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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pandemic infects our family

(c) Z-Man Games.  Used by permission
I had read an intriguing review of the co-op game Pandemic (designer Matt Leacock, publisher Z-Man Games) that prompted me to put it on the top of my list, largely because it seems to work well for two players as well as for more.  I went to Game Parlor Chantilly looking for it but was told that it was "between print runs," so they didn't know when they would get another one in.  So, off to eBay I went to get a copy, used if necessary.

Success!  It arrived last week, and right away I knew I would like this game.  The production quality is very nice (no surprise, coming from Z-Man), with a strong bio-technology art theme as well as a cosmopolitan, world-travel flavor.  I inventoried the game parts and came up short one Infection card, which hasn't noticeable affected the game play.  (I contacted Z-man, and it looks as though they should be able to provide a replacement.  The eBay vendor, Longhighdeepflyball, very graciously offered to refund my entire payment, but that seemed unfair to him and unnecessary, really.)  I had only played one co-op game before, Castle Panic, which was great fun with the kids.  I looked forward to trying out this highly-recommended game.

I was not disappointed.  Kathy and I played our first session soon after it arrived.  She played as the Scientist, I as the Operations Specialist.  We played the Introductory game, in which all of our cards were face up and there were only four Epidemic cards in the Player Deck.  We got the hang of the game without too much difficulty and really enjoyed the tension of racing against the spread of disease as well as the co-operative aspect of the game.

We recruited my 15- and 10-year-old sons to join us on Saturday, and because it was their first opportunity, again we played the Introductory game.  Liam was the Scientist, Kathy the Medic, Corey the Researcher, and I reprised as Operations Specialist.  We had a fair number of outbreaks, and the Player Deck started running low, but we managed to find all the cures and win the game.  The kids really liked it.

Despite complaints I've read that the game tends to get repetitive, it seems to me that there would be a lot of replay value in two respects.  First, each player plays one role for the entire game, so every game has the potential to be different, at least until you've played all the roles once or twice.  Second, infections in a given game tend to congregate in the same regions over the course of one game (since every Epidemic causes the infection to "intensify," putting the same Infection cards back into play at the top of the deck).  So I would imagine that each game provides a new regional challenge.  We'll see whether my expectation bears out.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to trying it out at a more challenging level...

1 comment:

  1. Sure enough, Z-man Games sent a replacement Infection card that arrived in the mail today. Hats off to a quality game company!