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Saving the world with Pandemic

by Eva Amsen

This week my friends and I saved the world from epidemic outbreaks of four unnamed diseases. Not in real life, unfortunately, but at least in the board game Pandemic.

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In Pandemic, all players collaborate to play against the game, in an attempt to cure and treat four rapidly spreading diseases. Each player is assigned a role and each role has a special skill. In yesterday’s game, I was the dispatcher, who is able to move other players across the world when needed, to speed up travel time. It seems a pointless skill, but the ultimate goal of the game is to cure all four diseases, and to cure a disease you need to be at a research station with multiple cards of the same colour. To get cards from other players to complete the set, you both need to be in the same location on the board, and that’s where my power turned out to be very useful!

It’s a game of coordination and collaboration. If you don’t agree on the next few moves with the other players, you won’t be able to beat the constantly spreading diseases. If a city on the map is already heavily infected, it can cause an outbreak to neighbouring cities. The more cities are infected, the harder it is to contain, so we spent a lot of time moving around the world to treat imaginary patients.

One of my favourite things about Pandemic is the attention to science-related details:

  • Every player starts the game in Atlanta, because that’s where you will find the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. You can definitely play the game without knowing that, and just wonder why in the world you have to start in Atlanta, of all places, but if you know a bit about global healthcare it’s a nice touch!
  • The little blocks that represent the diseases come in plastic petri dishes. (You can see them in the photo above.)
  • There is an expansion pack that’s set entirely in a lab!
  • The images on the scientific role cards actually look like average biomedical researchers, and not like the kind of crazy Einstein-cartoons other games will have you think scientists look like. There are different designs of the game, and some expansion packs, but these are the role cards we played with this weekend:

roles(Image via The Average Gamer, from their detailed Pandemic review.)

I’ve only ever played Pandemic in board game cafes. I first encountered it in Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes, and yesterday I played it in London’s Draughts. Time to get my own Pandemic game very soon!


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