By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
You will never have so much fun losing a game.
Pandemic is a cooperative board game for two to four players designed by Matt Leacock and distributed by Z-man games. In this game, you and your friends are a team of specialists working for the Centre for Disease Control travelling the world trying to cure four diseases before they destroy humanity.
One of the strongest aspects of the game is in its cooperative nature. Some games, such as Monopoly or Risk, are notorious for nearly destroying friendships because players work against each other to succeed in the game. In Pandemic, players are encouraged to work with each other and debate every move with the weight of an international crisis.
This is where the game’s notorious difficulty works in its favour. There are three difficulty levels, of which the highest is generally considered nearly impossible. The start of the game feels easy and everyone feels like they have control of the situation; as turns progress things get more and more out of hand until all the players are scrambling just to keep from losing. The first time I played the game on medium difficulty, we lost eight times in a row. If it wasn’t 3 a.m. we would have tried again.
As far as I can tell, there is only one downside to the game: it is so balanced that one misinterpreted rule or one missed step in a turn can skew the gameplay and make the game easier than it should be. The rules are not long and, in the second edition, many rules have been clarified.
I can’t recommend this game enough, especially if your friends have different levels of experience with tabletop games.