Pandemic: The Board Game Reviews

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TA Score for this game: 4,238
Posted on 13 August 19 at 17:28
This review has 7 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Will this be the new game that "sweeps the nation?"

Pandemic: The Board Game Review

Pandemic is based on the popular cooperative board game by Matt Leacock and features the base game mechanics only. It features solo and local multiplayer modes, but sadly there is no online play available (at the time of writing). You and up to four friends can attempt to work together to win this sometimes-unrelenting game of strategy and chance.

Premise and Gameplay
The earth is being plagued by four global diseases (represented by blue, yellow, black, and red colored cubes). A team of 1-5 specialists will collaborate to stop the spread of the cubes and cure the diseases. Each player is allowed up to 4 actions per turn that include traveling, treating diseases, building research stations, sharing cards, or curing diseases. Each location can have up to 3 cubes of the same color on it. If another cube is to be placed on a location with three cubes, an outbreak occurs. This spreads the disease to all adjacent cities. The only way to win is cure (or eradicate) all 4 diseases. Unfortunately, you'll be racing against the clock as you must accomplish this before any one of three things happen: you run out of cards in the player deck, you run out of disease cubes, or more than 7 outbreaks occur. The player deck consists of location cards (they allow players to travel faster, build stations, and cure diseases with 5 cards of the same color), event cards (they grant special one-time abilities that can be played at any time), and epidemic cards (these are bad; they basically are there to increase the odds of an outbreak occurring). The amount of epidemic cards will be based on the difficulty you choose.

There are 7 roles to choose from: Researcher (allows an easier way to share cards), Scientist (uses one fewer card to cure diseases), Medic (can treat multiple cubes in one action), Dispatcher (can move other players), Ops Expert (can build research stations without cards), Quarantine Specialist (prevents cube placements on present city and adjacent cities), and finally the Contingency Planner (allows you to take an event card from the discard pile once per card).

As far as my opinion goes, since this game is cooperative, it's a little broken as a board game. I remember playing this with my roommates about five years ago, and at one point, people started getting bored, so I essentially took over everyone's role and played by myself (this story sounds kinda sad and pathetic, haha). Anyway, the video game addresses this by actually offering a solo mode. It's a game that can be played with others or played alone, and nothing really changes between the two. The way I look at the game is just a more complex game of Solitaire. It's fun and challenging, but it doesn't offer that much in the way of cooperative multiplayer as it was intended to do.

The achievements for this game range from requiring a lot of grinding to challenging conditions that need to be met. I did not care for the grindy achievements (40 wins and 100 wins). You are basically doing the same thing over and over and over, hoping to get a solid draws from the deck to make it go by as fast as possible. It becomes stale immediately. The other achievements for winning with 5 roles or eradicating all 4 diseases proved to be challenging in a good way. While it still mostly came down to a lot of luck, it provided a more rounded playing experience. Most of the other miscellaneous achievements are easily done with the same method you use to grind out 100 games. While I hated the cumulative wins achievements, I did enjoy a few of the miscellaneous ones.

Final Thoughts
It is not a new idea to convert a board game to a video game, but I believe Pandemic actually makes more sense as a video game. It may not be as versatile and doesn't warrant hours of gameplay, but for fans of the original board game, it's a great way to play. All the cube-tracking and cards are digital, which makes it less of a hassle. I wish it offered online multiplayer, and I wish it had more diverse achievements though. I think this game is 2-star-worthy to the average player that isn't already a fan of the board game, but as a fan, I'm gonna bump it up slightly for bringing back some fun memories (and one pathetic one, haha).
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