Now that I look at that post title, I can see why you might think that I am channeling the Id of Trad-dom.

In fact, today I had an informal lunch with some young priests: guys drop in between 12-2 for stuff from the grill, etc.   Conversations ranges from “mother of the bride at marriage rehearsal” to “last night’s Brewer’s game” to why “I will never forgive the Dodgers for leaving Vero” to “why hospital layouts are so confusing” … etc.   At last, riffing on that last point, these guys started talking about Pandemic, in a rather jocular tone.  I quickly twigged to the fact that they were talking about a board game called, incredibly, Pandemic.


Yes, in our post-modern, deconstructing age, there is a board game called Pandemic.  Who knew?  I’ve read a few books about Pandemic, and it doesn’t sound like a game to me.

They began to describe it.  Players work as a team to stop the spread of disease across the globe.  If enough places get infected, you lose.  Occasionally, different cards throw a curve at you … just to riff off the baseball theme, above.

I opined, without too much objection, that it is sort of Anti-Risk.  In Risk, individuals move little pieces around to dominate all others.  In Pandemic, teams work to stop the little pieces.

Apparently, diseases you are fighting can mutate and other factors and diseases come onto the scene.

That’s when I had An Idea.

I’m getting old, so I don’t know what these young guys do these days, but were I in a group playing Pandemic I would “re-skin” it (I’m proud that I knew that term when they translated into young what I suggested).  Instead of fighting off diseases, why not retool the game so that you are fighting off


Instead of fighting of, say, Prion Diseases, Plague, or Argentine Hemorragic Fever, you could battle Circumcellions, Cathars and Liberation Theologians.

You could play the game in different ages, wherein teams of Doctors and Fathers could fight off the mutating variations of Gnosticism, such as Valentinianism, Marcionism, Manichaeism.  In another sweep it could be Donatism and its mutations Maximianism and Paremenianism.   How about those Pelagians?  And, later, we would have to fight off all manner of Protestant splintering.

In these modern times, there would be Modernism to combat, in all its virulent forms.  Some card that you draw to change the circumstances could be, with Jesuit themes for today, “Ignatius Loyola converts”… “Clement XIV suppresses Jesuits”… “Karl Rahner is born” or “James Martin publishes books”.  (Hint: Some of those are good and some are not.)

Different players have different specializations on the team: medic, researcher, quarantine specialist, contingency planner….

The INQUISITION Team – just to have a name, you know – would also have to have specialists: theologian, canonist, interrogator, confessor….

We could put our heads together and come up with some great options for …


¡Hagan lío!

BTW… Pandemic is from – I am not making this up – Z-Man Games.

HERESIES from Fr-Z Games

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Lighter fare, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kathleen10 says:

    You shouldn’t have given up your game idea! There goes your cool million.
    It’s amazing to me anyone would need a game for more adrenaline rush and pretend disasters.

  2. Sconnius says:

    The family that runs the I’m Board! Games and Family Fun store not far from you is Catholic…

  3. Sawyer says:

    Pandemic is a great game. If you ever get a chance to play it, do. It’s in the genre of cooperative games, in which players don’t compete against each other: they cooperate and strategize together to beat the game scenario, and everyone either wins or loses together. It’s very difficult to beat the game scenario, though, so be prepared to lose often, especially when you are just learning the game, and it is very important to understand each player’s special skill and to strategize several moves ahead in order to make the best use of everyone’s differing strengths.

    Other good games in that genre are Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. They’re less complicated than Pandemic and are a good introduction to the genre of cooperative games, how to play as a team against the game scenario.

  4. MaHrad says:

    That is an awesome idea! Also a great game by Z-man games is Carcassonne (named for the city in France). Not cooperative, but super fun. My husband and I (and sometimes our 3yo when we’re patient enough for the game to take extra long ?) play it. Along the supressing heresies line, my husband and I also play Civilization on the computer together. He usually founds Catholicism and we spend the rest of the game, removing all the other religions (Islam, Protestantism, etc.) so all that’s left is Catholicism.

  5. Aman4allseasons says:

    I started doing this exact re-theme a few months ago, titled “Anathema Sit”.

  6. Nicholas says:

    I love this game. I love fighting heresies. I love parodies, especially Christian ones. This basically ticks all the boxes for me.

  7. DavidJ says:

    For those wondering, the game is pretty darn fun. I’d highly recommend it.

  8. GM Thobe says:

    Please do. It would sit nicely next to a vintage edition of “Is the Pope Catholic” should you have it on the shelf. Or the recent Catholic version of Apples to Apples that just recently came out.

  9. JonPatrick says:

    One thing that makes Heresies harder to deal with than a Pandemic is that with a pandemic people usually know they are sick, don’t want to be sick and to die, and seek help. In a heresy it is the opposite – people like the heresy as it gives them a short cut to Heaven and have to be persuaded to seek help and move away from spiritual death. Something the game logic would have to deal with I guess.

  10. Father! What a great idea! And we’d need a video game version of this Heresy game too.

    Echoing JonPatrick, yes people like heresy [well we like to sin too basically lol] so the game will have to include the weaknesses associated with heresy as punishments to avoid. Oh my gosh, Ambivalence expressing the Faith?!? [see Auctorem Fidei of 1794 against ambivalence and novelties expressed at Pistoia] Your children will rebel against you and your authority > the horrors of the cheapest worst old-people’s facility looms where they never visit you. And you won’t get a Solemn Requiem Mass after you die either, and your remaining millions will be invested into a clothing manufacturer for cats.

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    Don’t forget this game by young Dominican friars which does in fact involve defeating Albigensian heretics.

  12. Fr. Reader says:

    Interesting. Just few hours ago I was thinking about a possible board game about the History of the Church, but I was not able to produce any good idea.
    St Bernard of Clairvaux (with image and iconography)
    Speed 3
    Strength 4
    Wisdom 5
    Prayer 7
    Rhetoric skills… etc.

  13. LeeGilbert says:

    Good on ya, Aman4allseasons. Well done! “Anathema Sit.” Perfect.

    This bolsters my hope that one day Pixar will do the Apocalypse of St. John.

  14. TonyO says:

    The INQUISITION Team – just to have a name, you know – would also have to have specialists: theologian, canonist, interrogator, confessor….

    Don’t forget: …exorcist… Much needed in this age of repudiation of the existence of demons.

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