Pandemic, when used as a noun, refers to a disease which runs rampant, affecting continents or even the world, as was the case with the Spanish flu of 1918. A pandemic is distinguished from an epidemic in spreading much farther and affecting many many more people. Pandemic, when used as an adjective, does not have the connotation of disease. As an adjective it means universal, or nearly so, as in a pandemic fear of nuclear war.

Pandemic is the name of a series of flash games available on the internet. The theme of the game is disease, and the object of the game is to destroy humanity. The game is set up somewhat like the boardgame Risk, with a map of connected geographic areas. The disease begins in one of them, and with the player's prodding, spreads throughout the world, spread by land, air and sea movement. The governments of the world fight back against your disease by trying to find a cure, or by closing borders so the disease can not spread.

This is one a subgenre of flash games where the player has very little direct control over the game. It is quite possible to start a game, tab away from it, and come back to see how your hardy little pathogen is doing. The main gameplay consists of evolving ways for your pathogen to spread to different environments, and deciding in which way it will kill people. One of the challenges is that a disease that is lethal and contagious is also quite visible, causing your pathogen to be quarantined before it can infect the planet.

This game is also responsible for the meme of Madagascar and its closed ports. In the game, Madagascar can only be reached by ship, and when the nation closes its ports, it becomes immune to the disease. Many a game ends with everyone in the world dead, besides the untouched island of Madagascar.

In general, I find this game to be an absorbing and atmospheric game, especially with the sinister, looping music. However, as a game, it doesn't have much diversity or challenge in gameplay. I first played it on a very depressing day, and was quite enthralled to forget my troubles in watching the world laid waste by pestilence. However, it quickly lost its interest for me.

Pandemic is also a 2-4 player cooperative board game released in 2008 from Z-Man Games. The players’ goal is to stop the spread of four deadly diseases before they reach world-wide epidemic proportions insuring the death of the human race.

The game board is a world map with movement spaces indicated as major real-world cities. Players begin in Atlanta at the CDC and take on the role of one of five specialists (dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, or operations expert) each of which has a special ability with which to help combat the diseases. Player tokens are represented by figures color coded to their role while disease tokens are represented by colored cubes. The players move around the board collecting cards with the names of the cities and colors which represent the four diseases.

The players must coordinate their movements and actions in order to try to slow the spread of the diseases and collect the right amount of cards to research a cure for each. Once a cure for a disease has been researched it can be systematically wiped out. However while the players are trying to find a cure the disease multiplies. Infection cards are drawn, randomly populating the board with disease. If an epidemic card comes up, the disease spreads rapidly that turn. Each time a city’s space accumulates more than three cubes of a specific disease, an outbreak occurs spreading the disease to the surrounding cities, this can cause a nasty chain reaction with the disease suddenly blossoming out of several cities at once.

The game ends when either; the diseases have been wiped out, the players run out of cards to draw, seven outbreaks occur, or there are no more cubes for a specific disease available to be placed. The game also has rules for difficulty modes that can ramp up or limit the virulence of the diseases.

While not as complex as Arkham Horror, the game takes a few minutes to set up and usually about an hour to play (or twenty minutes to recognize a hopeless situation). It’s a very social game as the players will often find themselves trying to coordinate several turns in advance, but not so complicated that you can’t have a few drinks while doing so.

Two expansions for the game have come out. On the Brink (2009) included a fifth disease, more player roles including an antagonist “Bio-Terrorist” role who goes around the board spreading disease, and rules for adding a fifth player. In the Lab (2013) included a new laboratory game board, new cards, and new roles. There are also “Compatability Packs” available. The first pack updates the basic game to the 2nd edition version released in 2013. The second pack updates On the Brink to 2nd edition. The In the Lab expansion requires at least Pandemic 2nd edition to play.

Pan*dem"ic (?), a. [L. pandemus, Gr. , ; , , all + the people: cf. F. pand'emique.]

Affecting a whole people or a number of countries; everywhere epidemic.



A pandemic disease.



© Webster 1913.

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