Whether rocking out to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” or re-watching Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys for the umpteenth time, thinking about the end of our collective existence sure can be entertaining. It should come as no surprise then that Z-Man Games’ modern classic Pandemic continues to… spread in its appeal. Knowing that there’s a seemingly endless supply of epidemic related puns and allusions for me to use, I’ll promise to stop with that.
As Earth’s best and brightest, you and one to three more of your friends are tasked with preventing numerous viral outbreaks while simultaneously trying to find their cures. Much like in reality, you all either win or lose this fight together. The rules are quick to learn and with limited action options available, each player’s turn moves along briskly. Things can go really well with a few lucky breaks but humanity-ending global disaster is always just a few bad card flips away. It can be maddening or it can be exhilarating, but it’s always fun.
As far as playing pieces, Pandemic doesn’t really wow but their simplicity helps keep down the suggested retail price. The pawns, cubes and cards wouldn’t feel out of place in a Risk box, though are still smartly designed for a digital look that fits well with a modern trans-national resistance theme.
Originally released in 2008, this new edition includes two bonus characters with the contingency planner and the quarantine specialist. More options are always welcomed, and those looking to add even more on to the base game can check out the expansions, On The Brink (adding the option of a fifth player) and In The Lab. In time these sort of mutations are often required to get back under your skin. Sorry. Just couldn’t help it. (Z-Man) by David C. Obenour