Board Game of the Week – Pandemic

Pandemic 5   This week, I am reviewing the critically acclaimed Matt Leacock original Pandemic. With multiple different awards from well-known game industries such as Board Game Geek and Boardgames Australia, Pandemic focuses on working as a team to stop a series of virus outbreaks from eradicating all of mankind.

Game Title: Pandemic

Release Date: 2007

Number of Players: 2-4 (4 recommended)

Average Game Time: 45 minutes

Game Publisher: Z-Man Games

Website: http://zmangames.com/product-details.php?id=1246

Game Designer: Matt Leacock

Expansions/Alternates: Yes

Available in Stores: Yes

There aren’t many board games out there that ask you to combine forces against the game itself. A lot of the fun of playing games is playing against friends and family so that when you win, you can claim superiority over them (at least that’s what I enjoy about it). Still, there are a few games out there that find a way to create some form of villain or obstacle, and the object of the game is to join forces and defeat it as a group.Pandemic 4 One of the games that does this best is Pandemic, where you have to communicate and work as a team to claim victory as a single unit.

The object of this game is to stop virus outbreaks from infecting the entire world and finding cures so that you can eradicate the virus from the planet. No pressure, right? You travel around a map of the world and try to contain the 4 different viruses currently infecting the cities around the globe. The more the virus spreads, the harder it is to contain it. While you work to contain the virus, your team will also be focused on finding a cure. If you are able to cure all four viruses within the allotted time, you win. If you take too long or allow enough “outbreaks”, you lose. There are a number of other factors involved with the game, including research stations to contain outbreaks and look up cures, Epidemic cards that when drawn add more of the virus across the board, and numerous different types of event cards that bring a level of complexity and variety to the game.

Pandemic 3By far the most appealing thing about this game is that it allows you to work as a unit, but keep an individual identity during the game. Each player starts off with a specific “role”. There are seven roles you can play in any given game, and each one of them has a specific skill that can be used to improve your odds at winning. For example, the player with the Dispatcher role is able to move the other players’ pawns across the board easily, while the medic is better than the other players at stalling outbreaks. A huge part of the game is working together in order to use your role’s strengths. The more you’re able to help each other, the easier it is to complete your objectives.

The game is definitely complex, not so much in how to play but rather in the strategy and decision-making that goes into a successful game. The more you know about the game the more fun it is, because you can try a number of different strategies and work with your team members to win. Replay value for this game is high, especially since you learn more as you go and get better at playing at harder difficulties. The only real flaw in the game is the beginning; learning how to play and the best way to use your role takes effort so it can be confusing to people playing for the first time. I definitely recommend for your first play-through trying to play the game with someone who has played before rather than having a group of people with no experience. Having someone who knows the game takes some of the pressure off since they know how the roles work and the best ways to win.

Overall this game is a nice change of pace from the traditional competitive games, and the art and game play are big positives. The rules are fairly complicated and game-play can slow from player to player, but Matt Leacock has found a way to motivate people to work together in an industry that normally pushes for competition against each other. Be prepared to do a lot of critical thinking and scheming with the other players to claim victory against the ultimate Pandemic.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars. pic1534148

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Board Game of the Week – Ticket to Ride

Each week, I’m going to review a board game that I’ve played and post the full scoop. This week, I’m going to talk about the Days of Wonder hit Ticket to Ride.

Ticket to Ride picture 3

First, the basic details:

Game Title: Ticket to Ride

Release Date: 2004

Number of Players: 2-5

Average Game Time: 30 minutes-60 minutes

Game Publisher: Days of Wonder

Game Designer: Alan R. Moon

Expansions/Alternates: Yes

Available in Stores: Original version yes, alternates and expansions online

Ticket to Ride picture 1

Ticket to Ride is a game with a simple concept that involves 2-5 players trying to expand their railroads across the United States (or Europe or the Nordic counties if you play the alternate games). The object is to create railroad paths from city to city to earn points based on “Destination Tickets” acquired throughout the course of the game. Once a player has used up all of his or her train cars, each player has one more turn to complete his or her tickets. If a player doesn’t complete the tickets, he or she loses the points normally awarded for finishing the paths.

Ticket to Ride picture 2

I think the main appeal of this game is that it’s fast-paced but still requires a lot of strategy. Players can only complete one of three options each turn, and each turn goes by quickly so nobody sits around waiting for long. The strategy of where you place your train cars is extremely important; you can choose to either take direct routes from city to city or take an extremely long route to get to multiple destinations in one go. You can also block other players from getting to certain cities, denying them points they would need to win. Replay value is high because strategies and routes change, though it isn’t a game that you should plan on playing more than two or three times in one sitting.

Overall, I highly recommend this game for a small group with an hour or so to kill. Families will enjoy it, as well as groups of friends who are competitive and willing to give something new a try.

Jack’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars