The popular cooperative board game, Pandemic, is now out in Mythos form. And I’ve been playing it just in time for Gothic/Horror Month. For those not familiar with Pandemic, the original is a cooperative game where players form a disease prevention team to fight the outbreak of various deadly disease sweeping the world. The set-up for the Reign of Cthulhu version is quite similar, only now the outbreak is cosmic horror, rather than disease. Players fight a growing tide of cosmic evil, trying to prevent Cthulhu awakening to destroy the world.
So far, I’ve played the game through three times, and won once, so it’s not an easy win. The game board is smaller in scope to the original Pandemic, and split between four familiar Mythos areas. The smaller scope seems to speed the game up quite a bit, so you need to be on your toes from the start, and working together with other players in a very coordinated way. Occultists and Shoggoth appear across the locations, and every time a Shoggoth reaches a gate, another cosmic horror awakens. There’s something about the appearance of cosmic horror that is much creepier than disease, and a sort of sinking inevitability about the encroaching doom. From that point of view, the theme is spot on.
The board looks lovely, the figures are detailed, and I’ve seen videos of people painting them up online. My only real niggle is that occasionally the theme hits a bum note (the main one that drives me nuts is that Yog-Sothoth doesn’t have a gate-based power, another entity does instead.) But other than those minor niggles, it has a great feel to it—eerie, dark and doom-filled, as it should be. And the game play is as good as the original, but speeded up.
If you haven’t played a cooperative game before, I recommend giving them a try. The Pandemic games provide a great tactical challenge, as you fight the encroaching doom of the world, and you need to be able to communicate and cooperate effectively to get the job done. This version is a great addition for Lovecraft fans.