Pandemic (2nd edition)
Matt Leacock and Z-MAN Games have managed to haunt our dreams with Pandemic. The game was first released in 2007, with a second edition in 2013. The latter comes with two additional characters, adding more diversity to your game experience.
The name says it all. The players (2-4) are faced with the imminent danger of a global spreading of one or even four viruses. Throughout the game, they have to travel around the world, control epidemics, prevent outbreaks and, ultimately, find the cure to all four viruses before they run out of time or a virus spins out of control.
The beauty of this cooperative game is that it makes you feel as if you were indeed a part of a rescue team, watching helplessly as the diseases spread, unable to do anything because you’re on the wrong side of the map and nobody can airlift you to the hot zone. You have to muster all your organizational skills to launch a mission that will enable your group to deal with the diseases whilst gathering the necessary resources to find the cures. Each member of the team has a unique ability that allows them to do something the rest can’t. The way you use it is of crucial importance, since it would often mean the difference between winning and losing.
Why you should play it
Like most co-op games, you get the chance to work with your friends in search of the best thing to do. Even when it’s not your turn, it is your turn. Of course, the active player is the one who has the final say on how to play their character, but still, you never feel bored. There is no dice rolling, so you won’t have the element of chance in how you operate. The randomness lies only in drawing cards, but you have some time to save the day before all hell breaks loose.
There are seven different characters and you can play with up to four players in any given game. This means that even with the same group of people, you are most likely to have a different team every time. When I started playing Pandemic, I often found myself worrying that we were going to lose because we didn’t have a medic or a researcher. Pretty soon I discovered that if you do your best with what you have, you can still win.
Did I mention expansions? There’s a bunch of them (not yet translated into Greek), which enrich the game even more. Pandemic: On the Brink even has Petri dishes for your little viruses! It would be a shame not to mention Pandemic Legacy, a non-replayable campaign that ideally runs over the course of an entire year (you can play it in 12 to 24 sessions) and has different features from the core game. You can give names to your characters and diseases; there are sealed stacks you are not allowed to open before the time is due; you might be asked to add a rule to a designated space in the rulebook or even tear up a card (so heart-wrenching if you ask me). There other expansions set on different time eras, such as Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and Pandemic: Iberia.
Why you shouldn’t play it
I really don’t see why you wouldn’t want to play it. However, I take it that you might not like the duration. It could take about an hour or longer to play a whole game (much less if you lose, of course). If that’s the case, you can try the dice game edition, Pandemic: The Cure or Matt Leacock’s other two games, Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. They have similar mechanics, but they are very quick-paced.