2010 Update note: I’m going to update this post when I hear about a new entry. Think of this as a “Living List”– if you have a suggestion I’ve not heard of, please comment or email me (contact information in the “About” tab up top). I’ll be happy to consider adding it.
Amended 2009 Post Follows.
I am fond of wacky game themes.
Every once in a while I notice that someone went to great trouble to design and publish a game about an odd subject. With the advent of Z-Man’s hit game PANDEMIC– a very enjoyable cooperative game of fighting a worldwide disease outbreak, I got to thinking that maybe, perhaps, I’d seen this before somewhere before, or a game like it. Sure enough there are a few games with disease as the featured theme out there, and all of them are quite different from each other. Publisher Descriptions are all copyright BoardGameGeek.
GAMES ABOUT PLAGUES AND DISEASES
Jun 2012 Added: Pandemic (Flash)
This darkly humorous flash enabled browser game can be played for free, here. Visually, it is reminiscent of Pandemic (the board game) in layout only– the focus is more on the disease and creating superversions of plagues to wipe out the world. In this respect it is very close to Plague, Inc. in scope– though I think the IoS app has better graphics. Enjoy!
Jun 2012 Added: Plague, Inc.
Publishers: Ndemic Creations, 2012
Plague Inc. is a solitaire gaming app for the Ipad, IPhone, and Ipod Touch. Like the BLACK DEATH boardgame listed below, the focus of the game design is on the disease itself– players assume the role of plagues, constantly spreading, growing, mutating.. and trying to wipe out humanity. I give this a full up review in June 2012so I won’t say much more about it here, other than 2 thumbs up.
Added: Rattus (Dec 2010)
by Ase & Henrik Berg
Publishers: Z-Man Games, 2010
Publisher’s Description: “Europe, 1347. A disaster is about to strike. The Black Death reaches Europe, and during the next 4 – 5 years, the population of Europe will be halved. The players settle in the various regions of Europe, while the plague spreads throughout all of the continent. The players gain help from the various classes of the middle ages: The Peasants provide population growth, the wise Monks keep the rats away, the rich Merchants flee when the plague approaches, the warfare conducted by the Knights spreads the plague to new areas, the Witches control the spread through magic and witchcraft, whereas the Kings avoid the plague by staying in their fortified palaces. But the plague does not make any distinction: When the rats arrive, no one can feel safe. When the plague withdraws and the game ends, the player with the highest surviving population wins.”
Honestly, I know next to nothing about this game beyond what I heard described on a podcast. Rattus solidly fits the theme of a plague and pestilence game, that is certainly true. The rules are available at the Z-Man site, as well as pictures of game bits. Rattus sounds like a game I might be interested in, but it’s so new (in late 2010) I haven’t had a chance to play it or review it. The bits look pretty impressive, although Tom Vasel (of the Dice Tower fame) was somewhat dismissive of the “colored cubes on a map of medieval Europe” approach Z-man took with it. I’ll give it a chance at some point. Apparently the parent game of Rattus is doing rather well, as Z-Man is already planning on publishing a sequel (The Pied Piper Expansion).
By Matt Leacock
Publishers: Various (2008)
Publisher’s Description: “You are specialists at the CDC/Atlanta where you watch several virulent diseases break out simultaneously all over the world. The team mission is to prevent a world-wide pandemic outbreak, treating hotspots while researching cures for each of the four plagues before they get out of hand.
Players must plan their strategy to mesh their specialist’s strengths before the diseases overwhelm the world. For example, the Operations Specialist can build research stations, which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are breaking out fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while developing cures. If disease spreads uncontrolled, the players all lose. If they can cure all four diseases, they win”.
I have played PANDEMIC just recently for the first time. The cooperative mechanic, which my competitive brain was ready to dislike, was actually a nice surprise. The mechanics really establish a sense of urgency. My first game was a very, very narrow victory– we had one turn left to eliminate the last outbreak from the globe. Quite enjoyable. The basic game is expanded by an expansion pack called On the Brink.