Best Pandemic expansions and spin-offs in 2023

Pandemic expansions and spin-offs keep the classic disease-fighting board game feeling new and exciting - here are the titles we recommend.

Art of two doctors from Pandemic: Iberia, one of the best Pandemic expansions/spin-offs

A Pandemic expansion is perfect for anyone who can’t get enough of the classic co-op game. They’re designed to add new challenges and abilities, keeping the game enticing enough to play again and again. There aren’t that many Pandemic expansions out there – but there are also plenty of Pandemic spin-offs that feature those same core beats.

If you’re on the hunt for the best Pandemic expansions, we can cure your curiosity. Below you’ll find the best board games that adapt Pandemic’s mechanics, as well as expansions that add new layers to the classic board game. Each of these makes an excellent board game for adults of any experience level.

These are the best Pandemic expansions and spin-offs:

On the Brink, one of the best Pandemic expansions

Pandemic: On the Brink

The best overall Pandemic expansion

 

Number of players 2–5
Play time 45 minutes
Complexity 2/5

Pandemic: On the Brink promises a bigger, more challenging game of Pandemic, upping the maximum player count and adding tricky optional objectives. These might throw an entirely new disease into the mix, make one disease deadlier than usual, or even turn the co-op board game into a competitive one where players are against each other.

On the Brink is a must-have for die-hard fans of Pandemic who are looking for a challenge – or simply some extra variety to keep them on their toes. It’s a fairly cheap board game as far as expansions go, too, so the value on offer here is high. 

In the Lab, one of the best Pandemic expansions

Pandemic: In the Lab

The best Pandemic expansion for solo players

 

Number of players 1–6
Play time 1 hour
Complexity 3/5

Pandemic: In the Lab makes Pandemic even bigger with a six-player maximum, but it can also be a solo board game. This Pandemic expansion introduces an entirely new game board that represents the laboratory where you fight disease. With new roles and new ways to create cures, this adds a freshness and more thematic feel to the original Pandemic.

You’ll naturally need the original game to play, but you also need a copy of Pandemic: On the Brink to make use of the new Virulent Strain events and extra scenarios. Combine this with a slight increase in complexity, and this means you might want to explore other Pandemic expansions first. 

Pandemic Legacy season one, one of the best Pandemic expansions/spin-offs

Pandemic Legacy Season One

The best Pandemic spin-off of them all

Number of players 2–4
Play time 1 hour
Complexity 3/5

Pandemic Legacy Season One isn’t just one of the best Pandemic spin-offs – it’s widely considered one of the best modern board games, period. This is a legacy board game that expands Pandemic into a sprawling campaign, adding and removing mechanics and challenges as you progress.

The core gameplay of Pandemic is strong enough to keep you invested, though you will need a group that’s committed enough to complete its excellent story. There are twists and turns packed in this box, but the joy of a legacy game is discovering these for yourself – so you’ll have to take our word for it, for now.

There are several other Pandemic Legacy seasons that are well worth an entry in our list, but we think Pandemic Legacy Season One is the best place to start. If you love Pandemic enough that you could play it for 12 to 20 hours, one of these games is a definite winner. 

Pandemic Iberia, one of the best Pandemic expansions/spin-offs

Pandemic: Iberia

The most thematic Pandemic spin-off

Number of players 2–5
Play time 45 minutes
Complexity 2/5

Pandemic: Iberia is a historical board game set in the Iberian Peninsula in 1848. You’re still fighting disease, but you’ll have far fewer scientific wonders at your disposal. Purify water, develop railway routes, and slow the outbreaks the best you can. This is a tense and thematic take on the original Pandemic formula.

Pandemic: Iberia tweaks a lot of the original game’s familiar features. A lack of advanced technology makes eradication and travel much more difficult, but certain roles and abilities feel more useful in balance. If you want more Pandemic but need a break from the same old, this spin-off is a favorite choice of ours. 

Star Wars the Clone Wars board game, one of the best Pandemic expansions/spin-offs

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The best licensed Pandemic spin-off

Number of players 1–5
Play time 1 hour
Complexity 2/5

Pandemic may not be in the name, but Pandemic is baked into the DNA of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars board game. Instead of fighting disease, this Pandemic spin-off tasks you with battling droids on planets under attack. Instead of lightsabers, you’ve got dice and character card abilities to help you save the galaxy.

If you like Star Wars board games as much as you like Pandemic, this game will suit you. The theme blends well with the classic mechanics, and you’ll encounter all kinds of beloved characters from either side of the Force.

The adapted Pandemic rules are fairly simple (arguably on par with the original gateway game). This may limit replayability for some, but it also makes it a highly approachable game for players in a wide age range.

For something more crunchy, here are the best strategy board games to check out. We can also point you to some great family board games and the best kids’ board games.