*BG Review* Pandemic
About the Game
The final 2 player game picked up from our Amsterdam trip was…. yep, you guessed it: Pandemic. This game had been our list for a while as it is a PERFECT go-to 2 player board game. Pandemic is a Sci-Fi co-op game where you and your partner take a role in a research team during a world-wide disease epidemic! Your goal is obviously to STOP the diseases from spreading. This review specifically discusses the game as a 2 player game, although it can be played with up to 4 players.
There are 4 diseases that are active in the game. Depending on the infection cards you draw at the beginning of each game, you may or may not start with all 4 on the board. As the game progresses, more infections will spread and cause outbreaks into different countries during certain stages in each turn. You and your partner take turns starting with your actions. During this stage you can make up to 4 actions which is your opportunity to move, treat, or cure diseases.
This is when things can take a turn for the worse. After complete all actions in your turn, you must draw 2 new player cards. In this card deck are Epidemic cards. These cards are used to determine the intensity of the game. The easier you want the game to be the less epidemic cards you include and vice versa. Epidemic cards have 3 steps that can seriously affect your chance at winning.
When the Epidemic card is drawn the first thing that happens is it increases the infection rate by 1 space. You and your partner start the game at an infection rate of 2 countries per turn. At the end of each turn (after drawing the 2 player cards,) 2 infection cards are then revealed to show where the new infections have spread. With the INCREASE step of the Epidemic card the rate is increased to the next step. Meaning, you might have more infected cities per turn.
The second step is to INFECT. Now, not only has your infection rate increased but you have to infect the city at the bottom of the infection deck. This city gets 3 cubes placed on its space. The max number of cubes on any city is 3. If a city that already has 3 cubes gets infected, this causes an Outbreak! An outbreak spreads the disease to ALL neighboring cities on the map. But don’t lose hope yet! Because, your goal is only to CURE the diseases not ERADICATE them (difference explained later.)
After all of this chaos, there is still a final step the Epidemic card: INTENSIFY. This step requires you to take all infection cards in the discard pile, shuffle them, and add them to the TOP of the deck. To sum that up that means: Every turn possibly more cities will be infected. You are one infection away from causing an outbreak in one city (if you didn’t already.) AND NOW you have added all of the cards of cities that are most likely already infected to the TOP of the deck… Great.
Winning the Game
Well as mentioned before, don’t worry because you still have a chance at winning. The goal of this 2 player game is to CURE all 4 diseases. To cure a disease one of the 2 players must hand in 5 city cards of the same color at a research center. Curing diseases will make them easier to treat and keep from spreading. Cured diseases still have the possibility of spreading and causing outbreaks.
However, if you work strategically and cooperatively it is possible to cure the diseases (and win the game) without eradicating them. Eradicating a disease means you have treated the disease and there is no more of it on the map. To win the game, it definitely helps to eradicate some diseases if possible but remember your goal is to cure them. You can win the game with infected cities still on the board.
Pandemic is an ideal date night game with a fun theme! We are both a fan of the popular phone game Plague Inc. So it was fun for us to play a game with a similar theme, but with a more humane goal 😂. The co-op aspect of the game made it more purposeful while still allowing for competition for those who like to race to be the FIRST to cure the disease. It was an interesting feature to have the players move with city cards or to adjacent cities. It ended up being a nice twist compared to the roll and move games. If you haven’t played Pandemic yet we recommend you do, as we are ashamed we didn’t play it sooner. Pandemic is a must-have for any 2 player board game collection!