1. Pandemic is a popular cooperative board game for four, sometimes five, players, in which you and some optional friends take on special roles such as Medic, Researcher, and Scientist and try to prevent the world from being overrun by four virulent diseases.

2. Today, socialisation is not a luxury, although the means of socialisation may be. That is, your ability to meet up physically and play a board game may be impeded by the circumstances within your city.

3. To be safe, consider exploring the more complicated world of livestreaming, Skype meetings, and webcams. In an age of physical distancing, we are all electronic waves and signals anyway.



Tabletop Sessions


4. Should you be able to safely conduct a tabletop session—for instance, if you live together with three other people to begin with—we recommend it.

5. At the very worst, you can play the game by yourself.

6. If you don’t have a copy of Pandemic, purchase one at your local board game store. Small businesses are precisely the folks that need your support right now.

7. It is probably not the wisest to invite anyone over at this point in time. However, if you do so, note that social gatherings in Singapore are currently limited to a maximum of 10 people, though who knows if this will change next week, or even tomorrow.

8. Consider safety precautions: Maintain a distance of one to two metres between players (according to degree of safety and size of HDB flat) and put on masks if necessary. Sanitise your board and your meeples. If possible, sanitise the people too. Take down contact information if necessary, in order to facilitate contact tracing.

9. Comply with local regulations. Do not flout your Stay Home Notice. Do not turn up if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Do not blame others for not showing up. Socialise responsibly.

10. Share food but distribute it safely first. Because of the economic recession that is almost certain to follow, we also recommend a prudent budget. It may also help morale to stick to familiar comfort food. Support that GrabFood driver and get those McSpicys in. Ring up your zichar place. Slice up a murtabak. Also be sure to get some fruit. If health is wealth, vitamins are basically cash.

11. As an incentive, consider awarding a prize to the MVP to encourage participation. According to our research, rolls of toilet paper currently rank as the most in-demand of contest prizes worldwide.



Save the World


12. Pandemic is about being heroes. Relish the chance to save the world. Use this moment to steal a morsel of positivity from the grim real-world situation.

13. Consider borrowing from real life. Create heroic tales of frontline staff. Or go even bolder and cast everyday heroes in these larger-than-life roles. FairPrice Auntie and Kopitiam Uncle become Medics or Scientists when they are given thrilling homemade backstories.

14. If you are playing with your kids, we suggest framing the session as a learning opportunity. If nothing else, Pandemic teaches us—children and grown-ups—the maudlin and obvious, yet currently crucial, lesson that cooperation will get us through when we are apart.

15. It also attests to the need for individual responsibility. One bad move could see a game end quite bleakly.

16. Note that Pandemic is a double-edged sword, simply by virtue of hitting too close to home. In times of crisis, the line between our stories and our realities is eroded. You might triumph over the nefarious microbes only to return to the real world confronted by the escalating situation. There is also every possibility that you will lose and fall into further despair.

17. Ultimately, Pandemic is just a game. Despite many clever variations, including the Legacy version that accounts for the fall of cities, there are many things that it fails to capture—the communities under threat, rising racist sentiments, the failures of capitalist systems, human ineptitude. We recommend incorporating these elements into the story of your game session.



The Big Picture


18. Pandemic is about preserving a sense of play in a dark moment. It is about the stories we tell ourselves. It is about the people next to you, or the people you can’t be next to you.

19. If the city-to-city hopping that is a key part of Pandemic gameplay reminds people too much of the now-insuperable borders between people, the now-impassable Causeway, take a break. It also presents a perfect opportunity to suspend the game and ring up friends and family members.

20. Take the opportunity to ask if people are okay.

21. Unfortunately, as a heroic narrative machine, Pandemic only has broad strokes. It cannot tell you about the pain of cancelled weddings, the struggle of communities, and the anxiety of hearing someone cough on the MRT.

22. But it still provides a time for you to talk about your worries. It is a time for you to find comfort in each other’s stories. The real game of Pandemic is about the connections between people in the same physical space or across digital channels. It is in the jokes and the hellos, the smiles and the goodbyes, the promise that someday we will gather again.