After five years of Pandemic, hundreds of thousands of players have contracted the virus! To celebrate this milestone, Pandemic has been completely re-designed. With new artwork by Chris Quilliams (Clash of Cultures, Merchants & Marauders), Pandemic will now have a more modern look, inside and outside the box. With two new characters (the Contingency Planner and the Quarantine Specialist) face the game in ways you never thought possible as brand-new, virulent challenges await you!
Joshua Cappel (graphics and illustration)
Régis Moulun (cover painting)
Chris Quilliams (2013 edition)
MSRP: $39.99Lowest: $35.99
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Pandemic is a great game with a unique theme, and while the game is beautiful the 'disease cubes' were begging to be unleashed into their non-cube form. I decided to make my own pathogens out of polymer clay to liven up the game. Here's how they turned out:
I wanted each pathogen to be similar to the art on the cards, but there were some limitations in making them "identical," so these were the designs I came up with:
In reality, this project took about 12 hours from start to finish, with about an hour added for prototyping. This project is probably reasonable for a beginner who's done some crafting before, or someone who has a lot of patience with learning new things.
Time: 9-16 hours depending on skill
Cost: $10-20 if you're starting fresh, but you will have lots of clay left over (and some tools). The actual cost of clay is closer to $5.
- 6 colors of Polymer Clay (red, black, blue, yellow, orange and white). I use Premo! brand, but you can use other polymer clays.
- Razor blade (preferred) OR sharp knife
- Non-permeable work surface (I use a dry-erase board)
- 1/4 inch round clay cutter (optional)
- Silicone shaper (optional)
Total # of Game Pieces: 96
Don't have time to make them yourself?
You can purchase these here!
Let's get started!
Start by making a small, round ball of clay about the same size as the original disease cube. You can adjust the size to your preference (quarter for reference).
Roll out a long, thin piece of clay at least 5 cm (2 inches) long and not very thick. Cut into 3 pieces about 1.5 cm each. It's okay if these are not identical lengths, they will be trimmed later.
Position your 3 pieces on top of one another so that they are crossing to form an asterix * shape. Press down lightly in the middle so that the center is partially flattened and the clay mixes.
Position the ball in the middle of the crossed pieces and push down lightly to secure it to the base.
Now we need to trim the "legs" so that they are equal lengths. You can do this with a blade or knife individually, but to speed things up you can use a 1/2" round clay cutter. Position the clay cutter over the pathogen body (round ball portion) so that it is centered within the cutter, and push down.
Next we will add the white details.
There is 1 large, central "donut" and 3 smaller donuts. Start with your center donut by forming a small ball about 3 mm in diameter (you can eyeball this). Position this in the center on top of your pathogen body and press down lightly to secure.
Using a toothpick (or similar item), push down into the center. This should expand your ball into a more flattened disk and secure it to the body.
Add your 3 smaller balls around the central donut equidistant apart, and press the toothpick into the center of each.
Voila, you are done with your first piece!
You can use a razor blade (or similar) to gently lift the piece up and move it to your baking sheet.
Only 23 more to go!
This one is the easiest of all!
Start by rolling a ball of clay so that when it is pressed down slightly it is about 1 cm in diameter. We want a slightly flat bottom so that it rests on the game board.
There are two different sizes for the orange details. You can eyeball this, or for consistency (especially across 24 pieces) you can roll out two ropes, one each of larger and smaller thickness.
I use 4 pieces from the large rope, and about 6 pieces from the small rope. Using a razor blade (or similar) cut pieces about 2mm long (4 from thick rope and 6 from the thin rope).
Roll these pieces into circular balls, then attach the 4 large ones to the body where you wish.
Use a toothpick to puncture the 4 large pieces. This should flatten them slightly and adhere them better to the body.
Finally, add the remaining small spheres around the body, pressing firmly enough to adhere the clay well.
After 23 more you are done with the yellow pathogens!
The blue pathogen has a body that consists of 3 "squiggly" ropes. The center is thicker than the two sides.
To begin, roll out two ropes, the large one of ~4-5 mm thickness, the small one ~2-3mm thick.
Cut the thick rope to be a bit longer than 1.5cm. Roll the ends slightly so they become somewhat rounded. Then use your hands to shape the rope into a gentle "S." It should be about 1.5cm long after bending.
Cut the thinner rope into two smaller sizes, one about 1 cm and one slightly less than 1cm. The sizing doesn't need to be perfect. If they are the same size that's okay.
Position the thinner pieces one either side of the main body. Adhere each of them to their respective sides, following the curvature of the main body.
The body is finished!
To add the white details, we need a thick and thin rope. The thin rope will be incredibly thin, about half the thickness of a quarter.
Cut 2 pieces of the thin rope, one for each side of the main body. The lengths should be slightly less than the lengths of your body sides. Adhere these to the tops of the body sides, bending them to fit the curvatures.
Cut the thick rope to be slightly shorter than your center body length. Adhere this to the top of the center body, bending it to fit the curvature.
You can use the remaining thick rope to cut 3 equal sized pieces that will be formed into balls and attached to the center of each white rope. Make sure you press firmly enough to adhere the clay well.
Aaaaaand you know the drill...
These are the most time-consuming of the set because the details are small and elaborate. There are many ways to simplify this design which would work just fine, so don't be afraid to experiment with it.
Shape an oval to your desired size. Mine came out to be 0.5cm wide and ~1.3cm long, but I eyeballed it mostly. Make sure you press these a bit harder to give them a flat base, as they will roll around otherwise.
Take a small ball of white clay and flatten it with your finger to make a disk (not super hard). You need the disk to fit in the top 3rd of the red base, and you'll probably need a lot less clay than you think.
Take a blade/knife and cut a few slits along the edges to form the "petals" you see in the image. Then lift the disk using a blade and place it onto the top of your red base, pressing gently to adhere it.
Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the center of the disk.
Next roll out a very thin rope of white clay. You'll only need about 2cm.
Cut 3 different lengths, the longest being about 1/3 the size of your red base, the next two being about 1mm shorter than the previous. You will overestimate the length of these, these are extremely short.
Position the longest one in the middle and the other two on either side. The bottom ends will be covered by disks, so they don't need to look good.
You can use the extra rope to cut 3 small pieces (same size) for the bottom "donuts."
Roll these pieces into balls and place them at the ends of the thin ropes, overlapping the ends and pressing gently to adhere. Then use a toothpick to poke a hole in the center of each.
OPTIONAL: You can use something to smooth out the ends and make these nicer. I use a silicone clay shaper brush, but you can use your finger nail if you have a steady hand.
And it's done!
The last of the bunch!
You can move these onto a baking sheet and bake all at once, since these are all similar thicknesses. Bake at the suggested temperature and time listed on your clay packaging (this differs by brand). *Premo! clay bakes at 275 degrees for 30 minutes per 1/4 inch of clay, so I bake these for 30 min.
I put mine straight in an ice bath after removing in the oven, but this step is optional (there are claims that this makes the product more durable).
A note on baking: Polymer clay companies claim it is safe to bake their product in your food-safe oven, but in the past it leeched toxic chemicals. Some people still prefer to use a separate oven for baking clay, like a small toaster oven. I have not found any peer-reviewed literature that testifies either way. I personally cook in my home oven, but the decision should be made by you and what you are comfortable with.
And that's it!
Your game pieces are now waterproof, paintable, varnishable, and surprisingly durable! Enjoy!
Don't have time to make them yourself?
You can purchase these here!
About the Author
My name is Alee! I'm an avid board gamer who loves to craft. I started upgrading my games in various ways and stumbled upon polymer clay 4 months ago. Since then I've been making tons of board game pieces and have fallen in love with the outcome.
When I'm not playing games or crafting I'm typically out rock climbing, backpacking, or watching space launches. For work I'm a molecular biologist, so I love science (of all kinds).
What's my favorite game? #X-ODUS: Rise of the Corruption
I think the first modern board game I ever tried solo was #Pandemic. I had been told about Vassel, a board game emulator and I thought I would give it a try. I loaded up pandemic on it and started to play. It was a little unweildly and then I suddenly realised I could just get my physical copy out and play with that much more easily than on the computer (I'm not the sharpest of tools but I get there in the end).
In case anyone hasn't played Pandemic, it is a cooperative game where the world has been infected with four diseases and you play various specialists at the CDC who have to run around the globe keeping the diseases in check while alos trying to gather the cards needed to cure each one. You win if you cure all four diseases (you cure a disease by getting 5 of that colour card to one player who then takes them to a research centre). You lose if either you run out of cards, place all the disease cubes of one colour onto the board or get a certain number of 'outbreaks' (where too much disease builds up in one city).
I played controlling two characters which was pretty managable in terms of keeping track of everything. Your character doesn't change or improve throught the game so mostly you are just keeping an eye on the board like you would in a multi-player game. I imagine you could play with four characters on your own without too much difficulty. When playing solo it is very much a puzzle in efficiency with your own actions and playing the odds with where the disease willl strike next. While multi-player pandemic there is often a lot of discussion as people have different ideas about how to deal with a situation, solo is all just you. Because of the simplicity of the game, in multiplayer there is a tendancy for quarterbacking, or even if you all have input for player to not really feel ownership of there character, it becomes a team puzzle and who controls which character is very arbitrary. While this can be nice I think I prefer games where you feel an attachment.
Now, in solo mode that ceases to be an issue as you are controlling all the cogs. While it wasn't a thrilling experience it was a lightweight and relaxing one of just working through the puzzle. The game plays in an hour and while I absolutely got my butt handed to me by the game that did not harm the experience (plus it was my fault as I had been optimistic by putting all the epidemic cards into the deck).
Have you guys tried coop games solo and how did you find them?
While I love sci-fi and fantasy, Cthulhu and WWII and think they make for great board games, I do appreciate oming across a game whose theme is a little unexpected and refreshing (before I dive right back into space battles). So here is my list of games whose themes (at least at the time I first played them) were a it more unique.
5) #Tokaido - While not everyone's cup of tea, I think a game of just taking a pleasant journey (that isn't a race necessarily) through Japan and trying to have the nicest time and bring back some fun souvenirs is pretty great.
4) #Pandemic - Obviously now the world is full of Pandemic games (as well as a regular pandemic) but at the time I don't know that I'd come across anything similar to it. Working to slow down and cure a set of diseases, playing the well known classic heroes of the CDC, it was new and different and I am sure part of why it became the smash hit it did.
3) #Hanabi - A novel mechanic as well as a novel theme, playing a group of fairly incompetent firework show designers/engineers. While the theme is fairly loose, it is still pretty unique and I find it a very enjoyable game: the tension of wathcing someone explain how their about to make a horrendous mistake while not being able to say anything is hilarious.
2) #Magic Maze - Also on my list of games I like a lot more than I thought I might, mythical creatures trying to escap a mall. Not sure who signed off on that as a theme, but it's great. The game is so intense and fast paced and as you get further into the 'missions' the theme comes out more and more.
1) #Spirit Island - While it may seem a little more in line with more regular board game themes, I think the lateral step to not be the native population, or even a god. But the spirits of the island, literal forces of nature is pretty original. This isn't a game I have played (unlike the others) but one I very much want to.
I am sure there are even wilder and wackier themes out there, would love to hear about them as people's creativity is always fascinating to me.
I'm a huge lover of the Pandemic series, so I decided to rank all of them.
Toughest decision was which Legacy to put on top. Honestly I think it's a tie but that's kind of besides the point.
We have all been there, you are new to the board game hobby, you have discovered Catan, you have played it hundreds of times and now you need to know what to do next. Follow the link to find out before it is too late and your post-Catan lust destroys you.
What do you think? Anyone have any fond memories of this time in your board game career?
Since the beginning of March 2020, the single most popular landing page on Board Game Atlas was a simple forum post by user JamesReid860 titled "Good games to play over Zoom". And with a view count of 40.8K views to date, it's clear that board gamers all around the world are searching for ways to combat the physical distancing created by COVID-19.
Below, I put together a list that includes some of the most popular games from that forum post. It also includes commonly suggested games I've seen around other board game communities. Hope this helps make your next remote game night a success!
"Roll n Writes"
Whether or not roll and writes are still in fashion, there's no denying that it's one of the most suitable genres for remote play. Its low barrier to entry comes from simple rules, barebone number of components to manage, and often printable player/score sheets you can find online. Oh, and its near infinite player count. It only requires one person with the copy to point the camera onto the board state, while all other players come ready with their player sheet and a pencil (or pen) in hand. Besides the fact that you're not in the same room, it creates the same atmosphere of fun, relaxing game time that invites plenty of casual chatting.
"Players will become architects in the American 50's as they use combinations of cards and actions to construct the American dream real estate." (Also pictured at the top)
Tip: Players who are either unable to print out a player sheet or prefer digital can download the app and fill out the sheet digitally: iOS, Android. If it's an option, I'd always recommend going paper and pencil since that's the big part of the fun and relaxation.
"Players roll the Route dice and must then draw the subsequent results on their individual Route boards. Players score points for having long interconnected Routes, as well as connecting the entry points to their board, plus having Routes through the center of their boards."
"Each turn two ten-sided dice are rolled to make two 2-digit numbers. For example, a roll of 3 and 7 creates the numbers 37 and 73. All players write each of those numbers in a state on their map. The regions they can write in are restricted by three cards turned up in the middle of the table.
At the end of the game, each player draws a route on their map, starting with a low number and visiting adjacent states with higher and higher numbers. Players get a point for every state they visit.
Unlike roll and writes, word-based games may not support as high of a player count, but it's an ideal choice for large gatherings if you want people interacting together and getting to know how each person processes information. And while there are tons of word games out there, here are some of the best games to rise to the top (note that these games require hidden information and will require a bit of creativity and coordination work than roll and writes. I'll offer some tips for the harder ones).
"Just One is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be cancelled!"
"The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.
The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin."
Tip: Have the player with the copy of the game setup the camera to give a top down view of the board state. Have all players download the Codenames Gadget App. The two spymasters for the round can generate an identical key card by entering the same code on the app (see images below).
"Wavelength is a social guessing game in which two teams compete to read each other's minds. Teams take turns rotating a dial to where they think a hidden bullseye is located on a spectrum. One of the players on your team — the Psychic — knows exactly where the bullseye is, and draws a card with a pair of binaries on it (such as: Job - Career, Rough - Smooth, Fantasy - Sci-Fi, Sad Song - Happy Song, etc). The Psychic must then provide a clue that is *conceptually* where the bullseye is located between those two binaries."
Tip: There was a recent post on Reddit where a user shared automated PowerPoint slides to help facilitate the game for remote play. This is the hottest word-based game around so don't glance over it! You can also check out Shut Up & Sit Down's latest review for their take on the game.
Bluffing games can be a hit or miss depending on the player's personality. You should really give this game a try though. One of the simplest, pure form of bluffing games around that's easy to DIY. You may be surprised to see who in your group has the biggest gambling spirit, or someone you probably shouldn't trust as often!
"Players will hold three rose cards and one skull. Add a card to the pile in front of you, and when you feel lucky, announce your challenge and declare how many cards you will flip. Cards that show a rose are safe, but if you expose your opponent's hidden skull, you lose one of your own cards. Keep your cards to the bitter end to win this clever game of deception and perception!"
Tip: Use coasters if you have them handy. Just make sure they have clearly distinguishable "front" and "back" sides that you can use as a rose/skull. You could also have the players bring out the artist in themselves and DIY the skulls and roses for fun.
With all that's happening around the world, maybe it's time to try out a game where you work together to accomplish the same objective? Note that these games will still require fiddling around to get the right camera view that captures the entire board state and the cards that each player has "drawn". The person who owns the copy will have to be more than willing to coordinate each player's moves, which will be quite frequent to be honest.
"Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!"
Tip: Make sure to turn on some music to accompany the game! It will be a nice way to maintain a bit of the tension that gets lost from not having the tactile element of gameplay. Go to the linked game page and click on the melodice link to help you choose.
Pandemic (or whichever version you have really)
"In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand."
Tip: Similar advice as Forbidden Island. Plus, especially given the current times, be courteous and respectful of other players' decisions throughout gameplay. Besides, if a player makes a bad move, it will make the gameplay more "exciting".
If All Players Own a Copy
The games I'd recommend for this situation are similar in nature to roll and writes. Less player interaction, simultaneous turns, somewhat solitaire-like, but have satisfying gameplay. Here are the games that have been mentioned the most often. Games in this category may need a tiny bit of house ruling to address issues like limited resources and other minor issues, but it should work quite seamlessly.
"Toadstools, Mandrake, and African Death's Head Hawksmoth, Oh My! It is the 9-day Quedlinburg festival of quack doctors. Purchasing good ingredients for your brew can help you make the best "healing" ointments in the land, winning you fame and fortune! You can use that fortune to buy even more powerful ingredients to put into your pot. But be careful, one ingredient too many and your potion will explode!"
"In Tiny Towns, your town is represented by a 4x4 grid on which you will place resource cubes in specific layouts to construct buildings. Each building scores victory points (VPs) in a unique way. When no player can place any more resources or construct any buildings, the game ends, and any squares without a building are worth -1 VP. The player with the most VP wins!"
Tip: Unlike the way it looks, Tiny Towns is actually quite mean. The remote play will likely eliminate this aspect as players won't be able to observe one another's board state and try to ruin a good pattern. Actually, scratch that. If you really want to retain the usual dynamics of the game and don't mind not seeing each other's faces, then all players should point their camera toward their board.
Lastly, I wanted to give recognition to games that I wouldn't have thought of but were mentioned frequently enough that I thought it worthy to share.
"Have you ever had the desire to walk the streets of Victorian London with Sherlock Holmes in search of Professor Moriarty? To search the docks for the giant rat of Sumatra? To walk up Baker Street as the fog is rolling in and hear Holmes cry out, "Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot!"? Now you can! You can enter the opium den beneath the Bar of Gold, but beware, that may be Colonel Sebastian Moran lurking around the corner. You can capture the mystery and excitement of Holmes' London in this challenging and informative game. You, the player, will match your deductive abilities against your opponents and the master sleuth himself, Sherlock Holmes."
Tip: The publisher, Space Cowboys, have "material for remote play" available on their website. Here's the direct link to the google drive that contains the necessary resources. And here's the link to a comment by a Redditor who explained how his/her group approached playing this in remote.
Dungeons and Dragons
To be honest, I've never tried. But, it's been one of the most widely mentioned tabletop game options to play over video chat. Makes a lot of sense actually, and perhaps this may be the right moment for people who have been hesitant to jump on board!
And we're done! I hope at least one of these games will work out for your remote game night with friends and family. Stay safe everyone!
[Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy: Season 1]
[Pandemic, Tokaido, Hanabi, Spirit Island, Magic Maze]
[Pandemic, Dominion: Second Edition, Ticket To Ride, Stone Age, Splendor, 7 Wonders, Catan, Terraforming Mars, Azul, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne]
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