I don’t like co-op games. As a simple rule of thumb, I avoid them. Arkham Horror was the last one I was talked into trying and that went terrible, so when I first was told that Pandemic was a co-op game, I put it right back on the shelf and decided it wasn’t for me.
Sho bought a copy during Gen Con 2009, and showed up with it back at the hotel, ready to show us all how to play. I begrudgingly dragged my tired self up, grabbed a drink, and settled in for what I figured would be a very long boring game. Four games latter, I found myself begging the husband to sit through one more game, because I wasn’t satisfied because we hadn’t won yet!
Pandemic is a co-op game where players take on different roles in an effort to fight four viruses that threaten to conquer the globe and destroy all of humanity. Each round players perform four actions, receive colored location cards used to fight the viruses, and the viruses spreads. Too much of a virus in any one location causes an ‘outbreak’. Eight outbreaks and the world succumbs to its demise.
The rules for actions, virus spreading, and cure administering are surprisingly simple. It took us maybe 10 minutes to learn all of the ins and outs of the game, which is quite the contrast to the couple hours of struggling that we put into Arkham Horror. Game play requires large amounts of cooperation and cohesion in order to survive at all, and there is no point of being selfish with your moves or resources in the least.
The games plays in about 30-45 minutes, and requires absolute focus on every turn in order to survive. A couple mistakes early on can easily cost you the game, because once the virus is out of hand, it’s all but impossible to get it back under wraps. This led to the parties demise on more then one occasion, leading us to believe that we had things under control, until it was too late.
And that is my biggest complaint with the game, you are either winning the whole way through, or you lose. We never once had things get rough and were able to recover from it. This led to the feeling that the game was either too easy, or too hard, with almost every scenario that we played. We either won seemingly easily, or lost epically.
This is a great co-op game. No doubt about it in my mind. It does seem either too easy or too hard, but perhaps that is something that will level out with play, or perhaps with better suggestions of scenarios from the authors. But I really did enjoy the game, and will certainly play it again. Here’s to hoping that the expansion is just as good.
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