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Anyone Else Enjoying Pandemic?

By otscotty - Posted on 02 April 2008

** I posted this yesterday. The original post is now missing. Apologies if this ends up being posted twice.**

Last night, my wife and I finally won our first game of Pandemic - the wonderful new cooperative Z-Man game about a team of researchers running around the world trying to cure deadly diseases. We had played 4 or 5 prior to last night. We had come close several times without winning.

I think this game is a blast. I'm always looking for games my wife and I can play together. I also really enjoy cooperative games. This one didn't sound interesting when I first heard it discussed (I think it was on another podcast). However, it has been a surprise hit for us.

For those who have played, which combinations of roles do you find most effective? Before last night, we had always used the Medic. In our winning game, however, we used the Scientist/Researcher combination. I'd be interested to hear about other winning combinations. Now we have to give up the 'beginner' version of the game and move on the the normal level of difficulty with 5 Epidemic Cards. Oh man. That's going to be tough!

Anyway, for those who haven't played yet, Pandemic has the Reservoir Boardgaming Group's seal of approval. Check it out.

sconway's picture

You know I had to. Puns are infectious, too.

My last game order, I came super close to getting Pandemic. The co-op aspects really appeal to me as well. Call me morbid but I thought at first everyone was playing the diseases trying to wipe out the world. Whoops!

You've convinced me to take the plunge the next time I order, Scotty.

Sounds like it is quite a challenge to win Pandemic, which is a good thing in any co-op game, I think. You want to feel like you've overcome some major obstacles on your way to victory. It shouldn't be a foregone conclusion.

gantrell's picture
I am. It is my new favorite game! I played it twice on tuesday and got my butt kicked both times. It is tough and that makes it even more fun. The theme is great and I love the card mechanics. I think the "shuffling back to the top" is wickedly brutal. 2 thumbs way up from me. Larry "the Mimix" Mendel Gantrell "KMG365"
I can't get behind this one. If you're the sort who doesn't like Shadows Over Camelot or LOTR because one person tends to take over and run the game, you certainly don't want to play Pandemic. Pandemic feels like those solo boardgames that I played in my youth. You play it a few times until you 'solve' it and then you just lose interest.
philthephreak's picture

I absolutely am enjoying Pandemic. To me it feels like one of those instant classics - one of the most original and fun games to come along in years. I'd gave it a '10' right away.

In response to Trump, I feel sad for people to miss out on such great co-op games b/c of one specific kind of player. That says FAR more about the player than it does about the game, really.

If you care more about controlling everyone just so that you can win a game, rather than making sure everyone has a good time, that's just selfish, misguided and narrow-minded. Not to mention you've lost in the long run because you've lost people who want to play with you. People like that need some perspective. It's so fun to figure out how to play those games and for each person to contribute their own ideas. I'm more than willing to lose a co-op game if everyone had a great time and wants to play again.

If you have that kind of player in your game group, I would:

1) confront them, for their own sake and for the sake of others. It's the loving thing to do. Failing that...

2) find another gaming partner. seriously, why let one selfish person ruin games for everyone else?

If you have such a person in the game group, help them practice the following phrases: "That's up to you"
"That depends on what you want to do"
"Go ahead and try it"
"You might want to consider this"
"It depends on your strategy"
"I can't see your cards, so you'll have to do what you feel is best."

Happy gaming and I hope everyone can enjoy Pandemic at some point.

Sure, there may be cases as you suggest, but I don't think that's normally the case.  It seems like the experienced players dominate the strategy on the co-ops more because they obviously HAVE a strategy based on past plays.  Some times, there is an obviously best move, but it's simply that the experienced players are quicker (or louder).  I don't tend to have a whole lot of problem with this, but I see the complaint time and again on the other co-ops and I don't think those people are going to feel any different about Pandemic.  MY dislike of the game stems far more from the second part of my previous message. 

abismald's picture

I, too, am really digging this game.  I have only played 5 or 6 times, but even when being beeten horribly, I have fun. We have always played four player with random roles and every game has been on the medium difficulty.  So far we have won two games.  I think our favorite combo of characters has been the medic, the researcher, the scientist and the dispatcher. 


Zencore's picture

Love this game. Of course we haven't been able to win one yet (only played three times). I think the 7 year old, who loves the game, is handicaping us a bit... but it's still fun.


sconway's picture

Max, the son of our pal Jason, is eight and he was one of the main reasons we won a game of Pandemic a few weeks ago.

He knows the game very well and was giving lots of advice as we whittled down the diseases. He gets very excited as the tension mounts but that only made the game more fun for everyone at the table. We'll have to see if he can give some Pandemic lessons some time...

LarryKruger's picture

I also love Pandemic for the mounting tension of the game.  I had similar enjoyment with Ghost Stories a few weeks ago from the tension that mounts as the spirits close in on the town.  I haven't won either game yet, but losing did not lessen my enjoyment of the game in the least.

sconway's picture

Finding the right balance in a co-op game is the real challenge. Too easy and no one will want to play since winning is a sure thing. Too hard and what's the point if defeat is assured?

I think Pandemic and Ghost Stories do a great job of erring on the side of really really hard without being impossible. Even when we get thumped by the game, we always feel like we had a fighting chance and it was probably a series of missteps by US that brought about out demise. Hindsight is half the fun, I guess! Such games almost cry out for a post mortem. Where did we go wrong? How can we learn from our mistakes? And out of that conversation comes the urge to play again... Com on, this time we can do it, I'm sure of it!

xofour's picture

So, despite all of the praise everywhere.  It was actually the wife of my game stores owner that caused me to get Pandemic.   Basically she talked my wife into buying it.   So I read the rules, and was amazed and gratified at how simple the play was.  Finally, last night my wife & I played our 1st game.  Due to poor shuffling, we did really well and won fairly easily on the introductory level.  I was highly dissapointed, and figured I had to have done something wrong because from everything I read, there was no way it sould be that easy.  It was a good thing though.  Nothing helps convince my wife she enjoys a game as winning the first time she plays.  So we set up another game deciding to step up to normal level.  And then lost 5 games in a row.  It was the most awesome thing ever.   It's not that I enjoy loosing, so much as how exciting it got.  almost every loss was right on the cusp of victory.  So that we had to just play one more game.  My wife (or typhoid ellen as I now call her  queen of the epidemics)  was clearly having a good time, and I was personally challenged.  So I am totally converted to this game. 

countzero's picture

Yeah, Pandemic is a favorite here. Its simplicity and short playing time allow it to hit the table often enough and I just love it when the tension gets ramped up.

The only minor point I have about the game is the size of the pawns and centers. Could have been a bit smaller or a bigger board.

Apparently there is an expansion being released for it this year and i'm dying to know what its all about.



Broke down and bought this in a Cincy gaming store (see below) about 3 weeks ago while visiting our son. Got a first game in with him and lost with 4 Epidemics. Concentrated too much on treating diseases and ran out of cards.

Then the next night we played 2 games with him and one of his buddies and lost both of those with 5 E's. Started playing at 12:30 at night. Called it quits at 3:30 am, but what a blast we had.

Played it twice by myself since then and lost both times. Finally gained a victory at our game nite with some friends from work with 4 E's last Friday. Then they got clobbered in a 2nd game with 5 E's.

I highly recommend this game. It's good with 2, 3 or 4 players. And I think it's even good solitaire, as long as you don't lose where you are, which is a very real possibility at 56. :-)

Get it, you won't be sorry.

BTW, that  FLGS in Cincy is called Yottaquest. Stop by if  your in the area. Great selection and the owner is very accessible, nice guy.

otscotty's picture

I was excited to hear that the next episode will focus on co-op games.  Pandemic has continued to be a big hit around our house.  We're also playing, and loving, Ghost Stories.  Wow, what a fun game!  I played Space Alert twice at BGG.CON and had an absolute blast.  I'm looking forward to picking that one up as well.  The one new co-op game that I haven't played yet is Battlestar Galactica.  I've only heard good things about it. 

By the way, I totally agree with the point made above that losing is half the fun in these games.  Nothing beats that look in players' eyes after a loss that says, "Let's do it again.  This time we'll win!"


sconway's picture

the trend toward co-op games has produced some really good games so far.  Funny that some of the earlier co-op games now seem a little klunky and overly complicated. Yes, I'm talking to you, Arkham Horror and even Lord of the Rings to a lesser extent. The newer generation of co-op gmaes seems to have refined the concept and made the experience even better. True Ghost Stories is still a very gamerly game, but you don't get mired down in the procedures of the game so much as trying to decide what to do to save the village!

I have played Galactica once and it was enjoyable albeit it lacked some of the drama that I think drives a good co-op experience. We played with 3 players and while it was ok with 3, I think it is really meant to be a 5-6 player game with a lot more tension and planning between the human and cylon players.

Steerpike's picture

Not so much a trend as a new and strengthening branch on the great game tree.

I agree that some of the early shoots are looking a bit clunky now, when compared with some of the great developments we've seen recently. I look forward to seeing what some of these games look like in a few years time.

sconway's picture

good points. It does feel like new growth. I am trying to think if co-op games have many fore-runners beyond the mid-80s with things like the original Arkham Horror.

It will be interesting to see which of these new co-op games may wear  thin after a few years. So far, at least for me, I really enjoy this second generation a lot and find myself eager to play any of them.

xofour's picture

I have neve really lost my enjoyement of pandemic.   And have played the occasional game.  But I had never realized how well it works as a "2nd stage" gateway.   I mean the 1st gateway is the game they actually like playing...of whatever stripe.  it leads them into the "world of games".  IT could be fluxx, it could be risk, it could be apples to apples it was definitely in some cases talisman.  Yet...where to go from the knowledge that there are games they can enjoy and win?  In many cases it's to go cooperative.  Offer a cooperative game and Pandemic is pefect because 1) there is no traitor  2) it's challenging on each level, but winable on the easiest  3) it's not an "in your face" theme.  I mean Red November may be a comprable gaming experience (vaguely & for purposes of argument)  but the theme would put a person off.  whereas fighting global disease actually sounds intelligent.  sot he theme is huge as a seductor.





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