Pandemic: A Cooperative Game

Pandemic: A Cooperative Game on Savvy Game Night

Let’s talk cooperative games. Rather than the typical board game format, in which there is one winner and everyone else loses, in a cooperative game, it is all or nothing: either everyone wins together, or everyone loses. In the case of Pandemic, either you find cures for or eradicate all four deadly diseases that have broken out around the world, or everyone dies.

So far, Pandemic is Dan’s and my favorite cooperative game. It is nicely balanced, and it is neither too difficult to ever win, nor so easy that it doesn’t feel like much of a challenge. I’d say we win about 2/3 of the time. And more often than not, we lose because we run out of player cards, not because there were so many outbreaks that we couldn’t control them. There have been several occurrences where we just needed one more turn, maybe two, in order to get all the cures or eliminate the last disease.

Pandemic In Play on Savvy Game Night

Unless you are playing with five people every time you play Pandemic, the game changes a little bit each time. Each player is given a role with a special ability: the Medic can treat all the illnesses in a city at once, rather than one per turn; the Dispatcher can move other players around the board; the Scientist can find a cure with 4 player cards instead of the usual 5, and so on. Since the roles are randomly assigned, the combination of special abilities available in the game changes a bit each time (again, unless you are playing with the full five players).

Note: A newer version of the game was released in 2013. Apparently, it introduces two new roles and reduces the maximum number of players to four. So if you purchase/play the newer version, the combination of roles will change every game, even when you are playing with the max number of players.

It’s a fun game for Dan and I when we aren’t feeling all that competitive and want to work together. And because it is a cooperative game, Pandemic is a great one to pull out when we have friends over with mixed levels of experience with or interest in board games.
Pandemic, a cooperative game. Don't let too many outbreaks happen, or everyone loses! On Savvy Game Night

There’s an outbreak in Essen, and the blue disease has spread to all neighboring cities. Don’t let too many of these happen, or everyone loses!


Pandemic is a cooperative game, so either everyone wins or everyone loses. Four diseases have simultaneously broken out around the world. Players must research to find a cure for or completely eradicate all four diseases before the epidemics become too overwhelming to contain. Each player may take up to 4 actions on their turn to move around the map, treat infected cities, research a cure or build a research station. At the end of each turn, the diseases spread just a bit more, unless an Epidemic card turns up, which accelerates the infection rate.

The game is over when: all the diseases have been cured and/or eradicated, there have been 8 outbreaks, or there are no player cards remaining.

Number of Players:

2-5. It is much more difficult to win with just two players, but it is still doable.

Set Up Time:

5-10 minutes

Play Time for New Players:

1 hour.

Play Time for Experienced Players:

45 minutes – 1 hour.

Age Range:


Overall Rating for Pandemic: 8/10

Pandemic Player Cards on Savvy Game Night

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only ever link to games I’ve played and enjoyed myself. Most of the links above are to the newer version of this game. If you’d like to purchase the version of the game photographed here, click here.

Savvy Cookbooks: The Soda Fountain (and Chocolate Cherry Milkshakes)

Chocolate Cherry Milkshake Using Maraschino Cherries | Savvy Eats

I was so excited when a review copy of The Soda Fountain by Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman showed up on my doorstep. After all, we’re coming up on the summer months, which is the perfect time for ice cream floats. And milkshakes. And sundaes. And egg creams. IE: all of the recipes in this book.

The book opens with a history of soda fountains. If you’re a fan of food history, the 50-ish pages of soda fountain history should be enough of a reason to buy the book.

After that, the book gets into the recipes. From syrups and sodas to sundaes to milkshakes, The Soda Fountain covers nearly every ice cream-based treat you could dream of.  I’m super excited to try making my own fruit syrups and sodas this summer when everything is in season. Plus, there are several suggested cocktails using the fruit syrups for those who don’t want to abstain. I’m also intrigued by the egg creams – I’ve never had one! – and think I might start with the blueberry version.

As far as sundaes go, there are three chapters packed with unique ideas, with recipes for the sundaes themselves, as well as toppings and baked goods to go with them.  But when it came time for me to choose some recipes to test, I opted for a milkshake. Thick and creamy, milkshakes are great for serving at the end of a summer dinner party. They require zero prep work and come together in seconds. Plus, they are easily customizable with different ice creams and syrups or fruits. Think how fun it would be to offer a DIY milkshake bar, with all sorts of ice creams!

Here, I adapted the cherry blossom shake, swapping the vanilla ice cream for chocolate and using my homemade maraschino cherries instead of store-bought. But don’t worry! If you didn’t can your own maraschino cherries last year, you can use the kind from the grocery here too. Chocolate cherry delicious-ness awaits!

Chocolate Cherry Milkshakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2

Chocolate Cherry Milkshakes

Adapted from The Soda Fountain


  • 20 ounces chocolate ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 20 cocktail cherries (homemade or storebought)
  • 2 tablespoons juice from the cocktail cherries jar
  • For the cherry whipped cream:
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon juice from the cocktail cherries jar


  1. Pulse the ice cream and milk together in a blender to break up the ice cream. Gradually increase the speed to blend it all together.
  2. Add all but two of the cherries and the cherry juice to the blender and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Divide the milkshake between two glasses. Top each with cherry whipped cream (see below) and a cherry.
  4. For the whipped cream:
  5. Whisk the cream with the sugar until soft peaks begin to form. Add the cherry juice, and beat until the whipped cream has stiff peaks.

Overall, there are some unique flavor combinations and a good amount of food history here, but I don’t know that I’d buy a book just about ice cream treats on my own. I give The Soda Fountain by Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman…

3 out of 5 stars.

Psst: This post contains affiliate links. I only ever recommend products and books that I think you might like! I was sent a review copy of this book, but all opinions are my own.