The Man with the Plan – Playing #Pandemic by @Zmangames

“I is for Infected” (Courtesy KillerTaco on

With #windmageddon shutting down most of the area this weekend (and thankfully we didn’t lose power or have a tree fall on our house – or a large outlet sign) I felt the need for a “lighter” Game Night. So Pandemic (Z-Man Games, 2008) landed on the table. The RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself played a 3-player session with Youngest RMN Boy as the Operations Specialist, Middle RMN Boy as the Dispatcher, and myself as the Scientist. I really enjoyed the game tonight not because (spoiler alert) we won, but because the game enabled Middle RMN Boy, who is on the Autism Spectrum, to shine.

At first it looked bad as the initial infection was heavily Black Plague and Red Death. As we tried to beat back those two contagions, the cards fell my way and I was able to eradicate the Blue Virus. Youngest RMN was quickly able to cure the Black Plague, but several closely spaced Epidemic Cards led to multiple outbreaks. It was looking bad; we really needed to knock back the Black Plague and the Red Virus was out of control. We cured the Yellow Virus, but really needed to get after the Red Death.

We always play Pandemic with everybody’s cards face up in front of them so we can all collaborate on strategy. Usually, this discussion is dominated by Youngest RMN and myself, with Middle RMN Boy only occasionally making a contribution. We usually try to let him plan his own actions and Youngest RMN Boy sometimes has to control his facial expressions as he disagrees with what his brother does.

Tonight, at the peak of the pressure as we were running out of Outbreaks and Action Cards, Youngest RMN Boy and I were having a “spirited discussion” as to the next actions. We were trying to plan two-players ahead, and that included Middle RMN. Suddenly, Middle RMN Boy spoke up.

“Don’t worry, I got this,” he emphatically stated.

“Got what?” I asked.

“We can win. I’ve got this!”

I challenged him to explain what he was thinking. He proceeded to lay out a three-player sequence of events that, sure enough, would give us the win. His idea took advantage of a recently drawn Event Card and optimized each players abilities. It was a brilliant plan.

I love my Boys and sometimes I don’t give Middle RMN Boy enough credit because of his Autism Spectrum. He rarely shows the ability to think ahead, and when he does it’s often for the wrong reasons that end up getting him in trouble. Though we haven’t played Pandemic too many times, it obviously has “clicked” with him.

Small moments like this tell me that our weekly game nights are well worth it. It also reminds me that, as much as I love being a Grognard, other genre of games are well worth playing and sometimes bring out the best in each of us.

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