario by utilizing their unique abilities and working in a concerted manner to defeat each disease.
On each turn, cards determine how and where these diseases spread. Players must draw a card from a deck that may aid them, but may also cause diseases to become "epidemics". If the diseases become too virulent (via the action of a drawn card or epidemic), this can cause across-the-board chain reactions called "outbreaks". Each player may perform four actions per turn which include movement, removing aspects of a disease, playing one of their cards or performing their unique action. These abilities include moving another player, performing an extra action in given circumstances, combating an extra threat, selecting which card they pick from the deck, or helping other players in various ways.
A tier of difficulty determines how many epidemics are present within the deck, and although it is possible to overcome the game, close cooperation and forward anticipation of the directions that the disease might take must be used by players in order to succeed. The game can be lost in a number of ways. Pandemic is known for its difficulty and is part of a series of board games where players must cooperate in order to succeed: other examples include Castle Panic (2009), Forbidden Desert (2013) and Zombicide (2012).
In 2013, the original game was expanded slightly, with a new box, artwork and pieces, a board that added a transit route to make the game slightly easier, and two new characters. Giant versions of the game also exist and are used at gaming conventions around the world. Several expansions or games based in the same universe have been released, developed by Matt Leacock and Tom Lehmann. Most introduce new characters, situations or rules. Pandemic, On the Brink (2009) allows for an extra player and introduces a bio-terrorist character who works contrary to the other players. Pandemic, In the Lab (2013) brings in a new part of the board where diseases can be worked upon, and Pandemic: The Cure (2014) is a faster, dice-based version of the game. Pandemic: Contagion (2014) and Pandemic: State of Emergency (2015) continue to change gameplay or introduce new aspects. An app for tablets which replicates and streamlines the game (since it manages all the rules and card draws) has also been released. [EMS]
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