Six digital versions of board games to play while inside

Tokaido Following the Road

Staying inside and looking for something to play? Here are four classic games to keep you entertained!

The world is in a strange place right now. It’s been getting stranger and harder the last few years. I have been working from home during the week bar a couple of sick days, and I don’t see that changing soon.

The internet is abuzz with more stories of humanity being terrible and memes trying to make light of the situation. Apart from wishes that I hope you are doing as well as you can, I won’t be going into any detail of what I think of the world at the moment.

What I can do is talk about something I love – board games. Playing games is always something fun to do, and offers some escapism to boot ūüôā

Generally, on a Friday, I would be doing a full game review. Today I decided to something a little different, and suggest four board games that you can enjoy in both physical and digital form!

That’s right – you can play with others, or even if you are inside by yourself the computer AI offers a great time.

Enough of what today is about – on to the games!

Ticket to Ride – Steam, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox

A classic game I have referred to on the site now and then, usually in Last Week’s Gaming. It had been a while since I got this modern classic to the table, but it is as fun now as the first time I played it.

The premise is simple – collect sets of coloured cards, and trade them in to build tracks to complete specific tickets. It can sound overly simple, but the elegant simplicity of Ticket to Ride has made it a favourite amongst new players and veterans alike.

The variety of gameplay offered with a large number of ticket goals randomly given each game, coupled with strategic choke points and eventually recognition of all the routes makes Ticket to Ride incredibly addictive. It also helps that games on digital go very quickly, as shuffling dealing and scoring are all handled by the system!

If you have played Ticket to Ride before or play it enough to master the original board, you can get almost every expansion as well. Explore multiple maps from the USA, Europe and Asia. Each expansion brings new rule tweaks and challenges, letting you see why Ticket to Ride has survived so well in the ‘cult of the new’ in board gaming.

If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play the original USA board for free! It’s hard to beat that price ūüôā Fair warning though – the train whistles when playing on TV is rather shrill and will let the rest of the house know what you are playing!

Ticket to Ride Title
Like many games on this list, you can play solo or online
Ticket to Ride Gameplay
The actual game plays exactly like the board game
Ticket to Ride Expansions
Mastered the first lot of routes? Go for one of the expansions!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam, Android, iOS

A lot of people are over the Cthulhu Mythos in gaming, and theme fatigue is a real thing. I adore Elder Sign, though. Cooperative battle Yahtzee is a pretty good description of Elder Sign, and Omens is the digital implementation of the board game.

I will never pull out the physical copy to play solo. There are so many decks of cards to deal with. Playing solo, I spend 1/2 – 2/3rds of my time managing the board. Playing with friends, this isn’t a problem, as you divide up the management and time flies. The general chat and sense of group success when you all work together is well worth the setup cost.

If I want to have a quick round though, I will always fire up Elder Sign: Omens. Technically I have it on my phone and Steam, but I only bought expansions on PC. Gameplay-wise, it’s terrible to watch someone play. Playing yourself though, is an incredibly immersive and rewarding experience. I can’t count how many times I have looked up after what I would have sworn was 10 minutes and discovered it was closer to 90.

The mechanics are repetitive. Pick a location, roll your dice to match symbols to pass challenges, and try to collect a certain amount of Elder Sign before the ‘big bad’ earns doom points. It’s a race to a certain number of points for both sides. But I have spent way too many hours telling myself ‘just one more game’ to not tell anyone to give Elder Sign a play.

Elder Sign Omens Mission Objective
There are various Elder Gods that you have to beat with differing conditions
Elder Sign Omens Mission Select
Different areas have different challenges. They all boil down to match the symbols.
Elder Sign Completing Challenge
Each of these areas are different cards in the board game, making the digital version plain looking

Potion Explosion – Steam, Android, iOS

I have talked about Potion Explosion in my Ramblings¬†and mentioned it in Last Week’s Gaming. Another collection game, in Potion Explosion you pick a coloured marble from a large dispenser. If two matching colours hit as they drop, they create an ‘explosion’ letting you collect them as well.

The random nature of the game already gives it a great replayable puzzle experience. Then I got it on my phone. I think I have close to 100 games on my phone alone!

There are three levels of AI opponents, but if you want, you can also play against others online. This makes it great if you are home alone, and want to test your skills against others ūüôā

But the random components dropping and mixing isn’t the only thing you can change up. There are different potions you can create, and with expansions different Professors you can ask for help – at a cost, of course. This gives you a heap of different ways to change up your game experience ūüôā

Potion Explosion Opponents
You can pick different levels of AI opponent
Potion Explosion Picking Components
Watching strings of components all connect and fill your flasks is very satisfying

Tokaido – Steam, Android, iOS

My favourite alternate name for Tokaido was given by a friend of mine. They describe it as ‘The Hangover Game’. Every other game engages you in competition or sometimes tricky logic puzzles. Tokaido is a challenge and has many different scoring paths. Where it stands alone is the goal of the game is to have the most fulfilling journey across Japan.

What do I mean by fulfilling? Treat the game as a holiday game. You need to experience different foods, go shopping, paint, chat to strangers, take in the sites, even donate to temples if you feel inclined.

The turn order can take a while to get used to. The person in the last place on the path takes the next turn. If you fly ahead down the road, others will have more time to go slowly and enjoy their trip. Just like when you are on holiday, if you rush through the experience, you don’t come out with as many memories.

While the theme is laid back, and the digital implementation has gorgeous animation, there is still a substantial strategic element to Tokaido. It is nice to sit back and enjoy, but if you relax too much, your competitors will smash your score.

If you think the game sounds overly simple, think again. Each player has different available abilities you need to capitalise on to maximise your score. Owned everyone just meeting travellers one game? That was a lucky draw. You may meet no one that will help your score for the next 10 games.

While it might not look like everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anyone I have taught it to that hasn’t enjoyed it.

Tokaido Following the Road
Travelling down the road in Tokaido
Tokaido Eating at the Inn
Even eating at the end of each day can get you points. But you can't eat the same meal twice!
Tokaido Complete Paintings
No cameras here. Enjoy the sights? Paint a panorama and get points!

Pandemic – Steam, Android, iOS, Xbox, PS4, Switch

I can’t recommend Pandemic enough. Sure, I have seen a lot of memes lately with COVID-19 and Pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact Pandemic is a great game.

Digitally you can only get the original Pandemic. If you were to look at the physical versions, remember there are many versions with similar mechanics but very different gameplay available.

And like Ticket to Ride, if you have Game Pass on Xbox, you can try it out for free!

Pandemic is the game I am not going to talk about much here, as I have a full review that you can check out here. One thing I don’t touch on with the digital version in my review is the game soundtrack. The increase in tempo as you come closer to losing has a definite effect on you!

Pandemic Disease Cured
One cure down. Now to try and eradicate!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam, Android, iOS

And one last game that I recently reviewed, One Deck Dungeon has grabbed my attention hard lately. Many of my recent gaming challenges have been me playing it, to the point I am contemplating starting to exclude plays!

A card based dungeon crawler with light RPG elements (if you choose to use them), One Deck Dungeon is a great game. The only thing I would warn against is playing on mobile. The gameplay is just as fun as the physical or larger screen version, but you have to switch panels during a round and that hides information.

For my full thoughts on One Deck Dungeon, check out my review here.

One Deck Dungeon Gauntlet Run
My current play mode is trying to beat Gauntlet Mode with fresh characters. I haven't quite gotten a clean run yet.

What do you think?

I can hand on heart say that I have spent hours playing each game, many times multiple games in one sitting. I have spent many an afternoon with all of these games. Hopefully, you can do the same ūüôā

Do you think I should have included another digital game implementation? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or shout out on Twitter!

Until next time,


Last Week’s Gaming – August 5th, 2019

The steps of a Pandemic: a Contagion, a Rapid Response, and hopefully The Cure.

So this weeks game night was Pandemic dice themed! OK, only 2 of the 3 games were¬†actually¬†dice games, but the third was still radically different from the base so I am counting it ūüôā

Dice and I have a complicated relationship. If rolling 6 of a kind will kill me, you can be sure it’s a 50/50 thing that I will roll six of a kind. That kind of relationship adds to the ‘draw a card and lose’ gameplay of Pandemic.

There are a lot of ‘the Dice Game’ variants out there. Some don’t have the same feel and miss, and some become more popular than the base game. A round of Istanbul the Dice Game anyone?

I don’t think Pandemic: The Cure is quite in the latter category, but it is a version I would like to get to the table more often. If you know players that are more interested in throwing dice than playing with cards, give Pandemic: The Cure a look.

It's very close to the original Pandemic experience, but with Dice!

Second week in a row, Pandemic: Rapid Response makes it to the table.

We had another new player, so I played it the same way as last time – no timer until we did the first city card, then the timer comes into play. Also, we didn’t play with the extra crisis cards, that additional ‘oh no’ when the timer runs out.

Another new player, same result – Rapid Response was a fun game to play. Yes, it takes a couple of rounds to start to see how everything works, but that is common among a lot of games.

Maybe next round I can play with the same group, and play with timer and perhaps crisis cards from the get-go.

I am really enjoying Rapid Response

After saving the world a couple of times (alright, once – we lost The Cure), I thought it would be time to give the virus a go.

Pandemic: Contagion was the first game I am aware of in the extended Pandemic universe, and you play as viruses trying to infect as many people as possible.

Even though the game night was Dice themed, I threw Contagion on as an end of game night choice just for something different, and it worked.

I had forgotten how much fun Contagion could be. It wasn’t a game that took the game world by storm, but it has a strong base and is a fun diversion. I am glad I pulled it back out for another round ūüôā

Sick of saving the world? Pandemic Contagion may be for you!

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

So something surprised me this weekend – I finished Wolfenstein Cyberpilot.
There was a bit of a story twist, but at the end of the day, it’s four levels that I think I played for about 2 hours and then saw the credits.

Looking through the trophy list I saw a few things that sound like fun and will be challenging to aim for, but while I didn’t expect an epic game I did expect more.

That said, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I might go for the platinum. I am not sure at the moment. If I can make some time with Harls maybe I will probably try more for the Youngblood platinum, but Cyberpilot could remain a fun distraction on the side.

Good Doggy. It is fun playing the as the Panzerhund.

Beat Saber (PSVR)

Here I am, firmly back on the Beat Saber train. I haven’t been able to play as much as I wanted, but I did get to play a lot more than I have been this week.

And this week I finally got to do something I have been working on for ages with the Vive version – I finished every level of the campaign!

I have come close a couple of times, but without a cloud save for the PC I have had to start again a couple of times. Ah well, just means playing more Beat Saber!

Now to platinum Beat Saber I have mainly the Expert level trophies and some time ones to get. My goal is to have the Beat Saber platinum before PAX – wish me luck!

Expert Turn Me On with a window of required hand movement. But I cleared it eventually ūüôā

Blood and Truth (PSVR)

I bought Blood and Truth when it came out, but I just hadn’t had any time to give it a try. That was unfortunate, as I had a ball trying it out Saturday afternoon.

Some tracking issues took me a while to sort out, and the start of the game has you doing next to nothing for an extended period. But once you get past that, I had a great time shooting my way through a casino, laying explosives and tagging bad guys.

I even got the ‘Bogey Man’ trophy very quickly, racking up six consecutive headshot kills.

Now I have finally started playing I will give it a better run through next weekend. But if you have a PSVR and haven’t tried it out, my take right now is it looks very promising.

And... my capture messed up and I didn't catch a screenshot. Oops. Next week.

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

Flying around a fair bit this week, I got in some quality Final Fantasy X time on the plane.

Story-wise I am still in the lightning plains partially as I am grinding a bit for sphere levels, also because I am trying to remember what the glowing cactaur stones do.

One feat for this run was winning my first league in Blitz Ball. Now I can spend some more time finishing the story, which I will need to start getting a move on with.

Sometimes you get bored and let a massively overpowered summons do your work for you

Tetris 99 (Switch)

Also on the plane, I thought I would play against the CPU a bit in Tetris 99. It is a paid add on that I bought for such occasions, so why not?

I jumped into the CPU mode, and just as I started getting into a rhythm, I won the match. I was a little confused but happy. Then I saw how many foes I KO’d.

Now I have said I consider myself an above average Tetris player with plenty of room to improve. But this taught me never to look at someone’s win screen now. I knocked out 21 level 1 CPU opponents.

I cranked the level back up to 5 and started fighting for top 10 again – more what I am used to. It was a lot of fun, but if someone tells you how good they are at Tetris and won’t play in front of you, this could be the reason!

Yeah I won't be trusting a lot of these screens again

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,


Pandemic is coming to XBox One and Switch August 1st!

Pandemic can now be installed almost anywhere

I really enjoy Pandemic. Anyone that has played with me or seen my collection knows this to be true. If you would like my thoughts on the game, you can see me review here. Short version though – I consider Pandemic a classic, and a game everyone should play.

A few years ago, I grabbed Pandemic for iOS. It was fun to be able to pick up my phone and play a game or two with no setup times, just the core game experience. Like most digital board games, it was a quick solo distraction that was fun, and back in those days it was also a rare treat Рit was a good digital version.

It was a lot of little things that made the digital version so much fun. Hitting new game for the first time on iOS bought up a choice for how much help teaching you Pandemic you needed. It even has the rulebooks (albeit in a simple point form) of the board games to let you see what it’s doing in the background!

I got a few of my friends into it as well. It was surprising how much the tension built with the music in the background. Even the simple animations built excitement and terror as you watched outbreaks spread out of control!

The iPad version, the first time you hit new game.

When I went from iOS to Android, I didn’t pick up Pandemic on my new phone, but I did grab it on Steam on sale and have a game or two on my iPad when I need to take it somewhere.

It wasn’t because I don’t enjoy playing Pandemic, it was because a lot of board game adaptions had been getting better and better so I had more to choose from. Plus, I prefer playing Pandemic with people – the cooperative nature is half the fun!

That said, that busy outfit Asmodee Media announced today that Pandemic is coming to XBox One and the Switch August 1st!

It looks like it will be just the base game initally, with the On the Brink Expansion coming in September.

Nothing against the XBox, but I think this will be a great fit for the Switch. Being able to play party type games already on the go, being able to play Pandemic in a hot seat mode with the Switch seems to be a great fit.

Who will you choose to help you save the world?

There is also the easier nature of the touch screen with the Switch. Playing on mobile and PC, I definitely prefer the tocuh method to using a mouse, so using a controller I don’t think will be as good.

That is of course assuming that you have to move a pointer around the screen with the left stick or similar. Until I see how the control method on XBox works, just keep it in mind as something I am wary of rather than a blanket statement of bad controls.

If you already know Pandemic, you already know exactly what information is being shown

Pandemic for XBox One and Switch will be priced at USD$19.99 – a little more expensive than the iOS, Android and Steam versions but if that includes the On The Brink expansion then it is a bit of a better deal.

Asmodee Digital also released an announcement trailer this morning, as they have been doing with Catan and similar releases in the past. I have linked the Pandemic video below, but be warned – it’s a nice attempt to try and make Pandemic look and sound cool, but it makes me miss 80’s TV!

I don’t think I will be rushing to get Pandemic on the Switch. I already have 2 digital versions, plus every physical version of the game, so I think I am pretty sorted.

But if you would like to play the original Pandemic and digital is a good choice becuase of price/storage/players/whatever, I highly recommend the digital version to play.

Until next time,


A new Pandemic spin off is coming – Pandemic: Rapid Response!

So Alpal, you know how I wasn’t allowed any more Pandemic games?

So last weekend, the unpacking of the games room began.  There is still about 20 boxes to go, and I need to get some more shelves before the actual resorting can begin!

Alpal was giving me a hand (i.e. leading the charge) on the unpacking and was trying to put all of my Pandemic games together. From memory, all I am missing is the Pandemic spin-off expansion The Cure – Experimental Meds, and they weren’t sitting nicely on the shelf.¬† Alpal’s solution?¬† Ban me from buying more Pandemic games :p

Well, that rule is about to go right out of the window.  Last night, Z-Man Games announced a new Pandemic spin-off called Pandemic: Rapid Response.  Rapid Response is a real-time cooperative game from Kane Klenko of Fuse and Covert fame.

It's a theme that keeps on giving! Pandemic has another spin off game
The board already makes a lot of sense - the body of the board is your plane, with the outside the plane's location in the world

Players take on the role of an elite response team dealing with natural disasters all over the world.¬† This time it’s not just diseases you are dealing with!

Pandemic: Rapid Response refers as much to the theme as it does what players will need to do to win. Where in the normal Pandemic you have until you draw your card to make a decision, now you only have until the timer runs out to fix everything on the board!

Mechanically, Pandemic: Rapid Response looks like a fusion of the base Pandemic and another medical-themed Kane Klenko game – Flatline.

Players roll dice to do various tasks that boil down to rolling certain symbols to fulfill different tasks.¬† Movement is still sort of handled by dice, but it’s by paying/sacrificing a general die rather than rolling a specific one.

Like Fuse and Flatline, your choices are partly limited by how well you roll. And how quickly you can change plans.
It's not a Pandemic Game without different player powers

And there are the player powers. It can’t be a Pandemic game without everyone having different abilities!

Some examples are the Analyst gets more reroll opportunities, while the engineer gets to treat the plane symbol as wild (effectively).

Just like in the base Pandemic, it’s learning how these roles fit with your playstyle initially, then changing them up to increase the difficulty and help replayability.

Because you are dealing with more than ‘just’ viruses, each city needs different aid depending on what disaster has befallen it.¬† This helps make resources more generic, helping limit the number of resources what you need to create and manage.

But Pandemic’s requirement of needing to read the future hasn’t disappeared entirely – each city has it’s own problems, and that means it’s own solutions!¬† There may only be a small number of resources required in total, but stock up on the wrong ones and you will be losing cities in no time.

City cards are of course returning, and show what that city will need to help it

So today I have given general gameplay thoughts, but in a more definitive way than other game announcement articles. That’s because Rodney Smith of Watch It Played has already got a rules video up!

You don’t need to be a Pandemic fan to play Pandemic: Rapid Response.¬† It’s a completely self-contained game that while in the Pandemic universe, backstory and previous game mechanics won’t really be of help.

And we won’t have to wait long to play it either!¬† In the US, Pandemic: Rapid Response is a Target exclusive, and their website has the launch date of 15/6/2019.¬† Rapid indeed!

Until next time,


Pandemic Review

Pandemic Cover Art
Pandemic Cover Art
Released 2008
Designer Matt Leacock
Publisher Z-Man Games, Inc. (Website)
Players 1 – 4 (Easier with fewer characters)
Playing Time 45-60 minutes
Category Cooperative
Hand Management
Set Collection
Variable Player Powers
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

But I don’t want to take any cards

When you talk cooperative games to gamers, the first example¬†from many players is Matt Leacock’s Pandemic.

It’s joked to be such a wonderful, team building experience – the world is dying thanks to the outbreak of four virulent viruses, and your 1-4 player team (usually at least 2) has to save the world.¬† No pressure at all.

Games of Pandemic can get tense, but usually only in a good way.  Trying to decide how four people can take on the massive task of curing four disease outbreaks is stressful.

But you don’t do it alone – you work with your team.¬† There is no single winner – the team succeeds, or the team fails.¬† There are not a huge variety of actions and strategies to keep in mind either, so it is a game you can teach in just a few minutes and refine as you play.

Pandemic Components
Now this is a mix of upgrades and expansion items, but it still can look intimidating to new players

There are many games described as ‘Pandemic Like’, including the Forbidden series from the same creator – Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky.¬† Pandemic itself has turned into a new yearly game thanks to the survival series tournaments.¬† But this is the game that started it all.

Playing Pandemic

When you see Pandemic setup for the first time, it can look incredibly daunting.  Piles of cards and heaps of little cubes surround a stylised world map (that still forgets places like New Zealand and Alaska!).

But that is part of the magic of Pandemic – there are a number of steps, but each step has very simple choices or clear instructions to follow.

Your goal is simple Рcure the four diseases currently rampaging all over the world.  You do not need to get all of the cubes off the board, just find the four cures Рthis is something that sometimes gets confused.  But while the goal is simple, the strategies for achieving this goal are not always as straightforward.

The first thing I do when teaching Pandemic though is break down the three steps each player turn consists of – usually as I take the first turn.

Step 1 – Player Turn

On their turn, a player uses four action points to try and find cures or treat the sick.¬† Each Basic or Special Action costs a point, so it’s all a long way of saying you can do four actions.¬† It is easier to remember the things that don’t cost an action point than try to hit home the actions that do.

The basic actions deal with movement.  You can Drive (or Ferry) to the next town connected by a line.  You can discard a city card to fly directly to that city (e.g. Discard Atlanta to fly from anywhere to Atlanta).  If you discard the card of the city you are in, you can Charter a flight to anywhere in the world.  Lastly, you can Shuttle between two Research Stations without discarding any cards.

Pandemic Summary Cards
Make sure everyone has these cards! I normally go first and demonstrate each action to get the game started.

Technically you can also pass as a basic action, but generally I avoid this as an action by teaching that players can take up to four actions on their turn.¬† While I am not alone in this method, this is the most common ‘house rule’ I have heard complaints about, even though it is not technically changing any rules.

The Special Actions are the ones that will need to be carried out to win the game.  The most common is Treating Disease, that allows the player to remove one infection cube per action from the city they are in.

If players can remove all of the infection cubes from a disease that is cured, that disease is considered eradicated and infection cards no longer have any effect.  Infection cards will be explained later as they are drawn at the end of a players turn.

Another action that is used is Building a Research Station.  These are important as they can become movement hubs as shown above, and are also required to Discover a Cure.

The next special action is Sharing Knowledge.  When two players are in a city, the active player can give or take the card of that city to the other player once per action.  You usually want to share cards around for the big action РDiscover A Cure.

The ultimate goal of Pandemic, to Discover A Cure you simply hand in 5 of the same coloured cards as the disease you want to cure at any Research Station.  Now, I say simply, but Pandemic has a 7 card hand limit, so it takes a lot of luck and management to get five in your hand!

Pandemic Discover a Cure
Do this 4 times to win. Simple! But it's sometimes as simple as finding 30 cents when you only use eftpos.

With one exception – Event Cards – this is all a player can do on their turn.¬† Each individual action is simple enough, but when you first look at a Pandemic board it can still feel overwhelming.¬† Knowing what you can do isn’t the same as playing, but I will talk about how I usually manage this later.

Step 2 – Drawing Cards

Drawing cards seems simple.  Once you have used your four actions, draw 2 player cards from the deck.  This is where you will get new city cards, and if you are lucky some Special Event Cards.

The Special Event Cards are the player actions that universally break the Action Point rules.¬† To a degree, they can be played at any time with no action point cost.¬† The only time they can’t play Special Event cards is when they are in the third Infection step, so it’s a little timing to learn.

Special Events are generally powerful, but not always obviously so.  One Quiet Night allows you to skip one Infection step, or Forecast lets you see the next 6 cards in the Infection Deck.  Airlift allows you to move a character to another location for free, which has allowed me that crucial extra action many times.

Pandemic Special Events
These cards can turn the tide of a bad draw. They can also be used easily at the wrong time.

The hardest thing to remember is you always have a 7 card hand limit.¬† Unlike many games, you don’t draw up and then discard.¬† If you have 7 cards in your hand before you draw, you have to discard one card before you can draw the second card – no looking ahead to decide with!

The exception to this rule are the Special Event Cards – you can play them during this time instead of discarding them.

The cards that change everything though is the random cards in the deck known as Epidemics.  These are the cards that at best just make things harder, at worst can lose you the game.

Like most parts of Pandemic, and Epidemic has some simple steps and are all printed on the card.

Firstly, you increase the Infection Rate – you now put out more infection cubes each turn.

Secondly, take the card at the bottom of the infection deck, and place 3 cubes on it.  There would never have been any cubes beforehand.

Lastly, shuffle the cards that have been shown already and place them on top of the deck.  This is the part that makes Epidemics so dangerous.

Pandemic Epidemic
The most dreaded card in the game. It is universally recognised that if drawn on your turn, it's your fault :p

Each city that has already been infected is now queued up to be infected again.  Areas you thought were clear now run the risk of becoming hotspots.  Hotspots you thought left as a calculated risk can now come back to bite you.

It’s amazing how quickly this changes the game.¬† While you know the cities under threat as they have already been played, you now have to juggle the odds and decide which cities are safe and which you may just have to accept is going to hurt soon.

Either way, if you pulled an Epidemic card or not, the final player phase begins.

Step 3 – Infection

While the Epidemic cards can set up catastrophe, the Infection Deck is where all the bad things come to pass.

Draw one at a time a number of infection cards up to the Infection Rate.  This starts at 2 but can increase quickly.  For each city shown, place one infection cube of that cities colour.

The only reprieve is if you have eradicated a virus – that colour becomes a ‘dud draw’ and gives you much needed breathing space.

If you need to place a fourth cube of any one colour, this starts an Outbreak.  This is where things go from bad to worse quickly, as a chain reaction of infection begins.

Pandemic Infection
Draw one card, add one virus. Unless you have extinguished a virus, these always add bad.

When an Outbreak occurs, increase the Outbreak counter and then place one infection cube in each connected city to where the fourth cube was added.

This can lead to other towns having a fourth cube added as well, causing further Outbreaks.¬† The worst case we have had was chained four Outbreaks in a single turn, turning the game from doing OK to instant loss.¬† Hence, draw a card and lose!¬† Speaking of losing…

How to Win / Lose at Pandemic

As mentioned, winning is simple – cure all four diseases.

Losing though, well that’s even easier.

You will lose if any of the below conditions are met:

  1. You cannot place a required infection cube onto the board
  2. You cannot draw a player card in Step 2 (Note – running out of cards doesn’t end the game, just not being able to draw any!)
  3. The Outbreak Marker reaches the 8th Outbreak.
Pandemic Outbreaks
No guys, yellow is fine over here. Stay over in Europe, what's the worst that can happen?

It may sound like Pandemic is easy to lose, and honestly, it is.¬† But the feeling of satisfaction when you win is outstanding!¬† One of my favourite endings to a game of Pandemic is watching new players exclaiming they won.¬† Not because of the victory, even though it is deserved.¬† It is almost always ‘We Won’ rather than ‘I Won’ at Pandemic, and I love the camaraderie that builds.

So who would want to play Pandemic?

Well, a whole lot of people.  Forgetting about the huge number of spin-off games and the annual world championships, Pandemic is one of my go-to games if a group wants to learn board games.

Pandemic was a game that popularised a fairly common board game mechanic today Рcooperative gaming.  Put some new players down around a Pandemic board, and instead of the winner being the one that catches on the quickest or had the luckiest draw everyone wins or loses.  Each player has an equal chance of helping the table win, not just themselves.

Because Pandemic is a game of cooperation, each player can ‘play’ each character turn at all times.¬† The best games of Pandemic are the ones where the table actively talks about and plans actions, and adapts when the cards change those plans.

To help with this, each character has a special rule-breaking power.  The Medic, for example, can treat (remove) all the cubes of one colour in a single action in their location.

The Dispatcher can help move other characters to where they need to be by moving others on their turn.  The Scientist only needs 4 cards instead of 5 to Discover a Cure, and so on.

For a family games night, an ice-breaker with strangers, or even a great challenge for veterans – Pandemic is a game that will always be in easy reach on my shelf.

Pandemic Characters
Some powers are definitely more subtle than others, but people that say it's too easy tend to only play the one character every time

Pandemic changes with you

A gripe I hear from a lot of ‘veteran gamers’ is that Pandemic is just too easy.¬† This is true, but in my opinion only to a degree.¬† When I ask a lot of these players why it is so easy, it soon comes to light that they only play one set of characters on a usually lower difficulty.

The quickest way I have found to change the challenge is randomly assigning characters from the 7 available choices.¬† Some players (like in many games) get comfortable with a specific character, race or class and this forces a change in thinking.¬† It doesn’t detract from the game though, as collectively the table will be helping each other. So a player with more experience with the Quarantine Specialist will usually point out where powers could be better utilised.

The difficulty in Pandemic can be increased by adding more Epidemic cards to the deck.  This means that players have less time to set up, and also means that fewer cities get hit with infection much harder.

Combine the two, and you have many games before you to try and ‘solve’ every possible combination!

But something little known to even some Pandemic veterans is you can have new game modes without buying expansions to the base game.

Available for free from the Z-Man website, there are free scenarios that can be played for a similar yet vastly different experience.  To be fair though, for Scenario 2 you do need an expansion if you have more than 3 players, so keep that in mind.

While the game is played the same, preset character configurations and some changes to the board (such as some cities no longer exist) change the flow of the game drastically, and all it costs is a print out if you want to leave it in the box.

Pandemic Scenarios
Want new challenges? These are just 2 official scenarios - there are plenty around!

Pandemic is also great for finding out who NOT to play with

Quarterbacking is a term people would have heard me use.¬† It’s when one player (usually the loudest and/or angriest) shouts down everyone else and tries to control the game.¬† They are the ones that claim sole victory if there is a win, and blame everyone else for not listening during a loss.

That’s why I tend to use cooperative games as a litmus test for new players to a board game group, especially if they know the game.¬† Do you really want to play with people like that?¬† If someone tries to take over a game like Pandemic and doesn’t listen to or help others, they tend to not be invited back.

Did you say Spin Off’s and World Championships?

Yep.  Pandemic Survival Series has been an international competition for a number of years now, with many countries competing.  In 2018, the Netherlands took the cup in Italy.

But the championship itself has been only part of the draw. There is a much more selfish reason the Pandemic world watches these events. Over the last few years, Matt Leacock has worked with a game designer from the host country to create a new game experience.

To date, these have been Pandemic: Iberia for Spain, Pandemic: Rising Tide for Amsterdam and last year’s competition in Italy saw Pandemic: Fall of Rome.

Each game shares many core Pandemic concepts but adds something unique.  Pandemic: Iberia took place in the 1800s and introduced railways.  Pandemic: Rising Tide replaces diseases with fending off the rising waters around The Netherlands.  Pandemic: Fall of Rome has you facing various armies trying to take advantage of a weakened Rome.

Pandemic Collection
And this isn't even all of my Pandemics! If anyone wondered if I thought them all worth it...

And that’s just the ‘official’ championship games.¬† Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu has you exploring Arkham and stopping various Lovecraftian dangers.

Most famously though are the Legacy games, Season 1 and Season 2 (with Season 3 in development!).  These are games that many players try and start with, but may not be the best starting point.

But if you are interested though, the first game series I tried a few years ago was Pandemic Legacy Season 1.¬† The first game is the most ‘Pandemic’ like though, so if you wanted to have a watch you can see it on the YouTube channel.

But 10 years later (11 now technically?) Pandemic is not only still being played, but still being improved upon.  Not many games reach this status, and Pandemic definitely earned its spot as a modern gaming classic in my opinion.

Until next time,


Final Thoughts

What can I say – I love Pandemic.¬† As a cooperative game, it’s great for introducing new players to the hobby.¬† Having everything open is a great way for everyone to learn the game, and the shared victory and lose conditions puts everyone on equal footing.

Yes, quarterbacking can be a problem.¬† Having the loudest person run the game can destroy the experience for people.¬† But to blame Pandemic for this isn’t fair, that is very much a player thing.

But it’s been 10 years, and I will still happily play the base Pandemic and pull it off the shelf to teach others over a lot of newer games.¬† And for that achievement, Pandemic has earned first confirmed 10 rating from



  • ¬†Game that can scale with player experience
  • ¬†Great medium weight game to show players new to gaming
  • ¬†Cooperative nature of the game makes even tense games social


  • ¬†More experienced players would not have the same challenge
  • ¬†Quarterbacking and similar behaviour can put off new players

Pandemic is turning 10 years old! Time for the anniversary edition

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Special Edition

It’s always fun watching the world get infected

Pandemic.¬† Arguably one of the best cooperative gateway games around.¬† I can’t believe it’s only been 10 years since it hit the market.¬† I have probably only been playing it for around 6 years, but I know it’s one of my most played games.

I started playing Pandemic before I started recording plays (and I still only do that half-heartedly), but I know I have played the base Pandemic over 100 times.¬† The amount of people I have taught Pandemic to is also likely close to the triple digits.¬† It’s just a great game.

It’s not a perfect game.¬† Pandemic has its faults.¬† But Pandemic is a game that I can pull out and easily 80{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of the time find people enthusiastic for a game.

Becuase of this and current marketing trends, Z-Man have announced the Pandemic 10-year anniversary edition.

There are some really nice touches, such as the coming in an early20th-century style first aid kit metal tin.  The game also goes back to its first edition printing wooden cubes, but now with screen printed pictures of the virus in question.

But if you preorder, the biggest bonus of all is instead of meeples, you get prepainted miniatures of the characters.

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Painted Minis
The most visible change to the base game - minis!

The miniatures look fantastic and will answer what some people have been asking for in Pandemic for years.¬† In a well-timed¬†how do you do, I just got my Kickstarted Viral Outbreak miniatures a couple of weeks ago.¬† I don’t regret buying them and I am looking forward to painting them, but yeah the timing was just right to make me say “Really?”.

I haven’t been able to see the board yet, but the components on display definitely have that vintage feel to them.¬† And not just the first edition wooden cubes, but the cards themselves have all been given a retheme.¬† The Anniversary¬†Edition is a definite gift idea for any Pandemic collectors you know.

Because I have all of the second edition expansions (as well as spin-off¬†games), I can’t see myself buying a copy.¬† I just don’t think I need another copy of the base game.

And I think this is a good thing because the preorder price on the Z-Man store is the tidy sum of USD$99.95.  If there was word on expansions getting a similar treatment, or the game had the expansions included, maybe I would think about it.

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Cards and Virus
A vintage feel is definitely what is being put out there with the Anniversary edition

This inability to expand a special edition is my only regret buying the 10th Anniversary Ticket to Ride.¬† It’s beautiful and fun and I love playing it, but I need to buy the base game again before being able to take advantage of a lot of the expansions available, and Pandemic will suffer more from this.

It’s a wonderful homage and I am really happy that Z-Man is releasing this.¬† The components involved and pre-painted mini’s to me justify the high asking price.¬† But as the miniatures are a preorder bonus, you will need to get in quick, otherwise you will just have a very expensive version of Pandemic.

Until next time,

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Characters
Pandemic Legacy style 'ID' cards are included, but they also get that retro feel treatment.