Pandemic and the Perils of Pass and Play


Pandemic is one of my favorite games, and for good reason. It’s one of the first and best cooperative games, with a strong theme that puts you in the role of fearless scientists trying to save the world from horrible diseases. It’s easy to learn, hard to beat, and has brought more than its share of new gamers into the hobby.

So I should be thrilled that F2Z Media has put out a Pandemic iOS app, right? Well, not so much.

There’s nothing wrong with the app itself. It’s a solid translation of the game, and it seems to have been well-received in the iTunes app store. There’s just one fly in the ointment: the only multiplayer component is “pass and play.”

Pass and play is the multiplayer you build when you can’t build a real multiplayer game. Board games are about connecting with other people, and the best computer adaptations of board games — games like Ticket to Ride, Ascension and Carcassonne — make it easy to play with old and new friends, whether they’re across the street or on the other side of the world. The best apps give you more people to play with; pass and play does nothing but provide a small convenience when playing with the people you already know.

I can’t completely discount that convenience, especially since it’s a lot easier to go on vacation with an iPad than with a stack of board games. But I can’t shake the feeling that the coders of Pandemic missed an opportunity here. Give me a great game and the ability to connect online and I’m the happiest gamer in the world. But in person, I’d rather have cardboard.

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Copyright 2013 The Roaming Designer