A personal favourite of mine, Pandemic was recently played on the Youtube board game show TableTop.
Players must work together to contain, cure and eradicate four diseases that all seem to break out at the same time across the world. Each player has a special skill integral to achieving this goal. Diseases are represented by coloured cubes and can be very deceptive. One minute you’re all confident about your situation, the next minute all hell breaks loose.
A basic turn has 3 steps. First the player may perform four actions such as moving between cities, curing some of the disease in that city, building a research station (used for fast-travel and obtaining cures) or obtain a cure by handing in 5 Player Cards of the same colour as that disease. After these four actions, they draw 2 new Player Cards. Besides the coloured cards, some of these cards also have special actions that can mean the difference between winning and losing the game. Unfortunately the Player Card deck also contains the Epidemic cards. When this card is drawn, an epidemic occurs (3 cubes placed) in a random city and can potentially break out to neighbouring cities. The Infection Rate of all diseases also goes up. The last step in a player’s turn is to “play the infecter”. Cards are drawn from the Infect Deck equal to the current Infection Rate, and the diseases spread there (1 cube placed). Then the next player takes their turn.
How To Win:
This should actually say how to lose. To win the game, all four cures must be found, even if all the cubes of those disease have not been removed. However, removing all cubes of a colour eradicates that disease and it is removed from the game, which can be of great tactical importance.
If all the cubes for a disease are present on the board at a given point, the players lose. If there are 8 outbreaks during the course of the game, the players lose. If the Player Card deck runs out, the players lose. In other words, if you don’t work together in an effective way, the players lose.
I will leave this to Wil Wheaton: “I’ve had more fun losing this game, than I’ve had winning many others.”
Components: 4/5. Simple, easy to understand, not overly flashy. Oh, and wooden. I always like wooden pieces.
Gameplay: 4/5. Very well designed with some interesting systems that aren’t seen in other games (Forbidden Island doesn’t count because it’s basically the family friendly version of Pandemic)
Complexity vs Depth: 4/5. New players understand the game within 2 turns, but this doesn’t mean the game isn’t packed with suspense. Like I said before, some games don’t need depth.
Theme: 4/5. Light theme but well adapted.
Overall: 4/5. The only drawback is a tendency to cause arguments when playing with particularly strong-willed people. In my opinion this isn’t so much a problem with the game, as a way of pointing out a character flaw.