The world went out with a cough, sneeze, and maybe under a giant ocean of phlegm. Alas, the four intrepid employees of the CDC and other agencies designated to fight off the diseases that plagued the world were unable to complete their task and save humanity. Our first game of Pandemic by Z-man Games did not end in a round of high-fives.
Our first game ended in talking about what we would do with the same characters next time and what each player could have done differently. If you have played Forbidden Island, then you have played a lite version of Pandemic. The mechanics are identical. You have characters, each has a different ability, that are chosen at random when the game starts. The players NEED to work together to win. This means lots of table talk and planning. Going solo only ensures that everyone loses.
Each turn consists of a player doing four actions:
- Move 1 connected space or using a variety of methods to travel across the board
- Removing one or more disease cubes from the board
- Build a research center
- Trade cards
- Cure a disease
Then the player draws two cards, one or both could be Infect cards that cause the diseases to spread. Otherwise the cards are either a city or an event card. Event cards can be played at anytime. City cards come in one of four colors, each matching a color of a disease that ravages an area of the world. To cure a disease, one player has to have five city cards of the same color and be at a research center. Once a disease is cured, removing the disease cubes becomes a lot easier.
After drawing cards, the player flips over the Infect deck which has a city that gets another disease cube. If a city has three cubes, the adjacent cities get a cube instead. If an adjacent city also has three cubes then adjacent cities to that city also get cubes. This can lead to a rapid expansion of diseases.
So how do I sum up our first game?
When our girl and I cured the red amoeba of death in Asia in the first couple of turns, I thought we were sure to win. But…then Barb decided that New York was the place to stay for a while. Meanwhile, our boy was hopscotching around the globe from North America, to Europe, back to North America, and then finally down to South America where disease was running wild. Our girl done with Asia moved over to South America, but by the time she got there Europe and the Middle East were awash in both the blue and black disease with yellow creeping in. At that point time ran out.