Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is Pandemic Not Complicated Enough?

In addition to BSG and Dominion, we also played Pandemic last weekend. Since I kinda panned the other two, it just seems fitting that I smash Pandemic as well.

But I can't.

I guess I can criticize it for being a little too simple. It's rules light, and pretty elegant. It was easy to learn. Once we'd removed the accidentally duplicate cards from the deck, it felt like we had a shot at winning. We lost, but not by much, and I could see things we could have done better. Those are all good things. Due to that simplicity, however, it might possibly grow stale after repeated plays. Possibly, down the road.

That's it, though. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Nothin' else bad I could say about it.

Well, I suppose some might feel it's kinda morbid. Personally, I found a game about the CDC fighting multiple outbreaks (that are threatening global catastrophe) a fun change pace. I could however, easily imagine any number of real-life scenarios where that stops being fun. Then again, aliens could invade tomorrow and make all my sci-fi games take on a not-so-fresh feeling.

But that's it, that's all the gripes I can field, and one of them half-heartedly.

Okay, the random element feels kinda high...
...but as I type that I realize it isn't really. Not any more so than most games. Any game with a die or a deck of cards is at least (and probably more) random then Pandemic. It may feel randomization-heavy and luck-dependent, but it really isn't. Once you get the rhythm of the game under your belt, you'll be able to intuit the rough odds of really bad stuff happening, and plan accordingly. That's pretty cool.

The random element most likely to swing a game is determining which character you play. I'm not sure they're all balanced terribly well. But, it being genuinely cooperative, that probably doesn't matter. Unlike Shadows Over Camelot and Battlestar Complexica (and certain Lord of the Rings Variants), you aren't secretly competing with anyone. Therefore, as long as all the characters have something fun to do, they don't need to be terribly-well balanced.

Between the relative simplicity and the cooperative nature, Pandemic makes it a good intro game. You could easily teach it to anti-competitive, non-gamer types. I may end up picking up a copy. It wasn't as much pure enjoyment as BSG, but it was quick and easy, short and sweet.

Honestly, it's just a solid game. One that could use an expansion, somewhere down the line - but not till after I've played it a couple more times. :) It didn't "wow!" me as much as BSG and Dominion while I was playing it, but I also didn't feel like it had any major flaws when I reflected back on it the next day - and I tried.

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