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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boards & Brews at Home: Pandemic

People everywhere are becoming deathly sick, epidemics continue to break out, and fatal diseases are spreading worldwide.  The world's only hope is a group of scientists, engineers, medics, and various operations personal to work together to save humanity.  In this 2 - 4 player co-op game the diseases are rapidly spreading faster by the minute and you and your disease control team must work together to either cure and/or eradicate all of the diseases in order to save mankind.  Today this is being performed in the internationally award winning game known as Pandemic.  As much as we love the expansions for Pandemic, this segment we are only playing and reviewing the base game and will save our thoughts about the expansions for a special segment down the road. 

In Pandemic, each player takes on a role/character card with a colored pawn that corresponds to their player's color on the card.  You place the outbreaks marker on the outbreak track, and the infection rate marker on the infection rate track.  The four cure markers are placed on the track below the cure indicators.  Players put their player markers along with a research station on Atlanta Georgia, indicating the CDC and ground zero location for the starting point of the game.  You shuffle the player deck and the infection deck and place them on the corresponding locations on the board, and with that you begin the game by drawing from the infection deck to infect 9 cities.  After this has been done, each player goes through three stages per turn: 1) Perform 4 actions, 2) Draw two player cards, and 3) Infect cities.  As the players draw, they are flipping the cards over and revealing which countries around the world are being infected.  The corresponding color cubes are placed on those locations.  As epidemic cards are drawn, the infection rate marker goes up, which means more infection cards are drawn, infecting more cities during every players turn.  Like other cooperative games, each player works together to communicate what the best methods and actions will be to survive the tasks throughout the game. 
To date, Pandemic is not only my favorite game that we own, but very easily my favorite game of all time.  Thematically the game is sound, and very intense!  The entire human race is depending on you in order to survive.  Every time we have played Pandemic whether it's the base game or one of the expansions, the game has always flowed very well between all players at the table.  In the past, we always used to listen to the Contagion movie soundtrack while playing Pandemic to provide a more intense environment for the game.  Over time we've expanded our background affects and ambiance to to listen to our music.  The new music of choice for Pandemic is currently tabletop audio's new Dark City playlist under the modern genre.  It's a great playlist for background music for this type of game.  For a long time, tabletop games have had a history of gatekeeping, and unlike a lot of other tabletop games, Pandemic provides a highly inclusive cast to choose from.  By offering varied ethnic and gender representation, it gives a welcoming and more realistic game environment.  It is also worth noting that each character's unique ability is balanced and they compliment each other very nicely.  This is something that is often overlooked and it's refreshing to see a game that steps up and addresses these issues.  The rules are not cliched, and are also very well written and presented visually.  Aside from the box art, the remaining artwork for this type of game does not carry extreme depth, however the revised version is certainly an upgrade from the first edition and looks much better!  The difficulty level can be modified by the players if you want to provide a more intense challenge and experience.  While there are a few expansions for Pandemic that do make it better, in my humble yet accurate opinion, ;) this game does not need expansions to be an exceptionally great game, it's already achieved that greatness on it's own!  I cannot say enough about this game, and that is why I am giving it my highest rating to date.  This is definitely an essential game for every gamers library and it won't be easy to top in my book.

Pandemic  (Base Game)
Overall Meeple Rating: 9/10

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