Pandemic is a classic co-op board game and while the focus at Date Night Gaming is primarily on video games, we want to try to include as many options for gaming couples as possible!
In Pandemic, you are part of a team trying to contain several viruses that have broken out all over the world. As a disease-fighting specialist, it’s your job (with your teammates) to research cures for the epidemics before time runs out.
The board itself is roughly based on metropolitan areas around the Earth and on each turn, you and your teammates work together to treat the infected areas and develop cures to the viruses.
There’s only one way to win: find cures for the diseases. On the other hand, there’s several ways to lose: if you have too many outbreaks of the epidemics, if you fail to find all of the cures before the normal cards run out, or if you run out of disease cubes (if too many people get infected in terms of the total population).
Here’s a good overview from Board Game Geek,
Taking a unique role within the team, players must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists’ strengths in order to conquer the diseases. For example, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases and which allow for greater mobility between cities; the Scientist needs only four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five—but the diseases are spreading quickly and time is running out. If one or more diseases spreads beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose. If they cure the four diseases, they all win!
The most important thing about Pandemic is that it’s a cooperative game whereas a majority of games are not. For some games, like Betrayal at House on the Hill (another tabletop game), it’s co-op until a certain point. Or in plenty of video games, it may be “co-op” but you’re still ultimately doing your own thing and acting on your own agenda – like in Don’t Starve Together.
Pandemic is more like Overcooked and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. If you’re not collaborating and cooperating, there is very little hope for your team in terms of success. You have to be active and engaged in the game or else you drag your team down. Or I guess one person could commandeer your moves but if that’s how you and your significant other/gaming partners play games, you might want to rethink how you two are approaching co-op games…
We like Pandemic. Or, to put it more specifically, I have loved Pandemic for a long time and only recently introduced it to Alex as we start to explore more games in the tabletop gaming world.
It’s not a favorite in the tabletop world once you get deeper into that scene because a) they tend to be less enthusiastic about more mainstream/gateway games like Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and others that people can get burned out on easily and b) it’s susceptible to what’s called “quarterbacking” in board games. But if you’re relatively new to tabletop games or searching for co-op options, Pandemic is solid.
Also note: this is different than Pandemic Legacy, which is a darling of the tabletop scene right now. Pandemic Legacy is a one-time play-through game played over the course of many months, whereas Pandemic’s base version can be played as many times as you want.
Long story short, Pandemic is worth trying out with your significant other for at least one date night. I’d highly recommend getting it when it’s closer to/under $30 than the MSRP of $40. And note that the game has options for beginners – the game changes drastically depending on the number of Epidemic cards you have in the deck. The game also gets harder when you add more players as cards are distributed more quickly.
If you really want to try it on easy mode to start, make sure one of you is the Researcher and one is the Scientist and you should have a more manageable intro to the game.
Overall Score: 8/10
Developer: Matt Leacock, Z-Man Games
Game Type: Tabletop
Bartle Type: Explorer, Socializer
Player Count: 2-4
Average Play Session Time: 45 minutes
Type of Co-Op: Tabletop