Quarantine looks a lot like board game Pandemic

A cursory glance at the newly announced Quarantine [official site] could easily lead you to say something like “oh, it looks like Plague Inc but from the human’s side”. But you are not thinking hard enough, cursory glancer. As board game aficionados will tell you, Quarantine looks a lot more like a single-player version of the much-loved Pandemic.

In this, you’ll be playing as the head of “Pandemic Defense” an international agency tasked with stopping an aggressive outbreak. You need to recruit a team of specialists and dispatch them around the world, while researching the contagion and upgrading your technical and medical skills to fight back. If you don’t act quick enough, the disease can mutate past your understanding of it and cause even more outbreaks in cities, inciting chaos along the way and reducing your income. Here’s a sickly trailer.

So yes, quite Pandemic-y then. It feels odd that there’s not a single nod to Matt Leacock’s excellent board game in the blurbs and promotional material, given how similar it looks. Just a single reference in their announcement to “the board game scene”. It’s possible publishers 505 Games haven’t played the meeple and cardboard equivalent, but, I mean, yeah.

There are differences. Most notably, instead of having three mates to argue with over whether you send the scientist to Kinshasa or London, you’ll be doing this job alone, giving it a more “commander of XCOM” vibe. I’m not sure if this will improve the game or lessen its impact. On the one contaminated hand, discussing and figuring out what to do as a group can be fun. On the other bubonic hand, many games of Pandemic do just end up with one person giving orders and calling the shots anyway, usually whoever has the fastest Board Game Brain. A single-player equivalent makes sense.

Anyway, it’s hitting Steam Early Access on February 9, if you’re feeling up to it.


  1. AshEnke says:

    It looks interesting ! The thing that scares me the most is what we see of the tech tree. It looks really flat, like a single progression. I hope there’s some though to be put to how we advance through it though.

  2. Alice O'Connor says:

    Tch! The name Quarantine is already taken.

    • hanshanshans says:

      Indeed. The headline’s first word had my heart thumping in anticipation of murdercab-related content, but it was all in vain. Inadvertent clickbait is worst clickbait.

  3. njury says:

    I was lured into playing a game of Pandemic once. No one warned me it would take 1,5 hours and that you basically wasnt really playing but just following rules other people told you along the way.
    I was so bored I thought about killing myself right then and there.

    • Haldurson says:

      Pandemic should take half that much time to play if everyone understands the rules. You shouldn’t let anyone spend too much time on their turn. If every turn is a big discussion, then that’s a problem.

      That said, I’ve found that everyone I’ve played it with has loved it. But to each his own.

    • RuySan says:

      Pandemic is actually very fast, around 30-40 minutes when everybody knows the rules.

      But experienced people telling newbies how to play the game might be a problem, and I usually have to refrain myself and shut up, and let the newbies play.

      • Haldurson says:

        That’s not just a potential issue with Pandemic, but with virtually all coop board games. It’s fine, to an extent, when the newer player(s) actually ask for help. And it’s especially tempting to let someone know if he’s about to make a huge blunder. But you are right — it can be a problem.

  4. yogibbear says:

    It’s the MOST BLATANT rip off of a board game I’ve ever seen. Pandemic is amazing. Ripping off a bloody amazing board game (with either On the Brink expansion or Legacy Season 1 and not playing with dickheads) and not even giving it a nod should be shat on. DO NOT SUPPORT these attrocious developers.

    • Neutrino says:

      My understanding is that in UK IP law the rules of board games cannot be copyrighted. This is a very good thing. (Imo the fewer things that can be copyrighted the better).

      Consequently, were the developers to give credit to another manufacturer they could potentally be complicating an otherwise simple situation.

      It is certainly a sad state of affairs but we live in a world where legalities trump manners. This being the case it seems harsh to excoriate a particular manufacturer for this unhappy circumstance.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    This is such a weird, snake-eating-itself conversation. For example, nobody ever seems to remember that Plague Inc. was also a pretty shameless rip-off of a flash game called, er, Pandemic 2, which as best as I can tell was itself inspired by Pandemic the board game but had the decency not to mimic the gameplay stroke for stroke.

  6. Captain Narol says:

    I love Plague Inc a lot, would be interesting to play the other side for a change…

    Pandemic is indeed a great game, so if this is really an unofficial shameless rip-off, I may however have second thoughts for ethical reasons.

  7. Emohawk says:

    Mr Flibble says “game over boys”..