Who knew that attempting to wipe out the entire globe with a deadly virus could be so fun, amirite? Plague Inc. is the highly addictive PC and app game that allows players to strategically introduce and evolve a virus in the world with the sole goal of destroying humanity. It’s one of those great apps that you can easily play when you’re killing time, or when you’re in the mood for a really fun strategy game. Given it’s huge popularity in the digital space, the makers of Plague Inc. have decided to expand the game’s reach into the world of tabletop.
James Vaughan, the designer of Plague Inc. always thought that the game would translate pretty well to tabletop. After all, the basic structure of the original game is very board game-like. With the popularity of other virus-themed games like Pandemic, it was clear that people loved playing games about globally devastating viruses in a non-digital format. Vaughan also wanted to give people an opportunity to interact with friends with analog games. So Vaughan started building the game as a bit of a hobby between projects. But after playtesters started telling him how fun the game was, he knew he had something special on his hands.
Obviously, the tabletop version of Plague Inc. is a bit different from the app version. When you play the game digitally, you’re working with a single virus that you’re trying to spread across the globe. Points accumulate as you evolve your virus and as the virus spreads (though it never seems to spread quite far enough to reach Madagascar or Greenland, does it?!). When you play the tabletop game, each player represents a different virus. The end goal is still the same–infect the world and wipe out humanity as we know it–but you also want to block the opposing viruses and cause them to eradicate themselves. Just like in the app, your virus’ interaction with humanity will greatly affect how rapidly it spreads or is eradicated. Cards are played that describe human behavior, so stuff like the government deciding to destroy infected cities or if a country holds the mother of all germ fests, the Olympics. All of those actions will either strengthen or weaken your specific virus on its mission of doom.
Of course, we all have those areas on the map that we struggle to infect when we play, so I had to ask Vaughan if players of the tabletop game will still experience the frustration of attempting to infect their “white whale” of a country or continent. His answer was essentially yes. “It all depends how you evolve your disease to adapt to the changing world,” Vaughan explained, “If you are a heat resistant bacteria with a strong African presence or waterborne transmission – then it will be easier to infect Madagascar than if you have focused on cold countries in Europe with no air or sea transmission.” And while infecting those hard-to-reach populations has always been one of the fun challenges of the game, there will be the added hurdle of the consequences of the viruses released by other players. For instance, should an opposing virus take out a major transportation hub, it will be harder to infect that area.
Sometimes, digital translations of games to the tabletop don’t quite capture the magic of the original app. Happily, Plague Inc. seems to have pretty naturally translated the fun of the app to the boardgame format. Sure, infecting the world with a devastating virus meant to eliminate mankind is fun, but it’s better with friends, right?
If this game sounds like the perfect compliment to your Pandemic game nights, as many of those who have played are calling it, you can pick up a copy of the game yourself. Plague Inc. is available at retail now, and though they’ve been struggling to keep up with the extreme demand, they’ve got a second manufacturing run and should have a more stable amount of stock later in the year. So talk to your friendly local game store about getting yourself a copy!
Have you had the chance to play the Plague Inc. board game? What did you think of it? Do you prefer the app or tabletop version? Let’s talk about the game in the comments!
Image Credits: Ndemic Creations