Pandemic: Sampling the Durable Disease-Fighting Classic

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If teaming up against a game with your friends — rather than squaring off against them — and joining a team of jet-setting epidemiologists to quash dangerous global outbreaks sounds like a good time to you, Pandemic could be your cup of Ebola.

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Pandemic is one of the most loved cooperative titles out there. It hit the market in 2007 and enjoys steady play to this day — perhaps only eclipsed by Pandemic Legacy, which made many "year’s best" lists in ’15. Up to four players assume one of five different roles on a CDC-esque super team, each with their own particular way of swinging things your way during desperate hours.

And they are desperate hours: One of four outbreaks show up, proliferating rapidly unless your team can work together — traveling from city to city to find cures, setting up research stations and sharing resources. You’ll find yourself involved in some pretty intense discussions about the best way to use the handful of actions each player will have on his or her turn. There are lots of ways to lose if you don’t manage to find the cure for all four diseases: Running out of cards, having too many outbreaks or running out of the happy-looking little cubes that show the location of further outbreaks.

We were shown the game a few weeks ago by some friends, who let us try it together on one of the easier settings. As your players become better, you can ratchet up the difficulty to spine-tingling levels. With some experts helping us out, we were able to collaborate and efficiently stomp out bugs and latent plagues wherever we went.

There’s a lot to like about Pandemic: It’s quick to learn, its logic is readily apparent and it has a compact play time. I can see this going over well with a lot of different ages and skill levels. The subject matter is tense, but the game is light enough to afford some very accessible adventure and provide the electric charge of off-the-cuff team problem-solving. I would urge almost anybody to check it out if they get the chance.

Nate Warren is a Colorado Springs-based copywriter who offers both the veteran gamer and the uninitiated a local window into the burgeoning and wildly creative world of hobby and designer board games enjoyed by fanatics and connoisseurs — around the corner and and across the globe.

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