Longtime Co-Optimus user "justabaldguy" and I have been discussing our love for Pandemic in the past few months. I asked Baldy for his thoughts on the game, and he was willing to share.
"First off, it was my friend and his wife (who've played it a good amount but mostly by themselves) playing with me and my wife (playing for the first time). EVERYONE enjoyed it, no one had a bad time. Finding a game like this that keeps the wives entertained is huge in my book.
We did have some player cards we thought would rock but didn't. I played two rounds as the Scientist but never got to use my "special power." Really the main one you wanted was the Researcher. The ability to trade cards without being in one specific city is huge. Sometimes play drags for other characters. The Medic can waltz through and clean up zones with ease, but that can be a moot point if you're trying to win simply by researching a cure. Some cards, like the guy who builds research stations, seem pretty weak by comparison.
Winning or losing can come pretty quickly, but if you have one experienced player makes a big difference. We usually found ourselves deferring to my friend on every choice, saying "Well I guess I'll do X, then Y and Z. Sound good?" almost every time. That's fine, and pretty co-op over all. My friend said one rule option is everyone keeps their cards concealed, hidden, forcing players to ask "Who has (insert city name)?" or similar statements. He said the rules have this as an option to really get players to speak together.
Coordinating moves is really interesting. Many times we'd try to "clean" a bit and remove some blocks but time our move to end in a city where we could meet someone else and trade cards.
The difficulty scales a bit with extra players: you get less cards but you can take out Epidemic cards to make it easier or harder.
Overall we enjoyed it but I don't know how fun it'd be to repeatedly play. There is an expansion pack we are going to try next that puts one player as a bio-terrorist and everyone else needs to stop him. As co-op boardgames go though this is the one to beat for now."
I'd definitely agree! Pandemic is one of the highest rated games at BoardGameGeek, a fantastic resource for board game players. It has everything you could want in a game: scalable difficulty, good replayability, and a great learning curve. Plus, there's the cost factor: a brand new copy can be found for about half the cost of a new current-gen video game, and for that price, it's absolutely a steal. Pandemic is a great game for kids, as other players can easily assist youngsters without breakling the rules at all. Board games appeal to the casual gamer who might never hold a controller, because we all remember playing them in the past. Pandemic is an excellent game, board or otherwise, and for fans of co-op, it is certainly worth playing.
What do you think of board game coverage here at Co-Optimus? Interesting? Too off topic? Let us know in the forums! Also, a big thanks goes out to Baldy for co-oping this feature with me!