Publisher: Z-Man Games
Year Made: 2008
Platforms: Tabletop - Board Game
Content Areas: Science
Suggested Age Level: High School
Play Length: 45 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Difficulty Rating: Medium
When it comes to saving the world from four deadly diseases, Z-Man Games knows that it is not the time for players to bicker and compete. In their game Pandemic, players must work together to race against the clock and defeat four deadly viruses. As a result, players focus on how to best help each other and defeat the common enemy. If they take too long or don’t strike at the diseases at just the right time, they could have a worldwide pandemic.
Pandemic is a difficult game for new players to pick up at first. It requires quite a bit of set up and explanation for anyone new. The directions explain the game well enough, but as with most tabletop games, it is best to play with someone who has played the game before. Experienced players also need to be wary of dominating conversation. In a collaborative game, it might help for the teacher to monitor the conversations and move between groups to ensure that everyone is being heard and one player isn’t just telling everyone what to do.
Pandemic fits well in a science class for a few reasons. First, it helps give players an idea of how quickly disease can spread. One turn everything might look fine and the next could be game over. This provides for a chance to talk about past epidemics and scares, such as Ebola, Bird Flu, or a number of other diseases. Second, players can see a small portion of the variety of roles needed to make the job work. From the dispatcher to the scientist to the quarantine specialist, everyone has their role to play both in and out of the game. These in-game roles could be used to have students research their real-world counterparts. Finally, other connections to materials could be made, such as the connection to the video game Plague Inc. or to Pandemic's own expansion that introduces another virus and a laboratory setting.
Even though it takes a bit of set up, Pandemic works well in the classroom given its emphasis on collaboration, its need for good communication, and for how much it has to teach students without actually putting the world in danger. With expansion packs that allow more roles and even a bad guy, there are endless ways to replay and try new scenarios.
Educational Rating: 7/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)