Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
 Hide
3 Posts

Pandemic» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Family Focus Reviews: Pandemic rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: cooperative [+] review [+] suggestion [+] family [+] co-op [+] [View All]
Ryan Metzler
United States
Glendale
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?"
badge
"Wuhhh... I think so, Brain, but if a ham can operate a radio, why can't a pig set a VCR?"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hello all. The purpose of this series will be to provide a review of varying games from a family gaming perspective. No...this series will NOT examine the intricacies of Monopoly or Risk, Scrabble or Yahtzee. Instead we will look at popular BGG games, and how these games work in the context of a typical family (2 parents, a teenage or older child, perhaps additional relatives).

Continuing my stint of Co-op game reviews is my seventh review, Pandemic:

Let me start off by saying that Pandemic is one of my favorite games. If you are worried about my bias, you are forewarned. However, I will try to keep this review in the perspective of my family. Anyhow, Pandemic is a cooperative game which plays 2-4 people. In this game the players are working together to try and prevent 4 diseases from taking over the world, and eliminating humanity (thus pandemic). There are a variety of potential "roles" which the players may take on, from the medic who is able to more easily treat diseases, to the dispatcher who may use his movement to move other players. Game play progresses in player turns which are divided in to 3 phases, the:

1. Action Phase
2. Draw Phase
3. Infector Phase

In the action phase the player is able to make 4 actions. An action is defined as moving, treating a disease, developing a cure, playing a research station (which are required to cure diseases) or any host of other special actions.

The draw phase consists of drawing 2 cards from the draw deck, which contains both city cards (of which you can use to travel in special ways, play research stations, collect 5 same color cards to cure a disease, etc.) and the dreaded "Epidemic cards". A drawn epidemic card increases the intensity of the game by increasing the rate of infection (to be described in the next section.

Finally, the player plays the infector phase. In this phase the player reveals the amount of cards from the infection deck that is indicated by the Infection tracker. These cards receive extra infection cubes (representing more disease presence). Epidemic cards, when drawn from the draw deck, make the infector deck more perilous. When such a card is drawn, the infection deck discard pile is reshuffled and placed ON TOP of the infection draw pile, ensuring that the cards drawn in further infector phases have already been drawn once previously (and thus are most likely infected cities)

Without going in to the entire detail of the game, this sums up general game play. Players may win the game ONLY by curing all 4 diseases (eradicating them from the board through treatment is not necessary). Players my lose the game in several methods:

1. Players run out of cards in the draw deck
2. All cubes of one color disease have been placed on the board
3. The Outbreak meter reaches maximum (outbreaks occur when a city would be infected with more than 3 cubes of one color. this detail is important to game play, but somewhat unnecessary to cover in the review)

Now that we have covered game play, I will break this game down in terms of the categories used in my previous reviews. Here I will analyze the game in the terms of family game play as it pertains to my family (described above and in the geeklist posted below).

1) Ease of Play: Starting from the beginning, the set up to the game MAY be a little confusing for newer players. However, past this point the remainder of the game is pretty easy. Each player receives a role card which clearly describes the special ability of their "role". Additionally, there are 4 included "Action Cards" which describe all of the possible basic actions (moving) and special actions (building research stations, treating disease, etc.). If this weren't enough to make game play simple, the board itself has the three phases of the game printed on it for easy access. Finally, if confusion still rears its ugly head somehow, the co-op nature of the game allows for assistance to be provided by ANY of the other players of the game without disrupting the nature of gameplay. The first game we played as a family went a little rough, with Mom not entirely understanding her options as the dispatcher (able to move other peoples players). However, after some friendly assistance from both my father and I, she quickly got the gist of things. Dad adapted quickly to the game, having no problems determining what seemed to be the best option in varying scenarios.

2) Clarity of Rules: The rule book included with Pandemic is well written by my standards. It is relatively short, concise, and contains examples of scenarios. Additionally, as stated above, there are rules and play guides included in many different places in the game (on the board, in the action cards, etc.) I don't recall there being ANY questions as to rulings after the first game. Our first game raised some questions as to how trading of cards took place, and when discarding was required, but after those issues were resolved by a quick re-reading of the rules we were off and have never looked back.

3) Visual Appeal: I really enjoy the art work of the board in this game. Although it is a simple world map, the colors and style really seem to lend themselves to the theme. At times I think the board gets a little jumbled with wooden virus pieces, but I also think this jumbled look somewhat contributes to relaying the pandemonium taking place in the game. The artwork on the role/draw/infection cards is nothing spectacular, but they accomplish the job. The ruling of the family here is that this is a "nice" looking game, but falls a little short of some of the other games in my review series.

4) Quality of production: This is another one where I have some mixed feelings. The board with this game is very well produced, folding down in to 1/4 the size which is nice for storage. Additionally, it has kind of a matte finish which I find to be very nice. The wooden pieces included are of OK quality at best, showing a few flaws on arrival. Additionally, it is documented that Z-man Games had some original issues with molding of wooden pieces...so now the game comes, and continues to be stored, with a desiccant pack. The cards included are of a decent stock, but as I worry about wear and playability with the upcoming expansion they have been sleeved for protection. The box is of very high quality, seals well, and seems sturdy enough to hold up to stacking. My biggest pet peeve issue with this game, however, is that the insert is lacking. There is a piece of cardboard on the box interior that hardly classifies as an insert at all. However, this issue is solved with a few ziplock bags. Everyone agrees that this is a well made game. Mom finds it a tad disappointing that the included cubes aren't made to a little higher standard, but this hardly affects her willingness to play the game. No complaints from anyone else otherwise.

5) Fun Factor: Pandemics fun factor kind of comes in two stages. At first the game is interesting, perhaps even exciting, but seems to lack a little bit of fun. This may be due to the slight learning curve involved in deducing what is actually a threat vs. what APPEARS to be a threat. Ill-informed decisions in this manner can lead to quick losses, making the game seem much more difficult than it really is. This is quickly remedied when players begin to better understand what is and is not an immediate threat. Right now, my family still plays on the easiest difficulty in the game (4 epidemics). The better understanding of how the game works has greatly increased the fun factor involved in game play. At this point everyone has a good idea of what needs to be done, and can formulate plans with other players to carry out preventative measures as well as orchestrated responses to game events. As we have started to increase our win:loss ratio, I believe it is time to move up in difficulty. An increase in game intensity should further our need for cooperative thinking and increase the fun factor involved with the game even more. At this point, both Mom and Dad are very in to playing this game, enjoying themselves immensely. Shortly after the first game finishes, both parents are ready to set up and try again (whether the first game resulted in a win or a loss). The girlfriend is a little less excited by this game, but she and I both think an increase in the intensity of the game would perhaps re-pique her interest.

6) Strategy: The strategy utilized in this game is somewhat determined by the roles drawn and the initial layout of the game board. Players can choose to try and contain diseases while others work on a cure, amass and trade cards for quick movement/curing, etc. Strategic placement of research centers can prove imperative to quickly responding to new threats on the board. While this game doesn't necessarily have a HUGE amount of strategic choices to be made, it certainly contains enough strategy to keep both gamers and non-gamers interested with the possibilities available. That, coupled with the varying degrees of difficulty and the sometimes rapid changes in game status, make this game an interesting play for all levels of strategic thinkers. I would classify this game as one which contains the right amount of strategy for an entry-level gamer. Any difficulties in understanding strategy can be rectified by an explanation from a fellow player. After a few plays through, however, everyone in my family feels comfortable with making the strategic choices available to them on their turn. We still discuss the options, but for the most part Mom and Dad are able to accurately assess what is their best move in the given circumstance, optimizing their efficacy not only on the current, but also on subsequent, turns.

Summary:
Pandemic offers a good cooperative gaming experience in which your family can save the world from infection run rampant (...or not). The varying degrees of difficulty, cooperative nature, and easy to understand gameplay make this an ideal game for introducing new gamers, or sitting down to a fun family bonding night. Although the artwork is not the most striking, and the production quality of some of the pieces lacks in minor ways, these negative traits hardly diminish the enjoyment obtained from playing the game. I would strongly recommend Pandemic as a wonderful entry level cooperative game for family play, suiting a family with anywhere from 2-4 players. Utilizing this game, I have introduced my family to a hobby I thoroughly enjoy, and expanded the base of games they are willing to try, as well as those they continue to play. I wish you all the same luck that I have had with this one!!!

Also, keep an eye out for my review of the new Pandemic expansion, Pandemic: On the Brink. My copy should be arriving in the mail today!

Thank you much for reading my review. Stay tuned to my review geeklist for more reviews oriented at gaming within a family environment. The geeklist can be found at:

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/46140

NOTE: I have just entered the gaming community and begun gaming with my family. Reviews posted here are based only on games played in a family setting. This series will continue to offer reviews of games which have been played in this setting, both good and bad. I hope that these reviews may serve the BGG community, and perhaps lead others to games which they too may enjoy in a family setting. Donations are not expected, or required, but are always appreciated.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gordon Adams
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
mb


Good review, Ryan.

I really enjoy Pandemic and have never missed a week without playing it.

What gets me angry is that I am still waiting for the expansion. First, I was told August and then "next week" each week that passed. Now, I am told it "might" be in end of September.

Oh well, something to look forward to.

Regards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Metzler
United States
Glendale
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?"
badge
"Wuhhh... I think so, Brain, but if a ham can operate a radio, why can't a pig set a VCR?"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry to hear that Gordon. I got my copy of the expansion in the mail today and sat down to a quick game using the virulent strain rules with my girlfriend. We lost, but its interesting to see the new roles/epidemics in play. I'm sure you will love it!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.