Glasgow 2024 Rookies Guide to Games: Pandemic

The box for the tabletop game "Pandemic" is pictured on a light wooden floor. The box art includes a doctor, medic, administrator, emergency worker, and a helicopter on a background with buildings low on the horizon and a dark blue and green clouds looming above. The title reads "Pandemic" in red block type. The slogan text "Can You Save Humanity?" appears at the bottom below four award icons.

I put off reviewing this game due to the obvious connection to current world events and having been told by many friends that it is incredibly, tragically ironic that this is my favourite board game. But I love this game, a lot, and I want to share that with you.

I was introduced to Pandemic by a university friend one evening after consuming an unfathomable amount of gin. Needless to say, I don’t remember much of my first playthrough—other than that I thought it was going to be very dull in the beginning, but by the end I had ordered my own copy. In my defence, I was science-ing it up all day at uni. I didn’t think doing that in my free time as well would be fun. As per usual, I was wrong. 

Pandemic is a cooperative game (another trend appearing) where players work together to develop four cures to four different diseases that are spreading across the globe. Players take turns to move across the board and remove disease tokens, build research centres, and try and gather the necessary cards to create a cure. There are different character cards, one for each player, which have special actions that can aid in the creation of cures or controlling a disease. It’s interesting to note that you don’t actually have to eradicate all four diseases to win the game, you just need to develop a cure for them. I always took that to mean that the cure, once developed, is immediately distributed to all world citizens using some drone army—but that’s just my interpretation. 

I’m particularly fond of cooperative games, as I prefer not to murder my friends and family, which, in reality, is me being massacred early on because I’m too nice and naive. Pandemic perfectly plays to me in that you have to actively work together to make sure the goal is achieved. It can be a very serene, happy experience where everyone calmly and excitedly discusses options for progression, or it can be chaos as one player attempts to take everyone’s turns. That was not a fun board game night. I have played a speed version once: you only have a certain number of seconds to input your decisions to an app before it moves on to the next person’s turn. Once. That was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, desperately trying to balance good judgment, planning actions, helping other players, and gin. Safe to say I’ll be sticking with the less panicked version in the future. 

I love this game. Please try it. 

A blue game board on a light wooden floor. The game board has a blue-tinted map of six continents with colored dots with connecting white lines printed on it. Across the top of the game board are small black, red, yellow, and blue plastic game pieces and green, black, and white plastic player pieces. In the upper and lower right corners of the board, there sit two stacks of game cards. Below the board are four stacks of various drawn game play cards which feature actions, roles, and locations.

This article was brought to you by Alex Wren, Social Media Area Head in Promotions for Glasgow 2024. Alex lives in the Glasgow area and is currently doing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. When she isn’t being our fabulous overlady of social media, she enjoys cosplay, running, and playing Dungeons & Dragons, video games, and board games. The Rookie’s Guide to Games Series is her excuse to try new games and expand her collection. You can find more posts from the series, HERE.

The 82nd Worldcon will take place in Glasgow, August 8–12, 2024. We can’t wait to welcome you to Glasgow and the SEC/Armadillo for a Worldcon for Our Futures.