Wednesday 2 January 2019

Tabletop Review - Pandemic 10th Anniversary Edition

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Edition
Designed by Matt Leacock
Published by Z-Man Games

It’s kind of weird to think that Pandemic has been around for ten years. It still sells, it still floats to the top charts on BoardGameGeek, and it still serves as a gateway game for a great many people – perhaps even more these days that even Carcassonne or The Settlers of Catan. It makes sense. It’s a theme that’s easily explainable, it’s fully co-op and the mechanics are simple to learn, yet the way you need to use them varies from game to game. It’s thematic, yet light and fun.

So, to celebrate the game’s 10th Anniversary, Z-Man Games has released this lovely new special edition. So, what’s in it?

Well, the board has all new artwork, as do most of the cards, and the whole thing is packaged in a heavy-duty metal box, modelled on an old style first-aid kid – to the extent that you can get your hammer-drill out and wall-mount the thing, if you’re so inclined. Which, to be fair, you probably aren’t. I mean, I like gaming, but I’ve yet to wall mount any of my collection.

Also included are some nice miniatures, one for each character. The detail is pretty good for a board game, which means they’ll look good on the table, but not of the high standard you’d expect from a miniatures-heavy game. They’ve all been primed and given an ink wash, which goes a long way towards getting the detail to stand out. They all have colour coded bases, too, so you’ll have no problem picking out which character is which on the board.

The game itself is still the same Pandemic it’s always been, plus some extra chrome, like some snazzy petri dishes to hold all the different colour cubes that represent the infected populace of the world. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to review. The original Pandemic, and therefore the version in this box, is a good game. The presentation is generally solid – but this unfortunately only serves to highlight two really missed opportunities in this set.

Firstly, this is just the core game of Pandemic. None of the expansions are included, and you can’t help but feel that you could just pick up the core set and most, if not all, of them for a comparable price to this metal box version. Don’t get me wrong, the core game is great and all, but it just feels like a wasted opportunity not to include at least some elements of them in this reissue.

Secondly, the vintage art-style to the cards, the map and the box is all nice, but it becomes super-jarring when held up against the player character figures and cards, all of whom look decidedly modern. A reworking of their artwork to bring them more in line with the 1950s/1960s feel would have given a much more cohesive feel.

Unfortunately, another side effect of this edition’s art is that if you do want to mix in the expansions down the line, that’s only going to be exacerbated. It’s strange design choice; although far from a bad one. If anything, I wish that they’d pushed it a little further in its implementation.

The set is lovely. I don’t want to sound down on it, because I’m not, but I’m honestly struggling to work out who the target audience is here. Dedicated fans will likely already own all the expansions and won’t want to pay out nearly £80 for a game that they already own, albeit with some alternate artwork. Similarly, newcomers would be much better off grabbing the standard edition for a fraction of the price.

I’m in a hard position here, as while I heartily recommended Pandemic, or one of its many spin-offs, to most gamers, both veteran and newcomer, I can’t find it in my heart to recommend this particular edition. Unless you’re such a Pandemic completist that what you really, really want is a copy you can mount on the wall in case of emergencies.

Brad Harmer-Barnes is a writer and comedian who has been into tabletop gaming since he was eight years old. He is the host of Fire When Ready on, co-host of Talk Star Wars, and a frequent guest on The E14 GameCast.

His latest novel Fog of War is available now in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RealBradHB using the buttons below!

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