Pandemic board game review

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Pandemic board game 2008 boxfront
Release Date
February 1, 2008
Cooperative, Family, Strategy
45 min.
Z Man Games
Our Score
Your rating2 Votes
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Pandemic – a lot of ways to lose, and only one way to win! It was one of the best cooperative board games for quite some time. Nowadays, still a pretty good game, a very good game to teach & involve new players into board gaming. Super fun to play with family & kids.

Please note that for the review I use Brain Games Lithuanian edition, where all language elements are translated. No game components or rules are different than English edition.

Game overview

Pandemic board game – a 2-4 player cooperative game about diseases spreading all over the world. Your team is trying to contain them, avoid outbreaks and epidemics while aiming to cure the diseases. Play it under 45 min., with players 8+ years old.

There are lots of nice-looking little cubes that are being placed all over the world. Players move through the map, which represents some of the largest cities of the world, battling the diseases and removing the cubes from the map. At some point, epidemic cards are drawn, leading to epidemic outbreaks, resulting in more cubes placed onto the board.

You must discover a cure, before the outbreak count reaches its limit, or before the player card deck is finished. Finally, if there are not enough cubes to place on the board, you also lose the game. There are four diseases in the game, for each of them, a vaccine must be created in order to win. To do so, a player must collect 5 location cards that would match a particular disease type. The location cards collected must be used in the research laboratory to create a vaccine.

Review details

Feel free to scan trough the review, or you can just scroll down to review summary.


Pandemic board game has numerous factors that make it a truly fun & interesting game. Here are the main factors: a very tense feeling to it (1), a very interesting, immersing game theme (2) and wonderful infections spreading mechanics (3). The main disadvantage that is assigned to the Fun & Interest category of evaluation is character imbalances. I will be covering these pros & cons in the following few paragraphs.

The tense factor is super entertaining. It feels like an apocalyptic movie. The shit is going down and you are doing your best to prevent it. And gradually, it keeps getting worse and worse, decreasing your chances of survival. It is like doors, that are slowly closing down, you run towards them, but you do not know if you make it in time to slide under!

Pandemic (2008) game set-up

Another fun contributor is the theme. I think that this game is probably one of the few games that hooked so many people to board gaming. Blame the theme – it is really very interesting. Everyone wants to save the world from the apocalyptic scale of spreading diseases. And I think that the creators did a wonderful job to simulate the intensity and difficulty of doing that. But we will elaborate more on the difficulty of the game in the replay value section.

I am not yet done, about telling you how the fun game is. This game introduced us to a very cool disease spreading mechanic, which integrates with the game theme really smoothly.

At the end of the player’s turn, 2-4 infection cards are drawn to indicate in which locations disease cubes are going to be placed. Each location can have a maximum of 3 cubes of a single color disease. If there would be placed a 4th identical color cube, 1 cube is instead placed at each adjacent location. How cool is that! Here comes World War Z.

Speaking about the disadvantages of fun & interest – I have to tell you the main one. If you have a newer Pandemic edition (the blue box that is released in 2012 or later, the language does not matter), it will include some new characters with new special abilities.

I got to say that an increase of characters increased the problem associated with it, some of the characters feel a lot stronger & valuable. And not having these in your game sessions feels noticeably harder to play. I will not tell you which ones are these, I do not want to spoil the fun of figuring it out for new players ?

Replay value

Here are the main factors affecting the replay value of the Pandemic board game: variable difficulty levels (1), the unpredictability of the game (2), routine gameplay mechanics (3). Generally, I would say that the replay value of the game is certainly above average. In the following few paragraphs I will elaborate more on how these three factors influence the replay value of the Pandemic board game.

I really enjoy that the game has variable difficulty levels. These can be changed by removing some epidemic cards from the game. Easy gameplay could be achieved by shuffling 2-3 Epidemic cards into the Player cards’ deck. Medium level with 4-5 cards, and a “suicide” level with 6 Epidemic cards included in the game.

Pandemic board game (2008) player cards
Pandemic (2008) player card types

It is super fun to gradually increase the level of difficulty until you beat the game on all its difficulties. Easy level is super good when you play with new players or children, medium gameplay perfectly fits casual gameplay experience for family & friends, and the hardest difficulty works well for board game fans. Let me know you that winning the game at the most difficult level will be rather rare and depend much more on the roles that are included in the game.

Moving forward, the second factor of the replay value is the general unpredictability of the game. In my opinion, it is definitely a good thing. There are 48 different cities on the board, and you never know how the diseases will be spreading, as the infection deck is always bein shuffled.

On top of that, there are 7 different roles that can be included in the game, so for roughly 50 replays, you mostly are going to have varying combinations of these. This will lead to a custom game experience, such as different plans and actions to battle against the game.

Finally, I got to mention a negative factor as well. In general, every game session is about collecting 20 differently colored cards and trading them to vaccine tokens, while in the meantime removing the cubes from the board. This kind of feels repetitive, especially, once you play the game 10, 20 and more times.

If you are a fan of the theme, this will be the game that you come back to forever. But if not, you will still probably play it from time to time, as do I.

Art & parts

The looks & quality of the parts is great. The cards are thick enough, I especially love the little disease cubes, that are clean & shiny, almost like little candies. Do not bring it out in front of small children, they could really choke with such small, shiny parts!!!

The art of the game is okay. It really brings out that sci-fi feels to the game. All those scientists, dispatches & analysts, as well as those precisely, sharply painted map cards, you kind of feel like a professional from some kind of an apocalyptic movie.

Pandemic board game colorblindness review

Moving forward to the colorblindness evaluation of the Pandemic board game – it is definitely colorblindness friendly. Below, two photos indicate the main game components subject to the risk of color differentiation (100% and 50% color deficiency views).

The Image above represents max (100%) color deficiency. (C – casual view; P – Protanope view; D – Deuteranope view; T – Tritanope view).
The Image above represents medium (50%) color deficiency. (C – casual view; P – Protanope view; D – Deuteranope view; T – Tritanope view).

Based on the photos, we could tell that even under 100% colorblindness simulated views – you can definitely play it. There is some inconveniences. For example, Tritopone case 3 pawns share green color tones (which are similar but different), or infection cards all seem green (with a small line at the top of cards indicating its actual color).

Colorblindness rating: A (Very good)


I would say that the price of the game is okay. I would probably love to have a slightly larger box of the game (those that travel a lot would probably oppose me), as it lacks some space to fit the expansion components. But other than that, I would say the game itself & the quality/amount of components meets is worth the price of the game. Apologies for not indicating the price in the text, it changes often so it would soon become outdated information.

Pandemic board game review
Final remark
Cooperate your way through saving the world from deadly diseases! Super intense & funny game, adjustable game difficulty makes it a perfect game for everyone. From families, children to game experts.
Replay Value
Art & Parts
Your rating2 Votes
A great introductory game to new players
Fun theme & nice components
Varying gameplay difficulty levels
Interesting game mechanics
For some players too much randomness
Some roles feel better than others
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