200 Games of Pandemic
Jim Harvey
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Portland
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The first time I ever played Pandemic, I played as the Ops Expert. I thought, "Nice! I can place research stations wherever I want! Since research stations allow me to cure AND to travel easily, this is clearly an important role."

Not long afterwards I began to consistently draw the Medic as my role. And at the end of one of these early games I'm sure I thought, "Hold on. There are almost no cubes on the board and we just won with one research station in Atlanta. Clearly, the Medic is unstoppable and the Ops Expert is, well, garbage."

Fast forward to 2010, I almost always play Pandemic as a two-player game with my uncle, Islay. We couldn't stop playing it when we first got it back in early 2008. We knew what our favorite roles were (mine being the Medic and his being the Dispatcher) and we knew what our least favorite role was (Sorry, Ops Expert) but we wanted to know, objectively:

What is the best two-player team combo?

Plus, how good is the Medic and how bad is the Ops Expert?

The answers to these questions were answered after we recorded stats and outcomes for 100 games played at the Heroic level and, afterwards, 100 games played at Normal level. I present, 200 Games of Pandemic.

Note: Thanks to all of the users that uploaded the pictures I used in this Geeklist.
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1. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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We'll start at the bottom, ranking the teams by overall winning percentage. (We selected our roles at random every time, so the total games played for each team are not exactly the same. But I think each one got its fair share of games in.)

After a win, we would sometimes try to clean the rest of the cubes off the board taking turns as normal until the Draw Deck ran out. We called it "World Eradication".

10. Dispatcher - Ops Expert

Overall: 6-7 (.462)
Heroic: 1-3 (.250)
Normal: 5-4 (.556)

The only team with an overall record below 0.500, 5 of the 7 losses were due to outbreaks with one due to red cubes and one due to black cubes. The average number of cards left in the Draw Deck after a win was 6.

0 World Eradications.

I'm not sure why this team is in last place to be honest. I would think they could come up with some creative moves to cure or trade, though not necessarily to treat diseases. They played the least amount of games of any team so maybe they didn't have time to find their rhythm together.
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2. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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9. Scientist - Ops Expert

Overall: 11-10 (.524)
Heroic: 5-8 (.385)
Normal: 6-2 (.750)

All 10 losses were due to outbreaks.

Avg cards left: 13
1 World Eradication

These are both "curing" roles since the Scientist requires less cards and the Ops Expert can always cure on his turn if he has the cards. But it may not be easy for them to coordinate trades or treat problem areas.
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3. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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8. Researcher - Ops Expert

Overall: 9-7 (.563)
Heroic: 3-4 (.428)
Normal: 6-3 (.667)

5 losses due to outbreaks, one due to blue cubes, one due to black cubes.

Avg cards left: 12
0 World Eradications

This isn't a terrible team, the problem seems to be the inability to keep problem areas under control while trying to meet up and trade.
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4. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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7. Dispatcher - Researcher

Overall: 13-10 (.565)
Heroic: 7-9 (.438)
Normal: 6-1 (.857)

All losses on heroic level were due to outbreaks. The one loss on normal was due to blue cubes, most likely a freak accident.

Avg cards left: 12
0 World Eradications

This team didn't have any trouble on normal level so I'm concluding that they are a solid team despite their mediocre overall record. When the Dispatcher can bring the Researcher over and take the cards he wants, they should be able to cure more or less at will.
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5. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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6. Medic - Ops Expert

Overall: 9-6 (.600)
Heroic: 2-4 (.333)
Normal: 7-2 (.778)

5 losses due to outbreaks and 1 loss due to running out of cards.

Avg cards left: 5
2 World Eradications

The worst Medic team is, not surprisingly, when he is paired up with the Ops Expert. (And, conversely, the best Ops Expert team is when he is paired with the Medic.)

Despite the Medic's ability to keep the board clean until the end, this is not a good trading team. It can really come down to the wire if you aren't drawing the cards you need. Hence, the 1 loss due to cards and the low average of cards left in the deck.
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6. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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5. Dispatcher - Scientist

Overall: 14-8 (.636)
Heroic: 3-6 (.333)
Normal: 11-2 (.846)

6 losses due to outbreaks, 1 due to black cubes, 1 due to red cubes

Avg cards left: 11
0 World Eradications

These guys can take care of business, even if its virtually impossible for them to eradicate the world. The Dispatcher can facilitate the few trades you might need with the Scientist in the game while keeping the board just clean enough. Thus, consistent wins in normal mode.
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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4. Researcher - Medic

Overall: 14-6 (.700)
Heroic: 6-4 (.600)
Normal: 8-2 (.800)

3 losses due to outbreaks, 1 due to yellow cubes, 1 due to red cubes, and 1 due to running out of cards

Avg cards left: 10
8 World Eradications, (7 out of 8 on normal)

Not quite a completely dominant team due the fact that neither of these guys really want to cure. The Medic just wants to move around and treat disease while the Researcher is trying to unload cards on him. But yet, they make it work because they know what is at stake and they strive for the most important goal: World Eradication.
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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3. Researcher - Scientist

Overall: 16-5 (.762)
Heroic: 7-4 (.636)
Normal: 9-1 (.900)

3 losses due to outbreaks, 1 due to black cubes, 1 due to blue cubes

Avg cards left: 22
1 World Eradication

With the Scientist's curing discount and Researcher's ability to hook him up, this pair is a perfect match. These guys cure quick and easy before things get too out of hand, as you can see from the very high average number of cards left in the deck. (Unless, of course, things get totally nuts in Europe and all the cubes come out before the second guy even gets a turn.)
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9. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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2. Medic - Scientist

Overall: 31-3 (.912)
Heroic: 16-2 (.889)
Normal: 15-1 (.938)

2 losses due to outbreaks, 1 due to yellow cubes

Avg cards left: 10
14 World Eradications (45% of wins)

On this team, they both know their roles and they know how to win. The Scientist will typically cure three or possibly four diseases while the Medic makes sure the world is healthy. It may not always be pretty or a World Eradication but you can pretty much rely on a W.

Note: The Medic looks like he is about to take care of business in that picture.
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10. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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1. Dispatcher - Medic

Overall: 14-1 (.933)
Heroic: 5-1 (.833)
Normal: 9-0 (1.000)

The only loss was recorded in February 2008, one of our very first games before I started keeping track of why we lost.

Avg cards left: 7
9 World Eradications (8 out of 9 on normal)

The ultimate World Eradication team. While they both have to do their fair share of curing, eradication is second nature to these guys. As soon as a disease is cured the Medic can walk around on both player's turns wiping up the remains. I'm not sure why we had that one loss but I'm pretty sure it won't be happening again.
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11. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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The Operations Expert

Over the course of 200 games, the Ops Expert did have his moments. However, the stats don't lie. His record is the worst of the five.

Overall: 35-30 (.538)
Heroic: 11-19 (.367)
Normal: 24-11 (.686)

The other roles:

Dispatcher
Overall: 47-26 (.644)

Heroic: 16-19 (.457)
Normal: 31-7 (.816)

Researcher
Overall: 52-28 (.650)

Heroic: 23-21 (.523)
Normal: 29-7 (.806)

Scientist
Overall: 72-26 (.735)

Heroic: 31-20 (.608)
Normal: 41-6 (.872)

And...

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12. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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The Medic

The Medic had the best record of all five roles.

Overall: 68-16 (.810)
Heroic: 29-11 (.725)
Normal: 39-5 (.886)


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13. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Harvey
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Summary

In 200 games of Pandemic our record was as follows:

Overall: 137-63 (.685)
Heroic: 55-45 (.550)
Normal: 82-18 (.820)

With the Medic: 68-16 (.810)
Without the Medic: 69-47 (.595)


With the Ops Expert: 35-30 (.538)
Without the Ops Expert: 102-33 (.756)


World Eradications
35 total, 26% of all wins (8 on heroic, 27 on normal)
33 of the 35 were done with a Medic team.

So I think I answered my three questions, and I still look forward to playing this awesome game. But now I have the On The Brink expansion and have just started to record plays. With all the new roles it might take more than 200 games to get reasonable sample sizes for each team but, who knows, maybe playing a ton of Pandemic is just work that has to be done.

Thanks for reading and be sure to add your comments about your favorite two-player duos!
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