Game of the Week: Pandemic

Platform: iOS     Cost: $

Pandemic (the board game by Matt Leacock) was turned into a wildly fun iOS game about a year ago. I have had it on my iPad since it came out but it has not featured here on the Game of the Week Series yet. I realized today that not having it in that series is really a shame, and I should take the time to give the game the review that it deserves.

Without further ado, here is my review and thoughts on Pandemic.


The Game

First and foremost, this is a game. It was a board game initially – one that was insanely difficult – and it is now an iOS Game that is still difficult. The premise is that you are director at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. You are given a crack team of five epidemiologists that you will be working with to cure and eradicate four diseases around the world. When the game starts, you already have a set of epidemics that your team needs to face. Before you even get to that point, you need to first name your team. These can be names of people you know in real life, or if you are playing cooperatively – in a pass and play environment – you can name the specialists as each of your friends.

So now you have named your specialists. You have the ability to select their roles as well, but I tend to always start on “Random” (I am always well intentioned when I pick my team, but they always manage to fail). Once you hit the begin game button, you are sent into the Roles and Assignments screen where you can see what each person is assigned.

Okay throws you right into the action as the epidemics start:

The goal is clear: Cure all of the diseases. There are four disease types and half of the fun in the game is naming your diseases.

My friends and I have played the board game many times and we consistently lose the game. The best strategy to win seems to be that you should always work to stop the spread of disease while still trading cards and finding ways to cure them. Out of all of the roles possible, I tend to always want the Contingency Planner. That single role has saved me many times in this game simply by blocking the spread of diseases in adjacent territories.

As the game plays out, you will invariably run into this screen:


Do not dispair! There are so many more scenarios to play and this game has an amazing Replay Value. Keep trucking on and you might be lucky enough to see this screen:


I still never have seen that… the photo is curtesy of my wife who beat the game on my iPad on a Flight to Seoul.

After playing this game for months in both the both the iOS and Board Game version, I was pretty fed up with the choices. I kept loosing and did not have enough options to win. Or more frustratingly, I would loose within a move or two of beating the viruses back. One of the biggest selling points for me is that you can carry around an amazing board game in your pocket, and you have the option of getting and playing the games expansions.

Education Value

Does this game have value in a classroom? Absolutely!

I am a Science Teacher at heart and I wish that some of these resources were available a few years ago. This game teaches cooperative gameplay – an amazing skill – while still teaching players about epidemiology and the spread of disease. Couple this game with Bio Inc and Plague Inc and you have a suite of amazing health and disease apps for classroom use.


This game is amazing! I find myself playing it often on flights and while traveling. It is an amazing app – very intuitive controls, small memory requirements, lots of variety – and it rings in at a very reasonable price (even if you purchase the expansions. Pandemic is a must have for any Science strategy gamer with an iPad.



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