Pandemic: In The Lab Board Game Expansion by Z-Man Games
Pandemic: In The Lab Board Game Expansion by Z-Man Games
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Pandemic - A Family Review
Save the world with your family, but not as super humans—as everyday scientists! This globe-spanning game was a blast to play with our older kids.
Although Pandemic is based on curing four worldwide diseases, our kids loved changing the diseases to other dangers. Why combat a microbe when you can pretend there are zombies and robots you need to eradicate?
Pandemic is a rules-heavy game, so be prepared to read the manual before explaining and to answer many questions during gameplay. We found the kids needed a lot of direction their first few turns, but they got the hang of the game quicker than we expected.
One special note—be thoughtful about “quarterbacking” while playing, by which we mean directing all the strategy. Because the game is cooperative and everyone can see all the cards, it becomes very easy for one person (let’s be honest, usually a parent) to direct everyone on how to play their turns. Although this may lead to the most efficient game, it’s less fun for everyone else! We found the most enjoyment when we discussed our game strategy as a team but let the kids direct their turns.
9yo: “I enjoyed having to work out the plan with my family and hoping I got the cards I wanted.”
A big plus about the game being world-spanning? Our kids got to see and read many global city names they weren’t familiar with! The game also has a great look (very early 00’s action/drama aesthetic, think Kiefer Sutherland), lots of tactile cubes, and little scientist pawns.
11yo: “It was pretty cool it had real-world places.”
Pandemic is one of the hardest cooperative games to win, but you can modify the difficulty level to your taste super easily. Our first session took just over 45 minutes on the easiest difficulty… and we won!
Gameplay can take a lot longer depending on the difficulty you set and the amount of player focus. We found that (with adult help) 9+ seemed pretty suitable. And if you’re dealing with teens, they’ll easily be able to play it independently. After the game? Our kids were wishing there was a Pandemic Junior version just for them.
Want a cooperative game that takes teamwork, luck, and strategy to win even half the time? Definitely pick up Pandemic.
- Pre-read the game rules and plan out how to most clearly explain them to kid players.
- The epidemic interaction with the infection deck is one of the coolest, smartest game mechanics around.
- Want a different aesthetic? Try two other games built on the Pandemic System: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King or Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.
New medical technology has been developed that will help treat the infectious diseases spreading across the globe. The In the Lab expansion for Pandemic adds more variety and challenge to your mission of containing deadly disease outbreaks. This time, there’s a whole new way to discover cures and get closer to winning the game. Travel around the board collecting samples of each disease in the field, then use the Lab board to sequence, characterize, and test your cures. Add sample cubes to one of the two lab dishes by taking the Treat Disease action. Once enough samples are collected, seal yourself behind bio-hazard doors and send the samples through the centrifuge and separator to place them on sequence cards in the correct order. If you can get a disease characterized and sequenced, you’re ready to find a cure!
In addition to the Lab Challenge, In the Lab provides two variants that shake up the Pandemic experience. Now you can take on the diseases by yourself in a solo game or split into two rival teams and race to cure and eradicate diseases, prevent outbreaks, and gain prestige. Other than a little help from the CDC, you're on your own in the solo game. Stay in contact with your home base and discover the cures before it’s too late. If you break into rival teams, curing diseases is still the ultimate goal, but the prestige you’ve earned over the course of the game determines the winner. Along with its four new Role cards, three new Event cards, and challenges you can combine with those in the On the Brink expansion, In the Lab creates a whole new world of possibilities for Pandemic.