Sunday, February 1, 2009

Goodbye Pandemic...

Sold off my copy of Pandemic today. Had it for slightly less than 2 months but it was enough for me to realize that while the game had its merits, it wasn't one that I needed to own. It has always been my belief that I rather have a small collection of games that I play regularly rather than a large collection collecting dust on the shelves. 

As a tribute to Pandemic, I thought I record some of my thoughts of it. First, what I like about it:

1. Plays easily under 45min which means a high likelihood of seeing multiple plays
2. Accessible to casual and non-gamer types - fits the category of a gateway game
3. Unusual mechanics - not that many cooperative games out there

Pandemic has climbed impressively up the rankings of BGG and currently sits comfortably at the no.20 spot. I was quite surprised that I was so ready to part with a game so highly ranked but after a couple of plays, I discovered I was increasingly reluctant to reach for it when I had friends over.

It is a good game to have in one's collection for it fills a niche admirably - a short cooperative game accessible to first timers. Its cooperative nature will definitely serve as an intrigue to those more familiar with traditional boardgames such as Risk and Monopoly. I was tempted to keep it for this sole reason but realized it would be futile if I myself wasn't keen to play it. 

I do have other games in my collection such as No Thanks! which I have little interest to play but they serve their purpose during parties where I can do a short explanation of the rules and leave my friends to entertain themselves. Pandemic unfortunately has more complex rules and will probably need me to join in during the first one or two games to highlight common mistakes and answer queries.

Why do I not enjoy Pandemic

It is far too puzzle-like for my liking which leads to the likelihood of one or two experienced or vocal players directing play while the others just follow along. 

I enjoyed my first couple of games when I was 'discovering' it together with a couple of friends but once I became familiar with the game, I found the game a bore while playing with new players. I didn't want to always be the one directing and advising, but at the same time it wasn't enjoyable sitting through sub-optimal decisions made by others. Most of my friends are casual or non-gamers and I figured that the game was unlikely to see many plays due to this reason.

I read through some suggestions on BGG providing discussion guidelines to circumvent the problem of a dominating player but I felt it would come across too unnatural to place such restraints on in-game discussions.

I am still keen to have a cooperative game in my collection and hopefully Battlestar Galactica would serve to fill that niche nicely. It seems to me that the traitor element provides a richer social experience rather than a puzzle-like one that seems to occur with cooperative games without the traitor.

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