Friday Evenings criteria include a) play or watchability, and b) fun for all ages!
Long story short, our family isn’t really into competitive games. We’ve become a cooperative game family – it saves feelings. Rather than two or three people getting crushed during a game of Catan or Risk, everyone wins or loses in games like Pandemic.
Pandemic is an interesting game. Originally created by Matt Leacock, it was published by Z-Man Games in 2008. There are two expansions – In The Lab and On The Brink. I’ve only ever played the original (box art above), so that’s the only one I’ll be talking about.
In Pandemic, the players (2-4) in their randomly selected roles work cooperatively to stop and cure four diseases before a pandemic occurs. (Hence the game title…)
Pandemic includes a game board representing the city network on Earth, two decks of cards (Player cards and Infection cards), four colors of disease cubes, six Research Stations, and a pawn/role card for each player. The Player deck includes city cards (the same cities as on the board,) beneficial Special Event cards, and Epidemic cards. Infection cards have city cards (one for each city on the board) with the color of the disease t0 be placed there.
The game goes something like this:
Before starting the game, Infection cards are drawn to populate the board with infections. Players start at Atlanta, (the home of the Center for Disease Control), and are given a random role and Player cards (the number given depends on the number of players).
On each turn, a player can take 4 actions, which consist of movement (from one city to another, through multiple means), sharing information with another player (trading player cards), treating one unit of infection from a city the player is presently in (removing a cube), constructing a research lab in a city that the player holds the city card for, or finding a cure for a specific color of disease. (Once all cubes of that color are removed, the disease is eradicated and you no longer have to place cubes of that color. However, eradication is not required for victory – just the curing of all four diseases.)
At the end of their turn, the player draws two Player cards, and discards down to a hand of seven. (You can also do this by immediately playing Special Event cards.)
However, if an Epidemic card is drawn, the player draws a card from the bottom of the Infection deck and places three cubes on that city. The player then puts that card into the Infection discard pile, reshuffles the discard pile, and places it back on top of the Infection deck. (Watch out for this one. It’s a killer – especially if those cities all have two or three cubes, and there are only a couple cards in the discard pile!)
After Player cards are drawn, (and any epidemics dealt with), a number of Infection cards are revealed and one cube of the indicated color is placed on each city drawn. If a city goes over three cubes, an Outbreak occurs and each connected city gains a cube of that color; this can create a chain reaction if several connected cities already have three disease cubes on them. (This kills fast. I’ve lost games in just a couple rounds from this.)
The game is lost if (1) more than 7 Outbreaks occur, (2) there are no more cubes of the required disease color, or (3) there are no Player cards left.
The game is won if the players discover the cure for all four diseases.
To help with winning the game, the roles players are given have special abilities. For example, the Medic can treat all disease in a city with one action, or if the cure has been found, they can cure it just by walking through. Also, the Special Event cards are your friends. They can build a much-needed Research Station or skip an infection round, among other things.
Pandemic is a heavily cooperative game, requiring a team of people willing to trade cards and work together to prevent Outbreaks. (I swear, you’ll lose more games to world-wide panic than anything else.)
I’m going to stick with the game recommendation of 10 and up for this one, though you could probably go as young as 8. The game itself is totally clean and just plain fun.
Have fun this evening!