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Zoom In Pandemic
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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Pandemic
Series:  Pandemic
Theme:  Medicine & Disease
Genre:  Cooperative
Format:  Board Games
Other:  Essen 2007 releases

Pandemic


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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45-60 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Matt Leacock

Manufacturer(s): Z-Man Games

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Product Description

Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out.

Players must work together, playing to their characters' strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks.

A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.

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Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Nominee, 2010
BoardGameGeek Awards
Best Family Game, 2009
Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2009
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2009
Deutscher Spiele Preis
3rd place, 2009
The Dice Tower Awards
Best Family Game Nominee, 2008
The Dice Tower Awards
Best Game of the Year Nominee, 2008
International Gamers Awards
Multi-Player Nominee, 2008

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Matt Leacock

  • Manufacturer(s): Z-Man Games

  • Year: 2008

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 45 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,070 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #29

Contents:

  • 1 game board
  • 96 wooden cubes (for diseases)
  • 4 pawns
  • 6 wooden research stations
  • 6 markers:
    • 1 outbreak marker
    • 1 infection rate marker
    • 4 cure markers
  • 115 Cards:
    • 48 infection cards
    • 59 player cards
    • 4 role cards
    • 4 quick reference cards
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Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4.6 in 21 reviews

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Great Noncompetetive Game for Two
June 26, 2010

My wife and I have lots of board games but we don't usually take much time to play games...until I got this game for her birthday. We just finished playing six games TONIGHT. We usually limit ourselves to two games a night and over time have learned to win about fifty percent of the time but tonight it took us 6 games to win one. We really enjoy the non-competetiveness and team approach to figuring out how to cure the viruses before they do us in. This game is easy to start and learn but it takes a while to master the strategy and never gets old or boring. We look forward to playing this game with others to see how the strategy changes.

 
 
 
 
 
by Randy S
Challenging, Fun, Replayable
March 27, 2010

Introduced this to our game night players who are used to competitive games against each other. After some skepticism, they played and immediately wanted to try again. Lots of table talk and strategy, but the game play is easy to learn and is the design of the game makes each game different. I've played lots of games and introduced new games to lots of friends and family, and this is definitely a keeper. I highly recommend it.

 
 
 
 
 
by Dave H
I just want to Win a game - please. please.
March 13, 2010

I won't go into the details of the game rules here - I know other people have done that already. So I'll just go into into the fun FACTOR here, and I would rate this game as very FUN. We have only played about 4 times and have yet to beat the diseases that are ravaging the world. I don't know what it is exactly that draws me in, but every time this game wins I just want to play it again and try to defeat those nasty old germs. It just seems to have that type of addictive play quality that a good video game has, but with the face to face social interaction of a great board game. I just hope that one day we can walk away knowing we've saved mankind from a massive Pandemic instead of being defeated by those viruses.

 
 
 
 
 
by ChemSteve
Top-notch game!
January 21, 2010

My brother gave this game to my wife and I as a Christmas gift and it is a HIT! We love the whole fresh concept of having everyone work together against the game rather than each other. Since we have two children under 6 years old, we're always looking for good two-player games and this ranks right up there with Carcassonne in that regard. After having a blast playing many two-player games, we were looking forward to trying some four-player games with our friends. We thought it would be easier, but I think it's actually harder! This game has the wonderful balance of being challenging but not impossible. It will take you a while to get the hang of it and learn the rules but believe me it is WELL worth it!

One thing I'd like to comment on that I haven't seen much in the reviews is that the craftsmanship of this game is very high quality. I love the detail in the player cards and the game board is beautiful. Some people may not like the fact that the game board has somewhat of a matte finish but to each his own. As a final bonus, this game will help you brush up on your world geography!

Congrats to the creative team that came up with Pandemic, it's one of the best board games I've ever played!

 
 
 
 
 
Favorite of all who play
July 21, 2009

Pandemic is the game I cannot keep off the table anywhere. After introducing it to friends, it always gets played multiple times in an evening. The fact that the game is so hard to beat (we haven't even attempted anything beyond the Normal game) makes it more of a challenge. We always get SOOOO close to curing the diseases, and the discussion that follows is a fascinating analysis of what could have happened and real-life application. The variability of the different roles from game to game keep it fresh, and we have all learned to react quickly any time there are two cities with three disease cubes next to each other -- when an epidemic happens in one, the game comes to a fast end as you watch the disease spread out of control. The limited time of the game is another plus as very few of our games have lasted longer than an hour.

Others have explained the rules well, but I have found that all I need to do is walk players through a few rounds and they understand the game totally. This is the most successful game I have ever used at school as a high school teacher. Students will hang around to play it and borrow it for one more try to crack it. I have begun keeping a gaming log in the box with the game so players can record who played, what roles they were, and any comments they had win or lose. One measure of replayability is fact that I have had to print many more pages to add to the log.

This is a definite winner!

 
 
 
 
 
This is a game that you will play often
March 08, 2009

My wife and I stopped by the Z-Man table at Prezcon 2009 (a yearly board game con in Charlottesville, VA) and purchased this game. After reading the rules I became instantly fascinated by the game. I knew that if it played as well as it sounded we were in for a real treat. I will not go into the details of the game, others have already done that, but I will tell you this… Pandemic is the FIRST game we have ever purchased that after the initial play we literally could not put it away. We played it three times back to back the first time out of the box… it was an instant obsession (I’ve never played a new game three times back to back before). For all three plays we came very close to winning… but as the saying says “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”. The third loss was the most painful. We (three of us) were so very sure we were going to be victorious… but two chain-reaction breakouts snuck up on us and stole the victory away. Pandemic is well worth the money, the components are of high quality, it is great fun to play, and it appears to have excellent replay value. This is a game that you will play often… once the “bug” infects you after the first play.

 
 
 
 
 
by Megan
FUN! Can't wait to play again!
January 02, 2009

I played this game at a friend's house, and now I can't stop thinking about it and REALLY want it for my birthday! It's an intelligent game that requires high strategy from it's players. The best part is that you work as a team to beat the game--its not about who wins, its about beating the game. I've played it four times now, and the game won twice! It is NOT easy! You really, really have to work together to beat it. It's very clever the way that its set up, and I like the sciency aspect of it. It does require a lot of rule-reading in the beginning -- it took us about two hours to read through the rules and play one game of it. But once you get it, it's addictive. Great fun!

 
 
 
 
 
Great Game!
December 26, 2008

Just got this game, and really enjoyed the experience. The last cure was played with no cards left in the player pile. Feel like we got lucky. Looking forward to trying it again.

The board, pieces, and cards are all first rate. I downloaded the rules while waiting for delivery to familiarize myself. I felt like I had developed a good understanding, but did not have much of a strategy in place. There is also a very interesting YouTube presentation by the developer where he talks about what he went through with the game.

One person with an understanding of the game can walk three new people through the mechanics. There is a lot of great interaction and planning throughout. As different hot spots pop up the strategy has to keep changing. I like the concept of only using 4 of the 5 roles since it requires adjustments. I was a little worried that an unfortunate draw of epidemic cards could make some games unwinnable, but no longer feel that way.

Of the three ways to lose I think using up all the player cards is the one that can creep up on you. Important to get research centers set up to facilitate movement and process cures. Each player needs to play to the strengths of their roles. Players need to multi-task by removing cubes, building card sets, making sure the pawn positioning is maximized, etc..

I most like the elements of working cooperatively, developing strategy as a group, thinking turns ahead, and maximizing the special roles.

 
 
 
 
 
Excellent Cooperative Strategy Game
December 20, 2008

When I first heard about this game, I was skeptical -- most of the cooperative games I've seen have seemed pretty hippy-dippy to me. (I'm not into cutthroat games, but something about working together to save the world is just a little smurfy for my liking, in general.) But Pandemic is one of the most exciting, compelling board games I've ever played, and the cooperative aspect made it more fun. The game's mechanics (every player has a role, and each role has different abilities) are perfectly suited to the subject. I've played it five times now; I'm sure as I get more familiar with Pandemic, I will probably find some small things I don't like about it, but this is a really great game. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a fast-ish strategy game (with two players, a game takes about 30 minutes. I'd guess longer with more players, but we haven't tried it with more than two yet).

Oh, and obviously, it works great as a two-player game.

 
 
 
 
 
by Ian from the Excited States
Great cooperative action; positive social impulse!
May 24, 2008

5 stars, because while nothing is perfect, the editors allow 5 for "nearly perfect"....

My son acquired this game which we played at recent birthday game party for him, and it is one of the best board games I have ever played in 60+ years of loving board games. The premise is actually quite simple: Disease is breaking out in major cities around the earth, and each player has an assigned role (scientist, medic, etc.). Can you help cure one of the diseases (unnamed, but represented by a color) before it becomes a pandemic and you lose?

Action is quick as you fan out on a mercator-style projection map of the world to perform your role's task with help from the other players. You ARE ALL dependent on each other. One of the things I like about the way it is designed is to see the number of links between cities. For example, Hong Kong lets you go to a lot of places, but the rise of an infection there quickly spreads if you are not prompt and careful. Chicago, not so much, and in this kind of detail I think the game resembles the real infection threats of today.

Each of the roles is thought out, and other raters are correct - if you don't think you have anything to do, you are probably pursuing an incorrect strategy. Time is of the essence, and this makes playing the game fairly quick and intense. If you don't resolve it soon, you'll be defeated by the bugs.

This is a game that can be widely used on retreats, particularly by NGOs, where people are being assembled because their organization needs them to come to trust each other and participate in team-building. This game is ideal, I think, in getting people to all think on the same page, so I'm getting copies to give to some organizations I know which have periodic retreats! conducted after they've acquired new members who don't know each other yet.

It's easy to learn, but subtle to play, and calls on skills that help me realize, as the song has it, I'm Not Dead Yet. One confusing thing: my son's version has 5 roles (pawns) and all the reviews and game data say 4 roles. This is important because we found that the fifth player greatly enhances the experience of the game and makes the cooperation even harder but better. Can anyone enlighten me as to what the current version really provides?

 
 
 
 
 
by Lori H.
Pandemic - intense, fun, and great for two players
March 13, 2008

Pandemic does have some similarities to Shadows Over Camelot, but doesn't feel like the same game. In Pandemic every turn matters, a lot! It doesn't take too long to play, so as soon as you're done you want to play again (especially if you almost won, but not quite). Pandemic is tremendous fun for 3 or 4 players, but is also a wonderful two player cooperative strategy game, great for when you don't have a big group around. I highly recommend Pandemic for families too, from about age 9 up. Definitely one of our favorites.

 
 
 
 
 
by Trevor Schadt
How to tell a game with good replay value
February 14, 2008

When you finish playing a game, and the group of players immediately starts discussing "OK, next time we have to try..." you know you have a winner.

With Pandemic, you have a definite winner.

I've been watching Z-Man's site for months waiting for this game, being a fan of cooperative games in general, and snatched it up the day my FLGS got it in stock. Along the way, I started hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed by my own anticipation, and I was not.

The biggest complaint I can think of about this game is that the pieces are slightly too big for the size of the board. Atlanta (where all the players start) was very crowded when we started the game, especially since it also started with two disease cubes.

One thing you will quickly learn about this game is that every action is precious. If a player is left with "I have nothing to do with the rest of my turn," it probably means there is a hole in the group's strategy. There are only 25 turns (26 in a 2- or 4-player "Heroic" game) maximum, due to deck size, and there is a whole lot to accomplish in those turns. So plan your strategy very carefully.

I cannot wait to try playing this game again.

 
 
 
 
 
Table-talk encouraged, and essential
October 18, 2007

I helped Matt play-test this game through many iterations, and even in its infancy the game was great. The co-operative nature of the game really gets people interacting. With other games, people can wander off when it's not their turn and go to the bathroom, get a snack, etc. Not so much here. Everyone's involved nearly all the time helping to figure out collectively how to beat the game.

I've played it 10–20 times, and I still am up for another round, so it has replay value unlike too many of the games I've played over the years.

 
 
 
 
 
Absolutely love it!
October 16, 2007

Although I've succeeded in killing the world both times I've attempted to save it, I dig Pandemic! I can't help but give it a 5 star simply because it is one of my favorite games.

The unique aspect of working with your fellow game players to save the world makes it a really enjoyable social game that gives players something to talk about and share long after the game has finished. That being said, the game also has an edge of your seat feel as you try to contain the epidemics around the world.

I love playing games and have to rate this as one of my favorite strategic games ever. I would highly, highly suggest it to anyone!

 
 
 
 
 
by Joeblow
An Infectious Game For All To Enjoy
February 12, 2012

Pandemic is a strategic cooperative game where players work together to try and eradicate diseases from the world. Gameplay is relatively quick and each game usually lasts somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes. The rules are straightforward and it won't take long to learn how to play.

Pros:
The game is infectious. Once you play you will want to play again and again. The components are good and all seem well made. The cooperative aspect is really good for groups or families. Families with older kids or teens will especially enjoy it. Every game is different based on the number of players, infection rate, etc.

Cons:
First lets just say there are not many cons about this game, but there are a few. The theme, while it may be good for adults it is certainly not a theme that will be embraced by all, especially younger kids. A pandemic can be a scary thing. The gameplay can be slow if you are playing with a group of players that take too long to contemplate every move. The pawn's size seem a little awkward compared to the board. The board itself is not that detailed or fun to look at, it is basically just a map.

Final Thoughts:
This game is definitely a game that most will enjoy. The cooperative aspect is really good and each game you play, you will be able to feel the pressure building as you try to cure the diseases and beat the game. It is very similar to Forbidden Island, which may be a better game for families to play, but the theme is completely different. I would recommend this game to any game group or to any family with teenagers. It is a board game where the tensity builds as the game moves on and players must truly work together in order to win. A must have in any gamer's collection.

 
 
 
 
 
by G. Jay Christensen
Work Together as a Team or Die
February 15, 2010

What an experience! Imagine a designer judging his own game. We had three levels of competition: easy, medium, and hard. Welcome to the spirited game of Pandemic.

Pandemic appears deceptively easy at quick glance. It is, but the mechanics to go to the right location and stop the diseases and epidemics proves more difficult. You are given two cards at the beginning and a role. You draw two cards every turn, but only seven can remain in your hand.

Immediately you discover four colors exist in the game for the diseases: black, blue, red, and yellow in the basic game. As we put together our four-player game (game rated 2-4 players) we had these roles: medic (me), dispatcher, operations expert, and the researcher. The scientist was not chosen and needed only four cards to discover a cure.

Soon it became evident the team wanted help from the medic. My job was to treat diseases. However, you soon learn to subordinate your desire to fly to cities based on your colors and follow the leads of the other team members. The operations expert had the distinct honor of building research stations. Eventually, this player established research stations at Atlanta (starting position), Europe, Russia (St. Petersburg), and Asia (Hong Kong) as well as South America (Sao Paulo). In the rules of Pandemic you can move from research station to another city's research station as one of your four actions. It cuts the distances. Ironically, Sydney as the map is designed is adjacent to Los Angeles, for example, as the crow flies.

The medic's role proved to be quite useful. I could go a city with three little yellow cubes and erase them all with one action. I soon learned you can drive or move to an adjacent city as one action. Further, you can either charter fly or shuttle fly to other cities if you possess cards for those particular cities. Slowly, the cities with yellow cubes started being erased. North America found the yellow disease erased early. However, the Operations Expert advised to hang onto cards that one might need later to move to certain cities. That advice proved worthwhile, and I began to conserve cards instead of use for so many flights.

As the game progressed, we drew two Infection cards each turn from the Infections Deck to find out where the new diseases or epidemics broke out. The Operations Expert and the other players wanted to know how many of each color, black, yellow, red, or blue, were held by each of us. I begin to like that form of cooperation. After all, the game is labeled a cooperative game. The dispatcher urged the medic to go to St. Petersburg and break the back of the "blue" disease. It was spreading rapidly into Eastern and Western Europe. The dispatcher exchanged cards with the medic and helped to build up the yellow list. I noticed this kind of action also kept the number of cards down to seven in one's hand (the game's requirement).

Eventually, the team eradicated the blue and yellow diseases from the continents. Eradication occurs when five cards of the same color are played. The way was found for our team to beat the last two diseases, the black and red. Baghdad was building up a tremendous number of "black" diseases. Often, in drawing the two cards at the end of each player's turn the role player draws a Special Event card. These cards can be played at any time, but one of them played immediately, Airlift, allowed the medic to get to Eastern Europe in record time and start curing the "blue" disease. To reiterate so far, the Special Actions as part of the four actions could include:

  1. build a research station (operations expert)
  2. discover a cure (scientist)
  3. treat or eradicate a disease (medic)
  4. share knowledge (transferring cards).

Life seemed good as the team worked hard to eradicate the last two diseases. Other teams at three other tables had finished and eradicated their diseases and observed impatiently what our team would achieve. I forgot the rule that we were getting close to the eighth outbreak (epidemic) with the "skull" disc moving implacably forward to the eighth circle on the board. Then, it happened! I drew as part of my two cards at the end of the turn the dreaded Epidemic to make the eighth outbreak and end the game. You can also lose the game by running out of cubes in a certain color and still having to add cubes of that color. Further, the draw deck can run out of cards and cause a defeat for the team.

With sunken heads we realized we had lost as a team. I was particularly heartbroken, because our team had done so well. It felt real that one of H1N1s had beat us. Still, we congratulated each other on a game well played.

I had to catch my breath before evaluating the game. The game has the kind of tension you desire in a game. It is highly playable with easy-to-comprehend rules in a "beer and pretzel" type of evening. Already, Z-Man Games has published one expansion, and the designer, Matt Leacock, showed his demonstration of the next expansion tentatively called "In the Hot Zone." I can't wait. You grow more viruses in petri dishes. Next time our team will beat all the diseases and make the world safe for human development.

 
 
 
 
 
Grandma and the Gamers Save the World
October 15, 2007

I’m a grandmother. By and large I am not a board game player. I’m lousy at complicated rules and winning by sucking in resources and doing the other guy in doesn’t appeal to me. Yet I really wanted to play this game. Why? It was going to be more complicated than UNO – my typical game level.

Maybe it’s the realism. I’ve lived in Africa and seen the rampaging destruction of HIV/AIDS. Maybe I wanted – just for once – to have a chance at clobbering the big bad bugs that slay villages, then countries, then whole continents. Part of me wanted us to be the small town heroes in the movie Independence Day, who take on the threat and save the world.

Our team, which included “real” gamers, lost the first two times. But on the third try, we were at our very best, strategizing and conferring. We stopped a pandemic. For me the sweetness of winning was about pride in our brains and cooperative effort. It was also about an underlying (can I say it out loud?) feeling of hope for an threatened world.

 
 
 
 
 
Cooperative, strategic, engaging!
October 05, 2007

As one of many play testers, I found this a refreshing game experience. Players work together to develop strategies based on a developing pandemic,... not to clobber each other competitively, but to compete against the odds to control the spread of diseases and find cures before it's too late.

Each game is a new experience requiring new strategies. As play progresses the world's health becomes more and more a crisis situation. Excitement builds and the question is finally: Who will prevail? -- Will the players find a way to gain control? -- Or will the pandemic take over the earth?

This is a great game for a wide age range. Because players work together and help each other it provides a game experience families will definitely enjoy.

 
 
 
 
 
by A Gamer
One of the best experiences you can have
March 26, 2010

Pandemic is easily one of the best social experiences you can have at a table, and one of the safest buys in board gaming. Cooperating with your friends and family is refreshing and very, very girl friendly. My college roommate is ambiguous about most games, but became obsessed with this one after repeated losses. I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes this game. Its important to know that this game is not just low-conflict, but incredibly fun to play. There is a sense of dread when you see cubes slowly spread across the board, and card draws can cause plenty of shouting or groaning. What's the best part about Pandemic? It's relatively cheap, and with just one expansion you can play it the rest of your life!

 
 
 
 
 
by Jason Holt
Hard, but fun
July 30, 2012

This game is very hard to win with less than five players. I’ve played this game eight or nine times now and have yet to win a single game. It’s impossible with two players, very hard with three, and still hard with four.

I’ve played with both three and four players configurations, two people who have played it several times themselves, but have yet to succeed. The game requires you to use all of the various roles to their maximum and a bit of luck to succeed. It emphasizes teamwork and strategy to cleanse the board of infection before the epidemics strike, causing outbreaks and bringing the world closer to apocalypse. If it's early in the game and you feel that you are doing well, just wait. The first epidemic will set you back quite a bit and send you scrambling to contain the rest of the viruses.

The game IS fun…but the difficulty level makes it also very frustrating. It took my gaming group a long time before we actually beat Battlestar Galactica and Arkham Horror and this game is no less difficult to win.

 
 
 
 
 
I'm spoiled
April 18, 2009

Pandemic is an interesting game. The idea of working together is unique and the designers used some imagination in how players feel separate by hiding cards, but allowing players to tell each other what cards they have. Strange, I know, but it seems to work. My two minor complaints are that it's difficult to get a grasp on the rules, even through they aren't very complicated. Trying to remember the subtleties of the different character abilities is a little hard to get the grasp of, even after a couple of games. My other observation is that I'm spoiled by Caylus and Agricola. I enjoy the greater complexity, although each game takes about a 1/2 per person to play, which is longer than Pandemic, which is about 45 minutes. Many will enjoy this game, but it will probably go into cold storage for my wife and I.

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