You’ll learn everything you need to know about the Pandemic rules with this guide. Pandemic is a very unusual board game because it isn’t competitive. In games like Monopoly and Chess, people are competing to be the winner.
But in Pandemic players are working cooperatively. It’s essentially a teamwork game where players work together to cure the viruses and prevent the Pandemic. Before we look at the Pandemic rules in detail, let’s take a quick look at the game’s history.
What is The Pandemic Game?
Pandemic is a cooperative board game where players need to find the cure for 4 deadly diseases. It was designed by Matt Leacock, who got bored of playing more competitive, focused board games.
Players take on the roles of special characters like Medics and Scientists who have their special skills. You must make four actions during your turn, you must make 4 actions and strategize with other players before you get overrun by the outbreaks.
Pandemic was released in 2008 and is published by Z-Man Game. There are numerous expansions to the base Pandemic board game available as well. If you’re tired of competitive board games and want to work alongside other players (instead of against them,) Pandemic could be the game for you.
What You’ll Need?
Before we look at the Pandemic rules and gameplay, we need to look at what you’ll need to play. The Pandemic board game is still very popular. Thanks to its numerous expansions, it’s been able to build up a substantial fan base over time.
However, because of this, it’s easier than you might think to buy the wrong product. You could easily end up buying an expansion pack and not the base Pandemic board game. So, check out the product below to see what you’re looking for.
Now when you open the box, you might be a little overwhelmed by everything that’s included. But Pandemic isn’t as complicated as you might think. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what’s included.
The Pandemic Board
The Pandemic board is like a giant map. With names of cities spread out across it. During the game, players will need to move around to different locations to cure infected areas. Players always start the game in a research station in Atlanta. The side of the board also holds the Outbreak Tracker, which details how dangerous the Pandemic is.
Disease cubes come in 4 colors; these will be placed on locations across the board showing which places are infected. The aim in the Pandemic is to cure these diseased areas. This is done by discarding color-coded cards. We’ll talk more about how this works in the gameplay section.
Player/ Role Cards
These cards are essentially who you’ll be playing as. In Pandemic, characters have special skills that make each role unique. Roles in the base game include Scientists, Researchers, Medics, Dispatchers, and more. Player cards will also have a double-sided reference card to outline what you can do during your turn. Each player/ role will have a matching colored token as well.
These cards detail information about locations across the map and their infection level. You can discard a location card to travel directly to it as well.
Event cards help players move around the board more quickly. They also provide other benefits to help you when it comes to finding a cure. Event cards can be used at any time during the game and don’t count as an action.
These cards are the main obstacle in Pandemic as they make winning the game more challenging. These also raise the Outbreak Tracker on the board. If this reaches the top, then it’s game over for everyone.
Pandemic Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
The aim of Pandemic is to find cures for all 4 diseases in the game. You don’t actually need to eradicate any of the diseases on the board to win. Although it’s highly likely you will as the game goes on. Once you have the cures, the game ends, and everyone wins!
- Set up the Pandemic board.
- Separate the disease cubes into their 4 colors.
- Take one research station icon and place it in Atlanta. The other research station icons should be put to one side.
At the bottom of the board, they’ll be 4 colored vial slots. You add a colored vial for every one of the diseases you cure. The Outbreak Tracker at the side of the board will detail how severe the Pandemic is. If this gets to the top, you’ll lose.
Now put together the Infection Deck. This goes in the space at the bottom of the board and is made up of location and epidemic cards. Take the top 3 cards and add 3 colored cubes to the cities marked on them.
Then flip over 3 more cards and add 2 colored cubes to the locations. Finally, repeat the process one last time but only add 1 colored disease cube to each location. These will be the first outbreaks you’ll need to cure.
Then shuffle the player/ role cards and give one to each player at random. A common Pandemic house rule lets each player choose the role they want. Once you have your role card take the matching colored token and place it on Atlanta.
Reshuffle the deck and deal cards to each player. Make sure the epidemic cards are removed before doing this. If there are 2 players, then deal 4 cards. If there are 3 players, then deal 3 cards. And finally, if there are 4 players, deal 2 cards.
Then add the epidemic cards back into the deck. If you are playing Pandemic for the first time, don’t use all the epidemic cards. Finally, shuffle the deck one final time, and you’re ready to play Pandemic.
In your turn you can perform 4 actions. There are 8 actions in total that players can do in Pandemic. To make things simpler, we have listed the actions and Pandemic rules below and explained how they work.
Drive: This is only moving across the board. You use the white lines that join the locations together to move.
Direct Flight: If you have a location card you can travel directly to it. Discard the card once you have moved.
Charter Flight: If you have the location card for the place you are currently in, you can discard it and fly to anywhere else on the map.
Build A Research Center: You can build a research center if you discard the location card for the place you are currently in. You can only build up to 6 research centers in Pandemic. However, you can move a center to another location.
Treat Disease: This allows you to remove one colored disease cube from your position on the board. If you have the cure for that disease, you can remove all the colored disease cubes.
Shuttle Flight: This action allows you to move to any other research center on the map.
Share Knowledge: If you and another player are in the same location, you can take or give each other a city card. The card will need to match the location you are in, though.
Discover Cure: To discover a cure, you need to discard 5 matching colored player cards. For example, if you discard 5 yellow cards, you can cure the yellow disease. You will need to be at a research center to do this, though. Once you have a cure, mark it on the board.
After you have performed your 4 actions, draw 2 cards from the deck. The deck will have location, event, and epidemic cards. Remember, event cards can be used at any time and don’t count as an action.
So, be sure to use them as they can help you win. If you do draw an epidemic card, then move the infection rate tracker up. You’ll also need to carry out its instructions and infect another location on the board.
Whether you draw an epidemic card or not, the last part of your turn will infect more locations. Check the infection tracker and draw the same number of cards. Then add a disease cube to each location before ending your turn.
Winning or Losing Pandemic
You win Pandemic by uncovering the cure for the 4 diseases. However, you can lose the game in a number of different ways. The most common way to lose is if the infection tracker gets to the top.
The second is if you run out of disease cubes and need to put more down. Finally, you can also lose if you cannot draw any cards if the deck is empty. That is why players should try to use their cards and remove at least one disease cube every turn.
Pandemic – A Thrilling Cooperative Board Game
Pandemic is a fun and thrilling cooperative board game! Instead of trying to outsmart each other, you’re all working together. The gameplay loop is fun, with plenty of room for strategy. And thanks to all the expansions, you’ll never get bored. If you are looking for a great group board game, give Pandemic a try.