Giant Pandemic

Due to my work, I created a giant version of Pandemic. I made this for a team-building event. I asked younger daughter Chen Rui to draw a giant map based on the standard map. Most of the details were the same, but I needed it to be 6 feet by 4 feet. Looking at this photo you can’t really tell how big the map is. You’ll need to look at the map when placed in my sitting room next to the furniture. 
I needed the map to be big because I planned to have this activity accommodate 20 to 40 participants. The map needed to be big enough so that most participants could easily see the various details on the map. I did not change the game rules. The changes I made were in how this activity was to be executed by four teams as opposed to this being a game played by four players. Within each team there would be members assigned to different tasks. There would be some communication challenges thrown in. Pandemic when used well is a great team-building and training activity. 
I bought most of the activity props. I needed to get a copy of Pandemic too, because I used the cards from the actual game. For the rest, I had to hunt everywhere to find equivalent large sized components. I arranged to playtest this giant version of Pandemic. Not for gameplay, since I didn’t change that, but for making sure the components worked well. My dining table was not big enough for the map. I needed to add one more table and a white board (see bottom right) to create enough flat surface for the whole map. 
I used toy cars as player pawns. The white cube is a die for prototype-making. I used it as a research centre. I used square wooden blocks as diseases. I bought them at Daiso and spray painted them. One problem with the toy cars was players could not resist playing with them. This is the kind which you can pull back and then release to have it dart forward. Chen Rui kept playing with her car, knocking over game components on the map. 
I prepared four spare cars in the same four colours as those on the map, and placed them in front of the four players as reminders to tell which one on the map was their car. Here we have one flaw. In the original game, the player pawn colours match the player character colours. I couldn’t find large player pawns to match all the character cards, so I went with toy cars. 
I put the character cards into identity card holders and attached lanyards. In each team there would be one member wearing this, and his or her job was to remind the whole team they needed to fully utilise the character ability. 
I changed this part of the game board. In the original there are only four circles. When you manage to cure a disease, you put a marker into the circle. If you manage to eradicate the disease, you flip the marker to the other side, which shows a different symbol. In the giant version, I wanted something which looked like a table, each row being a different status. The four little bottles are markers you can advance downwards. 
Game in progress
For the outbreak marker and the infection rate marker, I used this type of whiteboard magnet which can be found at stationery shops. 
I found large transparent plastic cans for the four diseases. 
These four small bottles are status markers for the four diseases. Originally I thought about half filling the bottles with liquid in the four disease colours. I later changed my mind because I was worried the liquid might leak and damage the other components. 
I feel bad for having moved Jakarta into the Indian Ocean. The city locations are not meant to be accurate. 
We played the giant version with just the four of us. The team-building would have 20+. It’s a little too big for four players, but a trial run was good to help iron out any issues. 
We won rather easily. That was not surprising since my daughters and I had played Pandemic and its variants many times. Vanilla Pandemic was easy for us. We did have a newbie Joti, but he picked up quickly under our guidance. One thing I learned from this playtesting was when I conducted the team-building activity, I should refrain from giving too much guidance. I should only teach the rules and not give any tips. If I were to guide the participants on how to play, it would effectively be me playing and not them learning. 
The activity during the team-building workshop took about 2.5 hours. I told the attendees that had a very difficult mission, because they had to manage not just COVID-19, but also COVID-20, COVID-21 and COVID-22. 
Learning the rules was challenging for them. After all they were not regular gamers. However they were sporting and participative. There was plenty of discussion and debating. 
I created many player roles and assigned them to more than half the participants. I don’t mean the roles in the game like medic, scientist and operations expert. I mean player roles I created when I turned the game into a team activity involving four teams. Naturally there was a team leader for each team. I had four disease controllers whose jobs were to handle the disease cubes. No one else was allowed to touch the disease cubes but them four. I had card holders who were responsible for drawing and handling player cards. No one else were allowed to touch the player cards. One player role which turned out to be quite fun (but also busy for the guy assigned) was the infection officer. His job was to draw and announce the two infection cards at the end of every turn. Basically he was the bringer of bad news. That stage of a game turn was called Breaking News. 
I did not manipulate the game setup or the two card decks to make it easier or harder for them to win. I just let randomness run its course. Pandemic is well balanced and a random setup normally won’t create too extreme a situation. Also the point of the exercise was not to intentionally let them win so that they would feel good, or to make them lose so that they would learn from failure. It was an exercise to challenge their teamwork, communication, collaboration, strategic awareness and strategic planning. 
Adrian was the card holder for Team 3 (red team) and his job included drawing player cards. He happened to be the only person to ever draw Epidemic cards. Everyone blamed him for having unlucky hands. It really wasn’t his fault. He just happened to be assigned the job. Look at his nervousness as it was time to draw player cards again. At this point he had already drawn two Epidemic cards. 
In the end, they only managed to cure two diseases before they were hit by the 8th outbreak and lost. They were close. They were only three turns away from curing the remaining two diseases. One team already had enough cards to treat the third disease. The next team had enough cards to pass to the following team, which would then have enough to cure the fourth disease. 

Categories: Events

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s