Summary This is port of a fun and challenging board game that doesn't succeed quite as well as a multiplayer game as the tabletop version, but is still fun to master.
Description Type: Digital Board Game
Game Time: 30 minutes
Developer or Designer:Z Man Games
Faithful port of a brilliant board game
Clear interface and comprehensive instructions
No achievements or rewards
Harder to work up strategies round a small iPad
Occasionally fiddly to see the whole map
Review The premise is simple: 4 diseases are spreading across the world, and it’s your job to stop them. It’s a faithful port of the board game. You can see the cards being mixed in to the deck, and then being drawn out. It does add to the feeling of playing a board game on the iPad.
One of the great things about the Pandemic board game is that it’s cooperative, rather than combative. That makes it very good as a family game, especially if you have an age difference between siblings. As a group, you can strategise and agree your next moves. The iPad app doesn’t have on multi-player option, so you have to pass the pad around, or just play four turns by yourself if you have no friends. It’s still fun, but it loses some of the appeal of the board game by not having the ability to look at the large map in front you in quite the same way.
In the basic version of the game there are seven different roles that you can play. These confer special abilities on your disease fighting expert. Per turn you can do 4 actions, picked from move, treat, cure, build, share, or pass. In addition, your occupation allows you do extra things, some passive, some active. Different combinations of these occupations can form powerful disease fighting teams, with the different roles providing complementary actions to better combat the outbreaks. The roles are things like Dispatcher, who can move other people’s pawns as though they were his own (handy to get people to meet up so they can swap the cards they need), or Researcher, who can swap cards more easily than other pawns.
You also start with a selection of city and event cards. You collect city cards of one colour to cure one of the 4 diseases on the world map (blue, black, yellow, and red) and you also use them to charter flights and move around the world. There are also Event cards, which you can play at (almost) any time to give you a further advantage, like One Quiet Night, which will stop the Infect Cities stage of the game for one turn.
In Pandemic, there are loads of ways to lose and only one way to win. You can lose by having too many Outbreaks, by running out of cards to draw, by running out of disease tokens, and it feels like the list goes on and on. Because of that, I lost a lot, especially to begin with. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by outbreak after outbreak of disease. You really need to carefully think about how you will combat the diseases, and more importantly, how you will achieve those cures.
As you play more, you’ll begin to come up with different strategies and see how the occupations work together. I haven’t moved up to the next difficulty yet, so I think there will be plenty of life in Pandemic yet, if I can only survive the night…