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Pandemic Rules: How Do You Play the Pandemic Board Game?


You and the other players play together to save the world as a disease control team. Travel across the globe to cure four deadly diseases using strategy and teamwork before the deadly infections can cause a global pandemic.

Game type: Cooperative- Strategy

Number of players: 2-4

Suggested age: 10+

expansions available: “on the brink” and “in the lab”

Game Pieces

7 role cards, 7 pawns, 6 research station, and 4 reference cards (for players)

59 player cards (48 city, 6 epidemic, 5 event)

48 infection cards

96 disease cubes sorted 24 in 4 colors

4 cure markers color coded to their disease

1 infection rate marker and 1 outbreak marker

1 game board displaying a map of the world

Pregame Setup

On the board:

Split the 4 colored disease cubes into their own piles

Place 1 research station on Atlanta, place the remaining 5 research stations in their own supply pile

Place the infection marker on the first position (2) in the “infection rate” at the top right of board

Place outbreak marker on the first position (0) in the “outbreaks” at the bottom right of board

Place the 4 colored vial cure markers face up (plain side) in the “discovered cure” at the bottom middle of board just under their matching disease.

Shuffle Infection cards and place them on the “infection deck” in the top right corner

Flip over the top 3 infection cards and place 3 disease cubes of matching color on those cities

Flip over the next 3 infection cards and place 2 disease cubes of matching color on those cities

Flip over the next 3 infection cards and place 1 disease cube of matching color on those cities

Place all 9 infection cards face up in the “infection discard pile” located in the top right.

Player Setup:

Give each player access to a reference card

Shuffle role cards and deal 1 face up to each player, each role card has an ability and a pawn

Place the matching pawn onto the board at Atlanta, this pawn represents the player with the role card

Remove the unused role cards from the game, they will not be needed

Take any epidemic cards out of the player deck and set them aside

Shuffle the Event and City cards together and deal

4 cards in 2 player game

3 cards in 3 player game

2 cards in 4 player game

There is technically no reason for you to keep these cards face down, but you may do so if you like

Final steps:

Reshuffle the epidemic cards back into the player deck; you may make the game easier by removing up to 2 of the epidemic cards from the game. Making the game “Easy, Standard, or Heroic”

Place the shuffled player deck onto the bottom right corner of the game board

Playing the Game

Each turn is divided into three parts

First, a player must perform 4 actions

Second, a player must draw 2 player cards

The third and final part of a players turn involves the spread of infections

Players may not hold more than 7 cards at any time and must immediately discard (or use) down to 7. Role cards and reference cards are not part of a players hand.

If no disease cubes remain on the board for any specific color, and a cure was found for that disease, then turn the matching color vial over to the “crossed out” side to show that the disease has been eradicated (it will no longer spawn new cubes). You do not need to eradicate the diseases to win

Player Actions:

All player actions are listed on the reference cards, and any special abilities that a player may perform are listed on the players role card.

Players must perform 4 actions using any combination of the following options:

Event cards are not actions and may be played at any time, even if its not your turn


Drive/Ferry = Move to a city connected to the city you are currently in (white lines)

Direct Flight = Discard a city card in your hand to move to the city named on the card

Charter Flight = Discard the city card that matches the city you are in to move to any other city

Shuttle Flight = Move from a city with a research station to any other city that has a research station

other actions

Build Research Station = Discard the city card that matches the city you are in and place a research station at that city. If all research stations have been used then take one from anywhere else on the board

Treat Disease = Remove 1 disease cube from the city you are in, returning the cube to its matching supply pile. If the disease has been cured, then you remove all of the cubes of that color with 1 action.

Share Knowledge = Players may swap cards if they stand together on the same city as the card that they want to swap. Both players must agree to do this, and if one player ends up with over 7 cards because of this then they must discard (or use) until they are down to 7.

Discover Cure = at any research station any player with 5 city cards of the same color of the disease they wish to cure may discard those 5 city cards and move the “cure vial” marker at the bottom middle of the board over its matching disease symbolizing its “cured” state.

Draw Cards:

Once a player completes their 4 actions they must draw the top 2 cards from the player deck. If there are ever fewer than 2 cards available for a player to draw at the end of their turn then the game is over, time is up.

If a player draws any epidemic cards then immediately perform the next 3 steps.

      1. move the infection marker one spot to the right
      2. infect by drawing the bottom card of the infection deck. If the disease has not been eradicated then place 3 disease cubes of that color on the city named on the card. If the named city already has any of the same color disease, then bring that number up to 3 and start an “outbreak”. Discard the city card to the infection discard pile.
      3. Reshuffle just the cards in the infection discard pile and place them on top of the infection deck

In the rare event that two epidemics are drawn together then the player will perform the required steps for each epidemic.


Outbreaks occur if any city goes over 3 of the same colored cube. No city can ever have more than 3 of the same colored cube.

If an outbreak was triggered then immediately move the outbreak marker forward 1 space (bottom right corner).

Place 1 disease cube of the outbreak color to each city connected to the outbreak city

If any of these new cubes would cause a new outbreak, then a chain reaction occurs and a new outbreak is started. Continue performing all steps for the outbreaks until the chain reaction stops.

If the outbreak counter reaches the last space (indicated by a skull) then the game is lost.

Event cards cannot be played while resolving outbreaks, but they can be played inbetween two outbreak cards drawn together (after the first outbreak card).

Normal Infections – last phase of turn:

The final phase of a players turn is applying any infections that might occur. They do this by drawing and flipping over the number of cards indicated by the infection marker on the game board.

Place one disease cube on the named city matching the color represented on the card. If a city already has 3 of that color cube then an outbreak event is started. No city can ever have more than 3 of the same color cube.

Discard the infection cards and the player to the left begins their turn.

Winning the Game

Players win the game when they cure all 4 diseases. Players do not need to eradicate the diseases to win.

Losing the Game

8 outbreaks occur (outbreak marker reaches last space).

No disease cubes available, but need to be placed (all disease cubes are used and a new one is needed)

any player is unable to draw two player cards (times up, no reshuffling)

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