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S1E14 | Pandemic the Board Game | Game Review

Decking Awesome Podcast why pandemic the board game is awesome

Today we are talking about Pandemic the board game. We are going to discuss what themes and mechanics it has, why it is so popular and what makes it different to other board games.


hello and welcome to the decking awesome

games podcast my name is owen and i’m

joined pretty awesome kyra and brian

hello today we are talking about

pandemic the board game

we’re going to discuss what teams and

mechanics has why it is so popular

and what makes it different to other

board games we’ve played pandemic loads

of times

some of my best board game memories are

with this game so why is pandemic

awesome pandemic is a really flexible


it’s perfect for people who have never


any advanced board games before and are

looking to get into something with a

little more substance than your

scrabbles and

old-fashioned board games it is it’s got

a really strong team

and it’s about getting rid of four

disease spreading throughout the world

and it’s a co-op game so it means that

it’s not so overwhelming

for people coming in but i guess there’s

kind of a lot of different elements

that are wrapped up in that i i think

its replayability is my favorite bit

about it because

every game is different where the virus

start and spread is set up by a

randomly drawn deck of cards and then

each new virus that comes out is always

random again on top of that and i know

the cards will start repeating

themselves as epidemics start coming up

but the fact that it’s different and you

have to focus on different areas and you

can play different roles and

different focuses and different

strategies for winning it means that

you’re never playing the same game twice

it does have massive replayability


complexity of changing around the setup

to make it different

yeah i love that i love that

replayability and variety it brings in

especially for a teamwork style game it

means that if you’re

you know advanced playing this game

you’ve played a couple of times you can

bring in new people to hobby

you can all work together and there’s no

sort of competitive edge to it

but it’s still a fresh and new game each

time you pick it up and play yeah and

for the casual or people coming in who

wouldn’t have maybe played so much


being able to adjust difficulty levels


adapt the game based on the characters

played and

loads of different mechanics put in it

while still keeping the game quite


means that it can be approachable for

anyone starting out

yeah it also has a lot of spin-off games

coming out of it

pandemic’s been around for a while now

so it has a lot of different

types of add-ons and own separate games

in our own right

there are lots of games like that like

fall of rome where you’re fighting off a

horde of

marauders coming in to destroy rome

there’s also

legacy games where it’s got this kind of

compelling story arc to it where you

play over multiple games

there’s a whole bunch of different

spin-offs to pandemic which are really

exciting and

really kind of entertaining i love the

legacy games the

the fact that it’s basically just the

base game of pandemic

where there is consequences for your

decisions during the game

if you decide to go uh we won’t worry

about south america just leave that be a

problem unto itself

next game south america is going to get

you yeah i love that consequences and


that’s a it’s a very kind of new style

of board game you can only play it once

but by the end of that legacy game you

do get a copy of pandemic that you can

play with

yeah it’s just such a fun style of doing

that you do after you finish pandemic

legacy season one you get to

you get a pandemic game well we love the

game mechanics

they fit really well into the team and

that cohesiveness is what really draws

us to a game i think in general

the team is that a group of skilled


travel around the world trying to save

it from a virus so your player board is

a map of the world it matches in

the viruses spread with tokens

so you can kind of see it spread like

you would on pretty much

any maps of pandemics that come out and


the cards give you a feel for time

traveling so as cards are drawn

you can feel the the pandemic lengthen

so it matches really well i like that i

like the kind of

you know you’ve only got a couple of

actions on your turn so you have to

use them wisely now are you going to go


deal with the outbreak that’s happening

across the world and try and get all the

way over there to just

mitigate it a little bit so it’s still a

problem but it’s not devastating

or you know do you try and cut off

another virus and try and get it cured


it starts growing out of control too so

you kind of have to make the decisions

on you know

sacrifice here in favor of here or try

and play the long game and hope you

don’t run out of cards and

as you said with the the time passing in

the game with the deck of cards that you

don’t run out of them before uh

everything goes to crap yeah because at

the start of

pandemic it gives you like a set of nine


where the pandemic begins and so

hopefully they can be kind of grouped


you might have like a few in asia you

might have a few new europe and then

it’s up to you to kind of decide all

right well

there’s one kind of that keeps popping

up in south america

but like we can we’ve only got three

players here we can’t kind of deal with

that there might be other ways you can

kind of

get back those cubes to him so that kind

of choice you have to make is

very kind of cool very kind of

interesting and thematic yeah i think

that that

i guess africa and south america because


point outwards it can be really hard not

that we haven’t sacrificed asia a few

times yeah

um the only reason why i think about

europe so much is because there’s always

an outbreak in europe so it’s always


to send somebody over there to hang

around because there’s so many cities

that leaving somebody there is like a a

valid game move i think

you start and you start the game in

north america so north america does tend

to get

sorted out pretty quickly yeah unfairly

advanced fairly yeah

if you started off in south america or

started off in africa we definitely

would have sorted those out

yeah but you start off in america and

europe has too many cities

yeah and i think the some of the some of

the times

that i think have made the most

interesting games are when

you start off and the nine cities you

start with

are like in two continents so you’re

like we’ll focus on those two planets

and then the first 16 cards you draw

are all in like a third continent and

then you have to decide

am i going to sacrifice to like two

rounds it’s going to take to

send somebody to that continent because

you can’t build a center there

unless you’ve been there before so you

have to like go the long way

that first time and you really have to


sacrifice a cause of limited actions is

a feature of the game

you really have to like commit to

whatever you decide to do

yeah that way off between short-term

strategy and long-term strategy where

save your save yourself now and

potentially doing yourself

for the end game or you know take the

hit now take a couple of bruises in

hopes of having a

good strategy in the long run actually

that works quite well with the

cooperative side of it as well

because everyone has their own abilities

that differ from each other you know you

have to decide

should i use my turn to set up my


so that their turns are easier and they

can make a bigger difference or

should i spend my turn just curing the

area around me to

make it easier to to avoid an outbreak

where i am

so you kind of it’s one of those games

where you have to work together

but you also have to work for yourself a

bit as well yeah i think the

player specific roles comes into this

quite a lot as well so like each player

takes on whether they’re like a medic or


or a dispatcher that kind of brings it

in together

to make it a lot more thematic and

everybody has their own kind of role

inside the team at different strengths

and advantages and yeah

i love the medic you have to play with

the medic

he is so powerful you can’t win pandemic

if you don’t have a medic

it rhymes it must be true one of the


interesting mechanics in the game is the

cooperative element of the game

every player is working together so you

know teams that work together well

playing the game

really have a big impact on

how likely they are to be successful so

if you’re gonna have some vigilante

who’s just like

i’m gonna sweep into this set of cities

and be the hero and

save this area but that actually doesn’t

help your long-term goal

or if they have the cards you need to

win what you really need is for them to

not save a set of cities but actually

hand over their cards to you

that really has a really big impact on

on whether you’re going to win or not

you have to kind of give up a lot of

your individual goals

in order to to get the collective to win

yeah it’s a it’s a hard mental switch

for some players to do

i’ve seen it a couple of times where

players will still think hello to

cooperative game

they’re gonna try and be the best at

being the cooperative game and so

they’ll use their cards to help them get

the places and take things out and

they’re kind of doing a very good and

individual effort individual effort

doesn’t mean a whole lot in pandemic

you can’t win on your own yeah that’s

true because while you

may have made a devastatingly brilliant


you’re the person who’s going next can’t

do anything because you’ve just ignored

them and

they’re going to start taking scars and

injuries because you know there’s

outbreaks in there

in their area and you’ve just swarmed


saving the rest of the world while

abandoning them

the game has great replayability so i

think that

no matter how many times we’ve played

the game we’ve always found it


i don’t think we’ve ever won the

hard mode easily i don’t think it’s ever

been a walk in the park

because of the way it’s generated and

how big the world is

even if you constantly get clusters in

one area

and you can fight them off and you

dedicate your time fighting them off

there’ll always be one round where you


a bunch of cities that are nowhere near

anything that and

if just left untended that will

eventually lose you the game if you

don’t do anything about it

so i think that sort of strategizing

and having to decide on risk really has

an impact

on its replayability because there’s a

lot of variability

another big thing about replayability is

the epidemic cards it’s a very

kind of easy and simple way to

understand how to add in difficulty

so like you’ll have you know three

epidemic cards in a player deck want to

make it kind of easy and you can just

keep adding in more and more

as you want to play and changes the game

quite a lot because the less epidemics

you have the more chance you have to go

to different

locations around the world so if you put

in loads and loads of epidemics

you’re more or less saying that the

spread of the outbreak is going to be

concentrated onto the less locations

making it more difficult but in a

different way so you can have the focus

and it can be a little bit tricky for

new players to understand they have to

kind of split the deck

into like seven different parts if

you’ve got seven epidemic cards

and then kind of shuffle them in but i

just say just do it try it

you don’t really have to understand why

you’re doing it and then play

and then you’ll understand why it’s

there afterwards the instructions are

pretty clear like

the i know there was a few very

technical questions probably more in the

legacy games than in the normal game

but it felt like the instructions


everything if you just blindly followed

them for setup you were you got to the

end and you ended up with a good game

even if you didn’t understand why

you had to do some of this stuff okay so

what makes pandemic different

to other games i think pandemic has a

unique blend of you know

a cooperative element but an easy to

pick up game

so like if you sit down you’ve never

played a game before you’re playing with

one or two people who maybe who have

you can figure out fairly quickly how

how to play and what you should be doing


you know because it’s cooperative you

can work with those people and

be like oh you know what if i went over

here and they’re like oh well you know

we can we can get over there on our next

turn you probably need to focus over

here and then you can

you can kind of work together so you

feel involved in the game from the word


but also you don’t need a huge level of

understanding to get into the game

because it is

relatively straightforward and even if

you don’t win your first couple of games

you kind of your strategies start

getting better and better and you learn

where you need to

concentrate your efforts especially

depending on the different roles you


so it’s very easy to pick up and it’s

very easy to

get good at and then if you get too good

at it throw in a few more epidemic cars

ramp up the difficulty

yeah because it’s tricky to understand

that there’s very limited actions that

the player can make

they pretty much just can like move they

can take away cubes and they can play


and then you also have this thing of

trying to find the vaccine

but the vaccine thing doesn’t come into

later so

it can be very easy for a new player to

come in and just start messing around

but those very small actions can build

up they can you can get yourself into a

bad position you have to have a good

long-term scope of it but for new

players they don’t they can just go

i have a disease i have a an outbreak

right beside me

i’m gonna go over i wanna sort it out

and it’s going to help and you have to

understand why

and then as the game progresses they can

kind of understand

the kind of meteor depth of the game

and i think that it rewards an

analytical approach

to solving how to do this so

maybe you want to stay on the border of

an outbreak

and kind of wander around the border

over to contain it or maybe you want to

go straight into the center

and wipe it out from the middle but it

rewards that your choices if they’re


and if you you keep a clear head while

you’re making them so i think that that

that’s another thing that usually when

we pick a good

strategy and we stick to it that’s when

the games go smoothest

so it kind of shows that you’re kind of

a little bit in sync

and obviously the playing

things like your role your role which is

like a career

to your advantage so we’re all like the

medics and things like that

yeah there’s a couple of different

strategies for actually winning

and which is pretty good like most of

them are kind of pushing down

the outbreaks but you also have choices

you’re gonna make of

after you find the vaccine do you then

push it across the world

because the goal is to find the four

vaccines not to make sure everyone in

the world has the vaccine

so it can be tricky to weigh the pros

and cons

oh yeah do you focus on eradicating the

disease so none of those cubes can come

up again or do you

just go well it’s cured let’s just deal

with it as it pops up

and try and cure all the other ones so

once you have the vaccination for them

all you know you’ve won but

you know sometimes it’s worth taking

that extra couple of turns just to

eradicate it get all the like yellow

cubes off the board and then

bam don’t have to worry about yellow

cards coming up ever again yeah because


you start off the game and you’re

getting a lot of like re like red cards

that are coming from asia you’re

probably better off eradicating it

because then all those cards when they

come up nothing happens you don’t get

any more cubes in the board and you can

kind of focus on it

but like if you get a variety of cards

at the start you know you got to weigh

that up and down maybe it’s not worth it

it also depends on your roles

because you know different roles mean

different strategies so if you’re like a


you’re probably not going to be moving

around a lot you can be kind of giving

the advantage to someone else to do

stuff but it depends entirely on what

you want to do and you can also

make come up with your own strategies

yeah that’s it’s an interesting game

because you don’t see a whole lot of

great cooperative games like this so

it’s always a great

game to have in your board game

collection especially if you’ve just had

like a very competitive

few board game nights with your friends

and a lot of kind of aggressive fighting


like a lot of and you just want to like


as to why board games are awesome it’s

because you’re playing with friends and

you’re all playing together

pandemic is a great one to bring out to

realize that we’re all kind of just

having fun together

rather than trying to beat each other

save the world and save your friendship

it’s one or the other

like i think the quality of the game as

well like even though you know

the pieces are quite simple like you’re

just playing with pawns you’re not

playing with little

really elaborate pieces unless you’ve 3d

printed your own and if you have kudos

send us a few will you but you’re just

playing with little ponds and moving

around but like i mean

you’re not you’re not in it for the high

quality miniatures it’s the

you know the little kind of glossy

looking cubes and

the pawns running around knocking them

off the board and

stuff like that it just feels like a

good quality game with very simple

pieces but

that work perfectly for the game itself

and they

this it seems like it was played has

play tested very thoroughly before it

was released

like it seems that the different areas

on the on the map

all have different kind of attributes

but they’re all balanced like

you can make a lot of different choices

in the game and it feels like you do

have an impact based on what you choose

and also that that impact is kind of

matches what you would expect

the impact to be and the the trackers

make logical sense it kind of the cards

tell you when to move them and things

like that so you don’t forget about them

as much

as like sometimes it can be hard to

remember a tracker

or were terrible for forgetting to move

first player tokens around

but in this game it seems like it

logically happens as part of the flow

and there’s not too much keep track of

there’s only two trackers outside of the


map and then everything else you’re

putting or cubes on the board so you

kind of feel like

it’s quite easy to follow and the cues


quite a good visual indicator of how

well you’re doing

yeah and you don’t want too many cubes

the board just full of them and you’re

going well we’re definitely dead in two


yeah because so much is done with the

cards and

going through the card deck and that

adds a lot of variety and stuff like


it’s quite easy to keep track of then

without having extra mechanics in to

show events happening or time passing

yeah i love it it’s kind of simplistic

very well done and kind of clear are

there any other areas of pandemic that

show off how awesome it is

i mean i know we talked about it a bit

earlier but the legacy games

i like i actually think i prefer the

legacy games to the base game as

as amazing as the base game is the

legacy games are amazing because

it does have consequence it does have


you know you’re you’re basically playing

pandemic over the course of 12 months

so you play january february all the way

up to december

and the first game is just you know a

basic game of pandemic but

you know maybe the virus mutates or

maybe there’s extra complications or now

you can’t

build in this area or now you move on to

february and

now all of a sudden the areas that

you’ve let get out of control

now they’re very problematic because now

the mutated virus can’t be cured and

now you’re struggling to find a way to

beat it and i

don’t want to give too much away from

the legacy games but

it just gets crazy out of hand and just

when you think you’re on top of us

the game throws you another twist like

oh open box h there nothing to worry

about and then you open up

oh my god this is going to destroy us in

the next game i cannot believe this

or you choose a strategy and you are

like this is a great strategy we are


and you paid three months with that

strategy and you invest heavily in that

strategy because

a lot of the decisions you make have an

impact later so like you have to invest

in some things you have to invest in

like building things or you have to


in doing things but one of the

strategies we chose

on one of the types of actions you could

take we invested in for months

and and only to read one of the boxes

and go

oh no yeah that has a really big impact

on destroying our strategy

if you chose this strategy

you’re screwed yeah and you might think

like listening about

the legacy games especially with

pandemic that you’re just kind of like

playing january and then you rip up a

lot of cards

and you put in new cards for february it

really does depend on what you do in


when it comes to legacy games so you’ve

got like site objectives and you’ve got

like other things you can do

and depending on how far you get to them

or what happens in your game

board state then you’ll start to like

read parts and then it’ll be like kind


different things will happen to your

game than it would someone else playing

in january

it’s like when we finish legacy there’s

lots of boxes that weren’t opened for us

that’s because there’s things that we

didn’t let happen or things that we

didn’t push

and then so then that makes our game

totally different and also on each

location and everything else you can you

know you know do buildings and outbreaks

might happen and stuff for death so

you can then affect the boards that when

you start the board again and you play

in february

the outbreaks might happen worse in some

places and they wouldn’t

or the city might be like more damaged

yes it is easier to kind of take over

and you can invest in trying to fix

things that you might mess up in one

game yeah you can spend the next few

games giving

any benefits that might happen at the

end of the game to a particular area on

the board

that maybe suffered because you ignored

it for one of the games

yeah you might feel bad if you’re like a

normal board gamer looking at legacy

games going i don’t want to rip up

board games i don’t i don’t want to get

to like you know july and then find out


we’ve lost and we can’t do anything but

i wouldn’t worry too much about it i


like play the game you won’t get into

that issue you know if you lose twice i

think it tells you

that you’ve lost but yeah you just keep

playing if you lose twice it just goes

here open a box that makes this easier

move on to the next month pretend

everything went well yeah you can’t you

can’t lose like just try and try and

just go with the flow

don’t take it all too seriously and i

just kind of

enjoy the experience of playing a living

game yeah

and i know like some some out there

might be hesitant to go look i don’t

wanna i don’t wanna drop this money on a

game that i’m just gonna end up ripping

up and then throwing out when it’s over

i mean you could frame the board some

people apparently frame the boards

ours is sitting in a box up in our study


but like at minimum you get 12 games out

of it and if you

only get 12 games out of pandemic legacy

you have played a phenomenal game

you have not lost you’ve had nothing go

wrong for you and you’ve made all the

right decisions from start to finish

pat yourself on the back that was well

worth the money you dropped but

if it didn’t go as great for you you

know maybe you get

14 16 18 games out of it because you

know you’ve lost a month so you have to

replay it

and it’s actually it’s it’s brilliant

you never feel like

it’s a waste of money because it’s a

game you just keep coming back to and it

just keeps evolving and

changing so i think it’s i think it’s a

great investment if you’re

looking for a legacy type game to play

yeah i wasn’t as impressed with season

two as i was with season one i

really i’d recommend season one to

anybody see the production quality was

actually better and the components and


visuals were a lot better but i don’t

know i thought season one

it was just more kind of compelling i

think in season two they had to bring in

quite a lot of complex rules

so they kind of i guess there’s only so


there is a limit on what you can do with

pandemic so they brought in

a different situation and those rules

added a little more complexity then

i think the simplicity of pandemic is

where like

real beauty lies and some of that had to

be lost in season two to make it more

interesting and more different

yeah so if you’re considering starting a

legacy game go for

season one and then build up to season

two because season one is still just the

base game

with added complications whereas season

two is a

is a whole other ball game unto itself

yeah when it comes to

like other pandemic games i really enjoy

pandemic to cure because i love dice

and so they’ve added in dice into

pandemic it makes it much easier to take

out and kind of play

you know it’s a smaller board you kind

of have to roll dice and

based on those you kind of get different

actions you can do so it’s got to kind

of push your look

kind of element to it so it’s a

different kind of game than pandemic

but i think people who enjoy pandemic

and enjoy dice games

would really like pandemic to cure it’s

a little bit less strategic

doesn’t take as long so i think don’t go

into expecting a more deep game

it also takes up less table space so

it’s good for moving around

i think i quite like it because it kind

of focuses on that simplicity there’s

kind of a very limited area it’s not as


but good if you just want to burn a

short amount of time playing something

that you really enjoy

i suppose it makes sense this own you

just love

the cure with your you know what let’s

call it spade a spade your dice


it’s an addiction it’s not doing me any


in a hobby


that’s just because he rolls well just

normal for a person i have hundreds of

dice in their houses

pandemic fall of rome was another one

that we played it’s

probably more i don’t know it’s

very good game bush it’s very different

from normal pandemic

i would say that it because it’s about

armies and moving them around

it’s a little more aggressive and yes

i guess the virus in pandemic does act a

bit like an army moving forward

so maybe it’s not i guess the team

i don’t associate with the team as much

but i definitely

like like the gameplay like the gameplay

is good having to move troops around

getting places

takes time and you have to open up

corridors so all that strategic and

long-term view

impacting your short-term plans like

that that stays true

in the fall of rome version but yeah i

guess the only thing that i say is i

probably don’t

associate as much with the team as i

would to pandemic

yeah pandemic tried to branch out to

other different types of teams

because the same principle of the game

applies this is not to be about

outbreaks of diseases it can be about

anything so they have one where there’s

like water going over

amsterdam and you have to kind of build

dams all over the place

and then you have a hamster damn yeah


and so that’s kind of because like

disease kind of spreads like water so it

kind of makes sense from a

mechanical point of view they’re just

trying what teamwork works for this and

then obviously for

follower on the team has had this so

they’re trying different kind of teams

see what works there’s a lot of cool new

mechanics in fall of rome that if you’ve


pandemic before you’ll understand them

really well but you’ll also be

entertained but it’s new kind of

mechanics and how they link in so if

you’re feeling like

you don’t want to get involved in a

legacy game or you finish the legacy

game and you don’t really want the

kind of um standard version of pandemic

definitely check out fallout rom or

these other ones

yeah i think we’re just mentioning

follow him it just needs to be the best

one out of the mix

of these new team pandemics

but i think that’s maybe that’s just my

opinion because it’s got dice in it

when you attack stuff you can roll a

dice to see if you win rather than

previously where you just it’s an action

to win

in pandemic yeah i have to say i’m very

excited to see what uh

what comes out of the pandemic family of

games next but

they they seem to keep pitching winners

so yeah we are recording this as

coronavirus is spreading through the

world we hope everyone stays safe out


wash your hands wear a mask and socially

distance look out for the most

vulnerable in society

that pretty much wraps it up for

pandemic the board game if you enjoyed


share it we’ve been decking out some

games thanks for listening see ya